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ENTERTAIN MY GUESTS WITH A DANCE.
to do but slip it on, and was down in my drawing-room in a little more than a quarter of an hour. When I came there, the room was full of company, but I ordered the folding-doors to be shut for a minute or two, till I had received the com. pliments of the ladies that were in the room, and had given them a full view of my dress.
But my Lord who happened to be in the room, slipped out at another door, and brought back with him one of the masks, a tall, well-shaped person, but who had no name, being all masked, nor would it have been allowed to ask any person's name on such an occasion. The person spoke in French to me, that it was the finest dress he had ever seen; and asked me if he should have the honour to dance with me. I bowed, as giving my consent, but said, as I had been a Mahometan, I could not dance after the manner of this country; I supposed their music would not play à la Moresque. He answered merrily, I had a Christian's face, and he'd venture it that I could dance like a Christian; adding, that so much beauty could not be Mahometan. Immediately the folding-doors were flung open, and he led me into the room. The company were under the greatest surprise imaginable; the very music stopped awhile to gaze, for the dress was indeed exceedingly surprising, perfectly new, very agreeable, and wonderful rich.
The gentleman, whoever he was, for I never knew, led me only a courant, and then asked me if I had a mind to dance an antic, that is to say, whether I would dance the antic as they had danced in masquerade, or anything by myself. I told him anything else rather, if he pleased; so we danced only two French dances, and he led me to the drawing-room door, when he retired to the rest of the masks. When he left me at the drawing-room door I did not go in, as he thought I would have done, but turned about, and showed myself to the whole room, and, calling my woman to me, gave her some directions to the music, by which the company presently understood that I would give them a dance by myself. Immediately all the house rose up and paid me a kind of a compliment by removing back every way to make me room, for the place was exceedingly full. The music did not at first hit the tune that I directed, which was a French tune, so I was forced to send my woman to 'em again, standing all this while at my drawing-room door ; but as soon as my woman
spoke to them again they played it right, and I, to let them see it was so, stepped forward to the middle of the room. Then they began it again, and I danced by myself a figure which I learnt in France, when the Prince de desired I would dance for his diversion. It was, indeed, a very fine figure, invented by a famous master at Paris, for a lady or a gentleman to dance single; but being perfectly new, it pleased the company exceeedingly, and they all thought it had been Turkish ; nay, one gentleman had the folly to expose himself so much as to say, and I think swore too, that he had seen it danced at Constantinople, which was ridiculous enough.
At the finishing the dance the company clapped, and almost shouted; and one of the gentlemen cried out “Roxana! Roxana ! by with an oath ; upon which foolish accident I had the name of Roxana presently fixed upon me all over the court end of town, as effectually as if I had been christened Roxana. I had, it seems, the felicity of pleasing everybody that night to an extreme; and my ball
, but especially my dress, was the chat of the town for that week; and so the name of Roxana was the toast at and about the court, no other health was to be named with it.
Now things began to work as I would have them, and I began to be very popular, as much I could desire. The ball held till (as well as I was pleased with the show) I was sick of the night; the gentlemen masked, went off about three o'clock in the morning; the other gentlemen sat down to play; the music held it out; and some of the ladies were dancing at six in the morning.
But I was mighty eager to know who it was danced with me; some of the lords went so far as to tell me I was very much honoured in my company; one of them spoke so broad as almost to say it was the king, but I was convinced afterwards it was not; and another replied, if he had been his majesty he should have thought it no dishonour to lead up a Roxana; but to this hour I never knew positvely who it was; and by his behaviour I thought he was too young, his majesty being at that time in an age that might be discovered from a young person, even in his dancing.
Be that as it would, I had five hundred guineas sent me the next morning, and the messenger was ordered to tell me that the persons who sent it desired a ball again at my lodgings on the next Tuesday, but that they would have my
SECOND ENTERTAINMENT AT MY HOUSE.
leave to give the entertainment themselves. I was mighty well pleased with this, to be sure, but very inquisitive to know who the money came from, but the messenger was silent as death as to that point, and bowing always at my inquiries, begged me to ask no questions which he could not give an obliging answer to.
I forgot to mention, that the gentlemen that played gave a hundred guineas to the box, as they called it; and at the end of their play they asked for my gentlewoman of the bedchamber, as they called her (Mrs. Amy, forsooth), and gave it her, and gave twenty guineas more among the servants.
These magnificent doings equally both pleased and surprised me, and I hardly kuew where I was; but especially that notion of the king being che person that danced with me, puffed me up to that degree, that I not only did not know anybody else, but indeed was very far from knowing myself.
I had now, the next Tuesday, to provide for the like company; but, alas! it was all taken out of my hand; three gentlemen, who yet were, it seems, but servants, came on the Saturday, and, bringing sufficient testimonies that they were right, for one was the same who brought the five hundred guineas, I say, three of them came, and brought bottles of all sorts of wines, and hampers of sweetmeats to such a quantity, it appeared they designed to hold the trade on more than once, and that they would furnish everything to a profusion.
However, as I found a deficiency in two things, I made provision of about twelve dozen of fine damask napkins, with tablecloths of the same, sufficient to cover all the tables, with three tablecloths upon every table, and sideboards in proportion; also I bought a handsome quantity of plate, necessary to have served all the sideboards; but the gentlemen would not suffer any of it to be used, telling me they had bought fine china dishes and plates for the whole service, and that in such public places they could not be answerable for the plate; so it was set all up in a large glass cupboard, in the room I sat in, where it made a very good show indeed.
On Tuesday there came such an appearance of gentlemen and ladies, that my apartments were by no means able to receive them; and those who in particular appeared as prin
cipals, gave order below to let no more company come up. The street was full of coaches with coronets, and fine glass chairs; and, in short, it was impossible to receive the company. I kept my little room as before, and the dancers filled the great room; all the drawing-rooms also were filled, and three rooms below stairs, which were not mine.
It was very well that there was a strong party of the guards brought to keep the door, for without that there had been such a promiscuous crowd, and some of them scandalous too, that we should have been all disorder and confusion; but the three head servants managed all that, and had a word to admit all the company by.
It was uncertain to me, and is to this day, who it was that danced with me the Wednesday before, when the ball was my own; but that the k... was at this assembly was out of question with me, by circumstances that I suppose I could not be deceived in ; and particularly, that there were five persons who were not masked; three of them had blue garters, and they appeared not to me till I came out to dance.
This meeting was managed just as the first, though with much more magnificence, because of the company. I placed myself (exceedingly rich in clothes and jewels) in the middle of my little room, as before, and made my compliment to all the company as they passed me, as I did before; but my Lord who had spoken openly to me the first night, came to me, and, unmasking, told me the company had ordered him to tell me they hoped they should see me in the dress I had appeared in the first day, which had been so acceptable that it had been the occasion of this new meeting; And, madam, says he, there are some in this assembly, who it is worth your while to oblige.
I bowed to my Lord — and immediately withdrew. While I was above, a dressing in my new habit, two ladies, perfectly unknown to me, were conveyed into my apartment below, by the order of a noble person, who, with his family, had been in Persia ; and here, indeed, I thought I should have been outdone, or perhaps balked.
One of these ladies was dressed most exquisitely fine indeed, in the habit of a virgin lady of quality of Georgia, and the other in the same habit of Armenia ; with each of them a woman slave to attend them.
The ladies had their petticoats short to their ancles, but
GREAT NOVELTIES AT THE ASSEMBLY.
plaited all round, and before them short aprons, but of the finest point that could be seen; their gowns were made with long antic sleeves hanging down behind, and a train let down; they had no jewels, but their heads and breasts were dressed up with flowers, and they both came in veiled.
Their slaves were bareheaded, but their long, black hair was braided in locks hanging down behind to their waists, and tied up with ribands. They were dressed exceeding rich, and were as beautiful as their mistresses; for none of them had
any masks on. They waited in my room till I came down, and all paid their respects to me after the Persian manner, and sat down on a safra, that is to say, almost cross-legged, on a couch made up of cushions laid on the ground.
This was admirably fine, and I was indeed startled at it. They made their compliment to me in French, and I replied in the same language. When the doors were opened, they walked into the dancing-room, and danced such a dance as indeed nobody there had ever seen, and to an instrument like a guitar, with a small low-sounding trumpet, which indeed was very fine, and which my Lord had provided.
They danced three times all alone, for nobody indeed could dance with them. The novelty pleased, truly, but yet there was something wild and bizarre in it, because they really acted to the life the barbarous country whence they came ; but as mine had the French behaviour under the Mahometan dress, it was every way as new, and pleased much better indeed.
As soon as they had shown their Georgian and Armenian shapes, and danced, as I have said, three times, they withdrew, paid their compliment to me (for I was queen of the day), and went off to undress.
Some gentlemen then danced with ladies all in masks; and when they stopped, nobody rose up to dance, but all called out “Roxana, Roxana.” In the interval, my Lord - had brought another masked person into my room, who I knew not, only that I could cern it was not the same person that led me out before. This noble person (for I afterwards understood it was the Duke of -), after a short compliment, led me out into the middle of the room.
I was dressed in the same vest and girdle as before, but the robe had a mantle over it, which is usual in the Turkish