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and indeed in almost every port of Italy, women are taught from their
infancy the various arts of alluring to their arms the young and unwary,
and of obtaining from them, while heated by love or wine, every thing
that flattery and false smiles can obtain, in these unguarded moments.
The Italians, like their neighbors of Spain and Portugal, live under the
paralyzing influence of a religion that retains its superstitious forms,
while little of life-giving faith remains. Like them they have lively
passions, are extremely susceptible, and in the general conduct of life
more governed by the impetuosity of impulse than rectitude of principle.
The ladies have less gravity than the Spanish, and less frivolity than
the French, and in their style of dress incline towards the freedom of
the latter. Some of the richest and most commodious convents of Europe
are in Italy. The daughters of wealthy families are generally bestowed
in marriage as soon as they leave these places of education. These
matters are entirely arranged by parents and guardians, and youth and
age are not unfrequently joined together, for the sake of uniting
certain acres of land. But the affections, thus repressed, seek their
natural level by indirect courses. It is a rare thing for an Italian
lady to be without her _cavaliere servente_, or lover, who spends much
of his time at her house, attends her to all public places, and appears
to live upon her smiles. The old maxim of the Provencal troubadours,
that matrimony ought to be no hindrance to such _liaisons_, seems to be
generally and practically believed in Italy.
In Genoa, there are marriage-brokers, who have pocketbooks filled with
the names of marriageable girls of different classes, with an account of
their fortunes, personal attractions, &c. When they succeed in
arranging connections, they have two or three per cent. commission on
the portion. The marriage-contract is often drawn up before the parties
have seen each other. If a man dislikes the appearances or manners of
his future partner, he may break off the match, on condition of paying
the brokerage and other expenses.
As the Spanish ladies are under a greater seclusion from general
society, than the sex is in other European countries, their desires of
an adequate degree of liberty are consequently more strong and urgent. A
free and open communication being denied them, they make it their
business to secure themselves a secret and hidden one. Hence it is that
Spain is the country of intrigue.
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