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ON THE FEMALE CHARACTER,
(From the Works of Futher Fitz-Eustace.)
“Oh woman, lovely woman ! nature forni’d thee
Addison has written an admirable paper respecting Salamanders. They are,” says he, heroines in chastity, that tread upon fire, and live in the midst of flames, without being hurt. They know no distinction of sex in those with whom they converse, -grow familiar with a stranger at first sight,—and are not so narrowspirited, as to observe whether the persons they talk to, be in breeches or petticoats.” Such is his description of Salamanders, and I am sorry to see a numerous class of the abovementioned persons holding a situation in English society.
There has of late appeared a prevalent desire of introducing French breeding and French manners into this island. The looseness, the profligacy, and, I may say, the immorality of the French, are ill suited to the English nation ; but an attempt has been made and a partial success has been the consquence.
Young men have been sent over to France for the purpose of finishing their education ; that, by mixing in French society, they may be enabled to soften and ameliorate the native asperity of the English character. Young women, to the shame of their parents be it spoken, have been delivered over to the tuition of French teachers, and sent to the Continent with the like intention. There, even before they have begun to judge for themselves, and form just estimates of men and things they have beheld, practised, and admired, the manners and breeding of the French nation ; and they have returned to England, Frenchified in their notions, habits, and mode of life. I do not here mean to insinuate, that sending them to France is improper ; but only, that they should remain in England until they have arrived at a proper state of maturity both in body and mind; and then real improvement would be the consequence of foreign travel*.
* “My Italian master told me, that throughout all Italy, (and it may be added throughout all France), people of good society (BON TON) are totally without religion."-Scott's SKETCHES OF MANNERS, &c. IN FRANCE, ITALY, AND SWITZERLAND.
The looseness of manners among the French is occasioned by a delusive mode of thinking and reasoning*. Thus, only to confine myself to the economy of their own inhabitations ; the lady will admit visiters into her bed-room, and go through the whole routine and ceremony of receiving morning calls, before she is out of her bed. She will dress herself behind the curtain, while the gentleman is sitting in the room, and can plainly distinguish her every movement. The women are so far dead to every sense of decency and decorum,--dead to shame,-dead to modesty. The fashion among the French is, that the ladies and gentlemen should not separate after dinner, as among the English : the females remain to take a free and unrestrained share in the conversation. Licentiousness and grossness have no effect in the separation of the sexes, This custom of itself naturally indicates, that the morals are loose and lax, and require some certain modifications ; at least, they are not suited for the English, especially boarding school misses, and boys in their teens.
“ The French,” says the late Mr. Scott, in his Visit to Paris are a clever people,--they are an active people,—they are a gay people ;-—but they are not deep or sound thinkers,—they do not feel virtuously, or permanently, or kindly,—they have no native relish for the charms of nature,—the shallow sophistications, and theatrical forms of artificial systems, are their favourites,--they can see nothing but simple facts,-they cannot detect causes, consequences, or connexions, and what is worst of all, their actions are not indexes, to their hearts,"
The greatest ornament in the female character is that modesty and delicacy, which endeavours to avoid the public eye, and is suffused with blushes at the admiration it unwittingly occasions. I would not wish my readers to understand by this, that females should be insensible to applause ; but only that a due observance of caution is absolutely necessary. Applause is dangerous, especially to minds which are not rightly attempered : it dazzles the eyes, and stupifies the senses, and ravishes the heart. It may be assimilated to laudanum ; a small quantity is useful and serviceable, an over-dose productive of the most fatal consequences.
Some persons, who have imagined themselves in possession of more real philosophy than their neighbours, have, wittily in their own estimations, asked, why should females, who are not aware of having committed any thing wrong, blush? Why should this manifest indication of guilt appear in the countenance, when the thoughts are pure, and the heart innocent ? But, by what argument, by what reasoning, have they arrived at this conclusion ? Instead of being the attendant upon guilt, blushing is the companion of innocence : it is alone produced by the
Vide Scott's Visit to Paris.
“Mens sibi conscia recti."
It is the demonstrative feature of sensibility and susceptibility of mind; and, in my humble estimation, when a female, however lovely, ceases to blush, she immediately loses her most powerful attraction.
Instead of this, what is the general behaviour at present observed by females* ? A confident ease,-an unabashed countenance,
-a pertness of speech,man obtrusive familiarity, are universally manifest. Coquetry and flirtation seem in a great measure, to be the order of the day; and that sterling modesty, which once characterized the women of England, is quickly evaporating. Openness, frankness, and a candid disposition, are real ornaments to the female sex; but even these qualities should be kept within prescribed limits; which, when exceeded, must of necessity offend every liberal-minded man.
“Est modus in rebus, sunt certi denique fines
Men sometimes endeavour to persuade females, that excess in frankness and candour is an utter impossibility. They have even laughed at and praised indelicacy of expression, betokening the above qualities : but a moment's reflection would immediately point out the fallacy and the gross impropriety of these assertions. However diverted men may appear at the moment, yet, subsequently, such behaviour must raise their thorough contempt. “No man but a brute or a fool,” says an elegant writer, “will insult a women with conversation which he sees gives her pain ; nor will he dare to do it if she resent the injury with becoming contempt. There is a dignity in conscious virtue, which is able to awe the most shameless and abandoned of men.'
Fulvia is a female, who is neither possessed of beauty, fortune, nor accomplishments, but entertains a great opinion of her own personal attractions. She wears a wig, with curls hanging in rich and clustering luxuriance adown her neck; —has grey eyes and black eyebrows; long sharp-pointed, and skinny nose; shrivelled cheeks, rusty teeth, and thin chin, between which and the nose there appears to exist so warm a sympathy, that they seem to mourn their separation, and are desperately striving to form a junction ; all which, added to a natural Grecian stoop to her back, give her a formidable appearance. She is almost a second Will Wastle's wife and yet she fancies herself “ a person to be loved." This creature is husband-sick, and has endeavoured to entrap several young fellows, who fortunately for themselves, have es
This has reference only to the introduction of French fashions
caped her wiles, and withstood her allurments. For a husband she would give any thing. She has thrown herself purposely into the way of several youths, and with some has entered into an epistolary correspondence. She is ever arrayed in all the charms of painted loveliness and of dress; and like a couching tigress, is ever ready to pounce upon her unsuspecting prey. She has laughed, and romped, and ogled, and coquetted ; she has answered sigh with sigh, and look with look ; offered her hand to be pressed, and her cheek to be kissed a thousand times; but, poor hapless maiden ! every effort has proved unsuccessful. Yet she fancies herself beautiful and accomplished, imagines herself the very pink of politeness, and prides herself on her elegance in dress.
Belinda Nettletop is ever gay and lovely. Her darling object is to inspire every man who beholds her with secret admiration, and inflame his heart with latent love. Her conversation is fascinating, her manners elegant, her disposition (apparently) frank, candid, and generous. A bewitching artlessness appears in every look and every motion; but when she has excited the admiration, and obtained the love of her victim, then, fushed with conquest, and the satisfaction of having added another name to the extended catalogue of her lovers, she is perfectly satisfied, and tụcns her attention, and points her attraction towards another object.
Every theatre, and every street in this large metropolis, exemplify the ravages which men have committed on the fairer portion of the creation. Thousands and thousands have been ruined by having too implicitly relied on the honour of the male sex; who, having had nothing in view but the mere gratification of sensuality, have committed numberless perjuries and acts of perfidy, and have finally triumphed, leaving their hapless victims in the lowest state of ruin, infamy, and degradation.
Trust not a man; we are by nature false,
(A supposed Apparition, from the voyages of Commodore Walker.)
When Mr. Walker was setting out on his second cruize in the Boscawen private ship of war, A. D. 1740, a report was made by the French officers, when the ship was taken, that a gunner's wife had been murdered on board, a circumstance which was looked upon by the men as ominous of the misfortunes which would attend the cruise. A seaman remarkable for his sobriety and good character, one night alarmed the ship, by declaring he had seen a strange appearance of a woman, who informed him, among other particulars, that the ship would be lost. The story spread among the crew, and laid such hold of their imaginations, as would have been attended with the most serious consequences, had not Mr. Walker turned it into ridicule, relating, with great presence of mind, the following anecdote to the assembled ship's
In June, 1734, Mr Walker lying at an anchor at Cadiz, in his ship the Elizabeth, a gentleman of Ireland, whose name was Burnett, was then on board, in order to take his passage to Ireland. This gentleman was a particular acquaintance of Mr. Walker's, and he was extremely fond of him, being a man of good sense, and very lively in conversation. The night before the affair we speak of happened, the subject turned upon apparitions of deceased friends, in which this gentleman seemed much to believe, and told many strange stories as authorities for them.; but Mr. Walker, who was entirely of another way of thinking, treating all his arguments with ridicule, Mr. Burnett, who was bred a physician, was curious to try how far fancy might be wrought on in an unbeliever, and resolved to prove the power of this natural fear over the senses ; a strange way, it will be said, to convince the mind, by attacking the imagination; or, if it were curiosity, to see the operations of fear work on fancy, it was too nice an experiment to anatomise a friend's mind for information only. But perhaps the humour of thought was the greatest motive ; for he was a man of gay temper, and frolicksome.
About noon, as they were standing, with more of the ship's company, on deck, near the forecastle, looking at some of the Governor's guard-boats making fast to the buoy of a ship, in