Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

4 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



FRENCH FEMALES. [From Scott's Visit to Paris, just published,^ The air of the French females, it must be acknowledged, is full of a certain species of witchery; but it i-s strongly marked by man- nerism. Its secret seems to lie in makiug the exlernal woman exchuively display the pecu liariues of her sex her looks, her turns, her whole manner of speaking and acting is sexual. The distillctionbelween male and female is never for a moment lost sight of by either. In England it fi-equently happens, thllla gentleman for some time addresses a lady in a way, that would leave a person who should only hear the observations, but not see to whom they were directed, perfectly ignorant whether the conversation were held with a man or woman. But this would scarcely ever happen in France I he toui-neui- of the phrase, when a woman is spoken to, cannot be mis- taken it is modelled according to her pecu. liar instincts, charms, and weaknesses, and so is the carriage of him who speaks to her. In | this consists the politeness of tho French to th softer sex, of which they boast; but the ques- tion is, whether it does not imply a stooping to instead of a raising 'towards ? Can women have any thing given them in the shape of deference that can atone for the loss of equal- ity ? Is it humouring they are fond of? We humour a child and spoil it by so doing we humour thesick and the weak; we humour eccentricity and foliy but we never humour sound sense and propriety. The firet instance of humouring had very unlucky consequences. VVduldst thou had hearkened to my words, and staid With me, as I besought thee, when that strange Desire of wand'ring this unhappy morn, I know not whence, possessed thee; we had then Remain'd still happy not, as now, despoil,d Of all our good shamed, naked and miserable." Paradise Lost, Book IX. The women of Paris arc entirely creatures of management and manner; the chief busi- ness of society is left to them to transact;—a gentleman asks no guests to his house but with her permission. There is every where an affectation of placing every thing at the direction and disposal of the females-but it is still evident that their empire is granted to their weakness, and they are thus taught to make a parade of their sexual peculiarities, that they may gain pampering and indulgence at the expcnce of their respectability. They are raised above their helpmates, as men and women raise children on high chairs, and help the young folks first to pudding. In this very preference there is all insult; but there is worse degradation in the employment lo whirh t, y they are put. They are taught to make the most of their influence as women, in order to gain for themselves and those connected with them the mercenary ends which arise out of the competitions, hazards, desires, and neces- sities of daily life. The bad effects of this on the delicacy of their minds requires no expo- sure, and their artiticial, active, adroit, and intriguing habits, have, in fact, given to their physiognomies and manners, an acute, watch- ing, attacking sort of air, which, however powerful it may be in its way,isnot the power which most properly belongs to woman, or that most exquisitely becomcs her in its ex- ercise. The system of educating and training young women in France is open to the most serious objections. Girls in respectable life, are placed as they grow up, under a strict surveillance; they are never trusted beyond the eye of the mother or governess. If they are permitted to pay a visit to a female friend of the family, the hostess is sensible she incurs the heaviest responsibility. The youthful guest must not sleep beyond the immediate superintendance (If her enlerhiner; a bed is made till for her in the cabinet of the lady of the house. She must not dance but with the partner selected by her friends; she must not sit down with her partner after she has danced in short, strictness and guardianship are the substitutes for formation of character, and, without pay- ing any regard tothe mind, the body is pam- pered and preserved for the accomplishment of the future views of a mercenary and cold authority, that looks but to sordid interests, and is careless of virtue and happiness. This degrading system of watch and ward is absolutely ne-jessary, according to the habits of Paris, for they are directly levelled against I' whatever would warrant confidence in the absence of integrity and honour in the young female mind, Mothers will not, indeed,instruct their daughters to intrigue, after they are mar- ried, and they will uol, probably, talk of their own licentious indulgeucies before their daugh- ters; but their conversation with their inti- mates, in the hearing1 of their children, is suf- ficiently instructive, that connubial constancy is in little estimation and less practice. Such a lady they will say, speaking of one who has a husband and children, is not now on terms with that gentleman-that affair is over loug ago it is now Monsieur —— These breaches of nuptial fidelity, it is af. firmed are less universal at present than they were before the revolution but I believe it is doing no injustice to the state of French mo- rals to say, that they now constitute the majo. rity of cases of conduct after wedlock in the genteel circles of Paris before the revolution a case of posl nuptial chastity in these circles was neither known nor expected. At present, ftl^c indulgence, is managed with no needless display of indecency but it is perfectly ell understood, both by the husband and society, I and the indulging party is not severely treated i by either. j It is not thought an insult in Paris, if a i man, sitting down by a mareied lady, iinme- j diately commences making love to her His, language is devested of all unnecessai-y expli. citness; but it has a sufficiently palpable ten- < dency to the, last favour that a woman can grant. It is, in fact, a mere matter of course almost to address a French married lady in I those terms of gallantry, which, in England, are employed to females- whose persons are I still disposable. The woman to whom they are directed may not be inclined to listen to them,—she may be engaged at the moment, or the application is offensive. In short, a husband here cannot rationally calculate on his wife's fidelity, and I believe, very seldom does. if the parties, after marriage, feel j themselves very much attached to each other, their reciprocal fidelity is secured by a mutual pledge on honour, which is added to the com- pact made ai the altar, as an extra obligation, not necessarily iucluded intheoriginal engage- b menls. In Paris, it is the regular business of pa rents to marry their children the idea of tfie lat ter conducting so serious an affair for them- selves, would ubock every father and mother in that capital. For this purpose, they an- nounce every where what Iwrtion they can afford to their son or daughter, and without hesitation, inquire of all persons whom they ] know, that have progeny of which a match s may be made, what portions they intend to f give. The most incessant attention is given to this grand affair, and a Parisian mother de- I votes a degree of industry, dexterity, and fre- < quently artifice, to effecting the settlement of j her children in the worid, which no woman | but a French woman could display, and which reflect much credit on her talents, although j the view taken of the real interests of those i for whom she concerns herself is far from a judicious one. £ The sole object to which they direct their j effort is to accomplish a match which may be f advantageous to their child-mi worldly mat I ters—namely, in point of fortune or connec- i' tions. As these are things which have no sort of connection with inclination on either side, it sometimes happens that a marriage isagrted upon between the parents for some years be- fore the girl's age will permit it to be consum- mated. A young lady of the highest rank, whose nuptials took place when I was in Paris, I had been accustomed to say to her governess, I who was an English woman, 11 They teli me I I am to be, married at fifteen I wish I knew to whom—I dare say I shall like him—don't you think I shall ?" Girlish feeling prompts this anticipation of satisfaction—the awful con- I tract for life is hailed for no better reason than that it affords a prospect of escaping from the irksome restraints that have been already de. scribed—the commands of the parents are signified and obeyed, and two persons come together whom no impulse of their own has brought together, who can have no well grounded confidence in each other, and whose minds are prepared before hand to give ready access to levity and inordinate desires. After marriage, the wife, young aud unin- slructed in morals and duties, is at once eman- cipated from a state of severe restraint, and plunged «ato one of licentious liberty and un- natural power—of which a few of the features are, a luxurious Boudoir, full of couches and statues—separate bed rooms-a loveriu even visitor, aud the customs of society opposed to cruelty to lovers. It is needless to deducecon. sequences from these-their existeuce is suffi- ciently informing. The system of married life in France is one by which the lady enjoys a sort of artificial authority and influence, raising herto appear- ance much above the claims of her sex and relationship, but existing at the expcnce of that cordial commuuication and heartfelt, dis- interested deference, which distinguish unions founded on a more judicious basis than that which I have been describing. She is install- cd in various prerogatives thallook flattering and desirable, but they are chiefly favourable to the discharge of functions from which a true respect for her sex, cherished by the men, would entirely preserve her, and the enjoy- ment of gratifications, which a proper self respect on her own part would prohibit her from partaking. The chicfendlem and representation of this condition of married women is in the Boudoir. It is a temple of separation and luxury. It belongs to the wife exclusively the husband has neither property in it, nor power over il. If she were suspected of having a lover fon- cealed within its mysleriouliI enclosure, that enclosure, nevertheless must not be violated. What I mean is, that such is the rule of good manners in France, and the tiai* who disre- gards it is esteemed a brute-all object of tnc general dislike and disgust of both sexes. The Boudoir, is the apartment, as I have before observed, that is most commonly complete in its elegance. The nursery for the children, in the houses of families of rank, contrary to the custom in England, is neglected, and crammed into some inconvenient corner but the Bou- doir for the mother is rich in couches, in sta- tues, in paintings, and flowers. it. is a retreat in which Venus might be happy to recliue, and is, iu every respect, calculated to inspire the sentimetiU which belong to the devotiou in which that goddess delights.