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Ut flos in septis secretus nascitur hortis,
As in a garden fenc'd with skilful care,
While I am reading over the Roman History, and admiring the public spirit and other heroic qualities of the greatest people the world ever saw, I am very much pleased that the historians have not forgot to mention their women. -It gives one an agreeable satisfaction to find, that the wives and daughters of those heroes equalled their husbands and their sires, in all
the virtues which are the glory and ornament of the fair sex.--Modesty, temperance, and chastity were the characteristics of every Roman maid.
When we come to the corrupt age of the common-wealth, how is the scene changed; as the men became mercenary and effeminate, the women grew lewd and luxurious. In the history of the first ages, if a matron is named, it is to celebrate her virtues; if in that of the latter ages, it is only to record her adulteries ; and the women kept pace (if they did not exceed the men) in vices, as they had done before in virtues.
As we, in this country, have the honour to equal the Romans in our degeneracy and fall from public spirit, I am afraid the women are not the more virtuous or chaste for such an example; but I shall not enter into proofs, or give examples of what I wish could be concealed: but, when I see a fellow that has prostituted his honour for a place, a pension, or a bribe, coupled to some lewd quean, I cannot help thinking it a very equal match, because neither of them can reproach the other.
But, since I am lamenting the great decay of all public virtue, I cannot help mentioning an anecdote which has happened in my own time,
and which I am sure Juvenal, as a satyrist, and Tacitus, as an historian, would have taken notice of, as instances of the profligate manners of the age, had the same thing happened in their days. I have lived to see most extraordinary funeral honours paid to a common prostitute, by placing her amongst kings and heroes, with ceremonies I am almost ashamed to mention. I cannot say, as the world goes, but some persons of the other sex may have monuments erected to them there, who, according to their deserts, ought to be buried under the gallows. I say, is possible such a thing may happen. Be that as it will, as it is a place assigned to commemorate the names of those who have done honour to their country by learning, wit, orarms, &c. therefore what was done in respect to this woman, was the greatest insult upon virtue and modesty, that ever was known in any country in the world.
But, let some persons amongst us take what pains they will to keep lewdness in countenance, virtue will still look lovely in the eyes
of all men of sense; a painted outside, and a corrupt mind, will soon grow nauseous to the most profligate of the other sex ; and nothing can properly be called Beauty that is not accompanied with modesty.
He that robs a young woman of her virtue, robs her of her greatest charm, and robs her parents and friends of their peace of mind. Who can describe the sorrow of that parent who has placed all his happiness in the hopes of a virtuous child, and sees her defiled, and numbered among those prostitutes who are the shame of their family?
I was reading the other night, in the Chevalier D'Arviena's Travels into Arabia the Desert, and met with a story upon this subject so extremely moving, that I am persuaded the giving it an English dress, will have no bad effect upon my Female readers.
There was an Arabian living at Aleppo, whose name was Abah Rabieh, who had two children, a son and a daughter. The son, now grown a man, put himself into the service of France; the daughter was a genteel young woman, and very pretty; so that Abah, who was so extremely jealous of the honour of his family, and of his whole race, as the Arabians generally are, was under continual uneasiness, lest the girl's beauty might tempt some man to endeavour to seduce her chastity; her mother being dead, made him doubly watchful of her; he seldom suffered her to stir out of his sight; but all this watching, all this restraint would not do. Whe
ther the girl was of a complexion more than ordinarily amorous, or what arts were used to come at her, is uncertain; but all the father's vigilance could not prevent the approaches of a lover, and, at last, of her proving with child.
The jealous father soon perceived some alteration in her person, which awaked his suspi. cion; he was upon the rack to be satisfied, and one morning as she lay fast asleep upon a carpet, for so they lie in summer in the Levant, he was resolved to discover the truth. It was a fatal examination, and he repented his curiosity, for he found the symptoms of what he dreaded but too evident. Poor Abah Rabieh was ready to sink into the earth. Imagine the distress of a man who loved his child, and was jealous, even beyond his own nation, of the honour of his family: however, he dissembled it for some days. In the mean time the poor creature's burden increased to such a degree, that the father thought she was ready to drop to pieces; he then took her aside, and commanded her to tell him who the man was that had injured him in her person; the unhappy creature, in her fright, denied all ; she said she was sick, and that the swelling he perceived was owing to a dropsy, for that she had never known man in her life. Abah pretended to believe her, and gave her more lie