Polwhele "Unsex'd"

Polwhele, Revd Richard.  The Unsex’d Females. London: Cadell and Davies, 1798. 19-21.


And YEARSELEY, who had warbled, Nature’s child,

Midst twilight dews, her minstrel ditties wild,

(Tho’ soon a wanderer from her meads and milk,

She long’d to rustle, like her sex, in silk)

Now stole the modish grin, the sapient sneer,

And flippant HAYS* assum’d a cynic leer.


* Mary Hays, I believe, is little known: but from her “Letters and Essays,” she is evidently a Wollstonecraftian. “I cannot mention (says she) the admirable advocate for the rights of women, without pausing to pay a tribute of grateful respect, in the name of my sex, to the virtue and talents of a writer, who with equal courage and ability, hath endeavoured to rescue the female mind from those prejudices which have been the canker of genuine virtue . . . The right of woman and the name of Wollstonecraft, will go down to posterity with reverence.” Letters, etc. p. 21. Mary Hays ridicules “the good lady who studied her Bible, and obliged her children to say their prayers, and go statedly to church.” p. 34. Her expressions respecting the European Governments are, in a high degree, inflammatory. See pages 14, 15, 17, 18, 19.