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PAGE 3

Ill-Assorted Marriages
by [?]

Then we have the cases wherein a poetic and artistic spirit is allied to a gross and worldly soul of the lowest type. One of the most brilliant artists and poets of his generation was informed by his wife that she did not care for art and poetry and that sort of stuff. “It’s all high-falutin’ nonsense,” remarked this gifted and confident dame; and the shock of surprise which thrilled her husband will be transmitted to generations of readers. Hitherto we have dwelt upon mere brutalities; but those who know the world best know that the most acute forms of agony may be inflicted without any outward show of brutality being visible. A generous high-souled girl with a passion for truth and justice is often tied to a fellow whose “company” manners are polished, but who is at heart a cruel boor. He can stab her with a sneer which only she can understand; he can delicately hint to her that she is in subjection, and he can assume an air of cool triumph as he watches her writhe. I have often observed passages of domestic drama which looked very like comedy at first sight, but which were really quivering, torturing tragedy.

It is strange that the jars of married life have been so constantly made the subject for joking. The attitude of the ordinary witling is well known; but even great men have made fun out of a subject which is the most momentous of all that can engage the attention of the children of men. In running through Thackeray’s works lately I was struck by the flippancy with which some of the most heartbreaking stories in literature are treated. Thackeray was one of the sweetest and tenderest beings that ever lived, and no doubt his jocularity was assumed; but minor men take him seriously, and imitate him. Look at the stories of Frank Berry, of Rawdon Crawley, of Clive and Rosie Newcome, and of General Baynes–they are sad indeed, but the tragic element in them is only shadowed forth by the great master. There is nothing droll in the history of mistaken marriages. At the very best each error leads to the ruin or deterioration of one soul, and that is no laughing matter.