Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

No. 433. THURSDAY, JULY 17.

Perlege Mæonio cantatas carmine ranas,
Et frontem nugis solvere disce meis.

Mart. clxxxiii. 14.
To banish anxions thought, and quiet pain,
Read Homer's frogs, or my more trifling strain.

The moral world, as consisting of males and females, is of a mixed nature, and filled with several customs, fashions, and ceremonies, which would have no place in it, were there but one sex. Had our species no females in it, men would be quite different creatures from what they are at present; their endeavours to please the opposite sex, polishes and refines them out of those manners which are most natural to them, and often sets them upon modelling themselves, not according to the plans which they approve in their own opinions, but according to those plans which they think are most agreeable to the female world. In a word, man would not only be an unhappy, but a rude unfinished creature, were he conversant with none but those of his own make.

Women, on the other side, are apt to form themselves in every thing with regard to that other half of reasonable creatures, with whom they are here blended and confused; their thoughts are ever turned upon appearing amiable to the other sex ; they talk, and move, and smile, with a design upon us; every feature of their faces, every part of their dress is filled with snares and allurements. There would be no such animals as prudes or coquettes in the world, were there not such an animal as man. In short, it is the male that gives charms to woman kind, that produces an air in their faces, a grace in their motions, a softness in their voices, and a delicacy in their complexions.

As this mutual regard between the two sexes tends to the improvement of each of them, we may observe that men are apt

to degenerate into rough and brutal natures, who live as if there were no such things as women in the world;. as on the contrary, women, who have an indifference or aversion for their counterparts in human nature, are generally sour and unamiable, sluttish and censorious.

I am led into this train of thoughts by a little manuscript which is lately fallen into my hands, and which I shall communicate to the reader, as I have done some other curious pieces of the same nature, without troubling him with any inquiries about the author of it. It contains a summary account of two different states which bordered upon one another. The one was a commonwealth of Amazons, or women without men; the other was a republic of males that had not a woman in their whole community. As these two states bordered upon one another, it was their way, it seems, to meet upon their frontiers at a certain season of the year, where those among the men who had not made their choice in any former meeting, associated themselves with particular women, whom they were afterwards obliged to look .upon as their wives in every one of these yearly rencounters. The children that sprung from this alliance, if males, were sent to their respective fathers; if females, continued with their mothers. By means of this anniversary carnival, which lasted about a week, the commonwealths were recruited from time to time, and supplied with their respective subjects.

These two states were engaged together in a perpetual league, offensive and defensive, so that if any foreign potentate offered to attack either of them, both the sexes fell upon him at once, and quickly brought him to reason. It was remarkable that for many ages this agreement continued inviolable between the two states, notwithstanding, as was said before, they were husbands and wives; but this will not appear so wonderful, if we consider that they did not live together above a week in a year..

* V. No. 434.

In the account which my author gives of the male republic, there were several customs very remarkable. The men nerer shaved their beards, or pared their nails above once in a twelvemonth, which was probably about the time of the great annual meeting upon their frontiers. I find the name of a minister of state in one part of their history, who was fined for appearing too frequently in clean linen: and of a certain great general who was turned out of his post for effeminacy, it having been proved upon him by several credible witnesses that he washed his face every morning. If any member of the commonwealth had a soft voice, a smooth face, or a supple behaviour, he was banished into the commonwealth of females, where he was treated as a slave, dressed in petticoats, and set a spinning. They had no titles of honour among them, but such as denoted some bodily strength or perfection, as such an one the Tall, such an one the Stocky, such an one the Gruff. Their public debates were generally managed with kicks and cuffs, insomuch that they often came from the council-table with broken shins, black eyes, and bloody noses. When they would reproach a man in the most bitter terms, they would tell him his teeth were white, or that he had a fair skin, and a soft hand. The greatest man I meet with in their history, was one who could lift five hundred weight, and wore such a prodigious pair of whiskers as had never been seen in the commonwealth before his time. These accomplishments it seems had rendered him so popular, that if he had not died very seasonably, it is thought he might have enslaved the republic. Having made this short extract out of the history of the male commonwealth, I shall look into the history of the neighbouring state, which consisted of females, and if I find any thing in it, will not fail to communicate it to the public.

No. 434. FRIDAY JULY 18.

Quales Threïciæ cùm flumina Thermodontis
Pulsant, et pictis bellantur Amazone armis:
Seu circum Hippolyten, sen cùm se martis curru
Penthesilea refert, magnoquo ululante tumultu
Faminea exultant lunatis agmina peltis.

VIBG. En. x, 660.
So marched the Thracian Amazons of old,
When Thermodon with bloody billows roll'd;
Such troops as these in shining arms wero seen,
When Thoseus mct in fight their maiden queen.
Such to the field Penthesilea led
From the fierco virgin when the Grecians fled,
With such return'd triumphant from the war,
Her maids with cries attend tho lofty car;
They clash with manly force thoir moony shields;
With female shouts rosound tho Phrygian fields.

DRYDEN.

HAVING carefully perused the manuscript I mentioned in my yesterday's paper, so far as it relates to the republic of women, I find in it several particulars which may very well deserve the reader's attention.

The girls of quality from six to twelve years old, were put to public schools, where they learned to box and play at cudgels, with several other accomplishments of the same nature; so that nothing was more usual than to see a little miss returning home at night with a broken pate, or two or three teeth knocked out of her head. They were afterwards taught to ride the great horse, to shoot, dart, or sling, and listed into several companies, in order to perfect themselves in military exercises. No woman was to be married until she had killed her man. The ladies of fashion used to play with young lions instead of lap.dogs, and when they made any parties of diversion, instead of entertaining themselves at ombre or piquet, they would wrestle and pitch the bar for a whole afternoon together. There was never any such thing as a blush seen, or a sigh heard in the commonwealth. The

women never dressed but to look terrible, to which end they would sometimes after a battle paint their cheeks wịth the blood of their enemies. For this reason, likewise, the face which had the most scars was looked upon as the most beautiful. If they found lace, jewels, ribbons, or any ornaments in silver or gold among the booty which they had taken, they used to dress their horses with it, but never entertained a thought of wearing it themselves. There were particular rights and privileges allowed to any member of the commonwealth, who was a mother of three daughters. The senate was made up of old women ; for by the laws of the country none was to be a counsellor of state that was not past child-bearing. They used to boast their republic had continued four thousand years, which is altogether improbable, unless we may suppose, what I am very apt to think, that they measured their time by lunar years.

There was a great revolution brought about in this female republic, by means of a neighbouring king, who had made war upon them several years with various success, and at length overthrew them in a very great battle. This defeat they ascribe to several causes ; some say that the secretary of state having been troubled with the vapours, had committed some fatal mistakes in several dispatches about that time. Others pretend, that the first minister being big with child, could not attend the public affairs, as so great an exigency of state required; but this I can give no manner of credit to, since it seems to contradict a fundamental maxim in their government, which I have before mentioned. My author gives the most probable reason of this great disaster ; for he affirms, that the general was brought to bed, or (as others say) miscarried, the very night before the battle : however it was, this signal overthrow obliged them to call in the male republic to their assistance ; but notwithstanding their common efforts to repulse the victorious enemy, the war

« AnteriorContinuar »