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WOMAN:

AS SHE IS, AND AS SHE SHOULD BE.

CHAPTER X.

FAMOUS WOMEN.

Women are illustrious in history, not from what they may have been in themselves, but in proportion to the mischief they have done, or caused. The best female characters are precisely those, of which History never heard, or disdains to speak.

MRS. JAMIESON.

§ 1.-WE purpose in this chapter to observe how fame, or the possession of power of any kind, has personally and individually affected women. Let it not, however, be supposed that we have here any sinister intention to stamp the prevailing character of Woman, from the examples with which history furnishes us of

VOL. II.

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that sex. Whatever doubt there may be as to the possible fitness of women for exalted station, there can be none as to the fact, that the specimens before us of female celebrity are, in the main, a disgrace, not only to that sex, but often to human nature. Women who have attained notoriety in any way, have been, for the most part, wanting in the accompaniment of virtue!

Experience teaches, that to entrust power into female hands, is to ensure for it abuse; for it shows that, whenever greatly tempted, female nature has been frail. Where is the human creature, of whichever sex, that when placed on an eminence transcendently too high, has not grown giddy with its false grandeur?

§ 2.-Female celebrity is attainable by the following methods:-1st. By the actual possession of rank and power, hereditary or acquired.-2ndly. By a character (an attributed character) for genius.-3rdly. By beauty.4thly. By the possession of masculine qualities.

Those who are known for their virtues, are so little known, that their names occupy but

small space in the lists of fame. The number too of these, as compared with the crowd of distinguished women, is small, indeed so small, that, like certain insignificant quantities in the science of algebra, it might be neglected. But we venture to express a hope, -nay, a belief, that this meritorious, however humble a class of women, is by no means a fractional portion of the sex at large.

Much

To set out with our own country, its most distinguished queen was ELIZABETH. as the name of this princess has been lauded, history lays little stress on her private virtues. With all the violent passions of her father, she had weaknesses of her own that sit heavily on her character. "Does Elizabeth," says Lavater, "rise gigantic among queens? Yet how little, how mean, was the superannuated coquette!" Her vanity surpassed the ordinary bounds of that failing, and there was no lack of all those little passions which have ever perplexed a female reign. Who will excuse her dissimulation, her jealousy and ungenerous treatment of Mary? -whose beauty, it seems, was an aggravation not to be forgiven, despite the strong masculine

sense attributed to her rival by the courtly penmen of the day.

The queenly fame of Elizabeth for wisdom, is a mistake. The praise belonging to those acts which distinguished her reign, is due rather to her ministers, who were indeed among the ablest to whom this island ever gave birth. It has been asked, whether a weak sovereign could choose wise counsellors? But this is a remark not at all applicable to Elizabeth, who claims only the negative merit of retaining in office those appointed by her father and brother.

It never was pretended that the learning of Elizabeth had depth. She was a dabbler in languages, (a mechanical accomplishment at best,) but in all the graver walks of learning Elizabeth was a mere pedant in petticoats.

Lastly, her character for chastity was somewhat unsteady. Though she assumed the title of the Virgin Queen, her conduct was, in many respects, such as to render her right to that title more than doubtful. Such was

- Our own half-chaste Elizabeth, Whose vile ambiguous method of flirtation And stinginess, disgrace her sex and station.

BYRON.

MARY of Scotland was as remarkable for her beauty and her crimes, as for the possession of a crown. Throughout life, she was completely the creature of passion, and her utter shamelessness in the matter of modesty is notorious. Few lives, perhaps, were ever spent in such a circle of depravity. She caused the murder of her husband, because he avenged himself upon a musician, who was her gallant; and she completed the measure of her enormities, by marrying her husband's assassin!

KATHERINE II., Empress of Russia, occupies a distinguished place in the list of female. monarchs; but in public life, the grasping ambition of this woman was restrained by no feelings of justice or compunction, and her private character remains quite indefensible. She indulged all the natural passions to the most unlimited and shameless extent. The name of Katherine of Russia is a name

A vitiis."

“nullâ virtute redemptum

CHRISTINA of Sweden has been unaccountably held up as a grand model, and the great

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