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But however brilliant, and even commanding, may seem to have been the condition of a certain class of women, at this distinguished period of ancient history, the reader cannot fail to have already discovered good reasons for denying, that this condition affords any ground for supposing that the sex was then properly esteemed, or that it possessed that influence over man which is now its undisputed right, and which it prac tically exerts. The females who occupied the most important posts in society; who were most intimately connected with the interests of the citizens and the hopes of the state; who reared the children that were to become the strength of the commonwealth; and who presented, after all, in spite of the dazzling effect of the life led by their meretricious rivals, the model of female manners, according to the standard of honour established by public opinion, were, as we have seen, shut up in their houses, and educated in the narrowest notions, so as in a manner necessarily to repress the signs of character and the growth of sentiment. Those who were excepted from this thwarting and impoverishing system, acquired the privilege at the expense of what constitutes the most powerful magic of their sex, as it is felt in the hearts of the other. Deprived of this charm, they might, as individuals, exercise a dominion over the passions, and excite admiration by their talents and accomplishments; but the plastic power of woman, the ceaseless and penetrating spirit of her influence, is not manifested in such desultory and extraneous effects. In the Greek tragedies we never find the personal accomplishments and freedom of the courtesans taken advantage of to confer interest on female characters: their misfortunes as captives; their duty of obedience as wives and daughters; their oppressions and torments as feeble beings; their degradation as objects of sensual passion; their vindictiveness and cunning as slaves and victims; such are the features that compose the picture of woman in these celebrated productions.

Among the Romans, as it has been often observed, women possessed more of what can be called moral existence; but it was only in the interior of their families that they obtained any ascendant. Their manners were reserved and austere: their virtues could scarcely be called the result of sentiment. They raised for the republic a race of labourers and soldiers, and made clothes for their husbands and children. Great pains were taken by the grave magistrates of Rome to preserve them in this state of negative virtue. It is well known that Cato the Censor struck off from the list of the senate a husband who had permitted himself to salute his wife in the presence of his daughter. This was paying no great compliment to the young lady; but when the mind is left unstored with knowledge, it is necessary to put the passions under strong restraint. When the severity of the

republican institutions yielded to the progress of luxury and the innovations of tyranny, the regularity of female manners was displaced by the most frightful licentiousness. This was carried to such a degree that the bounds of nature were overleaped, and the traces of humanity lost in the abyss of vice. About this period commenced the custom of praising women of rank after their death in public orations; and the most distinguished sometimes received the honours of divinity. Mr. Thomas, in his essay on the history of the female character, says it was then more easy to make a goddess than to find an honest woman. He notices that the appearances of female virtue which yet remained were of the artificial and forced kind, being the offspring of the stoical philosophy. Like the vices of the time, the virtues were unnatural. The most striking contrasts were thus displayed: excessive courage appeared by the side of extreme baseness; and the most rigid austerity near the most dishonourable licence. The author whom we have just quoted, sketches in a lively manner the picture of Julia, the wife of the Emperor Severus; and it comes nearer a modern portrait than any other we meet with in ancient history; but indeed she lived on the very brink of modern times. She was witty and beautiful; always surrounded by philosophers and men of letters; sometimes changing paramours into savans, and sometimes savans into paramours. Her husband occupied a principal place in the group. She was the first and most shining object in all the most remarkable affairs of the day: in politics, pleasure, and science, her sway and example were omnipotent: her rank assisted her dispositions, and her dispositions induced her to take every advantage of her rank: she played a brilliant part during her life; and her reputation after death, says the author, would have been complete had it but included virtue.

Proceeding with this historian of the sex, we arrive at the third century of the Christian era, when a new and permanent principle began to act on the female character. Hitherto the limits of virtue, and the claims of decency, had varied according to systems of philosophy and views of policy. Lycurgus, as Montesquieu expresses it, took modesty from chastity itself; and the most virtuous girls of Sparta behaved in a way that would cause the most vicious in worse times to blush. In fact the ancients had no steady principles, or certain guides, in regard even to the common moral duties: for although the words religion and deity are for ever in use among them; yet, correctly speaking, they had no religion whatever. They transplanted to heaven the vices and caprices of earth; and regarded themselves either as the subjects of a fantastical and oligarchical tyranny, or of presiding deities, who betrayed their trust, and left them to

themselves while they quaffed their nectar in heaven. Christianity bore a very different character from its birth. It assumed at once the language and functions of supreme legislation. It yielded to nothing; it demanded that every thing should yield to its authority. To women, as to men, it prescribed fixed and severe rules of conduct. It interfered with actions, nor stopped there: it extended its empire over the thoughts of the heart. Hitherto the loose and accidental circumstances of politics, climate, or other points of national condition, had given their character to the customs and laws and morals of countries; but the sacred legislation of an unerring system established itself as a single, equal, and universal power. It inculcated and inspired contempt for what belonged alone to this world, and connected duty and self-esteem with another and a better. Hence originated a spiritual purity which had not before been even imagined. The soul became detached from the senses. Life was regarded as a combat, or at best a trial, rather than an enjoyment; and sanctity of manners "extended itself as a veil over society and over nature." In the enthusiasm of these early transports, the mind, which, in this imperfect state, is destined for ever to prove its natural infirmity, became bewildered and lost. Wandering from the path of sober duty, it seemed determined to recompense itself for the self-denials which it was commanded to exercise, by indulging the vain and heated visions of a distempered imagination. Hence the errors of the various ascetic systems, the vows of perpetual abstinence, the consecration of celibacy, and the indolent seclusion of monks and hermits. "The whole East," says Mosheim, "was filled with a lazy set of mortals; who, abandoning all human connexions, advantages, pleasures, and affairs, wore out a languishing and miserable life amidst the hardships of want and various kinds of suffering, in order to arrive at a more close and rapturous communion with God and angels." The women delivered themselves up to these ill-regulated sacrifices with the ardour that might be expected from their characteristic sensibility. The doctors of the church became their eulogists, and inflamed their zeal. None was more eloquent in his admiration of the sex than St. Jerome; of whom it has been suggested, that his manners were probably more austere than his feelings. In Rome he had the most illustrious and beautiful women for his disciples; and many of the most devoted of these, having first rendered themselves mistresses of Hebrew, followed him into the desarts of Palestine to study the books of Moses. The influence of the most popular lecturer on chemistry never, we believe, extended further than this. It must not be overlooked, however, that the female sex also distinguished itself by its zeal for the truth, in a way far

more creditable to its discretion. It has justly been regarded as highly instrumental in the wide and rapid extension of Christianity; and it has been well rewarded for its early faith and affection. By the side, and at the foot of the cross, women were always placed. It was women who went first in the morning, "while it was yet dark," to weep over the sepulchre : they had been the earliest and warmest friends of him whom they mourned: they had washed his feet with tears, refreshed them with ointments, and dried them with their hair. The influence of his lessons has, as we have just said, well rewarded them, even on earth, for this devotion. The religion of Christ is incompatible with the degradation of women; and it is admirably calculated to illustrate their proper virtues. Meekness, longsuffering, patience under injuries, humanity and perseverance in duty, even when it is most barren of reward; such are the dispositions inculcated by the Gospel; such are the qualities that form the power and beauty of the female character, and which establish its ascendency in the heart of man, whatever advantage he may seem to take of the attributes that are peculiar to himself. Wherever this religion has prevailed, the condition of the sex has been elevated; where it is yet rejected or unknown, woman remains insulted and oppressed. Christianity then is to be considered as the principal source of that marked distinction between ancient and modern times to which we have adverted. It has opened to females that passage into society which was before shut against them by the brutality and ignorance of man: to it, therefore, we owe that charm and expansion of life which their emancipation has conferred on civilized Europe.

The operation of this great agent of human improvement became assisted by an event which would at first seem illcalculated to promote the progress of softer manners, and to aid the development of the kind affections. We allude to the irruption of the barbarous nations of the North into the more Southern kingdoms, and their establishment of themselves in these countries as the masters of the soil, and the stock of the people. Mr. Heeren, a German professor, who has written some excellent works on the philosophical questions which history suggests, remarks, that "a religious respect for the sex, a sort of mystical fanaticism in love, belongs essentially to the Teutonic character.” There has always existed, in this regard, a remarkable difference between the North and the South: it was visible in their earliest and rudest respective conditions; and it is not obliterated to this day. The Scandinavian tribes always respected their women: in these wild and inclement regions females were never held in a state of restraint or seclusion; they accompanied the warriors in their expeditions; they distributed


the rewards of valour; and their presence inspired the efforts to deserve them. Love, considered as a sentiment, has always been a favourite theme of the Northern poets; and the heroes and hunters amongst these warlike people, roaming through their interminable forests, or bursting from their fastnesses on the affrighted refuse of the great empires of the South, regarded it as an honour and a duty to be submissive to their women. To this source, then, we owe first the spirit of chivalrous gallantry, and ultimately the practice of that polite gallantry which forms the most prominent feature in the present constitution of social intercourse. For this, among For this, among other reasons, it may be deemed happy for mankind, that the dominion of the Eastern manners and schools, which succeeded to the grandeur of ancient Rome, and which pretended a superiority over the barbarity of the West, was interrupted, and finally broken by the violent course of events. In the compositions of the early Western poets, woman becomes at once a different creature from that which we find her in the finest classical productions. It was in the North that she was enshrined in the imagination, and borrowed its influence to controul the senses. Thus a fine and delicate tone was imparted to literature and manners, such as they never would have possessed had the growing energies of Western Europe, instead of triumphing over the decrepitude of the East, submitted to its training, and adopted its pedantry.

The institution of chivalry chiefly grew out of the desire of protecting woman, exposed as she was by her weakness in those times of disorder, when society was agitated with the throes that precede the birth of establishments. Mr. Thomas, the line of whose history of the sex we continue to follow, observes, that during four or five hundred years Europe had witnessed only anarchy, outrage, and confusion. An adulterated species of Christianity formed a medley with the ancient usages and creeds of the barbarians: the power of sovereigns clashed with that of the nobles: the Arabs were struggling with the Goths, and all was violence and inconsistency. The precepts of the adopted religion had little or no influence. Those who made pilgrimages plundered on the road; and robbery and debauchery united themselves to superstition. It was in this miserable condition of things that certain men of rank, warriors and fond of enterprize, but more alive than most of their neighbours to the sentiments of humanity and justice, associated themselves together, that by means of their union they might effect a correction of disorders which braved the public authority. Their avowed objects were to combat the Moors in Spain, the Saracens in the East, the barbarous tyrants and brigands in the towers and castles of Germany and France; to protect travellers; and,

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