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In this situation, the mother of a numerous family, who lives at a distance from her other relations, will often be raised to a degree of rank and dignity to which, from her sex, she would not otherwise be entitled. Her children being, in their early years, maintained and protected by her care and tenderness, and having been accustomed to submit to her authority, will be apt, even after they are grown up, and have arrived at their full strength and vigour, to behave to her with some degree of reverence and filial affection. Although they have no admiration of her military talents, they may respect her upon account of her experience and wisdom; and although they should not themselves be always very scrupulous in paying her an implicit obedience, they will probably be disposed to espouse her quarrel, or to support her interest against every other person.
We are informed, indeed, that when a young Hottentot is of age to be received into the society of men, it is usual for him to beat and abuse his
sus etiam refert, Ponticis ex beneficio Pompeii magni competere, ut qui Pontica matre natus esset, Ponticus esset: quod "beneficium ad vulgo quaesitos solos pertinere quidam putant :
quorum sententiam Celsus non probat: neque enim debuisse "caveri ut vulgo quaesitus matris conditionem sequeretur: quam enim aliam originem hic habet? sed ad eos qui ex di"versarum civitatum parentibus orirentur," 1. 1. §. 2 Dig. ad Municipal. See also 1. 51. 1. 61. Cod. Theod. de decu
mother, by way of triumph at being freed from her tuition. Such behaviour may happen in a rude country, where, after marriage is established, the superior strength of the husband has raised him to the head of his family, and where his authority has of course annihilated that of the wife, or at least greatly reduced her consideration and importance. But in a country where children have no acquaintance with their father, and are not indebted to him for subsistence and protection, they can hardly fail, during a considerable part of their life, to regard their mother as the principal person in the family.
This is in all probability the source of that influence which appears to have been possessed by the women in several rude and barbarous parts of the world.
In the island of Formosa, it is said, that in forming that slight and transient union between the sexes, to which our travellers, in conformity to the customs of Europe, have given the name of marriage, the husband quits his own family, and passes into that of his wife, where he continues to reside as long as his connection with her remains *. The same custom is said to be established among the people called Moxos, in Peru f.
* Du Halde, vol. 1. p. 179.
See the extract of a Spanish relation, printed by order of the Bishop of the city Della Paz, published in the Travels of the Jesuits, by Mr Lockman, vol. 2. p. 446.
In the Ladrone islands the wife is absolute mis tress of the house, and the husband is not at liberty to dispose of any thing without her permission. She chastises him, or puts him away, at pleasure; and whenever a separation happens, she not only retains all her moveables, but also her children, who consider the next husband she takes as their father *.
The North American tribes are accustomed to admit their women into their public councils, and even to allow them the privilege of being first called to give their opinion upon every subject of deliberation. Females, indeed, are held incapable of enjoying the office of chief, but through them the succession to that dignity is continued; and therefore, upon the death of a chief, he is succeeded, not by his own son, but by that of his sister; and in default of the sister's son, by his nearest relation in the female line. When his whole family
right of naming a suc
happens to be extinct, the cessor is claimed by the noblest matron of the village.
It is observed, however, by an author, who has given us the fullest account of all these particulars, that the women of North America do not arrive at this influence and dignity till after a certain age, and after their children are in a condition to procure
* Father Gobien's history of the Ladrone or Marian islands. -See Callender's coll. vol. 3. p. 51, 52.
them respect; that before this period they are commonly treated as the slaves of the men; and that there is no country in the world where the female sex is in general more neglected and despised *.
Among the ancient inhabitants of Attica, the ,women had, in like manner, a share in public deliberations. This custom continued till the reign of Cecrops, when a revolution was produced, of which the following fabulous relation has been given by historians. It is said that, after the building of Athens, Minerva and Neptune became competitors for the honour of giving a name to the city, and that Cecrops called a public assembly of the men and women in order to determine the difference. The women were interested upon the part of Minerva; the men upon that of Neptune; and the former carried the point by the majority of one
Soon after, there happened an inundation of the sea, which occasioned much damage, and greatly terrified the inhabitants, who believed that this calamity proceeded from the vengeance of Neptune for the affront he had suffered. . To appease him, they resolved to punish the female sex, by whom the offence was committed, and determined that no woman should for the future be admitted into the public assemblies, nor any child be allowed to bear the name of its mother t.
* Charlevoix, journal historique de l'Amer. let. 19. + See Goguet's origin of laws, &c. vol. 2. book 1.
It may explain this piece of ancient mythology to observe, that in the reign of Cecrops marriage was first established among the Athenians. In consequence of this establishment the children were no longer accustomed to bear the name of their mother, but that of their father, who, from his superior strength and military talents, became the head and governor of the family; and as the influence of the women was thereby greatly diminished, it was to be expected that they should, in a little time, be entirely excluded from those great assemblies which deliberated upon public affairs.
Among the ancient Britons we find, in like manner, that the women were accustomed to vote in the public assemblies. The rude and imperfect institution of marriage, and the community of wives, that anciently took place in Britain, must have prevented the children from acquiring any considerable connexion with their father, and have disposed them to follow the condition of their mother, as well as to support her interest and dignity.
When a woman, by being at the head of a large family, is thus advanced to influence and authority, and becomes a sort of female chief, she naturally maintains a number of servants, and endeavours to live with suitable splendour and magnificence. In proportion to her affluence, she has the greater temptation to indulge her sensual appetites; and, in a period when the sexes are but little accustomed to controul or disguise their inclinations, she