Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/138

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115
PERSIA.

purpose, or at the schools which they frequent till they have attained such an age as not to he permitted to go abroad without a veil. Neither dancing, music, and other accomplishments, nor reading and study, ever develope or heighten their natural graces, or enrich their minds. Living shut up in a harem and being visited by none but females, society never forms their manners; the power of human respect opposes no barrier to their passions, to the vices of their hearts, and to the extravagances of their disposition: the intercourse with women perverts rather than purifies their morals. The mother exclusively superintends the education of her daughter, and faithfully transmits to her defects which were not corrected when she was herself young: virtue and modesty are terms which she never utters in her hearing, for they are terms as unmeaning to the one as to the other. She familiarizes her with but one idea—that she is one day to belong to an absolute master, whose love she must strive to acquire, not by practising the virtues of her sex and condition, but by the arts of refined coquetry, which, though they may excite passion, are an antidote to true conjugal tenderness, which is founded on mutual esteem and regard. She does not teach her how to become a good wife and mother, or inculcate that modesty and that chaste reserve in all her motions, language, and actions which adorn beauty and embellish plainness; but she enjoins her not to go abroad without muffling up her face and her whole person; not to look at a man, nor to engage in any intrigues; if, however, she does not instruct her in the art which she has herself learned by experience, of bringing them to a fortunate conclusion.

Thus the females of Persia receive no other than a physical education, the care of their morals being left to nature, till the moment when example corrupts them. Hence we need not be surprised at the unfavourable character given of them by travellers.

The Persian women, like the Indian, says Mr. Scott Waring, are totally devoid of delicacy: their language is often gross and disgusting, nor do they feel less hesitation in expressing themselves before men, than they would before their female associates. Their terms of abuse or reproach are indelicate to the highest degree: it may safely be averred that it is not possible for the imagination to conceive, or language to express, more indecent or grosser images.