« AnteriorContinua »
measure in all things. A moderate frost will fertilize the glebe with nitrous particles, and destroy the eggs of pernicious insects that prey upon the fancy of the year; but if this frost increases in severity and duration, it will chill the seeds, and even freeze up the roots of vegetables ; it will check the bloom, nip the buds, and blast all the promise of the spring. The vernal breeze that drives the fogs before it, that brushes the cobwebs from the boughs, that fans the air, and fosters vegetation, if augmented to a tempest, will strip the leaves, overthrow the tree, and desolate the garden. The auspicious gale before which the trim vessel ploughs the bosom of the sea, while the mariners are kept alert in duty and in spirits, if converted into a hurricane, overwhelms the crew with terror and confusion. The sails are rent, the cordage cracked, the masts give way; the master eyes the havoc with mute despair, and the vessel founders in the storm. Opposition, when confined within its proper channels, sweeps away those beds of soil and banks of sand which corruptive power had gathered; but when it overflows its banks, and deluges the plain, its course is marked by ruin and devastation.
The opposition necessary in a free state, like that of Great Britain, is not at all incompatible with that national concord which ought to unite the people on all emergencies, in which the general safety is at stake. It is the jealousy of patriotism, not the rancour of party--the warmth of candour, not the virulence of hate-a transient dispute among friends, not an implacable feud that admits of no reconciliation. The history of all ages teems with the fatal effects of internal discord; and were history and tradition annihilated, common sense would plainly point out the mischiefs that must arise from want of harmony and national union. Every schoolboy can have recourse to the fable of the rods, which, when united in a bundle, no strength could bend; but when separated into single twigs, a child could break with ease.
I HAVE spent the greater part of my life in making observations on men and things, and in projecting schemes for the advantage of my country ; and though my labours met with an ungrateful return, I will still persist in my endeavours for its service, like that venerable, unshaken, and neglected patriot, Mr Jacob Henriquez, who, though of the Hebrew nation, hath exhibited a shining example of Christian fortitude and perseverance. * And here my conscience urges me to confess, that the hint upon which the following proposals are built, was taken from an advertisement of the said patriot Henriquez, in which he gave the public to understand, that Heaven had indulged him with “ seven blessed daughters.” Blessed they are, no doubt, on account of their own and their father's virtues ; but more blessed may they be, if the scheme I offer should be adopted by the legislature.
The proportion which the number of females born in these kingdoms bears to the male children, is, I think, supposed to be as thirteen to fourteen ; but as women are not so subject as the other sex to accidents and intemperance, in numbering adults we shall find the balance on the female side. If, in calculating the numbers of the people, we take in the multitudes that emigrate to the plantations, whence they never return ; those that die at sea, and make their exit at Tyburn; together with the consumption of the present war, by sea and land, in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, in the German and Indian Oceans, in Old France, New France, North America, the Leeward Islands, Germany, Africa, and Asia, we may fairly state the loss of men during the war at one hundred thousand. If this be the case, there must be a superplus of the other sex, amounting to the same number,
• A man well known at this period, (1762,) as well as during, many preceding years, for the nuinerous schemes he was daily offering to various ministers for the purpose of raising
money by loans, paying off the natiocal encumbrances, &c. none of which, however, were ever known to have received the smallest notice.
and this superplus will consist of women able to bear arms ; as I take it for granted, that all those who are fit to bear children, are likewise fit to bear arms. Now, as we have seen the nation governed by old women, I hope to make it appear, that it may be defended by young women ; and surely this scheme will not be rejected as unnecessary at such a juncture, * when our armies, in the four quarters of the globe, are in want of recruits ; when we find ourselves entangled in a new war with Spain, on the eve of a rupture in Italy, and, indeed, in a fair way of being obliged to make head against all the great potentates of Europe. But, before I unfold my design, it may be
necessary to obviate, from experience, as well as argument, the objections which may be made to the delicate frame and tender disposition of the female sex, rendering them incapable of the toils, and insuperably averse to the horrors, of war. All the world has heard of the nation of Amazons, who inhabited the banks of the river Thermodon in Cappadocia, who expelled their men by force of arms, defended themselves by their own prowess, managed the reins of government, prosecuted the operations in war, and held the other sex in the utmost contempt. We are informed by Homer, that Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons, acted as auxiliary to Priam, and fell, valiantly fighting in his cause, before the walls of Troy. Quintus Curtius tells us, that Thalestris brought one hundred armed Amazons in a present to Alexander the Great. Diodorus Siculus expressly says, there was a nation of female warriors in Africa, who fought against the Libyan Hercules. We read in the voyages of Columbus, that one of the Caribbee Islands was possessed by a tribe of female warriors, who kept all the neighbouring Indians in awe ; but we need not go farther than our own age and country to prove, that the spirit and constitution of the fair sex are equal to the dangers and fatigues of war. Every novice who has read the authentic and important History of the Pirates, is well acquainted with the exploits of two heroines, called Mary Read and Anne Bonny. I myself have had the honour to drink with Anne Cassier, alias Mother Wade, who had distinguished herself among the Buccaneers of America, and in her old age kept a punchhouse, in Port-Royal of Jamacia. I have likewise conversed
with Moll Davis, who had served as a dragoon in all Queen Anne's wars, and was admitted on the pension of Chelsea. The late war with Spain, and even the present, hath produced instances of females inlisting both in the land and sea service, and behaving with remarkable bravery in the disguise of the other sex. And who has not heard of the celebrated Jenny Cameron, and some other enterprising ladies of North Britain, who attended a certain Adventurer in all his expeditions, and headed their respective clans in a military character ? That strength of body is often equal to the courage of mind implanted in the fair sex, will not be denied by those who have seen the waterwomen of Plymouth ; the female drudges of Ireland, Wales, and Scotland ; the fishwomen of Billingsgate ; the weeders, podders, and hoppers, who swarm in the fields ; and the bunters who swagger in the streets of London ; not to mention the indefatigable trưils who follow the camp, and keep up with the line of march, though loaded with bantlings and other baggage.
There is scarcely a street in this metropolis without one or more viragos, who discipline their husbands and domineer over the whole neighbourhood. Many months are not elapsed since I was witness to a pitched battle between two athletic females, who fought with equal skill and fury until one of them gave out, after having sustained seven falls on the hard stones. They were both stripped to the under petticoat; their breasts were carefully swathed with handkerchiefs ; and as no vestiges of features were to be seen in either when I came up, I imagined the combatants were of the other sex, until a bystander assured me of the contrary, giving me to understand, that the conqueror had lain-in about five weeks of twin-bastards, begot by her second, who was an Irish chairman. When I see the avenues of the strand beset every night with troops of fierce Amazons, who, with dreadful imprecations, stop, and beat, and plunder passengers, I cannot help wishing that such martial talents were converted to the benefit of the public; and that those who were so loaded with temporal fire, and so little afraid of eternal fire, should, instead of ruining the souls and bodies of their fellow-citizens, be put in a way of turning their destructive qualities against the enemies of the nation.
Having thus demonstrated that the fair sex are not deficient in strength and resolution, I would humbly propose, that as there is an excess on their side in quantity to the amount of one hundred thousand, part of that number may be employed in recruiting the army as well as in raising thirty new Amazonian regiments, to be commanded by females, and serve in regimentals adapted to their sex. The Amazons of old appeared with the left breast bare, an open jacket, and trowsers that descended no farther than the knee; the right breast was destroyed, that it might not impede them in bending the bow, or darting the javelin : but there is no occasion for this cruel excision in the present discipline, as we have seen instances of women who handle the musket, without finding any inconvenience from that protuberance.
As the sex love gaiety, they may be clothed in vests of pink satin, and open drawers of the same, with buskins on their feet and legs, their hair tied behind, and floating on their shoulders, and their hats adorned with white feathers : they may be armed with light carbines and long bayonets, without the encumbrance of swords or shoulder-belts. I make no doubt but many young ladies of figure and fashion will undertake to raise companies at their own expense, provided they like their colonels ; but I must insist upon it, if this scheme should be embraced, that Mr Henriquez's seven blessed daughters may be provided with commissions, as the project is in some measure owing to the hints of that venerable patriot. I, moreover, give it as my opinion, that Mrs Kitty Fisher* shall have the command of a battalion, and the nomination of her own officers, provided she will warrant them all sound, and be content to wear proper badges of distinction.
A female brigade, properly disciplined and accoutred, would not, I am persuaded, be afraid to charge a numerous body of the enemy, over whom they would have a manifest advantage ; for if the barbarous Scythians were ashamed to fight with the Amazons who invaded them, surely the French, who pique themselves on their sensibility and devotion to the fair sex, would not act upon the offensive against a band of female warriors, arrayed in all the charms of youth and beauty
celebrated courtezan of that time.