Un Ballo

Ambrose Bierce

San Francisco News Letter/October 16, 1869

Mr. Hallidie, the President of the Mechanics’ Institute, announces that the festivities of the Fair will conclude with a grant masquerade ball at the Pavilion. And so he-respectability and she-dullness will have an opportunity to unbend in the icy coquetrie of a San Francisco bal masque. We have had a taste of this kind of thing of late years, and our appetite for unutterable and unfathomable stupidity is whetted to the keenness of an inch plank. We long to don the domino and make solemn genuflections to the goddess of Bosh. News Letter will be there, of course. If there is anything that affords him the peace of mind that literally passeth understanding (in the sense of comprehending) it is to see his Friend San Francisco upon the revel. The graceful gambols of a six hours’ colt and the touching frisk of a pious cow are calculated to excite in the mind of the observer a placid interest at once pleasing and harmless. it is not followed by the distressing reaction which dogs the heels of the merely conventional intoxication. But for ravishing and bewildering exhilaration commend us to the stately caper of a baby elephant or the grave pranks of a native masquerade As a provocative of hilarious laughter, it is barely equaled by the delights of body-snatching in a moonless night, and exceeded only by the cheerful spectacle of a public execution. Our volatile people are so inimitably droll so captivatingly piquant, so fearfully and wonderfully queer, that a single glance at their carnival antics draws from even the most phlegmatic a very yawn of sympathy and a drone of approval. Our eyelids droop irresistibly at the thought. It is too much for us. We slumber.

(Source: California State Library, Microfilm Collection)