Chapter 7

Containing Observations

 Having given the preceding history, and put my name to it, there is no man that knows me will doubt of the truth of it. For I have always considered the first character of an historian to be veracity; and in all my former compositions, have endeavoured to preserve that character. There being, therefore, no doubt of the facts, it will remain only to account for them, and indeed, though we have partly done it already in some observations we have made, yet this, and the like circumstances, which occur every day in life, of Teague O’Regans and bog-trotters, being the favourites of ladies in preference to the most accomplished men, is so contrary to what we would expect, that it may deserve a more minute developement of the causes and principles. In early times, and even yet amongst simple and uninformed people, the effect has been attributed to love potions or witchcraft; that is, either to some drug, or draught affecting the nerves, and deranging the brain; or to some supernatural power operating on the faculties. But exploding these, we shall endeavour to explain the phenomenon upon the common principles of the affections of the heart, and the power of the imagination. But it must be presumed that in general, advantage of person, good sense, and virtue prevail with the females, and where the opposite is the case, it is to be considered as out of the common course of choice. Why it ever should be so, may depend on this, that a Teague O’Regan, having little sensibility of nerve, has all that apathy from nature which the man of address has from habit, and more steadily, because the one is nature, the other art: and coolness in love, is a great secret of success. Sensibility is irritable, unpersevering, desponding, extravagant; and hence it is that no man who is deeply enamoured of a lady, before she has conceived some attachment on her part, has an equal chance to be acceptable. The fond love of a refined mind, produces silliness in proportion to the delicacy of the feelings; and the contrast being more observable, the wise man becomes, or appears to be the greater fool. The Teague O’Regan makes love without any heart at all; he attends upon a lady as he would tread mortar; flatters her as he would speak to a parrot, or stroke a cat, without a single sensation to disturb him. The appearance of security on the part of the lover, gives the lady to suppose that he is conscious of advantages, and of course that there must be such which she does not discover: or conceiving that she has not yet absolutely engaged him, she makes it an object to inspire his attachment, and the very exercise of her own passions, kindles a flame, for hopes and fears are the elements of love. A Teague O’Regan has no sentiment of his own, and therefore he approves all the reason, and laughs at all the wit of the lady; so that putting her in love with herself, she becomes in love with him. A man of sense expresses it: but if contrary to the lady’s sense, she thinks it nonsense, and he becomes the Teague O’Regan in her judgment.

Again, a Teague O’Regan is repressed by no sense of honor, or regard to a permanent happiness, from passing himself for what he is not, and practising imposition; talking of his great relations when he has none, and of an estate when the right owner, as the Irish phrase is, keeps him out of it, and provided he can obtain the lady, he never thinks of the catastrophe when the deception is discovered.

A Teague O’Regan is less opposed by his rivals; because no one supposes that he can prevail. He is assisted by the female acquaintance of the lady, because they wish her mortified by making a bad choice. In affairs of love there is no lady has a friend except a father, an uncle, or a brother; not always a mother, seldom a sister, but never any one else. Because the pride of a mother may be hurt by the defect of attention to herself; the jealousy of a sister is roused, even though provided for, lest it should appear she had not married equally well; and therefore the greater fool, the more friends he has with all the world in his advances. But setting all these principles aside, a particular circumstance, as in the case of the bog-trotter, may operate for the season, and make it an object to be addressed by him.

I shall conclude these strictures, by laying down some rules for a prudent father, or guardian, to correct the imagination of a young lady, who appears to be fascinated with a bog-trotter; and in doing this, I conceive I shall render essential service to humanity. It is a painful thing, having accumulated property for the sake of a child, and having taken pains to improve and polish, to have her thrown away upon a beast; for according to the expression of the poet, some men are beasts, compared with others.

Man differs more from man,
Than beast from beast.

As love then is the offspring of the imagination, reason has nothing to do with it. Ridicule is the only remedy. Never let the Teague O’Regan be opposed, or excluded from the house; but invited, and laughed at; in the mean time giving the young lady no reason to suppose that it is suspected she could possibly have any fancy for such a person. The father or guardian may engage some persons of both sexes, in confidence, to join in the ridicule, and relate or invent incidents of his absurdities; for as the bog-trotter is making an attack upon the honour and happiness of the family, it is self-defence, and justifiable to counteract him by stratagem, when open force will not avail. No object that is made ridiculous can appear amiable; and as to what is respectable, we depend much more upon the opinion of others, than our own. If a lover is opposed, the lady attributes it to an old musty taste in the father, or to envy and jealousy in others, and out of pride she will support him; whereas if he is ridiculed, she becomes ashamed of him, and gives him up. I have thought it worth while to give this hint; because the greater part of our romances and comedies in the English language are calculated to depreciate the respect which a young lady ought to have for the opinion of aged and grave persons; and to confirm her in taking the Teague O’Regan of her own choice. For all such are usually represented as old musty curmudgeons, or granys, whose judgments are not worth regarding, and whose taste, in affairs of love, as in their dress, is antiquated, unfashionable, and absurd; but the adventurers, and fortune hunters, are all possessed of taste, and spirit, and gallantry, and carry off the damsel and make her happy. They stop just at the marriage, and give no view of the disgust, repentance, and unhappiness that ensues.