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offspring of the Blacks by their repeated intermarriages with the Whites, invariably become the latter ; that in the first instance they are distinguished from the Blacks by their tawny complexion, their hair not being 80 woolly, nor their lips so thick, and that in the third remove they are not to be known from a native European."
In my late publication, “ On the Effects of Physical and Moral Causes on the Circumstances and Character, &c., I have devoted an entire chapter to the display of the influence of race or descenton the form, features, complex. ion, and constitutional propensities of different families, tribes, and nations, as well as on their mental powers; and as that work, which, although recently published, is already extensively circulated, must be in the hands of many of your readers, it would be useless to occupy your interesting pages with a repetition of what is there advanced. It must therefore suffice to say, that the observations of your correspondent exhibit one of the numerous instances of the infuence of race or descent operatiog, with such power, as to counteract that of climate, and other physical causes which inight seem unfavourable to the production of its effects ; and your correspondent may be assured, that if his observations were reversed, he would ind that repeated intermarriages of Whites with Blacks would, in like manner, in a few generations, produce a Negro offspring. For a more particular answer to his query, I must refer the Gentleman to the above, mentioned treatise, in which he will find the whole theory developed.
ANTIQUITY OF THE USE OF WEDDING RINGS.
To the Editors of the Northern Star. ENQUIRIES into such of our popular customs as appear to owe their 'existence to times long gone by, have often asforded me an interesting and, I may add, in most cases a profitable amusement, duriog the hours of relaxation from severer studies : the result of some of these enquiries you have already thought worthy of appearing in your valuable publication, and should you judge as favourably of the one I now send, I shall hope for its insertion also in the Northern Star.
The use of a Ring in the nuptial ceremony is one of those established customs, which lay claim to very ancient origin. We find that with the Romans it was usual to present one to their betrothed wives even before the day of marriage, as appears from the following passage in Juvenal :
Digito pigous fortasse dedisti.'
. Perhaps you have already put the ring upon her finger.' Pliny informs us that the ring used on such occasions was a plain one, un. adorned with jewels, and made of iron ; but Tertullian observes, that at oi time it was made of gold, which being the purest metal, and continuing the longest without rust or tarnish, might perhaps indicate that perma
pent affection which ought to subsist between married persons : and for the same reason, no doubt, the ring was selected as a gift in preference to other ornaments, the circle being that figure which the ancients used as an emblem of eternity.
It is further remarkable, that the ring is to this day placed on the same finger of the same hand, on which it was worn by the Roman matrous. The reasons given, why the fourth finger of the left hand is chosen for this purpose, are various ; some supposing the ring to be least exposed to injury and at the same time most conspicuous when on that finger ; thus Alexander ab Alex. •Former ages placed the wedding ring on the left hand, that it might not be worn in pieces : whilst others think that it was worn heré under the idea of a nerve proceeding from that foger to the heart. This latter opinion seems most favoured by those authors, who have noticed the eustom; particularly Aulns Gellius, who has a passage in the 10th book of his Attic Nights, to this purport :- Apion says, that, in dissecting bo. dies, previous to their being embalmed, the Egyptians have found a nerve running to the heart, from the finger we have mentioned and from none else, wherefore it seems proper that this, being so intimately connected with the heart, should be distinguished from all the rest by such an ornament.' Of these two reasons, however, the former is without dispute the most promin bable, especially as the latter is founded on an anatomical error.
The Jews, also, had a custom of this sort in their marriages, as well as the Romans, which I believe is continued by their descendants to the present day; and what is more worthy of notice, they made use of rings bear ing some short and applicable motto, generally the words, MAZAI TOB ; i. e. • Be it done in a good hour : an admonition which may prove as useful in our days, as it was thought appropriate when first inscribed on the ring of a Jewish bride.
Thus it appears, that we still retain, in all its peculiarities, a custom of universal use amongst the Romans and the Jews, to the latter of whom the invention may be attributed, if not with certainty, at least with great probability; one thing we may be assured of, from the knowledge we have of that once favoured people, that they would not be likely to adopt such a custom in imitation of those, by whom they had been subjugated, wbilst, on the other hand, it cannot be supposed that the Romans, fully aware of the rank, whilch the Jews.once held in the scale of nations, would think an imitation of their ceremonies derogatory to their own dignity.
What were the emblematical significațions of the Weddiog Ring, has been shewn above, but its real use was as the token of a covenant made between the parties, and binding them to each other for life ; in this sense We retain it, and with this signification it was used bythe primitive Christians.
The actual as well as the allegorical meanings of the Wedding Riig still continue, though their institutions are no more remembered; and notwithstanding the inscription. Mazal tob, no longer appears upon it, yet its import ought to remain firmly impressed upon the mind. Engagements which are to last for life should be made in a good hour ; they should be
undertaken with cautious reflection. Were this always attended to, I am enthusiast enough to believe that they who entered on the married state, would find it a real Utopia : as the beginning would be propitious, so its continuance would be happy. I am your obedient servant,
S. I. LAW. Wakefield, March 7th, 1818.
RETROSPECTIVE VIEW OF SOME ANCIENT ENGLISH
To the Editor of the Northern Star. YOU will immediately perceive by my signature, (the first thing, I understand, on which an Editor fixes his scrutinizing ege), that I ani an indivi. dual of the numerous body of created beings usually distinguished in poJished-society by the appellation of the Fair Sex, or some other epithet of similar import. But, Mr. Editor, whether I am young and beautiful, with hair of flax, eyes of blue, and cheeks like roses, carefully displaying all my fascinating charıns for the attraction of some Bond-street beau, or some Captain of the Guards; or whether I am a wrinkled, toothless old maid, with eyes of scalding rheum, furrowed face, and grisly locks ; or whether, Mr. Editor, I am the happy mother of a family, the disappointed spouse of an heirless husband, the slave of an over-bearing tyrant, or the over-bearing tyrant of an abject slave, I shall leave for your characteristic acuteness, and to our future intercourse, if we should chance to have any, to ascertain. Nor does my present communication require that I should inake any
discovery of my real name, any more than of my situation in life, and I shall accordingly leave it a matter of speculation to you and your correspondents, whether I am in the higher or the lower circles of society; whether I spend my mornings at the toilette or the washing-tub; and whether my evenings are devoted to the pleasures of whist and waltzing, or occupied in the more humble avocations of truodling the mop or twirling the spinning-wheel
. Excessive curiosity is a fault exclusively imputed to our sex ; but I am sure, Mr. Editor, a gentleman of your candid and liberal disposition must be prepared to acknowledge that the charge is equally applicable to your own ; and that every individual of you, from the reverend bishop with his episcopalian robes and his mitre, to the journeyman harber with his striped jerkin and curling-irons, is as anxious to pry into the secrets of his neighbour as that personification of scandal, an old maid—or that emblem of garrulity, a mantua-maker. I must confess, Mr. Editor, I flatter my. self that even you will feel some trifling degree of anxiety to discover who I am; but, as I acknowledge I should be actaated by the same motives of curiosity if the case were reversed, I dare not take upon myself to
censure you. It is a fault common to both of us, and, as such, we will,
you please, postpone the farther discussion of the subject till some future opportunity, and proceed to business of a more interesting nature, and considerations of higher importance.
In the numerous essays and discourses on the extravagances of dress, and the follies of fashion, with which the witty and satirical part of your sex have, in the present day, loaded the literary world, they have almost invariably attempted to raise the laugh at our expense ; and gowns, petticoats, stays, and bonnets, have been selected as the exclusive subjects of
It is, indeed, a matter of the utmost surprise to me, that man should have so frequently gazed in the mirror, in all the different ages of extravagance, without having been more frequently tempted to make his own ridiculous appearance the subject of his wit and hainour; his head alone, one woald have imagined, (which, particularly in modern days, has ugdergone all the metamorphoses which the combined ingenuity of the French and English frisseur could suggest,) might have provided him with an inexhaustible fund of entertainment, and have furnished for him a subject on which to employ the jocular propensities which he has so liberally indulged against the various modifications our apparel has undergone.
Even some of the pages of your own Magazine, Mr. Editor, have been occupied by severe animadversions and sarcastic witticisms on the attire of the ladies, while your “ Friend to easy and simple Dreng” has entirely Passed over the unnatural and ridiculous costume of the gentlemen, who are at least as open to censure in this respect as we ourselves. I have long been waitiog Mr. Editor, to see whether some valiant knight-errant, or some polite individual of your sex, or some able and severe member of our own community, would not start up in defence of our injured characters, if not to justify our own excesses, at least to recriminate; but, as no modern Quixote has yet appeared to vindicate our cause, and as the subject has been deelibed by more able individuals of my own sex,
I have ventured to stand up as an advocate for the body; and being confessedly unable to deny the imputation so universally alleged against us, I have resolved to implicate our aéçusers, premising, however, Mr. Editor, that I do not attempt to defend the cause of the yain and conceited part of the sex ; these, I leave to the chastising band of your Friend," and I wonld advise him to give his wit all its poignancy in his future allusions to them. To the unbecoming gaiety of the innumerable and contemptible body of ladies' maids and milliners' apprentices, I am a decided enemy.
I dare say, Mr. Editor, that you yourself, if you are a gentleman of the least taste and judgment, (and I have every reason to believe, from the short acquaintance I have had with you through the medium of your valuable Magazine, that you possess both these qualifications in a very eminent degree,) you must have been occasionally struck, as you have walked down the street, or peeped through your window, with the indescribable diversity of apparel with which this portion of the sex endeavour VOL. IV
to heighten the natural bloom of their countenances, or to display to advantage the graces of their figures. Every colour in the rajabow is called into requisition ; and all the indumerable varieties of ribbons, laces, muslins, silks, sarsnets, and bombasins, which have previously adorned their mistresses, or sparkled in the shop of the pawn-broker, are cut and pared, rented and sewn together, according to the whim and caprice of these ridiculous and tasteless beings.
It is true, Mr. Editor, as you must have observed, that on a late lamentable occasion, the death of the Princess Charlotte, there was something like regularity, and uniformity to be observed among these ladies; but since the expiration of the period to which the mourning was limited, their variety in dress has been infinitely more remarkable than ever it was known before. Their bonnets have assumed every shape and appearance into which fancy and ingenuity could convert them; some are high, some low, some cottage, some gipsey, and some have been so frequently highered and lowered, and trimmed, that they have long lost their original colour, as well as shape, in the diversity of the operations. When it became necessary for them to adopt the general custom of the country, and go into mourning, it was apprehended that their rage for dying black would have increased the price of logwood, and the other necessary ingredients ; but thousands of those who then dyed, black for the sake of fashion, would be happy to hear of some composition equally cheap and efficacious to restore their garments to their pristine hue.
Afraid, Mr. Editor, of occupyiog too great a portion of your Magazine, I shall now proceed to describe a few of the extravagances which your sex have exhibited : yet not without a candid acknowledgment to my own of my utter incompetence for so daring an undertaking, and an humble apology to yours for the levity with which I have treated their severe, though no doubt well-intended sarcasms.
With regard to the different fashions of wearing the hair, though the ladies may perhaps lay claim to more diversity, the palm of originality must certainly be yielded to the gentlemen; Dature has generally been the standard adopted by the one, while all the powers of art have been called into exercise by the other. The beard, an ornament which Providence has denied to our sex, was, for many ages the criterion of beauty and fashion the gentlemen; and the admirable recipes for curling and colouring which the moderns have discovered, would have made the fortune of any man who might have been lucky enough to have discovered their properties a few centuries ago. But even the beard, by the length and quality of which the respectability of its possessor was once estima!ed, gradually dwindled into insignificance; it became shorter in the reigns of Charles I. and II., and totally disappeared in the reign of James II. In the present day, (a circumstance which may, I confess, in some respects, be more agreeable to the ladies,) a smooth chin is the prevailing fashion ; though not without the addition of a pair of martial whiskers, luxuriantly spreading over a very considerable portion of the face and chin. But we may venture to hope that as we improve in civilisation and politeness, even these may be curtailed, and the face of man become still more completely exposed to the admiring eye of his fair and affectionate sellow-mortals.