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his prattling lies converted into set speeches of systematic imposture; so that sometimes he might pass for a Jew-sometimes for a Jesuitsometimes for a diplomatist.
Another still more striking alteration in Love, and thence in his matrimonial tendencies, is the want which all rich and fashionable couples now feel, of the amusements and pleasures of society.
There was a proverb, which had been handed down from generation to generation, all over the world, “that two lovers are sufficient to to themselves ; " they admire nobody else, they speak to nobody else, care for nobody else. Now-a-days things are managed differently, and the tender bonds of marriage are strengthened by a mutual desire to assist each other in getting out of the retirement of domestic life, and in pushing, step by step, into higher circles of society. As society has many steps, each more important and more difficult to climb than the last, the joint undertaking requires a good deal of money, great perseverance, and a faithful alliance, offensive and defensive, between husband and wife. It necessarily follows, that a matrimonial union calculated to advance and establish a couple in high life, keeps up that good understanding between these parties, which very often would not be preserved, if it depended solely on conjugal affection in the seclusion of domestic life.
Now of all these thoughts and considerations which experience suggests in this country, there is not one which ever, by any chance, finds its way into the bosom of an Italian girl. She knows full well that the man she loves can never be hers, unless by some extraordinary accident, which she wishes, but never dares to hope for. Yet she loves on—and the more noble is her blood, the more ardently does she persist in her attachment. But every passion which is not nourished by some hope, either leads to madness or the grave, or yields to time and reason. She resigns herself, at length, to a marriage with a man chosen by her tyrants, and revenges herself by refusing him any share in her heart. Marriage, instead of surrounding her, as it does here, with increased surveillance, and more conventional restraints and decorums, invests her with complete liberty; so that, with greater facility and less innocence, she can converse with her first love, and see him where and when she pleases. Some few, out of a feeling of self-respect or of religion, rather than go to the altar with perjury on their lips, choose the melancholy lot of living and dying alone.
A young Englishwoman of condition who does not find a husband, sees society always open to her, and enjoys the privilege of being accompanied by a chaperon. This sort of protection, though not very agreeable to young ladies just introduced, becomes so to those of a certain age, as a distinction of youth, and an acknowledgment that they are still subjects for seduction or abduction, particularly if they live in expectation of a rich inheritance. And even if they grow old in single blessedness, they may open their houses to conversazioni, give parties, and balls, and dinners; and it rarely happens, that any body openly shows that sort of contempt which people are apt to feel for a woman who passes her life without husband or children, But in Italy a woman hardly attains her twenty-fifth year, before she sees the utmost contempt in the faces, and hears it in the conversation, of all around her, and her most intimate friends hint that it is high time for her to bid adieu to the world Nor in her seclusion is she allowed to retain the hope of being able to employ herself in those occupations which deaden or divert the ardour of the heart, remove the sense of isolation, and afford some food to the vanity.--We allude, of course, to literature and science. A learned lady in Italy becomes exactly the best game for the herd of vulgar men, who, in that as in every other country are unwearied in their endeavours to render women ridiculous. A single woman cannot, as here, take shelter either under her own literary fame, or under the celebrity of the learned and distinguished men who frequent her house,
Whether female education, pushed to the point which it has now reached in this country, is likely to conduce to domestic peace and virtue, is a question which we have often discussed, but never set at rest.
'Tis pity learned virgins ever wed
With persons of no sort of education,
Grow tired of scientific conversation.
I'm a plain man and in a single station. Another great poet, who could not boast of being a bachelor, taught his wife that Eve's curiosity to take the fruit of the tree of knowledge, condemned all her posterity to toil through life in one hell bad enough, only to die and go to a worse. Another, being importuned by his wife to teach her Greek, begun by explaining the word Aaipov, dæmon, and told her that in the masculine gender it signifies a genius, but in the feminine a devil.
Whether these stories be true or false, just or unjust, it is certainly the fact, that the Italians run into the opposite extreme from what is prevalent here. They do not absolutely debar women from literary and scientific acquirements; but they enjoin them to do like the Spartan children, to satisfy their appetite by crafty and secret theft. Yet Italy has seen several professors in petticoats. Not long ago, Signora Tambroni filled the Greek chair in the university of Bologna. The talent of improvisation, which may be called indigenous in that country, gave celebrity to two or three poetesses; and, indeed, it appears that the sweetness of women's voices, the mobility of their imaginations, and the volubility of their tongues, would render extemporaneous poetry better fitted to them than to men. But women of such celebrity are rare in Italy, and are looked upon not so much with respect as with wonder, as monsters of talent; nor are they privileged against the inexorable pains and penalties of ridicule. Every woman, therefore, who employs herself in literary pursuits, places herself in the dilemma either of being compelled to conceal her acquirements, or to expose herself to the lash of epigrams; and, unfortunately, either case equally supposes the complete sacrifice of their vanity. In England, an occasional blow to the self-love of women of literary reputation is more tolerable than the insignificant obscurity of single life. But, in Italy, satires fall upon learned women like hail; even the people, who in that country Ост. 1826. .
are very keen observers, attack them inexorably in every direction. There is not a city in Italy, in which any individual who should affect to prefer the national language to the municipal dialect, would not find himself precisely in the predicament of the poet who lately attempted to write poetry in Greek hexameters. As to the other alternative that of amassing a fund of literature and science, with no other object than our own secret satisfaction, and unknown to any human being, it supposes a resolution, a vigorous loftiness of mind, which human nature has never attained to, even in the persons of the greatest philosophers. Nor do we believe we shall be accused of severity towards the sex, when we say, that however great may be the intrinsic ornaments of their minds, their value for them would suffer great diminution, if they did not excite the applause of admirers and the envy of rivals. At any rate, in any other couutry than Italy, even without the graces or the aspirations of literature, any unmarried woman of thirty, with a few novels, a pianoforte or harp, a portfolio of drawings, a garden, a horse or two, and a pet lap-dog, may (if she is not naturally ill-tempered or splenetic) live long and die in solitary felicity, like the fairy being of Spencer
Making sweet solace to herself alone;
To feed her foolish humour and vain joliment. Among her other privileges we ought not to have forgotten that of being the possessor of a mansion or a country house, or a cottage residence like those to which so many of these most independent spinsters return after the gay season of London, to live like little queens in their parishes. Even if they have not houses of their own, the hospitality of their countrymen is more peculiarly and graciously extended to them than to any other class of persons. They may travel for months from house to house, and rusticate among their various relatives or friends, in the perpetual enjoyment of society, and almost in forgetfulness of their isolated condition.
But an Italian in the same situation, however rich her family, or however numerous her connexions, cannot even imagine the possibility of possessing a house of her own so long as she is unmarried. Nor, on the other hand, can she avail herself of the hospitality of others. The life of Italians is not a country life—they live almost constantly in the great cities. They are solicitous about the architecture and the embellishment of their seats, but their going to them is a mere matter of state and ceremony, and only for a few weeks in the year. They take no delight in excursions, whether long or short, so that a journey to the next province is a more serious affair to them than a tour through France and Switzerland to an Englishman. Lastly, the same reasons of propriety which preclude an unmarried woman's free introduction into society, still more strongly prohibit her ever passing even two or three days under any other roof than the parental one. These domestic regulations combine with popular prejudices and timehallowed customs; nor would any young unmarried woman dare to violate them, even though every circumstance were arranged for her by fortune, so as to ensure her complete independence.
Until she finds a husband, therefore, she must live like a burdensome ward in the house of her father or elder brother, or whoever may be the head of the family for the time being. She must always live, act, and speak under the direction of the mistress of the family, and under the surveillance of servants. Meanwhile, the probability of her becoming herself the mistress of a family diminishes every year, and the doors of her relations open to her more reluctantly. Very few can long endure this most exquisite torture of solitary imprisonment in the midst of the world, and among brothers and friends; they almost all return to a nunnery.
We say return; for they receive their first education within the walls of a convent, which they enter almost in infancy, and where often they learn all they are ever to know of the world-its name. After the French revolution, and especially during the reign of Napolean, this practice fell, in great measure, into disuse. The number of religious houses of education, till then thickly scattered over every part of the peninsula, was considerably diminished; and at the very time of the expeditionin to Russia, all the establishments and congregations of monks and friars, without which religious houses for women would be more useful, or, to speak more properly, less pernicious, were abolished. Lastly, the Code Napoleon enacted that the property of a father should be divided into equal portions at his death among all his children, male and female. It is not difficult to see that, if these measures had been vigorously enforced, they would, in the course of one generation, have totally changed the system of education and of marriage among the noble and wealthy families of Italy. They would have improved manners in general; for, as we shall presently have occasion to remark, the first effect of this system was to demoralize, necessarily and completely, all the sons of these families; with the exception of the eldest, they were all predestined to a life of celibacy. But the governments which succeeded the dictatorship of Buonaparte in Italy, did not find their account in any of his laws, except those on finance. His civil and criminal codes were therefore summarily abolished, or partially retained in certain provinces, but with so many important modifications, that their efficacy was totally destroyed. : The uumber of convents for women is now becoming as great as ever, and that of religious houses for men greater, because they have recovered even the congregations which had been abolished by the emperors and popes who preceded the revolution. The number of young victims of fanaticism, hypocrisy, and avarice; of adulteries excused by necessity, and sanctioned by custom; of friars, priests, and laymén, condemned to celibacy, and all equally dissolute; must therefore go on to increase in the same ratio. What sense of domestic virtue, what energy of action, can be hoped for or desired by a nation, in which the influence of all the powerful families, and of religion, combine to produce and to perpetuate such base profligacy of mind and of morals? The consequences we have deduced will strike every man as true and inevitable who has an opportunity of observing with attention the penetralia of the house and heart of an Italian patrician. Not one word on this subject is to be found in any of the Tourists: it is probably one of those investigations in which the curiosity inherent in the genus must have been invariably baffled. We might, perhaps, run the risk of assuming something, were we to assert positively how matters stand in this respect at the present moment; but if we describe them accurately, as they existed before the changes introduced by Napoleon, we cannot be far from the truth. It is perfectly safe to conclude, that the restoration of the old laws and governments must have been followed by the same effects on manners as they produced thirty years ago. We shall therefore describe them with as much brevity as is compatible with accuracy.
For many centuries, children have invariably been the subjects of Jewish speculation to the rich fathers in Italy. A reasonable pride of ancestry has always induced parents, in their testamentary dispositions, to assign to each daughter a marriage portion suited to her rank, and very burdensome, of course, to him whose estate was charged with it. As it could not he bequeathed in real property, which was all entailed on the eldest son, it must of course be paid in money. But the daughter did not acquire a right to the smallest possible fraction of her portion until after her marriage; a refusal, therefore, to accept the husband proposed to her, must leave her at the mercy of the elemosynary bounties of her relations.
A young woman, to have any right to dispose of her own portion, or to choose a husband for herself, must be sole heiress, and in circumstances extremely unusual in countries where estates are entailed exclusively in the male line. The portion of all not thus peculiarly circumstaneed is only a nominal bequest, administered by trustees not bound to render any account, and who generally dispose of it for the furtherance of their own interests. The principal aim of all heads of families is always to leave the bulk of the property to the eldest son, and to transmit it, increased, from father to son, for the aggrandisement of their house. From time immemorial, therefore, to avoid detaching from the estate many dowries for the daughters, they devised an infallible expedient for preventing the marriage of all but one: that one was invariably the youngest. The eldest sisters, educated from their tenderest years in the eloister, under the direction of their reverend governesses and holy father confessors, grew up schooled to abjure nature; whilst at the same time, the proneness of young girls to fall in love was alternately soothed and excited by the most alluring representations of the fairest of spouses, as they called the Redeemer, to whom they were exhorted to vow fidelity till he should invite them to celebrate their nuptials with him in Paradise. In plain language, they were to be persuaded to take the veil, only to repent when every word or sigh of repentance would be registered by their tyrants as an act of sacrilege or apostacy. From this mixture of religion and sensuality arose that enormous dissoluteness of imagination so disgustingly described in beatific visions and old legends, and which were afterwards more celebrated in the time of the illustrious Fenelon, who, with a purity of heart and good faith far removed from that knavish hypocrisy of friars, fell into this strange mysticism.
To avoid going into the details of this subject, and at the same time to defend ourselves against all charge of exaggeration, we must refer our reader to the life of Seipione Ricci, and the documents an