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whom he is cheered in adversity, upheld in temptation, in weakness made strong; but woman by whom, in his young days, he is planged into every extravagance; for whose sake he wears expensive boots, scented pocket-handkerchiefs, gets in debt, neglects business or study, as the case may be, goes out when his mother is not aware of the fact, and sorely vexes the paternal bosom. Such is our humble aim, nor will we shrink from the discharge of our duty, whatever terrors may beset our path. Calm and philosophical here, in our lone retreat, the frowns or smiles of no modern Delilah can influence us in the least. Women as they are, shall be our theme.
“ In such a cause who can be neuter ?
Let me just blow away the foam,
And see how I will drain th' pewter." Women, as we see them buying silk dresses at Swan and Edgar's, French kid gloves at Houbigant's, blazing from the dress circle of the theatre, studying the charms of Bondstreet, or taking their constitutional airing in Hyde Park. And lovely do they look in their studied simplicity, and artful artlessness. In vain does the painter seek to catch the beauty that the living form alone can express. Not Titian, nor Etty, skilful as he is in sketching female forms of every variety of loveliness, can represent on canvass what
gaze on with delight. Nor can sculpture, though it may hand down to the admiration of the world, who have looked at it with eager eyes, a Venus de Medici, transfer to stone the grace and fascination met with in the fair of every civilized race ; for beauty and barbarism-beauty resulting from intelligence and moral feeling-cannot co-exist. No, in vain are the efforts of art, transcendant though they be. We exclaim, as Byron sang with truth and power
“ I've seen much finer women, ripe and real,
Women as they are, then, are divided by Mr. Alexander Walker into three classes—the locomotive, the nutritive, and the intellectual. To one or other of these classifications do most of them belong. The first class consist of such as the great Frederick would have desiderated for his guards. To the second belong the dumpy women, who, we believe, merely because Byron wanted a rhyme, and so lugged them into Don Juan, have been most unjustly abused. We feel bound, in common politeness, to come to their rescue.
In times past, for we were young men once, as Sir Toby says, we have loved
more than one such. They grow upon acquaintance. Your heart is not taken by storm, as is sometimes done by the Venuses of the locomotive order; nevertheless, we do incline towards them ourselves. They grow around you, and you wake, and find yourself unwittingly in love. They are wonderfully vigorous, too, in their way, and he must be indeed a novice who cannot see passion dancing in their dark eyes, or nestling beneath a brow of seeming tranquillity and peace. Neutrality they abhor. In love or in war they generally take a decided part. This, at any rate, in these monotonous days, is a refreshing fact; long may they live and love, say we.
The last are the blues; they, we rejoice to say, in spite of such dread names as Mrs. Somerville, and Harriet Martineau, and other strong-minded women, can never be, comparatively speaking, a very numerous tribe. It is not true, certainly, tbat woman was formed
“To suckle fools, and chronicle small beer;" but it is equally true, that she is not fitted to contend with man for superiority in science or in lettered lore.
With a brain smaller, and a vital system more developed, than that of man; with a sensibility, to which he can lay no claim, and which makes her instinctively right in their conclusions, while he must reason, and remember, and compare; with duties to society to discharge, for which the literary life renders her utterly unfit—a broad line of demarcation has been laid down by nature herself between the two sexes, and it is in vain that men or women, eager to propound novelties, and ignorant of physiological or indeed of any true science, would seek to throw down the barriers reared and maintained by an almighty power. Women have not been hindered by human law; the path to fame has been open to them in common with man; and yet in all literature the master-works have been done, and the laurel worn, by man alone. If man, as some say, dressed in a little brief authority, has endeavoured to monopolize literary honour for himself—if woman had been equal to the emergency, her genius would have but shone the brighter for such partial efforts to keep it down. This has been the case where man has been concerned. Milton, old and blind, in obscurity, in loneliness, in distress-penned that which, through increasing ages, will add fresh lustre to his immortal
The powers that were, shut up the Bedford tinker in jail, and the result was, the unlettered Bunyan achieved a glory in that lone prison, equalled by few, and surpassed by none. When women have entered the lists, how immeasureably do they fall in the rear! Miss Agnes Strickland has at length completed her “Queens of England ;” yet who would for an instant compare her with Alison, or Niebuhr, or Grote, or Macaulay? While Gibbon was writing his “Decline and Fall,” Mrs. Catherine Macaulay was writing her “ History of Eugland," and the difference between the two is such as always obtains between excellence and vileness, between power and the reverse. Who are the popular writers of the present day? who are the poets, the dramatists, whose names are cherished as household words from Land's End to Johnny Groats? who are our standard novelists? The answer to these queries is not one very favourable to those who contend for the equality of the two sexes. Miss Martineau is known as a most industrious writer; but are not her “ Illustrations of Political Economy" a drug in the market? Dare any one affirm the same of Adam Smith ?
The fact is, to be scientific, to be learned, to be dull, to write on the digamma or on Chinese metaphysics, is not woman's mission, Nature, whose wisdom we will not arraign, has placed woman on an equality with man, and yet, in the difference of their respective organizations, has assigned to each their proper sphere. At all times, love must form part, if not the whole, of woman's thoughts ;
· Man's love is of man's life a thing apart;
“Much study,” says Solomon, "is weariness of the flesh,” and wisely is woman unfitted for a mode of life which would rob her of her freshness, of her grace, and her charms; and dull would be the social hearth, were woman's intuitive decisions and sudden revelations to be exchanged for the utterances of the cold and correct calculations of science. It is woman that has made home happy, that has made that one word indicative of whatever pure and perfect pleasure earth can give, and it is because woman has been as she is, not spoiled by modern lights, not puffed up by philosophy, falsely so called, that home has been what it has been to the best of men. We almost fear that, if the veil were drawn, that rests, and properly rests, on the privacy of domestic life, we should find that such women as chanced to be superior, or esteemed such, --literary ladies, in short,-- were not the happiest in their matrimonial relations. We know this is delicate ground, but we fear that such would, on inquiry, be found to be the case. Nor is this to be wondered at. We live in a very matter of fact world and age after all. A man wants his dinner once in the twenty-four hours. An æsthetic tea, now and then, is all very well; but to be always on stilts, always in the clouds, is more than flesh and blood can bear. For ourselves, we exclaim with Barry Cornwall :
“ Never, boy, wed a wit :
Most deeply to be pitied is that unhappy man who has wedded a wife who is imbued with a most religious sense of what are termed woman's wrongs ;—that in many matters, in which the laws of property are concerned, there is some room for improvement, we readily admit, but their social is one for which they must thank themselves. Once upon a time, it is said, an ass crept into the skin of a lion, and thus invested, he made a wonderful sensation. Great was the terror his presence everywhere created; before him fled the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air : but alas ! in an unlucky hour, he brayed a most unmistakeable asinine bray, and in a moment the spell was broken, -it was but too apparent that in reality the beast was but an unmitigated ass. Nor can woman lord it like man. Nature, who has made her perfect in her way, has forbidden even the power of walking like him. Most of our readers are aware how great a scandal was occasioned to the church catholic, from a woman being elected to the dignity of the papacy. The fact is, as Mary Walstonecroft herself confesses, man has more power,—no matter whether you call it physical or intellectual, it comes to the same thing. And hence it is that the public business of the world has been carried on by man.
“ Man may range the court, the camp.” Our own Elizabeth, and Catherine of Russia, are, we admit, instances to the contrary, but they both admirably demonstrated how unfit woman is to rule. Impulsive, arbitrary, without any settled rule of action, neither their public nor their private life was very creditable to their fame. Does not history tell us of William the Silent, who did much for the world's progress ?let the reader just endeavour to imagine, for imagine fully he cannot, a woman in his shoes ! - Could the ill-fated Mary, Queen of Scots, see in the fierce and fearless John Knox other than a blind and bigoted fanatic ? Even woman's weak points fit them to love and be beloved, but certainly not to command or be obeyed. Poets, while they sing her beauty and her
charms, have to confess a weakness, which perhaps endears them but the more.
Tennyson tells us :“Weakness to be wrath with weakness, woman's pleasure, woman's pain,
Nature made them slender mortals, blended in a shallower train ; Woman is the lesser man, and all her passions, matched with mine, Are as moonlight unto sunlight, and as water unto wine.”
Lucifer, in Festus, tells us
• Take her hand-press it, and pore on it :
Let it drop-snatch it again, as though you had
Who knows one woman well
Byron, and he knew something about them, says,
“Maidens, like moths, are ever caught by glare,
And mammon wins his way where seraphs might despair.” Some of our writers give them yet a worse character. “Their rolling eies," says the nameless author of a “Briefe Anatomie of Women," " like shining pearls, seem to be the baits that ensnare men in their lure, whose fruit is destruction.” In the same manner, he goes through the whole female form, and shows how it is cunningly adapted for the same fiendish end.
“Their ears delight to entertain frivolous discourse, especially if it relate to their praise and commendation, which is to them a thing most plausible. Their tongue, that active and stirring member, both defensive and offensive-defensive, in vindicating and upholding their own supposed credit and good name, though ever so bad ; offensive, in scolding, abusing, and detracting from their neighbours, though ever so good.
“ Their lips are two posterns, from whence issue lying deceit, and all manner of dissimulation.
“ Their neck and breasts are left bare unto the open view of the world, to signifie that nature hath fairly acted her part without, although there remain no grace within.