Imatges de pàgina
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does not become the king of France to punish the injuries done to the duke de Vendôme.” The good folks of France repeat this trait of magnanimity without dreaming that the words were originally uttered by a Roman emperor under somewhat similar circumstances. Nobody, without being suspected of Carbonari principles, could object to this loyal plagiarism, so long as it was exercised for the benefit of crowned heads; but it behoves us to get ready our spring guns and steel traps when our neighbours begin to poach upon our private manors, in the style of the following opening paragraph, "Mademoiselle Sophie Arnauld, of cynical memory, amid a crowd of smart sayings and free sallies which have obtained for her the honour of a scandalous celebrity, compared marriage to a bag full of venomous serpents, among which there were one or two good eels; ' You put your hand into this bag,' said she,

with your eyes bound, and you must be born under a singularly lucky star to avoid some of the cruel serpents, and pick out the good eel.'” Unfortunately for Miss Sophie Arnould, we are told by so old a writer as Camden, that this was a favourite saying of Sir John More, the father of the celebrated Sir Thomas, who notwithstanding ventured to put his hand three times into the bag, and, so far from having his life shortened by his three wives, lived to the age of ninety, and then died in a very Anacreontic manner, of a surfeit occasioned by eating grapes.

After having decided in his first chapter that marriage, besides its political, religious, social, sentimental, and patriotic considerations, has also its gymnastic division, and that mannikins, pigmies, as well as all rickety and deformed cripples, ought to be prohibited by law from sullying by their abortions the noble and superb theatre of propagation, our author reminds his readers that the wedding day is like the day of judgment, when poor mortals must be exhibited in their true colours, without veil or disguise; and subsequently compares the same period to Ash Wednesday, when the Carnival folks, having no longer any body to deceive, finish by throwing off the mask. Women in search of a husband are audaciously likened to criminals, who, knowing that they must be ruined by the truth, conceal it by the most complicated subterfuges : the slanderer does not hesitate to state that they have recourse to pads and mechanical stays to hide their crookedness; and that, as to their mental defects, the veriest fury will put her claws into lambskin, and exhibit honey upon her lips while her heart is rankling with gall. This being established, craft becomes justifiable on the part of the wooer; marriage, like diplomacy, has its Machiavelism, and as it occasionally becomes indispensable to sacrifice a rustic and ridiculous frankness to the interests of the heart, or of a good establishment, the following instructions are to be diligently studied if the mother of your intended should fortunately happen to be one of those bluestocking dames who deal in metaphors and romance, or are continually spouting their own rumbling

stanzas.

“ This advantage," exclaims our Viscount, “is still better than to have one of those voluminous mammas, who, under the weight of ten good lustres and an undulating fat, are not the less solicitous to appear young, and simper their girlish graces with a set of teeth from Desirabode, * and a head of hair from Michalon. Yes, a literary or rhyming mother-in-law is, in my opinion, the summit of felicity for a clever bridegroom. There is no bird lime of surer effect than flattery for catching a woman who loves to see herself in print: in this case, you learn by Heart some of her somniferous productions ; of course you fall into ecstacies or swoon away at every verse ; in pastoral and ele. gy, Madame Deshoulières and Madame Dufresnois are but ninnies and simpletons, you exclaim, compared to your eleventh Muse; then it is that you yourself will also try to compose some little poems and madrigals, modest dwarfs, presuming not to approach the giants which your eleventh Muse gives you every

* A fashionable dentist in the Palais Royal.

morning to digest; and finally you hire, at whatever expense, some journalist or reviewer, who, although rarely of his own opinion, but always of that of his purse, will lavish his typographical incense and venal enthusiasm, which you have taken care to purchase for ready money. Oh! don't be uneasy upon this subject; there are twenty ways of creeping into the good graces of a lady author, who quits her household affairs to shoot, like Icarus, into a romantic immortality. Sometimes, I confess, the task is tiresome. What a nuisance to be daily overwhelmed, at dinner, in the drawing-room, at breakfast, even at the theatre, with bundles of verses and endless rhymes, whose harmonious and pompous delivery pursues you even in your dreams! Not to be able to swallow a mouthful at table without having it ren. dered insipid by some sonorous strophe which buzzes in your ear! To be forced to cry out charming! beautiful! while you mutter to yourself, what wretched stuff! But, on the other hand, take a bird's eye view of the handsome fortune which is to be the reward of this heroic complaisance ; contemplate, moreover, that heap of canvass bags through which the fine fise franc pieces are seen to model their bright diameter ; those bank notes, which are well worth all your love letters; that gold, source of every prosperity; that glittering furniture in mahogany and rosewood; those ottomans; that superb marriage bed, of mashroom colour or jonquii ; those golden doves which are bill. ing over the canopy; those purple curtains; the obsequious valet de chambre with his plumeau ; the lady's maid with pockets to her apron; and, above all, those parchment marriage articles, upon which the law itself has engraved the guarantee of your fortune. Are not all these treasures worth a few moment's cunning and suppleness ?”

For the benefit of all aspiring bachelors, we extract our author's “ Vrai Code de l'Hymen :"

“Instead of falling in love with a grisette, who has no other patrimony than her lilies and roses, her plump graces, and her wreath of flowers, the whole in a furnished garret at fifteen francs a month, look out for a good bulky dowager, or an imposing and substantial baroness of fifty-five, who drinks freely at every meal her bottle of best claret, never reads any thing but her cook's bill of* fare, and knows to a nicety when a pullet is well dressed. A solid and discreet man, who ties the matrimonial knot with a woman of this description, understands his true interests: instead of wasting his youth in the dust of a counting house, or scribbling in a lawyer's office, our gentleman discourses with a complacent pride about his château, his garden wall which he is going to rebuild, his hounds, his monkey, and his newspapers; and throws a patronizing glance, as he walks, upon his former companions, to whom he has refunded, by the hands of a third person, certain half crown pieces, wbích they had for

merly lent him to buy a dinner. For Heaven's sake never indulge in any thing romantic, a la Oswald, a la Corinne; that superb apparatus of sentiments, rarified in the alembic of Platonism soon vanishes at the sight of misery; and when you are left in a wretched loft, with a mistress full of sensibility, do you know what remains of those marriages which are sneeringly termed the union of hunger and thirst? mutual regrets, manu. scripts of romances, and pawnbroker's duplicates. Reflect, then, seriously, conjugalizers of both sexes, before you submit yourselves to the empire of a sentiment ; anticipate the future state of the Venus, or the Apollo, who has captivated you, and do not imagine that this firework of the heart can be of long continuance. Alas! after the fine Catherine wheel has been let off at Tivoli, there remains nothing but blackened scaffolding, scorched pasteboard, and the bad odour of sulphur; and to many husbands, marriage, after the honeymoon, appears little better than a Tivoli firework."

Of the propriety of submitting to our parents in all matrimonial affairs, the following is adduced as an exemplary illustration:

“ Edward, a handsome cashier, fell in love with the beautiful Olympia, only daughter of an opulent banker. Love had never more vehemently inflamed two hearts already united by the bonds of sympathy; nevertheless the father, having learnt the folly of his daughter, formally declared, in an angry letter, that she must prepare to renounce her chimerical passion. Olympia replies, for lovers are never sparing of long winded epistles, that Fate bad pointed out as her husband the only individual who could secure her own happiness, and concluded her high flown and romantic letter with the following remarkable words Edward or Death !!! What did papa write under this theatrical and mournful declaratioy ? “Neither the one nor the other." And he was perfectly right. Edward had nothing but a good figure, a little talent, and a good many creditors. Olympia pass. ing from opulence to penury, in a melancholy hovel, disinherited by her parents, and forced to make a little kitchen, in a little room, with little means, would soon have repented her melodramatic resolutions; love, who is a lover of good cheer, would as usual have flown out at the window, and our married couple, according to custom, would have recriminated upon their mutual folly."

Against the dupery of fortune tellers and gipsies the following caution is given to all amorous damsels :

“I beseech all those young ladies, who, while they have the bandage of love or of the senses over their eyes, never see any.

thing except through the prism of illusions and desire, not to yield to the puerile superstition of consulting one of those Pythonesses of the highway, one of those Sibyls of the garret, who, of their own plenary authority, read in the future every body's fate but their own, and in a game of cards spread out like a fan, in the white of eggs, or the grounds of coffee, show you sweethearts as clearly as astrologers perceive inhabitants in the moon. Believe me, these sorceresses of the cellar, upon their modern tripods, with their black or white magic, their legerdemain and conjuror's tricks, know not a jot more of the matter than those , porteresses who prophesy husbands for the chambermaids of their hotel, by signalizing the knave of hearts as a fair lover, the queen of spaces as a dangerous rival, and the ace of diamonds as a letter from the country. Do you wish to know, ladies, the only method of securing a rich and good husband, who after love (which has an immortality of some months after marriage) will preserve for you an eternal esteem? It is by your good conduct, your manners, your prudence, that you will obtain this treasure."

It would have been well for our author, and better for his readers, had he never given more objectionable advice.

Upon the subject of education, he disserteth after the following fashion :

“ In bestowing a brilliant education upon a girl whose whole fortune consists in the pride of her superficial learning, in her harpsichord, her music books, and her fastidious purism in language, you are unconsciously preparing for her the most painful lot. Quitting her high bred school with a complete varnish of fashion and scientific trumpery, she no sooner reaches home than she looks down with scorn uponhcrown mother, who is for ever breaking poor Priscian's head, and soinetimes offends her ear by a pleonasm, and sometimes by a blunder in prosody. Even the chambermaid cannot ply her broom without doing an injury to grammatical sensibility; our precious blue-stocking reasons about rythm and the rules of versification, composes somniferous novels upon the question whether love is a purely metaphysical or material being, and with all this gallimaufry of words, and of alembi. cized and ambitious phrases, will never be able to make any water gruel for her husband in case he should fall sick. What have mythology, the dryads and hamadryads, Pan and the fauns, En.' dymion and the moon, to do in a butcher's or a grocer's shop? and why should the daughter of such people be able to jabber a few words of Italian, or have her head loaded with the revolutions of the lower empire ? Young persons, however, shoukl make a serious study of dancing, which is to marriage what the candle is to the motli; it is the principal flame at which Hymnen ligiits

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