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uniformly lowers and contaminates moral character. This is a maxim too old and too generally received, to require proof or illustration. Whether for the benevolent aim of preventing the encouragement and countenance to vice which the mere presence and privity of others, and especially of the virtuous affords, or for other wise and good reasons, such is the general law under which our Creator has placed us. We have no time nor inclination to philosophize at length on this point; but we would call the reader's attention to one general fact, which seems in part to account for this moral phenomenon, and which bas generally been overlooked. It is, ibat the standard of morality, and even of piety, with most, and indeed we may say, with all, is to a greater or less degree arbitrary and changeable. Even when taken from the perfect and absolute standard of the word of God, it will vary with the mental and spiritual illumination under which it is contemplated; and in proportion as a man becomes more conversant with the principles of the bible, and inbibes more of its spirit, will his ideas of the elevation of its standard of action be raised and exalted. Indeed, nothing is more common than for men to take the standard by which they practically regulate and measure their conduct, from the actions of their fellow-men. Do they excel their neighbors ? they are prone to think they do well, or are, at least, not so seriously at fault. Now we do not pretend to justify or commend this course. All we wish, is, to set forth the fact, as a means of exhibiting more clearly from it, the operation of the principle, or maxim, which we have proposed. Place a man in a society where the standard of morality is low, and however correct his principles and firm his purpose, unless he is more than man as we see him in actual life, he will imperceptibly, but certainly, make some approximations, greater or less, to the standard prevalent around bim; unless, and we know of no other exception,-he constantly employs himself in striving to elevate that standard, and raise it nearer to a higher and more persect one, thus ever kept in view. If there are other exceptions, they will not shake the position, that such is the ordinary course of things, and such as is to be counted on in solving the question now before us.
Another principle of importance in this investigation, is, that men are, in a great degree, dependent for the support of correct moral and religious feelings, on the presence of restraints. Take away the walls, barriers and hedges which are thrown about the path of rectitude and purity, in a land of civilization, inorality and religion ; remove the obstacles to moral and religious declension, which arise from a sense of character, a regard to the opinions of others, a fear of salutary laws, and numerous other sources, unnecessary to mention, and the probabilities of error and defection are fearfully multiplied. Principle, which with these restraints, seems firm as a rock and stable as the hills, would often be found to reel, and totter and fall. Even corruption and malignity, in such a community, are forced to put on the dress of purity and gentleness; and we doubt not, from the known influence of the exterior life on the internal feelings, do actually lose some of their strength and virulence.
We mention only one other maxim, that men are dependent, to a very great degree, on aids and resources out of themselves, for the support and increase of virtuous principle and feeling. We need not add a word to illustrate the force of this remark. Let any one consult his own experience, and call to mind the experience of others; let bim cast an eye over the almost innumerable means, which he enjoys in this land, of promoting knowledge, virtue and purity ; let him estimate the individual influence of each, and then the combined influences of all, and he will readily see and feel the extent and force of this truth.
With these principles to aid us, let us now glance at the objects with which the mind of the foreign traveler and resident necessarily becomes conversant, and which tend to influence moral character,—the manners, habits, practices and opinions with which he comes in contact abroad.
We have once or twice before, alluded to the habits of cleanliness, or rather of uncleanliness, in Italy. We pass over the direct effect of these habits, and touch at this point only to enable ourselves to get more full and correct notions of the want of delicacy and purity of manners, which must prevail in such a country. For, as our author correctly observes, "where general cleanliness is neglected, we can hardly be surprised at personal malpropreté.” The nature of the subject, forbids us to dwell on this topic, or 10 do more than simply give very general and shaded views of the state of manners. We can only refer to what Forsyth says of Florence, the fash. ionable residence of the English in Italy, found on page 316, as quoted by Dr. Johnson. It is doubtless a true picture of Italian man
of Naples, --lovely Naples,-about which association has thrown every possible charm, in the minds of many; he remarks: “I am afraid to believe all that I hear of the licentiousness of Naples; but I see enough to make me think nothing impossible. The plain speaking of the Neapolitan ladies is truly surprising ; they call every thing by its right name, without any circumlocution; and in the reality of a story, whatever be the character of the incidents, there is nothing left to be collected by inference, but the facts are broadly and plainly told, with the most circumstantial details.” We forbear any remarks respecting the probable effects on purity of feeling, which free intercourse with such society must, according to all human experience, unavoidably produce.
We may form some idea of the state of society in a given coun
try, from the remedies and preventives resorted to, for healing or avoiding existing or apprehended evils. What, then, must we think of the moral atmosphere which prevails in a community, where common prudence and affection conipel parents to shut up their daughters in prison-like confinement, and never suffer them to appear in company or in public, to go to church or cross the street, without the presence of a guardian, till the articles of marriage are actually signed? Can we at all wonder, that the abomipable custom of cecisbeism should every where prevail; be authorized and favored by the public taste ? Even in Florence, we are told, the cavaliere servente is a necessary appendage to every lady of consequence. Without him, she cannot appear in fashionable company or before God." To him, free access is allowed at all times, by day and by night, without the necessity of notice, to the house and to all its apartments. Even the private chamber is not closed to him, at any hour ; and liberties are allowed bim, which the busband would not dream of taking. This practice is open, avowed and common. “I have seen,” says lady Morgan, "a matron-mother enter a Florentine assembly between lier cavaliere servente and her young and innocent bridal daughter, who was thus sent into the world with this fatal example before her eyes. No exposure, no reprobation is adequate to this shameless and unblushing libertinism; to such a mother as this, the hapless victim of circumstances, the libertine of necessity, is a respectable personage.” Now we do not at all wonder at this state of things. It is what might properly and reasonably be expected from such a condition of society as requires that incarceration of young fernales, at which we have binted. They consider themselves in bondage, and long to be free; and to gain their liberty, they are willing to accept the proposals of the first man who offers ; of one they never saw; and whom they may not and cannot love. Why should they not be expected to seek out and enjoy the company and favors of one they can esteem, or with whom they can have some sympathy; especially when public opinion lifts no voice against the impurity and wickedness of such connections?
We turn to another feature of Italian society. It is the prevalence of gambling. Go where we will, into whatever society, iu the meeting of neighbors, the more public soirée, the fashionable party or ball, and there, and every where, we see all, old and young, male and female, collected around the gambling board. It seems almost a necessary thing in society. To omit it and avoid it, is to be singular, and provoke observation and reflection. Few foreigners, who go into society, have resolution enough to withstand the pressure of temptation thus presented.
We must pass by the prevalence of more decided crimes, such as assassinations, robberies, thefts, etc. etc. We cannot, however, VOL. VIII.
forbear asking, What must be the state of that society in which a man cannot go through the most public streets in open day, without having his pockets picked; and this in sight of dozens or scores who coolly look on, see the act, and make no kind of elfort to prevent or punish it, or even to assist in the recovery of the spoil? Is a key needed to unlock this mystery ? Go to that church a few seet distance, and there, on the door or the first rich column which meets the eye, it may be found labeled PLENARY INDULGENCE! Every church is a veritable sanctuary for crime; and there are few crimes which are not committed within its protecting walls. The theater is a place of unsullied purity in comparison with ibis haunt of vice and iniquity. But we must here pause a moment to advert to the nature and degree of an infuence which flows in from another source; we mean the objects collected in the public museums : and here we would be distinctly understood. We admit, that there may be, and often is, a feverish sensibility on this subject, and as often, perhaps, a prudery and an affectation as detestable as the former is weak and pitiable. We admit further, that the mind may so lose itself in the design of the painting or sculpture, or in the perfection of its execution, as not at all to perceive any evil effects from what would otherwise disgust or pollute. We believe, moreover, the habit may be formed of so contemplating pieces of art, in which exposure has, for some reason or other, been deemed necessary or desirable by the artist, that no indelicate or wanton idea or feeling will be suggested or awakened. When we think of the numerous females of delicacy and purity who visit these museums, we are forced to this conclusion. Still, it may be asked, what is the tendency of such exhibitions? Is it to purity, to delicacy of sentiment? May it not be true, after all, that some considerable degree of firmness and moral and religious principle is necessary to prevent an injurious effect ? May not one reason, why refined and genteel ladies will endure to spend their time over these exposed forms, be, that their own sensibility has been unconsciously blunted and benumbed through the very natural effect of such exhibitions, often repeated? However thi may be, our business is to state facts, which will enable every man to judge for himself, how far bis mind and heart may be endangered by such visits. Just look in, then upon the paintings and statuary collected in these galleries and museums, and judge what must be the proper influence of those undraped statues and forms, representing the various scenes and personages of a licentious heathen mythology; plain, open, undisguised, as is the language in polite society there; attracting the gaze and remarks of groups of jodividuals of all ages, classes and both sexes, who stand and criticise freely each look and expression, each feature, limb, and muscle, each attitude and posture? Think of these mixed assemblies gazing together with a critic's eye at the perfectly nude figure of an Apollo or an Hermaphrodite, ihose boasted wonders of the sculptor's art, or directed to the naked form of a Venus painted in all the grossness of the lowest sensuality, or passing over the features and limbs of an obscene Faun or Satyr, or resting upon the hardly less disgusting representations of a Cupid and Psyche,-the common objects of an Italian museum or gallery,– yea, the common decorations of an Italian nobleman's house ; think of this, and judge what must be the proper effect on pure, refined and elevated moral sentiment --what on already partially polluted and degraded sense? Who can wonder, that familiarity with such scenes and objects, should soon induce an application to some distinguished artist for admission to the study of the living model, who; for a few pauls, will exhibit berself, in puris naturalibus, in all the attitudes and postures in which the taste of the artist usually leads him to represent the human form?
of the direct temptations to vice, which assail the traveler abroad, when unmanned and overpowered by this tide of corrupting influence, we cannot here speak. In regard to their power and strength, we shall only alledge the testimony of a man who well knew, from experience, how irresistible they were, and whom we once beard, in a foreign city, declare with no small degree of earnestness and seriousness, bis full conviction, that human nature is utterly unequal to the task of holding out against such a sweeping food of pollution and temptation. This was from a man brought up under a religious influence in New-England; the father of a pious family, a man of extensive information, and, in this country, of unsullied and unsuspected character. Unhappily for him, he knew not the power of religious principle, and what a shield this may be against the assaults of vice. Well might he believe, that nothing except this could secure any one from being led astray.
But these are not the only snares in which the feet of the unwary and unstable may be entrapped. Numerous, we had almost said innumerable questions of casuistry arise, so difficult to settle, so perplexing, that one is in danger of feeling as if there was no distinction between right and wrong; or as if the line is so narrow and so obscure, that any attempt to avoid crossing it is useless. One frequent class of these puzzling questions is involved in the general inquiry, how far a person may conform to the practices and habits which prevail abroad, among residents and travelers? With regard to many of the usages and customs, he has no doubt of their character and tendency. But where is the line to be drawn? At home, these practices are well understood in their nature and bearings; and an enlightened conscience determines at once what may be followed and what shunned. But here are many different usages unheard of before ; the circumstances are entirely changed,