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garter above or below the knee?' The answer was so low I could not hear it; but the old gentleman hobbled back to his seat, apparently not quite satisfied with his reception. The married lady now pressed her kinswoman to put her question in turn: but she would by no means consent to it, hinting that she could not think of putting her mouth to a trumpet that had so lately been polluted by the lips of a male. My friend the Gascon, on being told of her refusal, seemed to enjoy some joke that had struck him, and, as they sometimes think aloud, was muttering to himself. I heard the words, d'une certain age;' but he stopped short, and said aloud, that the lady certainly thought it was more selon les règles for her to be asked questions than to ask them. Miss Martha pursed up her lips, and said something of impertinence and mixed companies. “It is almost four, said her kinswoman; and taking up the lap-dog, walked out of the room, leaning upon Miss Martha, and telling her husband to follow them. The Frenchman was on his feet in an instant; and, skipping over the benches, got down stairs in time enough to call her servant, and to hand, first her lap-dog, and then its mistress, into the carriage, that waited for them. He offered his hand to Miss Martha, who would not accept of it. The husband brushed past him with a look that did not seem to thank him for his attentions. •Go home,' said the lady to the footman, who looked to her for the order; and the coach drove from the door. The French gentleman turned to me, who was standing behind in the entrance; 'En Angleterre le marriage est une affaire si sombre,- In England marriage is so gloomy a business.' Quelquefois,--sometimes, said I smiling.--My Frenchman caught himself immediately.— Assurément, monsieur n'est pas marié. I assured him I was not married. Il n'en pas l'air, You have not the look on't. This, in
his opinion, was both a felicitation and a compliment; and so it had one of my best bows at parting.
No. 23. SATURDAY, JULY 9, 1785.
It has been remarked, that in proportion as a nation advances from barbarism to civilization, the women rise into esteem, hold a more important station in society, and become more and more objects of attention. Upon a fair estimate, we shall probably find a higher degree of true refinement in the polished nations of modern Europe than what prevailed even in the brightest days of Greece and Rome. Accordingly, a lady at the court of Versailles, or of London, is treated with respect, attention, and observance, to which an Athenian beauty, or a Roman matron, was not accustomed.
One would naturally expect to meet with the same progress of refinement among writers who treat of the female character. We find, however, that this is not the case; and that women are often treated in books with the most sovereign contempt by the most elegant writers. An English author, distinguished for the elegance and the politeness of his manners, while he acknowledges the influence of the fair sex, and inculcates the necessity of gaining their good graces by every man who wishes to advance in the road of ambition, at the same time talks of women in general as beings of an inferior order. He does not scruple to call them, children of a larger growth,
and to say, that he never knew one woman capable of reasoning or of acting consequentially for four-andtwenty hours together.
It is not my intention at present to enter the lists with the Earl of Chesterfield. I flatter myself it is an unnecessary task, and that few of
readers require any other argument than their own feelings and observation, to be satisfied of the injustice of his lordship's invective against the loveliest part of the creation,' the last, best work of Heaven.
This injustice of our sex towards the other often arises from a want of duly considering the different conditions of each. The law, in some instances, considers women in a state of pupillage-and they frequently may be reckoned so in conduct. They are necessarily under the tutelage of circumstances and of situation, governed by the decorum of sex, by the forms of the world. If we picture to ourselves a woman divested of that pliability of mind, firm in resolve, unshaken in conduct, unmoved by the delicacies of situation, by the fashions of the times, by the fear even of common-place obloquy, or of flippant censure; in the delineation of such a character, we immediately change the idea of the sex, and, like the son of Peleus discovered amidst the daughters of Lycomedes, we see under the form of woman the virtues and qualities of a man.
There is one particular in which we hear the sex daily blamed, and in which their conduct has afforded matter for much severe censure; I mean, a predilection they are supposed to bear to frivolous men, possessing no one valuable talent, no one quality sufficient to procure either respect or esteem.
In this, as in other things, I am inclined to believe, that it is not always in the freedom of choice, but in that vassalage of situation and circumstances which I mentioned, that their society is formed. But were I
even to admit that women are apt to prefer the society of men of light and showy parts to that of men of more cultivated minds; I cannot, for my part, allow, that they merit all the obloquy that has been thrown upon them on that account.
There is in the female character a fear of offending, a self diffidence, a delicate sense of propriety, which renders a woman unhappy when she says or dves, or thinks she has said or done, a thing not perfectly as it ought to have been. A quick perception, and a delicate sensibility, render her feelingly alive to the opinions of those around her. Hence proceeds that modest shyness, that bewitching softness, the most attractive charm which Heaven has bestowed on womankind. Afraid of an inferiority, a woman of sensibility feels a certain degree of uneasiness in the company of men of high ability and profound learning. Diffident of being able to converse with such men on equal terms, she fancies she is contemned by them; she feels a disagreeable restraint in their presence, from which she is glad to be relieved, and to find herself in a circle where, though she may meet with less genius, less knowledge, and less wit, she is more upon a footing with those around her, and less afraid of betraying any defect in herself.
Perhaps, too, men possessed of uncommon talents and great genius are apt to trust too much to their iritrinsic merit, and to despise, as beneath their regard, those graces and accomplishments, the sole end of which is to render a man agreeable in society. As gold, without being highly polished, will always be yalued, they seem to think they may rest secure upon their sterling merit, as sufficient to procure them the. esteem and consideration of mankind. How many men of genius and of knowledge could we name, whose manners are disgusting, and to whon: nothing could reconcile us but a consciousness of
their superiority in the higher endowments of the mind?. A Locke or a Newton may be very unpleasing companions, and may be deficient in every quality requisite to render a man agreeable in the common intercourse of life. But the same quick and delicate perception which gives pain to a woman when she imagines she herself has been guilty of any impropriety in behaviour or in manner, leads her to observe with attention the manners of others, to be charmed with the ease, the elegance, the politeness of a well-bred man, and to be disgusted with the first appearance of any thing harsh, vulgar, or illiberal.
It may also be observed, that there is something in the female mind which delights more in the beautiful than the sublime, more in the amiable than the splendid, more in what engages and captivates than in what awes with its grandeur or astonishes with its vastness. A woman must be masculine to a certain degree before she can prefer Homer to Virgil, Milton to Tasso, and Shakspeare to Metastasio, or the bold strokes of Michael Angelo to the graceful touches of Guido. May not the same softness and delicacy dispose her to prefer those gentle manners and amiable qualities which adorn private and domestic scenes, to the more splendid talents which fit a man to shine in public life, in the genate, or in the field, to those which qualify him to instruct and inform mankind by philosophical inquiry or deep investigation?
In this, as in every thing else, we have reason to admire the wisdom and benevolence of the Author of nature. It falls to the lot of a very small portion of the human race to possess those talents which enable a man to read his history in a nation's eyes. Were the regard, the esteem, the confidence of the women, confined to such alone, the bulk of mankind would be deprived of the best, the purest source of happiness which this world affords. What enjoyment can be