Saturday, February 9, 2013

THE STATELY SARABAND One of the Novelties to be Introduced at the Bal

One of the Novelties to be Introduced 
at the Ball. The New York Times - February 9, 1897

There is to be a novelty at Mrs. Bradley Martin's ball in the shape of a dance that nowadays is better known to readers of Court history and of poetry than it is to dancers. Several of the invited guests are rehearsing the "stately saraband."

This has a past as picturesque as that of any measure, not even excepting the polonaise. Of doubtful origin, and at first worse than doubtful character, if fascinated all Europe, and particularly Spain, in the sixteenth century. At that time it was quite Oriental in character, and by an authority on dancing, Sir William Ouseley, was attributed to the Persians. Other authorities declare solemnly that it was invented by an evil spirit. Cervantes attacked it, and so did Guevara, and although Lope de Vega defended it, at the end of Philip II.'s reign it was suppressed.

By 1588, however, it was again a favorite in France, and Cardinal Richelieu, dressed in green velvet knee-breeches  with bells on his feet and castanets in his hands, danced it in a ballet before Anne of Austria. In England it underwent a complete change of character, became a contra dance, performed  " longwayes,  for as  many as will," as an ancient book, " Playford's Dancing Master," describes it, and so pleased George II. that he made it the fashion. It is as he danced it that it will appear at the ball; a measure somewhat like Sir Roger de Coverley, but danced deliberately and gracefully to the slowest of waltz tunes.

The costumes of the dancers at George II.'s Court demanded a stately dance. The women wore the enormous headdress, of hair, chiefly false, combed up from their foreheads and adorned with ribbons, lace, ropes of jewels, and feathers. They pinched their waists till they could hardly breathe. They wore enormous hoops, expanded wide,  close to the waist. The men wore long, square-cut coats, with great cuts that reached their elbows, knee-breeches with buttons and buckles below the knee, pigtails, and three-cornered hats. Neither costume was suited to lively movements.

Private   Detectives   Will   Guard the
Host and Hostess.

In the preparations for their ball to-morrow night the Bradley Martins have not overlooked the matter of securing ample protection for themselves and their property.   There is more than a remote possibility that some crank, stirred to action by the remarks of so-called sentimentalists on the vast amount of money to be expended on this function, might attempt violence to the host or hostess. Then, again, sneak thieves might see an opportunity to ply their trade. 

This recalls the robbery at the Bradley Martin residence, at 22 West Twentieth Street, just before the marriage of Miss Martin to the Earl of Craven. The thief, on this occasion undoubtedly expected to secure some of the famous Craven jewels, as well as some of the wedding gifts which had already been received. These, however, had been carefully secreted, and the thief contented himself with thirteen antique watches belonging to Mr. Martin, and a quantity of silverware, the whole amounting in'value to about $4,000. 

This robbery baffled the police for some time.   Entrance to the house was gained by the back entrance in West Nineteenth Street. The robber was obliged to scale a wall topped with iron spikes. The mystery was finally cleared up by the arrest, on June 1, 1893 of Frank Davis, alias Sinclair, who was caught in the act of entering a residence on West Fifty-fifth Street. Some of the plunder stolen from the Martin residence was found in Davis's room. He was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison, but was subsequently transferred to Matteawan Asylum, from which institution he escaped with Oliver H. Perry, the train robber

To guard against undesirable visitors of this sort, detectives have been engaged from one of the local agencies to thwart the designs of any would-be robbers and to guard the members of the family from danger. On the night of the ball, a sufficient force of Central Office men will be on duty at the Waldorf to look out for professional thieves.

Mrs. Lorillard Spencer Will Not Go.

It was currently reported in exclusive social circles, and in some of the fashionable clubs last night, that Mrs. Lorillard Spencer, who is one of the most prominent, popular, and beautiful young married women in New York society, had decided not to attend the Bradley Martin ball. 

This announcement created much surprise, as it was known that Mrs. Spencer had made all preparations to attend. She is, however, a prominent member of St. George's Church, of which Dr. Rainsford is pastor, and that minister's advice to his parishioners not to make any lavish display of wealth has undoubtedly influenced her.    After Dr. Rainsford  first  made his announcement of opposition to such display Mrs. Spencer was still inclined to attend the ball. But it is said she has consulted with Dr. Rainsford several times.

Click HERE to read another article about the Bradley Martin ball first published February 9, 1897.

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