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man nature and happiness, should have levelled his shafts against the masterpiece of one and the dispenser of the other-Woman !-but what shall we say to the contemporary satirists, Pope and Swift, each of whom, after trifling with and inveigling the affections of two accomplished ladies, who sacrificed every thing to the promotion of their happiness, slunk back from marriage, or, if married, were not only mean and cowardly enough to conceal it, but ungrateful enough to publish heartless libels against the whole sex? Let this be always recollected when any one ventures the hacknied quotations from Pope, --" Every woman is at heart a rake"_“ Most women have no characters at all”
“ The love of pleasure and the love of sway :” with other citations equally just and novel. As to Swift, he can luckily be seldom quoted in decent company; yet even he could confess that the grossness and degeneracy of conversation observable in his time were mainly attributable to the exclusion of women from society. Conscious that this self-spotting calumny is somewhat like spitting against the wind, later writers have generally had the good sense to avoid putting themselves in the way of its recoil; and if a living author delight to vent his spleen agaist the sex in general, and his wife in particular, he may plead in his defence that which I believe might be adduced by all similar libellers
“ Forgiveness to the injured doth belong,
They never pardon who commit the wrong.” Nor be it forgotten that such men may be only exemplifying the fable of the Painter and the Lion, for it is easier to traduce fifty women than practise one virtue.
“ Women want the ways To praise their deeds, but men want deeds to praise." I do not merely admire women as the most beautiful objects of creation, or love them as the sole sources of happiness, but I reverence them as the redeeming glories of humanity, the sanctuaries of the virtues, the pledges and antepast of those perfect qualities of the head and heart, combined with attractive external charms, which, by their union, almost exalt them into the angelic character. Taxation and luxury, and struggles for existence, have made us such a cold, selfish, plodding nation, that we should be base indeed, were it not for the disinterestedness and enthusiasm of our females, whose romance even is necessary to qualify the painful reality of our existence. And yet, from the first moment when I began to reflect, I have always thanked God that I was not born a woman, deeming them the bestowers rather than enjoyers of happiness--the flower-crowned victims offered up to the human lord of the Creation.
Passing over the early period of her life, which, however, is one of perpetual restraint and unvaried subjection to the most self-denying forms and observances, we will suppose a female to have attained a fitting age for that great and paramount end of her being-marriage. Men have a thousand objects in life-the professions, glory, ambition, the arts, authorship, advancement, and money-getting, in all their ramifications, each sufficient to absorb their minds and supply substitutes in case of primary failure; but if a woman succeed not in the one sole hope of her hazardous career, she is utterly lost to all the purposes of exertion or happiness, the past has been all thrown away, and the future presents nothing but cheerless desolation. Love is only a luxury to men, but it may be termed a necessary to women, both by the constitution of society and the decrees of nature, for she has endowed them with superior susceptibility and overflowing affections, which, if they be not provided with a vent, perpetually corrode and gnaw the heart. And what are her feelings and chances in this fearful lottery ? A constant sense of degradation, in being compelled to make her whole life a game, a manæuvre, a speculation ; while she is haunted with the fear and shame of ultimate failure. And how alarmingly must the number of these involuntary nuns increase with the yearly augmenting distress of taxed, and luxurious, and expensive England, where the moral restraint of Malthus, while it inflicts no privations upon the man, condemns the female to an utter blighting of the soul, aggravated, perhaps, by dependency or want. Blistered be the tongue that can ridicule, and paralysed the hand that can libel those victims of an artificial and unnatural system who have been unfeelingly taunted as Old Maids. Well could I excuse them, if, in the bitterness of sickened hope and the idleness of unjoyous solitude, they were even prone to exercise a vigilant censorship over the peccadilloes of their more fortunate rivals; but I repel the charge, and can safely affirm that some of the most amiable, kind-hearted, liberal women I have ever known were in this calumniated class.
One chance of "single blessedness” is still reserved for these Celibates. Their affections, unclaimed upon earth, sometimes seek a recipient in the skies ;-responding to the manifestations of divine love which they see on every side of them, they draw down religious lightning direct from Heaven, while men seek conductors, which only guide it towards the earth. The devotion of the former, as it is founded upon feeling, may be uninquiring and have a tendency to enthusiasm, but it will be cheerful and happy, because emanating from the heart; the latter approach this subject with their heads-a process which not unfrequently makes them sceptics, or bigots, or hypocrites.
But let us suppose the happier case of a young woman, who, from her beauty or fortune, is sure to receive offers—that is to say, who will attract fools or sharpers, and be taken as a necessary appendage of her face or her purse. "Even here, how little selection is allowed to her :-she may reject one, perhaps two, but if the third be merely free from positive objections, prudence urges his acceptance, relations second prudence, and she marries a man because he affords her no good excuse for hating him. The Circassians of Europe have little more choice than their namesakes of Asia. “ The happy pair" begin by committing a great mistake-they withdraw themselves from the world to spend the honeymoon together; familiarity produces its usual effects, they see too much of one another at first, and the results are exhaustion and ennui. She who marries an Idler, who will hang upon her society till he is wearied, and then seek recreation elsewhere, has not so many chances of happiness, as the woman whose husband is compelled to tear himself from her company for his duties, and gladly returns to it for his enjoyments.
A man's love generally diminishes after marriage, while a woman's increases ; both of which results might have been anticipated, for that appetite, either of person or purse, which the Bridegroom too often dignifies with the name of love, disappears with enjoyment; while the Bride, whose affections were perhaps little interested at first, finds them imperceptibly kindled by a sense of duty, by the consciousness of her dependence, and the gratifications and novelty which her total change of life invariably presents at the outset. Awakening from this trance, she has leisure to discover that she has made over to her lord and master, strictly and truly so designated, not only all her present possessions, but all her future expectations, all that she may even earn by her talents :-she has not become his servant, for servants, if ill used, may depart, and try to better themselves elsewhere, but his serf, his slave, his white negro, whom, according to Judge Buller, (himself a married man) he may correct with a stick of the same thickness as his thumb, whatever may be its dimensions. We hear of
fetters, the silken chains of love, the soft yoke of Hymen-but who is to bear the soul-grinding bondage of dislike, contempt, hatred ? How is a woman to avoid these feelings if she be maltreated and insulted ; and how is she to redress her wrongs? The laws, made by the men, and therefore flagrantly in their own favour, provide no remedy: if she use her sole weapon, the tongue, she is proclaimed a scold, a shrew, and reminded of the ducking-stool ; if she make his own house uncomfortable to her husband, every body's else is open to him; he may violate his marriage vow, and is still a marvellous proper gentleman; he may associate with profligates, and his friends exclaim —“ Poor man! he has been driven to this by a bad wife!" If the deserted and injured woman meantime seek relief from her sorrows in the most innocent recreation, Spite, with its Argus eyes, keeps watch upon her door, and Calumny dogs her footsteps, hissing at her with its thousand tongues, and spitting out lies and poison from every one.
Let no man choose me for umpire in a conjugal dispute. I need not ask who is the delinquent--my heart has decided against him by anticipation.
Such, I shall be told, is the result of uncongenial unions ; but it is a mistake to suppose that men seek congeniality in their wives. In friends who are to share their sports and pursuits; to accompany them in shooting, hunting, fishing; to talk politics or religion over a bottle; they naturally select similarity of tastes; but women are to do nothing of all this, they are chosen for their domestic duties, and as these are perfectly distinct from the man's, he looks out for contrast rather than uniformity. Hence the male horror of Bluestockings, the sneer with which every blockhead exclaims - “ Our wives read Milton and our daughters plays!" the alacrity with which he assumes that such learned ladies must necessarily “ make sloppy tea, and wear their shoes down at heel ;" and the convincing self-applause with which he quotes the trite epigram
Though Artemisia talks by fits
Reads Malbranche, Boyle, and Locke,” &c. Let us imagine, not a patient stock-fish, like Griselda, but an accomplished woman, " paired, not matched," with "a sullen silent sot, one who is ever musing but never thinks,” an animal who, like London small beer, gets sour if not soon drunk ;—or united to a drone and a dunce, who lounges all day long before the fire, spitting into it like a great roasting apple ;-or submitted to the caprices of a man who keeps his good temper for company and his bad for his wife; abroad as smiling and promising as a Siberian crab, while at home his heart's core is sour ;-or tormented with a profligate, who But I must have done, although I have not half finished, for I might stretch the line to the crack of doom. When I consider all the hardships and trials to which the fair sex are subject by those unjust institutions of society which exact the greatest strength from the weakest vessel, and reflect, moreover, that Nature has unkindly imposed upon it all the pains and penalties of continuing the race, I can only repeat once more, that I thank Heaven for not having made me a woman.
Oh, come to nie! my heart is sick
With fear, and sorrow, and remorse;
And o'er my brain dark fancies course.
Dear shadow, soothe me into rest!
Descend, and wander o'er my breast!
A messenger from God on high !
Till, from my age-long thraldom free,
And sing of truth and liberty!
ADDRESSED TO MISS EDGEWORTH.
We every-day Bards may “Anonymous” sign:
SKETCHES OF THE IRISH BAR-NO. II.
I selected Mr. Plunket for the subject of my first sketch of the leading members of the Irish Bar. The great reputation which he enjoys in this country, as well as the high station which he occupies in Ireland, give him a pre-eminent interest in the curiosity of the public. The name of Charles Kendal Bushe is not so extensively known beyond the immediate field in which his talents (which are of the first order) have been displayed. But in Ireland it is almost uniformly associated with that of Plunket, by those who descant upon
the comparative merits of their most distinguished advocates. The latter is better fitted to the transactions of ordinary business, and, in a profession which is generally conversant with the details of common life, exhibits a dexterity and astuteness which render him the most practical and therefore the ablest man at the Bar. He is always upon a level with bis subject, and puts forth his faculties, as if they were as subservient as his limbs to the dominion of his will, in the most precise and minute adaptation to the purposes for which they may happen to be required. The self-control which his mind possesses in so high and rare a degree, (and it is more difficult, perhaps, to men of true genius to descend from their native elevation, than to persons of inferior endowments to raise their faculties to the height of a great argument,”) has given him an almost undisputed mastery in the discussion of those topics which constitute the habitual business of the Bar. His hearers are not conscious that he is in reality exercising his great powers while he addresses them in the plainest speech and apparently in the most homely way. But an acute observer would discover that his reasonings upon the most vulgar topic were the perfection of art, and that under the guise of simplicity, he concealed the most insidious sop!ı istry, and subtleties the most acute. This seeming ingenuousness is the consummation of forensic ability; and however it is to be estimated in a moral point of view, there can be no doubt that at the bar it is of incalculable
Mr. Plunket is the chief sophist, and for that reason the most useful disputant in his profession; and it must be confessed that the deliberations of a court of justice do not call so much for the display of eloquence as for the ingenious exercise of the powers of disputation. I am far from thinking Mr. Bushe deficient in refinement and dexterityi on the contrary, he would be conspicuous for those qualities unless when he is placed in comparison with the great arch-hypocrite of the bar. But who could be his rival in that innocent simulation which constitutes the highest merit of a modern lawyer? The ingenuity of Bushe is too apparent. His angling is light and delicate; but the fly is too highly coloured, and the hook glitters in the sun. In the higher departments of oratory he is, perhaps, equal and occasionally superior to Mr. Plunket, from the power and energy of his incomparable manner; but in the discharge of common business in a common way, he holds a second, though not exceedingly distant place.
Mr. Bushe is the son of a clergyman of the established church, who resided at Kilmurry, in the county of Kilkenny, in the midst of the most elegant and most accomplished society in Ireland. He was in the enjoyment of a lucrative living, and being of an ancient family, which
VOL. V. NO. XXII.