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the room upon the unprepossessing countenances of the feminine apostles who preached the new doctrine of masculine obedience, I could at all events perfectly conceive that there were some conditions between the sexes which they would naturally desire to see altered.
An old gentleman, a member of the “ institut,” and decorated with a red riband--an old gentleman, a very kind and amiable, but debile-looking old gentleman, was raising a tremulous and affrighted voice in the vain endeavour to calm the eloquent passions of his agitated audience, who, after having comme
menced, in an orderly manner enough, by most timidly reading three or four cold and learned discourses, were now extemporizing a confusion of clamours and contradictions, which justified in some sort their pretensions to a seat in their national assembly.
These most independent dames could no longer, it appeared, support the idea of being presided over by any thing that approached, even as much as the unhappy old academician, to the form and propensities of a man. And the question they called upon him to propose was, his retreat from the post of honour that he occupied, in favour of some one of the sage and moderate crew who, mounted on the chairs, on the table, vociferating, threatening, applauding, reminded one of the furies of Thrace, without giving one the least idea of the music of Orpheus. What became of that ancient gentleman--where he is--whether--his eyes torn from their sockets, his tongue from his mouth, his hair from his head, his limbs from his body--he has joined in unhappy fractions the great substance and spirit of the universe--Heaven knows! I shudder to inquire—but, on leaving him, I certainly felt far more impressed with pity for his situation than for that of the complaining ladies over whom he presided.*
* It would be unjust, however, not to acknowledge that there were many ideas just and reasonable enough in the written discourses with which the evening's proceedings commenced. The orators on this occasion were, for the most part, governesses, who, as I understand, under the pretext of addressing themselves to the subject of educa. tion, to which the room and the president are dedicated, give vent to
cry of this society, however, has found an echo even in the Royal Academy of Music, where you may see the “revolt of the women” spreading confusion amid the vast and beautiful galleries of the Alhambra. But if you really wish to find female power in that proud situation of pre-eminence in which the Parisian philosophesses” wish to place it, go to the Ambigu Comique!... there you find
LE ROYAUME DES FEMMES.
Pièce fantastique en Deux Actes. Two French travellers, carried rather farther in a balloon than they had any idea of journeying, arrive at this powerful and enlightened kingdom, in which, strange to say, the language of France, by some miracle, is spoken. Here every thing is changed which under an abominable tyranny has flourished elsewhere—and the queen, at the head of a very lady-like garde nationale, reminds her brave sisters in arms that the fate of their country, of their husbands, of their children, is in their hands, and that it is for them to protect a sex feeble and without defence.*
their notions as to the pursuits and the occupations to which the society ought properly to devote themselves.
I will not dismiss the subject of this meeting, without mentioning one proposition made that evening by a lady, and with which I must say I heartily concur, viz. that the members of this sect should be distinguished by—as she expressed herself—"a piece of red or blue riband, or some other badge of distinction.”
Fænum habet in cornu, hunc tu,” good reader, “caveto!" * Nellora entre en scène; son costume est dans le même style que les autres, mais beaucoup plus riche, elle a une couronne sur la tête. Mouvement des femmes analogue à celui de nos soldats lorsqu'ils présentent les armes.
NELLORA, après un salut affectueux de Rodolphe, 'se tournant vers les femmes. Mesdames et braves camarades, je suis contente de votre zèle, de votre bonne tenue ... le sort de la patrie, celui de vos maris et de vos enfans est entre vos mains ... c'est à vous de protéger un sexe faible et sans défense. Air d'Adolphe Adam. (Introduction de Casimir.)
Guerrières de tous grades
In this island
La femme est pleine de valeur,
De force et de science,
Lois, commerce, finance,
Et son amant?
Près d'un garçon trop sage,
Parle de mariage;
And in fact the dignity of one's sex is somewhat shocked to find the queen keeping her seraglio; an old dowager, a major of the Royal Guards, attempting to seduce the whiskered object of her affections by certain lucrative propositions; and a young man of this remarkable kingdom weeping over the disgrace he has fallen into from his weakness in favour of a young lady, who, after profiting by a promise of marriage, refuses to keep her word.
But it would not be fair, in ridiculing the absurdities of women who are too mad or too ignorant to understand the extent of their folly--it would not be fair to
Vous promet au retour,
En avant, en avant ! (bis.)
Courageux et fidèle
A la foi du serment,
Signal de gloire,
Faut-il courir aux armes ?
Nous sommes là. (Chour.) En avant, etc.
deny that, in the idea which some foolish followers of a ridiculous system have made contemptible, there is, as that idea was first conceived, much justice and much benevolence. In opening other careers to female ambition—in making fame and fortune more easy of honest attainment, you would doubtless diminish that calamity which is engendered by necessity and ambition on the one hand, and the want of an honourable way to power and independence on the other. It would never enter into the head of any but a fanatic or a fool to dress up Mademoiselle Cécile in a judge's robes, or a field marshal's uniform ; but it would be wise in a government to encourage and assist, as far as a government can encourage and assist ; that devel-, opment of intelligence and that habit of application which would give, in the various situations of life, every facility to the female who pursues a virtuous and useful avocation.*
Much of the fate of females must depend on the instruction they receive. One dislikes to indulge in theories which seem to have no immediate chance of realization; and when we see the wild doctrines of female licentiousness that are abroad in France, it appears almost absurd to show what might be done by female morality-yet, if it be possible to breathe a higher and purer tone into French society—and this is what French society wants—if it be possible to approach in peace the visions of St. Just, and to make virtue, honesty, and justice, “ the order of the day,”. if it be possible to make that change in manners without which the laws which affect the surface of a nation will not penetrate to its core ; if it be possible to do this—in a country where the influence of the sexes enters into almost every crime, it must be by making that influence serviceable to every virtue.
* In a country where the division of fortunes rarely throws a woman upon the world in an utter state of destitution, there is little rea! necessity for the vices she may fall into; pay, that any clamour should have been ever so indistinctly raised, for perfect equality between the sexes-shows the very great equality that in France really exists !
How are you to do this?—It is not so much the female mind that wants cultivating, it is the female character that wants exalting. The doctrine may be unpopular, but what you have to do cannot be done merely by the elegances of literature or the speculations of science. The education which you must give -to be useful must be-moral : must be an education that will give a chivalric love-such love as women are prone to feel-not for the romantic depravities of life--not for the mawkish devilry and romance of a bourgeois Byron, but for what is great and noble in life —for the noble heroism of a Farcy, for the political integrity of a Bérenger.
The sex most capable of rewarding public virtue, should be taught to honour and admire public virtueshould be taught to admire public virtue as it was formerly taught to admire accomplished vice; should be taught to feel for the patriot what it feels for the soldier, and what too often it feels for the roué. The female mind should be hardened and strengthened by logical notions of right, as well as filled with the fanciful theories which a smattering of letters and philosophy inspires.
I fear this can hardly be done by laws; much towards it, however, might be done by a court patronising merit and honouring principle ; much towards it might be done by a government which, extending by its nature into every position and relation of society, has an opportunity in every village of distinguishing merit and rewarding virtue. At all events, whatever the court or the government can do for this objectthat it ought to do ; for there is no influence which should not be employed to elevate the morality of a people to whom Providence has denied the support of religion ;-and the influence of which I have been speaking is an influence which the history and the character of the French ally to sanction, and which will be working deeply to the injury of the state, if it be not turned to its advantage.