This is an excerpt from an essay on the Means of promoting Federal Sentiments in the United States, by a Foreign Spectator that appeared in The Pennsylvania Gazette in 1871.
It must not be concealed, that many persons make religion too grave and austere: the unreasonable pernicious doctrine, that innocent amusements are inconsistent with Christianity, withdraws numbers of youths from the paths of virtue; creates surly and selfish dispositions; it favors avarice in a degree very amazing; because when life is engrossed by the pursuits of gain, and the gratifications permitted to center within ones self, the heart grows more narrow, and devoted to interest.
Levity and dissipation are out of question — But shall any man dare to represent God as a gloomy tyrant! Is not his kingdom peace and joy? Are not the ways of heavenly wisdom pleasant?
How can a Christian condemn music, when the felicity of heaven is in part represented by it? Does not the wise king say, that there is a time to laugh, and to dance — That inferior dancing, which only promotes exercise and gaiety, is yet preferable to vulgar amusements — but there is a kind of dancing, that requires dignity and delicacy; in which the brocade shoe and diamond buckle, the liveliest activity, and the most elegant form are not sufficient; when the soul is seen in the beaming eye, the animated feature and glowing tint; and the whole frame vibrates to all the varying movements of a fine sensibility, like a harpsichord under the hand of a master.
After such a dance a woman feels herself a more affectionate wife and daughter; and a young patriot is well disposed for a grand national debate, or to meet his country’s foe sword in hand. I know this will appear nonsense to some grave sensible people; but I appeal to competent judges. Without disputing about particulars, rational, innocent, ingenious, social amusements are of great consequence to manners and national felicity.