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CHAPTER I: Of the Rank and Condition of Women in Different Ages - John Millar, The Origin of the Distinction of Ranks 
The Origin of the Distinction of Ranks; or, An Inquiry into the Circumstances which give rise to Influence and Authority in the Different Members of Society, edited and with an Introduction by Aaron Garrett (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2006).
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Of the Rank and Condition of Women in Different Ages
The effects of poverty and barbarism, with respect to the condition of women.
Of all our passions, it should seem that those which unite the sexes are most easily affected by the peculiar circumstances in which we are placed, and most liable to be influenced by the power of habit and education. Upon this account they exhibit the most wonderful variety of appearances, and, in different ages and countries, have produced the greatest diversity of manners and customs.
The state of mankind in the rudest period of society, is extremely unfavourable to the improvement of these passions. A savage who earns his food by hunting and fishing, or by gathering the spontaneous fruits of the earth, is incapable of attaining any considerable refinement in his pleasures. He finds so much difficulty, and is exposed to so many hardships in procuring mere necessaries, that he has no leisure or encouragement to aim at the luxuries and conveniencies of life. His wants are few, in proportion to the narrowness of his<15> circumstances. With him, the great object is to be able to satisfy his hunger, and, after the utmost exertions of labour and activity, to enjoy the relief of idleness and repose. He has no time for cultivating a correspondence with the other sex, nor for attending to those enjoyments which result from it; and his desires being neither cherished by affluence, nor inflamed by indulgence, are allowed to remain in that moderate state which renders them barely sufficient for the continuation of the species.
The facility with which he may commonly gratify these appetites, is another circumstance by which his situation is peculiarly distinguished. In the most rude and barbarous ages, little or no property can be acquired by particular persons; and, consequently, there are no differences of rank to interrupt the free intercourse of the sexes. The pride of family, as well as the insolence of wealth, is unknown; and there are no distinctions among individuals, but those which arise from their age and experience, from their strength, courage, and other personal qualities. The members of different families, being all nearly upon a level, maintain the most familiar intercourse with one another, and, when impelled by natural instinct, give way to their mutual desires without hesitation or reluctance. They are unacquainted with those refinements which create a strong preference of particular objects, and with those artificial rules of decency and<16> decorum which might lay a restraint upon their conduct.
It cannot be supposed, therefore, that the passions of sex will rise to any considerable height in the breast of a savage. He must have little regard for pleasures which he can purchase at so easy a rate. He meets with no difficulties nor disappointments to enhance the value of his enjoyment, or to rouse and animate him in the pursuit of it. He arrives at the end of his wishes, before they have sufficiently occupied his thoughts, or engaged him in those delightful anticipations of happiness which the imagination is apt to display in the most flattering colours. He is a stranger to that long continued solicitude, those alternate hopes and fears, which agitate and torment the lover, and which, by awakening the sensibility, while they relax the vigour of his mind, render his prevailing inclinations more irresistible.
The phlegmatic disposition of savages, in this particular, has accordingly been often remarked as a distinguishing part of their character. There is good reason to believe that, in the state of simplicity which precedes all cultivation and improvement, the intercourse of the sexes is chiefly regulated by the primary intention of nature; that it is of consequence totally interrupted by the periods of pregnancy; and that the same laws, with respect to the difference of seasons, which govern<17> the constitution of inferior animals, have also an influence upon the desires of the human species.*
It is true, that, even in early ages, some sort of marriage, or permanent union between persons of different sexes, has been almost universally established. But when we examine the nature of this<18> primitive alliance, it appears to have been derived from motives very little connected with those passions which we are at present considering. When a child has been produced by the accidental correspondence of his parents, it is to be expected that, from the influence of natural affection, they will be excited to assist one another in making some provision for his maintenance. For this purpose, they are led to take up their residence together, that they may act in concert with each other, and unite their efforts in the preservation and care of their offspring.
Among inferior animals, we may discern the influence of the same principle in forming an association between individuals of different sexes. The connection indeed, in this case, is commonly of short duration; because the young animal is soon in a condition to provide for its own subsistence. In some of the species of birds, however, the young which are hatched at one time, are frequently incapable of procuring their own food before the mother begins to lay eggs a-new; and the male and female are, therefore, apt to contract a more permanent attachment. To this circumstance we may ascribe the imagined fidelity of the turtle, as well as the poetical honours that have been paid to the gentleness of the dove; an animal which, notwithstanding the character it has so universally acquired, appears remarkable for its peevish and quarrelsome temper. Among common poultry,<19> on the contrary, whose offspring is reared without much assistance even from the dam, the disposition to unite in pairs is scarcely observable.
But the long culture which is necessary in rearing the human species, will generally afford to the parents a second pledge of their commerce, before their assistance can be withdrawn from the former. Their attention, therefore, is extended from one object to another, as long as the mother is capable of child-bearing; and their union is thus continued by the same causes which first gave rise to it. Even after this period, they will naturally be disposed to remain in a society to which they have been so long accustomed: more especially, as by living at the head of a numerous family, they enjoy a degree of ease, respect, and security, of which they would otherwise be deprived, and have reason, in their old age, to expect the assistance and protection of their posterity, under all those diseases and infirmities by which they are rendered incapable of providing for themselves.*
These were in all probability the first inducements to marriage among the rude and barbarous<20> inhabitants of the earth. As it appears to have taken its origin from the accidental and unforeseen exertions of parental affection, we may suppose that it would be commenced without any previous contract between the parties, concerning the terms or duration of their correspondence. Thus, among the Romans, it should seem that the most ancient marriage was formed merely by use; that is, by the parties living constantly together for the space of a year; a period which, in the ordinary course of things, was sufficient to involve them in the care of a family.* It is believed that the early Greeks were accustomed to marry in the same simple manner.† The Kalmuck Tartars have, at present, a similar practice. Among them, it is usual for a young pair to retire, and live together as man and wife for one year; and if, during this time, the woman has produced a child, their marriage is understood to be completed; but if not, they either separate at pleasure, or agree to make another year’s trial.‡ Traces of this primitive custom may still be discovered in the law of Scotland; according to which, a marriage dissolved within a year and day, and without a child, has no legal consequences, but restores the property of either party to the same situation as if no such alliance had ever existed.<21>
Time and experience gradually improved this connection, and discovered the many advantages of which it is productive. The consideration of those advantages, together with the influence of fashion and example, contributed to promote its universal establishment. The anxiety of parties, or of their relations, to avoid those disputes and inconveniencies with which it was frequently attended, made them endeavour, by an express stipulation, to settle the conditions of their union, and produced a solemn and formal celebration of marriage. The utility of this contract, as it makes a regular provision for multiplying the inhabitants of a country, gave rise to a variety of public regulations for promoting the institution in general, for directing its particular forms, and for discouraging the vague and irregular commerce of the sexes.
The marriages, however, of rude people, according to all accounts, are usually contracted without any previous attachment between the parties, and with little regard to the gratification of their mutual passions. A savage is seldom or never determined to marry from the particular inclinations of sex, but commonly enters into that connexion when he arrives at an age, and finds himself in circumstances, which render the acquisition of a family expedient or necessary to his comfortable subsistence. He discovers no preference of any particular woman, but leaves it to his parents, or other relations, to make choice of a person whom<22> it is thought proper that he should marry: He is not even at the trouble of paying her a visit, but allows them to begin and finish the bargain, without concerning himself at all in the matter: If his proposals are rejected, he hears it without the least disturbance; or if he meets with a favourable reception, he is equally unmoved; and the marriage is completed, on both sides, with the most perfect indifference.* <23>
From the extreme insensibility, observable in the character of all savage nations, it is no wonder they should entertain very gross ideas concerning those female virtues which, in a polished nation, are supposed to constitute the honour and dignity of the sex.
The Indians of America think it no stain upon a woman’s character, that she has violated the laws of chastity before marriage; nay, if we can give credit to travellers who have visited that country, a trespass of this kind is a circumstance by which a woman is recommended to a husband; who is apt to value her the more, from the consideration that she has been valued by others, and, on the other hand, thinks that he has sufficient ground for putting her away, when he has reason to suspect that she has been overlooked.*
Young women, among the Lydians, were not accustomed to marry, until they had earned their doweries by prostitution.†
The Babylonians had a public regulation, founded upon their religion, and probably handed down from very remote antiquity, that every woman, of whatever rank, should, once in her life, submit to a public prostitution in the temple of Venus.‡ A<24> religious ceremony of a like nature is said to have been observed in some parts of the Island of Cyprus.*
The infidelity of a married woman is naturally viewed in a different light, and, upon account of the inconveniencies with which it is attended, is often regarded as an offence that deserves to be severely punished. To introduce a spurious offspring into the family; to form a connexion with a stranger, by which the wife is diverted from her proper employments and duties, and by which she may be influenced to embezzle the goods committed to her charge; these are circumstances, that, even in a rude period, are apt to awaken the jealousy of the husband, and to excite his indignation and resentment. There are nations, however, who have disregarded even these considerations, and who have looked upon the strict preservation of conjugal fidelity as a matter of no consequence.
Among the ancient Massagetae, it was usual for persons who resided in the same part of the country to possess their wives in common.† The same custom is said, by Diodorus Siculus, to have taken place among the ancient Troglodites, and the Icthyophagi, inhabiting the coast of the Red Sea.‡
Caesar observes that, in Britain, ten or a dozen persons, chiefly near relations, were accustomed to maintain a community of wives; but that the off-<25>spring of such promiscuous intercourse was reputed to belong to that man who had been first connected with the mother.
Some authors, from a laudable desire of vindicating our forefathers, have called this fact in question, and have been willing to believe, that, in this particular, Caesar was imposed upon by the simple accommodation of those persons who lodged in the same cottage. But it is difficult to conceive that the judicious and well informed conqueror of Gaul, who had been long acquainted with the manners of rude people, and was of a disposition to look upon this as a matter of curiosity, would have made so slight an inquiry, or satisfied himself with so superficial an examination, as might expose him to such a gross deception.*
The custom of lending a wife to a friend, that he might have children by her, appears to have been universal among the ancient Greeks and Romans, and even when these nations had become wealthy and civilized, was openly countenanced by persons of the highest rank and character. It is said to have been recommended, in a particular manner, to the Spartans, by the celebrated institutions of Lycurgus.† <26>
In the country of Kamtschatka, there are several tribes of savages, who esteem it an ordinary mark of politeness, when they entertain a friend, to offer him the enjoyment of their wife or their daughter; and whosoever refuses a civility of this kind, to his guest, is supposed to have intended an affront; and his behaviour is resented accordingly. In Louisiana, upon the coast of Guinea, in several parts of the East Indies, in Pegu, Siam, Cochinchina, and Cambodia, the inhabitants are, in like manner, accustomed, for a small present, to make an offer of their women to all strangers who have occasion to visit the country.* <27>
Among all men who have made any considerable advances towards refinement, sentiments of modesty are connected with the intercourse of the sexes. These sentiments are derived from the very different manner in which individuals are affected, when under the immediate influence of desire, and upon other occasions. After the violence of passion has subsided, and when the mind returns to its usual state of tranquillity, its former emotions appear, in some measure, extravagant, and disproportioned to the object which excited them. But if, with all our partiality, the recollection of our own appetites, in the case here alluded to, be seldom agreeable even to ourselves, we have good reason to conclude that an open display of them will be extremely offensive to others. Those who are not actuated by the same desires must behold our enjoyment with disgust: those who are, must look upon it with jealousy and rivalship. It is to be expected, therefore, that, according as men become sensible of this, they will endeavour to remove such disagreeable appearances. They will be disposed to throw a veil over those pleasures, and to cover from the public eye those thoughts and inclinations, which, they know by experience, would expose them to contempt and aversion. The dictates of nature, in this respect, are inculcated by the force of education; our own feelings are continually gathering strength by a comparison with those of the people around us; and we blush at every deviation from that conceal-<28>ment and reserve which we have been taught to maintain, and which long practice has rendered habitual. Certain rules of decency and decorum with relation to dress, the modes of expression, and general deportment, are thus introduced; and as these contribute, in a high degree, to improve and embellish the commerce of society, they are regarded as peculiarly indispensible to that sex, in which, for obvious reasons, the greatest delicacy and propriety is required.
But mere savages are little acquainted with such refinements. Their situation and manner of life prevent them, either from considering the intercourse of the sexes as an object of importance, or from attending to those circumstances which might suggest the propriety of concealing it. Conscious of nothing blameable in that instinct which nature has bestowed upon them, they are not ashamed of its ordinary gratifications; and they effect no disguise, as to this particular, either in their words or in their actions.
From the account given by Herodotus of the Massagetae, it appears that those barbarians were strangers to reserve or modesty in the commerce of the sexes.* The same circumstance is mentioned by Caesar, in describing the ancient Germans; a people who had made some improvements<29> in their manner of life.* The form of courtship among the Hottentots, by which the lover is permitted to overcome the reluctance of his mistress, may be considered as a plain indication of similar manners, and exhibits a striking picture of primitive rudeness and simplicity.†
When Mr. Banks was in the island of Otaheite, in 1769, he received a visit from some ladies, who made him a present of cloth, attended with very uncommon ceremonies, of which the following account is published by Dr. Hawkesworth. “There were nine pieces; and having laid three pieces one upon another, the foremost of the women, who seemed to be the principal, and who was called Oorattooa, stepped upon them, and taking up her garments all round her to the waist, turned about, and with great composure and deliberation, and with an air of perfect innocence and simplicity, three times: when this was done, she dropped the veil, and stepping off the cloth, three more pieces were laid on, and she repeated the ceremony: then stepping off as before, the last three were laid on, and the ceremony was repeated in the same manner the third time.”‡ <30>
Though the inhabitants of that country are, almost without labour, supplied with great plenty of food, and may therefore be supposed more addicted to pleasure than is usual among savages in a colder climate, yet they appear to have no such differences of wealth as might restrain the free indulgence of their appetites, and by that means produce a degree of refinement in their passions.
Upon the discovery of the new world by Columbus, the natives appeared to have no idea of clothing as a matter of decency; for, though the men made use of a garment, the women, it is said had not the least covering.* The nakedness, however, of these Indians, when authorised by custom, had probably no more tendency to promote debauchery than similar circumstances can be supposed to have upon inferior animals. Rude nations are usually<31> distinguished by greater freedom and plainness of behaviour, according as they are farther removed from luxury and intemperance.
In the Odyssey, when Telemachus arrives at Pylos, he is stripped naked, bathed, and annointed by the king’s daughter.
A remarkable instance of this plainness and simplicity occurs in the behaviour of Ruth to Boaz her kinsman.
“And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet and laid her down.
“And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and behold a woman lay at his feet.
“And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth, thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid, for thou art a near kinsman.”‡ <32>
The influence of such manners must be extremely unfavourable to the rank and dignity of the women; who are deprived of that consideration and respect which, in a polished nation, they are accustomed to derive from the passion between the sexes. It is, at the same time, impossible, in a rude age, that they should procure esteem by such talents as they are capable of acquiring, or by their usefulness in such employments as they have any occasion to exercise.
Among those who are almost continually employed in war, or in hunting, and who, by their manner of life, are exposed to numberless hardships and dangers, activity, strength, courage, and military skill, are the chief accomplishments that are held in high estimation. These accomplishments, which in all ages excite a degree of admiration, are, in a barbarous country, the principal sources of rank and dignity; as they are most immediately useful to the people in procuring food, and in providing for their personal safety, the two great objects which they have constantly in view.1 When the members of a rude tribe return from an expedition, every man is respected in proportion to the actions which he has performed; and that person is distinguished at the feast who has been so fortunate as to signalize himself in the field. The various incidents of the battle, or of the chase, occupy their thoughts, and become an interesting subject of conversation. Those who are old take<33> pleasure in relating the deeds of former times, by which their own reputation has been established, and in communicating to the young those observations which they have treasured up, or those rules of conduct which appear most worthy of attention. The son, when he goes out to battle, is armed with the sword of his fathers, and, when he calls to mind the renown which they have acquired, is excited to a noble emulation of their achievements.
The inferiority of the women, in this respect, may be easily imagined. From their situation, indeed, they naturally acquire a degree of firmness and intrepidity which appears surprising to persons only acquainted with the manners of polished nations. It is usual for them to accompany the men in their expeditions either for hunting or for war; and it sometimes happens that individuals are excited, by the general spirit of the times, to engage in battle, so as even to gain a reputation by their exploits. But whatever may have happened in some extraordinary cases, we may venture to conclude, that the female character is by no means suited to martial employments; and that, in barbarous, as well as in refined periods, the women are, for the most part, incapable of rivaling the other sex in point of strength and courage. Their attention, therefore, is generally limited to an humbler province. It falls upon them to manage all the inferior concerns of the household, and to perform such domestic offices as the particular circumstances of the people<34> have introduced: offices which, however useful, yet requiring little dexterity or skill, and being attended with no exertion of splendid talents, are naturally regarded as mean and servile, and unworthy to engage the attention of persons who command respect by their military accomplishments.
From these observations we may form an idea of the state and condition of the women in the ages most remote from improvement. Having little attention paid them, either upon account of those pleasures to which they are subservient, or of those occupations which they are qualified to exercise, they are degraded below the other sex, and reduced under that authority which the strong acquire over the weak: an authority, which, in early periods, is subject to no limitation from the government, and is therefore exerted with a degree of harshness and severity suited to the dispositions of the people.
We accordingly find that, in those periods, the women of a family are usually treated as the servants or slaves of the men.* Nothing can exceed the dependence and subjection in which they are kept, or the toil and drudgery which they are obliged to undergo. They are forced to labour without intermission in digging roots, in drawing water, in carrying wood, in milking the cattle, in dressing the victuals, in rearing the children, and<35> in those other kinds of work which their situation has taught them to perform. The husband, when he is not engaged in some warlike exercise, indulges himself in idleness, and devolves upon his wife the whole burden of his domestic affairs. He disdains to assist her in these employments: she sleeps in a different bed, and is seldom permitted to have any conversation or correspondence with him.*
Among the negroes upon the slave-coast, the wife is never allowed to appear before the husband, or to receive any thing from his hands, without putting herself into a kneeling posture.†
In the empire of Congo, and in the greater part of those nations which inhabit the southern coast of Africa, the women of a family are seldom allowed to eat with the men. The husband sits alone at table, and the wife commonly stands at his back, to guard him from the flies, to serve him with his victuals, or to furnish him with his pipe and his tobacco. After he has finished his meal, she is allowed to eat what remains; but without sitting down, which it seems would be inconsistent with the inferiority and submission that is thought suitable to her sex.‡ <36> When a Hottentot and his wife have come into the service of a European, and are entertained in the same house, the master is under the necessity of allotting to each of them a distinct portion of victuals; which, out of regard to the general usage of their country, they always devour at a distance from one another.§
In the account lately given by Commodore Byron of the Indians of South America, we are told, that “the men exercise a most despotic authority over their wives, whom they consider in the same view they do any other part of their property; and dispose of them accordingly: even their common treatment of them is cruel; for though the toil and hazard of procuring food lies entirely upon the women, yet they are not suffered to touch any part of it till the husband is satisfied; and then he assigns them their portion, which is generally very scanty, and such as he has not a stomach for himself.” The same author informs us, that he observed a like arbitrary behaviour in many other nations of savages with whom he has since become acquainted.*
From the servile condition of the women in barbarous countries, they are rendered in a great measure incapable of property, and are supposed<37> to have no share in the estate of that particular family to which they belong. Whatever has been acquired by their labour is under the sole administration and disposal of those male relations and friends, by whom they are protected, and from whom they receive a precarious subsistence. Upon the death of a proprietor, his estate is continued in the possession of his sons, or transmitted to his other male relations; and his daughters are so far from being entitled to a share of the succession, that they are even considered as a part of the inheritance, which the heir has the power of managing at pleasure.
At the Cape of Good Hope, in the kingdom of Benin, and in general upon the whole southern and western coast of Africa, no female is ever admitted to the succession of any estate, either real or personal.†
The same custom is said to be observed among the Tartars; and there is some reason to believe that it has been anciently established among all the inhabitants of Chaldea and Arabia.‡
From the famous decision of this point related by Moses, it appears that, in his time, the succession of females had been without a precedent; and,<38> by his appointment, they were only permitted to inherit upon a failure of males of the same degree.
“Then came the daughters of Zelophehad—and they stood before Moses, and before Eleazar the priest, and before the princes, and all the congregation, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,
“ ‘Our father died in the wilderness, and he was not in the company of them that gathered themselves together against the Lord in the company of Korah; but died in his own sin, and had no sons.
“ ‘Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he hath no son? Give unto us therefore a possession among the brethren of our father.’
“And Moses brought their cause before the Lord.
“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
“ ‘The daughters of Zelophehad speak right; thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father’s brethren, and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them.
“ ‘And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter.’ ”* <39>
In all those German nations which over-ran and subdued the different provinces of the Roman empire, the same notions were entertained concerning the inferiority of the woman; and the same rules of succession were naturally introduced. It is probable that, according to the original customs which prevailed in all these nations, daughters, and all other female relations, were entirely excluded from the right of inheritance; but that afterwards, when the increase of opulence and luxury had raised them to higher consideration, they were admitted to succeed after the males of the same degree.†
In a country where the women are universally regarded as the slaves of the other sex, it is natural to expect that they should be bought and sold, like any other species of property. To marry a wife must there be the same thing as to purchase a female servant, who is to be intrusted, under the husband’s direction, with a great part of the domestic economy.
Thus, in all savage nations, whether in Asia, Africa, or America, the wife is commonly bought by the husband from the father, or those other relations who have an authority over her; and the conclusion of a bargain of this nature, together with the payment of the price, has therefore become the most usual form or solemnity in the celebration of their marriages.* <40>
This appears to be the real foundation of what is related by historians; that in some parts of the world it is usual for the husband to give a dowery to the wife or her relations, instead of the wife bringing along with her a dowery to the husband.
“Dotem non uxor marito, sed uxori maritus offert,” is the expression used by Tacitus in speaking of this practice among the ancient German nations.†
When Shechem wanted to marry the daughter of Jacob—“He said unto her father, and unto her brethren, Let me find grace in your eyes, and what ye shall say unto me I will give.
“Ask me never so much dowery and gift, And I will give according as ye shall say unto me: but give me the damsel to wife.”‡
When David married the daughter of king<41> Saul, he was obliged to pay a dowery of a very singular nature.§
This ancient custom, that the husband should buy his wife from her relations, remains at present among the Chinese; who, notwithstanding their opulence, and their improvement in arts, are still so wonderfully tenacious of the usages introduced in a barbarous period.‖
Sir Thomas Smith takes notice, that, according to the old law of England, “the woman, at the church-door, was given of her father, or some other man of the next of her kin, into the hands of the husband; and he= laid down gold and silver for her upon the book, as though he did buy her.”* In the early history of France we meet with a similar practice; of which there are traces remaining in the present marriage ceremony of that country.†
Upon the same principle, the husband is generally understood to have the power of selling his wife, or of putting her away at pleasure.‡ <42>
It may however be remarked, that this is a privilege, which, from the manners of a rude people, he seldom has reason to exercise. The wife, who is the mother of his children, is generally the most proper person to be employed in the office of rearing and maintaining them. As she advances in years, she is likely to advance in prudence and discretion; a circumstance of too much importance to be counterbalanced by any considerations relating to the appetite between the sexes. Nothing but some extraordinary crime that she has committed, will move the husband to put away so useful a servant, with whom he has long been acquainted, and whose labour, attention, and fidelity, are commonly of more value than all the money she will bring in a market. Divorces are therefore rarely to be met with in the history of early nations.
But though the wife is not apt to incur the settled displeasure of her husband, which might lead him to banish her from the family, she may often experience the sudden and fatal effects of his anger and resentment. When unlimited power is committed to the hands of a savage, it cannot fail, upon many occasions, to be grossly abused. He looks upon her in the same light with his other<43> domestic servants, and expects from her the same implicit obedience to his will. The least opposition kindles his resentment; and, from the natural ferocity of his temper, he is frequently excited to behave with a degree of brutality which, in some cases, may prove the unhappy occasion of her death.
Among the ancient inhabitants of Gaul, the husband exercised the power of life and death over his wives, and treated them with all the severity of an absolute and tyrannical master. In that country, whenever a person of distinction was thought to have died a violent death, his wives lay under the same suspicion of guilt with his other domestic servants; and in order to discover who had committed the crime, they were all subjected to the torture.*
But of all the different branches of power with which in a rude age the husband is usually invested, we meet with the fullest and most complete illustration in the ancient law of the Romans. By that law, a wife was originally considered as, in every respect, the slave of her husband.† She<44> might be sold by him, or she might be put to death by an arbitrary exertion of his authority. From the ceremonies which were used in the more solemn and regular celebration of marriage, it seems probable that, in early times, the wife was purchased with a real price from her relations.‡ She was held incapable of having any estate of her own, and whatever she possessed at the time of her marriage, became the absolute property of her husband.*
It will be thought, perhaps, a mortifying picture that is here presented to us, when we contemplate the barbarous treatment of the female sex in early times, and the rude state of those passions which may be considered as the origin of society. But this rudeness and barbarism, so universally discovered in the early inhabitants of the world, is not unsuitable to the mean condition in which they are placed, and to the numberless hardships and difficulties which they are obliged to encounter. When men are in danger of perishing for hunger; when they are exerting their utmost efforts to procure the bare necessaries of life; when they are unable to shelter themselves from beasts of prey, or from enemies of their own kind, no less ferocious; their constitution would surely be ill adapt-<45>ed to their circumstances, were they endowed with a refined taste of pleasure, and capable of feeling the delicate distresses and enjoyments of love, accompanied with all those elegant sentiments, which, in a civilized and enlightened age, are naturally derived from that passion. Dispositions of this nature would be altogether misplaced in the breast of a savage: They would even be exceedingly hurtful, by turning his attention from real wants, to the pursuit of imaginary, and what, in his situation, must be accounted fantastical gratifications. Neither will it escape observation, that this refinement would be totally inconsistent with the other parts of his character. Nations who have so little regard to property as to live in the continual exercise of theft and rapine; who are so destitute of humanity, as, in cold blood, to put their captives to death with the most excruciating tortures; who have the shocking barbarity to feed upon their fellow-creatures, a practice rarely to be found among the fiercest and most rapacious of the brute animals; such nations, it is evident, would entirely depart from their ordinary habits and principles of action, were they to display much tenderness or benevolence, in consequence of that blind appetite which unites the sexes. It ought, at the same time to be remembered, that, how poor and wretched soever the aspect of human nature in this early state, it contains the seeds of improvement,<46> which, by long care and culture, are capable of being brought to maturity; so that the lower its primitive condition, it requires the greater exertions of labour and activity, and calls for a more extensive operation of those wonderful powers and faculties, which, in a gradual progression from such rude beginnings, have led to the noblest discoveries in art or science, and to the most exalted refinement of taste and manners.<47>
The influence acquired by the mother of a family, before marriage is completely established.
Such are the natural effects of poverty and barbarism, with respect to the passions of sex, and with respect to the rank in society which the women are permitted to enjoy. There is one circumstance, however, in the manners of a rude age, that merits particular attention; as it appears, in some countries, to have produced a remarkable exception to the foregoing observations.
Although marriage, for the reasons formerly mentioned, is undoubtedly a very early institution, yet some little time and experience are necessary before it can be fully established in a barbarous community; and we read of several nations, among whom it is either unknown, or takes place in a very imperfect and limited manner.
To a people who are little acquainted with that institution it will appear, that children have much more connexion with their mother than with their father. If a woman has no notion of attachment or fidelity to any particular person, if notwithstanding her occasional intercourse with different individuals she continues to live by herself, or with her own relations, the child which she has borne, and<48> which she maintains under her own inspection, must be regarded as a member of her own family; and the father, who lives at a distance, can have no opportunity of establishing an authority over it. We may in general conclude, that the same ideas which obtain in a polished nation, with regard to bastards, will, in those primitive times, be extended to all, or the greater part of the children produced in the country.
Thus, among the Lycians, children were accustomed to take their names from their mother, and not from their father; so that if any person was desired to give an account of the family to which he belonged, he was naturally led to recount his maternal genealogy in the female line. The same custom took place among the ancient inhabitants of Attica; as it does at present among several tribes of the natives of North America, and of the Indians upon the coast of Malabar.* <49>
In this situation, the mother of a numerous family, who lives at a distance from her other relations, will often be raised to a degree of rank and dignity to which, from her sex, she would not otherwise be entitled. Her children being, in their early years, maintained and protected by her care and tenderness, and having been accustomed to submit to her authority, will be apt, even after they are grown up, and have arrived at their full strength and vigour, to behave to her with some degree of reverence and filial affection. Although they have no admiration of her military talents, they may respect her upon account of her experience and wisdom; and although they should not themselves be always very scrupulous in paying her an implicit obedience, they will probably be disposed to espouse her quarrel, or to support her interest against every other person.
We are informed, indeed, that when a young Hottentot is of age to be received into the society of men, it is usual for him to beat and abuse his<50> mother, by way of triumph at being freed from her tuition. Such behaviour may happen in a rude country, where, after marriage is established, the superior strength of the husband has raised him to the head of his family, and where his authority has of course annihilated that of the wife, or at least greatly reduced her consideration and importance. But in a country where children have no acquaintance with their father, and are not indebted to him for subsistence and protection, they can hardly fail, during a considerable part of their life, to regard their mother as the principal person in the family.
This is in all probability the source of that influence which appears to have been possessed by the women in several rude and barbarous parts of the world.
In the island of Formosa, it is said, that in forming that slight and transient union between the sexes, to which our travellers, in conformity to the customs of Europe, have given the name of marriage, the husband quits his own family, and passes into that of his wife, where he continues to reside as long as his connection with her remains.* The same custom is said to be established among the people called Moxos, in Peru.† <51>
In the Ladrone islands the wife is absolute mistress of the house, and the husband is not at liberty to dispose of any thing without her permission. She chastises him, or puts him away, at pleasure; and whenever a separation happens, she not only retains all her moveables, but also her children, who consider the next husband she takes as their father.‡
The North American tribes are accustomed to admit their women into their public councils, and even to allow them the privilege of being first called to give their opinion upon every subject of deliberation. Females, indeed, are held incapable of enjoying the office of chief, but through them the succession to that dignity is continued; and therefore, upon the death of a chief, he is succeeded, not by his own son, but by that of his sister; and in default of the sister’s son, by his nearest relation in the female line. When his whole family happens to be extinct, the right of naming a successor is claimed by the noblest matron of the village.
It is observed, however, by an author, who has given us the fullest account of all these particulars, that the women of North America do not arrive at this influence and dignity till after a certain age, and after their children are in a condition to procure<52> them respect; that before this period they are commonly treated as the slaves of the men; and that there is no country in the world where the female sex is in general more neglected and despised.*
Among the ancient inhabitants of Attica, the women had, in like manner, a share in public deliberations. This custom continued till the reign of Cecrops, when a revolution was produced, of which the following fabulous relation has been given by historians. It is said that, after the building of Athens, Minerva and Neptune became competitors for the honour of giving a name to the city, and that Cecrops called a public assembly of the men and women in order to determine the difference. The women were interested upon the part of Minerva; the men upon that of Neptune; and the former carried the point by the majority of one vote. Soon after, there happened an inundation of the sea, which occasioned much damage, and greatly terrified the inhabitants, who believed that this calamity proceeded from the vengeance of Neptune for the affront he had suffered. To appease him, they resolved to punish the female sex, by whom the offence was committed, and determined that no woman should for the future be admitted into the public assemblies, nor any child be allowed to bear the name of its mother.† <53>
It may explain this piece of ancient mythology to observe, that in the reign of Cecrops marriage was first established among the Athenians. In consequence of this establishment the children were no longer accustomed to bear the name of their mother, but that of their father, who, from his superior strength and military talents, became the head and governor of the family; and as the influence of the women was thereby greatly diminished, it was to be expected that they should, in a little time, be entirely excluded from those great assemblies which deliberated upon public affairs.
Among the ancient Britons we find, in like manner, that the women were accustomed to vote in the public assemblies. The rude and imperfect institution of marriage, and the community of wives, that anciently took place in Britain, must have prevented the children from acquiring any considerable connexion with their father, and have disposed them to follow the condition of their mother, as well as to support her interest and dignity.
When a woman, by being at the head of a large family, is thus advanced to influence and authority, and becomes a sort of female chief, she naturally maintains a number of servants, and endeavours to live with suitable splendour and magnificence. In proportion to her affluence, she has the greater temptation to indulge her sensual appetites; and, in a period when the sexes are but little accustomed to controul or disguise their inclinations, she<54> may, in some cases, be led into a correspondence with different male retainers, who happen to reside in her family, and over whom she exercises an authority resembling that of a master.
The above remark may account for what is related by historians; that, in some provinces of the ancient Median empire, it was customary for women to entertain a number of husbands, as in others, it was usual for men to entertain a number of wives or concubines.* The dominion of the ancient Medes comprehended many extensive territories; in some of which, the inhabitants were extremely barbarous; in others, no less opulent and luxurious.
This unusual kind of polygamy, if I may be allowed to use that expression, is established at present upon the coast of Malabar,* as well as in some cantons of the Iroquois in North America;† and though there is no practice more inconsistent with the views and manners of a civilized nation, it has in all probability been adopted by many individuals, in every country where the inhabitants were unacquainted with the regular institution of marriage.‡ <55>
It is highly probable, that the celebrated traditions of the Amazons, inhabiting the most barbarous regions of Scythia, and the relations of a similar people in some parts of America, have arisen from the state of manners now under consideration. Though these accounts are evidently mixed with fable, and appear to contain much exaggeration, we can hardly suppose that they would have been propagated by so many authors, and have created such universal attention, had they been entirely destitute of real foundation.§ In a country where marriage is unknown, females are commonly exalted to be the heads of families, or chiefs, and thus acquire an authority, which, notwithstanding their inferiority in strength, may extend to the direction of war, as well as of other transactions. So extraordinary a spectacle as that of a military<56> enterprise conducted by women, and where the men acted in a subordinate capacity, must have filled the enemy with wonder and astonishment, and might easily give rise to those fictions of a femalerepublic, and of other circumstances equally marvellous, which we meet with in ancient writers.
The refinement of the passions of Sex, in the Pastoral Ages.
When we examine the circumstances which occasion the depression of the women, and the low estimation in which they are held, in a simple and barbarous age, we may easily imagine in what manner their condition is varied and improved in the subsequent periods of society. Their condition is naturally improved by every circumstance which tends to create more attention to the pleasures of sex, and to increase the value of those occupations that are suited to the female character; by the cultivation of the arts of life; by the advancement of opulence; and by the gradual refinement of taste and manners. From a view of the progress of society, in these respects, we may, in a great measure, account for the diversity that occurs among different nations, in relation to the rank of the sexes, their dispositions and sentiments towards each other, and the regulations which they have established in the several branches of their domestic economy.
The invention of taming and pasturing cattle, which may be regarded as the first remarkable improvement in the savage life, is productive of<58> very important alterations in the state and manners of a people.
A shepherd is more regularly supplied with food, and is commonly subjected to fewer hardships and calamities than those who live by hunting and fishing. In proportion to the size of his family, the number of his flocks may in some measure be increased; while the labour which is requisite for their management can never be very oppressive. Being thus provided with necessaries, he is led to the pursuit of those objects which may render his situation more easy and comfortable; and among these the enjoyments derived from the intercourse of the sexes claim a principal share, and become an object of attention.
The leisure, tranquillity, and retirement of a pastoral life, seem calculated, in a peculiar manner, to favour the indulgence of those indolent gratifications. From higher notions of refinement a nicer distinction is made with regard to the objects of desire; and the mere animal pleasure is more frequently accompanied with a correspondence of inclination and sentiment. As this must occasion a great diversity in the taste of individuals, it proves, on many occasions, an obstruction to their happiness, and prevents the lover from meeting with a proper return to his passion. But the delays and the uneasiness to which he is thereby subjected, far from repressing the ardour of his wishes, serve only to increase it; and, amid the idleness and<59> freedom from other cares which his situation affords, he is often wholly occupied by the same tender ideas, which are apt to inflame his imagination, and to become the principal subject of such artless expressive songs as he is capable of composing for his ordinary pastime and amusement.
In consequence of these improvements the virtue of chastity begins to be recognized; for when love becomes a passion, instead of being a mere sensual appetite, it is natural to think that those affections which are not dissipated by variety of enjoyment, will be the purest and the strongest.
The acquisition of property among shepherds has also a considerable effect upon the commerce of the sexes.
Those who have no other fund for their subsistence but the natural fruits of the earth, or the game which the country affords, are acquainted with no other distinctions in the rank of individuals, but such as arise from their personal accomplishments; distinctions which are never continued for any length of time in the same family, and which therefore can never be productive of any lasting influence and authority. But the invention of taming and pasturing cattle gives rise to a more remarkable and permanent distinction of ranks. Some persons, by being more industrious or more fortunate than others, are led in a short time to acquire more numerous herds and flocks, and are thereby enabled to live in greater affluence, to maintain a<60> number of servants and retainers, and to increase, in proportion, their power and dignity. As the superior fortune which is thus acquired by a single person is apt to remain with his posterity, it creates a train of dependance in those who have been connected with the possessor; and the influence which it occasions is gradually augmented, and transmitted from one generation to another.
The degree of wealth acquired by single families of shepherds is greater than may at first be imagined. In the eastern parts of Tartary, where the inhabitants are chiefly maintained upon the flesh of rein-deer, many of the rich possess ten or twenty thousand of those animals; and one of the chiefs of that country, according to an account lately published, was proprietor of no less than an hundred thousand.
The introduction of wealth, and the distinction of ranks with which it is attended, must interrupt the communication of the sexes, and, in many cases, render it difficult for them to gratify their wishes. As particular persons become opulent, they are led to entertain suitable notions of their own dignity; and, while they aim at superior elegance and refinement in their pleasures, they disdain to contract an alliance with their own dependents, or with people of inferior condition. If great families, upon an equal footing, happen to reside in the same neighbourhood, they are frequently engaged in mutual depredations, and are<61> obliged to have a watchful eye upon the conduct of each other, in order to defend their persons and their property. The animosities and quarrels which arise from their ambition or desire of plunder, and which are fomented by reciprocal injuries, dispose them, in all cases, to behave to one another with distance and reserve, and sometimes prove an insuperable bar to their correspondence.
Among persons living upon such terms, the passions of sex cannot be gratified with the same facility as among hunters and fishers. The forms of behaviour, naturally introduced among individuals jealous of each other, have a tendency to check all familiarity between them, and to render their approaches towards an intimacy proportionably slow and gradual. The rivalship subsisting between different families, and the mutual prejudices which they have long indulged, must often induce them to oppose the union of their respective relations: And thus the inclinations of individuals having in vain been smothered by opposition, will break forth with greater vigour, and rise at length to a higher pitch, in proportion to the difficulties which they have surmounted.
Upon the eastern coast of Tartary, it is said that such tribes as are accustomed to the pasturing of cattle discover some sort of jealousy with regard to the chastity of their women; a circumstance regarded as of no importance by those inhabitants of<62> the same country who procure their subsistence merely by fishing.*
From what is related of the patriarch Jacob, it would seem that those families or tribes of shepherds which were anciently scattered over the country of Arabia, had attained some degree of improvement in their manners.
“And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.
“And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee than that I should give her to another man: abide with me.
“And Jacob served seven years for Rachel: and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.”†
In the compositions of Ossian, which describe the manners of a people acquainted with pasturage, there is often a degree of tenderness and delicacy of sentiment which can hardly be equalled in the most refined productions of a civilized age. Some allowance no doubt must be made for the heightening of a poet possessed of uncommon genius and sensibility; but, at the same time, it is probable, that the real history of his countrymen was the groundwork of those events which he has related,<63> and of those tragical effects which he frequently ascribes to the passion between the sexes.‡
“Lorma sat in Aldo’s hall, at the light of a flaming oak: the night came, but he did not return, and the soul of Lorma is sad.—What detains thee, Hunter of Cona? for thou didst promise to return.—Has the deer been distant far, and do the dark winds sigh round thee on the<64> heath? I am in the land of strangers, where is my friend, but Aldo? Come from thy echoing hills, O my best beloved!
“Her eyes are turned towards the gate, and she listens to the rustling blast. She thinks it is Aldo’s tread, and joy rises in her face:—but sorrow returns again, like a thin cloud on the moon.—And thou wilt not return, my love? Let me behold the face of the hill. The moon is in the east. Calm and bright is the breast of the lake! When shall I behold his dogs returning from the chace? When shall I hear his voice loud and distant on the wind? Come from thy echoing hills, Hunter of Woody Cona!
“His thin ghost appeared on a rock, like the watery beam of the moon, when it rushes from between two clouds, and the midnight shower is on the field.—She followed the empty form over the heath, for she knew that her hero fell.—I heard her approaching cries on the wind, like the mournful voice of the breeze, when it sighs on the grass of the cave.
“She came, she found her hero: her voice was heard no more: silent she rolled her sad eyes; she was pale as a watery cloud, that rises from the lake to the beam of the moon.
“Few were her days on Cona: she sunk into the tomb: Fingal commanded his bards, and they sung over the death of Lorma. The daughters <65>of Morven mourned her for one day in the year, when the dark winds of autumn returned.”*
In the agreeable pictures of the golden age, handed down from remote antiquity, we may discover the opinion that was generally entertained of the situation and manners of shepherds. Hence that particular species of poetry, which is now appropriated by fashion, to describe the pleasures of rural retirement, accompanied with innocence and simplicity, and with the indulgence of all the tender passions. There is good reason to believe, that these representations of the pastoral life were not inconsistent with the real condition of shepherds, and that the poets, who were the first historians, have only embellished the traditions of early times. In Arcadia, in Sicily, and in some parts of Italy, where the climate was favourable to the rearing of cattle, or where the inhabitants were but little exposed to the depredations of their neighbours, it is probable that the refinement natural to the pastoral state was carried to a great height. This refinement was the more likely to become the subject of exaggeration and poetical embellishment; as, from a view of the progressive improvements in society, it was contrasted, on the one hand, with the barbarous manners of mere savages; and, on the other, with the opposite style of behaviour in polished nations, who, being con-<66>stantly engaged in the pursuit of gain, and immersed in the cares of business, have contracted habits of industry, avarice, and selfishness.
The consequences of the introduction of Agriculture, with respect to the intercourse of the Sexes.
The passions which relate to the commerce of the sexes may be still raised to a greater height, when men are acquainted with the cultivation of the ground, and have made some progress in the different branches of husbandry.
The improvement of agriculture, which in most parts of the world has been posterior to the art of taming and rearing cattle, is productive of very important alterations in the state of society; more especially with respect to the subject of our present inquiry. Although this employment requires greater industry and labour than is necessary among men who have only the care of herds and flocks; yet, by producing plenty of vegetable as well as of animal food, it multiplies the comforts and conveniencies of life, and therefore excites in mankind a stronger desire of obtaining those pleasures to which they are prompted by their natural appetites. It also obliges men to fix their residence in the neighbourhood of that spot where their labour is chiefly to be employed, and thereby gives rise to property in land, the most valuable and permanent species of wealth; by the unequal distribution of<68> which a greater disproportion is made in the fortune and rank of individuals, and the causes of their dissension and jealousy are, of course, extended.
In the heroic times of Greece, we may, in some measure, discern the effect of these circumstances upon the character and manners of the people.
The inhabitants of that country were then divided into clans or tribes, who, having for the most part begun the practice of agriculture, had quitted the wandering life of shepherds, and established a number of separate independent villages. As those little societies maintained a constant rivalship with each other, and were frequently engaged in actual hostilities, they were far from being in circumstances to encourage a familiar correspondence; and when in particular cases a formal visit had produced an interview between them, it was often attended with such consequences as might be expected from the restraints to which they were usually subjected. A man of wealth and distinction, having conceived a violent passion for the wife or the daughter of a neighbouring prince, was disposed to encounter every danger in order to gratify his desires; and, after seducing the lady, or carrying her away by force, he was generally involved in a war with her relations, and with such as chose to assist them in vindicating the honour of their family. Disorders of this kind were for a considerable time the source of the chief animosities among the different states of Greece, as well as between them and<69> the inhabitants of Asia Minor; and the rape of Io, of Europa, of Medea, and of Helen, are mentioned as the ground of successive quarrels, which in the end were productive of the most distinguished military enterprise that is recorded in the history of those periods.
But notwithstanding these events, from which it appears that the passions of sex had often a considerable influence upon the conduct of the people, there is no reason to imagine that the Greeks, in those times, had entirely shaken off their ancient barbarous manners, or in their ideas with respect to the women, had attained any high degree of delicacy.
In the Iliad, the wife of Menelaus is considered as of little more value than the treasure which had been stolen along with her. The restitution of the lady and of that treasure is always mentioned in the same breath, and seems to be regarded as a full reparation of the injury which Menelaus had sustained: and though it was known that Helen had made a vol-untary elopement with Paris, yet her husband neither discovers any resentment upon that account, nor seems unwilling to receive her again into favour.*
Even the wife of Ulysses, whose virtue in refusing the suitors is highly celebrated in the Odyssey, is supposed to derive her principal merit from<70> preserving to her husband’s family the dowery which she had brought along with her, and which, it seems, upon her second marriage, must have been restored to her father Icarius.*
And though Telemachus is always represented as a pious and dutiful son, we find him reproving his mother in a manner which shews he had no very high notion of her dignity, or of the respect which belonged to her sex.
Penelope, so far from being offended at this language, appears to consider it as a mark of uncommon prudence and judgment in so young a person.
In all parts of the world, where the advancement of agriculture has introduced the appropriation of landed estates, it will be found that the manners of the inhabitants are such, as indicate considerable improvements in the commerce of the sexes.<71>
But the acquisition of property in land, the jealousy arising from the distinction of ranks, and the animosities which are apt to be produced by the neighbourhood of great independent families, appear to have been attended with the most remarkable consequences in those barbarous nations, who, about the fifth century, invaded the Roman empire, and afterwards settled in the different provinces which they had conquered.
As those nations were small, and as they acquired an extensive territory, the different tribes or families of which they were composed spread themselves over the country, and were permitted to occupy very large estates. Particular chieftains or heads of families became great and powerful in proportion to their wealth, which enabled them to support a numerous train of retainers and followers. A great number of these were united under a sovereign; for the different parts of a Roman province, having a dependence upon one another, fell naturally into the hands of the same military leader, and were erected into one kingdom. But, in a rude age, unaccustomed to subordination, the monarch could have little authority over such wide dominions. The opulent proprietors of land, disdaining submission to regular government, lived in the constant exercise of predatory incursions upon their neighbours; and every separate family, being in a great measure left without protection from the public, was under the necessity of provid-<72>ing for its own defence. The disorders arising from private wars between different families of the same kingdom, were not effectually repressed for many centuries; during which time the same causes continued to operate in forming the character and manners of the people, and gave rise to a set of customs and institutions of which we have no example in any other age or country.
The high notions of military honour, and the romantic love and gallantry, by which the modern nations of Europe have been so much distinguished, were equally derived from those particular circumstances.
As war was the principal employment of those nations, so it was carried on in a manner somewhat peculiar to themselves. Their military enterprises were less frequently undertaken against a foreign enemy than against the inhabitants of a neighbouring district; and on these latter occasions, the chief warriors of either party, were, from the smallness of their numbers, known to each other, and distinguished by the respective degrees of strength or valour which they possessed. The members of different families, who had long been at variance, were therefore animated with a strong personal animosity; and as, in the time of an engagement, they were disposed to single out one another, a battle was frequently nothing more than a number of separate duels between combatants inspired with mutual jealousy, and contending for<73> superiority in military prowess. As the individuals of different parties were inflamed by opposition, those of the same party, conscious of acting under the particular observation of all their companions, were excited to vie with each other in the performance of such exploits as might procure admiration and applause. In this situation they not only contracted habits which rendered them cool and intrepid in danger, but at the same time acquired a remarkable generosity of sentiment in the exercise of their mutual hostilities. Persons, who aspired to superior rank and influence, fought merely to obtain a reputation in arms, and affected to look upon every other consideration as mean and ignoble. Having this object in view, they thought it disgraceful to assault an enemy when unprepared for his defence, or without putting him upon his guard by a previous challenge; and they disdained to practise unfair means in order to gain a victory, or to use it with insolence and barbarity. These notions of honour were productive of certain rules and maxims, by which the gentry were directed in their whole manner of fighting, and from which they never deviated without bringing an indelible stain upon their character.
The ideas of personal dignity, which were thus raised to so high a pitch among neighbouring families, were incompatible with any regular distribution of justice. Men of wealth and distinction were unwilling to apply to a magistrate in order<74> to procure redress for the injuries or affronts which they sustained; because this would have amounted to a confession that they were unable to assert their character and rank, by taking vengeance upon the offender. If a law-suit had arisen in matters of property, it commonly happened in the progress of the dispute, that one of the parties gave such offence to the other, as occasioned their deciding the difference by the sword. The judge, who found himself incapable of preventing this determination, endeavoured to render it less hurtful to society, by discouraging the friends of either party from interfering in the quarrel. With this view, he assumed the privilege of regulating the forms, and even became a spectator of the combat; which in that age, no less prone to superstition than intoxicated with the love of military glory, was considered as an immediate appeal to the judgment of heaven. These judicial combats, though they did not introduce the custom of duelling, had certainly a tendency to render it more universal, and to settle a variety of observances with which it came to be attended.
The diversions of a people have always a relation to their general character and manners. It was therefore to be expected that such warlike nations would be extremely addicted to martial exercises, and that the members of different tribes or families, when not engaged in actual hostilities, would be accustomed to challenge one another to<75> a trial of their strength, activity, or military skill. Hence the origin of jousts and tournaments; those images of war, which were frequently exhibited by men of rank, and which tended still farther to improve those nice punctilios of behaviour that were commonly practised by the military people in every serious contest.
From this prevailing spirit of the times, the art of war became the study of every one who was desirous of maintaining the character of a gentleman. The youth were early initiated in the profession of arms, and served a sort of apprenticeship under persons of distinguished eminence. The young squire became in reality the servant of that leader to whom he had attached himself, and whose virtues were set before him as a model for imitation. He was taught to perform with ease and dexterity those exercises which were either ornamental or useful; and, at the same time, he endeavoured to acquire those talents and accomplishments which were thought suitable to his profession. He was taught to look upon it as his duty to check the insolent, to restrain the oppressor, to protect the weak and defenceless; to behave with frankness and humanity even to an enemy, with modesty and politeness to all. According to the proficiency which he had made, he was honoured with new titles and marks of distinction, till at length he arrived at the dignity of knighthood; a dignity which even the greatest<76> potentates were ambitious of acquiring, as it was supposed to ascertain the most complete military education, and the attainment of such qualifications as were then universally admired and respected.
The same ambition, in persons of an exalted military rank, which gave rise to the institution of chivalry, was afterwards productive of the different orders of knighthood, by which, from a variety of similar establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, a subdivision was made in the degrees of honour conferred upon individuals.
The situation of mankind in those periods had also a manifest tendency to heighten and improve the passion between the sexes. It was not to be expected that those opulent chiefs, who maintained a constant opposition to each other, would allow any sort of familiarity to take place between the members of their respective families. Retired in their own castles, and surrounded with their numerous vassals, they looked upon their neighbours either as inferior to them in rank, or as enemies. They behaved to each other with that ceremonious civility which the laws of chivalry required; but, at the same time, with that reserve and caution which a regard to their own safety made it necessary for them to observe. The young knight, as he marched to the tournament, saw at a distance the daughter of the chieftain by whom the show was exhibited; and it was even with difficulty that<77> he could obtain access to her, in order to declare the sentiments with which she had inspired him. He was entertained by her relations with that cold respect which demonstrated that their dignity was alarmed by his aspiring to contract an alliance with them. The lady herself was taught to assume the pride of her family, and to think that no person was worthy of her affection who did not possess an exalted rank and character. To have given way to a sudden inclination would have disgraced her for ever in the opinion of all her kindred; and it was only by a long course of attention, and of the most respectful service, that the lover could hope for any favour from his mistress.*
The barbarous state of the country at that time, and the injuries to which the inhabitants, especially those of the weaker sex, were frequently exposed, gave ample scope for the display of military talents; and the knight, who had nothing to do at home, was encouraged to wander from place to place, and from one court to another, in quest of adventures; in which he endeavoured to ad-<78>vance his reputation in arms, and to recommend himself to the fair of whom he was enamoured, by fighting with every person who was so inconsiderate as to dispute her unrivalled beauty, virtue, or personal accomplishments. Thus, while his thoughts were constantly fixed upon the same object, and while his imagination, inflamed by absence and repeated disappointments, was employed in heightening all those charms by which his desires were continually excited, his passion was at length wrought up to the highest pitch, and uniting with the love of fame, became the ruling principle, which gave a particular turn and direction to all his sentiments and opinions.
As there were many persons in the same situation, they were naturally inspired with similar sentiments. Rivals to one another in military glory, they were often competitors, as it is expressed by Milton, “to win her grace whom all commend”;4 and the same emulation which disposed them to aim at pre-eminence in the one respect, excited them with no less eagerness to dispute the preference in the other. Their dispositions and manner of thinking became fashionable, and were gradually diffused by the force of education and example. To be in love was looked upon as one of the necessary qualifications of a knight; and he was no less ambitious of showing his constancy and fidelity to his mistress, than of displaying his military virtues. He assumed the title of her slave, or servant. By<79> this he distinguished himself in every combat; and his success was supposed to redound to her honour, no less than to his own. If she had bestowed upon him a present to be worn in the field of battle in token of her regard, it was considered as a pledge of victory, and as laying upon him the strongest obligation to render himself worthy of the favour.
The sincere and faithful passion, which commonly occupied the heart of every warrior, and which he professed upon all occasions, was naturally productive of the utmost purity of manners, and of great respect and veneration for the female sex. The delicacy of sentiment which prevailed, had a tendency to divert the attention from sensual pleasure, and created a general abhorrence of debauchery. Persons who felt a strong propensity to magnify and exalt the object of their own wishes, were easily led to make allowance for the same disposition in their neighbours; and such individuals as made a point of defending the reputation and dignity of that particular lady to whom they were devoted, became extremely cautious, lest by any insinuation or impropriety of behaviour, they should hurt the character of another, and be exposed to the just resentment of those by whom she was protected. A woman who deviated so far from the established maxims of the age as to violate the laws of chastity, was indeed deserted by every body, and<80> was universally contemned and insulted.* But those who adhered to the strict rules of virtue, and maintained an unblemished reputation, were treated like beings of a superior order. The love of God and of the ladies was one of the first lessons inculcated upon every young person who was initiated into the military profession. He was instructed with care in all those forms of behaviour which, according to the received notions of gallantry and politeness, were settled with the most frivolous exactness. He was frequently put under the tuition of some matron of rank and distinction, who in this particular directed his education, and to whom he was under a necessity of revealing all his sentiments, thoughts, and actions. An oath was imposed upon him, by which he became bound to vindicate the honour of the ladies, as well as to de-<81>fend them from every species of injustice; and the uncourteous knight who behaved to them with rudeness, or who ventured to injure and insult them, became the object of general indignation and vengeance, and was treated as the common enemy of all those who were actuated by the true and genuine principles of chivalry.†
The sentiments of military honour, and the love and gallantry so universally diffused among those nations, which were displayed in all the amusements and diversions of the people, had necessarily a remarkable influence upon the genius and taste of their literary compositions. Men were pleased with a recital of what they admired in real life; and the first poetical historians endeavoured to embellish those events which had struck their imagination, and appeared the most worthy of being preserved.
Such was the employment of the bards,* who about the eleventh century are said, along with their minstrels,† to have attended the festivals and entertainments of princes, and to have sung, with the accompaniment of musical instruments, a variety of small poetical pieces of their own composition, describing the heroic sentiments, as well as the love and gallantry of the times.‡ <82>
They were succeeded by the writers of romance, who related a longer and more connected series of adventures, in which were exhibited the most extravagant instances of valour and generosity, of patience and fortitude, of respect to the ladies, of disinterested love, and inviolable fidelity; subjects the most capable of warming the imagination, and of producing the most sublime and refined descriptions; but which were often disgraced by the unskilfulness of the author, and by that excessive propensity to exaggeration, and turn for the marvellous, which prevailed in those ages of darkness and superstition. These performances, however, with all their faults, may be regarded as striking monuments of the Gothic taste and genius, to which there is nothing similar in the writings of antiquity, and at the same time as useful records, that contain some of the outlines of the history, together with a faithful picture of the manners and customs of those remarkable periods.
This observation is in some measure applicable to the Epic poetry which followed, and which, with little more correctness, but with the graces of versification, described the same heroic and tender sentiments, though tinctured by the peculiar genius and character of different writers.
The romance of Charlemain and his twelve peers, ascribed to archbishop Turpin, a cotemporary of that monarch, but which is supposed to be a work of the eleventh century,5 furnished mate-<83>rials for the Morgante, the Orlando Innamorato, and the Orlando Furioso.6 The last of these poems, which entirely eclipsed the reputation of the two former, whatever may be its merit to an Italian, in easiness and harmony of expression, is a bundle of incoherent adventures, discovering neither unity of design, nor any selection of such objects as are fitted to excite admiration. The Gierusalemme Liberata, to the system of enchantment, and the romantic exploits which modern times had introduced, has united the regularity of the ancient Greek and Roman poets; and though the author’s talents for the pathetic seem inferior to his powers of description, the whole structure of his admirable poem is sufficient to show the advantages, in point of sublimity, derived from the manners and institutions of chivalry.7 The fabulous legends of Prince Arthur, and his knights of the round table, suggested the ground-work of Spenser’s Fairy Queen;8 but the writer, instead of improving upon the Gothic model, has thought proper to cover it with a veil of allegory; which is too dark to have much beauty of its own; and which, notwithstanding the strength of imagery frequently displayed, destroys the appearance of reality, necessary, in works of imagination, to interest the affections.
When the improvement of public shows had given rise to dramatic performances, the same sort of manners was adopted in those entertainments;<84> and the first tragedies, unless when founded upon religious subjects, represented love as the grand spring and mover of every action, the source of all those hopes and fears with which the principal persons were successively agitated, and of that distress and misery in which they were finally involved. This is the more remarkable, because, from the rigid morals of that age, women were not permitted to act in those representations; and therefore the parts allotted to them, which were performed by men, were usually so conducted by the poet as to bear a very small proportion to the rest of the piece.
The first deviation from this general taste of composition in works of entertainment may be discovered in Italy, where the revival of letters was early attended with some relaxation of the Gothic institutions and manners.
The advancement of the Italian states in commerce and manufactures so early as the thirteenth century, had produced a degree of opulence and luxury, and was followed, soon after, by the cultivation of the fine arts, and the improvement of taste and science. The principal towns of Italy came thus to be filled with tradesmen and merchants, whose unwarlike dispositions, conformable to their manner of life, were readily communicated to those who had intercourse with them. To this we may add the influence of the clergy, who resorted in great numbers to Rome, as the fountain of ecclesiastical pre-<85>ferment, and who, embracing different views and principles from those of the military profession, were enabled to propagate their opinions and sentiments among the greater part of the inhabitants.
The decay of the military spirit among the Italians was manifest from their disuse of duelling, the most refined method of executing private revenge, and from their substituting, in place of it, the more artful but cowardly practice of poisoning. Their taste of writing was in like manner varied according to this alteration of their circumstances; and people began to relish those ludicrous descripions of low life and of licentious manners which we meet with in the tales of Boccace, and many other writers, entirely repugnant to the gravity and decorum of former times, and which appear to have taken their origin from the monks, in consequence of such dispositions and habits as their constrained and unnatural situation had a tendency to produce. This kind of composition, however, appears to have been the peculiar growth of Italy; and those authors who attempted to introduce it into other countries, as was done by Chaucer in England, are only servile imitators, or rather mere translators of the Italians.
In the other countries of Europe, the manners introduced by chivalry were more firmly rooted, and acquiring stability from custom, may still be observed to have a good deal of influence upon the taste and sentiments even of the present age.<86> When a change of circumstances, more than the inimitable ridicule of Cervantes, had contributed to explode the ancient romances, they were succeeded by those serious novels which, in France and England, are still the favourite entertainment, and which represent, in a more moderate degree, the sentiments of military honour, as well as the love and gallantry which prevailed in the writings of a former period. The fashion of those times has also remained with us in our theatrical compositions; and scarce any author, till very lately, seems to have thought that a tragedy without a love-plot could be attended with success.
The great respect and veneration for the ladies, which prevailed in a former period, has still a considerable influence upon our behaviour towards them, and has occasioned their being treated with a degree of politeness, delicacy, and attention, that was unknown to the Greeks and Romans, and perhaps to all the nations of antiquity. This has given an air of refinement to the intercourse of the sexes, which contributes to heighten the elegant pleasures of society, and may therefore be considered as a valuable improvement, arising from the extravagance of Gothic institutions and manners.<87>
Changes in the condition of women, arising from the improvement of useful Arts and Manufactures.
One of the most remarkable differences between man and other animals consists in that wonderful capacity for the improvement of his faculties with which he is endowed. Never satisfied with any particular attainment, he is continually impelled by his desires from the pursuit of one object to that of another; and his activity is called forth in the prosecution of the several arts which render his situation more easy and agreeable. This progress however is slow and gradual; at the same time that, from the uniformity of the human constitution, it is accompanied with similar appearances in different parts of the world. When agriculture has created abundance of provisions, people extend their views to other circumstances of smaller importance. They endeavour to be clothed and lodged, as well as maintained, in a more comfortable manner; and they engage in such occupations as are calculated for these useful purposes. By the application of their labour to a variety of objects, commodities of different kinds are produced. These are exchanged for one another, according to the demand of different individuals; and thus<88> manufactures, together with commerce, are at length introduced into a country.
These improvements are the source of very important changes in the state of society, and particularly in relation to the women. The advancement of a people in manufactures and commerce has a natural tendency to remove those circumstances which prevented the free intercourse of the sexes, and contributed to heighten and inflame their passions. From the cultivation of the arts of peace, the different members of society are more and more united, and have occasion to enter into a greater variety of transactions for their mutual benefit. As they become more civilized, they perceive the advantages of establishing a regular government; and different tribes who lived in a state of independence, are restrained from injuring one another, and reduced under subjection to the laws. Their former animosities, the cause of so much disturbance, are no longer cherished by fresh provocation, and at length are buried in oblivion. Being no longer withheld by mutual fear and jealousy, they are led by degrees to contract an acquaintance, and to carry on a more intimate correspondence. The men and women of different families are permitted to converse with more ease and freedom, and meet with less opposition to the indulgence of their inclinations.
But while the fair sex become less frequently the objects of those romantic and extravagant pas-<89>sions, which in some measure arise from the disorders of society, they are more universally regarded upon account of their useful or agreeable talents.
When men begin to disuse their ancient barbarous practices, when their attention is not wholly engrossed by the pursuit of military reputation, when they have made some progress in arts, and have attained to a proportional degree of refinement, they are necessarily led to set a value upon those female accomplishments and virtues which have so much influence upon every species of improvement, and which contribute in so many different ways to multiply the comforts of life. In this situation, the women become, neither the slaves, nor the idols of the other sex, but the friends and companions. The wife obtains that rank and station which appears most agreeable to reason, being suited to her character and talents. Loaded by nature with the first and most immediate concern in rearing and maintaining the children, she is endowed with such dispositions as fit her for the discharge of this important duty, and is at the same time particularly qualified for all such employments as require skill and dexterity more than strength, which are so necessary in the interior management of the family. Possessed of peculiar delicacy, and sensibility, whether derived from original constitution, or from her way of life, she is capable of securing the esteem and<90> affection of her husband, by dividing his cares, by sharing his joys, and by soothing his misfortunes.
The regard, which is thus shown to the useful talents and accomplishments of the women, cannot fail to operate in directing their education, and in forming their manners. They learn to suit their behaviour to the circumstances in which they are placed, and to that particular standard of propriety and excellence which is set before them. Being respected upon account of their diligence and proficiency in the various branches of domestic economy, they naturally endeavour to improve and extend those valuable qualifications. They are taught to apply with assiduity to those occupations which fall under their province, and to look upon idleness as the greatest blemish in the female character. They are instructed betimes in whatever will qualify them for the duties of their station, and is thought conducive to the ornament of private life. Engaged in these solid pursuits, they are less apt to be distinguished by such brilliant accomplishments as make a figure in the circle of gaiety and amusement. Accustomed to live in retirement, and to keep company with their nearest relations and friends, they are inspired with all that modesty and diffidence which is natural to persons unacquainted with promiscuous conversation; and their affections are neither dissipated by pleasure, nor corrupted by the vicious customs of the world. As their attention is principally bestowed upon the<91> members of their own family, they are led, in a particular manner, to improve those feelings of the heart which are excited by these tender connections, and they are trained up in the practice of all the domestic virtues.
The celebrated character, drawn by Solomon, of the virtuous woman, is highly expressive of those ideas and sentiments, which are commonly entertained by a people advancing in commerce and in the arts of life.
“She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
“She is like the merchant ships, she bringeth her food from afar.
“She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
“She considereth a field and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
“She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
“She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
“She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
“She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
“She maketh herself coverings of tapestry, her clothing is silk and purple.<92>
“Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
“She maketh fine linen, and selleth it, and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
“Strength and honour are her clothing, and she shall rejoice in time to come.
“She openeth her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
“She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.”*
In many of the Greek states, during their most flourishing periods, it appears that the women were viewed nearly in the same light, and that their education was chiefly calculated to improve their industry and talents, so as to render them useful members of society. Their attention seems to have been engrossed by the care of their own families, and by those smaller branches of manufacture which they were qualified to exercise. They were usually lodged in a remote apartment of the house, and were seldom visited by any person except their near relations. Their modesty and reserve, and their notions of a behaviour suited to the female character, were such as might be expected from their retired manner of life. They never appeared abroad without being covered with a veil, and were not allowed to be present at any public entertainment.† “As for you, women,”<93> says Pericles, in one of the orations in Thucydides, “it ought to be the constant aim of your sex to avoid being talked of by the public; and it is your highest commendation that you should never be the objects either of applause or censure.”‡
Lysias, in one of his orations, has introduced a widow, the mother of several children, who considers her appearing in public as one of the most desperate measures to which she could be driven by her misfortunes. She prays and entreats her son-in-law to call together her relations and friends, that she might inform them of her situation. “I have,” says she, “never before been accustomed to speak in the presence of men; but I am compelled by my sufferings to complain of the injuries I have met with.”*
In another oration, composed by the same author, a citizen, accused of murdering his wife’s gallant, gives the following simple narrative of his domestic economy.
“When I first entered into the married state, Athenians! I endeavoured to observe a medium between the harsh severity of some husbands, and the easy fondness of others. My wife, though treated with kindness, was watched with attention. As a husband, I rendered her situation agreeable; but as a woman, she was left<94> neither the entire mistress of my fortune, nor of her own actions. When she became a mother, this new endearment softened and overcame the prudent caution of my former conduct, and engaged me to repose in her an unlimited confidence. During a short time, Athenians! I had no occasion to repent of this alteration: she proved a most excellent wife; and, highly circumspect in her private behaviour, she managed my affairs with the utmost diligence and frugality. But since the death of my mother, she has been the cause of all my calamities. Then she first got abroad to attend the funeral, and being observed by Eratosthenes, was soon after seduced by him. This he effected by means of our female slave, whom he watched going to market, and whom, by fair promises and flattery, he drew over to his designs.
“It is necessary you should be informed, Athenians! that my house consists of two floors; the floor above is laid out in a similar manner to that below; this lodges the men, that above is destined for the women. Upon the birth of our son, my wife suckled him herself; and to relieve her from the fatigue of going below stairs as often as it was necessary to bathe him, I yielded up the ground floor to the women, and kept above stairs myself. She still continued, however, to sleep with me during the night; and when the child was peevish, and fell a-cry-<95>ing, she frequently went below stairs, and offered it the breast. This practice was long continued without any suspicion on my part, who, simple man that I was! regarded my spouse as a prodigy of virtue.”*
Solon is said to have made regulations for preventing the women from violating those decorums which were esteemed essential to their character. He appointed that no matron should go from home with more than three garments, nor a larger quantity of provisions than could be purchased for an obolus. He also provided, that when any matron went abroad, she should always have an attendant, and a lighted torch carried before her.†
At Athens, a man was not permitted to approach the apartment of his step-mother, or her children, though living in the same house; which is given, by Mr. Hume, as the reason why, by the Athenian laws, one might marry his half-sister by the father; for as these relations had no more intercourse than the men and women of different families, there was no greater danger of any criminal correspondence between them.9
It is probable, that the recluse situation of the Grecian women, which was adapted to the circumstances of the people upon their first advancement in arts, was afterwards maintained from an inviol-<96>able respect to their ancient institutions. The democratical form of government, which came to be established in most parts of Greece, had, at the same time, a tendency to occupy the people in the management of public affairs, and to engage them in those pursuits of ambition, from which the women were naturally excluded. It must however be admitted that, while such a state of manners might be conducive to the more solid enjoyments of life, it undoubtedly prevented the two sexes from improving the arts of conversation, and from giving a polish to the expression of their thoughts and sentiments. Hence it is, that the Greeks, notwithstanding their learning and good sense, were remarkably deficient in delicacy and politeness, and were so little judges of propriety in wit and humour, as to relish the low ribaldry of an Aristophanes, at a period when they were entertained with the sublime eloquence of a Demosthenes, and with the pathetic compositions of a Euripides and a Sophocles.
The military character in ancient Greece, considered with respect to politeness, and compared with the same character in modern times, seems to afford a good illustration of what has been observed. Soldiers, as they are men of the world, have usually such manners as are formed by company and conversation. But in ancient Greece they were no less remarkable for rusticity and ill-manners, than in the modern nations of Europe they<97> are distinguished by politeness and good-breeding; for Menander, the comic poet, says, that he can hardly conceive such a character as that of a polite soldier to be formed even by the power of the Deity.*
When the Romans, towards the middle of the Commonwealth, had become in some degree civilized, it is probable that the condition of their women was nearly the same with that of the Greeks in the period above mentioned. But it appears that, at Rome, the circumstances of the people underwent very rapid changes in this particular. By the conquest of many opulent nations, great wealth was suddenly imported into the capital of the empire; which corrupted the ancient manners of the inhabitants, and produced a great revolution in their taste and sentiments.
In the modern nations of Europe, we may also observe, that the introduction of arts, and of regular government, had an immediate influence upon the relative condition and behaviour of the sexes. When the disorders incident to the Gothic system had subsided, the women began to be valued upon account of their useful talents and accomplishments; and their consideration and rank, making allowance for some remains of that romantic spirit which had prevailed in a former period, came to be chiefly determined by the importance of those departments<98> which they occupied, in carrying on the business and maintaining the intercourse of society. The manners introduced by such views of the female character are still in some measure preserved, in those European countries which have been least affected by the late rapid advances of luxury and refinement.<99>
The effects of great opulence, and the culture of the elegant arts, upon the relative condition of the sexes.
The progressive improvements of a country are still attended with farther variations in the sentiments and manners of the inhabitants.
The first attention of a people is directed to the acquisition of the mere necessaries of life, and to the exercise of those occupations which are most immediately requisite for subsistence. According as they are successful in these pursuits, they feel a gradual increase of their wants, and are excited with fresh vigour and activity to search for the means of supplying them. The advancement of the more useful arts is followed by the cultivation of those which are subservient to pleasure and entertainment. Mankind, in proportion to the progress they have made in multiplying the conveniencies of their situation, become more refined in their taste, and luxurious in their manner of living. Exempted from labour, and placed in great affluence, they endeavour to improve their enjoyments, and become addicted to all those amusements and diversions which give an exercise to their minds, and relieve them from languor and weariness, the<100> effects of idleness and dissipation. In such a state, the pleasures which nature has grafted upon the love between the sexes, become the source of an elegant correspondence, and are likely to have a general influence upon the commerce of society. Women of condition come to be more universally admired and courted upon account of the agreeable qualities which they possess, and upon account of the amusement which their conversation affords. They are encouraged to quit that retirement which was formerly esteemed so suitable to their character, to enlarge the sphere of their acquaintance, and to appear in mixed company, and in public meetings of pleasure. They lay aside the spindle and the distaff, and engage in other employments more agreeable to the fashion. As they are introduced more into public life, they are led to cultivate those talents which are adapted to the intercourse of the world, and to distinguish themselves by polite accomplishments that tend to heighten their personal attractions, and to excite those peculiar sentiments and passions of which they are the natural objects.
These improvements, in the state and accomplishments of the women, might be illustrated from a view of the manners in the different nations of Europe. They have been carried to the greatest height in France, and in some parts of Italy, where the fine arts have received the highest cultivation, and where a taste for refined and elegant amusement has been generally diffused. The same im-<101>provements have made their way into England and Germany; though the attention of the people to the more necessary and useful arts, and their slow advancement in those which are subservient to entertainment, has, in these countries, prevented the intercourse of the sexes from being equally extended. Even in Spain, where, from the defects of administration, or from whatever causes, the arts have for a long time been almost entirely neglected, the same effects of refinement are at length beginning to appear, by the admission of the women to that freedom which they have in the other countries of Europe.
Thus we may observe, that in refined and polished nations there is the same free communication between the sexes as in the ages of rudeness and barbarism. In the latter, women enjoy the most unbounded liberty, because it is thought of no consequence what use they shall make of it. In the former, they are entitled to the same freedom, upon account of those agreeable qualities which they possess, and the rank and dignity which they hold as members of society.
It should seem, however, that there are certain limits beyond which it is impossible to push the real improvements arising from wealth and opulence. In a simple age, the free intercourse of the sexes is attended with no bad consequences; but in opulent and luxurious nations, it gives rise to licentious and dissolute manners, inconsistent<102> with good order, and with the general interest of society. The love of pleasure, when carried to excess, is apt to weaken and destroy those passions which it endeavours to gratify, and to pervert those appetites which nature has bestowed upon mankind for the most beneficial purposes. The natural tendency, therefore, of great luxury and dissipation is to diminish the rank and dignity of the women, by preventing all refinement in their connection with the other sex, and rendering them only subservient to the purposes of animal enjoyment.
The voluptuousness of the Eastern nations, arising from a degree of advancement in the arts, joined, perhaps, to the effect of their climate, and the facility with which they are able to procure subsistence, has introduced the practice of polygamy; by which the women are reduced into a state of slavery and confinement, and a great proportion of the inhabitants are employed in such offices as render them incapable of contributing, either to the population, or to the useful improvements of the country.* <103>
The excessive opulence of Rome, about the end of the Commonwealth, and after the establishment of the despotism, gave rise to a degree of debauchery of which we have no example in any other European nation. This did not introduce polygamy, which was repugnant to the regular and well-established police of a former period; though Julius Caesar is said to have prepared a law by which the emperour should be allowed to have as many wives as he thought fit.† But the luxury of the people, being restrained in this way, came to be the more indulged in every other; and the common prostitution of the women was carried to a height that must have been extremely unfavourable to the multiplication of the species; while the liberty of divorce was so much extended and abused, that, among persons of condition, marriage became a very slight and transient connection.* <104>
The frequency of divorce, among the Romans, was attended with bad consequences, which were felt in every part of their domestic economy. As the husband and wife had a separation constantly in view, they could repose little confidence in each other, but were continually occupied by separate considerations of interest. In such a situation, they were not likely to form a strong attachment, or to bestow much attention to the joint concerns of their family. So far otherwise, the practice of<105> stealing from each other, in expectation of a divorce, became so general that it was not branded with the name of theft, but, like other fashionable vices, received a softening appellation.†
The bad agreement between married persons, together with the common infidelity of the wife, had a natural tendency to alienate the affections of a father from his children, and led him, in many cases, not only to neglect their education, but even to deprive them of their paternal inheritance. This appears to have been one great cause of that propensity, discovered by the people, to convey their estates by will; which, from the many statutes that were made, and the equitable decisions of judges that were given, in order to rectify the abuse, has rendered that branch of the Roman law, relating to testaments, more extensive and complicated than any other. The frequency of such deeds, to the prejudice of the heirs at law, created swarms of those legacy-hunters,* whose trade, as we learn from Horace, afforded the most infallible means of growing rich; and the same circumstance gave also great encouragement to the forgery or falsification of wills, a species of fraud which is much taken notice of by the writers of those times,<106> and which has been improperly regarded as one of the general effects of opulence and luxury.†
In those voluptuous ages of Rome, it should seem that the inhabitants were too much dissipated by pleasure to feel any violent passion for an individual, and the correspondence of the sexes was too undistinguishing to be attended with much delicacy of sentiment. It may accordingly be remarked, that the writers of the Augustan age, who have afforded so many models of composition in other branches, have left no work of imagination, describing the manners of their own countrymen, in which love is supposed to be productive of any tragical, or very serious effects. Neither that part of the Eneid which relates to the death of Dido, nor the love-epistles of Ovid, both of which are founded upon events in a remote age, and in distant countries, can properly be considered as exceptions to what is here alleged. It also merits<107> attention, that when the Roman poets have occasion to represent their own sentiments in this particular, the subject of their description, not to mention more irregular appetites, is either the love of a concubine, or an intrigue with a married woman. This is not less apparent from the grave and tender Elegies of Tibullus and Propertius, than from the gay and more licentious writings of Horace, of Ovid, and of Catullus. The style of those compositions, and the manners from which it was derived, while they degraded the women of virtue, contributed, no doubt, to exalt the character of a kept-mistress. The different situation of modern nations, in this respect, is perhaps the reason why they have no term corresponding to that of amica in Latin.
The acquisition of great wealth, and the improvement of the elegant arts, together with the free intercourse of the sexes, have, in some of the modern European nations, had similar consequences to what they produced in ancient Rome, by introducing a strong disposition to pleasure. This is most especially remarkable in France and Italy, the countries in which opulence was first acquired, and in which the improvements of society are supposed to have made the greatest advances. But in these countries, the authority obtained by the clergy after the establishment of the Christian religion, and the notions which they endeavoured to inculcate with regard to abstinence from every sensual gratification, have concurred with the influ-<108>ence of the former usage and laws, not only to exclude polygamy, but in a great measure to prevent the dissolution of marriage by voluntary divorce. Many disorders, therefore, which were felt in the luxurious ages of Rome, have thus been avoided; and in modern Europe, the chief effect of debauchery, beside the encouragement given to common prostitution, has been to turn the attention, from the pursuits of business or ambition, to the amusements of gallantry; or rather to convert these last into a serious occupation.
It is not intended, however, in this discourse, to consider those variations, in the state of women, which arise from the civil or religious government of a people, or from such other causes as are peculiar to the inhabitants of different countries. The revolutions that I have mentioned, in the condition and manners of the sexes, are chiefly derived from the progress of mankind in the common arts of life, and therefore make a part in the general history of society.<109>
[* ]A late ingenious author imagines that this coldness of constitution is peculiar to the natives of America; and he accounts for it, in a most whimsical manner, from the moisture of the climate, by which the inhabitants of that country are, in his opinion, rendered inferior, both in mind and body, to those of the old world. [[Cornelius De Pauw. [Recherches philosophiques sur les Americains.] I:23 De Pauw, a diplomat in the court of Frederick the Great, argued in this widely read work that America was an enervated and degenerate continent due to its climate. But though it must, perhaps, be admitted that particular climates have some influence upon the passions of sex, yet, in most parts of the world, the character of savages, in this respect, exhibits a remarkable uniformity. [See an account of the Samoiedes, histoire generale des voyages, tome 18. p. 509, 510.—Of the inhabitants of Kamtschatka, ibid. tome 19. liv. 2. chap. 4.]
[* ]It seems unnecessary to observe, that what is here said with regard to marriage, together with many other Remarks which follow concerning the manners of early nations, can only be applied to those who had lost all knowledge of the original institutions, which, as the sacred scriptures inform us, were communicated to mankind by an extraordinary revelation from heaven.
[* ]Cicero pro Flacco [[XXVII § 84, Heinec. antiq. Roman. Johann Gottlieb Heineccius, Antiquitatum Romanarum Jurisprudentiam, I.X.14.]]
[† ]See Brisson. de vet. rit. nuptiar. [[Barnábe Brisson, “De Veteri Ritu Nuptiarum et Jure Connubiorum,” in Opera Minorae Varii Argumenta, 304.]]
[‡ ]Travels through the Russian empire and Tartary, by John Cook, M. D. vol. I. chap.= 56.
[* ]Lafitau, moeurs des sauvages Ameriquains, 4to. tom. 1. pag. 564. Histoire generale des voyages, tom. 3. liv. 7. cap. 13. §. 1. Ibid. tom. 6. liv. 14. cap. 3. §. 4. Travels of the Jesuits, vol. 2. p. 446.
[* ]Ulloa’s voyage to South America. [[George Juan and Antonio de Ulloa, A Voyage to South America, VI.v (I:429).]]
[† ]Herodot. lib. 1. [[Herodotus History I.93.]]
[‡ ]Strabo, lib. 16. [[Geography XVI.20.—See also Herodotus, lib. 1. who describes the form of this wonderful institution with his usual simplicity. I.199: “The ugliest of the customs among the Babylonians is this: every woman who lives in that country must once in her lifetime go to the temple of Aphrodite and sit there and be lain with by a strange man. Many of the women who are too proud to mix with the others—such, for instance, as are uplifted by the wealth they have—ride to the temple in covered carriages drawn by teams and stay there then with a great mass of attendants following them. But most of the women do thus: they sit in the sacred precinct of Aphrodite with a garland round their heads made of string. There is constant coming and going, and there are roped-off passages running through the crowds of women in every direction, through which the strangers walk and take their pick. When once a woman has taken her seat there, she may not go home again until one of the strangers throws a piece of silver into her lap and lies with her, outside the temple. As he throws a coin, the man says, ‘I summon you in the name of Mylitta.’ (The Assyrians call Aphrodite Mylitta.) The greatness of the coin may be what it may, for it is not lawful to reject it, since this money, once it is thrown, becomes sacred. The woman must follow the first man who throws the money into her lap and may reject none. Once she has lain with him, she has fulfilled her obligation to the goddess and gets gone to her home. From that time forth you cannot give her any sum large enough to get her. Those women who have attained to great beauty and height depart quickly enough, but those who are ugly abide there a great while, being unable to fulfil the law. Some, indeed, stay there as much as three or four years.” David Grene, trans.]]
[* ]Herodot. lib. 1. [[Ibid.]]
[† ]Herodot. Ibid. [[I.216.]]
[‡ ]Diod. Sicul. hist. lib. 1. [[Actually III.32.]]
[* ]“Uxores habent deni duodenique inter se communes, et maxime fratres cum fratribus, parentesque cum liberis: sed si qui sunt ex his nati, eorum habentur liberi, quo primum virgo quaeque deducta est.” [[“Groups of ten or twelve men have wives together in common, and particularly brothers along with brothers, and fathers with sons; but the children born of the unions are reckoned to belong to the particular house to which the maiden was first conducted.” Edwards, trans. Caesar de bell. Gall. lib. 5. §. 14.]]
[† ]Plutarch. in vita Lycurg. [[XV .
[* ][[Krasheninnikov, History of Kamtschatka. p. 224.—Dampier’s travels. William Dampier, Voyage around the World, chap. XIV, p. 395.]]
[* ]Της γαρ επιθυμὴσει γυναικός Μασσαγέτης ανηρ, τον Φαρετρεωνα απικρεμασας προς της ἁμαξας, μίσγεται αδεως. Herodot. B. I. [[“When a man of the Massagetae desires a woman, he hangs his quiver on the front of her wagon and lies with her, fearlessly.” I.216. David Grene, trans.]]
[* ]Cujus rei nulla est occultatio; quod et promiscue in fluminibus perluuntur, et pellibus, aut parvis renonum tegumentis utuntur, magna corporis parte nuda. Caes. de bell. Gall. lib. 6. [[“And there is no secrecy in the matter, for both sexes bathe in the river and wear skins or small cloaks of reindeer hide, leaving great part of the body bare.” Edwards, trans., VI.21.]]
[† ][[Peter Kolb Kolben. present state of Cape of Good Hope, ch. 13.]]
[‡ ][[Hawkesworth, ed., Voyages for making discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere, vol. 2. chap. 12.
[* ]Columbus’s voyages. Herrera says, that both men and women were perfectly naked. [[Herrera y Tordesillas, The General History of … America, I:48; A Curious Collection, 13.]]
[† ]Pope’s translation of the Odyssey, b. 4. l. 58.
[‡ ]Ruth, chap. iii. ver. 7, 8, 9.
[1. ]“It is indeed observable, that, among all uncultivated nations, who have not as yet had full experience of the advantages attending beneficence, justice, and the social virtues, courage is the predominant excellence; what is most celebrated by poets, recommended by parents and instructors, and admired by the public in general” (Hume, Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, VII:255).
[* ]Εν δε τοι̑ς βαρβάροις τὸ θη̑λυ και δουλον τὴν ἀυτὴν ἐχεὶ τάξιν. Aristot. Polit. lib. 1. cap. 2. [[“Yet among barbarians the female and the slave have the same rank” (Aristotle, Politics, Rackham, trans., I.1 [1252b1]).]]
[* ]See Kolben’s voyage to the Cape of Good Hope. [[XIV.3, 161.—Histoire generale des voyages, tom. 5. liv. 14. chap. 3 §. 4. Ibid. tom. 3. liv. 7. chap. 13. §. 1. Ibid. tom. 4. liv. 10. ch. 4.—Sale’s voyage to North America. Robert Cavelier, sieur de la Salle (1643–87).]]
[† ]Hist. gener. des voy. tom. 4. liv. 10. ch. 3.
[‡ ]Histoire generale des voyages, tom. 4. liv. 13. ch. 3. §. 2. Ibid. tom. 3. liv. 7. chap. 13. §. 1.
[§ ]Kolben’s voyage to the Cape of Good Hope, chap. 15. §. 6.
[* ]Byron’s Narrative [[143.]]
[† ]See Kolben’s voyage. [[XIII.7, pp. 156–57.—Modern Universal History, vol. 16. p. 374. Ibid. vol. 17.—Hist. gen. des voy. tom. 3. 4.]]
[‡ ]Histoire generale des voyages, tom. 9. liv. 4. chap. 2. §. 6. page 318.—Vide Perizon de leg. Vocon. [[Jacobus Perizonius, “Dissertation II. De Lege Voconia Feminarumque apud Veteres Hereditatibus,” p. 133 in Ant. Fil. Dissertationes Septem.]]
[* ]Numbers, chap. xxvii. ver. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
[† ]Tacit. de mor. German [[20.3.]]
[* ]This practice obtains in the kingdom of Pegu. See Modern Universal Hist. vol. 7 [[pp. 52–53.—In Siberia. See professor Gmelin’s travels into Siberia, vol. 1. p. 29.— Among the Tartars. Dr. Cooke’s travels through the Russian empire, &c. vol. 2. chap. 21. Hist. gen. des voy. tom. 9.—Among the negroes on the coast of Guinea. Ibid. tom. 4.—Among the Arabs. See D’Arvieux travels. d’Arvieux, The Travels of the Chevalier d’Arvieux, 230.
[† ]Tacit. de mor. German. [[18.2: “The wife does not bring a dowry to the husband, but the husband offers a dowry to the wife.”]]
[‡ ]Genesis, chap. xxiv. ver. 11, 12.
[§ ]1 Samuel, chap. xviii. ver. 25.
[‖ ]See P. Le Compte’s Memoirs of China [[p. 267.]]
[* ]The Common-wealth of England, b. 3. chap. 8. [[Sir Thomas Smith (1513–77), classicist, Regius Professor of Law at Cambridge, secretary of state under Queen Elizabeth. De Republica Anglorum (1583) was the most important Tudor account of the English Constitution and was used extensively by Millar in volume II of the Historical View.]]
[† ]“Le futur epoux devoit offrir une somme aux parens de la fille.” M. L’Abbe Velly Hist. de France, tom. 1. 8vo, p. 268. [[“The future groom had to give a sum of money to the parents of the girl.”]]
[‡ ]This is the case in the kingdom of Congo. Modern Univer. Hist. [[XVI:406.—Upon the slave coast. Hist. gen. des voy. Among the Samoiedes, Le Brun. Observ. on Russia Le Brun is included in Weber, The Present State of Russia, II:382.—The Ostiacks. Present state of Russia. pub. 1722 II:72.—At Bantam—and in the island of Banda. Recueil des voyages qui ont servi a l’etablissement de la comp. des Indes Orient. dans les Païs Bas, 8vo, tom. 2. p. 41. p. 216.]]
[* ]“Viri in uxores, sicuti in liberos, vitae necisque habent potestatem; et quum paterfamilias illustriore loco natus decessit, ejus propinqui conveniunt, et de morte, si res in suspicionem venit, de uxoribus in servilem modum quaestionem habent.” Caes. de bell. Gall. lib. 6. §. 18. [[Actually VI.19: “Men have the power of life and death over their wives, as over their children; and when the father of a house, who is of distinguished birth, has died, his relatives assemble, they make inquisition of his wives as they would of slaves.” Edwards, trans.]]
[† ]She was said “conveniri in manum mariti,” [[“to come into the power of her husband”; cf. table VI, fragment 4 and was precisely in the same condition with a “filia-familias.” A daughter under the power of the father.]]
[‡ ]The ceremonies of “coemptio.” [[The ceremony of coemptio—a kind of Roman marriage in which the husband gained a sort of property ownership (manus) of the wife and from which the wife needed to be emancipated in order to change this status—was a simulated purchase. Coemptio was distinguished from two other kinds of marriage in which a woman was transferred from the manus of her father to her husband: confarreatio, which involved an elaborate ceremony but no bridal purchase, and usus, which could be invoked after a year of cohabitation.]]
[* ]Vide Heinec. antiq. Roman. [[I.x.6.]]
[* ]Herodot. hist. lib. 1.—See Goguet’s Origin of Laws, &c. vol. 2. book. 1.—Charlevoix Journal historique d’un voyage de l’Amer. [[Letter XVIII (III:268). Bossu, nouveaux voyage aux Indes Orientales, tom. 2 p. 20. The actual title is Nouveaux voyages aux Indes Occidentales.—Mod. Univ. Hist. vol. 6. “Account of the Inhabitants of the Coast of Malabar” p. 561.
[* ]Du Halde, vol. 1. p. 179. [[The General History of China.]]
[† ]See the extract of a Spanish relation, printed by order of the Bishop of the city Della Paz, published in the Travels of the Jesuits, by Mr. Lockman, vol. 2. p. 446.
[‡ ]Father Gobien’s history of the Ladrone or Marian islands. [[II:59–61.—See Callender’s coll. vol. 3. p. 51, 52.]]
[* ]Charlevoix, journal historique de l’Amer. let. 19.
[† ]See Goguet’s origin of laws, &c. vol. 2. book 1.
[* ]Strabo, lib. 11. [[Geography, XI.13.12.]]
[* ]Modern Universal History, vol. 16. [[It is in fact VI:561.—Capt. Hamilton says, that upon the coast of Malabar a woman is not allowed to have more than twelve husbands.]]
[† ]Charlevoix, journal hist. [[Letter XIX.]]
[‡ ]Father Tachard, superior of the French Missionary Jesuits in the East Indies, gives the following account of the inhabitants in the neighbourhood of Calicut. “In this country,” says he, called Malleami, “there are castes, as in the rest of India. Most of them observe the same customs; and, in particular, they all entertain a like contempt for the religion and manners of the Europeans. But a circumstance, that perhaps is not found elsewhere, and which I myself could scarce believe, is, that among these barbarians, and especially the noble castes, a woman is allowed, by the laws, to have several husbands. Some of these have had ten husbands together, all whom they look upon as so many slaves that their charms have subjected.” [[Travels of the Jesuits. Lettres edifiantes et curieuses, translated by Mr. Lockman, vol. 1. p. 168.]]
[§ ]Vide Petit. dissert. de Amazon. [[Petit, De Amazonibus dissertatio, passim.]]
[2. ]Virgil Aeneid II.490–93.
[* ]History of Kamtschatka [[215, 223.]]
[† ]Genesis, chap. xxix. ver. 18, 19, 20.
[‡ ][[James Macpherson, “The Battle of Lora, a Poem,” in The Poems of Ossian and Related Works, ed. Howard Gaskill (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1996), 122–23. James Macpherson (1736–96) was a poet of Highland origins who wrote a series of poems, putatively sung by a bard named Ossian and putatively belonging to a larger epic, that drew on Gaelic sources but were mainly the product of Macpherson’s own imagination. The poems, combining Gaelic imagery and a long list of Gaelic names with a faux Homeric style, presented many of the leading lights of the Scottish Enlightenment—John Home, Hugh Blair, Lord Kames, and others—with the primitive, natural rough-hewn genius they had hoped for. Hume dissented from acclaiming the poem, but Millar clearly viewed it as genuine. As this poet was chiefly employed in describing grand and sublime objects, he has seldom had occasion to introduce any images taken from the pastoral life. From the following passages, however, there can be no doubt that, in his time, the people in the West-Highlands of Scotland, as well as upon the neighbouring coast of Ireland, were acquainted with pasturage. “The deer descend from the hill. No hunter at a distance is seen. No whistling cow-herd is nigh.” Carric-thura.
[* ]The battle of Lora. [[Ibid., 123.]]
[3. ]Ovid Metamorphoses I.94–108.
[* ]Iliad, book 3. l. 100. 127. 355.
[† ]Pope’s Odyssey, book 1. l. 453.
[* ]Among the Franks, so early as the compilation of the Salique law, it appears that a high degree of reserve was practised between the sexes. M. L’Abbé Velly quotes, from that ancient code, the following article, “Celui qui aura serré la main d’une femme libre, sera condamné à une amende de quinze sous d’or.” [[“He who has shaken the hand of a free woman, shall pay a fine of fifteen golden sous.” And he adds, “On conviendra que si notre siecle est plus poli que celui de nos anciens legislateurs, il n’est du moins ni fi respectueux, ni sì reservè.” “One will agree that while our century is more polite than that of our ancient legislators, it is neither as respectful, nor as reserved.” Histoire de France, tom. 1. p. 134.]]
[4. ]Milton, “L’Allegro,” p. 124.
[* ]M. de la Curne de Sainte Palaye has collected some extraordinary instances of that zeal with which those who enjoyed the honour of knighthood endeavoured to expose any lady who had lost her reputation—“Et vous diray encore plus,” says an old author, “comme j’ay ouy racompter à plusieurs Chevaliers qui virent celluy Messire Geoffroy, qui disoit que quant il chevauchoit par les champs, et il veoit le chasteau ou manoir de quelque Dame, il demandoit tousjours à qui il estoit; et quant on lui disoit, il est a celle, se la Dame estoit blasmee de son honneur, il se fust plustost detournè d’une demie lieue qu’il ne fust venu jusques devant la porte; et là prenoit ung petit de croye qu’il portoit, et notoit cette porte, et y faisoit ung signet, et l’en venoit.” [[“And you will say too, as I heard from many knights who saw Sir Geoffroy, that when he went riding in the fields, and saw the castle or manor of a Lady, he always asked who it belonged to; and when he was told that it belonged to a Lady who had been ‘blamed in her honor,’ he would rather ride a half [lieue] further than pass in front of her door; he would also take out a piece of chalk and mark the door, before leaving” (I:124–25 [note 43]).]]
[† ]Memoires sur l’ancienne chevalrie, par M. de la Curne de Ste. Palaye. [[I:118 (note 40).]]
[* ]Trouverres ou Troubadours.
[† ]Chanterres et Iongleoŭrs. [[Singers and Jugglers.]]
[‡ ]Histoire du theatre François, par. M. de Fontenelle. [[Oeuvres, III:2–3.]]
[5. ]La Chanson de Roland.
[6. ]Luigi Pulci’s Morgante (1480), Matteo Maria Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato (1483), and Ludovico Ariosto’s continuation of Boiardo’s poem, Orlando Furioso, were three of the greatest comic works of the Italian Renaissance.
[7. ]Torquato Tasso’s epic poem, published in 1581, describing the First Crusade.
[8. ]Millar had a further reference to Edmund Spenser’s poem (1590) in the earlier edition of the Ranks.
[* ]Proverbs, chap. xxxi. ver. 13, &c.
[† ]Cornel. Nep. pref. [[De Viris Illustribus 6–8.—Cicero in Verrem. The most likely passage is III.xxxiii–xxxxv.]]
[‡ ]Thucydides, lib. 2. [[II.xlv .]]
[* ]Lys. Orat. cont. Diagit. [[“On an Indictment against Diogeiton,” in Gillies, The Orations of Lysias, 456.]]
[* ]See the oration of Lysias, in defence of Euphiletus, translated by Dr. Gillies [[420.]]
[† ]See Potter’s Greek antiquities [[I:171.]]
[9. ]Hume, Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, IV:208.
[* ]Menander apud Stobaeum. [[Millar appears to have taken this reference wholesale from Hume, “Of National Characters,” Essays, 99, n. 2. (I.xxi).]]
[10. ]Juvenal Satire VI.298–300. (“Filthy money imported obscene foreign morals. Effeminate wealth has shattered our age with venal luxury. When Venus is drunk she’s ready for anything.”)
[* ]What is here said with respect to polygamy is only applicable to that institution as it takes place among opulent and luxurious nations; for in barbarous countries, where it is introduced in a great measure from motives of conveniency, and where it is accompanied with little or no jealousy, it cannot have the same consequences.
[† ]“Helvius Cinna Trib, pleb. plerisque confessus est, habuisse scriptam paratamque legem, quam Caesar ferre jussisset, cum ipse abesset, uti uxores liberorum quaerendorum causa, quas et quot vellet, ducere liceret.” Suetonius in Julio, c. 52. [[“Helvius Cinna, tribune of the plebeians, had confessed to many that he had written and prepared a law for approval, that Caesar had ordered him to present, while he himself was absent, allowing Caesar to marry whomever he might like, and how many wives he might like, in order to produce legal heirs” (De Vita Caesarum LII ).]]
[* ]By the Roman law, about this period, divorces were granted upon any pretence whatever, and might be procured at the desire of either party. At the same time, the manners, which produced this law, disposed the people very frequently to lay hold of the privilege which it gave them; in so much that we read of few Romans of rank who had not been once divorced, if not oftener. To mention only persons of the gravest and most respectable character: M. Brutus repudiated his wife Claudia, though there was no stain upon her reputation. Cicero put away his wife Terentia, after she had lived with him thirty years, and also his second wife Publilia, whom he had married in his old age. His daughter Tullia was repudiated by Dolabella. Terentia, after she was divorced from Cicero, is said to have had three successive husbands, the first of whom was Cicero’s enemy, Sallust the historian. It was formerly mentioned that M. Cato, after his wife Marcia had brought him three children, gave her away to his friend Hortensius. Many of those trifling causes which gave rise to divorce are taken notice of by Valerius Maximus. Seneca declares that some women of illustrious rank were accustomed to reckon their years, not by the number of consuls, but of husbands [De beneficiis [[III.16.] As a further proof of the profligacy of that age, it is observed that men were sometimes induced to marry from the prospect merely of enriching themselves by the forfeiture of the wife’s dower, when she committed adultery. Valer. Max. lib. 6. c. 3.]]
[† ]The action for the recovery of such stolen goods was not called conditio furtiva [[an action against a thief or the heirs of a thief for the recovery of property, whether they still possessed it or not (Institutes IV.1.19), but actio rerum amotarum actions for property unlawfully removed, specifically when the wife removed property in expectation of a divorce and after the divorce the husband wished to recover the property granted him (Digest XXV:2); the “softening” Millar describes is from theft (furtiva) to removal (amotarum).]]
[[“Tell me, augur, tell me pronto, how I can scrape together a heap of riches and money. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Angle about, cunningly, for the wills of old men. If one or another sly lurker escapes by nibbling the bait off the hook, don’t lose hope, or stop purveying this art” (Satires II.5, 21–26). [See the whole of the 5th Satire, B. 2. of Horace.]