« ПредишнаНапред »
it was all to little purpose. Despot and tyrant as he was, he found it as impossible to compel the bachelors to marry, as Peter the first long since did, to compel the Russians to shave off their beards. Was it owing to the licentiousness of the men ? Considerably it was, no doubt ; but not altogether. It was partly owing to their prudence. A Roman bachelor naturally enough would commune with himself thus :-" These extravagant flirts, of whose attire a single article costs more than one of them would earn in her whole lifetime, are fit only for show. I like mighty well to be in their company at routs and assemblies ; but the gods save me from a union with them! If I marry, unless she bring me a fortune, she will quickly devour mine. Wherefore I will look out only for number one, in spite of the edicts of the Emperor.?!
Consider, ye AMERICAN FAIR, that, in all times and countries the like causes will produce the like effects.
On the elevation of the condition and character of wo
men by means of christianity.
In all ages of the world, the greatest portion of sorrow and hardship has fallen to the lot of the female part of our race. Amongst all the numerous tribes of savages and barbarians, in whatever quarter of the earth, or in the islands of the seas, females are despised and degraded, and a wife is but little better conditioned than a bond slave. 66 While the man passes his days in idleness and amusement, the woman is condemned to incessant toil. Tasks are imposed upon her without mercy, and services are received without complacence or gratitude.” The laws and customs of
Mahomedism, as well as of Paganism, degrade and enslave the women: a degradation and slavery of vast extent ; since by far the greater numbers of the human kind are either Mahomedans or Pagans.
It is only in christian countries that women rise to their proper rank, and are treated as companions and equals. For this happy improvement in their condition they are indebted to christianity, which, as well by humanizing and purifying the heart, as by the prohibition of polygamy, has loosed the bonds of their captivity, and at the same time adorned them with virtues the most estimable and amiable.
The New Testament is the great charter of the rights of women ; and not only the great charter of their rights, but the unerring directory of their duties, and the choice cabinet as it were of their most precious ornaments. As the benevolent system of christianity frees them from vassalage and exalts their rank in society, so it inspires them at the same time with a taste for what is morally excellent and virtuous and lovely. Nor is it a little remarkable, that, of the religion which so enobles their sex, they are the first, the most general, and among the most effectual teachers. It is from women that almost our whole sex, as well as theirs, receives its earliest instruction in religion and morality. Though they are neither missionaries abroad nor preachers at home, yet, as spreaders and promulgers of christianity, they are hardly less useful than those venerable orders of men. Throughout all christendom, as preceptresses, as mothers, and in their various domestic relations, they have the moulding of the minds of future men as well as of future women, during those infantile years in which the mind is comparable to soft wax, and when the impressions which are made upon it are the most indelible. So that it would not perhaps be extravagant to believe, that a
fuil half of the whole christianized world has been christianized, or first imbued with christian principles, by means of female teachers.
Nothing scarcely admits of clearer proof from history, than that the institutions for alleviating human misfortune and distress have grown out of the christian religion ; and nothing surely could confer greater dignity on the female sex, than its active and zealous cooperation in establishing and supporting such plans of general philanthropy.
All along, from the first age of christianity down to latter times, there have been women highly distinguished for their pious benevolence and active beneficence ; but not having learned to form themselves into societies for joint acts of charity, their solitary or individual efforts could afford relief to but few. For the present illustrious epoch in the christianized world has been reserved the honour of multiplying and extending, far beyond all former examples, humane plans and institutions : annong which The Female Benevolent and Beneficent Societies are entitled to a conspicuous rank. Multiplied as they have been, and multiplying as they are likely still to be, no tongue can tell, no heart conceive, the benefits of the little streamlets issuing in such innumerable directions from this single source. Benefits not only to the Receivers, but also to the Give ers ; for it is even more blessed to give than to receive.” The occupations of charity nourish and strengthen some of the best feelings of the heart, and at the same time are rewarded with the enjoyment of a higher pleasure than the boards of wealth, or its pageantries, can ever bestow.
" What wonders and what pleasures has civilization procured to mankind!” So the philosopher exclaims, and not without reason. The civilized man possesses manifold more enjoyments, and stands vastly higher in
the scale of human beings, than the naked savage, or the rude barbarian. But it is not mere civilization, nor mere learning, that has imbued the heart with the genuine feeling of humanity. See, on the page of history, only fifteen centuries back, the ladies of Rome, that proud mistress of the world : see them seated in the amphitheatre, as delighted spectators of the mortal combats of gladiators ; feasting their eyes with the bloody carnage, and their ears with the groans of the dying. And now, see, on the other hand, tens and hundreds of thousands of females of the present age, formed into societies for the alleviation of human distress ; for the purpose of ministering to the widow, of sustaining the orphan, of clothing the naked, of feeding the hungry, of a healing the broken and weak.” Behold these objects of striking contrast ; and remember that the former had quite as much of polish, as inuch of elegance, and as much of learning, as the latter. And what is it then, but the influence of christian principles, that has made such an astonishing difference between them in point of taste and sensibility ?
Of self-ignorance and self-adulation.
" The nature of mankind is such, To see and judge of the affairs of others Much better than their own."
THE above-cited sentiment has not abated of its force, nor is it the less applicable to human nature at the present instant, though two thousand years have passed away since it came from the pen of Terence, the poet of Carthage.
In one respect, very few, if any, are altogether free from the imputation of making use of deception. It is
one of the strange properties of our fallen nature, that we deceive ourselves even more easily than we are deceived by others; and that though we are mightily offended when others deceive us, we are pleased with the deception which we palm upon ourselves. We love flattery, because it enables us to flatter ourselves, and we dislike honest reproof or censure, because it impels us to fix our eyes upon our own faults or frailties. We weigh our own actions, and the actions of others, rot in the same balance, or else with different kinds of weights. We judge ourselves and our neighbours by different roles, which always gives the advantage to our own side. Imperfect we readily confess ourselves to be ; but if one happen to impute to us any particular imperfection, we deem ourselves insulted, and instantly take fire. Mortal we know we are, and yet seem scarcely to expect either death or sickness j for these events, perhaps for the most part, come una
Peradventure there is not one well man in a hundred but secrectly thinks the fatal arrow is more likely to hit almost any body else than himself. The young confidently expect they shall live to be old; and the old, who have already seen one generation pass away, are not without hopes that they shall survive the greater part of another. The mass of mankind are, in short, perpetually deluding themselves one way or other ; nor are the wisest and the best, quite free in all respects from self-delusion. Perbaps if life were not in any wise gilded by the enchanting power of imagination, there would be little relish for most of those things which God hath given us to enjoy under the sun.
A very ancient writer has told us of a poor labourer who fancying himself a king repaired daily to a hillock, where, as on his throne, he sat in state, and exercised regal authority over the imaginary subjects that surrounded him ; who being at length cured of that pleas: