But for a bit of real fun I think I should have been inclined to go with Keats, along under Skiddaw, by the side of Bassenthwaite, en route for Carlisle to Ireby, where he was greatly amused to see “a dancing school holden at the Sun . . . they kickit and jumpit with mettle extraordinary, and whiskit and friskit, and toed it and go’d it, and twirl’d and whirl’d it, and stamped it, and sweated it, tattooing the floor like mad…. There was as fine a row of boys and girls as you ever saw; some beautiful faces, and one exquisite mouth.
So vigorously danced was the grand old Cumberland three-cornered and eight reel, on that day in the Ireby Inn, that Keats could only compare “the difference between our country dances and these Scottish figures,” with the difference between “stirring a cup o’ tea and beating up a batter-pudding.”
“I never felt,” he writes, “so near the glory of Patriotism, the glory of making by any means a country happier. This is what I like better than scenery.
It is pleasant to hope that the revival of some of these old dancing days in our midst may have a latent power to keep us patriots. We need a happier England, and that speedily; ay, and a country life filled far more full of joy.
(Literary Associations of the English Lakes, Vol. I, pp. 165-6)