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will invite us to go to her ball, no doubt, their golden calf, plagiarizing the paganbecause it is her first ball, and she will find ism of the tyrants from whom they had but our name upon the list which she will bor- just escaped ; as the daughters of Shiloh row from one of her particular friends, who danced in the shadow (you cannot call it is also a particular friend of ourselves. And the shade) of the graceful palm-trees, we shall go, in the first place, because Mrs. when the bold sons of Benjamin came out Smith's politeness deserves such an ac- from the dusk of the vineyards, and bore knowledgment; and, in the second place, them away to be brides of the tribe. When because we always enjoy the first coup d'æil Plato (who looked upon dancing as of diof a handsome suite of rooms, brilliantly vine invention, and held it to be worthy lighted, and made seducing with pretty the gravest consideration of the highest faces and charming dresses, flowers, and intellects) describes the triple dances of fine music; and, in the third place, because the Greeks, he gives us no hint of anywe have acquired a habit of going where thing at all resembling a ball. That certain persons of our acquaintance go. Splendid and stately “ dance of the cranes," But Mrs. Smith does not care a button which Theseus disdained not to lead around whether we come to ber house or stay at the altar of Apollo, and Plutarch in vain home, and we care as little, at heart, which endeavored to sound for its mystic meanwe do. And as Mrs. Smith feels about us, ing, was not less unlike a modern “Gerso she will feel about nine-tenths of her man" than an average
“ leader of the guests; and as we feel about Mrs. Smith's German" is unlike Theseus. And you may ball, 80 will nine-tenths of her guests feel go through a whole winter of New York, about it.
and a whole summer of Newport, missing And this, we contend, is not at all a satis- not a single ball, nor the least “ children's factory state of things. For Mrs. Smith's party," without seeing anything which ball being planned with care and anxiety, shall, in the remotest degree, remind you of and provided for at great expense, and pre- the Pyrrhic dance of the Spartans ; as, for pared with elaborate pains, ought to be instance, of that Trichoriac figure in which an entertainment, and we ought to be ans- old men opened the dance with singing, ious to go to it, and Mrs. Smith ought to “Of old we were brave in war;" and the be decently proud of her hospitalities, and young men responded, “And we now are she ought to derive a reasonable amount 80 !" and the treble choir of the children of honest complacency and agreeable satis- exultingly closed the proud national hymn, faction from ber efforts to please, amuse,
“And we in our time shall be bravest of and gratify the circle of her friends and all !" acquaintances. In one word, Mrs. Smith's Women danced before the Greeks, and ball, postponed on account of Lent, ought danced for the Greeks, as they danced beto be a festivity when it is finally given, fore the Romans, as they dance now for and not an empty tedious frivolity. And the dull lords of the East. Their grace why should it not be ?
and their beauty served to delight the inThere is nothing intrinsically more empty dolent gaze of their masters, or to swell and frivolous in the idea of a ball than in the pomp of pageants and of sacrificial the idea of a procession, or a spectacle, of shows; and, sometimes, in the simple vila parade of soldiers, or a regatta of yachts. lages of Hellas or of Italy, the rustic Greek etymologies give gravity, and the youths and maidens beat circles on the word we keep 80 lightly is weighted with grass with rude saltations, rejoicing in antique dignity. Not that the Greeks gave their youth, and health, and strength, and balls. They had too low an estimate of in the simple music of their land. woman for that. They danced, of course, But it was reserved for Christendom to as all the world bas danced from the be- emancipate and to refine the amusements ginning; as the beauties of Memphis danced as well as to sanctify and to harmonize around the sacred bull, Apis, feeding that the relations of the sexes, and the ball, in fortunate thunder-born beast with cakes which women were to dance with men, parand candies, and serving up to him, in ex- taking in an equal pleasure, and within quisite cups of gold and ivory, the wonder- one circle of self-respect, propriety, and ful Nile water, more delicious than wine; courtesy, belongs to modern Christendom. as the Jews of the desert danced about The first ball was a protest, and a most
brilliant protest, against the degradation have borrowed no trifling portion of their
personages of the highest distinction. The
mor justice to Mrs. Smith, and our other followed by an intermission, during wbich ball-giving acquaintances, to set forth the the Swiss guard brought in six tables Qovarnished story of a regal ball in the superbly served, and set them down, time of Louis XIV, as an eye-witness has each one being at liberty to help himself recorded it. The ball was given on the during half an hour. Besides these tables, marriage of the Duke of Burgundy : a magnificent room, leading out of the
“The gallery of Versailles was divided gallery, was garnished with a vast number into three parts by two gilded balustrades. of vessels filled with all the eseentials of a The middle part made the central ball- most exquisite collation. Some of the room, and there, on a dais covered with ex- princes entered this chamber, took a few quisite gobelin tapestry, chairs of crimson pomegranates, oranges, and comfits, and velvet, tasseled and trimmed with gold, went out again; the public were then adwere set for the king, the king and queen mitted, and everything disappeared in a of England, the Duchess of Burgundy, moment." and the royal family. On the other three Here we have“ the one touch of nature sides of this central space were prepared making kin” the court of the Fourteenth rows of very rich arm-chairs for the foreign Louis with the youngest New York clamambassadors, foreign princes and prin. orous for supper! cesses, the dukes and duchesses, and the “In still another chamber, two maggrand officers of the crown, while seats nificent buffets were arranged, with all were arrayed bebind them for the high kinds of wincs, cordials, and refreshing personages of the court and of the city. drinks; and there a great number of the To the right and left were amphitheatres royal servants gave any one whatever he filled with spectators; and, to avoid all wished during the whole time of the ball, confusion, every one entered by a small which lasted till morning. The dancing, gilded turnstile. · In a separate circle during the whole time, was of the most sewere arranged the twenty-four violins, the rious, grave, and elevated character.'' siz hautboys, and the six flutes of the royal If the reader yawns over this account, orchestra. The gallery was lighted by written by a reverential admirer of the gigantic crystal lustres, and an immense Grand Monarque, who was, probably, only number of golden girandoles, filled with too happy “to lean over the balustrade openormous wax candles. Every one invited posite to the king," and count the eight hunhad been ordered to come superbly dress- dred embroidered and brocaded guests, ed; the least expensive coats worn by the in the light of the royal countenance, be men cost three or four buodred dollars; may imagine what it must have been to some being of velvet embroidered in gold stand for five mortal bours in the midst of and silver, and lined with brocade at fifty that glittering crowd to watch the ceremocrowns the yard, and others of cloth of nious dancing of the numerous "princes gold or silver. The ladies were still and princesses of the blood.” If we cannot more splendidly arrayed--their jewels rival the balls of the great Louis in splendor, making a magnificent show. Leaning over at least we may console ourselves with the the balustrade, opposite to the king, I thought, that it will be difficult for us to counted abont eight bundred persons, eclipse them in stupidity. Mrs. Smith whose costumes made up a most charming will have no Versailles gallery divided into spectacle.
three parts by gilded balustrades, wherein “ The Duke and Duchess of Burgundy to exhibit herself and the princes and opened the ball with a coranto, then she princesses of her house—nor will her took the king of England, and the duke guests be glorious in embroidered coats the queen of England, and the Queen of and diamond-hilted swordsbut she can England took the king of France, and then easily have better music than the violins, the king of France took the Duchess of hautboys, and flutes of the Grand Monarque Burgundy, and so they went on changing could make for him; and she may be sure and changing again, till all the princes and that her guests, let their misconduct at princesses of the blood had danced, each in supper be never so bad, cannot outdo the the order of his or her rank. As there were brilliant crowd of courtiers who“ pillaged not a few princes and princesses, this the collation in a few minutes." ceremony lasted a long time, and was Still it must be remembered tbat all the
balls of the ancien régime were not state ccriosity. So flat and weary is the surballs, and that those which were not state face of our so-called “ festive" life, that balls were far more delightful than any the mere chance of seeing a new house balls of which we have had any experience. affords a brief excitement quite disproporThe fêtes given by Fouquet to his royal tionate to the attractions, actual or probmaster at Vaux-le-Vicomte-the balls of able, of any house built, or likely to be Colbert at Sceaux-the delicious entertain-. built, in our city. ments provided for the court by the finan- Do these things prove, then, that all cier, Dupin, at Chenonceaux, the paradise amusement is frivolous, or simply that of Touraine-the ballets of Fontainebleau our people do not know how to amuse
- these were the social wonders of the themselves ? Clearly, we think the latter; most pleasure-loving and pleasure-seeking and we do not limit our criticism to the society that ever existed. And they were 80-called fashionable world. The vast wonders worth thinking of, because the middle classes, especially of our city popasecret of their fascination lay not at all in lation, blunder through life in a still the license of the age, bat in the artistic blinder and more dangerous way. skill with which they were devised and ar- The developments made in the course of ranged. Here, it seems to us, is the fatal the Bond-street tragedy--the revelations defect of our American society. We treat of Sir Pandarus in the post-office-the exour amusements as matters of no import- hibitions of “ gift ladies” and “gift gentleance. Instead of endeavoring to make the men”-all point in one direction. For the entertainments of the social world really most excitable people on earth no adequate entertaining—instead of bestowing upon and legitimate excitements of a healthy them the thought and reflection which they nature are provided—to the people among deserve--those of our people, who think whom more opportunities of idleness and at all of entertaining, do not think in mischief exist than among any other, the least how they sball entertain, nor entertaining and refining occupations are, make any efforts to secure their object. in any sufficient measure, offered. They “ give a ball," and there is the end While our tradesmen and mechanics, our of it. The idea of imprinting upon that merchants and our professional men are ball any particular cachet of a character to working all day long, each in his vocation, make it peculiar in its charm, and to ren- they all and each seem wholly to forget that der it worth remembering, rarely enters they have left, in their homes, wives, sons, any one's brain. And so all of us, who do and daughters, placed by their efforts in not dance, drop into a monotonous round positions of ease, and relieved of any ab of exhausting conversation, carried on by sorbing cares, but almost unprovided with fits and starts in the intervals of dancing; just and commendable facilities for conand those, who do dance, dance under every suming profitably and pleasantly their possible disadvantage-crowded into an wealth of nervous life and fallow time. inadequate space, and jostled by spectators Yet one would say, that reflections of who are not " balustraded off," as were the this sort might not unbecomingly be made courtiers at Versailles, but press into the by the heads of families ; and we submit it centre of the quadrille and intercept the orb to such persons whether the care of the it of the polkers at the most fatal tangents. amusements of a great people the culture
And it is the natural consequence of of the arts which occupy with grace the this state of things, that nothing is 80 rare leisure earned by labor—be not worthy an ornament of an American ball-room as the gravest attention of sedate and earnest a face bright with the expression of posi- men !-whether theatrical criticism, and tive enjoyment, or even absolutely free artistic criticism, and questions of mere from the desolate and lacklustre air of social entertainment and private pleasureintense ennui.
seeking, do not take upon themselves an Let any one announce a performance of aspect serious enough to demand a Lenten private theatricals, a fancy ball, or even sermon, when their relations to private an amateur concert, and, instantly, the happiness and to public virtue are thos whole world is eager with interest and suddenly flashed upon the mind ?
I Magazine of Literature,
of Literature, Science, and Art.
VOL. IX.-MAY, 1857.-NO. LIII.
THE TRAIL, THE TRACE, AND THE WAGON-ROAD;
BEING SKETCHES OF WILD LIFE WEST OF THE MISSOURI.
HE half- The tall pine-trees threw long shadbreed ows across the narrow mountain path,
had rid- when Kaya suddenly reined up : "Beden through the day hold the first water of the western with more than the slope,” he said ; " have I kept my usual recklessness faith?” “What does the wild man of his class. He mean?” cried Wilson. “You are thor. had pushed his gal- oughly versed in the eccentricities of
lant gray horse these worthy savages; it is still a long down the slopes of steep ravines, and way to the Mission; ask him to ex urged him against the steep hillsides of plain himself.” Thus addressed, the the winding trail, until the less vigorous New Englander turned to their guide, avimals of the travelers were beaten to and requested him to tell them why he a walk.
bad halted. “It is not night,” he said ; VOL. IX.-29