Imatges de pàgina

regulated by fabricated revelations in the Egerian Cave, was subsequently administered by Sibylline forgeries, and that systematic code of augury which became interwoven with every Pagan establishment. That our fates should be made dependent upon the stars, planets, and constellations, however preposterous a conceit, at least imparts a dignity to our nature by conjoining earth with heaven: but that the doom of kings, empires, and individuals, should be regulated by the flight of unconscious birds, as expounded by sky gazing augurs; or by the entrails of victims, as analysed by the butchers of Haruspicy; or by the four elements, as elucidated by holy impostors of various nations is an evidence of stupid credulity that levels civilized man to the savage, and leaves him very little elevated above the beasts of the field. The practice of Paganism long survived its belief, so has that of divination, unless we are to suppose that the young persons of the fair sex, and the old women of both, are serious proselytes to its efficacy, when they submit the lines of their hand to gipsy judgment, interpret the cabalistic writing of coffee or tea grounds in a cup, or determine their destiny by the casual upturning of the cards. O the profound conception, that we should carry about with us in our palm a manual of futurity, have the whole book of fate engraved upon the narrow space between our four fingers and our thumb, and thus literally and truly make our life and destiny the work of our hands! What is it to cram the Lord's prayer and belief into the narrow limits of a sixpence, when we have the fortunes and adventures of three-score years and ten contracted into the compass of a single palm? He who said that man was an abridgment of the universe, uttered a fine idea, but how much finer to imagine this epitome of the world reduced to a handful, and thrust carelessly into one's breeches pocket! O the bright conceit, that our horoscope should be revealed to us in a cup, and our fate be prefigured in the hieroglyphical writing of coffee-grounds and tealeaves, or shumed out to us in the oracular demonstrations of the four suits! If it has been maintained that speech was given us to conceal our thoughts, it

may be predicated, with equal assurance, that man was endowed with a reasoning mind to atone for the irrationality of his actions.

A faith in divination and fatalism can never want converts, so long as it affords us a convenient scapegoat for our crimes and follies; and who is there among us that does not lay this flattering unction to his soul whenever his pride or self-conceit are wounded? If we succeed in our undertaking, we very demurely assign the merit to our own talent, prudence, and forethought; if we fail, our bad luck bears all the blame of our bad conduct; we impute our own blindness to fortune, and even make the heavens responsible if we happen to miss our way upon earth. “This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune, often the surfeits of our own behaviour, we make guilty of our disasters the sun, moon, and stars, as if we were villains on necessity, liars by a divine thrusting on, adulterers and drunkards by an enforced obedience of planetary influence.” To this extent we are all superstitious alike: we admit the influence of the blind goddess upon one half of human destiny; we believe in her after an event has occurred, while we deride those who imagine that the same event could have been previously subject to her direction. We cheerfully stand sponsors to our virtues and successes, while we affiliate our vices and disasters upon any one that will father them.

There is one sense in which, without the inspiration of prophecy, or the charge of imposture, we may reasonably and beneficially venture to indulge in the mystery of fortune telling. Knowing that, in the established succession of human affairs, cer



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tain causes will produce correspondent effects, we may read the future in the past, and boldly predict that the spendthrift will come to want, the debauchee to premature decay, the idler to contempt, the gamester to bitterness of soul, if not to suicide, the profligate to remorse, and the violater of the laws to punishment; while we may as safely augur that the practice of the opposite virtues will be productive of results diametrically contrary. Human passions, the great elements of change, being the same in all ages, and nations being but an aggregate of individuals, we may in like manner ascend from particular cases to mighty empires, and deduce the revolutions that are to be from those that have been. All states have their birth, manhood,' and death; their increase, renown, and decay; their morning, noon, and night. Here we may prophesy upon a large scale, though we cannot live to see the fulfilment of our prognostications. He, however, inay be confirmed at no very distant day, who predicts that Rome, the immortal city, the mistress of the world, will lay her proud head in the dust with Tyre and Sidon, and Palmyra and Jerusalem, and Nineveh and Babylon. The depopulation of another century will reduce her inhabitants to a handful of men, whom the increasing mal-aria will presently sacrifice or disperse: wolves will, finally, range over the silent waste of the Seven Hills as freely as before the time of Romulus and Remus; the marble temples will sink into the infectious marshes that surround them; and if there be one stone left

upon another, it should be that which covers the tomb of the Cardinal de St. Onuphrio, and bears the following inscription, as applicable to the city as the saint: “ Hic jacet umbracinis-nihil !"

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Such is the attractive title of one of those Pari. sian publications, which from their union of a refined and piquant style with great licentiousness of matter from their abundance of caustic satire, or playful bantering, with the most barefaced want of principle, and from the employment of a cultivated, subtle, and even delicate intellect to inculcate the grossest sensuality, `may be pronounced eminently and emphatically French." From the profligate romance of Louvet, down to that most heartless and detestable of all productions, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, the literature of France, however poor in other respects, leaves not a single niche unoccupied in what may be termed her national temple of polished libertinism: while England, so superior to her rival in all the nobler departments of mental power, has fortunately seldom deigned to compete with her on this unhallowed and forbidden ground. One remarkable coincidence between the prurient writers of both countries is, the common hypocrisy and cant with which they set themselves up for moralists and saints whenever they are about to be particularly scandalous. We could mention certain British mawworms who never venture upon an indecent or abusive article without a preface of pretended horror at the irreligion, indecorum, and personality, of some unacceptable contemporary This the Viscount de S, which is the nom de guerre

-' assumed by the author of "Conjugalism," while, in the spirit of the misogynist Swift, he wallows in the most revolting nastiness of detail, is careful to add that there is no security for female virtue or conjugal happiness un ess it be grounded upon our holy religion; and at the very moment that he sug

gests means of the basest artifice, fraud, and forgery, to lovers of both sexes, for the attainment of their object, he piously warns them that there is no medium so likely to succeed as the practice of strict honour and unsullied morality. Upon other occasions, however, he forgets all his theoretical integrity, inculcates falsehood, treachery, and cheating, without deeming them worthy of even a passing apology, or, if he condescends to excuse them at all, revives the controversy of Thwackum and Square ; assures us that if the end be the happiness of the parties, it completely sanctifies the means ; quotes the old adage, that in love and war all stratagems are allowable ; and finally tells the reader, very cavalierly, that if any objections be made to the sordid duplicity which he advises, he rests his whole defence upon the title of his book, which he has called the art of making a good marriage. Without farther stigmatizing the pernicious tendency of this unprincipled work, we shall proceed to give such extracts from its unobjectionable passages as may afford amusing specimens of the author's style and power of observation, as as well as of the Parisian fashions, habits, and modes of thinking upon that universally interesting subject, marriage.

The very first paragraph of the preliminary reflections is strikingly characteristic of the nation. Whoever is in the slightest degree conversant with French literature, must have observed the slavish conceit with which ever individual, for many ages, identified his own personal vanity with that of the grand monarque, to which we may attribute their custom of ransacking ancient and modern history for bon mots and fine sayings, that they might father them upon their own kings and princes. Every history of Henry the fourth begins with the established anecdote, that, when in the plentitude of his power he was counselled to avenge himself upon some of his former opponents, he exclaimed, “ It

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