|• Main||• Contacts|
that a bride and bridegroom see each other. Nothing is more common than
to visit a lady, and attend her parties, without knowing her husband by
sight; or to visit a gentleman without ever being introduced to his
wife. If a married couple were to be seen frequently in each other's
company, they would be deemed extremely ungenteel. After ladies are
married, they have unbounded freedom. It is a common practice to receive
morning calls from gentlemen, before they have risen from bed; and they
talk with as little reserve to such visiters, as they would in the
presence of any woman of refinement.
In no country does real politeness shew itself more than in France,
where the company of the women is accessible to every man who can
recommend himself by his dress, and by his address. To affectation and
prudery the French women are equally strangers. Easy and unaffected in
their manners, their politeness has so much the appearance of nature,
that one would almost believe no part of it to be the effect of art. An
air of sprightliness and gaiety sits perpetually on their countenances,
and their whole deportment seems to indicate that their only business is
to "strew the path of life with flowers." Persuasion hangs on their
lips; and, though their volubility of tongue is indefatigable, so soft
is their accent, so lively their expression, so various their attitudes,
that they fix the attention for hours together on a tale of nothing.
The Jewish doctors have a fable concerning the etymology of the word
Eve, which one would almost be tempted to say is realized in the French
women. "Eve," say they, "comes from a word, which signifies to talk; and
she was so called, because, soon after the creation, there fell from
heaven twelve baskets full of chit chat, and she picked up _nine_ of
them, while her husband was gathering the other _three_."
French ladies, especially those not young, use a great deal of rouge. A
traveller who saw many of them in their opera boxes, says, "I could
compare them to nothing but a large bed of pionies."
After the French revolution, it became the fashion to have everything in
ancient classic style. Loose flowing drapery, naked arms, sandaled feet,
and tresses twisted, were the order of the day.
The state of gross immorality that prevailed at this time ought not to
be described, if language had the power. The profligacy of Rome in its
worst days was comparatively thrown into the shade. Religion and
marriage became a mockery, and every form of impure and vindictive
passion walked abroad, with the consciousness that public opinion did
Page 2 from 7: Back 1  3 4 5 6 7 Forward