« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
AFTER the preceding conversation was ended, as they were riding slowly, they heard from a house, at a little distance, a distressing female cry of murder. They hastened to the place, and saw a man dragging a woman hy the hair of her head with great violence; venting dreadful wishes and terrifying oaths. They seized and held him, without ceremony, and disengaging his hands, helped her to an armed chair. She was no sooner loosed from her husband, than she began to rail upon him in the most insulting manner; and he returned her language in strains of equal insult and anger. It was some time before their sury abated, so that any thing could he learned concerning the cause of this shameful quarrel. But before they left the house, they learned that it had begun at dinner ; only because he had complained, the meat was too rare ; which was probably said in an irritating tone. She replied, it was good enough for him. The war of hard words then commenced, from which they proceeded to throw plates at each other's heads; and the furniture of the table few like the mountains in the battle of the Titans and the gods. The dish of gravy thrown full in the face of her husband, crowned the last exploit of the wife at table ; which so provoked him, he caught her by the hair, heat her, and was going on with his madness and cruelty, when onr travellers came in ; and how far he would have carried it, is uncertain, had he not been thus prevented. When they were cool enough to hear with some attention, the General spake to them as follows :
I should probably never have seen your faces, and certainly never interfered with your affairs, had not loud cries of distress called me to the house. As the circumstances now are, I feel myself imperiously called on to speak to you with plainness and affection. I am an old man, but never witnessed such a sight; though I have heard of differences which resembled it. I am at a loss for words to express my astonishment and sorrow at what has here presented itself. Permit me to ask, are you dead to the feelings of disgrace, the workings of friendship, yea, of common civilized humanity ? Have you eradicated every moral principle, and throwo off all sense of religion, and the most sacred obligations of the marriage vow ? Can no principle, either buman or divine,
restrain you from re-acting what must destroy your happiness
Consider how disgraceful, how very disgraceful, such mad-
If nothing else will affect you, it should seem that the case
Suffer me to advise you to repent of all your sins; to cry
They had not gone far from this scene of infamy and distress, before the sight of a man walking in his garden, reminded them of an opportunity to knot more concerning the couple with whom they had just parted. They role op
to the fence, and after exchanging the easy civilities of well bred strangers, the General told him what they had just witnessed, and desired to have some short sketches of their history.
They are, said the gentleman, of respectable families, rich in this world's goods. The young gentleman, at the age
of twenty, formed an attachment to a beautiful, sensible young female, of a neighboring family, whose parents possessed but a small estate. When this was known by his parents, they forbid him to proceed further, and threatened to disinherit him if he married her. At first he seemed to disregard their threats, and continued his visits. But they grew more urgent that he should leave her; and pressed him to marry the daughter of a very rich family, not far off. He told them, he never could love her as a wife, and entreated permission to marry the person of his choice. To which they replied, that it would be a disgrace to him and the family to marry a person so poor, and so much beneath him in point of rank, and consequently they should never give their consent; he might, therefore, choose, whether to be turned out of doors, with no hope of sharing any part of their estate, or give his hand to the person they had selected.
For some days he hesitated which to choose ; but fearing the displeasure of his parents, and the loss of property, he began to do violence to his own feelings. From this time he attempted to force his affections toward the object chosen for him. He actually paid her some visits, which were received coldly, because she was previously in love with another person. But her parents were as much determined to bring about a marriage between them, as those of the young gentleman. They therefore turned her beloved suitor out of doors, and forbid him the house forever afterward ; at the same time taking measures that their daughter should not see him-obliging her to receive addresses from the other per
She remonstrated, while there was any hope ; but at length yielded so far, as to consent to be married. On the day of their nuptials, it was obvious that they had not resigned their hearts ; and that their hands were joined with. great reluctance.
For nearly a year they kept within the bounds of decency; but it was eviilent their hearts were divided, and went after other objects. There were no marks of sympathy-no interchanges of kindness. The want of affection soon grew
into ill nature, hard words, and at length it has arrived at what you saw.
Having again exchanged civilities, they rode on; and when they were out of the bearing of the stranger, Charles said to his venerable companion, I should consider it one of the greatest misfortunes of life to be forced into the married state, with a person I could not love. And though I do not believe that every fancy, inconsiderate young persons may feel, ought to be dignified with the name of love, yet in all lasting friendships, and especially in this, there must be an affectionate predilection. It is, therefore, cruel, for parents to do violence to such attachments, and force objects of aversion on their children ; and when, too, they act only on the most sordid motives, running the dreadful hazard of seeing nothing but hatred and strife, where all should be love and peace.
I cannot, therefore, help differing from the intelligent stranger, who gave us the account of the contending couple; and observed, that they were descended of respectable parents., Or if the expression be true, as a general term, it must have some very striking exceptions. Their conduct toward their children, in this particular, is far from being respectable. I suspect that such parents are strangers to real conjugal love; and though they may have forced themselves into a kind of marriage commerce, yet they acted on other motives than those of pure friendship.
It is the duty of parents, said the General, to advise their sons and daughters on so important a subject as that of marriage ; and afford thein all the aid in making a right choice, which age and experience can dictate. There may be circumstances which call for the interposition of authority ; but these are rare, and should never be resorted to, only in extraordinary cases, and when all other means have failed. When a son or daughter is inclined to choose a person of immoral, profligate, and dissipated character, totally unfit for a companion; they may forbid further intercourse, if other measures have been tried without success ; even then, authority should be connected with reason, persuasion, and the spirit of kindness. But where the want of riches is the only obstacle, it is unworthy of parental affection, to oppose by obstinate authority.
I have known several instances, somewhat resembling the one now under discussion ; but never knew one attended
with a happy result. The evil, in all cases, has not been so extreme ; but it was an evil of sufficient magnitude to spoil all the joys of life, and make all their riches worse than the extremest poverty, when allied with love and peace. No bonds are so galling and hard to be borne, as those of wedlock, if they are not worn from choice, and made easy by love. There is no hope of release, but in the death of one or other of the parties. Hence it is to be feared, they never pray so fervently, as when they pray for each other's death. Alas! that this should be the case with creatures formed for society-formed for a union and interchange of affections, formed to bless with the kindest offices-formed for a great increase of happiness to each other, and hindered from it only by being mismated ; and this done, too, by the misguided influence of those who were appointed by Providence as guardians of their virtue and happiness. When will this evil cease? When will conjugal felicity be no more sacrificed at the shrine of avarice? If young persons make riches the chief
motive of coming together in the married state, the evil which follows, does not so justly excite our pity, as when others act on this motive, and choose for them. For in the one case, they have voluntarily brought it on themselves ; in the other, it was imposed on them by a kind of necessity. Yet such connections are dignified by the name of marriage ; and such are called husband and wife ; but it is a prostitution of these sacred and very appropriate titles.
This motive sometimes has power sufficient to draw together the shrivelled old maid, with the boy of nineteen-old grandsire of eighty, with the pert little miss of sixteen. A deformed dwarf, with a mind as ugly as his body, has his hand accepted by a beautiful young lady, of good education, and certainly would have been thought of good sense too, had her choice been wisely directed. We also see wedded together tempers diametrically opposite ; the ragged and the keen—the fierce and the timid-the savage and the tender the woman of polished manners to a clown, of whom she is ashamed all her days; but she got money by the match, and 80 makes it pay for her mortification. Surely we may here adopt the language of Dr. Watts :
66 As well may heavenly concerts spring,
Or none beside the base."