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clear, when they fpeak of the ftrict execution, it is of mild and gentle laws. The juries, our author thinks, would also defeat the intention of the judge, if every convict were certainly punished; for conviction would not be fo frequent, and the jurymen would quiet their confciences on a perjury, which was the means of preventing murder.' Those who have attended the Old Bailey, or even perused a feffions paper, will readily agree with him: it is not easy, in many cafes, to guess at the foundation of a verdict, except it be to alleviate the punishment; and this tenderness forms no part of the oath of a juror.
We have mentioned the principal circumftances in which thefe authors differ. The neceffity of publishing the defign, by which every convict is neceffarily and unavoidably punished, we have formerly infifted on; and, with respect to the privilege of reprieving, exercised by the judges, their opinions are not very different. It is properly observed, in the work before us, that, if the king has the power of pardoning, a reprieve is generally neceffary for his exerting that power.
Having stated the arguments, with those observations which, after mature reflection, have occurred to us; having candidly and difpaffionately placed the difpute on what feems its proper bafis, we ought not to decide. Each author concludes, that a remedy is wanting; and neither will probably approve of the means fuggefted by the other. We have enlarged on the subject, if poffible, to render it of importance; to draw the attention of others not yet engaged in its confideration, and to procure additional fecurity for the quiet, the industrious, or the helpless part of mankind. The mifchief is alarming; it is at our own doors, and requires a fpeedy and effectual remedy. We fully agree with our author, in first recommending a thorough and complete revifion of our penal laws. In other respects, we suspect his plans are not fufficiently efficacious to crush the evil.-We have already hinted, that robbery is become a fyftem: it is fupported and carried on by numerous fubordinate agents, who by concealments, advice, information, and other means, concur, unfufpected, in the most villainous defigns. We fear, that the most vigorous and violenţ measures will alone fucceed; but we fhall extract fome judicious remarks from our author: if they will not remove the nuifance, they may leffen it.
• The means of removing this evil are plain and obvious-to fupply the poor with employment; to prevent them from plunging into drunkennefs, gaming and idleness, which are the forerunners of every other vice; and, above all, to fupprefs
those disorderly houses and feminaries of thieves, which are no torious to all the officers of the police, but which it is the interest of all of them fhould continue, and fhould thrive. But to effect all this, one of two things is abfolutely neceffary; either gentlemen of character, of property, and of education, must in every part of the kingdom undertake the very important duties of juftices of the peace (for by fuch alone can thofe duties be properly discharged) or fome different fyftem of police from that which now prevails must be established.
To fuppofe that they, who make the office of justice of the peace a lucrative employment, will ever execute that office properly, is to fuppofe, that men engaged in a profitable trade will exert themselves to the utmost to ruin that trade, or to abridge its profits. That a mercenary juftice fincerely wishes the reformation of the lower ranks of mankind, is what no one can imagine, but he who is credulous enough to believe, that there are African traders, who in their hearts lament the hardfhips and cruelties which negro flaves undergo.
If indeed perfons of the defcription which I have mentioned cannot be found to act in the commiffion of the peace, fome other fyftem of police must be reforted to. Not, however, a fyftem confined merely to the metropolis, as if it were matter of indifference what vices were fuffered to range through every other part of the kingdom; nor one fupported only by extraordinary and formidable powers lodged in the hands of new-erected magistrates appointed by the crown; but fome general and permanent fyftem, founded upon the principles of our ancient conftitution.'
We must now take our leave of the fubject till additional information fhall induce us to refume it. We must again confefs that we have received much information from this little volume; and are only forry that we cannot join in the praises of the letter annexed, with the warmth of our Obferver.
A Philofophical, Hiftorical, and Moral Ejay on Old Maids. In Three Volumes. 800. 10s. 6d. Cadell.
THIS very refpectable fifterhood has at last found a friend, an advocate, a panegyrift; he is fufficiently interested in their favour to examine the various effects which neglect, or extreme delicacy, which difappointed love, or overweening ambition may have produced; while as caufes, though apparently oppofite, and feemingly inconfiftent, they have concurred in promoting a state of joyless celibacy. But he does not leave his fubject imperfect: the office which has been long delayed, is now completely executed; and the HISTORIAN OF THE OLD MAIDS examines their fituation in the most remote eras, draws each fecluded veftal into view,
difplays each venerable monaftic in the glare of day. Could the retired nun have anticipated the moment, when her calm repofe was thus rudely to be disturbed-Could the hermit, whose object was to be concealed from all mortal eyes, have fufpected that his retirement would be invaded, and his errors expofed in open day, how acute would have been their feelings, how poignant their terrors! but, on the other hand, could the panegyrift of virginity have fuppofed, that in the moft fashionable circles, and in the moft fceptical age, that his rude labours would have been read with admiration, a dorned by the most exquisite polish of a language in its higheft state of refinement, his heart would have glowed with the unexpected honour; he would have triumphed in reflecting, that he has to live again, even on the verge of oblivion. But we can now only afcertain their feelings by conjecture; sa that we must no longer wander in thefe pleafing but vifionary fhades, where the imagination embodies every rifing fancy, and gives to airy nothings the attendant frailties of huma nity.
Our author, in his enquiry, has taken a moft extenfive circuit, and has exhausted the philofophy, the history, and the morality of old maids. Perhaps he would have pleafed us more, if he had pleafed us lefs; but as this is, we believe, the only modern work on the fubject, as it is a system, and, like all other fyftems, must be the ftandard to which every thing of the kind is to be referred, we ought not to complain of its balk; if the author had been a German, three huge folios might have been the refult of his enquiries. When we fay, that this is the only modern work, we ought to have mentioned a collection of periodical effays, under the title of the Old Maid, in which there are some attempts,
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But the light occafional effufions of this author are not to be compared with the fyftematical enquiries of our prefent hif torian.
The effay is dedicated to Mrs. Carter, who, like Diana, is reverenced in a three-fold character, as poet, philofopher, and old maid. The Introduction follows, in which the hif torian of the Old Maids (we beg for particular reasons to be allowed to hail him with this title) gives a detail of his plan, in fuch a concise manner that we fhall beg leave to tranfcribe it.
'I devote myself, with a new fpecies of Quixotifm, to the fervice of ancient virginity. It is my intention, in the follow
ing work, to redrefs all the wrongs of the autumnal maiden, and to place her, if poffible, in a state of honour, content, and comfort.-I fhall begin with a few remarks on the extreme cruelty and injuftice of the farcaftic contempt fo frequently lavish ed on old maids in general, and of the tendency which fuch treatment has to afflict, exasperate, and debafe the character. I fhall proceed to point out the particular failings to which the fituation is peculiarly exposed; and afterwards dwell on the better qualities which it is calculated to promote. I shall then take a general furvey of the various neglect and honour, which appears to have been the lot of old maids in different ages of the world; and, examining the prefent condition of the fifterhood, I fhall conclude with topics of confolation and advice.'
Let us enquire a little farther into the caufe of this knighterrantry we shall give it in our author's own words, as a pleafing fpecimen of his manner.
It was my good fortune to be prefent at an entertaining converfation between a lively married lady, not infenfible to the burthen of a numerous family, whom I fhall call Euphrafia, and a very amiable, but rather elderly virgin, whom I fhall dif -tinguish by the name of Maranthe. After they had discussed, with much vivacity and good-humour, the different comforts and troubles of their refpective conditions; "If you old maids," faid Euphrafia, "had buta juft fenfe of all your advantages, you would be the moft fortunate of human creatures."-" No, indeed," replied the judicious and warm-hearted Maranthe, "the wife, I confefs, has her heavy load of anxieties, but the old maid is like a blasted tree in the middle of a wide common." The force of this fimile, and the pathetic tone with which it was uttered, by a woman of great fenfibility, with a very cultivated mind, made a deep impreffion both on my imagination and my heart, The idea has led me, in my folitary and thoughtful hours, to meditate on the fituation of the old maid; and I have faid to myfelf, in fuch philofophical reveries, what can I do for this blasted tree? I cannot, indeed, tranfplant, and cause it to bloffom; but I will at least endeavour to raife a little fence around it, which may take off, in some meafure, from its neglected appearance, and not fuffer the wild affes, who wander near it, to kick and wound it, as they fo frequently do, in the wanton gambols of their aukward vivacity.'
After fixing the period of old maidifm, which he does with fome ambiguity, and feeming reluctance, at about the age of forty, when, if not actually within the gates, he thinks each virgin on the threshold, he confiders the fituation and treatment of old maids. In his progrefs, he enlarges on the curiofity, credulity, affectation, envy, and ill-nature, of old maids; but at the fame time does ample juftice to their in
genuity, patience, and charity. Why not alfo to their stea dinefs, their tenderness, and good humour? Can we fufpec our author, after all his profeffions, to be an enemy in difguife? Of this imputation we must acquit him; for these qualities, though not profeffedly enlarged on, frequently occur in different parts of his work: we could have wished, however, that he had been more explicit on the subject, if it were only to have given a better appearance to his Table of Contents, the extent of the ftudies of many modern readers.
On all thefe different qualities he fometimes expatiates philofophically, and explains the caufes with precision. He fometimes illuftrates with pleafing and appofite ftories, and always entertains by the judgment of his remarks, and the elegance of his language. The most interefting parts of this volume are the little hiftories, by which the different characters are illuftrated. They are told with a happy discrimina. tion of circumstances, and, in the moft lively, entertaining manner. We are forry that their length prevents us from extracting any of them; but we were particularly pleased with the disappointments of Mrs. Winifred Wormwood, and the perplexities of mifs Harriet Afpin. We shall felect the following, not as the beft, but as the shortest defcription of a peculiar kind of old maids, viz. the cre dulous.
The credulous old Maid of the prefent time is one, who, inftead of feeing aparitions in the vacancy of air, fees a lover in every man by whom the is civilly accofted, and, inftead of hearing death-watches, hears a hint at least, if not an offer of marriage, in every common compliment that is cafually addreffed to her. I have known fome unfortunate ladies reduced to a deplorable condition by a very ferious mifconftruction of the most trivial and unmeaning civilities.
'Let me remark, however, that the credulous old maiden is feldom much affected by the lofs of one imaginary lover; the is, generally fpeaking, a moft active architect, fupremely skilled in the ingenious and happy art of building caftles in the air; and, as faft as one fabric of amorous illufion is demolished, fhe erects another in its place. Her life is a fcene of perpetual and ever-varying hope; and, as hope is one of the moft lively paffions, her temper is naturally gay. Her head may be conpared with one of thofe raree-fhew boxes, which are filled with fplendid and fucceffive pictures of one magnificent object: at the first peep you may difcern the temple of Hymen; the ftructure prefently vanishes, but difappears only to make room for a more captivating view, either of the temple itfelf, or of fome delightful avenue, which is terminated by the fame noble edi fice. The credulous old maid has a memory completely stored with hiftories of love at firft fight; the can recollect a thoufand