C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


No man in his senses will dance.


Those elegant delights of jig and vaulting.

Elijah Fenton.

All are not merry that dance lightly.

George Herbert.

  • Come, knit hands, and beat the ground
  • In a light fantastic round.
  • Milton.

  • To brisk notes in cadence beating
  • Glance their many-twinkling feet.
  • Gray.

  • While his off-heel, insidiously aside,
  • Provokes the caper which he seems to chide.
  • Sheridan.

  • Come and trip it as ye go,
  • On the light fantastic toe.
  • Milton.

  • Others import yet nobler arts from France,
  • Teach kings to fiddle, and make senates dance.
  • Pope.

    They who love dancing too much seem to have more brains in their feet than their head, and think to play the fool with reason.


    Dance, laugh, and be merry; but be also innocent.

    Théodore Barriere.

    Social dissipation, as witnessed in the ball-room, is the abettor of pride, the instigator of jealousy, it is the sacrificial altar of health, it is the defiler of the soul, it is the avenue of lust and it is the curse of every town in America.


  • The dancing pair, that simply sought renown,
  • By holding out, to tire each other down.
  • Goldsmith.

  • But O, she dances such a way!
  • No sun upon an Easter-day,
  • Is half so fine a sight.
  • Sir John Suckling.

  • And the dancing has begun now,
  • And the dancers whirl round gaily
  • In the waltz’s giddy mazes,
  • And the ground beneath them trembles.
  • Heine.

    Fashionable dances as now carried on are revolting to every feeling of delicacy and propriety and are fraught with the greatest danger to millions.

    Horace Bushnell.

    Charity balls are a curse. The name is a subtle argument in favor of their existence, but if ever anything belied its name, it is a charity ball.

    Geo. F. Hall.

    Well was it said by a man of sagacity that dancing was a sort of privileged and reputable folly, and that the best way to be convinced of this was to close the ears and judge of it by the eyes alone.


  • On with the dance! let joy be unconfined!
  • No sleep till morn, when youth and pleasure meet,
  • To chase the glowing hours with flying feet.
  • Byron.

    The gymnasium of running, walking on stilts, climbing, etc., steels and makes hardy single powers and muscles, but dancing, like a corporeal poesy, embellishes, exercises, and equalizes all the muscles at once.


  • The rout is Folly’s circle, which she draws
  • With magic wand. So potent is the spell,
  • That none decoy’d into that fatal ring,
  • Unless by heaven’s peculiar grace, escape.
  • There we grow early gray, but never wise.
  • Cowper.

    The ball-room is one way and a very broad way, too, to ruin. May God help every lover of the race to sound a note of alarm both to those already astray and to those who thus far have not set foot in the slippery path.


  • Alike all ages: dames of ancient days
  • Have led their children through the mirthful maze;
  • And the gay grandsire, skill’d in gestic lore,
  • Has frisked beneath the burden of threescore.
  • Goldsmith.

  • Merrily, merrily whirled the wheels of the dizzying dances
  • Under the orchard-trees and down the path to the meadows;
  • Old folk and young together, and children mingled among them.
  • Longfellow.

    Where wildness and disorder are visible in the dance, there Satan, death and all kinds of mischief are likewise upon the floor. For this reason I could wish that the dance of death were painted on the walls of all ball-rooms, in order to warn the dancers, not by the levity of their deportment, to provoke the God of righteousness to visit them with a sudden judgment.


    No amusement seems more to have a foundation in our nature. The animation of youth overflows spontaneously in harmonious movements. The true idea of dancing entitles it to favor. Its end is to realize perfect grace in motion; and who does not know that a sense of the graceful is one of the higher faculties of our nature?


  • I saw her at a country ball:
  • There when the sound of flute and fiddle
  • Gave signal sweet in that old hall,
  • Of hands across and down the middle.
  • Hers was the subtlest spell by far
  • Of all that sets young hearts romancing;
  • She was our queen, our rose, our star;
  • And when she danced—oh, heaven, her dancing!
  • Praed.

  • A thousand hearts beat happily; and when
  • Music arose with its voluptuous swell,
  • Soft eyes look’d love to eyes which spake again,
  • And all went merry as a marriage bell.
  • Byron.

  • And beautiful maidens moved down in the dance,
  • With the magic of motion and sunshine of glance;
  • And white arms wreathed lightly, and tresses fell free
  • As the plumage of birds in some tropical tree.
  • Whittier.

  • He who esteems the Virginia reel
  • A bait to draw saints from their spiritual weal,
  • And regards the quadrille as a far greater knavery
  • Than crushing His African children with slavery,
  • Since all who take part in a waltz or cotillon
  • Are mounted for hell on the devil’s own pillion,
  • Who, as every true orthodox Christian well knows,
  • Approaches the heart through the door of the toes.
  • Lowell.

    The uniform testimony of all religious specialists is that as the love of dancing increases, the love of the Lord and his work decreases. The spirit of the dance is not the spirit of the Master. If the one be harbored the other will not remain. Where the experiment is tried of retaining both, a horrible muddle is the result, a corruption that disgraces the holy vocation wherewith we are called. The dance is a deadly poison to the higher life and he who professing Christianity takes it into his spiritual system wounds our Lord afresh, and by the act classes himself with the traitors of old who killed the world’s only hope by nailing Christ to the cross.

    Sam Jones.

    I love these rural dances—from my heart I love them. This world, at best, is full of care and sorrow; the life of a poor man is so stained with the sweat of his brow, there is so much toil and struggling and anguish and disappointment here below, that I gaze with delight on a scene where all those are laid aside and forgotten, and the heart of the toil-worn peasant seems to throw off its load.


  • I love to go and mingle with the young
  • In the gay festal room—when every heart
  • Is beating faster than the merry tune,
  • And their blue eyes are restless, and their lips
  • Parted with eager joy, and their round cheeks
  • Flush’d with the beautiful motion of the dance.
  • Willis.

  • And then he danced—all foreigners excel
  • The serious Angles in the eloquence
  • Of pantomine—he danced, I say, right well
  • With emphasis, and also with good sense—
  • A thing in footing indispensable:
  • He danced without theatrical pretence,
  • Not like a ballet-master in the van
  • Of his drill’d nymphs, but like a gentleman.
  • Byron.

    What may we expect of people who work all day and dance all night? After a while they will be thrown on society nervous, exhausted imbeciles.


    I wish that I could marshall all the young to an appreciation of the fact that you have an earnest work in life and your amusements and recreations are only to help you along in that work.


  • Chaste were his steps, each kept within due bound,
  • And elegance was sprinkled o’er his figure;
  • Like swift Camilla, he scarce skimm’d the ground,
  • And rather held in than put forth his vigor:
  • And then he had an ear for music’s sound,
  • Which might defy a crotchet critic’s rigor.
  • Such classic pas—sans flaws—set off our hero,
  • He glanced like a personified Bolero.
  • Byron.

  • Once on a time, the wight Stupidity
  • For his throne trembled,
  • When he discovered in the brains of men
  • Something like thoughts assembled,
  • And so he searched for a plausible plan—
  • One of validity—
  • And racked his brains, if rack his brains he can,
  • None having, or a very few!
  • At last he hit upon a way
  • For putting to rout,
  • And driving out
  • From our dull clay
  • These same intruders new—
  • This Sense, these Thoughts, these Speculative ills—
  • What could he do? He introduced quadrilles.
  • Ruskin.

  • Such pains, such pleasures now alike are o’er,
  • And beaus and etiquette shall soon exist no more
  • At their speed behold advancing
  • Modern men and women dancing;
  • Step and dress alike express
  • Above, below, from heel to toe,
  • Male and female awkwardness.
  • Without a hoop, without a ruffle,
  • One eternal jig and shuffle,
  • Where’s the air and where’s the gait?
  • Where’s the feather in the hat?
  • Where the frizzed toupee? and where
  • Oh! where’s the powder for the hair?
  • Catherine Fanshawe.