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You will perhaps fay, that these things are true, and that they afford fufficient ground for making fome alteration in the fervice. I once thought fo myself, and I tried the alteration; but it would not do. I omitted, and I added, and tried it in all various ways, but at laft was obliged to be of opinion, that in the fent ftate of the fashionable world, we want a form of fervice for the various ranks of fociety.
hood. Now, it appears very plain will allow that there is scarcely an ar-
Can we, for example, expect that a man who has married a woman for no other object than her money, will regard his promife" to love her, and comfort her, honour and keep her in fickness and health," when we know that the greateft favour she can do him, next to giving her money into his hands, is to give him an opportunity of burying her? When we fee a young woman forced into the arms of an old dotard, for no other purpose than to obtain a title or a handfome jointure (by the bye this word should be written disjointure, as it is one of the preliminaries to a final feparation) are we to expect that fhe will love, cherish, and obey fuch a hufband? I might ftate many other cafes for which our fervice is obviously ill adapted. But the other day we read in the papers of a couple married, the man was eighty, and the woman seventy-fix years of age. I believe them as fully inclined to fulfil their vows as one half of our fashionable pairs, yet you
The prefent is far too good; it proceeds upon motives of religion, but that you know, is rather out of fashion and I am perfuaded no perfon of dif tinction would thank you for fuppofing him influenced by it in his conduct towards his wife. The phrases used in it are alfo too loofe and general. Love, honour, and obey! There are not three words in the language, which admit-of greater latitude. First, as to love; most men of fashion think they love their wives dearly, if they neither beat them, nor turn them of doors; and that love is perfectly confistent with frequent abfence from home, occasional gallantries with other ladies, and the diftant refpect of occafional acquaintances. As to honour, their notions of that are very latitudinarian; 1 fhal! not enter particularly into them, but they are very frequently exemplified in the civil and criminal courts. With regard to obedience, which is principally expected from the fair fex, I am forry to fay, that it is a word of very lax and general interpretation, and is clogged with fo many conditions and acts of mental refervation, as to be rarely recognized in the fenfe in which it ap pears to have been used by the compilers of our liturgy. One lady of fashion profeffes to obey her husband in every thing confiftent with her own inclination: That is her fenfe of obedience. Another thinks herself abfolved from all obedience, because her husband is a fool. A third conditions with him,
that if he will obey in fome points, fhe thought unreasonable. will in others.
Then the great mifchief is, that when a difagreement takes place, and the contending parties chufe to interpret the treaty in different ways, there is no third party to which the difpute can be referred. No interference is admitted; or whenever attempted, it is not to the advantage of the difputants, but always to the lofs and injury of the mediator, who of two friends, is fure to make at least one enemy. The parties, in fact, act precifely like two high-fpirited na tions. They go to war, and expend all their force and ammunition, before they will liften to terms of accommodation, which, after all, amount only to a truce, the parties ever after retaining a watchful jealoufy, and a dignified contempt
for each other.
I have read fomewhere lately, of a *nation where the matrimonial contract lafts only for three years. They are, I remember, reckoned a nation of favages; but my fashionable readers will I hope agree with me, that in this refpect they have acquired a very confiderable portion of civilization, and are very well qualified to "preferve the accuftomed relations" of the matrimonial ftate. The term of three years may, indeed, be supposed rather too long, but it is fill fhorter than the lives of moft men, and comes nearer, than any dation has yet attempted, to the period, when, according to the manners of people of fashion, the matrimonial treaty virtually expires. In compiling, therefore, forms of fervice for the beau monde, the first and great object would be to limit the time to the probable duration of the affections of the parties. In the cafe of an old Lord marrying a young woman for a nurse, there would be no harm in extending it till death do us part," but in most other cafes, as that of a fortune-hunter marrying a dowager, or a child, it would be fufficient if time were given for the regular transfer of the land and the three per cents. This, 1 think, could not, in all confcience, be
As for the
couples who came together they know not why, a claufe might be introduced confining them only durante bene placito, that is, as long as they please, which I humbly apprehend would give fatisfaction to a great many perfons who are apt to fall in love at first fight, to be ftruck with a pretty face, or who marry for a temporary convenience.
I have not prefumed to draw up any sketch of these new services, but confine myseif, as I merely engaged, to some hints upon the fubject, which others may improve upon. I fhould, therefore, farther fuggeft, that all fuch marriages be removed from the church, and performed in the drawing-room, the tavern, or any other fuitable place. I propofe this; because I have fometimes obferved, that perfons who never go to church but when they are married, are fo ftruck with the novel appearance of the place, the folemn appearance of the parfon, and the facetious grin of the clerk, as to be quite confounded, and incapable of knowing what they are about. I propofe it likewise in respect to tender confciences, for really when a man is difpofed to take an oath which he has no inclination to keep, I had much rather he did it any where than at the altar. The glib enunciation of the custom-houfe, or the justice room, where the only words you hear are, "So help you God! twelve pence:" would much better fuit the fashionable votaries of Hymen. Great respect ought to be paid to tender confciences, and that the duties of the married flate fhould be enforced by what may be termed an act of uniformity, has no doubt given great uneafinefs to many fcrupu lous people of rank, who may naturally expect that fome diftinction should be made between them and the vulgar. They might even, I think, (but I propofe every thing with fubmission) be allowed to marry upon their honour, which would be equally binding with the form to which they are now obliged to fubmit. If there be any objection to this,
Their ignorance in this
it may probably arife from the miftaken to perform. fenfe of honour, or rather the many refpect may, however, be excused. The fenfes in which it is ufed. Valeat wifeft of men cannot know more than the age in which they live. They judg ed of English manners influenced by religion, not forefeeing that foreign travel would foon introduce foreign manners, and that a man who has made a tour of Europe, fhould think it his duty to import the moft genteel of its vices, as a recompence for his long absence, and a benefaction to the profperity of his country.
quantum valere poffit. This is a objection which it is not in my power to remove, and I throw it out to thofe who
The farther neceffity for a fervice, Specially adapted to modern manners, appears from another confideration. In all contracts, the breach of it by one party either incurs a penalty, or amounts to a diffolution. Unfortunately, the compilers of the contract in queftion, There are many other hints I might not foreseeing that a time would come, offer on this fubject. I might fuggeft when it fhould be reckoned genteel for the propriety of permitting more wives one party to break the contract, and yet than one, in order to prevent domestic very proper for the other to be bound diforder; and other improvements on by it, have made no provifions for fuch the fyftem of marriage; but I have aloccurrences as are now frequent enough, ready made my letter too long. I hope, and notorious enough. Thefe good however, that what I have thrown out men had no idea of pin-money, jointures, will have the due effect I proposed, as and separate establishments. They could well as incline those who have more not conceive that married perfons, liv- leifure and greater abilities, to give the ing in the fame kingdom, poffeffed of fubject an attentive confideration. Let carriages and horses, and enjoying the it not be understood, that I wish to advantages of the finest turnpike-roads, abolish entirely the prefent fervice. Far should never meet, unless by accident, from it. It is admirably calculated, for and, when met, part without exchanging all who are serious, to execute the most a word, or even a look of mutual esteem. important of duties from the molt conIf they had, would they have put in fcientious of motives; who wish to add fuch words as 66 to have and to hold, to the happinefs of their country by enfor better for worse, for richer for poor- creafing the aggregate of domestic reguer, in sickness and in health, to love larity; who wish to be regarded rather and to cherish, till death do us part!" as good than great; and who, by an hoCertainly not; if they had forefeen the nourable conduct, add real dignity to an changes and improvements introduced obfcure ftation-but these are not the into the married ftate by modern man- perfons of whom I fpoke in the precedners, they would not have expected im- ing part of my letter. I am, &c. poffibilities, nor thought of binding a SERIO JOCOSUS. man down to what he never intended
To confolidate HEED (care, caution) with HEAD, may appear too bold an adventure, even in etymology. The difference, however, in fpelling is of no account, the prefent orthography being modern. I think, both words are fpelled alike, by fome old writers, bede. In ufe, there obtains fuffici. ent fimilarity, at the prefent moment. I do not HEED (head) that. I do not MIND that. We fay, he puts a thing to HEART; and, had it been ftamped by ufage, heart would have paffed just as currently as head for one of our verbs. I DO NOT HEART that. Certain languages have it fo, or very nearly as every scholar knows.
3. The fubftantive verb, am (obf. com) be (obf. bee) is, probably, fome mode of motion or appearance; and, if traced higher, may turn on fome animal, whofe mode of motion is ftriking. To walk (incedo), to emerge (evado), to ecfift (ftand out), are, in Latin, perpetually fynonimous with to be. In Greek, to be is the felf-fame word as to go, though split by grammarians and lexicographers.
4. To alter is a good example of a word retaining an objective fignification in one dialect of a language, and not in another. To alter, means in German, to grow old.
room to exemplify my manner of proceeding. We have a remarkable clafs of noun fubftantives, as they are called by grammarians; though, according to the mataphyfician, they are mere attributes or qualities; that is, they cannot ftand by themselves, but are fupported by fubftances. The words I mean are good nefs, greatness, and their fellows. We have fimilar words, ending in head. Onhead, in old English, is unity (one head). It will not, I prefume, be denied that head (caput) is here used in compofition. Now, in the other cafe, I fuf. pect, that it is part of the head which is ufed; the nofe, nefs, nez, French. Both words have been indifferently employed to mark the points of land, that are or have been confpicuous. Will not this geographical analogy be admitted as a ftrong confirmation of my opinion? If nefs be any part of the body, what part elfe can we imagine it to be, whether we regard found or fituation? There exifts an etymological, as truly as a moral fense; and those who have acquired the former, will feel by how very natural a tranfition two fuch eminent members of the body natural, as the head and nofe, came to denote abstract qualities. I conjecture, that thing or ding will prove to mean fome ftriking object in one of its fixed corporeal fenfes.
2. This analyfis, carried to its ut- The bookfellers, I think might renmoft extent, would conftitute a reform- der an effential fervice to education ed dictionary. Every perfon appre- and letters, by engaging fome intellihends the mataphorical ufe of a term gent perfon to introduce, more and the better for knowing its original more, genealogies of fignification into meaning; and how invariably have dic- the common English dictionaries, as tionary-makers diffevered the foul of a new editions are printed. To complete word from its body! Thus, fpite and pit the investigation of our words would (the culinary implement) are clearly take time; but, with a proper adverthe fame word. To fpite a perfon is tifement, an imperfect, would, on one to run a fpit into his mind. The very account, be preferable to a perfect dicmetaphor, I think, occurs not unfre- tionary: it would induce fome to ob quently in the poetry afcribed to king ferve and think for themselves. David; and Shakspeare makes Hamlet refolve to" fpeak daggers,”
ORIGINAL LETTERS BETWEEN PRINCIPAL ROBERTSON AND DR BIRCH,
RELATIVE TO THE HISTORIES OF SCOTLAND AND OF CHARLES V.
THOUGH I have not the good fortune to be known to you perfonally, I am fo happy as to be no ftranger to your writings, to which I have been indebted for much useful inftruction. And as I have heard from my friends, Sir David Dalrymple and Mr Davidson, that your difpofition to oblige was equal to your knowledge, I now prefume to write to you, and to afk your affiftance without any apology.
Forbes's Collections had been lost upon his death, but I am glad to find by your Memoirs that they are in the poffeffion of Mr Yorke. I fee likewife that the Depeches de Beaumont are in the hands of the fame Gentleman. But I have no opportunity of confulting your Memoirs at prefent, and I cannot remem- . ber whether the Depeches de Fenelon be still preserved or not. I fee that Carte has made a great use of them, in a very bufy period, from 1563 to 1576. I know the ftrength of Carte's prejudices fo well, that I dare fay many things may be found there that he could not fee, or would not publish. May I beg the favour of you to let me know whether Fenelon's papers be yet extant and acceffible; and to give me fome general idea of what Dr Forbes's Collec tions contain with regard to Scotland; and whether the papers they confist of are different from thofe published by Haynes, Anderfon, &c. I am far from defiring that you should enter into any detail that would be troublesome to you, but fome fhort hint of the nature of thefe Collections would be extremely fatisfying to my curiofity, and I shall efteem it a great obligation laid upon me.
I have been engaged, for fome time, in writing the hiftory of Scotland from the death of James V. to the acceffion of James VI. to the throne of England. My chief object is to adorn (as far as I am capable of adorning) the hiftory of a period, which, on account of the greatness of the events, and their close connection with the tranfactions in England, deferves to be better known. But as elegance of compofition, even where a writer can attain that, is but a trivial merit without historical truth and accuracy, and as the prejudices and rage of factions, both religious and political, have rendered almost every fact, in the period which I have chofen, a matter of doubt or of controversy, 1 I have brought my Work almost to have therefore taken all the pains in my a conclufion. If you would be fo good power to examine the evidence on both as to fuggeft any thing that you thought fides with exactnefs. You know how useful for me to know, or to examine copious the Materia Hiftorica in this into, I fhall receive your directions period is. Befides all the common with great respect and gratitude. Hiftorians and printed collections of papers, I have confulted feveral manufcripts which are to be found in this country. I am perfuaded that there are fill many manufcripts worth my feeing to be met with in England, and for that reafon I propose to pafs fome time in London this Winter. I am impatient however to know what discoveries of mere compliment as an impertinent inthis kind I may expect, and what are the treasures before me, and with regard to this I beg leave to confult you.
I was afraid for fome time that Dr
I am with fincere esteem
19 Sept. 1757.
TO DR BIRCH.
IF I had not confidered a letter of
terruption to one who is fo bufy as you commonly are, I would long before this have made my acknowledgments to you for the civilities which you was 6 K 2