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subdued desires, that never wander beyond their husbands or their nurseries, except to a little harmless gossip on the less guarded conduct of their friends, and the pardonable maternal vanity of witnessing the triumphs of their daughters in the ballroom or at the piano.
But there is another circumstance which operates most powerfully as a cement of the matrimonial union in India, which it would be unphilosophical to pass by. Every lady has a direct participation in her husband's advancement, and consequently a tenderer sympathy in his fortunes ;-and this has an obvious tendency to strengthen her constancy and invigorate her attachment. For, as he rises step by step in the service, I refer more particularly to the civil branch,—he imparts to her that enviable distinction, which in limited spheres of society is the object of the warmest aspirations cherished in the female bosom. How many fair complexions have I seen ruined by unavailing and feverish competitions for the splendid plaything—the glittering toy, called rank ! How many an interesting dimple has been fretted into a downright wrinkle by the slow corroding pangs of envy, that Mrs. W*** should have a right to walk first, because Mr. W*** has just received an appointment at the Board of Trade! Hence it is, that having once embarked in, she adheres to, the vessel which not only carries the fortunes of Cæsar, but the rank of Cæsar's wife, a circumstance of no slight weight in strengthening the links of the matrimonial chain, and identifying by a bland and harmonious assimilation the mutual ambition of the parties. It is astonishing what the love of rank will effect in the coteries of Anglo-India. I verily believe, there are some ladies that would rather crawl on their hands and feet, than not be allowed to go first into a room at all.
Sometimes the love of rank takes a retrograde turn. When a cause was tried in the Supreme Court, respecting the widening of the Marmalong bridge—a long series of arches whose needless and wearisome length bestrides the bed of a small river near Madras, but which was so narrow that two carriages accidentally meeting could not pass,—I remember a curious Irish attorney, in the broadest of brogues and with a face which had been thrice dipped in Shannon's brazen flood, in order to point out more emphatically the inconvenience of the bridge, was heard to exclaim, “Why, my Lord, it was only yesterday morning, that Mrs. O**** in her carriage met Mrs. D*** in her's, in the very middle of it, and there they stuck for a whole hour, quarrelling for precedence which should go backward.”
But English life in India is a subject that unfolds itself as I advance. I pledge myself in future essays to treat the subject according to the most correct principles of our common nature; to shew that all that is eccentric or problematic in the character of Anglo-Indian society is to be traced to certain fixed and definite laws; and endeavour at least to supply a desideratum in the pictures of that society which have lately been given to the world, that has been long felt and long lamented.
ENGLISH SOCIETY IN INDIA,
In a former article upon this subject, we attempted a faint and rapid sketch of two or three interesting lineaments in the female society of the English residents in India ; and amongst these, the constancy of wedded attachments held a conspicuous place. Our task would have been but imperfectly executed, had we neglected to give due emphasis to one of the most honourable among the moral causes which have stamped a bright and distinguishing colour upon the domestic life of our country women in those distant regions. We traced also that splendid peculiarity in the social intercourse of the East to the very singular circumstances by which it was impressed. We have not, however, done with the theme (its fertility is inexhaustible); for the most potent influences that shape and fashion all the societies of the earth are female influences, and they are incessantly at work to pro
duce the most striking modifications of character which can interest the student of our common nature in his researches.
It was observed also, or rather hinted, that in our Anglo-Indian communities, there was no coterie of virginity which had passed the matrimonial Rubicon. The absence of this moral cause, which at home is in active and hourly operation, is itself a most important peculiarity, and must have a pretty perceptible effect upon the temper, and manners, and feelings of the Anglo-Indians. What a world of acerbities, of bickerings, of satirical reflections, of petty strifes and emulations, is superseded by this single circumstance! Yet, although no reasoning can be accurate or philosophical without general propositions, all general propositions are limited by sundry exceptions, perhaps not occurring sofrequently as to destroy the value of the proposition. For, in our English societies in India, are occasionally to be seen about half a dozen spinsters, pale as the ghosts on the shores of that fabled stream, whose surly ferry-man has refused to carry them over, and wearing in their complexions the livery of “the hope deferred, that maketh the heart sick:” not, indeed, to be called “old maids” without the grossest perversion of language; faded rather than withered ;-for those eyes, with their languid