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On these occasions every body is asked for something. Lords, baronets, &c. for their titles ; dragoons for their regimentals ; frightful old women, in their blue gowns and silver tissue turbans, for their sons and heirs ; handsome married women to draw the men; ugly girls as foils; and pretty girls, because the ball cannot go on without them. Some are invited to make up a card-table for the rich dowager mother of an heir at law; some, because they have an air of fashion, or write “ Albany” on their card. Every thing, in short, is measured to the minutest particular, that can proceed or retard the great event, which is the mainspring of the whole.
Although it is a part of good policy in a hawking mamma to fly her girls generally at all young fellows of decent fortune, yet she has, for the most part, some individual in view who is more particularly the object of pursuit:' and it is truly astonishing how uniformly that favoured individual finds himself in contact with the “ young lady” who has him in chase. Tall, thin, pale girls are my aversion; yet for two months I was nightly haunted by such a spectre, who forced me to ask her to dance, by “meeting my eye in an early hour of the debate,” by planting herself assiduously at my side, and engaging me in a series of innocent questions at the first preparatory scrape of the violins. Somehow or other I was always obliged to hand her down to supper, and, consequently, to sit beside her at the table. From this persecution I fortunately escaped by a lucky equivoque, which seemed to hint that I was engaged to a girl in the country, whose estate joins our's; and the next evening I had the happiness to see the stately galley bear down on another prize.
It is a curious but a melancholy sight to behold the long rows of over-dressed girls, many of them, I hope, unconscious of the purpose for which they are thus launched on society, - with their fidgety, anxious mothers settling, from time to time, their hair and •dress, nodding disapprobation, or smiling encouragement (as the puppet contradicts or favours the purpose in hand by her carriage and demeanour) and having no eyes, no ears, but for the one object of painful solicitude. Still more melancholy is it to witness the last struggles of an unfortunate “ abandonata,” whose tenth season is passing in vain, with “nobody coming to marry her, nobody coming to woo-00-00 !” (I hope the reader can whistle the tune for that last desponding monosyllable) while each causeless giggle intended to display a dimple, bears evidence of another accident in the “ human face divine,” which I forbear to name ; and a profusion of finery eclipses charms that it is no longer prudent to expose to the broad glare of lamps and wax lights.
When a gudgeon is observed to rise freely to the bait he is asked to dinner, and engaged on riding parties in the mornings. A luncheon is also set out, as a rallying point for young men, whose appetites are often more ductile than their passions. Hearts are thus ensnared through the medium of cold tongue, and bread and butter, and a sure love potion is Madeira and Soda-water. When all else fails, the good old lady herself hints very plainly her reasonable expectations, and strives hard to carry an hesitating swain by a barefaced innuendo.
As I have my own reasons for not going into those schemes, and prefer taking a wife (when I shall take one) from purer sources, I have ever been more annoyed than flattered by such distinctions. And this probably has made me feel the more keenly the general ill effects on society arising from these maternal intrigues, in which the married and the poor go for nothing. If one, belonging to either of these classes, engages a girl's attention and distracts her from the business of the night, you may see the mother prowling about with fretful uneasiness, like a cat whose kitten is in the paws of some unlucky urchin, and at last fairly breaking in upon the conversation to hurry her daughter away from the troublesome interloper. I have felt the deepest compassion for many a worthy fellow, whose accomplishments, talents, and virtues, should have made him a most desirable match, thus warned off the premises, like an unqualified sportsman, and treated with contempt in the quarter in which contempt is most insufferable, merely for the want of a little dross. Where these practices are carrying on, in a family, all agreeable and instructive conversation is banished the house. Even in the most intimate sociality the necessity of knocking up a quadrille to the piano-forte, or of engaging the musical misses in the display of their acquirements, cuts short all sweet converse. All the dust of the carpet is beaten into your eyes and throat, your ears are stunned, your person pushed about the narrow room, or you are condemned to listen for the five thousandth time, to “ Bid me discourse” and a “Di tanti palpiti," sung in that time and tune which it pleaseth fortune, or the no less capricious tempers of the melodious exhibitants.
For these and a thousand other reasons, which for brevity I must now omit, it becomes a point of prudence and good policy to adopt a plan that shall consign matrimony, like all other trades, to the forenoon, and to the commercial parts of the city, leaving the haunts of pleasure and the hours of recreation to their legitimate purposes. In France marriage is transacted by “ private contract." The unmarried whey faces are kept in the back-ground, and talking does not spoil conversation in the saloons. This arrangement, however, in which the young folks are not brought out, is too foreign for our habits, and cannot be recommended. But nothing could be more convenient than the erection of an exchange exclusively appropriated to matrimonial speculation. The neighbourhood of Mark Lane would afford a good site, as country gentlemen might dispose of their corn and their daughters at the same time. Or a room might be hired in the Auction Mart, or at Tattersall's, for the purpose. The fitting up of shew rooms, or bazars, in the neighbourhood of Bond Street, might have its utility, in which each girl might be ticketed, and “no second price taken.” This would answer the better, as in bazars “ no credit can possibly be given,” and “ no goods are returned after they have left the shop." Subservient to this scheme, registers might be opened, in which an inspector might, at a glance, know how far
any number in the catalogue would suit. By such arrangements we might have our evenings to ourselves, and mammas their daughters, and young gentlemen of good expectation, might, each and all, enjoy the delights of social intercourse, undisturbed by anxious speculation, and unharassed by the dread of spring guns and steel traps in concerts, dances, and opera suppers. As things are now conducted, we must marry in one's own defence, and run the risk of perpetual annoyance at home, in order to obtain some chance of a little tranquil enjoyment abroad. This certainly requires reform, and something might be done in the shape of a rider, to some of the many Marriage Acts which are daily passing the two Houses of Parliament. Let the members look to it, at their leisure.
New Monthly Magazine.
MEMOIR OF WILLIAM ROSCOE, ESQ.
“ Full many a gein of purest ray serene,
These lines are peculiarly applicable to the birth and parentage of Mr. Roscoe. He was a “gem,” produced in obscurity, whose lustre did not seem intended for the gaze and admiration of mankind, but, happily, he was destined to emerge from the lowliness of his situation, and to surmount the difficulties which the humility of his birth had opposed to his advancement and literary fame. He was born at Liverpool, of ob