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VARIOUS, that the mind

Of desultory man, studious of change

And pleased with novelty, may be indulged.-Cowper.

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I PASSED an evening lately in company with a number of young persons, who had met together for the laudable purpose of spending a merry Christmas; and as mirth exercises a prescriptive right of sovereignty at this good old festival, every one came prepared to pay due homage to that pleasant deity. The party was opened with all the usual ceremonies; the tea was sipped, the cakes praised, and Sir Walter Scott's last novel criticised; and such was the good humour which prevailed, that although our fair hostess threw an extra portion of bohea into her tea-pot, not a breath of scandal floated among the vapours of that delightful beverage. An aged gentleman who happened to drop in, at first claimed the privilege, as "an old Revoluter," of monopolising the conversation, and entertained us with facetious tales, told the fiftieth time, of Tarleton's trumpeter, general Washington's white horse, and governor Mifflin's cocked hat, with occasional pathetic digressions relating to bear-fights and Indian massacres. The honest veteran, however, who was accustomed to retire after smoking one pipe, soon grew drowsy, and a similar affection, by sympathy I suppose, began to circulate among his audience, when our spirits received a new impulse from an accidental turn of the conversation from

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three-cornered hats and horses, to courtship and marriage. The relative advantages of married life and celibacy were discussed with great vivacity, and as there were a number of old bachelors and antiquated maidens present, who had thought deeply and feelingly on the subject, and were therefore able to discuss it with singular felicity, the ladies' side of the question had greatly the advantage. A gentleman who had reluctantly left the card-table to join the ladies, gave his opinion that life was like a game of cards-a good player was often eucred by a bad partner-he thought it wise, therefore, to play alone. Perhaps," said a fair miss," a good partner might assist you." "Thank you, madam," said he, "courting a wife is nothing more than cutting for partners- no one knows what card he may turn." My friend Absalom Squaretoes gravely assured us that he had pondered on this subject long and deeply, and it had caused him more perplexity than the banking system, or the Missouri question; that there were several ladies whom he might have ad, and whom, at one time or another, he had determined to marry, "but," continued he, arching his eyebrows with a dignity which the great Fadladeen might have envied, "the more I hesitated, the less inclination I felt to try the experiment, and I am now convinced that marriage is not the thing it is cracked up to be!" Miss Tabitha Scruple, a blooming maid of three score, confessed that, for her part, she was very much of Mr. Squaretoes' opinion-it was well enough for honest pains taking people to get married, but she could not see how persons of sentiment could submit to it-" unless, indeed," she admitted, "congenial souls could meet, and, without mercenary views, join in the tender bond-but men are so deceitful, one runs a great risk you know!"

Mr. Smoothtongue, the lawyer, who had waited to hear every other opinion before he gave his own, now rose, and informed the company that he would conclude the case, by stating a few points, which had occurred to him in the course of the argument. He began by informing us the question was one of great importance, and that much might be said on both sides.-("Twig the lawyer"! said Squaretoes.) He said that so great a man as lord Burleigh, treasurer to queen Elizabeth, had written ten rules of conduct, which he charged his son to observe and keep next to the ten laws of Moses, and that the very first of them related to the choice of a wife. He pointed out all the unfortunate husbands mentioned in history, from Adam down to George the fourth, and, after detailing the relative duties and rights of baron and femme, as laid down in Blackstone, concluded with sundry extracts from Pope, whose works he declared he set more store to than those of any writer in the English language, except Mr. Chitty.-He was interrupted by a young lady, who declared that Pope was a nasty censorious old bachelor-so he was. The lawyer replied, that as Mr. Pope's general character was not implicated in the present question, it

could not be properly attacked, nor was he called on to defend itand that, as long as his veracity was unimpeached, his testimony must be believed, which he offered to prove from Peake's Evidence,' if the lady desired him to produce authority. The lady assured him that she was greatly edified by his exposition of the law, and had no desire to see the books--but confessed that though she admired his speech very much, she was still at a loss to know which side he was on. "Madam," said he, with great gravity, "I admire marriage as a most excellent civil institution, but have no inclination to engage in it, as I can never consent to tie a knot with my tongue which I cannot untie with my teeth."

These opinions, coming from such high authority, seemed to settle the controversy, and the question was about to be carried nem. con. in favour of celibacy, when an unlucky Miss, whose cheeks, and lips, and teeth, reminded one of pearls, and cherries, and peaches, while all the loves and graces laughed in her eyes, uttered something in a loud whisper about "sour grapes," which created a sensation among a certain part of the company, of which you can form no adequate idea, unless you have witnessed the commotions of a bee hive. I now began to be seriously afraid that our Christmas gambols would eventuate in a tragical catastrophe-and anticipating nothing less than a general pulling of caps, was meditating on the propriety of saving my own curly locks, by a precipitate retreat. Fortunately, however, another speaker had taken the floor, and before any open hostilities were committed, drew the attention of the belligerents, by a vivid description of Fiddlers' Green. This, he assured us, was a residence prepared in the other world for maids and bachelors-where they were condemned as a punishment for their lack of good fellowship in this world, to dance together to all eternity. Here was a new field for speculation. A variety of opinions were hazarded; but as the ladies all talked together, I was unable to collect the half of them. Some appeared to regard such a place as a paradise, while others seemed to consider it as a pandemonium. The ladies desired to know whether they would be provided with good musick and good partners; and I could overhear some of the gentlemen calculating the chances of a snug loo-party, in a back room. On these points our informant was unable to throw any light. The general impression seemed to be that the managers of this everlasting ball would couple off the company by lot, and that no appeal could be had from their decision. Miss Scruple declared that she had a mortal aversion to dancing, though she would not object to leading off a set occasionally with particular persons; and that she would rather be married a half a dozen times, than be forced to jig it with any body and every body. Mr. Skinflint thought so long a siege of capering would be rather expensive on pumps, and wished to know who was to suffer. Mr. Squaretoes had no notion of using pumps; he thought moccasins would do; he was for cheap fixings and

strong. Miss Fanny Flirt was delighted with the whole plan, provided they could change partners; for she could imagine no punishment more cruel than to be confined for ever to a single beau. Mr. Goosy thought it would be expedient for to secure partners in time, and begged Miss Demure to favour him with her hand for an etarnal reel. Little Sophy Sparkle, the cherry lipped belle, who had nearly been the instrument of kindling a war as implacable as that of the Greeks and Trojans, seemed to be afraid of again giving offence; but, on being asked her opinion, declared that it was the most charming scheme she ever heard, and that she would dance as long as she could stand, with any body or nobody rather than not dance at all.

During all this time I was lolling over the back of a chair,—a lazy habit which with many others I have caught since my third sweetheart turned me off-and was rolling and twisting the pretty Sophy's handkerchief-for I can't be idle-into every possible form and shape. I was startled into consciousness by the dulcet voice of my fair companion, as she exclaimed, "la! Mr. Drywit how melancholy you are! how can you look so cross when every body else is laughing? pray what do you think of the grand ball at Fiddlers' Green?" "I never trouble myself, madam, to think about things which do not concern me." "Oh dear! then you have no idea of going there?" "Not I indeed,-I go to no such places.""And not expecting to inhabit the paradise of bachelors it is a matter of indifference to you how your friends enjoy themselves?" "No indeed; I sincerely hope that you may caper into each others good graces, and romp yourselves into the best humour imaginable with the pains and pleasures of "single blessedness;" as for my single self, I intend, unless some lady shall think proper to stand in her own light, to alter my condition." Having uttered this heroic resolution I made my bow and retired. But the conversation of the evening still haunted my imagination, and as I sunk to sleep, general Washington's white horse, Sophy Sparkle, and Fiddlers' Green alternately occupied my brain, until the confused images settling into a regular train of thought, produced the following


I thought that the hour of my dissolution had arrived, and I was about to take my departure to the world of spirits. The solemnity of the event which was taking place did not affect me, however, as it would have done, had the same circumstance occurred in reality; for my mind was entirely filled with the conversation of the previous evening, and I thought, felt, and died like a true bachelor. As I left the clay tenement which I had inhabited so long, I could not avoid hovering over it for a moment, to take a parting view of the temple which had confined my restless spirit, and for which, I must confess, I had a high respect. I could now perceive that time had made ravages in the features which had lately been mine, that I had not been aware of while living, and

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