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Of the Contempt of Womankind.
" When pain and sickness wring the brow,
SCOTT. The man who expresses or feels a general contempt of womankind, evinces, thereby, either that his acquaintance has been mostly with the baser sort, or that his heart is devoid of the common sensibilities of our nature. A satire upon Woman! It is revolting; it is dastardly and brutish. Of women, as well as of men, there are the artful and treacherous, the unfeeling and cruel, the mischievous, the disgusting. The sex, nevertheless, is entitled to a high degree of respect, esteem and love.
Of one in the dark age, who was the gloomiest of bigots and the most ruthless of persecutors, it is storied, that 6 he never looked in the face of a woman, or spoke to one." In like manner
o aside the devil turn'd,'* when the first of female forms presented itself before him.
Woman was the last, best gift,” to man: and what though she was first in the transgression ? Was she not principal, also, in the restoration ? When the Divine Restorer, born of a woinan, was in poverty and need, who were they that ministered to him? Women.When the disciples had fled through fear, who stood by, and so deeply sympathized in his last agonies, undismayed by the ferocious courtenances of the murderous throng? Women. Who so affectionately prepared the embalming spicery, and were the first to visit the sacred tomb? Women. To whom have all the after generations been most indebted for the pious culture of infancy and childhood? To Women.
The Eternal Wisdom has, if I I may use the expression, cast the minds of the two sexes in different moulds,
each being destined to act in a sphere peculiarly its
" For contemplation he, and valour form'd,'
The one is destined and fitted for the more active and perilous scenes; the other for the duties and trials of domestic life: the one to protect, the other to lean on the arm of her protector: the one to exhibit the sterner virtues; the other the inilder: the one possessing more of active courage; and the other, more of fortitude, of resignation, and of unweariable patience, and more of the benevolent affections.
This is nature's distinctive line, which, on the part of female character, can never be overleaped without producing disgust or ridicule. Hence it is, that, of all affectation, none is more displeasing than a woman's affecting the spirit and manners of the other sex. We have a sort of admiration of the heroic intrepidity of Spartan ladies; of their contempt of danger; of the stoical apathy, or rather exultation, with which they received the news of their sons and husbands dying bravely in battle.
We admire them as prodigies, but neither love nor esteem them as women. And why is it that the atheistical fair is regarded with such singular horror ? why is the foul oath, the heaven daring blasphemy, doubly horrible in the ear of decency, when proceeding from the lips of woman ? It is because we contrast the outrage with the attributes of timidity, gentleness, delicacy and sensibility, belonging more particularly to the
One of the most deplorable wants in woman, is the want of heart ; the want of genuine sensibility, of the radical affection of sympathy and benevolence. It is a want, for which neither beauty, nor wit, nor the rarest accomplishments of person or mind, can by any means compensate. On the other hand, the most attractive graces of the female character, are not the artificial and showy, but those of a meek and quiet spirit, and of beneficent dispositions, guided by moral principle and the discretion of sound sense:--in a word, graces the same that our holy religion inculcates and inspires.
In the fair daughters of Eve, domestic excellence is he predominating excellence; in comparison with which all the ornaments that literature or manners can bestow, are as tinsel compared with fine gold.
How much soever woman contributes to refining and amplifying the innocent pleasures of health and prosperity, yet still more doth she contribute, when she acts the woman, to alleviate the pains of adversity. In our sickness and sorrows she is indeed as “a ministering angel.” What heart is so sympathetic ? What hand is so soothing? Who awaits the sick bed with most sare, with most assiduity, with the most inexhaustible patience? Who, in spite of feebleness of frame, foregoes sleep, and patiently endures a course of remitless watchings of incredible length ? Who, so often, devotes life, and the pleasures of life, to the needs of a helpless parent; to the solitary chamber of decrepit age? It is woman ; the well educated, the enlightened, the christian woman.
Of the use and necessity of small change in social and
THE commerce of neighborly social life is carried on chiefly by small change. Vast favors are seldom bestowed, and heavy obligations as seldom incurred.It is the constant interchange of little obliging attentions, that constitutes connubial happiness. It springs from an uninterrupted series of little acts of mutual kindness, light as air of themselves, and costing little or nothing, but of immeasurable importance in their consequences ; as they furnish the only kind of food that will long sustain that delicate kind of friendship, and as the absence of these small attentions occasions, first, coldness, then distrust, and finally alienation. Setting aside the brutish and the dissolute part of the community, wives and husbands disagree oftener about trifles, than about things of real weight. Perhaps nine in ten of their disputes grow out of little things, such as trivial neglects, petty faults, or a word unkindly spoken. Nay, merely a hard look, sometimes lays the foundation of a hard quarrel. A husband never can please his wife, any longer than his general conduct evinces that he is, in most respects, well pleased with her; and still less perhaps may a wife expect to please or gain her husband otherwise than by treating him with conjugal affection. If, for even his real and gross trespasses, she administers acids rather than sanitives, the oil of vitriol instead of the healing balsam, she will but increase the moral malady that she wishes to cure.
If we extend our view to the larger circle of social intercourse, which comprehends relations, friends, and acquaintance of every kind and degree, we shall find that the frequent interchange of courteous attentions and petty kindnesses, is the thing that keeps them united together and pleased with each other; and that in default of this, they presently lose all relish for one anothers' company. The truth is, as our tempers are oftener ruffled by trifles than by things of moment, so, on the other hand, our affections are more won by a long series of trivial obligations, than by one single obligation, however great.
Man, put him where you will, is a proud hearted little animal. And hence we become attached to those who are in the habit of treating us as if they thought us worthy of their particular notice and regard, and at the same time cold and secretly resentful toward such as habitually neglect us in these little points; even though the forıner never had done us a single inportant favor, and the latter, in some one instance or other, have essentially befriended us.
With regard to neglects and trespasses in those little things which constitute the main substance of social life, the worst of it is, that they are incapable of free discussion; and, of course, the wounds from them admit of no healing. We are deeply touched with omissions or slights, for which it would be ridiculous to expostulate or complain. They leave a sting, which secretly rankles in our memories and festers in our imaginations, and inwardly we feel sore, while we are ashamed to fret out
wardly : the cause of our provocation being an undefinable nameless something, upon which we never can ask for an explanation, and consequently can never obtain any satisfaction.
True enough, all this is often ill-grounded, or the offspring of mere jealousy. But that makes the case the more remediless : for ill-grounded enmities are the most obstinate ; because, as their causes exist altogether, or chiefly, in the imagination, the imagination is ever busy in colouring and magnifying them ; whereas when the offence, though real, is of a definite form and shape, it may be got over. I have seen two friends dispute and quarrel violently about an affair of moment, and then settle it, and presently become as kind and loving together as ever: and I have seen other two friends, who never quarrelled together at all, become first cold, and at last utterly estranged, by reason of a neglect or slight, on the one side or the other, which, of itself, was too trivial to be so much as mentioned to the offending party.
There are those who are willing to oblige, but are unwilling to receive obligations, though ever so small, in any way or in any thing; and they boast of it as a noble quality. But whatever they may think themselves, they violate, in this respect, the general law of social commerce, which requires some degree of reciprocity, or a mutual exchange of commodities. One who is in the way of often receiving from another, little kindnesses which he is never permitted to requite, sinks into a dependant; and his nominal friend, is not indeed a friend, properly speaking, but a patron. The shew of utter averseness from being obliged in any case whatever, is commonly understood aright; it is taken for pride, or contempt, or coldness, and naturally gives displeasure; while on the contrary, to accept of little obligations with frankness, and to be alike willing to oblige and to be obliged, is the proper line of social intercourse.
I will only remark further, that the little daily attentions, upon which social feeling and happiness so much depend, ought to be natural or spontaneous, and not loaded and stiffened with ceremony; and that the only way to make them quite natural or spontaneous, is to have written upon the heart that first of social laws, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.