« 上一頁繼續 »
In one day or week of unrestrained converse he might know the character he pursues; but he is not allowed an hour. At least, to use the phrase, he must declare himself first; when the very contract itself is inchoated, and, make what discoveries he may, he cannot retract. He does retract, indeed, in very bad cases; but the consequences are not desirable.
If this flows from the system of surveillance, it is also a part of the manœuvring of the sex. Conscious that they cannot bear the light, they shut it out; and, proceeding on the theory of difficulties, they attempt to gain their ends as we entice hogs, by opposition. And what they do thus gain is tolerably known by its results.
The policy is as defective as it is overstrained. There is no danger but that people will always love and marry. Throw open the system they would not marry less: there would be a difference in the assortment, that is all. The Platonic souls might find each other out, which they have never done yet. We accuse the French of arranging for their daughters. It succeeds just as well on the calculation of chances: better; inasmuch as the French young lady need not become artificial and fraudful: she can gain nothing by it.
But let those write more on courtship who understand it better than we do. It has been pretty much bewritten, and by Dr. Gregory among the rest. Now, here is a book to be praised and put into every Miss's hands, which ought to have been written by a maiden aunt. It is a system of fraud from beginning to end. The wife is even to deceive her husband-to conceal carefully her regard for him, should she possess any. The book ought to be burnt. But all the books are alike. Fordyce, and Hannah More, and the rest.
Marriage is the termination of this strange eventful history.
On this point we differ from all the moralists that have written. It is supposed to be produced by love; it ought not to be: it is supposed this is a needful preliminary; that is nonsense. It is a contract, simply; whether civil or religious, people dispute on the two sides of the Tweed: either mode is equally efficacious.
It is best that the courtship should be performed by lawyers, because the points implicated are then intelligible. The lady has been taught to expect an establishment, and no one can understand that but her lawyer. The gentleman knows that he is going to buy a toy, as he might a carriage or a horse, and his lawyer settles what he is to pay. Nothing can be better ordered; for here there is no longer any deception.
He who marries from what he fancies love, is a fool; because, till it is irrecoverable, he knows not what he has done. She who marries from the same motive, is more foolish still; because, deceiving him originally, she has deceived herself now. It should be either a contract of estates, in which there can be no fraud, or else it is a purchase on one hand, or a sale on the other-" tot pro quot."
This can be the only secure ground of happiness in matrimony. The lady's whole education has been for the purpose of gaining an establishment: that is, of being maintained in idleness by some rich or hard-working fool, who fancies that he is unhappy alone, or who will be bullied out of the name of a bachelor, or who wishes to have a suit of silk and muslin at the head of his table, or possibly an heir to
his estate. She has not been taught that love is a fit ground of this association, and consequently never feels it or never desires it: he possibly may have thought so; and if this unluckily be his motive, he is disappointed, with the usual consequences. It is better that neither should feel it, because there is then equality and peace.
Nothing can be more simple than our view of the means of producing happiness in the married state, and nothing so certain as the success. The original acquaintance having been founded on deception on the woman's part, on deception and design, it is plain, that no permanent contract on the principle of love can exist: the woman was cheating, and the man was cheated. Since the principle, therefore, is false and fallacious, let the practice be abandoned; since there can be no structure without a foundation, let the whole be an affair of contract, and of quid pro quo; and then, and then only, will matrimony become a happy condition.
If the system of surveillance, indeed, should ever be changed, or rather abolished, we too shall abandon our theory of matrimony. We have merely accommodated it to the necessities of the case, proceeding on the fitness of things. To carry on a mixed system is folly, because hence arises only confusion and uncertainty: hence all the vexations of matrimony:-we have expected an eel and we find a serpent.
Expect nothing; adopt our theory and practice, and mark only howsmoothly business proceeds. The husband cares not for the wife, nor the wife for the husband; and consequently care can never enter their house. The mother cares not for the children, nor the children for the parents; other sources of care elicited. The wife cares not about her husband's fortune, or his toil, if he must work for one; and he cares not how she disposes of time that is of no use to him, nor of a person for whom he cares not.
If peace is to be found here below, where else will it be found? The husband is from home all day, because his home is nothing to him-peace. If he is at home in the evening, the wife is at a rout or an opera-peace. The nursery is out of hearing, and under the care of two or three maids-peace. When the children grow bigger, and begin to fight, they are sent to school-peace again. The wife trusts her ménage to her housekeeper, and her accounts to any one that chooses to keep them-more peace. She goes to Brighton or Margate, while he remains at the Treasury, or in his counting-house-all peace; or he goes with his regiment to India for ten years, leaving her to spend his pay at home-ten years profound peace. At breakfast they never meet; at dinner, if they meet, it is in a crowd; she departs to a ball till six in the morning: he sleeps in peace, or wakes the dice at Brooks's, while she sleeps. All is peace, all is tranquillity.
Solomon indeed had another system, but he is antiquated. We will back our system against his for a thousand pounds. His were the days of spinning: it was the wife too that spun then-it is the unmarried damsel who is the spinstress now. Solomon's wife spun fine flax to cloth her husband: our single maid spins toils to entrap To follow his fanciful notions of virtue- virtue, which is more precious than rubies-would be to mix systems and produce confusion: let her follow our's and be happy. We have taught her how to avoid care, and care is the great source of human misery. We have taught him; we have taught both-" vos valete et plaudite."
THE PROGRESS OF CANT.*
We have been exceedingly delighted with an etching, bearing the above title, which has just been published, and which will, or we are greatly mistaken, attract very considerable notice, from its singular and happy humour of design, and felicity of execution. We can fearlessly say, that we know of no production so nearly approaching to the admirable works of Hogarth, in their forcible delineations of nature, and their comic and pungent satire, as this etching of "The Progress of Cant," and we can safely recommend it to our readers as a work well deserving their perusal. Some one has said, and said truly, that "Hogarth's pictures we read." We may say the same of the picture before us. A mere look at it will be utterly insufficient; for there is enough to delight and amuse the reader for hours. We will attempt, as well as our limits will permit, to give some idea of this very clever production.
The fore-ground of the picture is filled with the procession of innumerable and various characters, illustrative of the several speculations and topics upon which at this time it pleases mankind most zealously to twaddle and cant. The print seems by no means to be friendly to any particular party or sect, for all canters and twaddlers are pressed into the author's service, and have a lettered banner thrust into their hands, wickedly expounding their follies.
The group on the left hand of the picture is truly entertaining. A heavy bullock of a butcher, bearing a banner inscribed, "London University," is lugging along his calf of a child to take a sort of offaldegree. [We cannot, however, say that we approve of ridicule being thrown on this Institution, although some of its abettors are worthy of taking a place in "The Progress of Cant."] Immediately behind is a chubby female, under the inscription of "Goodwill to Men," kissing a supporter of the "School for the Adults" with great vigour; while a "Converted Jew" is taking, or "abstracting" the Adult's pockethandkerchief. A jewel of beadles, drunk with importance, Hanbury and gold lace, with his mace of office reversed, occupies a prominent place; and behind him is a resolute face and lawn sleeves, carrying a placard entitled, "The Church in anger," (some other gentleman's flag-pole obscuring the D.) He is followed by a little withered
charity-boy, with "No Popery."
The right-hand group is headed by a little, unshorn, crawling cripple, his cap inscribed, "The March of Mind;" and then follows immediately a burly, Quakerish woman, with an apron " Made by the Females in Newgate"-half a harlot and half a housewife. A bannerbearer is writhing about in a helpless manner, prostrate on his own "Peace to all the World," with the flag-pole of "United Schools" well punched into his stomach, the bearer of which, however, is receiving a very sufficing blow from the staff of a shirtless Hibernian, who is carrying the flag of "Irish Conciliation." A brim of a Lady Barrymore, with" Fry for ever!" is treading on the tail of the devil, who is in favour of "Freedom for the Blacks." She seems an ample match for him. The black spot on her Bridewell visage is quite
The Progress of Cant, an Etching, designed and executed by one of the Authors of the Odes and Addresses to Great People. Published by Maclean, Haymarket; price 7s. 6d.
Hogarthian. An object of Scotch charity, "Naked and ye clothed me," is booing along, intent on advance, with no garments to spare; and a little, misshapen, old boy, in the service of the promoters of "Missionary Penny Subscriptions," is eyeing a travelling fruiterer's ware with sad anxiety, the crook of the finger at the bottom of the pocket bespeaking its genuine emptiness. Quite in the right-hand corner is a drunken elector, with " Purity of Election" in his hat, and a bludgeon under his arm: he is leaning in a helpless state against a post, "Under Government," while a sleek, good man is presenting him a tract, very much resembling a pistol, on which is printed "Eternity." In the back-ground there are several happily sketched characters. The Great Unknown is there, with his hat down over the head to its root, and with the Constable's staff (what will that mighty publisher say to such a distinguishing insinuation?) out of his pocket. An advocate for "No State Lotteries" is toping at the door of "The Angel and Punch Bowl, kept by Thomas Moore," with one of the gentlemen of the Caledonian Chapel; while a man in mourning, in favour of "No Life in London," is looking on. Two brethren belonging to the Sons of Harmony are fighting in buff under their own banner, and encouraged by a fellow employed to carry a flag, inscribed "No Pugilism;" and a poor skeleton of a horse is carrying a vehement friend of humanity, with "Martin for ever!" who is whipping down an urchin that is clambering up behind, with a banner against "climbing boys." One of the "New Churches," unfinished, is in the distance.
There are two schools for young ladies and young gentlemen facing each other, which appear to be preparatory in all conscience. The window at the gable end of the ladies' seminary is well and whimsically barred, and seems, as it is, very safe, and looks out upon no building; but the windows facing the gentlemen's academy are left in a very unprotected state. A boy and girl are pursuing their mutual studies at opposite sides of the way. On the school-house wall various bills and placards are posted; and here, by one bill partly covering another, or by being itself partly defaced, the author has made several of those happy satirical hints, in which the great master of his branch of the art was so eminently successful. " Stop and Read" are the only words left on one; and we read of "A Grand Display of Sparring for the Benefit of Ben Burn,-and the Rev. Dr. Rudge; a Collection will be made at the Doors." Wright-the Champagne Charley-Mazurier-Elliston-The Complete Cook-all figure away in posting bills; and we are requested to " Try Hunt," and a little further on to " Ask for War"-the remainder being obscured by the termination of the picture.
The back-ground of the left-hand corner of the plate is taken up by two charming old houses, of the age, it would seem, of Elizabeth at the latest. One of the garrets is stated to be the office of "The Peruvian Mining Company."-These buildings are really cleverly etched.
We have thus briefly attempted to give an idea of this plate, but it is impossible by mere description to convey the fine points of humour and satire with which every group abounds. We are quite sure that it must be popular. A few parts of it are carelessly touched off, but they are of no importance; and considering that it has been planned, drawn, and etched by the same person, we confess we do not a little admire the patience, genius, and skill of the author.
LORD NORMANBY'S MATILDA.
Ir is very seldom that the newspapers agree, but when they do agree, as Sheridan says, "their unanimity is wonderful." With the single exception of the time of high water at London Bridge, we know only of one subject on which the journals, morning and evening, daily and weekly, whig, tory, and radical, never differ in opinion, on which their sentiments tally to a tittle, to a letter, to a comma,―this subject is Mr. Colburn's publications. It is curious to see the Chronicle and the Courier, the Times and the Globe, the New Times and the British Traveller, all taking exactly the same view of the merits of Colburn's books, and expressing their unmixed admiration of these works of real importance in precisely the same words, of one accord not only in substance but in form, and agreeing among themselves to the minutest point of punctuation. This is perhaps the most striking proof that has ever been afforded of the extraordinary excellence of a particular publisher's books, an excellence which compels the praise of individuals of the most opposite tastes, and forces those to coincide in a miraculous manner who never coincided before. This is a rare triumph of truth and merit over the natural infirmities of men and authors. Take up the six papers we have named, and observe the accounts which they commonly give of any matter. They will all vary in facts, judgment, and expression; it is for the honour of truth that they should do so. Look after this at their little critiques on Colburn's publications: here we see them all of the same mind, and, as if from the inspiration of truth, speaking the same impartial sentiments in the identically same language. How rare is this exact agreement! Meet any six men on a day of sunshine, and no two will communicate to each other the same view of the weather. One will say, "it is a fine day ;" another will call it "a glorious day;" a third, being Irish," an elegant day;" a fourth, being Scotch," a brave day;" a fifth," a pleasant day;" and a sixth, "a delightful day." There is no disputing two or three times a year that the sun shines, and that sunshine, when it happens, is agreeable; but the phrases of commendation will vary as to the degree of joy which it sheds. But the merits of Colburn's books, which are as rare and obvious to the most careless sight as sunshine, compel an uniformity of praise, which even the performances of the sun cannot command. Six editors, aye, and sixty more, will laud his works in the same words, arranged with the same commas, semicolons, colons, dashes, and periods! By Day and Martin this is wonderous strange! and would lead to a suspicion that there is more between the newspapers and the stamp-office than we read of in the first and last pages of the journals.
For the last two months or more we have read unceasingly in the newspapers of Lord Normanby's Matilda; to be sure, we have read the same critiques over and over again; for, to say the truth, the editors of the daily press have got a sad habit of iteration, and they repeat their praise till one has it by heart. But, touching Lord Normanby's Matilda, we have seen in all the prints so uniformly excellent a report of this book, that we found ourselves necessitated to peruse it. The daily critics in fact stimulated our curiosity in a most irresistible manner. They remarked that the views of high life which had