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tractions, or unusual good fortune to an early marriage with men of superior circumstances and merit, form happy exceptions. The abuses and miseries arising from so faulty a system are far more general.
In the first place, what greater calamity for a family than what the parlance of the country requires me to call a love-match! Some soft-hearted girl of seventeen, released, after ten years' incarceration in the schoolroom, from Herz's exercises, backboards, boiled mutton, and rice-pudding, is transplanted, as if by magic, into her mother's brilliant drawing.room, the tables of which are covered with
novels and the sentimentality of Keepsakes and Books of Beauty, all intimating the omniscience and ecstacy of the tender passion. At her first ball, she dances with a handsome cornet, the younger son of a younger brother, who falls in love with her ringlets and blonde lace, and whispers the secret in her ear, in the course of a week or two. At first she treats the matter as a jest ; but before the close of the season he becomes so pressing, and has contrived to esta. blish himself so familiarly in her father's house, that she considers it proper to disclose the matter to her parents. Mamma is in a state of frenzy. To think that her daughter should have been listening, night after night for months, to the protestations of a fellow—without a guinea in his pocket! The young gentleman is warned off the premises ; while the young lady, instead of being praised for her discretion, is informed that the offence could not have occurred with. out encouragement on her part. Vexed with herself for not having frowned away the poor young man without exposing herself and him to such an eclat, she determines to be more cautious next time; and accordingly, Lionel Percy, who succeeds the cornet as her escort in the Park and partner in the waltz, is allowed to make himself as agreeable as he pleases without a word of complaint to mamma, who has taken it into her head that Lionel, a man of first-rate connections, must also be a man of fortune. At all events, it is a creditable thing for her daughter to have a partner at command so current in the fashionable circles ; and Lionel and the young lady are accordingly permitted to flirt through the season, till the young girl's affections become seriously engaged.
At length, she entitles her young admirer to make proposals for her hand. “ Your fortune, sir ?”—“ Ten thousand pounds."
_“Your prospects ?”—“A blank.” Instead of granting his petition, papa shows him the door, forbids all correspondence with Miss Emily ; and the young people who for months past have scarcely spent an hour apart, are condemned to see each other no more. A letter is at length furtively addressed to poor Emily by her lover, and furtively an. swered. A discovery follows; and papa, who during the first five years of his marriage was a rigid locker up of his wife, now takes to locking up his daughter. (rritated rather than subdued by this vio. lence, Emily contrives to receive further solicitations from one who, enamoured of her pretty face, and knowing little of her temper and disposition, is eager only to show the old folks how little he values their authority. They elope. The papers paragraph, the parents are inconsolable, the world laughs in its sleeve, and Lionel Percy's club proclaims that he is a bold man. The father, whose commands have been thus cruelly disobeyed, is of course justified in giving no fortune to his rebellious daughter. But Lionel has his ten thousand pounds, or rather the four hundred and fifty pounds per annum,
which he receives as interest for the same : and is not an income of four hundred and fifty pounds per annum an ample competence for “ Love in a Cottage?"
In such terms, at least, Emily writes to her young friends; whose answers to her letters, either through care for her pocket, which they will not attack by expense of postage, or because they fear that her poverty may become burthensome to themselves, wax few and far be. tween. Nevertheless, she is not discouraged. Lionel, still the most adoring of men, takes care (unshackled by a marriage settlement,) to supply from his principal all deficiencies of income, that the idol of his soul may continue to eat mutton.cutlets instead of mutton-chops, and enjoy the pony-chaise, (the legitimate car of Cupid whenever he assumes the character of “ Love in a Cottage.”) It is not till four years of married life have enriched thc Percys with two squalling chil. dren and the immediate prospect of a third, that Emily is reluctantly informed by her husband that their hitherto inadequate income is diminished to two hundred and fifty pounds!
“ Love in a Cottage,” now assumes the less euphonous denomina. tion of “ Love in Lodgings.” The pony.chaise is exchanged for an occasional hackney.coach; the washing is done at home, the wages of the sulky maid-of-all-work are often in arrear; and all the miseries of a necessitous household pour down upon the despairing couple. Emily, hitherto a dawdle, is fretted into a scold; and Lionel, here. tofore a blockhead, becomes a brute. The evils which would have been foreseen by French parents, ere they admitted a handsome young man to uncontrolled intimacy with their daughter, are fully realized; and poor Emily, worn down by privation and trouble, and discarded by her friends, droops in premature old age and dies broken-hearted; accusing her own folly in place of the erroneous system which was its origin! Such are the results of that imprudent and incautious mea. sure,—“A LOVE Match.”
Reader! the counterfeit presentment of two vational blunders lies before you. Be it your task to establish a juste milieu, an intermediary stage, which, without leaving too much scope for the vagaries of youthful fancy, or the wilfulness of an inexperienced mind, allows some latitude of choice. Love is the child of leisure. The French by the precocity of their marriages, insures its being born in wedlock; while the English bachelors and spinsters, “ people this whole realm” with illegitimate Cupids. Whenever a more equal distribution of family property shall enable our fellow.countrymen to marry at an age pro. pitious to the growth and cherishing of their offspring, and the prospect of making marriage the paradise of their maturity, rather than the mere solace of their declining years, it is to be hoped that parliament, which is beginning to legislate for the sticking of pins into our pin. cushions, and the sticks into our peas, will establish a national medium between the Marriage de Convenance and the Love Match.
Q. E. D.