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“ How is it possible,” cried I, “ that such a pas 6 sion can be natural, when our opinions even of s beauty, which inspires it, are entirely the result «s of fashion and caprice? The ancients, who pre« tend to be connoisseurs in the art, have praised “ narrow foreheads, red hair, and eye-brows that “ joined each other above the nose. Such were the s charms that once captivated Catullus, Ovid, and 66 Anacreon. Ladies would at present be out of " humour, if their lovers praised them for such graces ;
and should an antique beauty now re66 vive, her face would certainly be put under the “ discipline of the tweezer, forehead-cloth and “ lead comb, before it could be seen in public
66 But the difference between the ancients and “ moderns is not so great as between the different “ countries of the present world. A lover of Gon“ gora, for instance, sighs for thick lips ; a Chinese “ lover is poetical in praise of thin. In Circassia a 66 straight nose is thought most consistent with 66 beauty ; cross but a mountain which separates it " from the Tartars, and there flat noses, tawny 5 skins, and eyes three inches asunder, are all tho “ fashion. In Persia, and some other countries, a " man when he marries, chooses to have his bride " a maid ; in the Philippine Islands, if a bride
groom happens to perceive on the first night that " he is put off with a virgin, the marriage is de6 clared void to all intents and purposes, and the « bride sent back with disgrace. In some parts
of (the East, a woman of beauty, properly fed up < for sale, often amounts to one hundred crowns ; " in the kingdom of Loango, ladies of the very « best fashion are sold for a pig ; queens however
“ sell better, and sometimes amount to a cow. In ~ short, turn even to England, do not I there see " the beautiful part of the sex neglected ; and none
now marrying or making love but old men and " old women that have saved money? Do not I see
beauty from fifteen to twenty-one rendered null " and void to all intents and purposes, and those " six precious years of womanhood put under a sta
tute of virginity? What ! shall I call that rancid “passion love, which passes between an old bache“ lor of fifty-six and a widow lady of forty-nine ? “ Never! never! What advantage is society to reap " from an intercourse, where the big belly is oftenest
on the man's side? Would any persuade me that "such a passion was natural, unless the human race
were more fit for love as they approached the de“ cline, and, like silk-worms, became breeders, just " before they expired ?”
Whether love be natural or no, replied my friend gravely, it contributes to the happiness of every society into which it is introduced. All our pleasures are short, and can only charm at intervals : love is a method of protracting our greatest pleasure ; and 8!" ely that gamester, who plays the greatest stake to the best adyantage, will at the end of life rise victorious. This was the opinion of Vanini, who affirmed, that every hour was lost which was not spent
His accusers were unable to comprehend his meaning, and the poor advocate for love was burned in flames; alas, no way metaphorical. But whatever advantages the individual may reap from this passion, society will certainly be refined and improved by its introduction: all laws calculated to discourage it, tend to embrute the species and weaken the state. Though it cannot plant morals in the human breast, it cultivates them when there : pity,
generosity, and honour, receive a brighter polish from its assistance ; and a single amour is sufficient entirely to brush off the clown.
But it is an exotic of the most delicate constitution : it requires the greatest art to introduce it into a state, and the smallest discouragement is sufficient to repress it again. Let us only consider with what ease it was formerly extinguished in Rome, and with what difficulty it was lately revived in Europe : it seemed to sleep for ages, and at last fought its way among us through tilts, tournaments, dragons, and all the dreams of chivalry. The rest of the world, China only excepted, are and have ever been utter strangers to its delights and advantages. In other countries, as men find themselves stronger than women, they lay a claim to a rigorous superiority; this is natural, and love which gives up this natural advantage must certainly be the effect of art. An art calculated to lengthen out our happier moments, and add new graces to society.
I entirely acquiesce in your sentiments, says the lady, with regard to the advantages of this passion, but cannot avoid giving it a nobler origin than you have been pleased to assign. I must think that those countries, where it is rejected, are obliged to have recourse to 'art to stifle so natural a production, and those nations, where it is cultivated, only make nearer advances to nature. The same efforts that are used in some places to suppress pity, and other natural passions, may have been employed to extinguish love. No nation, however unpolished, is remarkable for innocence, that is not famous for passion; it has flourished in the coldest as well as the warmest regions. Even in the sultry wilds of Southern America, the lover is not satisfied with possessing his mistress's person without having her mind.
In all my Enna's beauties blest,
For though she gives me up her breast,
But the effects of love are too violent to be the result of an artificial passion. Nor is it in the power of fashion to force the constitution into those changes which we every day observe. Several have died of it. Few lovers are unacquainted with the fate of the two Italian lovers, Da Corsin, and Julia Bellamano, who after a long separation expired with pleasure in each other's arms. Such instances are too strong confirmations of the reality of the passion, and serve to show, that suppressing it is but opposing the natural dictates of the heart.
and the suicide lifts his guilty arm against his own sacred person.
Let me no longer waste the night over the page of antiquity, or the sallies of contemporary genius, but pursue
the solitary walk where vanity, ever changing, but a few hours past walked before me, where she kept up the pageant, and now, like a froward child, seems hushed with her own importunities.
What a gloom hangs all around! the dying lamp feebly emits a yellow gleam, no sound is heard but of the chiming-clock, or the distant watch-dog. All the bustle of human pride is forgotten ; an hour like this, may well display the emptiness of human vanity.
There will come a time when this temporary solitude may be made continual, and the city itself, like its inhabitants, fade away, and leave a desert in its
What cities as great as this have once triumphed in existence, had their victories as great, joy as just and as unbounded, and with short-sighted presumption, promised themselves immortality ? Posterity can hardly trace the situation of some. The sorrowful traveller wanders over the awful ruins of others; and as he beholds, he learns wisdom, and feels the transience of every sublunary possession.
Here, he cries, stood their citadel, now grown over with weeds; there their senate-house, but now the haunt of every noxious reptile ; temples and theatres stood here, now only an undistinguished heap of ruin. They are fallen, for luxury and avarice first made them feeble. The rewards of the state were conferred on amusing, and not on useful members of society. Their riches and opulence invited the invaders, who, though at first repulsed, returned again, conquered by perseverance, and at last swept the defendants into undistinguished destruction.