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A Portraiture of Quakerism, Volume 1 by Clarkson

That they had been nearly two hours under one dresser only


But

suppose now, that a new case were opened to the philosopher. Suppose it were told him, that the same party had been so delighted with their dance upon the green, that they had resolved to meet once a month for the purpose of dancing, and that they might not be prevented by bad weather, to meet in a public room; that they had met according to their resolution; that they had danced at their first meeting but for a short time; but that at their meetings after, wards, they had got into the habit of dancing from eight or nine at night till twelve or one in the morning; that many of them now began to be unduly heated in the course of this long exercise; that some of them in consequence of the heat in this crowded room, were now occasionally ready to faint; that it was now usual for some of them to complain the next morning of colds, others of head-achs, others of relaxed nerves, and almost all of them of a general lassitude or weariness--what could the philosopher say in the present case?

The philosopher would now probably think, that they acted unreasonably as human beings; that they turned night into day; and that, as if the evils of life were not sufficient in number, they converted hours, which might have been spent calmly and comfortably at home, into hours of indisposition and of unpleasant feelings to themselves. But this is not to the point. Would he or would he not say, that the arguments of the Quakers applied in the present case? It certainly

does not appear, from any thing that has yet transpired on this subject, that he could, with any shadow of reason, accuse the persons, meeting on this occasion, of vanity or pride, or that he could see from any of the occurrences, that have been mentioned, how these evils could be produced. Neither has any thing yet come out, from which he could even imagine the sources of any improper passions. He might think perhaps, that they might be vexed for having brought fatigue and lassitude upon themselves, but he could see no opening for serious anger to others, or for any of the feelings of malevolence. Neither could he tell what occurrence to fix upon for the production of a frivolous levity. He would almost question, judging only from what has appeared in the last case, whether there might not be upon the whole more pain than pleasure from these meetings, and whether those, who on the day subsequent to these meetings felt themselves indisposed, and their whole nervous system unbraced, were not so near the door of repentance, that serious thoughts would be more natural to them than those of a lighter kind.

But let us suppose one other case to be opened to the philosopher. Let us now suppose it to be stated to him, that those who frequented these monthly meetings, but particularly the females, had become habituated to talk, for a day or two beforehand, of nothing but of how they should dress themselves, or of what they should wear on the occasion: that some time had been spent in examining and canvassing the fashions; that the milliner had been called in for this purpose; that the imagination had been racked in the study of the decoration of the person; that both on the morning and the afternoon of the evening, on which they had publicly met to dance, they had been solely employed in preparations for decking themselves out; that they had been nearly two hours under one dresser only, namely the hair-dresser; that frequently at intervals they had looked at their own persons in the glass; that they had walked up and down parading before it in admiration of their own appearance, and the critical detection of any little fold in their dress, which might appear to be out of place, and in the adjustment of the same--what would the philosopher say in this new case?


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