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those unfortunates who stagger hither and thither beneath the load of the tempest, is to keep their reeling wits as sober as possible,—to speak and act as like rational beings as they can,--to remind themselves, perpetually, that they are living in a world of dreams, out of which they must one day awake, in order that the fading of their garish fancies may be as gradual, and their exit into the world of reality, accompanied with as slight a shock as may be.
In these days of education, the bright and musical delusions which fit, and hover, and warble around the gates of matrimony, are augmented in number, and their sorceries rendered infinitely more potent. The progress of civil society has had the effect of increasing, not only the number of positive idlers, but also of those whose labour is of such a kind as leaves the mind room to work and prey upon itself. There is a period of life, when leisure to brood over one's own thoughts is dangerous and unnerving ; the period when those throbbings and longings, vague and undefined, but mighty and bewildering, which form the buoyant and surging couch and canopy of love, are awakening into existence. Lack of such employment as leads the mind out of itself, is then all but inevitable destruction. The tone of our literature, the general tendency of daily conversation, increases the danger. The lyres of modern poets “ have one unchanging theme.”—“' 'Tis love, still love.” Every work of art has a completeness in itself; and what in life is a mere episode, appears, when reflected in a poetic mirror, endless and unbounded. The eternal lecture of wise mammas and wiser aunts, is a good marriage settlement. Even before the voice of the heart is heard, the faney is prepared to attribute an undue preponderance of importance to love and marriage ; and when the fever fit comes resistless and maddening, rapturous and bewildering, swelled by so many tributaries, whose streams have been dammed up to augment its torrent, it overflows the mind like a deluge ; leaving, when it ebbs back, an exhausted and shattered world.
Sad is but too often the re-awakening to the reality of life, after an inconsiderate marriage ; when the passions, which in the beloved object had been overflown and hidden by the spring-tide of love, as the low lumps of rock, rough with shapeless shells, and tangled with brown, withered sea-weeds are by a waveless summer sea, are again left bare. That good lady there, whose face is like frozen vinegar, and whose life is one perpetual scold, was once, to all outward appearance, a very loveable person. Now, the first thing you hear in the morning is her sharp voice on the stair, rating the maid for leaving the brush and duster there. During breakfast, she keeps up a perpetual maunder. The water is off the boil and smoked, the toast burned, the milk soured, (no wonder, it is near her ;) some member of the family has come too late, or some one has been in the parlour before her, which is interpreted into impatience. Should your evil genius keep you within doors during the forenoon, she is to be heard incessantly clattering up and down stairs, like a cat shod with walnut shells ; fretting from cellar to garret, and from pantry to bed-room ; everywhere finding cause for dissatisfaction, and everywhere venting it in shrill, sharp, peevish tones. Should your avocations call you out, you are welcomed back with a scold. Company at dinner may make her bridle her tongue ; but then she only “puts that tongue into her heart, and chides with thinking," her looks giving terrible evidence of the indemnification she promises herself for this restraint. She repeats through her sleep the objurgations of the day. She even scolds the family to church, and employs the time of divinesking out for faults which she may reprehend on her return A party of pleasure is an excuse for finding fault with all the ations of her family before-hand, and of their conduct while there. Acolds her husband first into habits of drinking, and then into his Ave; her sons into occupations for which they are not fitted ; and her daughters into ineligible matches, from their eagerness to get out of hearing. And yet she means no harm. She merely needs, like all other people, some excitement to keep her alive; and the only excitement of which she is susceptible is irritation. Hers is not that anger which flows from dislike : it is only a sort of moral itch, seeking to scrub itself against every object with which it comes in contact. And yet in the brief season of love this creature was agreeable. That impulse which seeks pleasure in conferring it, made her look lovely for the time; as accidents of the atmosphere can lend a momentary beauty even to the most barren moor.
It is easy to find a male counterpart to this picture. We would say to all ladies, in search of a husband, beware of a sentimental man. He is a selfish voluptuary : he would take without giving. He has lived over in fancy all that gives happiness in reality, and the edge of his feelings have been blunted. Devoted exclusively to such trains of thought, his mind is empty and without resources. Shrinking from the labours and contests of life, his thoughts are devoid of that manliness and vigour which exercise alone can give. Dull, inane, feeble, loveless, he can feel for no one ; protect, support, or cherish no one ; cheer the dull path of life to no one. In the prime of life, he will be at the best but a negative; and in old age he will sit moping and snivelling by the chimney corner,
Clownish and malcontent,
Dashing the merriment; a clog, a log, a nuisance, and an incumbrance.
“What then is to be done?” Bear your allotted cross meekly. Submit to fate. Marriage is at the best but a leap in the dark ; a lottery in which, like those announced at times by itinerating mountebanks,
every ticket's a prize," but few of the prizes worth the cost of the ticket. It is indeed “ paying too much for one's whistle !” to give all the immeasurable wealth of young emotion, and receive in return a shrew, a clod, a fool, or a knave. But " wo that too late repents !" and consequently better not*repenting at all. Put a good face on the matter. “ Men do their broken weapons rather use than their bare hands.” Emulate Zani Kiebabs, who, when he got a tooth knocked out, discovered that he had long wanted a hole to stick his pipe in. There is an alchymy in the mind, that can, by dint of perseverance, transmute evil into good. Men who have lived long amid the clattering of tinsmiths, have found themselves unable to sleep without their lullaby. When a learned and venerated friend of ours rendered the town in which he resided the inestimable service of conducting clean water into it, the honest burghers complained that the pure liquid “ had neither taste nor smell.”
Seeing that “ he who will to Cupar maun to Cupar,” the only advice that can be given to aspirants after connubial bliss is not to expect too much. To the men we would moreover hint, that marry whom they may, they ought to eschew silly women. Sentiment it is that attracts man to woman; and where this is not embedded in, interpenetrated with a goodly portion of intellect, it is shallow and evanescent. To the women we would say, avoid idle men. “ Man's love is, of man's life, a thing apart.” Every man has a certain proportion of the commodity, which, if treasured up for idle hours, will suffice; but if beat out over his whole time, will prove lamentably thin and brittle.
Our sermon, we fear, has proved, on the whole, rather dull; but the indulgent reader will remember that
MARRIAGE IS NO JOKE !
AS A MORALIST, ECONOMIST, AND POLITICIAN.
Tue Universe does not contain a prouder or more spirit-stirring spectacle than the life and actions of a man of gigantic powers and indomitable perseverance, who, in whatever walk or department of labour or inquiry, has devoted himself to the pursuit of truth and the means of ameliorating his race. The material world is ever great and magnificent; and there is about it a depth of beauty and sublimity, alike when its forms are reposing in peaceful majesty, and its thunders sending abroad their voice, which, as so well pictured by Akenside, can entrance even the rude peasant, and light up his wearied eye; but it yet owes its whole influence to its significancy as an emblem—to the fact of its being "a shadow of heavenly things,” and an indication of the benevolence, tranquillity, and pure will, with which, by a first necessity of our spiri. tual natures, we are constrained to people the remoteness of infinite being. When following the course and triumphs of the great moral reformer, we clearly approach much nearer to the true source of sublimity, and come into actual presence of the victories—the omnipotence of Mind. In our contemplation of the freedom with which the noblest energies of his spirit have risen in triumph over passion, and prejudice, and feebleness,-in our contemplation of the sway he bears over his own age, and the command to which he has attained amongst its surging elements—how the stagnant multitudes heave to and fro at his approachhow he kindles within them the smouldering fire of patriotism, and arouses them to the heroic duty of self..sacrifice—how he stirs up in the coldest bosoms an aspiration after whatever is “ divine," brings acti. vity out of torpor, life out of death, and evokes immortality even from the “ mouldering urn”-how abuses vanish, and evil hides its face in his presence-how oppressors grow pale at his rebuke, the dominion of antiquity and the tyranny of custom relax their gripe and abandon their pretensions, because “ a King has come,”-in our contemplation of a progress so truly triumphal, and of an energy before which “ valleys are exalted and mountains laid low," the dead raised, and the blind, deaf, and maimed, relieved each man from his infirmities ;"_we feel as if introduced into the very penetralia of all this grand workship of phenomena; we perceive the power which moves, guides and upholds ; we recognise the divine presence of that which matter but darkly adumbrates—the Spirit which erst arranged Chaos, and again walked in majesty over the waters; and we bend down and worship it as the noblest image of the Creator !
There are, in the composition of our countryman, Dr. Chalmers, very many of the most essential dispositions and highest qualities of a reformer of this MASTER-LODGE; and although it is quite true that sundry men in other walks of life, have, even in our pigmy age, exhibited a greater regularity and completeness of character, and, upon the whole, approached much more nearly to our IDEAL,-it is as undeniable that the labours of no single person have been crowned with more remarkable success, or attended with a more large and intoxicating effect upon the minds in his immediate neighbourhood. To arouse the slumbering or overlaid spirit to a perception of higher and purer forms of virtue, is an achievement to which no man has ever proved himself more thoroughly equal; and it is a notorious fact, that more than any other teacher of this generation, has he succeeded in awakening that enthusiastic sense of independence, responsibility, and self-respect, which is the only origin of the improvement of human nature, the substratum or condition of all moral freedom. The gifts which have enabled him to fulfil the important duties of his mission are two-fold,-a free insight into principles the most deeply-rooted, and a wide sympathy with the dearest hopes in the human heart, along with surprising power and energy in the conduct of his appeal. Dr. Chalmers, as well as other men, has often delivered what was not accurate, and his creed is not untinged by the ephemeral habits and systems of the present and receding age; but inasmuch as humanity can only be purified by what is pure, and attracted upwards by what is heavenly, his veriest fallacies must have been accompanied by some redeeming truth, and his logical or dogmatical errors countervailed by the presence of natural and deep-searching feeling. The victories which he gained, and the sway he has established over his followers, are too great and remarkable to have their roots in sophism. What is fitted for the heart, alone goes to it ;-whatever is untrue, has, from Time's beginning, had but a transient reign ; and it were not possible to make it permanent, or to extend its influence far, even by the surprising strength of expression and power of energetic enforcement which may be predicated par excellence, of our countryman's most original oratory. That energy which is so peculiarly his own, springs from his profound convictions of the truth. Of all men in this speculating world, it could be said with the least justice of Chalmers, that he has, upon any point, a sympathy with the sceptic, or the slightest tendency towards indifference. Scepticism is, perhaps, much more of an intellectual infirmity than moralists are generally willing to allow; and certainly the Doctor is precluded from being afflicted with it, by the very structure of his intellect. We know not another individual, in the whole gallery of literature, who takes hold of his ideas with something so like a convulsive gripe. His conceptions are often true, and always possessed of a certain verisimilitude ; but it is the character of his mind to throw itself rapturously into them on the very instant of their creation, to seize them with a vigour, and expound them with an emphasis and exclusive devotion, which bespeak their possession of his entire soul. There is no mistaking that he uniformly delivers himself “ from the heart.” His compressed enunciation is the evident breathing of his spirit ; and it is said that he composes as if from a divine impulse, and under a frenzy resembling the inspired delirium of the Pythoness.
It were utterly impossible for a man like this to have taken a range over so many subjects of contemporary interest, as have avowedly attracted Dr. Chalmers' attention, without illustrating much that is im
portant; and an enlightened survey of his labours, cannot but be fraught with interest and instruction. Had his speculations been confined to mere technical theology, it is not likely that we should have conceived ourselves qualified—or, to say the least, entitled, to summon him before our critical bar, and either to dismiss him with our approval, or to take exceptions to his deliverances; but he is nearly as well known as an economist as a theologian, and has made distant excursions to the field of politics, not because of the instability, but of the expanse and comprehensiveness of his intellect,—because of his practical acquaintance with the mutual dependence of the different departments of moral inquiry, and his conviction of how much, in the fabric of human knowledge, and the progress of human society, the several parts and powers support, illustrate, and modify each other. His attention to the systems of public economy appears to have originated in a deep sense of their connexion with the machinery of public morals; and even in the formation of this single idea, we recognise a spirit infinitely superior to the trammelled sectarians who would convert Theology into a formulary and a trade. Surveying economy from such an elevation, and with an object so exclusively philanthropic, he could not fail to seize hold of several of its most important discoveries, and impress and expound them with his wonted energy and perseverance. Political science, accordingly, owes much to Dr. Chalmers; and we are, above all, his debtors, for one of the most eloquent, unshrinking, and best sustained developments of the grand doctrine of population with which modern literature has furnished us. This momentous truth appears to have attracted, and almost engrossed him from the very commencement of his economical inquiries; and he has never ceased to enforce and inculcate, with every variety of illustration, that those wide-spread social miseries which flow from the constant pressure of numbers upon the means of subsistence, can be neither removed nor permanently alleviated, by any change or provision whatsoever which does not infuse into the working man a taste for higher comforts, and the desire after a better form of life. Simple and axiomatic as this is, when formally and distinctly stated, it has nevertheless been hitherto the great stumblingblock of political economy, the truth which theorists and sentimentalists view with the most utter repugnance, and has called down upon the science the dead weight of Mr. Sadler's displeasure. Nothing, it seems, will drive the crude nostrum from the heads of these benevolent innocents, that the method of alleviating a wretchedness which flows from the comparatively slow increase of the public wealth or means of subsistence, and the comparatively rapid increase of the state's population, is the adoption of certain ingenious contrivances for accelerating the latter and impeding the former! This and nothing less is the secret meaning of our schemes of modern agrarianism, our New-Harmony settlements, our cottage-systems, cow-systems, et hoc genus omne ; and it is hardly in our power to express the depth of our gratitude to Dr. Chalmers for his masterly exhi. bition and fearless denouncement of the whole list of ludicrous fallacies, in the volume he has lately given to the public.
That we mean to follow up the foregoing expression of honest praise, with a few exceptions, against what we consider our countryman's errors, can neither be unacceptable to the public, nor disrespectful to him. Our admiration is not the less valuable that we admire without adulation ; and our censure will not offend by its bitterness, as it had not its origin in envy. To praise a great man is not to dethrone our own reason, nor