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Atlantic which have in recent years made so many agreeable arrangements of this description. Fair Ireland has always been noted for its discreet marriages. Not forgetting that “when poverty comes in at the door, love flies out at the window," the Irish maiden makes careful inquiry as to the future prospects of her suitor, while he is equally anxious to know the sum he is to receive with the girl he is courting. It is not so many years since that in some parts of Ireland love-matters were managed somewhat differently. The bride was carried off first, and the negotiations with her relations took place afterwards. Here, it is right to presume, the bride was a willing party to the abduction. In the "tuft-hunting” days it might be different. A man in search of a rich mar. riage has been known to engage a party of friends to assist him in carrying off an heiress by force, acting on the principle recognized in many parts of Northern and Eastern Europe up to about three hundred years ago, that possession of a woman gives a legal right to her hand. Terms of peace between the captor and the friends of the captive were arranged when the affair had gone so far that it could not be altered.
It is sometimes said that modern marriages are usually devoid of sentiment. This is not true, as in most cases sentiment is the real spring of action; just as it is among peoples who purchase their wives at a recognized market price, which varies, however, with the rank and wealth of the lady. Publicity may be given to the marriage in a somewhat different way from that adopted in New York or Paris. The bridesmaids and groomsmen are not wanting, and the wedding breakfast is amply provided for. The friends of both the bride and the “groom” gather together with their best attire to do honor to the occasion, but the ceremony they are to witness is very different from that which takes place in church or registrar's office. The parties chiefly concerned may have to take a more active part in it than would be thought agreeable by ladies and gentlemen of the present day. In Afghanistan a man may make sure of his bride by-cutting off a lock of her hair, snatching away her veil, or throwing a sheet over her, if at the same time he declares her to be his affianced wife. This is a simple matter, however, and looks rather like taking the bride at a disadvantage. In Central Asia she is allowed fair play. Mounted on horseback, the girl gallops away at full speed, pursued by her suitor, who is successful or not according to the lady's inclination. Mr. Kennan, in his “Tent Life in Siberia," gives an amusing account of a bride-chase among the Koraks. Here the race was on foot and through the compartments of a large tent fixed up for the purpose. The compartments were arranged in a circle, the entrances being covered with heavy curtains. In front of them were stationed the women of the encampment, who raised the curtains for the girl to pass through, but held them down to impede the progress of the suitor, whom they thrashed soundly with willow and alder rods as he stooped to raise them. Not discouraged, however, the man struggled forward, and on reaching the last compartment he was rewarded by finding the lady waiting for him. Mr. Kennan thinks that the intention of the whole ceremony was to give the woman an opportunity of marrying or not, as she chose. This was evidently part of the intention, as the man could not have caught the girl against her wish; but the ceremony has something more in view. It gives publicity to a contract and renders it impossible for the husband or wife or their friends ever to deny the marriage. The Korak will not forget the blows he received in the wedding-tent, any more than the men who many years before accompanied the procession on beating the parish bounds, as still
practised in some parts of England, would forget the birching they then received with the long willow rods carried for the purpose.
The Rev. J. Mackenzie states that the Christian Bechuanas of South Africa are now becoming accustomed to regard the marriage-register in the native church as proof of marriage and of the legitimacy of the children, as well as of the consent of the wife's father and other relatives, evidence of which was supplied formerly by the payment of cattle. This must have been a somewhat unsatisfactory mode of proof. The desired notoriety was better attained by the sham fight usual among some of the hill-tribes of India. In many cases the bridal parties meet in hostile array at the entrance to the village of the bride, and a mimic fight takes place before the bridegroom's party is allowed to enter. Among the Khoords of Orissa the bridegroom, who is accompanied by a number of his friends, himself carries off the bride, notwithstanding the desperate attacks of a party of young women, who follow, throwing stones and bamboos at him, until he reaches his own village, when they run away home screaming and laughing. The Muási of Gondwana have wedding-customs of a milder character. As the bridegroom's cavalcade approaches the bride's house, there emerges “a troop of girls, all singing, headed by the mother of the bride, bearing on her head a vessel of water surmounted by a lighted chiragh (lamp). When they get near enough to the cavaliers, they pelt them with balls of rice, then coyly retreat, followed, of course, by the young men ; but the girls make a stand at the door of the bride's house, and suffer none to enter till they have paid toll in presents to the bridesmaids.”
The“ ceremonial capture” of the uncultured races is thus public proof of the consent to the marriage not only of the bride, but also of her relations. It gives notoriety, moreover, to the fact that the bride has ceased to form part of her father's family, and that her children are to belong to the kindred of her husband. In Christian communities children always take the family name of their father, although it is not unusual where the parents are of different religions for an arrangement to be made as to the religion in which the children shall be brought up. With other peoples, however, children take their father's or their mother's family name according to the mode employed in tracing descent. It is not always that the bride is the object of capture. The Gáros of Northeastern India are divided into maharis, or motherhoods, and children take the family or mahari name of their mothers. Here it is the bride and her friends who go to the house of the bridegroom, who pretends to run away, but is quickly caught, and in spite of his resistance married, “amidst lamentations and counterfeit grief both on his part and that of his parents.” This is an almost unique case of “ ceremonial capture” associated with female kinship,--that is, the tracing of descent through the mother instead of the father.
It is quite safe to say that no profession, trade, or business is so murdered as that of the short-hand-writer, and that there is none that the people at large are more ignorant of. I believe it is no exaggeration to say that there are not five accurate stenographers in every hundred, i.e., men or women who have thoroughly acquired the system, and who can accurately write it as the author of that system would have it written. The question may be asked, Why is this 80? The reason is most patent, and in giving it I can base it upon many years' experience as a short-hand-writer, and no less an experience with the short-hand world.
When I commenced the study of short-hand I was one of a class of between forty and fifty pupils. We all started with the first lesson, each of us inflated with the idea that some day we should be dashing off our two hundred words a minute, and longing for that "some day' to come. On our second lesson there was a remarkable falling off in the attendance, and this continued to such an alarming extent that by the end of the first quarter there were but six of us left, and now there are only three of us who are following short-hand writing for a livelihood. It almost seems incredible that out of such an array of youths, full of ardor and ambition, but three should reach the desired goal. Inspired by curiosity, I was constrained to ask myself a few years later how came this state of things to happen. First of all, I asked myself, Who were these young men who veñtured so far, what were their general abilities and aptitudes for the profession, and why did they so signally fail? The answer is as plain as it is conclusive, and should be taken home as a lesson to all aspirants for success as wielders of the mighty pen. In analyzing those pupils, I found that most of them were toiling through the day at all kinds of labor; one would be serving his time to be a carpenter, another a mechanic, a third perhaps was a gilded youth with more pocket-money than mental calibre, and so on, until I was satisfied that the real cause of their collapse was a total lack of necessary qualifications for the proper study of so difficult and delicate an art. It had entirely escaped those young men to ask themselves whether they were adapted for such a study, and they had overlooked the fact that it is impossible to make a Handel out of a street-organ-grinder, or a Shakespeare out of a bookseller. They had neglected to look into their qualifications and to inquire whether they had been sufficiently educated to know how to use “their” and “there" in their proper places, or to spell the simple word “unnecessarily" correctly. And what was true of those young men is true of most youths of to-day. Instead of investigating their adaptability for a calling which requires more natural fitness to make a success of than any other, they rashly overestimate their abilities and fall victims to their own weaknesses. After receiving a few elementary lessons, they launch out into the world as full-fledged stenographers, hopelessly and painfully overreaching their capacity, proud of their assumed skill, and audacious enough to claim for themselves the title of “stenographer.” “Mongrel" stenographers of this class are filling positions as amanuenses throughout our large cities and towns, struggling week in and week out through their work, with the amazing capacity of seventy-five words a minute, but, because of the indulgence of employers, never taxed beyond fifty. Such, I am sorry to say, is the average stenographer of to-day. To illustrate my argument: let any one of my readers advertise for a stenographer in one of our daily papers, and in the same paper advertise for an expert stenographer, and he will have fifty more applicants for the former than for the latter. Comment is unnecessary.
A few hints regarding the make-up of a stenographer will perhaps prove useful to those contemplating the profession, and interesting, no doubt, to those who are not. A good education is indispensable; fluent and good penmanship combined with a steady hand are essential and inseparable; a quick perception is needful; good hearing is necessary, and a refined temperament, with a fair insight into human nature. With these attributes, or most of them, brought into proper play, a person may become a stenographer, and the only thing remaining to be done is the cultivation of absolute accuracy and the production of unambiguous and iron-clad transcripts. Without these factors, it is idle for any person to hope to succeed as a short-hand-writer, opinions to the contrary notwithstanding, and he or she had better seek other fields of usefulness. I have seen an artisan lay down his tools discontented with his lot, and wilfully try to don the garb of a stenographer, only, however, to suffer deserved defeat.
Since the phonograph has been perfected, a great deal of discussion has been going on as to the probable effect it will have on short-hand-writers. The question is not so difficult for å stenographer to answer as it is perhaps painful.
Recently I was the recipient of a letter of inquiry from some person unknown to me, asking whether, in my opinion, the phonograph is going to interfere with the dot-and-dash profession. It so happened that I had had the pleasure (?) of seeing and examining the day before receiving this letter the wonderful machine which is intended to revolutionize almost everything in which sound plays the principal part, and, must confess, was astounded at what was certainly hearing "the dumb speak.” The operator (I wot, not with malice) dictated into the "hearing” of this wonderful contrivance, in the presence of a few very curious persons, including myself and two brother stenographers, words something to this effect: “This machine is intended to do away with stenographers," and so on. I was invited to hear those words again as the phonograph would repeat them. Then I again heard that same voice, and the self-same words issue from the machine. I had heard and seen sufficient by this time to have very much more than my curiosity gratified, and left the place a wiser but much sadder man. We were told that a type-writer operator could transcribe the sounds from those sinuous lines on the wax coil with the same facility as from manuscript, taking a few words at a time, and causing the phonograph's voice to halt at the operator's will and pleasure.
After collecting my thoughts together and looking at the matter in an unbiassed light, I came to the conclusion that the phonograph is a success; and I have no other belief than that it is now ready to wipe out the stenographic amanuenses throughout the world, and that this is only a matter of so much time as it will take employers to educate themselves to its use. It will, ha crease the demand for type-writer operators.
With regard to court and public meeting stenographers, I cannot yet see that they will be affected for some time to come,-if ever,
;-as the phonograph would, necessarily, hear and report much more than would be convenient for the purpose in hand. In other words, the judgment and discrimination of the stenographer would be missing; and no machine has yet been invented that can supply these qualities.
William A. Shaw.
THE PHILOSOPHICAL NOVEL.
THERE are really but two classes of novel-readers,—the Upper Million who read for the fun of it, and the foolish few to whom fiction is a business. That is, these latter are the critics as well as the readers of novels, and many of them are also novel-makers, albeit of a very indifferent sort. Now, it seems to me that the successful and permanent story must be written for, and by one of, the Upper Million. That is the long and the short of it. That is also why no distinctively "philosophical novel” that I can call to mind deserves a reading. I would not hold my life worth living if I had to spend considerable of it yawning over the latter-day "psychological study.” A small dose of supernaturalism may go into an otherwise first-class novel without spoiling it; it is even possible to swallow a miracle whole if dressed adroitly ; but all the art of Balzac cannot make palatable (for me) “ La Peau de Chagrin,” “Louis Lambert,” and “Seraphita.”
Why should we be asked by Mr. George Frederic Parsons to admire this trilogy? He surely knows that "Seraphita," which he calls “unquestionably the most elevated work of fiction ever written,” never was and never could be a readable story. If it isn't a story, what else so good or better is it? It is all very well for Mr. Parsons to talk learnedly of the esoteric wisdom of the book,to prate of Proclus and Plato, the doctrine of Correspondences, and the Logos. It won't do. One knows an allegory when one sees it, and such is “Seraphita.” But an allegory, plain and simple, sailing under its true colors, may be a very good thing; I'm sure the “Pilgrim's Progress" is. Of what use, then, is Mr. Parsons's attempt to make of the Balzac trilogy that which it is not,-a perfect picture and philosophy of life? Hard-headed men-and of such are the elect of earth-will say that there needs no occult science to explain the only trustworthy philosophy of life. The Lord's Prayer is enough for some; the Decalogue will do for others; as for me, if I could only contrive always to do the duty that lies nearest me, I might boast myself the happiest, wisest of mankind. So much for the philosophy of Balzac's novels.
Moreover, it is a very open question to-day whether we really want our writers of fiction to give us pictures of life. It seems certain that a very large majority of the Upper Million ask for impossible pictures of impossible life. But, verisimilitude of person and place aside, they demand incessant action : if the puppets be of the poorest likeness, still they must dance like demons. The advice that Goethe made the manager give the poet is just the advice, without the irony, that we, as one of the Upper Million, would give the aspiring storywriter of to-day :
But, above all, give them enough of action;
The great trouble with us, as a human race, is that we not only dupe each other, but we wantonly try to lie to ourselves. I am not going to make wholesale charges against leaders of prayer-meetings : I don't have to. I simply believe and say that nine out of any ten of us are almost wholly engrossed with the affairs of this world, and that the tenth, man or woman, who, from cowardice or self-interest, permits the prospect of life in another world to interfere with the performance of duties in this, is a characterless person who doubtless enjoys the philosophical novel.