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make a shew of their penance, so that it is very difficult to say whether even your next neighbour has given himself the lash or not.
"The incredulous or the humourist must not suppose that the darkness favours evasion. There can be no pleasantry in doing that which no one sees, and no merit can be assumed where it is not known who accepts the disciplines. The flagellation does certainly take place on the naked skin; and this ferocious superstition, of which antiquity can furnish no example, has, after being once dropt, been revived as a salutary corrective of an age of atheism. The former processions of flagellants have not been yet renewed, but the crowds which frequent the above ceremony, leave no doubt that they would be equally well attended.
"Such an innovation may be tolerated, and perhaps applauded, in the days of barbarism, when the beating of themselves was found the only expedient to prevent the Italians from the beating of each other; but the renewal of it at this period must induce us to fear that the gradual progress of reason is the dream of philanthropy, and that a considerable portion of all societies, in times the most civilized as well as the most ignorant, is always ready to adopt the most unnatural belief, and the most revolting practices. It is singular, however, that the humane Pius and the intelligent Cardinal-secretary, do not perceive the objectionable part of an institution which was prohibited at its first rise by some of the wisest Italian princes, and is now allowed nowhere but at Rome." (P. 320-323.)
What Mr. Hobhouse calls an essay on the present literature of Italy, does not quite deserve to be so called. It is a meagre collection of the anecdotal biography of a few recent authors, combined with little skill, and commented upon without perspicacity or vigour. We had not seen that ripeness of judgment, indeed, in any of Mr. Hobhouse's compositions which could induce an expectation in our minds of his success in such an undertaking. We wish we could impose a few years of silence and meditation, or at least of hesitation, on our young gentlemen just emerging from their collegiate discipline. The years which succeed should rather be years of preparation than decision, and then instead of seeking for the confirmation of opinions already formed, they would for some time be employed in laying up the materials of comparison, and the elements of sound judg ment. Taste, and literary discernment, as well as politics, and even religion itself, are all obstructed by an education too much accelerated. Whether this remark may apply to the case of Lord Byron and Mr. Hobhouse, we will not presume without more knowledge of facts to assert; but we do suspect that much of that 'etourderie' of sentiment, which seems to us to abound both in the poet and his illustrator, has arisen from the tone of thinking and deciding, acquired from foreign travel undertaken upon too narrow a foundation of reading and observation. In
no part of the historical illustrations do we trace the mark of a mature and moderate mind; and the essay on Italian litera→ ture is less than the rest entitled to our esteem. If our room would allow us, we think we could point out much inconsistency, and some imbecility, in this part of the volume; but this long article must come to its end. Our duty has been a painful one; nothing in either of the works we have been reviewing afford us a hope of our ever being made better or wiser by the intellectual exertions of either of these friends. Of the two we look towards Lord Byron with less despair than towards Mr. Hobhouse. His mind seems less stiffened in its persuasions; and his persuasions somewhat less intemperate; of the two also he is much the more important, as being, we think, many cubits higher in the stature of his capacity. The staff of his spear is like a weaver's beam, and one bearing a shield goes before him. Against this giant and his armour-bearer, however, we have a humble assurance in our minds that God will still appropriate the victory to those who rely on his protection, believe in his word, and contend with his weapons.
ART. II.-INFLUENCE OF WOMEN ON MANNERS AND LITERATURE.
De l'Influence des Femmes sur la Littérature Françoise, comme Protectrices des Lettres, et comme Auteurs: ou Précis de l'Histoire des Femmes Françoises les plus célèbres. Par Madame de Genlis. pp. 370. Paris.
WE have thought proper to recur to this subject, already considered in an earlier part of our Journal; because we feel that the state of society, at this juncture, imparts to it a fresh interest, and claims for it a fuller exposition. The proper influence of women on literature is not, as Madame de Genlis would seem to suppose, to be deduced from the records of the celebrity of certain distinguished females in the worlds of fashion and letters: it cannot even be taken safely from the books which they have written; far less from those which have been written concerning them. Madame de Stael, we think, is correct in her observation, that, "in reading those works which have been composed since the restoration of letters, one may remark, in every page, certain sentiments which had no existence, as it were, in the heart, before women were admitted to civil equality. Generosity, valour, and humanity, have each, in certain respects,
taken new and more enlarged acceptations since that epoch." A new set of natures having been permitted to disclose themselves, a new and powerful influence was, of course, brought to act upon the mind; and this influence, extending itself universally, like the effects of the atmosphere, demands to be taken into account, as a principal agent, in all the moral phenomena that can become the subject of inquiry. It is certainly to be considered as among the most active of those internal springs of society, that have been brought into play at a comparatively late date, and which have given a new form and character to what are termed the modern ages, by which they are visibly separated from that part of the series of our race which constitutes what we call the ancient world.
This observation, however, must be taken in that spirit of liberal interpretation which can alone sustain the justice of any general principle, applied to the exposition of the history of human nature; including, as it does, exceptions, diversities, and modifications, without number. Individuals have existed in all times who have belonged rather to other eras than to their own; and although the great moral divisions which denote the changes of time and place, are no less strongly marked than the natural boundaries and varieties of mountains, rivers, and climates; although, in regarding the former, as well as the latter, from points that command their distinct effect, we recognize differences which cannot be reconciled, and dissimilarities which must not be confounded; yet, in following the long course of things, these characteristic features are often concealed from our eyes, and the gradations of the change are calculated to render us insensible to its reality. A French traveller, leaving his country during the last days of a very fine autumn, and entering Italy as the winter commenced, exclaims against the error of those who represent the temperature of Tuscany to be more mild than that of Paris: and much the same is the mistake of those who argue from a few scattered instances in ancient history to the general state of manners. The tenor of classical compositions sufficiently proves, that woman constituted among the ancients but a small part of what has been called the moral life of man. She produced, not unfrequently, a powerful effect on the passions: but she had little or no influence in forming the character. The Achilles of Homer might be represented precisely as we find him delineated if Briseis had never existed or been his mistress: all that, in such a case, it would have been necessary to change, was the moving cause of the wrath of the hero. The desire of a renown, to be hardly won by strength, courage, or genius, formed, amongst the ancients, the single spring of the most generous breasts: woman went for nothing in the calculations of ambition, and lent but
little impulse to the flights of imagination. She might, it is true, be employed as an accessary to assist in developing those qualities of a hero which she had no share in forming; and which acquired little or no additional interest from her connexion with their display she might also be employed as an accidental interruption, or diversion, to the course of great designs, and the tenor of decided characters, by affecting those sensations which have their origin in physical constitution. The purposes of Jupiter, in regard to the Trojans, were shaken and swayed to different sides by Juno and by Venus; and this may, at first, seem to intimate that, in the opinion of Homer, female influence was boundless in its sphere of operation; but the means made use of by these goddesses to back their suits, show that the bard had but very limited notions of the power of the sex, and lodged it entirely in what is by no means now considered its most honourable seat of empire. It is a striking proof of the great difference between modern and ancient manners, in the point which we are considering, that woman was excluded as a spectator from the Olympic exercises; where the skill, courage, and elegance of the youth of the other sex entered into such brilliant competition. The necessity usually alleged for this restriction might have been easily obviated, had the absence of the ladies been thought any great misfortune: on the other hand, contrast this fact with the animation and interest which the presence of females gave to the tournaments of the middle ages. At those superb exhibitions, where the hardihood and dexterity in arms, peculiar at that period to the West, were combined with an imitation of the parade and luxury which the knights of the crusades had witnessed in the East, the combatants felt every other motive to rivalry absorbed in the predominating anxiety to distinguish themselves in the eyes of the beauties by whom they were surrounded; and still more nearly to touch the heart of some one object of chivalrous devotion. But if woman formed any part of the reward of ancient valour, it was by falling into the hands of the successful warrior as a captive; and the consequence of her degraded condition was, that the full extent of the character of man, comprehending all the resources and varieties of its faculties, was not developed.
The footing on which the Grecian courtesans were placed at the most glorious epoch of the republic, is the circumstance that can be urged with the greatest appearance of force, as indicating that women exercised, in the classical ages, an influence on the minds of men superior to that which we have here attributed to them. Socrates, the most virtuous and judicious of heathen philosophers, frequented the house of Aspasia, not from a licentious motive, nor even in deference to the weakness of others, but in search of the elegant, learned, and polite conversation
which he was certain there to hear: desiring to meet with the best company of Athens, and to enjoy an entertainment in which philosophy and grace had equal shares; and in which, of course, the externals of decency must have been sedulously preserved. This undue estimation of a class of women essentially degraded, would appear less astonishing if we found it coupled with a general disregard of that particular virtue to which the females in question had renounced all pretension, or even with an indifference to the value of its strict observance. In the dark and uncertain state of moral knowledge in which the pagan world was immured, and in which it wandered from one absurdity and enormity to another, an arrangement of society may be conceived to have existed, in which domestic happiness, and the public peace, should have a less indispensable connexion with female chastity than in the nature of things they certainly possess. But such a system had no place in ancient Greece. At the period of which we are speaking, the wives and daughters of the Greeks were required to live in a state of seclusion; and they considered an almost total retirement as requisite to their respectability. They were taught to fear death less than violation, and to bury themselves in the gloomy silence of their homes; while the houses of those of their sex who had incurred all the penalties of disgrace, were thrown open as schools of learning, as well as temples of pleasure! "Socrates and Pericles," says a French author, "met of an evening at Aspasia's (chez Aspasia), as St. Evremont and Condé met at Ninon's." As the ladies of this description in Greece were all proficients in music, the charms of sound were intermingled with literary criticism and political debate; and moralists and statesmen sharpened their wits by collision in those scenes of mental competition. This is a state of manners to which we find no approach in modern times, unless it be in France; but there the line of separation between the courtesans and the mothers and wives has not been so carefully observed as in Greece. And the want of this reserve indicates as much deficiency in taste, as depravity of morals. The Greeks possessed a very lively temperament: they were distinguished by a keen sensibility to the various forms of beauty; and they probably derived the perfection of their arts from their dispo sition to pleasure. These impulses drove them to seek gratification in a mixed society; where the rigid rules of their domestic life were respited in favour of an unrestrained and vivid communication between the sexes: but the convention which admitted of this intercourse was strictly limited to the women who chose to accept celebrity as a compensation for the loss of respectability. Vice, beyond the family boundary, was permitted to attire herself with attractions; but within that sacred barrier she was regarded as odious, and enjoyed no toleration.