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affections of our brave ancestors, which contributed greatly to effect this marvellous revolution in the moral history of the world. For the present I am but to speak of the religious graces of women; a theme which requires a far less earthly and uncunning tongue than mine. It is here that I would repeat Chaucer's words:
“ O little book,
It is wonder that thou wexest not rede !" “ Let the life and virginity of Mary," said St. Ambrose, “ be set before you as a mirror, in which is seen the pattern of chastity and virtue: her looks were sweet, her discourse mild, her behaviour modest.” The sanctity of Mary has subdued even the prejudice of inodern writers : one of whom says, “ The virgin in her ora, tory, private and devout, receiving a grace which the greatest queens would have purchased with the quit, ting of their diadems, was held up as an ensample to all women, that tbey should accustom themselves often to those retirements where none but God and his angels can have admittance, that the holy Jesus might come to them too, and dwell with them, hallowing their souls, and consigning their bodies to a participation of all his glories. The holy Virgin arriving to her perfections by the means, not of the ostentatious and laborious exercises and violences of life which they underwent, who travelled over the world and preached to the Gentiles, but of a quiet and silent piety, the internal actions of love, devotion and contemplation, was held up as an ensample that the silent affections, the splendours of an internal devotion, the unions of love, humility, and obedience, the daily offices of prayer and praises sung to God, the acts of faith and fear, of patience and meekness, of hope and reverence, repentance and charity, and those graces which walk in a veil and silence, make great ascents to God, and a sure progress to favour and a crown. In imitation of the Virgin Mary, who was mother and nurse to the holy Jesus, the women in the innocent and healthful days of our ancestors maintained a natural piety, an operative charity, a just and valiant policy, a sincere economy and proportionable to the dispositions and requisites of nature, not giving way to that softness above that of Asian princes, into
which these later ages of the world have declined.” So far a modern writer had observed ; but it is in the pages of Lewis of Granada, rich with the beauties of his purified and heavenly imagination, that we should study the object and effect of these compositions, which contributed to build up that beautiful fabric of chivalry, which, though now indeed in decay and ruin, is still an object to fix the eye of man, to captivate his fancy, and to correct his heart while passing on, a weary traveller, through this lower valley of tears and death. It is therefore in the sublime mystery of human redemption that we shall discover the cause of that elevation of the female sex, which has distinguished the nations embracing Christianity, from all other people of the earth. St. Augustin in few words explains this, when he says, “ Et ne quis fortè sexus à suo Creatore se contemtum putaret, virum suscepit, natus ex femina *.” St. Anselm points out the same origin. " Loquar unde jucundatur cor meum: an silebo, ne de elatione arguatur os meum? Sed quod credo amando cur non confitebor laudando? Dicam igitur non superbiendo, sed gratias agendo. Judex noster est frater noster ; salm vator Mundi est frater noster; denique Deus noster est, factus per Mariam frater noster.” Again he breaks out, "Non est reconciliatio, nisi quam tu casta concepisti : non est justificatio, nisi quam tu integra in utero fovisti : non est salus, nisi quam tu virgo peperisti.” Hence the words of the hymn were the natural effusions of every feeling heart.
'“ Non amo te, regina augusta, quando
Non vivo in pace et in silentio fido;
Non amo te, quando non vivo amando.” That this affection extended to all women; and that wo. men were honoured and loved also in an especial manner from this religious consideration, appears upon sufficient evidence. Among “the poets in praise of women,”. who flourished in Germany, under the Suabian emperors, Henry of Mainz, celebrated under the name of Doctor Frauenlob, composed a poem in praise of women, which he dedicated to the Emperor, Henry VII. “In this,” he says, " the motives which oblige Christians to love the
* Lib. de vera Religione, 30,
blessed Virgin should bind them also to honour and love all women.” So says Chaucer,
“ Por in reverence of the heavens queene
We oughten honour women in every place." And that this exalted sentiment was found even in the most rude and ignorant class of man, we may infer from what was sung of the famous free-booter,
“ Robyn loved our dere lady,
For doute of dedely synne;
All women werschep he *." The conduct and sentiments which women adopted from the first in respect to the Christian religion, contributed to confirm men in this judgment, and to secure for themselves the love and veneration of all who worshipped Christ. William of Paris points out the peculiar devotion with which women followed our blessed Saviour t. From his birth to his death and resurrection, they were ever pressing to adore and serve him. After his crucifixion, on the morning of the third day, when it was yet dark, the holy women were at the sepulchre; and, as a great modern, commenting on this passage, says, “ It was their zeal which was rewarded with the first fruits of the apparition of Jesus :" and then he concludes, that “ women, and less knowing persons, and tender dispositions, and pliant natures, will make up a greater number in heaven than the severe, and wary, and enquiring people, who sometimes love because they believe, and believe, because they can demonstrate, but never believe because they love." " Martha," says Soutliwell, “ was unwilling that the grave of her own brother should be opened; but her sister was not afraid to embrace the dead corse of her Lord."
Women, from the first moment of the visitation, were rés, warded by God with even a glorious renown in this world. How many kings, though great benefactors to mankind, are now buried in oblivion? How many queens, and il lustrious princesses, whose names and actions are forgotten, as though they had never been ? but the poor woman who poured the ointment on our Saviour's feet, is cele. brated throughout the world. After His ascension, women still continued to serve Him in the persons of the poor, and to honour Him, by fostering and extending his relj. gion. What are churches without that crowd of holy women, who seem to have them as their only home in this life? What are these sublime processions without the meek angelic voices which draw tears from every hearer; and the long white veils falling to the ground, which bespeak the angel sanctity of these modest and humble suppliants, who follow the banner of the Virgin and the Holy Child ? “ All virtue lies in woman," says a knight,"? " and the health of the world. God has created nothing so good as a woman. No one can find a limit to the praise of women. He who can tell where the sun shine ends may proclaim also the end of their praise. Women are pure, and good, and fair ; they impart worthiness, and make men worthy. Nothing is so like the angels as their beautiful form, and even the mind of an angel dwells in woman *.” An infidel historian has observed, “ Christianity must acknowledge important obligations to female devotion.” Unquestionably. It was Prisca and Valeria, empress and daughter of Diocletian, who protected the Christians of that early time. It was Clotilda who converted Clovis King of France to the faith ; it was the Princess of Olga who introduced Christianity into Russia, I should never finish were I to attempt a record of their benefits. Among which must be remembered, perhaps as the most glorious, their never having founded sects or broken unity. Their character now assumed new graces, by the addition of angelic dignity, which they acquired from their conforming more or less to the spotless pattern which was set before them. " It is not in a crowd or in idle conversation that the angel finds our Lady: no; she is
Ulrich von Lichtenstein's Frauendienst, Tieck.
alone in her house with the door shut;" and as St. Am brose says," he must be an angel that gets entrance there." What a vast multitude of women in all subsequent ages to whom this description would apply? who “ carried their chapel in their heart, and their danger in their eyes, and their souls in their hands, and God in all their actions ?" Their devotion was well known to chivalry, as Gilles de Rome bears witness, saying, “ Et combien que elles (femmes) ne soient mye moult expertes en negoces de secularitez, en gouvernement de royaulmes, en disposi. tions de batailles, toutefois en choses spirituelles et qui touchent conscience elles conseillent bien souventifois ou par industrie naturelle, ou pour ce quelles sont de Dieu enseignees ou informees des hommes, et pour ce quelles ont tendres consciences et doubtans Dieu.” Women were taught even by poets to regard the blessed Virgin as a standard of female perfection.
“ Par tous moyens dame doit paix chercher
Traicta la paix *." Nor must we omit to acknowledge that religion was not ungrateful for the benefits she derived from women. Not to mention the asylums which were opened for helpless innocence, in all the relations of life, religion was their grand refuge, and her ministers their only sure and efficient protectors. It was the popes who fearlessly defended their rights, and who would make any sacrifice rather than suffer them to be trampled upon. Take the example of Queen Catherine of England; of Blanche, Countess of Champagne, protected by the pope after her husband's death, or of Ingeburge, sister of Canute King of Denmark, married to Philip Augustus, so cruelly treated and rejected by him, till the interference of Pope Innocent III. obliged him to restore his innocent wife to her just rights. The history of the middle ages, tombs, family portraits, records of public foundations, all are associated with the piety of our female ancestors. Their devotion and charity furnish frequently the only means of tracing genealo. gies. The names of persons who are not distinguished for these qualities can hardly be expected to endure like
* Le Doctrinal des Princesses et Nobles Damese