Imágenes de páginas

and Micawbers may go to the pauper villages which an imbecile generosity, a maleficent benevolence, aspires to found.

My idea is the germ of a mighty social revolution : for, if such villages as I propose should

prosper and multiply, cities and towns would perish.



Haec est illa tibi promissa Theophila, Cani,

Cuius Cecropia pectora voce madent.
Hanc sibi iure petat magni Senis Atticus hortus:

Nec minus esse suam Stoica turba velit.
Vivet opus quodcunque per istas miseris aures :

Tam nec foemineum, nec populare sapit.
Non tua Parthenis nimium se praeferat illi,

Quamvis Pierio sit bene nota choro.
Carmina fingentem Sappho landauit amatrix :
Castior haec, et non doctior illa fuit.


NOTWITHSTANDING what Matthew Arnold aptly calls the ó sexual insurrection, I am of opinion that the majority of Englishwomen of culture take a reasonably just view of their position and destiny. The ladies who raise a clamour for certain political and social privileges never hitherto allowed to women are so pertinacious and vociferous that we are sometimes misled into imagining them far more important and influential than they truly are. The great mass of gentlewomen look upon the movement with indifference or contempt, aware that woman's highest destiny is to marry—to be merged in her husband, and complete his character. It is my firm faith that for every man there is one woman, a fit consort; and for every woman, one man; and that all marriages between persons not designed for each other, though they may seem to work well enough, are necessarily imperfect. The world is a loser by unsatisfactory marriages : many a man turns politician, or invents a pill, or writes a sensation novel, simply because he cannot live happily with his wife. The ideal marriage occurs only when two persons meet who are the complements of each other; and if this be the case, I hold that they will know it by a sudden instinct on their very first encounter, whence poor Phebe's ejaculation :

Dead shepherd, now I find thy saw of might: 'Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?'

If my hypothesis be just, it is clear that what, for brevity's sake, I may call the marriage of completion is the only true marriage; and it may easily be understood that such a marriage is conducive to longevity. It is unhappily rare, for many reasons. Marriages of convenience or of ambition are unlikely to be marriages of completion. But neither are the marriages contracted too often in these days by mere boys and girls, who are necessarily immature, both intellectually and physically. If you look through a hundred modern novels, you will generally find that their heroes are boys just fresh from college, and that their heroines are children of eighteen or nineteen. Hence it is clear that among the large section of the people for whom novels are written, the ideal marriage is one that occurs in extreme youth. Now the girl of nineteen is a pretty creature to look at, and her prattle may amuse you

for ten minutes; but her character cannot be developed, and her physical powers must be far from maturity. I was talking one day to a physician who has made a fortune by his profession, and who has only a daughter to be its recipient; and he told me he should disinherit the young lady if she married before she was twenty-five. That is an excellent

age for a woman, while a man ought not to dream of marriage before thirty. When children marry they are abnormally prolific, and their offspring are of an inferior order; and the girl who marries at eighteen is an old woman at thirty-five, when she ought to be in the prime and perfection of life. I may parenthetically observe that this is illustrated by the vulgar agitation in favour of permitting widowers to marry their deceased wives' sisters. A man chooses a wife

« AnteriorContinuar »