Imágenes de páginas

tection*. The man, as a protector, is directed by nature to govern: the woman, confcious of inferiority, is disposed to obey. Their intellectual powers correspond to the deflination of nature: men have penetration and folid judgement to fit them for governing: women have fufficient understanding to make a decent figure under good government; a greater proportion would excite dangerous rivalship. Women have more imagination and more fenfibility than men ; and yet none of them have made an eminent figure in any of the fine arts. We hear of no fculptor nor ftatuary among them; and none of them have rifen above a mediocrity in` poetry or painting. Nature has avoided rivalship between the fexes, by giving them different talents. Add another capital difference of difpofition: the gentle and infinuating manners of the female fex, tend to foften the roughness of the other fex; and where-ever women are indulged

*From which it appears to proceed, that women naturally are more careful of their reputation than men, and more hurt by obloquy.

with any freedom, they polish fooner than



These are not the only particulars that diftinguish the fexes. With refpect to matrimony, it is the privilege of the male, as fuperior and protector, to make a choice; the female preferred has no privilege but barely to confent or to refufe. Nature fits them for thefe different parts: the male is bold, the female bafhful. Hence among all nations it is the practice for men to court, and for women to be courted: which holds alfo among many other animals, probably among all that pair.

Another diftinction is equally visible: The mafter of a family is immediately connected with his country; his wife, his

The chief quality of women, fays Rousseau, is fweetness of temper. Made by nature for fubmiflion in the married ftate, they ought to learn to fuffer wrong, even without complaining. Sournefs and ftubbornefs ferve but to increase the hufband's unkindnefs and their own diftreffes. It was not to indulge bad humour, that Heaven bestowed on them manners infinuating and perfuafive: they were not made. weak in order to be imperious: a fweet voice fuits ill with fcolding; delicate features ought not to be disfigured with paffion. They frequently may have reafon for complaints; but never, to utter them publicly.


children, his fervants, are immediately connected with him, and with their country through him only. Women accordingly have lefs patriotifm than men ; and less bitterness against the enemies of their country.

The peculiar modefty of the female fex, is alfo a diftinguishing circumftance. Nature hath provided them with it as a defence against the artful folicitations of the other fex before marriage, and alfo as a fupport of conjugal fidelity.

A fundamental article in the present sketch is matrimony; and it has been much controverted, whether it be an appointment of nature, or only of municipal law. Many writers have exercised their talents in that controverfy, but without giving fatisfaction to a judicious inquirer. If I mistake not, it may be determined upon folid principles; and as it is of importance in the hiftory of man, the reader, I am hopeful, will not be difgufted at the length of the argument.

Many writers hold that women were σriginally common; that animal love was gratified as among horfes and horned cattle ; and that matrimony was not


known, till nations grew in fome degree to be orderly and refined. I felect Cicero as an author of authority: "Nam fuit "quoddam tempus, cum in agris homines paffim, beftiarum more, vagabantur, ct fibi victu ferino vitam propagabaut: nec ratione animi quicquam fed "pleraque viribus corporis adminiftra


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

bant. Nondum divinae religionis non "humani officii ratio colebatur. Nemo "legitimas viderat nuptias, non certos "quifquam infpexerat liberos * (a).”— Pliny, in fupport of that doctrine, informs us, that the Garamantes, an African nation, male and female lived promifcuoufly together, without together, without any notion of matrimony. Among the Aufes, a people of Libya, as Herodotus fays, matrimony was not known, and men cohabited with women indifferently, like other

"For there was a time, when men, like the "brutes, roamed abroad over the earth, and fed like "wild beats upon other animals. Then reason bore "no fway, but all was ruled by fuperior ftrength. "The ties of religion, and the obligations of mora"lity, were then unfelt. Lawful marriage was un❝ known, and no father was certain of his offspring." (a) De Inventione, lib. 1.


animals. A boy educated by his mother was at a certain age admitted to an affembly of men, and the man he clung to was reputed his father. Juftin and other authors report, that before Cecrops, who reigned in Attica about 1600 years before Chrift, marriage was not known in Greece; and that the burden of children lay upon the mother.

Before entering directly into the matter, it is proper to remove, if poffible, the bias of these great names. The practice of the Garamantes and of the Aufes is mention-. ed by Pliny and Herodotus as fingular; and, were it even well vouched, it would avail very little against the practice of all other nations. Little weight can be laid upon Pliny's evidence in particular, confidering what he reports in the fame chapter of the Blemmyans, that they had no head, and that the mouth and eyes were in the breaft. Pliny at the fame time, as well as Herodotus, being very deficient in natural knowledge, were grofsly credulous; and cannot be relied on with respect to any thing ftrange or uncommon. As to what is reported of ancient Greece, Cecrops poffibly prohibited polygamy, or introdu


« AnteriorContinuar »