Bachelor, a word of doubtful origin ; though, in the political economy of nations, when a plurality of persons apparently glory in that appellation, its practice cannot fail to be attended with effects detrimental to the State, and frequently disgraceful to the individual. We do not, however, include in this description, the Bachelors of Arts, those in the Livery Companies, nor even the ancient Knight-Bachelors of England, whose title did not descend to posterity; but we more particularly allude to those unwarned men, who pretend to live in a state of stoic celibacy, and are, for the most part, generally, either avaricious misers, or unprincipled spendthrifts. That there are many exceptions to tins odious character, cannot be denied; yet, in a maritime country, where a great proportion of active men devote themselves to a seafaring life, there ought to be public disgrace attached those, who cannot assign the most substantial reasons for their choice of celibacy.
Even the ancient Greeks were so fully persuaded of the pernicious influence of professed bachelors, on the population and morals of their countrymen, that, by the laws of LYCURGUS, they were branded with infamy, excluded from all ofcivil and military, as well as from national games and public spectacles. Farther, such persons were compelled to appear at certain festivals, where they were exposed to public derision, and led round the market-place: in this degraded situation, the fair sex conducted them to the altars, and obliged them to make amende. honor ablet by submitting to blows and lashes. at discretion. The women, not satisfied with this specimen of passive obedience, forced them to sing certain songs teeming with satire, and deprecating a state of life which Nature had never designed.
The Roman laws, also, were not more favourable to their toleration ; and the vigilant censors frequently imposed arbitrary fines on old ba-chelors. According to Dionysius, the historian, there existed in Rome an ancient edict, by which all persons of full age were obliged to marry. But the most remarkable law enacted against them, was that made in the reign of the Emperor Augustus, by which they were rendered incapable of enjoying the benefit either of legacies or inheritance by will, unless from their near relations. This limitation, Plutarch justly observes, induced many bachelors to marry ; not so much with the view of having heirs to their own estates, as to qualify themselves to inherit those of others.
Thus it clearly appears that, from the early ages, the most civilized nations expressed a just abhorrence of a life which is more calculated to promote the narrow grovelling views of the individual, who prefers it to the most sacred and honourable station in society, than to benefit that circle of the community, of which he is frequently a consuming, and worthless member.
From a conviction, that the plurality of bachelors are not conducive to the welfare and interest of the State, the British Legislator already imposed a small fine upon v, by an additional duty on servants. But, as the annual payment of so moderate a tax affect the middle, and less opulent, classes of .society, we venture to suggest a remedy, perhaps more .!, for checking tills species of degeneracy. Let us suppose a voting man of rank and fortune, devoting himself to every kind of dissipation, and squandering an income that would maintain half a parish; we can see no reason why he should not, at a certain age, be compelled to assign his motives for not marrying. If these should be found unsatisfactory, there would be no injustice done to such a character, by employing him in distant climates, either in a naval or military capacity, where he might contribute to the safety and protection of the empire.