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THE TRANCE OF LOVE.
FROM THE ITALIAN.
Love in a drowsy mood one day
Genius pourd her sweetest strain,
My skill, bright nymphs, this lesson teaches,
THE LADIES versus THE GENTLEMEN.
MR. EDITOR, I hope I shall not be accused of an “ignorant impatience," if at the end of seven years from the battle of Waterloo, I complain that matrimony is not yet reduced in these kingdoms to a peaceestablishment. Our ears have been dinned with the outcries of starving manufacturers ; and the men in our family have been for ever occupied in getting up and attending meetings on agricultural distress ; but not one word have you heard of complaint from the fair sex, not one remonstrance, not one petition lies on the table of the House from the “distressed spinsters;" though our bachelors continue to “caper nimbly in a lady's chamber" without a notion of wedlock, and, when our mothers hint an inquiring innuendo, as to their “intentions," coolly parry the attack by quoting a chapter from Malthus. During the continuance of a war, by which the female world was threatened with the fulfilment of Mother Shipton's ill-omened prophecy of but one husband among six wives, it was nothing very extraordinary that mothers should encounter some little difficulty in getting off "a set” of daughters; and as I am one of a rather numerous family, my expectations, notwithstanding my being “ brought out” by a very marrying chaperon, were not exalted. But now, when
Grim-visaged war has smooth'd his wrinkled front;" and all the professions are overstocked,---when men are as plenty as blackberries,”—and Captains and Colonels have nothing better to do with themselves than to “marry and settle in the country,"
“I lose my patience, and I own it too,”
at finding our difficulties rather increase than diminish ; and at observing the Lady Aucherleys as much embarrassed as ever with their“ nine Miss Simmons's.'
Individually, Sir, I have as yet no reason for despair: my charms are not yet faded ; nor do I receive any broad hints from the men that I am singled out for singleness. On the contrary, I have no lack of “ cutmutton majors” and sauntering cornets, to spoil our sofas with their boots, and to waste precious time in a gossipry that like the passages in Gray's Long Story, “ lead to nothing." "Our house, indeed, is constantly beset with these idlers, ever ready to “bestow their tediousness on whoever will listen to them,” and always in marching order, to “ breakfast, dine, or sup, with Nong-tong-paw,"—to ride away mornings and flirt away nights. But they have no more idea of marrying than of settling their debts; and should a girl be weak enough to listen to them, would as soon think of repaying the father's dinners as returning the daughter's passion. No, Sir, the young men of the present day may
“court an amorous looking-glass,” but if they court any thing else, it is with no settled purpose: for the only “ tie” which does not fill them with horror, is the tie of their cravat.
It was not, then, without considerable indignation that I perused your animadversions upon female speculations in matrimony, in a recent article “ Select Society ;" which accuses our mothers of their mercenary attentions to young men, and of going out of their way to marry their daughters; and which treats us as little better than common swindlers and takers of husbands upon false pretences. Really, Mr. Editor, this is most unreasonable! for, if the mountain will not come to Maliomet, surely Mahomet must go to the mountain. Besides, the statement is altogether exparte, and“ like an ill-roasted egg, all on one side.” For if the attack of an experienced matron is often closely calculated and well-combined, the beaux are on their side perfect Vaubans, and conduct the defence with a skill and pertinacity at least equal to that of the besiegers. There is nothing on earth so impenetrable as a genuine dangler, nothing so rusé as a trading lady's man. If he finds himself left out of a party, and neglected, as one from whom nothing is to be expected, he immediately takes the alarm, grows warm in his manner, constant in his attentions, and does “ l'impossible,” to induce an inference that he is about" to pop the question.” Nothing, however, is farther from his intention ; and no sooner does he perceive that he has excited an interest, and that mamma begins to have her eye on him, than he draws in his horns like a snail, entrenches himself in generalities, avoids all openings to an éclaircissement, and “ backs out" (to use a phrase of his own) with a dexterity, which leaves neither the consolation of being affronted, nor the advantage of disengagement. In this way he alternately blows hot and cold, as the occasion may require, tantalizing mother and daughter with an endless succession of hopes, which he never means to realize, and of fears which he takes good care shall never be reduced to certainty. Years pass, seasons succeed to seasons, “ whole summer suns roll unperceived away," and we are “surprised to hear that we grow old,” without, at the same time, hearing any thing of a ring and a licence.
# " Sketches of Character."
Upon creatures such as these “cupboard lovers," feeling and affection would be Aung away. The cold, the heartless, and the speculating, are alone safe in their society; and if in a game of " diamond cut diamond," a rich young egoist is now and then “ brought down at a long shot,” or enticed by a scientific combination of female wit, matronly cunning, and fraternal surveillance, into committing matrimony, where is the mighty harm? According to all codes, murder in self-defence is justifiable. Then, in the name of mercy, leave us poor girls to be " killing" in our own way, and do not insist upon a candour and sensibility, which, meeting no return, is at least as idiotical as it is innocent. It is scarcely possible to conceive a situation more pitiable, than that of an amiable, frank, and warm-hearted girl, who listens unsuspectingly to the blandishments of one of these mock sentimentalists, believing a man merely because he tells a lie with a grave face, and suffering herself to be entrapped into a real passion, for a wretch fit only to associate with St. Augustine's snow lady.
“Once, and but once, my heedless youth was bit;" when, finding a good deal of apparent good-nature, and some really good conversation, with a more than usual warmth and sincerity of manner, I really thought that at last I had met my match. Abandoning myself to all those sentiments which are natural to our sex on the presumption of a solid engagement, and indulging in all those illusions
“Che gusta un cor amato riamando,” I cherished during an entire winter the flattering error. I mistook assiduity for affection, and an air empressé for a genuine attachment. Mais hélas ! "airs empressés, vous n'étes pas l'amour !" At the proper season for leaving town we went to a fashionable watering-place, in order to avoid the inconvenience of a direct invitation of the swain, on a visit to our own house in the country; and he-did not follow us, but set off to Paris, in search, as we were informed, of fresh game, leaving me to drink the spa-water, and experience
“Quel che puo sdegno in cor di donna amante.” I cannot express to you how deeply I was (not mortified, no, that feeling was quite absorbed in a more painful sentiment, but) wounded. Shame at being so egregiously duped, and humiliation at the advantage I had afforded to a heartless puppy, in suffering him to read and play upon my affections, remained dormant for months, while I was absorbed by the more tender emotions I had so imprudently allowed to grow up in my bosom. But as I have some firmness of mind and natural spirit, indignation at length took the lcad, and I was no longer unhappy.
In the good old times, we women had only to be on our guard against the men who had designs on our persons. A reasonable portion of prudence and propriety sufficed to ensure a girl a triumph over her would-be seducer, and seldom failed to conduct the wincing, reluctant Lovelace into the bands of holy matrimony--a striking example of the superiority of virtue over vice, and of the force of beauty armed by modesty and discretion. But now these dangers exist only in novels. A girl of real flesh and blood has nothing to encounter half so formidable as the Adonises who have no designs at all. Actions
for love-damages, with their attendant consequences, awards and attorneys' bills, are worth all the duennas and maiden aunts in the world, keeping those few beaur restes of the old school, who find either time or energy to be mischievous, at a respectful distance; and instead of dreading the passions of the other sex, our greatest dangers arise from those who know not what passion is. Against these enemies, selfishness must be opposed by selfishness, and cunning met by finesse; for art, and a regular system of tactics, can alone avail; and after all, though the victory may be brilliant, it is not in one case in a thousand that we can boast of its being profitable.
The truth is, I more than half suspect the self-satisfied gentleman, who is the hero of your article on “Select Society *” and who, by the by, from his own confession, seems totally unqualified for good company in any genre, writes under the influence of personal pique; and being disappointed in some reasonable expectation of winning youth, beauty, and a large fortune, upon the small outlay of his own personal accomplishments, takes this method of venting his spleen, and discharging his anger against the whole sex. I have known many of these difficult gentlemen, who, after thinking nothing too good for them, and passing the summer of life in vain attempts upon handsome heiresses and buxom rich widows, sat down at last, on the turn of their age, with some dowdy, neither remarkable for sense, beauty, nor spirit, and without even the charms of the pocket, to compensate for the total absence of those of the person and the mind. But, be this as it
may, the malapert censor might have remembered, that in matrimony, we girls are necessarily influenced by our parents, to whose guidance we are compelled to submit ourselves; and that, if we seem cunning and rapacious, it is most frequently the fault of a too anxious mother. But the men in indulging their selfish views, in sedulously avoiding a poor girl, whatever may be her merit, or in trifling with the feelings and engrossing the time of an unmarried female, without the most distant idea of making her a wife, act for themselves, and have no one upon whom they can shift the blame. Besides, if girls really do look too sharp after a husband, it must not be forgotten, that matrimony, a mere episode in men's fortunes, is every thing to a female. To remain single is, with a woman, inevitably to lose caste; while your old bachelor is only the more courted and feasted for his celibacy. In the order of nature, men are destined to labour for the support of their families, and it is but just that a female, in seeking a partner for life, should look out for protection and support. But your modern Benedicts, your heroes who complain of the artifices of the sex, seek only, in their efforts to marry, the wife whose means must support their idleness and supply their extravagance.
Under all these circumstances the men have little reason to complain ; and the less when it is considered that, being confined to defensive operations, we can play off no arts but upon those who wilfully place themselves within the sphere of our fascinations, while the men are at liberty to engage, or not engage, when and where they please. There is however another sort of dangler, whose faults I shall plead in farther
abatement of the "select” gentleman's charge; and this is the man, who, being perhaps under circumstances which render marriage not altogether prudent, cannot decide between love and ambition. Such a man, without scruple, will master a girl's affections, and indeed would be happy to marry the object of his preference; but then he would at the same time retain all the luxuries and superfluities, which, as a single man, he has been used to enjoy. Placed like the metaphysical donkey between two identical bundles of hay, and without strength of mind to form a decided volition and either give up the world or his mistress, he would sain eat his cake and have it too : thus he professes honourable intentions, compromises the character and the repose of the lady by incessant assiduities in public, and by the warmest protestations of endless devotion in private ; and by binding her in a pledge to be his, whenever he may find it convenient to demand her hand, he effectually excludes all access of more independent or more marrying lovers. In the mean time, at best, life slips away unenjoyed; nine times out of ten the passion cools ; but the gentleman does not break off-he dare not do that. His attentions however slacken, and the wretched woman becomes the victim of the most torturing suspense, of the cruelest heart-burnings, without power to cut the man she begins to despise, or to force his oscillating thoughts to a determination. Oh! Mr. Editor, you know something of the pleasures of hope," but you know also that hope deferred maketh the heart sick; and you will feel for the fate of a human being whose life and love have been blighted by such a sickly admirer.
“Quante vedove notti,
Quante dì solitari,
Ha consumato indarno." I must not, however, grow grave, though this is a case which, as my careless brother Tom is wont to say, would indeed make a person swear. All I ask of you is, privately to give me up the name of the flippant youth who has indited the precious farrago of which I complain, and to throw him for a season in my way; and if I do not play the fish up the stream and down the stream, ay, and bring him to the shore, too, with the single hair of his own egregious vanity, never say again that there's faith in a woman's word. Pardon this immeasurable letter, which en revanche, shall, in contradistinction to all feminine epistles, have no postscript; and consider me as
Your humble servant, and constant reader, Delia.
Five Hundred a Year.
Extoll'd as the only safe highway to bliss :
That bless'd middle line,
In sonnet and sermon so sigh for, is mine ;-