This is the fourth in a series of six posts covering the six figures of the Mid Lothians, a set of quadrilles from the 1820s. The first figure, background information, and sources are discussed in the first post in the series. Second figure here. Third figure here.
The fourth figure of the Mid Lothians is set to a combination of "Peggy's Love" and "Auld Robin Gray", though my ear is not good enough to pick out which strains are from each tune when filtered through Evans' arrangements.
"Peggy's Love", or "Little Peggy's Love" is a strathspey which has also been used for a Scottish Country Dance. It is said to have been composed by William Marshall and published as "Lady Louisa Gordon's Strathspey" in 1781. It was apparently used as the musical basis for a ballet at the King's Theatre Opera House (the professional home of Regency-era dancing master Thomas Wilson) in the 1790s. Evans mostly retains the strathspey rhythm in his arrangement.
"Auld Robin Gray" was written in 1772 by the Scottish poet Lady Anne Lindsay, with a tune by Reverend William Leeves. The song is something of a sequel to the classic Jacobite song "Logie O'Buchan" (note: music plays immediately upon opening this page) which mourns for the Old Pretender under the guise of a woman missing her lover Jamie while being pressured to marry someone richer. In "Auld Robin Gray", she actually ends up married to Robin Gray before her true love Jamie returns for her. The tune may be heard in a MIDI file created by Christian Souchon (plays immediately upon opening). An arrangement by Hadyn may be found at Ball State University's Digital Music Repository.
The instructions for the figures are given on the sheet music as follows:
Les chassent derrière les Dames et traversent a la place opposèe chassez croise en donnant la main droit idem main gauche. Les Dames font un tour de quatre. Demie grande chaine,les Dames chassent à leur places, et balancent aux Cavaliers, un Cavalier avec sa Dame de vis_à_vis balancent au quatrième couple et tour de mains.
Four gents: chasse behind your partners and cross over to the opposite Ladies, then swing half round with the right hand and back with the left. Ladies hands round and back,the grand chaine half round and the Ladies follow each other to the right to their places,and set to partners,first Gent:and opposite Lady join hands and balancez to the fourth couple then turn with both hands to places.
The spacing, usage, and punctuation above (and the omission of the Cavaliers in the first sentence of the French) are as in the original. The instructions in Pollock's and Whale's books are the same other than punctuation.
This figure is the longest and strangest of the entire quadrille, and the most difficult to reconstruct and to match to the music. My reconstruction, with extensive notes below:
Mid Lothians, Figure 4 (8b introduction + 48bx4)
4b All four gentlemen turn to the left and loop behind their partners to the corners of the set
4b All four gentlemen cross to opposite gentleman’s place
(gentlemen are now dancing with their original opposite lady)
8b Swing by right hands halfway round and then back by left hands
8b Ladies hands four round and back
8b Grand chain half round (face current partner and take right hands to start)
(at this point the gentlemen are in their original places and the ladies are halfway around)
4b Ladies follow each other clockwise inside the set to places
4b All set to partners
2b First gentleman and opposite lady forward and turn to face fourth couple, taking hands
2b Those four set as facing couples
4b Those four turn corners two hands back to places
The figure is then repeated three times, led in turn by the second gentleman and opposite lady (the other half of the head couples), the third gentleman and his opposite, and fourth gentleman and his opposite.
1. The gentlemen chasse behind their partners and cross over. There are several ways to interpret the "chasse behind", which is not a standard quadrille figure. The language seems to suggest a sideways slide rather than looping around (as in the "chasse round" in figure three), but there are some problems with that approach. Some possibilities:
a. A chassez-dechassez or "dance to the right and left" (as described here), in which the gentlemen slide to the right (behind their stationary partners) for two bars and then back for two bars. The crossing over of the gentlemen from their original places to that of their opposite becomes a little more awkward, since they can't all move through the center simultaneously, but it can be done by moving in curved patterns, passing right and left shoulders, like a chain without hands or a country dance rights and lefts. It could also be done by simply having all four gentlemen move in a circular pattern halfway round the set, but that is the figure described later in the figure when the ladies "follow each other to the right to their places", rather than "crossing over". This solution has the virtue of filling out the music nicely, and uses sideways motion, but since Pollock was perfectly familiar with chassez-dechassez and instead used chassent derrière, it seems less likely.
b. The first half of the chassez-dechassez, leaving the gentlemen in the corner of the set, to the right of his partner. This also uses the implied sideward motion, and it makes the crossing over easy, since the four gentlemen can simply move forward into their new places. But there is really too much music for this option. Four bars of sideways motion would take the gentlemen well outside the set. The first half of chassez-dechassez normally takes two bars. The next two bars could be filled by gentlemen setting, which leaves the figure asymmetrical (two bars chasse behind, two bars setting, four bars crossing). This could be fixed by shortening the crossing over to only two bars (using two chassé steps, since this is tight timing) and adding two bars of setting in the new places. But while filling out the time with setting is implied in some figures (an eight-bar chassé-croisé will incorporate setting while a four-bar one will not), it seems a bit of a stretch here. It certainly adds drama, which I appreciate from a theatrical perspective, but does not seem the most likely solution.
c. Treat "chasse behind" the same as "chasse around" and have the men turn to the left (as in old-fashioned casting off) and then move forward behind their ladies to the corners (or slightly back), then cross over to the opposite place. This is the easiest way to do it, and allows ample time for the necessary travel. I am still a little uneasy with this solution, and it's not very exciting, but given the other options it seems to be the most likely.
2. Swing half round with the right hand and back with the left. The French (chassez croise en donnant la main droit idem main gauche) does not really match the English translation; swings and chassé-croisé are different moves entirely. "Swing" generally means to turn by one hand only while chassé-croisé is a sideways moving-and-setting sequence of chassez-balancez-dechassez-balancez. So what are the dancers (each gentleman and his opposite, whom he is now standing next to) supposed to do? Some options:
a. Ignore the mention of hands, and the English translation, and do a standard eight-bar chassé-croisé. This is an easy solution, but presumes the French instructions are slightly wrong and the English ones entirely wrong. I don't rule that out, but it isn't my first choice.
b. Face each other and perform a full eight-bar chassé-croisé sequence, alternately taking right hands and moving to the left and then left hands and moving to the right. This is more than a little awkward. It asks everyone to start moving to the left (the ladies into the center of the set and the gentlemen toward the wall), and while it's easy enough to take right hands while sliding to the left and even to hold them while setting in the third and fourth bar, it is impossible to take left hands before sliding back to places, at which point it seems almost unnecessary. This does match the French instructions, but it does not fit with the English ones, which Pollock himself wrote. Presumably his native language best reflects his thinking.
c. Turn by the right hand for four bars and then back by the left. Interpret the chassé-croisé in the French instructions as an overly-ornate way to say "change places". Either take very small steps on a wide path to go only halfway round or ignore the "half round" and travel as far round as is comfortable. Alternately, one could turn halfway (two bars) and set (two bars) in each direction, but once again, Pollock doesn't mention any setting here. Turning only halfway each time, with no setting, matches the English instructions nicely and is my favored solution. Dropping hands a little early and adding a generous bit of a curve to turning to face partners helps fill out the music.
3. Steps for the grand chain half round. I've never found any description of what step sequence to use for this figure. After experimenting with three different possibilities (seven chassé; jeté; assemblé, one chassé; jeté; assemblé four times, or three chassé; jeté; assemblé twice), I have settled on three chassé; jeté; assemblé done twice as the best footwork option. This strikes the right balance between having too many steps for the amount of travel and too few. (Edited 7/5/12 to add: actually, I do have some information on steps for this figure; see my article on stepping the grand chain for details.)
4. The ladies follow each other to the right to their places. Note that "to the right" is not in the French description. The ladies have just dropped left hands from the grand chain and are now facing their opposite again, halfway round the set from their places. They simply continue inside the set, traveling in the same direction (clockwise), following each other in a circular path halfway round to places. Clockwise is described as moving to the left when holding hands in a circle, but the ladies are not holding hands here, so "to the right" is a little unclear. It would also be possible, and adds a little mischievous drama, to have the ladies abruptly turn around and move counter-clockwise back to places, but I think the extra time added to turn around at the start and at the end to face partners for the setting makes this way too rushed and awkward. Moving clockwise inside the set to places is my preferred reconstruction.
5. Set to partners. While the direction is given as the conclusion of the ladies' movement, it is customary for both partners to set.
6. First gentleman and opposite lady join hands and balancez to the fourth couple. The leading pair cannot simply join hands. They need to approach each other inside the set, turn to face the second couple, and take hands. This absorbs two bars of music, leaving two for the setting.
Chasse behind partner with three chassé; jeté; assemblé
Cross over with three chassé; jeté; assemblé
Swing by right hands and back with left with three chassé; jeté; assemblé each way
Hands four round and back with three chassé; jeté; assemblé each way
Grand chain half round with three chassé; jeté; assemblé done twice (see note #3 above)
Ladies follow each other around to places with three chassé; jeté; assemblé
Set to partners with any suitable sequence of steps
Advance to the center with the first half of any suitable advance/retire sequence
Set as facing couples with two pas de basque or sissone-assemblé twice
Turn corners with three chassé; jeté; assemblé