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may, in some cases, be led into a correspondence with different male retainers, who happen to reside in her family, and over whom she exercises an authority resembling that of a master.
The above remark may account for what is related by historians; that, in some provinces of the ancient Median empire, it was customary for women to entertain a number of husbands, as in others, it was usual for men to entertain a number of wives or concubines *. The dominion of the ancient Medes comprehended many extensive territories ; in some of which, the inhabitants were extremely barbarous ; in others, no less opulent and luxurious.
This unusual kind of polygamy, if I may be allowed to use that expression, is established at present upon the coast of Malabar †, as well as in some cantons of the Iroquois in North America; and though there is no practice more inconsistent with the views and manners of a civilized nation, it has in all probability been adopted by many individuals, in every country where the inhabitahts were unacquainted with the regular institution of mar riage §.
* Strabo, lib. 11.
Modern Universal History, vol. 16.-Capt. Hamilton says, that the coast of Malabar a woman is not allowed
to have more than twelve husbands.
Charlevoix, journal hist.
§ Father Tachard, superior of the French Missionary Jesuits in the East Indies, gives the following account of the
It is highly probable, that the celebrated traditions of the Amazons, inhabiting the most barbarous regions of Scythia, and the relations of a similar people in some parts of America, have arisen from the state of manners now under consideration. Though these accounts are evidently mixed with fable, and appear to contain much exaggeration, we can hardly suppose that they would have been propagated by so many authors, and have created such universal attention, had they been entirely destitute of real foundation*. In a country where marriage is unknown, females are commonly exalted to be the heads of families, or chiefs, and thus acquire an authority, which, notwithstanding their inferiority in strength, may extend to the direction of war, as well as of other transactions. So extraordinary a spectacle as that of a military
inhabitants in the neighbourhood of Calicut. "In this 66 country," says he, called Malleami, "there are castes, as "in the rest of India. Most of them observe the same cus"toms; and, in particular, they all entertain a like contempt "for the religion and manners of the Europeans. But a cir"cumstance, that perhaps is not found elsewhere, and which "I myself could scarce believe, is, that among these barba"rians, and especially the noble castes, a woman is allowed, by ". the laws, to have several husbands. Some of these have "had ten husbands together, all whom they look upon as so "many slaves that their charms have subjected." Lettres edifiantes et curieuses, translated by Mr Lockman, vol. 1. p.168.
*Vide Petit. dissert, de Amazon.
enterprise conducted by women, and where the men acted in a subordinate capacity, must have filled the enemy with wonder and astonishment, and might easily give rise to those fictions of a female republic, and of other circumstances equally marvellous, which we meet with in ancient writers.
"Ducit Amazonidum lunatis agmina peltis
"Bellatrix, audetque viris concurrere virgo."
The refinement of the passions of Sex, in the Pastoral Ages.
WHEN we examine the circumstances which occasion the depression of the women, and the low estimation in which they are held, in a simple and barbarous age, we may easily imagine in what manner their condition is varied and improved in the subsequent periods of society. Their condition is naturally improved by every circumstance which tends to create more attention to the pleasures of sex, and to increase the value of those occupations that are suited to the female character; by the cultivation of the arts of life; by the advancement of opulence; and by the gradual refinement of taste and manners. From a view of the progress of society, in these respects, we may, in a great measure, account for the diversity that occurs among different nations, in relation to the rank of the sexes, their dispositions and sentiments towards each other, and the regulations which they have established in the several branches of their
The invention of taming and pasturing cattle, which may be regarded as the first remarkable improvement in the savage life, is productive of
very important alterations in the state and manners of a people.
A shepherd is more regularly supplied with food, and is commonly subjected to fewer hardships and calamities than those who live by hunting and fishing. In proportion to the size of his family, the number of his flocks may in some measure be increased; while the labour which is requisite for their management can never be very oppressive. Being thus provided with necessaries, he is led to the pursuit of those objects which may render his situation more easy and comfortable; and among these the enjoyments derived from the intercourse of the sexes claim a principal share, and become an object of attention.
The leisure, tranquillity, and retirement of a pastoral life, seem calculated, in a peculiar manner, to favour the indulgence of those indolent gratifications. From higher notions of refinement a nicer distinction is made with regard to the objects of desire; and the mere animal pleasure is more frequently accompanied with a correspondence of inclination and sentiment. As this must occasion a great diversity in the taste of individuals, it proves, on many occasions, an obstruction to their happiness, and prevents the lover from meeting with a proper return to his passion. But the delays and the uneasiness to which he is thereby subjected, far from repressing the ardour of his wishes, serve only to increase it; and, amid the idleness and