Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

and seemed to have come merely in order to see them: but then she could not bounce out in the very middle of a song; for that would be forfeit. ing all pretensions to high life, or high-lived ed company, ever after. Mrs Tibbs therefore continued to listen,

kept on singing, and we

till at last, when the song was just concluded the waiter came to inform us that the water-works were over!

"The water-works over! (cried the widow), the water-works over already! that's impossible; they can't be over so soon

יי!

66

It is not my business, (replied. the fellow) to contradict your ladyship: I'll run again and see."

He went

my

and soon returned with a confirmation of the dismal tidings. No ceremony could now bind friend's disappointed mistress; she testified her displeasure in the openest manner: in short, she now began to find fault in turn; and at last insisted upon going home, just at the time that Mr and Mrs Tibbs assured the company, that the polite hours were going to begin, and that the ladies would instantaneously be entertained with the horns.Adieu.

LETTER LXXII.

From the same.

Not far from this city lives a poor tinker, who has educated seven sons, all at this

very time in arms, and fighting for their country. And what

VOL. II.

G

reward, do you think, has the tinker from the state for such important services? None in the world; his sons, when the war is over, may probably be whiped from parish to parish as vagabonds; and the old man, when past labour, may die a prisoner in some house of correction.

Such a worthy subject, in China, would be held in universal reverence; his services would be rewarded, if not with dignities, at least with an exemption from labour; he would take the left hand at feasts, and mandarines themselves would be proud to show their submission. The English laws punish vice; the Chinese laws da more, they reward virtue!

Considering the little encouragement given to matrimony here, I am not surprised at the discouragements given to propagation. Would you believe it, my dear Fum Hoam! there are laws made, which even forbid the people's marrying each other. By the head of Confucius, I jest not; there are such laws in being here: and yet their lawgivers have neither been instructed among the Hottentots, nor imbibed their principles of equity from the natives of Anamaboo.

There are laws which ordain, that no man shall marry a woman against her own consent : This, though contrary to what we are taught in Asia, and though in some measure a clog upon matrimony, I have no great objection to. There pre laws which ordain that no woman shall marṇ

ry against her father and mother's consent, unless arrived at an age of maturity; by which is understood those years, when women with us are generally past child-bearing; This must be a clog upon matrimony, as it is more difficult for the lover to please three than one, and much more difficult to please old people than young ones, The laws ordain, that the consenting couple shall take a long time to consider before. they marry: This is a very great clog, because people love to have all rash actions done in a hur

It is ordained, that all marriages shall be proclaimed before celebration: This is a severe clog, as many are ashamed to have their marriage made public, from motives of vicious modesty and many afraid, from views of temporal interest, It is ordained, that there is nothing sacred in the ceremony, but that it may be dissolved to all in, tents and purposes by the authority of any civil magistrate and yet, opposite to this, it is or. dained, that the priest shall be paid a large sum of money for granting his sacred permission.

Thus you see, my friend, that matrimony here is hedged round with so many obstructions, that those who are willing to break through, or sur mount them, must be contented, if at last they find it a bed of thorns. The laws are not to blame; for they have deterred the people from engaging as much as they could. It is, icdeed, become a very serious affair in England, and

none but serious people are generally found willing to engage. The young, the gay, and the beautiful, who have motives of passion only to induce them, are seldom found to embark, as those inducements are taken away; and none but the old, the ugly, and the mercenary, are seen to unite; who, if they have any posterity at all, will probably be an ill-favoured race like themselves.

[ocr errors]

What gave rise to those laws might have been some such accidents as these. It sometimes happened, that a miser, who had spent all his youth in scraping up money to give his daughter such a fortune as might procure her a mandarine-husband, found his expectations disappointed at last, by her running away with his footman: this must have been a sad shock to the poor disconsolate parent, to see his poor daughter in a one horse chaise, when he had designed her for a coach and six: What a stroke from Providence, to see his dear money go to enrich a beggar! all nature cried out at the profanation!

It sometimes happened also, that a lady who had inherited all the titles, and all the nervous complaints of nobility, thought fit to impair her dignity, and mend her constitution, by marrying a farmer: This must have been a sad shock to her inconsolable relations, to see so fine a flower snatched from a flourishing family, and planted in a dunghill; this was an absolute inversion of the first principles of thing

In order, therefore, to prevent the great from being thus contaminated by vulgar alliances, the obstacles to matrimony have been so contrived, that the rich only can marry amongst the rich, and the poor, who would leave celibacy, must be content to increase their poverty with a wife. Thus have their laws fairly inverted the inducements to matrimony. Nature tells us, that beauty is the proper allurement of those who are rich, and money of those who are poor; but things here are so contrived, that the rich are invited to marry by that fortune which they do no want, and the poor have no inducement, but that beauty which they do not feel.

An equal diffussion of riches through any country ever constitutes its happiness. Great wealth in the possession of one stagnates, and extreme poverty with another keeps him in an unambitious indigence. But the moderately rich are generally active: not too far removed from poverty to fear its calamities, nor too near extreme wealth -to slacken the nerve of labour, they remain still between both, in a state of continual fluctuation. How impolitic, therefore, are those laws, which promote the accumulation of wealth among the rich! more impolitic still, in attempting to increase the depression on poverty!

Bacon, the English philosopher, compares money to manure: If gathered in heaps, says he, it does no good: on the contrary it becomes offen

« VorigeDoorgaan »