Imatges de pàgina


his torch. I recommend them, then, to frequent all balls, public and private ; and if a perfumed billetdoux should be slipped into their hands, they should make a point of refusing the first, as the surest method of receiving a great many more

These little obstacles are the thorns of the moss-rose, which centuple its value. In your anxiety, however, to conjugalize, 1 beseech you, by the apple of your eye, not to imitate those husband-hunting Nina Vernons, who, perched on the balcony of an alcove or park-pavilion, overhanging a high road, holding a book or a guitar in an affected attitude, seem to be fishing with a line for any husband who will nibble at the bait. I knew a young lady at Lille so possessed with this matrimoniomania, that it was impossible for a young man to pay her the commonest attentions without her considering it as an overture, and threatening him with an action for breach of promise when he undeceived her of her strange error. I recollect an unfortunate young man, who was impru. dent enough to reply to some of her ridiculous missives. Heavens ! he had no sooner arrived at Lille, than he was summoned to appear before the father and mother; the new Nina Vernon throws her arms around him with a frantic cry, calls upon him to realize his vows, and declares that she will only release him at the altar. A lucky falsehood enabling him to throw himself upon his horse, and gallop away from this nuptial cut-throat, I encoun. tered him in the high-street of Bethune, still imagining that he saw at his heels all the evil genii and malevolent sylphs of Hymen."

In a chapter devoted to the marriage ceremonies of England, our author begins by stating, that " clandestine marriages are no where so prevalent, inasmuch as any two lovers have only to send for a protestant priest, who, for a trifle, will give the sanction of the law to the caprices or desires of a momentary passion. It is not uncommon for the clergy," he adds, "to write upon their windows,

Marriages performed here upon cheap terms;' and we are informed that women have this

advantage, that, if they cannot succeed by other means, they may intoxicate their lover, who, on recovering his senses, may find himself the husband of the woman whom he most despises.” With an unusual scrupulosity, he admits that these fraudulent marriages have lately been prohibited by an act of parliament. Guernsey is the new Cythera of conjugalism for which all those embark whose nuptials en

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counter any legal obstacle, and the throwing of the garter and other exploded ceremonies are de scribed as indispensable accompaniments to every union. Among the anecdotes, we are told of an Englishman who suddenly resolved to be married before he had finished smoking his pipe, which he accomplished with some little difficulty ; and of another, whose wife confessing upon her death bed that she had been guilty of several infidelities-" Alas !” exclaimed her husband, “ you have no more reason to be satisfied with me; I promise, therefore, not to preserve any remembrance of your misconduct, if you in return will forgive me whatever wrongs I may have committed towards you." Not less surprised than overcome by this excessive goodness, she gladly consented, when he informed her, that having discovered her gallantries, he had taken the liberty of poisoning her, and that she was then dying by his hand! A Milord Anglais of great wealth, lately arrived at Paris, was so much smitten with the beauty of the poor woman's daughter in whose house he lodged, that he cried with a sheepish air-“ Moi épouser vous toute de suite." The damsel blushed. “Volez-vo, voi o non ?(oui ou non.) The young woman being advised to decide instantly, as this marrier à la minute might change his mind, very seriously cried out—" Qui ;” to which Milord replied, “ Úne gentelman ne pas avoir qu'une parole,” and the wedding was shortly solemnized with great magnificence. Eight days after,. a friend returning from Italy gave him such an attractive account of Naples, that he exclaimed afresh —“Toute de suite, toute de suite, dais chival de la poste, et á Naples !” and in a few days his new wife finds herself under the burning skies of Lombardy. These most authentic anecdotes are wound up by the marriage of a Parisian exquisite.

“ Saint-Elme was charming, brilliant, witty, fait à peindre ; he fenced, and wrote a billet doux en vrai Lovelace: the Coryphæus

of the side scenes, the actresses contended for his favours, and liveried lacqueys brought him letters perfumed à la Vanille, with appointments from ladies of distinction. Descending from his unpaid tilbury in the Bois de Boulogne, and ogling through a diamond eye glass, for which he was still in the jeweller's books, he was the darling of those fashionable dames who parade their landaus in fine weather, scattering from their horses' feet clouds of ostentatious dust. Nothing in appearance was wanting to the happiness of our ambered hero, since he took his tea at Hardy's, on the Italian Boulevard, dined at Beauvilliers,' employed an English habit-maker, wore a waistcoat of Eau du Nil, had his pockets filled with orange-comfits, candied cherries, pastilles itu punch, and Nougat de Marseilles; and was, moreover, often seen in the private boxes of the theatres; but, alas ! his prosperity was soon to end."

Besieged one morning by bailiffs and creditors, who offered him his choice-payment or a prisonhe decided as firmly as Cæsar when he crossed the Rubicon, and, accompanied by his father, betook himself to the horrible Lady Formes, a Londoner, of a hundred thousand sterling a year, whose hideous portrait is exhibited in the frontispiece to the volume, and sacrifices himself to this ancient fright for the purpose of paying his creditors. Our author, it will be.observed, is about as happy in the names of our nobility as Rousseau in his “ Nouvelle Heloise,” and Madaine de Staël in her “Corinne;' and as to the clumsy ridicule of his story and his caricature, we apprehend it is much less disreputable to possess the forbidding features of a Lady Formes, than the sordid and profligate soul of a Saint Elme.

After recommending the revival of a custom among the Babylonians, who used to assemble all their marriageable young a public place, and bestow the money which was bidden for the beauties in marriage portions for those who were ugly, our author quotes from Legouve-

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“Quand l'homme de la vie entrepend le voyage,

La femme avec douceur guide ses premiers pas :
Elle sait le charmer dans le fougue de l'age,

Et le console encore aux portes de trepas,".

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a sentiment which ought to have inspired him with
a little more respect for the sex : and, when he ven-
tures in another place to exclaim
“ Mais

pour moi dont le front trop aisement rougit,

Ma bouche a déjà peur de t'en avoir trop dit," he may rest assured that no decent reader, even in France, will accuse him upon the first line, or acquit him upon the second.

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“Our court shall be a little academy."-SHAKSPEARE.
“ Doctor, I want you to mend my cacology."--Heir at Law.

CANDOUR requires, Mr. Secretary, that I should commence my letter by confessing the doubts I once entertained as to the necessity of any

such establishment as that which I have now the honour to address; for, at a time when our booksellers evince such unprecedented munificence, that no author of the least merit is left unrewarded, while all those of superior talent acquire wealth as well as fame, it did appear to me that our writers needed no chartered patrons or royal remunerators. At the first public meeting, however, of the Society, the President having most logically urged the propriety of such an institution, because this country had become “pre-eminently distinguished by its works of history, poetry, and philology," without the assistance of any corporate academy; while they had long possessed one in France, (where literature had been notoriously stationary or retrograde from the period of its establishment,) I could not resist the force of this double argument, aud am now.pot only convinced that it is necessary to give to our literature

a corporate character and representation," but

prepared, as far as my humble abilities extend, to forward the objects of the Society, by hastening to accept its invitation for public contributions. Aware that the model of the French Academy should always be kept in view, and remembering the anecdote recorded by M. Grimm, one of its members, who died in the greatest grammatical dilemma as to whether he should say "Je m'en vais," or "je m'en va, dans l'autre monde,” I shall limit my attention to considerations of real importance, parti

cularly to such as may conduce “to the improve· ment of our language, and the correction of capri

cious deviations from its native purity," such being * one of the main objects proposed in the President's address. Not having time, in this my first letter, to methodize all my suggestions, I shall loosely throw upon paper such observations as have occurred to me in my hasty and superficial view of the subject.

Nothing forms so violent a deviation from philological purity as catachresis. We sneer at the slipslop of uneducated life, and laugh at Mrs. Malaprop upon the stage; yet what so common in colloquial language as to hear people talk of wooden tömbstones, iron milestones, glass ink horns, brass shoing horns, iron coppers, and copper hand irons? We want a substitute for the phrase going on board an iron steam boat, and a new verb for expressing its motion, which is neither sailing nor rowing: these are desiderata which the Society cannot speedily supply, considering the prodigious extension of that mode of conveyance. Many expressions are only catachrestical in sound, yet require emendation as involving an apparently ludicrous contradiction: such, for instance, as the farmer's speech to a nobleman at Newmarket, whose horse had lost the first race and won the second: “ Your horse, my lord, was very backward in coming forward; he was behind before, but he's first at last." I myself lately


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