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defect of intelligence and humane ideas. We refer to the passive tribes who live by hunting and fishing, with whom the lower nomadic tribes also may be classed. Here, whether polygamy exists or not, human nature puts on its lower characteristics, and by the help of polygamy is sunk still lower.
Setting aside these excepted cases, human nature will be apt to follow the law marked out for it, and give woman nearly her just place in the family first, and then, if society assumes any refinement, there also. The active races of the world, who are likewise the intellectually superior, if not polygamists, will develop life according to its normal conditions. Woman will be no slave nor object of lust, but a companion and friend. The passion of love between the sexes will be entertained, and a certain freedom of intercourse, manifesting the equality of the sexes, will more or less prevail. Something like this has existed in many parts of the world. Greece showed this tendency at first. Many mythic tales, as those relating to Antigone, Electra, Alcestis, and to the huntress Cyrene, celebrated by Pindar, show the conception of woman's high and free resolve. Sparta, in the free intercourse of young men and women, was true to the customs of antique times, while Athens was compelled by public immorality to keep its virgins in seclusion. At Rome, women had still more influence, notwithstanding the strict theory of the patria potestas gave to the husband almost absolute power. We see the freedom of the women at the end of the republic in the freedom of divorce, which itself undermined the worth of the sex. In Circassia, at present, although the political system is of the most imperfect kind, and scarcely any culture exists, the native nobleness of the race and a severe simplicity of manners have preserved to woman her freedom and dignity. The youth of the two sexes are on the most familiar footing, and the passion of love grows up between individuals as under Christian civilization. The choice of a companion for life is often left to the daughter by her parents. The maidens are extolled by travelers, as by Bell and Reineggs, for the moral dignity with which they enforce the respect of the wild mountaineers; they move about, says Bell, strengthened by exercise, proud and free, resembling in their rich elegant costume the maid of Orleans. The chief drawback is that the usages of Mohammedanism, which is on the increase in the Caucasus, are spreading that isolation and confinement of the wife in her apartment, which is such a principal feature of the regions of Islam.
The conclusion, which we are now prepared to reach, is this, that in common with the more highly gifted portions of mankind, the Germans had a natural respect for woman, which no immoral civilization had as yet extinguished; that they were prepared, in short, for that refinement in this direction, which they underwent, some of them on their own soil, and some as conquerors of the soil where Rome had planted her institutions.
That refinement, we need hardly say, was derived from Christianity; and to us it presents itself as the most serious defect in Mr. Guizot's work that he fails to recognize such an influence, that he traces a sweeping change of views, in respect to the worth of woman, to a few scattered feudal strongholds, rather than to a spiritual cause wide enough and mighty enough to work the change in question. If this oversight on his part was due to the control of his method over his mind, which would naturally draw his attention away from internal and spiritual to outward causes, whether social or political, it would be very surprising; if, on the other hand, he failed to admit how great a part Christianity has played in the elevation of woman, and purposely turned aside from assigning this as a cause, it would be stranger still, and to us at least incredible.
Will it be necessary now to spend many words in showing how Christianity must have had such a social influence? We notice first that it lays a foundation for the future dignity of woman by its opposition to polygamy and divorce, without which a great degree of social purification and of morality was impossible. Next it expresses its abhorrence of a fleshly, sensual life, and builds the relations of the family, especially between the husband and the wife, on the foundation of Christian love: the husband is to the wife as Christ to his church. Then, again, it did a new thing in the world by exalting the passive or feminine virtues, by widening the idea of perfection, so that not alone masculine character but female excellencies also came to be admired. Henceforth the female was not an
inferior but an equal of man cast in a different mold, each supplying the deficiences of the other sex, and both reflecting in diverse ways the excellence of Christ. Add to this that being a thoughtful religion, founded on doctrine, and running back to the greatest truths in the universe, it aroused the mind of woman, and made her more the companion of man. All questions of family obligation are within her province; her curiosity is enlarged beyond the bounds of heavenly truth by that, her principal food; an education is demanded for her higher than she had access to before; and thus, again, she is still further elevated. She is thus fitted-to add nothing more—to enter into spheres of action beyond the household, in society, and in the church, into which the greater purity of society permits her to enter without danger, and for which her education has qualified her. In this way she can partake in those refining and enlarging influences from social intercourse which would else be contined to the other sex. She can now use the freedom thus given her to increase her usefulness. She can visit the homes of the destitute and forsaken, penetrating where man is excluded or unqualified, into the miseries of her own sex, and soothing the sorrows of children by the voice of gentleness. She can act as the servant of the church in many of its plans of benevolence. She can, with peculiar success, instruct the young. She can compete with man in authorship, especially wherever refined taste and sentiment form the staple of the work, and wherever knowledge is to be adapted to the earlier years of childhood.
If any should claim that much of this new worth, put on woman, is to be ascribed to civilization and not to Christianity, a ready answer is, that civilization is a mere word for the sumtotal of influences which give a certain direction and tone to the mind and to society. Christianity is the cause without which the others would have worked wrong or been ineffectual. Let these causes then refine and ennoble society to any extent, Christianity is not a scaffolding, by the help of which the building is reared, and useless when it is finished, but a foundation on which the whole structure rests; it is not a casual ingredient, but a vital element without which the body must die.
ARTICLE VI.—THE RECREATIONS OF A COUNTRY PAR
The Recreations of a Country Parson. Second Series.
Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 1861.
Tuis recent issue comes to us in these exciting times like a gentle breeze from the “Riverside,” fanning the flushed cheek and fevered brow at the summer noontide. We greet its
appearance, too, as a flag of truce in war, that hushes for the time the din of battle. And while passing from page to page, we think of those flowers and fruits that are blooming and flushing hard by the camping ground and line of march, quietly as in the "piping times of peace.”
The contents of the volume before us, mostly reprints from “Fraser,” and reproduced by “Littell,” have of course lost their freshness to many; and the captious critic might say that Essays of this description, like angel-visits, are better appreciated when “far between," than when read continuously as collected in their present form. To be sure, there is a pleasant variety of thought and illustration; but if one sits down to read the book in course, he will be apt sooner or later to feel that sense of surfeit which oppresses one who tarries too long at a feast.
But if he takes it up as he does his "recreations," at intervals, and selects the Essay that suits his mood, he will best satisfy himself and fulfill, we doubt not, the purpose of our author.
Old John Murray would never reprint from his Quarterly; but had he survived till now he would have lived to see his most impolitic maxim reduced to a dead letter, and just the opposite policy everywhere inaugurated. For it has come to pass
that some of the most popular books of the day are but reprints from magazines and newspapers. Every corps of writers for the periodical press must include one or more who can contribute something week by week or monthly, suitable
to be exhumed from the superincumbent mass at the close of the series, and booked for immortality in “beveled boards," or the more pretentious “ blue and gold.” While this fact redounds to the credit of our periodical literature, it tends to mar somewhat the satisfaction of its readers. For the dainties of their feast are pretty sure to be served up in a second and separate dish ; and occasionally it happens that while they are being regaled with the passing serial, the new book entire makes its advent, suddenly dissipating their pleasant dreams as to the final denouement.
It is curious to observe how the most widely read authors of the day have put forth their first flowers and gems, which were not appreciated till they were culled and reset like "apples of gold in pictures of silver.” But now that their reputation is made, it matters not for whose columns they contribute—nor whether their contributions be mere jottings by the way or studied compositions. Their fragrance is sure to be scented in the passing weekly or monthly, and afterwards pressed between “boards" for preservation, like flowers in an herbarium.
The contents of this and that treasured volume first went the rounds of the press, “ without a local habitation or a name,
a till their author grew famous enough to gather the wanderers from far and near under the broad shadow of his name-while others were but rehearsals by the “contributor," preparatory to his formal debút as the writer of a book.
The current literature of the day hurries the reader on from topic to topic so fast, that the tendency is for the reading public, like the traveling, to gulp their refreshments whole, ignoring the connection between slow mastication and good digestion. But this fact need not multiply the advocates of light literature, as it is called. Rather may it in part account for the growing taste for that style of composition, which is classed under the general head of essay-writing-newspaper leaders, sketches, magazine articles, and the like, that feed the public by piecemeal, but often concentrate in a single "paper" the essence of a volume. Everybody reads the Daily and cuts the fresh leaves of the favorite monthly eagerly as he would open a letter. Just here the Essayist steps in, and