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or coy reserve than in the male. Is not this a proof, that, through the
wide extent of creation, the seeds of delicacy are more liberally
bestowed upon females than upon males?
In the remotest periods of which we have any historical account, we find
that the women had a delicacy to which the other sex were strangers.
Rebecca veiled herself when she first approached Isaac, her future
husband. Many of the fables of antiquity mark, with the most
distinguishing characters, the force of female delicacy. Of this kind is
the fable of Actaeon and Diana. Actaeon, a famous hunter, being in the
woods with his hounds, beating for game, accidentally spied Diana and
her nymphs bathing in a river. Prompted by curiosity, he stole silently
into a neighboring thicket, that he might have a nearer view of them.
The goddess discovering him, was so affronted at his audacity, and so
much ashamed to have been seen naked, that in revenge she immediately
transformed him into a stag, set his own hounds upon him, and encouraged
them to overtake and devour him. Besides this, and other fables, and
historical anecdotes of antiquity, their poets seldom exhibit a female
character without adorning it with the graces of modesty and delicacy.
Hence we may infer, that these qualities have not been only essential to
virtuous women in civilized countries, but were also constantly praised
and esteemed by men of sensibility; and that delicacy is an innate
principle in the female mind.
There are so many evils attending the loss of virtue in women, and so
greatly are the minds of that sex depraved when they have deviated from
the path of rectitude, that a general contamination of their morals may
be considered as one of the greatest misfortunes that can befal a state,
as in time it destroys almost every public virtue of the men. Hence all
wise legislators have strictly enforced upon the sex a particular purity
of manners; and not satisfied that they should abstain from vice only,
have required them even to shun every appearance of it.
Such, in some periods, were the laws of the Romans; and such were the
effects of these laws, that if ever female delicacy shone forth in a
conspicuous manner, it was perhaps among those people, after they had
worn off much of the barbarity of their first ages, and before they
became contaminated, by the wealth and manners of the nations which they
plundered and subjected. Then it was that we find many of their women
surpassing in modesty almost every thing related by fable; and then it
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