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“last best gift of God," which shall perish only with the calamities which she created, and “the world” into which she “ brought death with all our wo.” The discomfiture and disasters brought upon twenty kings and their hosts by the abduction of a priestess
, and the jealous resentments of her lover, exercise the gigantic genius of Homer; while the city of their foes is utterly consumed, and its inhabitants “devoured by the sword,” to avenge the infidelity of a woman, and the aggravating defence of the wrong. The second in time, and last in merit, sings the charms by which the Queen of Carthage arrested the wayward progress of his whining and contemptible hero, who seduces and slights her affections, and abandons her (by the will of the Gods) to shame, despair, and death. After having thus gallantly broken the heart of one woman, he cruises on (quo fata vocant) to cut with his unmanly sword the solemn engagements of another; and rewards the hospitality of Latinus by bringing upon his aged queen the dreadful end of a heart-broken maniac. The palled and sceptered muse of tragedy (over whose own catastrophea we know not whether we should lament or rejoice,) has poured forth ber most divine inspirations to display the finest features of the female character, and to wring the heart with sympathy for the piteous afflictions and fate of her heroine. I cannot envy that man his head or heart, who could witness without agony the widowed griefs of Andromache or Almeria; the playful, tender passion, and the melancholy end of the fair Capulet; the suspected fidelity and retiring patience of the meek bride of the Moor; and the chastening rebuke of virtue embodied and exalted in the character of Evadne. The elegiac muse has “wept herself to marble” over the urn of many a frail foweret, of whose blossom earth was unworthy, and whose bloom was to shed its fragrance for eternity in other worlds. I blush for the virgin who is said to inspire the effusions of erotic poetry. From the days of Anacreon to these of his more gifted successor, too often has she prostituted her best gifts in purveying to the basest passions, and delivered her lyre to be swept by the fingers of Sensuality-while Virtue languished or expired under the influence of the infectious sounds which stole
her unguarded ear.
It is unnecessary to state that an author's writings image the character of his mind and the dispositions of his heart, and that his views of nature and of society are more contracted or expanded, according to the station assigned to him by his Creator. The annals of literature give ample testimony to the authority of women over the mind and heart, the circumstances and fortunes of almost every
a The consequence of the retirement and marriage of her last legitimate representative, Miss O'Neil.-1, decus! I, nostrum !
author.-The ambition or vanity of Addison, urged him in an evil hour, to aspire to an ennobled bed. The arrogance of Lady Warwick drove him forth to seek for more courteous society in a tavern. He had recourse to wine for its momentary and fatal exhilaration, and ultimately endeavoured to forget his domestic cares in sottish
insensibility. The petulance of Mrs. Blount, compelled Pope to k cancel on his death-bed, a friendship of many years, and to fling back
Mr. Allen, with his cold hand, a favour which had testified his generous sincerity.-Warburton was elevated by Miss Allen's partiality, to a bridal bed, an opulent fortune, and an episcopal throne.—The Lords Bolingbroke and Oxford, have been charged with ingratitude, for having sent Swift into " honourable exile” in Ireland, after he had for four years given to their feeble administration, support, energy, and protracted duration. Yet his patrons were not reluctant to acknowledge and reward his services; though they wisely retired from a vain contest with destiny in the shape of woman. Swift was nominated to the vacant See of Bath
and Wells. His patent was about to receive the last sanction of E the Queen's signature, when the Dutchess of Somerset rushed into
the presence, and prostrating herself, implored her Majesty not to elevate the man who had lashed her with the keenest sarcasm, and loaded her with the foulest opprobrium. Queen Anne was shocked by the perusal of the libel on her Grace: and Swift was dragged down from his secure and triumphant ascent, by the death-like grasp of an implacable woman. It would be difficult to determine which was most fatal to the Dean of St. Patrick's—a woman's " love or hate.” On his return to Ireland, the ascendency over his heart was contested by two ladies whom he had particularly honour
ed with his intimacy and attentions. Stella could not endure an h! equal; Vanessa could not brook a superior. Miss Vanhomrigb in grasped at his affections; the ambition of Miss Johnson aspired to
the use of his name and his bed. Vanessa was sent to an untimely tomb by his stern and abrupt harshness; and Stella sunk under the shame of specious concubinage. He consented at length to recognise her as his wife ; but death interfered with a divorce, and claimed the lovely bride for his own cold and faithful embrace. The oak of the foresta now stood on the blasted heath, its top scathed by lightnings from Heaven, and its roots undermined by the more impure fires of earth. His heart was lacerated by remorse, and his understanding consumed by the spleen of disappointed ambition. He drooped into his grave in a state of drivelling idiotcy.
The mind of Johnson, which had been cheered and relieved while be awkwardly fondled “his Tetty”—the gambols of the whale
“ As when Heav'n's fire
Hath scath'd the forest oaks.Milton, P. L. i. 612. bCujus cor ulterius nequit lacerare sæva Bilis.-Swift's Epitaph.
was again overcast with “morbid melancholy” by the sad event of her death. A very blameless species of vanity urged another lady to dissipate his thoughts by her attentions and volubility, and her opulence enabled her to multiply his comforts, and minister to his large and luxurious appetite. During a long intimacy and correspondence, the parties appear to have made a singular interchange of character.—Johnson's constant effort is to banish thought, to indulge frolic, and laugh care and melancholy out of countenance. His letters breathe nothing but airy levity and flippant humour. Now he scatters himself into volatility with the lady, and presently he descends to very amiable playfulness with her children. Mrs. Thrale struggles with a buoyant and superficial mind to penetrate into the deep recesses of thought, and to disguise or deform her natural gayety under the sombre and contracted brow of her hypochondriac friend. But her vanity was at length sated, or was compelled to give way to stronger and more importunate passions. This melancholy and platonic lady appears still to have retained her capacity and love of enjoyment. The advice of Johnson and of decency was rejected ; and both were rewarded with contempt and abandonment. One of those foreign itinerants, who do us the honour to pocket our money, and laugh at our egregious folly, was adopted into the place of the English “Rambler” under a more tender name, and the inore endearing relations of husband.—To one female circle this world shall continue indebted, whilst the language of England is understood, and its literature studied and appreciated. "The Task," and the sweetest productions of its author, we owe to the influence of the most amiable of their sex. Such names claim immortality and honour by the worthiest titles. The mind of Cowper was sustained, his talents exercised, his infirmities nursed, and his life prolonged by the lovely circle, of which it was his lot to be the centre. -I know not whether it be lawful to regret that female attentions were successfully employed in giving protracted existence to another and a very different character. Gibbon gratefully acknowledges that life which quivered on his infant lips, was fixed and invigorated by the watchful tenderness of his aunt. That worthy woman could form no idea of the mischievous purposes to which that life was to be devoted, or of the foolish sneers and impotent rage with which its possessor would one day attack the most sacred and useful institutions of his country. Yet this man's character reconciled contradictions :-he was an innovator and an aristocrat-no uncommon union: for those who delight to encroach on the rights and abolish the privileges of others, are ever found most aristocratically jealous of their own. Mr. Gibbon's philosophy dictated and approved the seizure of the wealth of Superstition; but the treasures and the distinctions of a noblesse should be duly respected.
The bench and the bar alone appear elevated above this perva
ding influence. Woman is excluded from any share in the pleadings of the one, or the decisions of the other; and of secret influence the existence may fairly be denied, as it has so long remained undetected. But let not this admitted fact be hastily construed into a denial of the sex's authority. The absence of the statues of Brutus and Cassius from a funeral procession only served to fill the minds of the spectators with more vivid recollections of those martyrs of liberty. And the exclusion of the fair sex from our courts of law, furnishes in reality the most unequivocal acknowledgment of their predominant genius, and the most lowly homage to its supremacy. The principal sources from which a lawyer derives wealth, eminence, and honours, are volubility of panegyric and vituperation ; quickness in discerning the weakness of an adverse case, a torrens dicendi copia in overwhelmingan antagonist; and a nice perception and eloquent display of those arts which cast a veil over the defects of one case, and over the just claims of the opposite one; which fascinate the judgment of the bench, alarm the fears, melt the sympathy or excite the indignation of the jury. I will not insult the good sense of my readers, by adverting to the prudence which whispers to the bar to shun competition with the sex in the arts, the talents, and the accomplishments which I have enumerated. If female practitioners were suffered at the bar, what client would be so rash or infatuated as to employ a male advocate, when his adversary had placed himself under the protection of a sans-culotte pleader?-Deliberation could not for an instant be admitted into a cause, in which a man would dare to stand opposed to female counsel. Her hapless adversary would stand petrified under the frown of an arched eyebrow; the lambent flash of that liquid eye would play around and dissolve the austerity of the bench, carbonize his parchments, and consume every adverse precedent: and the brute beings in the jury box, like their vegetable brethren of old on the summits of Mount Rhodope, would bow their branched foreheads, and dance acquiescent submission to the melody of a female Orpheus. This radical reform of the bar is devoutly to be wished for:“cheap administration of justice," for which our wise reformers "rave, recite, and madden round the land," would be one of its immediate consequences.
A skeptical lawyer, alarmed for the dignity of his profession, may perhaps assert that I have overrated the talents of the sex, and the tremors of “the long robe.” But a brief reference to a fact, fresh in the memory of many, will vindicate the superiority of those talents, and cover with confusion this captious advocate. During one of the provincial circuits of the last year, a cause came on for trial, in which the female defendant* could primâ facie
a Mrs. Mary Anne Tucker. She has been facetiouly called Mrs. Mary.
claim no support from reason, from law, or from justice. But, through the heedless sufferance of the bench and bar, that hopeless case could boast of a female advocate. Counsel for the Crown stated the case, the presiding judge expounded the law. The culprit had libelled in the public journals a provincial judge, by charging him with partiality and corruption in the administration of justice. The defendant boldly admitted the fact with which she stood charged, and appealed for her defence and justification to the truth of her statements. In vain did his lordship “shake his cerulean brows,” and reprobate this novel mode of polluting the ermine of his learned brother. In vain did he protest that, admitting the facts which she affirmed, the law could not suffer individuals to assume justice into their own hands, while it offered the remedy of action or impeachment in the courts above. His exposition of the law was rejected ; his precedents and cases in point vanished before her; his interruptions were unheard, uvnoticed, or disregarded ; his clamours were exhausted, and his patience subdued by reckless and persevering volubility. The bench sat confounded, and the bar stood aghast in the presence of this commanding apparition—and bench, bar, spectators—all
“Lay vanquished.” Is it necessary to add, that the jury were compelled to return a triumphant verdict for the sair defendant?
To recite the different instances of this paramount authority in the political world, would be only to copy the voluminous pages of history, with the superadded labour of tracing effects to their real causes, and counsels to their
proper authors. The instances in ancient history are familiar to every memory; the recital would pall upon the ear with all the disgusting recollections of pedantic monotony. I shall refer to one beautiful illustration of my argument from Athenian story, which has escaped the pollution of the pedagogues' touch.—The personal charms of Aspasia led only by the accomplishments of her mind, and the creative energies of her genius. Pericles, the eloquent, brave, and mag, nanimous Pericles, bowed to the sceptre of Beauty. He estimated at their just value the eminent talents of his mistress : bis administration was guided by the wisdom of her counsels. Order and prosperity were established in Athens, and the authority of the republic was felt and acknowledged by rival states. Pericles was too just and too generous to appropriate the merits and the glory of Aspasia. Her undisguised influence was objected to him by his enemies as a crime. They summoned him to answer the charge before the public tribunal. To the laboured and indignant accusation of his rivals he replied in the simplicity of ancient manners ; he exposed the naked bosom of Aspasia, and laying his hand on it he expostulated in behalf of beauty, and of the genius by