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verted religion, and excuses for violated humanity. Valerius's Letters to Rufinus, the Golden Book of Theophrastus, and St. Jerome's Exhortations to Celibacy, have furnished all authors, from the Romance of the Rose downwards, with materials for this unmanly warfare-so narrow is the basis on which are grounded all the sorry jests, shallow, arguments, and pitiful scandals of ribalds and lampooners; and so easy is it to obtain a reputation for that species of wit which; as Johnson says of Scriptural parody, "a good man detests for its immorality, and a clever one despises for its facility.".
Chaucer's Wife of Bath, Merchant's Tale, &c. all borrowed from the above-mentioned sources, were little more than good-humoured, though gross caricatures; Boileau, whose tenth Satire is a more bitter denunciation, should have recollected, that he was naturally as well as professionally compelled to celibacy, and might have consulted his friend Fontenelle upon the fable of the Fox and the Grapes: it was perhaps to be expected that the melancholy Dr. Young, who undervalued human nature and happiness, should have levelled his shafts against the mas terpiece of one and the dispenser of the other-Woman!--but what shall we say of the contemporary satirists, Pope and Swift, each of whom, after trifling with and inveigling the affections of two accomplished ladies, who sacrificed every thing to the promotion of their happiness, slunk back from marriage, or, if married, were not only mean and cowardly enough to conceal it, but ungrateful enough to publish heartless
libels against the whole sex? Let this be always recollected when any one ventures the hackneyed quotations from Pope, "Every woman is at heart a rake" "Most women have no characters at all"—" The love of pleasure and the love of sway :" with other citations equally just and novel. As to Swift, he can luckily be seldom quoted in decent company; yet even he could confess that the grossness and degeneracy of conversation observable in his time were mainly attributed to the exclusion of women from society. Conscious that this self-spotting calumny is somewhat like spitting against the wind, modern writers have generally had the good sense to avoid putting themselves in the way of its recoil; and if a late noble author delighted to vent his spleen against the sex in general, and his wife in particular, he might plead in his defence that which I believe might be adduced by all similar libellers—
"Forgiveness to the injured doth belong;
They never pardon who commit the wrong."
Nor be it forgotten that such men may be only exemplifying the fable of the Painter and the Lion, for it is easier to traduce fifty women than practise one virtue.
"Women want the ways
To praise their deeds, but men want deeds to praise."
I do not merely admire women as the most beautiful objects of creation, or love them as the sole sources of happiness, but I reverence them as the redeeming glories of humanity, the sanctuaries of the
virtues, the pledges and antepast of those perfect qua lities of the head and heart, combined with attractive external charms, which, by their union, almost exalt the human into the angelic character. Taxation and luxury, and struggles for existence, have made us such a cold, selfish, plodding nation, that we should be base indeed, were it not for the disinterestedness and enthusiasm of our females, whose romance is necessary to qualify the painful reality of our existence. And yet, from the first moment when I began to reflect, I have always thanked God that I was not born a woman, deeming them the bestowers rather than enjoyers of happiness-the flower-crowned victims offered up to the human lord of the Creation.
Passing over the early period of her life, which, however, is one of perpetual restraint and unvaried subjection to the most self-denying forms and observances, we will suppose a female to have attained a fitting age for that great and paramount end of her being-marriage. Men have a thousand objects in life-the professions, glory, ambition, the arts, authorship, advancement, and money-getting, in all their ramifications, each sufficient to absorb their minds and supply substitutes in case of primary failure; but if a woman succeed not in the one sole hope of her hazardous career, she is utterly lost to all the purposes of exertion or happiness; the past has been all thrown away, and the future presents little but cheerless desolation. Love is only a luxury to men, but it may be termed a necessary to women, both by the constitution of society and the decrees of nature; for she has
endowed them with superior susceptibility and overflowing affections, which, if they be not provided with an object, perpetually corrode and gnaw the heart. And what are her feelings and chances in this fearful lottery?-A constant sense of degradation, in being compelled to make her whole life a game, a manœuvre, a speculation; while she is haunted with the fear of ultimate failure. And how alarmingly must the number of these involuntary nuns increase with the yearly augmenting distress of taxed, and luxurious, and expensive England, where the moral restraint of Malthus, while it inflicts no privations upon the man, condemns the female to an utter blighting of the soul, aggravated, perhaps, by dependency or want. Blistered be the tongue that can ridicule, and paralysed the hand that can libel, those victims of an artificial and unnatural system who have been unfeelingly taunted as Old Maids! Well could I excuse them, if, in the bitterness of sickened hope and the idleness of unjoyous solitude, they were even prone to exercise a vigilant censorship over the peccadilloes of their more fortunate rivals; but I repel the charge, and can safely affirm that some of the most amiable, kindhearted, liberal women I have ever known, were in this calumniated class.
One chance of "single blessedness" is still reserved for these Celibates. Their affections, unclaimed upon earth, sometimes seek a recipient in the skies; responding to the manifestations of divine love which they see on every side of them, they draw down religious lightning direct from Heaven, while men seek
conductors, which only guide it towards the earth.The devotion of the former, as it is founded upon feeling, may be uninquiring, and have a tendency to enthusiasm, but it will be cheerful and happy, because emanating from the heart; the latter approach this subject with their heads-a process which not unfrequently makes them sceptics, or bigots, or hypocrites.
But let us suppose the happier case of a young woman, who, from her beauty or fortune, is sure to receive offers-that is to say, who will attract fools or sharpers, and be taken as a necessary appendage of her face or her purse. Even here, how little selection is allowed to her :---she may reject one, perhaps two; but if the third be merely free from positive objections, prudence urges his acceptance, relations second prudence, and she marries a man because he affords her no good excuse for hating him. The Circassians of Europe have little more choice than their namesakes of Asia. The happy pair" begin by committing a great mistake-they withdraw themselves from the world to spend the honeymoon together: familiarity produces its usual effects; they see too much of one another at first, and the results are exhaustion and ennui. She who marries an Idler, who will hang upon her society till she is wearied, and then seek recreation elsewhere, has not so many chances of happiness as the woman whose husband is compelled to tear himself from her company for his duties, and gladly returns to it for his enjoyments.
A man's love generally diminishes after marriage, while a woman's increases; both of which results