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Chalmers treats this subject with his usual eloquence, as he does the three other chapters which conclude the work—on the Connexion between the Intellect and the Emotions, on the Connexion between the Intellect and the Will, and on ths Defects and Uses of Natural Theology.
We are now under the necessity of closing these volumes, in which we have much reason to regret that the true line of inquiry was not adopted. Our sorrow does not spring from disappointment excited by any thing like a failure on the part of the author in the task he has undertaken, but we grieve to think that genius, which has so well succeeded in what we must regard as a purely speculative inquiry, should not have been occupied in the employment which was prescribed for it, and in which so much greater interest would be found to be produced as the result. We take our leave of Dr. Chalmers's performance, with a cordial recommendation to our reader to lose no time in procuring for himself in these volumes a fund of materials for solemn and valuable meditation all his life.
Art. XI.— The Mother's Manual, or Illustrations of Matrimonial Economy. An Essay in Verse. With twenty plates, 1 vol. London: Treuttel and Wurtz. 1833.
Those, who are like ourselves, professionally engaged in making constant observations on the literary system which shines above our heads, must be occasionally struck with the capricious variety of the phases assumed successively by some of the more considerable luminaries. Lord Byron, for example, after taking his station in the torrid climate, and giving forth the melancholy aspect which was so foreboding of calamitous consequences, all of a sudden started from his tropical situation, and was observed in a part of the heavens on quite the opposite side of the system. Thus, in the eame spirit of locomotion, do we find Mrs. Trollope, exhausted, peradventure, by her elaborate chastisement of American vulgarity, rush into the merriest mood that it is possible to expect to see her in, but at the same time giving distinct evidence that she dips her pen in the bottle of gall which supplied it entirely in the Transatlantic lucubrations.
Literally speaking, Mrs. Trollope's Mother's Manual consists wholly of "chapters and verse," with the exception of the preface, which, as all preliminary interruptions to the interior of such a production, presents to the render a convenient syllabus of what he is to expect on a nearer inspection. In those blessed days, Mrs. Trollope tells us, when science is so universally cultivated throughout society, from "cobbler to my lord;" when, if you but cull a flower, somebody is at your elbow to demand an account of the calyx, and what is the number of the petals; and when, further, algebra and
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waltzing alternate with each other in the common round of education—in such days, at such an era, Mrs. T. asks, if it be not a shame that there is no elementary book, nay, there is not even a name for the science to which fond mothers would recommend their daughters, in order to teach them how to become wives, and the subordinate knowledge connected with that important measure. Under these distressing circumstances, she proposes the Mother's Manual, which she has reason to expect will turn out to be a useful guide in the seminary of love. The Manual is not founded on the principle of attempting to instruct by long dull precepts: but in her own language,
Familiar illustration is here made
The didactic poem then commences, very unlike Homer's example, with a description of the principal personages. The most prominent of these is Lady Hook, who was left a widow with six daughters, and proved her wisdom and skill by the fact that she married off the whole of the daughters in six years'; and what was more, every one of the fair damsels was considered a prize by her husband. Mrs. Philtre, the former lady's sister, was the mother of three daughters, and their father had also died, leaving the poor girls, so far as pecuniary accomplishments were concerned, " very so, so." They lived in the country, where the mother sought to enlighten their brains with books of all kinds, constantly consulting the curate, the lawyer, and squire. Notwithstanding all her pains, she yet had the good sense to see that the ladies by no means met with the success in which their cousins, in London, triumphed ; so when Mrs. Philtre heard that the last of her nieces unmarried, was about to follow the example of her five sisters, under circumstances of peculiar satisfaction, she resolved to transfer her residence to the metropolis, persuaded that nothing but climate could make so extraordinary a difference between two so very close branches of the family. When the intelligence of the intended visit was announced to Lady Hook, she signified the greatest satisfaction, and on the arrival of her sister with her family, she receive I them in such a way as merits the approbation of the Muse,—for
It was touching to see with what motherly care
It was first decided that the two mothers should hold a close consultation, whilst the daughters were to perform the penance of keeping a rein on their curiosity until the council came to a conclusion. In this important interview, Mrs. Philtre gives an account of her experiments to find out the best method of educating her daughters, with a view to their success in life; and, being pressed by her sister to disclose the details of her process, the lady proceeds with a very candid exposition, from which we take the most striking portions:
I read, and read, but all is mist and doulrt—
Rousseau! good heaven! what put him in your head?
But I can never find his meaning out. [Sighs.
I have six daughters—all have married well—
Three plates are inserted in the work to illustrate the principal of the scenes in which the dialogues just quoted were spoken. The first represents the dancing master, with his kit and bow grasped in his left hand, whilst the right is engaged with the hand of his pupil, who looks down upon the floor with rather an equivocal expression. The next illustration is that of Mrs. Philtre, with a Locke in her hand, exhibiting the source of her confusion to Lady Hook, who is placed in an attitude of extreme astonishment. The third of the plates alluded to shows us the the two ladies tete a tete; and we notice the particular sarcastic air of Lady Hook whilst seated at a table, leaning on her elbows, and her hands clasped in each other; she looks with an arch air on her sister, and says, " Now tell me was it learning married you?"
Lady Hook gave her sister credit for her intentions towards the
?;irls, only that she did not apply them wisely; the men, she knew rom experience, did not care about—nay, they abused—blue learning. After satisfying Mrs. Philtre that her projects had all along proceeded on a false foundation, Lady Hook plainly told her:
My girls had nothing in the world hut eyes—
But with my system, these are strong allies.
The battle is not always to the strong,
Nor to the fleetest does the race belong;
No—'tis th^ skill that teaches when to start,
The cunning trick of fence, that finds the heart.
In short, I care not for a handsome face,
One-tenth so much as for tact, wit, and grace.
Jane's match was not the be3t—but a Scotch Peer—
But her Lord says, he shall drive four next year—
1 think you'll own I know what I'm about.—-pp. 27, 28.
Mrs. Philtre expressed the greatest anxiety that her sister would not merely exert herself to give assistance in the great design which she had at heart, but that she should be put in possession of the grand secret of the art, whereby Lady Hook was able to effect such triumphs as she had achieved. The latter admitted, certainly, that art as well as science was wanted very particularly in cases where an anxious mother had it in hand to marry her ugly daughters, whose want of attractions were uncompensated by the possession of a single sous. But, said the prosperous mother—
But I have done it—and I could again.
And, though unknown, I love my neices too.—pp. 29, 30.
In a subsequent interview, Lady Hook went farther into the subject. If, said she to her dear sister, you are anxious to gain for your daughter a particular individual as her husband, your business is to study him well, in order to bait your hook exactly with the sort of minnow with which such a man is most likely to be caught. Now, some are taken by the ear, some by the eye; but, at all events, dive, if you can, into the heart of the intended victim, and then act accordingly. Let your girls learn the Italian; an indifferent face finds in it a host of assistance; she need not take much trouble either: for a little smattering, a few colloquial phrases, will do, without much depth in the grammatical part. How the gift of Italian is to be employed, we must allow Lady Hook to describe in her own person:
Then, mark with attention, when just fresh from Rome,
A pensive young man shall reluctant come home;
Unobtrusively follow wherever he goes,
And see if no symptom of suffering he shows;
When the terrible ss's which murder our tongue.
To his soul, like the creaking of shoe-leather, come.
If he wince—then let some sweet tone reach his ear,
"Cara mia!" "dolce madre!" "oh, </ual piacer!"
He will turn quick to see whence the loved accents flow.
Get presented—that always is easy you know—
And 'tis odds but he's caught, if the ninfa geniil
Know how on his sensitive feelings to steal.
Then there's waltzing—that mother has but little skill,
Who can't make a waltz do almost what she will.
To the stiff—when leave's asked—she must instantly vow,
That waltzing's a thing she can never allow;
But should she be anxious the form to display.
And is conscious, besides, that her girl shines that way,
She should say, " By and bye she may dance with her brother.
But not for the world should she waltz with another."
To the travell'd, or such as would never endure,
That his wife should seem prudish, because she was pure,
She may hint, that a waltz is the dear creature's passion.
But not if often indulged in, although 'tis the fashion.
Most likely he'll lead her to join the gay ring,
And it's then that her net she must over him fling.—pp. 36, 37.