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On Dancing
by [?]

I was looking through a “Querist Album” the other day; one of those dreadful confession books in which you are required to answer the most absurd questions. Dreadful indeed they are to write in, but not altogether uninteresting to peruse, though the interest comes not so much in the answers themselves as in the manner in which they are written.

Some go in for it seriously, and describe their inmost feelings on the pages; some take a witty strain, and put down the most ridiculous things they can think of; while others write just what comes first.

Some are such hypocrites, too. Here is a man who describes his wife as his ideal woman; and when we know that he scarcely ever addresses a civil word to the poor little woman, his admission is, to say the least of it, amusing.

“Have you ever been in love? and if so, how often?” This is one of the questions. The answers to it are of doubtful veracity. All the single ladies reply “Never!” underlining the word three times. “Yes, only once,” is the statement of the married ones. According to the Querist Album, “The course of true love always runs smooth.” No one seems to be attacked by Cupid but they must immediately marry the object of their choice, and “all goes merrily as a marriage bell.” The men, on the contrary, like to appear somewhat inflammable. It is generally the masculine writers who adopt the sprightly key. Twenty–forty–thousands of times they admit falling in love. Such one-sided affairs they must have been, too; for the girls, according to their own confessions, never reciprocated any attachment until their rightful lords and masters appeared on the scene. I am afraid we must be a very hard-hearted race!

But it is the question relating to your idea of “the greatest earthly happiness” that struck me most. “Never being called in the morning,” was one lazy person’s reply. “To write M.P. after my name,” was the ambition of another. “Married life,” wrote the bride on the completion of her honeymoon. Ah, little bride, you have been married some years now. Are your ideas still the same, I wonder? “A good partner, a good floor, and good music,” said a fourth, and it is this one that has my entire sympathy. I agree with her. It is my idea also of “the greatest earthly happiness.” I do not require much, you see. These are not very difficult things to procure now-a-days; and yet I am often taunted with my love of dancing. If I express disapproval of a man, “I suppose he can’t dance,” they say with a sneer.

Now though that accomplishment is a necessity in a ball-room, I do not consider it indispensable in a husband. Unfortunately you cannot dance through life. I wish you could for many reasons. A continual change of partners, for instance, would it not be refreshing? You would scarcely have time to grow tired of them. And how much more polite our husbands would be if they thought we were only fleeting joys! What am I saying? I am shocking everyone I am afraid; the little matron who advocates married life, the newly-made brides whose ideal men are realized in their husbands–I am shocking them all! I humbly plead forgiveness. You see, I am not married myself. I can only give my impressions as a looker-on, and, as Thackeray says, “One is bound to speak the truth as far as one knows it, and a deal of disagreeable matter must come out in the course of such an undertaking.”

But dancing is indispensable in a ball-room. If a man cannot dance he should stay away, and not make an object of himself. Unfortunately, so many think they excel in the art when they have not the least idea of it. Again, with girls, dancing (in a ball-room only, of course) comes before charm of manner, before wit, even before beauty. I know girls, absolutely plain, with not a word to say for themselves, who dance every dance, while the walls of the room are lined with pretty faces, and dismal-looking enough they are too, which is very foolish of them. They should have too much pride to show their discomfiture.