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laws to accord with the rude fibre which he had to direct and control. He followed the nature he found, rather than sought to change or improve it by any rule of civil institution. The exposed geographical position of Sparta, and its internal polity, alike contributed to render perpetual warfare a state necessity, as the belligerent character of its people made it a natural vocation. The commonwealth, consequently, was regarded as every thing, the people who composed it, individually as nothing. The state was a metaphysical entity to which all laws were subservient, and to which humanity itself, its affections, and its instincts, were forced to bend; and thus the pri vate happiness of all was demanded or offered, as a necessary sacrifice to the general good of all.

There was no science, no art, no literature, no commerce, in Sparta; there was even no domestic history. The records of its deeds, traced in the blood of its enemies, were committed solely to the tradition of the families who performed, or to the foes who deplored them; but every state in Greece, in lamenting its own disasters and defects, unconsciously registered the story and the triumphs of Lacedemon.

To increase the physical force of the state, though at the expense of its full moral developement, was the stern system by which Sparta rose, flourished, and fell. To raise soldiers, rather than citizens, was the means adopted for its prosperity, under the superintendence of a philosophy, which, with all its obvious exaggeration and mistakes of detail, acknowledged and acted upon a truth (most unaccountably overlooked in modern times), the paramount necessity of a good bodily constitution, as the basis of the citizen's utility, both to the state, and to his family.

To obtain this essential in both sexes, Lycurgus directed his severest enactments; for he was fully aware that the women were, in this respect, as influential on the public weal as the men. The barbaric and unnatural dispensation, which had at first provided for a hardy race of soldiers, by destroying the feeble and ill-thriven infants, was probably soon repealed by nature herself; and humanity and experience must have alike suggested a far wiser and surer plan for securing a healthy progeny, by

attention to the physical developement, even from the birth, of the future mothers of the Spartan heroes.*

But the plague spot of ignorance still impeded these institutes, enacted in behalf of the weaker sex; and Lycurgus, by forcing the laws of nature to bend to his own codes, and by confounding the physical education of the two sexes, made havoc of the sympathies and affections of both. He produced, therefore, a state of society, which, with all its conventional virtues, and its high aspirations, was false to the great end of social combination (the happiness of the individual citizens), and, consequently, was little calculated to promote the progress of true civilisation, and to ensure the permanent prosperity of the people. The Spartans, the least domestic of all the Greek states, as they were the most formidable abroad, required in their women the masculine qualities of their heroes; and strove to abolish in their bosoms the feelings implanted there by They endeavoured, and that successfully, to quench the characteristic sensibilities of the female in an artificial stoicism; and thus they ensured an unrepining submission to the claims of country-that Moloch abstraction, which set every Lacedemonian's hand against all the world, and raised every foreigner's hand against him.


Superior as was Lycurgus in discovering the value of maternal influence, he failed in drawing from it its finest and best consequences. While he strengthened the bodily structure of the women, he gave a false direction to their minds. If he commanded them to be chaste, he permitted them not to be modest,-not, at least, modest in that lovely sense, which includes personal pudeur, and the self-respect which has a deep moral feeling of propriety for its accompaniment. True it is, he gave them great qualities; but he stripped them of all feminine graces.

Such, however, as the Spartan women were, such as

* "Lycurgus (says Plutarch) considered the education of youth as the most important object of legislation, and provided from the beginning for all that concerned the births and marriages of the Spartan citizens. Of the women he took the greatest care; and while they were yet children, he sought to harden their constitutions, by exercising their frames in wrestling, throwing quoits, flinging javelins, and other exercises; so that they might thus become robust mothers, able to produce a hardy and vigorous offspring."

nature and Lycurgus had made them, they appear to have been long considered as the noblest, the most virtuous, and the most respected women, of Greece.*

The education of the Spartan child began before its birth. The health and spirits of the young mother were objects of national concern, even before she was entitled to that noble and touching epithet. The infant nursling and pupil, committed (during its first years, to her sole care), was freed from galling restraints. Its delicate limbs were neither confined, nor tortured; and its tears flowed and its smiles beamed in the unrestrained expression of its pleasures and its pains: no images of terror (the agency of vulgar ignorance) were conjured up to scare its senses; no fear of darkness nor dread of solitude; no associations of falsehood with truth; no seeds of personal despotism, nor moral servility to error, were prescribed by the law.‡

The female children, (unlike those of the citizens of Athens) were not prisoners in their father's houses,§ their young and healthy energies were not subdued by the cramping restraints of the embroidery frame, nor exhausted in the unwholesome atmosphere of a confined apartment. They were taught to dance, to sing, to run, as accomplishments favourable to the developement of their beautiful forms, and conducive to the brilliancy of their healthful spirits. Constitutions thus founded, were preserved in after-life from the premature fatigues of motherhood, by the laws which tended to discourage very early marriages, (so liable to produce degenerate races,) and which denied, to the petulance of passion, that sober state which was considered to be the reward only of a rational and mature choice. In addition to the qualities of strong minds,|| the law required in the young spouses, strength of body, beauty, and health ;-for Lycurgus evi

* Anacharsis, vol. iv. p. 182. † Plutarch. + Plutarch in Lycurg. "Nulle part, les femmes ne sont moins surveillées, et moins contraintes, nulle part elles n'ont moins abusé de la liberté."-Anacharsis, Aristot. de Rep.

Devenues mères, elles sont chargées de la longue education de eurs enfans, d'abord avec leurs epoux, ensuite avec les magistrats.-Anacharsis.

dently thought that while so much science was displayed in perfecting the race of domestic animals, the progeny of man should not be neglected. The result was, the purity of the Spartan blood, the strengh and stature of one sex, the symmetry and beauty of the other.

To the irrevocable bond of matrimony was given the potent charm of concealed love;* and passion, thus long perpetuated by obstacles, was said slowly and imperceptibly to have dropped its illusions; almost insensible to the change by which love strengthened into friendship. In man, celibacy was deemed more than a crime; it was considered a ridicule: even when sufficient reasons were given to the state for the adoption of unblessed singleness, the bachelor, in his old age, could lay no claims to that respect, which the married man in his senility expected and received. When Dercyllidas, an unmarried general, who had commanded in the army with signal glory, presented himself in the public assembly, "I cannot rise to receive you," said a youthful husband to him as he passed, "because you will leave no children behind you, to pay me the same respect, when I attain to your age.'

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The beauty of the Spartan women is described as being of that severe character, which might have furnished the bold chisel of Phidias with models for his favourite Minerva, rather than the graceful genius of Praxiteles with a type for his Venus. They appeared unveiled in public, till they became wives; and if their drapery was not always folded by the fingers of cloistral prudery, the delicacy, sacrificed by the false laws of their legislator, was said to have been replaced by that higher modesty, which rendered the feelings of the Spartan women as inviolable as their chastity. It was death by the law of the land to violate the one, it was shame by the law of opinion to insult the other; and death and shame in the stoical ethics of Sparta were synonymous terms.

Notwithstanding all the legislative errors of Lycurgus,

*It was not rare for young couples to have children before the husband had publicly visited his wife.

+ Xenophon du Repub. Lacedem. p. 676. Plutarch in Lyc.

the women of Sparta were raised to an equality with the men; and, during the brighter days of the republic, they were cited through Greece for the purity of their lives. They were as simple in their costume, as the Athenian women were the reverse ;* but Plato went beyond Lycurgus, in his Utopian ideas of the moral modesty of his ideal women; for he determined that in his republic (to make use of the elegant translation of a modern classic) "les femmes de tout âge s'exercassent dans le gymnase, n'ayant que leurs vertus pour tous vêtemens."†

The laws of Sparta, as referable to women, were the most favourable to her natural rights, of any legislation throughout the Grecian states. The love of country and of liberty, and a sense of honour, such as in modern times would have been called "chivalresque," distinguished the Spartan women, even to extravagance; and raised them not only in the public esteem, but to (what was perhaps more precious to them,) the confidence of their husbands, who consulted with them on all public as well as on all domestic affairs.

The bravest, boldest, sternest men in Greece were said to be the most faithful of husbands; and the poetical union of Mars and Venus was justified by the mutual devotion which subsisted between the Spartan wife and her warrior lord. Cowards only are the unnatural enemies of woman; and the man who pursues her with private calumny, or public hate, is, if all were known, but one of nature's monsters! "How comes it," lisped a pretty fine lady to the wife of Leonidas, "that you Spartan women are the only wives who have some ascendancy over your men ?" "Because," replied the proud wife of the greatest hero of his day, "we are the only women who know how to bring forth men.

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In the best days of Sparta, though nature was made submissive to patriotism, the sacrifice was not unrewarded. The Ephori conferred signal honours on the mother of the

* Meurs. Miscell. Lacon. lib. 2. cap. 3.

+ Plutarch de Rep. Offensive as this is to modern susceptibility, and as it should have been to that of all civilized people, it was probably less strikingly shocking to the Greek stranger, not "to the manner born," than the half measures adopted into the code of modern operatic modesty, to greet the eyes of the female spectator.

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