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merely because they dance. We shall not have above thirty people.”
No, certainly not because they dance. To dance, literally, is only to move in a certain measured step, and jump a certain number of inches from the ground, and go about the room in a prescribed figure, instead of the irregular figure and unmeasured pace they would observe were they running about the hills. I am not 50. absurd as to suppose there can be any harm in this motion more than in any other motion. Therefore that my girls do not come, is not merely because you have dancing, but I do not like that sort of party for them at any rate,
It is a scene of display-an exhibition of the person and excitation of the mind, that they are better and happier without, and I should be sorry that they acquired a taste for it."
“I cannot think why you should fear their having a taste for an innocent amusement that all young people enjoy--you are not bringing them up for the cloister, I suppose."
“ By no means: I bring them up to be agreeable and useful in society, and therefore would not wish to unfit them for it—but you cannot pretend to say there is any real enjoyment of society, any mental improvement to be expected, or any benevolent feeling to be cultivated, in these parties.”
“ Perhaps not-I cannot say there is—but at least there is no harm.”
“ That is not so certain—I apprehend a great deal of harm may be done. A great many wrong feelings are excited—if they are much noticed, and have the best partners, their vanity and self-esteem are excited--if they see others succeeding better, their jealousy is excitedjealousy, and vanity, and self-esteem are sins, and in all sin there is harm. Then there is so much thought and care about what they are to wear, and how they shall look, and what will be thought of them by strangers a set of people, in whose approbation or affections they
can never find credit or advantage, whom they care nothing about, and to whom therefore I would not have them feel anxious to commend themselves by such-factitious means. They are contented now with pleasing those who know and love them, and in whose society they have advantage I would rather they did not come to you to acquire new desires, and divert their minds from more rational pursuits.”
“I would not persuade you against your wishes-I know your sort of religion forbids you to conform to what you call the practices of the world--but I do not perfectly understand to which of its practices you do, and to which you do not object."
The ladies parted. Mrs. Grey and myself walked home to find the young ladies, to whom their" mama mentioned what had past. They gave entire assent to her opinions; spoke with more vehemence and less moderation against the vanity and wickedness of such amusements—pitied their cousins' corrupt propensities, and detailed half a dozen instances of the spirit of emulation, and contention, and display, exercised in parties of the kind; and then they talked about renouncing the world, and its pomps, and its delusions-and the spirit of self-renunciation, meekness, and humility, that could only be maintained away from scenes of dissipation, rivalry, and display--and so on and so on-and I thought they talked uncommonly well, only rather too fast; particularly as nobody was disposed to contradict them.
I observed, however, that they were remarkably busy all the time, as if in the act of preparing for something.
“Mama,” said Charlotte, “ have you brought the flowers for our bonnets."
“No, my dear; but we will send for them."
"Well, but we must make haste-the meeting begins is an hour or two, and we shall not be ready-ring the bell.” The bell was not answered. “Ring again." The bell broke that was the bell-hanger's fault. "Where is John?"- John is gone out, ma'am." “How tiresome! then Betty must go."-"Betty is about Miss Charlotte's pelisse that must be done to put on this morning."-"Was ever any thing so provoking? then, cook, you must go.”—“I am just putting down the meat, Miss, and can't leave it.”
• My dear,” said Mrs. Grey, “you can wear your onnets as they are.”
“No, Mama, that is impossible--we had better not
go at all.”
“Then you must fetch it yourselves."
“Yes; and how are we to be ready? Every body will be there before us. Things always happen so contrarily.”
And now a certain quantity of ill-humour, and a considerable quantity of impatience, were manifested on all sides. Mama blamed the girls, first for thinking about their dress at all, and then for not having thought of it
The girls wondered their Mama had not brought in the flowers. John was blamed for not being at home when he had been sent out— Betty was blamed for being busy when she had been set to work—the cook was blamed for dressing the meat, though no one, as I believed, meant to go without their dinner. The ladies were what, in domestick phraseology, is called put out ; and when that takes place in a family, it does not signify who is to blame, or what the matter ismevery body must submit to be in the wrong.
Time mends all things. The young ladies went to the anniversary of some charitable society in the towuand the young ladies came home again.
“Well, my dears," said Mrs. Grey, "how have you been pleased?"
“Tolerably,” replied Ann; “ but we were so late, and got such bad seats- I could not enjoy it at all. Do you know that there were those Miss Browns in the Highstreet sitting before us in the best seats--and they would not make room for us, though they knew very well who we were. A great many people put themselves for.
ward who have not done half so much for the charity as we have.”_" Dear, yes,” said Charlotte, "and I had such a vulgar woman next me—she would speak to me, and I was quite afraid lest people should think I knew her.”—“And, Mamma, the three Miss Blacks were there—their servants were in such gay liveries—it made me feel ashamed of John's old clothes. Julia Black was very rude to me—but I took care to be quite as rude to her for I think myself of as much consequence as she is.”_" Lady Buff was there-I wish we could have gotten up to speak to her—people must have thought we belonged to nobody.”
“ Those who knew you had no occasion to think, my dear; and those who did not, are not of much consequence to you. But
have not told me what you heard."
“0, we heard a great deal of good- I wonder my cousin Whites were not there-much better for them than going to balls—it was a very interesting meeting; but there were not so many people of consequence there as last year—these things always go off. There were some excellent speeches—it vexed me to hear that disagreeable man, who was so rude to us once at the committee, so very much applauded-I quite hate that man; but he made by far the most sensible and religious speech.”
To that connexion of ideas which, on the repetition of a single word, brings back to memory all with which it has sometime come associated, it was doubtless owing that I at this moment thought of pomps, and delusions, and conformities--and self-subjection, and meekness, and humility-and love of approbation, and fear of opinion, and rivalry, and contention, and a great many other things that had not much to do with the dinner we were eating, or the meeting we were talking of. Had Mrs. White been there, a part of her doubts had been solved at least--for though she had not learned what it was of the world the Miss Greys' religion taught them to renounce, she had certainly discovered what it was not. Is it the prac