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qualifications necessary for gaining esteem, have beauty, ornaments, and
the art of exciting love.
In civilized countries a woman acquires some power by being the mother
of a numerous family, who obey her maternal authority, and defends her
honor and her life. But, even as a mother, a female savage has not much
advantage. Her children, daily accustomed to see their father treat her
nearly as a slave, soon begin to imitate his example, and either pay
little regard to her authority or shake it off altogether.
Of this the Hottentot boys afford a remarkable proof. They are brought
up by the women, till they are about fourteen years of age. Then, with
several ceremonies they are initiated into the society of men. After
this initiation is over it is reckoned manly for a boy to take the
earliest opportunity of returning to the hut of his mother, and beating
her in the most barbarous manner, to show that he is now out of her
jurisdiction. Should the mother complain to the men, they would only
applaud the boy for showing so laudable a contempt for the society and
authority of women.
In the Brazils, the females are obliged to follow their husbands to war,
to supply the place of beasts of burden, and to carry on their backs
their children, provisions, hammocks, and every thing wanted in the
In the Isthmus of Darien, they are sent along with warriors and
travellers, as we do baggage horses. Even their Queen appeared before
some English gentlemen, carrying her sucking child, wrapt in a red
The women among the Indians of America are what the Helots were among
the Spartans, a vanquished people obliged to toil for their conquerors.
Hence on the banks of the Oroonoko we have heard of mothers slaying
their daughters out of compassion, and smothering them in the hour of
their birth. They consider this barbarous pity as a virtue.
Father Joseph Gumilla, reproving one of them for this inhuman crime,
received the following answer:--"I wish to God, Father, I wish to God,
that my mother had, by my death, prevented the manifold distresses I
have endured, and have yet to endure as long as I live. Had she kindly
stilled me in my birth, I should not have felt the pain of death, nor
the numberless other pains to which life has subjected me. Consider,
Father, our deplorable condition. Our husbands go to hunt with their
bows and arrows, and trouble themselves no farther: we are dragged along
with one infant at our breast, and another in a basket. They return in
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