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deny the existence of female souls, but only hold them to be of a
nature inferior to those of men; and that they enter not into the same,
but into an inferior paradise, prepared for them on purpose. Lady
Montague, and the writers whom she has contradicted, may perhaps be both
right. The former might be the opinion which the Turks brought with them
from Asia; and the latter, as a refinement upon it they may have adopted
by their intercourse with the Europeans.
This opinion, however, has had but few votaries in Europe: though some
have even here maintained it, and assigned various reasons for so doing.
Among these, the following laughable reason is not the least
particular--"In the Revelations of St. John the divine," said one, whose
wife was a descendant of the famous Xantippe, "you will find this
passage: _And there was silence in heaven for about the space of half an
hour_. Now, I appeal to any one, whether that could possibly have
happened, had there been any women there? And, since there are none
there, charity forbids us to imagine that they are all in a worse place;
therefore it follows that they have no immortal part: and happy is it
for them, as they are thereby exempted from being accountable for all
the noise and disturbance they have raised in this world."
In a very ancient treatise, called the Wisdom of all Times, ascribed to
Hushang, one of the earliest kings of Persia, are the following
remarkable words: "The passions of men may, by long acquaintance, be
thoroughly known; but the passions of women are inscrutable; therefore
they ought to be separated from men, lest the mutability of their
tempers should infect others."
Ideas of a similar nature seem to have been at this time, generally
diffused over the East. For we find Solomon, almost every where in his
writings, exclaiming against women; and, in the Apocrypha, the author of
Ecclesiasticus is still more illiberal in his reflections.
Both these authors, it is true, join in the most enraptured manner to
praise a virtuous woman; but take care at the same time to let us know,
that she is so great a rarity as to be very seldom met with.
Nor have the Asiatics alone been addicted to this illiberality of
thinking concerning the sex. Satirists of all ages and countries, while
they flattered them to their faces, have from their closets scattered
their spleen and ill-nature against them. Of this the Greek and Roman
poets afford a variety of instances; but they must nevertheless yield
the palm to some of our moderns. In the following lines, Pope has
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