To Which Is Added,
Noble Science of Self-Justification.
Printed for J. Johnson, in St. Paul’s Church-Yard. 1795MDCCXCV.
Letter From A Gentleman To His Friend Upon The Birth Of A Daughter.
Icongratulate you, my dear Sir, upon the birth of your daughter; and I wiſh that ſome of the Fairies of ancient times were at hand to endow the damſel with health, wealth, wit, and beauty—Wit?――I ſhould make a long pauſe before I accepted of B this 2 B1v 2 this gift for a daughter—you would make none.
As I know it to be your opinion, that it is in the power of education, more certainly than it was ever believed to be in the power of Fairies, to beſtow all mental gifts; and as I have heard you ſay that education ſhould begin as early as poſſible, I am in haſte to offer you my ſentiments, leſt my advice ſhould come too late.
Your general ideas of the habits and virtues eſſential to the perfection of the female character nearly agree with mine; but we differ materially as to the cultivation, which it is neceſſary or expedient to beſtow upon the underſtandings of women: you are a champion for the rights of woman, and 4 inſiſt 3 B2r 3 inſiſt upon the equality of the ſexes. But ſince the days of chivalry are paſt, and ſince modern gallantry permits men to ſpeak, at leaſt to one another, in leſs ſublime language of the fair, I may confeſs to you that I ſee neither in experience or analogy much reaſon to believe that, in the human ſpecies alone, there are no marks of inferiority in the female;—curious and admirable exceptions there may be, but many ſuch have not fallen within my obſervation. I cannot ſay that I have been much enraptured either on a firſt view or on a cloſer inſpection with female prodigies. Prodigies are ſcarcely leſs offenſive to my taſte than monſters; humanity makes us refrain from expreſſing diſguſt at the awkward ſhame of B2 the 4 B2v 4 the one, whilſt the intemperate vanity of the other juſtly provokes ridicule and indignation. I have always obſerved in the underſtandings of women who have been too much cultivated, ſome diſproportion between the different faculties of their minds. One power of the mind undoubtedly may be cultivated at the expence of the reſt, as we ſee that one muſcle or limb may acquire exceſceſſive ſtrength and an unnatural ſize, at the expence of the health of the whole body: I cannot think this deſirable either for the individual or for ſociety.—The unfortunate people in certain mountains of Switzerland are, ſome of them, proud of the excreſcence by which they are deformed. I have ſeen women vain of exhibiting mental 5 B3r 5 mental deformities, which to me appeared no leſs diſguſting. In the courſe of my life it has never been my good fortune to meet with a female whoſe mind, in ſtrength, juſt proportion, and activity, I could compare to that of a ſenſible man.—
Allowing, however, that women are equal to our ſex in natural abilities, from their ſituation in ſociety, from their domeſtic duties, their taſte for diſſipation, their love of romance, poetry, and all the lighter parts of literature, their time muſt be ſo fully occupied, that they could never have leiſure, even ſuppoſing that they had inclination, for that ſevere application to which our ſex ſubmit.—Between perſons of equal genius, and equal induſtry,B3 duſtry, 6 B3v 6 duſtry, time becomes the only meaſure of their acquirements――Now calculate the time, which is waſted by the fair ſex, and tell me how much the ſtart of us they ought to have in the beginning of the race, if they are to reach the goal before us?—It is not poſſible that women ſhould ever be our equals in knowledge, unleſs you aſſert that they are far our ſuperiors in natural capacity.――Not only time but opportunity muſt be wanting to complete female ſtudies—we mix with the world without reſtraint, we converſe freely with all claſſes of people, with men of wit, of ſcience, of learning, with the artiſt, the mechanic, the labourer; every ſcene of life is open to our view;—every aſſiſtance, that foreignreign 7 B4r 7 reign or domeſtic ingenuity can invent, to encourage literary ſtudies, is ours almoſt excluſively. From academies, colleges, public libraries, private aſſociations of literary men, women are excluded, if not by law, at leaſt by cuſtom, which cannot eaſily be conquered ――Whenever women appear, even when we ſeem to admit them as our equals in underſtanding, every thing aſſumes a different form; our politeneſs, delicacy, habits towards the ſex forbid us to argue, or to converſe with them as we do with one another—we ſee things as they are, but women muſt always ſee things through a veil, or ceaſe to be women.—With theſe inſuperable difficulties in their education and in their paſſage through life, it B4 ſeems 8 B4v 8 ſeems impoſſible that their minds ſhould ever acquire that vigour and efficiency, which accurate knowledge and various experience of life and manners can beſtow.
Much attention has lately been paid to the education of the female ſex, and you will ſay, that we have been amply repaid for our care—That ladies have lately exhibited ſuch brilliant proofs of genius as muſt dazzle and confound their critics. I do not ask for proofs of genius,—I aſk for ſolid proofs of utility. In which of the uſeful arts, in which of the exact ſciences have we been aſſiſted by female ſagacity or penetration?—I ſhould be glad to ſee a liſt of diſcoveries, of inventions, of obſervations, evincing patient 9 B5r 9 patient reſearch, of truths eſtabliſhed upon actual experiment, or deduced by juſt reaſoning from previous principles—If theſe or any of theſe can be preſented by a female champion for her ſex, I ſhall be the firſt to clear the way for her to the Temple of Fame.
I muſt not ſpeak of my contemporaries, elſe candor might oblige me to allow, that there are ſome few inſtances of great talents applied to uſeful purpoſes—But, except theſe, what have been the literary productions of women?—In poetry, plays and romances, in the art of impoſing upon the underſtanding by means of the imagination, they have excelled—but to uſeful literature they have ſcarcely turned their thoughts—I have never heard of any female 10 B5v 10 female proficients in ſcience—few have pretended to ſcience till within theſe few years.—I know of none of their inventions, and few of their diſcoveries.
You will tell me, that in the moſt difficult and moſt extenſive ſcience of politics women have ſucceeded—you will cite the names of ſome illuſtrious queens—I am inclined to think, with the Duke of Burgundy, that queens who reigned well were governed by men, and kings who reigned ill were governed by women.
The iſolated examples of a few heroines cannot convince me that it is ſafe or expedient to truſt the ſex with power—their power over themſelves has regularly been found to diminiſh, in proportion as their power over others 11 B6r 11 others has been encreaſed.—I ſhould not refer you to the ſcandalous chronicles of modern times, to volumes of private anecdotes, or to the abominable ſecret hiſtories of courts, where female influences, and female depravity are ſynonymous terms, but I appeal to the open equitable page of hiſtory, to a body of evidence collected from the teſtimony of ages, for experiments tried upon the grandeſt ſcale of which nature admits, regiſtered by various hands without the poſſiblity of colluſion and without a view to any particular ſyſtem—from theſe you muſt be convinced, that ſimilar conſequences have uniformly reſulted from the ſame cauſes in nations the moſt unlike, and at periods the moſt diſtant. Follow the 12 B6v 12 the hiſtory of female nature from the court of Auguſtus, to the court of Lewis the Fourteenth, and tell me whether you can heſitate to acknowledge, that the influence, the liberty, and the power of women have been conſtant concomitants of the moral and political decline of empires—I ſay the concomitants: where events are thus invariably connected I might be juſtified in ſaying, that they were cauſes—you would call them effects, but we need not diſpute about the momentary precedence of evils, which are found to be inſeparable companions—they may be alternately cauſe and effect,—the reality of the connexion is eſtabliſhed, it may be difficult to aſcertain preciſely its nature.You 13 B7r 13
You will aſſert, that the fatal conſequences which have reſulted from our truſting the ſex with liberty and power, have been originally occaſioned by the ſubjection and ignorance in which they had previouſly been held, and of our ſubſequent folly and imprudence in throwing the reins of dominion into hands unprepared and uneducated to guide them. I am at a loſs to conceive any ſyſtem of education that can properly prepare women for the exerciſe of power:—Cultivate their underſtandings, cleanſe the viſual orb with Euphraſy and Rue, till they can with one comprehenſive glance take in one half at leaſt of round eternity, ſtill you have no ſecurity that their reaſon ſhall govern their conduct. The 14 B7v 14 The moral character ſeems, even amongſt men of ſuperior ſtrength of mind, to have no certain dependence upon the reaſoning faculty;—habit, prejudice, taſte, example, and the different ſtrength of various paſſions, form the moral character. We are impelled to action frequently contrary to the belief of our ſober reaſon, and we purſue what we could, in the hour of deliberation, demonſtrate to be inconſiſtent with that greateſt poſſible ſhare of happineſs, which it is the object of every rational creature to ſecure. We frequently think with one ſpecies of enthuſiaſm, and act with another: and can we expect from women more conſiſtency of conduct, if they are allowed the ſame liberty. No one can feel 15 B8r 15 feel more ſtrongly than you do the neceſſity and the value of female integrity; no one can more clearly perceive how much in ſociety depends upon the honour of women, and how much it is the intereſt of every individual, as well as of every ſtate, to guard their virtue, and to preſerve inviolate the purity of their manners. Allow me, then, to warn you of the danger of talking in loud ſtrains to the ſex of the noble contempt of prejudice. You would look with horrour at one who ſhould go to ſap the foundations of the building; beware then how you venture to tear away the ivy which clings to the walls, and braces the looſe ſtones together.I 16 B8v 16
I am by no means diſpoſed to indulge in the faſhionable ridicule of prejudice. There is a ſentimental, metaphyſical argument, which, independently of all others, has lately been uſed to prevail upon us to relinquiſh that ſuperiority which ſtrength of body in ſavage, and ſtrength of mind in civilized, nations ſecures to man. We are told, that as women are reaſonable creatures, they ſhould be governed only by reaſon; and that we diſgrace ourſelves, and enſlave them when we inſtil even the moſt uſeful truths as prejudices.—Morality ſhould, we are told, be founded upon demonſtration not upon ſentiment; and we ſhould not require human beings to ſubmit to any laws or cuſtoms, without convincing their underſtandings of the univerſalverſal 17 C1r 17 verſal utility of theſe political conventions. When are we to expect this conviction? We cannot expect it from childhood, ſcarcely from youth; but, from the maturity of the underſtanding, we are told that we may expect it with certainty.—And of what uſe can it then be to us? When the habits are fixed, when the character is decided, when the manners are formed, what can be done by the bare conviction of the underſtanding? What could we expect from that woman whoſe moral education was to begin at the moment when ſhe was called upon to act; and who without having imbibed in her early years any of the ſalutary prejudices of her ſex, or without having been educated in the amiable acquieſcence to well-eſtabliſhed maxims of C female 18 C1v 18 female prudence, ſhould boldly venture to conduct herſelf by the immediate conviction of her underſtanding? I care not for the names or titles of my guides; all that I ſhall enquire is, which is beſt acquainted with the road. Provided women be conducted quietly to their good, it is ſcarcely worth their while to diſpute about the pompous, metaphyſical names or precedency of their motives. Why ſhould they deem it diſgraceful to be induced to purſue their intereſt by what ſome philoſophers are pleaſed to call weak motives? Is it not much leſs diſgraceful to be peaceably governed by weak reaſons, than to be incapable of being reſtrained by the ſtrongeſt? The dignity of human nature, and the boaſted free-will of rational 19 C2r 19 rational agents, are high-founding words, likely to impoſe upon the vanity of the fair ſex, as well as upon the pride of our’s; but if we analyſe the ideas annexed to theſe terms, to what ſhall we reduce them? Reaſon in its higheſt perfection ſeems juſt to arrive at the certainty of inſtinct; and truth, impreſſed upon the mind in early youth by the united voice of affection and authority, gives all the real advantages of the moſt inveſtigating ſpirit of philoſophy. If the reſult of the thought, experience, and ſufferings of one race of beings is (when inculcated upon the belief of the next) to be ſtigmatiſed as prejudice, there is an end to all the benefits of hiſtory and of education. The mutual intercourſe of individuals and C2 of 20 C2v 20 of nations muſt be only for the traffic or amuſement of the day. Every age muſt repeat the ſame experiments; every man and every nation muſt make the ſame miſtakes, and ſuffer the ſame miſeries, whilſt the civilization and happineſs of the world, if not retrograde in their courſe, muſt for ever be ſtationary.
Let us not, then, deſpiſe or teach the other ſex to deſpiſe the traditional maxims of experience, or thoſe early prepoſſeſſions, which may be termed prejudices, but which in reality ſerve as their moral inſtinct. I can ſee neither tyranny on our part, nor ſlavery on theirs, in this ſyſtem of education. This ſentimental or metaphyſical appeal to our candour and generoſity has then 21 C3r 21 then no real force, and every other argument for the literary and philoſophical education of women, and for the extraordinary cultivation of their underſtandings, I have examined.
You probably imagine, that, by the ſuperior ingenuity and care you propoſe to beſtow on your daughter’s education, you ſhall make her an exception to general maxims, you ſhall give her all the bleſſings of a literary cultivation, and at the ſame time preſerve her from all the follies and faults, and evils which have been found to attend the character of a literary lady.
Syſtems produce projects; and as projects in education are of all others the moſt hazardous, they ſhould not be followed till after the moſt mature deliberation:C3 libera- 22 C3v 22 liberation: though it may be natural, is it wiſe for any man to expect extraordinary ſucceſs, from his efforts or his precautions, beyond what has ever been the ſhare of thoſe who have had motives as ſtrong for care and for exertion, and ſome of whom were poſſibly his equals in ability? Is it not incumbent upon you, as a parent and as a philoſopher, to calculate accurately what you have to fear, as well as what you have to hope. You can at preſent, with a ſober degree of intereſt, bear to hear me enumerate the evils, and ridicule the foibles, incident to literary ladies; but if your daughter were actually in this claſs, you would not think it friendly if I were to attack them. In this favourable moment, then, 23 C4r 23 then, I beg you to hear me with temper; and as I touch upon every danger and every fault, conſider cautiouſly whether you have a ſpecific remedy or a certain preventative in ſtore for each of them.
Women of literature are much more numerous of late than they were a few years ago. They make a claſs in ſociety, they fill the public eye, and have acquired a degree of conſequence and an appropriate character. The eſteem of private friends, and the admiration of the public for their talents, are circumſtances highly flattering to their vanity, and as ſuch I will allow them to be ſubſtantial pleaſures. I am alſo ready to acknowledge that a taſte for literature adds much to the happineſs C4 of 24 C4v 24 of life, and women may enjoy to a certain degree this happineſs as well as men. But with literary women this ſilent happineſs ſeems at beſt but a ſubordinate conſideration; it is not by the treaſures they poſſeſs, but by thoſe which they have an opportunity of diſplaying, that they eſtimate their wealth. To obtain public applauſe, they are betrayed too often into a miſerable oſtentation of their learning.
Coxe tells us, that certain Ruſſian ladies ſplit their pearls, in order to make a greater diſplay of finery. The pleaſure of being admired for wit or erudition, I cannot exactly meaſure in a female mind, but ſtate it to be as great as you reaſonably can ſuppoſe it, 25 C5r 25 it, there are evils attendant upon it, which, in the eſtimation of a prudent father, may overbalance the good. The intoxicating effect of wit upon the brain, has been well remarked by a poet, who was a friend to the fair ſex, and too many ridiculous, and too many diſguſting, examples confirm the truth of the obſervation. The deference that is paid to genius ſometimes makes the fair ſex forget, that genius will be reſpected only when united with diſcretion. Thoſe who have acquired fame, fancy that they can afford to ſacrifice reputation. I will ſuppoſe, however, that their heads ſhall be ſtrong enough to bear inebriating admiration; and that their conduct ſhall be eſſentially irreproachable, yet they will 26 C5v 26 will ſhew in their manners and converſation that contempt of inferior minds, and that neglect of common forms and cuſtoms, which will provoke the indignation of fools, and which cannot eſcape the cenſure of the wiſe. Even whilſt we are ſecure of their innocence, we diſlike that daring ſpirit in the female ſex, which delights to oppoſe the common opinions of ſociety, and from apparent trifles we draw unfavourable omens, which experience too often confirms. You will aſk me why I ſhould ſuppoſe that wits are more liable to be ſpoiled by admiration than beauties, who have uſually a larger ſhare of it, and who are not more exempt from vanity? Thoſe who are vain of trifling accompliſhments, of rank, C6r 27 of rank, of riches, or of beauty, depend upon the world for their immediate gratification. They are ſenſible of their dependence; they liſten with deference to the maxims, and attend with anxiety to the opinions of thoſe from whom they expect their reward and their daily amuſements. In their ſubjection conſiſts their ſafety, whilſt women, who neither feel dependent for amuſement or for ſelf-approbation upon company and public places, are apt to conſider this ſubjection as humiliating, if not inſupportable: perceiving their own ſuperiority, they deſpiſe, and even ſet at defiance, the opinions of their acquaintance of inferior abilities: contempt, where it cannot be openly retorted, produces averſion, not 28 C6v 28 not the leſs to be dreaded, becauſe conſtrained to ſilence: envy, conſidered as the involuntary tribute, extorted by merit, is flattering to pride; and I know, that many women delight to excite envy, even whilſt they affect to fear its conſequences. But they who imprudently provoke it, are little aware of the torments they prepare for themſelves—cover your face well before you diſturb the hornet’s neſt, was a maxim of the experienced Catharine de Medicis.
Men of literature, if we may truſt to the bitter expreſſions of anguiſh in their writings, and in their private letters, feel acutely all the ſtings of envy. Women, who have more ſuſceptibility of temper, and leſs ſtrength of mind, and 29 C7r 29 and who, from the delicate nature of their reputation, are more expoſed to attack, are alſo leſs able to endure it. Malignant critics, when they cannot attack an author’s peace in his writings, frequently ſcrutinize his private life; and every perſonal anecdote is publiſhed without regard to truth or propriety. How will the delicacy of the female character endure this treatment? how will her friends bear to ſee her pursued even in domeſtic retirement, if ſhe ſhould be wise enough to make that retirement her choice? how will they like to ſee premature memoirs and ſpurious collections of familiar letters publiſhed by needy bookſellers or deſigning enemies? Yet to all theſe things men of letters are ſubject; and ſuch 30 C7v 30 ſuch muſt literary ladies expect, if they attain to any degree of eminence.— Judging, then, from the experience of our ſex, I may pronounce envy to be one of the evils which women of uncommon genius have to dread. Cenſure, ſays a celebrated writer, is a tax which every man muſt pay to the public who ſeeks to be eminent. Women muſt expect to pay it doubly.
Your daughter, perhaps, ſhall be above ſcandal. She ſhall deſpiſe the idle whiſper, and the common tattle of her ſex; her ſoul ſhall be raiſed above the ignorant and the frivolous; ſhe ſhall have a reliſh for higher converſation, and a taſte for higher ſociety. But where is ſhe to find this ſociety? how is ſhe to obtain this ſociety? You make 31 C8r 31 make her incapable of friendſhip with her own ſex. Where is ſhe to look for friends, for companions, for equals? Amongſt men? Amongſt what claſs of men? Not amongſt men of buſineſs, or men of gallantry, but amongſt men of literature?
I think it is Stuart, who, in ſpeaking of Rouſſeau, obſerves that learned men have uſually choſen for their wives, or for their companions, women who were rather below than above the ſtandard of mediocrity: this ſeems to me natural and reaſonable. Such men, probably, feel their own incapacity for the daily buſineſs of life, their ignorance of the world, their ſlovenly habits, and neglect of domeſtic affairs. They do not want wives who 32 C8v 32 who have preciſely their own defects; they rather deſire to find ſuch as ſhall, by the oppoſite habits and virtues, ſupply their deficiencies. I do not ſee why two books ſhould marry, any more than two eſtates. Some few exceptions might be quoted againſt Stuart’s obſervations. I have juſt ſeen, under the article A Literary Wife, in D’Iſraeli’s Curioſities of Literature, an account of Francis Phidelphus, a great ſcholar in the fifteenth century, who was ſo deſirous of acquiring the Greek language in perfection, that he travelled to Conſtantinople in ſearch of a Grecian wife: the lady proved a ſcold. But to do juſtice to the name of Theodora, as this author adds, ſhe has been honourably mentioned 2 in 33 D1r 33 in the French Academy of Sciences. I hope this proved an adequate compenſation to her huſband for his domeſtic broils.
Happy Madame Dacier! you found a huſband ſuited to your taſte! You and Monſieur Dacier, if D’Alembert tells the ſtory rightly, once cooked a diſh in concert, by a receipt, which you found in Apicius, and you both ſat down and eat of your learned ragout till you were both like to die.
Were I ſure, my dear friend, that every literary lady would be equally fortunate in finding in a huſband a man who would ſympathiſe in her taſtes, I ſhould diminiſh my formidable catalogue of evils. But alas! Monſieur Dacier is no more! and we ſhall D never 34 D1v 34 never live to ſee his fellow. Literary ladies will, I am afraid, be loſers in love as well as in friendſhip, by their ſuperiority.—Cupid is a timid, playful child, and is frightened at the helmet of Minerva. It has been obſerved, that gentlemen are not apt to admire a prodigious quantity of learning, and maſculine acquirements in the fair ſex—our ſex uſually conſider a certain degree of weakneſs, both of mind and body, as friendly to female grace. I am not abſolutely of this opinion, yet I do not ſee the advantage of ſupernatural force, either of body or mind, to female excellence. Hercules-Spinſter found his ſtrength rather an incumbrance than an advantage.Supe- 35 D2r 35
Superiority of mind muſt be united with great temper and generoſity to be tolerated by thoſe who are forced to ſubmit to its influence. I have ſeen witty and learned ladies, who did not ſeem to think it at all incumbent upon them to ſacrifice any thing to the ſenſe of propriety. On the contrary, they ſeemed to take both pride and pleaſure in ſhewing the utmoſt ſtretch of their ſtrength, regardleſs of the conſequences, panting only for victory. Upon ſuch occaſions, when the adverſary has been a huſband or a father, I muſt acknowledge that I have felt ſenſations, which few ladies can ever believe they excite. Airs and graces I can bear as well as another—but airs without graces, no man thinks D2 him- 36 D2v 36 himſelf bound to bear—and learned airs leaſt of all. Ladies of high rank, in the Court of Parnaſſus, are apt, ſometimes, to claim precedency out of their own dominions, which creates much confuſion, and generally ends in their being affronted. That knowledge of the world, which keeps people in their proper places, they will never learn from the Muſes.
As Moliere has pointed out with all the force of comic ridicule, in the Femmes Savantes, a lady who aſpires to the ſublime delights of philoſophy and poetry, muſt forego the ſimple pleaſures, and will deſpiſe the duties of domeſtic life. I ſhould not expect that my houſe affairs would be with haſte diſpatched by a Deſdemona, weep- 37 D3r 37 weeping over ſome unvarniſhed tale, petrified with ſome hiſtory of horrors, deep in a new theory of the earth, or ſeriously inclined to hear of Antres vaſt, and deſarts idle—and men whoſe heads do grow beneath their ſhoulders—at the very time when ſhe ſhould be ordering dinner, or paying the butcher’s bill—I ſhould have the leſs hope of rouſing her attention to my culinary concerns and domeſtic grievances, becauſe I ſhould probably incur her contempt for hinting at theſe ſublunary matters, and her indignation for ſuppoſing that ſhe ought to be employed in ſuch degrading occupations. I have heard that if theſe ſublime genuiſſes are wakened from their reveries by the appulſe of external circumſtances,D3 cum- 38 D3v 38 cumſtances, they ſtart and exhibit all the perturbation and amazement of cataleptic patients.
Sir Charles Harrington, in the days of Queen Elizabeth, addreſſed a copy of verſes to his wife, on Women’s Virtues—theſe he divides into the private, civill, and heroyke; the private belong to the country houſewife, whom it concerneth chiefly— The fruit, malt, hops, to tend, to dry, to utter,To beat, ſtrip, ſpin the wool, the hemp, the flax,Breed poultry, gather honey, try the wax,And more than all, to have good cheeſe and butter.Then next a ſtep, but yet a large ſtep higher,Came civill virtue fitter for the citty,With modeſt looks, good cloths, and anſwers witty;Theſe baſer things not done, but guided by her.As 39 D4r 39
As for heroyke vertue, and heroyke dames, honeſt Sir Charles would have nothing to do with them.
Allowing, however, that you could combine all theſe virtues—that you could form a perfect whole, a female wonder from every creature’s beſt, dangers ſtill threaten you. How will you preſerve your daughter from that deſire of univerſal admiration, which will ruin all your work? How will you, along with all the pride of knowledge, give her that retiring modeſty which is ſuppoſed to have more charms for our ſex than the fulleſt diſplay of wit and beauty.
The fair Thoulouſe was ſo called, becauſe ſhe was ſo fair that no one could live either with or without beholding D4 her 40 D4v 40 her—whenever ſhe came forth from her own manſion, which hiſtory obſerves ſhe did very ſeldom, ſuch impetuous crowds ruſhed to obtain a ſight of her, that limbs were broken and lives were loſt wherever ſhe appeared. She ventured abroad leſs frequently— the evil encreaſed—till at length the magiſtrates of the city iſſued an edict commanding the fair Thoulouſe, under the pain of perpetual impriſonment to appear in broad day-light for one hour, every week, in the public market-place.
Modern ladies, by frequenting public places ſo regularly, declare their approbation of the wholeſome regulations of theſe prudent magiſtrates. Very different was the crafty policy of the Prophet Mahomet, who 3 forbad 41 D5r 41 forbad his worſhippers even to paint his picture. The Turks have pictures of the hand, the foot, the features, of Mahomet, but no repreſentation of the whole face or perſon is allowed. The portraits of our beauties, in our exhibition-room, ſhew a proper contempt of this inſidious policy; and thoſe learned and ingenious ladies, who publiſh their private letters, ſelect maxims, ſecret anecdotes, and family memoirs, are entitled to our thanks for thus preſenting us with full lengths of their minds.
Can you expect, my dear Sir, that your daughter, with all the genius and learning which you intend to give her, ſhould refrain from theſe imprudent exhibitions? Will ſhe yield her charms 42 D5v 42 charms of mind with ſweet delay? Will ſhe, in every moment of her life, recollect that the fatal deſire for univerſal admiration always defeats its own purpoſe, eſpecially if the purpoſe be to win love as well as admiration? It is in vain to tell me that more enlarged ideas in our ſex would alter our taſtes, and alter even the aſſociations which now influence our paſsions. The captive who has numbered the links of his chains, and who has even diſcovered how thoſe chains are conſtructed, is not therefore nearer to the recovery of his liberty.
Beſides, it muſt take a length of time to alter aſſociations and opinions, which, if not juſt, are at leaſt common in our ſex. You cannot expect even that 43 D6r 43 that conviction ſhould operate immediately upon the public taſte. You will, in a few years, have educated your daughter; and if the world be not educated exactly at the right time to judge of her perfections, to admire and love them, you will have waſted your labour, and you will have ſacrificed your daughter’s happineſs: that happineſs, analyſe it as a man of the world or as a philoſopher, muſt depend on friendſhip, love, the exerciſe of her virtues, the juſt performance of all the duties of life, and the ſelf-approbation ariſing from the conſciouſneſs of good conduct.
I am, my dear friend, Yours ſincerely.
Answer To The Preceding Letter.
If I were not naturally of a ſanguine temper, your letter, my dear friend, would fill my mind with ſo many melancholy fears for the fate of literary women, that I ſhould be tempted to educate my daughter in the ſecure bliſs of ignorance.
I am ſenſible that we have no right to try new experiments and fanciful theories at the expence of our fellowcreatures, eſpecially on thoſe who are helpleſs, and immediately under our pro- 45 D7r 45 protection. Who can eſtimate the anguiſh which a parent muſt feel from the ruin of his child, when joined to the idea that it may have been cauſed by imprudent education: but reaſon ſhould never be blinded by ſentiment, when it is her proper office to guide and enlighten. There is ſcarcely any family, I hope, which does not feel within itſelf the happy effects of the improvements in modern education; but we could never have felt theſe advantages, if we had reſiſted all attempts at alteration.
Do not, my dear Sir, call me a champion for the rights of women; I am more intent upon their happineſs than ambitious to enter into a metaphyſical diſcuſſion of their rights. Their 46 D7v 46 Their happineſs is ſo nearly connected with ours, that it ſeems to me abſurd to manage any argument ſo as to ſet the two ſexes at variance by vain contention for ſuperiority. It is not our object to make an invidious diviſion of rights and privileges, but to determine what is moſt for our general advantage.
I ſhall not, therefore, examine with much anxiety how far women are naturally inferior to us either in ſtrength of mind or body. The ſtrength of the one has no neceſſary connection with the other, I may obſerve; and intellectual ability has ever conquered mere bodily ſtrength, from the times of Ajax and Ulyſſes to the preſent day. In civilized ſociety, that ſpecies of ſuperiorityperiority 47 D8r 47 periority which belongs to ſuperior force, is reduced to little in the loweſt claſſes, to leſs in the higher claſſes of life.
The invention of fire-arms renders addreſs and preſence of mind more than a match for force, or at leaſt reduces to an affair of chance the pretenſions of the feeble and the ſtrong. The art of printing has extended the dominion of the mind, as much by facilitating the intercourſe and combination of perſons of literature, as by the rapid and univerſal circulation of knowledge. Both theſe inventions have tended to alter the relative ſituation of women in modern ſociety.
I acknowledge that, with reſpect to the opportunities of acquiring knowledge, inſtitution and manners are much in 48 D8v 48 in favour of our ſex; but your argument concerning time appears to me to be inaccurate. Whilſt the knowledge of the learned languages continues to form an indiſpenſable part of a gentleman’s education, many years of childhood and youth muſt be devoted to their attainment. During theſe ſtudies, the general cultivation of the underſtanding is in ſome degree retarded. All the intellectual powers are cramped, except the memory, which is ſufficiently exerciſed, but which is overloaded with words, and with words which are ſeldom underſtood. The genius of living and of dead languages differs ſo much, that the pains which are taken to write elegant Latin, frequently ſpoil the Engliſh ſtyle. Girls uſually E1r 49 uſually write much better than boys: they think and expreſs their thoughts clearly at an age when young men can ſcarcely write an eaſy letter upon any common occaſion. Women do not read the beſt authors of antiquity as ſchool books; but they can have excellent tranſlations of moſt of them, when they are capable of taſting their beauties. I know that it is ſuppoſed no one can judge of the claſſics by tranſlations; and I am ſenſible that much of the merit of the originals may be loſt; but I think the difference in pleaſure is more than overbalanced to women, by the time they ſave, and by the labour and miſapplication of abilities which is ſpared. If they do not acquire a claſſic taſte, neither do they E acquire E1v 50 acquire claſsic prejudices: nor are they early diſgusted with literature, by pedagogues, lexicons, grammars, and all the melancholy apparatus of learning. Field-ſports, travelling, gaming, lounging, and what is called pleaſure in various ſhapes, uſually fill the interval between quitting the college and ſettling for life: this period is not loſt by the other ſex. Women begin to taſte the real pleaſures of reading juſt at the age when young men, diſguſted with their ſtudies, begin to be aſhamed amongſt their companions of alluding to literature. When this period is paſt, buſineſs, the neceſſity of purſuing a profeſſion, the ambition of ſhining in parliament, or of riſing in public life, occupy a large portion of their 51 E2r 51 their lives. The underſtanding is but partially cultivated for theſe purpoſes; men of genius muſt contract their enquiries, and concentrate their powers; they muſt purſue the expedient, even when they diſtinguiſh that it is not the right, and they are degraded to literary artiſans. Stuart. The other ſex have no ſuch conſtraint upon their underſtandings; neither the neceſſity of earning their bread, nor the ambition to ſhine in public life, hurry or prejudice their minds; in domeſtic life, they have leiſure to be wiſe. Women, who do not love diſſipation, muſt have more time for the cultivation of their underſtandings, than men can have if you compute the whole of life.E2 You 52 E2v 52
You apprehend that knowledge muſt be hurtful to the ſex, becauſe it will be the means of their acquiring power. It ſeems to me impoſſible that women can acquire the ſpecies of direct power which you dread: the manners of ſociety muſt totally change before women can mingle with men in the buſy and public ſcenes of life. They muſt become Amazons before they can effect this change; they muſt ceaſe to be women before they can deſire it. The happineſs of neither ſex could be increaſed by this metamorphoſis: the object cannot be worth the price. Power, ſuppoſing it to be a certain good to its poſſeſſor, is like all our other pleaſures, capable of being appreciated; and if women are taught to eſtimate their 53 E3r 53 their pleaſures, they will be governed in their choice by the real, not by the imaginary, value. They will be convinced, not by the voice of the moraliſt alone, but by their own obſervation and experience, that power is an evil in moſt caſes; and to thoſe who really wiſh to do good to their fellow creatures, it is at beſt but a painful truſt. If, my dear Sir, it be your object to monopolize power for our ſex, you cannot poſſibly better ſecure it from the wiſhes of the other, than by enlightening their minds, and enlarging their view of human affairs. The common fault of ignorant and ill-educated women is a love for dominion: this they ſhew in every petty ſtruggle where they are permitted to act in privateE3 vate 54 E3v 54 vate life. You are afraid that the ſame diſpoſition ſhould have a larger field for its diſplay; and you believe this temper to be inherent in the ſex. I doubt whether any temper be natural, as it is called: certainly this diſpoſition need not be attributed to any innate cauſe; it is the conſequence of their erroneous education. The belief that pleaſure is neceſſarily connected with the mere exerciſe of free-will, is a falſe and pernicious aſſociation of ideas, ariſing from the tyranny of thoſe who have had the management of their childhood, from their having frequently diſcovered that they have been more happy in chuſing about trifles, when they have acted in oppoſition to the maxims of thoſe who governvern 55 E4r 55 vern them, than when they have followed their advice. I ſhall endeavour to prevent this from happening in my daughter’s early education, and ſhall thus, I hope, prevent her acquiring any unconquerable prejudice in favour of her own wiſhes, or any unreaſonable deſire to influence the opinions of others. People, who have reaſons for their preferences and averſions, are never ſo zealous in the ſupport of their own taſtes, as thoſe are who have no arguments either to convince themſelves or others that they are in the right. Power over the minds of others will not, therefore, in domeſtic, any more than in public life, be an object of ambition to women of enlarged underſtandings.E4 You 56 E4v 56
You appeal to hiſtory to prove to me that great calamities have enſued whenever the female ſex has been indulged with liberty, yet you acknowledge that we cannot be certain whether theſe evils have been the effects of our truſting them with liberty, or of our not having previouſly inſtructed them in the uſe of it: upon the deciſion of this reſts your whole argument. Women have not erred from having knowledge, but from not having had experience: they may have grown vain and preſumptuous when they have learned but little, they will be ſobered into good ſenſe when they ſhall have learned more.
But you fear that knowledge ſhould injure the delicacy of female manners, that 57 E5r 57 that truth would not keep ſo firm a hold upon the mind as prejudice, and that the conviction of the underſtanding will never have a permanent, good effect upon the conduct. I agree with you in thinking, that the ſtrength of mind, which makes people govern themſelves by reaſon, is not always connected with abilities in their moſt cultivated ſtate. I deplore the inſtances I have ſeen of this truth; but I do not deſpair: I am, on the contrary, excited to examine into the cauſes of this phænomenon in the human mind: nor, becauſe I ſee ſome evil, would I ſacrifice the good on a motive of bare ſuſpicion. It is a contradiction to ſay, that to give the power of diſcerning what is good, is to give a 3 diſpoſition 58 E5v 58 diſpoſition to prefer what is bad. All that you prove when you ſay that prejudice, paſſion, habit, often impel us to act in oppoſition to our reaſon, is, that there exiſt enemies to reaſon, which have not yet been ſubdued. Would you deſtroy her power becauſe ſhe has not been always victorious? rather think on the means by which you may extend her dominion, and ſecure to her in future the permanent advantages of victory.
Women, whoſe talents have been much cultivated, have uſually had their attention diſtracted by ſubordinate purſuits, and they have not been taught that the grand object of life is to be happy; to be prudent and virtuous that they may be happy: their ambition 59 E6r 59 ambition has been directed to the acquiſition of knowledge and learning, merely as other women have been excited to acquire accompliſhments, for the purpoſes of oſtentation, not with a view to the real advantage of the acquiſition. But, from the abuſe, you are not to argue againſt the uſe of knowledge. Place objects in a juſt view before the underſtanding, ſhew their different proportions, and the mind will make a wiſe choice. You think yourſelf happy becauſe you are wiſe, ſaid a philoſopher; I think myself wiſe because I am happy.
No woman can be happy in ſociety who does not preſerve the peculiar virtues of her ſex. When this is demonſtrated to the underſtanding, muſt not thoſe 60 E6v 60 thoſe virtues, and the means of preſerving them, become objects of the firſt and moſt intereſting importance to a ſenſible woman? I would not reſt her ſecurity entirely upon this conviction, when I can increaſe it by all the previous habits of early education: theſe things are not, as you ſeem to think, incompatible. Whilſt a child has not the uſe of reaſon, I would guide it by my reaſon, and give it ſuch habits as my experience convinces me will tend to its happineſs. As the child’s underſtanding is enlarged, I can explain the meaning of my conduct, and habit will then be confirmed by reaſon: I loſe no time, I expoſe myself to no danger by this ſyſtem. On the contrary, thoſe who depend merely on the force 61 E7r 61 force of habit and of prejudice alone, expoſe themſelves to perpetual danger. If once their pupils begin to reflect upon their own hood-winked education, if once their faith is ſhaken in the dogmas which have been impoſed upon them, they will probably believe that they have been deceived in every thing which they have been taught, and they will burſt their former bonds with indignation: credulity is always raſh in the moment of detection.
You diſlike in the female ſex that daring ſpirit which deſpiſes the common forms of ſociety, and which breaks through the delicacy and reſerve of female manners. So do I. And the beſt method to make my pupil reſpect theſe things, is to ſhew her how they are 62 E7v 62 are indiſpenſably connected with the largeſt intereſts of ſociety, and with their higheſt pleaſures. Surely this perception, this view of the utility of forms, apparently trifling, muſt be a ſtrong ſecurity to the ſex, and far ſuperior to the automatic habits of thoſe who ſubmit to the conventions of the world, without conſideration or conviction. Habit, improved by reaſon, aſſumes the rank of virtue. The motives which reſtrain from vice muſt be encreaſed, by the clear conviction that vice and wretchedneſs are inſeparably united.
It is too true that women, who have been but half inſtructed, who have ſeen only ſuperficially the relations of moral and political ideas, and who have obtained 63 E8r 63 obtained but an imperfect knowledge of the human heart, have conducted themſelves ſo as to diſgrace their talents and their ſex: theſe are conſpicuous and melancholy examples, cited oftener with malice than with pity. The benevolent and the wiſe point out the errors of genius with more care than thoſe of folly, becauſe there is more danger from the example.
I appeal to examples, which every man of literature will immediately recollect amongſt our contemporaries, to prove, that where the female underſtanding has been properly cultivated, women have not only obtained admiration by their uſeful abilities, but reſpect by their exemplary conduct.
You very prudently avoid alluding to your contemporaries, but you muſt excuſe 64 E8v 64 excuſe me if I cannot omit inſtances eſſential to my cauſe. Modern education has been improved; the fruits of theſe improvements appear, and you muſt not forbid me to point them out.
Inſtead of being aſhamed that ſo little has been hitherto done by female abilities, in ſcience and in uſeful literature, I am ſurpriſed that ſo much has been effected. Till of late, women were kept in Turkiſh ignorance; every means of acquiring knowledge was diſcountenanced by faſhion, and impracticable even to those who deſpiſed faſhion. Our books of ſcience were full of unintelligible jargon, and myſtery veiled pompous ignorance from public contempt; but now, writers muſt offer their diſcoveries to the publiclic 65 F1r 65 lic in diſtinct terms, which every body may underſtand; technical language will no longer ſupply the place of knowledge, and the art of teaching has been carried to great perfection by the demand for learning: all this is in favour of women. Many things, which were thought to be above their comprehenſion, or unſuited to their ſex, have now been found to be perfectly within the compaſs of their abilities, and peculiarly ſuited to their ſituation. Botany has become faſhionable; in time it may become uſeful, if it be not ſo already. Science has been enliſted under the banners of imagination, by the irreſiſtible charms of genius; by the ſame power her votaries will be led from the looſer analogies which dreſs out F the 66 F1v 66 the imagery of poetry, to the ſtricter ones which form the ratiocination of philoſophy. Preface to Dr. Darwin’s Botanic Garden.
Chemiſtry will follow botany; chemiſtry is a ſcience particularly ſuited to women, ſuited to their talents and to their ſituation. Chemiſtry is not a ſcience of parade, it affords occupation and infinite variety; it demands no bodily ſtrength, it can be purſued in retirement, it applies immediately to uſeful and domeſtic purpoſes; and whilſt the ingenuity of the moſt inventive mind may be exerciſed, there is no danger of inflaming the imagination; the judgment is improved, the mind is intent upon realities, the knowledge that is acquired is exact, and the pleaſureſure 67 F2r 67 ſure of the purſuit is a ſufficient reward for the labour.
Dr. Johnſon ſays, that nothing is ever well done that is done by a receipt. Were I attempting to recommend chemiſtry to certain Epicurean philoſophers, I ſhould ſay that a good cook was only an empirical chemiſt, and that the ſtudy of this ſcience would produce a ſalutary reform in receipt books, and muſt improve the accompliſhments of every lady who unites in her perſon the offices of houſekeeper and wife.
Sir Anthony Abſolute, the inveterate foe to literary ladies, declares, that were he to chuſe another helpmate, the extent of her erudition ſhould conſiſt in her knowing her ſimple F2 letters F2v 68 letters without their miſchievous combinations; and the ſummit of her ſcience be—her ability to count as far as twenty: the firſt would enable her to work A. A. upon his linen, and the latter would be quite ſufficient to prevent her giving him a a ſhirt No. 1. and a ſtock No. 2.
Sir Anthony’s helpmate would, by the proper application of chemiſtry, mark A. A. upon his linen, with an eaſe and expedition unknown to the perſevering practitioners of croſs- ſtitch; and the œconomy of his wardrobe and of his houſe would be benefitted by the ſcience of arithmetic and the taſte for order. Economy is not the mean, penny-wise and pound- fooliſh policy which ſome ſuppoſe it 1 to 69 F3r 69 to be; it is the art of calculation, joined to the habit of order, and the power of proportioning our wiſhes to the means of gratifying them. The little pilfering temper of a wife Parnel. is deſpicable and odious to every huſband of ſenſe and taſte. But, far from deſpiſing domeſtic duties, women, who have been well educated, will hold them in high reſpect, becauſe they will ſee that the whole happineſs of life is made up of the happineſs of each particular day and hour, and that the enjoyment of theſe muſt depend upon the punctual practice of thoſe virtues which are more valuable than ſplendid. Taſte, ingenuity, judgment, are all applicable to the arts of domeſtic life; and domeſtic 70 F3v 70 domeſtic life will be moſt preferred by thoſe who have within their own minds a perpetual flow of freſh ideas, who cannot be tempted to diſſipation, and who are moſt capable of enjoying all the real pleaſures of friendſhip and of love.
Since I began this letter, I met with the following pathetic paſſage, which I cannot forbear tranſcribing:—
The greateſt part of the obſervations contained in the foregoing pages were derived from a lady, who is now beyond the reach of being affected by any thing in this ſublunary world. Her beneficence of diſpoſition induced her never to overlook 71 F4r 71 overlook any fact or circumſtance that fell within the ſphere of her obſervation, which promiſed to be in any reſpect beneficial to her fellow-creatures. To her gentle influence the public are indebted, if they be indeed indebted at all, for whatever uſeful hints may at any time have dropt from my pen; a being, ſhe thought, who muſt depend ſo much as man does on the aſſiſtance of others, owes, as a debt to his fellowcreatures, the communication of the little uſeful knowledge that chance may have thrown in his way. Such has been my conſtant aim; ſuch were the views of the wife of my boſom, the friend of my heart, who ſupported and aſſiſted me in all my purſuits.ſuits. 72 F4v 72 ſuits. I now feel a melancholy ſatisfaction in contemplating thoſe objects ſhe once delighted to elucidate. J. Anderſon—Eſſay on the Management of a Dairy.
The elegant Lord Lyttleton, the benevolent Haller, the amiable Dr. Gregory, have all, in the language of affection, poetry, and truth, deſcribed the pleaſures which men of genius and literature enjoy in a union with women who can ſympathiſe in all their thoughts and feelings; who can converſe with them as equals, live with them as friends; who can aſſiſt them in the important and delightful duty of educating their children; who can make their family their most agreeable ſociety, and their home the attractive centre of happineſs.Can 73 G1r 73
Can women of uncultivated underſtandings make ſuch wives?
Women have not the privilege of choice as we have; but they have the power to determine. Women cannot preciſely force the taſtes of the perſon with whom they may be connected, yet their happineſs will greatly depend upon their being able to conform their taſtes to his. For this reaſon, I ſhould rather, in female education, cultivate the general powers of the mind than any particular faculty. I do not deſire to make my daughter a muſician, a painter, or a poeteſs; I do not deſire to make her a botaniſt, a mathematician, or a chemiſt; but I wiſh to give her the habit of induſtry and attention, the love of knowledge G and 74 G1v 74 and the power of reaſoning: theſe will enable her to attain excellence in any purſuit of ſcience or of literature. Her taſtes and her occupations will, I hope, be determined by her ſituation, and by the wiſhes of her friends: ſhe will conſider all accompliſhments and all knowledge as ſubordinate to her firſt object, the contributing to their happineſs and her own.
I am, my dear friend, Yours ſincerely.
- In the Eſſay on the Science of Self-Juſtification, p. 10, l. 15, f. 6, dele never.
Juſt publiſhed, In 3 Vols. Price 4s. 6d. The Parent’s Assistant; Or, Stories for Children. Containing,
- The Little Dog Truſty; or, the Liar and the Boy of Truth
- —The Orange Man; or, the Honeſt Boy and the Thief
- —Lazy Lawrence
- —The Falſe Key
- —The Purple Jar
- —The Bracelets
- —Mademoiſelle Panache
- — The Birth-day Preſent
- —Old Poz
- —The Mimic.
With a Preface, addreſſed to Parents.
Julia and Caroline.
Printed for J. Johnson, St. Paul’s ChurchYard
Julia to Caroline.
In vain, dear Caroline, you urge me to think, I profeſs only to feel.
Reflect upon my own feelings! analyze my notions of happineſs! explain to you my ſyſtem!— My ſyſtem! But I have no ſyſtem: that is the very difference between us. My notions of happineſs cannot be reſolved into B2 ſimple, 4 B2v 4 ſimple, fixed, principles. Nor dare I even attempt to analyſe them, the ſubtle eſſence would eſcape in the proceſs: Juſt puniſhment to the alchemiſt in morality!—You, Caroline are of a more ſedate, contemplative character.
Philoſophy becomes the rigid miſtreſs of your life, enchanting enthuſiaſm the companion of mine. Suppoſe ſhe lead me now and then in purſuit of a meteor; am not I happy in the chace? When one illuſion vaniſhes, another ſhall appear, and ſtill leading me forward towards an horizon that retreats as I advance, the happy proſpect of futurity ſhall vaniſh only with my exiſtence.
Reflect upon my feelings!—dear Caroline, is it not enough that I do feel?— 5 B3r 5 feel?—All that I dread is that apathy which philoſophers call tranquillity. You tell me that by continually indulging I ſhall weaken my natural ſenſibility; are not all the faculties of the ſoul improved, refined by exerciſe, and why ſhall this be excepted from the general law?
But I muſt not you tell me, indulge my taſte for romance and poetry, leſt I waſte that ſympathy on fiction which reality ſo much better deſerves. My dear friend, let us cheriſh the precious propenſity to pity! no matter what the object; ſympathy with fiction or reality, ariſes from the ſame diſpoſition.
When the ſigh of compaſſion riſes in my boſom, when the ſpontaneous tear ſtarts from my eye, what frigid moraliſtB3 raliſt 6 B3v 6 raliſt ſhall ſtop the genial current of the ſoul, ſhall ſay to the tide of paſſion, ſo far ſhalt thou go, and no farther? —Shall man preſume to circumſcribe that which Providence has left unbounded?
But Oh Caroline! if our feelings as well as our days are numbered; if by the immutable law of nature, apathy be the ſleep of paſſion, and languor the inevitable conſequence of exertion; if indeed the pleaſures of life are ſo ill- proportioned to its duration, oh may that duration be ſhortened to me!— Kind heaven, let not my ſoul die before my body!
Yes, if at this inſtant my guardian genius were to appear before me, and offering me the choice of my future I deſtiny; 7 B4r 7 deſtiny; on the one hand the even temper, the poiſed judgment, the ſtoical ſerenity of philoſophy; on the other, the eager genius, the exquiſite ſenſibility of enthuſiaſm:—If the angel ſaid to me chuſe.—The lot of the one is great pleaſure, and great pain—great virtues, and great defects—ardent hope, and ſevere diſappointment—Extacy and deſpair. The lot of the other is calm happineſs unmixt with violent grief, virtue without heroiſm—respect without admiration, and a length of life, in which to every moment is allotted its proper portion of felicity—Gracious genius, I ſhould exclaim, if half my exiſtence muſt be the ſacrifice, take it; enthuſiaſm is my choice.B4 Such 8 B4v 8
Such, my dear friend, would be my choice were I a man; as a woman, how much more readily ſhould I determine!
What has woman to do with philoſophy? The graces flouriſh not under her empire; a woman’s part in life is to pleaſe, and Providence has aſſigned to her succeſs all the pride and pleaſure of her being.
Then leave us our weakneſs, leave us our follies, they are our beſt arms. Leave us to trifle with more grace and eaſe,Whom folly pleaſes and whoſe follies pleaſe. The moment grave ſenſe, and ſolid merit appear, adieu the bewitching caprice, the lively nonſenſe, the exquiſite,ſite, 9 B5r 9 ſite, yet childiſh ſuſceptibility which charms, intereſts, captivates.—Believe me, our amiable defects win more than our nobleſt virtues. Love requires ſympathy, and ſympathy is ſeldom connected with a ſenſe of ſuperiority. I envy none their painful pre-eminence. Alas! whether it be deformity or excellence which makes us ſay with Richard the Third, I am myſelf alone! it comes to much the ſame thing. Then let us, Caroline, content ourselves to gain in love what we loſe in eſteem.
Man is to be held only by the ſlighteſt chains; with the idea that he can B5v 10 can break them at pleaſure, he ſubmits to them in ſport; but his pride revolts againſt the power to which his reaſon tells him he ought to ſubmit. What then can woman gain by reaſon? Can ſhe prove by argument that ſhe is amiable? or demonſtrate that ſhe is an angel?
Vain was the induſtry of the artiſt, who, to produce the image of perfect beauty, ſelected from the faireſt faces their moſt faultleſs features. Equally vain muſt be the efforts of the philoſopher, who would excite the idea of mental perfection, by patching together an aſſemblage of party-coloured virtues.
Such, I had almoſt ſaid, is my ſyſtem, but I mean my ſentiments. I am not accurate 11 B6r 11 accurate enough to compoſe a ſyſtem. After all, how vain are ſyſtems! and theories and reaſonings!
We may declaim, but what do we really know? All is uncertainty—Human prudence does nothing—Fortune every thing; I leave every thing therefore to fortune; you leave nothing. Such is the difference between us,—and which ſhall be the happieſt, time alone can decide.
Farewell, dear Caroline, I love you better than I thought I could love a philoſopher.
Caroline’s answer to Julia.
At the hazard of ceaſing to be charming, intereſting, captivating, I muſt, dear Julia, venture to reaſon with you, to examine your favorite doctrine of amiable defects, and if poſſible to diſſipate that unjuſt dread of perfection which you ſeem to have continually before your eyes.
It is the ſole object of a woman’s life, you ſay, to pleaſe. Her amiable defects pleaſe more than her nobleſt virtues, her follies more than her wiſdom, her caprice more than her temper, and ſomething, a nameleſs ſomething, which no 13 B7r 13 no art can imitate and no ſcience can teach, more than all.
Art, you ſay, ſpoils the graces and corrupts the heart of woman; and at beſt can produce only a cold model of perfection; which, though perhaps ſtrictly conformable to rule, can never touch the ſoul, or pleaſe the unprejudiced, like one ſimple ſtroke of genuine nature.
I have often obſerved, dear Julia, that an inaccurate uſe of words produces ſuch a ſtrange confuſion in all reaſoning, that often in the heat of debate, the combatants, unable to diſtinguiſh their friends from their foes, fall promiſcuouſly on both. A skilful diſputant knows well how to take advantage of this confuſion, and ſometimestime 14 B7v 14 times endeavours to create it. I don’t know whether I am to ſuſpect you of ſuch a design; but I muſt guard againſt it.
You have with great addreſs availed yourſelf of the two ideas connected with the word art; firſt as oppoſed to ſimplicity it implies artifice, and next as oppoſed to ignorance, it comprehends all the improvements of ſcience, which, leading us to ſearch for general cauſes, rewards us with a dominion over their dependent effects. That which inſtructs how to purſue the objects which we may have in view, with the greate ſt probability of ſucceſs. All men who act from general principles are ſo far philoſophers. Their objects may be, when attained, inſufficient to their happineſs,pineſs, 15 B8r 15 pineſs, or they may not previouſly have known all the neceſſary means to obtain them. But they muſt not therefore complain, if they do not meet with ſucceſs which they have no right, at leaſt they have no reaſon to expect.
Parrhaſius, in collecting the moſt admired exellencies from various models, to produce perfection, argued from general principles that mankind would admire what they had before admired. —So far he was a philoſopher. But he was diſappointed of ſucceſs—Yes, for he was ignorant of the cauſe neceſſary to produce it. The ſeparate features might be perfect, but perhaps in their union he forgot to give the whole countenance a peculiar expreſſion.There 16 B8v 16
There was, as you ſay, a ſomething wanting, which his ſcience had not taught him. He ſhould then have ſet himſelf to examine what that ſomething was, and how it was to be obtained. His want of ſucceſs aroſe from the inſufficiency, not the fallacy of theory. Your object, dear Julia, we will ſuppoſe is to pleaſe. If general obſervation and experience have taught you that ſlight accompliſhments, and a trivial character, ſucceed more certainly in obtaining this end, than higher worth, and ſenſe, you act from principle in rejecting the one and aiming at the other. You have diſcovered, or think you have diſcovered, the ſecret cauſes which produce the deſired effect, and you employ them. Do 17 C1r 17 Do not call this inſtinct or nature; this alſo, though you ſcorn it, is philoſophy.
But when you come ſoberly to reflect, you have a feeling in your mind that reaſon and cool judgment diſapprove of the part you are acting.
Let us, however, diſtinguiſh between diſapprobation of the object and the means.
Averſe as enthuſiaſm is to the retrograde motion of analyſis, let me, my dear friend, lead you one ſtep backward.
Why do you wiſh to pleaſe? I except at preſent from the queſtion, the deſire to pleaſe, ariſing from a paſſion which requires a reciprocal return. Confined as this wiſh muſt be in a woman’s heart to one object alone, when C you 18 C1v 18 you ſay, Julia, that the admiration of others, will be abſolutely neceſſary to your happineſs, I muſt ſuppoſe you mean to expreſs only a general deſire to pleaſe?
Then under this limitation—let me ask you again, why do you wiſh to pleaſe?
Do not let a word ſtop you. The word vanity conveys to us a diſagreeable idea. There ſeems ſomething ſelfish in the ſentiment—That all the pleaſure we feel in pleaſing others, ariſes from the gratification it affords to our own vanity.
We refine, and explain, and never can bring ourſelves fairly to make a confeſſion, which, at the very moment we make it, we are ſenſible muſt lower us 19 C2r 19 us in the opinion of others, and conſequently mortify the very vanity we would conceal. So ſtrangely then do we deceive ourſelves as to deny the exiſtence of a motive, which at the inſtant prompts the denial. But let us, dear Julia, exchange the word vanity for a leſs odious word, ſelf-complacency; let us acknowledge that we wiſh to pleaſe, becauſe the ſucceſs raiſes our ſelf-complacency. If you ask why raiſing our ſelf-approbation gives us pleaſure, I muſt anſwer, that I do not know. Yet I ſee and feel that it does; I obſerve that the voice of numbers is capable of raiſing the higheſt tranſport or the moſt fatal deſpair. The eye of man ſeems to poſſeſs a faſcinating power over his C2 fellow- 20 C2v 20 fellow-creatures, to raiſe the bluſh of ſhame or the glow of pride.
I look around me and I ſee riches, titles, dignities purſued with ſuch eagerneſs by thouſands, only as the ſigns of diſtinction. Nay, are not all theſe things ſacrificed the moment they ceaſe to be diſtinctions. The moment the prize of glory is to be won by other means, do not millions ſacrifice their fortunes, their peace, their health, their lives, for fame. Then amongſt the higheſt pleaſures of human beings, I muſt place ſelf-approbation. With this belief, let us endeavour to ſecure it in the greateſt extent, and to the longeſt duration.
Then, Julia, the wiſh to pleaſe becomes only a ſecondary motive ſubor catch 21 C3r 21 dinate to the deſire I have to ſecure my own ſelf-complacency. We will examine how far they are connected.
In reflecting upon my own mind, I obſerve that I am flattered by the opinion of others, in proportion to the opinion I have previouſly formed of their judgment; or, I perceive that the opinion of numbers merely as numbers has power to give me great pleaſure or great pain. I would unite both theſe pleaſures if I could, but in general I cannot—They are incompatible. The opinion of the vulgar crowd, and the enlightened individual, the applauſe of the higheſt, and the loweſt of mankind, cannot be obtained by the ſame means.C3 Another 22 C3v 22
Another queſtion then ariſes, whom ſhall we wiſh to pleaſe—We muſt chooſe, and be decided in the choice.
You ſay that you are proud, I am prouder—You will be content with indiſcriminate admiration—Nothing will content me but what is ſelect. As long as I have the uſe of my reaſon— as long as my heart can feel the delightful ſenſe of a well-earned praiſe, I will fix my eye on the higheſt pitch of excellence, and ſteadily endeavour to attain it.
Conſcious of her worth, and daring to aſſert it, I would have a woman, early in life, know that ſhe is capable of filling the heart of a man of ſenſe and merit—That ſhe is worthy to be his companion and friend. With all the 23 C4r 23 the energy of her ſoul, with all the powers of her underſtanding, I would have a woman endeavour to pleaſe thoſe ſhe eſteems and loves.
She runs a risk, you will ſay, of never meeting her equal—Hearts and underſtandings of a ſuperior order are ſeldom met with in the world; or when met with, it may not be her particular good fortune to win them—True, but if ever ſhe wins, ſhe will keep them; and the prize appears to me well worth the pains and difficulty of attaining.
I too, Julia, admire and feel enthuſiaſm; but I would have philoſophy directed to the higheſt objects. I dread apathy, as much as you can, and I would endeavour to prevent it, C4 not 24 C4v 24 not by ſacrificing half my exiſtence, but by enjoying the whole with moderation.
You ask why exerciſe does not increaſe ſenſibility, and why ſympathy with imaginary diſtreſs will not alſo increaſe the diſpoſition to ſympathiſe with what is real? Becauſe pity ſhould, I think, always be aſſociated with the active deſire to relieve. If it be ſuffered to become a paſſive ſenſation, it is a uſeleſs weakneſs, not a virtue. The ſpecies of reading you ſpeak of muſt be hurtful, even in this reſpect, to the mind, as it indulges all the luxury of woe in ſympathy with fictitious diſtreſs, without requiring the exertion which reality demands: Beſides, univerſal experience proves to us that habit, so far from increaſingcreaſing 25 C5r 25 creaſing ſenſibility, abſolutely deſtroys it, by familiariſing it with objects of diſtreſs.
Let me, my dear friend, appeal even to your own experience in the very inſtance you mention. Is there any pathetic writer in the world, who could move you as much at the twentieth reading, as at the firſt. Speak naturally, and at the third or fourth reading, you would probably ſay, It is very pathetic, but I have read it before—I liked it better the firſt time, that is to ſay, it did touch me once—I know it ought to touch me now, but it does not; beware of this! —Do not let life become as tedious as a twice told tale.Fare- 26 C5v 26
Farewel, dear Julia; this is the anſwer of fact againſt eloquence, philoſophy againſt enthuſiaſm. You appeal from my underſtanding to my heart—I appeal from the heart to the underſtanding of my judge; and ten years hence the deciſion perhaps will be in my favour.
Caroline to Julia, On her intended Marriage.
Indeed, my dear Julia, I hardly know how to venture to give you my advice upon a ſubject, which ought to depend ſo much upon your own taſte and feelings. My opinion and my wiſhes I could readily tell you; the idea of ſeeing you united and attached to my brother, is certainly the moſt agreeable to me; but I am to diveſt myſelf of the partiality of a ſiſter, and to conſider my brother and Lord V――, as equal candidates for your preference; equal I mean in your regard, for you ſay that Your heart is 3 not 28 C6v 28 not yet decided in its choice, and this is what puzzles you moſt, for that—If that oracle would declare itſelf in intelligible terms, you would not heſitate a moment to obey its dictates. But my dear Julia, is there not another, a ſafer, I do not ſay a better oracle, to be conſulted? your reaſon. Whilſt the doubtful beam ſtill nods from ſide to ſide, you may with a ſteady hand weigh your own motives, and determine what things will be eſſential to your happineſs, and what price you will pay for them, for
Each pleaſure has its price, and they who pay
Too much of pain, but ſquander life away.
Do me the juſtice to believe that I do not quote theſe lines of Dryden as being 29 C7r 29 being the fineſt poetry he ever wrote; for poets, you know, as Waller wittily obſerved, never ſucceed ſo well in truth, as in fiction.
Since we cannot in life expect to realize all our wiſhes, we muſt diſtinguiſh thoſe which claim the rank of wants. We muſt ſeparate the fanciful from the real, or at leaſt make the one ſubſervient to the other.
It is of the utmoſt importance to you, more particularly, to take every precaution before you decide for life, becauſe diſappointment and reſtraint afterwards would be inſupportable to your temper.
You have often declared to me, my dear friend, that your love of poetry, and of all the refinements of literary and 30 C7v 30 and romantic purſuits is ſo intimately interwoven in your mind, that nothing could ſeparate them, without deſtroying the whole fabric.
Your taſtes, you ſay, are fixed; if they are ſo, you muſt be doubly careful to inſure their gratification. If you cannot make them ſubſervient to external circumſtances, you ſhould certainly, if it be in your power, chooſe a ſituation in which circumſtances will be ſubſervient to them. If you are convinced that you could not adopt the taſtes of another, it will be abſolutely neceſſary for your happineſs to live with one whoſe taſtes are ſimilar to your own.
The belief in that ſympathy of ſouls which the poets ſuppoſe declares itſelf between 31 C8r 31 between two people at firſt ſight, is perhaps as abſurd as the late faſhionable belief in animal magnetiſm. But there is a ſympathy which, if it be not the foundation, may be called the cement of affection. Two people could not I ſhould think retain any laſting affection for each other, without a mutual ſympathy in taſte and in their diurnal occupations, and domeſtic pleaſures. This you will allow, my dear Julia, even in a fuller extent than I do. Now, my brother’s taſtes, character, and habits of life are ſo very different from Lord V――’s, that I ſcarcely know how you can compare them; at leaſt before you can decide which of the two would make you the happieſt in life, you muſt determine what kind of life you may wiſh 32 C8v 32 wiſh to lead; for my brother, though he might make you very happy in domeſtic life, would not make the Counteſs of V―― happy; nor would Lord V―― make Mrs. Percy happy. They muſt be two different women; with different habits, and different wiſhes; ſo that you muſt divide yourſelf, my dear Julia, like Araſpes, into two ſelves; I do not ſay into a bad and a good ſelf; chooſe ſome other epithets to diſtinguiſh them, but diſtinct they muſt be—ſo let them now declare and decide their pretenſions; and let the victor have not only the honours of a triumph, but all the prerogatives of victory. Let the ſubdued be ſubdued for life—Let the victor take every precaution which policy can dictate, to prevent the poſſi- 33 D1r 33 poſſibility of future conteſts with the vanquiſhed.
But, without talking poetry to you, my dear friend, let me ſeriouſly recommend it to you to examine your own mind carefully, and if you find that public diverſions and public admiration, diſſipation, and all the pleaſures of riches and high rank, are really and truly eſſential to your happineſs, direct your choice accordingly. Marry Lord V――, he has a large fortune, extenſive connexions, and an exalted ſtation; his own taſte for ſhow and expence, his family pride, and perſonal vanity, will all tend to the end you propoſe. Your houſe, table, equipages, may be all in the higheſt ſtyle of magnificence. Lord V――’s eaſineſs D of 34 D1v 434 of temper and fondneſs for you will readily give you that entire aſcendancy over his pleaſures, which your abilities give you over his underſtanding. He will not controul your wiſhes, you may gratify them to the utmoſt bounds of his fortune, and perhaps beyond thoſe bounds; you may have entire command at home and abroad. If theſe are your objects, Julia, take them, they are in your power. But remember, you muſt take with them their neceſſary concomitants—the reſtraints upon your time, upon the choice of your friends and your company, which high life impoſes; the ennui ſubſequent to diſſipation; the mortifications of rivalſhip in beauty, wit, rank, and magnificence; the trouble of ma- 35 D2r 35 managing a large fortune, and the chance of involving your affairs and your family in difficulty and diſtreſs; theſe and a thouſand more evils you muſt ſubmit to. You muſt renounce all the pleaſures of the heart and of the imagination; you muſt give up the idea of cultivating literary taſte; you muſt not expect from your huſband equal friendſhip and confidence, or any of the delicacies of affection—you govern him, he cannot therefore be your equal; you may be a fond mother, but you cannot educate your children, you will neither have the time, nor the power to do it; you muſt truſt them to a governeſs. In the ſelection of your friends, and in the enjoyment of their company and converſation, you will be ſtill D2 more 36 D2v 36 more reſtrained; in ſhort, you muſt give up all the pleaſures of domeſtic life, for that is not in this caſe, the life you have choſen. But you will exclaim againſt me for ſuppoſing you capable of making ſuch a choice—ſuch ſacrifices— I am ſure, next to my brother, I am the laſt perſon in the world who would wiſh you to make them.
You have another choice, my dear Julia; domeſtic life is offered you, by one who has every wiſh, and every power, to make it agreeable to you; by one whoſe taſtes reſemble your own; who would be a judge and a fond admirer of all your perfections. You would have perpetual motives to cultivate every talent, and to exert every power of pleaſing for his sake— for 37 D3r 37 for his ſake, whoſe penetration no improvement would eſcape, and whoſe affection would be ſuſceptible of every proof of yours. Am I drawing too flattering a picture?—A ſiſter’s hand may draw a partial likeneſs, but ſtill it will be a likeneſs. At all events, my dear Julia, you would be certain of the mode of life you would lead with my brother. The regulation of your time and occupations would be your own. In the education of your family you would meet with no interruptions or reſtraint. You would have no governeſs to counteract, no ſtrangers to intrude; you might follow your own judgment, or yield to the judgment of one, who would never requireD3 quire 38 D3v 38 quire you to ſubmit to his opinion, but to his reaſons.
All the pleaſures of friendſhip you would enjoy in your own family in the higheſt perfection, and you would have for your ſiſter, the friend of your infancy,
Caroline to lady V――, Upon her intended ſeparation from her huſband.
You need not fear, my dear lady V――, that I ſhould triumph in the accompliſhment of my prophecies; or that I ſhould reproach you for having preferred your own opinion to my advice. Believe me, my dear Julia, I am your friend, nor would the name of ſiſter have increaſed my friendſhip.
Five years have made then ſo great a change in your feelings and views of life, that a few days ago, when my letter D4 to 40 D4v 40 to you on your marriage, accidentally fell into your hands you were ſtruck with a ſpecies of aſtoniſhment at your choice, and you burſt into tears in an agony of deſpair, on reading the wretched doom foretold to the wife of Lord V――. A doom, you add, which I feel hourly accompliſhing, and which I ſee no poſſibility of averting, but by a ſeparation from a huſband, with whom, I now think, it was madneſs to unite myſelf. Your opinion, I muſt already know upon this ſubject, as the ſame arguments which ſhould have prevented me from making ſuch a choice, ought now to determine me to abjure it.
You ſay, dear Julia, that my letter ſtruck you with deſpair—deſpair is almoſt always either madneſs or folly; it 41 D5r 41 it obtains, it deſerves, nothing from mankind but pity; and pity, though it be a-kin to love, has yet a ſecret affinity to contempt. In ſtrong minds, deſpair is an acute diſeaſe; the prelude to great exertion. In weak minds, it is a chronic diſtemper, followed by incurable indolence. Let the criſis be favourable, and reſume your natural energy. Inſtead of ſuffering the imagination to dwell with unavailing ſorrow on the paſt, let us turn our attention towards the future. When an evil is irremediable, let us acknowledge and bear it—acknowledge it—for there is no power to which we ſubmit ſo certainly, as to neceſſity. With our hopes, our wiſhes ceaſe. Imagination has a contracting, as well as an expanſive faculty. The priſoner, 42 D5v 42 priſoner, who, deprived of all that we conceive to conſtitute the pleaſures of life, could intereſt or occupy himſelf with the labours of a ſpider, was certainly a philoſopher. He enjoyed all the means of happineſs that were left in his power.
I know, my dear lady V――, that words have little effect over grief; and I do not, I aſſure you, mean to inſult you with the parade of ſtoical philoſophy. But conſider, your error is not perhaps ſo great as you imagine. Certainly, they who at the beginning of life, can with a ſteady eye look through the long perſpective of diſtant years, who can in one view compriſe all the different objects of happineſs and miſery, who can compare accurately and juſtly eſtimate 43 D6r 43 eſtimate their reſpective degrees of importance; and who, after having formed ſuch a calculation, are capable of acting uniformly, in conſequence of their own conviction, are the wiſeſt, and as far as prudence can influence our fortune, the happieſt of human beings. Next to this favoured claſs, are thoſe who can perceive, and repair their own errors; who can ſtop at any given period, to take a new view of life. If unfortunate circumſtances have denied you a place in the firſt rank, you may, dear Julia, ſecure yourſelf a ſtation in the ſecond. Is not the conduct of a woman, after her marriage, of infinitely more importance than her previous choice, whatever it may have been? then 44 D6v 44 then now conſider what yours ſhould be.
You ſay, that it is eaſier to break a chain than to ſtretch it; but, remember that when broken, your part of the chain, Julia, will ſtill remain with you, and fetter and diſgrace you through life. Why ſhould a woman be ſo circumſpect in her choice? Is it not becauſe when once made ſhe muſt abide by it. She ſets her life upon the caſt, and ſhe muſt ſtand the hazard of the die. From domeſtic uneaſineſs a man has a thouſand reſources; in middling life, the tavern; in high life, the gaming table ſuſpends the anxiety of thought. Diſſipation, ambition, buſineſs, the occupation of a profeſſion; change of place; change of company, afford him agreeable 45 D7r 45 agreeable and honourable relief from domeſtic chagrin. If his home become tireſome, he leaves it—If his wife become diſagreeable to him, he leaves her, and in leaving her loſes only a wife. But what reſource has a woman?—Precluded from all the occupations common to the other ſex, ſhe loſes even thoſe peculiar to her own. She has no remedy, from the company of a man ſhe diſlikes, but a ſeparation; andthis remedy, deſperate as it is, is allowed only to a certain claſs of women in ſociety; to thoſe whoſe fortune affords them the means of ſubſiſtence, and whoſe friends have ſecured to them a ſeparate maintenance. A peereſs then probably can leave her huſband if ſhe wiſh it; a peaſant’s wife can- 46 D7v 46 cannot; ſhe depends upon the character and privileges of a wife for actual ſubſiſtence. Her domeſtic care, if not her affection, is ſecured to her huſband; and it is juſt that it ſhould. He ſacrifices his liberty, his labour, his ingenuity, his time, for the ſupport and protection of his wife; and in proportion to his protection, is his power.
In higher life, where the ſacrifices of both parties in the original union are more equal, the evils of a ſeparation are more nearly balanced. But even here, the wife who has hazarded leaſt ſuffers the moſt by the diſſolution of the partnerſhip; ſhe loſes a great part of her fortune, and of the conveniences and luxuries of life. She loſes her home— her rank in ſociety. She loſes both the repellant 47 D8r 47 repellant and the attractive power of a miſtreſs of a family. Her occupation is gone. She becomes a wanderer through life. Whilſt her youth and beauty laſt, ſhe may enjoy that ſpecies of delirium, cauſed by public admiration: fortunate if habit does not deſtroy the power of this charm, before the ſeaſon of its duration expire. It was ſaid to be the wiſh of a celebrated modern beauty, that ſhe might not ſurvive her nine and twentieth birthday. I have often heard this wiſh quoted, from its extravagance; but I always admired it for its good ſenſe. The lady foreſaw the inevitable doom of her declining years. Her apprehenſions for the future embittered even her enjoyment of the preſent; and ſhe 2 had 48 D8v 48 had reſolution enough to offer to take a bond of fate, to ſacrifice one half of her life, to ſecure the pleaſure of the other.
But dear lady V――, probably this wiſh was made at ſome diſtance from the deſtined period of its accompliſhment. On the eve of her nine and twentieth birth-day, the lady perhaps might have felt inclined to retract her prayer. At leaſt we ſhould provide for the cowardice which might ſeize the female mind at ſuch an inſtant. Even the moſt wretched life has power to attach us. None can be more wretched than the old age of a diſſipated beauty.
Unleſs, lady V――, it be that of a woman, who, to all her evils has the addition of remorſe, for having abjuredjured 49 E1r 49 jured her duties and abandoned her family. Such is the ſituation of a woman who ſeparates from her huſband. Reduced to go the ſame inſipid round of public amuſements, yet more reſtrained than an unmarried beauty in youth, yet more miſerable in age, the ſuperiority of her genius and the ſenſibility of her heart, become her greateſt evils. She, indeed, muſt pray for indifference. Avoided by all her family connections, hated and deſpiſed where ſhe might have been loved and reſpected, ſolitary in the midſt of ſociety, ſhe feels herſelf deſerted at the time of life when ſhe moſt wants ſocial comfort and aſſiſtance.
Dear Julia, whilſt it is yet in your power ſecure to yourſelf a happier fate; E retire 50 E1v 50 retire to the boſom of your own family; prepare for yourſelf a new ſociety; perform the duties, and you ſhall ſoon enjoy the pleaſures of domeſtic life; educate your children, whilſt they are young it ſhall be your occupation, as they grow up it ſhall be your glory. Let me anticipate your future ſucceſs, when they ſhall appear ſuch as you can make them, when the world ſhall aſk Who educated theſe amiable young women? Who formed their character? Who cultivated the talents of this promiſing young man? Why does this whole family live together ſo perfectly united? With one voice, dear Julia, your children ſhall name their mother; ſhe who in the bloom of youth checked herſelf in the career 51 E2r 51 career of diſſipation, and turned all the ability and energy of her mind to their education.
Such will be your future fame. In the mean time, before you have formed for yourſelf companions in your own family you will want a ſociety ſuited to your taſte. Diſguſted as you have been with frivolous company, you ſay that you wiſh to draw around you a ſociety of literary and eſtimable friends, whoſe converſation and talents ſhall delight you, and who at the ſame time that they are excited to diſplay their own abilities, ſhall be a judge of yours.
But dear lady V――, the poſſiblity of your forming ſuch a ſociety, muſt depend on your having a home to receive, a character and conſequence in E2 life 52 E2v 52 life to invite and juſtify it. The opinion of numbers is neceſſary to excite the ambition of individuals. To be a female Mecænas you muſt have power to confer favours, as well as judgment to diſcern merit.
What caſtles in the air are built by the ſynthetic wand of imagination, which vaniſh when expoſed to the analyſis of reaſon!
Then, Julia, ſuppoſing that Lord V――, as your huſband, becomes a negative quantity, as to your happineſs, yet he will acquire another ſpecies of value as the maſter of your family, and the father of your children. As a perſon who ſupports your public conſequence, and your private ſelf-complacency. Yes, dear lady V――, he will increaſe your ſelf-complacency; for do you 53 E3r 53 you not think, that when your huſband ſees his children proſper under your care, his family united under your management—whilſt he feels your merit at home, and hears your praiſes abroad, do you not think he will himſelf learn to reſpect and love you? You ſay that he is not a judge of female excellence; that he has no real taſte, that vanity is his ruling paſſion. Then if his judgment be dependant on the opinion of others, he will be the more eaſily led by the public voice, and you will command his ſuffrages of the public. If he has not taſte enough to approve, he will have vanity enough to be proud of you; and a vain man inſenſibly begins to love that of which he is proud. Why does lord V―― love his buildings, his paintings, his E3 equi- 54 E3v 54 equipages? It is not for their intrinſic value; but becauſe they are means of diſtinction to him. Let his wife become a greater diſtinction to him, and on the ſame principles he will prefer her. Set an example then, dear lady V――, of domeſtic virtue; your talents ſhall make it admired, your rank ſhall make it conſpicuous. You are amibitious, Julia, you love praiſe; you have been uſed to it, you cannot live happily without it.
Fame and praiſe are mental luxuries which become, from habit, abſolutely neceſſary to our exiſtence; and in purchaſing them we muſt pay the price ſet upon them by ſociety. The more curious, the more avaricious we become of this aerial coin, the more it 5 is 55 E4r 55 is our intereſt to preſerve its currency and increaſe its value. You, my dear Julia, in particular, who have amaſſed ſo much of it, ſhould not cry down its price, for your own ſake!—Do not then ſay in a fit of diſguſt, that you are grown too wiſe now to value applauſe.
If, during youth, your appetite for applauſe was indiſcriminate, and indulged to exceſs, you are now more difficult in your choice, and are become an epicure in your taſte for praiſe.
Adieu, my dear Julia, I hope ſtill to ſee you as happy in domeſtic life, as
Your ever affectionate and ſincere friend,
Caroline to Lady V――, On her conduct after her ſeparation from her huſband.
My Dear Friend,
A delicacy, of which I now begin to repent, has of late prevented me from writing to you. I am afraid I ſhall be abrupt, but it is neceſſary to be explicit. Your conduct ever ſince your ſeparation from your huſband, has been anxiouſly watched from a variety of motives, by his family and your own—it has been blamed. Reflect upon your own mind and examine with what juſtice.Laſt 57 E5r 57
Laſt ſummer when I was with you I obſerved a change in your converſation, and the whole turn of your thoughts. I perceived an unuſual impatience of reſtraint; a confuſion in your ideas when you began to reaſon, —an eloquence in your language, when you began to declaim, which convinced me, that from whatever cauſe the powers of your reaſon had been declining, and thoſe of your imagination rapidly increaſing, the boundaries of right and wrong ſeemed to be no longer marked in your mind. Neither the rational hope of happineſs nor a ſenſe of duty governed you; but ſome unknown, wayward power ſeemed to have taken poſſeſſion of your underſtanding, and to have thrown every 58 E5v 58 every thing into confuſion. You appeared peculiarly averſe to philoſophy: let me recall your own words to you; you asked of what uſe philoſophy could be to beings who had no free will, and how the ideas of juſt puniſhment and involuntary crime could be reconciled?
Your underſtanding involved itſelf in metaphyſical abſurdity. In converſing upon literary ſubjects one evening, in ſpeaking of the ſtriking difference between the conduct and the underſtanding of the great Lord Bacon, you ſaid, that it by no means ſurpriſed you, that to an enlarged mind, accuſtomed to conſider the univerſe as one vaſt whole, the conduct of that little animated atom, that inconſiderable part 59 E6r 59 part ſelf, muſt be too inſignificant to fix or merit attention. It was nothing, you said, in the general maſs of vice and virtue, happineſs and miſery. I believe I anſwered, that it might be nothing compared to the great whole, but it was every thing to the individual. Such were your opinions in theory; you muſt know enough of the human heart, to perceive their tendency when reduced to practice. Speculative opinions, I know, have little influence over the practice of thoſe who act much and think little; but I ſhould conceive their power to be conſiderable over the conduct of thoſe who have much time for reflection and little neceſſity for action. In one caſe the habit of action governs the thoughts upon 60 E6v 60 upon any ſudden emergency; in the other, the thoughts govern the actions. The truth or falſehood then of ſpeculative opinions is of much greater conſequence to our ſex than to the other; as we live a life of reflection, they of action.
Re-trace then, dear Julia, to your mind the courſe of your thoughts for ſome time paſt; diſcover the cauſe of this revolution in your opinions; judge yourſelf; and remember, that in the mind as well as in the body, the higheſt pitch of diſeaſe is often attended with an unconſciouſneſs of its exiſtence. If, then lady V――, upon receiving my letter, you ſhould feel averſe to this ſelf-examination, or if you ſhould imagine it to be uſeleſs, I no longer adviſe, I commandmand 61 E7r 61 mand you, quit your preſent abode; come to me; fly from the danger and be ſafe.
Dear Julia, I muſt aſſume this peremptory tone; if you are angry, I muſt diſregard your anger; it is the anger of diſeaſe, the anger of one who is rouſed from that ſleep which would end in death.
I reſpect the equality of friendſhip; but this equality permits, nay requires the temporary aſcendancy I aſſume. In real friendſhip the judgment, the genius, the prudence of each party become the common property of both. Even if they are equals they may not be ſo always. Thoſe tranſient fits of paſſion, to which the beſt and wiſeſt are liable, may deprive even the ſuperior of the 1 ad- 62 E7v 62 advantage of their reaſon. She then has ſtill in her friend, an impartial, though perhaps an inferior judgment; each becomes the guardian of the other, as their mutual ſafety may require.
Heaven ſeems to have granted this double chance of virtue and happineſs, as the peculiar reward of friendſhip.
Uſe it then, my dear friend; accept the aſſiſtance you could ſo well return. Obey me; I ſhall judge of you by your reſolution at this criſis; on it depends your fate, and my friendſhip.
Your ſincere, and affectionate
Caroline to Lady V――, Juſt before ſhe went to France.
The time is now come, Lady V――, when I muſt bid you an eternal adieu. With what deep regret, I need not, Julia, I cannot tell you.
I burnt your letter the moment I had read it. Your paſt confidence I never will betray; but I muſt renounce all future intercourſe with you. I am a ſiſter, a wife, a mother, all theſe connections forbid me to be longer your friend. In misfortune, in ſickneſs, or in poverty, I never would have forſakenſaken 64 E8v 64 ſaken you; but infamy I cannot ſhare. I would have gone, I went, to the brink of the precipice to ſave you; with all my force I held you back; but in vain. But why do I vindicate my conduct to you now? Accuſtomed as I have always been, to think your approbation neceſſary to my happineſs, I forgot that henceforward your opinion is to be nothing to me, or mine to you.
Oh Julia, the idea, the certainty, that you muſt, if you live, be in a few years, in a few months perhaps, reduced to abſolute want—in a foreign country—without a friend—a protector —the fate of women, who have fallen from a ſtate as high as yours—the names of L――, of G――, the 65 F1r 65 the horror I feel at joining your name to theirs, impels me to make one more attempt to ſave you.
Companion of my earlieſt years! friend of my youth! my beloved Julia!—by the happy innocent hours we have ſpent together—by the love you had for me—by the reſpect you bear to the memory of your mother— by the agony, with which your father will hear of the loſs of his daughter— by all that has power to touch your mind—I conjure you, I implore you to pauſe!—Farewel!
Caroline to lord V――, Written a few months after the date of the preceding letter.
Though I am too ſenſible that all connection between my unfortunate friend and her family muſt for ſome time have been diſſolved, I venture now to addreſs myſelf to your lordſhip.
On Wedneſday laſt, about half after ſix o’clock in the evening, the following note was brought to me; it had been written with ſuch a trembling hand 67 F2r 67 hand that it was ſcarcely legible; but I knew the writing too well.
If you ever loved me, Caroline, read this—do not tear it the moment you ſee the name of Julia—ſhe has ſuffered—ſhe is humbled—I left France with the hope of ſeeing you once more—but now I am ſo near you my courage fails, and my heart sinks within me—I have no friend upon earth—I deſerve none—Yet I cannot help wiſhing to ſee once more before I die the friend of my youth, to thank her with my laſt breath.
But dear Caroline, if I muſt not ſee you, write to me, if poſſible, one line of conſolation.F2 Tell 68 F2v 68
Tell me, is my father living—do you know any thing of my children —I dare not ask for my huſband— adieu!—I am ſo weak that I can ſcarcely write—I hope I ſhall ſoon be no more—Farewel! Julia.
I immediately determined to follow the bearer of this letter—Julia was waiting for my anſwer at a ſmall inn, in a neighbouring village at a few miles diſtance—It was night when I got there—every thing was ſilent—all the houſes were ſhut up, excepting one, in which we ſaw two or three lights glimmering through the window— this was the inn—as your lordſhip may imagine, it was a very miſerable place —the 69 F3r 69 —the miſtreſs of the houſe ſeemed to be touched with pity for the ſtranger—ſhe opened the door of a ſmall room, where ſhe ſaid the poor lady was reſting, and retired as I entered.
Upon a low matted ſeat beſide the fire, ſat lady V――; ſhe was in black, her knees were croſſed, and her white, but emaciated arms flung on one ſide over her lap—her hands were claſped together, and her eyes fixed upon the fire—ſhe ſeemed neither to hear or ſee any thing around her, but totally abſorbed in her own reflections, to have ſunk into inſenſibility—I dreaded to rouſe her from this ſtate of torpor; and I believe I ſtood for ſome moments motionleſs—at laſt I moved ſoftly towards her—ſhe turned her head— F3 ſtarted 70 F3v 70 ſtarted up—a ſcarlet bluſh overſpread her face—ſhe grew livid again inſtantly, gave a faint ſhriek, and ſunk ſenſeleſs into my arms.
When ſhe returned to herſelf, and found her head lying upon my ſhoulder, and heard my voice ſoothing her, with all the expreſſions of kindneſs I could think of, ſhe ſmiled with a look of gratitude, which I never ſhall forget —like one who had been long unuſed to kindneſs, ſhe ſeemed ready to pour fourth all the fondneſs of her heart:— But as if recollecting herſelf better, ſhe immediately checked her feelings —withdrew her hand from mine— thanked me—ſaid ſhe was quite well again—caſt down her eyes, and her manner changed from tenderneſs to timidity, 71 F4r 71 timidity. She ſeemed to think that ſhe had loſt all right to ſympathy, and received even the common offices of humanity with ſurpriſe—her high ſpirit, I ſaw, was quite broken.
I think I never felt ſuch ſorrow, as I did in contemplating Julia at this inſtant—ſhe who ſtood before me ſinking under the ſenſe of inferiority, I knew to be my equal—my ſuperior—yet by fatal imprudence, by one raſh ſtep, all her great and good and amiable qualities were irretrievably loſt to the world and to herſelf.
When I thought that ſhe was a little recovered, I begged of her, if ſhe was not too much fatigued, to let me carry her home; at theſe words ſhe looked at me with ſurpriſe. Her eyes filled F4 with 72 F4v 72 with tears, but without making any other reply, ſhe ſuffered me to draw her arm within mine, and attempted to follow me. I had no idea how feeble ſhe was, till ſhe began to walk; it was with the utmoſt difficulty I ſupported her to the door, and by the aſſiſtance of the people of the house ſhe was lifted into the carriage—we went very ſlowly—when the carriage ſtopped ſhe was ſeized with an univerſal tremor— ſhe ſtarted when the man knocked at the door, and ſeemed to dread its being opened. The appearance of light, and the ſound of cheerful voices struck her with horror.
I could not myſelf help being ſhocked with the contraſt between the dreadful ſituation of my friend and the 73 F5r 73 the happineſs of the family to which I was returning.
Oh! ſaid ſhe, what are theſe voices? —Whither are you taking me?—For heaven’s ſake do not let any body ſee me!—I aſſured her that ſhe ſhould go directly to her own apartment, and that no human being ſhould approach her without her expreſs permiſſion.
Alas! it happened at this very moment that all my children came running with the utmoſt gaiety into the hall to meet us, and the very circumſtance which I had been ſo anxious to prevent happened—little Julia was amongſt them. The gaiety of the children ſuddenly ceaſed the moment they ſaw lady V―― coming up the ſteps—they were ſtruck with her melancholy1 lancholy 74 F5v 74 lancholy air, and countenance—ſhe, leaning upon my arm, with her eyes fixed upon the ground, let me lead her in, and ſunk upon the firſt chair ſhe came to—I made a ſign to the children to retire, but the moment they began to move lady V―― looked up—ſaw her daughter—and now for the firſt time burſt into tears. The little girl did not recollect her poor mother, till ſhe heard the ſound of her voice, and then ſhe threw her arms round her neck, crying, Is it you, mama?— and all the children immediately crowded round and aſked, if this was the ſame lady V――, who uſed to play with them?
It is impoſſible to deſcribe the effect theſe ſimple queſtions had on Julia— a variety 75 F6r 75 a variety of emotions ſeemed ſtruggling in her countenance; ſhe roſe and made an attempt to break from the children, but could not—ſhe had not the ſtrength to ſupport herſelf. We carried her away and put her to bed; ſhe took no notice of any body, nor did ſhe even ſeem to know that I was with her; I thought ſhe was inſenſible, but as I drew the curtains I heard her give a deep ſigh.
I left her and carried away her little girl, who had followed us up ſtairs and begged to ſtay with her mother, but I was apprehenſive that the ſight of her might renew her agitation.
After I was gone they told me that ſhe was perfectly ſtill, with her eyes cloſed, and I ſtayed away ſome time, in 76 F6v 76 in hopes that ſhe might ſleep; however, about midnight ſhe ſent to beg to ſpeak to me; ſhe was very ill—ſhe beckoned to me to ſit down by her bed-ſide —every one left the room, and when Julia ſaw herſelf alone with me ſhe took my hand, and in a low but calm voice, ſhe ſaid, I have not many hours to live,—my heart is broken —I wiſhed to ſee you, to thank you whilſt it was yet in my power. She preſſed my hand to her trembling lips— Your kindneſs, added ſhe, touches me more than all the reſt—but how aſhamed you must be of ſuch a friend.—Oh Caroline! to die a diſgrace to all who ever loved me!
The tears trickled down her face and choaked her utterance—ſhe wiped them 77 F7r 77 them away haſtily—But it is not now a time, ſaid ſhe, to think of myſelf—can I ſee my daughter? The little girl was aſleep—ſhe was awakened, and I brought her to her mother—Julia raiſed herſelf in her bed, and ſummoning up all her ſtrength— my deareſt friend! said ſhe, putting her child’s hand into mine, when I am gone, be a mother to this child— let her know my whole hiſtory, let nothing be concealed from her―― Poor girl, you will live to bluſh at your mother’s name―― ſhe pauſed and leant back—I was going to take the child away, but ſhe held out her arms again for her, and kiſſed her ſeveral times—Farewel! ſaid ſhe, I ſhall never ſee you again. The little 78 F7v 78 little girl burſt into tears—Julia wiſhed to ſay ſomething more—ſhe raiſed herſelf again—at laſt ſhe uttered theſe words with energy—my love—be good and happy— ſhe then ſunk down on the pillow quite exhauſted—ſhe never ſpoke afterwards—I took her hand—it was cold—her pulſe ſcarcely beat—her eyes rolled without meaning —in a few moments ſhe expired, with her ſtiff and lifeleſs hand locked in mine.
Painful as it has been to me to recall the circumſtances of her death to my imagination, I have given your lordſhip this exact and detailed account of my unfortunate friend’s behaviour in her laſt moments—whatever may have been her errors, her ſoul never became callous 79 F8r 79 callous with vice. The ſenſe of her own ill conduct was undoubtedly the immediate cauſe of her illneſs, and the remorſe which had long preyed upon her mind, at length brought her to the grave—
I have the honour to be, my Lord, &c.
An Essay On The Noble Science of Self-Juſtification.
Endowed, as the fair ſex indiſputably are, with a natural genius for the invaluable art of ſelf-juſtification, it may not be diſpleaſing to them to ſee its riſing perfection evinced by an attempt to reduce it to a ſcience. Poſſeſſed, as are all the fair daughters of Eve, of an hereditary propenſity, B tranſ- 2 B1v 2 tranſmitted to them undiminiſhed through ſucceeding generations, to be Soon moved with the ſlighteſt touch of blame; very little precept and practice will confirm them in the habit, and inſtruct them in all the maxims of ſelf-juſtification.
Candid pupil, you will readily accede to my firſt and fundamental axiom――
That a lady can do no wrong. But ſimple as this maxim may appear, and ſuited to the level of the meaneſt capacity, the talent of applying it on all the important, but more eſpecially on all the moſt trivial, occurrences of domeſtic life, ſo as to ſecure private peace and public dominion, has hithertotherto 3 B2r 3 therto been monopolized by the female adepts in the art.
Excuſe me for inſinuating by this expreſſion, that there may yet be amongſt you ſome novices. To theſe, if there be any ſuch, I principally addreſs myſelf.
And now, leſt fired with ambition you loſe all by aiming at too much, let me explain and limit my firſt principle, That you can do no wrong. You muſt be aware that real perfection is beyond the reach of mortals; nor would I have you aim at it; indeed it is not in any degree neceſſary to our purpoſe. You have heard of the eſtabliſhed belief in human infallibility which prevailed not many centuries B2 ago, 4 B2v 4 ago, but ſince that happy period is paſt, leave the opinions of men to their natural perverſity; their actions are the beſt teſt of their faith. Inſtead then of a belief in your infallibility, endeavour to enforce implicit ſubmiſſion to your authority. This will give you infinitely leſs trouble, and will anſwer your purpoſe as well.
Right and wrong, if we go to the foundation of things, are, as caſuiſts tell us, really words of very dubious ſignification, perpetually varying with cuſtom and faſhion, and to be referred to, and adjuſted ultimately by no other ſtandards but opinion and force. Obtain power then by all means; power is the law of man; it is his law and yours.But 5 B3r 5
But to return from a frivolous diſquiſition about right, let me teach you the art of defending the wrong. After having thus pointed out to you the glorious end of your labors, I muſt now inſtruct you in the equally glorious means.
For the advantage of my ſubject I beg to conſider you all, ladies, as married; but thoſe who have not as yet the good fortune to have that common enemy, a huſband, to combat, may in the mean time practiſe my precepts upon their fathers, brothers, and female friends; with caution, however, lest by diſcovering their arms too ſoon, they preclude themſelves from the power of uſing them to the fulleſt advantage hereafter. I therefore recommendB3 mend 6 B3v 6 mend it to them to prefer, with a philoſophical moderation, the future to the preſent.
Timid brides, you have, probably, hitherto been addreſſed as angels— Prepare for the time when you ſhall again become mortal. Take the alarm at the firſt approach of blame, at the firſt hint of a diſcovery that you are any thing leſs than infallible. Contradict, debate, juſtify, recriminate, rage, weep, ſwoon, do any thing but yield to conviction.
I take it for granted that you have already acquired ſufficient command of voice; you need not ſtudy its compaſs; going beyond its pitch has a peculiarly happy effect upon ſome occaſions. But are you voluble enough to drown 7 B4r 7 drown all ſenſe in a torrent of words? Can you be loud enough to overpower the voice of all who ſhall attempt to interrupt or contradict you? Are you miſtreſs of the petulant, the peeviſh, and the ſullen tones? Have you practiſed the ſharpneſs which provokes reply, and the continual monotony which effectually precludes it, by ſetting your adverſary to ſleep? an event which is always to be conſidered as deciſive of the victory, or at leaſt as reducing it to a drawn battle—You and Morpheus divide the prize.
Thus prepared for an engagement, you will next, if you have not already done it, ſtudy the weak part of the character of your enemy—your huſband I mean: if he be a man of high ſpirit, B4 jealous 8 B4v 8 jealous of command, and impatient of controul; one who decides for himſelf, and is little troubled with the inſanity of minding what the world ſays of him, you muſt proceed with extreme circumſpection; you muſt not dare to provoke the combined forces of the enemy to a regular engagement, but harraſs him with perpetual petty ſkirmiſhes; in theſe, though you gain little at a time, you will gradually weary the patience, and break the ſpirit of your opponent. If he be a man of ſpirit, he muſt alſo be generous; and what man of generoſity will contend for trifles with a woman who ſubmits to him in all affairs of conſequence; who is in his power; who is weak, and who loves him.Can 9 B5r 9
Can ſuperior with inferior power contend? No, the ſpirit of a lion is not to be rouſed by the teazing of an inſect.
But ſuch a man as I have deſcribed, beſides being as generous as he is brave, will probably be of an active temper; then you have an ineſtimable advantage; for he will ſet a high value upon a thing for which you have none, time; he will acknowledge the force of your arguments merely from a dread of their length; he will yield to you in trifles, particularly in trifles which do not militate againſt his authority, not out of regard for you, but for his time; for what man can prevail upon himſelf to debate three hours about what could be as well decided in three minutes.Leſt 10 B5v 10
Leſt amongſt infinite variety, the difficulty of immediate ſelection ſhould at firſt perplex you, let me point out that matters of taſte will afford you, of all others, the moſt ample and inceſſant ſubjects of debate. Here you have no criterion to appeal to. Upon the ſame principle, next to matters of taſte, points of opinion will afford the moſt conſtant exerciſe to your talents. Here you will have an opportunity of citing the opinions of all the living and dead you have ever known, beſides the dear privilege of repeating continually: Nay, you never muſt allow that. Or, You can’t deny this, for it’s the univerſal opinion—every body ſays ſo! every body thinks ſo! I wonder to hear you expreſs ſuch an opinion!2 nion! 11 B6r 11 nion! Nobody but yourſelf is of that way of thinking. With innumerable other phraſes with which a ſlight attention to polite converſation will furniſh you. This mode of oppoſing authority to argument, and assertion to proof, is of ſuch univerſal utility, that I pray you to practiſe it.
If the point in diſpute eſpecially be ſome opinion relative to your character or diſpoſition, allow in general that You are ſure you have a great many faults, but to every ſpecific charge, reply, Well, I am ſure I don’t know, but I did not think that was one of my faults! nobody ever accuſed me of that before! Nay, I was always remarkable for the contrary; at leaſt before I was acquainted with you—Sir; In my own family—mily— 12 B6v 12 mily—ask any of my own friends; ask any of them; they muſt know me beſt.
But if inſtead of attacking the material parts of your character, your huſband ſhould merely preſume to advert to your manners, to ſome ſlight perſonal habit which might be made more agreeable to him; prove in the firſt place, that it is his fault that it is not agreeable to him.—His eyes are changed, or opened; but it may perhaps have been a matter almoſt of indifference to him, till you undertook its defence—then make it of conſequence by riſing in eagerneſs, in proportion to the inſignificance of your object; if he can draw conſequences, this will be an excellent leſſon—if you are ſo tender of blame in the verieſt trifle, 13 B7r 13 trifle, how unimpeachable muſt you be in matters of importance. As to perſonal habits, begin by denying that you have any; as all perſonal habits if they have been of any long ſtanding muſt have become involuntary, the unconſcious culprit may aſſert her innocence without hazarding her veracity.
However, if you happen to be detected in the very fact, and a perſon cries, Now, now, you are doing it! ſubmit, but declare at the ſame moment That it is the very firſt time in your whole life, you were ever known to be guilty of it; that therefore it can be no habit, and of courſe no ways reprehenſible.Extend 14 B7v 14
Extend alſo the rage for vindication to all the objects which the moſt remotely concern you; take even inanimate objects under your protection. Your dreſs, your furniture, your property, every thing which is, or has been yours defend, and this upon the principles of the ſoundeſt philoſophy; theſe things all compoſe a part of your perſonal merit; Vide Hume. all that connected the moſt diſtantly with your idea gives pleaſure or pain to others, becomes an object of blame or praiſe, and conſequently claims your ſupport or vindication.
In the courſe of the management of your houſe, children, family, and affairs, probably ſome few errors of omiſſionſion 15 B8r 15 ſion or commiſſion may ſtrike your huſband’s pervading eye; but theſe errors, admitting them to be errors, you will never if you pleaſe allow to be charged to any deficiency in memory, judgment, or activity, on your part.
There are ſurely people enough around you to divide and ſhare the blame—ſend it from one to another, till at laſt, by univerſal rejection, it is proved to belong to nobody. You will ſay however that facts remain unalterable; and that in ſome unlucky inſtance, in the changes and chances of human affairs, you may be proved to have been to blame. Some ſtubborn evidence may appear againſt you; an eye-witneſs perhaps; ſtill you may prove 16 B8v 16 prove an alibi, or balance the evidence There is nothing equal to balancing evidence; doubt is you know the moſt philoſophic ſtate of the human mind, and it will be kind of you to preſerve it in the breaſt of your huſband.
Indeed the ſhort method of denying abſolutely all blameable facts, I ſhould recommend to pupils as the beſt; and if in the beginning of their career as juſtification, they may ſtartle at this mode, let them depend upon it that in their future practiſe it muſt become perfectly familiar. The nice diſtinction of ſimulation and diſſimulation depend but on the trick of a ſyllable— palliation and extenuation are univerſally allowable in ſelf-defence; prevaricationvarication 17 C1r 17 varication inevitably follows, and falſehood is but in the next degree.
Yet I would not deſtroy this nicety of conſcience too ſoon, it may be of uſe. In your first ſetting out, you muſt eſtabliſh credit; in proportion to your credit, will be the value of your future aſſeverations.
In the mean time, however, argument and debate are allowable to the moſt rigid moraliſt. You can never perjure yourſelf by ſwearing to a falſe opinion.
I come now to the art of reaſoning: don’t be alarmed at the name of reaſoning, fair pupils, I will explain to you its meaning.
If inſtead of the fiery tempered being, I formerly deſcribed, you C ſhould 18 C1v 18 ſhould fortunately be connected with a man, who, having formed a juſtly high opinion of your ſex, ſhould propoſe to treat you as his equal, and who in any little diſpute which might ariſe between you, should deſire no other arbiter than reaſon; triumph in his miſtaken candor, regularly appeal to the deciſion of reaſon at the beginning of every conteſt, and deny its juriſdiction at the concluſion. I take it for granted that you will be on the wrong ſide of every queſtion, and indeed, in general, I adviſe you to chuſe the wrong ſide of an argument to defend; whilſt you are young in the ſcience, it will afford the beſt exerciſe, and as you improve, the beſt diſplay of your talents.If 19 C2r 19
If then, reaſonable pupils, you would ſucceed in argument, follow pretty nearly theſe inſtructions.
Begin by preventing, if poſsible, the ſpecific ſtatement of any poſition, or if reduced to it, uſe the moſt general terms.
Uſe the happy ambiguity which all languages, and which moſt philoſophers allow. Above all things, ſhun definitions; they will prove fatal to you; for two perſons of ſenſe and candor, who define their terms, cannot argue long without either convincing, or being convinced, or parting in equal good humour; to prevent which, go over and over the ſame ground, wander as wide as poſſible from the point, but always with a view to return at C2 laſt 20 C2v 20 laſt preciſely to the ſame ſpot from which you ſet out. I ſhould remark to you that the choice of your weapons is a circumſtance much to be attended to: chuſe always thoſe which your adverſary cannot uſe. If your huſband is a man of wit, you will of courſe undervalue a talent which is never connected with judgment: for your part, you do not pretend to contend with him in wit.
But if he be a ſober minded man, who will go link by link along the chain of an argument, follow him at firſt, till he grows ſo intent that he does not perceive whether you follow him or not; then ſlide back to your own ſtation, and when with perverſe patience he has at laſt reached the laſt 21 C3r 21 laſt link of the chain, with one electric ſhock of wit, make him quit his hold, and ſtrike him to the ground in an inſtant. Depend upon the ſympathy of the ſpectators, for to one who can underſtand reaſon, you will find ten who admire wit.
But if you ſhould not be bleſſed with a ready wit, if demonſtration ſhould in the mean time ſtare you in the face, do not be in the leaſt alarmed; anticipate the blow which you could neither foreſee, nor prevent. Whilſt you have it yet in your power, riſe with becoming magnanimity, and cry, I give it up! I give it up! La! let us ſay no more about it; I do ſo hate diſputing about trifles. I give it up! Before an explanation on the C3 word 22 C3v 22 word trifle can take place, quit the room with flying colours.
If you are a woman of ſentiment and eloquence, you have advantages of which I ſcarcely need appriſe you. From the underſtanding of a man, you have always an appeal to his heart; or if not, to his affection, to his weakneſs. If you have the good fortune to be married to a weak man, always chuſe the moment to argue with him when you have a full audience. Truſt to the ſublime power of numbers; it will be of uſe even to excite your own enthuſiaſm in debate; then as the ſcene advances, talk of his cruelty, and your ſenſibility, and ſink with becoming woe, into the pathos of injured innocence.Beſides, 23 C4r 23
Beſides the heart and the weakneſs of your opponent, you have ſtill another chance, in ruffling his temper; which, in the courſe of a long converſation, you will have a fair opportunity of trying; and if, for philoſophers will ſometimes grow warm in the defence of truth, if he ſhould grow abſolutely angry, you will in an inverſe proportion grow calm, and wonder at his rage, though you well know it has been created by your own provocation. The by-ſtanders, ſeeing anger without any adequate cauſe, will all be of your ſide. Nothing provokes an iraſcible man, intereſted in debate, and poſſeſſed of an opinion of his own eloquence, ſo much as to ſee the attention of his hearers go from C4 him: 24 C4v 24 him: you will then, when he flatters himſelf that he has juſt fixed your eye with his very beſt argument, ſuddenly grow abſent:—Your houſe affairs muſt call you hence—or you have directions to give to your children—or the room is too hot, or too cold—the window muſt be opened—or door ſhut—or the candle wants ſnuffing.— Nay, without theſe interruptions, the ſimple motion of your eye may provoke a ſpeaker; a butterfly, or the figure in a carpet may engage your attention in preference to him; or if theſe objects be abſent, the ſimply averting your eye, looking through the window in queſt of outward objects, will ſhew that your mind has not been abſtracted, and will diſplay to him at leaſt 25 C5r 25 leaſt your wiſh of not attending; he may however poſſibly have loſt the habit of watching your eye for approbation; then you may aſſault his ear. If all other resources fail, beat with your foot that dead march to the ſpirits, that inceſſant tattoo, which ſo well deſerves its name. Marvellous muſt be the patience of the much enduring man, whom ſome or other of theſe devices do not provoke; ſlight cauſes often produce great effects; the ſimple ſcratching of a pick-axe, properly applied to certain veins in a mine, will cauſe the moſt dreadful exploſions.
Hitherto we have only profeſſed to teach the defenſive; let me now recommend to you the offenſive part 26 C5v 26 part of the art of juſtification. As a ſupplement to reaſoning, comes recrimination; the pleaſure of proving that you are right is ſurely incomplete, till you have proved that your adverſary is wrong; this might have been a ſecondary, let it now become a primary object with you; reſt your own defence on it for farther ſecurity; you are no longer to conſider yourſelf as obliged, either to deny, palliate, argue, or declaim, but ſimply juſtify yourſelf by criminating another; all merit, you know, is judged of by compariſon. In the art of recrimination, your memory will be of the higheſt ſervice to you; for you are to open and keep an account current, of all the faults, miſtakes, neglects, unkindneſſes of thoſe you 27 C6r 27 you live with; theſe you are to ſtate againſt your own: I need not tell you that the balance will always be in your favor. In ſtating matters of opinion, produce the words of the very ſame perſon which paſſed days, months, years before, in contradiction to what he is then ſaying. By diſplacing, diſjointing words and ſentences, by miſunderſtanding the whole, or quoting only a part of what has been ſaid, you may convict any man of inconſiſtency; particularly if he be a man of genius and feeling, for he ſpeaks generally from the impulſe of the moment, and of all others can the leaſt bear to be charged with paradoxes. So far for a huſband. Recriminating is alſo of ſovereign uſe in the quarrels of friends; 28 C6v 28 friends; no friend is ſo perfectly equable, ſo ardent in affection, ſo nice in punctilio, as never to offend; then Note his faults and con them by rote. Say you can forgive, but you can never forget; and ſurely it is much more generous to forgive and remember, than to forgive and forget. On every new alarm, call the unburied ghoſts from former fields of battle; range them in tremendous array, call them one by one to witneſs againſt the conſcience of your enemy, and ere the battle is begun, take from them all courage to engage.
There is one caſe I muſt obſerve to you, in which recrimination has peculiar poignancy. If you have had it in your power to confer obligations on any 29 C7r 29 any one, never ceaſe reminding them of it; and let them feel that you have acquired an indefeaſible right to reproach them without a poſſibility of their retorting. It is a maxim with ſome ſentimental people, To treat their ſervants as if they were their friends in diſtreſs. I have obſerved that people of this caſt make themſelves amends, by treating their friends in diſtreſs as if they were their ſervants.
Apply this maxim—you may do it a thouſand ways, eſpecially in company. In general converſation, where every one is ſuppoſed to be on a footing, if any of your humble companions ſhould preſume to hazard an opinion contrary to yours, and ſhould modeſtly 30 C7v 30 modestlybegin with, I think—look as the man did when he ſaid to his ſervant, You think! Sir—what buſineſs have you to think?
Never fear to loſe a friend by the habits which I recommend; reconciliations, as you have often heard it ſaid— reconciliations are the cement of friendſhip; therefore friends ſhould quarrel to ſtrengthen their attachment, and offend each other for the pleaſure of being reconciled.
I beg pardon for digreſſing—I was, I believe, talking of your huſband, not of your friends—I have gone far out of the way.
If in your debates with your huſband, you ſhould want Eloquence to vex him, the dull prolixity of narration, joined 31 C8r 31 joined to the complaining monotony of voice which I formerly recommended, will ſupply its place, and have the deſired effect; Morpheus will prove propitious; then, ever and anon as the ſoporific charm begins to work, rouſe him with interrogatories, ſuch as, Did not you ſay ſo? Don’t you remember? Only anſwer me that!
By the bye, interrogatories artfully put may lead an unſuſpicious reaſoner, you know, always to your own concluſion.
In addition to the patience, philoſophy, and other good things which Socrates learned from his wife, perhaps ſhe taught him this mode of reaſoning.
But after all, the precepts of art, and even the natural ſuſceptibility of your 32 C8v 32 your tempers, will avail you little in the ſublime of our ſcience, if you cannot command that ready enthuſiaſm which will make you enter into the part you are acting; that happy imagination which ſhall make you believe all you fear and all you invent.
Who is there amongſt you who cannot or who will not juſtify when they are accuſed. Vulgar talent! the ſublime of our ſcience, is to juſtify before we are accuſed. There is no reptile ſo vile but what will turn when it is trodden on; but of a nicer ſenſe and nobler ſpecies are thoſe whom nature has endowed with antennæ, which perceive and withdraw at the diſtant approach of danger. Allow me another illuſion; ſimilies cannot be 1 crowded 33 D1r 33 crowded too cloſe for a female taſte; and analogy, I have heard, my fair pupils, is your favourite mode of reaſoning.
The ſenſitive plant is too vulgar an alluſion; but if the truth of modern naturaliſts may be depended upon, there is a plant which inſtead of receding timidly, like the ſenſitive plant, from the intruſive touch, angrily protrudes its venomous juices upon all who preſume to meddle with it: don’t you think this plant would be your fitteſt emblem.
Let me, however, recommend it to you, nice ſouls, who of the Mimoſa kind, Fear the dark cloud, and feel the coming ſtorm, to take the utmoſt precaution, leaſt the ſame ſuſceptibilityD lity 34 D1v 34 lity which you cheriſh as the dear means to torment others, ſhould inſenſibly become a torment to yourſelves. Diſtinguiſh then between ſenſibility and ſuſceptibility; between the anxious ſolicitude not to give offence, and the captious eagerneſs of vanity to prove that it ought not to have been taken; diſtinguiſh between the deſire of praiſe and the horror of blame; can any two things be more different than the wiſh to improve, and the wiſh to demonſtrate that you have never been to blame?
Obſerve, I only wiſh you to diſſtinguiſh theſe things in your own minds; I would by no means adviſe you to diſcontinue the laudable practice of confounding them perpetually in ſpeaking to others.When 35 D2r 35
When you have nearly exhauſted human patience in explaining, juſtifying, vindicating,—when in ſpite of all the pains you have taken, you have more than half betrayed your own vanity, you have a never-failing reſource, in paying tribute to that of your opponent, as thus—
I am ſure you muſt be ſenſible that I ſhould never take ſo much pains to juſtify myſelf if I were indifferent to your opinion—I know that I ought not to diſturb myſelf with ſuch trifles, but nothing is a trifle to me which concerns you—I confeſs I am too anxious to pleaſe, I know it’s a fault, but I can’t cure myſelf of it now—Too quick ſenſibility, I am conſcious, is the defect D2 of 36 D2v 36 of my diſpoſition; it would be happier for me if I could be more indifferent I know.
Who could be ſo brutal as to blame ſo amiable, ſo candid a creature? Who would not ſubmit to be tormented with kindneſs?
When once then your captive condeſcends to be flattered by ſuch arguments as theſe, your power is fixed; your future triumphs can be bounded only by your own moderation; they are at once ſecured and juſtified.
Forbear not then, happy pupils:—but, arrived at the ſummit of power, give a full ſcope to your genius, nor truſt to genius alone; to exerciſe in all its extent your privileged dominion, you muſt acquire, or rather you muſt pretendtend 37 D3r 37 tend to have acquired, infallible ſkill in the noble art of phyſiognomy; immediately the thoughts as well as the words of your ſubjects are expoſed to your inquiſition.
Words may flatter you, but the countenance never can deceive you; the eyes are the windows of the ſoul, and through them you are to watch what paſſes in the inmoſt receſſes of the heart. There if you diſcern the ſlighteſt ideas of doubt, blame, or diſpleaſure; if you diſcover the ſlighteſt ſymptoms of revolt, take the alarm inſtantly. Conquerors muſt maintain their conqueſts, and how eaſily can they do this, who hold a ſecret correſpondence with the minds of the vanquiſhed? Be your own ſpies then; D3 from 38 D3v 38 from the looks, geſtures, ſlighteſt motions of your enemies, you are to form an alphabet, a language, intelligible only to yourſelves; yet by which you ſhall condemn them; always remembering that in ſound policy, ſuſpicion juſtifies puniſhment. In vain, when you accuſe your friends of the high treaſon of blaming you, in vain let them plead their innocence, even of the intention. They did not ſay a word which could be tortured into ſuch a meaning. No, but they looked daggers, though they uſed none.
And of this you are to be the ſole judge, though there were fifty witneſſes to the contrary.
How ſhould indifferent ſpectators pretend to know the countenance of your 39 D4r 39 your friend, as well as you do? You that have a nearer, a dearer intereſt in attending to it? So accurate have been your obſervations, that no thought of their ſoul eſcapes you; nay, you often can tell even what they are going to think of.
The ſcience of divination, certainly claims your attention; beyond the paſt and the preſent, it ſhall extend your dominion over the future; from ſlight words, half finiſhed ſentences, from ſilence itſelf you ſhall draw your omens, and auguries.
I am ſure you were going to ſay, or, I know ſuch a thing was a ſign you were inclined to be diſpleaſed with me.
In the ardor of innocence, the culprit to clear himſelf from ſuch imputations,D4 tions, 40 D4v 40 tions, incurs the imputation of a greater offence. Suppoſe to prove that you were miſtaken, to prove that he could not have meant to blame you, he ſhould declare, that at the moment you mention, You were quite foreign to his thoughts, he was not thinking at all about you.
Then in truth you have a right to be angry. To one of your claſs of juſtificators, this is the higheſt offence; poſſeſſed as you are of the firm opinion, that all perſons, at all times, on all occaſions, are intent upon you alone. Is it not leſs mortifying to diſcover that you were thought ill of, than that you were not thought of at all? Indifference you know, ſentimental pupils, is more fatal to love than even hatred.Thus 41 D5r 41
Thus my dear pupils, I have endeavoured to provide precepts, adapted to the diſplay of your ſeveral talents, but if there ſhould be any amongſt you, who have no talents, who can neither argue nor perſuade, who have neither, ſentiment nor enthuſiaſm, I muſt indeed, congratulate them; they alone are the true adepts in the ſcience of Self-Juſtification; indulgent nature, often even in the weakneſs, provides for the protection of her creatures; juſt Providence, as the guard of ſtupidity, has enveloped it with the impenetrable armour of obſtinacy.
Fair ideots! let women of ſenſe, wit, feeling, triumph in their various arts, yours are ſuperior. Their empire, abſolute as it ſometimes may be, is 42 D5v 42 is perpetually ſubject to ſudden revolutions. With them, a man has ſome chance of equal ſway, with a fool he has none. Have they hearts and underſtandings?—then the one may be touched, or the other in ſome unlucky moment convinced; even in their very power lies their greateſt danger —not ſo with you—In vain let the moſt candid of his ſex attempt to reaſon with you; let him begin with, Now, my dear, only liſten to reaſon— You ſtop him at once with No, my dear, you know I don’t pretend to reaſon; I only ſay that’s my opinion.
Let him go on to prove that yours is a miſtaken opinion—you are ready to acknowledge it, long before he 2 deſires 43 D6r 43 deſires it. You acknowledge it may be a wrong opinion; but ſtill it is your opinion. You do not maintain it in the leaſt, either becauſe you believe it to be wrong or right, but merely becauſe it is yours. Expoſed as you might have been to the perpetual humiliation of being convinced, nature ſeems kindly to have denied you all perception of truth, or at leaſt all ſentiment of pleaſure from the perception.
With an admirable humility, you are as well contented to be in the wrong as in the right; you anſwer all that can be ſaid to you, with a provoking humility of aſpect.
Yes, I don’t doubt but what you ſay may be very true, but I can’t tell; I don’t 44 D6v 44 don’t think myself capable of judging on theſe ſubjects; I am ſure you muſt know much better than I do. I don’t pretend to ſay but what your opinion is very juſt; but I own I am of a contrary way of thinking; I always thought ſo and I always ſhall.
Should a man with perſevering temper tell you, that he is ready to adopt your ſentiments if you will only explain them; ſhould he beg only to have a reaſon for your opinion—No, you can give no reaſon. Let him urge you to ſay ſomething in its defence— No; like Vide Ducheſs of Marlborough’s Apology. Queen Anne, you will only repeat the ſame thing over again, or be ſilent. Silence is the ornament of your ſex; 45 D7r 45 ſex; and in ſilence, if there be not wiſdom, there is ſafety. You will then, if you pleaſe, according to your cuſtom, ſit liſtening to all entreaties to explain, and ſpeak—with a fixed immutability of poſture, and a pre-determined deafneſs of the eye, which ſhall put your opponent utterly out of patience; yet ſtill by perſevering with the ſame complacent importance of countenance, you ſhall half perſuade people you could ſpeak if you would; you ſhall keep them in doubt by that true want of meaning, which puzzles more than wit; even becauſe they cannot conceive the exceſs of your ſtupidity, they ſhall actually begin to believe that they themſelves are ſtupid. Ignorance and doubt are the great parents of the ſublime.Your D7v 46
Your adverſary finding you impenetrable to argument, perhaps would try wit—but, On the impaſſive ice, the lightnings play. His eloquence or his kindneſs will avail leſs; when in yielding to you after a long debate he expects to pleaſe you, you will anſwer undoubtedly with the utmoſt propriety, That you ſhould be very ſorry he yielded his judgment to you; that he is very good; that you are much obliged to him; but, that as to the point in diſpute, it is a matter of perfect indifference to you; for your part you have no choice at all about it; you beg that he will do juſt what he pleaſes; you know that it is the duty of a wife to ſubmit; but you hope however, you may have an opinion of your own.Remem- 47 D8r 47
Remember all ſuch ſpeeches as theſe will loſe above half their effect, if you cannot accompany them with the vacant ſtare, the inſipid ſmile, the paſſive aſpect of the humbly perverſe.
Whilſt I write, new precepts ruſh upon my recollection; but the ſubject is inexhauſtible. I quit it with regret, fully ſenſible of my preſumption in having attempted to inſtruct thoſe, who whilſt they read, will ſmile in the conſciouſneſs of ſuperior powers. Adieu then my fair readers!—Long may you proſper in the practiſe of an art peculiar to your ſex. Long may you maintain unrivalled dominion at home and abroad; and long may your huſbands rue the hour when firſt they made you promiſe to obey.