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subject. We think they prohibit a great deal too much, and allow more than they ought; prohibit, where every just 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, or 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 misèries to an enormous extent, and call loudly for the interference of the legislative philosopher.
But to return to the question before us. The marriage of cou sins 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 for having cousins burnt, that venture to love one another. We are not for making any new laws on the subject. 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 ought 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 breeding in and in, between other animals, infallibly makes the breed degenerate, and ultimately puts an end to it, 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 consequence of the abdication of her father Pedro, now Emperor of Brazil, was affianced to her uncle Don Miguel; 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 cs 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 acknowledgments. 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
that if any of our readers have been admiring those passages, they may see how innocent they are, and how extremely wrong when they are amiable.
"Is not everybody aware," says the critic, "that female singers are like cats, full of spite to each other, and that they would willingly scratch each other's eyes out? Will anybody persuade us that there is a Signora among them who would not gladly give a fatal squeeze to the throat of any sister warbler of them all, as the notes come gurgling out, and the audience listen entranced? Who supposes for a moment that Pasta, the Queen of the Opera, who has now reigned in our hearts so long, can bear a rival near the throne? And if; after all, Pasta's letter of compliments should be said to be nothing more than a puff, it is still more unworthy of her. She has found sufficient favour from the public, and might reckon upon the continuance of a fair proportion of it, without resorting to so vulgar a method of extending notoriety. Puffing is, however, the vice and folly of the age-the established order of the day, and perhaps we are wrong in expecting an opera-singer to be above it but then, such an opera-singer as Pasta-the Siddons of the Italian stage-she who is associated in our minds with images of such lofty passion and dignified grandeur why should she be telling a long story about Sontag's engagements, Sontag's unconquerable modesty, and incredible good-nature? why this miserable attempt at feigned candour? why mix up her high reputation with the new wonder of the day, and thus attempt to catch a share of a rival's popularity? why this advertising (for it is nothing else) under false colours? It is our regard for Pasta, as our constant praise has always proved, which thus speaks out, and which makes us hate anything that would diminish it."
Now we do not conceive that the writer's regard for Madame Pasta need be diminished by this letter of her's; especially as, notwithstanding his high opinion of her, he thinks her capable of scratching people's eyes out, and squeezing the throat of any sister warbler. The advertisement is not to be denied. Madame Pasta, we suppose, would not wish to deny it; and if there looks something ordinary and sophisticate in bringing it in after this fashion, the circumstances with which she is surrounded might be taken into consideration; the influence of advisers; the custom, which she might be taunted for not following; and fifty other things, by which the natural simplicity of her heart would render her liable to be acted upon. But perhaps a doubt of its propriety never entered her head. She might think the public interested (as they are) in her benefit-night, and willing to hear anything she had to say about it. Her simplicity might mislead her in that way, as well as the other; and if something of an anxiety about the new singer crept in, a good as well as ill construction might surely be put upon the
mode in which she evinced it. The Mal y pense is a short cut to the reputation of cleverness, which the writer in question need not give into. It is easy to suppose, that because there is a great deal of jealousy and envy among singers, every singer is jealous, and the best of them so many furies. But there are good as well as bad sides even to our infirmities; and if we are to suppose that Madame Pasta felt jealous and uneasy about the new singer, there might be discerned, in the way in which she speaks of her, a haste to rid herself of so unworthy a feeling, granting even it was nothing higher and more generous; that is to say, provided anything can be higher, than such a determination following upon such a consciousness. But Madame Pasta, especially with her acknowledged superiority to help her, might have felt no such jealousy. It is said of Farinelli, that "free from every spice of jealousy," he furnished the singers Garducci, Carlani, and others, with an opportunity of shewing their talents in the presence of the King of Spain, "by whom they were richly rewarded." The jealousy even of an inferior singer can be extinguished in delight; if not for ever, at least during the enthusiasm of the moment; and ́ we feel certain, that there is a love of truth, and a delight in the delightfulness of others, which can put jealousy as much out of the question, as it is when we look at gems or the sunshine. Did the writer never hear the famous anecdote of Senesino (we believe it was), who in the part of a tyrant, before whom Farinelli was pleading, and whose business it was to turn a deaf ear to the petition, was so transported out of his character, that in the face of the whole house he clasped the singer in his arms? Has our critic heard of one Robin Hood, who would admit nobody into his crew, unless he had proved himself a better man than the leader? This may be thought out of all question with singers, and a fable in itself; but it shows at any rate what people think of the capabilities of our nature; and for our parts, we can believe, that a singer like Madame Pasta, whose merits arise from an exquisite sense of the true and beautiful, which they could not do if she had not faith in both, can feel truly generous towards a sister warbler, and applaud her with all her heart, as a friend tells us she seemed to be doing the other night at the theatre. Besides, as human