« 前へ次へ »
“ try” the little boys in their Latin, and the young misses in their French ; they are seldom to be met with at dinner-parties, and they are asked out in the evening, as being a more useful stick than a chair in a quadrille; they are the slaves of the women and the drudges of the men, and the butts for children's practical jokes. To “ such base uses” are applied an Irish counsellor--a poor Irish counsellor-an Irish counsellor without a brief!
MARRIAGES ARE MADE IN HEAVEN.
It may be so, but we have our doubts upon the matter. Heaven, we think, would have made neater jobs than most of them are. Not that we incline, with certain Manicheans, to give the other power the credit of their manufacture. They are a cut above him. That the Devil inhabits hell, we know ; but we also know that he did not make it.
We have sometimes wondered that Milton did not think it necessary to prefix a “ Doctrine and Discipline of Marriage” to his “ Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce.” When his hand was in, he might as well have done it. Whatever evil rumours may be abroad as to his practical fitness for making the married state happy, “and keeping it so," it is evident, from his account of the life Adam led in Paradise, that he had very pretty theoretical notions on the subject. Perhaps, as some old heathen philosophers held the business of life to be preparation for death, Milton esteemed divorce the great object of matrimony, and, like other great men, forgot the means in the end.
There are two main obstacles to the proper choice of a partner. People are, for the most part, in love, as far as their natures will permit, when they marry; and hence a twofold delusion. Firstly, each party sees the other through the glowing medium of passion; secondly, each is for the time in reality a different being from what he or she was before, and is to be again.
And firstly, of the first.—Each sees the other through the glowing medium of passion; which makes the object seen through it differ as much from its ordinary phasis as Arthur's seat seen through the tremulous atmosphere of a summer's noon-day, with the dim shadow of a drowsy cloud stealing over it at times, like the drooping of woman's eyelid veiling the glow of love, does from Arthur's seat when the rain cloud wreathes its summit, and the damp chilly gale sobs down the Hunter's bog, and every crag stands out with more than wonted blackness and harshness.
It is this that makes poets such pre-eminently bad selectors of wives. They, more keenly alive than other men to every throb of sense and sentiment, have also the marrying instinct more strong within them. Rich in all stores of imaginative wealth, they can, under the access of passion, hang festoons of all that is rich and beautiful round the ungain. liest persons. A strange bashfulness ever attendant on the most gifted minds keeps them at a timorous distance from all who do not meet them half-way; and a shrinking sensitiveness, which is pained even by beholding what is unamiable, makes them translate every indication favourably. In short, the exceptions are few in which poets have not made such an owlish choice in marriage as to astonish every one.
But a more serious source of misapprehension than the erroneous opinion entertained of the future partner's character, is the temporary
change which that character really undergoes under the irífluence of passion. Even in animals a similar alteration is visible. The fox and stag turn upon all passengers during the amatory season, with a valour not natural to them. The hen, under the access of maternal affection, defends her chickens with desperate valour. So in the human race, the most unamiable persons are, while affected by the universal passion, at least to the beloved object, yielding, caressing, generously devoted. Their feelings are for the time purified and ennobled. The folds and sharp points of their character are for the time plumped out and rounded. A new and strange life fills their veins, and tinges all their actions. They can as little recognise themselves in their new state of feeling as others can. They believe that an essential change has taken place in their character.
Alas, it is but a transient moment! It is like the glowing sunset changing to gold the clouds which were grey before, and will be black afterwards. It is like the period of blossom, the love era of the vegetable world, when the least beautiful herbs load the evening air with rich, voluptuous perfume, the herald of their own speedy emaciation and death. Love is a deluding guide to matrimony. It is like the green fields and bowery woods seen by those sick of a calenture in the rippling sea, luring the maniac to a cold and weltering tomb. It is lightning in the night, revealing for a moment all surrounding objects, to leave us in double darkness. It is a faint though delicious note borne on the evening breeze, less pleasing from its own mellowness than painful from its transitory character, and the ineffectual striving to catch and retain its fellows which it excites.
“ No one then should marry in love or for love." It is easy speaking. Marriage contracted without love is generally the consequence of some motive which poisons the union in its source. Friendship, if such a cool feeling can exist between persons of different sexes, does not seek for identity of abode and all worldly interests. It is satisfied with a less incorporating union ; feels that occasional absence is necessary. No man or woman either will promise and vow eternal fidelity for the sake of friendship alone. Cool and unimpassioned marriages are uniformly the fruit of interested views—means to an end-entered into for the promotion of ambitious purposes, or the attainment of money, which is supposed to command every thing. This is mending the matter with a vengeance. Marry for love, and you may eventually feel marriage a burden; marry for any other reason, and you take it up as such from the first.
There is another way, which has sometimes been found to answer marrying because one cannot help it. In some countries-in our own, in the good old times—marriage was the business not of those who entered into the solemn contract, but of their parents. The old people agreed that their children should marry, and the young people assented with the best grace they could. Were the old of the world always the wise, this would not have been so far amiss. But, unluckily, “ there are no fools like old fools.” The young feel that there must be sympathy in so close a connexion ; they only err in dreaming that they find sym. pathy where it really does not exist. The old, with hearts which have lost the first edge, or with sickly frames more sensitive to physical discomforts than those of youth, are apt to restrict their notion of worldly comforts to the possession of a fair share of its goods. Regarding this alone, the grave and the gay, the cold and the passionate, the old and
NO, VIII. VOL, II.
the young were united in preposterous union. Had compatibles been linked together without previous acquaintance, and left to love each other as they best might, history gives strong reason to believe that such matches would have been happy. One old proverb hath it -
Happy's the wooing
That's not long a-doing.
Thus grief still treads upon the heels of pleasure :
Married in haste, we may repent at leisure ! Yet another, not a whit behind him, has told us :
Some by experience find those words misplaced ;
At leisure married, they repent in haste. It is not, however, to such old saws alone that we are called upon to yield credence. Isaac, who had his wife brought home to him on a camel, and married her a few hours after sight, made no complaints of his fortune. Boaz, who was persecuted into marriage, honest man, by a young woman in want of a settlement, made an eminently happy marriage. Of Jacob's two wives, poor Leah, whom he never dreamed of marrying till he found himself lying beside her the morning after his nuptials, proved, by all accounts, the more amiable wife of the two. And to pass from sacred history to profane, we do not read that the matches with the Sabine women, clapped up on such short notice, and with such slender ceremony, proved less happy than the subsequent marriages of Rome. In fêtes-champêtres, pic-nics, and pleasure excursions, we find those which are extempore always the most agreeable. Where the pleasure comes unlooked for, and the mind has not been worked up to impossible expectations, or jaded with anticipations of pleasure, it is naturally sweeter. So it may be with marriage.
After wandering, however, in retrospect over all the possible methods of entering into this holy and mysterious state, we always recur to the natural portal, love, as the most natural.* It is appointed unto all men once to marry, and after marriage-Well, that's the business of nobody but the married couple. Every thing in life commences with passion and headlong enthusiasm, to fade by degrees into insipidity and commonplace. Equal laws are achieved by popular commotions ; they are enjoyed in utter forgetfulness of their existence. In childhood, the mere consciousness of existence is rapture; in mature years we require something to live for—some conserve to give a relish to the dry-bread of life. It is a uniform and pervading law of nature, and must be submitted to in marriage as in every thing else. Marry then for love, in God's name, all who are fools enough to marry! Love is the only apology for such an absurd step. Burning, over- mastering passion, fusing two beings into one; satisfied with nothing short of a perpetual struggle to attain such an intermixture of soul, body, and interests as nature has rendered unattainable ; this alone can justify the tying of the knot which may not be unloosed. It is madness, but it is a madness which is in the order of nature, and must be undergone. The only advice that can be given to
The only philosopher who has satisfactorily elucidated the efficient cause of marriage is an old woman,-as most philosophers are. Mrs. Alison Wilson of Milnwood, sagely observes, “ Folk maun either marry,--or do waur."-See Old Mortality.
those unfortunates who stagger hither and thither beneath the load of the tempest, is to keep their reeling wits as sober as possible,—to speak and act as like rational beings as they can,--to remind themselves, perpetually, that they are living in a world of dreams, out of which they must one day awake, in order that the fading of their garish fancies may be as gradual, and their exit into the world of reality, accompanied with as slight a shock as may be.
In these days of education, the bright and musical delusions which flit, and hover, and warble around the gates of matrimony, are augmented in number, and their sorceries rendered infinitely more potent. The progress of civil society has had the effect of increasing, not only the number of positive idlers, but also of those whose labour is of such a kind as leaves the mind room to work and prey upon itself. There is a period of life, when leisure to brood over one's own thoughts is dangerous and unnerving ; the period when those throbbings and longings, vague and undefined, but mighty and bewildering, which form the buoyant and surging couch and canopy of love, are awakening into existence. Lack of such employment as leads the mind out of itself, is then all but inevitable destruction. The tone of our literature, the general tendency of daily conversation, increases the danger. The lyres of modern poets “ have one unchanging theme.”—“'Tis love, still love." Every work of art has a completeness in itself; and what in life is a mere episode, appears, when reflected in a poetic mirror, endless and unbounded. The eternal lecture of wise mammas and wiser aunts, is a good marriage settlement. Even before the voice of the heart is heard, the fancy is prepared to attribute an undue preponderance of importance to love and marriage ; and when the fever fit comes resistless and maddening, raptu. rous and bewildering, swelled by so many tributaries, whose streams have been dammed up to augment its torrent, it overflows the mind like a deluge ; leaving, when it ebbs back, an exhausted and shattered world.
Sad is but too often the re-awakening to the reality of life, after an inconsiderate marriage ; when the passions, which in the beloved object had been overflown and hidden by the spring-tide of love, as the low lumps of rock, rough with shapeless shells, and tangled with brown, withered sea-weeds are by a waveless summer sea, are again left bare. That good lady there, whose face is like frozen vinegar, and whose life is one perpetual scold, was once, to all outward appearance, a very loveable person. Now, the first thing you hear in the morning is her sharp voice on the stair, rating the maid for leaving the brush and duster there. During breakfast, she keeps up a perpetual maunder. The water is off the boil and smoked, the toast burned, the milk soured, (no wonder, it is near her ;) some member of the family has come too late, or some one has been in the parlour before her, which is interpreted into impatience. Should your evil genius keep you within doors during the forenoon, she is to be heard incessantly clattering up and down stairs, like a cat shod with walnut shells ; fretting from cellar to garret, and from pantry to bed-room ; everywhere finding cause for dissatisfaction, and everywhere venting it in shrill, sharp, peevish tones. Should your avocations call you out, you are welcomed back with a scold. Company at dinner may make her bridle her tongue ; but then she only “ puts that tongue into her heart, and chides with thinking,” her looks giving terrible evidence of the indemnification she promises herself for this restraint. She repeats through her sleep the objurgations of the day. She even scolds the family to church, and employs the time of divine
sking out for faults which she may reprehend on her return
A party of pleasure is an excuse for finding fault with all the ations of her family before-hand, and of their conduct while there. Acolds her husband first into habits of drinking, and then into his Ave; her sons into occupations for which they are not fitted ; and her daughters into ineligible matches, from their eagerness to get out of hearing. And yet she means no harm. She merely needs, like all other people, some excitement to keep her alive ; and the only excitement of which she is susceptible is irritation. Hers is not that anger which flows from dislike : it is only a sort of moral itch, seeking to scrub itself against every object with which it comes in contact. And yet in the brief season of love this creature was agreeable. That impulse which seeks pleasure in conferring it, made her look lovely for the time ; as accidents of the atmosphere can lend a momentary beauty even to the most barren moor.
It is easy to find a male counterpart to this picture. We would say to all ladies, in search of a husband, beware of a sentimental man. He is a selfish voluptuary : he would take without giving. He has lived over in fancy all that gives happiness in reality, and the edge of his feelings have been blunted. Devoted exclusively to such trains of thought, his mind is empty and without resources. Shrinking from the labours and contests of life, his thoughts are devoid of that manliness and vigour which exercise alone can give. Dull, inane, feeble, loveless, he can feel for no one ; protect, support, or cherish no one ; cheer the dull path of life to no one. In the prime of life, he will be at the best but a negative; and in old age he will sit moping and snivelling by the chimney corner,
Clownish and malcontent,
Dashing the merriment; a clog, a log, a nuisance, and an incumbrance.
“What then is to be done?” Bear your allotted cross meekly. Submit to fate. Marriage is at the best but a leap in the dark; a lot. tery in which, like those announced at times by itinerating mountebanks,“ every tickets a prize," but few of the prizes worth the cost of the ticket. It is indeed “ paying too much for one's whistle !” to give all the immeasurable wealth of young emotion, and receive in return a shrew, a clod, a fool, or a knave. But “ wo that too late repents !" and consequently better not*repenting at all. Put a good face on the matter. " Men do their broken weapons rather use than their bare hands.” Emulate Zani Kiebabs, who, when he got a tooth knocked out, discovered that he had long wanted a hole to stick his pipe in. There is an alchymy in the mind, that can, by dint of perseverance, transmute evil into good. Men who have lived long amid the clattering of tinsmiths, have found themselves unable to sleep without their lullaby. When a learned and venerated friend of ours rendered the town in which he resided the inestimable service of conducting clean water into it, the honest burghers complained that the pure liquid “ had neither taste nor smell."
Seeing that “ he who will to Cupar maun to Cupar,” the only advice that can be given to aspirants after connubial bliss is not to expect too much. To the men we would moreover hint, that marry whom they may, they ought to eschew silly women. Sentiment it is that attracts