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Chronicles of Gretna Green
Chapter V


Poverty in relation to the married state.—Lord Hardwieke's Marriage Act, which put an end to Fleet Marriages, and gave birth to those of Gretna.—Disquisition on Gretna Marriages.

An apophthegm by Coleridge writ,
Which is not bad, of course:
Lord Hardwieke's character for wit,
And other fit discourse.

"Shew me one couple,'" said S. T. Coleridge, "unhappy on account of their limited circumstances, and I will shew you ten who are wretched from other causes."

Riches and poverty are relative circumstances depending on an infinitude of surrounding contingencies. One man is rich on a thousand a year, whilst another is poor (or fancies himself so) on ten thousand. It depends on the natural disposition of the individual, his covetousness, his insatiable desire for more wealth than he possesses, and consequently his belief that he must be poor, since his idea of what it is to be rich is far above the state of his actual revenues or his ambition, which always looks upwards, and so, by comparison, makes him appear low. The idea a man has of his really being poor, also depends on his position in society—a position which perhaps makes his expenses, in order that he may keep up a standard shew of splendour, greater than his income, although that income may appear liberal. He who moves in the first circles of society, cannot do so without spending as much, or appearing to spend as much as those acquaintances at whose houses he visits; at least, if he does not spend as much, or does not appear to spend as much, he is looked upon as a poor man by them, and by himself too. If he has ten thousand a year, some people will be disposed to pronounce him a wealthy man ; but if he finds that he cannot maintain his rank in society without certain outgoings to the amount of fifteen or twenty thousand, in fact, he is in reality a poor man. But if, with his ten thousand a year, his necessary expenses, in order to make a sufficient shew of comfort amongst his neighbours, need not exceed five thousand, or half his income, why the same man in that ease, not only by those neighbours but by himself as well, is looked upon as decidedly rich.

To the end, then, that every person should feel rich they ought to mix only with comparatively poor friends, since the comparison will tend to that effect; but there is that foolish vanity in human nature, which impels every one to aim at rising above his circumstances, to associate himself with richer people than he is, because then he thinks, that by identifying himself with such rich persons, the world will think him equally rich also. This course is merely a course of vanity, pride, and discontent; and in order to pander to these vile passions, and to maintain a respectability to which they are not entitled, they will submit to privations at home in secret, they will run into debt, swindle or cheat their tradespeople, and often leave their children penniless when they die.

If people would only learn to be content with what they have, to banish this criminal ambition from their minds, and to be pleased to seek their associates amongst those whose fortunes are nearly on a par with their own, they would appear fully as respectable in the eyes of the world, they would be just as much beloved by those about them, and they would be a great deal happier in their own consciences.

The ambition which prompts us to rise by the activity of our talents, and by the industrious exercise of our natural powers, is an honourable ambition, highly praiseworthy, beautiful for our friends to look upon, .and satisfactory for our own minds to contemplate. It is the ambition of pride, accompanied with idleness and envy which we condemn.

The poverty which is the most wounding, is, where people of rank and education, who, by their birth and former position, are entitled to move in a certain elevated circle, but who, through some untoward event have been deprived of the wealth which they once possessed, and who are consequently now enforced, with much inconvenience to themselves, to keep up former appearances as much as they can, that they may not relinquish powerful connexions which may still do them benefit; or else they are obliged to the painful humiliation of descending from that circle which is their right, and of putting up with that which is inferior and uncongenial.

Those who ruin themselves by their ostentation or extravagance, and bring such a reverse on their own heads thereby, only meet with their proper deserts, and scarcely deserve pity; but it is where the change has been brought about by the villany of others, or even by misfortunes unforeseen and non-resistible,— where the persons brought down are totally incapable of assisting themselves by business in the great world, through reason of their former secluded, luxurious, or refined education; here, in such a case as this, the deprivation becomes one of peculiar pain to the sufferer, and one deserving of sympathy from all others.

But Coleridge says, that for one instance of domestic unhappiness from limited circumstances, he could produce ten of wretchedness from other causes.

It cannot be doubted that poverty in the married state is a great sourer of the temper. ' The not being able to satisfy our wants, is a fact that will naturally enough excite the feeling of discontent within us, although, at the same time, we know that we are but aggravating the catalogue of our former sins by allowing such a wickedness to .come over us. And when we become peevish by being unable to satisfy these wants, hoping that they be just ones, though they are not always so, nothing happens more readily than the venting of our ill-humour upon those persons who are nearest to us, and these persons are too often the different members of our household.

Where, however, the gods have united in the bands of holy matrimony two dispositions that accord well with each other, that agree with each other, that possess a similarity of taste, or a similar turn ' of thinking, and that find pleasure in each others society, the pinchings of want, or the pinchings of everything else, never can breed that domestic misery which otherwise is so likely to arise.

In the society of those we love, and who love us, we find alleviation to every vexation from without; and it is only where people are not well matched, that the peevishness created by vexations from without are vented upon each other in the shape of hasty observations and short answers.

We are of opinion that the happiness of the married state depends more in the fact of having the tempers well matched, than in the possession of any and all other advantages besides, not excepting rank or riches. It is even true, that a decidedly bad temper, if only united to another that suits it, will produce harmony; and it is also true, that a sweet disposition, if mated with one with which it does not accord, will produce misery, whilst the event would have been very different had it only found one which happened to chime in with its peculiar nature. Even two bad tempers coming together, will live in harmony, if their propensities, turns of thought, likes and dislikes, chance to conform themselves to each other ; whilst two abstractedly good ones, mild, gentle, lively, will be at everlasting jars, when it so befalls that they are not so matched.

This consentaneity is independent of riches or poverty, or anything besides, and will bring happiness when nothing else can.

Gentle reader, do you agree with us?

But, from generalities, we will go to Gretna Green, and discourse of particularities.

Albeit marriages have been celebrated in this parish, and other parts of Scotland, after the mode here set forth, for an immense long space of time, yet the English have resorted thither more or less at different periods for convenience, as the constrictions of the laws of their country rendered agreeable : at one period, when the law of England was lenient, and gave facilities, they stood in no need of the usage of a foreign territory; at another, when a new statute threw impediments in their way, they eschewed them, and fled over the Border. In the Commons1 House of these realms, on the 17th day of March in the year 1835, Dr. Lushington spoke as follows on the subject in hand, to wit:—"By the ancient law of this country (England) as to marriages," said he, "a marriage was good, if celebrated in the presence of two witnesses, though without the intervention of a priest. But then came the decision of the Council of Trent, rendering the solemnization by a priest necessary. At the Reformation, we refused to accept the provision of the Council of Trent; and, in consequence, the question was reduced to this state—that a marriage by civil contract was valid ; but there was this extraordinary anomaly in the law, that the practice of some of our civil courts required, in certain instances, and for some purposes, that the marriage should be celebrated in a particular form. It turned out, that a marriage by civil contract was valid for some purposes, while for others, such as the descent of the real property to the heirs of the marriage, it was invalid. Thus, a man in the presence of witnesses, accepting a woman for his wife, per verba de jjrasenti, the marriage was valid, as I have said, for some purposes; but for others, to make it valid, it was necessary that it should be celebrated in facie ecclesiee. This was the state of the law till the passing of the Marriage Act in 1754.'"

Now this Act of 1754 certainly had the effect of abolishing irregular and clandestine connexions; but, as it compelled all persons, of whatever denomination, with the exception of Jews and Quakers, to conform to the ritual of the Church of England, it laid an onerous constraint on those who dissented from that said church in opinion, a restraint which was only remedied by the law passed during the session of parliament in 1836. It was the old and natural feeling amongst the people, that the presence of a man in holy orders added a greater measure of sanctity to the ceremony, and tended to render the union more sacred and indissoluble; and this belief was the cause that set abroach the first framing of the new law.

The motives of this enactment were thoroughly moral and excellent; but like many other theories which are concocted in the snug study, it did not work out of doors practically exactly as its originators in-doors had intended. This is the case with many a beautiful theory, many a fine mechanical in lord Hardwicke's vention, and many a scientifically constructed machine. Mathematical theorems, logical inductions, and sapient dogmata, are admirable to argue upon, and truly valuable as data for the purpose of working out obscure problems ; but unless these problems, apparently so perfect to look at, can be proved of practical utility when applied to men and things, in contradistinction to their being only speculations of the mind, they will never fulfil the praiseworthy objects of their framers.

Lord Hardwicke was, perhaps, the greatest magistrate that this country ever had,—says the Earl of Chesterfield of him.

He presided in the court of chancery above twenty years, and in all that time none of his decrees were reversed. This, most assuredly, is an irrefutable proof of the acuteness of his perception of consequences, of his rare discernment, and of his solidity of judgment, especially when we are further told that their perfect justice was never questioned.

Though avarice, further observes the Earl, was his ruling passion, he never was suspected of any kind of corruption; an unusual and meritorious instance of virtue and self-denial, under the influence of such a craving, insatiable, and increasing passion.

He had great and clear parts ; understood, loved, ,and cultivated the Belles Lettres. He was an agreeable, eloquent speaker in Parliament, but not without some little tincture of the pleader.

Men arc apt to mistake, or at least, to seem to mistake, their own talents, in hopes perhaps, of misleading others to allow them that which they are conscious they do not possess. Thus Lord Hardwicke valued himself more upon being a great minister of state, which he certainly was not, than upon being a great magistrate, which he certainly was.

And it is a strange thing that men should, in this perverse manner, run away from the talents which nature has given them for their adornment, which they indeed would be, if they were only estimated according to their value, and cultivated and brought forth as they might and ought to be, in order to run after the talents which belong to other men, which again, in other men, are also held lightly of, that they themselves may peradventure essay to discover to the world the endowments which pertain to their neighbours. In this ungrateful manner, we most of us go on despising that with which we ourselves are gifted, just that we may satisfy a craving after that which is not our own. It is a most foolish and shortsighted policy too, if we only look into it; for it is certain that we are much more likely to excel in those paths of learning or genius for which nature at our birth destined us, than we ever can in those for which we have no innate ability; and therefore it is plain, that if we attempt to display the works for which we have no talent, and neglect those for which we have, we are going the very way to publish our weakness, rather than our strength.

Thus, he who is not born a poet, if he persists in writing metre, betrays his inability; and he who is not born with the pathetic soul of harmony, if he tries to perforin a piece of sentiment and feeling, immediately betrays his inability likewise ; whereas, had these two short-sighted geniuses reversed their attempts, and cultivated the real benefactions which Providence had conferred on them, they would probably both have risen to a high degree of celebrity

Lord Hardwicke's notions were all clear, though none of them were absolutely great; but this very clearness ensured the success of his measures, after they had been planned by him.

Good order and domestic details were his proper department; for he had not naturally a bold, ambitious, or stirring temperament. The great and shining parts of government, though not above his acuteness to conceive, were above his timidity to undertake ; and notwithstanding that he was a man of business for a long series of years, still, all this pjiblic training could not alter the original turn of his mind. A more ambitious spirit would possibly have made .himself more conspicuous for the time, before the eyes of his country, but would scarcely have achieved greater good in the end.

By great and lucrative employments during the course of nearly one-third of a century, and by still greater parsimony, he acquired an immense fortune, and established his numerous family in advantageous posts and profitable alliances.-

Though lie had been solicitor and attorney-general, he was by no means what is called a prerogative lawyer. He loved the constitution, and maintained the just prerogative of the crown, but without stretching it to the oppression of the people.

He was mild and humane in his disposition, rather seeking to mitigate the doom of offenders, when he held their sentences in his own hands, than trying to turn the whole -wrath of a jury, or the iron rigidity of the law, upon them ; so that when, by his former employments, he was obliged to prosecute state criminals, he discharged that duty in a very different manner from that of most of his predecessors, who were too justly called " the blood-hounds of the crown."

In his conversation he was communicative and instructive, because he was open, free; and unreserved ; in his manner he was pleasant and cheerful, because he was not a man of disappointments, as most of the inordinately ambitious are; he was averse to great and noisy manifestations of display, such as some public characters do not shrink from, because he was retiring, quiet, and even timid on some occasions; and, with the exception of avarice, which, however, in no wise extended to a discreditable verge, he was free from the tainture of any reprehensible vice.

This was Lord Chancellor Hardwicke; a nobleman who, though he never could become a great minister, as he mistakenly essayed to become, nevertheless shone forth as one of the most astute magistrates that Britain ever produced.

Perceiving the anomalies in the old marriage law of England, and the moral evils attendant thereon, he turned his thoughts to the framing of something that might obviate these things, and bring a higher idea of sanctity on this institution so lightly held in estimation. As mentioned by Dr. Lushington, the validity of the compact did not insist on the cooperation of a clergyman; but, we have before observed, the ancient and rooted feeling of the people was, that the agency of a priest in holy orders added a more perfect measure of sanctity to the ceremony, and tended to render the union, especially amongst those who are much wrought upon by externals, more sacred and indissoluble ; and this belief was the cause of the Fleet marriages, and other clandestine marriages in London, of which a recent writer has given the following account:

"Among the singular customs of our forefathers, one of the most remarkable was matrimony, solemnized, we were going to say, but the fittest word would be ' performed,' by parsons in the Fleet prison. These clerical functionaries were disreputable and dissolute men, mostly prisoners for debt, who, to the great injury of public morals, dared to insult the dignity of their holy profession, by marrying in the precincts of the Fleet prison, and at a minute's notice, any persons who might present themselves for that purpose. No questions were asked; no stipulations made, except as to the amount of the fee for the serviee, or the quantity of liquor to be swallowed on the occasion. It not unfrequently happened, indeed, that the clergyman, the clerk, the bridegroom, and the bride, were drunk at the very time the ceremony was performed. These. disgraceful members of the saered calling had their 4 plyers,' or ' barkers,' who, if they caught sight of a man and woman walking together along the streets of the neighbourhood, pestered them as the Jew clothesmen in the present day tease the passers-by in Holywell-Street, with solicitations, not easily to be shaken off, as to whether they wanted a clergyman to marry them.

"One of the most notorious of these scandalous officials was a man of the name of George Keith, a Scotch minister, who, being in desperate circumstances, set up a marriage-office in May-Fair, and subsequently in the Fleet, and carried on the same trade which has since been practised at Gretna Green. This man's wedding-business was so extensive and so scandalous, that the Bishop of London found it necessary to excommunicate him. It has been said of this person and ' his journeyman that one morning, during the Whitsim holidays, they united a greater number of couples than had been married at any ten churches within the bills of mortality. Keith lived till he was eighty-nine -•years of age, and died in 1735. The Rev. Dr. Gaynham, another infamous functionary, was familiarly called the Bishop of Hell.

"Many of the early Fleet weddings," observes Mr. Burn, who has recently published a curious work on the matrimonial registers of these parsons, "were really performed at the chapel of the Fleet; but as the practice extended, it was found more convenient to have other places, within the rules of the Fleet, (added to which, the Warden was compelled by act of parliament not to suffer them,) and, thereupon, many of the Fleet parsons and tavern-keepers in the neighbourhood, fitted up a room in their respective lodgings or houses as a chapel! The parsons took the fees, allowing a portion to the plyers, &c.; and the tavern-keepers, besides sharing in the fees, derived a profit from the sale of liquors which the wedding-party drank. In some instances the tavern-keepers kept a parson on the establishment, at a weekly salary of twenty shillings! Most of the taverns near the Fleet kept their own registers, in which (as well as in their own books) the parsons entered the weddings." Some of these scandalous members of the highest of all professions were in the habit of hanging signs out of their windows with the words ' Weddings cheap here.'

"Keith, of whom we have already spoken, seems to have been a barefaccd profligate ; but there is something exceedingly affecting in the stings of conscience and forlorn compunction of one Walter Wyatt, a Fleet parson, in one of whose pockct-books, of 1716, are the following sccrct (as he intended them to be) outpourings of remorse :—

"'Give to every man his due, and learn y* way of truth.'

"'This advice cannot be taken by those that are conccrned in Fleet marriages; not so much as ye Priest can do y* thing y1 it is just and right there, unless he designs to starve. For by lying, bullying,-and swearing, to extort money from the silly and unwary people, you advance your business and gets ye pelf, which always wastes like snow in sun shiney day.'

"'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The marrying in the Fleet is the beginning of eternal woe.'

" If a clerk or plyer tells a lye, you must vouch it to be as true as ye Gospel, and if disputed, you must affirm with an oath to ye truth of a downright damnable falsehood.—Virtus laudatur & algef.'

"'May God forgive me what is past, and give me grace to forsake such a wicked place, where truth and virtue can't take place unless you are resolved to starve.'

"But alas, for the' weakness of human nature ! This very man, whose sense of his own disgrace was so deep, and apparently so contrite, was one of the most notorious, active, and money-making of all the Fleet parsons. His practice was chiefly in taverns, and he has been known to earn nearly sixty pounds in less than a month.

"With such facilities for marriage, and with such unprincipled ministers, it may easily be imagined that iniquitous schemes of all sorts were perpetrated under the name of Fleet weddings. The parsons were ready, for a bribe, to make false entries in their registers, to ante-date weddings, to give fictitious certificates, and to marry persons who would declare only the initials of their names. Thus, if a spinster or widow in debt desired to cheat her creditors by pretending to have been married before the debt was contracted, she had only to present herself at one of the marriage-houses in the Fleet, and upon payment of a small additional fee to the clergyman, a man could instantly be found on the spot to act as bridegroom for a few shillings, and the worthless chaplain could find a blank place in his Register for any year desired, so that there was no difficulty in making the necessary record. They would also, for a consideration, obliterate any given entry;

The sham bridegrooms, under different names, were married over and over again, with the full knowledge of the clerical practitioners. If, in other instances, a libertine desired to possess himself of any young and unsuspecting woman, who would not yield without being married, nothing was easier than to get the service performed at the Fleet without even the specification of names, so that the poor girl might with impunity be shaken off at pleasure. Or, if a parent found it necessary to legitimatize his natural children, a Fleet parson could be procured to give a marriage-certificate at any required date. In fact, all manner of people presented themselves for marriage at the unholy dens in the Fleet taverns,—runaway sons and daughters of peers,—Irish adventurers and foolish rich widows,—clodhoppers and ladies from St. Giles's,—footmen and decayed beauties, soldiers and servant-girls,—boys in their teens and old women of seventy,—discarded mistresses, ' given away' by their former admirers to pitiable and sordid bridegrooms,—night wanderers and intoxicated apprentices,—men and women having already wives and husbands,— young heiresses conveyed thither by force, and compelled, in ter-rorem, to be brides,—and common labourers, and female paupers, dragged by parish-officers to the profane altar, stained by the relies of drunken orgies, and reeking with the fumes of liquor and tobacco! Nay, it sometimes happened that the ' contracting parties, would send from houses of vile repute for a Fleet parson, who could readily be found to attend even in such places, and under such circumstances, and there unite the couple in matrimony !

"Similar transactions were carried on at the Chapel in May Fair, the Mint in the Borough, the Savoy, and other places about London, until the public scandal became so great, especially in consequence of the marriage at the Fleet of the Hon. Henry Fox with Georgiana Caroline, eldest daughter of the Duke of Richmond, that at length,—not, however, without much and zealous opposition,—a Marriage Bill was passed, enacting that any person solemnizing matrimony in any other than a church or public chapel, without banns or licence, should, on conviction, be adjudged guilty of felony, and be transported for fourteen years, and that all such marriages should be void. This act was to take effect from the 25th of March, 1754."

Although Gretna Green was famous long before this period, as hereinbefore mentioned, yet the rigidity of this law did much toward driving people thither to evade its strictures. Gretna is much beholden unto my Lord Hardwicke; and although the act of 1836 aimed a fearful shaft northward, by the facilities it introduced into England, still the fame of Gretna is so well established, and there is so sweet a prejudice in its favour, that most romantic runaways (for they are always romantic) would rather fly over the border and pay handsomely for it, than listen to the persuasion of an English magistrate, although he should promise to do the business as cheap as the barber promises to shave his customers—that is, for nothing, and a glass of drink into the bargain.

In the year 1771 Pennant passed through the parish, when on his Scotch tour; and he observes of it then bits.' This was seventeen years after Lord Hardwieke's Act of 1754, and the place seems to have been in the full bloom of its celebrity.

Dr. Dibdin, when engaged in his "Northern Tour," also passed this way; and his remarks are worthy transcription here, both as illustrative of a true History of Gretna Green, (as this certainly is,) and as purveying palatable dainties for the reader's fancy. As he journeyed along the road which has been already described for the benefit of all lovers that have travelled that way and have never seen, for reasons given, to wit, that their eyes are always directed in the carriage instead of out, but which both ourselves and Dr. Dibdin really did see, he speaketh of the driver's exultation as they neared the border, videlicet,—"'Yon,' said the postboy, 4 yon is Gretna Green. We heard it without any extravagant emotion; and, although January and May may be often seen hastening "thither in the same conveyance, with countenances not quite so composed as were our own, yet a father and a daughter would necessarily approach that far-famed spot, or rather mansion, impelled by curiosity alone, to hear of unions which are at once a disgrace to our laws and a scandal upon the moral character of both countries."

With much indignation he continues: — "The spot is the smuggler's cave, where no officer dare enter to seize the purloined property; it is the too frequent receptacle of passion without principle, and of cajolery without one spark of common sympathy." The honest indignation of. Dr. Dibdin is not overwrought, notwithstanding it may appear somewhat vehement.

When young persons are urged thitherward by the uncontrollableness of an intense, generous, disinterested affection, some excuses may be pleaded for the step, although, of course, it cannot be strictly justified; but where it is made a convenience of, for the sake of sordid gain, without a spark of affection in the case, or where it is done through passion without principle, or cajolery without sympathy, or for selfish reasons in defiance of all moral rectitude, then, indeed, the act becomes one of inexcusable turpitude.

According to the ancient law, it was merely necessary that two persons who intended matrimony should mention their determination before two others, who acted as witnesses, and this simple form constituted a binding marriage. Thus it was, that the ease with which candidates for the holy estate could formerly compass their desire in England, rendered it not requisite that they should repair to Scotland or elsewhere.

But, we are told that this laical mode of procedure at last attracted the consideration of the clergy, as being too profane a way of celebrating an act of union which had been planned in Heaven and first instituted in Paradise. The Church, therefore, enjoined, that from thenceforward the intervention of one of their ordained body should be in no wise dispensed with, seeing that it would tend to the glory of God, and the good of their own souls.

We do not say that this change was brought about through the desire of the Church to usurp into its own hands a greater share-of power over the people at large than it had previously possessed; but this decision, so strongly pronounced, and so positively enforced by the ecclesiastical powers of the time, certainly engrossed a far greater measure of domination over the laity, than before it could consistently lay claim to. The priesthood had established to its members the privilege of passing whithersoever they might choose, without demanding permission, and without taking denial; but it was now the duty of the people—a duty imposed with the most irresistible authority—not to dare entering upon any new connexion in life without first obtaining the Church's approval and a priest's assistance.

As, at the Reformation, we abjured all allegiance to the Pontiff of Rome, we cast from us this law, along with a thousand others at one throw, and then it happened that the marriage ceremony merely became what is understood by a civil contract. But the notion that something of a holy, exalted, and religious nature pertained inseparably to this compact, was always so deeply enrooted in the minds of the English, that unless the active concurrence of some official could be procured, the consciences of the newly wedded pair could not rest assured that . the blessing of Heaven was upon them.

Dr. Dibdin, after having visited Gretna, and having had an opportunity of seeing the real truth with his own eyes, and not resting upon the vague, popular, or false reports of others, expresses himself-very warmly on the reprehensibleness of the system. To this he was led by his high sense of right and his detestation of wrong; and, in speaking of the chief establishment in the place, he exclaims :—

"It furnishes the knave with a cloak," as when a crafty villain shall hasten thither bent on making some connexion of base self-interest, covered with the hypocritical vesture of a sincere and ardent lover— " and the assassin with a dagger," as he indeed is an assassin who hardens the confidence of his innocent prey, " which may not be wrested from him till the death of his victim or himself."

Certes, there is a great deal of veracity in this. and we never will attempt to palliate the iniquity of many who repair to that village for such motives. In the next sentence he gives the lie direct to William Shakspere.

"Of all species of daggers," says he, "speaking ' daggers are the most terrible."

We mean no disparagement to the worthy doctor ; at the same time, we must say, that we would rather he had not quoted Shakspere, merely for the sake of contradicting him. Surely it is a dereliction of allegiance to the prince of writers, to whom all subsequent scribblers owe fealty, and whose subjects they become the moment they put pen to paper, to deny his words point-blank in so positive a manner.

"Speak daggers, but use none," says the literary monarch ; and yet here is a citizen of the republic who tells us not to speak daggers, because speaking daggers are more terrible or deadly than any other daggers whatever; and if he counsels us not to use speaking daggers, he infers that if we employ any, we shall do less evil by at once seizing upon coldsteel.

Of coursc he does not advise us to use metal weapons—he was too moral and amiable a man for that; but he only assures us that a slanderous, sarcastic, and abusive tongue, can cut a deeper gash than ever a blade of well-whetted steel can do.

"Every day may receive a wound from its point," he continues; and we conclude that he refers to the possible recriminations that may be bandied backward and forward between man and wife, as soon as they shall discover that they did a foolish thing by running blindly to Gretna ; and especially at such time when they begin to repent of the step. Then they will be awakened to the truth of our excellent motto;—then they will see that those who " marry in haste 11 have afterwards to " repent at leisure ;"—and then they will cease never to cut and thrust at each other with poignant speeches.

Every day may receive a wound from its point, and every day induce the wish, or the prayer, that such wound may prove mortal; but years succeed to years of bitter taunt and inhuman reproach.

"Here, peradventure, is the fountain head, the Marah, of the bitterest waters that- flow."

In sober truth, these passages ought to be enough to terrify any elopers from running over the border ; the vivid picture of retribution which they so ardently essay to depict, might serve to recall lovers, labouring under the delirium of passion, to sense, to reflection, and to the determination of abandoning an enterprise so hazardous.

"Behold this far-famed mansion," he observes, when turning to the marrying hostelrie of which we have heretofore spoken, which, at least, has nothing in its exterior (except the chimneys) that can be called seductive. Its attractiveness is, questionless, from within.

"No particular curiosity seemed to be excited, as, on turning a little out of our way to the right, we alighted at the door. The waiter's movements were measured and sedate. The ' cunning man ' had had no intimation of our arrival. No messenger, mounted on quadruped, breathless from the swiftness of his pace, and dust and pebbles whirled around him, had preceded, to announce the almost instant arrival of the principal figurantes in the hymeneal scene. Nothing necessarily, of this kind, could precede our approach.'

From these latter observations we learn, that it was then the usual custom with those who were hastening northward to perpetrate matrimony here, to despatch a precursor to Gretna Green, in order that he should have everything in readiness by the time the "principal figurantes" arrived; an arrangement designed to lose no time, and to secure the tying of the knot before any hostile parties could overtake them and stop the proceedings.

They manage these things better now: and from what we have already said in reference to the vigilance, activity, wide-awakeness, and preparedness of Linton and Co., the reader will understand, that to such a pitch of systematic readiness have they ordered things, that no precursor is necessary to hurry forward for the sake of making them trim and light their lamps.

We have shewn, that either John Linton in actual self, or else the true son of his body, always stands with his lamp full of oil and well replenished, ready for the coming of the bridegroom, at any hour whatsoever, whether of the day or of the night; and that such bridegroom could at any time get married in five minutes after his arrival, even although he had not sent any forerunner to prepare the blacksmith or other official for his coming.

In the days of which we speak, however, matters had not attained to that nicely-arranged pitch of clockwork to which they have latterly been brought; so that, if it be that messengers were at all needed in Dr. Dibdin's day, they are scarcely requisite now.

"As we had no business to transact," he remarks very significantly, "the man quickly left us to ourselves, and to our own unassisted meditations; not, however, without telling us to enter the apartment in which the nuptials of the Prince of Capua with Miss Smyth, and of Mr. Sheridan with Miss Grant, had been solemnized. The room had a very commonplace aspect in paper and decoration. There should have been a print of Wilkie's Penny Wedding, instead of Tarn O'Shanter ; and another of Two Tigers fighting ! the latter, methinks, in many instances too metaphorically true."

We cannot agree that the Penny Wedding of Sir David would in any way give the visitor a correct idea of the economy or otherwise that attends those who marry at Gretna. It is the notion of hundreds who never went within a railroad day's journey of the parish, that it is the cheapest possible place for lovers to repair to ; and even those who have actually been in the house itself, have departed away with a greater thought of economy than is usually discovered to be the real truth by those who make the experiment: but when we come to treat of the expenses of marrying at Gretna Green—a topic so important as to demand a whole chapter to itself—wc shall duly enlighten the astonished reader here anent.


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