W.E. Penn.

There is No Harm in Dancing online

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vulnerable points in human nature are here attacked by three of the
devil's most powerful armies, under command of three of his most
stratagetic and experienced generals - ENVY, JEALOUSY and WOUNDED
PRIDE - we may at once proceed to examine the fruit of dancing. Nearly
all of our young people are in love with some one, and not unfrequently
two or three or more are in love with the same one, or the lover
imagines that he or she has from one to a half dozen rivals, which is
the same to them as if it were true. It is often the case that an
engagement exists, or there is grave suspicion of its existence. A
dancing party or ball is in prospect. The same preparation must be made
by rich and poor. One young man who chanced to be born of rich or
well-to-do parents, and one young lady the same, order their outfits,
and they are paid for not unfrequently out of the usurious interest
wrung from the fathers and mothers of the poorer young men and girls.
Now the poorer and less able to purchase the necessary all outfits,
which are always costly, _must go_. They must go, because they _love_
the dance. They are PASSIONATELY fond of it.

They must go, or it may be said they could not go on account of their
poverty. They must go, in order to keep pace with their rivals, so as to
keep an eye on them, lest they be supplanted in their affections. These
are three powerful inducements. Without Divine aid they are irresistible
when brought to bear on the young.




Here thousands of fathers and mothers have been compelled to yield to
the entreaties of their daughters, and sometimes their sons, in
purchasing costly apparel, jewelry, etc., when they knew they were not
able, outfits that never would have been needed but for the dance.
Hundreds of thousands of young men, with small salaries, in moderate
circumstances, have been induced, under this heavy pressure, to resort
to many dishonest devices in order to make the necessary preparations.
Clerks have sold goods above the market price and put the excess in
their pockets. They have often _borrowed_ money from their employer,
_without his knowledge_, small amounts, from day to day. They have
borrowed from friends by telling them they had money coming from an
estate, or friend or a debtor, which they knew to be false, and in the
same way, or by other false statements, have bought articles of
clothing, made large livery bills, which they knew would never be paid.
Many conceive the idea they can raise the desired amount at the gambling
table, and here do _their first_ gambling. Where one succeeds, at least
one hundred fail. Some raise the required amount by transferring a few
cows, yearlings, steers, a horse or a mule, to distant pastures; some
are caught and some are not. Those not caught are in a far worse
condition than those in the jail or in the penitentiary, because they
have been checked in their mad career, and the others are emboldened by
their escape to commit other and greater crimes. "Be sure your sins will
find you out." Yes, inexorable, unerring justice is on the track of all
evil-doers, and will be certain to overtake them sooner or later.
Hundreds of thousands of fathers and mothers, and young married people,
have been brought to poverty and misery; some, within my knowledge, to
alms-houses, by the heavy draws made upon them by their sons, daughters
and wives, in preparing for dancing parties and balls. For weeks before
the ball comes off - and here let it be understood that I mean the ball
to cover hops, dancing parties and all manner of dancing - the young
people are wild with excitement; they are almost wholly incapable of any
kind of business. All manner of domestic affairs are almost entirely
neglected by the girls and young wives. The bright anticipation of great
pleasure in the near future, turns some of their little shallow brains
up-side-down, and they are often seen in a sort of deep reverie, wearing
a blank gaze, having very much the appearance of poor unfortunate
idiots. If the father, mother, husband, brother or teacher speaks to
them, unless it be on the subject of the ball, they grin like a baboon
and snap like a mad dog. If we run on at the rate we are now going, it
will not be a great while until it may be found to be cheaper to build a
few asylums for the sane, and let the idiots and lunatics run at large.



Well, the long looked for day has come; it is now 8 P.M., and the boys,
girls and young wives are in their rooms donning their new and costly
apparel, which has been bought, borrowed or _stolen_ in divers and
sundry ways. Some have been paid for, some will be paid for, and some
will remain open accounts until judgment day. The wealthy and those who
never pay their bills will be dressed in the costliest, richest apparel,
because only these classes can afford these luxuries. EXTREMES WILL
MEET. The young men go and bring in their girls, and when they get to
the door, they are met by the committee of reception, who politely show
the ladies a side room where they will go and lay off their wraps. The
young men go out into the corner of the yard or in the woods and lay off
their _wraps_ - in the nature of a bottle of whiskey or brandy - or they
have left them in a buggy or carriage, or a room has been set apart for
this purpose, and the WRAPS have been provided before-hand, or they are
to be found in a convenient drinking saloon.


The girls wear their wraps around them. The boys _wear_ themselves
around their wraps. These _wraps_ are brought into requisition as the
physical man begins to weaken under the excessive and unnatural
exercise. Unnatural, because the hours designed by God, our maker, to be
used in rest and sleep are appropriated to another and very different
purpose. Here the tempter discovers another weak point, and he makes the
attack. The great draw made upon the physical forces makes it
necessary - the tempter says - to use an artificial stimulant, which is
here often taken the first time, and which is not unfrequently repeated,
until many are so much under its influence and some get so drunk - no,
become so suddenly _indisposed_, that they have to be carried home.
These entertainments seldom break up until the light of the morning
begins to appear, but I will compromise on 2 o'clock, A.M. At 9 or 10
o'clock, P.M., the performance begins, and I propose we shall _candidly_
and _honestly_ examine this basket of fruit. Whether designed or not, it
is simply a fact that many of the girls and women are dressed in such a
way and manner as best and most successfully to excite the baser
passions of men.

If the style of dress often, yea, nearly always, seen at the
_fashionable_ balls and dancing parties is wholly without any evil
design - innocently following a fashion - and if those who thus dress are
really ignorant of the effect it has upon the opposite sex, it is high
time their eyes were being opened. If this be only a fashion, and I want
to believe it is nothing more, but when I remember distinctly that this
manner of dressing for balls and dancing parties has been the fashion
for forty years and that it has never changed, _except to become a
little more so_, and that all other fashions have changed at least
twenty times, my belief staggers and hangs its head for very shame. This
fruit alone has sent hundreds of thousands of men, women and girls to
premature graves, dishonored graves, felons' cells, and to an endless
hell. That this semi-nude condition, in which many girls and women are
seen in the dance, has been productive of a vast deal of sin and crime,
no honest man certainly will deny. In the whirl of the gay and giddy
dance, we see:

Strong men and women fair
Are now within the tempter's snare,
With arms around each slender waist,
Each woman held in _close embrace_.

If all the _thoughts_ could be made known
Of seeds of crime which here are sown,
'Twould cause the _hardest_ cheek to blush
And every _virtuous_ heart would crush.

But so it is, and ere must be,
While men and women thus agree
_To tempt themselves, and others too_,

The following is the experience of a lady whose name is withheld, but
who has distinguished herself in literature, and made a world-wide

"In those times I cared little for polka or varsovienne, and still
less for 'Money Musk' or 'Virginia Reel,' and wondered what people
could find to admire in these slow dances. But in the soft floating
of the waltz I found a strange pleasure, rather difficult to
intelligibly describe. The mere anticipation fluttered my pulse,
and when my partner approached to claim my promised hand for the
dance, I felt my cheeks glow a little sometimes, and I could not
look him in the eye with the same frank gayety as heretofore.

"But the climax of my confusion was reached when, folded in his
warm embrace, and giddy with the whirl, a strange, sweet thrill
would shake me from head to foot, leaving me weak and almost
powerless, and really obliged to depend for support on the arm
which encircled me. If my partner failed, from ignorance, lack of
skill or innocence, to arouse these, to me, most pleasureable
sensations, I did not dance with him the second time.

"I am speaking openly and frankly, and when I say that I did not
understand what I felt, or what were the real and greatest
pleasures I derived from this so-called dancing, I expect to be
believed. But if my cheeks grew red with uncomprehended pleasure
then, they grow pale to-day with shame when I think of it all. It
was the physical emotions engendered by the magnetic contact of
strong men that I was enamored of - not of the dance, not even of
the men themselves.

"Thus I became abnormally developed in my lowest nature. I grew
bolder, and from being able to return shy glances at first, was
soon able to meet more daring ones, until the waltz became to me
and whomsoever danced with me, one lingering, sweet and purely
sensual pleasure, where heart beat against heart, hand was held in
hand and eyes looked burning words which lips dared not speak.

"All this time no one said to me, 'You do wrong;' so I dreamed of
sweet words whispered during the dance, and often felt, while
alone, a thrill of joy indescribable, yet overpowering, when my
mind would turn from my study to remember a piece of temerity of
unusual grandeur on the part of one or another of my cavaliers.

"Married now, with home and children around me, I can at least
thank God for the experience which will assuredly be the means of
preventing my little daughters from indulging in any such dangerous
pleasure. But if a young girl, pure and innocent in the beginning,
can be brought to feel what I have confessed to have felt, what
must be the experience of a married woman? She knows what every
glance of the eye, every bend of the head, every close clasp means,
and knowing that, reciprocates it, and is led by swifter steps and
a surer path down the dangerous, dishonorable road."

I read in the Scripture, in that ever memorable sermon on the Mount,
this significant declaration: "Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust
after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." Some
may not receive this as sound doctrine, because it is the language of
Jesus Christ; but this will not give relief, because the _corrupting_
influence would be just the same if Christ had never said one word about
it. Christ only gave the great sin a name by calling it adultery. It was
in this way the seed was sown in the heart of the Psalmist David that
caused him to commit one of the greatest crimes ever committed on earth.
See 2 Samuel, 11 Ch. In the same way the seed has been sown in the
hearts of thousands of men in the ball room, in the dances and in the
private parlors, which has ripened into disruptions of the marital
relations - has ripened into husbands murdering their wives, has ripened
into husbands losing their wives by elopement, has ripened into husbands
being murdered, has ripened into young men killing each other; and last,
though not least, has resulted in the utter ruin of hundreds of
thousands of the fair daughters of our land and country. Taking the
declarations of Jesus Christ as true, and no honest man can doubt it,
_there never was and never will be a dancing party or ball that the
great sin He referred to was not and will not be committed in the hearts
of some men_.

Here permit me to ask an important question, and solemnly charge every
reader to make answer as upon oath:


If common honesty compels fathers, husbands and brothers to admit these
things to be true, will you ever again permit your wives, your daughters
or your sisters to be found at one of these places, however decent the
people may be, while they are under your control? If you do, after your
attention has been called to the hideous deformity of the dance, God,
man and your own conscience will condemn you. Whatsoever of evil or
crime may be committed, unyielding justice, unmixed with mercy, will
certainly hold you responsible. This last objection to the dance will
hold and be just as good against the theaters and operas, because no one
will deny but that a special effort is generally made at these places to
excite the passions of men and women by an indecent exposure of their
persons. To say the least of it, Christians have no business at these

A Christian has no business at any place where he cannot go in the name
of Jesus Christ, because the Scripture says: "They shall walk up and
down in His name." - Zach., 10 ch. 12v. Micah, 4 ch. 5v. - "His name shall
be on their foreheads." - Rev., 22 ch. 4 v. "Ye are my witnesses." - Isa.,
43 ch. 10 v. Can a Christian, a true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ,
"walk up and down" in a ball room in His _name_? Can a Christian go into
a ball room with the name of Jesus Christ written on his or her
forehead? If a man has His name written on his forehead, and he goes
into a ball room, theater, opera, or a drinking saloon, does he not, by
that act, hide the name of Jesus Christ? Can a Christian be a witness
for God in the ball room, theater, opera, or drinking saloon? _If not,
his testimony is false, and he is a perjured man!_ I have no doubt some
very nice people - _society people_ - will be terribly _shocked_ at the
developments herein made.

I was raised in the country, and I remember a varmint got to visiting
our poultry yard and carrying off those _roosting nearest the ground_,
which were generally our _improved blooded (society)_ chickens, and
whenever we would get after him, he would run down through a _very
muddy_ place, and take refuge in a hole in the bank of a creek. We
rather dreaded the task of following him through all this _mud and
filth_; but, as a last resort, rather than let him have all the poultry,
or allow him to continue his depredations at pleasure, we waded through
the mud down to his den and dug into his hiding place; and when he was
struck on the head with the back of a hoe, he too was _terribly

Now this little animal was not, as may be supposed by some, one of the
"common or unclean," but he was one of the elite, a regular _society_
mink. He was covered with very fine fur, but had his stomach filled with
stolen chickens. I leave the application to all to whom these presents
may come, GREETING. _When I want to buy a hat, I never take one unless
it fits me_.

More or less of the girls participating in the dance are engaged to be
married, and great effort is made to keep this a profound secret, so she
very naturally has every man for a partner except her intended. Here is
music in the back-ground, if her intended is present, and he is sure to
be there if he is in striking distance - if he is not down with typhoid
fever or in prison.

This music is in his heart, in the nature of clamoring for blood, by a
legion of different sized devils. It may be there is not one man in the
room that would have his girl under any consideration whatever, but he
imagines that they all want her. The female outfit for the ball consists
of girls and a number of young married women, and some a little older,
and some old women, forty to fifty years old, with grown children, false
teeth, false hair, and bloats to swell out their wrinkled cheeks, and
they, too, are dressed in the _fashion_ with red ribbons, and blue and
green; these furnish the _disgust_ for the occasion - and one of them has
been known to furnish disgust enough for a city of ten thousand
inhabitants, and of the very best quality. Let us return to the basket
containing the young married people, and examine the fruit therein.
Reader, did you ever see the young married woman watching her husband as
he glides up and down in the merry dance, _with an old sweetheart in his
arms?_ If you never did, the first opportunity you have, take a good
look at a cat's eyes in the dark and in imagination transfer them to the
young wife's head, and you will have a very correct idea of how _sweet_
and _amiable_ she looks.

Who among the living will ever forget that poor unfortunate girl, in the
State of Georgia, who was assassinated in the ball room by a jealous
young wife? The civilized world was shocked by the announcement of this
terrible tragedy, which was purely the fruit of the ball room. These
parties were not of the low and vulgar, but were of the society people
of the age. How many husbands have in the same way and for the same
cause had all the baser, brutish passions aroused to such an extent as
to have their reasoning faculties dethroned, and have been driven by the
raging devils within to commit many of the greatest, most shameful and
most disgraceful crimes that ever blackened the records of a criminal
court? How many have cursed and abused their wives while on the way home
from the ball room? How many, after their arrival at home, have used
their superior physical strength in abusing their wives in a most
shameful and disgraceful manner? How much of all this was the result of
a frenzied imagination, and not for any real misconduct? How many of all
these cruel wrongs and outrages are never known except by the parties
themselves? How many fathers and mothers have neglected their children
by leaving them in incompetent and unsafe hands, while they spent the
night in the ball room? How many husbands have left their wives, in poor
health, sometimes sick in bed, with two or three little children crying
around them, while they have spent the night in the ball room dancing
with other women? How many men and women, and especially women, from
physical and mental causes superinduced by the effects of the ball room,
have been driven to madness, and have thus become inmates of insane
asylums, or have deliberately taken their own lives? O! for the pen of a
Milton or a Pollock! But this would not suffice, because these questions
can only be answered at the Judgment Bar of God, when the secrets of all
hearts shall be made known.


How many girls have innocently and _ignorantly_ killed themselves, or
have sown the seed of some terrible lingering disease, by checking the
course of nature, by bathing or otherwise, in their preparation for the
ball room, which they would not have done to attend any other place? How
many women, all over the country, are suffering the pangs of death from
this cause alone?

One of the handsomest and most accomplished girls I ever knew, at the
age of eighteen, ignorantly killed herself in this way. I know through
physicians of many others who have wrecked their health in the same way.
Let the invalids among the women tell their physicians the _truth_, and
then let the physicians and the _graves_ speak out, and the world would
be horror-stricken at the awful report. Whiskey has slain its thousands,
but the ball, the hop, the dance, its tens of thousands.

In this connection I wish to give young men some wholesome advice,
which, if observed, will keep them out of a great deal of trouble, and
save the payment of a great many bills. Whenever you hear that an old
clock, an old carriage, an old saw-mill, an old steamboat, or a woman or
girl who is _passionately_ fond of dancing is on the market, be certain
to remain in bed or get the sheriff, which is much safer, to put you in
jail until these articles are disposed of. I respectfully refer to all
who have had any of these articles _knocked off on them_.

When the ball closes, the young men take the girls to their homes. In a
little while the girls - darling angels - are in the land of dreams, but
they certainly never dream that they have been "sowing the seeds of
eternal shame, sowing the seeds of a maddened brain." They never dream
_that they are responsible for all the sins and crimes that flow from
the ball room_, BUT THEY CERTAINLY ARE, because if they would not go to
these places, there never would be another ball or hop or dance upon the
face of all the earth.


If they do, they will not injure any one but themselves, and they will
be certain not to keep late hours. While the girls are dreaming, the
young men are assembling at some favorite room or corner down in town.
If Jim gets there first he waits for Bill, and then they wait for Jack,
Bob, Ben, Charlie and the balance of the club. When they are all in, one
or two of the older ones propose to go across the way and take a drink
at the corner saloon, which is still in blast; yes, running at a full
head of steam, or rather mean whiskey. Now here is a very strange thing.
I have never heard of but one first-class saloon closing until after the
ball closed, and in this case the owner was very sick and the bar-tender
had skipped with the cash balance. Some of these boys have been taught
by their old-fogy fathers and mothers that such things are not to be
found on the straight and narrow road, because there is no _room_ for
them along this road, _and no use for them either_.

I have carefully examined my way-bill to heaven, and it was made out by
one who knows every foot of the way, but I find no mention made of
drinking saloons, ball rooms, theaters, operas, houses of ill-fame, and
_such like_ places as being on or near this road. The same one has
furnished me a way-bill to hell, and I find all these places mentioned
as being on the line of this road. Whenever you find yourself, dear
reader, at one of these places, you may know beyond the shadow of a
doubt that you are not in the narrow road; and with equal certainty you
may know you are in the broad road. Now these boys are evidently on the
broad road, because the devil's sutler-shops are not to be found
anywhere else, for the very good reason that he cannot get a permit to
put them up on the narrow road. He would put them in the very center of
heaven if he possibly could. His impudence and daring is only equaled by
his fathomless corruption. The man or woman who will dare to say that
these places are found on the road to heaven, certainly has a very poor
idea of heaven and its inhabitants. If they are to be found along the
straight and narrow way, and the travelers along this way are to enter
and participate in the things therein going on, then they are certainly
designed of God to _aid in the salvation of immortal souls_. If this be
true, on entering the narrow way the first refreshments we shall get are
to be found in one of these places, having this sign over the door;
"FIRST CHANCE," and the last thing we pass in this life, just before we
enter heaven, will be another one of these houses with this inscription
over the door: "LAST CHANCE." Some of these boys don't understand it
this way; they have been raised to think that "_there is no harm in
dancing_," but were never told that the dancing shops of all kinds are
on the same road with all the drinking saloons and other places of a
like character. No, the same parents told their sons that the drinking
saloon is next door to hell, and these are the ones we read about in the
Bible, who "strain at a gnat and swallow a camel." That is to say, in
those days when Christ was on earth, there were some people so
peculiarly constituted that they strained at a gnat and swallowed a
camel; but we live in an age of improvement, an age in which some people


Online LibraryW.E. PennThere is No Harm in Dancing → online text (page 2 of 3)