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verse the 4th it is thus expressed, - Again I will build thee,
“I confess," rejoined Mrs. Gracelove, “that the expression is a remarkable one, and would seem, in this instance, to bear the construction you put upon it. But I think, from a previous remark that you have made," she observed, “ you have still an illustration in reserve. Permit me, then, to hear the conclusion before I pass my opinion.”
• Have the kindness, then," said her fair opponent, " to
turn now to the New Testament; as I wish to draw your attention to that better dispensation than was that of Judaism, from which I intend to derive my last example, and which appears to me to possess a peculiar force from that very circumstance.
“ The portion of Scripture to which I now direct your notice, is that beautiful and interesting parable of the prodigal son, contained in the 15th chapter of St. Luke's Gospel. It is a passage," she observed," which must affect the feelings of every one, even the least conversant with sacred history. You will perceive there that, on the return of the prodigal from his wayward and vicious courses in foreign lands, where he had learnt, in the bitter school of adversity, the folly of vice and the wisdom of a better philosophy, his elder brother, as he came from his occupations in the field, drew nigh to the house' of his merciful and compassionate father, and heard music and dancing.'
“It appears that this excellent and gracious parent, who may be considered a humble type of our heavenly Parent, was so rejoiced that his son, who was dead and was alive again,'- who was lost and was found,'—had returned to him in safety and in penitence, that they began to be merry.' Having ordered his servants to bring forth the best robe and put it on him,' and to put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet,'—having commanded them to 'bring the fatted calf and kill it,' that they might eat and be merry,' —he finally filled up the measure of the entertainment with music and dancing. Let me read to you," she continued, “ the last verse of the chapter in which this kind forgiving father says ' It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad : for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.'
“And now, my dear Mrs. Gracelove," said our fashionable lady, laying down her paper of quotations, can you for a
single moment deduce from this interesting record one iota of its involving a religious rite ? I recall your attention once more to that most significant and expressive term, ' merry'
they began to be merry ; '-' it was meet that we should make merry.' Can you, still further, and I press the question with all the energy of personal conviction, gather from the narrative the slightest intimation that the sacred historian deemed the entertainment, the music,' the dancing,' and the 'merry-making,'—to have been in the very least degree unlawful? And, as a final interrogative, can you imagine that if it had been unlawful, the holy evangelist who recorded the fact, under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, for the instruction of mankind in heavenly wisdom, would not have declared it to be such, as a warning to posterity ? Would he not, while approving of the tender compassion of an anxious father towards his penitent child, have denounced, at the same time, the ceremonies by which that compassion was accompanied, had they been sinful, or polluted by a heathenish observance? Is not, therefore, the silence of the sacred historian a sure and conclusive testimony that the dancing' was an innocent recreation-a pastime at once simple, pure, and justifiable ?"
“I feel I am now called upon, my dear madam,” replied our moralist, to give an honest and candid answer to the argument you have advanced in favour of the lawfulness of dancing, and which, I must own, you have supported with research and ability. I cannot but acknowledge that the two last instances you have adduced do certainly seem to admit of the construction you advocate ; especially that of the prodigal son. I freely confess that religion does not appear to be associated with these latter examples which you have just brought to my notice. Professing myself an inquirer after truth, equally with yourself, I am willing to allow that a
sanction would almost seem to be given, though still merely by implication, to the amusement you so strenuously maintain, and then only according to the style that was approved of in the simplicity of patriarchal times. I would rather say,
however, that the silence as to its impropriety, observed by the evangelical writer, would seem to leave the mind at liberty to adopt it in practice or not, as a matter of indifference. I am inclined to believe also, with yourself, that as regards the last of your illustrations being drawn from that better dispensation of Christianity to which you have referred, is an additional argument in its favour.
“But now, my dear Mrs. Stately, having made to you this concession, I feel equally bound in truth to declare, that you have only surmounted one part of your difficulty, and that assuming, for the moment, that religion does not condemn dancing as a mere amusement, a fatal objection still remains to be disposed of ere the practice can be justified. I allude to the grave question of decency and morality.
I perceive you start at this announcement. Let us, however, dispassionately inquire into the style and mode of dancing adopted in society in modern times. I allude now, more especially to the waltz, at which, on its first introduction into this country, all the matrons and heads of families throughout England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, raised their hands and eyes in utter astonishment and disgust. Habit—that traitor to virtue- the subtle flatterer of vice in all its varied forms, could alone have reconciled the world to the polluting influence of this foreign exhibition. So true is it that, according to the language of the poetical moralist,
• Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
“ If we call things by their right names,” continued Mrs. Gracelove, we are conscientiously bound to designate the waltz the favourite and invariable dance at all fashionable parties-(as well as all similar dances)-a licentious and unwarrantable exhibition. I trust you will pardon my liberty of speech," she paused to remark," as I hope we are both of us reasoning to support principle and not custom.”
Most certainly, there is no occasion to apologise," replied Mrs. Stately. Though a fashionable woman, as has been stated, misled and spoilt by her husband, she was nevertheless amiable and accessible to truth ; nor was she entirely heartless, as is the case with too many persons in the fashionable world. Although we do not coincide in opinion,” she remarked, “I always like to hear everything that can be advanced on both sides of a question. And if truth, as has been observed, lies at the bottom of a well, it requires no slight exertion or patience to draw her from her hiding-place, and when she does appear, we ought to treat her courteously. Pray proceed, my dear Mrs. Gracelove, for notwithstanding I am startled by your proposition, I yet feel interested in the frank and earnest style of your avowal.”
To justify the terms,” resumed the conscientious mistress of Derwent Cottage, “ in which I have spoken of the waltz, and similar dances, what can be said in their favour by a reflective mind, witnessing the unauthorised freedom and license of attitude by which they are characterised ? A young gentleman, for example, is introduced to a young lady, frequently for the first time of their ever meeting, and without the very slightest ceremony whatever she is clasped round the waist, and held closely to his side, which no one but a husband is entitled for a moment to do, while running round the giddy circle of this worse than heathenish exhibition. Can anything be more fatally calculated to corrupt a youthful