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nence. It was probably from a sense of this law in physics, as well as our experience of the domestic dangers attending it, that incest, or the union of more immediate kindred' of the same blood, was looked upon in so evil a light from the earliest periods of history. In countries .even, where it was permitted, it seems (curiously enough) to have been only a licence' assumed by royalty or the priesthood. It did no good in those cases (we allude particularly to the Magi in Persia, and the family of the Ptolemies' in Egypt); and it never obtained among the people. If the Gipsies are“accused of it, it should be recollected, first, that there is no proof; there is only a surmise ; secondly, that that extraordinary people lead a life, of all others, calculated to keep them in health and vigour, and counteract the chances of deterioration, and thirdly, that they have considerable intercourse with strangers. The Greeks permitted marriages with half-sisters on one side ; which is remarkable, considering that no people seem to have been more earnest in proclaiming the evils of a mixture of blood. The most terrible part of their drama is occupied in rendering them frightful; though by making the parties unconscious in one instance, and loading the offspring with miseries' undeserved, they subjected themselves to the satire of the poet; who says, that they wrote these tragedies, in order
“ That other men might tremble, and take warning,
How such a fatal progeny they're born in." With brothers and sisters-in-law, the case is different. It would be ludicrous to talk of incest-in-law. In one respect, supposing the horror of real incest to be kept up, the marriage of persons in that mode of relationship might be considered as tending to diminish the chances of deterioration; because their offspring would be no longer mere cousins (whose marriage in this country is permitted) but brothers and sisters also, and thereby hindered from marrying. The connexion however, in the present state of society, is justly discountenanced; because it is likely to give rise to family troubles. Jacob himself could not live well with the two sisters he married. Not that we believe it impossible for two females to live in happy union with the same man. The novelists of China
inform us it can be done in that country:* and to say nothing of what is repeated of other countries in the East, there is the story of Count Gleichen and his double marriage, which is said to have been allowed by the Pope: stories, similar in spirit though not in letter, have been told of several princes; and the celebrated Whig Chan: cellor Cowper, whom Steele panegyrizes as one of the best of men, is said to have lived many years in a like connexion ; for which Swift gave him the nick-name of Will Bigamy. It implies however extreme amiableness in all the parties, would be very dangerous, on some accounts, even to them, unless they were as wise and temperate, as amiable; and is upon the whole to be disa countenanced, like the family marriages before-mentioned. But doubts and hazards of all sorts will be perpetually taking place, if not on this point, yet on others connected with it, till something better is done to render the intercourse of the sexes the blessing it ought to be. We have little respect for the existing laws on that
* See the curious work lately published entitled Iu-Kigo-Li, or the Two Fair Cousins; and a tale in another version from the Chinese, whose title we forget. An accommodation of this kind seems to be a favourite winding up of a Chinese story, and is certainly a very useful one to the author.
#They say they manage these things better in Germany. We believe (startling as it may sound to the opinion entertained of themselves on that matter by our beloved and somewhat sulky countrymen) that most pations manage the better than England; or our sulkiness would be diminished. There are great faults in the system of Italy; and greater, because more deception, in that of France. Altogether, it is a subject of the very deepest importance, and well worth inquiring into, especially now that people seem agreed that the interests of humanity may be discussed on all points, withiout a despicable ill-construction on any. The following is an extract from an interesting work just published, which may give us an insight into the opinions of our German friends. There seems a " preferment" in them, provided the goodness is what it seems, and no health is injured, bodily or mental. But these things require a volume.-
“ The Bavarian women are celebrated for their innate kindness and goodness of heart; and there is a saying with respect to them, which has grown in some parts of the country almost proverbial. Sie werden nichts abschlagen,' they will refuse nothing. Whether such an observation may be borne out in fact in its widest application I presume not to sày; but their friendly patures are sufficiently evident. A young opera-singer of Munich, who travelled with me, having worn himself out by excess of joking and laughter during the day, became sleepy in the evening, and, not occupyivg'a corner of the coach, found his head rather incon. venient; a Bavarian lady, who sat next to him, protesting that she could never sleep in a coach, surrendered her place to him, and in a few minutes his head was recumbent on her shoulder; his arm round her waist, and he slept profoundly. When the coach stopped to change horses, I walked with my musical friend to view the ruins of a little Gothid church in the moonlight, and, on asking him if he was acquainted with the lady on whose shoulder he had slept so well, he replied, I have never seen her before but we do these things for one another in Bavaria.'”. A Summer among Music and Musical Professors in Germany.
subject. We think they prohibit a great deal too much; and allow more than they ought; prohibit, where everyjust and universal feeling says there ought to be no prohibition, as in the case of married parties, wholly unfit for one another, who, though in decency bound to separate, cannot in: " reputation" do so, ori legally seek for other companions; and shamefully allow,-as in the instance of old, men and women, permitted to marry young ones. There is a: grossness in the very restrictions, and an evidence of a mercenary and over-commercial state of society, in the indulgences ordained by English law on this subject, which are productive: of daily and notorious miseries to an enormous extent, and call laudly for the interference of the legislative philosopher.. . “ .
But to return to the question before us. The marriage of cousins is permitted in England. In the catholic countries it is reckoned a species of incest, and must have a dispensation from the Pope. Voltaire mentions an “ advocate Vogler," who is far having cousins burnt, that venture to love one another. We are not for: making any new laws on the subjecta : The fewer" prohibitory laws on any subject, the better; provided every one is encouraged to speak openly, and knowledge and moral opinion go together. But we think, knowing what is now known respecting the injurious tendency of these connexions, that marriages between cousins qught to be discouraged rather than otherwise; and certainly between the children of married cousins. We have heard it said (we. know not on what authority) that as breedingrin and in between other animals, infallibly makes the breed degenerate, and ultimately puts an end to its, so at a certain distance of time, and that not very remote, intermarriages between: kindred' produce insanity. Now it is remarkable, not only that the royal houses of Europe are full of weak intellects, especially those that entertain the most imperial notions in this matter, but that the dynasty which has bred the most “ in and in," and made a practice of obtaining licences from the Pope, has exhibited the most awful examples of perverseness and madness. We mean that of Braganza, the worthy kindred of Don Miguel. They are always marrying their uncles and
aunts. Cousins are a drug. The practice (for we have not enough · books at hand to refer to) seems to have begun with King Alphonso the Fifth, who married his niece. The mother of the late king married her uncle Don Pedro, and died in a state of religious melancholy, which afflicted her many years. , Her majesty's sister, Mary Frances, married her nephew. Don John, the late king, was, we believe, a melancholy man; at all events weak, and of a desponding aspect. Maria de Gloria, who ruled the other day in conséquence of the abdication of her father Pedro, now Emperor. of Brazil, was affianced to her uncle, Don Miguel ; x and Don Miguel, proposed husband of his niece, grandson of the son of a niece and an uncle, and great grandson of a woman afflicted with melancholy madness, we all know, and here see all his excuses.
This is an excessive dynasty. But the other royal houses of Europe (who are almost all cousins and aunts by this time) have had enough of intermarrying; and the more this evil can be hindered from coming closer among us, the better. It is true, if statesmen speculated upon having a series of foolish princes, it might be thought they could not do better than by encouraging the breed after this fashion; but to say nothing of the extinction of those sort of speculations, or the unsuitableness of them to the age we live in, a foolish prince has often a-trick of being a perverse and stubborn one, and giving more trouble than his betters. A very little knowledge of history will warn us off that ground. There is Don Miguel himself, now this moment, flourishing his sword, and playing all the vagaries of the King in Tom Thumb, to shew us the danger of it. The Duke of Cumberland's wife is a princess of the House of Mecklenburgh Strelitz-a cousin-house, as it is. The union of the little prince and princess would be another marriage of cousins; and their children would very likely be no healthier than the late Princess Charlotte, also a daughter of cousins, and a person (as it turned out, and as the importance of the object must excuse us for mentioning) unfit for child-bearing.
LETTER OF MADAME PASTA. MADAME Pasta has sent the following letter to the newspapers, in which she presents her acknowledgments to Mademoiselle Sontag for consenting to sing on her benefit-night. Our favourite singer
(no offence to the fair German, whom we have not seen, but whom we now wish to see more than ever) has a Christian or rather Jewish name. (Judith), which will be thought by many highly suitable to the more heroical part of her performances. We think she'ought to have given herself one in addition, expressive of the softer and more humane. Catalani had an excellent name for one who ran away with hearts, and does not seem to have cared for them ;-Angelica. By the way, what a perfection of a name had Corelli, for the player of a celestial bow ;-Arcangelo Corelli! It makes him look like a seraph in a picture,
“Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubim." But to the letter. The Italics in it are not marked by ourselves ; but we leave them, for a reason which will appear presently.
“SIR-It was originally my intention to give, on the evening of my benefit, a new Opera of Caraffa, entitled La Gabriella di Vergy; but having encountered difficulties which occasioned delay; want of time renders the representation of that Opera impossible for the present. I found I should have had obstacles equally insurmountable to contend against in attempting to get up any other new Opera ; and I felt besides unwilling that the public should be deprived of the benefit of Mademoiselle Sontag's talents, by any new production, brought out on my account alone. Having then to choose in the actual repertoire of the King's Theatre, it appeared to me possible to prepare a representation which might not be unworthy of public approbation. To effect this, however, it was necessary to have recourse to Mademoiselle Sontag, in whom I have met the most complaisant readiness to accede to my wishes. That lady has been induced to overcome scruples which her extreme modesty alone could have suggested, and has kindly consented to undertake, on the occasion of my benefit only, the part of Desdemona, a character in which she is not, by the terms of her engagement, bound to appear at this theatre. The obliging acquiescence of Mademoiselle Sontag has enabled me to fix on Otello for the night of my benefit (which will take place on the 15th of May), and has also determined me to personate the Moor. The proceeding of Mademoiselle Sontag in my behalf, has been of so accommodating a kind, that I feel great pleasure in publicly expressing to her my acknowledg ments. I beg, therefore, that you will, by an early insertion of this letter in your journal, enable me to offer her this public tribute of my thanks.
" I have the honour to be, Sir, your very obedient servant, "3 Old Burlington street.
“ GIUDITTA Pasta.” «: A friend of ours mentioned this letter to us, hoping that we would notice it, “ as it did Madame Pasta so much honour.” On the other hand, a writer in a Sunday paper chucks it in the fair singer's teeth, calling it an advertisement, a puff, and a “miserable attempt at feigned candour.” The Italics are of his marking; so