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of his mistress, ought to be dauntless in the clash of swords."
The descendants of the northern nations, long after they had plundered
and repeopled the greatest part of Europe, retained nearly the same
ideas of love, and practised the same methods in declaring it, that they
had imbibed from their ancestors. "Love," says William of Montagnogout,
"engages to the most amiable conduct. Love inspires the greatest
actions. Love has no will but that of the object beloved, nor seeks any
thing but what will augment her glory. You cannot love, nor ought to be
beloved, if you ask any thing that virtue condemns. Never did I form a
wish that could wound the heart of my beloved, nor delight in a pleasure
that was inconsistent with her delicacy."
The method of addressing females, among some of the tribes of American
Indians, is the most simple that can possibly be devised. When the
lover goes to visit his mistress, he only begs leave, by signs, to enter
her hut. After obtaining this, he goes in, and sits down by her in the
most respectful silence. If she suffers him to remain there without
interruption, her doing so is consenting to his suit. If, however, the
lover has any thing given him to eat and drink, it is a refusal; though
the woman is obliged to sit by him until he has finished his repast. He
then retires in silence.
In Canada, courtship is not carried on with that coy reserve, and
seeming secrecy, which politeness has introduced among the inhabitants of
civilized nations. When a man and a woman meet, though they never saw
each other before, if he is captivated by her charms, he declares his
passion in the plainest manner; and she, with the same simplicity,
answers, Yes, or No, without further deliberation. "That female
reserve," says an ingenious writer, [Dr Alexander,] "that seeming
reluctance to enter into the married state, observable in polite
countries, is the work of art, and not of nature. The history of every
uncultivated people amply proves it. It tells us, that their women not
only speak with freedom the sentiments of their hearts, but even blush
not to have these sentiments made as public as possible."
In Formosa, however, they differ so much from the simplicity of the
Canadians, that it would be reckoned the greatest indecency in the man
to declare, or in the woman to hear, a declaration of the passion of
love. The lover is, therefore, obliged to depute his mother, sister, or
some female relation; and from any of these the soft tale may be heard
without the least offence to delicacy.
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