Literary Ladies.

To Which Is Added,
An Essay
on the
Noble Science of Self-Justification.

Printed for J. Johnson, in St. Paul’s Church-Yard. 1795MDCCXCV.

A1v A2r

From A
Gentleman To His Friend
Upon The
Birth Of A Daughter.

I congratulate 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 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 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 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 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, B3v 6
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 B4r 7
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 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 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 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 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 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 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
. 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
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 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 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 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 C1r 17
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 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 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 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 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- C3v 22
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, 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 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, 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 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 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
, 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 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 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 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 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 D1r 33
in the French Academy of Sciences.”

I hope this proved an adequate compensation
to her husband for his domestic

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
is no more! “and we shall D never D1v 34
never live to see his fellow.”
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- 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- 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- 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
—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- D3v 38
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
—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
Then next a step, but yet a large step higher,Came civill virtue fitter for the citty,With modest looks, good cloths, and answers
These baser things not done, but guided by her.”

As 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 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

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 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

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 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 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.

An- D6v 44

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 fellow-
creatures, especially on those who are
helpless, and immediately under our pro- 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 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 D8r 47
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 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 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
, 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 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 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 E3v 54
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 E4r 55
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

E4 You 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 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 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 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
, 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 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 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 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

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 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 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 F1r 65
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 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 F2r 67
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
, 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 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 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

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 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. F4v 72
I now feel a melancholy satisfaction
in contemplating those objects
she once delighted to elucidate.” J. AndersonEssay on the Management of a

The elegant Lord Lyttleton, the benevolent
Haller, the amiable Dr.
, 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 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 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, deledelete never.

Just published,
In 3 Vols. Price 4s. 6d.
The Parent’s Assistant;
Or, Stories for Children.


  • The Little Dog Trusty; or, the Liar and
    the Boy of Truth
  • The Orange Man; or, the
    Honest Boy and the Thief
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  • The Bracelets
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  • The Birth-day Present
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With a Preface, addressed to Parents.

G2v B1r

Julia and Caroline.

Printed for J. Johnson, St. Paul’s ChurchYard.

B1v B2r

Julia and Caroline.

Letter 1.

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, 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?— 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

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 B3v 6
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; 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 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, B5r 9
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

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 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

Your ever affectionate


Let- B6v 12

Letter II.

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

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 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

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 B7v 14
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, B8r 15
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 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 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

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 C1v 18
you say, Julia, “that the admiration of
, 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

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 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- 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 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

C3 Another 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
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 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 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 C5r 25
sensibility, absolutely destroys
it, by familiarising it with objects of

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
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
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- 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.

Yours, sincerely,


Let- C6r 27

Letter III.

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
, as equal candidates for your
preference; equal I mean in your regard,
for you say that “Your heart is 3 “not 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 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 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 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
, 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 C8v 32
wish to lead; for my brother, though he
might make you very happy in domestic
life, would not make the Countess of
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- 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 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- 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 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 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 D3v 38
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

Let- D4r 39

Letter IV.

Caroline to lady V――,
Upon her intended separation from her

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 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 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, 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 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 D6v 44
then now consider what yours should

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 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- 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 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 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

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 E1r 49
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 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?”
one voice, dear Julia, your children
shall name their mother; she who in the
bloom of youth checked herself in the career E2r 51
career of dissipation, and turned all the
ability and energy of her mind to their

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 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
, 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 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- 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 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,


E4 Let- E4v 56

Letter V.

Caroline to Lady V――,
On her conduct after her separation from her

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 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 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

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 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
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 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 E7r 61
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- 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


Let- E8r 63

Letter VI.

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 E8v 64
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

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 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!


F Let- F1v 66

Letter VII.

Caroline to lord V――,
Written a few months after the date of the
preceding letter

My lord,

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 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 Juliashe 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 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!

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 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 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, 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 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 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
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 F5v 74
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 Juliaa variety 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 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.”
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 F7r 77
them away hastily—“But it is not now
a time,”
said she, “to think of myself
—can I see my daughter?”
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 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

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 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.


The End.


On The

Noble Science of Self-Justification.

“For which an eloquence that aims to vex, With native tropes of anger arms the sex.” Parnel.

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- B1v 2
transmitted to them undiminished
through succeeding generations, to be
“Soon moved with the slightest touch of
very little precept and practice
will confirm them in the habit,
and instruct them in all the maxims of

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 B2r 3
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

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, 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 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

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 B3v 6
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

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 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 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 B5r 9

“Can superior with inferior power
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 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
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! B6r 11
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
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 familymily— B6v 12
“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, 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 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 B8r 15
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

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 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 C1r 17
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

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 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 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

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 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 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
Before an explanation on the C3 word 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
into the pathos of injured innocence.

Besides, 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: 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 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 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 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; 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
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 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 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
the dull prolixity of narration, joined 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 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 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

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 D1v 34
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 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 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 D3r 37
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 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 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

In the ardor of innocence, the culprit
to clear himself from such imputations,D4 tions, D4v 40
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

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 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 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 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 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; 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- 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.