Imatges de pÓgina
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covered ; and he retired into Switzerland, a country very distant from Greece.

The monks charged with the education of youth have always exhibited a little of this tendency, which is a necessary consequence of the celibacy to which the poor men are condemned.

This vice was so common at Rome, that it was impossible to punish a crime which almost every one committed. Octavius Augustus, that murderer, debauchee, and coward who exiled Ovid, thought it right in Virgil to sing the charms of Alexis. Horace, his other poetical favourite, constructed small odes on Ligurinus; and this same Horace, who praised Augustus for reforming manners, speaks in his satires in much the same way of both boys and girls. Yet the ancient law 'Scantinia,' which forbade pederasty, always existed, and was put in force by the emperor Philip, who drove away from Rome the boys who made a profession of it. If, however, Rome had witty and licentious students, like Petronius, it had also such preceptors as Quintilian; and attend to the precautions he lays down in his chapter of The Preceptor,' in order to preserve the purity of early youth. « Cavendum non solum crimine turpitudinis, sed etiam suspicione." We must not only beware of a shameful crime but even of the suspicion of it. To conclude, I firmly believe that no civilized nation ever existed* which made formal laws against morals.

* The ex-jesuit Des Fontaines was on the point of being burnt for this crime in the place de Greve, but was saved by powerful protectors. A victim however was wanted, and Des Chofours was burnt in his stead. The burning of the latter was decreed on the authority of the Institutes of St. Louis, rendered into French of the fifteenth century. St. Louis, however assigned the reproachful epithet bestowed on offendersof this description, to those ihe church pronounced heretics, who at that time were generally so denominated ; to these he generally alluded when he decreed, that if any one was suspected he should be examined by the bishop, and if proved guiliy be burned. Thus the Lorrain gentleman, Des Chofours, suffered death at Paris from an ambiguity. Despreaux did well in, composing a satire against equivoque, which has caused more mischief than the world is aware of.

Observations by another Hand.* We may be permitted to make a few additional reflections on an odious and disgusting subject, which however, unfortunately, forms a part of the history of opinions and manners.

This offence may be traced to the remotest periods of civilization. Greek and Roman history in particular allows us not to doubt it. It was common before people formed regular societies, and were governed by written laws.

'The latter fact is the reason, that the laws bave treated it with so much indulgence. Severe laws cannot be proposed to a free people against a vice, what. ever it may be, which is common and habitual. For a long time, many of the German nations had written laws which admitted of composition for murder. Solon contented himself with forbidding these odious practices between the citizens and slaves. The Athenians might perceive the policy of this interdiction, and submit to it; especially as it operated against the slaves only, and was enacted to prevent them from corrupting the young free men.

Fathers of families, however lax their morals, had no motive to oppose it.

The severity of the manners of women in Greece, the use of public baths, and the passion for games in which men appeared altogether naked, fostered this turpitude, notwithstanding the progress of society and morals. Lycurgus, by allowing more liberty to the women, and by certain other institutions, succeeded in rendering this vice less common in Sparta than in the other towns of Greece.

When the manners of a people become less rustic, as they improve in arts, luxury, and riches, if they retain their former vices, they at least endeavour to veil them. Christian morality, by attaching shame to connexions between unmarried people, by rendering

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* These observations are given by way of note in the French edition, but from their length and ability will stand better as part of the text.T,

marriage indissoluble, and proscribing concubinage by ecclesiastical censures, has rendered adultery common, Every sort of voluptuousness having been equally made sinful, that species is naturally preferred which is necessarily the most secret; and thus, by a singular contradiction, absolute crimes are often made more frequent, more tolerated, and less shameful in public opinion, than simple weaknesses. When the western nations began a course of refinement, they sought to conceal adultery under the veil of what is called gallan. try. Then men loudly avowed a passion in which it was presumed the women did not share. The lovers dared demand nothing; and it was only after more than ten years of pure love, of combats and victories at tournaments, that a cavalier might hope to discover a moment of weakness in the object of his adoration. There remains a sufficient number of records of these times to convince us, that the state of manners fostered this species of hypocrisy. It was similar among the Greeks, when they had become polished. Connexions between males were not shameful; young people united themselves to each other by oaths, but it was to live and die for their country. It was usual for

person of ripe age to attach himself to a young man in a state of adolescence, ostensibly to form, instruct, and guide him; and the passion which mingled in these friendships was a sort of love-but still innocent love. Such was the veil with which public decency concealed vices which general opinion tolerated.

In short, in the same manner as chivalric gallantry is often made a theme for eulogy in modern society, as proper to elevate the soul and inspire courage, was it common among the Greeks to eulogise that love which attached the citizens to each other.

Plato said, that the Thebans acted. laudably in adopting it, because it was necessary to polish their manners, supply greater energy to their souls and to their spirits, which were benumbed by the nature of their climate. We perceive by this, that a virtuous friendship alone was treated of by Plato. Thus, when a christian prince proclaimed a tournament, at which

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every one appeared in the colours of his mistress, it was with the laudable intention of exciting emulation among his knights, and to soften manners: it was not adultery, but gallantry, that he would encourage within his dominions. In Athens, according to Plato, they set bounds to their toleration. In monarchical states, it was politic to prevent these attachments between men, but in republics they materially tended to prevent the double establishment of tyranny. In the sacrifice of a citizen, a tyrant knew not whose vengeance he might arm against himself, and was liable, without ceasing, to witness conspiracies grow out of the resolutions which this ambiguous affection produced among men.

In the mean time, in spite of ideas so remote from our sentiments and manners, this practice was regarded as very shameful among the Greeks, every time it was exhibited without the excuse of friendship or political ties. When Philip of Macedon saw extended on the field of battle of Cheronea, the soldiers who composed the sacred battalion or band of friends at Thebes, all killed in the ranks in which they had combatted, “I will never believe,” he exclaimed, “ that such brave men have committed or suffered anything shameful." This expression from a man himself soiled with this infamy, furnishes an indisputable proof of the general opinion of Greece.

At Rome, this opinion was still stronger. Many Greek heroes, regarded as virtuous men, have been supposed addicted to the vice; but among the Romans it was never attributed to any of those characters in whom great virtue was acknowledged. It only seems, that with these two nations no idea of crime or even dishonour was attached to it, unless carried to excess, which renders even a passion for women disgraceful. Pederasty is rare among us, and would be unknown, but for the defects of public education.

Montesquieu pretends, that it prevails in certain Mahometan nations, in consequence of the facility of possessing women. In our opinion, for “facility' we should read • difficulty.'

LUXURY.

SECTION I.

In a country where all the inhabitants went barefooted, could luxury be imputed to the first man who made a pair of shoes for himself? Or rather, was he not a man of sense and industry?

Is it not just the same with him who procured the first shirt ? With respect to the man who had it washed and ironed, I consider him as an absolute genius, abundant in resources, and qualified to govern a state.

Those however who were not used to wear clean shirts, considered him as a rich effeminate coxcomb who was likely to corrupt the nation.

“. Beware of luxury,” said Cato to the Romans;

you have conquered the province of Phasis, but never eat any pheasants. You have subjugated the country in which cotton grows; still however continue to sleep on the bare ground. You have plundered the gold, and silver, and jewels of innumerable nations, but never become such fools as to use them. After taking everything, remain destitute of everything: Highway robbers should be virtuous and free.”

Lucullus replied, “You should rather wish, my good friend, that Crassus, and Pompey, and Cæsar, and myself, should spend all that we have taken in luxury. Great robbers must fight about the division of the spoil; but Rome will inevitably be enslaved, and it will be enslaved by one or other of us much more speedily, and much more securely, if we place that value upon money that you do, than if we spend it in superfluities and pleasures. Wish that Pompey and Cæsar may so far impoverish themselves, as not to have money enough to pay the armies.”

Not long since, a Norwegian was upbraiding a Dutchman with luxury. “Where now,” says he,“ are the happy times when a merchant, quitting Amsterdam for the great Indies, left a quarter of smoked beef in his kitchen and found it untouched on his return? Where are your

wooden spoons

and iron forks? Is it

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