Page images

fashionables of both sexes, most of whom waste their time and money at the card-tables, and the rest do nothing at all! while the lady of the house has the same functions to perform as the landlady of an inn, and like “mine hostess," prides herself on the number of her guests,

although she is not always, like her, paid for her trouble. The rout is a much more elegant pastime. The floor of the dancing-room is painted in mosaics, in beautiful figures and flowers, with coloured chalks, which are soon effaced by “the light fantastic toe.” Magnificent lustres of cut glass, and a splendid array of wax candles, exhibit Madame dressed out in her je wels, ready to receive her guests equally resplendent. The supper room, fitted up with the most gorgeous elegance, displays a table groaning under every luxury and sparkling with polished plate. Here the company crowd, rank after rank, in close semicircles. During the night, various amusements succeed each other, and the company retire to their homes fatigued with dissipation Alas! can we wonder that Aurora often lights such people home, when we reflect on the irresistible temptations and fascinating inducements to keep late hours?

Love was given us by the Author of all goodness, as the meed of virtue, and the soother of care; but the base and sordid forms of society, have encircled that heavenly rose with so many thorns, that the opulent alone can gather it with safety. Lady Modish observes in the Careless Husband, “ that sincerity in

love is as much out of fashion as sweet snuff; nobody takes it now.” In the polite world, the tender passion is laughed at, as an affectation of romantic sensibility; and the fashionables look on marriage, as men do on offices of public trust, only as the road to fortune and advancement in the world!

The poor but deserving man must drag out his existence in single blessedness, rather than enter into an engagement, which may double his load of misery; he must, in such a case, reap the bitter consequences of his imprudent step, knowing that " it is in the bond.” He will beget children, whose cries will perhaps be the screams of hunger, and who would be much better in their graves, than in a world where nothing awaits them but wretchedness.

I shall never, never marry, (said H. K. White, in one of his beautiful Letters.) It cannot-must not be! - I love too dearly to make love innocent, and therefore I say, farewell to it! Besides, I cannot introduce a woman into poverty for my love's sake, nor could I well bear to see such an one as I must marry, strug. gling with narrow circumstances, and sighing for the fortunes of her children.”

Women often refuse matches, in hopes of better offers, and thus arrive at old maidism, when they might have been excellent wives and mothers; or, perhaps, what is still worse, they find themselves obliged to marry in their middle age, fellows whom they would have loathed and despised in their youth. “I knew

a proud girl (says Dr. Franklin) who wished and resolved not to marry a parson, nor a Presbyterian, nor an Irishman, and at length found herself united to an Irish Presbyterian parson!”

Marriage is a mutual trust of honour. A man's marrying a woman therefore who has lost her honour, is confiding his whole fortune to an unprincipled bankrupt, who has no secu. rity to give for the important trust.

Where a woman's character has been ruined by himself, justice and humanity call on him, to repair the breach by “ sanctimonious ceremonies;” but then that very marriage is a just punishment for the crime of seducing female innocence; its bliss is poisoned by the natural suspicion that the passions which were so easily roused by himself, may be as easily kindled by others.

It has been observed that those marriages generally abound most with love and constancy ihat are preceded by a long courtship; the passion should strike rout, and gather strength before marriage be grafted on it. Disappointment after the honey moon, often arises from the too exalted notion which a man forms of his intended, during courtship; thus the angel turns out to be a mere Eve, if nothing worse! A long courtship will prevent this inconvenience; then the qualities of the beloved object gradually unfold ihemselves, and imagination ceases to clothe her with a fanciful embroidery of virtues and accomplishments, but she is es. timated according to her real value. A mar

riage thus founded on mutual esteem, has little chance of being clouded by the gloom and ennui which are the curse of fashionable matches; and, if there is such a thing as perfect happi. ness on earth, it is to be found in the union of two fond and virtuous hearts,


Le théâtre-cette partie des belles lettres, si méprisée quand elle est médiocre, contribue à la gloire d'un état quand elle est perfectionnée. VOLTAIRE.

In compliance with your request, I will devote an entire letter, to a sketch of the rise, progress, and present condition of the British stage; and, as this will be the last opportunity which I will enjoy of writing to you on this side of the Atlantic, I will enter on the subject with the earnestness of one who is to concentrate all his powers in a final and decisive ef. fort. Next week I shall be ploughing my way to the only country in the world where Liberty dwells,” and where true and lasting happiness can be enjoyed.

You are such an admirer of the Theatre, that it would be useless here to show myself its encomiast; but there are a few of our bigoted acquaintances, who are for leaving all the elegant amusements of life to those who alone deserve to be gloomy and wretched in this world. These fanatics appear to take Young


at his word, when he says" Be death your theme in every place and hour!”

Where is every virtuous feeling more enthu. siastically roused—where is moral duty more strikingly taught than at a well-regulated theatre? What so sublime as to see the noblest passions of the human heart called forth by a great actor, animated by a great poet? The pallid and sceptered muse of tragedy has" wept herself to marble” over the urn of persecuted virtue and undeserved afflictions; she has poured forth her most divine inspirations to display the great features of the human character, and to wring the heart with sympathy for the piteous calamities and fate of human excellence. What a blessing that mankind can be allured from the haunts of dissipation and guilt, and find relaxation, pleasure and improvement in the succes. sion of moral pictures which the stage exhibits! Does it not make the bosom of the philanthropist glow with delight, to behold all ages and all ranks convulsed with one common passion, wrung with the same mental agony, actuated by the same hopes and fears, and with loud sobs and cries doing involuntary homage to the Omnipotence that made their hearts, and implanted the seeds of virtue in every breast?

In the days of Augustus, (says Cumberland) when dramatic entertainments were the com. mon diversions of the people through all the provinces of the spacious empire, had they then been deemed immoral, could they have passed uncensured by all our Apostles, who at

« PreviousContinue »