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Markland to his friend; “but I read it with pleasure as his, and because of the quotations from the ancients, which are numerous *.
But quotation is useful, as well as pleasing, to confirm and illustrate the sentiments of a writer; and especially in works, where the great object is, not so much to teach men things of which they are ignorant, by descanting in detail and at large, as to remind them of what they know; not so much to make men read, to borrow Montesa quieu's expression, as to make them think. For this the citing of authorities, and dealing in personal anecdotes and apophthegms, seem perfectly well calculated : for, however it be, men frequently pause and dwell upon names, who would hastily and inadvertently skim over things. Nay, let the reasoning be ever so close and sound, it shall often pass for little more than declamation ; while the name of some admired author, especially if he be dead, shall arrest the imagination, and make all the im. pression which is necessary to produce conviction f.
Again, the practice of quoting from other writers, and especially the Greek and Roman authors of antiquity, is useful, inasınuch (as above hinted) it must give some countenance and sanction even to letters themselves : letters! neglected, declining letters ! and with them decliving all that is wise, and excellent, and beautiful, and polished. How would an astonished macaroni stare, to be assured, that the civilization of kingdoms is fousided upon letters; and that in proportion as these are cultivated, so is nearly the progress of mankind from their most rude and savage state, up to that perfection of ele. gance and refinement, which beameth forth from his allfinished and refulgent person! I speak according to the gentleman's own idea of himself.
Lastly, were the practice of quoting once received and established, this great advantage would farther accrue to letters, viz. that it would reduce the bulk of scribblers, with which they are disgraced. Nothing is more coins mon in these days, than for men to begin to write, and affect to be authors, not only before they understand Greek and Latin, but before they have any real or accu
* Bowyers Miscell. Tracts, p. 524.
+ L’authorité peut seule envers les communs entendemens, says MORtaigne, et poise plus en langage peregrin. Essais, III, 13.
rate knowledge of English. It is enough for them if they can spell with tolerable exactness: for this accomplishment, joined with such materials as magazines, reviews, and other public prints supply, is usually the stock in trade, with which authors now as well as critics set up. In short, writing is become a mere manual operation; and books are made every day by men without genius, without letters, who are but barely sufficient to transcribe, at the most to compile. Upon which account it might well be wished, that every one who presumes to write, especially upon matters of religion and government, (for in romance and moral painting it is not necessary) should be obliged to support his meaning, once at least, with some Greek, and once with some Latin, citation; and should produce at the same time a true and well authenticated testimonial, that these citations were not furnished by another, but bona fide his own act and deed. A test of this sort would have a mighty check to scribbling *; and save reams of paper, which are every moment going to perish-perituræ parcere charte
Upon the whole, therefore, let us not condemn, apd effectually avoid, the citation of authors; falsely delicate, falsely fastidious. Let us recollect, that the greatest and most respectable writers have done this: that Cicero, Plutarch, Seneca, Bacon, Montaigne, and Montesquieu, left nothing unborrowed from others, which might serve to embellish their own writings; and that the things thus borrowed may, if skilfully applied, have not only all the energy of their old situation, but all the graces of invention in their new one. And why should they not? there being no less wit in justly applying the thought of another, than in being the first author of that thought. At least so says Mr. Bayle; whom I have quoted the more freely upon this topic, because he was a very great wit, as well as a very great scholar.
MARRIAGE. Though the making the marriage contract liable to be annulled frequently, and on slight occasions, would be
* “ The world has got such an appetite for reading,” says our learned printer, “ that it swallows every thing which is offered to it. Careless readers have made careless writers, and, amidst a multiplicity of books, I every day see barbarity creeping in." Bowyer's Misc. Tracts, p. 281.
attended with serious evils to society ; yet surely the rendering it so irrevocable, as never on any occasion to be set aside, seems contrary both to justice and common sense. To compel a man and woman who have a rooted dislike to each other, to continue together for life, because they have inconsiderately engaged to do it under certain specific forms, is a most unjust and cruel law, inflicting the severest punishment on the unhappy sufferers, and exactly counteracting the purpose for which matria mony was instituted. A divorce, I allow, should never be hastily permitted, nor when it is adverse to the inclination or the interest of either putty; for he who hath sworn to his neighbour ought not disappoint him, though it be to his own hindrance; bgt when both parties, after long deliberation, earnestly desire to be separated, it does not appear that the evil of granting their wish would counterbalance that which must arise from the refusal of it. Neither would serious applications to separate be very frequent; as mutual interests, mutual affection to children, and the force of habit, are stronger bonds of union than any which human legislators can frame. And so far from a person acquiring a large fortune who had the sole right of dissolving marriages, as is often suggested in conversation, I rather think he would not be called on to exercise his function twenty times in a year, if the same time only for deliberation was necessary in untying the knot, that our laws enjoin for the tying it. But this infrequency affords no argument against the necessity of it. A person does not suffer the less from a disorder, because few are afflicted with it. Is no disease to be cured but the pestilence ?
This system of irrevocable vows is said to be founded on the words of our Saviour; but those words, and especially the text of St Matthew, chap. v. ver. 32; and chap. xix. ver. 9, relate to a man putting away his wife, making a man thus at once the complainant and the judge; and not to a separation by mutual consent. The Jews we know had a law, which authorised them to put away their wives by giving them a bill of divorcement; and a learned writer on this subject observes, that some of the Jews extended this liberty so far as to fancy they might, without any reason at all, for their mere pleasure, part with their wives; and their doctors, after the captivity, grew strangely loose on this subject *,' * Lewis's Hebrew Republic, lib. vi. chap. 35.
In England a divorce is not allowed on any pretence whatever. A marriage is never pronounced void by our courts, for any cause but what made the marriage illegal when it was solemnized, and which exhisted at that time; not even for adultery, which is expressly mentioned by our Saviour às a sufficient cause. The divorces à mensa et thoro, pronounced by the ecclesiastic courts, are only legal permission to do what may be done equally well without such permission ; for, as the poet says,
Consent, if mutual, saves the lawyer's fee :
• Consent is law enough to set you free." It is true our lawyers have found out a mode of dissolving the nuptial tie, for adultery; but it is a mode that violates every principle of natural justice. I mean the interference of parliament. In these cases the legislature interposes by an ex post facto law, not to annul a marriage by the mutual consent of both parties, but to punish * one of the parties only, for a crime, against which there was no punishment in force when it was committed ; and which is only to have force in that case, and against that particular person.
Far be it from me to say that the ladies have not, in general, many advantages over us in the nuptial state, and many opportunites of retaliating on us, in general, the hardships and inconveniences that some few of them may suffer from the brutal and tyrannical part of our sex. Yet it must be allowed there is something capriciously cruel in what most men expect from their wives. They are displeased with them for seeming to feel any jealousy of their fidelity, even if they know they deserve it; and yet they would be hurt if they thought such a circumstance would not give them real uneasiness. This species of injustice is shewn in more trifling circumstances than "nuptial infidelity. A man dislikes that his wife should express any symptoms of discontent, when he declares his intention to leave her and dine at a tavern with his friends ; and yet he would not be pleased to have her say, (especially if he thought she spoke her thoughts) • Pray, my dear, go; I shall be just as happy without you.'
In this case, a man in a profession has an advantage
* Surely it will not be denied, that an act which may reduce a countess to the situation of plaiu miss, is a punishment.
ever an idle man. His business will give him pretences for enjoying convivial society, without hurting the selfopinion of his wife. For women can hardly allow the possibility (which undoubtedly exists in men of a social character) of other company being preferred ocrasionally to their own, without its being a proof of their husband's decreasing affection.
In fact, women, when they love, are much more attached than inen. I really believe few woinen would wish for any other company than that of the husband they loved, while he behaved with kindness and attention. The case with our sex is widely different. To illustrate this by an example. We will suppose a young officer and a young woman eloped together, both of good dispositions, passionately fond of each other, and in the first week of possession. The woman would never wish to quit the side of her lover, for any amusement or society whatever :-but would it be so with the man. We will place them at an inn where the officers of a rryiinent he had served in were messing. He certainly would not, if he had common goodpature, or even decepcy, think of really quitting his mistress for their society ; but he would possibly feel more inclination to join them, than perhaps he would wish to own, even to himself.
As human nature in all ages and countries must have been essentially the same, under the same circumstances, it is suprising that all the ancient ethic writers should consider the being under the dominion of a wife, a consequence of marrying a woman of fortune; sluce experience shews the fact at present to be directly the reverse. The very few men who maintain an uncontrolled sway over their wives and families, will be found, almost witho out exception, among those who have married for ins terest. And the reason of this seems clear ; for besides the natural tendency persons in a dependant situation have to employ every effort to get out of it; an ascendency, in such a connection as inarriage, is uot gained or maintained by the same causes as in the cominou affairs of life. Io marriage, the person who loves most will certainly be governed ; and the person who has the largest fortune will, in matches formed by the parties themselves, generally have most love on their side. To this may be added a characteristic of the sex, put into the mouth of Booth by that inimitable delineator of mawers, Henry