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We are the advocates of women to the extent of maintaining their full equality with ourselves, having regard to the difference of destination and endowment; and therefore do, from our hearts, condemn the fashion of ancient times, which assigned to the females, even of the highest rank, such an engrossing proportion of domestic drudgery. But let us not mistake the simplicity of the times for degrading coercion; and let us give due weight to the argument in favour of the general condition of the female sex, so forcibly suggested by the numerous examples of female worth, conspicuous through all ancient history, and utterly incompatible with a general system of degradation below the level of society.
That women were never held in sufficient honour till Christianity assigned them their proper place we are not unwilling to concede; and to the want of knowing how to cultivate the blessing of their society we attribute the coarseness and pravity of feeling which adhered to the most refined of Mr. Hobhouse's
polished ancients.” So far are we from adopting his opinion, tbat Grecian refinement and female subjugation were together a proof of the little relation which the condition of women bears to general civilization. His in'stance of ancient Lacedæmon we think
ill chosen. Sparta was a state wholly artificial. Every thing was moulded in subserviency to its forced and extraordinary system. Refinement they had none; but Mr. Hobhouse has mistakingly and injuriously confounded their black broth and disdain of luxuries, with the manners and ignorance of a barbarous people. The most polished of the Athenian generals, Cimon and Zenophon, were the profound admirers of the Lacedæmonian discipline and
And the dignity and elevation of the ladies of Sparta were, doubtless, the great corrective of a system which, but for that temperament, would probably have displayed little else than a terrific distortion of human character.
But Mr. Hobhouse's lack of chivalry ends not here. He stands forth the assertor of the happiness of the Turkish women, and of the comforts of the harem; and for this he is not ashamed to borrow the testimony of Lady M. W. Montague. It is not, it cannot be denied, that the women are, for the most part, shut up and secluded from general society; that every man is capable of possessing himself of as many of them as he has the means of purchasing and maintaining; that they are considered by the other sex as the instruments of their sensual gratification, and not as the equal partners of their comforts, their converse, and their cares. Female honour is a phrase the meaning of which is not understood in Turkey. It is not the chastity of the
woman that is stained by her commerce with a stranger, but the property of her owner that is violated. The only compensations for this degradation of her moral condition, are the delights of tobacco, coffee, fruit, and sherbet, the cypress walks, the spicy alcove, the marble fountains, the glittering apparel, the silken slumbers, and sometimes the blandishments of the secluded chamber; but above all, the liberty of passing in disguise along the streets of the capital with nothing but the eyes visible, to tell the tale of love to the passing stranger, and invite to pleasures often fatal, and always perilous.
But the ladies will scarcely thank their good friends for thus judging and choosing for them. Our opinion is, that neither Mr. Hobhouse nor his fellow traveller appear to understand the true character, or to do justice to the real value of the female sex; of whom we will venture to say, however some may judge of them, reasoning from their own temperaments, or from such inferior samples of them as usually occur where they are looked for as the merchandize of sensual luxury, that the enjoyments of sense are to them a wretched compensation for the want of personal and intellectual liberty, and of the right to exercise those capacities which have constituted them the lawful partners, promoters, and refiners of our purest and noblest delights.
The indolence of the Turk is the great barrier to his improvement; an indolence confirmed by his government, his customs, his religion, and his climate. A strong excitement is wanting to create that degree of exertion which is necessary to produce a change of disposition and character, to ventilate his feelings, and to put his mental capacities into action. Nothing can be hoped until something shall happen to provoke a spontaneity.of effort. It was the opinion of Montesquieu, that what most discouraged all expectations of such a change, was the confinement and separation of the women, which debarred them from any influence on society. When the sexes are equally free, their mutual aim is to please each other; and thus the oppression of the vis inertiæ, to which warm climates are exposed, is prevented, and the mind and manners are kept in constant activity.
The failure of the efforts of Selim the Third, who ascended the Turkish throne in 1788, was owing to his want of being sensible of the truth and importance of the masim of Montesquieu, that “when a prince would make great alterations in his kingdom, he should reform by laws what is established by laws, and change by customs what is established by customs; for it is very bad policy to change by laws what ought to be changed by customs.”. Thus Peter the First is known to have brought about a sudden change in the character and habits of his people, by calling the women, who, till his time, had been shut up in jealousconfinement, into civil life and equal society. We are bold enough to say, that could Selim have imitated the great prototype of reformers in this feature of his plan, a more important revolution would have been prepared in Turkey, than his laws would probably have effected, even if his noble efforts to establish them had finally succeeded.
A change in the condition of the women would be the happiest augury of future success to such endeavours as are making, or may be made, to shake the Mahommedan ascendancy in the dominions of the sultan, to silence the voice of the chanter on the minaret, and to summon, with the trumpet of salvation, the slumbering Moslem to liberty and life.
One word more and we have done :- When we think of the treatment of the sex in Turkey, the confinement of their persons, the abuse of their charms, and the cruel contempt of their capacities, let us remember that, sad as have been the consequences of the sin of the first mother, it is to the efforts and ascendaney of her daughters that almost every Christian nation is, under God, indebted for its conversion to that religion which includes the conditions and promises of pardon and redemption.
Art. III.- The Nature of Things, a didascalic Poem, trans
lated from the Latin of Titus Lucretius Carus, accompanied with Commentaries, comparative, illustrative and scientific, and the Life of Epicurus. By Thomas Busby, Mus. Doc. Cantab. 2 vol. 4to. London. 1813.
Whatever interest may be excited by the particular investigations of philosophers, and however worthy of respect those exertions may be which lay open the ramifications of any individual branch of science, there is no merely human study so universally interesting, or so well worthy of pursuit
, as the general philosophy of nature. The researches of the experimental philosopher and the collections of the naturalist will each excite the attention and admiration of those who follow the same path of science which they have respectively chosen; but he who endeavours to grasp the universe, and professes to discuss the nature
of things," takes a more elevated station, and commands the attention of the whole human race, because every man is intimately connected with, and in part constitutes, the object of his investigation. It is in fact so natural, that a being, conscious of existence, and capable of contemplating and reasoning upon the world around him, should be led to enquire whence his existence, and all that sustains his existence, are derived, that we have heard of no nation so rude and barbarous as not to have pur-' sued the enquiry until a system of religion and philosophy proportioned to its intellectual cultivation has been formed. Those, however, who can only “look through nature (and with a very imperfect and mistaken view of it) up to nature's God," must necessarily form a very erroneous idea of the attributes and operations of that first cause which they wish to trace. Viewed through the more awful phenomena of nature, he who “rides on the whirlwinds and directs the storni," must be too mighty not to be terrific to those who can form no idea of power unconnected with the gratification of ambition, passion, or revenge, Hence the gods of most rude nations bear a strong resemblance to each other; they are characterized by those passions which their votaries feel to be inseparable from their own nature; and
they who make them are like unto them," not more in form than in disposition. The victims which bleed upon their altars are the peace-offerings of terror, and self-love is their sole motive for religious worship. But even in this barbarous state, the curiosity which has led mankind so far, will (if no higher motive should prompt them) induce a desire to penetrate still farther into the mysteries of religion and nature; and they will always find among their companions those whose enthusiasm or cunning will lead them to believe, or to feign, that they are competent instructors. Once admitted to this office, their aphorisms will be heard with reverent attention, and their fables listened to with that enthusiastic respect which superior knowledge, discoursing on subjects of mystery and importance, may always command from credulous ignorance. During the infancy of knowledge, and more especially before the common use of letters, mythology was constantly receiving fresh decorations and accessions, and whether it was the bard, the scald, or the druid, he found it necessary to exert his poetical talent, and grace his narrative with fictitious ornaments, or he could not hope long to engage the attention of his auditors. If to this we add the frequent emigrations and captivities common among rude nations, and the consequent admixture of religions—the figurative expressions which they customarily use, and which those who have but a partial knowledge of the language must be liable to mistake by inter
VOL. V. NO. IX.
preting them literally—the love of the marvellous, which always accompanies ignorance, and the gross credulity of those to whom every thing in nature is new and unintelligible, we shall not be surprised that the wildest fictions of heathen mythology should have gained credit and reverence. Such was probably the progress of the mythology adopted in Greece. We do not mean to enter into the questions to which the heathen mythology has given rise, or pretend to determine to what precise source the fabulous divinities of antiquity owe their origin. It is sufficient for our purpose to look upon them in the light in which the great body of the Grecian people viewed them; and whether Jupiter and Venus were or were not the deified patriarch, and the vessel which preserved him and his family from the general destruction, what they were in the general acceptation of Greece is sufficiently clear. Their characters and actions have been fully recorded, and present us with á singular compound of divinity and humanity, and display the power and wisdom of the one ridiculously blended with the frailty and folly of the other.
In the progress of civilization, and the consequent espansion of mind, those who were yet blind to the folly of their own religion could discern the absurdity of contemporary systems. The sarcastic Grecian, while he professed to worship a Jove, who, when he looked down upon a world in flames, could not find a cloud or a shower by which to stay the conflagration, thought the worshipper of an ox a fit subject for ridicule, and probably was not aware how well the Egyptian might have retorted upon him the imbecility of his own gods when he said,
8κ αν δυναίμην συμμαχεϊν υμίν εγω.
As time, and with it learning, advanced, though the gods of their fathers, as must always be the case, still continued to be the deities of those who were indisposed or unable to think for themselves, yet we cannot suppose that they were held in great veneration at a time when the comic poets were permitted and even encouraged to ridicule them on the public stage. Those who had just been amused with the wit and satire of Aristophanes must have worshipped with but little sincerity beings that had lately