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they imagine they can elude the force of this truth, by saying that the men, whom this accusation ragards, have not made use of the advantages which their sex in general has, and therefore might as well have been without them; that no way lessens the truth of what I have advanced; that most women are ruined, instead of being
But it seems we are already con
mortals by nature, as to be absolutely to say, they have a right to both. If incapable of taking the least care of themselves. "It is therefore, say they, a cruel tenderness, a false complaisance, to abandon the fair sex to their own conduct. The more they are made to please and charm, the more it imports them to fly from those dangers, to which they are exposed by being so." A plain proof of their speaking from their hearts is their improved in heart or mind under the imagining us weak enough to be conduct of the men. And therefore, wheedled out of our liberty and pro- since we are at most in no greater perty, by such jingling empty stuff. safety under their government than But where have they proved that we our own, there can be no solid reason are not as capable of guarding our- assigned why we should be subject selves from dangers, as they are of to it. guarding us; had we the same power and advantages allowed us, which demned to it by a judge of their own they have? Again, are we safer un- erecting, a blubbering dotard, too der their conduct than our own? Is conceited of his own sense, to be imit not manifestly launching from proved by that of his wife; Cato, the Scylla to Charybdis, to fly to their wise Cato, who grown obstinate in protection from danger? There is wrong by age and humoured preju scarce an instance in a million among dice, chose rather to die a fool of his women, of one woman of a middling own making, than live a man of sense capacity, who does not, or would not, by a wife's advice: this Cato has progovern herself better than most men nounced sentence against us. in parallel circumstances, if the cir- so disinterested a judge, we cannot cumvention, treachery, and baseness surely except against. Let us hear of that sex did not interfere. Whereas then what this oracle says. for one woman who is bettered in understanding or morality under their tuition, many millions are betrayed into inevitable ruin. As this is undeniable matter of fact, it needs no proofs to support it. Neither will it bear retorting upon us. For granting some few men to have suffered by petticoat-government, the number is extremely small in proportion. And were it equal; the women's conduct in this case is to be charged wholly to the men's account, who robbed them of those advantages of education, which would have enabled them to act better; which they were susceptible of; and which they had a natural right to. The same apology cannot be made for the men's misconduct in governing us they have all the advantages requisite to qualify them; and, if, spite of all, we are worse under their government than under our own; the consequence speaks itself, that either they have a natural want of capacity, or want of honesty. They are at liberty to chuse which imputation pleases them best: though with out judging rashly, I might venture
"Let us treat women as our equals, (says he) and they will immediately want to become our mistresses." Tis Cato says it; and therefore, it seems, there needs no proof. Besides, to oblige men to prove all they advance by reason, would be imposing silence upon them; a grievance to which they are perhaps full as unequal as they pretend we are. But granting Cato to be infallible in his assertions, what then? Have not women as much right to be mistresses, as the men have to be masters? No, says Cato. But why? Because they have not. Such convincing arguments must make us fond of hearing him farther. "If we make the women our equals, (adds he) they will demand that tomorrow as a tribute, which they receive to-day as a grace." But where is the grace in granting us a share in what we have an equal right to? Have not the women an equal claim to power and dignity with the men? If we have; the wise Cato nods: if we have not; Cato would have been wise indeed, to convince us of it. But supposing it to be a favour, a grace,
be imputed to blind chance than to his wisdom: since the greatest fools, when active, may blunder into the right sometimes and great talkers, among many absurdities, must here and there drop a good saying, when they least design it. Of this stamp, are the generality of evidence brought against us. Men aversed to the labour of thinking; who find reason a drudgery, and therefore, rather chuse to prostitute than wed it; who have gained all their reputation by a pretty gimness of expressions, which would no more bear examination than their heads, their hearts, or their faces; and who, to mimic this sage, would rather see common sense in confusion, than a word misplaced in one of their sentences. Yet these are sages
what he pleases to call it; would not the men reap the chief benefit of it? The reserve peculiar to our sex proves, that knowing how to curb ourselves, we are qualified to govern them; and the meekness and tenderness, which make part of our characteristic, are sufficient to persuade them that our yoke would not be heavy. But no, says Cato," we may thank ourselves for that sweetness and reserve which they shew in our presence. This shadow of virtue is owing to the necessity we impose upon them of dissembling." Then Cato is forced at last to own that the subjection we are kept under, by that arrogant sex, is the effect of violence and imposition? This he does to compliment his own sex with attributing all our merit to them. A sorry complimient, consi- among the men, and their sentences dering the ungrateful truth it extorts are so many divine oracles; whereas from him And yet how against the perhaps, had we lived in their own grain does he own any merit in us! times, to have heard the many more No, we have but the shadow of virtue, foolish things they said than sensible and all their impositions and violence ones, we should have found them as can only induce us to dissemble. Is oaffish as the dupes who revere them. not this calling all his own sex fools? And though perhaps we might have For rely nothing can be a greater been more surprized to hear such doproof of folly in the men than to use tards talk sometimes rationally, than violence and imposition, and to take we now are, to read their sayings; perpetual pa ns to support both, only we should have had reason still to to make us act with affectation; when think them more fit to extort our admuch less labour would make us miration than deserve it. Care has shew ourselves in a more natural been taken to hand down to us the light: especially since it is impossible best of their sentences, many of which ever to govern subjects rightly, with- are still weak enough: but had the out knowing as well what they really same care been taken to register all are as what they only seem; which their absurdities; how great a share of the men can never be supposed to do, their present applause would they while they labour to force women to have lost! As the infidel observed to live in constant masquerade. So that the priest of Neptune, when proving either all the men are downright the god's divinity from the trophies in changelings, by Cato's own confes- his temple. sion, or this mighty oracle himself is a driveler, and to be heeded by none but such.
'Tis true their pictures who escaped you keep,
I should not myself have thought But where are they who perish'd in the
him worth so much notice as I have here taken of him, but that the men are weak enough in general, to suffer their sense to be led away captive by such half thinking retailers of sentences. Among whom, this in particular, was he worth the pains, might be easily proved to have been often grossly in the wrong in other matters as well as in the present case; and therefore, when he happens to be in the right, the merit of it is more to
GARTH. But we have a more formidable set of enemies than these laconic gentlemen; men who pretend to build their assertions upon very good grounds, and who would scorn, say they, to exclude us from power, dignity and public offices, if they could not shew us the best of reasons. It will be proper therefore to hear their reasons, before we undertake to say they are in the wrong.
man at the head of an army giving
Whether the Women are fit for public battle, or at the helm of a nation
Offices, or not.
giving laws; pleading causes in quality of counsel; administering justice in a court of judicature; preceded in the street with sword, mace, and other ensigns of authority, as magistrates; or teaching rhetoric, medicine, philosophy, and divinity, in quality of university professors.
Ir is enough for the men to find a thing established to make them believe it well grounded. In all countries we are seen in subjection and absolute dependence on the men, without being admitted to the advantages of sciences, or the opportunity If by oddity they understand someof exerting our capacity in a public thing in its nature opposite to the station. Hence the men, according genuine unbiassed rules of good sense; to their usual talent of arguing from I believe the men will find it a diffiseemings, conclude that we ought to cult task, to prove any oddity in such be so. But supposing it to be true, a sight, or any real inconsistence in it that women had ever been excluded with rectified reason. For if women from public offices, is it therefore ne- are but considered as rational creacessarily true that they ought to be tures, abstracted from the disadvanso? God has always been more or tages imposed upon them by the unless resisted by ungrateful man, a fine just usurpation and tyranny of the conclusion it would be then to infer men, they will be found, to the full, that therefore he ought to be so. as capable as the men, of filling these offices.
But why do the men persuade themselves that we are less fit for public employments than they are? Can they give any better reason than custom and prejudice formed in them by external appearances, for want of a closer examination? If they did but give themselves the leisure to trace things back to their fountainbead, and judge of the sentiments and practices of men in former ages from what they discover in their own times, they would not be so open as they are to errors and absurdities in all their opinions. And particularly with regard to women, they would be able to see that, if we have been subjected to their authority, it has been by no other law than that of the stronger and that we have not been excluded from a share in the power and privileges which lift their sex above ours, for want of natural capacity, or merit, but for want of an equal spirit of violence, shameless injustice, and lawless oppression, with theirs.
Nevertheless, so weak are their intellectuals, and so untuned are their organs to the voice of reason, that custom makes more absolute slaves of their senses than they can make of us. They are so accustomed to see things as they now are, that they cannot represent to themselves how they can be otherwise. It would be extremely odd they think to see a wo
I must own, indeed, in this age, to see a woman, however well qualified, exert herself in any of these employments, could not but as greatly surprize us as to see a man or woman drest in the garb in vogue at the time of Queen Bess. And yet our wonder in either case would be the sole effect of novelty, or of the revival of an ob solete custom new to us. If from immemorable time the men had been so little envious and so very impartial as to do justice to our talents, by admitting us to our right of sharing with them in public action; they would have been as accustomed to see us filling public offices, as we are to see them disgrace them; and to see a lady at a bar, or on a bench, would have been no more strange than it is now, to see a grave judge whimpering at his maid's knees; or, a lord embroidering his wife's petticoat: a Schurman, with a thesis in her hand, displaying nature in its most innocent useful lights, would have been as familiar a sight, as a physician in his chariot, conning Ovid's Art of Love: and an Amazon, with a helmet on her head, animating her embattled troops, would have been no more a matter of surprize than a milliner behind a counter with a thimble on her finger; or than a peer of Great Britain playing with his garter. Not reason then, but error and igno
rance cased in custom, makes these superficial creatures think it an unnatural sight.
There are few nations, beside our own, which think women capable of holding the sceptre; but England has learned by repeated experience, how much happier a kingdom is, when under the protection and rule of a woman, than it can hope to be under the government of a man. Matter of fact then plainly points out the absurdity of the contrary prejudice. How many ladies have there been, and still are, who deserve place among the learned: and who are more capable of teaching the sciences than those who now fill most of the university chairs? The age we live, in has produced as many, as any one heretofore; though their modesty prevents their making any public shew of it. And as our sex, when it applies to learning, may be said at least to keep pace with the men, so are they more to be esteemed for their learning than the latter since they are under a necessity of surmounting the softness they were educated in; of renouncing the pleasure and indolence to which cruel custom seemed to condemn them; to overcome the external impediments in their way to study; and to conquer the disadvantageous notions, which the vulgar of both sexes entertain of learning in women. And whether it be that these difficulties add any keenness to a female understanding, or that nature has given to woman a quicker and more penetrating genius than to man; it is self-evident that many of our sex have far out-stript the men. Why then are we not as fit to learn and teach the sciences, at least to our own sex, as they fancy themselves to be?
Whether the Women are naturally capable of teaching Sciences, or not.
Or rhetoric we must be allowed to be by nature designed mistresses and models. Eloquence is a talent so natural and peculiar to woman, that no one can dispute it her. Women can persuade what they please; and can dictate, defend, or distinguish between right and wrong, without the help of jaws. There are few judges, who
have not proved them the most prevalent counsel; and few pleaders, who have not experienced them to be the most clear-headed equitable judges. When women speak on a subject, they handle it with so delicate a touch, that the men are forced to own they feel what the former say. All the oratory of the schools is not able to give the men that eloquence and ease of speech, which costs us nothing. And, that, which their mean envy call loquacity in us, is only a readi ness of ideas, and an ease of delivery, which they in vain labour, for years, to attain to.
With what hesitation, confusion, and drudgery, do not the men labour to bring forth their thoughts? And when they do utter something tolerable; with what insipid gestures, distortions, and grimaces, do they not murder the few good things they say? Whereas, when a woman speaks; her air is generally noble and preventing, her gesture free and full of dignity, her action is decent, her words are easy and insinuating, her stile is pathetic and winning, and her voice melodious and tuned to her subject. She can soar to a level with the highest intellect without bombast, and, with a complacency natural to the delicacy of her frame, descend to the meanest capacity without meanness, What is there we are unfit to reason upon, which does not offend against decency? When we discourse of good or evil, it is well known we are capable of winning to the one and weaning from the other the most obstinate men, if they have but minds susceptible of reason and argument and that character of integrity, which is imprinted on our countenances while we speak, renders our power of persuasion more prevalent. Sure then, if we are endowed with a more com municative eloquence than they are, we must be at least as well qualified as they to teach the sciences; and if we are not seen in university chairs, it cannot be attributed to our want of capacity to fill them, but to that violence with which the men support their unjust intrusion into our places; or at least to our greater modesty and less degree of ambition.
If we were to apply to the law, we should succeed in it at least as well as
the men. The natural talent we have out whether beyond the utmost cirundisputed, of explaining and unra- cumference of the universe there be velling the most knotty intricacies; any imaginary space, and whether of stating our own and other people's that infant of our own dream be inpretensions; of discovering the finite or finite: whether an atom be grounds of a dispute, with the means splittable into infinite parts, or how to set it right; and of setting engines a column of air upon a man's head, to work to do ourselves justice, is reaching to the sky, shall feel less sufficient to prove that, were we to heavy than a hob-nail. fill the offices of counsel, judges, and magistrates, we should shew a capacity in business which very few nien can boast of. But peace and justice is our study, and our pride is to make up those breaches which the corruption of that sex renders them industrious to make.
Were we to express our conceptions of God, it would never enter into the head of one of us to describe him as a venerable old man. No we have a more noble idea of him, than to compare him to any thing created. We conceive that there must be a God, because we are sensible Our sex seems born to teach and that neither we nor the objects which practise physic; to restore health to surround us can be the works of the sick; and to preserve it to the chance, or of self-production. And well. Neatness, handiness, and com- as we daily see that the success, pliance are one-half of a patient's which attends our undertakings, is cure; and in this the men must yield scarce ever the natural effect of the to us. Indeed in our turns we must means we made use of to attain to it, yield to them in the art of inventing we are convinced that the conduct of hard names; and puzzling a cure our affairs is not the consequence of with the number, as well as adding to our own prudence; and therefore a patient's grievance with the costli- conclude that it must be the effect. of ness, of remedies. But we can in- a superior, general, providence. We vent, and have invented, without the should never take it into our heads to help of Galen, or Hippocrates, an run divisions upon our own chimerical infinity of reliefs for the sick, which hypotheses, and to fill a volume to they and their blind adherents could answer an impossible; as whether, if neither improve nor disapprove. And man had not sinned, the Son of God an old woman's receipt, as it is term- would have died: or whether by sued, has often been known to remove pernatural power a stone could be an inveterate distemper which has lifted to the beatific vision. And yet bailed the researches of a college we might without vanity aspire to of graduates. In a word, the obser- being as able philosophers or divines vations made by women in their as the men, perhaps better: if I unpractice, have been so exact, and built upon such solid reason, as to shew more than once the useless pedantry of the major part of school
derstand rightly the sense of those words. And surely philosophers and divines according to the acceptation of the words, are such as are perfectly versed in the secrets of nature and I hardly believe our sex would mysteries of religion. If so, as we spend so many years to so little pur- know that the chief fruit of all learnpose as those men do, who call them- ing is a just discernment of true from selves philosophers; were we to ap- false, and of evidence from obscurity, ply to the study of nature. But I we are equally capable of both. And believe we could point out a much were we to aim at being both, we shorter road to the desired end. We should make it our business to form should scarcely do like some men who waste whole years (not to mention many of them who dwell for life) on mere entia rationis, fictitious trifles, no where to be found but in their own noddles. We should find more useful employments for our inquiries, than idly plodding to find
as just ideas of the divinity and its revelations as the weakness of hamin nature would permit, and to trace nature up to its true source in all its effects. And as we are sensible that the knowledge of ourselves and the objects about us, is absolutely necessary to render the aforementioned