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pages of the last new novel, eager for a tale of “Life as it is ;” impatient of Romance, and of the Past, as you would be of journeying in one of the bygone stage-coaches, deemed of yore so rapid of motion. No; we mean not to weary the public ear with a “Rosa Matilda” story of a romantic beggar-girl, who has made small matches for others, till, by crying them in clear and dulcet tones, she makes a great match for herself, and quits the scene, after seven volumes of romantic adventure, wedded to at least an earl !
Our matchmakers have a fancy for earls, too; but the former matchmaker ranks with vagrants and vagabonds, and yet is she engaged in a more sensible, a more reputable, and a less dangerous species of matchmaking than she who seeks to knit together carelessly, as ladies knit silks of different shades, two characters perhaps in startling contrast, two destinies never intended to unite, two immortal souls brought together by her designs, not by their own mutual sympathies, and fettered through all time, perhaps through all eternity.
The poor matchmaker who cries matches in the streets is a more deserving and a far more blameless character than she who plans them in her silken boudoir, and makes them where the young and giddy meet.
How few such matchmakers think of the heavy responsibility of a task undertaken through interest or sport, and carried on in cupidity, or in idleness !
If none would willingly have to answer for a death, surely none who reflect would choose to have to answer for a marriage! True, there is no happiness so great as wedded happiness.
“ They who joy would win, must share it.
Happiness was born a twin.” But certainly there is no misery to be at all compared with wedded misery. What cares, what sufferings would not be aggravated by a heavy and eternal chain! And to feel that the soulless, frivolous manœuvres of another, not one's own free will, had bound one in such a chain, makes it heavier and more galling still. Beware, ye matchmakers ! few bless, and many revile you.
But the universal matchmaker, anxious to get all the spinsters and bachelors of her acquaintance married as fast as possible, is a rare character, a genuine amateur. Hers is something of the feeling of the actor in Nickleby, who, when he performed the part of Othello, blackened his whole body, in gratuitous self-sacrificing enthusiasm for the art.
The ordinary matchmaker is only anxious to get those married who are in some way dependent on, or whose interests are linked with hers. She takes no concern in the marriages of others, unless they can in any way militate against or forward her own designs, plots, and plans: the matches she meditates, once made, all the world beside may be in full enjoyment of “single blessedness.”
The matchmaker we speak of is generally a mother. Mothers are Nature's matchmakers; but, as with gamblers, repeated successes put people on their guard : those who always hold good cards, and play them well, at last find none who will venture to engage with them. There are the “Deadly Smooths” of Almacks, and the opera-box, as well as of Crockford's, plumed, jewelled, and not unlike their own caps and hats, all satin and blonde without, and all pins and wire within. They watch, and wait, more “deadly,” more “smooth” than their celebrated namesake, and engaging poor novices, at frightful odds, to play for the most fearful of stakes.
Enough of them; their triumphs must be limited; for, their reputation as matchmakers confirmed, their occupation, like Othello's, is gone—for ever. .
Mrs. Lindsay, our matchmaker, is not one of these. The fashionable manoeuvring mammas are now hackneyed characters—the same in all their evolutions, and wearisome in their sameness. All women of fashion are alike, whether as daughters, mothers, wives, or widows : they never want the touch of art, but the touch of nature—that they want, indeed.
Our matchmaker, then, is a parvenue. To be a parvenue proves talent of some kind, and, what is rarer still, perseverance of all kinds. An orphan, she showed her talent first by making a match for herself. She married a gentleman-poor, but yet a gentleman. She then contrived to get her brothers allied to women of fortune, and afterwards, as they were vulgar, and “provided for,” she cut them. At the opening of our tale she has two daughters yet on her hands; two she has already disposed of.
Mrs. Lindsay was very proud of those matches; and yet they might have cured her of matchmaking. One, a young and delicate girl, doatingly fond of her parents and her home, and extremely simple in her tastes, she married to a sordid man, going out as a judge to India. There, in wretched health, she pines in vain for home and pure air. What to her is the pomp she cannot enjoy, the jewels around her wasted neck and arms, and the money-getting husband, yellow and cold as his own guineas! Yet it was “a splendid match ;” at least, so said the world and the matchmaker.