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A wonthly Journal,
CHIEFLY DEVOTED TO THE INTERESTS
SOCIETY OF FRIENDS.
“ Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein."-Jer. vi. 16.
VOL. VIII.-Nos. I. TO XII.
WILLIAM AND ROBERT SMEAL.
GLASGOW, Ist MONTH, 31st, 1850.
of the ceremonies to disturb the tranquillity of the THEIR ORIGIN, DISTINGUISHING PRINCIPLES,
room, animosities have sometimes sprung up between AND PRACTICES.
them which have not been healed in a little time. I
am aware that in some large towns of the kingdom XXVI.-MORAL EDUCATION-AMUSEMENTS, &c.
regulations are made with a view to the prevention of (Continued from page 240, Vol. VII.)
these evils, but it is in some only; and even where DANCING CONTINUED. -I am afraid that I shall be they are made, though they prevent outward rude thought more cynical than just, more prejudiced than behaviour, they do not prevent inward dissatisfaction. impartial, more given to censure than to praise, if, in Moneyed influence still feels itself often debased by a temples apparently dedicated to good humour, cheer- lower place. fulness, and mirth, I should say that sources were to If we were to examine the ball-room further, we be found from whence we could trace the rise of should find new circumstances arising to call out new immoral passions. But human nature is alike in all and degrading passions. We should find disappointplaces; and if circumstances should arise in the ball- ment and discontent often throwing the seeds of irritaroom which touch, as it were, the strings of the pas-bility on the mind. Men, fond of dancing, frequently sions, they will as naturally throw out their tone as in find an over-proportion of men, and but few females, in other places. Why should envy, jealousy, pride, the room. And women, wishing to dance, sometimes malice, anger, or revenge, shut themselves out exclu- find an over-proportion of women, and but few men; sively from these resorts, as if these were more than so that partners are not to be had for all, and a num. ordinarily sacred, or more than ordinary repositories of ber of each class must make up their minds to sit human worth?
quietly, and to lose their diversion for the night. In examining the interior of the ball-room, it must Partners, too, are frequently dissatisfied with each be confessed that we shall certainly find circumstances other. One thinks his partner too old; another too occasionally arising, that give birth to feelings neither plain; another below him. Matched often in this of a pleasant nor of a moral nature. It is not unusual, unequal manner, they go down the dance in a sort of for instance, to discover among the females one that dudgeon, having no cordial disposition towards each excels in the beauty of her person, and another that other, and having persons before their eyes in the excels in the elegance of her dress. The eyes of all same room with whom they could have cordially are more than proportionally turned upon these for the danced. Nor are instances wanting where the pride whole night. This little circumstance soon generates of some has fixed upon the mediocrity of others, as a a variety of improper passions. It calls up vanity and reason why they should reluctantly lend them their conceit in the breasts of these objects of admiration. hands when falling in with them in the dance. The It raises envy and jealousy, and even anger, in some slight is soon perceived, and disgust arises in both of the rest. These become envious of the beauty of parties. the former, envious of their taste, envious of their Various other instances might be mentioned where clothing, and, above all, jealous of the admiration very improper passions are excited. I shall only bestowed upon them. In this evil state of mind one observe, however, that these passions are generally passion begets another; and instances have occurred, stronger, and give more uneasiness, and are called up where some of these have felt displeased at the appa- to a greater height than might generally be imagined rent coldness and indifference of their own partners, from such apparently slight causes. In many instances, because they have appeared to turn their eyes more indeed, they have led to such serious misunderstandupon the favourites of the night than upon themselves. ings that they were only terminated by the duel.
In the same room, when the parties begin to take From this statement Î may remark here, though my their places to dance, other little circumstances not observation may not be immediately to the point, that unfrequently occur, which give rise to other passion. there is not, probably, that portion of entertainment, Many, aiming to be as near to the top of the dance as or that substantial pleasure, which people expected to possible, are disappointed of their places by others who find at these monthly meetings. The little jealousies have just stept into them. Dissatisfaction, and somo- arising about precedency, or about the admiration of times murmurs, follow. Each, in his own mind, sup- one more than of another; the falling in occasionally poses
his claims and pretensions to the higher place to with disagreeable partners; the slights and omissions be stronger, on account of his money, his connections, that are often thought to be purposely made; the headhis profession, or his rank. Thus, his own disposi- | aches, colds, sicknesses, and lassitude afterwards, must tions to pride are only the more nursed and fostered. all of them operate as so many drawbacks from this Malice, too, is often engendered on the occasion: and pleasure: and it is not unusual to hear persons, fond though the parties would not be allowed by the master of such amusements, complaining afterwards that they had not answered. There is, therefore, probably, have had recourse to different modes of writing for the more pleasure in the preparations for such amuse- promotion of virtue. Some have had recourse to allements, and in the previous talk about them, than in gories, others to fables. The fables of Æsop, though the amusements themselves.
a fiction from beginning to end, have been useful to It is also probable that the greatest pleasure felt in many. But we have a peculiar instance of the use and a ball-room is felt by those who go into it as spectators innocence of fictitious descriptions in the sacred writonly. These receive pleasure from the music, from ings--the Author of the Christian religion having made the beat of the steps in unison with it, but particularly use of parables on many and weighty occasions. We from the idea that all who join in the dance are happy. cannot, therefore, condemn fictitious biography, unless These considerations produce in the spectator cheer- it condemn itself by becoming a destroyer of morals, fulness and mirth; and these are continued to bim The arguments against novels, in which Friends more pure and unalloyed than in the former case, agree as a body, are taken from the pernicious influbecause he can have no drawbacks from the admission ence that they have upon the minds of those who read into his own breast of any of those uneasy and immoral them. passions above described.
Friends do not say that all novels have this influBut to return to the point in question :—The reader ence, but that they have it generally: The great has now had the different cases laid before him, as demand for novels, in consequence of the taste which determined by the moral philosopher. He has been the world has shown for this species of writing, has conducted also through the interior of the ball-room. induced persons of all descriptions, and of course many He will have perceived, therefore, that the arguments who have been but ill qualified, to write them. Hence, of Friends have gradually unfolded themselves, and though some vovels have appeared of considerable that they are more or less conspicuous, or more or less merit, the worthless have been greatly preponderant. true, as dancing is viewed abstractedly, or in connec- The demand also has occasioned foreign novels, of a tion with the preparations and accompaniments that complexion by no means suited to the good sense and may be interwoven with it. If it be viewed in connec- character of our country, to be translated into our tion with these preparations and accompaniments, and language. Hence a fresh weight has been thrown if these should be found to be so inseparably connected into the preponderating scale. From these two causes, with it that they must invariably go together, (which it has happened, that the contents of a great majority is supposed to be the case where it is introduced into of our novels have been unfavourable to the improvethe ball-room,) he will have no difficulty in pronoune- ment of the moral character. Now, when we consider ing that in this case it is objectionable as a Christian this circumstance, and when we consider likewise that recreation. For it cannot be doubted that it has an professed novel-readers generally read all the compoimmediate tendency in this case to produce a frivolous sitions of this sort that come into their way; that they levity, to generate vanity and pride, and to call up wait for no selection, but that they devour the good, passions of the malevolent kind. Now in this point of the bad, and the indifferent, alike; we shall see the view it is that Friends generally consider dancing. reasons which have induced Friends to believe that They never view it, as I observed before, abstractedly, the effect of this species of writing upon the mind has or solely by itself. They have therefore forbidden it to been generally pernicious. their Society, believing it to be the duty of a Chris- One of the effects, which the members of this Society tian to be serious in his conversation and deportment, consider to be produced by novels upon those who read to afford an example of humility, and to be watchful them, is an affectation of knowledge, which leads them and diligent in the subjugation of his evil passions. to become forward and presumptuous. This effect is
Novels.-Among the prohibitions which Friends highly injurious; for, while it raises them unduly in have adopted in their moral education, as barriers their own estimation, it lowers them in that of the against vice, or as preservatives of virtue, I shall consider world. Nothing can be more disgusting, in the opinion that next, which relates to the perusal of improper of Friends, than to see persons assuming the authoribooks. George Fox seems to have forgotten nothing tative appearance of men and women, before their age that was connected with the morals of the Society. or their talents can have given them any pretensions He was anxious for the purity of its character. Ile to do it. seenied afraid of every wind that blew, lest it should Another effect is the following:- They conceive that bring some noxious vapour to defile it. And as those there is among professed novel-readers, a peculiar cast things which were spoken or represented might corrupt of mind. They observe in them a romantic spirit, a the mind, so those which were written and printed sort of wonder-loving imagination, and a disposition might corrupt it also. He recommended, therefore, towards enthusiastic flights of the fancy, which, to that the youth of his newly-formed society should sober persons, have the appearance of a temporary abstain from the reading of romances. William Penn, derangement. As the former effect must become and others, expressed the same sentiments on this injurious by pro lucing forwarılness, so this must subject. And the same opinion has been held by become so by producing unsteadiness of character. Friends, as a body of Christians, down to the present A third effect, which they find to be produced among day. llence novels, as a particular species of romance, this description of readers, is conspicuous in a perand as that which is considered as of the worst ten- verted morality. Readers of this cast place almost dency, have been particularly marked for prohibition. every virtue in feling, and in the affectation of bene
Some among Friends have been inclined to think, volence. They consider these as the true and only, that novels ought to be rejected on account of the ficti- sources of good. They make these equivalent to moral tious nature of their contents. But this consideration principle. And actions flowing from feeling, though is by no means generally adopted by the Society, as feeling itself is not always well founded, and sometimes an argument against them. Nor would it be a sound runs into compassion even against justice, they class argument if it were. If novels contain no evil within as moral duties arising from moral principle. They themselves, or have no evil tendency, the mere circum- consider also too frequently the laws of religion'as barstance of the subject, names, or characters, being barous restraints, and which their new notions of civifeigned, will not stamp them as censurable. Such lized refinement may relax at will ; and they do not fiction will not be like the fiction of the drama, where hesitate, in consequence, to give a colour to some men act and personate characters that are not their fashionable vices, which no Christian painter would own. Different men, in different ages of the world, admit into any composition which was his own.