Page images

Willybourne river, called Sheawater, of wood and water, hill and vale, and his lordship is now making a lake of being a foil in which trees grow to a very large extent, which will afford the greatest perfection; and though an agreeable and most unexpected almost surrounded with great towns, variety to the scenes of the surround. having none within four miles of it; ing country.

and from its vicinity to Bath, and Upon the whole, Longleat, from its proper distance from London; may situation, as standing in one of the be truly said to be not only one of the most fertile and plentiful parts of Eng- largest and moft magnificent seats, but land, on the edge of the champaign one of the most desirable places of and open part of the county of Wilts, residence in the kingdom. and on the border of the rich inclosed This was the opinion of the king land of the county of Somerset, and and queen, when they honoured the partaking of the advantages of both; marquis with a visit in Sept 1789, from its consequence as being the and this is the uniform opinion of

center of a vait estate belonging to it, every person of real taste, who has lying in both counties, and of course taken time to see and examine all the commanding influence in both; from beauties of this enchanting place. its local advantages, as having plenty

ON MOD EST r. [From · A Vindication of the Rights of Woman,' by Mary Wollstonecraft.]

ODESTY! Sacred offspring of though by no means incompatible

sensibility and reason !- true with a lofty consciousness of our own delicacy of mind ! -may 1, unblamed, dignity. Modesty, in the latter figa presume to investigate thy nature, and nification of the term, is, that sobera trace to its covert the mild charm, nefs of mind which teaches a man not that mellowing each harsh feature of to think more highly of himself than a character, renders what would other- he ought to think, and should be difwise only inspire cold admiration- tinguished from humility, because hulovely! -- Thou that smoothest the mility is a kind of self-abasement. wrinkles of wisdom, and softenest the A modest man often conceives a tone of the fublimeit virtues till they great plan, and tenaciously adheres to all melt into humanity ;-thou that it, conscious of his own strength, till spreadeft the ethereal cloud that fur- success gives it a fanction that deterrounding love heightens every beauty, mines its character. Milton was not it half thades, breathing those coy arrogant when he suffered a suggestion sweets that steal into the heart, and of judgment to escape him that proved charm the fenses---modulate for me a prophecy ; nor was general Washthe language of persuasive reason, till ington when he accepted of the comI rouse my fex from the flowery bed, mand of the American forces. The on which they fupinely Jeep life latter has always been characterized away!

as a modest man; but had he been In speaking of the association of merely humble, he would probably our ideas, I have noticed two distinct have İhrunk back irresolute, afraid of modes; and in defining modeliy, it trusting to himself the direction of an appears to me equally proper to dif- enterprise, on which so much decriminate that purity of mind, which pended. is the effect of challity, from 2 fim A modeft man is steady, an humplicity of character that leads us to ble man timid, and a vain one pres form a jult opinion of ourselves, equal. sumptuous :~this is the judgment, ly durant from vanity or prefumption, which the observation of many cha


racers, has led me to form. Jesus Aection, and not the coyness of ignoChrist was modeít, Mofes was hum- rance. The reserve of reason, which, ble, and Peter vain.

like habitual cleanliness, is seldoin feen Thus, discriminating modesty from in any great degree, unless the soul humility in one case, I do not mean is active, may easily be distinguished to confound it with bashfulness in the from rustic shyness or wanton skittishother. Bashfulness, in fact, is so dif- ness; and, so far from being incomtin& from modelty, that the most bash- patible with knowledge, it is its faireft fal lass, or raw country lout, often fruit. What a gross idea of modeity becomes the most impudent; for their had the writer of the following rebalhfulness being merely the instinc- mark! The lady who asked the tive timidity of ignorance, custom question whether women may be in. foon changes it into assurance *. ftructed in the modern system of bo

The shameless behaviour of the tany, consistently with female deliprostitutes, who infeft the streets of cacy !--was accused of ridiculous pruthis metropolis, raising alternate emo- dery: nevertheless, if she had protions of pity and disgust, may serve posed the question to me, I should to illustrate this remark. They tram- certainly have answered – They canple on virgin bashfulness with a sort not.' Thus is the fair book of knowof bravado, and glorying in their ledge to be shut with an everlasting shame, become morc audaciously lewd feal! On reading similar passages i than men, however depraved, to whom have reverentially lifted up my eyes this sexual quality has not been gra- and heart to him who liveth for ever tuitously granted, ever appear to be. and ever, and said, O my father, But these poor ignorant wretches ne. halt thou, by the very constitution of ver had any modefty to lose, when her nature, forbid thy child to seek they configned themselves to infamy; thee in the fair forms of truth ? And, -for modesty is a virtue not a quality. can her soul be sullied by the know*No, they were only bashful, ame- ledge that awfully calls her to thee? faced innocents; and losing their in I have then philofophically pursued nocence, their shame-facedness was these reflections till I inferred that rudely brushed off; a virtue would those women who have most improved have left some vestiges in the mind, their reason must have the most mohad it been facrificed to paflion, to defty--though a dignified sedateness make us respect the grand ruin. of deportment may have succeeded

Parity of mind, or that genuine the playful, bewitching balhfulness of delicacy, which is the only virtuous youth t. support of chastity, is near akin to And thus have I argued. To rena that refinement of humanity, which der chastity the virtue from which un, never resides in any but cultivated sophisticated modesty will naturally minds. It is something nobler than flow, the attention should be called innocence; it is the delicacy of re- away from employments which only

* Such is the country-maiden's frighte

When first a red-coat is in sight;
Behind the door she hides her face;
Next time at distance eyes the lace :
She now can all his terrors (tand,
Nor from his squeeze withdraws her hand.
She plays familiar in his arms,

And ev'ry soldier hath lis charms;
From tent to tent the spreads her flame;
For custom conquers fear and shame.'

GAY. + Modesty, is the graceful calm virtue of maturity; bafhfulness, the charm of vivacious you:h.


exercise the sensibility; and the heart lancholy, that allows the mind for a made to beat time to humanity, rather moment to stand still and enjoy the than to throb with love. The wo- present satisfaction, when a consciman who has dedicated a considerable ousness of the Divine presence is felt portion of her time to pursuits purely --for this must ever be the food of intellectual, and whose affections have joy! been exercised by humane plans of As I have always been fond of usefulness, must have more purity of tracing to its source in nature any mind, as a natural consequence, than prevailing custom, I have frequently the ignorant beings whose time and thought that it was a sentiment of af thoughts have been occupied by gay fection of whatever had touched the pleasures or schemes to conquer person of an absent or lost friend, hearts *The regulation of the be- which gave birth to that respect for haviour is not modesty, though those relics, lo much abused by selfish priests. who study rules of decorum are, in Devotion, or love, may be allowed general, termed modest women. Make to hallow the garments as well as the ibe heart clean, let it expand and person; for the lover must want fancy feel for all that is human, instead of who has not a sort of sacred respect for being narrowed by selfish passions ; the glove or slipper of his mistress. and let the mind frequently con- He could not confound them with template subjects that exercise the un- vulgar things of the same kind. This derstanding, without heating the ima- fine sentiment, perhaps, would not nation, and artless modesty will give bear to be analyzed by the experithe finishing touches to the picture. mental philosopher-but of such stuff

She who can discern the dawn of is human rapture made up!-A shaimmortality, in the streaks that fhootdowy phantom glides before us, obathwart the misty night of ignorance, scuring every other object; yet when promising a clearer day, will respect, the soft cloud is grasped, the form as a sacred temple, the body that en- melts into common air, leaving a soshrines such an improvable soul. True litary void, or sweet perfume, ftolen love, likewise, spreads this kind of from the violet, that memory long myiterious fanctity round the beloved holds dear. But, I have tripped unobject, making the lorer most modest awares on fairy ground, feeling the when in her presence t. So reserved balmy gale of spring stealing on me, is affection that, receiving or return- though November frowns. ing personal endearments, it wishes, As a sex, women are more chaste not only to Thun the human eye, as a than men, and as modesty is the effect kind of profanation; but to diffuse an of chastity, they may deserve to have encircling cloudy obscurity to shut out this virtue ascribed to them in rather even the saucy sparkling sunbeams. an appropriated sense; yet, I must be Yet, that affection does not deserve allowed to add an hesitating if:- for the epithet of chaste, which does not I doubt whether chastity will produce receive a sublime gloom of tender me- modesty, though it may propriety of

* I have conversed, as man with man, with medical men, on anatomical subjects; and compared the proportions of the human body with artists yet such modesty did Í meet with, that I was never reminded by word or look of my fex, of the absurd rules which make modesty a pharifaical cloak of weakness. And I am persuaded that in the pursuit of knowledge women would never be insulted by sensible men, and rarely by men of any description, if they did not by mock modesty remind them that they were women : actuated by the same fpirit as the Portugueze ladies, who would think their charms insulted, if, when left alone with a man, he did not, at least,, attempt to be grossly familiar with their persons. Men are not always men in the company of women, nor would women always remember that they are women, if they were allowed to acquire more understanding. + Male or female; for the world contains many modest men,



conduct, when it is merely a respect which the sexual distinction respecting for the opinion of the world *, and modesty has proved fatal to virtue and when coquetry and the love-lorn tales happiness. It is, however, carried of novelists employ the thoughts. ftill further, and woman, weak woNay, from experience, and reason, I man! made by her education the should be led to expect to meet with flave of sensibility, is required, on the more modesty among men than wo- most trying occasions, to resist that men, simply because men exercise sensibility. Can any thing,' says their understandings more than wo- Knox, · be more absurd than keepmen.

ing women in a state of ignorance, But, with respect to propriety of and yet fo vehemently to infilt on behaviour, excepting one c ass of fe. their resisting temptation ?' Thus males, women have evidently the ad- when virtue or honour make it pro: vantage. What can be more dif- per to check a pasiion, the burden is. gusting than that impudent dross of thrown on the weaker shoulders, congallantry, thought so manly, which trary to reason and true modesty, makes many men stare insultingly at which, at lealt, should render the felfevery female they meet ? Is this re- denial mutual, to say nothing of the spect for the sexi This loose behavi- generosity of bravery, supposed to be

thews such habitual depravity, a manly virtue, such weakness of mind, that it is vain In the same strain runs Rousseau's to expect much public or private vir- and Dr. Gregory's advice respecting tue, till both men and women grow modesty, strangely miscalled ! for they more modeft-till men, curbing a both desire a wife to leave it in doubt sensual fondness for the sex, or an af- whether sensibility or weakness led her fectation of manly assurance, more to her husband's arms. The woman properly speaking, impudence, treat is immodeft who can let the shadow each other with respect-unless appe- of such a doubt remain on her hustite or passion gives the tone, peculiar band's mind a moment. to it, to their behaviour.

I mean

But to state the subject in a differeven personal respect--the modest re ent light.--The want of modesty, spect of humanity, and fellow-feeling which I principally deplore as fub, not the libidinous mockery of gal- versive of morality, arises from the lantry, nor the insolent condescension state of warfare lo strenuously supof protectorship.

ported by voluptuous men as the very Io carry the observation still fur- essence of modesty, though, in fact, ther, modesty must heartily disclaim, its bane; because it is a refinement and refuse to dwell with that de- on lust, that men fall into who have bauchery of mind, which leads a man not sufficient virtue to relish the innocoolly to bring forward, without a cent pleasures of love. A man of blush, indecent allusions, or obscene delicacy carries his notions of modesty witticisms, in the presence of a fellow ftill further, for neither weakness nor creature ; women are now out of the sensibility will gratify him he looks question, for then it is brutality. for affection. Refpect for man, as man, is the

Again ; men boast of their triumphs foundation of every noble sentiment. over women, what do they boast of? How much more modest is the liber- Truly the creature of sensibility was tine who obeys the call of appetite or furprised by her sensibility into fóllyfancy, than the lewd joker who sets into vice t; and the dreadful reckonthe table in a roar!

ing falls heavily on her own weak This is one of the many instances in head, when reason wakes. For where

* The immodest behaviour of many married women, who are nevertheless faithful to their husbands' beds, will illusttrate this remark.

† The poor moth buttering round a candle, burns its wings,


art thou to find comfort, forlorn and cannot fubmit to resign the highest disconfolate one? He who ought to sensual gratification, nor even to relish have directed thy reason, and fup- the epicurism of virtue-self-denial. ported thy weakness, has betrayed chee! In a dream of passion thou confentedft to wander through flowery

Here Mrs. Wollitonecraft proceeds lawns, and heedlessly stepping over to other views of the subject, in which the precipice to which thy guide, in- the confines her remarks to women. stead of guarding, lured thee, thou Her conclufion to this chapter is Startest from thy dream only to face a extremely beautiful. sneering, frowning world, and to find Perhaps, there is not a virtue that thyself alone in a wafie, for he that mixes so kindly with every other as triumphed in thy weakness is now modesty. It is the pale moon-beam pursuing new conquests ; but for thee that renders more interesting every --there is no redemption on this fide virtue it foftens, giving mild granthe grave !-- And what resource hait deur to the contracted horizon. Nothou in an enervated mind to raise a thing can be more beautiful than the finking heart?

poetical fiction, which makes Diana, But, if the sexes are really to live with her filver crescent, the goddess in a state of warfare, if nature has of chastity. I have sometimes thought, pointed it out, let men act nobly, or that wandering with sedate step in let pride whisper to them, that the fome lonely recess

, a modest dame of victory is mean when they merely antiquity must have felt a glow of vanquish sensibility. The real con- conscious dignity when, after conquest is that over affection not taken templating the soft shadowy landscape, by surprise-when, like Heloisa, a fhe has invited with placid fervour the woman gives up all the world, deli- mild reflection of her sister's beams to berately, for love. I do not now turn to her chaste bosom. consider the wisdom or virtue of such A Christian has still nobler mo. a sacrifice, I only contend that it was tives to incite her to preserve her à facrifice to affection, and not merely chaitity and acquire modefty, for her to sensibility, though she had her body has been called the Temple of share. And I must be allowed to call the living God; of that God who reher a modest woman, before I dismiss quires more than modesty of mien. this part of the subject, by saying, His eye searcheth the heart; and let that till men are more chalte women her remember, that if the hopeth to will be immodest. Where, indeed, find favour in the sight of purity itself, could modest women find husbands her chastity must be founded on mofrom whom they would not continually desty, and not on worldly prudence; turn with disguft? Modesty must be or verily a good reputation will be equally cultivated by both sexes, or her only reward; for that awful init will ever remain a fickly, hot-house tercourse, that sacred communication, plant, while the affectation of it, the which virtue establishes between man fig leaf borrowed by wantonness, may and his maker, must give rise to the give a zeft to voluptuous enjoyments. wish of being pure as he is pure !

Men will probably still infift that woman ought to have more modesty Would ye, O my sisters, really than man; but it is not dispassionate possess modesty, ye must remember reafoners who will most earnestly op- that the posseffion of virtue, of any depose my opinion. No, they are the nomination, is incompatible with igmen of fancy, the favourites of the nprance and vanity! ye must acquire sex, who cutwardly respect and in- that foberness of mind, which the exwardly defpife the weak creatures ercise of duties, and the pursuit of whom they thus sport with. They knowledge, alone inspire, or ye will

* *

« PreviousContinue »