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tesquieu, always led away by the rapidity of his ideas, which are often
indistinct. Plutarch, in his chapter of love, introduces many interlocutors; and he himself, in thecharacter of Daphneus, refutes, with great animation, the arguments of Protagenes in favour of the commerce alluded to.
It is in the same dialogue that he goes so far as to say, that in the love of woman there is something divine; which love he compares to the sun that animates nature. He places the highest happiness in conjugal love, and concludes by an eloquent eulogium on the virtue of Epponina. This memorable adventure passed before the eyes of Plutarch, who lived some time in the house of Vespasian. The above heroine, learning that her husband Sabinus, vanquished by the troops of the emperor, was concealed in a deep cavern between Franche Comté and Champagne, shut herself up
with him, attended on him for many years, and bore chil. dren in that situation. Being at length taken with her husband, and brought before Vespasian, who was astonished at her greatness of soul, she said to him—“I have lived more happily under ground than thou in the light of the sun, and in the enjoyment of power.” Plutarch therefore asserts directly the contrary to that which is attributed to him by Montesquieu, and declares in favour of woman with an enthusiasm which is even affecting.
It is not astonishing, that in every country man has rendered himself the master of woman, dominion being founded on strength. He has ordinarily, too, a superiority both in body and mind.
Very learned women are to be found, in the same manner as female warriors; but they are seldom or ever inventors.
A social and agreeable spirit usually falls to their lot; and, generally speaking, they are adapted to soften the manners of men.
In no republic have they ever been allowed to take the least part in government; they have never reigned in monarchies purely elective; but they may reign in almost all the hereditary kingdoms of Europe,-in
Spain, Naples, and England, in many states of the north, and in many grand fiefs which are called ' feminines.'
Custom, entitled the salic law, has excluded them from the crown of France; but it is not, as Mezerai remarks, in consequence of their unfitness for governing, since they are almost always intrusted with the regency.
It is pretended, that cardinal Mazarine confessed, that many women were worthy of governing a kingdom, but he added, that it was always to be feared they would allow themselves to be subdued by lovers who were not capable of governing a dozen pullets. Isabella in Castile, Elizabeth in England, and Maria Theresa in Hungary, have however proved the falsity of this pretended bon-mot, attributed to cardinal Mazarin ; and at this moment we behold a legislatrix in the north as much respected, as the sovereign of Greece, of Asia Minor, of Syria, and of Egypt, is disesteemed.
It has been for a long time ignorantly assumed, that women are slaves during life among the Mahometans; and that, after their death, they do not enter paradise. These are two great errors, of a kind which popes are continually repeating in regard to Mahometanism. Married women are not at all slaves; and the Sura, or fourth chapter of the Koran, assigns them a dowry. A girl is entitled to inherit one half as much as her brother; and if there are girls only, they divide among them two-thirds of the inheritance; and the remainder belongs to the relations of the deceased, whose mother also is entitled to a certain share. So little are married women slaves, they are entitled to demand a divorce, which is granted when their complaints are deemed lawful.
A Mahometan is not allowed to marry his sister-inlaw, his niece, his foster-sister, or his daughter-in-law brought up under the care of his wife. Neither is he permitted to marry two sisters; in which particular the Mahometan law is more rigid than the Christian, as people are every day purchasing from the court of Rome the right of contracting such marriages, which they might as well contract gratis.
Polygamy. Mahomet has limited the number of wives to four; but as a man must be rich in order to maintain four wives, according to his condition, few except great lords avail themselves of this privilege. Therefore a plurality of wives produces not so much injury to the Mahometan states as we are in the habit of supposiug; nor does it produce the depopulation which so many books, written at random, are in the habit of asserting.
The Jews, agreeably to an ancient usage, established, according to their books, ever since the age of Lameth, have always been allowed several wives at a time. David had eighteen, and it is from his time that they allow that number to kings ; although it is said that Solomon had as many as seven hundred.
The Mahometans will not publicly allow the Jews to have more than one wife; they do not deem them worthy of that advantage; but money, which is always more powerful than law, procures to rich Jews, in Asia and Africa, that permission which the law refuses.
It is seriously related, that Lelius Cinna, tribune of the people, proclaimed, after the death of Cæsar, that the dictator had intended to promulgate a law, allowing women to take as many husbands as they pleased. What sensible man can doubt, that this was a popular story invented to render Cæsar odious? It resembles another story, which states, that a senator in full senate fromally professed to give Cæsar permission to cohabit with any woman he pleased. Such silly tales dishonour history, and injure the minds of those who credit them. It is a sad thing, that Montesquieu should give credit to this fable. It is not however a fable that the emperor
Valentinian, calling himself a christian, married Justinian during the life of Severa, his first wife, mother of the emperor Gratian; but he was rich enough to support
Among the first race of the kings of the Franks, Gontran, Cherebert, Segebert, and Chilperic, had several wives at a time. Gontran had within his palace Venerande, Mercatrude, and Ostregilda, acknowledged for legitimate wives; Cherebert had Merfida, Marcovesa, and Theodogilda.
It is difficult to conceive how the ex-jesuit Nonotte has been able, in his ignorance, to push his boldness so far as to deny these facts, and to say, that the kings of the first race were not polygamists, and thereby, in a libel in two volumes, throw discredit on more than a hundred historical truths, with the confidence of a pedant who dictates lessons in a college. Books of this kind still continue to be sold in the provinces, where the jesuits have yet a party, and seduce and mislead uneducated people.
Father Daniel, more learned and judicious, confesses the polygamy of the French kings without difficulty. He denies not the three wives of Dagobert I, and asserts expressly, that Theodobert espoused Deutery, although she had a husband, and himself another wife called Visigalde. He adds, that in this he imitated his uncle Clothaire, who espoused the widow of Cleodomir, his brother, although he had three wives already.
All historians admit the same thing; why, therefore, after so many testimonies, allow an ignorant writer to speak like a dictator, and say, while uttering a thousand follies, that it is in defence of religion? as if our sacred and venerable religion had anything to do with an historical point, although made serviceable by miserable calumniators to their stupid impostures. of the Polygamy allowed by certain Popes and Reformers.
The abbé Fleuri, author of the Ecclesiastical History, pays more respect to truth in all which concerns the laws and usages of the church. He avows, that Boniface, confessor of Lower Germany, having consulted pope Gregory, in the year 726, in order to know in what cases a husband might be allowed to have two wives, Gregory replied to him, on the 22d November, of the same year, in these words :-“ If a wife be attacked by a malady which renders her unfit for con• jugal intercourse, the husband may marry another ; but in that case he must allow his sick wife all necessary support and assistance.” This decision appears
conformable to reason and policy; and favours popu. lation, which is the object of marriage.
But that which appears opposed at once to reason, policy, and nature, is the law which ordains, that a woman, separated from her husband both in person and estate, cannot take another husband, nor the husband another wife. It is evident, that a race is thereby lost; and if the separated parties are both of a certain temperament, they are necessarily exposed and rendered liable to sins for which the legislators ought to be responsible to God, if . .
The decretals of the popes have not always had in view what is suitable to the good of estates, and of individuals. This same decretal of pope Gregory II, which permits bigamy in certain cases, denies conjugal rights for ever to the boy and girls, whom their parents have devoted to the church in their infancy. This law seems as barbarous it is unjust; at once annihilating posterity, and forcing the will of men before they even possess a will. It is rendering the children the
slaves of a vow which they never made; it is to destroy natural liberty, and to offend God and mankind.
The polygamy of Philip, landgrave of Hesse, in the Lutheran Communion, in 1539, is well known. I knew a sovereign in Germany, whose father having married a Lutheran, had permission from the pope to marry a catholic, and retained both his wives.
It is well known in England, that the chancellor Cowper married two wives, who lived together in the same house in a state of concord which did honour to all three. Many of the curious still possess the little book which he composed in favour of polygamy.
We must distrust authors who relate, that in certain countries women are allowed several husbands. Those who make laws everywhere are born with too much self-love, are too jealous of their authority, and generally possess a temperament too ardent in comparison with that of women, to have instituted a jurisprudence of this nature. That which is opposed to the general course of nature is very rarely true; but it is very common for the more early travellers to mistake an abuse for a law.