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and with such marvellous effect. I remember, says a lively traveller,“ when I was in Paris, going in company with a very amiable and enlightened French lady and her daughter, to see the paintings in the Hotel des Invalides; we stopped before one in which there were some naked figures, male and female, as large as life: whilst we were looking at them, another lady, after having contemplated them, with earnest attention, for some time, through her opera glass, exclaimed, - How shocking, how indecent !—and turned away.
One of my fair friends looked round to me, and whispered :“ There is no harm in the picture, the impurity is in her mind."
Juvenal, the great and prominent features of whose mind were dignity, and courage, and the most marked abhorrence of vice, has been accused, from age to age, by almost all the commentators and critics, of indecency. The cry has been louder against him than against any of the other writers of Rome ;-yet Horace, and Persius, and Pliny,and Seneca, all wrote, in terms of grossness, for which we shall look, in vain, in the pages of Juvenal.
But far be it from me to attempt to excuse iniquity by pointing to instances of greater turpitude. If we examine the writings of Juvenal attentively, we shall, perhaps, discover, that the indelicacy with which he is charged, is only to be found in the hearts of his accusers who were put to shame by his pure and lofty morality, which brands with infamy the base ones of the earth, who, in revenge, seek to slander the motives of him whose doctrines they are compelled to respect.
Consider, but for a moment, what are the vices which Juvenal lashes, and in what manner he chastises those vices. Does he strive to render iniquity amiable :-to adorn and to embellish crime, by arraying it in the splendid garb of genius ;-to foster and to encourage, by blandishment and wiles, the growth and the gratification of those turbulent and unseemly passions whose lawless use snaps asunder all the ligaments of society, and deforms the fair face of creation ?-No; he, every where, renders depravity loathsome and horrible ; compels us to be alarmed and disgusted
at vice; to shrink, with dismay, from an acquaintance with that monster whose form and mier he exposes in all the hideousness of their native deformity.
Juvenal lived, as we live, in times which required the aid of no feeble moralist; which could be supported by no petty, by no temporizing intellect. Ridicule might silence a blockhead, or might laugh frivolity out of countenance ;-but the brazen front of vice lowers scorn and defiance
the puny attacks of witlings, and of mere laughing philosophers. The javelin, which strikes the aged Priam to the ground, drops harmless and ineffectual from the shield of Neoptolemus,
That writing, alone, is licentious, which has a tendency to corrupt the mind, and to render vice amiable. Hence all books that inculcate lessons of immorality, and render profligacy attractive, are to be condemned as licentious. Under the ban of this censure must be placed the greatest portion of the books which fall into the hands of women.
With the page of history which records the actions of men, and enables us, by presenting facts on which we may reason, to discover the causes which have retarded or accelerated the progress of virtue, and of happiness, of knowledge, and of power, among the people of any given country, women are not, often, very extensively, or accurately acquainted. In biography, which, if properly written, unfolds to us the means by which particular men have invigorated and expanded all their mental faculties, and ascended the heights of excellence by the exertions of those giant capacities of genius, which make help and hindrance vanish from before them, they are but little versed.
With the relations of voyagers and travellers, which open to our minds new fields of speculation and of instruction, by pourtraying the characteristic features of different nations and people, and by developing the causes which led to the formation of such characteristic features, they are seldom conversant. At the streams of general literature they do not often drink ;-for the fountains from which these streams are derived, are, to them, for ever sealed. From their
eyes, and from their search, is the fair book of science generally closed. Even, the great volume of nature is not frequently
opened unto them ; for they are seldom taught to trace their Creator in his works, to look through nature up to nature's God.
In their intervals of relaxation from the business of dress, of shopping, and of visiting, or of being visited, they destroy what little portion of mind has survived the destructive, the suffocating 'grasp of their education ;-and corrupt, and deprave their hearts, by the continued perusal of trumpery, flimsy novels, or outrageous and improbable romances. The novels which are the most charming, and most read, are calculated only to stimulate them to every low, base, selfish, degrading, sensual gratification, at the expence of all that understanding gives, and all that integrity can impart. By the reiterated reading of these panders of licentious profligacy, they are rendered to every intent and purpose,---for, thoughts are actions before God,—the companions, and the peers of the shameless, and the abandoned out-casts of society.
The sensations and emotions raised in the ignorant and the uninstructed mind, by the infusion of these steams of pestilence, are such as destroy all the finer and all the better feelings of the heart, and blast every effort of virtue in the bud; they wither that blooming rose which, gemmed with the dews of the morning, glistens on the fair fore-head of youth. For the feelings of delicacy, of honour, and of love, can only be acquired and preserved by an unremitted, and an unbending pursuit of those calm and peaceful virtues, those higher intellectual delights, which purify the heart, and lift it up above all the contamination of mere gross sensuality, while they illumine and strengthen the understanding.
And what do the romances, so much in fashion and in vogue, teach them?—Every kind of absurdity. They create, for their unfortunate votaries, momentary scenes of unreal bliss, only to be followed by a long;-long, night of wo; they twist the understanding into every obliquity of distortion, only to make it feel that it is wretched, and unfit to discharge the great duties of its ofice here on earth; and to terrify it from looking forward to that state where the weary are at rest, and the wicked cease from troubling; for what peace, and what rest, shall be reserved for those who
have wilfully incapacitated themselves for the discharge of their most pressing and indispensable functions ;-have voluntarily refused to fill up the end and the measure of their being Will a woman,
you, be able, or inclined to condescend to become a dutiful and an obedient daughter, a kind and an attentive sister, a faithful and an affectionate wife, an upright and a tender mother,—when her head is stuffed with nought, but windows that exclude the light, and passages that lead to nothing ;-- with warriors cased in impenetrable armour ;with bloody hands, and sable plumes ;-with peals of thunder, shaking the foundations of a cathedral, or a castle, and, then, followed by an angel or a devil, who speaks in a voice greater or smaller than the thunder ;-with graceful knights on horse-back, and beautiful damsels on foot, all alone, in a wildering forest, or a dreary heath, with nothing but a dwarf, or a giant, to accompany, or to violate them?
Will these, and ten thousand such fantastic fooleries as these, which terrify weak minds, while they corrupt the heart by leading away the understanding from the only objects which it ought to pursue, namely,--truth and probability, and by plunging it into an endless maze of falsehood and of impassioned credulity, -render women, what-they should be? Will they teach them how to acquire that clear and steady light of moral obligation, and of reason, which, alone, can point out the infinite superiority of those calm and unobtrusive domestic pleasures, which call forth the best feelings of the heart? and which, by converting private families into so many scenes of virtue, of knowledge, and of happiness, give power, and felicity, and permanent honour and strength, to the community at large ?-over all the barbarous glare, and all the frivolous ostentation of those splendid vices which are to the heart of the individual, the worm that never dies, and the fire that is never quenched, and which are, to all human society, the death-warrant of its existence, written in characters of blood ;-those splendid vices, whose enormity the greatest portion of mankind have, hitherto, endeavoured to conceal from others, and, perhaps, from themselves, by covering them with a gorgeous veil of costly drapery, and by affix
ing to them false and lying names,—by calling evil good, and bitter sweet,-by dignifying human butchery with the appellations of glory and of honour ;-and by libelling the understanding of man, in adorning the hollow smile of insincerity, which eternally simpers on the lips of the parasite, with the title of benevolence and of wisdom?
But let me not be misunderstood.—1, by no means, wish to be considered as one of these gloomy, rigid beings who fancy, that, in proportion as they abstain from all innocent gratification, and render themselves morose and miserable, they are pleasing and gratifying that God who willeth the happiness of his creatures. When I object to the too great propensity to sensual indulgence,-(so much fostered and encouraged by the perusal of that order of books to which I have, just now, alluded)—I mean only to lament that, if carried too far, it is injurious, by poisoning the sources of virtue, and by drying up the fountains of intellectual happiness.
But I do not condemn all sensible pleasure. For I am well aware, that all our senses were given to us, for the sake of administering to our comfort, and delight; but as all sensual pleasure is, in its nature, fleeting and transitory, it is incumbent upon us to seek for those enjoyments which may fill up the void and the vacancy occasioned by the intervals of listlesness which must occur between the capabilities of a renewed gratification of the senses; and such enjoyments can only be found in the endeavour to amend the heart, and to improve the understanding; by which means we not only secure to ourselves a perpetuity of the highest and the most ecstatie intellectual bliss, but, also, throw the indescribable charms of delicacy and of refinement over all our sensual delights.
Our organs of sense are the only medium through which the materials of pleasure,—(or of knowledge)—can find their way to the mind; and where the indulgence of the senses is bounded by innocence, and tempered, and alternated, and heightened, by intellectual enjoyment, perennial springs of earthly happiness are opened. No one, I suppose, would be so hardy, as, gravely, and seriously, to assert, that man was created with such wonderful capabilities of excellence, merely, to consume all his time, to employ all his efforts, to spend