« AnteriorContinuar »
manners, produced by climate, by foil, and by other permanent caufes, fall not under my plan: I fhould indeed make but a poor figure upon a subject that has been* learnedly difcuffed by the greateft genius of the present age (a).
I begin with external appearance, being the first thing that draws attention. The human countenance hath a greater variety of expreffions than that of any other animal; and fome perfons differ widely from the generality in thefe expreffions. The fame variety is obfervable in human geftures; and the fame peculiarity in particular perfons, fo as to be known by their manner of walking, or even by fo flight an action as that of putting on or taking off a hat: fome men are known even by the found of their feet. Whole nations are distinguishable by the fame peculiarities. And yet there is lefs variety in looks and geftures, than the different tones of mind would produce, were men left to the impulses of pure nature: man, an imitative animal, is prone to copy others; and by imitation, external behaviour is nearly uniform among those who ftudy to be agreeable; witnefs people of fashion in France. I am acquainted with a blind man, who, with out moving his feet, is conftantly balancing from fide to fide, excited probably by fome internal impulfe. Had he been endowed with eye-fight, he would have imitated the manners of others. I reft upon thefe outlines: to enter fully into the fubject would be an endless work; difproportioned at any rate to the narrowness of my plan.
Drefs must not be omitted, because it enters into external appearance. Providence hath cloathed all animals that are unable to clothe themfelves. Man can clothe himself; and he is endowed befide with an appetite for drefs, no lefs natural than an appetite for food. That appetite is proportioned in degree to its ufe: in cold climates it is vigorous; in hot climates, extremely faint. Savages must go naked till they learn to cover themselves; and they foon learn where covering is neceffary. The
Patagonians, who go naked in a bitter cold climate, must be woefully ftupid. And the Picts, a Scotch tribe, who, it is faid, continued naked down to the time of Severus, did not probably much furpafs the Patagonians in the talent of invention.
Modefty is another caufe for cloathing: few favages expofe the whole of the body without covering. It gives no high idea of Grecian modefty, that at the Olympic games people wrestled and run races ftark naked.
There is a third caufe for cloathing which is, the pleafure it affords A fine woman, seen naked once in her life, is a defirable object; defire being inflamed by novelty. But let her go naked for a month; how much more charming will she appear, when dreffed with propriety and elegance! Cloathing is fo effential to health, that to be lefs agreeable than nakednefs would argue an incongruity in our nature. Savages probably at first thought of cloathing as a protection only against the weather; but they foon discovered a beauty in dress: men led the way, and women followed. Such favages as go naked, paint their bodies, excited by the fame fondness for ornament, that our women fhew in their party-coloured garments. Among the Jews, the men wore ear-rings as well as the women (b). When Media was governed by its own kings, the men were fumptuous in drefs: they wore loose robes, floating in the air; had long hair covered with a rich bonnet, bracelets, chains of gold, and precious ftones: they painted their faces, and mixed artificial hair with that of nature. As authors are filent about the women, they probably made no figure in that kingdom, being fhut up, as at prefent, in feraglios. Very different was the cafe of Athenian ladies, after polygamy was banished from Greece. They confumed the whole morning at the toilette; employing paint, and every drug for cleaning and whitening the fkin: they laid red even upon their lips, and took great care of their teeth: their hair, made up in buckles with a hot iron, was perfumed and fpread upon the fhoulders: their drefs.
(b) Exod. xxii. 2.
was elegant, and artfully contrived to set off a fine fhape. Such is the influence of appetite for drefs: vanity could not be the fole motive, as Athenian ladies were never feen in public. We learn from St. Gregory, that women in his time dreffed their heads extremely high; environing them with many treffes of false hair, difpofed in knots and buckles, fo as to refemble a regular fortification. Jofephus reports, that the Jewish ladies powdered their hair with gold duft; a fashion that was carried from Afia to Rome. The firft writer who mentions white powder for the hair, the fame we ufe at prefent, is L'Etoile, in his journal for the year 1593. He relates, that nuns walked the streets of Paris curled and powdered. That fashion fpread by degrees through Europe. For. many years after the civil wars in France, it was the fafhion in Paris to wear boots and fpurs with a long fword: a gentleman was not in full drefs without thefe accoutrements. The fword continues an article of drefs, though it diftinguishes not a gentleman from his valet. To fhow that a tafte for drefs and ornament is deeply rooted in human nature, favages difplay that taíte upon the body, having no covering to difplay it upon. Seldom is a child left to nature: it is deprived of a tefticle, a finger, a tooth; or its fkin is engraved with figures..
Cloathing hath no flight influence, even with refpect to morals. I venture to affirm, at the hazard of being thought paradoxical, that nakednefs is more friendly to chaftity than covering. Adultery is unknown among favages, even in hot climates where they have fcarce any covering. A woman dreffed with tafte is a more defir-> *able object than one who always goes naked. Dress, befide, gives play to the imagination, which pictures to itfelf many fecret beauties, that vanish when rendered familiar by fight; if a lady accidentally difcovers half a leg, imagination is inftantly inflamed, though an actress appearing in breeches is beheld with indifference: a naked Venus makes not fuch an impreffion, as when a garter only is difcovered. In Sparta, men and women lived together without any referve: public baths were common to both; and in certain games they danced and
combated together naked as when born, In a later përiod, the Spartan dames were much corrupted; occafioned, as authors fay, by a fhameful freedom of intercourfe between the fexes. But remark, that corruption was not confined to the female fex, men having degenerated as much from their original manhood as women from their original chastity; and I have no difficulty to maintain, that gold and filver, admitted contrary to the laws of Lycurgus, were what corrupted both fexes. Opulence could not fail to have the fame effect there that it has every where; which is to excite luxury and fenfuality. The Spartans accordingly, fhaking off aufterity of manners, abandoned themselves to pleasure : the most expensive furniture, the fofteft beds, fuperb tapeftry, precious. vafes, exquifite wines, delicious viands, were not now too delicate for an effeminate Spartan, once illuftrious for every manly virtue. Lycurgus understood human nature better than the writers do who carp at him. It was his intention, to make his countrymen foldiers, not whining lovers: and he juftly thought, that familiar intercourfe between the fexes would confine their appetites within the bounds of nature; an useful leffon to women of fashion in our days, who expofe their nakedness in order to attract and enflame lovers. What juftifies this reafoning is, the afcendant that Spartan dames had over their husbands while the laws of Lycur gus were in vigour: they in effect ruled the ftate as well as their own families. Such ascendant cannot be obtained nor preferved but by ftrict virtue: a woman of loofe manners may be the object of loofe defire; but feldom will fhe gain an afcendant over any man, and never over her husband. Among no people was there more freedom of intercourfe than among the ancient Germans: males and females flept promifcuously round the walls of their houfes; and yet we never read of an attempt upon a married woman. The fame holds true of the Scotch highlanders.
Cleanliness is an article in external appearance. Whether it be inherent in the nature of man, or only a refinement of polished nations, may at firft fight appear doubt
ful. What pleads for the former is, that cleanliness is remarkable in feveral nations that have made little progrefs in the arts of life. The favages of the Caribbee islands, once a numerous tribe, were remarked by writers as neat and cleanly. In the ifland Otaheite, or King George's ifland, both fexes are cleanly: they bathe frequently, never eat nor drink without washing before and after, and their garments as well as their perfons are kept free of spot or blemish. Ammianus Marcellinus, defcribing the Gauls, fays, that they were cleanly; and that even the pooreft women were never feen with dirty garments. The negroes, particularly thofe of Ardrah in the flave-coaft, have a fcrupulous regard to cleanlinefs. They wash morning and evening, and perfume themselves with aromatic herbs. In the city of Benin, in Guinea, women are employed to keep the streets clean; and in that respect they are not outdone by the Dutch: In Corea, people mourn three years for the death of their parents; during which time they never wash Dirtinefs must appear difmal to that people, as
to us *." But inftances are no lefs numerous that favour the other fide of the queftion. Ammianus Marcellinus reports of the Huns that they wore the fame coat till it fell to pieces with dirt and rottennefs. Plan Carpin, who vifited the Tartars anno 1246, fays, "That they
never wash face nor hands; that they never clean a "difh, a pot, nor a garment; that, like fwine, they made "food of every thing, not excepting the vermin that "crawl on them." The prefent people of Kamfkatka anfwer to that defcription in every article. The naftinefs of North American favages, in their food, in their cabins, and in their garments, paffes all conception. As they never change their garments till they fall to rags, nor ever think of washing them, they are eat up with vermin. The Efquimaux, and many other tribes, are equally nafty.
* Many animals are remarkable for cleanliness. Beavers are fo, and fo are cats. This must be natural. Though a tafte for clean-* liness is not remarkable in dogs, yet, like men, they learn to be cleanly.