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law-givers have neither been inftructed among the Hotentots, nor imbibed their principles of equity from the natives of Anamaboo.

There are laws which ordain, that no man shall marry a woman contrary to her own confent. This, though contrary to what we are taught in Afia, and though in some measure a clog upon matrimony, I have no great objection to. There are laws which ordain, that no woman shall marry against her father and mother's confent, unless arrived at an age of maturity; by which is underflood 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 confenting couple fhall take a long time to confider before they marry; this is a very great clog, because people love to have all rafh actions done in a hurry. It is or dained, that all marriages fhall be proclaimed before celebration; this is a fevere clog, as many are afhamed to have their marriage made public, from motives of vicious modefty; and many afraid, from views of temporal intereft. It is ordained, that there is nothing facred in the ceremony, but that it may be diffolved to all intents and purposes by the authority of any civil magiftrate. And yet opposite to this it is ordained, that the priest shall be paid a large fum of money for granting his facred permiffion.

Thus you fee, my friend, that matrimony here is hedged round with fo many obftructions, that those who are willing to break through or furmount them, must be contented, if at laft 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 indeed 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 paffion 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 pofterity at all, will probably be an ill-favoured race like themselves.

What gave rife to thofe laws might have been fome fuch accidents as thefe. It fometimes happened, that a mifer, who had spent all his youth in scraping up money to give his daughter fuch a fortune as might get her a mandarine husband, found his expectations disappointed at last, by her running away with his footman; this muft have been a fad fhock to the poor difconfolate parent, to fee his poor daughter in a one-horse chaife, when he had defigned her for a coach and fix; what a ftroke from Providence! to fee his dear money go to enrich a beggar; all nature cried out at the profanation!

It fometimes happened alfo, 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 conftitution, by marrying a farmer; this must have been a fad fhock to her inconfolable relations, to fee fo fine a flower fnatched from a flourishing family, and planted in a dunghill; this was an abfolute inverfion of the firft principles of things.

In order, therefore, to prevent the great from being thus contaminated by vulgar alliances, the obftacles to matrimony have been fo contrived, that the rich only can mar

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ry amongst the rich, and the poor, who would leave celi. bacy, must be content to increase their poverty with a wife. Thus have the 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 fo contrived, that the rich are invited to marry by that fortune which they do not want, and the poor have no inducement, but that beauty which they do not feel.

An equal diffufion of riches through any country ever constitutes its happiness. Great wealth in the poffeffion of one stagnates, and extreme poverty with another keeps him in 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 flacken the nerve of labour; they remain ftill 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 ftill, in attempting to increase the depreffion on poverty.

Bacon, the English philofopher, compares money to manure; if gathered in heaps, fays he, it does no good; on the contrary, it becomes offenfive: but, being spread. though never fo thinly, over the furface of the earth, it enriches the whole country. Thus the wealth a nation poffeffes must expatiate, or it is of no benefit to the public; it becomes rather a grievance, where matrimonial laws thus confine it to a few.

But this reftraint upon matrimonial community, even confidered in a physical light, is injurious. As those who rear up animals take all poffible pains to cross the strain, in order to improve the breed; fo in those countries

where marriage is moft free, the inhabitants are found every age to improve in ftature and in beauty; on the contrary, where it is confined to a caft, a tribe, or an horde, as among the Gaurs, the Jews, or the Tartars, each divifion foon affumes a family likeness, and every tribe degenerates into peculiar deformity. From hence it may be easily inferred, that if the mandarines here are refolved only to marry among each other, they will foon produce a pofterity with mandarine faces; and we fhall fee the heir of fome honourable family fcarce equal to the abor tion of a country farmer.

These are a few of the obftacles to marriage here, and it is certain they have in fome measure answered the end; for celibacy is both frequent and fafhionable. Old bachelors appear abroad without a mask, and old maids, my dear Fum Hoam, have been abfolutely known to ogle. To confess in friendship, if I were an Englishman, I fancy I fhould be an old bachelor myself; I should never find courage to run through all the adventures prefcribed by the law. I could fubmit to court my mistress herself upon reasonable terms, but to court her father, her mother, and a long tribe of coufins, aunts, and relations, and then ftand the butt of a whole country church, I would as foon turn tail, and make love to her grandmother.

I can conceive no other reason for thus loading matrimony with so many prohibitions, unless it be that the country was thought already too populous, and this was found to be the most effectual means of thinning it. If this was the motive, I cannot but congratulate the wife projectors on the fuccefs of their scheme. Hail, O ye dim-fighted politicians, ye weeders of men! it is yours

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to clip the wing of industry, and convert Hymen to a
broker. It is yours to behold fmall objects with a mi-
croscopic eye, but to be blind to thofe which require an
extent of vision. It is
difcerners of man-
yours, O ye
kind, to lay the line between fociety, and weaken that
force by dividing which fhould bind with united vigour.
It is yours, to introduce national real distress, in order
to avoid the imaginary diftreffes of a few. Your actions
can be justified by an hundred reasons like truth, they
can be opposed but by a few reasons, and those reasons
Farewell.

are true.

LETTER LXXIII.

FROM LIEN CHI ALTANGI TO HINGPO, BY THE
WAY OF MOSCOW.

AGE,

that leffens the enjoyments of life, increases our defire of living. Those dangers, which, in the vigour of youth, we had learned to defpife, affume new terrors as we grow old. Our caution increasing as our years increase, fear becomes at last the prevailing passion of the mind; and the small remainder of life is taken up in useless efforts to keep off our end, or provide for a continued existence.

Strange contradiction in our nature, and to which even the wife are liable! If I fhould judge of that part of life which lies before me, by that which I have already feen, the prospect is hideous. Experience tells me, that my past enjoyments have brought no real felicity; and senfation affures me, that those I have felt are ftronger than

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