Chi mi darà la voce e la parole

Conveienti à fi nobil soggetto? 



What Women Ought to Be     


Thought I have not certainly, the vanity to believe myself equal to the task of fulfilling the title of this chapter, to the entire satisfaction of my readers; nor what is perhaps in the first instance still more discouraging, even to that of my own; yet having once adopted I shall retain it, as it expresses exactly what I wish to accomplish, however I may fail in the execution. This I do however hope at all events; that the honest and well-meant endeavour may turn out, if not a regular system, – which was never pretended to, nor aimed at, – yet a bold, a free, and not an incorrect outline, of what female conduct and character might be, under proper tuition; and which may be filled up to advantage by any person of tolerable judgment, according to different circumstances and situations. [126] 

         I do not mean by this to insinuate, that the evidently great and leading lines of life, are only to be attended to with care; as a very little knowledge of the human nature shews, that generally speaking, – for one can seldom speak without restrictions, – great matters depend upon seemingly small and trivial ones; and that therefore, these, must by no means be neglected. But I believe I may say without much danger of contradiction, that though the great and indispensable rules of conduct, can, and ought to be planned in theory, and laid down as principles never to be deviated from in practice; yet that the more minute, more frequent, though the scarcely less essential duties, cannot be reduced to strict and unexceptionable rules; but must depends in a great degree, as I said before, upon circumstances and situations, which vary infinitely in human life; and must consequently be left very much to the judgment of the immediate instructors of youth. 

         Upon this principle, I rest one of my strongest arguments, in favor of the necessity and propriety [127] of improving the understandings, extending the views, and strengthening the judgements of women; that they may in their turn, communicate knowledge and instruction to their offspring, – if not always in a manner, strictly scientific and philosophical, – at least by methods rational and interesting. For if to that vivacity and tenderness, so agreeably blended by nature in the female character, were added a reasonable portion of cultivation of mind, by suitable education; it would without a doubt eminently qualify many of the sex, for the instruction of youth for a certain period at all, events; and for that of their own children, till past the most dangerous stages of life. 

         Women then, I must take it upon me to say, ought to be considered as the companions and equals, not as the inferiors, – much less as they virtually are, – as the slaves of men. In every station they are entitled to esteem, as well as love, when deserving, and virtuous, in the different connections of life, – They were originally intended, to be the helpmates of the other sex, [128] as the Scripture most emphatically and explicitly calls; and not their drudges in the common ranks, and the tools of their passions and prejudices in the higher. 

         But the world ever has been, and still is, more guided by custom and prejudice, than by principle. Indeed every thing is guided by these, a few sacred, immutable, and indelible truths excepted, which stamped upon the human mind, leave traces never to be entirely effaced, however differently modified. But are we not much to blame if we confounded, and hold as equally undeniable with these, other habitual ideas or opinions, which have nothing else to recommend them, but custom and prejudice; and that they are unfortunately attempted to be imposed, by the hand of authority? 

         I apprehend for example, that justice, – pity, – gratitude, – and other ideas, are inherent in the human mind. Or in other words, that they are the necessary offspring of our reason, our passions, and our senses; and that [129] consequently no thinking or rational being can deviate from them, without violating the laws of his nature, and thus wounding his conscience in some degree more or less, let his country, his religion, his situation or circumstances, be what they may. 

         The love of liberty, the desire of distinguishing ourselves by superior abilities of mind and body, the passions themselves are entailed upon us, and no doubt for the best of purposes, when kept within due bounds. But shall we presume to say, that numberless ideas, or opinion, or principles,  call them what we please, which we have taken up at random, and adopted upon trust, merely because they are ready made and handed down to us from our forefathers, who formed them to suit their own purposes, – or because men still find that they flatter their reigning vices, or prejudices, – shall we presume to say that such, are as obviously natural to the human character, as those I have named? [130] 

         To take one example which shall be direct to the point, but which is applicable to a thousand others. Is it equally obvious, is it as clearly pointed out by God and nature, that to man exclusively belongs all power and authority, public and private? that to him alone belongs all the higher pursuits, of knowledge, learning, and science? that to him it consequently belongs to give laws to women, and that there is nothing left for them but the humbler duties, or in plain terms the drudgeries of life; except such indulgences as their masters shall from time to time, wither as legislators, or individuals, be disposed to grant them, – that obedience is not only a tribute due by women to men, but a willing and thankful obedience, and such an one as should be natural and reasonable from a race of beings, conscious of that inferiority and dependence which their Creator has stamped upon them? – Is all this gallimatia which men hold forth in their own behalf, equally felt and acknowledged; does it take the same strong hold of the understanding; is it equally congenial [131] to the natural tenderness of the human heart; does it carry home a conviction as powerful and universal, to all parties concerned; as those I have before named out, or alluded to? I do suppose that no one who has rightly examined his own mind will say so. I do suppose that all those high-sounding claims of the men, which they hold to be so natural, so reasonable, and so edifying for the other sex; must when impartially considered, be esteemed as but the fashion of this world, which passeth away. I do suppose that the subject has only to be examined by minds not prejudiced to be convinced; that all opinions degrading to women, are grounded on the rude ideas of savage nations, where strength of body is the only distinguishing feature, and supposed to carry every other degree of superiority along with it. And that of consequence, all opinions degrading to women are founded in ignorance, supported by the force of habit, by an authority once established, and by the tacit acquiescence of the injured party. [132] 

         This last circumstance has by superficial reasoners on the subject, been deemed as nearly conclusive, against the natural equality of the sexes; and consequently as a proof of the imbecility and inferiority of women. For surely, say they, has Providence, had nature, ever intended that women should be on a footing of perfect equality, they had furnished them with powers and abilities to make good their pretensions; which powers and abilities would never have allowed them to languish in captivity of soul age after age, without attempting to recover their original dignity. 

         Such reasoners indeed, do generally by way of comfort and conciliation, add, that though the patient acquiescence of women evinces their weakness and inferiority; that these designedly make them only the more amiable, and the more acceptable to the other sex. 

         I beg leave however to dispute, both the argument and the conclusion. [133] 

         In the first place then, I hold the argument to be weak, and inconclusive, that had Providence intended women to be on a footing of perfect equality, it had furnished them with powers and abilities to make good their pretensions. For upon the very same principle as well might it be argued, that had Providence intended virtue, and talents, to form the happiness, and to be the ornaments of human nature, he would have ordered every circumstance so, as that these should constantly preponderate in society; which we know is not the case. Yet who is he who is bold enough to assert upon this account, that virtue and talents, are not intrinsically, and essentially, superior to vice and imbecility? 

         Numberless parallels might be drawn to prove, that things in this world do not always go as they ought, not even as they might, if every individual and every society exerted their utmost. Do not the myriads who groan under despotic, nay tyrannical governments, from generation to generation, and from age to [134] age, afford undeniable and unequivocal proofs, of the almost unlimited power, which authority once assumed, gains over the human mind, and especially over uncultivated ones? We must suppose, that all those people alluded to, in some degree feel their chains; ‘for the mind however degraded, unwillingly wears fetters of any kind.’ Yet what between the reasonable terrors of the consequences of civil wars, always dreadful in the mean time, and always uncertain in their issue; the imbecility of minds unaccustomed to reason and think for themselves, and totally incompetent to judge among probable consequences, which is the most probable; and that inactivity of mind and body in which a great part of the subjects of despotic governments must necessarily be plunged, and which is the most fatal and universal enemy to all great and good actions, though the least feared and guarded against – These, I say, and numberless other circumstances, combine to keep the multitude in subjection to reputed superiors; who cannot, nor dare not, claim any actual, any inherent superiority, other than [135] such as is casual among the individuals of any class of men. 

         If these reasons then hold good, as I think they do, against the degrading idea, that the multitude ought to be accounted as the beasts of burthen, compared with the more fortunate and distinguished members of society; for they not afford still stronger arguments to prove, that women influenced by some of these reasons, and by a thousand others, – by a thousand 


                  ––––“tender ties

         Close twisted with the fibres of the heart, 

         Which broke, breaks them, and makes it pain to live;” 


that women may acquiesce in suffering the most manifest injustice, from prudence and necessity, rather than from conscious inability, and decided inferiority? 

         Having endeavoured to refute the argument that the acquiescence of women proves their inferiority, I must in the same degree as I have succeeded in this attempt, have overturned the conclusion; viz. that they are upon this account, [136] the more agreeable and desirable partners for men; which though specious is a mere sophism, a mere fiction in the commerce of the sexes. It is indeed, one fiction, raised on the foundation of another; though if the principle were true, the conclusion is probable, and fairly drawn also; and such as we may be allowed to presume, would have been the natural consequence, had Eternal Wisdom really stamped this inferiority on women. 

If then the intellectual superiority of the men, is any thing but well proven, let us not draw a certain and constant conclusion, from an uncertain and fluctuating cause; let us not say, that the weakness and dependence of women, make them the more amiable, the fitter, and the better companions for men. No, let us not say so! – But I will tell you what we may [137] safely say; that these would if true, make women much more convenient companions, – much fitter tools, – much more submissive and hypocritical slaves to the authority of a set of beings, – bent upon following the devices and desires of their own heart; yet unjustly denying the same privileges to their fellow-labourers through life. And at all events obstinately determined, that no interruption to their designs of ambition or of pleasure; or in short and plain language, that no opposition to their wills must be attempted, by creatures whom they compel to submission, from motives, which themselves are ashamed to give the true names to, or search to the foundation of.

Whilst men indeed are determined to act upon such principles, – while they are resolved not to listen to the voice of impartial reason, – while they exert force and fraud to remove every check that might restrain, every obstacle that might obstruct them, in their destined course of assumed authority, – surely while these are their determined purposes, and since they [138] have power to put them in execution, no wonder if they say, that women reduced to a state of submission and dependence, are the fitter and better companions for them. 

But let me ask, if these determinations are the determinations of reason; or whether they are not on the contrary, in direct opposition to all reformation, to the positive and undeniable precepts of Christianity, which expressly command humility of heart and conduct to all men? Whether they are not in direct opposition to justice and humanity, and to that voice within, which though seldom heard amid the tumult of worldly cares and pleasures, fails not if listened to, – to speak with energy to the soul of man? 

A little degree of reflection I think must make men acknowledge, that their claims of superiority and the course of authority, are founded – as all unreasonable claims of superiority and authority are – on presumption, pride of heart, and the love of unrestrained dominion [139] and pleasure; to all of which it must be confessed, that women would give some little check, if allowed to occupy that place in society, to which perhaps, it may at last be found they are justly entitled. And is not this check precisely what is so much wanted, though not permitted nor wished for? 

Let us suppose for a moment, that the sexes are agreed to take a calm and impartial view of their different pretensions; that men find theirs not so very clearly proven, – not so uncontrovertibly just, – as long habit, old prejudices, and false, or at least overstrained notions of their own consequence and dignity, may have formerly led them to believe. Let us likewise suppose that the other party, far from being convinced that the pretensions of the men are well founded, bring forward their own; which balancing against theirs, put them as they conceive, upon a footing of perfect equality. 

I think this is stating the case, not in a [140] very extravagant point of view, but in such an one as reasonable men will allow to be nearly the truth. 

Now is it possible to conceive, – it is not doing men injustice to imagine, – that they would esteem or love women the less, for being conscious of the advantages which Providence has assigned them; for knowing and feeling themselves injured, when they are denied these advantages? So far from esteeming or loving them the less, men would esteem and love them the more, – I appeal to their own hearts and consciences if they would not, – if they were impartial observers and judges. If blinded, perverted, and misled, by strong passions and still stronger prejudices, they were not at all risques pursuing a system, where they are determined to beat down all opposition, and pretensions to interference. 

Having labored hard to convince men, that if they would but think as rational beings, they would not like women the worse for knowing [141] their own consequence, and maintaining it, in all just and reasonable points; I will next go a step further, and say, that even unreasonable and tyrannical beings as men are, they do not upon the whole like women the worse for this rational, and natural exertion of the understanding, but only as it may happen to suit their purposes; so that upon the whole women gain nothing, and lose much, by an unreasonable and general humiliation. And I shall at last venture to advance, that even if it were proven, that women were the more amiable in the eyes of men, by reducing themselves to a state of perfect submission and dependence, yet still that even this would be no sufficient reason for reducing themselves to that state. 

And first then let me repeat, that unreasonable and tyrannical as men in general most certainly are, with regard to women; they do not upon the whole like them the better, or at least they do not treat them the better – which is the only true test of love – for their forced humility and submission; though they may like to take [142] advantage of it, to suit their own purposes. Nor do they upon the whole esteem them the less, for knowing and maintaining their consequence, in a reasonable and temperate manner. 

That there are a few instances in the knowledge of every one, of women singularly amiable who by their patient suffering have reclaimed men, and led them back to duty and the paths of virtue, when an opposite, or even less gentle conduct might have been ineffectual, or produced bad consequences, – I cannot doubt and therefore will not attempt to deny, – for the hearts of all men are not made of marble. But few are the instances, in proportion to the bulk of society. That there are numbers of artful women, who taking the advantage of the weakness of the men they have to deal with, and who by flattering their vices and foibles, gain their purposes, and perhaps in the end a complete command over them, is certainly true likewise. But the instances in either case, are not numerous enough to preponderate, in the great scale of human life. [143] 

The fact is, that every impartial and critical observer must see, that the generality of women suffer in silence and submission a great degree of misery, from their sensibility to a thousand mortifications to which they are subject through life; and from their inability to do themselves justice. And though men not only bind them down, but talk them down, to this state of submission; women generally feel the mortifications only, – without the promised and boasted benefits of their conduct. 

I do not here speak of women, who have the good fortune to be connected with men, who are just and reasonable in an uncommon degree; because though such men know that they have law and custom on their side, for any authority they please to assume; yet they consider and feel that there are rights, which supercede all human laws. But men of weak understandings, or bad hearts, or bad habits, – or indeed men generally speaking, – will not argue so; for such without reflection or remorse, naturally enough, avail themselves, or every [144] advantage of that usurped authority bestowed upon them. And with such it cannot be supposed, not does it indeed happen, that however women may demean themselves, they gain any advantages which deserve to be considered as an adequate return, for the many sacrifices that they are expected, and in fact, forced to make. 

I mean from all I have said to infer, that extreme and abject submission, is not necessary to the natural loveliness of the female character; nor to the real happiness of the sexes; since, the best of men neither expect nor claim it; and since men of an opposite character are neither mended by it in their own conduct, nor do they give the women thus degraded, the merit they expect, or perhaps deserve. 

I am not going to advance, that even if that were proved, which I have been laboring hard to disprove; – that women really would be universally the more agreeable and amiable in the eyes of the men, by reducing themselves to a [145] state of perfect submission and obedience; – that even this if true, would neither be a sufficient motive, not excuse, for reducing themselves to that state. 

The pride of man will I know revolt at this assertion, and he will say unto woman – ‘Who is there in heaven or in earth, that thou shouldest desire besides me?’ But stop, presumptuous being! and consider, that though all of us, old,  and young, love you well enough, and often too well  for our own peace; yet that there are two things, the first of which we ought, and the last of which we do, prefer even to you; because it is in the very nature of things that we must do so – And these are – Our duty to God, – And the consideration of our own happiness. 

Only our duty to God teaches us as I believe, not only to practice virtue ourselves, but to revere, to distinguish, and as much as is in our power, to reward it in others; and of consequence, not to encourage vice, be it found in [146] whom it may, by a mean and cowardly submission to its dictates. This I take to be the pure and perfect law of God, and the language of reason; and equally applying to both sexes; for as I have before said, the Almighty hath not been pleased to make any distinction between the moral perfections, or religious duties, of the one sex and the other. 

This being the case, how much are women of sensibility and of reflection to be pitied, in many of the most interesting situations in life! such having sense enough to see through, and despite, the little shuffling, temporising manners taught the sex, under the disguise of worldly wisdom and self-interest; and being instructed by reason and religion to look upon things as they really are, and not through the false medium held before their eyes on purpose to mislead them. But indeed almost every woman must behold with some degree of indignation, man, the counterpart of herself, set up as an idol, to be interposed between her and her God. A secondary kind of deity, whom it is [147] attempted to make her believe she must propitiate, before she dares hope for the favor of the first. Though like all false deities, he, must often be propitiated, by such sacrifices as are an abomination to the Lord. 

In fact, whoever, man or woman, worships at the shrine of mere humanity; – whoever is under the galling necessity of bowing too obsequiously to his fellow-creature; – must often sacrifice at the fane, every thing worthy of being retained by a reasonable being. And what is absurd beyond endurance; opinion, belief, – nay that species of opinion or belief pre-eminently called faith, – must lie prostrate, at least in appearance, at the requisition of man to man; leaving the mind thus humiliated little better, – if things immaterial, may be assimilated to things material, – than a caput murtuum. By which I mean a something, equivalent to a nothing  

If then, even men, sometimes feel the hard hand of human authority press so heavily upon [148] themselves, let them again lay it somewhat lighter on those, who have perhaps as much reason, and surely more sensibility than they; and to whom it must ever be a subject of bitter regret and mortification, to be arbitrarily restricted by beings, whom they cannot consider as differing very materially from themselves. It is consequently, but fair and natural for them to wish, – and they do accordingly ardently with, – to be guided by God and their own consciences, in the same degree that men are. 

We are now come to the consideration of our own individual happiness. That this must be our first concern, is a self-evident and universal truth, – an instinct stamped upon every living creature, and consequently a thing not left to our own decision. That this selfish principle assumes, however, different appearances, according to the bent originally given to the mind, or according to the bent it may have fortuitously acquired, will not be denied; but still however it remains in its full force, and is continually pursuing its own end – the happiness [149] of that portion of animated matter, to which it is exclusively attached. 

This universal principle, being of course then engrafted, and interwoven, in the composition of a woman; how is it, Oh man! That you vainly and arrogantly presume to dictate to her, and to point out the road to happiness and perfection, as laying only through the medium of submission and obedience to you? By what means are you to lay dormant this active instinct, which, judging for itself, pleads with unceasing energy, for its original and unalienated rights? 

Thus, you may talk to woman to eternity, of the supreme felicity of pleasing you, though at her own expense, at the expense of her liberty, her property, her natural equality; at the expense of almost every gift with which God may have endowed her, and which you pretend to prune, to garble, or to extirpate at will; I say, you may preach thus to eternity, but you will never convince, – while that never-dying [150] principle of which we have been speaking, – while the voice of Nature pleads within us, and clearly intimates, – that the greater degree, a greater proportion of happiness might be the lot of women, if they were allowed as men are, some vote, some right of judgement in a matter which concerns them so nearly, as that of the laws and opinions by which they are to be governed. And of which it is but reasonable to suppose that they themselves must be very competent judges, under proper restrictions. 

Having here, as well as in the former parts of this work, endeavoured to convince men of the fallacy of their reasoning, and the rashness of their judgment, with respect to women; I now proceed to say what I think women might be, in strict conformity with their duty to God, to themselves, and to men. These happily do not jar with each other; but when combined – as well may be supposed from the wisdom of the Creator and Father of all – form the nearest thing to perfection, which can be expected in woman: [151] 

A Greek author, whose very name carries weight with it, though unluckily it is too learned and wise-looking for a woman even to transcribe, without running the risque of bringing an old house about her ears; I say this old gentleman, who was upon every occasion ‘a sturdy moralist,’ was of opinion, that the greater part of the happiness of every society, depended upon the right government of women. If this be true, – and it carries something very like conviction along with it, – it will be readily allowed, that when endeavouring to establish a point of such importance, it is evidently necessary to set aside as far as is possible, all prejudices however cherished by men, or however submitted to by women; however sanctified by antiquity, or however fortified by habit; for what respect is due to these, when entering on a search after Truth, in her original and undisguised state? It is, I repeat it, absolutely necessary to clear our ground of all incumbrances, before we begin our operations; or we shall be interrupted at every step by impediments, – not planted there by the unerring hand of Nature, [152] – not the native produce of the soil; – but stumbling blocks placed in our way, by the folly or treachery of men. 

As however reformation cannot commence with efficacy after habits are formed, and prejudices imbibed – for that mind must have energy indeed which can expel such strong poisons – we of course must introduce this part of our work, with an equity into the proper mode of education for women. 

And here a question naturally occurs which is sometimes disputed, but generally negative. Whether women should receive nearly the same education as men, with exceptions which are obvious to common sense; and which the delicacy of the female character, prove to be undeniably founded in nature? Even after these exceptions are granted, I allow that the question has been generally negatived. But by whom, and who were the judges? Why men to be sure, and men only; for the party most deeply [153] concerned are never consulted; but considered, upon I know not what principle, as totally incompetent to judge. 

I have endeavoured in different parts of this sketch to prove, that neither nature, nor reason, nor revelation, justify such an arbitrary exclusion, – such a mortifying distinction; – as that which the men have established between the sexes, by governing the women without control, without representation, and without limitation; and by leaving them in almost every circumstance of life, exposed to every species of injury, without a possibility of redress. Yet why should the opinions of men preponderate so heavily in the scale of human affairs? Finite, imperfect, fallible, and mortal beings! where – or in what – lies that mighty superiority, which they so proudly arrogate to themselves? Strength of the body excepted, there has been no other that we know of, or acknowledge, ever clearly proven. Their pains, their pleasures, their senses and their passions, their virtues and their vices, are all of the same stamp; when [154] nature gets fair play. And, ‘when the organized matter which for a few moments is animated by the breath of life, is required of us by the common mother of mankind,’ – to crown the resemblance death comes at last, and closes the scene upon both without distinction. 

Since then the beneficent Creator of all, had dealt out to his children of this world his portions of intelligence, and all his benefits, with so impartial an hand, that we are not only entitled, but irresistibly impelled to claim equality in his parental inheritance; why should women be excluded from having, and giving their opinions, upon matters of importance to themselves? And why again I repeat it, should the opinions of men carry all before them?

There is manifest injustice in the case, and is well deserves to be examined to the bottom. 

I have already observed, that the motives of men, for keeping women in a greater degree of subjection than reason or religion warrant; [155] are at least plausible, if not convincing; since besides the superiority which they affect to see in their own sex, they urge home the necessity of this subjection on the part of women, as a sacrifice due to the peace of society; which amid jarring interests and passions, would often be disturbed, if authority were not explicitly settled in the hands of one of the sexes; or so justly appropriated to each, that no cause of dispute should commonly occur. 

Much indeed it is true is due, to the peace of society, not shall we attempt to deny it; and many and mortifying are the submissions which prudent women would be inclined to make, to establish and confirm perfect harmony and good will between the sexes. But still, generous minds turn indignant from a system where it is expected, that women only, shall heap the ‘altar of sacrifices’ – while man, – the high priest of authority, – the selfish egotist, – stands severely by, and stamps by his approbation, what he has instituted by his power. [156] 

Such a system however, we may be permitted to say, is not founded on natural justice, and of course can never be supported by reason or by Christianity. Unstable therefore in its very nature, it is always tottering to its base; and perhaps we would not risque much by predicting its complete and final overthrow. 

The case then between the sexes, seems to stand thus – that though it is undeniably reasonable, that men should wish by every means consistent with justice, to preserve the harmony of social life, if which the right government of the women forms so essential a part ; yet that it is equally undeniable, that men should voluntarily contribute their mite, by sacrificing some of their self-formed, self-claimed privileges, to the same important purpose, to which women are forcedto contribute so large a share. Or, if this is too much at once to expect, – as perhaps it is, – let men at least in the first place consider the subject impartially; for good is always to be expected from impartial consideration. And indeed without it, to found, or [157] establish, or even to support any system whatever, is unjust and unprincipled, let the end proposed, be what it may. For it must be allowed, that even a just and virtuous purpose, ought not to be brought about, by means unworthy of the end. And it would be impious to suppose, – it is even against reason and daily experience to imagine, – that every purpose or end, just and virtuous in itself, is not to be effected by means equally so. If the reverse of this were true, – how imperfect, and how unworthy of the great Author of all good and all perfection, were the moral government of this sublunary world! If the reverse of this were true, – though we could not easily bring ourselves to believe that the work of creation was formed by chance, – we might well be justified in supporting it governed, by that blind principle. 

But, the moral government of Providence, being a truth so evident, a truth so well established, that few it is believed attempt to deny it, even in this age, branded, perhaps too [158] hastily, as favoring atheism and infidelity, – as every thing that we can perceive, and are able to comprehend, exhibits or implies, justice in the means, as well as in the end; I mean to infer, that men should be guided by, and act upon, the same principles, in governing the female sex, as in the other transactions of life. And I believe I may safely add, that by not attending to the rules of common justice in this delicate point, it is, that they split upon the rocks, most fatal to the happiness of domestic and social life. 

To throw some light upon this part of the subject, let me here ask a question, which shall be be again repeated, and stand foremost, in a short chapter appropriated to queries. 

In forming the laws by which women are governed, and in the arbitrary opinions which have been taken up and encouraged with regard to them, and which have nailed the fetters of the law down, or supplied their place where they have been entirely silent; have not men [159] in forming these and in continuing them, consulted more their own conveniency, comfort, and dignity, as far as their judgement and foresight served them, than that of women; though they are as nearly concerned, and much more likely to be sufferers, as having no hand in forming them? 

If men have in all ages done so, – which I believe will hardly be denied by a single individual amongst them, –what dependence can be had for justice in any case where women are concerned, upon judges so partial, so criminally selfish? 

To apply then this nearly general censure to the question in hand, let us only consider upon what grounds it is, that men deny to women the privilege, of an education equally rational in itself, equally improving to the mind, and equally consequential to the happiness of the individual, as that which they think proper to bestow upon themselves? [160] 

The general and governing reason for this exclusion I have given at large, and with the reader’s leave shall now enter somewhat more into detail. 

I apprehend, that independent of their terminal character; – I mean as mothers of the human race, which cannot be taken from them, though it is reduced to as low a pitch in point of consequence as possible; – that independent of this, women are considered in two ways only. – In the lower classes as necessary drudges – In the higher as the ornaments of society, the pleasing triflers, who flutter through life for the amusement of men, rather than for any settled purpose with regard to themselves; and are accordingly as it suits the caprice of their masters, the objects of adoration, or of torment, or of a passion unworthy of a name, or a place, in civilized society. In plain language, women are in all situations rendered merely the humble companions of men, – the tools of their necessities, – or the sport of their authority, of their prejudices, and of their passions. Women [161] viewed in this degrading light, are perhaps as well off with the trifling and corruptive mode of education generally allowed them; as with one which would rouse those talents, and increase that desire after knowledge, with which God and nature has from the beginning, so liberally endowed them. 

But, the question here is, – Are men warranted in forming upon light grounds, such opinions with regard to women; and in compelling them in every essential point in life, to act according to these pre-conceived, and as we think erroneous opinions? The answer from the men, is but too ready, but too persuasive; for say they – Our judgement disclaims your pretensions; – we hold our judgement as superior to yours; – and we are invested with powers to compel, if we cannot persuade. 

From such a tribunal then, is there no appeal? – Alas! none. 

When men however deign to argue more to [162] the point, they allege, that when women are educated too much upon an equality with them, it renders them – presuming and conceited; – unless in their families; masculine, and consequently disgusting in their manners. 

These are very heavy charges indeed; but women do not allow them to be well founded, nor unanswerable. 

The first objection advanced, is, – that knowledge and learning render women presuming and conceited. I beg leave to say that both reason and experience contradict this assertion; for it has never been proven, that knowledge in a general view, favoured or produced presumption, though in particular instances it may no doubt be found to have done so. Much it must be confessed depends on the subject acted upon, and knowledge may be compared with respect to its effects on the mind, to wholesome food upon the body; for a diseased habit will turn the purest aliments to corruption, instead of nourishment. But this only confirms what [163] has been so often and so well said, that there is no rule without exception. 

Thus I will not pretend to deny, but that some women who have a great deal of knowledge, are neither so amiable, nor so useful members of society, as others who have little, or none, above what is necessary in the most common occurrences in life. But does not this likewise apply to men of the same description? And what does it after all prove? Nothing – but that the most valuable acquisitions may in particular instances, be perverted and misapplied. If this, however, were allowed to be a sufficient objection, we scarcely know any thing which could stand so severe a test. For all sublunary good is liable to be perverted to evil.  We may be then permitted to say that upon the whole, knowledge has a direct and natural tendency to promote the love, and the consequent practice of virtue, – to improve the mind, – to exercise and strengthen the judgement, – and to correct the heart. In short, under the guidance of reason and religion, to conduct mankind [164] to every possible perfection. At least if this is not acknowledged we can give no good reason, why men should adopt the acquisition of it as necessary and ornamental to themselves. 

Since then this doctrine will not, nor indeed cannot be denied with regard to men; reasoning from analogy, I do not conceive that it can be denied when applied to women. For even allowing what cannot be easily proven, that there is a difference in degree, they are so closely, so very closely akin, that whatever applies to the one, does to the other, with very slight deviations. 

Indeed knowledge, learning, and all solid acquirements, are as yet so very rare among the female sex, that it is by no means surprising if some who really possess those advantages, know it, and feel it. Nor is it surprising, not perhaps altogether out of nature, though by no means commendable or pleasing, if they at times endeavour to let others know it, and feel it too. Yet to the other of both sexes be it said, [165] – to the honor of human nature and learning be it spoken, – instances of proud and presumptuous persons of real abilities and solid acquirements, are but rare, in comparison of the numbers; who are the delight of their friends, the ornaments of society, and the benefactors of mankinf. It were possible to enumerate names well known to the world, and dear to their own circle, who are equally admired in an amiable, as in a literary point of view. Suffice it to say, that the experience of the present times as well as of the past ages fully justify us in maintaining, that a few exceptions granted, which prove nothing, knowledge does improve every one, man or woman, who is blessed with common sense for a foundation – that presumption and conceit are rather the offspring of ignorance than knowledge – and that knowledge of almost any description is better than ignorance. Always without a doubt however preferring, that kind most suited to situation and circumstances; and which as far as human foresight can judge, is most likely to be useful and ornamental through life. [166]

The charge which we shall next endeavour to prove erroneous, is, that the pursuit and possession of knowledge, occasion in women, a neglect of their families and domestic duties. Perhaps this is the charge of all others the worst founded; the consequence the least likely to happen were we to trust to theory, and the most decidedly contradicted when we appeal to facts and experience. Surely knowledge, learning, and science, give a solidity to the mind, a turn for reflection, which must be highly favorable to the best feelings of humanity, and consequently to the most amiable of all the affections, the parental. Not that I mean to say that women are wanting in this virtue, who have no pretentions to those; though to say the truth, the parental fondness of many mothers, often more resembles animal instinct, blind partiality, and personal vanity, than that rational affection which leads to the improvement, as well as to this preservation of the human species. And when added to that ignorance of the powers of the mind, to which most part of the female sex are condemned, we take into consideration, the [167] flimsy, inconsequent education generally bestowed upon them; we cannot  be surprised if instead of training, it unfits them for the important task, – the serious attention – requisite to form the minds, as well as to care for the bodies of their children. 

Indeed women who upon the one hand, are placed by their circumstances above the necessity of this serious attention, and on the other have not what is only to be acquired by a constant exercise of their reason; – solidity of judgement to consider what a sacred deposit has been entrusted them by Providence in bringing to life and rearing to maturity the human race; – such women I say can hardly be supposed, to look upon this trust but as a burthensome task, when compared to pleasures which require neither trouble nor attention; and which as they are commonly termed innocent, they accordingly enjoy in their fullest extent without remorse. Though even these innocent as they really are in themselves, never fail in the end to corrupt, and debase human nature to a certain [168] degree, when enjoyed beyond the bounds of moderation and reason. 

That eternal round of giddy intercourse with the world, in which it is the fashionable mode for fashionable females to pass their time, – and indeed the rabbiahas reached almost all ranks but the industrious poor; – those frivolous, yet expensive amusements, in which they place their chief delight, and in which to say the truth they are but too well kept in countenance by the men; are totally inconsistent with attention to domestic concerns. They must therefore of course in a great degree neglect their offspring and families, and commit to others these, which they are disposed to sacrifice to those wretched substitutes for duty, commonly called pleasures; and those indeed totally engage their time, and their thoughts. For, it is too true that minds occupied by trifles, are as commonly engrossed by them; as minds of a superior cast, by the most momentous concerns. 

In short it is almost undeniably true, that [169] every single circumstance in the routineof a fashionable life, – and I must again repeat, that in it, or in vulgar imitations of it, all ranks are included by the industrious poor, – that every circumstance is evidently against that attention to children and family, which ought to be the prominent feature in the character and employment of every woman who has children and families to attend to. 

I hope I am already too well known to my readers, fir them to suppose, that I mean by this, that all women should be mere nurses and household drudges. This is neither to be expected nor wished for in the present advanced state of society; for some degree of level must always be preserved, in the pursuits, the habits, and the manners of the sexes, or disgusts in domestic life, must infallibly ensue. I wish on the contrary to prove, that it is from women who cannot easily consent to be merely such, – except their situations and circumstances render it necessary for them to be so, – that it is from women of sense and education most assuredly, [170] that the greatest attention to children and domestic concerns may be expected, upon solid principles, and from proper motives. And it is from women of this stamp only, that those first and greatest concerns can be expected to be combined, with elegance of mind and manners, and graceful accomplishments in a sufficient degree. For though it cannot be denied, that mere women of the world generally excel in these latter, – for what is there that man or woman may not excel in, which they not only make their constant study and practice, but in which they place their chief delight and pride, – yet even elegant manners, and graceful and fashionable accomplishments, however fascinating, may be bought too dear; and most certainly are so, if to them is sacrificed any one of the necessary duties of life, or any one of the moral virtues; which must too often be allowed to be the case with those, who study superficial graces only. 

While then on the one hand, we see, that women who are not educated with some degree [171] of attention to mental and useful attainments, are too much occupied with fashionable gaieties, or other equally frivolous amusements, to make domestic virtues and duties their concern; and while it is evident that their habits and pursuits are at eternal variance with these; it will hardly be denied upon the other hand, that the habits and pursuits of women of reading and reflection, are highly favorable, and assimilate, if I may so express myself, with every home enjoyment and social delight. Home indeed is to them the scene of their happiness, their refuge from noise and folly; the center of their wishes, to which all their desires and actions ultimately tend; the magnet whose attraction counterbalances that of the world, and keeps them in a steady and uniform course. Not shunning with fastidious nicety, nor ill-founded scruples, in the innocent pleasures, and elegance amusements of the times; but ever considering these as the relaxations only, not as the serious business of life. And being well convinced that true happiness, like true virtue, shuns all extremes; they will endeavour to attain it, but that mixture [ 172] of home joys and social intercourse with the world; which, as most congenial to human nature, is not only most conductive to present enjoyment; but too future and progressive improvement. 

The reader may think I have drawn these two characters – that of a mere woman of the world – and that of a woman of an improved understanding – with a partial hand. It is impossible perhaps, that any reasonable person, contemplating both, should do otherwise. Yet with all due allowance for this, the portraits are drawn from nature, and consequently consistent with truth. For as to exceptions they affect not any system. 

Having said as much on the two first charges, as the limited nature of this sketch will admit; I shall now consider the last – That knowledge renders women masculine, and consequently disgusting in their manners. – In doing this I think my argument will prove a two-edged sword. I think it must prove, that neither has [173] learning a direct, and inevitable tendency to render women masculine; nor if it did so, would it render them consequently, and infallibly disagreeable to the men. 

Perhaps to define the terms used, is one of the first duties of writers; and if they always understood themselves, and made their readers clearly comprehend the precise meaning of them, much labored reasoning, and many false and presumptuous conclusions might be spared. For example when we speak of a masculine woman, it is considered as a term of reproach; yet we do not consider whether it deserves to be so or not. We allow ourselves to be run away with by a vague idea, – an undefined term, – of which we do not tale the trouble to know the precise meaning, or the exact bounds. 

If therefore we are to understand by a masculine woman, one who emulates those virtues and accomplishments, which as common to human nature, are common to both sexes; the [174] attempt is natural, amiable and highly honorable to that woman, under whatever name her conduct may be disguised or censured. For even virtue and truth, may be misnamed, disguised, and censured; but they cannot change their natures, in compliance with the tyranny of fashion and prejudice. These may indeed for a time throw a shade over them; but this once removed we find them still the same, – immutable, and eternal. It is in vain perhaps therefore, honestly speaking and impartially, to attempt to make any very serious distinctions, between the virtues and accomplishments of the sexes. We may indeed dress out these somewhat differently, to suit a reigning taste, or through love of variety, and we may call this manners; by which if women can please the other sex, without materially injuring themselves, they ought most certainly to do so, but such vain distinctions vanish before the superior light of reason and religion; and women in all the different stations in life, find scope for the exercise of every virtue, of which human nature is capable. And under the passive characters [175] of humility, resignation, and absolute submission to their authority – under these do men expect to see exercised and exerted – every thing which they in their proud moments arrogate to themselves, and fondly claim as sole proprietors. 

It may appear some singular to advance, yet a little reflection will prove it to be true; that women in general possess even fortitude, that first of masculine virtues, in a much greater degree, and of a much superior kind, to that possessed by the men. I do not here speak of personal courage, or prowess, which is a mere constitutional affair – a matter of nerves of sinews – and as it is much oftener applied to bad, nay to barbarous purposes, than any other, it can by no perversion of language or ideas be constituted a virtue. 

I speak of that fortitude, which has enemies to encounter, against which mere animal courage can be of no avail; and this virtue, I again repeat it, women happily for themselves possess [176] in an eminent degree. For notwithstanding the natural delicacy of their frame, they are subject to bodily pains, that, to use a figure of the sublime Dante, ‘Tanto è amara, che poco più è morte.’ And with the same feelings and propensities, do they not refrain from pleasures, and often from solicited pleasures, to which man with all his boasted superiority falls alas! a willing and self-devoted sacrifice? Here indeed lies the test of true fortitude, – the touchstone of virtue. And here it is that with all her disadvantages, woman shines pre-eminent. 

But as if a greater proportion of bodily pain – as of abstinence from pleasure – were not sufficient for women to encounter; all that the mind of man is doomed to endure, – all ‘that flesh is heir to,’ – all the ‘mournful miseries of life,’ are theirs likewise in an exquisite degree. 

Merciful Father! thou who hast in thy wisdom formed the sexes with souls so nearly alike, – can it displease thee, that they should [177] by nearly equal means, strive to emulate thy attributes, and arrive at the perfection of virtue? – Since it hath pleased thee to leave open the paths of knowledge, and science, for the recreation and delight, as much as for the improvement of the human species, – can it displease thee that woman should enter in and gather her share of thy general bounty? If it cannot, – of whom then, or of what – should she be afraid? Not surely of the wishful prejudices of men – Not surely of popular absurdities – ‘which being but the breath of inconstant people, daily varieth, and ever speaketh of extremes. One day it crieth Hosanna, another Crucifige.’ 

If then women find, that the acquisition of knowledge smooths the rugged paths of life, improves and promotes in them the love of virtue, and enables them to bear up under the unavoidable evils their sex is liable to, with a greater degree of self approbation and comfort; let them not by an over anxiety to gain the favor and admiration of men, lose sight of such valuable privileges. And let them keep this [178] ever in view, that whilst they are young and handsome, the generality of the other sex will admire them, whether they are ignorant or foolish, or wise and learned. Not will they probably stop to enquire whether their knowledge and acquirements have rendered them masculine. Even here then, in the hour of youth and beauty, we find that a woman possessed of mental accomplishments, is at least upon an equality with the mere butterfly of the movement – the misguided victim of fashion and folly – and this without making any allowance for the numberless opportunities which a woman of improved talents, has, of setting off even youth and beauty to the highest advantage. And this short season once over, though she may find that no virtues, nor talents, not accomplishments, are sufficient to fix the affections of profligate and unprincipled men; yet at all events she will find that she possesses, all that she can reasonably expect, – the friendship and approbation of the worthy of both sexes. And she will enjoy [179] a comfort if possible above these, the heartfelt consciousness of having improved in some degree, those talents committed to her charge by her Creator; to whom she may look forward accordingly for her final reward. 

If then my reasoning is well founded it appears, that if we use the term masculine woman, for characters such as I have been describing, it is undeniably true, that knowledge does naturally produce such. But I will not so far insult the common sense of men, – to whose common sense indeed and humanity, the whole of this Appeal is addressed, – I will not I say so far insult it, as to suppose, even for a moment; that because a woman is rational, though perhaps in a superior degree than is absolutely necessary, that she must of course be disagreeable to them. 

But if on the other hand we mean by a masculine woman, one who apes the exercises, the attributes, the unrestrained passions, and the numberless improprieties, which men fondly [180] chuse to think suitable enough for their own sex – and which excess to say the truth after all, chiefly distinguish their moral characters from those of women – I must say that knowledge has no tendency whatever to produce such awkward imitations; and I must confess, that such are masculine in the worse sense of the word, and as we should imagine consequently disagreeable. This however as we hinted before would be a hasty and ill-grounded conclusion, though apparently founded in reason, for the fact is otherwise; and the present age furnishes examples enough, that women may be truly masculine in their conduct and demeanor, without wounding the delicacy of the men. Nay that thus adorned, such women meet their full approbation, if at the moment the fluctuating tide of fashion be in their favor. 

Let us to prove this, examine a little, some of the fashionable female accomplishments of the present, and of former ages. 

In the first place presents itself horsemanship, [181] or rather horsewomanship, to which as an exercise, and as a graceful and convenient accomplishment nothing can be objected. But when made subservient, as in hunting, to the torture, to the death, to the murder of innocent animals, it no longer deserves to be viewed in that light; but be it man or woman who indulges in it, can only be regarded as the sport of savages, who have scarcely reflection enough to consider, that the inferior animals have perhaps sensations of pain, and desire of self-preservation, and – for aught we can prove to the contrary – fear of death, equal to our own; though they have not like Balaam’s ass the gift of language to turn upon their tormentors, and reproach them to their face. Does not however this ancient story, from the greatest and best of all authority, clearly prove, in what detestation the Creator of all, holds cruelty to any of his creatures? 

Let women then leave to the other sex, such barbarous amusements, as that of hunting poor innocent creatures to death! let them in the [182] name of humanity leave such, to the other sex, whose misfortune perhaps it is, in the present imperfect state of society, to be obliged to assist in the destruction of their own species. And who perhaps find it necessary to harden themselves against that, – at which they human heart naturally recoils with horror; – the sight of blood, – and the extinction of life. 

Oh! merciful Father! hasten that promised, that happy day, when war and bloodshed shall cease to desolate and deform the face of this globe; and when peace, and innocence, and virtue, shall resume their reign. For though we of these times, only see it in distant prospect, and with the eye of faith and hope; yet may we not believe that as sure as the oracles of God have heretofore been fulfilled, that day shall come with peace and healing on its wings, not only to the human race, but to all that breathe the breath of life! 

Again then, let women have the merit of anticipating those happy times, and as far as in [183] their power, discourage war and bloodshed among mankind; instead of goading them on like furies, as too many of the sex have in all ages been known to do; and even claimed, and found approbation by so doing. Let them abstain from every the slightest degree of cruelty to animals; and let them not think that infamous refinement upon cruelty, that of extracting amusement from their torments, extenuates the fault, but adds to it an hundred fold; nay perhaps implies the whole of the imputed guilt. – Oh heavens! that a woman should mangle even a poor worm, for her amusement! and that too that she may by its means more surely entice the finny tribes, into her merciless hands, there to meet an agonizing death, when seeking by instinct their appropriate food; – and this too for her amusement! – I have seen youth and beauty so engaged, but this employment like Circe’s cup, transformed even these to objects of disgust, and made them appear scarcely of the human species! 

[184] But let us take leave of a subject, which one should think, would only need to be touched upon to shew its enormity; lest we should be suspected of what is worse than every thing except cruelty – an affection of over-sensibility. And let us only apply it to our present argument, and say, what cannot well be denied; that though we may be permitted to call such amusements masculine, in the most exceptionable sense of the word, and as we should very naturally suppose, consequently disgusting – more disgusting in a woman than all the Greek and Latin in the two Universities; – yet that men do not generally speaking discourage, but on the contrary  countenance such.  And that one who should say much against them would have a great deal of ill-placed raillery to encounter – not only from fashionable females – but from their fashionable male abettors. 

A skill in archery, in which our fore­fathers, and some of our fore-mothers likewise, were so distinguished, is at this moment an admired accomplishment; and therefore comes [185] naturally enough under our review.  And though our modern Boadiceasdo not probably handle the bow and arrow with so much skill, and surely not to such serious purposes, as the ancient heroine of that name; yet the inoffensiveness of the pursuit, more than compensates for the want of address. Some rail at this amusement as singularly masculine, and totally improper for women. I confess however that I cannot view it in this light, but rather as an innocent variety – a little trial of skill – in a not ungraceful, and in a very animating and pleasing exercise. Merely as Britons, perhaps the British fair, may have a natural fondness for archery, gathered and acquired from the romantic tales of their ancestors. And as those who affect this amusement, are all of the upper ranks of life, and have at least a  sufficient tincture of polite learning, through  the  medium of translation, to understand and  admire the classical descriptions – of Diana and her nymphs, – Calypso and hers, &c. &c. – it is no wonder if joining altogether, they imagine, the management of the bow and arrow [186] an elegant, and consequently not an improper exercise for them. Add  to this  too, – that which never was, nor never will be, of small consequence in the eyes of females – that in all those beautiful fictions to which we allude, and even fiction, to interest, must borrow the semblance of truth ; there is not a hint given, that these ladies were not sufficiently captivating to the other sex, however averse the coy nymphs affected to be from them.

Thus truth, to which we willingly sacrifice every other consideration, obliges us to own, that we think no amusement, which contributes to health of body and cheerfulness of mind – without disturbing the peace of  any living thing, in the  air above,  or  on  the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth – can possibly have any  moral turpitude whatever ; and therefore ought not to be too severely, nor too minutely criticized.  But the same regard to truth, likewise induces us to say, that even the amusement and exercise of which we have been speaking, is more [187] calculated to produce that sort of manner, and those attitudes, which those who are extremely delicate on this subject would distinguish by the name of masculine; than all the knowledge, nay than all the learning and science in  the world. For mind, as has before been fondly quoted, is of no sex; therefore it is not in the power of education or art to unsex it. But manners may, and we apprehend, to render the two sexes more completely pleasing to each other, must, be somewhat differently modified, – according to the different paths they have to pursue, – according to the different parts they have to act in society. And did it appear that men uniformly were of this opinion, it is sincerely hoped that it would never enter into the head of any reasonable woman to dispute this point with them; for it is not to trifles that the peace of society should be sacrificed. We only mean to infer from all that has been said on this subject, that men are much more guided by their fancies, and by the complexion of the times, in their ideas about women; than by reason, or any other settled standard whatever. [188] And it is for the sake of exemplifying, and illustrating, that we have dwelt longer upon this article, than the subject in itself deserves, either from its universality, or intrinsic consequence. 

Last in the list of masculine accomplishments – for the allotted space admits of no more enumerations – we shall take a little notice of a certain portion of military education, which is not denied to women in this liberal age. A drill serjeant is a man of no small consequence in many families; and is looked up to, even by the fathers, as to him who is to give the last, finest polish, to their darlings; – if by a kind of insulting prudence and foresight, highly dishonourable to the sex, they do not give them this striking advantage at an earlier period.

But though I have too good an opinion of women, to be very uneasy about their conduct, in consequence of this strange mode of commencing, or finishing their education; – and though it may not injure their morals, and may very much improve their paces; – and [189] though it may make  them look fierce enough to frighten the French in case of an invasion; – I say though all may happen,  or not happen, which is allowed to be probable in this long-winded period; yet after all, who can deny this we have been speaking of, to be a masculine attainment, and likely to produce, – masculine  ideas, – masculine attitudes, – and upon the whole masculine boldness of manner?  If any one doubts, he has only to walk the streets of our great cities, where, if he has courage to face the amazons of the present day, he will see enough to satisfy his doubts. There will he meet some, with helmets of firm and compact texture, surmounted with military plume. Here others with leather caps edged with furs. Lo! yonder comes one with headpiece altogether of hairy materials, most likely the spoils of some grimalkin, the diseased idol, of some diseased old lady of quality, who killed it with kindness and  French cookery; and which nevertheless our heroine wears with as much dignity and seeming consequence, as ever did Hercules the skin of the Nemean lion, as its [190] shaggy main flowed down his manly shoulder; but which when contrasted with the soft down of a female face, one hardly  knows,  whether it is meant to burlesque Robinson Crusoe, or the light infantry;  – the gallant fellows who are perhaps sacrificing their lives abroad, at the moment, when, they are thus cruelly lampooned in catskin at home.

The striking features however produced by this mode of education, are not the modes of dress merely; but are such as do not quit women even when etiquette, or decorum, a much better guide than etiquette, – obliges them to wear a more feminine attire. And these are, the firm step, – the square position, – the pendulum arm, – the head erect, – the disdainful smile – but above all the determined stare, which like the devil in Milton, carries ‘stern defiance on its front.’ Such are the fruits, and indeed the expected and wished-for fruits, of female military education. Perhaps it does not reach the heart, nor influence the mind or conduct to any great degree; but [191] it certainly does the manners, and that exactly in a way which to hear the men talk, would make us believe they most detested. But no such thing – They have no objection to such, if the accompaniments of youth, beauty, and fashion; to all of which the common run of men are mere slaves. And accordingly, as I have often hinted before, if a woman is in possession of these she may do – exactly as she pleases – and be morally certain of the admiration of the generality of the men.

Thus we see that from various accomplishments which do really render women masculine, in the only objectionable points of view, men seem by no means averse, but much otherwise. We therefore fairly deduce from this, what we have before advanced; that women may be, and often, are, masculine, and yet are not consequently disagreeable to the men.

If then I have been able to prove, that those acquirements, the propriety, or at least the admission of which, I have been so ardently contending [192] for, can have no unavoidable tendency to render women masculine in any disagreeable sense of the term, but much otherwise; and if I have been likewise able to prove that even if they had so, that this does not  always, nay does not generally  speaking, render them hateful in the eyes of the men; I think if I have proved all this, that the last objection that I have undertaken to examine, against women being educated with a view to the enlargement of their understandings, and the acquisition of knowledge in a superior degree – viz. that it renders them masculine, and consequently disgusting in their manner – falls with double force to the ground.

Without presumption then I hope I may be permitted to repeat; that neither knowledge, nor learning, nor science – with exceptions dictated by nature, by common sense, by delicacy and by peculiar circumstances, or by all united; – can reasonably, or generally speaking, be said to render women less amiable, than comparative ignorance, or superficial accomplishments. It [193] may indeed be alleged, that the exceptions alluded to, may include the whole of the objections advanced by the men. But that I must beg leave to dispute, which I shall, however, in as few words as possible; for I have always in view to keep this little work within narrow limits. Yet though it assumes as has been already said, no higher merit than that of a slight sketch of an important plan, I know that even an outline to claim any merit at all should be correct. Every thing connected with the subject ought to be included and clearly pointed out, though none of the parts can be expected, to be minutely or highly finished.  Far am I from insinuating that the present sketch is what it oughtto be. It is however as nearly so as the writer could make it, under circumstances, with which she is neither entitled, nor inclined, to trouble the public.

To our exceptions then.

Nature dictates with a force not to be misunderstood, that women are not formed for [194] warlike enterprises. Nature has decidedly likewise denied to women the bodily strength, the abilities, and the inclination for being masons, carpenters, blacksmiths, farriers, and a thousand other occupations which so readily occur, that they need not be enumerated; and to which nothing but necessity, or caprice, or folly, – the mothers of many strange and unnatural children, – ever gave birth in a female shape. Necessity has indeed upon pressing occasions, lent strength to women, and boldness, for any given purpose. Caprice has in a few instances, induced women to make horses shoes, and to nail them on; and folly has in a few instances copied her. But every one is aware of the absurdity of adducing particular cafes, to establish general rules.

Again, common sense, in which propriety of conduct and character are necessarily included, certainly excludes women from the professions of law and divinity. Nature has not, however, here denied them the necessary talents; for there cannot be a doubt but that many, nay [195] that the generality of them, might make excellent and exemplary divines, and still better lawyers. The natural flow of eloquence, and command of language, – the glow and warmth of imagination, – the nice discrimination with which they are so generally gifted, – leave little room for doubting of their capacity for reasoning and disputation, supposing their understandings informed, and their judgment strengthened; which like every other faculty of the mind and body, are only to be strengthened and improved by exercise.

Their greater purity of morals, would likewise be favorable in those professions of which we have been speaking. But notwithstanding all these advantages, delicacy as well as common sense, points out objections so very striking, to women taking any active part in popular assemblies – with some very singular exceptions indeed. – that we cannot in conscience, rank among the prejudices, or the injustices of men, the seemingly arbitrary exclusion. An exclusion, which women have no cause to regret, – for [196] nature, who does nothing in vain, has not provided them with talents equal to such attainments, without a view to their exhibition – I mean by their exhibition their usefulness – upon more pleasing and appropriate occasions.

Again, it is perhaps delicacy, or perhaps it is false prejudices only, which prevent women from practicing physic and surgery; for that they have both abilities and inclination in a very peculiar degree for these professions, cannot well be denied. And before modern delicacy, was instituted in the place of real modesty – which protects its possessors in any circumstances whatever – women practiced them, in many different parts of the world, much to the benefit of mankind. But even considering these professions in their present and more scientific point of view, they are not perhaps above the capacity, nor beyond the reach of women. For to the honor of modern physicians be it spoken, they have thrown off, if I may so express myself, the barbarisms of learning and science, by which the profession was clogged, and rendered [197] mysterious and even ludicrous; and have only retained the pure substances. To learning and science indeed properly so called, they are no doubt indebted for the many noble discoveries they have made; the greatest perhaps after all, and the most valuable of which, is, the knowledge of this sublime and awful truth, which they all as if with one voice declare. – That the secrets of Nature in her first principles, lie far beyond the feeble researches of man. – They are almost tempted to acknowledge of all diseases, what Aritaeus did long ago of one of them; that, ‘the true and undoubted cause, is only known to the Gods.’ 

Indeed such is now in general, the candor and ability, of the professors of  this science; that to many of them may be applied, the beautiful and engaging character of Voltaire's physician – 


Malade & dans un lit, de douleurs accablé, 

Par l'éloquent Silva vous étes consolé:

Il sait l'art de guérir, autant que l'art de plaire.

Demandez à Silva par quel secret mystère

Ce pain, cet aliment dans mon corps digeré[198] 

Se transforme en un lait doucement préparé?

Comment toutjours filtré dans fes routes certaines,

En longs ruisseaux de pourpre il court enfler mes veine,

A mon corps languissant rend un pourvior nouveau, 

Fait palpiter mon cœur, & penser mon cerveau? 

Il lève au ceil les yeax, il s’incline, il s’écrie: 

Demandez-le à ce Dieuqui nous donna la vie.  


Men such as these charming lines describe, – for they are evidently drawn from the life, –  will most readily and candidly acknowledge, that when they do catch a glimpse at Nature, they find her to be a deity who will not bear to be tampered with, nor counteracted with impunity; – that she may condescend to lead, but can never deign to follow or  be seduced out of her own track; – that  they are only then sure of being right, when they pursue the paths which she points out; – and that after the study of nature, caution and experience are the physician’s best guides.

But though these truths rather enhance, than degrade, the consequence of the profession; surely women properly educated, are [199] equal to all that is here required. Yet we must confess, that modern delicacy and propriety of manners, are, in this respect so decidedly against them, that no arguments that can be used, are sufficient to counterbalance them. 

Delicacy and propriety however do not forbid, that women should be physicians to their own sex; they on the contrary point out, that they ought to be so. Here again however, prejudice is so inveterate, that things will never be as they should be. I judge by myself, for I would do any thing but die, rather than have a womanphysician. I never knew but one, and the very sight of her acted upon me like an emetic; and she had nearly the same effect, upon most of her female acquaintance. I fancy her patients were mostly men, as she was tolerably handsome; though I really don't know. Be this as it may, we must confess, that the dislike shewn by her own sex, was to be attributed altogether to false prejudices; or to such a shocking partiality to the other sex, as none but an anonymous female would dare to avow. [200] 

But for the same kind of delicacy – but for the same prejudices – women of the inferior classes might be taylors, hair-dressers, &c. &c. By the way it is  an unaccountable peculiarity, that women of those ranks, should from motives of delicacy – for we  know of none other that can restrain them– abstain from making clothes to men, dressing their hair, and doing other offices for them, by which they might gain their living without hard labour; yet that women of the higher ranks, over whom one should suppose delicacy and refinement, if not real modesty, would have more influence; admit without scruple – men hair-dressers– men  milliners – men mantua-makers. Nay worse than all these, – I blush to write it, – men stay-makers. * [201] 


* Thanks for once to Fashion – who has for the present abolished altogether an ungraceful and pernicious stile of dress – the above reproach is no longer in point. In vain physicians remonstrated against the confinement of stays, as inimical to digestion and growth. In vain anatomists declared them the probable causes of the more frequent distortion of shape, in the one sex than in the other – and as hurtful, if not sometimes fatal, to innocents unborn. In vain the men in general expressed their dislike and disapprobation [201] of so vile and unnatural a mode of dress. Reasoning was lost upon those – and who can blame them – who do not chuse to be guided by that to which they are not permitted to appeal upon every occasion; but only when it does not interfere with the interests of their rulers. They waited till Fashion should hoist her signal; who, after looking malignantly on for near a century, has at least proved her powers over the sex, superior to every other power. With one touch of her magic wand, she has transformed our demure looking, sugar load spinsters, into nymphs – 

         ‘So buxon, blithe, and debonair.’ 

May good sense, and good taste, continue what Fashion has so happily begun! And may they teach women – what Fashion never can, or never will do – that whatever mode they adopt, it is necessary, if they wish to retain grace and elegance, to avoid all disgusting extremes. 


This is an abuse of privileges indeed. Why do not husbands come boldly forward, against usages such as these; and employ their ill-gotten authority, for once in a good cause? – Why does not the legislature tax such she-he gentry to the teeth? – Why are men made ashamed of monopolizing trades, in which if the more helpless sex were early instructed, and made thereby to taste the sweets of honest industry; might save millions of valuable subjects to the commonwealth of virtue, who alas! flock [202] to the standard of vice, often more from necessity than inclination? 

And now for the last exception. 

It is undeniably true, that all rational beings, ought to be much directed by circumstances; or in other words, by the situation in which Providence has placed them. Thus if a woman is so circumstanced, as sometimes unfortunately happens, that the pursuit of knowledge, or accomplishments of whatever kind, interferes with her duty in any of the leading characters of the sex, as daughter, sister, wife, or mother; a woman of sense and virtue will not for a moment balance between these. Shall she to acquire, or cultivate such – however genius may impel, or interest bribe, or vanity allure her from her post – shall she neglect the aged parent, who trusts to her alone for comfort and support? Shall she who in infancy drank of his cup when it was full, and pleasant to the taste; – leave him in his old age, to drink the bitter dregs alone? Shall she who lay in his bosom [203] and was fondly cherished there; return his fostering care and tender love, with partial attention, and forced services? Forbid it gratitude! – forbid it tenderness! – and every female charity forbid it! Were a woman to gain all the riches of the Indias, and all the talents and accomplishments which men adore and women envy, – she would gain a portion of misery along with them, sufficient to dash the cup of happiness from her lips, and destroy her peace for ever.

Thus I have presumed to advance, that there are no attainments at which human nature can arrive, to which women are not equal, and may not be benefited by, as individuals, or in the mass; with those exceptions only, which nature, which common sense, which female delicacy, and which peculiar circumstances point out. And were these the only chains imposed upon the sex, every reasonable woman would wear them, not only with docility but pleasure. But when men try to stamp a marked inferiority on the whole sex, – when [204] they insinuate that they are made of baser materials, or mixed with more alloy, – it is time, perhaps, to endeavor at least, to stop the progress of a species of folly, which has already taken too deep root among mankind; much to the injury of the best interests of society. And which in the end, is equally pernicious to those who inflict the injury, as to those upon whom it is first inflicted.

It is sufficiently obvious from all that has been said, that the cultivation of the minds and morals of women, is considered as the one thing needful – the first object in their education – the foundation, upon which any solid hopes of future improvement may be placed; – or any thing really beautiful can be raised.

To point out a finished plan of education for the sex in general, is a talk far beyond my moderate abilities; and a task indeed in itself difficult and intricate from a thousand causes. But let me repeat, that the great outlines which should be ever had in view, and never deviated [205] from; are simple, few, and obvious; and they are such as may very early be inculcated with success.

The love of truth, and a strict adherence to it, is the basis of every moral virtue.  If it were possible that a mind depraved in this respect, could possess all the others; the absence of this alone would render them despicable, perhaps even hurtful, to the possessor, and to society. Such is the intrinsic value of this amiable virtue! Besides that it includes as a necessary consequence, a detestation of falsehood; it is the declared enemy of all hypocrisy; in every shape, under whatever disguises, or productive of whatever present conveniency.

Nature is so simple, so uniform, and so decided, in her moral as well as physical operations, that she never counteracts herself. Thus if the practice of truth alone, in all its different branches, were faithfully and universally followed out; it would of itself bring about every other reformation. It would of [206] itself in a great degree, effect the regeneration of the human race, so ardently wished for by all good men; if only encouraged to go on in its progressive state, and produce its wholesome and natural fruits – the exercise of universal and impartial justice. And let it not be alleged, that however desirable such a consummation as that of universal and impartial justice may be, that it – is impossible, or improbable. Did there ever come from the lips of the Divine Author of our religion, an impossible, or an impracticable command? No, never! Yet is not all, and more than all, for which we have been just now contending, included in that God-like and philosophic precept of his – Love thy neighbor as thyself, and do unto all men as you would they should do unto you?

How different, alas! from these, are the sentiments, and principles, by which the education and conduct of women are regulated! From the first dawn of reason – from the cradle to the grave – is one continued tissue of hypocrisy and disguise. They are indeed, in early [207] youth, prohibited from telling lies; but they are at the same time virtually encouraged in falsehood. The sex at all times, lively, acute, and penetrating, soon see how matters are; and after nature and reason, have, even at a veryearly age, made a few struggles for their joint and inseparable rights; they yield to present conveniency and hard necessity, as they are but too often forced to do, upon too many occasions, on the present system of things. The consequences of such a system we shall not here repeat, as they have already been pointed out; but it is earnestly to be wished, that not only a strict adherence to truth, but a thorough disdain of every species of hypocrisy, were substituted in the place of art and disguise, in the first rudiments of the education of women; and that every other good effect will of course follow, is among the most simple and obvious of all truths. I mean not however to insinuate  that the secondary ‘cold hearted virtue,’ Prudence, should be turned off entirely. She is too useful in the commerce of the world, to be altogether thrown aside; and her absence, has cost many an amiable [208] woman, many a bitter tear. Let her therefore stand close by the sex, as the guard and handmaid of Virtue; but let her not presume to usurp her place.

The necessity of a check upon the passions, is likewise a lesson that cannot be too early inculcated on youth; and perhaps particularly on females. Yet I grant this distinction grudgingly, and rather from complacency than conviction; for the thing is so absolutely necessary, to the well being of the whole of the human race, that it is very difficult to say to whom it most belongs to employ it. However it is only the women we have to do with at present.

That the passions, under proper regulation, form the whole of our enjoyment through life; cannot for one moment be doubted. They mix with every thing; nor is there an action, an idea, or wish, from which they can be excluded. Religion itself, were but a cold and selfish principle, if not influenced and animated in some degree, by the heart, – the seat of the passions. [209] They all therefore tend to be good, though they may all be perverted, or made subject to evil. They are all not only innocent in themselves; but necessary to our happiness. But for them life would be one dead calm, without ebb or flow, without hopes or fears. It is only then, in their misapplication or excess, that the turpitude lies. For I believe I may boldly ask, – where is the man or woman who would wish to be entirely devoid of them? Where is there a mind of sensibility that will not confess, that in the moderate enjoyment of them lies, all the happiness of which as mortals, we are permitted to taste? And where is he who has indulged in them to excess, and over-stepped the bounds, prescribed by reason and virtue; but must with shame and anguish acknowledge that thus indulged, they lead to infamy – to misery – and despair?

The universality and power of the passions, and their indifferent application to good or evil, and their consequent influence on the happiness or misery of mankind being undeniable; I have [210] only one word more to say in their behalf. That when the whole plan of Providence with regard to us, is well considered – at least as well as it can be considered by us, sharp-sighted and imperfect mortals as we are! – that this twofold property of the passions, so far from being inconsistent with it, appears a constituent part of that whole; and acts precisely upon the same principles. For excess in every thing is destruction; it kills the soul as well as the body. And this is so true, that there is not a virtue which when carried to excess, does not border upon a vice – nay that does not actually degenerate into one. An awful lesson of moderation this to the human race!

The examples are too obvious to require pointing out, suffice it to say, that the young and ingenuous mind, must not be discouraged by such reflections; for he who hath sent the temptation, hath sent a means whereby to escape. The most amiable of all authors, beautifully and justly says – L’équilibre nécessaire à l’empire de la vertu subsiste, & il  n’est rompu [211] dans ceux chez lesquelles il a été détruit, par les habitudes de la société, & plus souvent encore, par celles de l’éducation. Alors, la passion dominante, n’ayant plus de contrepoids, se rend la maītresse de toutes nos facultés; mais c’eft la faute de la société qui en porte la punition, & non pas celle de la nature.

Thus we see, that though it were vain to attempt to extinguish the passions in the human heart; and that even if we could succeed, it were not devoutly to be wished for; yet that it is obviously, and absolutely necessary to our happiness, to keep them within the due bounds of moderation; which is only to be effected, by an early attention to this great duty, in those concerned in the education of youth.

And here I must with regret, throw a great portion of blame on parents of all ranks and denominations, who generally speaking pay but too little attention at an early and important period, to this timely, and then easily imposed restraint, upon the desires of their children. [212] This duty is often either neglected altogether, or very improperly administered, or left entirely to the discretion of a class, of whom I am happy to take this opportunity, to say a few words – a class, who, notwithstanding the illiberal abuse thrown out against them, generally do more justice than could be reasonably expected, to the little innocents committed to their charge. And here the hand of Providence is evidently to be traced, in giving to childhood those fascinating charms, which irresistibly attract the affections, of all those who are about them; and in this way only is to be accounted for, the care – the anxiety – and the tenderness – with which they are commonly treated,  by the domestics to whom they are given in trust. For such could not be bought, by the poor rewards bestowed upon them, for charges so infinitely dear to us. Poor indeed! ill-judged, and inadequate, do such rewards appear, when put in competition with what is wasted in most families, upon fooleries and trifles; not to speak of what is often spent upon vices of a deeper dye. [213] 

It is frequently shocking too, to an unprejudiced observer, to see the thoughtlessness of parents – I do not wish to give it a harsher name – in their treatment of their children’s servants; their surprise and indignation at the slightest neglect upon their parts; and all this too from mothers, who themselves, never in the course of their lives, took as much real trouble, or fatigue, with their children, in health or in sickness; as these poor affectionate creatures, have in one night patiently and willingly endured.

Most undoubtedly, however, marks of neglect and inattention, on the part of servants to whose charge children are committed, ought never to be passed over without notice and reproof; but such should be urged with earnestness, and gentleness only, and not reproachfully; and those on which this method of reproof has no effect, are not fit to be entrusted with such precious charges, without the ever watchful eye of the mother over them.

But this superintendence indeed, is at all [214] times so necessary, so natural, and so delightful a  task, for mothers of all  ranks; that it is not easy to conceive, how any bearing that sacred name, can account to their consciences for the omission of such a duty; or how they can deny to their own hearts, and maternal feelings, the indulgence of such an exquisite, rational, and innocent pleasure.

I hope I shall be pardoned this digression, in favor of a very important and meritorious class of females; in whose cause, nevertheless, few deign to hazard even a digression. I cannot however think that it is at all misplaced, in a work dedicated to the service of women.

Let us now resume the train of our subject. I have already said, that an early attention to forming the tempers and dispositions of children, is often neglected altogether, or very improperly administered, or left entirely to the discretion of a class, who cannot always be supposed to correct with judgment, however good their intentions may commonly be, And who [215] must rather be supposed, to employ the means that first: occur, and have the most decided influence for the moment; than such  as  would have gradual and permanent effects on the moral character through life.

Indeed it is wonderful to consider, and scarcely to be believed, except by those who have made the development of the human mind their particular study, how soon – how very soon – the moral character is fixed! Or in other words the temper and disposition formed. The consciousness of this truth, has compelled me to confess in a former part of this sketch; that it is at home in the stages of infancy, before children are sent to schools, that the foundation of character is laid; and at home after they return from school that it is finished. Much therefore of the blame, which is illiberally thrown out against the teachers of the seminaries of education, for both sexes, might be spared, if we would look homeward. Not perhaps that they can be completely acquitted of blame; for much vice, and many [216] bad habits are disseminated by their means, which undoubtedly by strict attention, might in a great degree be prevented. But much allowance should be made, upon account of the great difficulty of the task; for perhaps that of constant attention, is of all that can be conceived, the most difficult; except the heart is deeply engaged indeed. Parents are, therefore, those, from whom it can be most reasonably expected; and from them it will be required, as surely as there is a Power above. Why then will not theyin the first place do their own duty, by rooting the young mind in virtue? which when once done, it is not so easily shaken, as profligate men would have us believe, even when assailed by vicious advice and example. And when trained and supported by after good culture, must generally speaking produce permanent good effects.

If parents would act thus, and take their duty to heart; they might with infinite pleasure to themselves, and infinite benefit to their young ones, keep them at home till a more [217] advanced period than they generally do. For those accomplishments which render it necessary to send young people to great schools, are attainable in a sufficient degree, long after the period commonly assigned for their commencement.

All then pretty nearly agree, as to the necessity of restraining the passions, and an early attention to regulating the dispositions and tempers of women; but the means used, the motives urged to attain these necessary ends, are the points upon which opinions differ. – These indeed are too often such, as a generous spirit, or a liberal mind, of either sex, can never seriously approve. I own I have sat trembling with indignation, at the lessons of art; and low cunning, recommended to women under the disguise of prudence. It were tedious to exemplify these; it were besides an humbling exhibition of human nature, to enumerate the miserable shifts that women are reduced to, and the pitiful arts which are supposed, and even found to succeed with men, when an open and [218] sincere conduct would be of no avail; or perhaps be opposed with deep resentment. We shall therefore only remark, that they all tend to this one great object – the attainment of husbands, and the management of them, when attained. Women even in this respect, are more to be pitied than blamed; but how men of any delicacy! how men in general, can wish to see women thus reduced! is what I can never comprehend.

Be this as it may, an appearance of submission and gentleness is much enforced on the sex; and as men admire gentleness, more upon account of its inability to resent their injustice, than for its truly christian spirit and intrinsic worth – great and undeniable as these really are – so women by a kind of mysterious retribution, cultivate the appearance of this virtue, rather than the reality; and accordingly too many of them when it suits, and when their main point is gained, throw off the mask. But indeed this must ever be the case, as I have more than once remarked, where people act [219] without certain principles,  and are  not urged  on by adequate motives for in such cases though necessity may, and does often force appearances ; yet in the end, passions not subdued or regulated, but  only stifled  for  a  time, and to serve a purpose; will break out and shew themselves in the most odious colours.

It is eternally then, I say, enforced upon women, that whatever their feelings or natural dispositions may be, that they must appear soft and gentle, if they wish to captivate the other sex. This is not fair dealing, however, towards the men; and whatever is not fair, is not right, nay is absolutely wrong. This is no other than the art of unsnaring and entrapping, where the attractions of nature are wanting.

Though there is a general similarity, yet there is an endless variety in the human race, whether from physical or moral causes is not easy to decide; or – which is most probable – from both united. Of this variety the characters of women must of course partake. Some [220] are soft and gentle and even sad; some are full of vivacity and spirit; some impetuous and even imperious and overbearing. Yet perhaps these last, and least amiable dispositions, might produce valuable characters, if corrected with judgment – for corrected they must be – though they can scarcely ever be brought to the right standard. Even the spirited, – the gay, – the thinking and reasoning; – or – the soft, – the gentle, and submissive – are extremely different from each other, in point of mere animal spirits; but as to head, heart, or conduct, each character may be equally good and amiable, and may be esteemed so, without any reflection on the other.

Why then should one eternal varnish be pasted over the whole sex, to make them appear – what they really are not – all alike? If Nature did not delight in variety it would not exist, – and if it were not for our good, and did not contribute to our felicity, she would not delight in it. We therefore do violence to nature, to reason, and to common sense – for they never [221] contradict each other – and we then encourage hypocrisy; when we wish to file down the whole sex to an equality.

Indeed deceit of every kind, and in every degree, is always dangerous in its tendency, and commonly pernicious in its consequences; and in no case more so, as might well be foreseen, than in the most serious concern in life.

For one example.

A man marries a woman, who has every appearance of gentleness and sweetness of disposition; if it turns out that she is not in reality possessed of these, can there be a more cruel fate than the poor man’s? Deceived in this one point, disappointed in his just explanation, it is not perhaps all the rest of the virtues, that can compensate to him for the want of this one. For so capricious and wilful are the sex in general, that even if a man could make himself happy under such circumstances, by a little management – a little soothing – a little well-timed [222] complacency; he would not allow himself to be happy – he would think it below his dignity to be happy – except precisely upon his own terms. Such is the pride and absurdity, of ‘Imperial Man!’

Let us now suppose, that the same man, had married the same woman, seeing her before marriage precisely such as she really was – By the way this is supposing a thing, that never did, nor never will I believe happen – Perhaps in this case his affection for her, and the consideration of her other virtues; might help to balance in his eyes, the want of that sweetness of disposition, which is in general, and not without reason, esteemed so desirable. At all events where there is no deceit practised, no disappointment in the cafe, the mind not taken by surprise, is left more open to favorable impressions; for it is reasonable to suppose, that one knowing what he had to expect, and entering wilfully and with his eyes open into an engagement; would behave with more prudence [223] and temper, than one entangled in the snares of an artful woman.

It is needless in short to enumerate particulars; for all the virtues, however amiable in themselves, have been the occasion of so many base counterfeits, that it is enough to bring the originals into disrepute; and indeed their appearances should be well examined, before they are believed genuine.

But, from what motives then, it may be asked, do I propose; that women should be induced to regulate and subdue their passions, and cultivate every virtue? My answer is ready. From the best and purest of motives – the most natural, and powerful of all – That of obeying the will of God, and conducing to their own individual happiness, here, and hereafter. These are such motives, and carry such weight, as cannot well be resisted by any human being; for self, either in a bad or a good sense must ever predominate, ever in the end prevail. Even – as we have before presumed to advance, the [224] purest religion ever imagined by the mind of man, or urged by the commands of God; is absolutely and undeniably founded upon that predominating principle of our nature; which principle, like all the other operations of an all-wise Providence, tends to universal good, though it may be perverted to partial, or temporary evil. It may be reduced to a very narrow, or extended to a very comprehensive circle. It may be indeed selfish, in the worst sense of the term; or it may be trained to find its happiness in communicating happiness to all around it, by channels, which will return it an hundred fold, in its own bosom. But even here it is obvious and undeniable, that our own gratification is at the bottom – is the main spring which moves the whole – though it must be confessed upon the most liberal and benevolent scheme, of which our apparently imperfect nature is capable.

It is therefore the duty of those who have the care of females in their youth, to convince them; that truth, sincerity, gentleness, that [225] the practice in short of every virtue, will not only entitle them to the approbation of their Creator,  and to future happiness – for these, alas! great as they are, are not sufficient motives to frail, and short-sighted, and impatient mortals – but must likewise convince them, that such conduct only, can secure to them real and solid comfort, and such degrees of happiness as are attainable in this mortal state. Here are indeed adequate motives; and by such alone, ought rational beings, in reality to be actuated. Here nothing but realitieswill do. We cannot impose upon God, nor very easily upon our own consciences, which tell us if we will but listen, that in virtue alone lies true happiness. Whereas if women are taught to place their chief dependence on the approbation and admiration of men, they soon find out that false appearances will often answer their purposes perfectly well; and with a certain degree of management and cunning, often better, than the realities of those virtues they assume.

If men, however, would be prevailed upon [226] to consider women in a more respectable point of view, and were they placed on a more respectable footing in society, this would not be the case. They would still indeed depend upon the other sex for most of their comfort and happiness, as the other sex would still depend much upon them; but they would not be drove to those wretched shifts, nor obliged to act upon those slavish principles, which at present are the bane of all improvement.

There is at all events no cause to fear, but that women will be desirous enough to please, whatever mode of education is pursued; for such is the natural desire of the sexes to captivate each other, that no education is necessary for this end. God and nature have here left nothing to do. The attachment of the sexes does not depend upon speculative opinions, nor sage advices, nor prudential motives, nor even upon the commands of God by a revealed religion. This point seems to have been settled from the beginning quite to the satisfaction, and quite sufficiently for the happiness of both [227] parties; and this desire to please appears so early, that perhaps it is rather the duty of those who have the care of youth, to keep it like every other passion within bounds, and to set higher motives in view; than to encourage it to the degree, that it most commonly is. Perhaps it would be better for those who have the charge of young women to trust to chance, and to the charms of native simplicity, for their future establishment; and to virtue and well-founded principles for their conduct afterwards; instead of teaching them to throw out false colours before marriage, and preaching up to them the propriety of cunning, and hypocrisy, and mean submission to every species of vice – if it can only serve their purposes – after it.

Indeed there is something so very degrading in the idea of breeding up women, if allowed to be rational beings at all, merely with the view of catching at a husband; it is indeed so very humbling to both sexes, and to Nature herself, that it cannot be too often, nor too severely reprobated. [228]


Having pointed out truth and sincerity, as indispensable in every character, and gentleness as a most useful and amiable, as well as christian disposition; and having recommended these to be inculcated upon the best and surest principles – Having likewise condemned an over­anxiety to captivate the other sex, as being as it is now practiced, rather an artful habit than any thing else; and particularly, as it seems to have thrown love and nature into the background, and brought forward interest and ambition in their place; – I now proceed to speak of a virtue which has by long prescription been granted exclusively to women.

And here modestly, universally considered, and not without reason, as the pride and ornament of the sex, naturally presents itself to our view. Indeed it may be supposed unnecessary to say much in commendation of that, which all agree to be so indispensable, in the composition of either a good, or an amiable woman. Would to God, that it were viewed in the same light with regard to men! the happy consequences [229] would soon appear in society. But leaving them to account for their conduct and opinions in this respect; let us hope, that women may never by the force of bad   example, or from any other motive whatever, be tempted to hold this engaging virtue in less esteem than it ever has been, in all well-regulated societies. And may that pre-eminence which has been assigned to the sex in this particular, be ever considered by them, as the highest compliment that can be paid them! Not but that truth obliges me to add, that, here as usual, it is for their own sakes chiefly that men recommend it so very earnestly to the practice of women; and that it is their own dignity, comfort, and ease, which they consult principally upon this occasion, as well as upon almost every other. For I believe the fact is, that judging by themselves, and by their own misguided and indulged passions, they believe that adherence to virtue in this sense of the word, is very meritorious; but still they consider women as bound to practice it, as well as every other, when it suits the interest of their lordly companions. And surely [230] it suits every man, that his wife, his daughter, and all his nearest, and dearest female relations, should be virtuous.

Nature, however, is less tyrannical than man; she seldom disdains to shew good cause for her conduct; and here, as in every other case, we find that she goes hand in hand with reason.

Nature has clearly given to women, in a most important concern to society, a most decided consequence – I believe without presumption it might be called, a most decided superiority. Why she has done so, is not for us to know; it were diving too far into her mysteries, to pretend to account for this. For, when I say that Nature does not disdain to shew good cause, for her conduct, I do not certainly mean to advance, that we can give any good reason, why she has adopted this or that plan, in preference to any other, which we might suppose more conducive to our happiness; for this is a knowledge far beyond the reach of ‘human [231] ken.’ I only mean to say, that, she having once adopted a plan, whatever it may be, every thing conspires to render it perfect. Nothing absurd – nothing contradictory – nothing in her operations, like the wavering wills and passions of men. – But on the contrary all goes on, in one uniform, decided, and unalterable course.

Having settled my meaning on this point, I repeat, that nature has clearly given to, women, in a most important concern to society, a most decided consequence; by making the comfort and happiness, and security – I will not say the honor, because I think the term misapplied of the men; depend much upon the fidelity and chastity of the women. Nature having for her own wire purposes, which are however totally unknown to us, placed this trust in their virtue; she, ever in unison with herself and with reason, forms them – though with exceptions – modest from the beginning. Or in other and more explicit words – modesty is innate in a greater degree in women than in men. The [232] history of all nations, – of the human race, wild and tame, social and savage– all, all agree in this great truth; and would delicacy permit, a thousand and a thousand arguments might be adduced to support a fact, so undeniably, so sacredly true; – so dear to the happiness of individuals and society; – so essential to domestic bliss. And, at the same time a truth, the most honorable and flattering for the female sex; enslaved and mortified as they are, in so many other cases.

I have thus in conformity with what I believe – sincerely believe – to be the truth, and nothing but the truth; acknowledged, that a great degree of modesty and purity in behaviour and conduct, is to be expected, and is even required in the female character. Yet if I have failed in proving that these expectations are formed, these requisitions made, in conformity with nature and reason; I have failed essentially indeed. And if happiness and honor to themselves, are not the principal motives adduced, as incentives to this superior purity of conduct; [233] all other arguments are vain and visionary, and never will – never indeed can convince, to the end of time.

But though I have upon this subject, advanced only what all mankind have nearly agreed upon to be true since the beginning of the world; yet should I be miserable indeed, if by that means even one mite were added, one voice more, however insignificant, given, in favor of the licentiousness of men. Alas! there is little occasion to feed, if but with one particle of fuel, a flame, that is likely not only to destroy the happiness and comforts of domestic life – as indeed it too often does even at present but perhaps in the end, to degrade the human race to a degree, that is little attended to by the thoughtless votaries of vice. Every one of whom, however, have not only their own individual guilt to account for, in indulging their passions beyond the bounds that reason, religion, and I may add nature prescribe; but will likewise be accountable, for the share they have had in contaminating the society to which they [234] belong; and for rendering miserable by their misconduct, those, whom it was most their duty to make happy.

Before I quit this subject, I am going to recommend, and that perhaps somewhat at large, a species of humanity not much cultivated; but which I consider as worthy of the serious attention of my own sex – and it is this. That however amiable, and indispensable, modesty the virtue of which we have been treating – undoubtedly is; yet that those who possess it in the most eminent degree, are not entitled upon that account, to despise or condemn too rigorously, that unfortunate  portion of the sex who have fallen victims to vice Or rather let me say to the arts of men; who, by an absurdity of conduct: which no good system of morality can possibly countenance, talk indeed of female virtue, and seem even by their laws, to consider it as the chief bond of society; yet never scruple to break this bond, when instigated by a passion, which so ill deserves the name of love, that hatred itself cannot produce [235] consequences so dreadful to the unhappy objects of it. 

Did women of virtue then confider; had they but opportunities of knowing the insinuating, though base arts used by profligate men, to seduce innocent and unsuspecting females – and what sacrifices of truth and honor it often costs them to succeed even with women, who, afterwards perhaps by a train of unfortunate circumstances, turn out pre-eminent in vice, and a disgrace to their sex and to human nature – I repeat it, had a virtuous and humane woman but access to know, and consider all these she would look inward upon herself and say – If I have more purity of heart and conduct, than these unfortunate sisters, have I not more cause for thankfulness than triumph? Can I lay my hand upon my heart and say, what would have been my conduct, precisely in the same circumstances? 

When conscience answers these questions [236] in the way that she most certainly will do, we shall then find two admirable lessons inculcated upon us; – with regard to others pity to the unfortunate; with regard to ourselves, the most scrupulous caution to avoid whatever has the most remote tendency, to sully the purity of the mind or manners. Not but that I am perfectly convinced that there are of both sexes, whose virtues are of a nature too exalted, and founded upon principles too sacred, to be moved perhaps by any temptation whatever. To say that those who are virtuous are only so, because they have had no temptation to be otherwise, would be lowering the standard of goodness indeed; and would too, be experimentally false; for many have refilled every temptation that imagination can paint. I only would hint, that it is hard to judge, whether the unhappy class of females we allude to, may not be generally, more objects of pity than blame. And indeed I cannot help considering it as a matter of great importance to society, to inculcate; – that compassion and an attention to the circumstances which may have led to the destruction of such, [237] are more likely means of producing reformation among them, and stopping the progress of vice; than that hatred, contempt, and terror, which the modest and virtuous, perhaps, naturally enough feel for such characters, when these are not taken into consideration.

I have heretofore been speaking of those, who, by continuing in the practice of vice, are generally supposed to preclude all sympathy. Yet even in these worst of cases, when we consider among other things, how difficult the return to virtue is made; we must balance well, before we judge rigorously. And if so, how much more compassion is justly due to those, whose quick return to the paths of rectitude, proves, that in some minds nothing can totally extinguish the love of virtue; – not even an acquaintance with its most deadly foe, – not even the blandishments of vice itself. To such penitents every encouragement should undoubtedly be given, that is consistent with delicacy and propriety, and particularly by their own sex; who, are upon every account, much fitter for [238] such a task, than men – feeble advocates, alas! and dangerous patrons, for returning virtue.

Enough has now been said, and it may be supposed by some, too much, upon a topic not the most agreeable. I have only to urge in my defence, that upon this, as well as upon every other subject on which I have touched; I have the interests of society, and specially of the unfortunate, and unfriended, sincerely at heart.

I have more than once said, that this work aims at nothing higher than a slight sketch, of an important plan; but even this ought to include so much, that I tremble at the prospect of what yet remains to be done. I endeavour to compress rather than expand; but this is perhaps the most difficult, of all the difficult things, which a poor author has to encounter. After all, subject presses upon me, and it is only left for me to select with what judgment I am mistress of, that which appears most necessary to my plan. [239]

Being therefore, thus circumscribed, I shall not expatiate much more upon the education of females. It is easily seen, from what has been said in different parts of this Appeal, that it is taken for granted, that it ought to be established upon fair and liberal principles; and that no instruction, which is suited to their stations, their circumstances, and their genius, should be denied to women any otherwise than men; with those restrictions however, which have been so laboriously pointed out, and which it is hoped the reader has not already forgotten.

I shall, however, as I write for all classes, here touch a little upon one branch of domestic employment, which though totally abandoned in the higher ranks, yet  in  a certain  degree, and especially in certain situations, is surely not below the attention of other women. But I cannot give it that unqualified praise as a necessary acquirement for the whole sex, which some still persist in bestowing upon it; though upon [240] the whole on the wane even in that respect, in the public opinion.

It is the art of cookery to which I allude. The knowledge of this, if not the practice of it, is commonly recommended, as a very proper and useful knowledge for the sex. I again who am an advocate for simplicity in every thing possible, and consistent with the advanced state of society, must beg leave to advance a few arguments against it; though certainly not against that attention to domestic concerns, which is beyond all dispute the duty of every woman.

In the first place then, what is generally now called good cookery, is only poison in disguise. It is, if I may so express it, domestic and daily poison, ever repeated, and ever at hand; and for that reason, I would not have wives and mothers instrumental in encouraging a vitiated, a luxurious,– andwhen over indulged, – a beastly appetite, in themselves or their families. Indeed the luxuries of the table, are become so essential a part of the order of the day, that it [241] is beating the air to argue against them; and the advice or example of women in this case, would probably have as little effect, as in most others. Still, however, there is a difference between suffering an evil, and administering to it, by misemploying time or talents, to encrease it. I therefore with submission, think, that women of a certain rank or fortune, are fully justified in leaving both the theory and practice of this delectable and elegant art, to those whom it is their duty to employ for that purpose. 

In the next place, I think this science, has no very favorable effects upon the temper or manners; or in plain terms, that those women who are most addicted to it, and are most famous upon that account, are seldom remarkable at the same time for the suavity of the one, or the elegance of the other. And what is too provoking, men capricious creatures as they are sit down at the tables of such women, and do all manner of justice to their savory meats; but how often do they rise disgusted with the kind hand that feeds them! And how often do [242] they ridicule, the lamentations or triumphs of the good creatures, as their feasts have failed, or succeeded, in exciting appetite and applause! So men upon this, as well as upon most other occasions, are very ungrateful when they are obeyed and served, and their vile appetites administered to; yet wonderfully surprised and angry when they are not.

The next objection to women of a certain understood rank, being too violent and minute in their housewifery I mean of course more so than is necessary to prevent imposition and waste in their families, which, I must repeat it, is undoubtedly one of the first duties of the sex, let their station or fortune be what it may – my next objection I say, is this; that by their misplaced activity they supply places, which in strict justice ought to be occupied by others to whom fortune has been less kind; and  who depend on the employment of their superiors for the support of life.

It may be remarked, that a soi distant reformer, [243] ought to recommend industry, and economy in every station. I do so with all my heart, as far as it is consistent and practicable. But there are degrees which suit every station; for we all know, that what is becoming and amiable in one, because necessary, is the very reverse of these in another.

I therefore contend, that people of fortune ought to employ as many about them, and make those as happy, as is consistent with a reasonable degree of industry and appropriate employment to each. This is one of the surest and best methods of being charitable and benevolent, and especially for persons of rank and fortune, who, are generally placed at such an awful distance from poverty and distress, that they almost forget that such things are. Though it is but justice to add, that many of them when made sensible of the miseries of their fellow creatures, are ready, and even eager to assist the unfortunate.

But by the method here recommended, the [244] objects of their benevolence would be continually under their eye; and if those who by their necessities, are compelled to serve, were made friends as well as domestics – which gentle treatment seldom fails to do, – it would contribute more to the comfort and security of masters, than any other mode of conduct that can be devised. It is impossible indeed, that good consequences can arise, either from the thoughtless, extravagant, and often debauched stile, in which the servants of great families are permitted to live; and where after all, they are considered only as trappings to the state, and the vanity of their employers Or from the equally faulty conduct with regard to servants, of those families; where they are treated with narrow minded suspicions, watched like thieves, or considered at best, but as necessary evils, rather than positive blessings.

Ungrateful! thoughtless! and pampered race! – Is it not enough that thy fellow creature must bear thy burthen, without adding to it, insult and contempt? – Are not the virtues and [245] vices of domestics and dependents, in a great measure the consequence – as in every other case – of    education and circumstances? – Are they a different race, born with slavery and servitude, and their imputed concomitant vices, stamped on their fronts? No what is their fate to day, it is not impossible may be ours to morrow. And at all events it is much more than probable, that our posterity, whom we fondly cherish by anticipation who are dear to us in imagination as our own souls – ‘dear as the ruddy drops that warm the heart’ – that our posterity shall in the sad ‘vicissitude of things’ be to theirs, what those we too often trample upon, are now to us. We talk of equality. The affairs of human life are never equal. Neither, however, does one scale always kick the beam. Let us beware then, how we carry the cup when it is full.

One other objection to very busy housewifery, is this. It does violence to the costúmi, it does not keep up that equal finish, which is beautiful in real life, as well as in the imitative arts. For example, while a man is squandering [246] his fortune at a gaming house, or on the turf, or in other places which it becomes not the delicacy of a female scarcely to allude to; – can he have the conscience to preach up – can he reasonably expect that his wife shall dedicate her time, to domestic drudgeries at home? To such submissive and homely employments, he may indeed wish her to dedicate it; because this would at least ensure better conduct than his own. But if she did so, it would only render her an object of contempt in his eyes – a too great contrast to him – whose elegance perhaps is all he has to boast of. And, who, too probably, has neither sensibility nor gratitude enough, to appreciate, to reward, or to acknowledge, mere useful and humble worth.

Were however any thing like the simplicity of the patriarchal, or heroical ages supported by the men, nothing so reasonable as that the wives should be their assistants. When Abraham himself, stepped forth and killed the calf, could Sarah do less than dress it with all the skill she was mistress of? And when we find the venerable [247] patriarchs busied in digging wells, at every place they came to, tending their flocks and herds, and exercising every other laborious and pastoral employment, can we suppose the Rachels of those days, degraded, by drawing water for their camels, washing their linen if they had any, &c. &c.? On the contrary, were not these, appropriate and necessary, and even pleasant employments? But here indeed, all is appropriated, all consistent; for the fact is, that in those days, in those climates, and in those countries, – in dry and barren lands, – to have the necessaries of life in decent abundance, was no easy matter; and to prepare and administer these, was of consequence, not considered as below the dignity of exalted characters, of either sex. In the same circumstances, the same manners  hold good  to  this present  day;  for I believe any one who wishes to see patriarchal simplicity in the highest perfection, has only to go in quest of it to the desarts of Arabia, where, he will find it realized at this very moment, among the wandering tribes who inhabit  those devious and barren tracts; [248] and where he will likewise see what correct painters of manners, our sacred writers were.

Having from the subject of housewifery wandered to the deserts of Arabia, and to say the truth very nearly lost our way, let us return home the heft road we can, but above all the shortest.

That in these kingdoms thenand in these times, when men themselves gallop at full speed, after pleasure and luxury in every shape they can put on; when men themselves one should think, endeavour to anticipate the vices of all future times, through fear of any escaping untasted! that they yet should suppose, that women are to lag ages behind, and cultivate simplicity only – is really one of those absurdities at which one knows not whether to laugh or cry.

Here again once for all I must entreat, that I may not be misunderstood. For though the art of which I have been treating, like many of [249] the other arts, has nothing interesting or dignified in itself; yet they all become so, when performed cheerfully and from a sense of duty and propriety. As nothing, surely, can be more amiable and praise-worthy, than to fulfil the duties of our station, whatever they may be. I only mean to say, that to administer to the vanities of a great table, or to gluttony, or epicurism; deserves not much time, or attention from rational women; who, after paying all due attention to household concerns, might be much more usefully and agreeably employed, in the care and education of their offspring; if themselves were trained up so, as to be capable of undertaking that most important task.

I have no doubt enlarged fully enough upon this subject; since it must be acknowledged that women of this day, in general, do by no means give too much time or attention either to the theory or practice of cookery. But this is the very reason for saying so much. For this deviation from that, which men in general recommend, and to which they seem partial, requires some apology; [250] and I hope I have defended the women, on rational and equitable grounds.

The acquisition of knowledge has already been treated of sufficiently, to evince the important view in which it is held; and the light in which, the extreme folly of laying restrictions upon it, is considered. Further arguments on that subject, would here be tedious and unnecessary. I shall only therefore add, that every virtue, every acquirement, every branch of knowledge which is either useful or ornamental; or to which the genius of individuals point, or to which their ambition shall aspire; may – a few fashionable accomplishments excepted – be cultivated in a considerable degree, in the private, in the domestic, in the rural scenes of life. Circumstances highly favourable, in the education of women.

So persuaded am I, of the good effects of an early attachment to the country, that though an enemy to the affectation of system – to strict and uniform rules, for various and general nature [251] – yet I should wish every young person in whose future conduct and happiness I were much interested, to acquire a taste for a country life, and such simple pleasures, and rational enjoyments, as it certainly affords.

Health, improvement, and pleasure, may go hand in hand in the country – an union which any where else, can hardly be supposed so well to take place. Though, that these are often united to a wonderful degree, where one should least of all expect they should, even in the greatest and most populous cities, we must – in spite of very  strong prejudices  in favor of a darling theory impartially acknowledge.

I have now traced in the best manner I am able, those virtues which are most essential to the sex those virtues which must be the foundation of every useful, or amiable, or valuable character, however circumstanced, or in whatever situation. And meagre as the catalogue may appear, such general and indispensable [252] ones, are all that can with any propriety be pointed out, in a work of this kind.

The love of truth a detestation of hypocrisy and disguise – simplicity of manners in as great a degree as can be reasonably expected, or as is consistent with the advanced state of society –unaffected modesty of heart and conduct, with much allowance for the frailties, and much compassion for the miseries of the unfortunate liberal opinions and humane conduct with regard to domestics and dependents – and a reasonable desire after knowledge, notwithstanding the illiberal prejudices thrown in the way – these compose the body and the leading branches of the system. The ramifications are infinite, and certainly no delineation of them will be here attempted.

Though no mention has been made of Religion, the most important concern of all; yet a deep sense of it – however modified by different denominations of christians – is considered [253] as the vivifying principle which animates the whole system. – The master spring by which the whole is moved and regulated. 

Without religion, though virtue may exist, it is deprived of its best support, its most faithful counsellor and guide. – Without religion, we are deprived of the animating hope of rendering ourselves acceptable in the sight of the only Power, who is able to appreciate and reward, the often silent and unseen exertions, of the noblest faculties of our nature.

A perfect knowledge of the divine morality of the christian system, is therefore not only included in our plan; but is considered as the best and most solid foundation upon which to rest the whole.

Of such a superstructure– raised on such a foundation stability, consistency, and rationality will of course be the prominent features.

But in characters thus formed it is natural [254] likewise to expect from the best motives, amiable dispositions, and gentleness of manners; for the earnest precepts and matchless example of the Author of our faith, are, with regard to humility of heart and conduct too positive to be evaded by any thinking believer of either sex. How men professing belief in the scriptures, reconcile their consciences to the flagrant breaches of these, and other moral virtues equally forcibly inculcated on both sexes; is therefore unaccountable upon any other principle, than that of their not thinking at all. 

I cannot however in conscience recommend to our sex, the wretched casuistry, of excusing their own neglect of duty, from the example of others. If we are once sincerely persuaded that the precepts of our Saviour are drawn from a divine source, and adapted to human nature, with a tender compassion for its imperfections and sufferings; and that as such they are the best calculated of all to produce happiness. – mortal and immortal – If we are once sincerely persuaded of all this, though we [255] see others abandon this great standard of duty, it ought not, nor it cannot indeed then, greatly affect our conduct!

strongerproof cannot he urged of the infinite importance of fixing religious principles early in the minds of women.  For perhaps there is not another means of guarding them against, and enabling them to repel, the force of bad example – which comes too with double force from those, who have erected themselves into perpetual dictators, and supreme judges, over women – than that of enabling the sex, to draw their rules of conduct from the highest forces – before the stream is polluted by the follies and absurdities and before themselves are likely, to be much influenced by the dereliction in principle and practice of men.

Every virtue raised and supported on such a noble basis, will bear the stamp of reality, and stand the test of trial. That mere automatans may put on the semblance of every virtue to a degree as captivating – perhaps even more [256] so, than women of real sensibility, and of fixed principles, I am most willing to allow. But this is ‘the varnish of the surface, not the cultivation of the mind.’ And though when viewed through the favorable mediums of youth and beauty, it may appear lovely, and pass for sterling; yet when brought into collision – when brought to bear against the rubs of life –how it scales off, and betrays the base materials, it was employed to screen! Whilst real, unaffected, unassuming goodness, may be compared to marble of the most exquisite quality, which, without flaw or blemish, admits of an equal polish through all its parts as on its surface; and on which the sculptor may lastingly impress the sublimest efforts of his art. So virtues founded on energy of mind and consistency of character, as well as truth in every shape, appear to greatest advantage and interest most, when examined nearly, and when most severely tried.

My readers I hope, will now agree with me, that it is unnecessary to enlarge, here, on the minutiœof modern accomplishments. Upon [257] this point, Reason and Fashion must compound the matter as they best can; for here the latter will always bear a certain sway, in spite of all that the other can urge. And perhaps, after making good terms for the virtues, and more solid attainments; it is as well to let the giddy thing have her own way, and allow her to rule the lighter affairs of life, while she conducts them with innocence and grace.

The drudgery of education once over, whatever it may be, or however conducted, brings women to the happiest period generally speaking of their whole lives; if that may be termed happiest, when most innocent pleasures are enjoyed; and fewest cares, felt or feared. And here perhaps it may not be improper to advert a little, to the different situations of the sex, in the single and married state.

The fate of women is generally allowed to be extremely hard in this respect, that young and old they are ever under control; husbands taking up the authority, when parents leave it [258] off. But oh! the blessed restraints, the tender the gentle admonitions, dictated by the fond heart of the anxious parent! Such is the nature indeed of parental love, of this exquisite, this best of all the affections; that it makes even authority itself, light and easy. And notwithstanding the acknowledged defects of human nature, notwithstanding even the general profligacy of the times – which no virtuous person will deny require reformation it cannot be alleged that there is much to be reformed, in this particular. Cruel parents, and unnatural children, are by no means common characters, and nothingbetter proves this, than, that whenever they appear, they are held up to universal abhorrence and contempt. Whereas characters which are common, meet with no such marked disapprobation.

The truth is, that Nature herself is guide and guardian, of that most important and interesting instinct, which so sweetly draws the parents and their offspring together; and it rarely very rarely indeed happens that any [259] attempt is here made, to violate her rights. Parents are ever willing enough to do their children justice to the best of their judgment, and to grant them every indulgence that their situation and circumstances allow; and often from an amiable, though perhaps mistaken tenderness, they go beyond these bounds; and beyond the bounds which prudence, or the future good of their children warrant. Under such guardians – in the hands of such partial judges – what have women left to wish for, or to fear?

At this happy period too of a woman’s existence, every thing from without as well as at home, wears a cheerful and encouraging aspect. If she is handsome, all smile upon, admire, and adore her; and independent of beauty, youth itself has a charm, that prevents any one from being completely disagreeable. And though we allow, that even at this gay seasn of life, partial and momentary clouds and storms must sometimes intervene; yet under the kindly influence and shelter of the parent’s wing, consolation and protection are always to be found. [260]

Men in the characters of fathers too, are generally infinitely more a liable, and do more justice to the sex, than in any other character whatever. One of the reasons for this I believe is, that there being very little, or rather no temptation, for their daughters to dispute their prerogative – which they hold dearer than the light of heaven – that vile stumbling-block being in this connection pretty much out of the way – nature and. Reason prevail; and it is not often that the daughters of a family have cause to complain, of the father’s partiality to his sons. Fathers do not indeed in these kingdoms, nor in many others, throw off their prejudices thoroughly; and like the phlegmatic, though reasoning and equitable Dutchman, divide their property equally among their children, when they find them equally deserving. But most fathers or most countries, by their fond endearments, their engaging indulgence, their often partial and distinguished love to their daughters, leave impressions on their hearts more tender and more lasting – more dear a thousand times [261] to minds of sensibility – than all the wealth the mines of Potosicould bestow.

I do not draw this picture of the early part of female life, from fancy, nor from partial observation; but from general nature. It may be flattering or overcharged, but I am not conscious that it is so. But considering it with all the drawbacks and limitations possible, still it remains, a season  of gaiety and innocence, of domestic felicity, and of absence from care;that I tremble to contrast with the scene which the sex have sometimes to encounter, when they exchange the wholesome restraints, the tender touches of parental government, for the high hand of unfeeling authority. An authority by so much the more dangerous, that it is placed in hands, who, by the very nature of the matrimonial connection, have a thousand temptations to abuse it. And, which, it is too much perhaps for human nature, not to avail itself of, when malignant or seducing passions predominate. [262] 

The authority of parents is so congenial to our natural feelings, and to reason; that on the one hand, those under it seem little disposed toreject or throw it off; while on the other – such is the love of parents to their children – a love constant and immoveable – an instinctive affection not a passion, and consequently not subject to variableness, or change, or caprice; – I say such in these relations are the feelings of both parties, that it is seldom indeed, that a parent is tempted to stretch his authority beyond the bounds of reason, or even of tenderness. Sovery seldom, that it is perhaps impossible thatany rules that could be made to further restrain it; might not introduce more evils into society, than the few and unavoidable ones, which occur on the present system.

But with regard to the authority of husbands, the case is altogether different; for matrimony – though a bond so sacred, so absolutely essential to the comfort and peace of society, that whoever lifts up his voice against it, cannot be considered but as the enemy of mankind – is [263] yet in a great degree but a civil contract. And though, it is in its nature strictly moral; yet in this point we are not guided by that unerring instinct, which directs the attachment of a parent to his child, or a child to his parent. We are here most commonly influenced by love, which though in itself kind and gentle, is subject to err – to deceive, and be deceived. Or we are guided in our choice in this important concern, by ambition or avarice, which are yet more likely to blind us than love. Such as the passion of love is however, did it always continue – or when it abates, were it always succeeded by a pure and steady friendship and good will; it might perhaps be sufficient for every good purpose, and for the reasonable happiness of both parties in this connection. But this is by no means the case; for love not only shifts objects, but degenerates sometimes in violent and capricious tempers, to contempt, and even hatred, with very little reason or provocation; sometimes none at all. This being undeniably true, and but too frequently happening, we must of course acknowledge, that power is an, [264] engine of too dangerous, and of too ready execution, in domestic life, to be trusted in the hands of man, – subject as all human beings more or less, are, – to error, to passion, and caprice. And to call much less than absolute and unlimited power, that which men may, and often do, exercise over their wives; is only deceiving ourselves, and prevents us perhaps from searching to the bottom   an evil, which can never be remedied, till that is faithfully done. 

To point out the frequent and melancholy abuses of this authority, would be to draw a picture, of what many an amiable woman suffers from it; and many an unamiable one too. For though men are apt, and perhaps naturally enough, to suppose, that these two characters merit very different treatment; yet they should consider, that all have the feelings of right and wrong, – all are equally entitled to justice, – though all have not an equal claim to love and admiration. 

To treat however this part of my subjectas [265] it deserves, would require abilities and talents, to which I have no claim; and would occupy more time and space than I am willing upon many accounts to bestow. And above all, it were an invidious task for one, who admires enthusiastically the institution of marriage; and who will ever persist in thinking, that it requires reformation only. Such as it is, even at present, it certainly is a great security to the individual and general well-being of society. Inits main design, that of bringing two personsof different sexes together, and engaging themto mutual kindness, constancy, and virtue, from the most interesting of all motives – that of promoting their own happiness and the welfare of their expected offspring, – it is congenial to every feeling of the human heart. In its simple though comprehensive plan, it so clearly points out, that in it, true domestic bliss may most certainly be found; that we think we can trace the hand of a God, in the noble and perfect outline. Yet, alas! in the detail and execution, we often so miserably fail,– that we are almost led to believe, it requires the malice of a Demon [266] to destroy so fair a fabric, – to cloud so bright a prospect. We are almost led to fear, that the first tempter has neither lost his power, nor forgot his enmity. 

Some few of the most obvious sources of misconduct and misery in the holy state of matrimony, we shall endeavour, however, to point out; this being in some degree essential to our plan.

I believe it will be allowed to be a just remark, that faults seldom originate precisely at the time,  or upon the occasions, when theyfirst make their appearance; and thus the misconduct of the sexes in married life, may probably be generally traced, to anti-nuptial causes.The manner in which men accustom themselves to treat women before marriage, contracted with the behaviour which they commonly chuse to adopt after it; cannot but produce very terrible effects.

The stile or manner alluded to, which takes [267] place before marriage, is an absurd mixture of the meagre reliques of ancient chivalry, with a much greater dash of modern French manners; which, grafted upon the native, manly english character, bordering upon bluntness, make altogether a strange hodge-podge; yet such as it is, the women are forced to be satisfied. They swallow very cheerfully the unmeaning flattery presented them through such mediums. The pill, though neither very skilfully, nor very painfully gilded, glides easily down.

Though flattery is in all shapes dangerous, and prepares the mind very ill for the reception of truth; and though even this kind of general insipid flummery does no good, but much harm; yet surely the most blameable species of it then commences, when a man singles out a particular woman, as the object of his choice.

One should imagine, that upon entering on so serious, so solemn an engagement; it were prudent on both sides to lay aside all attemptsto impose upon, and mislead each other. Love [268] is of himself, a flattering enough painter, and likely enough, as has been said, to deceive and be deceived, without calling in art to his assistance. Sincere and rational conduct is, however; so far from being inconsistent with the most ardent attachment, that it ought alwaysto accompany whatever truly deserves the name of love.  But instead of this, a farce is carried on to the last moment, tending to encourage expectations, which it is almost impossible for human nature to realize.

I grant, that if there were not some enthusiasm in the passion of love, it would be but a very insipid business indeed. Like all other sublime passions it feeds on enthusiasm– as the cameleon is said to exist upon air and it degenerates miserably without it*. But we must [269]


It is alleged however by curious observers, that both lovers, and the ever-changing little grubs, here, not unaptly compared to them; require somewhat more substantialfood than is above assigned them.  In short it is maintainedthat when well watched, both species are found to havemost vulgar and devouring appetites.  We doubt it not. We rather spoke poetically than philosophically. [269] 


insist, that this state of mind and heart, is by no means incompatible with a manly conduct, and sincerity of intention; and that nothing but a most despicable fashion, of insipid vapid gallantry, has separated them. And certainly, no man, even in the short space of time commonly allotted to gaining the affections of a future wife, should demean himself too much, even to the object of his fondest attachment. Every woman is willing enough to accept the man she loves, upon reasonable terms; and without such unmeaning condescensions as are but too commonly practised at this period. Unmeaning they certainly are, if not worse; for it is but too true that those who behave most servilely to their mistresses, commonly make them when wives, pay dearly for theshort-lived sacrifice. Servility and tyranny, but too often meet in the same character; and woe to her who is the victim of such! Indeed a more wretched situation cannot well be conceived, than that of a woman thus first raised above the pitch of common sober sense and reason, thus supposing herself the dearest object [270] upon earth to the man she most loves and which belief in a generous and sensible mind is perhaps the most flattering idea that can take place; – and then degraded below her real desert. To be thus raised and to fall, – is to fall indeed. Out of this delirium, to awake to indifference and neglect, perhaps to unmerited contempt or hatred, – is without doubt as severe a trial as any which occurs, in the whole detail of human misery.

Yet such is the fate of many women, nay in some degree more or less of most, though certainly not of all, who enter into the bonds of matrimony.

Alas! scarcely are marriage visits received and returned, scarcely are the happy pair on an easy footing together, when the husband begins to suspect that he is not married to an angel. Capricious man! was she not a divinity of your own creation? Did you not daily and hourly offer up before her the incense of flattery, and that so grossly, that it was sufficient [271] to have choaked a common by-stander? never considering what a dangerous dose you were administering, nor caring for the after consequences. Yet instead of all this, in a short, in a very short time indeed, not only your eyes are opened, – for this is a necessary and natural consequence of living in society together, – but the time fast approaches, when the idol becomes the sacrifice; and when she is perhaps doomed to suffer the more, to expiate your former absurdity, of which you are now ashamed. But this is not the only case, where the one sex is left to expiate the crimes and follies of the other! 

Though this change of behaviour on the part of husbands, is bitter enough, and hard enough of digestion for the poor wives; yet here we see something of human nature, ever prone to extremes, and ever given, where there is no check, to some abuse of power; and therefore every reasonable woman looks for this change in some degree. But to fill up the measure of injustice and absurdity, heaped and [272] running over; the generality of husbands, not contented with claiming the privilege of treating their wives in that way which best suits their own particular tempers and caprices, and viewing them, their faults and virtues, through such mediums as the passions of the moment suggest; expect further, that women are to reverence, not only, the virtues and good qualities of their husbands, but are even to respect and connive at their follies, their infirmities, and their vices; however mortifying this conduct may be, to those, whom men chuse to suppose, ought always to have their feelings under subjection to theirs

This is will readily be allowed is no easy task. Yet that there are women, who, by a native sweetness of disposition, or by the exercise of christian humility, which like charity, hopeth all things, believeth all things, beareth all things; that such sometimes are, who, in any situation, or with any man whatever, will glide down the stream of life without attempt at remonstrance or redress – and far less at retaliation – I know to be true. But I likewise [273] know that such characters are rare. When a man falls in with such a woman, he should cherish her as the apple of his eye when alive; and afterwards pickle or preserve her, or fluff her like some new species in the cabinet of a virtuoso; for believe one who knows something of the sex, that such an one when found, is a rara avis indeed is one of the white crows of creation –and as they are grown every day scarcer, and the times more and more skeptical, if some proof is not adduced, the thing will not be believed an hundred and fifty years hence. 

But seriously speaking, such, are exceptions to the ordinary run of women; and from exceptions no rules ought surely to be formed. The fact is, that human nature being nearly the same in both sexes – that is a compound of passions, of virtues, and of frailties – the mode of conduct claimed and expected from women, can never take place, generally speaking, but at the expence of the happiness, or their sincerity; which must in the end undermine the [274] best interests of society, of which we have daily and hourly examples. 

I am indeed willing to allow, that much of the misery in the married state, proceeds from the vanity, the folly, the extravagance, and misconduct; but, humanly speaking, they have little inducement to reformation. And particularly when we consider the example set them by the men, we must confess, that the less that is said about it the better. Upon this subject we dare not in conscience commend, and we are averse to judge and condemn. Waving for the presenttherefore, all allusion to the force of example, however powerful, let us proceed to say; that the misconduct of women generally speaking, originates in improper education, and in the mistaken and ungenerous opinions adopted wherever the sex is concerned; but most particularly in the matrimonial engagement, by which a degree of domestic tyranny is established by the men, totally incompatible with natural justice, not always even consistent with humanity; and consequently ill calculated to promote the happiness [275] of either party. For where so decided and invariable authority and superiority are claimed, they will never be yielded to with satisfaction or complacency; except the subjected party is convinced that the title is well founded, or that the right, such as it is, is exercised with justice and moderation. Of the first, women never were, nor I fear never will be convinced. And the last, the daily and sad experience of many, will not permit them to believe. 

If indeed it were possible, that men should never, or but rarely, be tempted to abuse their authority, – if they studied the comforts, the pleasures, the happiness of women, as much as they do on their own, or half as much, – I believe I may venture to say for the sex in general, millions against one, that they would submit contentedly to the yoke; and not from a mistaken and ridiculous pride, differ about a mere name. 

Nay more, I will venture to ask, – where is the women who has ever experienced the nature of a true and virtuous attachment, who would [276] not rather a thousand times owe her happiness to the indulgence of an amiable man whom she loves, than to any other circumstance that imagination can suggest? Whatever is enjoyed through such means, acquires double value and additional relish; and exceeds all that the frigid hand of law or right could possibly bestow. – If there is on earth a woman who could but for a moment hesitate between these, – 


‘Who would not blush if such an one there be?’ 


But alas! for the frailty of human nature, which we are so often forced, so lamentably to bewail, – though there are husbands who give their wives no reason to complain, and who indeed scarcely allow them to feel their authority, or experience injustice in any shape; yet men themselves are too candid to say, that this is generally the case. The multitude therefore, ought not to be sacrificed to a possibility. On the contrary, probability ought always to be on the side, of every experiment that is tried upon them; and every possible means should be employed to screen them from injustice. [277] 

In all humility then, may I be permitted to say that there cannot be a reasonable doubt, but that the gradual emancipation of women, – shackled and enslaved by a thousand absurd prejudices, – would in this enlightened age, produce the most salutary effects. Just as the gradual emancipation of every one bearing the stamp of the human species, would most infallibly do.

The laws with regard to the sex, ought, undoubtedly, to be revised and corrected. Perhaps like Queen Elisabeth's latin, they only required ‘scouring up, as they have lain so long rusting.’ – Or perhaps some of them may be found so completely absurd, and inconsistent with justice, that they should be annulled altogether. Nothing too is more probable, than, that in reviewing these, it may be found necessary to add others for a check upon the female sex, where they seem most to require it. And why not? Justice to deserve the name, admits of no partiality. And no idle spirit of gallantry should here interfere, to prevent the enforcing [278] of practicable and wholesome laws, tending to the reformation of women, and to their just and necessary subjection. Neither on the other hand should the pride of man prevent him from yielding to their just claims of redress, however they may clash with reigning fashions or prejudices – Most fallacious guides indeed, and little worthy of attention, where we have the eternal laws of justice and mercy to appeal to; and where the happiness of so great a proportion of the human race is at stake.

I presume not to point out particulars, but I may be indulged in one remark – that it were much to be wished that women were somewhat more attended to, in the distribution of fortune. This attention to their worldly comfort, is the more reasonable, that they are debarred by the tyranny of fashion – as I have before more than once had occasion to observe – from availing themselves of their talents and industry, to promote their interest and independence. However high the sphere of life in which a man is born, if his fortune be not equal to his birth [279] or his ambition, there are a thousand different ways by which he may advance himself with honor in the world; whereas women of a certain rank, are totally excluded from a possibility, even of supporting that stile of life to which they have been accustomed, if they are left without competent fortunes. But what is infinitely worse – because it leads to want, or infamy, or both – few, very few are the employments left open even for women of the inferior classes, by which they can secure independence; and to which without a doubt may be greatly attributed, the ruin of most of the sex, in the lower ranks. For, want of fortune, and want of appropriate employment, leave them open to the attempts of those who can afford to bribe them from the paths of virtue. And the want of these, likewise unfits them, for being proper wives to men in their own station, who in general can scarcely afford to marry, without some assistance, either in industry or money.

Indeed the businesses appropriated by custom for women, are so very few in proportion to [280] the number of candidates, that they are soon monopolized. And many a poor young creature, after wasting some of the most precious years of her life, upon a sedentary and unhealthy business, finds it impossible after all to proceed; and falls at last a prey to those evils, which she has been for years laboring to ward off. 

Women being thus helpless, and being rendered so, chiefly, by false education and false prejudices; and fortune being in the present state of things, that which procures every comfort, conveniency, elegance and honor, which this world affords; they cannot be accused of being too palpably interested, in wishing to share in it, in a reasonable degree. Indeed while it possesses such seducing advantages, – vaunt as we please, – it will ever be a sufficient bait for the common herd of mankind, men and women; who consider not, that gold can neither securevirtue and happiness, nor excludevice and misery. And accordingly, so much do the men value this useful commodity – so much is it the object of their ambition and care – that they have [281] by the most ample and exclusive privileges, secured it chiefly in their own hands; and guard it like very dragons, – like very Arguses, – for if one eye is shut, there is always ninety-nine open, upon the previous charge. 

As men, however, deign sometimes, to give reasons for their seeming partiality to themselves; they argue that it is of little consequence whether women have fortune or not, as in the course of human events it circulates among them; and that the equilibrium is restored by marriage, which raises women to a participation and communion of fortune. But here, they forgetsome very material circumstances. For, all men do not marry. All women are not married. And even those who are, find that this participation and community of fortune is often merely verbal; –words without any meaning whatever; –and that they are in this respect as well as in most others, as completely dependent upon their husbands, as it is possible for any one human being to be upon another. They find in short and few words, that a wife [282] is neither more, nor less, than –a great baby in leading-strings –a character which a woman cannot help being a little ashamed of; and which even those who impose it, cannot, if it were not extremely convenient for them, very much admire; as every thing unnatural, must ever in some degree, be disagreeable.

In the married state therefore, a woman has but one chance for justice, or in other words for happiness; – for no thinking being can be happy, – no reasonable mind satisfied, – under a sense of suffering injustice; and this one chance is, that of her husband happening to be, a sensible, a reasonable, a humane man, in a more than ordinary degree. In this case he will neither deny her the comforts, nor even the elegancies and pleasures, suitable to his rank and fortune; nor will he allow her to fall into that profusion, which it is the ambition of the generality of the sex to exhibit; because, every other ambition is discouraged in them, by a wrong education, mistaken notions, and degrading distinctions in favor of men. [283] 

But husbands such as we have been describing, are too uncommon to be looked for every day. It will therefore be readily acknowledged, that women are much more likely to suffer from avarice on the one hand, or from extravagance on the other, than to fall in with such models of divine justice. And what is indeed very hard, and shews that there is no kind of injury to which a woman is not liable in the married state, she is often nearly as ill off with a spendthrift, as a miser. For the first has too many bad ways of laying out his money, to be supposed always ready to allow his wife a decent and reasonable share; whereas if a miser is ungenerous to his wife, she sees, that what he is mean enough to withhold from her, he has likewise lost the power of using himself; except we allow voluntary privation to be enjoyment. And if she has a family, it will be some consolation to her to reflect, that he is amassing for them, what he denies to her.

Both profligate and avaricious characters are however detestable; and hard enough it is, [284] for people of a right and moderate way of thinking, to be pensioners at will of either.

In high life there is an absolute necessity for guarding against these abuses of authority on the part of the men; because those of that rank, finding themselves, by the absurd folly of mankind, set above the common rules that bind, at least in some degree, inferior mortals, they are the less to be trusted.

The fortunes being in these situations ample enough to admit of it, it is extremely reasonable, and it is the case, that wives are insured of something which they can call their own; and which though it goes by a ridiculous and childish name, yet even that very name points out, that it is ridiculous and childish, that grown women should not have such trifles at their own command.

It is pretty bold to defend a custom, which is much objected to by many, –and I believe with much sincerity and good intention, –as [285] tending to a separation of interests in a connection, where no such distinction ought to take place. I am most ready to allow, that no such distinction oughtto take place, if it could be avoided; but alas! where there are different tempers, different opinions, and where different passions predominate; it is not perhaps possible, but that this distinction should often in some degree, take place. And if it does so, where is the justice of throwing all the weight into one scale?

This is surely one  way of settling disputes, and that a very decisive one too, and I suppose I may add upon trust, a very satisfactory one, to those who have the happiness of preponderating; but feeling, or at least speaking as one of the beam kickers, I may be permitted to say, that it is a very unjust, and a very clumsy contrivance, and bears very evident marks of a barbarous age, and of barbarous and bungling legislators; who, with some general and confused ideas in their head, of the necessity of subordination –though without sufficient political [286] discrimination, to reconcile necessary subordination with justice –sat down with all the gravity imaginable to make laws; but in guarding against some stumbling-blocks, had not foresight enough to avoid knocking their heads against others, as bad. And, who, in the true pride of ignorance, were too consequential to apply for elucidation to those, who, most undoubtedly were best able to detail their own grievances, and perhaps –with respect to the sublimer powers be it spoken –not least able, to point out an antidote or prescribe a cure.

It must however be confessed, that there are few points more delicate, in the whole of the delicate subject I have undertaken, than that very one now touching upon. Yet surely it is by no means beyond the reach of human sagacity to adjust the balance, –I will not pretend to say to the complete satisfaction of all parties, for that never happens even where the fairest decisions are given, –but in perfect conformity to justice, which is that which ought to be consulted, above all other considerations; as what [287] is founded upon it, must ultimately, end well for all concerned.

The authority of husbands it must be confessed is very great on the present system; yet it is not so well understood as to preclude in all cases, extravagant pretensions on the part of the other sex; though it is sufficient on most occasions, to oppress, and overwhelm them. As matters now stand, it is very difficult to decide, where authority should in prudence begin, or where it ought in justice to end. There is no rule equally acknowledged and appealed to by both parties. On the contrary, when quarrels and difference of opinion take place –the one complains bitterly of injustice and oppression –the other talks loudly of disobedience.

Such a state of uncertainty, is surely more likely to give rise to differences and disputes, than if things were more clearly pointed out, and better understood. Setting aside prejudice then, and reasoning upon the principles of common sense and experience –for I know not why [288] common sense should be excluded upon, this subject –we must allow that in every case, the more distinctly limits are defined, the less confusion and doubts ensue; that the clearer rights on each side  are made out, the less room there is for dispute; and that when due bounds are set to authority, though upon the one hand it prevents the abuse of it, yet on the other it is the most likely method to ensure a ready obedience to its just commands.

These truths are simple and obvious enough, and are now very readily acknowledged, in all matters except where women are concerned. It is astonishing however, that principles of private and domestic justice, do not at least keep pace in the minds of men, with those of a public and political nature. The reason that they do not so with regard to women, I fear does not say much for the generosity of the men. With respect to each other they enforce justice, becausethey have power so to do; –where the weaker sex is concerned the inference is obvious, –what cannot be enforced, remains undone. [289] 

To finish what I have to say on this head at once, I confess, that I think the power of the men in the married state, like that of kings in a well regulated and limited monarchy, ought to be confined solely to that of doing good. For, while the power of doing mischief is left open, the will can never be wanting in either case. With reverence be it spoken, I believe there never was a king in this world from Solomon downwards –George the third, king of Great BritainFrance, and Ireland, always excepted –who might not be tempted at a time to stretch his prerogative a little too far. –Nor do I believe there is a husband on the face of the whole earth with the exception of one only, –another convenient salvo, –who may not frequently pull the reins of authority too tight, perhaps so very tight as to crack; to the utter confusion of the whole domestic machine, which it is supposed men are able to guide, with such exquisite skill and dexterity.

Having now pointed out, how very much reformation is desirable, in regard to the education [290] of women, and with respect to the opinions entertained of their relative consequence in society; it is but just that I should shew, what advantages adequate to the trouble and hazard of change, are held forth as probable. These I have however, had occasion to touch upon, in different parts of this sketch, and shall possibly again in others, as they occur; but as they come with peculiar propriety under consideration here, I shall endeavour in a general way, and in as few words as possible, to recapitulate them.

The consequences then reasonably to be expected, are, such as seldom fail to ensue, when any individuals, or societies, or classes of mankind are restored to their natural rights; that is to say when they find themselves at ease in their proper places; not degraded nor fettered by unnecessary confinement, but bound by such wholesome restraints, as prevent liberty, from  degenerating into licentiousness. In such a situation, all will perform their appropriate parts, with redoubled ability, cheerfulness, and alacrity [291] when compared with others in less happy and favorable circumstances.

I will own, however, that even if the pretensions of the sexes were finally adjusted, and that equilibrium established, which I have endeavoured to point out as necessary to the peace and satisfaction of both; that perfection, or compleat happiness, is not to be expected. Of this however we are certain, that, if universal justice were to prevail among mankind, in which of course we include womankind, that we should then be on the high road to happiness; of which we might reasonably hope to taste a competent share in this world,  and might safely trust to a good providence for the perfection of it in another.

A very intelligent traveller, makes a remark highly worthy of observation; and which struck me indeed very forcibly, as being much to the purpose of the present argument. He has just been giving an account of the inhabitants of an Island,where he describes the men and women [292] as living together, on a footing of perfect equality; at least as much so as their different duties and occupations permit; like people in short of the same species, who feel that they are of equal consequence to each other's happiness and comfort; the difference of sex there, only endearing and producing variety, not as in other places, degrading the one half of the human race. The traveller without any view to system building, and merely speaking of the natural consequences of such a friendly and equitable intercourse, says, with the utmost naiveté, that ‘the women from being happy, are always in good humor.’

 I most firmly believe that good humor is one of the happy consequences, to be reasonably expected, if women were every where put on a rational and equitable footing. And as consequences, like misfortunes, rarely come alone; how many good ones might not be expected, to follow that engaging quality! Every one is daily and hourly witness, either of the effects which arise from good humor– which [293] never fails to operate like a charm in all society public and private – or of the bad effects of its opposite. Oh! that men would therefore attend to the important lesson, included in the little sentence, which I have just quoted; for in few words, and without the pride of reasoning, it perhaps contains the essence of all that ever was, or ever will be said, to the purpose, on the subject! Let them but endeavour to make women happy – not by flattering their follies and absurdities – but by every reasonable means; and above all by considering them as rational beings upon a footing with themselves, – influenced by the same passions, – and having the same claims to all the rights of humanity; which, indeed, are so simple, that justice well defined includes the whole. And then ‘women from being happy, will always be in good humor;’ and from being happy, and always in good humor, it is but reasonable to hope, that they will at last be, what all wise, and good men wish them, and what in reality they may – and OUGHT TO BE.