30 JANUARY 1847, Page 14


Tun social influence which is most universal in its empire is Love ; it is more universal even than the endeavour to repudiate it in show. The Roman poet begins his great philosophical work " On the Nature of Things " with that apostrophe to the Goddess of Love which is so exalted in its eloquence-

" Te, des, to fugiunt venti, to nubile co:di,

Adrentumque tuum; tibi snaveis dredala tellus Summittit flores; tibi rident sequora ponti, Placatumque nitet diffuso lumina ccelum. * • Illecebrisque tuis omnis natural animantum Te sequitur cupids, quo quamque inducer* pergis. Nam to solo potes tranquilly pace juvare Mortaleis."

And so it is and has been said ever since poets sang or lovers lived and spoke. Well is the influence known, though often impiously denied in genteel society. We silently ad- mit in spite of artificial refusals to recognize it. Not a poem can be written without love ; it is the cardinal point of every drama and every novel. If there is a dance or a party in saloon or kitchen, what moat potent passion rules there It is practically acknowledged by submission in palace and hut. A late eminent barrister is said to have declared that an act of Parliament could do anything: could it repeal the dominion of love ? Why, Honourable Members themselves know the influence and succumb to it. Of the six-hundred-and-fifty-eight, including the Speaker, each one knows what speeches he has made not in Parliament. Yea all, except, possibly, one or two : would any one of the rest change with either of those fireless souls? There is no Hansard of Love to appeal to, else we might no doubt quote endless declarations of the most fervent kind.; ay, and sincere enough too. Will Honourable Members repudiate those former declarations? Perhaps, indeed, such declarations are not always to be called "former " ; for there is many a one, on both sides of the House, below the Gallery or on Treasury bench, ig . . in grea.uum qui stope tuum se

Beficit demo devinctus volnere amoris."

We challenge contradiction, we defy denial. If we are wrong, let the Honourable House pass a resolution to the contrary. Why, responsible to a domestic sovereignty, who would dare to move it? What is the use, then, of going on as if this paramount and omnipresent power were a little school-girl folly, which grown men had better overlook. From the time when Marpessa, des- tined by Bing Evenus her father to wed Apollo-, eloped with Ides, the friend of Castor and Pollux, down to the last elopement in the West-end, parents and guardians have been taken by surprise at one of the most perpetually recurrent of social irregularities— the evasion of young ladies with the young gentlemen whom they liked best. Parents and guardians seem to be unteachable, or they would have learned, ages ago, that the power is not one either to be overlooked, or pooh-poohed, or contradicted with im- punity. • Nay, why should it? What is this love? It is the primordial power which makes of mortal man a race immortal ; and which gives to affection—the chief earthly happiness lying in fulfilled affection—its crowning means of expression. The best and most perfect human being is the one that will feel love most power- fully—the one in whom it will still best deserve the name of love. This, then, is not a power to decry or oppose, but to ac- knowledge, propitiate, and guide.

A more strictly social question occurs—Why do not children confide such matters to their natural guardians? For some rea- sons, no doubt, consisting in the variety of natures, and the greater or less tendency to reserve. But mainly because children are treated with severity of reproof in early youth, and with ridi- cule which is continued longer, and which estranges confidence even more than severity. What young girl, her heart stricken by that sacred power, instinctively knowing that it is true, con- scious that it is that mighty thing which the poets of the earth throughout all ages have celebrated, the mystery which exalts what it sways—what girl, knowing within herself the presence of that influence, will expose its first worship to parental ridiculer And if less naturally delicate, the growing man will be still more impatient of the authorized profanation. Therefore is it, mainly, that lovers are secret. Also they know, that according to the con- stitutional code of English families, 'tis, to borrow Mr. Bunn'. lyrics-

" Tis a question for a father To determine whether rather "

he won't arrange all about the marriage himself, with small re- gard to the likings of "the children." The story is an old one : it furnishes about thirty-three and one-third per cent of the pri- mary incidents for romances ; and yet parents continue, with all their might and main, furnishing the raw material for more ro- mance of real life. {net do they want for their children, but happiness ?—a question which has been asked, and perhaps will be asked, " in omne volubilis sevum." The elopement is the natural complement or counterpoise of such mistaken rigours. While those rigours last it will endure: they maintain it as one of our social institutions, often working ill, but sometimes, how- ever irregular, working felicitously. Some prophecy that it will be put an end to by the electric telegraph. The electric telegraph may, indeed, prevent lovers from gettino. to Gretna Green : it will hardly prevent their elop-

ing; arid it as we observed not long ago, a serious question for parents to determine, " whether rather," if their children do elope, they had better not be auffered to get to a Gretna Green as fast as possible.