The Third Edition.
To which is Added
A Preface, in Anſwer to ſome
Printed for R. Wilkin, at the King’s Head
in St. Paul’s Church-Yard, 17061706.
Theſe Reflections being made in the Country, where the Book that occaſion’d them came but late to Hand, the Reader is deſir’d to excuſe their Unſeaſonableneſs as well as other Faults; and to believe that they have no other Deſign than to Correct ſome Abuſes, which are not the leſs becauſe Power and Preſcription ſeem to Authorize them. If any is ſo needleſly curious as to enquire from what Hand they come, they may pleaſe to know, that it is not good Manners to ask, ſince the Title-Page does not tell them: We are all of us ſufficiently Vain, and without doubt the Celebrated Name of Author, which moſt are ſo fond of, had not been avoided but for very good Reaſons: To name but one; Who will care to pull upon themſelves an Hornet’s Neſt? ’Tis a very great Fault to regard rather who it is that Speaks, than what is Spoken; and either to ſubmit to Authority, when we ſhould only yield to Reaſon; or if Reaſon preſs too hard, to think to ward it off by Perſonal Objections and Reflections. Bold Truths may paſs while the Speaker is Incognito, but are not endur’d when he is known; few Minds being ſtrong enough to bear what contradicts their Principles and Practices without Recriminating when they can. And tho’ to tell the Truth be the moſt Friendly Office, yet whoſoever is ſo hardy as to venture at it, ſhall be counted an Enemy for ſo doing.
Thus far the old Advertiſement, when the Reflections firſt appear’d, 1700A.D. 1700.
But the Reflector, who hopes Reflector is not bad Engliſh, now Governor is happily of the Feminine Gender, had as good or better have ſaid nothing; For People by being forbid, are only excited to a more curious Enquiry. A certain Ingenious Gentleman (as ſhe is inform’d) had the Good-Nature to own theſe Reflections, ſo far as to affirm that he had the Original M. S. in his Cloſet, a Proof ſhe is not able to produce; and ſo to make himſelf reſponſible for all their Faults, for which ſhe returns him all due Acknowledgment. However, the Generality being of Opinion, that a Man would have had more Prudence and Manners than to have Publiſh’d ſuch unſeaſonable Truths, or to have betray’d the Arcana Imperii of his Sex, ſhe humbly confeſſes, that the Contrivance and Execution of this Deſign, which is unfortunately accus’d of being ſo deſtructive to the Government, of the Men I mean, is entirely her own. She neither advis’d with Friends, nor turn’d over Antient or Modern Authors, nor prudently ſubmitted to the Correction of ſuch as are, or ſuch as think they are good Judges, but with an Engliſh Spirit and Genius, ſet out upon the Forlorn Hope, meaning no hurt to any body, nor deſigning any thing but the Publick Good, and to retrieve, if poſſible, the Native Liberty, the Rights and Privileges of the Subject.
Far be it from her to ſtir up Sedition of any ſort, none can abhor it more; and ſhe heartily wiſhes that our Maſters wou’d pay their Civil and Eccleſiaſtical Governors the ſame Submiſſion, which they themſelves exact from their Domeſtic Subjects. Nor can ſhe imaimaginegine v A1r imagine how ſhe any way undermines the Maſculine Empire, or blows the Trumpet of Rebellion to the Moiety of Mankind. Is it by exhorting Women, not to expect to have their own Will in any thing, but to be entirely Submiſſive, when once they have made choice of a Lord and Maſter, tho’ he happen not to be ſo Wiſe, ſo Kind, or even ſo Juſt a Governor as was expected? She did not indeed adviſe them to think his Folly Wiſdom, nor his Brutality that Love and Worſhip he promiſed in his Matrimonial Oath, for this required a Flight of Wit and Senſe much above her poor Ability, and proper only to Maſculine Underſtandings. However ſhe did not in any manner prompt them to Reſiſt, or to Abdicate the Perjur’d Spouſe, tho’ the Laws of God and the Land make ſpecial Proviſion for it, in a caſe wherein, as is to be fear’d, few Men can truly plead Not Guilty.
’Tis true, thro’ Want of Learning, and of that Superior Genius which Men as Men lay claim to, ſhe was ignorant of the Natural Inferiority of our Sex, which our Maſters lay down as a Self-Evident and Fundamental Truth. She ſaw nothing in the Reaſon of Things, to make this either a Principle or a Concluſion, but much to the contrary; it being Sedition at leaſt, if not Treaſon to aſſert it in this Reign. For if by the Natural Superiority of their Sex, they mean that every Man is by Nature ſuperior to every Woman, which is the obvious meaning, and that which muſt be ſtuck to if they would ſpeak Senſe, it wou’d be a Sin in any Woman to have Dominion over any Man, and the greateſt Queen ought not to command but to obey her Footman, becauſe no Municipal Laws can ſuperſede or change the Law of Nature; ſo that if the Dominion of the Men be ſuch, the Salique Law, as unjuſt as Engliſh Men have ever thought it, ought to take place A over vi A1v over all the Earth, and the moſt glorious Reigns in the Engliſh, Daniſh, Caſtilian, and other Annals, were wicked Violations of the Law of Nature!
If they mean that ſome Men are ſuperior to ſome Women, this is no great Diſcovery; had they turn’d the Tables they might have ſeen that ſome Women are Superior to ſome Men. Or had they been pleaſed to remember their Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, they might have known that One Woman is ſuperior to All the Men in theſe Nations, or elſe they have ſworn to very little purpoſe. And it muſt not be ſuppos’d, that their Reaſon and Religion wou’d ſuffer them to take Oaths, contrary to the Law of Nature and Reaſon of things.
By all which it appears, that our Reflector’s Ignorance is very pitiable, it may be her Misfortune but not her Crime, eſpecially ſince ſhe is willing to be better inform’d, and hopes ſhe ſhall never be ſo obſtinate as to ſhut her Eyes againſt the Light of Truth, which is not to be charg’d with Novelty, how late ſoever we may be bleſs’d with the Diſcovery. Nor can Error, be it as Antient as it may, ever plead Preſcription againſt Truth. And ſince the only way to remove all Doubts, to anſwer all Objections, and to give the Mind entire Satisfaction, is not by Affirming, but by Proving, ſo that every one may ſee with their own Eyes, and Judge according to the beſt of their own Underſtandings, She hopes it is no Preſumption to inſiſt on this Natural Right of Judging for her ſelf, and the rather, becauſe by quitting it, we give up all the Means of Rational Conviction. Allow us then as many Glaſſes as you pleſe to help our Sight, and as many good Arguments as you can afford to Convince our Underſtandings: But don’t exact of us we beſeech you, to affirm that we ſee ſuch things as are only the Diſcovery of Men vii A2r Men who have quicker Senſes; or that we underſtand and Know what we have by Hear-ſay only; for to be ſo exceſſively Complaiſant, is neither to ſee nor to underſtand.
That the Cuſtom of the World has put Women, generally ſpeaking, into a State of Subjection, is not deny’d; but the Right can no more be prov’d from the Fact, than the Predominancy of Vice can juſtifie it. A certain great Man has endeavour’d to prove by Reaſons not contemptible, that in the Original State of things the Woman was the Superior, and that her Subjection to the Man is an Effect of the Fall, and the Puniſhment of her Sin. And that Ingenious Theoriſt Mr. Whiſton aſſerts, That before the Fall there was a greater equallity between the two Sexes. However this be, ’tis certainly no Arrogance in a Woman to conclude, that ſhe was made for the Service of God, and that this is her End. Becauſe God made all Things for Himſelf, and a Rational Mind is too noble a Being to be Made for the Sake and Service of any Creature. The Service ſhe at any time becomes oblig’d to pay to a Man, is only a Buſineſs by the Bye. Juſt as it may be any Man’s Buſineſs and Duty to keep Hogs; he was not Made for this, but if he hires himſelf out to ſuch an Employment, he ought conſcientiouſly to perform it. Nor can any thing be concluded to the contrary from St. Paul’s Argument, 1 Cor. II. For he argues only for Decency and Order, according to the preſent Cuſtom and State of things. Taking his Words ſtrictly and literally, they prove too much, in that Praying and Prophecying in the Church are allow’d the Women, provided they do it with their Head Cover’d, as well as the Men; and no inequality can be inferr’d from hence, neither from the Gradation the Apoſtle there uſes, that the Head of every Man is Chriſt, and that the Head of the WomanA2 man viii A2v man is the Man, and the Head of Chriſt is God; It being evident from the Form of Baptiſm, that there is no natural Inferiority among the Divine Perſons, but that they are in all things Coequal. The Apoſtle indeed adds, that the Man is the Glory of God, and the Woman the Glory of the Man, &c. But what does he infer from hence? he ſays not a word of Inequality, or natural Inferiority, but concludes, that a Woman ought to Cover her head, and a Man ought not to cover his, and that even Nature it ſelf, teaches us, that if a Man have long hair it is a ſhame unto him. Whatever the Apoſtle’s Argument proves in this place, nothing can be plainer, than that there is much more ſaid againſt the preſent Faſhion of Men’s wearing long Hair, than for that Supremacy they lay claim to. For by all that appears in the Text, it is not ſo much a Law of Nature, that Women ſhou’d Obey Men, as that Men ſhou’d not wear long Hair. Now how can a Chriſtian Nation allow Faſhions contrary to the Law of Nature, forbidden by an Apoſtle, and declared by him to be a ſhame to Man? Or if Cuſtom may make an alteration in one Caſe it may in another, but what then becomes of the Nature and Reaſon of things? Beſides, the Concluſion the Apoſtle draws from his Argument concerning Women, viz. that they ſhou’d have power on their heads becauſe of the Angels, is ſo very obſcure a Text, That the Ingenious Paraphraſt who pleads ſo much for the Natural Subjection of Women, Ingenuouſly confeſſes, that he does not underſtand it. Probably it refers to ſome Cuſtom among the Corinthians, which being well known to them the Apoſtle only hints at it, but which we are ignorant of, and therefore apt to miſtake him. ’Tis like that the Falſe Apoſtle whom St. Paul writes againſt, had led Captive ſome of their Rich ix A3r Rich and Powerful but ſilly Women, who having as mean an Opinion of the Reaſon God had given them, as any Deceiver cou’d deſire, did not, like the noble minded Bereans, ſearch the Scriptures whether thoſe things were ſo, but lazily took up with having Men’s Perſons in admiration, and follow’d their Leaders Blindfold, the certain Rout to Deſtruction. And it is alſo probable, that the ſame cunning Seducer imploy’d theſe Women to carry on his own Deſigns, and putting them upon what he might not think fit to appear in himſelf, made them guilty of Indecent Behaviour in the Church of Corinth. And therefore St. Paul thought it neceſſary to reprove them ſo ſeverly in order to humble them, but this being done, he takes care in the Concluſion to ſet the matter on a right Foot, placing the two Sexes on a Level, to Keep Men as much as might be, from taking thoſe advantages which People who have ſtrength in their hands, are apt to aſſume over thoſe who can’t contend with them. For, ſays he, Nevertheleſs, or notwithſtanding the former Argument, the Man is not without the Woman, nor the Woman without the Man, but all things of God. The Relation between the two Sexes is mutual, and the Dependance Reciprocal, both of them Depending intirely upon God, and upon Him only; which one wou’d think is no great Argument of the natural Inferiority of either Sex.
Our Reflector is of Opinion that Diſputes of this kind, extending to Human Nature in general, and not peculiar to thoſe to whom the Word of God has been reveal’d, ought to be decided by natural Reaſon only. And that the Holy Scriptures ſhou’d not be Intereſſed in the preſent Controverſy, in which it determines nothing, any more than it does between the Copernican and Ptolomean Syſtems. The Deſign of thoſe Holy Books x A3v Books being to make us excellent Moraliſts and Perfect Chriſtians, not great Philoſophers. And being writ for the Vulgar as well as for the Learned, they are accommodated to the common way of Speech and the Uſage of the World; in which we have but a ſhort Probation, ſo that it matters not much what part we Act, whether of Governing or Obeying, provided we perform it well with reſpect to the World to come.
One does not wonder indeed, that when an Adverſary is drove to a Nonplus and Reaſon declares againſt him, he flies to Authority, eſpecially to Divine, which is infallible, and therefore ought not to be diſputed. But Scripture is not always on their ſide who make parade of it, and thro’ their skill in Languages and the Tricks of the Schools, wreſt it from its genuine ſenſe to their own Inventions. And ſuppoſing, not granting, that it were apparently to the Woman’s Diſadvantage, no fair and generous Adverſary but wou’d be aſham’d to urge this advantage. Becauſe Women without their own Fault, are kept in Ignorance of the Original, wanting Languages and other helps to Criticiſe on the Sacred Text, of which they know no more, than Men are pleas’d to impart in their Tranſlations. In ſhort, they ſhew their deſire to maintain their Hypotheſes, but by no means their Reverence to the Sacred Oracles who engage them in ſuch Diſputes. And therefore the blame be theirs, who have unneceſſarily introduc’d them in the preſent Subject, and who by ſaying that the Reflections were not agreeable to Scripture, oblige the Reflector to ſhew that thoſe who affirm it muſt either miſtake her Meaning, or the Senſe of Holy Scripture, or both, if they think what they ſay, and do not find fault merely becauſe they reſolve to do ſo. For had ſhe ever writ any thing contrary to thoſe ſacred Truths, ſhe wou’d be the firſt in pronouncing its Condemnation.xi A4r
But what ſays the Holy Scripture? It ſpeaks of Women as in a State of Subjection, and ſo it does of the Jews and Chriſtians when under the Dominion of the Chaldeans and Romans, requiring of the one as well as of the other a quiet ſubmiſſion to them under whoſe Power they liv’d. But will any one ſay that theſe had a Natural Superiority and Right to Dominion? that they had a ſuperior Underſtanding, or any Preeminence, except what their greater Strength acquir’d? Or that the other were ſubjected to their Adverſaries for any other Reaſon but the Puniſhment of their ſins, and in order to their Reformation? Or for the Exerciſe of their Vertue, and becauſe the Order of the World and the Good of Society requir’d it?
If Mankind had never ſinn’d, Reaſon wou’d always have been obey’d, there wou’d have been no ſtruggle for Dominion, and Brutal Power wou’d not have prevail’d. But in the laps’d State of Mankind, and now that Men will not be guided by their Reaſon but by their Appetites, and do not what they ought but what they can, the Reaſon, or that which ſtands for it, the Will and Pleaſure of the Governor is to be the Reaſon of thoſe who will not be guided by their own, and muſt take place for Order’s ſake, altho’ it ſhou’d not be conformable to right Reaſon. Nor can there be any Society great or little, from Empires down to private Families, without a laſt Reſort, to determine the Affairs of that Society by an irreſiſtible Sentence. Now unleſs this Supremacy be fix’d ſomewhere, there will be a perpetual Contention about it, ſuch is the love of Dominion, and let the Reaſon of things be what it may, thoſe who have leaſt Force, or Cunning to ſupply it, will have the Diſadvantage. So that ſince Women are acknowledg’d to have leaſt Bodily ſtrength, their being commanded to obey is in pure kindneſs to them, and for xii A4v for their Quiet and Security, as well as for the Exerciſe of their Vertue. But does it follow that Domeſtic Governors have more Senſe than their Subjects, any more than that other Governors have? We do not find that any Man thinks the worſe of his own Underſtanding becauſe another has ſuperior Power; or concludes himſelf leſs capable of a Poſt of Honour and Authority, becauſe he is not Prefer’d to it. How much time wou’d lie on Men’s hands, how empty wou’d the Places of Concourſe be, and how ſilent moſt Companies, did Men forbear to Cenſure their Governors, that is in effect to think themſelves Wiſer. Indeed Government wou’d be much more deſirable than it is, did it inveſt the Poſſeſſor with a ſuperior Underſtanding as well as Power. And if mere Power gives a Right to Rule, there can be no ſuch thing as Uſurpation; but a Highway-Man ſo long as he has ſtrength to force, has alſo a Right to require our Obedience.
Again, if Abſolute Sovereignty be not neceſſary in a State, how comes it to be ſo in a Family? or if in a Family why not in a State; ſince no Reaſon can be alledg’d for the one that will not hold more ſtrongly for the other? If the Authority of the Husband ſo far as it extends, is ſacred and inalienable, why not of the Prince? The Domeſtic Sovereign is without Diſpute Elected, and the Stipulations and Contract are mutual, is it not then partial in Men to the laſt degree, to contend for, and practiſe that Arbitrary Dominion in their Families, which they abhor and exclaim againſt in the State? For if Arbitrary Power is evil in it ſelf, and an improper Method of Governing Rational and Free Agents, it ought not to be Practis’d any where; Nor is it leſs, but rather more miſchievous in Families than in Kingdoms, by how much 100000 Tyrants are worſe than one. What tho’ a Husband can’t depriveprive xiii a1r prive a Wife of Life without being reſponsible to the Law, he may however do what is much more grievous to a generous Mind, render Life miſerable, for which ſhe has no Redreſs, ſcarce Pity which is afforded to every other Complainant. It being thought a Wife’s Duty to ſuffer every thing without Complaint. If all Men are born free, how is it that all Women are born Slaves? as they muſt be if the being ſubjected to the inconſtant, uncertain, unknown, arbitrary Will of Men, be the perfect Condition of Slavery? and if the Eſſence of Freedom conſiſts, as our Maſters ſay it does, in having a ſtanding Rule to live by? And why is Slavery ſo much condemn’d and ſtrove againſt in one Caſe, and ſo highly applauded, and held ſo neceſſary and ſo ſacred in another?
’Tis true that God told Eve after the Fall that her Husband ſhou’d Rule over her: And ſo it is that he told Eſau by the mouth of Iſaac his Father, that he ſhou’d ſerve his younger Brother, and ſhou’d in time, and when he was ſtrong enough to do it, break the Yoke from off his Neck. Now why one Text ſhou’d be a Command any more than the other, and not both of them be Predictions only; or why the former ſhou’d prove Adam’s natural Right to Rule, and much leſs every Man’s, any more than the latter is a Proof of Jacob’s Right to Rule, and of Eſau’s to Rebel, one is yet to learn? The Text in both Caſes foretelling what wou’d be; but neither of them determining what ought to be.
But the Scripture commands Wives to ſubmit themſelves to their own Husbands. True; for which St. Paul gives a Myſtical Reaſon (Eph 5.22, &c) and St. Peter a Prudential and Charitable one (1 St. Pet. 3.) but neither of them derive that Subjection from the Law of Nature. Nay St. Paul, as if he foreſawa ſaw xiv a1v ſaw and meant to prevent this Plea, giving directions for their Conduct to Women in general, 1 Tim. 2, when he comes to ſpeak of Subjection, he changes his Phraſe from Women which denotes the whole Sex, to Woman which in the New Teſtament is appropriated to a Wife.
As for his not ſuffering Women to ſpeak in the Church, no ſober Perſon that I know of pretends to it. That Learned Paraphraſt indeed, who lays ſo much ſtreſs on the Natural Subjection, provided this Prerogative be ſecur’d, is willing to give up the other. For he endeavours to prove that Inſpir’d Women as well as Men us’d to ſpeak in the Church, and that St. Paul does not forbid it, but only takes care that the Women ſhou’d ſignifie their Subjection by wearing a Veil. But the Apoſtle is his own beſt Expoſitor, let us therefore compare his Precepts with his Practice, for he was all of a piece, and did not contradict himſelf. Now by this Compariſon we find, that tho’ he forbids Women to teach in the Church, and this for ſeveral Prudential Reaſons, like thoſe he introduces with an I give my Opinion, and now ſpeak I not the Lord, and not becauſe of any Law of Nature, or Poſitive Divine Precept, for that the words they are Commanded (1 Cor. 14. 24.) are not in the Original, appears from the Italic Character, yet he did not found this Prohibition on any ſuppos’d want of Underſtanding in Woman, or of ability to Teach; neither does he confine them at all times to learn in ſilence. For the Eloquent Apollos who was himſelf a Teacher, was inſtructed by Priſcilla as well as by her Husband Aquila, and was improv’d by them both in the Chriſtian Faith. Nor does St. Paul blame her for this, or ſuppoſe that ſhe Uſurp’d Authority over that great Man, ſo far from this, that as ſhe is always honourably mention’d in xv a2r in Holy Scripture, ſo our Apoſtle in his Salutations, Rom 16. places her in the Front, even before her Husband, giving to her as well as to him, the Noble Title of his Helper in Chriſt Jeſus, and of one to whom all the Churches of the Gentiles had great Obligations.
But it will be ſaid perhaps, that in 1 Tim. 2. 13, &c. St. Paul argues for the Woman’s ſubjection from the Reaſon of things. To this I anſwer, that it muſt be confeſs’d that this (according to the vulgar Interpretation) is a very obſcure place, and I ſhou’d be glad to ſee a Natural, and not a Forc’d Interpretation given of it by thoſe who take it Literally. Whereas if it be taken Allegorically, with reſpect to the Myſtical Union between Chriſt and his Church, to which St. Paul frequently accommodates the Matrimonial Relation, the difficulties vaniſh. For the Earthly Adam’s being Form’d before Eve, ſeems as little to prove her Natural Subjection to him, as the Living Creatures, Fiſhes, Birds and Beaſts being Form’d before them both, proves that Mankind muſt be ſubject to theſe Animals. Nor can the Apoſtle mean that Eve only ſinned; or that ſhe only was Deceiv’d, for if Adam ſinn’d wilfully and knowingly, he became the greater Tranſgreſſor. But it is very true that the Second Adam, the Man Chriſt Jeſus, was firſt form’d, and then his Spouſe the Church. He was not in any reſpect Deceiv’d, nor does ſhe pretend to Infallibility. And from this ſecond Adam, promis’d to Eve in the Day of our firſt Parent’s Tranſgreſſion, and from Him only, do all their Race, Men as well as Women, derive their Hopes of Salvation. Nor is it promis’d to either Sex on any other Terms beſides Perſeverance in Faith, Charity, Holineſs and Sobriety.
If the Learned will not admit of this Interpretation, I know not how to contend with them. For Senſe a2 is xvi a2v is a Portion that God Himſelf has been pleas’d to diſtribute to both Sexes with an Impartial Hand, but Learning is what Men have engroſs’d to themſevles, and one can’t but admire their great Improvements! For after doubting whether there was ſuch a thing as Truth, and after many hundred years Diſputes about it, in the laſt Century an extraordinary Genius aroſe, (whom yet ſome are pleas’d to call a Viſionary) enquir’d after it, and laid down the beſt Method of finding it. Not to the general liking of the Men of Letters, perhaps, becauſe it was wrote in a vulgar Language, and was ſo natural and eaſy as to debaſe Truth to Common Underſtandings, ſhewing to plainly that Learning and true Knowledge are two very different things. For it often happens (ſays that Author) that Women and Children acknowledge the Falſhood of thoſe Prejudices we contend with, becauſe they do not dare to judge without examination, and they bring all the attention they are capable of to what they reade. Whereas on the contrary, the Learned continue wedded to their own Opinions, becauſe they will not take the trouble of examining what is contrary to their receiv’d Doctrines.
Sciences indeed have been invented and taught long ago, and, as Men grew better advis’d, new Modell’d. So that it is become a conſiderable piece of Learning to give an account of the Riſe and Progreſs of the Sciences, and of the various Opinions of Men concerning them. But Certainty and Demonſration are much pretended to in this preſent Age, and being obtain’d in many things, ’tis hop’d Men will never Diſpute them away in that which is of greateſt Importance, the Way of Salvation. And becauſe there is not any thing more certain than what is delivered in the oracles of God, we come now to conſider what they offer in favour of our Sex.Let xvii a3r
Let it be premis’d, (according to the Reaſoning of a very Ingenious Perſon in a like Caſe) that One Text for us, is more to be regarded than many againſt us. Becauſe that One being different from what Cuſtom has eſtabliſh’d, ought to be taken with Philoſophical Strictneſs; whereas the Many being expreſſ’d according to the vulgar Mode Of Speech, ought to have no greater ſtreſs laid on them, than that evident Condeſcenſion will bear. One place then were ſufficient, but we have many Inſtances wherein Holy Scripture conſiders Women very differently from what they appear in the common Prejudices of Mankind.
The World will hardly allow a Woman to ſay any thing well, unleſs as ſhe borrows it from Men, or is aſſiſted by them: But God Himſelf allows that the Daughters of Zelophehad ſpake right, and paſſes their Requeſt into a Law. Conſidering how much the Tyranny ſhall I ſay, or the ſuperior Force of Men, keeps Women from Acting in the World, or doing any thing conſiderable, and remembring withal the conciſeneſs of the Sacred Story, no ſmall part of it is beſtow’d in tranſmitting the Hiſtory of Women famous in their Generations: Two of the Canonical Books bearing the Names of thoſe great Women whoſe Vertues and Actions are there recorded. Ruth being call’d from among the Gentiles to be an Anceſtor of the Meſſiah, and Eſther being rais’d up by God to be the great Inſtrument of the Deliverance and Proſperity of the Jewiſh Church.
The Character of Iſaac, tho’ one of the moſt blameleſs Men taken notice of in the Old Teſtament, muſt give place to Rebecca’s, whoſe Affections are more Reaſonably plac’d then his, her Favourite Son being the ſame who was God’s Favourite. Nor was the Bleſſing beſtow’d according to his but to her Deſire; ſo that if you xviii a3v you will not allow, that her Command to Jacob ſuperſeded Iſaac’s to Eſau, his deſire to give the Bleſſing to this Son, being evidently an effect of his Partiality: You muſt at leaſt grant that ſhe paid greater deference to the Divine Revelation, and for this Reaſon at leaſt, had a Right to oppoſe her Husband’s Deſign; which it ſeems Iſaac was ſenſible of, when upon his Diſappointment he trembled ſo exceedingly. And ſo much notice is taken even of Rebecca’s Nurſe, that we have an account where ſhe Died and where ſhe was Buried.
God is pleas’d to record it among His Favours to the Ingrateful Jews, that He ſent before them His Servants Moſes, Aaron, and Miriam; who was alſo a Propheteſs, and Inſtructed the Women how to bear their part with Moſes in his Triumphal Hymn. Is ſhe to be blam’d for her Ambition? and is not the High Prieſt Aaron alſo? who has his ſhare in the Reproof as well as in the Crime; nor cou’d ſhe have mov’d Sedition if ſhe had not been a conſiderable Perſon, which appears alſo by the Reſpect the People paid her, in deferring their Journey till ſhe was ready.
Where ſhall we find a nobler piece of Poetry than Deborah’s Song? or a better and greater Ruler than that Renowned Woman whoſe Government ſo much excell’d that of the former Judges? And tho’ ſhe had a Husband, ſhe her ſelf Judg’d Iſrael and conſequently was his Sovereign, of whom we know no more than the Name. Which Inſtance, as I humbly ſuppoſe, overthrows the pretence of Natural Inferiority. For it is not the bare Relation of a Fact, by which none ought to be concluded, unleſs it is conformable to a Rule, and to the Reaſon of things: But Deborah’s Government was confer’d on her by God Himſelf. Conſequently the Sovereignty of a Woman is not contrary to the Law xix a4r Law of Nature; for the law of Nature is the Law of God, who cannot contradict Himſelf; and yet it was God who Inſpir’d and Approv’d that great Woman, raiſing her up to Judge and to Deliver His People Iſrael.
Not to inſiſt on the Courage of that valiant Woman who deliver’d Thebez by ſlaying the Aſſailant; nor upon the preference which God thought fit to give to Sampſon’s Mother, in ſending the Angel to her, and not to her Husband, whoſe vulgar Fear ſhe ſo prudently anſwer’d, as plainly ſhews her ſuperior Underſtanding: To paſs over Abigail’s wiſe Conduct, whereby ſhe preſerv’d her Family and deſerv’d David’s acknowledgments, for reſtraining him from doing a Raſh and unjuſtifiable Action; the Holy Penman giving her the Character of a Woman of good Underſtanding, whilſt her Husband has that of a Churliſh and Fooliſh Perſon, and a Son of Belial: To ſay nothing of the wiſe Woman (as the Text calls her) of Tekoah; or of her of Abel who has the ſame Epithet, and who by her Prudence deliver’d the City and appeas’d a dangerous Rebellion: Nor of the Queen of Sheba’s, whoſe Journey to hear the Wiſdom of Solomon, ſhews her own good Judgment and great ſhare in that excellent Endowment. Solomon does not think himſelf too Wiſe to be Inſtructed by his Mother, nor too great to Record her Leſſons, which if he had follow’d he might have ſpar’d the trouble of Repentance, and been deliver’d from a great deal of that Vanity he ſo deeply Regrets.
What Reaſon can be aſſign’d why the Mothers of the Kings of Judah, are ſo frequently noted in thoſe very ſhort accounts that are given of their Reigns, but the great Reſpect paid them, or perhaps their Influence on the Government, and ſhare in the Adminiſtration? This xx a4v This is not improbable, ſince the wicked Athaliah had power to carry on her Intrigues ſo far as to get poſſeſſion of the Throne, and to keep it for ſome Years. Neither was there any neceſſity for Aſa’s removing his Mother (or Grandmother) from being Queen, if this were merely Titular, and did not carry Power and Authority along with it. And we find what Influence Jezabel had in Iſrael, indeed to her Husband’s and her own Deſtruction.
It was a Widow-Woman whom God made choice of to ſuſtain his Prophet Elijah at Zarephah. And the Hiſtory of the Shunamite is a noble Inſtance of the Account that is made of Women in Holy Scripture. For whether it was not the Cuſtom in Shunem for the Husband to Dictate, or whether her’s was conſcious of her ſuperior Vertue, or whatever was the Reaſon, we find it is ſhe who Governs, dwelling with great Honour and Satisfaction among her own People. Which Happineſs ſhe underſtood ſo well, and was ſo far from a troubleſome Ambition, that ſhe deſires no Recommendation to the King or Captain of the Hoſt when the Prophet offer’d it, being already greater than they cou’d make her. The Text calls her a Great Woman, whilſt her Husband is hardly taken notice of, and this no otherwiſe than as performing the Office of a Bailiff. It is her Piety and Hoſpitality that are Recorded, She invites the Prophet to her Houſe; who Converſes with and is entertain’d by her. She gives her Husband no account of her Affairs any further than to tell him her Deſigns that he may ſee them Executed. And when he deſires to know the reaſon of her Conduct, all the Anſwer ſhe affords is, Well, or as the Margin has it from the Hebrew, Peace. Nor can this be thought aſſuming, ſince it is no more than what the Prophet encourages, for all his Addreſſes are to xxi b1r to her, he takes no Notice of her Husband. His benefits are confer’d on her, ’tis ſhe and her Houſhold whom he warns of a Famine, and ’tis ſhe who appeals to the King for the Reſtitution of her Houſe and Land. I wou’d not infer from hence that Women generally ſpeaking, ought to govern in their Families when they have a Husband, but I think this Inſtance and Example is a ſufficient Proof, that if by Cuſtom or Contract, or the Laws of the Country, or Birth-right (as in the Caſe of Sovereign Princeſſes) they have the ſupreme Authority, it is no Uſurpation, nor do they Act contrary to Holy Scripture, nor conſequently to the Law of Nature. For they are no where that I know of forbidden to claim their Juſt Right: The Apoſtle ’tis true wou’d not have them uſurp Authority where Cuſtom and the Law of the ſtrongeſt had brought them into Subjection, as it has in theſe parts of the World. Tho’ in remoter Regions, if Travellers rightly inform us, the Succeſſion to the Crown is entail’d on the Female Line.
God Himſelf who is no Reſpecter of Perſons, with whom there is neither Bond nor Free, Male nor Female, but they are all one in Chriſt Jeſus, did not deny Women that Divine Gift the Spirit of Prophecy, neither under the Jewiſh nor Chriſtian Diſpenſation. We have nam’d two great Propheteſſes already, Miriam and Deborah, and beſides other Inſtances, Huldah the Propheteſs was ſuch an Oracle that the good King Joſiah, that great Pattern of Vertue, ſends even the Hight Prieſt himſelf to conſult her, and to receive directions from her in the moſt arduous Affairs. It ſhall come to paſs, ſaith the Lord, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all Fleſh, and your Sons and your Daughters ſhall Propheſy, which was accordingly fulfill’d by the Miſſion of the Holy b Ghost xxii b1v Ghoſt on the day of Pentecoſt, as St. Peter tells us. And beſides others, there is mention of four Daughters of Philip, Virgins who did Propheſy. For as in the Old, ſo in the New Teſtament, Women make a conſiderable Figure; the Holy Virgin receiving the greateſt Honour that Human Nature is capable of, when the Son of God vouchſafed to be her Son and to derive his Humanity from her only. And if it is a greater Bleſſing to hear the Word of God and keep it, who are more conſiderable for their Aſſiduity in this than the Female Diſciples of our Lord? Mary being Exemplary, and receiving a noble Encomium from Him, for her Choice of the better Part.
It wou’d be thought tedious to enumerate all the excellent Women mention’d in the New Teſtament, whoſe humble Penitence and ardent Love, as Magdalen’s; their lively Faith and holy Importunity, as the Syrophenician’s; extraordinary Piety and Uprightneſs, as Elizabeth’s; Hoſpitality, Charity and Diligence, as Martha’s, Tabitha’s; &c. (ſee St. Luc. 8) frequent and aſſiduous Devotions and Auſterities, as Anna’s; Conſtancy and Courage, Perſeverance and ardent Zeal, as that of the Holy Women who attended our Lord to His Croſs, when His Diſciples generally forſook, and the moſt Courageous had deny’d, Him; are Recorded for our Example. Their Love was ſtronger than Death, it follow’d our Saviour into the Grave. And as a Reward, both the Angel and even the Lord Himſelf appears firſt to them, and ſends them to Preach the great Article of Reſurrection to the very Apoſtles, who being as yet under the Power of the Prejudices of their Sex, eſteem’d the Holy Women’s Words as idle Tales and believed them not.
Some Men will have it, that the Reaſon of our Lord’s appearing firſt to the Women, was their being leaſt xxiii b2r leaſt able to keep a Secret; a Witty and Maſculine Remarque, and wonderfully Reverent! But not to diſpute whether thoſe Women were Blabs or no, there are many Inſtances in Holy Scripture of Women who did not betray the Confidence repos’d in them. Thus Rahab tho’ formerly an ill Woman, being Converted by the Report of thoſe Miracles, which tho’ the Iſraelites ſaw, yet they believ’d not in God, nor put their Trust in his Word, She acknowledges the God of Heaven, and as a Reward of her faithful Service in concealing Joſhua’s Spies, is with her Family exempted from the Ruine of her Country, and alſo has the Honor of being nam’d in the Meſſiah’s Genealogy. Michal to ſave David’s Life expoſes her ſelf to the Fury of a Jealous and Tyrannical Prince. A Girl was truſted by David’s Grave Councellors to convey him Intelligence in his Son’s Rebellion; and when a Lad had found it out and blab’d it to Abſalom, the King’s Friends confiding in the Prudence and Fidelity of a Woman were ſecur’d by her. When our Lord eſcap’d from the Jews, he truſted Himſelf in the hands of Martha and Mary. So does St. Peter with another Mary when the Angel deliver’d him from Herod, the Damſel Rhoda too was acquainted with the Secret. More might be ſaid, but one wou’d think here is enough to ſhew, that whatever other Great and Wiſe Reaſons Men may have for deſpiſing Women, and keeping them in Ignorance and Slavery, it can’t be from their having learnt to do ſo in Holy Scripture. The Bible is for, and not againſt us, and cannot without great violence done to it, be urg’d to our Prejudice.
However, there are ſtrong and prevalent Reaſons which demonſtrate the Superiority and Pre-eminence of the Men. For in the firſt place, Boys have much Time and Pains, Care and Cost bestow’d on their b2 Education xxiv b2v Education, Girls have little or none. The former are early initiated in the Sciences, are made acquainted with Antient and Modern Diſcoveries, they Study Books and Men, have all imaginable encouragement; not only Fame, a dry Reward now adays, but alſo Title, Authority, Power, and Riches themſelves which purchaſe all things, are the Reward of their Improvement. The latter are reſtrain’d, frown’d upon, and beat, not for but from the Muſes; Laughter and Ridicule that never-failing Scare-Crow is ſet up to drive them from the Tree of Knowledge. But if in ſpite of all Difficulties Nature prevails, and they can’t be kept ſo ignorant as their Maſters wou’d have them, they are ſtar’d upon as Monſters, Cenſur’d, Envy’d, and every way Diſcourag’d, or at the beſt they have the Fate the Proverb aſſigns them, Vertue is prais’d and ſtarv’d. And therefore ſince the courſeſt Materials need the moſt Curing, as every Workman can inform you, and the worſt Ground the moſt elaborate Culture, it undeniably follows, that Men’s Underſtandings are ſuperior to Women’s, for after many Years Study and Experience they become Wiſe and Learned, and Women are not Born ſo!
Again, Men are poſſeſs’d of all Places of Power, Truſt and Profit, they make Laws and exerciſe the Magiſtracy, not only the ſharpeſt Sword, but even all the Swords and Blunderbuſſes are theirs, which by the ſtrongeſt Logic in the World, gives them the beſt Title to every thing they pleaſe to claim as their Prerogative; who ſhall contend with them? Immemorial Preſcription is on their ſide in theſe parts of the World, Antient Tradition and Modern Uſage! Our Fathers have all along both Taught and Practis’d Superiority over the weaker Sex, and conſequently Women are by Nature inferior to Men, as was to be Demonſtrated. An xxv b3r An Argument which muſt be acknowledg’d unanſwerable, for as well as I love my Sex, I will not pretend a Reply to ſuch Demonſtration!
Only let me beg to be inform’d, to whom we poor Fatherleſs Maids, and Widows who have loſt their Maſters, owe Subjection? It can’t be to all Men in general, unleſs all Men were agreed to give the ſame Commands; do we then fall as Strays to the firſt who finds us? By the Maxims of ſome Men, and the Conduct of ſome Women one wou’d think ſo. But whoever he be that happens to become our Maſter, if he allows us to be Reaſonable Creatures, and does not merely Compliment us with that Title, ſince no man denies our Readineſs to uſe our Tongues, it wou’d tend, I ſhou’d think, to our Maſter’s advantage, and therefore he may pleaſe to be advis’d to teach us to improve our Reaſon. But if Reaſon is only allow’d us by way of Raillery, and the ſecret Maxim is that we have none, or little more than Brutes, ’tis the beſt way to confine us with Chain and Block to the Chimney-Corner, which probably might ſave the Eſtates of ſome Families and the Honor of others.
I do not propoſe this to prevent a Rebellion, for Women are not ſo well united as to form an Inſurrection. They are for the moſt part Wiſe enough to Love their Chains, and to diſcern how very becomingly they ſet. They think as humbly of themſelves as their Maſters can wiſh, with reſpect to the other Sex, but in regard to their own, they have a Spice of Maſculine Ambition, every one wou’d Lead, and none will Follow. Both Sexes being too apt to Envy, and too backward in Emulating, and take more delight in detracting from their Neighbour’s Vertue than in improving their own. And therefore as to thoſe Women who find themſelves born for Slavery, and are ſo ſenſible of their own Meanneſs as to conclude it impoſſible to attain to any xxvi b3v any thing excellent, ſince they are, or ought to be beſt acquainted with their own Strength and Genius, She’s a Fool who wou’d attempt their Deliverance of Improvement. No, let them enjoy the great Honor and Felicity of their Tame, Submiſſive and Depending Temper! Let the men applaud, and let them Glory in, this wonderful Humility! Let them receive the Flatteries and Grimaces of the other Sex, live unenvy’d by their own, and be as much Belov’d as one ſuch Woman can afford to Love another! Let them enjoy the Glory of treading in the Footſteps of their Predeceſſors, and of having the Prudence to avoid that audacious attempt of ſoaring beyond their Sphere! Let them Huſwife or Play, Dreſs and be pretty entertaining Company! Or which is better, relieve the Poor to eaſe their own Compaſſions, reade Pious Books, ſay their Prayers and go to Church, becauſe they have been Taught and Us’d to do ſo, without being able to give a better Reaſon for their Faith and Practice! Let them not by any means aſpire at being Women of Underſtanding, becauſe no Man can endure a Woman of Superior Senſe, or wou’d treat a reaſonable Woman civilly, but that he thinks he ſtands on higher ground, and that ſhe is ſo Wiſe as to make exceptions in his Favour, and to take her Meaſures by his Directions; they may pretend to Senſe indeed, ſince mere Pretences only render one the more Ridiculous! Let them in ſhort be what is call’d very Women, for this is moſt acceptable to all ſorts of Men; or let them aim at the Title of Good Devout Women, ſince ſome Men can bear with this; but let them not Judge of the Sex by their own Scantling. For the great Author of Nature and Fountain of all Perfection, never deſign’d that the Mean and Imperfect, but that the moſt Compleat and Excellentcellent xxvii b4r cellent of His Creatures in every Kind, ſhou’d be the Standard to the reſt.
To conclude, if that Great Queen who has ſubdu’d the Proud, and made the pretended Invincible more than once fly before her; who has Reſcu’d an Empire, Reduc’d a Kingdom, Conquer’d Provinces in as little time almoſt as one can Travel them, and ſeems to have Chain’d Victory to her Standard; who diſpoſes of Crowns, gives Laws and Liberty to Europe, and is the chief Inſtrument in the Hand of the Almighty to pull down and to ſet up the Great Men of the Earth; who Conquers every where for others, and no where for her ſelf but in the Hearts of the Conquer’d, who are of the number of thoſe who reap the benefit of her Triumphs; whilſt ſhe only reaps for her ſelf the Lawrels of Diſintereſſed Glory, and the Royal Pleaſure of doing Heroically; if this Glory of her own Sex and Envy of the other, will not think we need, or does not hold us worthy of, the Protection of her ever Victorious Arms, and Men have not the Gratitude for her ſake at leaſt to do Juſtice to her Sex, who has been ſuch a univerſal Benefactreſs to theirs: Adieu to the Liberties not of this or that Nation or Region only, but of the Moiety of Mankind! To all the great things that Women might perform, Inſpir’d by her Example, Encourag’d by her Smiles, and ſupported by her Power! To their Diſcovery of New Worlds for the Exerciſe of her Goodneſs, New Sciences to publiſh her Fame, and reducing Nature it ſelf to a Subjection to her Empire! To their deſtroying thoſe worſt of Tyrants Impiety and Immorality, which dare to ſtalk about even in her own Dominions, and to devour Souls almoſt within view of her Throne, leaving a ſtench behind them ſcarce to be corrected even by the Incenſe of her Devotions! To the Women’s Tracing a new Path to Honor, in xxviii b4v in which none ſhall walk but ſuch as ſcorn to Cringe in order to Riſe, and who are Proof both againſt giving and receiving Flattery! In a word, to thoſe Halcyon, or if you will Millennium Days, in which the Wolf and the Lamb ſhall feed together, and a Tyrannous Domination which Nature never meant, ſhall no longer render uſeleſs if not hurtful, the Induſtry and Underſtandings of half Mankind!
- In the Preface P. 1. l. 8. r. are.
- p. 2. l. 7. r. Ingenuous
- p. 6. l. 22. r. Men.
- p. 8. l. 17. r. Women.
- p. 11. l. 28. r. in neither.
- p. 17. l. 22. r. Sheba.
- In the Book p. 1. l. 16. for had read once.
- p. 5. l. 22 for meer r. mixt.
- p. 19. l. 15. for like r. as.
- p. 32. l. 27 for but r. and.
- p. 33. l. 19. r. is to receive.
- p. 35. l. 26. for of r. for.
- p. 42. l. 4. r. Women.
- p. 56. l. 5. r. the.
- p. 77 l. 2. dele to.
Some Reflections Upon Marriage.
Curiosity, which is ſometimes an occaſion of Good, and too frequently of Miſchief, by diſturbing either our Own, or our Neighbour’s Repoſe, having put me upon reading the Duke and Dutcheſs of Mazarine’s Caſe; I thought an Afternoon wou’d not be quite thrown away in purſuing ſome Reflections that it occaſion’d. The Name of Mazarine is conſiderable enough to draw the Eyes of the Curious, and when one remembers what a noiſe it had made in Europe, what Politick Schemes have been laid, what vaſt Deſigns brought about by the Cardinal that bore it; how well his meaſures were concerted for the Grandeur of that Naton into which he was tranſplanted, and that he wanted neither Power nor Inclination to eſtabliſh his own Family and make it as conſiderable as B any 2 B1v 2 any Subject’s could poſſible be, and what Honours and Riches he had heap’d together in order to this; one cannot but enquire how it comes about that he ſhould be ſo defeated in this laſt deſign? and that thoſe to whom he intruſted his Name and Treaſure, ſhould make a figure ſo very different from what might have been expected from them? And tho’ one had not Piety enough to make a Religious Reflection, yet Civil Prudence would almoſt enforce them to ſay, that Man being in Honour has no Underſtanding, but is compar’d unto the Beaſts that periſh. He bleſſeth his Soul, and thinks himſelf a happy Man, imagining his Houſe will endure for ever, and that he has eſtabliſh’d his Name and Family. But how wiſe ſoever he may be in other reſpects, in this he acts no better than the Ignorant and Fooliſh. For as he carries nothing away with him when he dies, ſo neither will his Pomp and Glory deſcend as he intended. Generous and Worthy Actions only can ſecure him from Oblivion, or what is worſe, being remembred with Contempt; ſo little reaſon have we to Envy any Man’s Wealth and Greatneſs, but much to Emulate his Wiſdom and Vertue.
The Dutcheſs of Mazarine’s Name has ſpread perhaps as far as her Uncle’s, and one 3 B2r 3 one can’t help wiſhing that ſo much Wit and Beauty, ſo much Politeneſs and Addreſs, had been accompany’d and ſupported by more valuable and laſting Qualities; one cannot but deſire that her Advocate inſtead of recriminating had clear’d the imputations laid on her, and that ſhe her ſelf, who ſays enough in her Memoirs to ſhew ſhe was unfortunate, had ſaid more to prove her ſelf diſcreet. They muſt be highly ill-natur’d who do not pity her ill Fortune at the ſame time that they muſt blame her Conduct, and regret that ſuch a Treſure ſhould fall into his hands who was not worthy of it, nor knew how to value and improve it; that ſhe who was capable of being a great Ornament to her Family and bleſſing to the Age ſhe liv’d in, ſhould only ſerve (to ſay no worſe) as an unhappy Shipwrack to point out the dangers of an ill Education and unequal Marriage.
Monſieur Mazarine is not to be juſtified, nor Madam his Spouſe excus’d. It is no queſtion which is moſt Criminal, the having no Senſe, or the abuſe of a liberal Portion; nor any hard matter to determine who is moſt to be pity’d, he whom Nature never qualify’d for great things, who therefore can’t be very ſenſible of great Misfortunes; or ſhe, who being capable of every thing, muſt therefore ſufferB2 fer 4 B2v 4 fer more and be the more lamented. To be yok’d for Life to a diſagreeable Perſon and Temper; to have Folly and Ignorance tyrannize over Wit and Senſe; to be contradicted in every thing one does or ſays, and bore down not by Reaſon but Authority; to be denied ones moſt innocent deſires, for no other cauſe but the Will and Pleaſure of an abſolute Lord and Maſter, whoſe Follies a Woman with all her Prudence cannot hide, and whoſe Commands ſhe cannot but deſpiſe at the ſame time ſhe obeys them; is a miſery none can have a juſt Idea of, but thoſe who have felt it.
Theſe are great Provocations, but nothing can juſtify the revenging the Injuries we receive from others, upon our ſelves: The Italian Proverb ſhews a much better way; If you would be reveng’d of your Enemies, live well. Had Madam Mazarine’s Education made a right Improvement of her Wit and Senſe, we ſhould not have found her ſeeking Relief by ſuch imprudent, not to ſay ſcandalous Methods, as the running away in Diſguiſe with a ſpruce Cavalier, and rambling to ſo many Courts and Places, nor diverting her ſelf with ſuch Childiſh, Ridiculous, or Ill-natur’d Amuſements, as the greateſt part of the Adventures in her Memoirs are made up of. True Wit conſiſts not meerly in doing or 5 B3r 5 or ſaying what is out of the way, but in ſuch ſurprizing things as are fit and becoming the perſon from whom they come. That which ſtirs us up to Laughter moſt commonly excites our Contempt; to pleaſe and to make Merry are two very different Talents. But what Remedies can be adminiſtred, what Relief expected, when Devotion, the only true Support in Diſtreſs, is turn’d into Ridicule? Unhappy is that Grandeur which makes us too great to be good; and that Wit which ſets us at a diſtance from true Wiſdom. Even Bigotry it ſelf, as contemptible as it is, is preferable to Prophane Wit; for that only requires our Pity, but this deſerves our Abhorrence.
A Woman who ſeeks Conſolation under Domeſtic troubles from the Gaieties of a Court, from Gaming and Courtſhip, from Rambling and odd Adventures, and the Amuſements meer Company affords, may Plaiſter up the Sore, but will never heal it; nay, which is worſe, ſhe makes it Feſter beyond a poſſibility of Cure. She juſtifies the Injury her Husband has done her, by ſhewing that whatever other good Qualities ſhe may have, Diſcretion, one of the Principal, is wanting. She may be Innocent, but ſhe can never prove ſhe is ſo; all that Charity can do for her when ſhe’s Cenſur’d is B3 only 6 B3v 6 only to be ſilent, it can make no Apologies for ſuſpicious Actions. An ill Husband may deprive a Wife of the comfort and quiet of her Life; may give her occaſion of exerciſing her Virtue, may try her Patience and Fortitude to the utmoſt, but that’s all he can do: ’tis her ſelf only can accompliſh her Ruin. Had Madam Mazarine’s Reſerve been what it ought to be, Monſieur Herard needed not to have warded off ſo carefully, the nice Subject of the Lady’s Honour, nor her Advocate have ſtrain’d ſo hard for Colours to excuſe ſuch Actions as will hardly bear ’em; a Man indeed ſhews the beſt ſide of his Wit, tho’ the worſt of his Integrity, when he has an ill Cauſe to manage. Truth is bold and vehement; ſhe depends upon her own ſtrength, and ſo ſhe be plac’d in a true Light, thinks it not neceſſary to uſe Artifice and Addreſs as a Recommendation; but the prejudices of Men have made them neceſſary: their Imagination gets the better of their Underſtanding, and more judge according to Appearances, than ſearch after the Truth of Things.
What an ill Figure does a Woman make with all the Charms of her Beauty and Sprightlineſs of her Wit, with all her good Humour and inſinuating Addreſs; tho’ ſhe be the beſt Œconomiſt in the World, the moſt entertaining Converſation; if ſhe remitmit 7 B4r 7 mit her Guard, abate in the Severity of her Caution and Strictneſs of her Vertue, and neglect thoſe Methods which are neceſſary to keep her not only from a Crime, but from the very ſuſpicion of one.
Are the being forbid having Comedies in her Houſe, an ill natur’d Jeſt, diſmiſſing of a Servant, impoſing Domeſtics, or frequent changing them, ſufficient Reaſons to Authorize a Woman’s leaving her Husband and breaking from the ſtrongeſt Bands, expoſing her ſelf to Temptations and Injuries from the Bad, to the contempt, or at the beſt to the pity of the Good, and the juſt Cenſure of all? A Woman of ſenſe one would think ſhould take little ſatisfaction in the Cringes and Courtſhip of her Adorers, even when ſhe is ſingle; but it is Criminal in a Wife to admit them: intereſted Perſons may call it Gallantry, but with the modeſt and diſcreet it is like to have a harder Name, or elſe Gallantry will paſs for a ſcandalous thing, not to be allow’d among Vertuous Perſons.
But Madam Mazarine is dead, may her Faults die with her; may there be no more occaſion given for the like Adventures, or if there is, may the Ladies be more Wiſe and Good than to take it! Let us ſee then from whence the miſchief proceeds, and try if it can be prevented; for certainly B4 Men 8 B4v 8 Men may be very happy in a Married State; ’tis their own fault if they are at any time otherwiſe. The wiſe Inſtitutor of Matrimony never did any thing in vain; we are the Sots and Fools if what he deſign’d for our Good, be to us an occaſion of falling. For Marriage, notwithſtanding all the looſe talk of the Town, the Satyrs of Ancient or Modern pretenders to Wit, will never loſe its due praiſe from judicious Perſons. Tho’ much may be ſaid againſt this or that Match, tho’ the Ridiculouſneſs of ſome, the Wickedneſs of others and Imprudence of too many, too often provoke our wonder or ſcorn, our indignation or pity, yet Marriage in general is too ſacred to be treated with Diſreſpect, too venerable to be the ſubject of Raillery and Buffonery. It is the Inſtitution of Heaven, the only Honourable way of continuing Mankind, and far be it from us to think there could have been a better than infinite Wiſdom has found out for us.
But upon what are the Satyrs againſt Marriage grounded? Not upon the State it ſelf, if they are juſt, but upon the ill Choice, or fooliſh Conduct of thoſe who are in it, and what has Marriage, conſidered in its ſelf, to do with theſe? Let every Man bear his own Burden: If through inordinate Paſſion, Raſhneſs, Humour,mour, 9 B5r 9 mour, Pride, Covetouſneſs, or any the like Folly, a Man makes an Imprudent Choice, Why ſhould Marriage be exclaim’d againſt? Let him blame himſelf for entring into an unequal Yoke, and making Choice of one who perhaps may prove a Burthen, a Diſgrace and Plague, inſtead of a Help and Comfort to him. Could there be no ſuch thing as an happy Marriage, Arguments againſt Marriage would hold good, but ſince the thing is not only poſſible, but even very probable, provided we take but competent Care, Act like Wiſe Men and Chriſtians, and acquit our ſelves as we ought, all we have to ſay againſt it ſerves only to ſhew the Levity or Impiety of our own Minds; we only make ſome flouriſhes of Wit, tho’ ſcarce without Injuſtice; and tho’ we talk prettily it is but very little to the purpoſe.
Is it the being ty’d to One that offends us? Why this ought rather to recommend Marriage to us, and would really do ſo, were we guided by Reaſon, and not by Humour or brutiſh Paſſion. He who does not make Friendſhip the chief inducement to his Choice, and prefer it before any other conſideration, does not deſerve a good Wife, and therefore ſhould not complain if he goes without one. Now we can never grow weary of our Friends; the longer 10 B5v 10 longer we have had them the more they are endear’d to us; and if we have One well aſſur’d, we need ſeek no further, but are ſufficiently happy in Her. The love of Variety in this and in other caſes, ſhews only the ill Temper of our own Minds, in that we ſeek for ſettled Happineſs in this preſent World, where it is not to be found, inſtead of being Content with a competent ſhare, chearfully enjoying and being thankful for the Good that is afforded us, and patiently bearing with the Inconveniences that attend it.
The Chriſtian Inſtitution of Marriage provides the beſt that may be for Domeſtic Quiet and Content, and for the Education of Children; ſo that if we were not under the tye of Religion, even the Good of Society and civil Duty would oblige us to what that requires at our Hands. And ſince the very beſt of us are but poor frail Creatures, full of Ignorance and Infirmity, ſo that in Juſtice we ought to tolerate each other, and exerciſe that Patience towards our Companions to Day, which we ſhall give them occaſion to ſhew towards us to Morrow, the more we are accuſtom’d to any one’s Converſation, the better ſhall we underſtand their Humour, be more able to comply with their Weakneſs and leſs offended at it. For he who would have every one 11 B6r 11 one ſubmit to his Humours and will not in his turn comply with them, tho’ we ſhould ſuppoſe him always in the Right, whereas a Man of this temper very ſeldom is ſo, he’s not fit for a Husband, ſcarce fit for Society, but ought to be turn’d out of the Herd to live by himſelf.
There may indeed be inconveniencies in a Married Life; but is there any Condition without them? And he who lives ſingle that he may indulge Licentiouſneſs and give up himſelf to the conduct of wild and ungovern’d Deſires, or indeed out of any other inducement, than the Glory of God and the Good of his Soul, through the proſpect he has of doing more Good, or becauſe his frame and diſpoſition of Mind are fitted for it, may rail as he pleaſes againſt Matrimony, but can never juſtifie his own Conduct, nor clear it from the imputation of Wickedneſs and Folly.
But if Marriage be ſuch a bleſſed State, how comes it, may you ſay, that there are ſo few happy Marriages? Now in anſwer to this, it is not to be wonder’d that ſo few ſucceed, we ſhould rather be ſurpriz’d to find ſo many do, conſidering how imprudently Men engage, the Motives they act by, and the very ſtrange Conduct they obſerve throughout.For 12 B6v 12
For pray, what do Men propoſe to themſelves in Marriage? What Qualifications do they look after in a Spouſe? What will ſhe bring is the firſt enquiry? How many Acres? Or how much ready Coin? Not that this is altogether an unneceſſary Queſtion, for Marriage without a Competency, that is, not only a bare Subſiſtence, but even a handſome and plentiful Proviſion, according to the Quality and Circumſtances of the Parties, is no very comfortable Condition. They who marry for Love as they call it, find time enough to repent their raſh Folly, and are not long in being convinc’d, that whatever fine Speeches might be made in the heat of Paſſion, there could be no real Kindneſs between thoſe who can agree to make each other miſerable. But as an Eſtate is to be conſider’d, ſo it ſhould not be the Main, much leſs the Only conſideration, for Happineſs does not depend on Wealth, that may be wanting, and too often is, where this abounds. He who Marries himſelf to a Fortune only, muſt expect no other ſatisfaction than that can bring him, but let him not ſay thate Marriage, but that his own Covetous or Prodigal Temper, has made him unhappy. What Joy has that Man in all his Plenty, who muſt either run from home to poſſeſs it, con- 13 B7r 13 contrary to all the Rules of Justice, to the Laws of God and Man, nay, even in oppoſition to Good nature, and Good breeding too, which ſome Men make more account of than all the reſt; or elſe be forc’d to ſhare it with a Woman whoſe Perſon or Temper is diſagreeable, whoſe preſence is ſufficient to ſour all his Enjoyments, ſo that if he has any remains of Religion, or Good manners, he muſt ſuffer the uneaſineſs of a continual watch, to force himſelf to a conſtrain’d Civility!
Few Men have ſo much Goodneſs as to bring themſelves to a liking of what they loath’d, meerly becauſe it is their Duty to like; on the contrary, when they Marry with an indifferency, to pleaſe their Friends or encreaſe their Fortune, the indifferency proceeds to an averſion, and perhaps even the kindneſs and complaiſance of the poor abus’d Wife ſhall only ſerve to encreaſe it. What follows then? There is no content at home, ſo it is ſought elſewhere, and the Fortune ſo unjuſtly got, is as careleſsly ſquander’d. The Man takes a looſe, what ſhou’d hinder him? He has all in his hands, and Cuſtom has almoſt taken off that ſmall Reſtraint Reputation us’d to lay. The Wife finds too late what was the Idol the Man adored, which 14 B7v 14 which her Vanity perhaps, or it may be the Commands and importunities of Relations, wou’d not let her ſee before; and now he has got that into his poſſeſſion, ſhe muſt make court to him for a little ſorry Alimony out of her own Eſtate. If Diſcretion and Piety prevails upon her Paſſions ſhe ſits down quietly, contented with her lot, ſeeks no Conſolation in the Multitude of Adorers, ſince he whom only ſhe deſir’d to pleaſe, becauſe it was her duty to do ſo, will take no delight in her Wit or Beauty: She follows no Diverſion to allay her Grief, uſes no Cordials to ſupport her Spirit, that may ſully her Vertue or bring a Cloud upon her Reputation, ſhe makes no appeals to the miſ-judging Croud, hardly mentions her Misfortunes to her moſt intimate Acquaintance, nor lays a load on her Husband to eaſe her ſelf, but wou’d if it were poſſible conceal his Crimes, tho’ her Prudence and Vertue give him a thouſand Reproaches without her Intention or knowledge; and retiring from the World; ſhe ſeeks a more ſolid Comfort than it can give her, taking care to do nothing that Cenſoriouſneſs or even Malice itſelf can miſconſtrue to her prejudice. Now ſhe puts on all her Reſerves, and thinks even innocent Liberties ſcarce allow- 15 B8r 15 allowable in her Diſconſolate State; ſhe has other Buſineſs to mind: Nor does ſhe in her Retirements reflect ſo much upon the hand that adminiſters this bitter Cup, as conſider what is the beſt uſe ſhe can make of it. And thus indeed Marriage, however unfortunate in other reſpects, becomes a very great Bleſſing to her. She might have been expoſed to all the Temptations of a plentiful Fortune, have given up her ſelf to Sloth and Luxury, and gone on at the common rate even of the better ſort, in doing no hurt, and as little good: But now her kind Husband obliges her to Conſider, and gives opportunity to exerciſe her Vertue; he makes it neceſſary to withdraw from thoſe Gaities and Pleaſures of Life, which do more miſchief under the Shew of Innocency, than they cou’d if they appear’d attended with a Crime, diſcompoſing and diſſolving the Mind, and making it uncapable of any manner of good, to be ſure of any thing Great and Excellent. Silence and Solitude, the being forc’d from the ordinary Entertainments of her Station, may perhaps ſeem a deſolate condition at firſt, and we may allow her, poor weak Woman! to be ſomewhat ſhock’d at it, ſince even a wiſe and courageous Man perhaps would not keep his ground. We would 16 B8v 16 would conceal if we could for the Honour of the Sex, Men’s being baffled and diſpirited by a ſmaller Matter, were not the Inſtances too frequent and too notorious.
But a little time wears off all the uneaſineſs, and puts her in poſſeſſion of Pleaſures, which till now ſhe has unkindly been kept a ſtranger to. Affliction, the ſincereſt Friend, the frankeſt Monitor, the beſt Inſtructer, and indeed the only uſeful School that Women are ever put to, rouſes her underſtanding, opens her Eyes, fixes her Attention, and diffuſes ſuch a Light, ſuch a Joy into her Mind, as not only Informs her better, but Entertains her more than ever her Ruel did tho’ crouded by the Men of Wit. She now diſtinguiſhes between Truth and Appearances, between ſolid and apparent Good; has found out the inſtability of all Earthly Things, and won’t any more be deceiv’d by relying on them; can diſcern who are the Flatterers of her Fortune, and who the Admirers and Encouragers of her Vertue; accounting it no little bleſſing to be rid of thoſe Leeches, who only hung upon her for their own Advantage. Now ſober Thoughts ſucceed to hurry and impertinence, to Forms and Ceremony, ſhe can ſecure her Time, and knows how to Improve 17 C1r 17 Improve it; never truly a Happy Woman till ſhe came in the Eye of the World to be reckon’d Miſerable.
Thus the Husband’s Vices may become an occaſion of the Wife’s Vertues, and his Neglect do her a more real Good than his Kindneſs could. But all injur’d Wives don’t behave themſelves after this Faſhion, nor can their Husbands juſtly expect it. With what Face can he blame her for following his Example, and being as extravagant on the one Hand, as he is on the other? Tho’ ſhe cannot juſtifie her Exceſſes to God, to the World, nor to her ſelf, yet ſurely in reſpect of him they may admit of an excuſe. For all the reſt of his Abſurdities, (for Vice is always unreaſonable,) he adds one more, who expects that Vertue from another which he won’t practiſe himſelf
But ſuppoſe a Man does not Marry for Money, tho’ for one that does not, perhaps there are thouſands that do; let him Marry for Love, an Heroick Action, which makes a mighty noiſe in the World, partly becauſe of its rarity, and partly in regard of its extravagancy, and what does his Marrying for Love amount to? There’s no great odds between his Marrying for the Love of Money, or for the Love of Beauty, the Man does not act according to ReaſonC ſon 18 C1v 18 ſon in either Caſe, but is govern’d by irregular Appetites. But he loves her Wit perhaps, and this you’ll ſay is more Spiritual, more refin’d; not at all if you examine it to the Bottom. For what is that which now adays paſſes under the name of Wit? A bitter and ill-natur’d Raillery, a pert Repartée, or a confident talking at all, and in ſuch a multitude of Words, it’s odds if ſomething or other does not paſs that is ſurprizing, tho’ every thing that ſurprizes does not pleaſe; ſome things being wonder’d at for their Uglineſs, as well as others for their Beauty. True Wit, durſt one venture to deſcribe it, is quite another thing, it conſiſts in ſuch a Sprightlineſs of Imagination, ſuch a reach and turn of thought, ſo properly expreſt, as ſtrikes and pleaſes a judicious Taſt. For tho’ as one ſays of Beauty, ’tis in no Face but in the Lover’s Mind, ſo it may be ſaid of ſome ſort of Wit, it is not in him that ſpeaks, but in the Imagination of his Hearer, yet doubtleſs there is a true Standard-Wit, which muſt be allow’d for ſuch by every one who underſtands the Terms, I don’t ſay that they ſhall equally like it; and it is this Standard-Wit that always pleaſes, the Spurious does ſo only for a Seaſon.Now 19 C2r 19
Now what is it that ſtrikes a judicious Taſt? Not that to be ſure which injures the abſent, or provokes the Company, which poiſons the Mind under pretence of entertaining it, proceeding from or giving Countenance to falſe Ideas, to dangerous and immoral Principles. Wit indeed is diſtinct from Judgment, but it is not contrary to it; ’tis rather its Handmaid, ſerving to awaken and fix the Attention, that ſo we may Judge rightly. Whatever Charms, does ſo becauſe of its Regularity and Proportion; otherwiſe, tho’ it is extraordinary and out of the way, it will only be ſtar’d on like a Monſter, but can never be lik’d. And tho’ a thought is ever ſo fine and new, ever ſo well expreſt, if it ſuits not with Decorum and good Manners, it is not juſt and fit, and therefore offends our Reaſon, and conſequently has no Charms, nor ſhould afford us any entertainment.
But it muſt not be ſuppos’d that Women’s Wit approaches thoſe heights which Men arrive at, or that they indulge thoſe Liberties the other take. Decency lays greater reſtraints on them, their timorouſneſs does them this one, and perhaps this only piece of Service, it keeps them from breaking thro’ thoſe reſtraints, and following their Maſters and Guides in many of their daring and maſculine Crimes. As the C2 World 20 C2v 20 World goes, your Witty Men are uſually diſtinguiſh’d by the Liberty they take with Religion, good Manners, or their Neighbour’s Reputation: But, God be thank’d, it is not yet ſo bad, as that Women ſhould form Cabals to propagate Atheiſm and Irreligion. A Man then cannot hope to find a Woman whoſe Wit is of a ſize with his, but when he doats on Wit it is to be imagin’d he makes choice of that which comes the neareſt to his own.
Thus, whether it be Wit or Beauty that a Man’s in Love with, there’s no great hopes of a laſting Happineſs; Beauty with all the helps of Art is of no long date, the more it is help’d the ſooner it decays, and he who only or chiefly choſe for Beauty, will in a little time find the ſame reaſon for another Choice. Nor is that ſort of Wit which he prefers of a more ſure tenure, or allowing it to laſt, it will not always pleaſe. For that which has not a real excellency and value in it ſelf, entertains no longer than that giddy Humour which recommended it to us holds; and when we can like on no juſt, or on very little Ground, tis certain a diſlike will ariſe, as lightly and as unaccountably. And it is not improbable that ſuch a Huſband may in a little time by ill uſage provoke ſuch a Wife to exerciſe her Wit, that is, her 21 C3r 21 her Spleen on him, and then it is not hard to gueſs how very agreeable it will be to him.
In a word, when we have reckon’d up how many look no further than the making of their Fortune, as they call it; who don’t ſo much as propoſe to themſelves any ſatisfaction in the Woman to whom they Plight their Faith, ſeeking only to be Maſters of her Eſtate, that ſo they may have Money enough to indulge all their irregular Appetites; who think they are as good as can be expected, if they are but according to the faſhionable Term, Civil Husbands; when we have taken the number of your giddy Lovers, who are not more violent in their Paſſion than they are certain to Repent of it; when to theſe you have added ſuch as Marry without any Thought at all, further than that it is the Cuſtom of the World, what others have done before them, that the Family muſt be kept up, the ancient Race preſerv’d, and therefore their kind Parents and Guardians chuſe as they think convenient, without ever conſulting the Young ones Inclinations, who muſt be ſatisfied or pretend ſo at leaſt, upon pain of their diſpleaſure, and that heavy conſequence of it, forfeiture of their Eſtate: Theſe ſet aſide, I fear there will be but a ſmall remainder to C3 Marry 22 C3v 22 Marry out of better conſiderations, and even amongſt the few that do, not one in a hundred takes care to deſerve his Choice.
But do the Women never chuſe amiſs? Are the Men only in fault? that is not pretended; for he who will be juſt, muſt be forc’d to acknowledge, that neither Sex are always in the right. A Woman indeed can’t properly be ſaid to Chooſe, all that is allow’d her, is to Refuſe or Accept what is offer’d. And when we have made ſuch reaſonable allowances as are due to the Sex, perhaps they may not appear ſo much in fault as one would at firſt imagine, and a generous Spirit will find more occaſion to pity, than to reprove. But ſure I tranſgreſs ―― it muſt not be ſuppos’d that the Ladies can do amiſs! he is but an ill-bred Fellow who pretends that they need amendment! They are no doubt on’t always in the right, and moſt of all when they take pity on diſtreſſed Lovers! whatever they ſay carries an Authority that no Reaſon can reſiſt, and all that they do muſt needs be Exemplary! This is the Modiſh Language, nor is there a Man of Honour amongſt the whole Tribe that would not venture his Life, nay and his Salvation too in their Defence, if any but himſelf attempts to injure them. But I muſt ask pardondon 23 C4r 23 don if I can’t come up to theſe heights, nor flatter them with the having no faults, which is only a malicious way of continuing and encreaſing their Miſtakes.
Women, it’s true, ought to be treated with Civility; for ſince a little Ceremony and out-ſide Reſpect is all thier Guard, all the privilege that’s allow’d them, it were barbarous to deprive them of it; and becauſe I would treat them civilly, I would not expreſs my Civility at the uſual rate. I would not under pretence of honouring and paying a mighty Deference to the Ladies, call them fools to their faces; for what are all the fine Speeches and Submiſſions that are made, but an abuſing them in a well-bred way? She muſt be a Fool with a witneſs, who can believe a Man, Proud and Vain as he is, will lay his boaſted Authority, the Dignity and Prerogative of his Sex, one Moment at her Feet, but in proſpect of taking it up again to more advantage; he may call himſelf her Slave a few days, but it is only in order to make her his all the reſt of his Life.
Indeed that miſtaken Self-Love that reigns in the moſt of us, both Men and Women, that over-good Opinion we have of our ſelves, and deſire that others ſhould have of us, makes us ſwallow every thing C4 that 24 C4v 24 that looks like Reſpect, without examining how wide it is from what it appears to be. For nothing is in truth a greater outrage than Flattery and feign’d Submiſſions, the plain Engliſh of which is this, I have a very mean Opinion both of your Underſtanding and Vertue, you are weak enough to be impos’d on, and vain enough to ſnatch at the Bait I throw; there’s no danger of your finding out my meaning, or diſappointing me of my Ends. I offer you Incenſe ’tis true, but you are like to pay for’t, and to make me a Recompence for your Folly in Imagining I would give my ſelf this trouble, did I not hope, nay were I not ſure, to find my own account in it. If for nothing elſe, you’ll ſerve at leaſt as an exerciſe of my Wit, and how much ſoever you ſwell with my Breath, ’tis I deſerve the Praiſe for talking ſo well on ſo poor a Subject. We who make the Idols, are the greater Deities; and as we ſet you up, ſo it is in our power to reduce you to your firſt obſcurity, or to ſomewhat worſe, to Contempt; you are therefore only on your good behaviour, and are like to be no more than what we pleaſe to make you. This is the Flatterer’s Language aſide, this is the true ſenſe of his heart, whatever his Grimace may be before the Company.Not 25 C5r 25
Not but that ’tis poſſible, and ſometimes matter of Fact, to expreſs our ſelves beyond the Truth in praiſe of a Perſon, and yet not be guilty of Flattery; but then we muſt Think what we Say, and Mean what we Profeſs. We may be ſo blinded by ſome Paſſion or other, eſpecially Love, which in Civil and Good-natur’d Perſons is apt to exceed, as to believe ſome Perſons more deſerving than really they are, and to pay them greater Reſpect and Kindneſs than is in ſtrictneſs due to them. But this is not the preſent Caſe; for our fine Speech-makers doat too much on themſelves to have any great paſſion for another, their Eyes are too much fixt on their own Excellencies, to view another’s good Qualities through a magnifying Glaſs; or at leaſt, if ever they turn that end of their Perſpective towards their Neighbours, ’tis only in reſpect and reference to themſelves. They are their own Centres, they find a diſproportion in every line that does not tend thither, and in the next viſit they make, you ſhall hear all the fine things they had ſaid repeated to the new Object, and nothing remembred of the former but her Vanity, or ſomething elſe as Ridiculous, which ſerves for a foil, or a whet to Diſcourſe. For let there be ever ſo many Wits in the Company,pany, 26 C5v 26 pany, Converſation would languiſh, and they would be at a loſs, did not a little Cenſoriouſneſs come in at a need to help them.
Let us then treat the Ladies as Civilly as may be, but let us not do it by Flattering them, but by endeavouring to make them ſuch as may truly deſerve our hearty Eſteem and Kindneſs. Men ought really for their own ſakes to do what in them lies to make Women Wiſe and Good, and then it might be hoped they themſelves would effectually Study and Practiſe that Wiſdom and Vertue they recommend to others. But ſo long as Men have baſe and unworthy Ends to ſerve, it is not to be expected that they ſhould conſent to ſuch Methods as would certainly diſappoint them. They would have their own Relations do well, it is their Intereſt; but it ſometimes happens to be for their turn that another Man’s ſhould not, and then their Generoſity fails them, and no Man is apter to find fault with another’s diſhonourable Actions, than he who is ready to do, or perhaps has done the ſame himſelf.
And as Men have little reaſon to expect Happineſs when they Marry only for the Love of Money, Wit or Beauty, as has been already ſhewn, ſo much leſs can a Woman expect a tolerable life, when ſhe goes 27 C6r 27 goes upon theſe Conſiderations. Let the buſineſs be carried as Prudently as it can be on the Woman’s ſide, a reaſonable Man can’t deny that ſhe has by much the harder bargain. Becauſe ſhe puts her ſelf entirely into her Huſband’s Power, and if the Matrimonial Yoke be grievous, neither Law nor Cuſtom afford her that redreſs which a Man obtains. He who has Sovereign Power does not value the Provocations of a Rebellious Subject, but knows how to ſubdue him with eaſe, and will make himſelf obey’d; but Patience and Submiſſion are the only Comforts that are left to a poor People, who groan under Tyranny, unleſs they are Strong enough to break the Yoke, to Depoſe and Abdicate, which I doubt wou’d not be allow’d of here. For whatever may be ſaid againſt Paſſive-Obedience in another caſe, I ſuppoſe there’s no Man but likes it very well in this; how much ſoever Arbitrary Power may be diſlik’d on a Throne, not Milton himſelf wou’d cry up Liberty to poor Female Slaves, or plead for the Lawfulneſs of Reſiſting a Private Tyranny.
If there be a diſagreeableneſs of Humours, this in my mind is harder to be born than greater faults, as being a continual Plague, and for the moſt part incurable; other Vices a Man may grow weary of, 28 C6v 28 of, or may be convinced of the evil of them, he may forſake them, or they him, but his Humour and Temper are ſeldom, if ever put off, Ill-nature ſticks to him from his Youth to his grey Hairs, and a Boy that’s Humorous and Proud, makes a a Peeviſh, Poſitive and Inſolent Old Man. Now if this be the caſe, and the Husband be full of himſelf, obſtinately bent on his own way with or without Reaſon, if he be one who muſt be always Admir’d, always Humour’d, and yet ſcarce knows what will pleaſe him, if he has Proſperity enough to keep him from conſidering, and to furniſh him with a train of Flatterers and obſequious Admirers; and Learning and Senſe enough to make him a Fop in Perfection; for a Man can never be a complete Coxcomb, unleſs he has a conſiderable ſhare of theſe to value himſelf upon; what can the poor Woman do? the Huſband is too wiſe to be Advis’d, too good to be Reform’d, ſhe muſt follow all his Paces, and tread in all his unreaſonable ſteps, or there is no Peace, no Quiet for her, ſhe muſt obey with the greateſt exactneſs, ’tis in vain to expect any manner of Compliance on his ſide, and the more ſhe complies the more ſhe may; his fantaſtical humours grow with her deſire to gratifie them, for Age encreaſes Opiniatry in ſome, 29 C7r 29 ſome, as well as it does Experience in others. Of ſuch ſort of folks as theſe it was that Solomon ſpake, when he ſaid, Seeſt thou a Man wiſe in his own conceit, there is more hope of a Fool than of him; That is, the profligate Sinner, ſuch a one being always a Fool in Solomon’s Language, is in a fairer way of being convinc’d of his Folly, and brought to Reaſon, than the Proud Conceited Man. That Man indeed can never be good at heart, who is full of himſelf and his own Endowments. Not that it is neceſſary becauſe it is not poſſible for one to be totally ignorant of his own good Qualities. I had almoſt ſaid he ought to have a Modeſt ſenſe of ’em, otherwiſe he can’t be duly thankful, nor make the uſe of them that is required, to the Glory of God, and the good of Mankind; but he views them in a wrong light, if he diſcerns any thing that may exalt him above his Neighbours, make him over-look their Merit, or treat them with Neglect or Contempt. He ought to behold his Advantages with fear and trembling, as Talents which he has freely receiv’d, and for which he is highly Accountable, and therefore they ſhou’d not excite his Pride, but his Care and Induſtry.
And if Pride and Self-conceit keep a Man who has ſome good Qualities, and is not 30 C7v 30 not ſo bad as the moſt of his Neighbours, from growing better, it for certain confirms and hardens the Wicked in his Crimes, it ſets him up for a Wit, that is, according to Modern acceptation, one who rallies all that is ſerious, a Contemner of the Prieſts firſt, and then of the Deity Himſelf. For Penitence and Self-condemnation are what his Haughtineſs cannot bear, and ſince his Crimes have brought upon him the reproaches of his own Mind, ſince he will not take the regular way to be rid of them, which is by Humbling himſelf and making his Peace with Heaven, he bids defiance to it, and wou’d if he could believe there is no future State, no after Retribution, becauſe he knows that a heavy lot is in juſtice due to him.
If therefore it is a Woman’s hard Fate to meet with a diſagreeable Temper, and of all others the Haughty, Imperious and Self-conceited are the moſt ſo, ſhe is as unhappy as any thing in this World can make her. For when a Wife’s Temper does not pleaſe, if ſhe makes her Huſband uneaſie, he can find entertainments abroad, he has a hundred ways of relieving himſelf, but neither Prudence nor Duty will allow a Woman to fly out, her Buſineſs and Entertainment are at home, and tho’ he 31 C8r 31 he makes it ever ſo uneaſie to her ſhe muſt be content and make her beſt on’t. She who Elects a Monarch for Life, who gives him an Authority ſhe cannot recall however he miſapply it, who puts her Fortune and Perſon entirely in his Power; nay even the very deſires of her Heart according to ſome learned Caſuiſts, ſo as that it is not lawful to Will or Deſire any thing but what he approves and allows; had need be very ſure that ſhe does not make a Fool her Head, nor a Vicious Man her Guide and Pattern, ſhe had beſt ſtay till ſhe can meet with one who has the Government of his own Paſſions, and has duly regulated his own Deſires, ſince he is to have ſuch an abſolute Power over hers. But he who doats on a Face, he who makes Money his Idol, he who- is Charm’d with vain and empty Wit, gives no ſuch Evidence, either of Wiſdom or Goodneſs, that a Woman of any tolerable Senſe ſhou’d care to venture her ſelf to his Conduct.
Indeed, your fine Gentleman’s Actions are now adays ſuch, that did not Cuſtom and the Dignity of his Sex give Weight and Authority to them, a Woman that thinks twice might bleſs her ſelf, and ſay, is this the Lord and Maſter to whom I am to promiſe Love, Honour and Obedience? What can be the object of Love but amiableable 32 C8v 32 able Qualities, the Image of the Deity impreſs’d upon a generous and God-like Mind, a Mind that is above this World, to be ſure above all the Vices, the Tricks and Baſeneſs of it; a Mind that is not full of it ſelf, nor contracted to little private Intereſts, but which in Imitation of that glorious Pattern it endeavours to Copy after, expands and diffuſes it ſelf to its utmoſt capacity in doing Good? But this fine Gentleman is quite of another Strain, he is the reverſe of this in every Inſtance. He is I confeſs very fond of his own Dear Perſon, he ſees very much in it to admire; his Air and Mien, his Words and Actions, every Motion he makes declares it; but they muſt have a Judgment of his ſize, every whit as Shallow, and a Partiality as great as his own, who can be of his Mind. How then can I Love? And if not Love, much leſs Honour. Love may ariſe from Pity or a generous Deſire to make that Lovely which as yet is not ſo, when we ſee any hopes of Succeſs in our Endeavours of improving it; but Honour ſuppoſes ſome excellent Qualities already, ſomething worth our Eſteem, but alas there is nothing more contemptible than this trifle of a Man, this meer Out-ſide, whoſe Mind is as baſe and Mean as his external Pomp is Glittering. His Office or Title apart, to which ſome 33 D1r 33 ſome Ceremonious Obſervance muſt be paid for Order’s ſake, there’s nothing in him that can command our Reſpect. Strip him of Equipage and Fortune, and ſuch things as only dazle our Eyes and Imaginations, but don’t in any meaſure affect our Reaſon, or cauſe a Reverence in our Hearts, and the poor Creature ſinks beneath our Notice, becauſe not ſupported by real Worth. And if a Woman can neither Love nor Honour, ſhe does ill in promiſing to Obey, ſince ſhe is like to have but a crooked Rule to regulate her Actions.
A meer Obedience, ſuch as is paid only to Authority, and not out of Love and a ſenſe of the Juſtice and Reaſonableneſs of the Command, will be of an uncertain Tenure. As it can’t but be uneaſie to the Perſon who pays it, ſo he who receives it will be ſometimes diſappointed when he expects to find it; for that Woman muſt be endow’d with a Wiſdom and Goodneſs much above what we ſuppoſe the Sex capable of, I fear much greater than e’re a Man can pretend to, who can ſo conſtantly conquer her Paſſions, and diveſt her ſelf even of Innocent Self-Love, as to give up the Cauſe when ſhe is in the right, and to ſubmit her enlightned Reaſon, to the Imperious Dictates of a blind Will, and wild Imagination, even when D ſhe 34 D1v 34 ſhe clearly perceives the ill Conſequences of it, the Imprudence, nay Folly and Madneſs of ſuch a Conduct.
And if a Woman runs ſuch a Riſque when ſhe Marries Prudently according to the Opinion of the World, that is, when ſhe permits her ſelf to be diſpos’d of to a Man equal to her in Birth, Education and Fortune, and as good as the moſt of his Neighbours, (for if none were to Marry, but Men of ſtrict Vertue and Honour, I doubt the World would be but thinly peopled) if at the very beſt her Lot is hard, what can ſhe expect who is Sold, or any otherwiſe betray’d into mercenary Hands, to one who is in all, or moſt reſpects unequal to her? A Lover who comes upon what is call’d equal Terms, makes no very advantageous Propoſal to the Lady he Courts, and to whom he ſeems to be an humble Servant. For under many founding Compliments, Words that have nothing in them, this is his true meaning, he wants one to manage his Family, an Houſe-keeper, a neceſſary Evil, one whoſe Intereſt it will be not to wrong him, and in whom therefore he can put greater confidence than in any he can hire for Money. One who may breed his Children, taking all the care and trouble of their Education, to preſerve 35 D2r 35 preſerve his Name and Family. One whoſe Beauty, Wit, or good Humour and agreeable Converſation, will entertain him at Home when he has been contradicted and diſappointed abroad; who will do him that Juſtice the ill-natur’d World denies him, that is, in any one’s Language but his own, ſooth his Pride and Flatter his Vanity, by having always ſo much good Senſe as to be on his ſide, to conclude him in the right, when others are ſo Ignorant, or ſo rude as to deny it. Who will not be Blind to his Merit nor Contradict his Will and Pleaſure, but make it her Buſineſs, her very Ambition to content him; whoſe ſoftneſs and gentle Compliance will calm his Paſſions, to whom he may ſafely diſcloſe his troubleſome Thoughts, and in her Breaſt diſcharge his Cares; whoſe Duty, Submiſſion and Obſervance, will heal thoſe Wounds other Peoples oppoſition or neglect have given him. In a word, one whom he can intirely Govern, and conſequently may form her to his will and liking, who muſt be his of Life, and therefore cannot quit his Service let him treat her how he will.
And if this be what every Man expects, the Sum of his violent Love and Courtſhip, when it is put into Senſe and rendred Intelligible, to what a fine paſs does D2 ſhe 36 D2v 36 ſhe bring her ſelf who purchaſes a Lord and Maſter, not only with her Money, but with what is of greater Value, at the price of her Diſcretion? Who has not ſo much as that poor Excuſe, Precedent and Example; or if ſhe has, they are only ſuch as all the World condemns? She will not find him leſs a Governor becauſe ſhe was once his Superior, on the contrary the ſcum of the People are moſt Tyrannical when they get the Power, and treat their Betters with the greateſt Inſolence. For as the wiſe Man long ſince obſerv’d, a Servant when he Reigns is one of thoſe things for which the Earth is diſquieted, and which no body is able to bear.
It is the hardeſt thing in the World for a Woman to know that a Man is not Mercenary, that he does not Act on baſe and ungenerous Principles, even when he is her Equal, becauſe being abſolute Maſter, ſhe and all the Grants he makes her are in his Power, and there have been but too many inſtances of Huſbands that by wheedling or threatning their Wives, by ſeeming Kindneſs or cruel Uſage, have perſwaded or forc’d them out of what has been ſettled on them. So that the Woman has in truth no ſecurity but the Man’s Honour and Good-nature, a Security that in this preſent Age no wiſe Perſon would ven- 37 D3r 37 venture much upon. A Man enters into Articles very readily before Marriage, and ſo he may, for he performs no more of them afterwards than he thinks fit. A Wife muſt never diſpute with her Husband, his Reaſons are now no doubt on’t better than hers, whatever they were before; he is ſure to perſwade her out of her Agreement, and bring her, it muſt be ſuppos’d, Willingly, to give up what ſhe did vainly hope to obtain, and what ſhe thought had been made ſure to her. And if ſhe ſhews any Refractorineſs, there are ways enough to humble her; ſo that by right or wrong the Huſband gains his Will. For Covenants betwixt Huſband and Wife, like Laws in an Arbitrary Government, are of little Force, the Will of the Sovereign is all in all. Thus it is in Matter of Fact, I will not anſwer for the Right of it; for if the Woman’s Reaſons upon which thoſe Agreements are grounded are not Juſt and Good, why did he conſent to them? Was it becauſe there was no other way to obtain his Suit, and with an Intention to Annul them when it ſhall be in his Power? Where then is his Sincerity? But if her Reaſons are good, where is his Juſtice in obliging her to quit them? He neither way acts like an equitable or honeſt Man.D3 But 38 D3v 38
But when a Woman Marrys unequally and beneath her ſelf, there is almoſt Demonſtration that the Man is Sordid and Unfair, that inſtead of Loving her he only Loves himſelf, trapans and ruines her to ſerve his own Ends. For if he had not a mighty Opinion of himſelf, (which temper is like to make an admirable Husband,) he cou’d never imagine that his Perſon and good Qualities ſhould make compenſation for all the advantages ſhe quits on his account. If he had a real Eſteem for her or valu’d her Reputation, he wou’d not expoſe it, nor have her Diſcretion call’d in Queſtion for his ſake; and if he truly Lov’d her he wou’d not reduce her to Straits and a narrow Fortune, nor ſo much as leſſen her way of Living to better his own. For ſince God has plac’d different Ranks in the World, put ſome in a higher and ſome in a lower Station, for Order and Beauty’s ſake, and for many good Reaſons; tho’ it is both our Wiſdom and Duty not only to ſubmit with Patience, but to be Thankful and well-ſatisfied when by his Providence we are brought low, yet there is no manner of Reaſon for us to Degrade our ſelves; on the contrary, much why we ought not. The better our Lot is in this World and the more we have of it, the greater 39 D4r 39 greater is our leiſure to prepare for the next; we have the more opportunity to exerciſe that God-like Quality, to taſt that Divine Pleaſure, Doing good to the Bodies and Souls of thoſe beneath us. Is it not then ill Manners to Heaven, and an irreligious contempt of its Favours, for a Woman to ſlight that nobler Employment, to which it has aſſign’d her, and thruſt her ſelf down to a meaner Drudgery, to what is in the very literal Senſe a caring for the things of the World, a caring not only to pleaſe, but to maintain a Huſband?
And a Huſband ſo choſen will not at all abate of his Authority and Right to Govern, whatever fair Promiſes he might make before. She has made him her Head, and he thinks himſelf as well qualify’d as the beſt to Act accordingly, nor has ſhe given him any ſuch Evidence of her Prudence as may diſpoſe him to make an Act of Grace in her Favour. Beſides, great Obligations are what Superiors cannot bear, they are more than can be return’d; to acknowledge, were only to reproach themſelves with ingratitude, and therefore the readieſt way is not to own but overlook them, or rather, as too many do, to repay them with Affronts and Injuries.D4 What 40 D4v 40
What then is to be done? How muſt a Man chuſe, and what Qualities muſt encline a Woman to accept, that ſo our Marry’d couple may be as happy as that State can make them? This is no hard Queſtion; let the Soul be principally conſider’d, and regard had in the firſt Place to a good Underſtanding, a Vertuous Mind, and in all other reſpects let there be as much equality as may be. If they are good Chriſtians and of ſuitable Tempers all will be well; but I ſhould be ſhrewdly tempted to ſuſpect their Chriſtianity who Marry after any of thoſe ways we have been ſpeaking of, I dare venture to ſay, that they don’t Act according to the Precepts of the Goſpel, they neither ſhew the Wiſdom of the Serpent, nor the Innocency of the Dove, they have neither ſo much Government of themſelves, nor ſo much Charity for their Neighbours, they neither take ſuch care not to Scandalize others, nor to avoid Temptations themſelves, are neither ſo much above this World, nor ſo affected with the next, as they wou’d certainly be did the Chriſtian Religion operate in their Hearts, did they rightly underſtand and ſincerely Practiſe it, or Acted indeed according to the Spirit of the Goſpel.But 41 D5r 41
But it is not enough to enter wiſely into this State, care muſt be taken of our Conduct afterwards. A Woman will not want being admoniſh’d of her Duty, the cuſtom of the World, Œconomy, every thing almoſt reminds her of it. Governors do not often ſuffer their Subjects to forget Obedience through their want of demanding it, perhaps Huſbands are but too forward on this occaſion, and claim their Right oftner and more Imperiouſly than either Diſcretion or good Manners will juſtifie, and might have both a more chearful and conſtant Obedience paid them if they were not ſo rigorous in Exacting it. For there is a mutual Stipulation, and Love, Honour, and Worſhip, by which certainly Civility and Reſpect at leaſt are meant, are as much the Woman’s due, as Love, Honour, and Obedience are the Man’s, and being the Woman is ſaid to be the weaker Veſſel, the Man ſhou’d be more careful not to grieve or offend her. Since her Reaſon is ſuppos’d to be leſs, and her Paſſions ſtronger than his, he ſhou’d not give occaſion to call that ſuppoſition in Queſtion by his pettiſh Carriage and needleſs Provocations. Since he is the Man, by which every word Cuſtom wou’d have us underſtand not only greateſt ſtrength of Body, but even greateſt firmneſsneſs 42 D5v 40 neſs and force of Mind, he ſhou’d not play the little Maſter ſo much as to expect to be cocker’d, nor run over to that ſide which the Woman us’d to be rank’d in; for according to the Wiſdom of the Italians, Will you? Is ſpoken to ſick Folks.
Indeed Subjection, according to the common Notion of it, is not over eaſie, none of us whether Men or Women but have ſo good an Opinion of our own Conduct as to believe we are fit, if not to direct others, at leaſt to govern our ſelves. Nothing but a ſound Underſtanding, and Grace the beſt improver of natural Reaſon, can correct this Opinion, truly humble us, and heartily reconcile us to Obedience. This bitter Cup therefore ought to be ſweetned as much as may be; for Authority may be preſerv’d and Government kept inviolable, without that nauſeous Oſtentation of Power which ſerves to no end or purpoſe, but to blow up the Pride and Vanity of thoſe who have it, and to exaſperate the Spirits of ſuch as muſt truckle under it.
Inſolence ’tis true is never the effect of Power but in weak and cowardly Spirits, who wanting true Merit and Judgment to ſupport themſelves in that advantageous Ground on which they ſtand, are ever appealing to their Authority, and making a ſhew of it to maintain their Vanity and Pride. 43 D6r 43 Pride. A truly great Mind and ſuch as is fit to Govern, tho’ it may ſtand on its Right with its Equals, and modeſtly expect what is due to it even from its Superiors, yet it never contends with its Inferiors, nor makes uſe of its Superiority but to do them Good. So that conſidering the juſt Dignity of Man, his great Wiſdom ſo conſpicuous on all occaſions! the goodneſs of his Temper and Reaſonableneſs of all his Commands, which make it a Woman’s Intereſt as well as Duty to be obſervant and Obedient in all things! that his Prerogative is ſettled by an undoubted Right, and the Preſcription of many Ages; it cannot be ſuppos’d that he ſhould make frequent and inſolent Claims of an Authority ſo well eſtabliſh’d and us’d with ſuch moderation! nor give an impartial By-ſtander (cou’d ſuch an one be found) any occaſion from thence to ſuſpect that he is inwardly conſcious of the badneſs of his Title; Uſurpers being always moſt deſirous of Recognitions and buſie in impoſing Oaths, whereas a Lawful Prince contents himſelf with the uſual Methods and Securities.
And ſince Power does naturally puff up, and he who finds himſelf exalted, ſeldom fails to think he ought to be ſo, it is more ſuitable to a Man’s Wiſdom and Generoſity, to be mindful of his great Obligationsons 44 D6v 44 ons than to inſiſt on his Rights and Prerogatives. Sweetneſs of Temper and an obliging Carriage are ſo juſtly due to a Wife, that a Huſband who muſt not be thought to want either Underſtanding to know what is fit, nor Goodneſs to perform it, can’t be ſuppos’d not to ſhew them. For ſetting aſide the hazards of her Perſon to keep up his Name and Family, with all the Pains and Trouble that attend it, which may well be thought great enough to deſerve all the reſpect and kindneſs that may be, ſetting this aſide, tho’ ’tis very conſiderable, a Woman has ſo much the diſadvantage in moſt, I was about to ſay in all things, that ſhe makes a Man the greateſt Compliment in the World when ſhe condeſcends to take him for Better for Worſe. She puts her ſelf intirely in his Power, leaves all that is dear to her, her Friends and Family, to eſpouſe his Intereſts and follow his Fortune, and makes it her Buſineſs and Duty to pleaſe him! What acknowledgments, what returns can he make? What Gratitude can be ſufficient for ſuch Obligations? She ſhews her good Opinion of him by the great Truſt ſhe repoſes in him, and what a Brute muſt he be who betrays that Truſt, or acts any way unworthy of it? Ingratitude is one of the baſeſt Vices, and if a Man’s Soul is ſunk ſo 45 D7r 45 ſo low, as to be guilty of it towards her who has ſo generouſly oblig’d him, and who ſo intirely depends on him, if he can treat her Diſreſpectfully, who has ſo fully teſtify’d her Eſteem of him, ſhe muſt have a ſtock of Vertue which he ſhou’d bluſh to diſcern, if ſhe can pay him that Obedience of which he is ſo unworthy.
Superiors indeed are too apt to forget the common Privileges of Mankind; that their Inferiors ſhare with them the greateſt Benefits, and are as capable as themſelves of enjoying the ſupreme Good; that tho’ the Order of the World requires an Outward Reſpect and Obedience from ſome to others, yet the Mind is free, nothing but Reaſon can oblige it, ’tis out of the reach of the moſt abſolute Tyrant. Nor will it ever be well either with thoſe who Rule or thoſe in Subjection, even from the Throne to every Private Family, till thoſe in Authority look on themſelves as plac’d in that Station for the good and improvement of their Subjects, and not for their own ſakes; not as the reward of their Merit, or that they may proſecute their own Deſires and fulfil all their Pleaſure, but as the Repreſentatives of God whom they ought to imitate in the Juſtice and Equity of their Laws, in doing good and communicating Bleſſings to all beneath them: 46 D7v 46 them: By which, and not by following the imperious Dictates of their own will, they become truly Great and Illuſtrious and Worthily fill their Place. And the Governed for their part ceaſing to envy the Pomp and Name of Authority, ſhou’d reſpect their Goverunours as plac’d in God’s ſtead, and contribute what they can to eaſe them of their real Cares, by a chearful, and ready compliance with their good endeavours, and by affording them the Pleaſure of ſucceſs in ſuch noble and generous Deſigns.
For upon a due eſtimate things are pretty equally divided; thoſe in Subjection as they have a leſs Glorious, ſo they have an eaſier task and a leſs account to give, whereas he who Commands has in a great meaſure the Faults of others to anſwer for as well as his own. ’Tis true he has the Pleaſure of doing more good than a Private Perſon can, and ſhall receive the Reward of it when Time ſhall be no more, in compenſation for the hazards he runs, the difficulties he at preſent encounters, and the large Account he is to make hereafter, which Pleaſure and Reward are highly deſirable and moſt worthy our purſuit; but they are Motives which ſuch as uſurp on their Governors, and make them uneaſie in the due diſcharge of 47 D8r 47 of their Duty, never propoſe. And for thoſe other little things that move their Envy and Ambition, they are of no Eſteem with a juſt Conſiderer, nor will ſuch as violently purſue, find their Account in them.
But how can a Man reſpect his Wife when he has a contemptible Opinion of her and her Sex? When from his own Elevation he looks down on them as void of Underſtanding, and full of Ignorance and Paſſion, ſo that Folly and a Woman are equivalent Terms with him? Can he think there is any Gratitude due to her whoſe utmoſt ſervices he exacts as ſtrict Duty? Becauſe ſhe was made to be a Slave to his Will, and has no higher end than to Serve and Obey him! Perhaps we arrogate too much to our ſelves when we ſay this Material World was made for our ſakes; that its Glorious Maker has given us the uſe of it is certain, but when we ſuppoſe a thing to be made purely for our ſakes, becauſe we have Dominion over it, we draw a falſe Concluſion, as he who ſhou’d ſay the People were made for the Prince who is ſet over them, wou’d be thought to be out of his Senſes as well as his Politicks. Yet even allowing that God who made every thing in Number, Weight and Meaſure, who never acts but 48 D8v 48 but for ſome great and glorious End, an End agreeable to His Majeſty, allowing that He Created ſuch a Number of Rational Spirits merely to ſerve their fellow Creatures, yet how are theſe Lords and Maſters helpt by the Contempt they ſhew of their poor humble Vaſſals? Is it not rather an hindrance to that Service they expect, as being an undeniable and conſtant Proof how unworthy they are to receive it?
None of God’s Creatures abſolutely conſider’d are in their own Nature Contemptible; the meaneſt Fly, the pooreſt Inſect has its Uſe and Vertue. Contempt is ſcarce a Human Paſſion, one may venture to ſay it was not in Innocent Man, for till Sin came into the World, there was nothing in it to be contemn’d. But Pride which makes every thing ſerve its purpoſes, wreſted this Paſſion from its only uſe, ſo that inſtead of being an Antidote againſt Sin, it is become a grand promoter of it, nothing making us more worthy of that Contempt we ſhew, than when poor, weak, dependent Creatures as we are! we look down with Scorn and Diſdain on others.
There is not a ſurer Sign of a noble Mind, a Mind very far advanc’d towards Perfection, than the being able to bear Con- 49 E1r 49 Contempt and an unjuſt Treatment from ones Superiors evenly and patiently. For inward Worth and real Excellency are the true Ground of Superiority, and one Perſon is not in reality better than another, but as he is more Wiſe and Good. But this World being a place of Tryal and govern’d by general Laws, juſt Retributions being reſerv’d for hereafter, Reſpect and Obedience many times become due for Order’s ſake to thoſe who don’t otherwiſe deſerve them. Now tho’ Humility keeps us from over-valuing our ſelves or viewing our Merit thro’ a falſe and magnifying Medium, yet it does not put out our Eyes, it does not, it ought not to deprive us of that pleaſing ſentiment which attends our Acting as we ought to Act, which is as it were a foretaſt of Heaven, our preſent Reward for doing what is Juſt and Fit. And when a Superior does a Mean and unjuſt Thing, as all Contempt of one’s Neighbour is, and yet this does not provoke his Inferiors to refuſe that Obſervance which their Stations in the World require, they cannot but have an inward Senſe of their own real Superiority, the other having no pretence to it, at the ſame time that they pay him an outward Reſpect and Deference, which is ſuch a flagrant Teſtimony of the ſincereſt Love of Order as E proves 50 E1v 50 proves their Souls to be of the higheſt and nobleſt Rank.
A Man therefore for his own ſake, and to give evidence that he has a Right to thoſe Prerogatives he aſſumes, ſhou’d treat Women with a little more Humanity and Regard than is uſually paid them. Your whiffling Wits may ſcoff at them, and what then? It matters not, for they Rally every thing tho’ ever ſo Sacred, and rail at the Women commonly in very good Company. Religion, its Prieſts, and thoſe its moſt conſtant and regular Profeſſors, are the uſual Subjects of their manly, mannerly and ſurprizing Jeſts. Surprizing indeed! not for the newneſs of the Thought, the brightneſs of the Fancy, or nobleneſs of Expreſſion, but for the good Aſſurance with which ſuch thread-bare Jeſts are again and again repeated. But that your grave Dons, you Learned Men, and which is more, your Men of Senſe as they wou’d be thought, ſhould ſtoop ſo low as to make invectives againſt the Women, forget themſelves ſo much as to Jeſt with their Slaves, who have neither Liberty nor Ingenuity to make Reprizals! that they ſhou’d waſte their Time, and debaſe their good Senſe, which fits them for the moſt weighty Affairs, ſuch as are ſuitable to their profound Wiſdoms and exalted Underſtandings!ings! 51 E2r 51 ings! to render thoſe poor Wretches more ridiculous and odious who are already in their Opinion ſufficiently contemptible, and find no better exerciſe of their Wit and Satyr than ſuch as are not worth their Pains, tho’ it were poſſible to Reform them, this, this indeed may juſtly be wondred at!
I know not whether or no Women are allow’d to have Souls, if they have, perhaps it is not prudent to provoke them too much, leſt ſilly as they are, they at laſt recriminate, and then what polite and well-bred Gentleman, tho’ himſelf is concern’d can forbear taking that lawful Pleaſure which all who underſtand Raillery muſt taſt, when they find his Jeſts who inſolently began to peck at his Neighbour, return’d with Intereſt upon his own Head? And indeed Men are too Humane, too Wiſe to venture at it did they not hope for this effect, and expect the Pleaſure of finding their Wit turn to ſuch account; for if it be lawful to reveal a Secret, this is without doubt the whole deſign of thoſe fine Diſcourſes which have been made againſt the Women from our great Fore-fathers to this preſent Time! Generous Man has too much Bravery, he is too Juſt and too Good to aſſault a defenceleſs Enemy, and if he did inveigh againſt the Women it was only to do them Service! For ſince neither E2 his 52 E2v 52 his Care of their Education, his hearty endeavours to improve their Minds, his wholſome Precepts, nor great Example cou’d do them good, as his laſt and kindeſt Eſſay, he reſolv’d to try what Contempt wou’d do, and choſe rather to expoſe himſelf by a ſeeming want of Juſtice, Equity, Ingenuity and Good-nature, than ſuffer Women to remain ſuch vain and inſignificant Creatures as they have hitherto been reckon’d! And truly Women are ſome degrees beneath what I have thus far thought them, if they do not make the beſt uſe of his kindneſs, improve themſelves, and like Christians return it.
Let us ſee then what is their Part, what muſt they do to make the Matrimonial Yoke tolerable to themſelves as well as pleaſing to their Lords and Maſters? That the World is an empty and deceitful Thing, that thoſe Enjoyments which appear’d ſo deſirable at a diſtance, which rais’d our Hopes and Expectations to ſuch a mighty Pitch, which we ſo paſſionately coveted, and ſo eagerly purſued, vaniſh at our firſt approach, leaving nothing behind them but the Folly of Deluſion, and the pain of diſappointed Hopes, is a common Outcry; and yet as common as it is, tho’ we complain of being deceiv’d this Inſtant, we do not fail of contributing to the Cheat 53 E3r 53 Cheat the very next. Tho’ in reality it is not the World that abuſes us, ’tis we abuſe our ſelves, it is not the emptineſs of that, but our own falſe Judgments, our unreaſonable Deſires and Expectations that Torment us; for he who exerts his whole ſtrength to lift a Straw, ought not to complain of the Burden, but of his own diſproportionate endeavour which gives him the pain he feels. The World affords us all the Pleaſure a ſound Judgment can expect from it, and anſwers all thoſe Ends and Purpoſes for which it was deſign’d, let us expect no more than is reaſonable, and then we ſhall not fail of our Expectation.
It is even ſo in the Caſe before us; a Woman who has been taught to think Marriage her only Preferment, the Sum- total of her Endeavours, the completion of all her hopes, that which muſt ſettle and make her Happy in this World, and very few, in their Youth eſpecially, carry a Thought ſteddily to a greater diſtance; She who has ſeen a Lover dying at her Feet, and can’t therefore imagine that he who profeſſes to receive all his Happineſs from her, can have any other Deſign or Deſire than to pleaſe her; whoſe Eyes have been dazled with all the Glitter and Pomp of a Wedding, and who hears of nothingE3 thing 54 E3v 54 thing but Joy and Congratulation; who is tranſported with the Pleaſure of being out of Pupillage, and Miſtreſs not only of her ſelf but of a Family too: She who is either ſo ſimple or ſo vain, as to take her Lover at his Word either as to the Praiſes he gave her, or the Promiſes he made for himſelf; in ſum, ſhe whoſe Expectation has been rais’d by Court-ſhip, by all the fine things that her Lover, her Governeſs, and Domeſtic Flatterers ſay, will find a terrible diſappointment when the hurry is over, and when ſhe comes calmly to conſider her Condition, and views it no more under a falſe Appearance, but as it truly is.
I doubt in ſuch a View it will not appear over-deſirable, if ſhe regards only the preſent State of Things. Hereafter may make amends for what ſhe muſt be prepar’d to ſuffer here, then will be her Reward, this is her time of Tryal, the Seaſon of exerciſing and improving her Vertues. A Woman that is not Miſtreſs of her Paſſions, that cannot patiently ſubmit even when Reaſon ſuffers with her, who does not practiſe Paſſive Obedience to the utmoſt, will never be acceptable to ſuch an abſolute Sovereign as a Husband. Wiſdom ought to Govern without Contradiction, but Strength however will be obey’d. There are but few of thoſe wiſe Perſons who 55 E4r 55 who can be content to be made yet wiſer by Contradiction, the moſt will have their Will, and it is right becauſe it is their’s. Such is the vanity of Humane Nature that nothing pleaſes like an intire Subjection; what Imperfections won’t a Man over-look where this is not wanting! Tho’ we live like Brutes, we wou’d have Incenſe offer’d us that is only due to Heaven it ſelf, wou’d have an abſolute and blind Obedience paid us by all over whom we pretend Authority. We were not made to Idolize one another, yet the whole ſtrain of Courtſhip is little leſs than rank Idolatry: But does a Man intend to give, and not to receive his ſhare in this Religious Worſhip? No ſuch matter; Pride and Vanity and Self-love have their Deſigns, and if the Lover is ſo condeſcending as to ſet a Pattern in the time of his Addreſſes, he is ſo Juſt as to expect his Wife ſhou’d ſtrictly Copy after it all the reſt of her life.
But how can a Woman ſcruple intire Subjection, how can ſhe forbear to admire the worth and excellency of the Superior Sex, if ſhe at all conſiders it? Have not all the great Actions that have been perform’d in the World been done by Men? Have not they founded Empires and overturn’d them? Do not they make Laws and continually repeal and amend them? Their E4 vaſt 56 E4v 56 vaſt Minds lay Kingdoms waſt, no bounds or meaſures can be preſcrib’d to their Deſires. War and Peace depend on them, they form Cabals and have the Wiſdom and Courage to get over all theſe Rubs which may lie in the way of their deſired Grandeur. What is it they cannot do? They make Worlds and ruine them, form Syſtems of univerſal Nature and diſpute eternally about them; their Pen gives worth to the moſt trifling Controverſie; nor can a fray be inconſiderable if they have drawn their Swords in’t. All that the wiſe Man pronounces is an Oracle, and every Word the Witty ſpeaks a Jeſt. It is a Woman’s Happineſs to hear, admire and praiſe them, eſpecially if a little Ill- nature keeps them at any time from beſtowing due Applauſes on each other! And if ſhe aſpires no further, ſhe is thought to be in her proper Sphere of Action, ſhe is as wiſe and as good as can be expected from her!
She then who Marrys ought to lay it down for an indiſputable Maxim, that her Huſband muſt govern abſolutely and intirely, and that ſhe has nothing elſe to do but to Pleaſe and Obey. She muſt not attempt to divide his Authority, or ſo much as diſpute it, to ſtruggle with her Yoke will only make it gall the more, but muſt 57 E5r 57 muſt believe him Wiſe and Good and in all reſpects the beſt, at leaſt he muſt be ſo to her. She who can’t do this is no way fit to be a Wife, ſhe may ſet up for that peculiar Coronet the ancient Fathers talk’d of, but is not qualify’d to receive that great reward, which attends the eminent exerciſe of Humility and Self-denial, Patience and Reſignation, the Duties that a Wife is call’d to.
But ſome refractory Woman perhaps will ſay, how can this be? Is it poſſible for her to believe him Wiſe and Good who by a thouſand Demonſtrations convinces her and all the World of the contrary? Did the bare Name of Huſband confer Senſe on a Man, and the mere being in Authority infallibly qualifie him for Government, much might be done. But ſince a wiſe Man and a Huſband are not Terms convertible, and how loth ſoever one is to own it, Matter of Fact won’t allow us to deny, that the Head many times ſtands in need of the Inferior’s Brains to manage it, ſhe muſt beg leave to be excus’d from ſuch high thoughts of her Sovereign, and if ſhe ſubmits to his Power, it is not ſo much Reaſon as Neceſſity that compels her.
Now of how little force ſoever this Objection may be in other reſpects, methinks it is ſtrong enough to prove the neceſſityceſſity 58 E5v 58 ceſſity of a good Education, and that Men never miſtake their true Intereſt more than when they endeavour to keep Women in Ignorance. Cou’d they indeed deprive them of their Natural good Senſe at the ſame time they deny them the due improvement of it, they might compaſs their End; otherwiſe Natural Senſe unaſſiſted may run into a falſe Track, and ſerve only to puniſh him juſtly, who wou’d not allow it to be uſeful to himſelf or others. If Man’s Authority be juſtly eſtabliſh’d, the more Senſe a Woman has, the more reaſon ſhe will find to ſubmit to it; if according to the Tradition of our Father, (who having had Poſſeſſion of the Pen, thought they had alſo the beſt Right to it,) Women’s Underſtanding is but ſmall, and Men’s Partiality adds no Weight to the Obſervation, ought not the more care to be taken to improve them? How it agrees with the Juſtice of Men we enquire not, but certainly Heaven is abundantly more equitable than to enjoyn Women the hardeſt Task and give them the leaſt Strength to perform it. And if Men Learned; Wiſe and Diſcreet as they are, who have as is ſaid all the advantages of Nature, and without controverſy have, or may have all the aſſiſtance of Art, are ſo far from acquitting themſelves as they ought, from living according to that Reaſonſon 59 E6r 59 ſon and excellent Underſtanding they ſo much boaſt of, can it be expected that a Woman who is reckon’d ſilly enough in her ſelf, at leaſt comparatively, and whom Men take care to make yet more ſo, can it be expected that ſhe ſhou’d conſtantly perform ſo difficult a Duty as intire Subjection, to which corrupt Nature is ſo averſe?
If the Great and Wiſe Cato, a Man, a Man of no ordinary firmneſs and ſtrength of Mind, a Man who was eſteem’d as an Oracle, and by the Philoſophers and great Men of his Nation equall’d even to the Gods themſelves; If he with all his Stoical Principles was not able to bear the ſight of a triumphant Conqueror, (who perhaps wou’d have Inſulted and perhaps wou’d not,) but out of a Cowardly fear of an Inſult, ran to Death to ſecure him from it; can it be thought that an ignorant weak Woman ſhou’d have patience to bear a continual Out-rage and Inſolence all the days of her Life? Unleſs you will ſuppoſe her a very Aſs, but then remember what the Italians ſay, to Quote them once more, ſince being very Huſbands they may be preſum’d to have Authority in this Caſe, an Aſs tho’ ſlow if provok’d will kick.
We never ſee or perhaps make ſport with the ill Effects of a bad Education, till it come to touch us home in the ill conduct of 60 E6v 60 of a Siſter, a Daughter, or Wife. Then the Women muſt be blam’d, their Folly is exclaim’d againſt, when all this while it was the wiſe Man’s Fault, who did not ſet a better Guard on thoſe who according to him ſtand in ſo much need of one. A young Gentleman, as a celebrated Author tells us, ought above all things to be acquainted with the State of the World, the Ways and Humours, the Follies, the Cheats, the Faults of the Age he is fallen into, he ſhould by degrees be inform’d of the Vice in Faſhion, and warn’d of the Application and Deſign of thoſe who will make it their Buſineſs to corrupt him, ſhou’d be told the Arts they uſe and the Trains they lay, be prepar’d to be Shock’d by ſome and careſs’d by others; warn’d who are like to oppoſe, who to miſlead, who to undermine, and who to ſerve him. He ſhou’d be inſtructed how to know and diſtinguiſh them, where he ſhou’d let them ſee, and when diſſemble the Knowledge of them and their Aims and Workings. Our Author is much in the right, and not to diſparage any other Accompliſhments which are uſeful in their kind, this will turn to more account than any Language or Philoſophy, Art or Science, or any other piece of Good-breeding and fine Education that can be taught him, which are no otherwiſe excellent than as they 61 E7r 61 they contribute to this, as this does above all things to the making him a wiſe, a vertuous and uſeful Man.
And it is not leſs neceſſary that a young Lady ſhou’d receive the like Inſtructions, whether or no her Temptations be fewer, her Reputation and Honour however are to be more nicely preſerv’d; they may be ruin’d by a little Ignorance or Indiſcretion, and then tho’ ſhe has kept her Innocence, and ſo is ſecur’d as to the next World, yet ſhe is in a great meaſure loſt to this. A Woman cannot be too watchful, too apprehenſive of her danger, nor keep at too great a diſtance from it, ſince Man whoſe Wiſdom and Ingenuity is ſo much Superior to hers! condeſcends for his Intereſt ſometimes, and ſometimes by way of Diverſion, to lay Snares for her. For tho’ all Men are Virtuoſi, Philoſophers and Politicians, in compariſon of the Ignorant and Illiterate Women, yet they don’t all pretend to be Saints, and ’tis no great Matter to them if Women who were born to be their Slaves, be now and then ruin’d for their Entertainment.
But according to the rate that young Women are Educated, according to the way their Time is ſpent, they are deſtin’d to Folly and Impertinence, to ſay no worſe, and which is yet more inhuman, they are blam’d 62 E7v 62 blam’d for that ill Conduct they are not ſuffer’d to avoid, and reproach’d for thoſe Faults they are in a manner forc’d into; ſo that if Heaven has beſtowed any Senſe on them, no other uſe is made of it, than to leave them without Excuſe. So much and no more of the World is ſhewn them, as ſerves to weaken and corrupt their Minds, to give them wrong Notions, and buſy them in mean Purſuits; to diſturb, not to regulate their Paſſions; to make them timorous and dependant, and in a word, fit for nothing elſe but to act a Farce for the Diverſion of their Governours.
Even Men themſelves improve no otherwiſe than according to the Aim they take, and the End they propoſe; and he whoſe Deſigns are but little and mean, will be the ſame himſelf. Tho’ Ambition, as ’tis uſually underſtood, is a Fooliſh, not to ſay a Baſe and Pitiful Vice, yet the Aſpirings of the Soul after true Glory are ſo much its Nature, that it ſeems to have forgot it ſelf and to degenerate, if it can forbear; and perhaps the great Secret of Education lies in affecting the Soul with a lively Senſe of what is truly its Perfection, and exciting the moſt ardent Deſires after it.
But, alas! what poor Woman is ever taught that ſhe ſhould have a higher Deſign than to get her a Huſband? Heaven will 63 E8r 63 will fall in of courſe; and if ſhe makes but an Obedient and Dutiful Wife, ſhe cannot miſs of it. A Huſband indeed is thought by both Sexes ſo very valuable, that ſcarce a Man who can keep himſelf clean and make a Bow, but thinks he is good enough to pretend to any Woman, no matter for the Difference of Birth or Fortune, a Huſband is ſuch a Wonder-working Name as to make an Equality, or ſomething more, whenever it is pronounc’d.
And indeed were there no other Proof of Maſculine Wiſdom, and what a much greater Portion of Ingenuity falls to the Men than to the Women’s Share, the Addreſs, the Artifice, and Management of an humble Servant were a ſufficient Demonſtration. What good Conduct does he ſhew! what Patience exerciſe! what Subtilty leave untry’d! what Concealment of his Faults! what Parade of his Vertues! what Government of his Paſſions! How deep is his Policy in laying his deſigns at ſo great a diſtance, and working them up by ſuch little Accidents! How indefatigable is his Induſtry, and how conſtant his Watchfulneſs, not to ſlip any Opportunity that may in the leaſt contribute to his Deſign! What a handſome Set of Diſguiſes and Pretences is he always furniſh’d with! How conceal’d does he lie! how little pretend, till he 64 E8v 64 he is ſure that his Plot will take! And at the ſame time that he nouriſhes the Hope of being Lord and Maſter, appears with all the Modeſty and Submiſſion of an humble and unpretending Admirer.
Can a Woman then be too much upon her Guard? Can her Prudence and Foreſight, her early Caution, be reckon’d unneceſſary Suſpicion, or ill-bred Reſerve, by any but thoſe whoſe Deſigns they prevent, and whoſe Intereſt it is to declaim againſt them? it being a certain Maxim with the Men, tho’ Policy or Good Breeding won’t allow them to avow it always, that the Women were made for their Sakes and Service, and are in all reſpects their Inferiors, eſpecially in Underſtanding; ſo that all the Compliments they make, all the Addreſs and Complaiſance they uſe, all the Kindneſs they profeſs, all the Service they pretend to pay, has no other Meaning, no other End, than to get the poor Woman into their Power, to govern her according to their Diſcretion. This is all pure Kindneſs indeed, and therefore no Woman has Reaſon to be offended with it; for conſidering how much ſhe is expos’d in her own, and how ſafe in their Keeping, ’tis the wiſeſt thing ſhe can do to put her ſelf under Protection! And then if they have a tolerable Opinion of her Senſe, and not 65 F1r 65 not their Vanity but ſome better Principle diſpoſes them to do ſomething out of the way, and to appear more generous than the reſt of their Sex, they’ll condeſcend to dictate to her, and impart ſome of their Prerogative Books and Learning! ’Tis fit indeed that ſhe ſhould entirely depend on their Choice, and walk with the Crutches they are pleas’d to lend her; and if ſhe is furniſhed out with ſome Notions to ſet her a prating, I ſhould have ſaid to make her entertaining and the Fiddle of the Company, her Tutor’s Time was not ill beſtowed: And it were a diverting Scene to ſee her ſtript like the Jay of her borrowed Feathers, but he, good Man, has not ill Nature enough to take Pleaſure in it! You may accuſe him perhaps for giving ſo much Encouragement to a Woman’s Vanity, but your Accuſation is groundleſs, Vanity being a Diſeaſe the Sex will always be guilty of; nor is it a Reproach to them, ſince Men of Learning and Senſe are overrun with it.
But there are few Women whoſe Underſtandings are worth the Management, their Eſtates are much more capable of Improvement. No Woman, much leſs a Woman of Fortune, is ever fit to be her own Miſtreſs, and he who has not the Vanity to think what much finer things F he 66 F1v 66 he could perform had he the Management of her Fortune; or ſo much Partiality and Self-love, as to fancy it can’t be better beſtow’d than in making his; will yet be ſo honeſt and humble as to think that ’tis fit ſhe ſhould take his Aſſiſtance, as Steward at leaſt. For the Good Man aſpires no further, he would only take the Trouble of her Affairs off her hand; and the Senſe of her Condeſcention and his great Obligations, will for ever ſecure him againſt acting like a Lord and Maſter!
The Steps to Folly as well as Sin are gradual, and almoſt imperceptible, and when we are once on the Decline, we go down without taking notice on’t; were it not for this, one cou’d not account for thoſe ſtrange unequal Matches we too often ſee. For there was a time no doubt, when a Woman could not have bore the very thought of what ſhe has been afterwards betray’d into, it would have appear’d as ſhocking to her as it always does to other People; and had a Man been ſo impolitic as to diſcover the leaſt intimation of ſuch a Deſign, he had given her a ſufficient Antidote againſt it. This your Wiſe Men are well ſatisfy’d of, and underſtand their own Intereſt too well to let their Deſign go bare-fac’d, for that would effectually put a barr to their Succeſs. So innocentnocent 67 F2r 67 nocent are they, that they had not the leaſt Thought at firſt of what their Good Fortune afterwards leads them to! They would draw upon him, (if they wear a Sword) or fly in her Face who ſhould let fall the leaſt hint that they had ſuch Intentions; and this very Eagerneſs to avoid the Suſpicion, is a ſhrewd Sign that there is occaſion for’t.
But who ſhall dare to ſhew the Lady her Danger, when will it be ſeaſonable to give her friendly Notice? If you do it e’re ſhe is reſolv’d, tho’ with all the Friendſhip and Tenderneſs imaginable, ſhe will hardly forgive the Affront, or bear the Provocation; you offer her an Outrage, by entertaining ſuch a Thought, and ’tis ten to one if you are not afterwards accus’d for putting in her Head what otherwiſe ſhe could ne’er have dreamt of. And when no direct Proof can be offer’d, when matter of Prudence is the only thing in Queſtion, every Body has ſo good an Opinion of their own Underſtanding as to think their own way the beſt. And when ſhe has her Innocence and fair Intentions to oppoſe to your Fears and Surmiſes, and you cannot pretend to wiſh her better than ſhe does her ſelf, to be more diſintereſs’d and diligent in your Watchfulneſs, or to ſee farther in what ſo nearly concerns her, what can be F2 done? 68 F2v 68 done? Her ruin is commonly too far advanc’d to be prevented, e’re you can in Good-breeding reach out a hand to help her. For if the Train has took, if ſhe is entangled in the Snare, if Love, or rather a Blind unreaſonable Fondneſs, which uſurps the Name of that noble Paſſion, has gain’d on her, Reaſon and Perſwaſion may as properly be urg’d to the Folks in Bethlem as to her. Tell her of this World, ſhe is got above it, and has no regard to its impertinent Cenſures; tell her of the next, ſhe laughs at you, and will never be convinc’d that Actions which are not expreſly forbid can be Criminal, tho’ they proceed from, and muſt neceſſarily be reduc’d to ill Principles, tho’ they give Offence, are of ill Example, injure our Reputation, which next to our Innocence we are obliged as Chriſtians to take the greateſt care of, and in a word do more miſchief than we can readily imagine. Tell her of her own Good, you appear yet more ridiculous, for who can judge of her Happineſs but her ſelf? And whilſt our Hearts are violently ſet upon any thing, there is no convincing us that we ſhall ever be of another Mind. Our Paſſions want no Advocates, they are always furniſh’d with plauſible Pretences, and thoſe very Prejudices, which gave riſe to this unreaſonable Paſſion, will for certaintain 69 F3r 69 tain give her Obſtinacy enough to juſtifie and continue in it. Beſides, ſome are ſo ill advis’d as to think to ſupport one Indiſcretion with another, they wou’d not have it thought they have made a falſe Step, in once giving countenance to that which is not fit to be continued. Or perhaps the Lady might be willing enough to throw off the Intruder at firſt, but wanted Courage to get above the fear of his Calumnies, and the longer ſhe ſuffers him to buz about her, ſhe will find it the harder to get rid of his Importunities. By all which it appears that ſhe who really intends to be ſecure, muſt keep at the greateſt diſtance from Danger, ſhe muſt not grant the leaſt Indulgence, where ſuch ill uſes will be made of it.
And ſince the caſe is ſo, that Woman can never be in ſafety who allows a Man opportunity to betray her. Frequent Converſation does for certain produce either Averſion or Liking, and when ’tis once come to Liking, it depends on the Man’s Generoſity not to improve it farther, and where can one find an Inſtance that this is any ſecurity? There are very many indeed which ſhew it is none. How ſenſible ſoever a Woman may appear of another’s Indiſcretion, if ſhe will tread in the ſame Steps, tho’ but for a little way, ſhe gives us no aſſurance that ſhe will not fall into F3 the 70 F3v 70 the ſame Folly, ſhe may perhaps intend very well, but ſhe puts it paſt her Power to fulfil her good Intentions. Even thoſe who have forfeited their Diſcretion, the moſt valuable thing next to their Vertue, and without which Vertue it ſelf is but very weak and faint, ’tis like were once as well reſolv’d as ſhe, they had the very ſame Thoughts, they made the ſame Apologies, and their Reſentment wou’d have been every whit as great againſt thoſe who cou’d have imagin’d they ſhou’d ſo far forget themſelves.
It were endleſs to reckon up the divers Stratagems Men uſe to catch their Prey, their different ways of inſinuating which vary with Circumſtances and the Ladies Temper. But how unfairly, how baſely ſoever they proceed, when the Prey is once caught it paſſes for lawful Prize, and other Men having the ſame hopes and projects ſee nothing to find fault with, but that it was not their own Good Fortune. They may exclaim againſt it perhaps in a Lady’s hearing, but it is only to keep themſelves from being ſuſpected, and to give the better Colour to their own Deſigns. Sometimes a Woman is cajol’d, and ſometimes Hector’d, ſhe is ſeduc’d to Love a Man, or aw’d into a Fear of him: He defends her Honour againſt another, or aſſumes 71 F4r 71 aſſumes the Power of blaſting it himſelf; was willing to paſs for one of no Conſequence till he cou’d make himſelf conſiderable at her Coſt. He might be admitted at firſt to be her Jeſt, but he carries on the humor ſo far till he makes her his; he will either entertain or ſerve her as occaſion offers, and ſome way or other gets himſelf intruſted with her Fortune, her Fame, or her Soul. Allow him but a frequent and free Converſation, and there’s no manner of Queſtion but that his Ingenuity and Application will at one time or other get the Aſcendant over her.
And generally the more humble and undeſigning a Man appears, the more improbable it looks that he ſhould dare to pretend, the greater Caution ſhou’d be us’d againſt him. A bold Addreſs and good Aſſurance may ſometimes, but does not always, take. To a Woman of Senſe an artificial Modeſty and Humility is a thouſand times more dangerous, for he only draws back to receive the more Encouragement, and ſhe regards not what Advances ſhe makes towards him, who ſeems to underſtand himſelf and the World ſo well, as to be incapable of making an ill uſe of them. Wou’d it not be unreaſonable and a piece of Ill-breeding to be ſhy of him who has no Pretentions, or only ſuch as are F4 Juſt 72 F4v 72 Juſt and Modeſt? What hurt in a Viſit? Or what if Viſits grow a little more frequent? The Man has ſo much diſcernment, as to reliſh her Wit and Humour, and can ſhe do leſs than be Partial to him who is ſo Juſt to her? He ſtrives to pleaſe and to render himſelf agreeable, or neceſſary perhaps, and whoever will make it his Buſineſs may find ways enough to do it. For they know but little of Human Nature, they never conſulted their own Hearts, who are not ſenſible what advances a well-manag’d Flattery makes, eſpecially from a Perſon of whoſe Wit and Senſe one has a good Opinion. His Wit at firſt recommends his Flatteries, and theſe in requital ſet off his Wit; and ſhe who has been us’d to this high-ſeaſon’d Diet, will ſcarce ever reliſh another Converſation.
Having got thus far to be ſure he is not wanting to his good Fortune, but drives on to an Intimacy, or what they are pleas’d now a-days, tho’ very unjuſtly, to call a Friendſhip; all is ſafe under this ſacred Character, which ſets them above little Aims and mean Deſigns. A Character that muſt be conducted with the niceſt Honour, allows the greateſt Truſts, leads to the higheſt Improvements, is attended with the pureſt Pleaſures and moſt rational Satisfaction. And what if the malicious World, 73 F5r 73 World, envious of his Happineſs, ſhou’d take Offence at it, ſince he has taken all due Precautions, ſuch unjuſt and ill-natur’d Cenſures are not to be regarded; for his part the diſtance that is between them checks all aſpiring deſires, but her Converſation is what he muſt not, cannot want, Life is inſipid and not to be endur’d without it; and he is too much the Lady’s Friend, has too juſt a Value for her to entertain a Thought to her diſadvantage!
Now if once it is come to this, God help the poor Woman, for not much Service can be done her by any of her Friends on Earth. That Pretender to be ſure will be the Darling, he will worm out every other Perſon, tho’ ever ſo kind and diſintereſted. For tho’ true Friends will endeavour to pleaſe in order to ſerve, their Complaiſance never goes ſo far as to prove injurious; the beloved Fault is what they chiefly ſtrike at, and this the Flatterer always ſooths; ſo that at laſt he becomes the moſt acceptable Company, and they who are conſcious of their own Integrity are not apt to bear ſuch an unjuſt Diſtinction, nor is it by this time to any purpoſe to remonſtrate the Danger of ſuch an Intimacy. When a Man, and for certain much more when a Woman, is fallen into this 74 F5v 74 this Toyl, that is, when either have been ſo unwary and indiſcreet as to let another find out by what Artifices he may manage their Self-love, and draw it over to his Party, ’tis too late for any one who is really their Friend, to break the Snare and diſabuſe them.
Neither Sex cares to deny themſelves that which pleaſes, eſpecially when they think they may innocently indulge it; and nothing pleaſes more than the being admir’d and humour’d. We may be told of the Danger, and ſhown the Fall of others, but tho’ their Misfortunes are ever ſo often or ſo lively repreſented to us, we are all ſo well aſſur’d of our own good Conduct, as to believe it will bring us ſafe off thoſe Rocks on which others have been Shipwrackt. We ſuppoſe it in our Power to ſhorten the Line of our Liberty when ever we think fit, not conſidering that the farther we run, we ſhall be the more unwilling to Retreat and unable to judge when a Retreat is neceſſary. A Woman does not know that ſhe is more than half loſt when ſhe admits of theſe Suggeſtions; that thoſe Arguments ſhe brings for continuing a Man’s Converſation, prove only that ſhe ought to have quitted it ſooner; that Liking inſenſibly converts to Love, and that when ſhe admits a Man to be her Friend, ’tis 75 F6r 75 ’tis his Fault if bhe does not make himſelf her Huſband.
And if Men even the Modeſteſt and the Beſt, are only in purſuit of their own Deſigns, when they pretend to do the Lady Service; if the Honour they wou’d ſeem to do her, tends only to lead her into an Imprudent and therefore a Diſhonourable Action; and they have all that good Opinion of themſelves as to take every thing for Encouragement, ſo that ſhe who goes beyond a bare Civility tho’ ſhe meant no more than Reſpect, will find it Interpreted a Favour and made ill Uſe of, (for Favours how Innocent ſoever, never turn to a Lady’s advantage;) what ſhadow of a Pretence can a Woman have for admitting an intimacy with a Man whoſe Principles are known to be Looſe and his Practices Licentious? can ſhe expect to be ſafe with him who has ruin’d others, and by the very ſame Methods he takes with her? If an Intimacy with a Man of a fair Character gives Offence, with a Man of an ill One, ’tis doubly and trebly Scandalous. And ſuppoſe neither her Fortune nor Beauty can Tempt him, he has his ill-natur’d Pleaſure in deſtroying that Vertue he will not Practiſe, or if that can’t be done, in blaſting the Reputation of it at leaſt, and in making the World believe he has made a Conqueſt tho’ he has found a Foil.If 76 F6v 76
If the Man be the Woman’s Inferior, beſides all the Dangers formerly mention’d, and thoſe juſt now taken notice of, ſhe gives ſuch a Countenance to his Vices as renders her in great meaſure partaker in them, and it can ſcarce be thought in ſuch Circumſtances, a Woman cou’d Like the Man if ſhe were not reconcil’d to his Faults. Is he her Equal and no unſuitable Match, if his Deſigns are fair, why don’t they Marry, ſince they are ſo well pleas’d with each other’s Converſation, which in this State only can be frequently and ſafely allow’d? Is he her Better, and ſhe hopes by catching him to make her Fortune, alas! the poor Woman is neither acquainted with the World nor her ſelf, ſhe neither knows her own Weakneſs nor his Treachery, and tho’ he gives ever ſo much Encouragement to this vain Hope, ’tis only in order to accompliſh her ruin. To be ſure the more Freedom ſhe allows, the more ſhe Leſſens his Eſteem, and that’s not likely to encreaſe a real, tho’ it may a pretended kindneſs; ſhe ought to fly, if ſhe wou’d have him purſue, the ſtricteſt Vertue and Reſerve being the only way to ſecure him.
Religion and Reputation are ſo ſure a Guard, ſuch a ſecurity to poor defenceleſs Woman, that whenever a Man has ill Deſignsſigns 77 F7r 77 ſigns on her, he is ſure to make a Breach into one or both of theſe, by endeavouring either to corrupt her Principles to make her leſs ſtrict in Devotion, or to leſſen her value of a fair Reputation, and wou’d perſwade her that leſs than ſhe imagines will ſecure her as to the next World, and that not much regard is to be given to the cenſures of this. Or if this be too bold at firſt, and will not paſs with her, he has another way to make even her Love to Vertue contribute to its ruin, by perſwading her it never Shines as it ought unleſs it be expos’d, and that ſhe has no reaſon to Boaſt of her Vertue unleſs ſhe has try’d it. An Opinion of the worſt conſequence that may be, and the moſt miſchievous to a Woman, becauſe it is calculated to feed her Vanity, and tends indeed to her utter Ruin. For can it be fit to ruſh into Temptations when we are taught every day to pray againſt them? If the Trials of our Vertue render it Illuſtrious, ’tis ſuch Trials as Heaven is pleas’d to ſend us, not thoſe of our own ſeeking. It holds true of both Sexes, that next to the Divine Grace, a Modeſt Diſtruſt of themſelves is their beſt Security, none being ſo often and ſo ſhamefully Foil’d, as thoſe who depend moſt on their own Strength and Reſolution.As 78 F7v 78
As to the Opinion of the World, tho’ one cannot ſay it is always juſt, yet generally it has a Foundation; great regard is to be paid to it, and very good uſe to be made of it. Others may be in fault for paſſing their Cenſures, but we certainly are ſo if we give them any the leaſt juſt occaſion. And ſince Reputation is not only one of the Rewards of Vertue, that which always ought, and generally does attend it, but alſo a Guard againſt Evil, an Inducement to Good, and a great Inſtrument in the Hand of the Wiſe to promote the common cauſe of Vertue, the being Prodigal of the one, looks as if we ſet no great value on the other, and ſhe who abandons her good Name is not like to preſerve her Innocence.
A Woman therefore can never have too nice a Senſe of Honour, provided ſhe does not prefer it before her Duty; ſhe can never be too careful to ſecure her Character, not only from the ſuſpicion of a Crime, but even from the ſhadow of an Indiſcretion. ’Tis well worth her while to renounce the moſt Entertaining, and what ſome perhaps will call the moſt Improving Company, rather than give the World a juſt occaſion of Suſpicion or Cenſure. For beſides the Injury that is done Religion, which enjoyns us to avoid the very 79 F8r 79 very Appearance of Evil, and to do nothing but what is of good Report, ſhe puts her ſelf too much in a Man’s Power who will run ſuch a riſque for his Converſation, and expreſſes ſuch a value for him, as cannot fail of being made uſe of to do her a miſchief.
Preſerve your diſtance then, keep out of the reach of Danger, fly if you wou’d be ſafe, be ſure to be always on the Reſerve, not ſuch as is Moroſe and Affected, but Modeſt and Diſcreet, your Caution cannot be too great, nor your Foreſight reach too far; there’s nothing, or what is next to nothing, a little Amuſement and entertaining Converſation loſt by this, but all is hazarded by the other. A Man underſtands his own Merit too well to loſe his time in a Woman’s Company, were it not to divert himſelf at her coſt, to turn her into a Jeſt or ſomething worſe. And wherever you ſee great Aſſiduities, when a Man inſinuates into the Diverſions and Humors of the Lady, Liking and Admiring whatever ſhe does, tho’ at the ſame time he ſeems to keep a due Diſtance, or rather exceeds in the profoundeſt Reſpect, Reſpect being all he dare at preſent pretend to; when a more than ordinary deference is paid; when ſomething particular appears in the Look uand Addreſs, and ſuch 80 F8v 80 ſuch an Obſequiouſneſs in every Action, as nothing cou’d engage a Man to, who never forgets the Superiority of his Sex, but a hope to be Obſerv’d in his turn: Then, whatever the Inequality be, and how ſenſible ſoever he ſeems to be of it, the Man has for certain his Engines at work, the Mine is ready to ſpring on the firſt opportunity, and ’tis well if it be not too late to prevent the poor Lady’s Ruin.
To wind up this matter, if a Woman were duly Principled and Taught to know the World, eſpecially the True Sentiments that Men have of her, and the Traps they lay for her under ſo many gilded Compliments, and ſuch a ſeemingly great Reſpect, that diſgrace wou’d be prevented which is brought upon too many Families, Women would Marry more diſcreetly, and demean themſelves better in a Married State than ſome People ſay they do. The foundation indeed ought to be laid deep and ſtrong, ſhe ſhou’d be made a good Chriſtian, and underſtand why ſhe is ſo, and then ſhe well be every thing elſe that is Good. Men need keep no Spies on a Woman’s Conduct, need have no fear of her Vertue, or ſo much as of her Prudence and Caution, were but a due ſenſe of true Honour and Vertue awaken’d in her, were her Reaſon excited and prepar’d to 81 G1r 8381 to conſider the Sophiſtry of thoſe Temptations which wou’d perſwade her from her Duty; and were ſhe put in a way to know that it is both her Wiſdom and Intereſt to obſerve it; She would then duly examine and weigh all the Circumſtances, the Good and Evil of a Married State, and not be ſurpriz’d with unforeſeen Inconveniencies, and either never conſent to be a Wife, or make a good one when ſhe does. This would ſhew her what Human Nature is, as well as what it ought to be, and teach her not only what ſhe may juſtly expect, but what ſhe muſt be Content with; would enable her to cure ſome Faults, and patiently to ſuffer what ſhe cannot cure.
Indeed nothing can aſſure Obedience, and render it what it ought to be, but the Conſcience of Duty, the paying it for God’s ſake. Superiors don’t rightly underſtand their own Intereſt when they attempt to put out their Subjects Eyes to keep them Obedient. A Blind Obedience is what a Rational Creature ſhou’d never Pay, nor wou’d ſuch an one receive it did he rightly underſtand its Nature. For Human Actions are no otherwiſe valuable than as they are conformable to Reaſon, but a blind Obedience is an Obeying without Reaſon, for ought we know againſt it. God himſelf does not require our G Obedi- 82 G1v 8482 Obedience at this rate, he lays before us the goodneſs and reaſonableneſs of his Laws, and were there any thing in them whoſe Equity we could not readily comprehend, yet we have this clear and ſufficient Reaſon on which to found our Obedience, that nothing but what’s Juſt and Fit, can be enjoyn’d by a Juſt, a Wiſe and Gracious God, but this is a Reaſon will never hold in reſpect of Men’s Commands, unleſs they can prove themſelves Infallible, and conſequently Impeccable too.
It is therefore very much a Man’s Intereſt that Women ſhould be good Chriſtians, in this as in every other Inſtance, he who does his Duty, finds his own account in it. Duty and true Intereſt are one and the ſame thing, and he who thinks otherwiſe is to be pitied for being ſo much in the Wrong; but what can be more the Duty of the Head, than to Inſtruct and Improve thoſe who are under Government? She will freely leave him the quiet Dominion of this World, whoſe Thoughts and Expectations are plac’d on the next. A Proſpect of Heaven, and that only, will cure that Ambition which all Generous Minds are fill’d with; not by taking it away, but by placing it on a right Object. She will diſcernſcern 83 G2r 8583 ſcern a time when her Sex ſhall be no bar to the beſt Employments, the higheſt Honour; a time when that diſtinction, now ſo much us’d to her Prejudice, ſhall be no more, but provided ſhe is not wanting to her ſelf, her Soul ſhall ſhine as bright as the greateſt Heroe’s. This is a true, and indeed the only conſolation, this makes her a ſufficient compenſation for all the neglect and contempt the ill-grounded Cuſtoms of the World throw on her, for all the Injuries brutal Power may do her, and is a ſufficient Cordial to ſupport her Spirits, be her Lot in this World what it may.
But ſome ſage Perſons may perhaps object, that were Women allow’d to Improve themſelves, and not amongſt other diſcouragements driven back by thoſe wiſe Jeſts and Scoffs that are put upon a Woman of Senſe or Learning, a Philoſophical Lady as ſhe is call’d by way of Ridicule, they would be too Wiſe and too Good for the Men; I grant it, for vicious and fooliſh Men. Nor is it to be wonder’d, that he is afraid he ſhou’d not be able to Govern them were their Underſtandings improv’d, who is reſolv’d not to take too much Pains with his own. But theſe ’tis to be hop’d are no very conſiderable Nmumber, the fooliſh at leaſt; 84 G2v 8684 leaſt ; and therefore this is ſo far from being an Argument againſt Women’s Improvement, that it is a ſtrong one for it, if we do but ſuppoſe the Men to be as capable of Improvement as the Women, but much more if according to Tradition we believe they have greater Capacities. This, if any thing, wou’d ſtir them up to be what they ought, and not permit them to waſt their Time and abuſe their Faculties, in the Service of their irregular Appetites and unreaſonable Deſires, and ſo let poor contemptible Women who have been their Slaves, excel them in all that is truly Excellent. This wou’d make them Bluſh at employing an immortal Mind no better than in making Proviſion for the Fleſh to fulfil the Luſts thereof, ſince Women by a Wiſer Conduct have brought themſelves to ſuch a reach of Thought, to ſuch exactneſs of Judgment, ſuch clearneſs and ſtrength of Reaſoning, ſuch purity and elevation of Mind, ſuch Command of their Paſſions, ſuch regularity of Will and Affection, and in a word, to ſuch a pitch of Perfection, as the Human Soul is capable of attaining in this Life by the Grace of God, ſuch true Wiſdom, ſuch real Greatneſs, as tho, it does not qualifie them to make a Noiſe in this World, 85 G3r 7885 World, to found or overturn Empires, yet it qualifies them for what is infinitely better, a Kingdom that cannot be mov’d, and incorruptible Crown of Glory.
Beſides, it were ridiculous to ſuppoſe that a Woman, were ſhe ever ſo much improv’d, cou’d come near the topping Genius of the Men, and therefore why ſhou’d they envy or diſcourage her? Strength of Mind goes along with Strength of Body, and ’tis only for ſome odd Accidents which Philoſophers have not yet thought worth while to enquire into, that the Sturdieſt Porter is not the Wiſest Man! As therefore the Men have the Power in their Hands, ſo there’s no diſpute of their having the Brains to manage it! Can we ſuppoſe there is ſuch a thing as good Judgment and Senſe upon Earth, if it is not be found among them? Do not they generally ſpeaking do all the great Actions and conſiderable Buſineſs of this World, and leave that of the next to the Women? Their Subtilty in forming Cabals and laying deep Deſigns, their Courage and Conduct in breaking through all Tyes Sacred and Civil to effect them, not only advances them to the Poſt of Honour, and keeps them ſecurely in it for twenty or thirty Years, but gets them a Name, and G4G3 conveys 86 G3v 8886 conveys it down to Poſterity for ſome Hundreds, and who wou’d look any further? Juſtice and injuſtice are administred by their Hands, Courts and Schools are fill’d with theſe Sages; ’tis Men who diſpute for Truth as well as Men who argue againſt it; Hiſtories are writ by them, they recount each others great Exploits, and have always done ſo. All famous Arts have their Original from Men, even from the Invention of Guns to the Myſtery of good Eating. And to ſhew that nothing is beneath their Care, any more than above their Reach, they have brought Gaming to an Art and Science, and a more Profitable and Honourable one too, than any of thoſe that us’d to be call’d Liberal! Indeed what is it they can’t perform, when they attempt it? The Strength of their Brains ſhall be every whit as Conſpicuous at their Cups as in a Senate-Houſe, and when they pleaſe they can make it paſs for as ſure a Mark of Wiſdom, to drink deep as to Reaſon profoundly; a greater proof of Courage and conſequently of Underſtanding, to dare the Vengeance of Heaven it ſelf, than to ſtand the Raillery of ſome of the worſt of their fellow Creatures.
Again, it may be ſaid, if a Wife’s caſe be as it is here repreſented, it is not good 87 G4r 8987 good for a Woman to Marry, and ſo there’s an end of Human Race. But this is no fair Conſequence, for all that can juſtly be inferr’d from hence, is that a Woman has no mighty Obligations to the Man who makes Love to her, ſhe has no reaſon to be fond of being a Wife, or to reckon it a piece of Preferment when ſhe is taken to be a Man’s Upper-Servant; it is no advantage to her in this World, if rightly manag’d it may prove one as to the next. For ſhe who Marries purely to do Good, to Educate Souls for Heaven, who can be ſo truly mortify’d as to lay aſide her own Will and Deſires, to pay ſuch an intire Submiſſion for Life, to one whom ſhe cannot be ſure will always deſerve it, does certainly perform a more Heroic Action than all the famous Maſculine Heroes can boaſt of, ſhe ſuffers a continual Martyrdom to bring Glory to God and Benefit to Mankind, which conſideration indeed may carry her through all Difficulties, I know not what elſe can, and engage her to Love him who proves perhaps ſo much worſe than a Brute, as to make this Condition yet more grievous than it needed to be. She has need of a ſtrong Reaſon, of a truly Chriſtian and well-temper’d Spirit, of all the Aſſiſtance the beſt Education can give her, and ought to 88 G4v 9088 to have ſome good aſſurance of her own Firmneſs and Vertue, who ventures on ſuch a Trial; and for this Reaſon ’tis leſs to be wonder’d at that Women Marry off in haſt, for perhaps if they took time to conſider and reflect upon it, they ſeldom wou’d Marry.
To conclude, perhaps I’ve ſaid more than moſt Men will thank me for, I cannot help it, for how much ſoever I may be their Friend and humble Servant, I am more a Friend to Truth. Truth is ſtrong, and ſometime or other will prevail, nor is it for their Honour, and therefore one wou’d think not for their Intereſt, to be Partial to themſelves and Unjuſt to others. They may fancy I have made ſome diſcoveries which like Arcana Imperii, ought to be kept ſecret, but in good earneſt, I do them more Honour than to ſuppoſe their lawful Prerogatives need any mean Arts to ſupport them. If they have Uſurpt, I love Juſtice too much to wiſh Succeſs and continuance to Uſurpations, which tho’ ſubmitted to out of Prudence, and for Quietneſs ſake, yet leave every Body free to regain their lawful Right whenever they have Power and Opportunity. I don’t ſay that Tyranny ought, but we find in Fact, that it provokes the Oppreſs’dpreſs’d 89 G5r 9189 preſs’d to throw off even a Lawful Yoke that fits too heavy: And if he who is freely Elected, after all his fair Promiſes and the fine Hopes he rais’d, proves a Tyrant, the conſideration that he was one’s own Choice, will not render more Submiſſive and Patient, but I fear more Refractory. For tho’ it is very unreaſonable, yet we ſee ’tis the courſe of the World, not only to return Injury for Injury, but Crime for Crime; both Parties indeed are Guilty, but the Aggreſſors have a double Guilt, they have not only their own, but their Neighbours ruin to anſwer for.
As to the Female Reader, I hope ſhe will allow I’ve endeavour’d to do her Juſtice, nor betray’d her Cauſe as her Advocates uſually do, under pretence of defending it. A Practice too mean for any to be Guilty of who have the leaſt Senſe of Honour, and who do any more than meerly pretend to it. I think I have held the Ballance even, and not being conſcious of Partiality I ask no Pardon for it. To plead for the Oppreſs’d and to defend the Weak ſeem’d to me a generous undertaking; for tho’ it may be ſecure, ’tis not always Honourable to run over to the ſtrongeſt Party. And if ſhe infers from what has been ſaid that Marriage is a very 90 G5v 9290 very Happy State for Men, if they think fit to make it ſo; that they govern the World, they have Preſcription on their ſide, Women are too weak to diſpute it with them, therefore they, as all other Governours, are moſt, if not only accountable, for what’s amiſs, for whether other Governments in their Original, were or were not confer’d according to the Merit of the Perſon, yet certainly in this caſe, if Heaven has appointed the Man to Govern, it has qualify’d him for it: So far I agree with her. But if ſhe goes on to infer, that therefore if a Man has not theſe Qualifications where is his Right? That if he miſemploys, he abuſes it? And if he abuſes, according to modern Deduction, he forfeits it, I muſt leave her there. A peaceable Woman indeed will not carry it ſo far, ſhe will neither queſtion her Huſband’s Right nor his Fitneſs to Govern; but how? Not as an abſolute Lord and Maſter, with an Arbitrary and Tyrannical ſway, but as Reaſon Governs and Conducts a Man, by propoſing what is Juſt and Fit. And the Man who acts according to that Wiſdom he aſſumes, who wou’d have that Superiority he pretends to, acknowledg’d Juſt, will receive no Injury by any thing that has been offer’d here. A Woman will value him the more who is ſo 91 G6r 9391 ſo Wiſe and Good, when ſhe diſcerns how much he excels the reſt of his noble Sex; the leſs he requires, the more will he Merit that Eſteem and Deference, which thoſe who are ſo forward to exact, ſeem conſcious they don’t deſerve. So then the Man’s Prerogative is not at all infring’d, whilſt the Woman’s Privileges are ſecur’d; and if any Woman think her ſelf Injur’d, ſhe has a Remedy in reſerve which few Men will Envy or endeavour to Rob her of, the Exerciſe and Improvement of her Vertue here, and the Reward of it hereafter.
Books Printed for Richard Wilkin at the King’s Head in St. Paul’s ChurchYard.
A Serious Propoſal to the Ladies for the Advancement of their true and greateſt Intereſt, Part the Firſt, the fourth Edition.
A Serious Propoſal to the Ladies, Part the Second. Wherein a Method is offered for the Improvement of their Minds.
Letters concerning the Love of God, between the Author of the Propoſal to the Ladies, and M. John Norris: Wherein his late Diſcourſe, ſhewing, that it ought to be intire and excluſive of all other Loves, is farther cleared and juſtified. 2d Edit.
Moderation truly ſtated: Or a Review of a late Pamphlet, Entitled, Moderation a Vertue. With a Prefatory Diſcourſe to Dr. D’Avenant, concerning his late Eſſays on Peace and War. 4 to.
A Fair Way with the Diſſenters and their Patrons, not writ by Mr. L.――Y. or any other furious Jacobite, whether Clergyman or Layman, but by a very Moderate Perſon and Dutiful Subject to the Queen. Quarto.
An Impartial Enquiry into the Cauſes of Rebellion, and Civil War in this Kingdom. In an Examination of Dr. Kennet’s Sermon, 1704-01-30Jan. 30th 1704. And Vindication of the Royal Martyr. Quarto.
The Chriſtian Religion as profeſſed by a Daughter of the Church of England. Octavo.