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The following lines quoted by Dr. Morrison, may be adduced in proof :
“A beautiful and clever woman should be regarded
The only alleviation of this unmitigated misery, is the affection of children for their own mothers. The prevalence of polygamy weakens the paternal connexion, and renders the maternal bond peculiarly strong. Aged mothers are treated with great respect by their sons, and after death, their memory is cherished with the fondest affection. This circumstance alone, mitigates the horrors of matrimonial slavery, and prevents the general prevalence of suicide among females.
This systematic oppression of the weaker sex has prevailed in Asia, from time immemorial. It is the legitimate fruit of those corrupt systems of religion, which have prevailed in the various countries of that continent. There is no hope of a change, for the better, until these systems are abolished, and Christianity introduced. With a religious creed which teaches the inferiority of woman, and sanctions polygamy, society cannot advance. The despotism of the court is based upon the despotism of the harem. The political and religious systems must stand or fall together. Hence the hostility of the governments of Asia to European manners and institutions. The people are not opposed to improvements. It is chiefly the influence of the court that prevents the progress of civilization. Despotism, civil, religious and domestic despotism, like its infernal prototype at the entrance of Hades, guards every avenue to the palace, the temple, and the seraglio, and whoever may disturb its grim repose, extends its triple jaws with dismal howling. Hence, society is stationary. Its usages are almost as fixed as the laws of gravitation. From the days of the Patriarchs until now, domestic oppression has cursed the fairest portions of this mighty continent.
The civilization of Europe has ever been of a different type. Its earliest inhabitants were restless adventurers, excited to leave the primitive abodes of the race, by a love of
enterprise and personal independence. These qualities give life to society, and progress to civilization. They learned their own strength from the perils they had successfully encountered, and the victories they had won. Hence accidental civilization has ever been marked by a love of liberty and a spirit of enterprise. It is worthy of remark also, that the restless habits and poverty of these early adventurers prevented the introduction of polygamy. Monogamy was introduced by the earliest lawgivers of Europe. Still the dignity, and importance of the marriage relation was not understood nor appreciated, till the introduction of Christianity. In the first settlement of Europe, the very circumstances which led these adventurers to iheir new abode, and the dangers to which they were constantly exposed, led them to place an undue estimate upon mere physical prowess, and, at the same time, to undervalue the modest virtues of the weaker sex. This was true of the heroic age of Greece. When war was the chief business, and glory the end of life, it is not strange that female weakness was despised, and the power of female charms comparatively inefficient. The soul of the hero was absorbed in other contemplations, and the delights of home were rather regarded with indiserence than contempt. Females were, therefore, less strictly observed and less secluded, than in later times, in Greece. The social intercourse of the sexes, though comparatively unrestrained and artless, was nevertheless marked by condescension, on the part of the lord, and by timidity and dependence, on the part of the lady. In the heroic ages, the occupations of females were similar to those of patriarchal times, having their origin in a primitive age. They drew water, kept sheep, fed cows and horses, even loosed and watered as did Andromache, the horses from their husbands' chariots, conducted the men to bed, and to the baths, dressed and undressed them, and performed almost all the laborious offices of the house. In such an age, we look in vain for that chivalrous devotion which has so deeply tinged the manners of our own times. Refined love was then scarcely known. Still there are some noble exceptions. That affecting scene of Homer, which describes the parting of Hector and Andromache, is, of itself, almost sufficient to wipe away the reproach of brutality from the age. The affectionate Andromache, while contemplating the probable fate of her husband, after re
minding him of the loss of her dearest relations in war, exclaims :
“ Yet while my Hector still survives, I see
The heart of the hero was touched. Yet his country, (ever the idol of the hero,) was in danger. After expressing his anguish for her fate, contemplating the prospective captivity of his wife and child, he cried :
“May I lie cold before that dreadful day,
Such exhibitions of elevated affection are not common in the best days of Greece. So gross were the prevailing sentiments, on the marriage relation, that some have denied the existence of refined love among them. “Certain prostitutes," says Madam de Stael, "lost to every sense of shame; slaves rendered contemptible by their abject state ; and women secluded from the rest of the world, confined within their own houses, entire strangers to the interests of their husbands, educated in such a manner as to render them unfit for comprehending any idea or sentiment, these were the only ties of affection with which the Greeks were acquainted. Love, as depicted by the ancients, was a distemper, a spell thrown over them, by the gods; it was a kind of delirium, which sought for no moral perfection in the object beloved. The Greeks did not know that women were beings capable of equaling them in sense and understanding; nor did ihey believe that, undeș the influence of sincere affection, they could become faithful companions for life; nor that it would constitute their own supreme felicity to devote their time and talents towards rendering the object of their attachment happy."
The Greeks generally regarded marriage as a mere political relation. Lycurgus absolutely abolished domestic affection, by converting the whole community into one great political family, and constituting the state the legal stepmother of every new-born child. The ideas of Plato upon
this subject are still more rerolting. He proposed, for his ideal republic, a community of wives. How could common citizens be presumed to understand the dignity and importance of the marriage tie, when philosophers and lawgivers so egregiously misapprehended its true import? It is but just, however, to add, that many of the ancient philosophers entertained more just and liberal views. Aristotle, in his Politics, freely censures this proposition of Plato, as well as the laws of Lycurgus. Socrates is represented by Xenophon as saying: “By many things, O men, is it evident that the female nature is, in nothing, inferior to that of men; they need only the required knowledge and power. If, therefore, one of you has a wife, let him only teach her, with full confidence, whatever he may wish her to understand." Plutarch also, in his “ Advice to married persons,” has drawn a picture of married life, which even Christianity would not blush to own.
Whatever may have been the theory of wise men among the Greeks, upon this matter, it is evident that their practice was far below what their rank, in the history of civilization, would lead us to expect ; and what constitutes a strange anomaly in the history of the world, as society advanced among them, the social intercourse of the sexes was more restricted, and women were more secluded. In the refined age of Greece, women were allowed less freedom of action and opinion, and were treated with less apparent consideration, than in the heroic age. Wives shared the bed, but not the table, of their husbands. They were confined to their own apartments, and maidens were not permitted to pass from one part of the house to another, without leave. This change of customs may have resulted from an imitation of the Asiatics, or, what is more probable, from jealousy of the influence of females, resulting from an increased conviction of their power to control the destinies of the state. In the palmy days of Grecian arts and arms, a few women were distinguished for accomplishments and intelligence. But these were generally females of doubtful reputation, and were admired rather as prodigies, or remarkable exceptions to a general rule, than as models for imitation. Such was the celebrated Aspasia, who was the companion of philosophers and the counsellor of statesmen. Although females were present at family parties, (composed generally of relatives,)
and at the religious festivals in which they took part, and occasionally at the theatres, yet society, in the modern acceptation of that term, could hardly be said to exist. What they understood by friendship existed only between men. The different sexes were not presumed to be at all interested in each other's occupations. Aristotle deems it unbecoming for a man even to know what was done within doors. The men lived almost constantly in the open air. The delightful climate of the country, with all its blandishments, invited them abroad. The forum, the circus, the pnyx, and the theatre, became their home ; literature, gymnastics and politics, their business. The honor of the state was their strongest bond of union ; the glory of the nation their idol; to it they sacrificed all the more delicate sympathies of nature, and many of the endearments of home. They rejoiced that they were members of a powerful confederacy; citizens of an illustrious city, defenders of a glorious state. The charms of home could exert but a feeble influence upon hearts so captivated with glory. They admired their wives, rather as the mothers of brave men, than as friends and companions. The mother was honored, not so much for her private virtues, as for her heroic sons. These were her jewels.
As Greece grew more wealthy and luxurious, the restraints imposed on females by law and custom were relaxed, and social intercourse was less formal and reserved. Females, however, did not, except in a very few extraordinary cases, frequent the schools of the philosophers or sophists. Distinction in learning was the privilege of the rougher sex. A few females, in poetry, equalled the most distinguished bards. Such were Sappho. and Corrinna, the latter of whom took the prize, repeatedly, from the immortal Pindar.
It is true of all ages and nations, that superior intellect will gain the ascendancy. So in Greece, when females were endued with uncommon genius, they surmounted all those obstacles which law and public opinion had thrown in their way. But the true estimate of female virtues may be learned from the language which Thucydides puts into the mouth of Pericles, when addressing the widows of those who died in the first campaign of the Peloponnesian war. “If,” says the orator, “it be expected from me, to say any thing to you, who are now reduced to a state of widowhood, about female virtue, I shall express it all in one short admonition ;-it is