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Peruse the sacred volume: Him who died Her kiss betrayed not, nor her tongue denied. While even the apostles left him to his doom, She lingered round his cross, and watched his
In those stages of human society that intervene between the most uncultivated state of nature and taste for elegance and refinement of mankind, pageantry and show seem to employ the utmost attention, and to be considered as the only proper appendages of grandeur; strong proofs of which are afforded us by almost all the nations of the east, and by Poland in the north. The Polish women of fashion seldom go to visit one another, without being attended by the most numerous train of servants, carriages, and Hambeaux they can muster; but when we follow them home, we meet with nothing adequate to this parade: their apartments are but poorly furnished, and but hardly clean, and themselves are the mean and fawning slaves of their husbands, who, except in the articles of equipage and dress, scarcely treat them as rational beings. In Germany, where in general the taste is less formed, the women are more fond of family pageantry, and more crammed with family pride, than in France or England. In Italy, of a warmer temperament, they aim more at captivating the heart than the
and have there, as well as in France, attained almost an absolute dominion over the men; a prerogative, which in Portugal seems much on the decline : for though, in the time of Alphonso, when the Portuguese were an honour to human nature, the man who insulted a woman, or broke any promise he had made to her, was degraded from whatever rank he enjoyed ; at present the false gallantry introduced, authorizes him to commit every perfidy of that nature with impunity.
So extensive are the effects of politeness in Europe, that it has not only softened the actions and manners of him, who, tutored in the lap of ease, has received the polish of a good education; but of him also, who left to nature, has nothing to boast of but what he received from her hand. This spirit of sympathetic indulgence, or of polite gallantry, does not stop in endeavouring to ease the load of female toil, or mitigate the severity of that labour for which their natural weakness seems to have incapacitated the sex; it expands itself to every part of the conduct of the men which has
any relation to them. We give a woman, though of inferior quality, the right hand, shew her every token of respect, and place her in every situation of honour. We lavish our substance on ornaments for our wives and daughters, and reckon that when they appear in elegance and taste, they reflect a lustre and credit upon us. We are hurt when they behave improperly; and, on the contrary, persuade ourselves that their good conduct adds a dignity to our character and reputation. In short, we are so deeply interested in every thing that relates to them, that they may be considered as the arbiters of our fate, and the spring that sets in action and continues to direct almost every action of our lives: such is the indulgence we shew them, and such the power we put in their hands, that a proverbial expression has from thence arisen, that England is the heaven of women.
In France, Italy, and Spain, the deference paid to women is still greater than in England, and generally proceeds from different motives : here the honour we confer upon them, flows from a mixture of love for their persons, and esteem for their virtues; there it arises, for the most part, only from a kind of customary gallantry, which seems more directed to the whole sex than to an individual. A Frenchman, the moment he is in the company of a woman, whether young or old, beautiful or otherwise, declares himself her admirer, talks of flames and darts, and pays her a thousand compliments on her beauty. An Italian, when he is introduced to a lady, approaches her in the most humble and submissive manner, kisses her hand, and, if she is handsome, and of quality, considers her as a sublime being, as an angel in human form, and consequently never to be approached but with the greatest reverence. The Spaniard goes yet a step further: the whole sex is to him an object of little less than adoration; he retains still a tincture of knight-errantry, in every thing relating to women, and will readily venture his life to save any of them from trouble or from danger; the object of his love is never less than a goddess, whom he always mentions with all the extravagance that metaphor and hyberbole can dictate; and, to a woman above the rank of a peasant, he never presents any thing but in a kneeling posture.
Gone from her cheek is the summer's bloom,
And the crowds that swore for her love to die,
I saw her in childhood,
A bright gentle thing,
Or the dews of the spring,
Were her playmates all day,
And artless as they.
I met her again,
A fair girl of eighteen,
Of mind and of mien.
Like moonlight she shone,
The glory of one.