[BY PONY EXPRESS.]
LETTER FROM SALT LAKE.
[FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.]
GREAT SALT LAKE CITY, Jan. 5th, 1861.
THE HOLIDAYS IN MORMON LAND.
The eventful 1860 has passed away. Its last days and nights were consecrated to dancing; we have danced ever since, and have not the most distant idea of when we are to hear—"Hold, enough!" So much for an introduc-tory to the Mormon holidays.
The religion of the Mormon prophets has none of that ascetic character that passes with the world as the stamp of orthodoxy, piety and all that kind of measured step, long-steeple face arrangement. Very different! Whatever else might be thought of Joseph Smith, "the first prophet of the Church," nobody that ever saw him accused him of hypocrisy. Joseph was a blunt, open-hearted fellow— so friends and foes speak of him—I never saw him, which I much regret, as I have seen monarchs not a few, and a greater monarch than the original Joseph is hard to find. But back again to the dancing. Joseph danced, and enjoyed it heartily. He liked it, and the prediction of Isaiah, Jeremiah, or some other of these ancient Israelitish prophets, speaking about a time when—
"The old man and maiden shall go forth in the dance," Spoiled in nothing Joseph's relish for the terpsi-chorean art; it was a kind of religious sanction to the thing, so the Mormons generally think. At the present time the Mormon brethren and sisters are right at it, full in that faith, and the Gentile brothers and sisters are determined not to be outdone; and so between the one and the other we may honestly say that we are all "mightily exercised."
Elsewhere the holidays generally commence on Christmas, and terminate with "New Years." Both eventful epochs are honored here; some-thing or other is reserved or got up for these days; but, as already hinted, we begin and end just where somebody thinks we should, inde-pendent of any calendar arrangement. A first class, heavy Winter snow-fall makes as good a beginning as any, and when Mother Earth throws off the fleecy mantle, that hints to the Kanyons, "b'hoys," and that again stops the wheeling, the jumping and the unmerciful scrap-ing of catgut. There were a few attempts to introduce Winter some two or three weeks be-fore Christmas; but that being unsuccessful, it effected the dancing. We had, however, a splendid snow-fall, shortly after Christmas, fol-lowed by a delicious frost, just to keep it in good sleighing order; so we are right "up to the hub" in holidays— sleighing to the jingle of the merry bells by day, and tripping it over the boards by night. Great place Utah in Winter, and as we may never have the chance again, with affairs so fresh in memory, we shall give the details.
There are twenty Wards in this city, under the watchful care of as many Bishops. Each of these gentlemen is expected to provide for the flock every kind of entertainment, as well as all the spiritual food that they may require on the journey to some splendid country where there is not quite so much hard work as in Utah—call that country heaven or anything else that suits fancy. Well, the Bishop resolves on a ball. If the Ward is large, populous, and the school house small, he has got to divide up his Ward, and take the east, west, north or south divisions, in their turn, and repeat these over and over again, if need be, till everybody has had an invitation, which, very consistently, and particularly Utahish, commences with: "Mr. Brown (Jones, Jenkins or any other honorable name) and ladies, are respectfully in-vited," etc. Isn't that nice? Think of it, ladies outside! This is the land where no maiden need ever reach sixty! By no means! Well, then, Jenkins, Jones or Brown goes to the ball, and the ladies accompany them—if they want to, and they generally want to, for the Mormons are passionately fond of dancing. And they go "just as they're a mind to, and they're generally a mind to go very neat, if they can," but some of them not over punctilious about little things; the bulk, however, as fashionable, tasty, rib-boned and flowered, ringed and jeweled, neck-laced and braceleted as any Gentiles that never saw or thought of heaven beyond shopping and spreading crinoline along front window pave-ment.
Well, they have got to the ball room at five P.M., a very early hour. All assembled; the bishop or his counsellor offers prayer, asks Al-mighty Providence to bless them in the dance, very sincerely expects it too. On entrance, the paterfamilias is furnished with "his number;" and when that is called he takes the floor with Mrs. A, B, C or D, as the case may be, generally, I am told, honoring the first lady with the open-ing dance, after which they may dance in rota-tion till all the "ladies " have had their turn, but of that deponent saith no further. N'im-porte, they all get plenty of it, as the bishops have expedients to suit the "peculiar institu- tion." Our Bishop—bless him, he is a good fel-low, but I have here again to regret that our ac-quaintance is but slight—sent all the residents of "our ward" an invitation, and, liberal fel-low, had no fears of a correspondent—long life to him! We were there, we were, and can now speak by the book. We did not hear the prayer, it was too early for our uncivilized habits; but we saw the dancing, and noticed the expedients referred to—the Scotch reel, the double cotillion, and "Ladies, choose your partners."
In the Scotch reel—by the bye I never saw it in Scotland, and I've tramped the heather hills, and plucked the sweet blue bells, and tripped to Gilly Callum and Tullochgorum—
"Wi' right gude will,"
Excuse the digression—the Scotch reel is well adapted to the times in Utah. Each gen-tleman takes two ladies to the floor, dances with both to the end of the hall, and dances back through a long string of thirty or forty threes. If Leah is at the right going down the dance, Rachel is, of course, at the right coming up again. So the affair is balanced. The double cotillion was rather intricate for my untutored brain, but it was very nice, and before the Winter is over I hope our Bishop will give us another chance of learning. The "choose your part-ners, ladies," is a regular fair play business. No lady is passed by, each has her "number," and as numbers are called the respondent chooses her partner, and fickle fortune only has to be praised or blamed for Mrs. A. or B. danc-ing with Mr. A. If a gentleman's own ladies are apart in the ball room, and all the numbers are not called on at once, he has the chances of plenty of dancing, for be it said to the credit of the women of Utah, they have the reputation of being devoted to their husbands, and in the ball room they certainly prefer their husbands to others; still, there is nothing of that "know nobody else" about them; they are ready enough, when asked, to dance with any gentle-man with whom they have acquaintance, or to whom they have had a formal introduction. From five in the evening till three, four or five the next morning, the ball room is open. There is a recess between ten and eleven o'clock for the picnic. Sometimes the company is called to order for a song, a recitation, or a "short preach," and winds up with a prayer—a grateful expression for "the general good time" that they have had together. The non-Mormons have had one good affair in their style, at Townsend's Hotel, and are busy "roping in" subscribers for another ball on Tuesday. One of the Committee told me to day that they purpose doing it on the grand—two suppers, with wine, etc. At last ball there were about forty couples; the next is expected to exceed that number, and, for this place, it is better than was expected. It may be asked, where do they get ladies? It is hard to an-swer. I cannot now remember but one Gentile merchant here who has his family with him—seemingly a very excellent and handsome lady. There may be other ladies of that class, but I doubt it. The other ladies, therefore, are from among those who are some-what liberal in their sentiments—in short, "weak Mormons." And, though there are no hindrances at the present time, nor seemingly no results flowing from associations with out-siders in such familiarity, yet it must tell on "the standing" of the persons in the community some day. Possibly, more than anything else, this "getting hold of the sisters" creates the worst feelings between the two classes. And who's to blame?
The non-Mormons like the recreation of dancing, and the "frail and fair" respond to their invitation, polite enough, as far as I have seen. Probably not praying at opening and closing, and not excluding the liquor, may call forth the suspicion in the minds of the brethren that Moses and the Prophets are not always be-fore the minds of the dancers. To come to it, the Saints don't like the Sisters to associate with the outsiders; but the measure of their grounds for suspicion is their own property, not mine; still, things have leaked out, now and again, that seem to justify watching as well as praying—but enough of that.
On Christmas Brigham dedicated his new school house—a finely built house for his own children— and in the evening they warmed the place with a good dance. The News gave a sketch of the dedication, but it is of too little in-terest to quote.
On New Year's day the Thirtieth ward assem-bly rooms were dedicated, and was the occasion of some tall preaching and as tall poetry about the kingdom and its coming greatness. Being public, your correspondent was there, but must defer report.
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