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Ah, Christmas. For centuries it has been the season of love, giving, and sentimental sickliness of all persuasions. But, let’s face it, it has also provided the perfect opportunity for countless lusty young couples to indulge in a bit of festive fornication under the mistletoe.

The print below gives a peep at four couples engaged in a Christmas dance. But there don’t seem to be any rules to govern the proceedings… Netherfield Ball this is not.

One beau swings his partner around by the hands, while another staggers around the room with a young woman on his back. In the background, a couple are locked in a passionate kiss, and the rather tight-breeched fellow in the foreground seems to have a similar scheme in mind – he hoists his partner up beneath a bunch of mistletoe. mistletoe1 Quoting the early eighteenth century Scottish poet James Thomson, the lines below the print read:

Whilst Romp loving Miss is haul’d about

With gallantry robust

Curiously – if the looks on their faces are anything to go by – the excitement hardly seems to be unbridled. Perhaps it has already reached that unfortunate stage in the evening when “Romp loving Miss”  realises that she has been rather too free with the punch…

mist3   lwlpr09810Image: ‘The Mistletoe, or Christmas Gambols’ (1796). Courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library.

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2 thoughts on “A Romp Loving Miss Under the Mistletoe (1796)

  1. I’ve just caught up with this and you’re right, none of them look as if they’re enjoying their mistletoe-fuelled romping. Except Piggyback Miss, who looks a little livelier.

    How refreshing to see a non-Netherfieldian party!

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