Images de page
PDF
ePub

ever the refuge of the oppressed, and the guardian angel of the lib. erties of Europe !

Cherishing such feelings, what treasures will be ours! what spirits tenants of our great World-Valhalla ! Shakspeare, the “thousand-souled ;” Milton, “who sang, in his glorious darkness, of Paradise and the courts of Heaven;" Bacon, with his God-like mind; and the deep soul of Coleridge. Ours the laws of Alfred and the discoveries of Newton; the eloquence of Phillips and the lessons of Burke. Ours will be equally the researches of Davy and the explorations of Fremont; ours equally the rod of Franklin and the telescope of Herchell.

In the year 1620, the Pilgrim Fathers sailed from Southampton: in the year 1851, the frigate St. Lawrence entered the same port, bearing to the great “ Alhambra of Labor"—to the World-Colosseum of Toil—the fruitful products of their industry. May the omen prove a bright one! May the star of peace shine over the temple of Concord! And like that glorious sunrise sometimes seen at sea, may England and America rise twin orbs in grandeur and majesty; not for one to fade away, but both continue to ascend towards the zenith, pouring their divine effulgence on every land, until, like the belt of the great Hermes, respected in heaven and on earth, the globe is girdled with a universal Saxondom !

DANCING

OUR most estimable brother, Samuel Rogers, of Kentucky, having called my attention to the subject of promiscuous dancing—a grow. ing fashion in Kentucky and certain other places; not only amongst the sons and daughters of men, but amongst the professing sons and daughters of God and having conceded a few pages to this interesting subject, I now proceed, in due form of an essayist, to redeem my pledge.

My usual custom, in all such cases, being first to understand the subject myself, before presuming to write upon it, I set myself diligently to inquire into the philosophy of dancing-its origin, history, and design. And to proceed logically and legally in the work, I first consulted Webster, as to the legal meaning of the word. I do not mean the great statesman and constitutional lawyer, the Hon. Daniel Webster; but the learned, the profound, the great American philologist and lexicographer-Noah Webster, L.L. D., member of all the great literary societies of his day.

Not having myself, for more than five and forty years, seen a dance, and but once before that, (having been, by mere accident, precipitated into its midst;) and, still more unfortunate, having, during its progress, fallen most profoundly asleep, I acquired no accurate knowledge of the curious affair. To make amends for this my shameful ignorance of the mystery, I have consulted Webster, and most satisfactorily ascertained that to dance means “to leap or spring with measured steps, regulated by music; to frisk about gracefully” to something called a minuet, waltz, or cotillion, for such is the species of music and dancing in this our day and generation, at the most attractive and fashionable centres of the polite world; such as Paris, London, New York, and New Orleans.

But in this, as in all grave and important subjects, desirous to begin at the beginning, I next took up the oldest book in the world, and searched the oldest part of that-the book of Job.

Job flourished not later than 2130 years before Christ, according to Hales; and in musing upon the saints and sinners of that age of the world, the venerable Patriarch says: “Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power? Their seed is established in their sight with them, and their offspring before their eyes. Their houses are safe from fear; neither is the rod of God upon them. Their bull gendereth and faileth not; their cow calveth, and casteth not her calf. They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance. They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ. They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave. Therefore they say unto God,

Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. What is the Almighty that we should serve him ? and what profit should we have if we pray unto him ?'

“How oft is the lamp of the wicked put out, and how often destruction cometh upon them. God distributeth to them sorrows in

They are as stubble before the wind, and as chaff that the storm carrieth away. God layeth up his iniquity for his children; he rewardeth him, and he shall know it. His eyes shall see his destruction, and he shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty. For what pleasure hath he in his family after him, when the number of his months is cut off in the midst ?"

From this instructive apostrophe to the manners of that age of the world not later than early in the third century after the flood-we learn that music and dancing held a conspicuous place amongst

[ocr errors]

his anger.

the wealthy and honorable sinners of that day. If not venerable from its age, it was, at least, a fashionable amusement. It justly claims, then, we may conclude, a very high antiquity, as well as a very respectable patronage.

In 689 years after this time, the ladies held female dances of a joyful and religious character, on great occasions. We find Miriam, the sister of Moses, on leaving Egypt, leading out the pious ladies, with timbrels in their hands, and skipping in dances to the song of deliverance furnished by her brother Moses. This was, indeed, a very solemn and joyful occasion; for in responses to the female hymns, she said, “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously. The horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.” This is the second allusion to dancing in the antiquities of the world. If ever it was opportune to dance for joy, it was so on the coasts of the Red Sea, when and where Pharaoh and his armies were drowned, and the Israel of God walked through its channel as on dry land. This is the first religious dance in the annals of the world. The third dance in history, like the first dance, was of a promiscuous and profane character, though under pretence of reverence for an idol god. On descending from the mount of communion with God, Moses found the people, whom he had led through the Red Sea, dancing and shouting to a molten calf, made of the golden trinkets with which the daughters ef Israel had adorned themselves. But for this profane and idolatrous dance, there fell, of the tribes of Israel, three thousand men in one day.

But, as we have noted the ancient dances in sacred story, we must read the last dance in New Testament history.

We have Washington balls, on Washington's birth-nights. This is in good keeping with a portion of New Testament stery. it came to pass when Herod's birth-day was kept, the daughter of Mrs. Herodias danced before them, (the assembled grandees,) and danced so elegantly, (a la mode Romæ,) that Herod swore that he would give her whatsoever she would ask.” Instigated by one of the sweetest passions in man or woman's breast-the exquisite pleasure of a fiend's revenge-her mother, the unlawful wife of the lustful Herod, the elegantly accomplished Mrs. Horodias, instigated her dancing nymph, Miss Herod, to ask a bason full of the Baptist's head. Herod's false honor overcome every humane feeling of his heart, and quenched every remonstrance of his conscience. He erdered the Baptist's head, and he was sacrificed.

In these four dances we have the prototypes of all the dances in all story, sacred or profane. They are, in the philosophy of them, SERIES IV.-VOL: 1.

13

- For

animal and bodily movements, indicative of the passions, emotions, and impulses of the animal soul; not of the spirit, nor of the spiritual nature of man.

True, the spirit of man, in its conceptions and aspirations, occasionally so operates as to influence both soul and body. Even the tongue, when “ set on fire of hell, sets all the wheels of animal nature in a blaze;" and, as a tornado sometimes shows the bottoms of lakes and rivers, so it reveals the secrets of a wicked heart, and stimulates to deeds of horror which no one can describe.

So in religion, when it obtains the aid of the Spirit, inspired with its holy aims and heavenly aspirations, it moves both soul and body in harmony with the dictates of the Holy Spirit.

Tongue, hand, and foot, are instruments of righteousness and un. righteousness, as the heart may be. I can, therefore, conceive of a David dancing before the Ark of the Lord, and of the holy virgins praising God in the dance, and of David calling upon the congrega. tions of the saints in such strains as these

"Let Israel rejoice in him that made him;

Let the children of Israel be joyful in their King;
Let them praise his name in the dance;
Let them sing praises to him with the timbrel and the harp."

[Psalm cxlix. Again:

“ Praise him according to his excellent greatness;

Praise him with the sound of the trumpet;
Praise him with the psaltery and the harp;
Praise him with the timbrel and the dance;
Praise him with stringed instruments and organs;
Praise him upon the loud cymbals;
Praise him upon the high sounding cymbals;
Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord.
Praise ye the Lord\":

(Psalm el, At the feasts of Israel in their palmy days--1 mean their religious festivals—the daughters of Shiloh went out to dance, as David did before the Ark. But they went in companies, to dance by themselves. For on one occasion, the children of Benjamin seized the virgins of Shiloh at the dance, and took to themselves wives, having been inhibited by all the tribes of Israel from intermarrying with them. Thus, according to the adage, “ Extremes beget extremes."

But, in the New Testament age, we read of no religious dances, any more than of religious harps, psalteries, and trumpets. Amongst all the directions and exhortations in the New Testament, I have not found one on the subject of dancing. Yet there was dancing in those times, as well as in the ancient times of the Patriarchs and Jews. Hence, in one of our Lord's parables he represents the Prod

says the

igal's father as making a feast, and celebrating the return of his lost son, “ with music and dancing.” Luke xv. 25. According to Solomon, there is a time for every purpose and for every work; and therefore, he says that there is a time to mourn and a time to dance, as "there is a time of war and a time of peace."

But we live under a wiser, greater, and more glorious Prince than King Solomon, and under a spiritual and anti-typical, not under a worldly and typical institution. Hence, in New Testament man. ners and customs, in evangelical ordinances and usages, the word, nor the idea of dancing, is not found. “Is any one merry,” Apostle James, “ let him dance." That is an Episcopalian Testament. It is not our version of it. We read it by authority of King James, “ Is any merry, let him sing psalms.” He does not say let him dance. Still, if I saw a Christian man or woman hymning or singing psalms and dancing, I could not condemn him, because I read of one so joyful in the Lord that he entered into the temple walking, and leaping, and praising God. Besides, the Lord commanded his disciples “ to leap for joy;" but the occasion was not one of popular esteem, for it was when their “names were cast out as evil, for the Son of Man's sake.

But why introduce Bible authorities in this case ? .Who claims precedent in Holy Writ

“For courtly balls and midnight masquerades?" Surely no disciple of Jesus Christ !! To play the fool at a masquerade, is no very honorable amusement for a saint or sinner. The Shaking Quaker dances to shake the devil out. shakes the devil in.

As idle they who dream of pleasure in what are called the fashionable amusements of the day. Why look to Paris, the metropolis of atheism, sensuality and crime, for any other fashion or custom than those which drown men in destruction and perdition? I would say, if need there be, to every brother in the land, “ Lift up your voice like a trumpet; cry aloud and spare not. Show Israel their transgressions and Jacob their sins :" for because of these things “iniquity abounds—the love of many waxes cold.” The gospel is spoken and heard in vain; and “because of these things, the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience.” • What fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness ? what communion hath light with darkness? what concord hath Christ with Belial? what part hath he that believeth with an unbeliever? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols ?"

A. C.

Vain man,

he

« PrécédentContinuer »