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equals, if happily assorted, can find no place. There is a pouring out of the heart on the one side, and a cordial acceptance on the other, which words are inadequate to describe.
To proceed. If from friendship we go forward to that which in all languages is emphatically called love, we shall still find ourselves dogged and attended by inequality. Nothing can be more certain, however we may seek to modify and abate it, than the inequality of the sexes.
Let us attend to it as it stands in Milton :
For contemplation he and valour formed,
He for God only, she for God in him. Thus it is painted to us as having been in Paradise ; and with similar inequality have the sexes subsisted in all ages and nations since. If it were possible to take from the fair sex its softness and attractive grace, and endow it instead with audacious, mascu line and military qualities, there is scarcely any one that does not perceive, with whatever advantages it might be attended in other respects, that it would be far from tending to cherish and increase the passion of love.
It is in reality obvious, that man and woman, as they come from the hands of nature, are so much upon a par with each other, as not to afford the best subjects between whom to graft a habit of entire, unalterable affection. In the scenes of vulgar and ordinary society, a permanent connection between
persons of opposite sexes is too apt to degenerate into a scene of warfare, where each party is for ever engaged in a struggle for superiority, and neither will give way. A penetrating observer, with whom in former days I used intimately to converse, was accustomed to say, that there was generally more jarring and ill blood between the two parties in the first year of their marriage, than during all the remainder of their lives. It is at length found necessary, as between equally matched belligerents on the theatre of history, that they should come to terms, make a treaty of peace, or at least settle certain laws of warfare, that they may not waste their strength in idle hostilities.
The nations of antiquity had a way of settling this question in a very summary mode. As certain Oriental tribes have determined that women have no souls, and that nothing can be more proper than to shut them up, like singing birds in cages, so the Greeks and Romans for the most part excluded their females from the society of the more martial sex. Marriage with them was a convenience merely; and the husband and wife were in reality nothing more than the master and the slave. This point once settled as a matter of national law, there was certainly in most cases little danger of any vexatious rivalship and struggle for power.
But there is nothing in which the superiority of modern times over the ancient has been more conspicuous, than in our sentiments and practices on
this subject. This superiority, as well as several other of our most valuable acquisitions, took its rise in what we call the dark ages. Chivalry was for the most part the invention of the eleventh century. Its principle was built upon a theory of the sexes, giving to each a relative importance, and assigning to both functions full of honour and grace. . The knights (and every gentleman during that period in due time became a knight) were taught, as the main features of their vocation, the “ love of God and the ladies.” The ladies in return were regarded as the genuine censors of the deeds of knighthood. From these principles arose a thousand lessons of humanity. The ladies regarded it as their glory to assist their champions to arm and to disarm, to perform for them even menial services, to attend them in sickness, and to dress their wounds. They bestowed on them their colours, and sent them forth to the field hallowed with their benedictions. The knights on the other hand considered any slight towards the fair sex as an indelible stain to their order ; they contemplated the graceful patronesses of their valour with a feeling that partook of religious homage and veneration, and esteemed it as perhaps the first duty of their profession, to relieve the wrongs, and avenge the injuries of the less powerful sex.
This simple outline as to the relative position of the one sex and the other, gave a new face to the whole scheme and arrangements of civil society.
It is like those admirable principles in the order of the material universe, or those grand discoveries brought to light from time to time by superior genius, so obvious and simple, that we wonder the most common understanding could have missed them, yet so pregnant with results, that they seem at once to put a new life and inspire a new character into every part of a mighty and all-comprehensive mass.
The passion between the sexes, in its grosser sense, is a momentary impulse merely; and there was danger that, when the fit and violence of the passion was over, the whole would subside into inconstancy and a roving disposition, or at least into indifference and almost brutal neglect. But the institutions of chivalry immediately gave a new face to this. Either sex conceived a deep and permanent interest in the other. In the unsettled state of society which characterised the period when these institutions arose, the defenceless were liable to assaults of multiplied kinds, and the fair perpetually stood in need of a protector and a champion. The knights on the other hand were taught to derive their fame and their honour from the suffrages of the ladies. Each sex stood in need of the other; and the basis of their union was mutual esteem.
The effect of this was to give a hue of imagination to all their intercourse. A man was no longer merely a man, nor a woman merely a woman. They were taught mutual deference. The woman
regarded her protector as something illustrious and admirable ; and the man considered the smiles and approbation of beauty. as the adequate reward of his toils and his dangers. These modes of thinking introduced a nameless grace into all the commerce of society. It was the poetry of life. Hence originated the delightful narratives and fictions of romance; and human existence was no longer the bare, naked train of vulgar incidents, which for so many ages of the world it had been accustomed to be. It was clothed in resplendent hues, and wore all the tints of the rainbow. Equality fled and was no more; and love, almighty, perdurable love, came to supply its place.
By means of this state of things the vulgar impulse of the sexes towards each other, which alone was known to the former ages of the world, was transformed into somewhat of a totally different nature. It became a kind of worship. The fair sex looked
protectors, their fathers, their husbands, and the whole train of their chivalry, as something more than human. There was a grace in their motions, a gallantry in their bearing, and a generosity in their spirit of enterprise, that the softness of the female heart found irresistible. Nor less on the other hand did the knights regard the sex to whose service and defence they were sworn, as the objects of their perpetual deference. They approached them with a sort of gallant timidity, listened to their behests with submission, and