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the lively sally would be interspersed with the graver details of thoughtful and reflective conversation, or would give some point to the dull routine of mere womanish chatter. It seems almost impossible to have lived amidst the stupendous magnificence of Egypt in days of yore, without the mind assimilating itself in some degree to the greatness with which it was surrounded. The vast deserts, the stupendous mountains, the river Nile— the single and solitary river which in itself sufficed the needs of a mighty empire—these majestic monuments of nature seemed as emblems to which the people should fashion, as they did fashion, their pyramids, their tombs, their sphynxes, their mighty reservoirs, and their colossal statues. And we can hardly suppose that such ever-visible objects should not, during the time of their creation, have some elevating influence on the weakest mind; and that therefore frivolity of conversation amongst the Egyptian ladies was rather the exception than the rule. But a modern author has amused himself, and exercised some ingenuity in attempting to prove the contrary:—
"Many similar instances of a talent for caricature are observable in the compositions of Egyptian artists who executed the paintings on the tombs; and the ladies are not spared. We are led to infer that they were not deficient in the talent of conversation; and the numerous subjects they proposed are shown to have been examined with great animation. Among these the question of dress was not forgotten, and the patterns or the value of trinkets were discussed with proportionate interest. The maker of an earring, or the shop where it was purchased, were anxiously inquired; each compared the workmanship, the style, and the materials of those she wore, coveted her neighbour's, or preferred her own; and women of every class vied with each other in the display of 'jewels of silver and jewels of gold,' in the texture of their 'raiment,' the neatness of their sandals, and the arrangement or beauty of their plaited hair."
We are too much indebted to this author's interesting volumes to quarrel with him for his ungallant exposition of a very simple painting; but we beg to place in juxtaposition with the above (though otherwise somewhat out of its place) an extract from a work by no means characterised by unnecessary complacency to the fair sex.
"' Cet homme passe sa vie a forger desnouvelles/ me dit alors un gros Athenien qui etait assis aupres de moi. 'II ne s'occupe que de choses qui ne le touchent point. Pour moi, mon interieur me suffit. J'ai une femme que j'aime beaucoup;' et il me fit 1'eloge de sa femme. 'Hier je ne pus pas souper avec elle, j'etais prie chez un de mes amis;' et il me fit la description du repas. 'Je me retirai chez moi assez content. Mais j'ai fait cette nuit un r£ve qui m'inquiete;' et il me raconta son reve. Ensuite il me dit pesamment que la ville fourmillait d'etrangers; que les hommes d'aujourd'hui ne valaient pas ceux d'autrefois; que les denrees etaient a bas prix; qu'on pourrait esperer une bonne recolte, s'il venait a pleuvoir. Apres m'avoir deman de le quantieme du mois, il se leva pour aller souper avec sa femme."
Sits the virtuous housewife,
O'er the circle presiding,
And prudently guiding;
The girls gravely schooling,
The boys wisely ruling;
Her hands never ceasing
From labours increasing;
And doubling his gains
With her orderly pains.
And resteth never."
J. H. Merivale.
It was an admitted opinion amongst the classical nations of antiquity, that no less a personage than Minerva herself, "a maiden affecting old fashions and formality," visited earth to teach her favourite nation the mysteries of those implements which are called "the arms of every virtuous woman;" viz. the distaff and spindle. In the use of these the Grecian dames were particularly skilled; in fact, spinning, weaving, needlework, and embroidery, formed the chief occupation of those whose rank exonerated them, even in more primitive days, from the menial drudgery of a household.
The Greek females led exceedingly retired lives, being far more charily admitted to a share of the recreations of the nobler sex than we of these privileged days. The ancient Greeks were very magnificent—very: magnificent senators, magnificent warriors, magnificent men; but they were a people trained from the cradle for exhibition and publicity; domestic life was quite cast into the shade. Consequently and necessarily their women were thrown to greater distance, till it happened, naturally enough, that they seemed to form a distinct community; and apartments the most distant and secluded that the mansion afforded were usually assigned to them. Of these, in large establishments, certain ones were always appropriated to the labours of the needle.
"Je ne dirai" (says the sarcastic author of Anacharsis) "quun motsurl'education des filles. Suivant le difference des etats, elles apprennent a lire, ecrire, coudre, filer, preparer la laine dont on fait les vetemens, et veiller aux soins du menage. En general, les meres exhortent leurs filles a se conduire avec sagesse; mais elle insistent beaucoup plus sur la necessity de se tenir droites, d'effacer leurs epaules, de serrer leur sein avec un large ruban, d'etre extremement sobres, et de prevenir, par toutes sortes de moyens, un embonpoint qui nuirait a Telegance de la taille et a la grace des mouvemens." Homer, the great fountain of ancient lore, scarcely throughout his whole work names a female, Greek or Trojan, but as connected naturally and indissolubly with this feminine occupation—needlework. Thus, when Chryses implores permission to ransome his daughter, Agamemnon wrathfully replies—
"I will not loose thy daughter, till old age
And Iris, the "ambassadress of Heaven," finds
■ weaving there a gorgeous web, Inwrought with fiery conflicts, for her sake Wag'd by contending nations."
Hector foreseeing the miseries consequent upon the destruction of Troy, says to Andromache—
"But no grief
And again he says to her—
"Hence, then, to our abode; there weave or spin,
"Andromache, the while,