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SPIRIT OF THE, MAGAZINES.
FROM THE LITERARY PANORAMA.
On the Marriage Manufactory at Gretna Green.
YOU have paid considerable attention, in several articles which have appeared in the Panorama, to ceremonies of marriage practised among different nations; but you have omitted a remarkable marriage-establishment which flourishes in our own country, to the great emolument of the cere mony-performing priest; of the postilions and chaise masters on the road, leading to his residence; and of a numerous corps of vedettes, ever vigilant on behalf of happy fugitives from parental and guardian oppression to the land of hymeneal liberty and expectancy.
Such is, most assuredly, the famous marriage manufactory at Gretna Green! Ah, Gretna Green! the place of places, for joining of hands, and determining under what aspects lovers, on whom parental dotage has frowned, may, nevertheless, anticipate the happiest of conjunctions! The subject deserves a treatise. Many an octavo has been filled with less interesting matter than this combines; many a quarto, many a folio, has been written and published, too, on a less prolifick subject than Gretna Green! It is impossible then, most surely, that you, Mr. Editor, should grudge it a place in your well filled pages.
On every subject, the importance of which is enhanced by its dignity, the advantages of a regular and orderly manner of discussion is well known and acknowledged by all sound logicians, whether they be polemicks, or pacificks; whether historians or essayists; whether they practise in the pulpit, at the bar, in the senate, or at Lloyd's coffee house; whether defending the British constitution, or delighting an auditory at one of our publick institutions. I shall therefore treat the article under consideration with due distinction, as manifested by an honourable number of divisions.
In the first place, Of the Geographical Situation of Gretna.
This village is situated about a quarter of a mile beyond the river Sark, which divides Scotland from England. It is distant from London three hundred and thirteen miles; which distance has been performed on the wings of love, with the assistance of frequent relays of post horses, in twenty-nine hours. On the right hand, at the entrance into the town, stands a publick house, which, by the courtesy of the country, is denominated an inn. It is kept by Willy Johnson and Peggy Morgan. They are man and wife; but, according to the Scottish custom, the latter retains her maiden name.
This inn is not without tolerable accommodations; but the most distinguished part of the premises is a good sized bed room decently furnished. Secondly, of the Language of Gretna, and of the Roads leading to it.
I must premise, that this is not explicitly either Scotch or English; but a kind of border dialect. The inhabitants have certain phrases that imply victory to the first post-chaise which drives furiously across the Sark; and
import as much as- gave the old folks the slip!"-" so many miles ahead!"" beat 'em by two stages!". "plenty of money!"" an heiress!" -Or otherwise: "close pursuit !" "Old ones at our heels!”—“ Haste! haste!! haste!!!"" Parson directly!" and so forth. This intelligence is often conveyed by the signals of a dexterous and practised out-rider, who, on such occasions, is a personage of great importance; or, by the smack of the postilion's whip, which is the most fashionable mode, and, in an instant, unless the priest of Hymen be at his house of call, all is bustle in search of him.
But, as this convenient character is usually at his post, and attentive to his business I shall, without delay, attempt to describe him.
Thirdly, Of the Priest, or rather the High Priest, of Gretna Green.
It is the misfortune of all trades, that a man no sooner rises to eminence in any art or mystery, but rivals start up, and affect an equality with him. As rubies, emeralds, diamonds, and other precious stones are counterfeited, so is there a counterfeit priest of Gretna! "O times! O manners!"-Well may our sages denounce the profligacy of the age! well may weary lovyers and lovyeresses, complain of the tricks upon travellers and the barefaced impositions which they experience in their journey to Gretna! but the most hazardous trick of all, though usually they least suspect it, they risk at the end of their journey. Happily, the counterfeit resides a couple of miles from the village; and who would think of saving a trifle by employing a less practised workman, when the dangers of pursuit and detection are imminent?
The real priest, then, is Joseph Pasley, who has, indeed, been described as a blacksmith; but that is only the concetto of some wicked wit on his standing rule of "striking the iron while it is hot." No, he is the son of a dissenting teacher, and is now about seventy-five years of age. He was, indeed, when young, bound apprentice to a tobacconist; but, as if he foresaw that fate ordained him to be the very pattern as well as patron of elopers, he eloped with all possible speed and pleasure, from the too confined restrictions of his master's house. He then spread the toils of a fisherman and well remembering that "all was fish that came to his net," he has long manifested his conviction of the truth of this principle, by his practice. On the passing of the marriage act in England, he ceased from fishing, in the troubled waters of "Neptune's green domain," and betook himself to the more lucrative occupation of performing one of the ecclesiastical functions "Is he then in orders?" What an impertinent question! Is he not waiting for orders. from the couples that arrive? You might as well ask, whether he be a deep theologian? Certainly, he is very conversant with the Fathers; but he touches mighty tenderly on their opinions, in the presence of the young couples who have travelled from distant regions, with very different sentiments, to desire the exercise of his office. Fourthly, Of the different Prices paid to the High Priest for the Exercise of his Office.
Mr Pasley is reported by some to have attained the art of knowing, by a wink from a post boy, how much money a gentleman has in his pocket. This, however, I find difficult to believe; but rather think that he usually discovers, from the almost breathless driver's manner of addressing his charge, to what extent he may carry his demand. The gentleman is the first to whom he applies, and his price varies from ten pounds to twenty: sometimes it amounts to fifty, but such good jobs are uncommon. He is, however, always positive that "the lady has a handsome fortune, and is
well worth whatever trouble the gentleman may have taken to obtain her: in her own right, to be sure! and a very agreeable, beautiful, amia ble, angelick creature, as ever the sun shone on, she is any man may see that, in her very air and manners! I protest, I took her for a lady of fashion at the very first glimpse I had of her and let me tell you, sir, I have seen many most beautiful ladies in this village; but none more charming, more fascinating, more-So, do not lose time by haggling about a few guineas, but indulge your natural liberality, and make her your own for ever!"
Having effectually ascertained the depth of the gentleman's pocket, he "begs leave to speak a few words in private with the lady."-To her he paints the disgrace of returning to her friends unmarried; the imputations to which she has subjected her good name and character by her elopement, and concludes by " persuading himself that she will cheerfully extend her bounty to him who is about to unite her to the object of her affections. As handsome a gentleman, to be sure, as ever trod shoe leather! I wonder that old folks can be so very, very blind! I really should have thought him a nobleman, had I only passed him on the road!”—The appeal is usually irresistible, and the lady's purse is opened, according to her ability.
Fifthly, De Officiis et Beneficiis, or the Summum Bonum of Gretna Green. The money paid, Mr. Pasley proceeds to officiate. He unites part of the English service with part of the Scottish. He asks some questions out of the prayer book; he puts on the ring; joins the hands of the parties; pronounces them " man and wife;" and, if the case demand expedition, as it generally does, his prayers and his blessings are so concise, that I have known couples, who, amidst the perturbations of the scene, could scarcely tell whether they had received any blessing really at Gretna.
Mr. Pasley has been known to earn one hundred pounds in a week, and he acknowledges an income, communibus annis, of five to six hundred pounds, and this without the cure of souls! by honest labour and industry in his vocation.
It must be owned that nothing but dire necessity could induce a delicate mind to submit to what Mr. Pasley further exacts, before he will furnish a certificate of marriage, nor will he subscribe himself a witness of what he has not beheld. But ladies at Gretna must submit to Gretna institutions and manners!
It was his custom to preserve duplicates of these certificates in a brown jug, which was his regular depository; but the malicious say (unquestionably the report originated with his rival) that in a drunken fit, he emptied the contents of his jug into the fire, and thus consumed memorials of the triumphs of love worthy of immortal renown!
The fact may be true; but the cause I absolutely deny; for it appears to me utterly incredible that a hero who has been in the habit of drinking a pint of brandy at a draught, and several such draughts daily; a hero who boasts of having sat de die in diem, during three days, with a hearty friend, in which time they two alone consumed ten gallons of brandy, should ever be drunk! The thought is derogatory to his prowess. Never did any. of his customers detect him in drunkenness; though it is well known in Gretna that he quaffs his favourite beverage till having taken his seat in his chair, he fills it with ample-motionless-venerable--complacentand-unceremonious dignity. Yes, sir, you may have heard of ordinary men, who drink as long as they can stand; but this incalculably superiour
personage drinks as long as he can sit, which I take to be a great improvement in the art, and to which very few attain; though I once knew a capital performer (an Essex man, by residence) who laid himself down to drink, at first, as it guarantied him, he said, from the hazard of falling, if fate so appointed, at last.
Sixthly, of certain Prejudices which attend the Official Conduct of this Illustrious Character, and of Certain Derogatory Insinuations to which he was most unworthily subjected by a Puisne Judge on the Bench.
How much is it to be regretted that the yet unestablished principles of liberty among us, permitted a judge on the bench, not long ago, to pass a contempt of court on so great, so useful, and so popular a character as Mr. Pasley! as if, truly, because "once a priest always a priest"-therefore, (6 once a tobacconist always a tobacconist." What! may not a man in this land of liberty change his trade for his own benefit, and that of the publick! And pray, supposing his lordship had been of some honest calling before he was a lawyer, would he have liked to have been reminded of it in the publick court, and quoted upon with old scraps of "once a always aand so forth? And then, his lordship, to be sure, must refuse this exemplary person's testimony on the subject of marriage ! and in the midst of a publick and crowded court, deny his authority on that very subject, with which he has been most intimate all his life; and of which he is not merely a witness, but THE witness, by habit, par excellence, and ex officio!!! "Oh shame, where is thy blush!"
This at least, I am sure I must say, from the bottom of my heart, that while such queer and crabbed maxims influence those who are appointed to distribute justice (who you know, sir, should be blind,
Though Justice when near to a black rolling eye
may neither you nor I be called in question before them on any account whatever!
SKETCHES OF VIENNA.`
AS I am not aware of any work in our language which may be entitled a 66 picture of Vienna," I have been induced to select from the German, some of the leading features which mark that capital, and may claim attention. Mercier's Tableau de Paris has long been celebrated. Since that we have had "pictures" of London, Hamburgh, Constantinople, Palermo, &c but the capital of Austria has somehow escaped a delineation which it appears to me to merit. I can vouch for the correctness of the following sketches, having passed a winter there.
A general outline of the topography of this city may serve as a necessary introduction.
From the southern bank of the majestick Danube, the rising ground presents a commanding situation, whereon the Romans raised a fortification which they called Vindobona. Hence has gradually arisen the modern capital Wien, in German, or Vienna. To the north lie the woody islands in the Danube, by which that river is divided into ten branches. To the westward towers the lofty range of the Kahlenberg hills, covered with
various buildings. To the eastward expand the fertile plains that stretch to the confines of Hungary: and to the south the landscape comprises hill and dale, villas and fertile fields. Does the traveller wish to enjoy a general view of this brilliant scenery, let him mount the spire of St. Stephen's, or climb the Kahlenberg.
Geneva, at the head of its magnificent lake, has been compared to a medallion pendent to a green riband. Did we live in the age of parables, I should describe Vienna as a large brilliant set with emeralds, and an exteriour row of party coloured stones. The city, with its beautiful and regular fortifications, stands nearly in the centre of the suburbs. The Esplanade, between the latter and the city, is 400 yards broad, with intersecting rows of chesnut trees. When we consider the immense extent of the suburbs, the population of which is estimated at 150,000, we are astonished at the almost incalculable number of buildings that have been erected since Vienna was besieged by the Turks, in 1683. Objections have been urged against the trivial names attached to some of these suburbs: on the contrary, all must admire those of Leopoldstadt, Josephstadt, &c. Hence I rather agree with old Shandy, who considered the name of his child as a matter of great importance. How interesting to posterity would be a Kaunitzstadt, a Lascy square, a Loudon place! Future ages would daily be reminded of those great men, who, either in the field or the cabinet, have increased the glory of Austria.
The climate is highly coquettish, as Mr. Burke says of our own. The city is exposed to the north and east winds; the air is very sharp, and more dry than humid. The dust is the great plague of Vienna; its subtilty soon affects the eyes; it also causes pulmonary complaints of all kinds. Servants, running footmen, hair-dressers, soldiers, &c. are carried off in great numbers. A stranger can form but a faint idea of the dust. Sixteen thousand coach wheels, with the necessary horses, and nearly a million of pedestrians, keep it in continual agitation. The whole city is buried in more than Egyptian darkness: and should you walk out of the gates, you must traverse a column of dust half a mile in diameter.
The water is not of the best quality. Strangers are afflicted with diarrhoea for some weeks after their arrival. In winter the thermometer is generally one or two degrees higher in the city, than in the suburbs and beyond the lines. The mean degree of heat at midsummer may be taken at 26, and in winter at 11 below zero. The area of the city and suburbs, within the lines, is estimated at 15,360,000 square yards. In Vienna they reckon from 47 to 52 persons to a house; in Paris 20; in Berlin 15 only. The houses are built in a most substantial manner, and some of them have as many stories below as above ground. Such solidity of architecture offers no encouragement to fire-offices. In the memory of man there has been no instance in the city, of a single story having been destroyed by fire.
The witty observation of a writer," that the emperour's horses are better lodged than their master," may be true in regard to the external appearance of the palace; but the interiour is worthy of a great monarch. In the first class of magnificent buildings may be enumerated the Imperial Chancery; the Imperial Library; the Belvidere; the Schwarzenberg Palace; the Bohemian Chancery; the palaces of Prince Lichtenstein; the Hungarian Chancery; the Church of St. Charles; the Imperial Stables; the Lobkowiz Palace, &c. The second class includes about two hundred, containing every thing that elegance and voluptuousness can require. The estimate for building Count Fries's new palace was 40,000l. the em-* perour's cabinet-maker made furniture to the amount of 6,000, and the