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all proportion with the capabilities of the land ; while education and civilization fell equally short of the strength and numbers of the people; nay, industry was paralized by distress, and emulation cramped for want of encouragement and pecuniary means. In my quality of examiner I have no right to talk to government on these subjects, but (Scotchman like) the less I said on this subject, the more I thought, and the more I was convinced that Caledonia was the happiest and best used Sister of the two. In vain I looked for the parks and five hundreds per annum of the O.'s and the Mac's, my studying and travelling acquaintances. The father of one of them tenanted a mud edifice upon a bog, and was ground to death by tithes, taxes, and a bad landlord. Perhaps these parks, renttolls, &c. were mere figures in speech, and as such let them rest. There was no lack of noble mansions and fine estates springing up amongst surrounding misery, the possessors of which were, even then, absentees; and whose stewards and land-agents were pounding the cattle of the indigent, and driving them to despair. This prefatory matter may, perchance, be considered superfluous by my reader ; but I beg leave to assure him, or her, that it leads to the subject of MatchMaking.
In the course of my tour through a great part of the country, I sojourned for a short time in the Counties of Galway and Roscommon; from the former I was frightened away by the constant reports of pistols discharged in duels, sometimes fought in public; for the amateurs there would turn out to see a couple of gentlemen decide an affair of honour, with as much avidity as the fancy resort to Moulsey Hurst, or Wormwood Scrubs, to witness two fellow-creatures half-murdering each other for a purse of gold and their colours, a silk handkerchief, of vulgar pattern, for the neck of a ruffian. How much more honourable would it be to bleed for their national flag! But there is knavery as well as barbarity in these contests, and we will leave the scrubs of all denominations to themselves. From the latter I was driven by the almost certainty (if I remained) of breaking my neck over the stone walls, which it was quite fashionable and almost nécessary to leap over, in and out of the sporting field. In each of these counties there was a prodigious deal of Match-Making ; the country gentlemen who really had some hundreds of pounds annually, dipped and mortgaged a little, had another drawback of their unemployed stock, in the form of fine-grown, smiling-eyed, affable young ladies : now the market being overstocked, and the price being much lowered by the over-produce of these fair and flourishing plants, the owners were obliged to part with these valuables (for such as wives and mothers, they generally were) at a very low rate indeed; since this was not a dead stock on hand, but one which consumed other articles which must come from, instead of going to, market. For these mighty reasons, parents were incessantly on the alert for sons-in-law; sisters helped each other off in the best manner they could ; the brothers turned husband-hunters; and if a stranger came amongst them, he was not made game of in the vulgar ordinary way, but he was either ensnared by bright eyes and warm complexions, brought down by the long bow of a brother, or taken by hook or by crook, by the angling, wiling, coursing, and heart-shooting of sisters and self, all of whom the happy man might be fortunate enough to have for six months in the year at his table. When these gamesome practices and pairings failed, the field was very often taken in another way; incautious birds were winged, and shy ones were now and then bagged by the undertaker, in punishment for their want of taste and feeling, and for their stubborn adherence to celibacy. It has erroneously and impolitely been advanced, that you could not look at an Irish woman at table without her saying, “ Port, if you please :" this I never found; on the contrary, I always met with ladies of this country, who were as mild and temperate as any in the world; and I must say, that I consider them charming creatures at table and every where else; but although I deny the assertion of « Port, if you please," I must confess that I often trembled lest, by looking at a pretty girl in Galway or Roscommon, I should draw on me the question, from a big brother, or militia cousin, of, “Pray sir, are your views honourable towards MaryAnn, Eugenia, or Fanny? Which of them have you fixed your eye upon ? I have perceived very markea (an observation worthy of a marksman!) attentions to the first, and she has much susceptibility, and shall not have her feelings sported with,” &c. Right sporting language! thought I, to myself, so I kept much on my guard, and departed as soon as possible; for, be it observed, the questioning gentleman is always a sporting character, and a good shot; the lady is usually the sister who has been longest on hand ; no time The last match-making matter which came within my notice was that of a friend of my own.
It must be allowed that there are coming ladies, and going ladies, engaging misses and forbidding misses; there are also pretty maidens, who, (to use a vulger expression) go for to come, such as love
to wander not unseen.”
Or, like the flirting Galatea of the Latin bard, when she flies to the grove to escape her suitor,
se cupit ante videri.” Of these coming, engaging misses, these fair runaways who expect to be followed, was my friend, Amanda M Matchem. One of a dozen fine children, and second of seven daughters; she hung out for promotion at an early age, more for the good of Ma and family than from any self-interested motive, or from her feeling lonesome, as Widow Wadman did. The Laird or eldest male held the estate, out of which he, like a dutiful son, gave a liberal allowance to his mother, and she expended a great proportion thereof in dressing her daughters, whilst the four other children were giving a dressing to their country's foes wherever they met them, by land or by sea, in Europe, India, or America; for their swords were their chief inheritance, and they all served in the navy and army. The seven sisters, like the streams of the Nile, glided on together in perfect harmony with each other, until it became necessary to direct their attractions into some other channel, and they were nothing averse to visiting a foreign shore, more rich than the rock which bore them, and on which they sprung up like wild flowers, lovely and unperceived. Determined, therefore, no onger
to blush unseen,
And waste (their) sweetness in the desert air,” a council was held of Ma and the seven sisters, and it was agreed upon to make great sacrifice in dress and entertainments this winter, to give lively balls at home, and to go abroad (within the limits of the city) as much as possible, frequenting all public places, and figuring in all public walks. These seven stars shone in a cluster, similar to the septempleïades of the starry firmament, each looking forward to be the lucky star of some gazing astronomer. Their beauties were rather the gifts of Hygeia than of Venus ; healthful, robust, active, and fair, they were mutual resemblances, like the flourishing branches of a comely plant; and it might be said of them, as of the progeny of the ocean-nymph Doris,
“ facies non omnibus una, Nec diversa tamen : qualem decet esse sororum." Amanda, however, scemed to lead the van of these female champions for the matrimonial prize, whilst their emulations were so well concerted, that the good of one was deemed the good of all. There was no jealousy amongst them least a younger sister should outstrip an elder one in their exertions for the ring, and thus give her seniors green stockings,* no trying
* We hear in England of wearing the willow for being deserted; in Scotland the green stocking is the livery of an elder sister who remains unmarried after her younger ones are disposed of in the conjugal line.