« السابقةمتابعة »
THE PLEASURES OF LOVE--continued.
O lovely woman! man's unvarying friend,
Thy soothing accents hush his infant wail;
When the warm pulse of life begins to fail;
In danger, faithful as the turtle dove;
Thy gentle bosom is the home of love,
The heaven of bliss below, the paradise above ! Another poet thus expresses the same sentiment: How sweet is woman's Love, is woman's care!
When struck and shatter'd, in the stormy hour, We droop forlorn ; and man, with stoic air,
Neglects, or roughly aids; then, robed in power, Then nature's angel seeks the mourner's bower.
How blest her smile that gives the soul repose ! How blest her voice! that, like the genial shower,
Pour'd on the desert, gladdens as it flows,
Ye are stars of the night, ye are gems of the morn,
Her smile is our meed, and her bosom our pillow.
O woman! lovely woman! Nature made you
Angels are painted fair, to look like you.
Eternal joy, and everlasting love !
every gesture dignity and love. Lord Lyttleton, in his elegant lines to the memory of his lady, thus describes her:
Made to engage all hearts, and charm all eyes;
Her mind was virtue, by the graces dress'd. Some persons have thought it a curious question, Which is the more poble, Man or Woman? It is observed in the Athenian Oracle, that one of the greatest difficulties arising in the discussion of this controversy, is, that there is no judge to be found who is not interested in the cause. It must not, therefore, be thought that the determination of this point is of little importance; for we should have none of those dismal feuds, both in high and mean families, did not women endeavour to govern men, instead of obeying them. Now, whether the business be fairly arbitrated, or whether it be yielded out of complacency to that sex which loves to be commended, and out of pity to its weakness ; upon examination of the reasons of either side, it is safer to suspend one's judgment, that we may neither betray our own sex, nor incense the other, which, it is said, is not so easily reconciled as, it is offended.
Others are of opinion, that the courtship and sueing which men make to women, is a tacit but sufficient
argument of the esteem wherein they hold them; for we do not seek after a thing we undervalue. But the excellence of women above men, is chiefly argued from the place, the inatter, and the order, of their creation ; for man had not the advantage to be created in the terrestrial paradise, as woman had, who also was produced out of a more noble matter than he; he being made out of the dead earth, and she out of living organized matter. As for the order of the creation, God, in the production of mixed bodies, began with the meanest things, and ended with the noblest. He first made the earth and the sea, then plants, fishes, and the other brutes ; after which, he created man, as the master-piece of all things; and, lastly, woman, as the master-piece of nature, and the model of all perfections; mistress of man. There is no good which is not found in a higher degree in woman than in man. As for the goods of the body, the chief of which is beauty, men have utterly lost the cause; nor will they be more able to carry it in reference to the goods of the mind; the same being found more vigorous, and attaining sooner to maturity, in women. They commonly perform more actions of virtue than men; and indeed they have more need of them, to withstand the assaults made upon their chastity, which is not so often found in the other sex. They are acknowledged by all to be more merciful, faithful, and charitable than men; so devout, that the church terms them by that name; and so patient, that God has judged them worthy to carry their unborn children nine months. In short, there is no situation or office, no science or art, in which women have not. excelled ; witness the two virgins, De Roches and De Gournai, the Viscountess of Auchi, and Juniana Morel, a sister jacobin- of Avignon, who understood fourteen languages, and at Lyons maintained theses in philosophy at the age of thirteen. So also, of old, Diotima and Aspasia were so excellent in philosophy, that Socrates was not ashamed to go to their public lectures. Hipalia, of Alexandria, the wife of Isidore the philosopher; in oratory, Tullia, the daughter, and doubly heiress, of Cicero ; and Cornelia, who taught eloquence to the Gracchi, her sons ; in poetry, Sappho, the inventress of Sapphic verses ; and the three Corynnas, of whom the first overcame Pindar, the prince of lyric poets, five times; and in painting, Irene and Calypso, in the days of Varro. If there have been prophets, there have also been prophetesses and sibyls; yea, they were virgins of old, that rendered the oracles at Delphos. In brief, if there have been warlike men, there have been Amazons too, who have shewn that valour is not solely to be found in men. And there have been maidens who have fought very courageously, whose sex was not known till they were slain in battle. But these feminine virtues are not so much celebrated as those of men, by reason of the envy which they bear to the sex, having subjected the same to such a pass, that they are enforced to support all our defects. Though, indeed, women may say to men, as a lion did to a man who shewed him the picture of a man killing a lion : “ If lions,” said he, were addicted to painting, you would see more men killed by lions, than lions by men;" if women had had the making of laws and histories, you would see more virtues exercised by women than by men. But though it will be said that only men give their opinion of this matter, yet God himself has passed a decree upon them in these words : “ The woman shall be subject to the man.” And it is to no purpose to say, that it was otherwise before the first sin, and that subjection was imposed on the woman for a punishment; seeing the punishment of the serpent, that he should creep upon the earth, does not pre-suppose that he caused man to sin by the means of his wife; but indeed God converted that into a penalty, which before was natural to him. The same ought to be said concerning the woman, who was no less subject to the man before than after his sin. Moreover, after God had taken the woman out of Adam's side, (whence, they say, it happens that their heads are so hard,) he did not say she was good, as he had pronounced all the rest of his creatures. And to get Adam to marry her, there was no other expedient found, but to cast him into a sleep; no doubt, because, had he been awake, he would have been much puzzled to resolve upon it; so that they who, considering on one side the usefulness of that sex for the preservation of the species of men, and, on the other, the mischiefs whereof it is the cause, have not ill determined, when they termed woman a necessary evil, to which men are addicted by natural instinct, for the general good, and to the prejudice of the particular; just as water ascends upwards, contrary to its own nature, for the eschewing of vacuity. Woman is an imperfect animal, whom Plato questioned whether he should not rank among the irrational, and whom Aristotle terms “a monster." They who treat her most gently, style her a simple error of nature. Now if, in some species of animals, females have the advantage above males, as tigresses, lionesses, and she-wolves, it is in fierceness; and therein we also yield to women.
But what more competent judge amongst men can they find than Solomon, who tried so many, and inquires,
Who can find a wise woman?" and who, after he had compared them to the bottomless pit, concludes, that all wickedness is supportable, provided it be not the wickedness of a woman; yea, that the wickedness of a man is better than the goodness of a woman.
But, from such opinions as the above, which have been urged in former times with a gravity that renders them doubly ridiculous, we may revert to those principles upon which alone a rational and charitable opinion of the sex is to be founded. Every thing is esteemed according to its structure, composition, and the end and manner of its application. Now, man and woman having the same author, God, and being composed almost of the same parts, it remains to inquire what means both the one and the other make use of for attaining their end, which is happiness. It is certain, that the being either man or woman makes neither species good or bad, handsome or deformed, noble or infamous, happy or unhappy. There are found of both sorts in each sex ; as, to begin in