Citation
A vindication of the rights of woman

Material Information

Title:
A vindication of the rights of woman with strictures on moral and political subjects
Creator:
Wollstonecraft, Mary, 1759-1797
Place of Publication:
Philadelphia
Publisher:
Printed by William Gibbons ...
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
xvi, 17-274, [2] p. : ; 17 cm. (12mo)

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Women's rights -- Early works to 1800 -- Great Britain ( lcsh )
Women -- Education -- Early works to 1800 -- Great Britain ( lcsh )
Feminism -- Early works to 1800 ( lcsh )
Feminism ( fast )
Women -- Education ( fast )
Women's rights ( fast )
Great Britain ( fast )
Genre:
Early works. ( fast )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
Early works ( fast )

Notes

Citation/Reference:
Evans
General Note:
First American edition. Cf. Evans.
General Note:
Signatures: [A]⁶ B-Z⁶.
General Note:
Publisher's advertisement: p. [2] at end.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Mary Woolstonecraft [sic].

Record Information

Source Institution:
|Auraria Library
Holding Location:
|Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
42383352 ( OCLC )
34033009 ( LCCN )
ocm42383352
Classification:
HQ1596 .W6 1792b ( lcc )

Full Text


&
VINDICATION OF
THE
RIGHTS of WOMAN
With Stri&ures
ON
.MORAL and POLITICAL SUBJECTS.
By MARY WOOLSTONECRAET.
PHILADELPHIA :PRINTED
AND SOLD, BY WlLLIAM GlBBONS/N6, I44*
NORTH THIRD STREET.
*



5r g
TALLEYRAND PERIGQRD,
BATE BISHOP OF AUTUN.
Sir,
Having read with great pleafure a pamphlet, which
you have lately publifhed, on National Education, 1 de-
dicate this volume to youthe firft dedication that I
have ever written, to induce you to read it with attenti-
on; and, becaufe I think that you will underftand me,
which I do not fuppofe many pert witlings will, who
may ridicule the arguments they are unable to anfwer.
But, Sir, I carry my refpe£t for your undemanding {till
farther; fo far, that I am confident you will not throw
my work afide, and haftily conclude that I am in the
wrong, becaufe you did not view the fubjeit in the fame*
light yourfelf.And, pardon my franknefs, but I muft
obferve, that you treated it in too curfory a manner, con-
tented to confider it as it had bsen confidered formerly,
when the rights of man, not to advert to woman, were
trampled on as chimericalI call upon you, therefore,
now to weigh'what I have advanced refpccling the rights
of woman, and national educationand I call with the
firm tone of humanity.For ^tny arguments, Sir, are
di&ated by a difinterefied fpiritI plead for my fex
not for myfelf. Independence I have long confidered as
the grand blefiing of life, the balls of every virtueand
independence I will ever fecurc by contiailing my wants,
though I were to live on a barren heath.
. V
V' ft
it


DEDICATION.-
iV

It is then an affedlion for the whole human race that
snakes my pen dart rapidly along to fupport what I be-
lieve to be the caufe of virtue : and the fame motive leads
me earneftly to wilh to fee woman placed in a ttation in
which ttie would advance, inftead of retarding, the pro-
grefs of thofe glorious principles that give a fub(lance to
morality. My opinion, indeed, refpe&ing the rights and
duties of woman, feems to flow fo naturally from thefe
Ample principles, that I think it fcarcely polfible, but
that fomeof the enlarged minds who formed your admir-
able conflitution, will coincide with me.
In France there is undoubtedly a more general diffii-
fion of knowledge than in any part of the European
world, and I attribute it, in a great meafure, to the feci-
al intercourfe which has long fubfitted between the fexes.
It is true, I utter my fentiments with freedom, that in
France the very efience of fenfuality has been extracted
to regale the voluptuary, and a kind of fentimental lull
has prevailed, which, together with the fyftem of dupli-
city that the whole tenor of their political and civil go-
vernment taught, have given a finifter fort of fagacity ta
the French character, properly termed finefle, and a po-
lifh of manners that injures the fubftance, by hunting
fincerity out of fociety.And, modefty, the faireft garb
of virtue has been more grofsly infulted in France than
even in England, till their women have treated as prudijh
that attention to decency, which brutes inftin&ively ob-
ferve. "
Manners and morals are fo nearly allied that they have
often been confounded; but, though the former fhould
only be the natural refle&ion of the latter, yet, when va-
rious caufes have produced factious and corrupt man-
ners, which are very early caught, morality becomes an
empty name. The perfonal referve, and facred refpedl
for clean! inefs and delicacy in domeftic life, which
French women almoft defpife, are the graceful pillars of
modefty; but, far from defpifing them, if the pure flame.


DEDICATION.
V
of patriotifm have reached their bofoms, they ftiould la-
bour to improve the morals of their fellow-citizens, by
teaching men, not only to refpeft modefty in women,
but to acquire it themfelves, as the only way to merit
their efteem.
Contending for the rights of woman, my main argu^-
ment is built on this Ample principle, that if Ihe be not
prepared by education to become the companion of man,
Ihe will flop the progrefs of knowledge, for truth muft:
be common to all, or it will be inefficacious with refpedis
to its influence on general pra&ice. And how can wo-
man be expected to co-operate unlefs {lie know why
fhe ought to be virtuous ? unlefs freedom ftrengthen
herreafon till fhe comprehend her duty, and fee in what
manner it is connected with her real good ? If children
are to be educated to underftand the true principle of
patriotifm, their mother muft be a patriot; and the love
of mankind, from which an orderly train of virtues
fpring, can only be produced by considering the moral
and civil intereft of mankind ; but the education and
fituation of woman, at prefent, fhuts. her out from fuch
inveftigations. .
In this work I have produced many arguments, which
to me were conclufive, to prove that the prevailing noti-
on refpedfting a fexual charafler was fubverftve of mo-
rality, and I have contended, that to render the human
body and mind more perfect, chaftity muft more uni-
versally prevail, and that chaftity will never be refpefted
in the male world till the perfon of a woman is not, as
it were, idolized, when little virtue or fenfe embellifh it
with the grand traces of mental beauty, or the intereft-
ing fimplicity of affe£lion.
Confider, Sir, difpaflionately, thefe obfervations-------
for a glimpfe of this truth feemed to open before you
when you obferved, (that to fee one half of the human
* race excluded by the other from all participation of go-
c vernment, was a political phenomenon that, according
to-


VI-
NDICATION.
4 to abftract principles, it was impoftible to explain. Ti
fo, on v/hat does your conftitution reft r If the abflract
rights of man will bear difcuffion and explanation, thofe
of woman, by a parity of reafoning, will not (brink from
the fame left : though a different opinion prevails in this
country, built on the very arguments which you ufe to
juftify the oppreftion of womanprefcription.
Confider, 1 addrefs you as a legiflator, -whether, when
men contend for their freedom, and to be allowed to
judge for themfelves refpefting their own happinefs, it
be not inconfiftent and unjuft to fubjugate women, even
though you firmly believe that you are afting in the
manner beft calculated to promote their happinefs i
Who made man the exclufive judge, if woman partake
with him the gift of reafon?
In this ftyle, argue tyrants of every denomination,
from the weak king to the weak father of a family ; they
are all eager to cruih reafon ; yet always aftert that they
ufurp its throne only to be ufeful. Do you not act a (i-
milarpart, when you force all women, by denying them
civil and political rights, to remain immured in their
families groping in the dark r for furely, Sir, you will
not affert, that a duty can be binding which is not
founded on reafon r if indeed this be their deftination,
arguments may be drawn from reafon : and thus auguft-
Jv fupported, the more underftanding women acquire,
the more they will be attached to their dutycompre-
hending itfor unlefs they comprehend it, unlefs their
morals be fixed on the fame immutable principle as thofe
of man, no authority can make them difcharge it in a
virtuous manner. They may be convenient (laves, but
flavery will have its condant effect, degrading the maf-
ter and the abjecl dependent.
But, if women are to be excluded without having a
voice, from a participation of the natural rights of man-
kind, prove fir ft, to ward off the charge of injuftice and
inconfiftency, that they want reafonelfe this flaw in
your


DEDICATION".
VII
your NEW CONSTITUTION, the firft conftitution
founded on reafon, will ever fhew that man muft, in
feme fhape, a£t like a tyrant, and tyranny, in whatever
part offociety it rears its brazen front, will ever under-
mine morality.
I have repeatedly afferted, and produced what appear-
ed to me irrefragable arguments drawn from matters of
fa£t, to prove my affertion, that women cannot, by force,
be confined to domeftic concerns ; for they will, how-
ever ignorant, intermeddle with more weighty affairs,
negle&ing private duties only to difhirb, by cunning
tricks, the orderly plans of reafon which rife above their
comprehenfion.
Befides, whilft they are only made to acquire perfon-
al accomplifhments, men will feek for pleafure in varie-
ty, and faithlefs hufbands will make faithlefs wives ;
fuch ignorant beings, indeed, will.be very excufable
when, not taught to refpefl: public good, nor allowed any
civil rights, they attempt to do theinfelves juft ice by re-
taliation.
The box of mifehief thus opened in fociety, what is
to preferve private virtue, the only fecurity of public
freedom and univerfal happinefs?
Let there be then no coercion ejiablijhcd in fociety,
and the common law of gravity prevailing, the fexes
will fall into their proper places. And, now that more
equitable laws are forming your citizens, marriage may
become more facred : your young men may choofe wives
from motives of affe£tion, and your maidens allow love
to root out vanity.
The father of a family will not then weaken his con-
ftitution and debafe his feniiments, by vifiting the har-
lot, nor forget, in obeying the call of appetite, the pur-
pofe for which it was implanted, And, the mother
will not neglect her children to pra£tife the arts of co-
quetry, when fenfe and modefty fecure her the friend-
fhip of her hufband.
But,


via
dedication.
But, till men become attentive to the duty of a father,,
it is vain to expert women to fpend that time in their
nurfery, which they, wife in their generation/ choofe
to fpend at their glafs ; for this exertion of cunning is
only an inftinft of nature to enable them to obtain indi*-
re£tly a little of that power of which they are unjuftly
denied a {hare: for, if women are not permitted to en<-
joy legitimate rights, they will render both men and
themfelves vicious, to obtain illicit privileges.
I wifh, Sir, to fet fome inveftigations of this kind
float in France; and fhould they lead to a confirma^
tion of my principles, when your conftitution is revifed
the Rights of Woman may be refpe&ed, if it be fully
proved that reafon calls for this refpeft, and loudly de-
mands JUSTICE for one half of the human race.
lam, Sir,
Tours refpe&fully,.


AD VE RTISEME N T.
When I began to write this work, I divided it into
three parts, fuppofing that one volume would contain a
full difcuffion of the arguments which feemed to me to
rife naturally from a few Ample principles; but frefli
illuftrations occurring as I advanced, I now prefent on-
ly the firft part to the public.
Many fubje&s, however, which I have curforily al-
luded to, call for particular inveftigation, efpecially the
laws relative to women, and the confideration of their
peculiar duties. Thefe will furnifh ample matter for
a fecond volume, which in due time will be publifhed,
to elucidate fome of the fentiments, and complete many
gf the fetches begun in the firft.




I NTR013UCTION,
After confidering the hiftoric page, and viewing the
living world with anxious folicitude, the molt melan-
choly emotions of forrowful indignation have deprefled
my fpirits, and I have fighed when obliged to confefs,
that either nature has made a great difference between
man and man, or that the civilization which has hitherto
taken place in the world has been very partial. I have
turned over various books written on the fubjedt of edu-
cation, and patiently obferved the conduct of parents and
the management of fchools; but what has been the re-
fill t?a; profound corividtion that the negledfed educa-
ticfii of my fellow-creatures is the .grand fource of the
mifery I deplore ; and that women, in particular, are
rendered weak and wretched by a variety of concurring
caufes, originating from one hafty conclufion. The
condudt and manners of women, in fadt, evidently prove
that their minds are not in a healthy ftate ; for, like the
flowers which are planted in too rich a foil, ftrength and
ufefulnefs are facrifked to beauty; and the flaunting
leaves, after having pleafed a faflidious eye, fade, difre-
garded on the (talk, long before the feafon when they
ought to have arrived at maturity.One caufe of this
barren blooming I attribute to a falfe fyftem of educati-
on, gathered from the books written on this fubjedt
by men who, confidering females rather as women than
human creatures, have been more anxious to make them
alluring miftreffes than rational wives ; and the under-
ftanding of the fex has been fo bubbled by this fpecious
homage, that the civilized women of the prefent centum
ry, with a few exceptions, are only anxious to infpirc
love, when they ought to cherifh a nobler ambition, and
by their abilities and virtues exadt refpedt.
In a treatife, therefore, on female rights and man-
ners, the works which have been particularly written for
their


xii
INTRODUCTION.
their improvement muft not be overlooked; efpecialfy
when it is aflerted, in dire£l terms, that the minds of
women are enfeebled by falfe refinement; that the books
of inftru&ion, written by men of genius, have had the
Fame tendency as more frivolous produdtions ; and that,
in the true ftyle of Mahometanifm, they are only confi-
dered as females, and not as a part of the human fpe-
cies, when improvable teafon is allowed tobe the digni-
fied diftinftion which raifes men above the brute crea-
tion, and puts a natural fceptre in a feeble hand.
Yet, becaufe I am a woman, I would not lead my
readers to fuppofe that I mean violently to agitate the
conteftedquettion refpe&ing the equality and inferiority
of the fexi; but as the fubje£fc lies in my way, and I
cannot pafs it over without fubje&ing the main tenden-
cy of my reafoning to mifconftrudtion, I (hall flop a
moment to deliver, in a few words, my opinion.In
the government of the phyfical world it is obfervable
that the female, in general, is inferior to the male. The
male purfues, thedemale yieldsthis is the law of na-
ture ; and it does not appear to be fufpended or abrogat-
ed in favour of woman. This phyfical fuperiority can-
not be deniedand it is a noble prerogative But not
content with this natural pre-eminence, men endeavour
to fink us {till lower, merely to render us alluring je£ts for a moment; and women, intoxicated by the
adoration which men, under the influence of their fen-
fes, pay them, do not feek to obtain a durable intereft in
their hearts, or to become the friends of the fellow-
creatures who find amufement in their fociety.
I am aware of an "obvious inference:---from every
quarter have I heard exclamations againft mafeuline
women ; but where are they to be found ? If by this
appellation men mean to inveigh againft their ardour in
hunting, fhooting, and gaming, I fhall moft cordially
join in the cry; but if it be againft the imitation of
manly virtues, or, more properly fpeaking, the attain-
ment


WPMl
, *
INTRODUCTION. xiii
ment of thofe talents and virtues, the exercife of which ^
ennobles the human chara&er, and which raife females
in the fcale of animal being, when they are comprehen-
fively termed mankind;all thofe who view them with
a philofophical eye mull, I Ihould think, wifh with me,
that they may every day grow more and more mafcu-
line. jj
This difcuffion naturally divides the fubjed. I fhall
firfl confider women in the grand light of human crea^
turcs, who, in common with men, are placed on this
earth to unfold their faculties; and afterwards I fhall
more particularly point out their peculiar defignation.
I wilh alfo to (leer clear of an error which many re-
fpedable writers have fallen into ; for the inflrudion
which has hither been acldrefied to women, has rather
been applicable to ladies, if the little indired advice, that
is fcattered through Sandford and Merton, be excepted ;
but, addreffing my fex in a firmer tone, I pay particular , j
attention to thofe in the middle clafs, becaufe they ap- 9
pear to be in the moft natural (late. Perhaps the feeds
of falfe refinement, immorality, and vanity, have ever f
been filed by thegreat. Weak, artificial beings, raifed ^
above the common wants and affedions of their race,
in a premature unnatural manner, undermine the very
foundation of virtue, and fpread corruption through the
whole mafs of fociety! As a clafs of mankind they have \
the ftrongeft claim to pity; the education of the rich
tends to render them vain and helplefs, and the unfold-
ing mind is not rtrengthened by thepradice of thofe du-
ties which dignify the human character.-----They only
live to amufe themfelves, and by the fame law which in
nature invariably produces certain effects, they foon on- *
]y afford barren amufement.
But as I purpofe taking a feparate view of the different r
ranks of fociety, and of the moral charader of women, V
in each, this hint is, for the prefent, fufficient; and I I
have only alluded to the fubjed, becaufe it appears to j*
B me (/


me to be the very effence of an introduction to give a
curfory account of the contents of the work it intro-
duces.
My own fex, I hope, will excufe me, if I treat them
like rational creatures, inftead of flattering their/^/V;#/-
ing graces, and viewing them as if they were in a (late
of perpetual childhood, unable to (land alone. I ear-
ndlly wifh to point out in what true dignity and hu-
man happinefs con fillsI wifh to perfuade women to
endeavour to acquire ftrength, both of mind and body,
and to convince them that the foft phrafes, fufceptibiii-
ty of heart, delicacy of fentiment, and refinement of
tafte, are almolt fynonymous with epithets of weaknefs,
and that thofe beings who are only the objects of .pity and
that kind of love, which has been termed its filler, will
foon become objects of contempt.
Difmiffing then thofe pretty feminine phrafes, which
the men condefcendingly ufe to foften our flavilh depen*
dence, and defpiling that weak elegancy of mind, ex-
Kjuifite fenfibility, and fweet docility of manners, fup-
pofed to be the fcxua! charaderiftics of the weaker vei-
l'd, I wifh to thew that elegance is inferior to virtue,
that the firfl object of laudable ambition is to obtain a
charader as a human being, regardlefs of the diflindi-
on of fex ; and that fecondary views Ihould be brought,
to this fimple touchftone.
This is a rough (ketch of my plan ; and fhould I ex-
prefs my convidion with the energetic emotions that I
feel whenever I think of the fubjed, the didates of ex-
perience and refledion will be felt by fome of my read-
ers. Animated by this important objed, I (hall difdain
to cull my phrafes or polilh my (ty-Ie ;l aim at being
ufeful, and fincerity will rentier me unaffed'ed ; tor,
wilhing rather to perfuade by the force-of my-argu-
ments, than;dazzle by the elegance of iny language, I
(hall not waile my time in rounding periods, nor in
fabricatingthe turgid bombaft of ai t ificial feelings, which,
cumins


INTRODUCTION.
XV
coming from the head, never reach the heart.fha'il
be employed about tilings, not words !and, anxious to
render my feX more refp-e&able members of fociety, I
fliall try to avoid that flowery diition which has Sided
from elfays into novels, and from novels into familiar
letters and converfation.
Thefe pretty nothingsthefe caricatures of the real
beauty of fenftbility, dropping glibly from the tongue,
vitiate the tafte, and create a kind of fickly delicacy that
turns away from fituple unadorned truth ; and a deluge
of fal'fe Sentiments and overflretched feelings, (lifting
the natural emotions of the heart, render the domeftic
pleafures infipid, that ought to fweeten the exercife of
t'hofc fevere duties, which educate a rational and im-
mortal being for a nobler field of action.
The education of women has, of late, been more at-
tended to than formerly ; yet they are fiill reckoned a
frivolous fex, and ridiculed or pitied by the writers who
endeavour by fat ire or inftruition to improve them.
It is acknowledged that they fpend many of the fir ft
years of their lives in acquiring a (mattering of accom-
pliihments: meanwhile ft-rength of body and mind are
facrificed to libertine notions of beauty, to the defire of
eftablifhing themfelves,the only way women can rife
in the world,by marriage. And this defire making
mere animals of them,when they marry they ait as
fuch children may be expected to ail:they drefs ; they
paint, and nickname GoJs creatures.-------Surely thefe
weak beings are only fit for the feraglio !Can they go-
vern a family, or take care of t'lie poor babes whom they
bring into the world ?
If then it can be fairly deduced from the prefent con-
duit of the fex, from the prevalent fondnefs for pleafure,
which takes place of ambition and thofe nobler paflions
that open and enlarge the foul ; that the inftruition'
which women have received has only tended, with the
conftitution of civil fociety, to render them infignificant
B 2 objeits.


xvi
INTRODUCTION.
objects of defiremere propagators of fools!if it can
be proved that in aiming' to accomplilh them, without
cultivating their underdandings, they are taken out of
their fphere of duties, and made ridiculous and ufelefs
when the fhort-lived bloom of beauty is over*, I pre-
fume that rational men willexcufe me for endeavouring
toperfuade them to become more mafculineand refpe£k-
able.
Indeed the word mafculine is only a bugbear: there
is little reafon to fear that women will acquire too much
courage or fortitude; for their apparent inferiority with
refpe£t to bodily drength, mud render them, in fome
degree, dependent on men in the various relations of
life; but why fhould it be increafed by prejudices that
give a fex to virtue, and confound fimple truths with
fenfual reveries ?
Women are, in fa£t, fo much degraded by midakeiv
notions of female excellence, that I do not mean to add .
a paradox when I affert, that this artificial weaknefs
produces a propenfity to tyrannize, and gives birth to
cunning, the natural opponent of drength, which leads
them to play off thofe contemptible infantile airs that
undermine edeem even vvhild they excite defire. Do
not foder thefe prejudices, and they will naturally fall
into their fubordinate, yet refpe&able flation, in life.
It feems fcarcely necelfary to fay, that I now fpeak
of the fex in general. Many individuals have more
fenfe than their male relatives ; and, as nothing prepon-
derates where there is a condant druggie for an equili-
brium, without it has naturally more gravity, fome wo-
men govern their hufbands without degrading them-
felves, becaufe intellect will always govern.
* A lively writer, I cannot recalled his namey ajks what
lufinefs women turned of forty have to do in the world ?
VINDICATION


[ <7 1
VINDICATION
OF
The Rights of Woman.
CHAP. I.
The rights and involved duties of mankind confdercd.
IN the prefent flate of fociety it appears neceftary to
go back to firft principles in fearch of the molt Am-
ple truths, and to difputc with fome prevailing prejudice
every inch of ground. To clear my way, I muft be al-
lowed toafk fome plain queftions, and the anfvvers will
probably appear as unequivocal as the axioms on which
rcafoning is built; though, when entangled with various
motives of aCtion, they are formally contradicted, either
by the words or conduCt of men.
In what does man's pre-eminence over the brute cre-
ation confift ? The anfvver is as clear as that a half is
lefs than the whole ; in Reafon.
What acquirement exalts one being above another?
Virtuewe fpontaneoufly reply.
For what pui pofe were the paflions implanted ? That
man by ftruggling with them might attain a degree of
knowledge denied to the brutes; vvhifpers Experience.
Confequently the perfection of our nature and capa-
bility of happinefs, muft be eftimated by the degree of
reafon, virtue, and knowledge, that diftinguifh the indi-
vidual, and direCtthe laws which bind fociety : and that
B 3 from


i8
VINDICATION OF THE
from the exercife of reafon, knowledge and virtue na-
turally flow, is equally undeniable, if mankind be view-
ed colle&ively.
The rights and duties of man thus Amplified, it feems
almort impertinent to attempt to illuftrate truths that
appear fo incontrovertible ; yet fuch deeply rooted pre-
judices have clouded reafon, and fuchTpurious=qualities
have allumed the name of virtues, that it is necelfary to
purfue the courfe of reafon as it has been perplexed and
involved in error, by various adventitious circumftances,
comparing the Ample'axiom with cafual deviations.
Men, in general, feem to employ their reafon tojuf-
tify prejudices, which they have imbibed, they cannot
trace, how, rather than to root them out. The mind
moA beftrong that refolutely forms its own principles \
for a kind of intellectual cowardice prevails which
makes many men fhrink from the tafk, or only do it
by halves. Yet the imperfeCt concluAons thus drawn,
are frequently very plauiible, becaufe they are built on
partial experience, on juft, though narrow, views.
Going back to firft principles, vice fkulks, with all
its native deformity, from clofe inveftigation ; but a fet
of (hallow reafoners are always exclaiming that thefe ar-
guments prove too much, and that a meafure rotten at
the core may be expedient. Thus expediency is con-
tinually contrafted with Ample principles, till truth is
loft in a mill of words, virtue, in forms, and knowledge
rendered a founding nothing, by the fpccious prejudices
that add me its name.
That the fociety is formed in the wife ft manner,
whofe conftitution is founded on the nature of man,
ftrikes, in the abftraCl, every thinking being fo forcibly,
that it looks like prefumption to endeavour to bring for-
ward proofsthough proof muft be brought, or the
ftrong hold of prescription will never be forced by rca-
fon ; yet to urge prefeription as an argument to juftify*
the depriving men (or women) of their natural rights, is


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.- 19
one of tile abfurd fophifms which daily infult common
fenfe.
The civilization of the bulk of the people of Europe,
is very partial ; nay, it may be made a queftion, whe-
ther they have acquired any virtues in exchange for in-
nocence, equivalent to the mifery produced by the vices
that have been plaftered over unfightly ignorance, and
the freedom which has been bartered for fplendid flave-
ry. The defire of dazzling by riches, the mod certain
pre-eminence that man can obtain, the pleafure of com-
manding flattering fycophants, and many other compli-
cated low calculations of doting felf-iove, have all con-
tributed to overwhelm the mafs of mankind, and make
liberty a convenient handle for mock patriotifm. For
whilfl rank and titles are held of the utmofl importance,
before which Genius mufl-hide its diminiihed head,
it is, with a few exceptions, very unfortunate for a nati-
on when a man of abilities, without rank or property,
pulhes himfelf forward to notice.Alas what unheard
of mifery have thoufands fuffered to purchafe a cardi-
nals hat for an intriguing obfcure adventurer, who long-
ed to be ranked with princes, or lord it over them by
feizing the triple crown !
Such, indeed, has been the wretchednefs that has flow-
ed from hereditary honours, riches, and monarchy, that
men of lively fenfibility have almoft uttered blafphemy
in order to juftify the difpenfations of providence.
Man has been held out as independent of his power who
made him, or as a lawlefs planet darting from its orbit
to fteal the celeftial fire of reafon ; and the vengeance of
heaven, lurking in the fubtile flame, fufficiently punifh-
ed his temerity, by introducing evil into the world.
lmprefled by this view of the mifery and diforder
which pervaded fociety, and fat igued with joftling againft
artificial fools, Rotilfeau became enamoured of folitude,
and, being at the fame time an optimilf, he labours with
uncommon eloquence to prove that man was naturally a
lolitary
4


VINDICATION Of THE
2#
folitary animal. Mifled by his refpefl for the good-
nefs of God, who certainly-for what man of fenfe and
feeling can doubt it !_gave life only to communicate
happinefs, he confiders evil as pofitive, and the work of
man ; not aware that he was exalting one attribute at
the expence of another, equally necelfary to divine per-
fection.
Reared onafalfe hypothefis his arguments in favour
of a ftate of nature are plaufible, but unfound. I fay
unfound ; for toaflert that a ftate of nature is preferable
to civilization, in all its poftible perfection, is, in other
words, to arraign fupreme wifdom ; and the paradoxi-
cal exclamation, that God has made all things right,
and that evil has been introduced by the creature, whom
he formed, knowing what he formed, is as unphilofo-
phical as impious.
When that wife Being who created us and placed us
here, faw the fair idea, he willed, by allowing it to be
fo, that the paflions ftiould unfold our reafon, becaufe he
could fee that prefent evil would produce future good.
Could the helplefs creature whom he called from nothing
break loofe from his providence, and boldly learn to
know good by pracftiling evil, without his permiftion ?
No.How could that energetic advocate for immorta-
lity argue fo inconfiftently ? Had mankind remained
for ever in the brutal ftate of nature, which even his
magic pen cannot paint as a ftate in which a fingle vir-
tue took root, it would have been clear, though not to
the fenfitive unreflecting wanderer, that man was born
to run the circle of life and death, and adorn Gods gar-
den for fome purpofe which could not eafily be reconcil-
ed with his attributes.
But if, to crown the whole, there were to be rational
creatures produced, allowed to rife in excellence by the
exercife of powers implanted for that purpofe; if be-
nignity itfelf thought fit to call into exiftencea crea-
ture


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
2r
lure above the brutes*, who could think and improve
himfelf, why fhould that ineftimable gift, for a gift it
was, if man was fo created as to have a capacity to rife
above the ftate in which fen fat ion produced brutal eafe,
bewailed, in dire£t terms, a curfe? A curfe it might be
reckoned, if all our exigence was bounded by our conti-
nuance in this world ; for why fhould the gracious foun-
tain of life give us paffions, and the power of reflecting,
only to imbitter our days and infpire us with miftaken
notions of dignity r Why fhould he lead us from love
of ourfelves to the fiiblime emotions which thedifcovery
of his wifdom and goodnefs excites, if thefe feelings
were not fet in motion to improve our nature, of which
they make a parti, and render us capable of enjoying a
more godlike portion of happinefs ? Firmly perfuaded
that no evil exifts in the world that God did not defign
to take place, I build my belief on the perfection of
God.
* Contrary to the opinion of anatomijlsy who argue hy ana-
logy from the formation of the teeth yJiomach, and intejiines,
Rouff'eau will not allow a man to be a carnivorous animaL
Andy carried away from nature hy a love of fyjleniy he dif-
putes whether man be a gregarious animal, though the long
and helplefs fate of infancy feems to point him out as particu-
larly impelled to pair.
+ What would you fay to a mechanic whom you had deftr-
ed to make a watch to point out the hour of the dayy if to
Jhew his ingenuity, he added wheels to make it a repeater,
that perplexed the ftmple mechanifm ; fhould he urge, to ex-
cufe himfelfhad you not touched a certain fpringy you
would have known nothing of the mattery and that he fhould
have amufed himfelf by making an experiment without do-
ing you any harm: would you not retort fairly upon hinty by
injijling that if he had not added thofe needlefs wheels and
fprings, the accident could not have happened ?
Rouffeau


22 VINDICATION OF THE
Rondeau exerts himfelf to prove that all was right ori-
ginally: a crowd of authors that all is now right: and
'I, that all will'A? right.
But, true to his firft pofition, next to a date of na-
ture, Roulfeatrcelebrates barbarifm, and, apodrophiz-
irig-thedhade of-Fabricius he forgets that, in conquer-
ing the world, the Romans never dreamed of eflabl'ifhing
their own liberty on a firm bafis, or of extending the
reign of virtue. Eager to fupport his fyftem, he dig-
inatizes as vicious, every effort of genius \ and, uttering
the apotheofis of favage virtues, he exalts thofe to demi-
gods, who were fcarccly humanthe brutal Spartans,
who, in defiance of juft-ice and gratitude, facrificed, in
cold blood, the Haves who had fhewn themfelves men to
refeue their oppredbrs.
Difgufted with- artificial manners and- virtues, the
citizen of Geneva, indead of properly lifting the fubjeeft,-
threw away the wheat with the chaff, without waiting'to
inquire whether the evils which his ardent foul turned
from indignantly, were the confequence of civilization
or the vediges of barbarifm. He faw vice trampling
on virtue, and the femblance of goodnefs taking place
of the reality ; lie faw talents bent by power to finifter
purpofes, and never thought of tracing the gigantic mif-
chief up to'arbitrary power, up to the hereditary diftinc-
tions that clalh with the mental fuperiority that natu-
rally raifes a man above his fellows. He did not per-,
ceive that the regal power, in a- few generations, intro-
duces idiotifm into the noble ftem, and holds out' baits
to render thoufands idle and vicious.
Nothing can fet the regal chara&er in a more*con-
temptible point of view, than the various crimes that
have elevated men to the fupreme dignity.Vile in-
trigues, unnatural crimes, and every vice that degrades
our nature, have been the fteps to this diftinguifhed emi-
nence ; yet millions of men have fupinely allowed the
nervelefs


RIGHTS OF WOMAN. 23
nervelefs limbs of the potter it-y of fuch rapacious prow-
lers to reft quietly on their enfanguined thrones*.
What but a peftilential vapour can hover over fociety
when its chief director is oniy inftru6ted in the inventi-
on ofcrimes, or the llupicl routine of childilh ceremonies ?
Will men never be wife?will they never ceafe to ex-
pe£t corn from tares, and figs from thirties ?
It is impoflible for any man, when the mod favour-
able circumftances concur, to acquire fufficient know-
ledge and flrength of mind to di (charge the duties of a
king, entrurtecl with uncontrolled power; how then
mult they.be violated when his very elevation is an in-
fuperable bar to the attainment of either wifdom or
virtue ; when all the feelings of a man are flirted by flat-
tery, and reflection (hut.out by pleafure Surely it is
madnefs to make the fate of thoufands depend on the
caprice of a weak fellow-creature, whofe very flation
finks him neceffarily .below the meaneft of his fubje£ls !
But one power fhould not be thrown down to exalt ano-
ther-for all power intoxicates weak man ; and its
abufe proves, that the more equality there is ettablifhed
among men, the more virtue and happinefs wrtll reign
in fociety. But this, and any fimilar maxini deduced
from Ample reafon, raifes an outcrythe church or the
rtate is in danger, if faith in the wifdom of antiquity is
not implicit ; and they who, rouled by the fight of hu-
man calamity, dare to attack human authority, are re-
viled asdefpifers of God, and enemies of man. Thefe
are bitter calumnies, yet they reached one of the bed
of ment, whofe afhes (till preach peace, and whofe me-
mory demands a refpe&ful paule, when fubje&s are
difeufled that lay fo near his heart.-----
* Could there he a greater hifult offered to the rights of
7nan than the beds of jujtice in France t when an infant was
made the organ of the deieflahle Dubois !
+ Dr. Price.
After


VINDICATION OF THE
H
' After attacking the facred majefty of Kings, I fhall
fcarcely excite fiirprife by adding my firm perfuafion
that every profeffion, in which great fubordination of
rank conftitutes its power, is highly injurious to moral-
ity-
' A (landing army, for inftance, is incompatible with
freedom ; becaufe fubordination*and rigour are the ve-
ry fmews of military difcipline ; and defpotifm is necef-
fary to give vigour to enterprizes that one will directs.
A fpirit infpired by romantic notions of honour, a kind
of morality founded on the fafhion of the age, can only
be felt by a few officers, whilft the main body mud be
moved by command, like the waves of the fea ; for the
ftrong wind of authority pufhes the crowd of fubalterns
forward, they fcarcely know or care why, with headlong
fury.
Befides, nothing can be fo prejudicial to the morals
of the inhabitantsof country towns, as the occafional re-
fidence of a fet of idle fuperficial young men, whofe on-
ly occupation is gallantry, and whofe polifhed manners
render vice more dangerous, by concealing its deformi-
ty under gay ornamental drapery. An air of fafhion,
which is but a badge of flavery, and proves that the foul
has not a ftrong individual charadter, awes fimple coun-
try people into an imitation of the vices, when they can-
not catch the flippery graces, of politenefs. Every corps
is a chain of def'pots, who, fubmitting and tyrannizing
without exercifing their reafon, become dead weights of
vice and folly on the community. A man of rank or
fortune, fure of rifing by intereft, has nothing to do but
to purfue fome extravagant freak ; whilft the needy gen-
tJeman, who is to rife, as the phrafe turns, by his merit,
becomes a fervile parafite or vile pander.
Sailors, the naval gentlemen, come under the fame
defeription, only their vices affiime a different and a
groffer caft. They are more pofitively indolent, when
not difeharging the ceremonials of their ftation \ whilft
the


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
*5
the infignificant fluttering of foldiers may be termed
adlive idlenefs. More confined to the fociety of men,
the former acquire a fondnefs for humour and mifchiev-
ous tricks; whilft the latter, mixing frequently with
well-bred women, catch a fentimental cant.But mind
is equally out of the queftion, whether they indulge the
horfe-laugh, or polite fimper.
May I be allowed to extend the companion to a pro-
feflion, where more mind is certainly to be found ; for
the clergy have fuperior opportunities of improvement,
though fubordination almod equally cramps their facul-
ties? The blind fubmiffion impofcd at college to forms
of belief ferves as a novitiate to the curate, who moft ob-
fequioully refpedl the opinion of his redtor or patron, if
he means to rife in his profeflion. Perhaps there cannot
be a more forcible contrail: than between the fervile de-
pendent gait of a poor curate and the courtly mien of a
bifhop. And the refpedl and contempt they infpire ren-
der the difeharge of their feparate functions equally ufe-
lefs.
It is of great importance to obferve that the charadler
of every man is, in fome degree, fornied by his profefli-
on. A man of fenfc may only have a caft of counte-
nance that wears off as you trace his individuality, whilft
the weak, common man has fcarcely ever any charadler,
but what belongs to the body; at lead, all his opinions
have been fo deeped in the vat confecrated by authority,
that the faint fpirit which the grape of his own vine
yields cannot be didinguifhed.
Society, therefore, as it becomes more enlightened,
fhould be very careful not to edablifh bodies of men who
mud neceflarily be made foolilh or vicious by the very
conditution of their profeflion.
In the infancy of fociety, when men were jud emerg-
ing out of barbarifm, chiefs and prieds, touching the
mod powerful fprings offavage condudl, hope and fear,
mud have had unbounded fway. An aridocracy, of
C courfc
^


26
VINDICATION OF THE
courfe, is naturally the firft form of government. But,
clafliing interefts foon loling their equipoife, a monarchy
and hierarchy break out of the confufion of ambitious
ftruggles, and the foundation of both is feeured by feudal
tenures. This appears to be the origin of monarchical
and prieftly power, and the dawn of civilization. But
fuch combuftible materials cannot long be pent up ; and,
getting vent in foreign wars and inteftine infurredions,
the people acquire fome power in the tumult, which
obliges their rulers to glofs over their oppreflion with a
fhew of right. Thus, as wars, agriculture, commerce,
. and literature, expand the mind, defpots are compelled,
to make covert corruption hold faff the power which,
was-formerly fnatched by open force*. And this bane-
ful lurking gangrene is molt quickly fpread by luxury
and fuperftition, the fure dregs of ambition. The in-
dolent puppet of a court firft becomes a luxurious mon-
fter, or faftidious fenfualift, and then makes the contagi-
on which his unnatural ftate fpread, the inftrument of
tyranny.
It is the pefliferous purple which renders the progrefs
of civilization a curfe, and warps the underftanding, till
men of fenfibility doubt whether the expanfion of intel-
Ie£t produces a greater portion of happinefs or mifery.
But the nature of the poifon points out the antidote;
and had Roufleau mounted one ftep higher in hisinvef-
tigation, or could his eye have pierced through the foggy
atmofphere, which he almoft difdained to breathe, his
a&ive mind would have darted forward to contemplate
the perfe&ion of man in the eftablilhment of true civi-
lization, inftead of taking his ferocious flight back to
the night offenfual ignorance.
* Men of abilities feetter feeds that grow up and have a
great influence on the forming opinion ; and when once the
^public opinion preponderates, through the exertion of reafon,
the overthrow of arbitrary power is noi very diflant.


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
2?
CHAP. II.
The prevailing opinion of a fexual character difcuffed.
TO account for, and excufe the tyranny of man, ma>-
ny ingenious arguments have been brought forward
to prove, that the two fexes, in the acquirement of vir-
tue, ought to aim at attaining a very different charac-
ter: or, to fpeak explicitly, women are not allowed to
have fufficient ftrength of mind to acquire what really
deferves the name of virtue. Yet it fhould feem, allow-
ing them to have fouls, that there is but one way ap-
pointed by Providence to lead mankind to either virtue
or happinefs.
If then women are nota fwarm ofephemeron triflers,
why fhould they be kept in ignorance under tlte fpecious
name of innocence ? Men complain, and with reafon*
of the foMies and caprices of our fex, when they do not
keenly fatirize our headftrong paflions and groveling
vices.Behold, I fhould anfwer, the natural effeCt of
ignorance! The mind will ever be unllable that has
only prejudices to reft on, and the current will run with
definitive fury when there are no barriers to break its
force. Women are told from their infancy, and taught
by the example of their mothers, that a little knowledge
of human weaknefs, juftly termed cunning, foftnefs of
temper, outward obedience, and a fcrupulous attention
to a puerile kind of propriety, will obtain for them the
protection of man; and fhould they be beautiful, every
thing elfe is needlefs, for, at leall, twenty years of their
lives.
Thus Milton defcribes our firfl frail mother ; though
when he tells us that women are formed for foftnefs and
fweet attractive grace, I cannot comprehend his mean-
ing, unlefs, in the true Mahometan {train, he meant to
deprive us of fouls, and infinuate that we were beings
only defigned by fweet attractive: grace, and docile blind
C Z obedience,,


VINDICATION OF THE
28
obedience, to gratify the fenfes of man when he-can no
longer foar on the wing of contemplation.
How grofsly do they infult us who thus advife us on-
ly to render ourfelves gentle, domedic brutes! For in-
ftance, the winning foftnefs fo warmly, and frequently,
recommended, that governs by ,obeying. What child-
ifh exprellions, and how infignificant is the being----
can it be an immortal one? who will condefcend to go-
vern by fuch funder methods! Certainly, fays Lord
Bacon, man is of kin to the beads by his body ; and if
* he be not of kin to God by his fpirit, he is a bafeand
* ignoble creature! Men, indeed, appear to me to aCi
in a very unphilofophicai manner when they try to fe-
cure the good conduCt of women by attempting to keep
them always in a date of childhoods Roulleau was
more confident when he wifiled to flop the progrcfs of
reafon in both fexes, for if men eat of the tree of know*-
ledge, women will come in for a tafte; but, from the im-
perfect cultivation which their underftandings now re-
ceive, they only attain a knowledge of evil.
Children, I grant, fhould be innocent; but when the
epithet is applied to men, or women, it is but a civil
term for weaknefs. For if it be allowed that women
were deftined by Providence to acquire human virtues,
and by theexercife of their underftandings, that {labili-
ty of character which is the firmed: ground to red our
future hopes upon, they mud be permitted to turn to the
fountain of light, and not forced to ibape their courfe by
the twinkling of a mere fatellite, Milton, I grant, was
of a verv different opinion; for he only bends to the
indeafeafible right of beauty, though it would be difficult
to render two paifages which I now mean to contraft,
confident. But into fimilar inconfidencies are great
men often led by their fenfes.
i To whom thus Eve with perfeCt beauty adorn'd.
* My Author and Difpofery what thou bid ft
Unargued


RIGHTS OF WOMAN-
29
4 Unargued I obey ; fo God ordains;
*' God is thy law, thou mine: to know no more
4 Is Woman's happieft knowledge and her praife.*
Thefe are exadlly the arguments that I have ufed to
children; but I have added, your reafon is now gaining
Itrength, and, till it arrives at forne degree of maturity,
you mull look up to me for advicethen you ought to
thinks and only rely on God.
Yet in the following lines Milton feerns to coincide
with me; when he makes Adam thus expoftulate with
his Maker.
* Hajl thou not made me here thy fuhjlitute
4 And thefe inferior far beneath me fetP
4 Among unequals what fociety
t 4 Can forty what harmony or true delight P
4 Which mufl be mutual, in proportion due
4 Giv'n and receiv'd; but in difparity
^ The one intenfe> the other fitll remifs
4 Cannot wellfnit with either, but foon prove
4 Tedious alike: tf/Tellowihip Ifpeak
4 Such as I feeky jit to participate
* All rational delight
In treating, therefore, of the manners of womeni let'
us, difregarding fenfual arguments, trace what we fhould
endeavour to make them in order to co-operate, if the
exprellion be not too bold, with the Supreme Being.
By individual education, I mean, for the fenfe of the
word is not precifely defined, fuch an attention to a child
as will flowly (harpen the fenfes, form the temper, regu-
late the paflions, as they begin to ferment, and fet the
underftanding to work before the body arrives at matu-
rity; fo that the man may only have to proceed, not to
begin, the important talk of learning to think and rea-
fon.
c 3 '
To


3
VINDICATION OF THE
To prevent any mifconftrudion, I mud add, that I
do not believe that a private education can work the
wonders which fome fanguine writers have attnbutedto
it. Men and women muft be educated, in a great de-
gree, by the opinions and manners of. the fociety they
live in In every age there has been a ftream of popu*r
lar opinion that has carried all before it, and given a fa-
mily charader, as it were, to the century.. jTmay then
fairly be inferred, that, till fociety be differently confti-
tuted, much cannot be expeded from education. It is,
however, fufficient for my prefent purpofe to affert,
that, whatever effed circumftances have on the abilities,
every being may become virtuous by the exercife of its
own reafon ; for if but one being was created with vici-
ous inclinations, that is pofitively. bad5 what can fave:
us from atheifm? or if we worfhip a God, is not that
God a devil ?
Confeqnently, the mod perfed education, in my opi-
nion, is fuch an exercife of the underftanding as is bed
calculated to ftrengthen the body and form the >heart.
Or, in other words, to enable the individual to attain
fuch habits of virtue*as will-render it independent. In
fad, it is a farce to call any being virtuous whofe vir-
tues do not refult from :the exercife of its own reafon.
This was Roufleaus opinion refpeding men: I extend
it to women, and confidently affert that they have been,
drawn out of their fphere by falfe refinement, and not
-by an endeavour to acquire mafculine qualities. Still,
the regal homage which they ..receive is fb intoxicating,,
that till the manners of the times are changed, and
formed on more reasonable principles, it may be impof-
fible to convince them that the illigitimate power which
they obtain, by degrading themfelves, is a curfe, and
that they muft return to nature and equality, if they
wifh to fecurethe placid fatisfadion that unfophiftieated
affedions impart. Rut for this epoch we muft wait.
waif, perhaps, till kings and nobles, enlightened by rea-


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
31
fon, and, preferring the real dignity of man to childifli
ftate, throw off their gaudy hereditary trappings : and if
then women do not refign the arbitrary power of beau-
tythey will prove that they have lefs mind than man.
I may be accufed of arrogance; ltill I muff declare*
what I firmly believe, that all the writers who have
written on the fubjedt of female education and manners*
from Rouffeau to Dr. Gregory, have contributed to ren-
der women more artificial, weak characters, than they
would otherwife have been; and, consequently, more
ufelefs members of fociety. I might have expreffed this
eonvidtion in a lower key* but I am afraid it would
have been the whine of affectation, and not the faithful
expreflion of my feelings, of the clear refult, which ex-
perience and reflexion have led me to draw. When I
come to that divifion of the fubjedt, I fhall advert to the
paffages that I more particularly difapprove of, in the
works of the Authors 1 have juft alluded to* but it is
firft neceffary to obferve, that my objedtion extends to
the whole purport of thofe books, which tend, in my
opinion, to degrade one half of the human fpecies, and
render women pleafing at the expence of every folid vir-
tue.
Though, to reafon on Rouffeaus ground, if man did
attain a degree of perfection of mind when his body ar-
rived at maturity, it might be proper, in order to make a
man and his wife one, that fhe ftiould rely entirely on his
underftanding; and the graceful ivy, ciafping the oak
that Supported it, would form a whole in which ftrength
and beauty would be equally confpicuous. But, alas!
hufbands, as well as their helpmates, are often only over-
grown children; nay, thanks to early debauchery, fcarce-
ly men in their outward formand if the blind lead the
blind, one need not come from heaven to tell us the con-
fequence.
Many are the caufes that, in the prefent corrupt ftate
of fociety, contribute to enflave women by cramping
their


32
VINDICATION OF THE
their underftandings and fharpening their fenfes. One,,
perhaps, that fiiently does more mifchief than all the
reft, is their difregard of order.
To do every thing in an orderly manner, is a moft im-
portant precept, which women, who, generally fpeak-
ing, receive only a diforderly kind of education, feldom
attend to with that degree of exa&nefs that men, who
from their infancy are broken into method, obferve.
This negligent kind of guefs-work, for what other
epithet can be ufed to point out the random exertions of
a fort of inftin6tive common fenfe, never brought to the
teft of reafonr prevents their generalizing matters of
fa£tfo they do to-day, what they did yefterday, mere-
ly becaufe they did it yefterday.
This contempt of the underftanding in early life has
more baneful confequences than is commonly fuppofed
for the little knowledge which women of ftrong minds
attain, is, from various circumftances, of a more deful-
tory kind than the knowledge of men, anJ it is acquired
more by flieer obfervations on real life, than from com-
paring what has been individually obferved with the re-
fults of experience generalized by fpeculation. Led by
their dependent fituation and domeftic employments
more into fociety, what they learn is rather by fnatches;
and as learning is with them, in general, only a feconda-
ry thing, they do not purfue any one branch with that
perfevering ardour neceftary to give vigour to the facul-
ties, and clearnefs to the judgment. In the prefent ftate
of fociety, a little learning is required to fupport the
charafter of a gentleman; and boys-are obliged to fub-
mitto a few years of difeipline. But in the education
of women, the cultivation of the underftanding is always
fubordinate to the acquirement of fome corporeal ac-
complilhment; even while enervated by confinement
, aijd falfe notions ofmodefty, the body is prevented from
attaining that grace and beauty which relaxed half-form-
ed limbs never exhitrit. Befides, in youth their facul-


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
33
ties are not brought forward by emulation ; and having
no ferious fcientific ftudy,. if they have natural fagacity
it is turned too foon on life and manners. They dwell
on efleCls, and modifications, without tracing them back
to caufes ; and complicated rules to adjuft behaviour, are
a weak fubftitute for fimple principles.
As a proof that education gives this appearance of
weaknefs to females, we may inftance the example of
military men, who are, like them, fent into the world
before their minds have been flored with knowledge or
fortified by principles. The confequences are fimilar ;
foldiers acquire a little fuperficial knowledge, fnatched
from the muddy current of converfation, and, from con-
tinually mixing with fociety, they gain, what is termed
a knowledge of the world; and this acquaintance with
manners and cuftoms has frequently been confounded
with a knowledge of the hurfian heart. But can the
crude fruit of cafual obfervation, never brought to the
teft of judgment, formed by comparing fpeculation and
experience, deferve fuch a diftinCtion ? Soldiers, as well
women, pra&ife the minor virtues with punctilious po-
litenefs. Where is then the fexual difference, when the
education has been the fame ? All the difference that I
can difcern, arifes from the fuperior advantage of liber-
ty, which enables the former to fee more of life.
It is wandering from my prefent fubjeCt perhaps, to
make a political remark* but, as it was produced natu-
rally by the train of my reflections, I fhall not pafs it fi-
lently over.
Standing armies can never confift of refolute, robuft
men ; they may be well difciplined machines, but they
will feldom contain men under the influence of ftrong
paflions, or with very vigorous faculties. And as for
any depth of underflanding, I will venture to affirm, that
it is as rarely to be found in the army as amongft wo-
men ; and the caufe, I maintain, is the fame. It may
be further obferved, that officers are alfo particularly at-
tentive


34
VINDICATION OF THE
tcntive to their perfons, fond of dancing, crowded rooms'*
adventures, and ridicule*. Like the fair fex, the bufi-
nefs of their lives is gallantry.They were taught to
pleafe, and they only live to pleafe. Yet they do not
lofe their rank in the diftin&ion of fexes, for they are
ft ill reckoned fuperior to women, though in what their
fuperiority confifts, beyond what I have juft mentioned,
it is difficult to difcover.
The great misfortune is this, that they both acquire
manners before morals, and a knowledge of life before,
they have, from reflection, any acquaintance with the
grand ideal outline of human nature. The confequence
is natural; fatisfied with common nature, they become
a prey to prejudices, and taking all their opinions on
credit, they blindly fubmit to authority. So that, if they
have any fenfe, it is a kind of inftindtive glance, that
catches proportions, and decides with refpeCfc to man-
ners ; but fails when arguments are to be purfued below*
the furface, or opinions analyzed.
May not the fame remark be applied to women ?
Nay, the argument may be carried (till further, for they
are both thrown out of a ufeful ftation by the unnatural
diftin&ions eftabliflied in civilized life. Riches and he-
reditary honours have made cyphers of women to give
confequence to the numerical figure ; and idlenefs has
produced a mixture of gallaratry and defpotifm into fo-
ciety, which leads the very men who are the flaves of
their miftrefles to tyrannize over their lifters, wives, and
daughters. This is only keeping them in rank and file,
it is true. Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it,
and there will be an end to blind obedience; but, as
blind obedience is ever fought for by power, tyrants and.
# Why Jhouid women le cenfured with petulant acrimony
lecaufe theyfeem- to have a paffion for a fcarlet coat ? Has
not education placed them more on a level with foldiers than
any other clafs of men ?
fenfualilts.


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
35
fenfualifts are in the right when they endeavour to keep
women in the dark, becaufe the former only want Haves,
and the latter a play-thing. The fenfualift, indeed, has
been the moft dangerous of tyrants, and women have
been duped by their lovers, as princes by their minifters,
whilft dreaming that they reigned over them.
I now principally allude to Rouffeau, for his charac-
ter of Sophia is, undoubtedly, a captivating one, though
it appears to me grofsly unnatural; however, it is not
the fuperftrufture, but the foundation of her chara&er,
the principles on which her education was built, that I
mean to attack ; nay, warmly as I admire the genius of
that able writer, whofe opinions I fhall often haveocca-
fion to cite, indignation always takes place of admira-
tion, and the rigid frown of infulted virtue effaces the
fmile of complacency, which his eloquent periods are
wont to raife, when I read his voluptuous reveries. Is
this the man, who, in his ardour for virtue, would banilh
all the foft arts of peace, and almofl carry us back to
Spartan difcipliner Is this the man who delights to
paint the ufeful druggies of pafiion, the triumphs of
good difpofltions, and the heroic flights which carry the
glowing foul out o.fitfelfrHow are thefe mighty fen-
timents lowered when he defcribes the pretty foot and
enticing airs of his little favourite! But, for the prefent,
I wave the fubjedf, and, inftead of feverely reprehend-
ing the tranfient effufions of overweening fenfibility, I
fhall only obferve, that whoever has caft a benevolent
eye on fociety, muft often have been gratified by the
fight of humble mutual love, not dignified by feritiment,
nor ftrengthened by a union in intelle&ual purfuits.
The domeftic trifles of the day have afforded matter for
cheerful converfe, and innocent carelfes have foftened
toils which did not require great exercife of mind or
ftretch of thought: yet, has not the fight of this mode-
rate felicity excited more tendernefs than refpeft ? An
emotion fimilar to what we feel when children are play-


VINDICATION OF THE
36
ing, or animals {porting*, whiift the contemplation oF
the noble ftruggles of fufFering merit has raifed admira-
tion, and carried our thoughts to that world where fen-
fation will give place to reafon.
Women are, therefore, to be confidered either as
moral beings, or fo weak that they muft be entirely fub-
je£led to the fuperior faculties of men.
Let us examine this queftion. Roufteau declares that
a woman fihould never, for a moment, feel herfelf inde-
pendent, that (he'fhould be governed by fear to exercife
her natural cunning, and made a coquetifti Have in order
to render her a more alluring object of defire, a fiveeter
companion to man, whenever he choofes to relax him-l
felf. He carries the arguments, which he pretends to
draw from the indications of nature, ftill further, and
infinuates that truth and fortitude, the corner ftones of
all human .virtue, fhall be cultivated with certain re-
ftri&ions; becaufe, with refpefl to the female charac-
ter, obedience is the grand leffon which ought to be im-
preffed with unrelenting rigour.
What nonfenfe! when will a great man arife with
fufficient ftrength of mind to puff away the fumes which
pride and fenfuality have thus fpread over the fubjeft!
If women are by nature inferior to men, their virtues
muft be the fame in quality, if not in degree, or virtue
is a relative idea; confequently, their conduft fliould
* Similar feelings has Milton s pleafmg pi Slur e of para-
dijiacal happinefs evei raifed in my mind; yet, inf ead of en-
vying the lovely pair, 1 have, with confcious dignity, or Satanic
pride, turned to hell for fublimer objeSls. In the fame fyley
when viewing fome noble monument of human arty I have
traced the emanation of the Deity in the order I admired, ////,
defending from that giddy height, I have caught my felf con?,
templating the grandef of all humanfghts for fancy quick-
ly placed, in fome folitary recefst an outcafi of fortune, rifng
fuperior to pajfton and difcontent.
be


RIGHTS OF WOMAN,
37
be founded on the fame principles, and have the fame
aim.
Connefted with man as daughters, wives, and mo-
thers, their moral character may be eftimated by their
manner of fulfilling thofe fimple duties; but the end,
the grand end of their exertions lhould be to unfold their
own faculties, and acquire the dignity of confcious vir-
tue. They may try to render their road pleafant; but
ought never to forget, in common with man, that life
yields not the felicity which can fatisfy an immortal
foul. I do not mean to infinuate, that either fex fhould
be fo loft in abftraft reflections or diftant views, as to
forget the affections and duties that lie before them, and
are, in truth, the means appointed to produce the fruit
of life ; on the contrary, 1 would warmly recommend
them, even while I aftert, that they afford moft fatisfac-
tion when they are confidered in their true fubordinate
%ht-
Probably the prevailing opinion, that woman was
created for man, may have taken its rife from Mofess
poetical ftory ; yet, as very few, it is prefumed, who
have beftowed any ferious thought on the fubjeft, ever
fuppofed that Eve was, literary (peaking, one of Adams
ribs, the deduction mud be allowed to fall to the
ground; or, only be fo faradmitted as it proves that man,
from the remoteft antiquity, found it convenient to ex-
ert his ftrength to fubjugate his companion, and his in-
vention to lhew that the ought to have her neck bent un-
der the yoke; becaufe (lie, as well as the brute creation,
was created to do his pleafure.
Let it not be concluded that I vvifh to invert the or-
~der of things ; I have already granted, that, from the
conftitution of their bodies, men feem to be defigned by
Providence to attain a greater degree of virtue. I fpeak
collectively of the whole fex; but I fee not the fhadow
of a reafon to conclude that their virtues fhould differ in
refpeft to their nature. In fa ft, how can they, if virtue
D has


VINDICATION OF THE
has only one eternal ftandard ? I muft therefore, if I
reafon confequentially, as flrenuoufly maintain that they
have the fame fimple diredtion, as that there is a God.
It follows then that cunning ihould not be oppofed to
wifdom, little cares to great exertions, nor infipid foft-
nefs, varniihed over with the name ofgentlenefs, to that
fortitude which grand views alone can infpire.
I Ihall be told that woman would then lofe many of
her peculiar graces, and the opinion of a well known po-
et might be quoted to refute my unqualified alTertion.
For Pope has faid, in the name of the whole male fex,
Tet ne'erfo Jure our p affiant o create,
( As when foe touch'd the brink of all we hate.9
In what light this Tally places men and women, I
{hall leave to the judicious to determine ; meanwhile I
{hall content myfelf with obferving, that I cannot dis-
cover why, unlefs they are mortal, females Ihould al-
ways be degraded by being made fubfervient to love or
luft.
To fpeak difrefpe&fully of love is, I know, high
treafon againft fentitnent and fine feelings ; but I vvilh
to fpeak the fimple language of truth, and rather to ad-
d'refs the head than the heart. To endeavour to reafon
love out of the world, would be to out Quixote Cer-
vantes, and equally offend againft common fenfe ; but
an endeavour to reftrain this tumultuous pafiion, and to
prove that it Ihould not be allowed to dethrone fuperior
powers, or to ufurp the fceptre which the underitand-
ing ihould ever coolly wield, appears lefs wild.
Youth is the feafon for love in both fexes } but in
thofe days of thoughtlefs enjoyment provifion ihould be
made for the more important years of life, when reflec-
tion takes place of fen fat ion. But Roufieau, and molt
of the male writers who have followed his fteps, have
warmly inculcated that the whole tendency of female
education


RIGHTS OF WOMAN# 39
education ought to be directed to one point:to render
them pleafing.
Let me reafon with the fupporters of this opinion
who have any knowledge of human nature, do they ima-
gine that marriage can eradicate the habitude of life ?
The woman who has only been taught to pleafe will foon
find that her charms are oblique funbeams, and that they
cannot have much effect on her hufbands heart when
they are feen every day, when the fummer is patted and
gone. Will (he then have fufficient native energy to
look into herfelf for comfort, and cultivate her dormant
faculties ? or, is it not more rational to expe£t that (he
will try to pleafe other men ; and, in the emotions rail-
ed by the expe&ation of new conquefts, endeavour to
"forget the mortification her love or pride has received ?
When the hufband ceafes to be a loverand the time
will inevitably come, her defire of pleafing will then
grow languid, or become a fpring of bitternefs ; and
love, perhaps, the mod evanefcenl of all paflions, gives
place to jealoufy or vanity.
1 now fpeak of women who are rettrained by princi-
ple or prejudice; fuch women, though they would
fhrink from an intrigue with real abhorrence, yet, ne-
verthelefs, wifh to be convinced by the homage of gaL
lantry that they are cruelly neglected by their hufbands ;
or, days and weeks are fpent in dreaming of the happi-
nefs enjoyed by congenial fouls, till the health is under-
mined and the (pints broken by difcontent. How then
can the great art of pleafing be fuch a necettary ftudy ?
it is only ufeful to a nuftrefs ; the chafte wife, and feri-
ous mother, fhould only confider her power to pleafe as
the polifh of her virtues, and the afFeSion of her huf-
band as one of the comforts that render her talk lefs dif-
ficult, and her life happier.But, whether (lie be loved
or neglected, her firft wilh fhould be to make herfelf re-
adable, and not to rely for all her happincfs on a be-
ing fubjed to like infirmities with herfelf.
The


VINDICATION OF THE
/O
The amiable Dr. Gregory fell into a fimilar erroj'.
1 refpefl: his heart ; but entirely difapprove of his cele-
brated Legacy to his Daughters.
He advifes them to cultivate a fondnefs for drefs, be-
carde a fondnefs for drefs, he aflerts, is natural to them.
I am unable to comprehend what either he or Roufleau
mean, when they frequently ufe this indefinite term.
If thev told us that1 in a pre-exiftent date the foul was
fond ofdrefs, and brought this inclination with it into a
new body, I (houlci liften to them with a half-fmile, as I
often do. when I hear a rant about innate elegance.---
But if he only meant to fay that the exercife of the fa-
culties will produce this fondnefsI deny it.It is not
natural ; butarifes, like falfe ambition in men, from a
love of power.
Dr. Gregory goes much further; he adually recom-
mends diffimulation, and advifes an innocent girl to give
the lie to her feelings, and not dance with fpirit, when
gaiety of heart would make her feet eloquent without
making hergeftures immodelL In the name of truth
and common fenfe, why fhould not one woman acknow-
ledge that (lie can take more exercife than another ? or,
in other words, that fhe has a found conftitution ; and
why, to damp innocent vivacity, is fhe darkly to be told
that men will draw conclufions which fhe little thinks
ofrLet the libertine draw what inference he pleafes ;
but, I hope, that no fenfible mother will reftrain the na-
tural franknefs of youth by inftilling fuch indecent cau-
tions. Out of the abundance of the heart the month
fpeaketh ; and a wifer than Solomon hath faid, that the
heart lhould be made clean, and not trivial ceremonies
obferved, which it is not very difficult to fulfil with fcru-
pulous exaftnefs when vice reigns in the heart.
Women ought to endeavour to purify their hearts ;
but can they do fo when their uncultivated underfiand-
ings make them entirely dependent on their fenfes for
employment and amufement, when no noble purfuits
fets


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.-
4T
fets them above the little vanities of the day, or enables
them to curb the wild emotions that agitate a reed over
which every pafiing breeze has power ? To gain the af-
fections ofa virtuous man is affe&ation necelfary ? Na-
ture has given woman a. weaker frame than man ; but,
to enfure her hufbands affections, muft a wife, who
by the exercife of her mind and body whiift lhe was
difcharging the duties of a daughter, wife, and mother,
has allowed her conflitution to retain its natural ftrength,
and her nerves a healthy tone, is the, I fay, to conde-
fcend, to ufe art and feign a fickly delicacy in order to
fecure her hufband?s affeCtion? Weaknefs may excite
tendernefs, and gratify the arrogant pride of man; but
the lordlefs careffes of a proteCtor will not gratify a no-
ble mind that pants for, and deferves to be ref peeled;
Fondnefs is a poor fubftitute for friendfhip!
In aferaglio, I grant, that all thefe arts are neceffa-
ry ; the epicure mult have his palate tickled, or he will
fink into apathy;, but have women fo-little ambition as
to be fatisfied with fuch a condition ? Can they fupine-
ly dream life away in the lap of pleafure, or the laugour
of wearinefs, rather than affert their claim to purfue rea-
fonable pleafures, and render themfelves conspicuous by
praCtifing the virtues which dignify mankind r Surely
lhe has not an immortal foul who can loiter life away
merely employed to adorn her perfon, that (lie may a-
mufe the languid hours, and foften the cares of a fellow-
creature who is willing to be enlivened by her fmiles
and tricks, when theferious bufinefs of life is over..
Befides, the woman who ftrengthens her body and:
exercifes her mind will, by managing her family and
praftifing various virtues, become the friend, and not
the humble dependent of her hufband, and if (he de-
ferves his regard by poffefiing fuch fubftantial qualities,,
fhe will not find it necelfary to conceal her affeCtion,
nor to pretend to an unnatural coldnefs of conflitution
to excite her hufbands pallions. In faCt, if we revert
D 3 to


42
VINDICATION OF THE
to hiftory, we fhall find that the women who have dif-
tinguifhed themfelves have neither been the moft beau-
ful nor the moft gentle of their fex.
Nature, or, to fpeak with ftriCt propriety God, has
made all things right; but man has fought him out ma-
ny inventions to mar the work. I now allude to that
part of Dr. Gregorys treatife, where he advifes a wife
never to let her hufband know the extent of her fenfibi-
Jity or affection. Voluptuous precaution, and as inef-
fectual as abfurd.Love, from its very nature, muft be
tranfitory. To feek for a fecret that would render it
conftant, would be as wild a fearch as for the philofo-
phers ftone, or the grand panacea : and the difcovery
would be equally ufelefs, or rather pernicious, to man-
kind. The moft holy band of fociety is friendfhip. It
has been well faid, by a fhrewd fatirift, that rare as
true love is, true friendfhip is ftill rarer.
This is an obvious truth, and the caufe not lying deep,
will not elude a flight glance of inquiry.
Love, the common paftion,in which chance and fen-
fat ion take place of choice and reafon, is, in fome de-
dree, felt by the mafs of mankind ; for it is not necef-
fary to fpeak, at prefent, of the emotions that rife above
or fink below love. This paflion, naturally increafed by
fufpenfe and difficulties, draws the mind out of its ac-
cuftomed ftate, and exalts the affeCtions; but the fecuri-
ty of marriage, allowing the fever of love to fubfide, a
healthy temperature is thought infipid, only by thofe
who have not fufficient intellect to fubftitute the calm
tendernefs of friendfhip, the confidence of refpe.Ct, in-
ftead of blind admiration, and the fenfual emotions of
fondnefs.
This is, muft be, the courfe of nature:friendfhip or
indifference inevitably fucceeds love.And this confti-
tution feems perfectly to harmonize with the fyftem of
government which prevails in the moral world. Paf-
lions are fpurs to aCtion, and open the mind; but they


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
43
fink into mere appetites, become a perfonal and moment*
ary gratification, when the objeCt is gained, and the fa-
tisfied mind refts in enjoyment. The man who had
fome virtue whilft he was ftruggling for a crown, often
becomes a voluptuous tyrant when it graces his brow;
and, when the lover is not loft in the hufband, the do-
tard, a prey to ehildifti caprices, and fond jealoufies, ne-
gleCts the ferious duties of life, and the carefles which
ihould excite confidence in his children are lavifhed on
the overgrown child, his wife.
In order to fulfil the duties of life, and to be able to
purfue with vigour the various employments which form
the moral character, a matter and miftrefs of a family
ought not to continue to love each other with paflion.
I mean to fay, that they ought not to indulge thofe emo-
tions which difturb the order of fociety, and engrofs the
thoughts that 'ihould be otherwife employed. The
mind that has never been engrofled by one objeft wants
vigourif it can long be fo, it is weak.
A miftaken education, a narrow, uncultivated mind*
and many fexual prejudices, tend to make women more
conftant than men ; but, for the prefent, I (hall not
touch on this branch of the fubjeCt. I will go ft ill
further, and advance, without dreaming of a paradox*
that an unhappy marriage is often very advantageous to
a family, and that the negleCted wife is, in general, the
beft mother. And this would almoft always be the con-
ference if the female mind was more enlarged: for, it
feems to be the common difpenfation of Providence,
that what we gain in prefent enjoyment fhould be de-
ducted from the treafure of life, experience; and that
when we are gathering the flowers of the day and revel-
ling in pleafure,the folid fruit of toil and wifdom fhould
not be caught at the fame time. The way lies before
us, we mutt turn to the right or left; and he who will
pafs life away in bounding from one pleafure to another,
muft


VINDICATION OF THE
44
muft not complain if he neither acquires wifdom nor .
refpe&ability of character. 1
Suppofing, for a moment, that the foul is not immor-
tal, and that man was only created for the prefent fcene,
I think we (hould have reafon to complain that love, <
infantine fondnefs, ever grew infipid and palled upon. >
the fenfe. Let us eat, drink, and love, for to-morrow
we die, would be, in fa£t, the language of reafon, the :
morality of life ; and who but a fool would part with a j
reality for a fleeting fhadow ? But, if awed by obferving^
the improvable powers of the mind, we difdain to con- i
fine our wifhes or thoughts to fuch a comparatively
mean field of aftion ; that only appears grand and im-
portant,, as it is connefled with a boundlefs profpedl and
fublitrie hopes, what neceflity is there for falfehood in
condudt, and why mufl: the facred majefly of truth be
violated to detain a deceitful good that Taps the very
foundation of virtue? Why mult the female mind be
tainted by coquetifti arts to gratify the fenfualid, and>
prevent love from fubfiding into friendlhip, or compaf- i
donate tendernefs, when there are not qualities on which ; \
friendfhip can be built ? Let the honed heart (hew it- ,
felf, and reafon teach paflion to fubmit to neceflity ; or,, '
let the dignified purfuit of virtue and knowledge'raife
the mind above thofe emotions which rather imbitter
than fweeten the cup of life, when they are not redrain-
ed within due bounds.
I do not mean to allude to the romantic paflion, which < ;
is the concomitant of genius.Who can clip its wing? '
But that grand paflion not proportioned to the puny en-
joyments of life,is only true to the fentiment, and feeds
on itfelf. The paflions which have been celebrated for
their durability have always been unfortunate. They
have acquired drength by abfence and conditutional me-
lancholy.The fancy has hovered round a form of
beauty dimly feenbut familiarity might have turned
admiration into difguftj. or, at lead, inTo indifference,
ancf


RIGHTS F WOMAN.
45
and allowed the imagination leifure to dart frefh game*
With perfe£t propriety, according to this view of things,
does Rouflfeau make the midrefs of his foul, Eloifa, love
St. Preux, when life was fading before her ; but this is
no proof of the immortality of the paffion.
Of the fame complexion is Dr. Gregorys advice re-
fpediing delicacy of fentiment, which he advifes a wo-
man not to acquire, if fhe has determined to marry.
This determination, however, perfe£tly confident with
his former advice, he calls indelicate, and earneftly per-
fuades his daughters to conceal it, though it may govern
their condufl:: as if it were indelicate to have the com-
mon appetites of human nature.
Noble morality and confident with the cautious
prudence of a little foul that cannot extend its views be-
yond the prefent minute divifion of exiftence. If all
the faculties of womans mind are only to be cultivated
as they refpedt her dependence on man; if, when fhe
obtains a hufband fhe has arrived atrfier goal, and mean-
ly proud is fatisfied with fuch a paltry crown, let her
grovel contentedly, fcarcely raifed by her employments
above the animal kingdom; but, if fhe is druggling for
the prize of her high calling, let her cultivate her under-
danding without flopping to confider what character
the hufband may have whom fhe is deftined to marry.
Let her only determine, without being too anxious
about prefent happinefs, to acquire the qualities that
ennoble a rational being, anc( a rough inelegant huf-
band may fhock her tade without dedroying her peace
of mind. She will not model her foul to fuit the frail-
ties of her companion, but to bear with them: his cha-
radler may be a trial, but not an impediment to virtue.
If Dr. Gregory confined his remark to romantic ex-'
peflations of condant love and congenial feelings, he
ihould have recolle&ed that experience will banifh what
advice can never make us ceafe to wifh for, when the
imagination is kept alive at the expence of reafon.
X own


4&
VINDICATION OF THE
I own It frequently happens that women who have
foftered a romantic unnatural delicacy of feeling, wafte
their*lives in imagining how happy they fhould have
been with ahufband who could love them with a fervid
increafing affe&ion every day, and all day. But they
might as well pine married as fingleand would not be
a jot more unhappy with a bad hufband than longing
for a good one. That a proper education; or, to fpeak
with more precifion, a well ftored mind, would enable
a woman to fupport a fingle life with dignity, I grant;
but that fhe fhould avoid cultivating her tafte, left her
hufband fhould occafionally fhock it, is quitting a fubr
ftance for a fhadow. To fay the truth, I do not know
of what ufe is an improved tafte, if the individual is not
rendered more independent of the cafualties of life; if
new fourcesof enjoyment, only dependent on the folitary
operations of the mind, are not opened. People of tafte,
married or fingle, without diftinftion, will ever be dif-
gufted by various things that touch not lefs obferving
minds. On this conclulion the argument muft not be
allowed to hinge ; but in the whole fum of enjoyment
is tafte to be denominated a blefling t
The queftion is, whether it procures mod pain or
pleafure ? The anfwer will decide the propriety of Dr.
Gregorys advice, and (hew how abfurd and tyrannic it
is thus to lay down a fyftem offlavery; or to attempt to
educate moral beings by any other rules than thofe de-
duced from pure reafon, which apply to the whole fpe-
cies.
Gentlenefs of manners, forbearance and long-fuffer-
ing, are fuch amiable Godlike qualities, that in fublime
poetic drains the Deity has been inverted with them ;
and, perhaps, no reprefentation of his goodnefs fo ftrong-
ly faftens on the human affedions as thofe that reprefent
him abundant in mercy and willing to pardon. Gen-
* For example, the herd ofnovelijh.
tlenefs


Rights of woman.
47
denefs, confidered in this point of view, bears on its
front all the chara&eriftics of grandeur, combined with
the winning graces of condefcenfion ; but what a dif-
ferent afpedt it aflumes when it is the fubmiffive de-
meanour of dependence, the fupport of weaknefs that
loves, becaufe it wants protedlion; and is forbearing,
becaufe it muft filently endure injuries ; fmiling under
the lafli at which it dare not fnarl. Abjedt as this pic-
ture appears, it is the portrait of an accomplillied wo-
man, according to the received opinion of female ex-
cellence, feparated by fpecious reafoners from human
excellence. Or, they kindly reftore the rib, and make
one moral being of a man and woman ; not forgetting
to give her all the fubmilfive charms.
How women are to exift in that ftate where there
is to be neither marrying nor giving in marriage, we
are not told. For though moralifts have agreed that
the tenor of life feems to prove that man is prepared by
various circumftances for a future flate, they conftantly
concur in advifinguw/ztfw only to provide for the prefent.
Gentlenefs, docility, and a fpaniei-like affedtion are, on
this ground, confidently recommended as the cardinal
virtues of the fex ; and, difregarding the arbitrary eco-
nomy of nature, one writer has declared that it is maf-
culine for a woman to be melancholy. She was created
to be the toy of man, his rattle, and it muft jingle in
his ears whenever, difmiffing reafon, he choofes to be
amufed.
To recommend gentlenefs, indeed, on a broad bafis
is ftri&ly philofophical. A frail being fhould labour to
be gentle. But when forbearance confounds right and
wrong, it eeafes to be a virtue ; and, however conveni-
ent it may be found in a companionthat companion
will ever be confidered as an inferior, and only infpire
a vapid tendernefs, which eafily degenerates into con-
* Vi4c Rouffeau, and Swedenborg.
tempt.
t
Â¥{|fr


48
VINDICATION OF ?HE
tempt. Still, if advice could really make a being gen-
tle, whofe natural difpofition admitted not of fuch a '
fine poliih, fomething towards the advancement of or-
der would be attained; but if, as might quickly be de-
monftrated, only atre&ation be produced by this indif- .
criminate counfel, which throws a dumbling-block in
the way of gradual improvement, and true melioration \
of temper, the fex is not much benefited by facrificing
foiid virtues to the attainment of fuperficial graces,
though for a few years they may procure the individuals
regal fway.
As a philofopher, I read with indignation the plau-
sible epithets which men ufe to foften their infults; and,
as a moralift, I afk what is meant by fuch heterogene- ;
ous aflociations, as fair defedls,amiable weakneffes, &c.?
If there is but one criterion of morals, but one arche-
type for man, women appear to be fufpended by defti-
ny, according to the vulgar tale of Mahomets coffin ;
they have neither the unerring inftinbl of brutes, nor are
allowed to fix the eye of reafon on a perfeft model.
They were made to be loved, and, muft not aim at re- ;
Ipecl, left they lhould be hunted out of fociety as maf- ;
culine.
But to view the fubjeft in another point of view. Do
paffive indolent women make the belt wives l Confin-
ing our difeuffion to the prefent moment of exiftence, /
let us fee how fuch weak creatures perform their part ?
Do the women who, by the attainment of a few fuper-
ficial accomplifhments, have ftrengthened the prevailing
prejudice, merely contribute to the happinefs of their
hufbands ? Do they difplay their charms merely to a-
mufe them ? And have women, who have early im-
bibed notions of paffive obedience, fufficient character to
manage a family or educate children ? So far from it,*
that, after furveying the hiftory of woman, I cannot
help, agreeing with the fevered: fatirift, confidering the
fex as the weakeft as well as the mod oppreffed half of


o
RIGHTS QF WOMAN. JLJ
the fpecies. What does hiftory difeiofe hut marks cf
inferiority,and how few women have emancipated them-
felves from the galling yoke of fovereign man fSo few,
that the exceptions remind me of an ingenious conjec-
ture refpedling Newton : that-he was probably a being
of a fuperior order, accidentally caged in a human bo-
dy. In the fame ftyle I have been led to imagine that
the few extraordinary women who have ru filed in eccen-
trical dire&ions out of the orbit prefcribed to their fex,
were male fpirited, confined by miftake in a female
frame. But if it be not phiiofophical to think of fex
when the foul is mentioned, the inferiority mult depend
on the organs ; or the heavenly fire, which is to fer-
ment the clay, is not given in equal portions.
But avoiding, as 1 have hitherto done, any dire£l
comparifon of the two fexes colledtively, or frankly ac-
knowledging the inferiority of woman, according to ths
prefent appearance of things, I (hall only infill, that men
have increafed that inferiority till women are almoffc
funk below' the ftandard of rational creatures. Let their
faculties have room to unfold, and their virtues to gain
lirength, and then determine where the whole fex mud
Hand in the intelle&ual fcale. Yet let it be remember-
ed, that for a fmall number of diftinguifhed women I
do not afk a place.
It is difficult for us purblind mortals to fay to what
height human difcoveries and improvements may arrive
when the gloom of defpotifm fubfides, which makes 11s
ftumble at every ftep ; but when morality lhall be fet-
tled on a more folid bafis, then, without being gifted
with a prophetic fpirit, I will venture to predict that
woman will be either the friend or Have of man. We
lhall not, as at prefent, doubt whether fhe is a mortal
agent, or the link which unites man with brutes. But,
fhould it then appear, that like the brutes they were
principally created for the ufe of man, he will let thenv
patiently bite the bridle, and not mock them with emp-
E ty


VINDJCATION OF THE
rW:
r
ir..
f
i
ty praife ; or, fhould their rationality be proved, he will
not impede their improvement merely to gratify his fen-
foal appetites. He will not with all the graces of rheto-
ric, advife them to fubmit implicitly their underftand-
ings to the guidance of man. He will not, when he
treats of the education of women, alfert that they ough t
never to have the free ufe of reafon, nor would he re-
commend cunning and diflimulation to beings who arc
acquiring, in like manner as himfelf, the virtues of hu-
manity.
Surely there can be but one rule of right, if morality
has an eternal foundation, and whoever facrifices virtue,
ftriftly fo called, to prefect convenience, or whofe duty
it is to aft in fuch a manner, lives only for the palling
day, and cannot be an accountable creature.
The poet then fhould have dropped his fneer when
he fays,
If weak women go aftray,
4i The Jlars are more in fault than they'*
For that they are bound by the adamantine chain ohdef-
tiny is moff certain, if it be proved that they are never
to exercife their jDwri reafon, never to be independent,
never to rife above opinion, -or to feel the dignity of a
rational will that only bows to God, and often forgets
that the univerfe contains any being but itfelf, and the
model of perfeftion to which its ardent gaze is turned,
to adore attributes that, foftened into virtues, may be
imitated in kind, though the degree overwhelms the en-
raptured mind.
if, I fay, for I would not imprefs by declamation
when Reafon offers her fober light, if they are really ca-
pable of afting like rational creatures, let them not be
treated like flaves ; or, like the brutes who are depend-
ent on the reafon of man, when they aflfociate with
him ; but cultivate their minds, give them the falutary,
fubiime curb of principle, and let them attain confcious
dignity


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
51
dignity by feeling themfelves only dependent on God.
Teach them, in common with man, to fubmit to necef-
fity, inftead of giving, to render them more pleafmg, a
fex to morals.
Further, fhould experience prove that they cannot at-
tain the fame degree of ftrength of mind, perfeverance,
and fortitude, let their virtues be the fame in kind,
though they may vainly ftruggle for the fame degree;
and the fuperiority of man will be equally clear, if not
clearer ; and truth, as it is a fimple principle, which ad-
mits of no modification, would be common to both.
Nay, the order of fociety as it is at prefent regulated
would not be inverted, for woman would then only have
the rank that reafon adigned her, and arts could not be
praciifed to bring the balance even, much Iefs to turn it.
Thefe may be termed Utopian dreams.Thanks to
that Being who imprefted them on my foul, and gave
me fufficient ftrength of mind to dare to exert my own
reafon, till, becoming dependent on!y on him for the
fupport of my virtue, I view, with indignation,, the mif-
taken notions that enflave my fex.
I love man as my fellow ; but his feepter, real, or
ufurped, extends not to me, unlefs the reafon of an in-
dividual demands my homage ; and even then the fub-
miflion is to reafon, and not tp man. In fail, the con-
duit of an accountable being mult be regulated by the
operations of. its own-reafon ; or on what foundation
refts the throne of God?
It appears to me neceffary to dwell on thefe obvious
truths, becaufe females have been infulted, as it were;
and, while they have been {tripped of the virtues that
fhould clothe humanity, they have been decked with ar-
tificial graces that enable them to exercife a fhort-lived
tyranny. Love, in their bofoms, taking place of every
nobler paftion, their foie ambition is to be fair, to raife
emotion inftead of infpiring refpeit; and this ignoble
defire, like the fervility inabfolute monarchies, deftroys
E 2 all


52
VINDICATION OF THE
all (Length of chara&er. Liberty is the mother of vir-
tue, and if women are, by their very conflitution, (laves,
and not allowed to breathe the fharp invigorating air of
freedom, they muft ever languifli like exotics, and be
reckoned beautiful flaws in nature;let it alfo be re-*
membered, that they are the only flaw.
As to the argument refpeCting the fubjeCtion in which
the fex has ever been held, it retorts on man. The ma-
ny have always been enthralled by the few; and, mon**
Tiers, who fcarcely have Ihewn any difeernment of hu-
man excellence, have tyrannized over thoufands of their
fellow creatures. Why have men of fuperior endow-
ments fubmitted to fuch degradation} For, is it not
univerfally acknowledged that kings, viewed collective-
ly, have ever been inferior, in abilities and virtue, to the
fame number of men taken from the common mafs of
mankindyet, have they not, and are they not (till
treated with a degree of reverence that is an infult to
reafon? China is not the only country where a living
man has been made a God. Men have fubmitted to
fuperior ftrength to enjoy with impunity the pleafure of
the momentwwien have only done the fame, and there-
fore till it is proved that the courtier, who fervilely re-
iigns the birthright of a man, is not a moral agent, it
cannot be demonftrated that woman iseffentially inferi-
or to man becaufe fhe has always been fubjugated.
Brutal force has hitherto governed the world, and
that the fcience of politics is in its infancy, is evident
from philofophers Tempting to give the knowledge mod
ufeful to man that determinate diflinCtion.
I fhall not purfue this argument any further thati to
eft&blifh an obvious inference, that a,s found politics
diffufe liberty, mankind, including woman, will become
more wife and virtuous.
CHAP-


RIGHTS OF WOMAN. 53
CHAP. III.
The fame fubjefi continued.
BODILY ftrength from being the diftindtion of he-
roes is now funk into fuch unmerited contempt,
that men, as well as women, feem to think it unnecef-
fary: the latter, as it takes from their feminine graces,
and from that lovely weaknefs, the fourceof their undue
power ; and the former, becaufe it appears inimical with
the character of a gentleman.
That they have both by departing from one extreme
run into another, may eafily be proved ; but firft it may
be proper to obferve, that a vulgar error has obtained a
degree of credit, which has given'force to afalfe con-
clulion, in which an effect has been miftaken for a
caufe.
People of genius have,, very frequently, impaired
their conftitutions by ftudy or carelefs inattention- to
their health, and the violence of their paffions bearing
a proportion to the vigour of their intelledts, the fwords
deftroying the fcabbard has become almoft proverbial,
and fuperficial obfervers have inferred from thence, that
men of genius have commonly weak, or, to ufea more
fafhionable phrafe, delicate conftitutions. Yet the con-
trary, I believe, will appear to be the fadt; for, on dili-
gent inquiry, I find that (Length of mind has, in molt
cafes, been accompanied by fuperior (Length of body,
natural foundnefs of conftitution,not that robuft tone
of nerves and vigour of mufcles, which arife from bodi-
ly labour, when the mind is quiefcent, or only diredts
the hands.
Dr. Prieftly has remarked, in the preface to his bio-
graphical chart, that the majority of great men have
lived beyond forty-five. And, confidering the thought-
lefs manner in which they have lavi(hed their (Length,
E 3 when


54
VINDICATION OF THE
when inveftigating a favourite fcience they have wafted
the lamp of life, forgetful of the midnight hour; or,
when loft in poetic dreams, fancy has peopled the fcene,
and the foul has been difturbed, till it lhook the confti-
tution, by the paftions that meditation had raifed^
whofe objects, the bafelefs fabric of a vifion, faded be-
fore the exhaufted eye, they muft have had iron frames.
Shakfpeare never grafped the airy dagger with a nerve-
lefs hand, nor did Milton tremble when he led Satan far
from the confines of his dreary prifon.Thefe were
not the ravings of imbecility, the fickly effufions of dif-
tempered brains; but the exuberance of fancy, that in
a fine phrenzy wandering, was not continually remind-
ed of its material fhackles.
I am aware that this argument would carry me fur-
ther than it may be fuppofed I wifti to go ; but I follow
truth, and, (till adhering to my firft pofitioh, i will al-
low that bodily ftrength feems to give man a natural fu-
periority over woman ; and this is the only folid bafts
on which the fiiperiority of the fex can be built. But
I ftill infift, that not only the virtue, but thz knowledge of
the two fex'es fhould be the fame in nature, if not in de-
gree, and that women, conftdered not only as moral, but
rational creatures, ought to endeavour to acquire human
virtues (or perfections) by the fame means a$ men, m-
ftead of being educated like a fanciful kind of half being
one of Roulfeaurs wild chimeras*. But,
* 1 Refearches into abjlrafl and fpeculative truths, the
c principles and axioms of fciences, ih fhort, every thing which
t tends to generalize our ideas, is not the proper province of
t women; their Jludies (hould be relative to points of prac-
< tice; it belongs to them to apply thofe principles which men
have difcovered; and it is their part to make obfervations,
i which direct men to the efablifoment of general principles.
( All the ideas of ivd?nent which have not the immediate tend-
( ency to points of 'duty*Jhsuld be dire fled to the Jiudy of
* men


RIGHTS OF WOMAN. 55
But, if ftrength of body be^ with fome ihew of reafon,
the boafl: of men, why are women fo infatuated as to be
proud of a defeft ? Roufleau has furnilhed them with a
plaufible excufe, which could only have occurred to a
man, whofe imagination had been allowed to run wild,
and refine on the impreffions made by exquifite fenfes ^
that they might, forfooth, have a pretext for yielding
to a natural appetite without violating a romantic fpe-
cies of modefty, which gratifies the pride and libertinifm
of man.
Women, deluded by thefe fentiments, fometimes
boafl of their weaknefs, cunningly obtaining power by
playing on the weaknefs of men; and they may well
glory
* men> and to the attainment of thofe agreeable accomplijh-
meats which have tajiefor their objeft ; for as to works of
4 genius, they are beyond their capacity ; neither have they
1 fufficient precifton or power of attention to fucceed in fci-
* ences which require accuracy ; and as to phyfical know-
4 ledge, it belongs to thofe only who are mof active, mof in-
1 quifitive ; who coinprehend the greateji variety of objects 1
4 in Jhort, it belongs to thofe who have the jlrongefl powers,
4 and who exercife thein mof% to judge of the relations be-
4 tween fenftble beings and the laws of nature. A woman
4 who is naturally weak, and does not carry her ideas to any
4 great extent, knows how to judge and make a proper efimate
4 of thofe movements which Jhe fets to work> in order to aid
4 her weaknefs; and thefe movements are the pajfiom of
4 men. The mechanifm jhe employs is much more powerful
4 than ours; for all ner levers move the human heart. She
4 nmf have the jkill to incline us to do every thing which her
I 4 fex will not enable her to do of h erf elf and which is necef-
I 4 fary or agreeable to her ; therefore foe ought tofludy the
| 4 mind of man thoroughly, not the mind of man in general,
4 abftra6led% but the difpofitibns of thofe men to whom jhe is
4 fubjeft, either by the laws of her tountry or by the force of
opinion.


VINDICATION OF THE
S6
glorv in their illicit fway, for, like Turkifh bafhaws*
they have more real power than their matters : but vir-
tue is facrificed to temporary gratifications, and the re-
fpe&ability of life to the triumph of an hour.
Women, as well as defpots, have now, perhaps, more
power than they would have if the world, divided and
iubdivided into kingdoms and families, was governed by
laws deduced from the exercife of reafon ; but in ob-
taining it, to carry on the comparifon, their chara£ter is
degraded, and licentioufnefs ipread through the whole
aggregate of fociety. The many become pedeftal to the
few. I, therefore, will venture to attert, that till wo-
men are more rationally educated, the progrefs of human
virtue and improvement in knowledge mutt receive con-
tinual
t opinion. She Jhould learn to penetrate into their real fen-
4 timentsfrom their converfation, their affions, their looks,
4 and geflures, She Jhould alfo have the art, by her own
4 converfation, actions, looks, and geflures, to communicate
4 thofe fen timents which are agreeable to them, withoutfeem-
4 ing to intend it. Men will argue more philofophically about
4 the human heart; but women will read the heart of man
4 better than they. It belongs to women, if I may be allowed
4 the expreffion, to form an experimental morality, and to re-
4 duce theJludy of man to a fyflem, Women have mojl wit9
4 men have mojl genius ; women obferve, men reafon: from
4 the concurrence of both we derive the clearefl light and the
4 mojl per fell knowledge, which the human mind is, of itfelf
4 capable of attaining. In one word, from hence we acquire
4 the mojl intimate acquaintance, both with ourfelves and
4 others, of which our nature is capable ; and it is thus that
4 art has a conflant tendency to perfect thofe endowments
4 which nature has beflowed.The world is the book of wo-
4 men/ Roufleaus Emilius. I hope my readers fill re-
member the comparifon, which I have brought forwardbe*
tween women and officers.


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
57
tinual checks. And if it be granted that woman was
not created merely to gratify the appetite of man, nor to
be the upper fervant, who provides his meals and takes
care of his linen, it mu ft follow, that the firft care of
thofe mothers or fathers, who really attend to the edu-
cation of females, fhould be, if not to ftrengthen the bo-
dy, at leaft, not to deftroy the conftitution by miftaken
notions of beauty and female excellence ; nor fhould
girls ever be allowed to imbibe the pernicious notion
that a defe& can, by any chemical procefs of reafoning,
become an excellence. In this refpe£t, I am happy to
find, that the author of one of the moft inftru&ive books,
that our country has produced for children, coincides
with me in opinion ; I lhall quote his pertinent remarks
to give the force of his refpe&able authority to reafon*.
But
* A refpe Stable old man gives the following fenflble ac-
count of the method he furjued ivben educating his daugh-
ter. 4 I endeavoured to give both to her mind and body a
4 degree of vigour, which is feldom found in the female fex.
4 Asfoon as fhe was fufficiently advanced inflrength to be ca-
4 paole of the lighter labours of hufbandry and gardenings I
4 employed her as my conjlant companion. Selene, for that
4 was her name, foon acquired a dexterity in all thefe rujlic
4 employments, which I confldered with equal pleajure and
4 admiration. If women are in general feeble both in body
4 and mind, it arifes lefs from nature than from education.
4 We encourage a vicious indolence and inaSrivity, which we
4 falfely call delicacy ; inf ead of hardening their minds by the
4 feverer principles of reafon and philofophy, we breed them
4 to ufelefs arts, which terminate in vanity andfenfuality.
* In mofl of the countries which I hadvifted, they are i aught
4 nothing of an higher nature than a few modulations of the
4 voice, or ufelefs pofures of the body ; their time is confum-
4 ed in floth or trifles, and trifles becomes the only purfuits ca-
4 pable of interefling them. We feem to forget, that it is up-
4 on.


58
VINDICATION OF THE
But fhould it be proved that woman is naturally
weaker than man, from whence does it follow that it is
natural for her to labour to become ftill weaker than na-
ture intended her to be ? Arguments of this cad are an
infult to common fenfe and favour of paflion. The di-
vine right of hufbands, like the divine right of kings,
may, it is to be hoped, in this enlightened age, be con-
tefted without danger, and, though convi&ion may not
filence many boifterous difputants, yet, when any pre-
vailing prejudice is attacked, the wife will confider, and
leave the narrow-minded to rail with thoughtlefs vehe-
mence at innovation*
The mother, who wifhes to give true dignity of cha-
racter to her daughter, muft, regardlefs of the fneers of
ignorance, proceed on a plan diametrically oppofite to
that which RoufTeau has recommended with all the de-
luding charms of eloquence and philofophical fophiftry;
* on the qualities of the female fex that our own domejlic com-
1 forts and the education of our children muft depend. And
4 what are the comforts or the education which a race of be-
4 ingsf corrupted from their infancy, and unacquainted with
4 all the duties of life, are fitted to beftow ? To touch a muft-
4 cal inftrument with ufelefs fkill, to exhibit their natural or
4 affeCled graces to the eyes of indolent and debauched young
4 men, to diffipate their hu(band'spatrimony in riotous and un-
4 neceffary expencesy thefe are the only arts cultivated by wo-
4 men in mft of the polijhed nations I had feen. And the con-
4 fequences are uniformly fuch as may be expelled to proceed
4 from fuch polluted fources, private mifery and public fervi-
* tude.
4 But9 Selene's education was regulated by different views,
4 and conducted upon fevererjrinciples ; if that can he called
4 feverity which opens the mind to a fenfe of moral and religi-
4 ous duties, and mofl effectually arms it againft the inevitable
4 evils of life.' '
Mr. Days Sandford and Merton, Vol. III.
for


RIGHTS OF 'WOMAN-
59
y. for his eloquence renders abfurdities plaufible, and nis ^
s (dogmatic conclufions puzzle, without convincing, thofe
. who have notability to refute them. r
1 Throughout the whole animal kingdom every young
. creature requires a!mofl: continual cxercife, and the in-
fancy of children, conformable to*his intimation, fhould k
be paffed in harmlefs gambols, that exercife the feet , ;
t and hands, without requiring very minute diredtion from [
the head, or the conftant attention of a nurfe. In fadf, g
I the care neceffary-for felhprefervation is the firfl natu-
ral exercife of the underftanding, as little inventions to
amufe the prefent moment unfold the imagination.
But thefe wife defigns of nature are counteradted by
: miftaken fondnefs or blind zeal. The child is not left
, a moment to its own diredtion, particularly a girl, and
thus rendered dependentdependence is called natural.
To preferve perfonai beauty, womans glory! the **
limbs and faculties are cramped with worfe than Chi-
nefe bands, and the fedentary life which they are con- \r
demned to live, whilft boys frolic in the open air, weak-
ens the mufcles and relaxes the nerves.As for Rouf- /
feaus remarks, which have lince been echoed by feveral *
writers, that they have naturally, that is from their birth,
independent of education, a fondnefs for dolls, dreffing, i
and talkingthey are fo puerile as not to merit a feri-
ous refutation. That a girl, condemned to fit for hours %
together liftening to the idle chat of weak nurfes, or to
attend at her mothers toilet, will endeavour to join the
conversation, is, indeed, very natural; and that ihe will
imitate her mother or aunts, and amufe herfelf by adorn-
ing her lifelefs doll, as they do in dreffing her, poor in-
nocent babe is undoubtedly a mofl: natural confequence.
For men of thegreateft abilities have feldom had fuffici-
ent flrength to rife above the furrounding atmofphere;
and, if the page of genius has always been blurred by
the prejudices of the age, fome allowance fhculd be made
for
fKi


VINDICATION OF THE
6o
for a fex, who, like kings, always fee things through a
falfe medium.
In this manner may the fondnefs for drefs, confpicu-
ous in women, be eafily accounted for, without fuppo-
fing it the refult of a defire to pleafe the fex on which
they are dependent. The abfurdity, in fhort, of fup-
pofing that a girl is naturally a coquette, and that a de-
fire connected with the impulfe of nature to propagate
the fpecies, ihould appear even before an improper edu-
cation has, by hearing the imagination, called it forth
prematurely, is fo unphilofophical, that fuch a fagacious
obferver as RouiTeau would not have adopted it, if he
had not been accudomed to make reafon give way to
his defire of Angularity, and truth to a favourite paradox.
Yet thus to give a fex to mind was not very confid-
ent with the principles of a man who argued fo warm-
ly, and fo well, for the immortality of the foul.But
what a weak barrier is truth when it (lands in the way
of an hypothefis Roufleau refpeftedalmod adored
virtueand yet he allowed himfelf to love with fenfual
fondnefs. His imagination condantiy prepared in-
flammable fewel for his inflammable fenfes ; but, in or-
der to reconcile his refpedt for felf-denial, fortitude, and
thofe heroic virtues, which a mind like his could not
coolly admire, he labours to invert the law of nature,
and broaches a doftrine pregnant with mifchief, and
derogatory to the character of fupreme wifdom.
His ridiculous dories, which tend to prove that girls
are naturally attentive to their perfons, without laying
any drefs on daily example, are below contempt.And
that a little mifs fhould have fuch a correct tade as to
negle£t the pleafing amufement of making Os, merely
becaufe (he perceived that it was an ungraceful attitude,
fhould be felefted with the anecdotes of the learned pig*.
I have,
*( I once knew a young perfon who learned to write before
Jhe learned to read, and began to write with her needle be-
fore


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
61
I have, probably, had an opportunity of obferving
more girls in their infancy than j. J. Rondeau I can
recoiled my own feelings, and 1 have looked fteadily
around me; yet, fo far from coinciding with him in
opinion refpeding the firftdawn of the female charac-
ter, 1 will venture to affirm, that a girl, whofe fpirits
have not been damped by inadivity, or innocence taint-
ed by falfe fhame, will always be a romp, and the doll
will never excite attention unlefs confinement allows her
no alternative. Girls and boys, in ffiort, would play
harmlefs together, if the diftindion of fex was not in-
culcated long before nature makes any difference.I
will go further, and affirm, as an indifpirtable fad, that
mod of the women, in the circle ot my obfervatioa,
who have adled like rational creatures, or fhewn any
vigour of intelled, have accidentally been allowed to
run wildas fome of the elegant formers of the fair fex
would infinuate.
The baneful confequences which flow from inatten-
tion to health during infancy, and youth, extend further
than is fuppofed-dependence of body naturally produc-
es dependence of .mind; and how can file be a good
wife or mother, the greater part of whofe time is em-
ployed to guard againlt or endure ficknefs ? Nor can it
be expeded that a woman w ill refolutely endeavour to
1 fore Jhe could ufe a pen. At fir/?, indeed, Jhe took it Into
4 her head to make no ether letter than the O : this letter Jhe
* ivas conjiantly making of all fixes, and always the wrong
4 way. Unluckily, one day, as jhe ivas intent on this employ-
4 merit, Jhe happened to fee h erf elfin the looking-glafs ; when%
4 taking a diftike to the conji rained attitude in which Jhe fat
4 labile writing, Jhe threw away her pen, like another Pallas,
4 and determined againji making the 0 any more. Her
4 brother was alfo equally averfe to writing: it was the con-
4 fnement, however, and not the conji rained attitude, that
moji difgujled him/ Rouffeaus Emilius.
F ^ ftrength en


02
VINDICATION OF THE
ftrengthen her condi tut ion and abftain from enervating
induigencies, if a:tificial notions of beauty, and falfe
deforiptions of fenlibility, have been early entangled
with her motives of adlion. Molt men are fometimes
obliged to bear with bodily inconveniencies, and to en-
dure, occafionly, the inclemency of the elements ; but
genteel women are, literally fpeaking, (laves to their bo-
dies, and glory in their (objection.
I once knew a weak woman of falhion, who was
more than commonly proud of her delicacy and fenfibi-
lity. She thought a diltinguilhing ta.de and puny appe-
tite the height of all human perfect ion, and a&ed ac-
cordingly. I have feen this weak fophifticated being
negleft all the duties life, yet recline with felf-compla-
cency on a fofa, and bead of her want of appetite as a
proof of delicacy that extended to, or, perhaps, arofe
from, her exquifire fenlibility: for it is difficult to ren-
der intelligible fuch ridiculous jargon.Yet, at the mo-
ment, I have feen her infulta worthy old gentlewoman,
whom unexpected misfortunes had-made dependent on
her ofteutatious bounty, and who, in better days, had
claims on her gratitude. Is it poffible that a human
creature could have become fuch a weak and depraved
being, if, like the. Sybarites, diifolved in luxury, every
thing like virtue had not been worn away, or never im-
preh'ed by precept, a poor fubftitute, it-is true, for culti-
vation of mind, though it fe>rves as a fence againd vice?
Such a woman is not a more irrational monder than
fome of the Roman emperors, who were depraved by
lavvlefs power. Yet, fince kings have been more under
the redraint of law, and the curb, however weak.,-of ho-
nour, the records of hidory are not filled with fuch un-
natural indances of folly and cruelty, nor does the def-
potifm that kills virtue and genius in theEud, hover oyer
Europe with that dedructivc blaft which defolates Tur-
fy, and renders the men, as well as the foil, unfruit-
ful.
Women


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
63
Women are every where in this deplorable ftate ; for,
In order to preferve their innocence, as ignorance is
courteoufly termed, truth is hidden from them, and they
are made to aftume an artificial character before their
faculties have acquired any ftrength. Taught from
their infancy that beauty is womans feeptre, the mind
fh ipes itfelf to the body, and, roaming round its gilt
cage, only feeks to adorn its prifon. Men have various
employments and pnrfuits which engage their attention,
and give a character to the opening mind ; but women,
confined to one, and having their thoughts conftantly di-
rected to the molt infignificant part'of themfelves, fel-
dom extend their views beyond the triumph of the hour.
But was their underftanding once emancipated from the
flavery to which the pride and fenfualitv of man and their
fhort-fighted defire, like that of dominion in tyrants, of
prefent fway, has fubj.eCted them, we fhould probably
read of their weaknefies with furprife. I mult be allow*
ed to purfue the argument a little farther.
Perhaps, if the exiftence of an evil being was allowed,
who, in the allegorical language of feripture, went a-
bout feeking whom he fhould devour, he could not more
effectually degrade the human character than by giving
a man abfolute power.
This argument branches into various ramifications.
Birth, riches, and every extrinfic advantage that exalt
a man above his fellows, without any mental exertion,
fink him in reality below them. In proportion to his
weaknefs, he is played upon by defigning men, till the
bloated monfter has loft all traces of humanity. And
that tribes of men, like flocks of fheep, fhould quietly
follow fuch a leader, is a folecifm that only a defire of
prefent enjoyment and narrownefs of underftanding can
folve. Educated in flavifh dependence, and enervated
by luxury and floth, where fhall we find men who will
Hand forth to alTert the rights of man ;or claim the
privilege of moral beings, who fhould have but one road
F ^ to

k
J
r -




to excellence r Slavery to monarchs and ministers, \vhfch-'
the world will he long in freeing itfelf from, and whofe-
deadly gralp flops* the prdgrefs of. the human mind, is
not yet abbliihed.
Let not men then in the pride of power, tife the fame
arguments that tyrannic kings and venal miniders have
uled, and fallacioufly aflcrr that woman ought to be fub
jedled becauie fhe has always been fo.But, when man,
governed by reafonabe laws, enjoys his natural freedom,
let him defpife woman, if fhe do not (hare it with him;
and, till that glorious period arrives, in defcanting on
the folly of the lex, let him not overlook his own.
Women, it is true, obtaining power by unjuft: means,
by practifing or foftering vice, evidently lofe the rank
which reafon would aflign them, and they become either
abjedf Haves or capricious tyrants. They lofe all fim-
plicity, all dignity of mind, in acquiring power, andadi
as men are obferved to adt when they have been exalted^
by the fame means.
It is time to effedl aVevolution in female manners
time to reflore to them their loft dignityand make
them, as a part of the human fpecies, labour by reform-
ing themfelves to reform the world. It is time to fe-
parate unchangeable morals from local manners.If
men be demi-godswhy let us ferve them 1 And if the
dignity of the female foul be as difputable as that of ani-
malsif their reafon does not afford fufficient light to di-
redt their conduct whilft unerring inftindt is denied
they are furely of all creatures the moft miferable! and,
bent beneath the iron hand of deftiny, mud fubmit to be ^
afair deftti in creation. But tojuftify the ways of Ero-^~
vidence refpedting them, by pointing out fome irrefra-
gable reafon for thus making fuch a targe portion of
mankind accountable and not accountable, would puz-
zle the fubtileft cafuift.
The only folid foundation for morality appears to be
the character of the fupreme Being;, the harmony of-
which


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
65
which arifes from a balance of attributes ;and, to fpeak
with reverence, one attribute feems to imply the neceffify
of another. He mud bejud, becaufe he is wife, he mud
be good becaufe he is omnipotent. For to exalt one at-
tribute ac the expence of another equally noble and ne-
celfary, bears the damp of the warped reafon of man
the homage of paflion. Man, accudomed to bow down
to power in his favage date, can ieldom dived himfelf
of this barbarous prejudice, even when civilization
determines how much fuperior mental is to bodily
drength ; and his reafon is clouded by thefe crude opi-
nions, even when he thinks of the Deity. His omnipo-
tence is made to fwallow up, or prefide over his other
attributes, and thofe mortals are fuppofed to limit his
power irreverently, who think that it mud be regulated
by his wHdom.
. I difclaim that fpecies humility which after invedi-
gating nature, dops at the author.The High and Lof-
ty One, who inhabiteth eternity, doubtlefs poffefles ma-
ny attributes of which we can form no conception; but
reafon tells me that they cannot clalh with thofe I a-
doreand I am compelled to liden to her voice.
It feems natural for man to fearch for excellence, and
either to trace it in the objeft that he worfhips, or blind-
ly to inved it with perfection as a garment. But what
good effect can the latter mode of worfhip have on the
moral conduct of a rational being r He bends to power ;
he adores a dark cloud, which may open a bright prof-
pe£t to him, or burd in angry, lawlefs fury, on his de-
voted headhe knows not why. And, fuppofing that
the Deity a£ts from the vague impulfe of an undiredled
wiil, man mud alfo follow his own, or a£t according
to rules, deduced from principles which he difclaims as
irreverent. I nto this dilemma have both enthufiads and
cooler thinkers fallen, when they laboured to free men
from the wholefome redraints which a jud conception
of the character of God impofes.
It


66
VINDICATION OF THE
It is not impious thus to (can the attributes of the-
Almighty : in faft, who can avoid it that exercifes his-
faculties r for to love God as the fountain of vvifdom,
goodnefs, and power, appears to be the only worfhip
tifeful to a being who wiflies to acquire either virtue or
knowledge. A blind unfettled affeftion may, like
human paflions, occupy the mind and warm the
heart, whild todojuftice, love mercy, and walk hum-
bly with our God, is forgotten. I (hall purfue this
ifibjeft ftill further, when I confider religion in a light
oppodte to that recommended by Dr. Gregory, who
treats it as a matter of fentiment or tafte.
To return from this apparent digreflion. It were to-
be wifhed that women would cherifli an affeftion for
their hufbands, founded on the fame principle that de-
votion ought to red upon. No other firm bafe is there1
tinder heavenfor let them beware of the fallacious light
of fentiment; too often ufed as a fofter phrafe for fenfu-
ality. It follows then, I think, that from their infan-
cy women (hould either be (hut up like eaflern princes,,
or educated in fuch a. manner as to be able to think and-
a ft for them fe Ives.
Why do men hair between two opinions, and expeft-
impoffibiiities ? Why do they expect virtue from a Have,,
from a being whom the conflitution of civil fociety has
rendered weak, if not vicious r
Still I know that it will require a confiderable length
of time to eradicate the firmly rooted prejudices which
fenfuaiids have planted; it will alfo require fome time
to convince women that they aft contrary to their real
intered on an enlarged fcale, when they cherifli or affect
weaknefs under the name of delicacy, and to convince
the world that the poifoiled Ihuree of female vices and*
follies, if it be necefiarv, in compliance with cuflom, to
life fynonymous Urms in a lax fenfe, has been the fen di-
al homage paid to beauty :to beauty of features ; for
it lias been (hrewdly obferved by a German writer, that
a pretty woman, as an objeft of deli re, is generally


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
67
allowed to be fo by men of all descriptions, vvhift a
fine woman, who infpires more fublime emotions
by difplaying intelleftual beauty may be overlooked or
obferved with indifference, by thofe men who find their
happinefs in the gratification of their appetites. I fore-
fee an obvious retortwhilft man remains fuch an im-
perfeft being as he appears hitherto to have been, he
will, more or lefs, be the (lave of his appetites; and
thofe women obtaining moft power who gratify a pre-
dominant one, the fex.is degraded by a phyfical, if not:
by a moral neceflity.
This objection has, I grant, fome forc'd ; but while
fuch a fublime precept exifts, as, be pure as your hea-
* venly father is pure; it would-Teem that the virtues of
man are not limited by the Being who alone could limit'
them; and that he may prefs forward without confider-
ing whether he fteps out of his fphere by indulging fuch
a noble ambition.- To-the wild billows it has been laid,
* thus far {halt thou go, and no further ; and here {hall
1 thy proud waves be flayed. Vainly then do they beat
and foam, reftrained by. the power that confines the
ftruggling planets in their orbits*, matter yields to the
great governing Spirit.But an immortal foul, not re-
{trained bv mechanical laws and ftruggling to free itfelf
from the {hackles of matter, contributes to, inftead of
difturbing, the order of creation, when, co-operating
with the Father of fpirits, it tries to govern itfelf by the
invariable rule that, in a degree, before which our ima-
gination faints, the univerfe is regulated.
Befides, if women are educated for dependence ; that
is, to aft according to the will of another fallible being,
and fubmit, right or wrong, to power, where are we to
ftopr Are they to be confidered as vicegerents allowed
to reign over a fmall domain, and anfwerable for their
conduft to a higher tribunal, liable to error r
It will not be difficult to prove that fuch delegates
will aft life men frfteftvu ey fear, and make their
chikbutana ier,ams u*d*rre thft r tynanrcul oppreflion.
As-


68
VINDICATION OF THE
As they fubmit without reafon, they will, having no fix-
ed rules to fquare their conduct by, be kind or cruel,,
juft as the whim of the moment dire£ts; and we ought
not to wonder if fometimes, galled by their heavy yoke,
they take a malignant pieafure in refting it on weaker
fhoulders.
But, fuppofmg a woman, trained up to obedience, be
married to a fenfible man, who directs her judgment
without making her feel the fervility of her fubjetftion,,
to a£i with as much propriety by this reflected light as
can be expe6ted when reafon is taken at fecond hand,
yet (he cannpt enfure the life of her prote∨ he may
die and leave her with a large family.
A double duty devolves on her; to educate thorn in
the character of both father and mother ; to form their
principles and fecure their property. But, alas! fhe
has never thought, much lefs a£ted for herfelf. She
has only learned to pleafe men, to depend gracefully
on
* In the union of the fexes, both purfue one common oh-
4 je£ly but not in the fame manner. From their diverfity in.
1 this particular, arifes the firjl determinate difference be-
* tween the moral relations of each. The one fhould be ac-
tive and firong, the other paffive and weak it is necejffary,
4 the one Jhould have both the power and the will, and that
4 the otherJhould make little rejijlance.
This principle being ejlablijhed, it follows that woman is
4 exprefsly formed to pleafe the man : if the obligation be re-
* ciprocal alfo, and the man ought to pleaje in his turn, it is
4 not fo immediately necejffary: his great merit is in his pow-
4 er, and he pleafes merely becaufe he is frong. This, Imujl
4 confefs, is not one of the refined maxims of love ; it is,
4 however, one of the laws of nature, prior to love itfelfi
4 If %voman be formed to pleafe and be fubjeBed to man, it
4 is her place, doubtlefs, to render herfelf agreeable to him, in-
6 fie ad of challenging his pajfion. The violence of his defines
4 depends


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
6g
on them ; yet, encumbered with children, how is (he to
obtain another protestorahufband to fiipply the place
of reafon ? A rational man, for we are*not treading on
romantic ground, though he may think her a pleafing
docile creature, will not choofe to marry a family for love,
when the world contains many more pretty creatures.
What is then to become of her ? She either falls an eafy
prey to fome mean fortune-hunter, who defrauds her
children of their paternal inheritance, and renders her
miferabie; or becomes the vi£bim of difeontent and blind
indulgence. Unable to educate her fons, or imp refs
them with refpe£t; for it is not a play on words to af-
fert, that people are never refpefted, though filling an
important ftation, who are not refpe&able ; file pines
under the anguilh of unavailing impotent regret. The
ferpents tooth enters into her very foul, and the vices of
licentious youth bring her with forrow, if not with pover-
ty alfo, to the grave.
This is not an overcharged pi&ure ; on the contrary,
it is a very poffiblecafe, and fomething fimilar muft have
fallen under every attentive eye.
F have, however, taken it for granted,,, that (lie was
well-difpofed, though experience fhevvs, that the blind
depends on her charms; it is by means of thefe Jhe fhould
< urge him to the exertion of thoje powers which nature hath
* given him. The moft fuccefsful method of exciting them,
* is, to render fuch exertion neceffary by their rejiftance; as,
i in that cafe if elf- love is added to defire, and the one triumphs
t in the victory which the other obliged to acquire. Hence
t arife the various modes of attack and defence between the
t fexes; the boldnefs of one fex, and the timidity of the other;
* and, in a word, that baJJfuhefs and ms defy with which
c nature hath armed the weak, in order to fubdue the firongd
Roufleaus Emilius*
I Jhall make no other comment on this ingenious pqffage*
than jufi to obferve, that it is the philofophy of lafeividufnefs
may:


VINDICATION OF THE
70
may as eafily be led into a ditch as along the beaten
road. But fuppofing, no very improbable conjedure,
that a being only taught to pleafe mu ft ftill find her hap-
pinefs in pleafing;what an example of folly, not to
fay vice, will fhe be to her innocent daughters! The
mother will be loft in the coquette, and, inftead of mak-
ing friends of her daughters, view them with eyes afk-
ance, for they are rivalsrivals more cruel than any
other, becaufe they invite a comparifon, and drive her
from the throne of beauty, who. has never thought of a
feat on the bench of reafon.
It does not require a lively pencil, or the diferiminat-
ing outline of a caricature, to iketch the domeftic mife-
ries and petty vices which fucli a miftrefs of a family
diffufes. Still fhe only ads as a woman ought to ad,
brought up according to Roufteaus fyftem. She can
never be reproached for being mafeuline, or turning out
of her fphere; nay, fhe may obferve another of his grand
rules, and cautioufly preferving her reputation free from
fpot, be reckoned a good kind of woman. Y et in what
refped can fhe be termed good ? She abftains, it is true,
without any great ftruggle, from committing grofs
crimes ; but how does fhe fulfil her duties t Duties !
in truth fhe has enough to think of to adorn her body
and nurfe a weak conftitution.
With refped to religion, fhe never prefumed to
judge for herfelf; but conformed, as a dependent crea-
ture fhould, to the ceremonies of the church which the
was brought up in, pioufly believing that wifer heads
than her own have fettled that buftnefs :and not to
doubt is her point of perfedion. She therefore pays her
tythe of mint and cummin^-and thanks her God that fhe
is not as other women are, Thefeare the blefted effeds of
a good education thefe the virtues of mans help-mate*.
I mu ft
* 4 O how'lovely,' exclaims Roujfeau, fpeaking of Sophia,
* is her ignorance Happy is he who is defined to injlruft
* her!


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
I1
I mull; relieve myfelf by drawing ^different pi£tnre.
Let fancy now pafent a woman with a tolerable un-
dei (landing, for 1 do not wilh to leave the line of medi-
ocrity, whofe conftitution, (Lengthened by exercife, has
allowed her body to acquire its full vigour ; her mind,
at the fame time, gradually expanding itfelf to compre-
hend the moral duties of life, and in what human vir-
tue and dignity coil flit. Formed thus by the relative
duties of her Ration, (lie marries from affection,
without lofing fight of prudence, and looking beyond
matrimonial felicity, fhe fecures her hufbands re-
fpe6t before it is nceffary to exert mean aits to pleafe
him and feed a dying flame, which nature doomed to ex-
pire when the object became familiar, when friend (hip
and forbearance take place of a more ardent affeflion.
This is the natural death of love, and domeftic peace
is not destroyed by ftruggles to prevent its extinction. I
.alfo fuppofe the huiband to be virtuous ; or (he is Rill
more in want of independent principles.
Fate, however, breaks this tie.She is left a wi-
dow, perhaps, without a fufficient provifron ; but (he
is not defolate The pang of nature is felt ; but after
time has foftened furrow into melancholy refignation,
her heart turns to her children with redoubled fondnefs,
and anxious to provide for them, affection gives a fa-
cred heroic caR to her maternal duties. She thinks that
not only the eye fees her virtuous efforts from whom all
her comfort now muR flow, and vvhofe approbation is
life; but her imagination, a little abRracted and exalted
her She will never pretend to he the tutor of her hufband,
* but ivill he content to be his pupil. Far from attempting
* to fuhjeSl him to her tajfa, fhe will accommodate herjelf to
* his. She will he more ejiimable to him, than if fit e was
4 learned: he will have a plcafure in injlrudling herd
I fiall content myfelf ivith fimply afking, how friendfiip
can fuhftjly when love expires, between the majler and his
pupil. ~ by


VINDICATION OF THE
7*
bv grief, dwells on the fond hope that the eyes which
her trembling hand clofed, may (till fee. how Ihe fubdues
every wayward paiiion to fulfil the double duty of being
the father as well as the mother of her children. Railed
to hcroifm by misfortunes, ihe repreffes the dirft'faint-
dawning of a naturnlinclination, before it ripens into
love, and in the bloom of.life forgets her fexforgets
the pleafure of an awakeningpaflion. which might a-
gain have been inspired and returned. She no longer
thinks of pleafing, .and confcious dignity prevents her
from priding herlelf on account of the praife which her
condud demands. "Her children have her love, and her
brigh tell: hopes are beyond the grave, where her imagina-
tion often (trays. V
. 1 think I fee her furrounded by her children, reaping
the reward of her care. The intelligent eye meets hers,
whilft health and innocence fmile on their chubby
cheeks, and as they grow up the cares of life are leflened
by their grateful attention. She lives to fee the virtues
which (he endeavoured to plant on principles, fixed into
habits, to fee her children attain a (trerigth of character
fufficient to enable them to endure adverfity without
forgetting their mothers example.
The talk of life thus fulfilled, (he calmly waits for
the lleep of death, and riling from the grave, may fay
Behold, thou gavelt me a talentand here are five ta-
lents.
I with to fum up what I have laid in a few words,
for I here throw down my gauntlet, and deny the exig-
ence of fexual virtues, not excepting modefty. For man
and woman, truth, if I underhand the meaning of the
word, muft be the fame; yet the fanciful female charac-
ter, fo prettily drawn by poets and novelifts, demanding
the facrifice of truth and fincerity, virtue becomes a re-
lative idea, having no other foundation than utility, and
of that utility men pretend arbitrarily to judge, fhaping
it to their own convenience.
Women


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
73
Women, I allow, may have different duties to fulfil;
but they are human duties, and the principles that fhould
regulate the difcharge of them, I fturdily maintain, mud
fee the fame.
To become refpe6table, the exercife of their under-
ftanding is necelfary, there is no other foundation for
independence of chara£ler ; I mean explicitly to fay that
they mull only bow to the authority of reafon, inftead of
being the modeft (laves of opinion.
In the fuperior ranks of life how feldom do we meet
with a man of fuperior abilities, or even common ac-
quirements? The reafon appears to me clear, the date
they are born in was an unnatural one. The human
character has ever been formed by the employments the
individual, or clafs, purfues; and if the faculties are
not fharpened by necelTity, they muff remain obtufe.
The argument may fairly be extended to women ; for,
feldom occupied by ferious bufinefs, the purfuit of plea-
fure gives that infignificancy to their character which
renders the foc-iety of the great fo infipid. The fame
want of firmnefs, produced by a fimilar caufe, forces
them both to fly from themfelves to noify pleafures, and
artificial paflions, till vanity takes place of every facial
affe&ion, and the characteriftics of humanity can fcarce-
]y be difcerned. Such are the blefiings of civil govern-
ments, as they are at prefent organized, that wealth and
female foftnefs equally tend to debafe mankind, and are
produced by the fame caufe; but allowing women to be
rational creatures, they fhould be incited to acquire vir-
tues which they may call their own, for how can a rati-
onal being be ennobled by any thing that is not obtain-
ed by its own exertions ?
G CHAR


7+
VINDICATION OF THE
CHAP
IV.
Obfervations on the Jlate of degradation to which wow$n is
reduced by various caufes.
THAT woman is naturally weak, or degraded by a
concurrence of circumdances, is, I" think, clear.
But this pofition I diall fimply contrail: with a conclu-
fion, which I have frequently heard fall from fenfible
men in favour of an ariftocracy : that the mafs of man-
kind cannot be any thing, or the obfequious flaves, who
patiently allow themfelves to be penned up, would feel
their own confequence, and fpurn their chains. Men,
they further obferve, fubmit every where to oppreffion,
when they have only to lift up their heads to throw off
the yoke; yet, .indead of averting their birthright, they
quietly lick the dud, and fay, let us eat and drink, for
to-morrow we die. Women, I argue from analogy, are
degraded by the fame propenfity to enjoy the prefent mo-
ment ; and, at lad, defpife the freedom which they have
not fufficient virtue to druggie to attain. But I mud be
more explicit.
With refpe£t to the culture of the heart, it is unani-
moufly allowed that fex is out of the quedion ; but the
line of fubordination in the mental powers is never to be
paffed over*. Only abfciute in lovelinefs/the portion
of
* Into what inconfjlencies do men fall when they argue
without the compafs of principles, Women, weak women,
are compared with angels; yet, a fuperior order'of beings
Jhould be Juppofed to pofj'efs more intellect than man ; or, in
what does their fuperiority conjiji F In the fame fyle, to drop
the fneer> they are allowed to pofj'efs more goodnefs of heart,
piety, and benevolence.I doubt the faff, though it be court e-
Qufy brought forward, unlefs ignorance be allowed to be the
mother


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
75
of rationality granted to woman, is, indeed, very fcanty;
for, denying her genius and judgment, it is fcarcelypof^
fible to divine what remains to chara&erize intellect.
The (lamina of immortality, if [ may be allowed the
phmfe, is the perfectibility of human reafon ; for, was
man created perfedl, or did a hood of knowledge break
in upon him, when he arrived at maturity, that preclud-
ed error, I fhould doubt whether his exigence would
be continued after the dilfolution of the body. But, in
the prefent flate of things, every difficulty in morals that
efcapes from human difeuffion, and equally baffles the
inveffigation of profound thinking, and the lightning
glance of genius, is an argument on which I build tyiy
belief of the immortality of the foul. Reafon is,con-
fequentially, the fimple powrer of improvement; or,
more properly fpeakmg, of difeerning truth. Every
individual is in this refpedl a world in itfeif. More or
lefs maybe confpicuous in one being than another ; but
the nature of reafon mult be the fame in all, if it be an
emanation of divinity, the tie that connects the crea-
ture with the Creator ; for, can that foul be (lamped
with the heavenly image, that is not perfedled by the
exercife of its own reafon* ? Yet outwardly ornament-
ed with elaborate care, and fo adorned to delight man,
* that with honour he may lovet, the foul of woman is
not allowed to have this dirtindtion, and man, ever plac-
ed between her and reafon, file is always reprefented as
mother of devotion ; for 1 am firmly perfiuaded that* on an
average, the proportion between virtue and knowledge, is
more upon a par than is co mmonly granted.
* The brutes, fays Lord Monbod do, remain in the
fitate in which nature has placed them, except in fo far as
their natural infilindl is improved bv the culture we bejlovo
upon them.*
+ Vide Milton.
Q 2
only


76
VINDICATION OF THE
only created to fee through a grofs medium, and to take
things on truft. But, difmiffing thefe fanciful theories,
and confideringwoman as a whole, letitbe what it will,
inftead of apart of man, the inquiry is whether fhe has
reafonornot. If the has, which, for a moment, I will
take for granted, Ihe was not created merely to be the
folace of man, and the fexual fliould not deftroy the hu-
man c ha rafter.
Into this error men have, probably, been led by view-
ing education in a falfe light; not confidering it as the
firll ftep to form a being advancing gradually towards
perfeftion*; but only as a preparation for life. On
this fenfual error, for I mud call it fo, has the falfe fyf-
tem of female manners been reared, v/hich robs the
whole fex of its dignity, andclafles the brown and fair
with the fmiling flowers that only adorns the land. This
has ever been the language of men, and the fear of de-
parting from a fuppofed fexual charafter, has made
even women of fuperior fenfe adopt the fame fenti-
mentsf. Thus underftanding, ftriftly fpeaking, has
been
* This word is .not-JlriSflyjuft, hut 1cannot find a better,
t Pleafures the portion of tV inferior kind ;
* But glory, virtue, Heaven for man deflgnd.
After writing thefe lines, how could Mrs. Barhauld write
the following ignoble comparfon P
* To a Lady with fomepaintedflowers d
Flowers to the fair: to you thefe flowers I bring,
* AndJlrive to greet you with an earlier fpring,
1 Flowers fweet, and gay, and delicate like you \
* Emblems of innocence, and beauty too.
* With flowers the Graces bind their yellow hair,
* And flowery wreaths confeniing lovers wear.
Flowers,


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
77
been denied to woman; and inftinft, fublimated into
wit and cunning, for the purpofes of life, has been fub-
flituted in its (lead.
The power of generalizing ideas, of drawing com-
prehenfive conclulions from individual obfervations, is
the only acquirement, for an immortal being, that real-
ly deferves the name of knowledge. Merely to obferve,
without endeavouring to account for any thing, may,
(in a very incomplete manner) ferve as the common
lenfe of life; but where is the ftore laid up that is to
clothe the foul when it leaves the body r
This power has not only been denied to women ; but
writers have infilled that it is inconfiftent, with a few
exceptions, with their fexual character. Let men prove
this, and 1 fhall grant that woman only exifts for man.
I muff, however, previoufly remark, that the power of
generalizing ideas, to any great extent, is not very com-
mon amongft men or women. But this exercife is the
true cultivation of the underftanding ; and every thing
confpires to render the cultivation of the underllanding
more difficult in the female than the male world.
1 Flowers, thefoie luxury which nature knew,
* In Eden s pure and guiltlefs garden grew.
4 To loftier forms are rougher tafks aflignd,
4 The jheltering oak reffls the ftormy wind;
4 The tougher yew repels invading foes,
4 And the tall pine for future navies grows ;
4 But this foft family, to cares unknown,
4 Were born for pleafure and delight alone
4 Gay without toil, and lovely without art,
* They faring to cheer the fenfe, and glad the heart.
f Nor blujh, my fair, to own you copy thefe ;
4 Tour belt, your fweetelt, empire isto pleafe.*
So the men tell m; but virtue muft be acquired by rough
toils, and ufefulflruggles with worldly cares,
G 3 I am


VINDICATION OF THE
78
lam naturally led by this a (Ter t ion to the main fub-
je£t of the prefent chapter, and {hall now attempt to
point out lome of the caufes that degrade the fex, and
prevent women from generalizing their obfervations.
I fhall not go back to the remote annals of antiquity
to trace the hiltory of woman ; it is fufficient to allow
that die has always been either a flave, or a defpot,and
to remark, that each of thefe fituations equally retards j
the progrefs of reafon. The grand fource of female fol-
ly and vice has ever appeared to me to arife from nar-
rownefs of mind; and the very conditution of civil go-
vernments has put almod infuperable obdacles in the *
way to prevent the cultivation of the female underftand- 1
ing:yet viitue can be built on no other foundation! \
The fame obdacles are thrown in the way of the rich,
and the fame confequences enfue. <
Necdhty has been proverbially termed the mother of
inventionthe aphorifm may be extended to virtue.
It is an acquirement, and an acquirement to which plea- |
fure muil be facrificedand who facrifices pleafure when
it is within the grafp, whofe mind has not been opened i
and ilrengthened by adverfity, or the purfuit of know- j
ledge goaded on by neceffity ?Happy is it when peo- j
pie have the cares of life to druggie with ; for thefe 1
druggies prevent their becoming a prey to enervating *
vices, merely from, idlenefs But, if from their birth
men and women are placed in a torrid zone, with the
meridian fun of pleafure darting diredlly upon them,
how can they diffidently brace their minds to difeharge
ths duties of life, or even to relilh the affections that ;
carry them out of themfelves ? >
Pleafure is the budnefs of womans life, according to j
the prefent modification of fociety, and while it conti-
nues to be fo, little can be expected from fuch weak be- i
ings. Inheriting, in a lineal defeent from the fird fair f
defect in nature, the fbvereignty of beauty, they have, f:
to maintain their power, refigned the natural rights,
which


SIGHTS OP WOMAN.
79
which the exercife of reafon might have procured them,
and chofen rather to be fhort-lived queens than labour
to obtain the fober pleafures that arife from equality.
Exalted by their inferiority (this founds like a contra-
di&ion) they conftantly demand homage as women,
though experience fhould teach them that the men who
pride themfelves upon paying this arbitrary infolent re-
lpe£l to the fex, with the moft fcrupulous exa£lnefs, are
mod inclined to tyrannize over, and defpife, the very
weaknefs they cheriifh. Often do they repeat Mr.
Humes fentiments ; when, comparing the French and
Athenian chara&er, he alludes to women. 4 But what
* is more Angular in this whimfical nation, fay I to the
4 Athenians, is, that a frolick of yours during the Sa- *
* turnalia, when the (laves are ferved by their matters,
4 is, ferioufly continued by them through the whole
4 year, and through the whole courfe of their lives ; ac-
4 companied too with fome circumftances, which ftill
4 further augment the abfurdity and ridicule. Your
4 fport only elevates for a few days thofe vrhom fortune
4 has thrown down, and whom fhe too, in fport, may
4 really elevate for ever above you. But this nation
4 gravely exalts thofe, whom nature has fubje£ted to
4 them, and whofe inferiority and infirmities are abfo-
4 lutely incurable. The women, though without vir-
4 tue, are their matters and fovereigns.,
Ah why do women, I write with affe&ionate foli-
citude, condefcend to receive a degree of attention and
refpefl; from ttrangers, different from that reciprocation
of civility which the dictates of humanity and the po-
litenefs of civilization authorife between man and man ?
And, why do they not difcover, when 4 in the noon of
beautys power that they are treated like queens only to
be deluded by hollow refpeft, till they are led to refign,or
not attiime, their natural prerogatives ? Confined then
in cages like the feathered race, they have nothing to do
but to plume themfelves, and (talk with mock-majefty
from


VINDICATION OF THE
8a
from perch to perch. It is true, they are provided with
food and raiment, for which they neither toil nor fpin ;
but health, liberty, and virtue are given in exchange.
But, where, amongd mankind has been found fufficient
ftrength of mind to enable a being to refign thefe adven-
titious prerogatives; one who, rifing with the calm
dignity of reafon above opinion, dared to be proud of
the privileges inherent in man ? and it is vain to expeCl
it whild hereditary power chokes the affections and nips
reafon in the bud.
The paflions of men have thus placed women oa
thrones, and, till mankind become more reafonable, it
is to be feared that women will avail themfelves of the
power which they attain with the lead exertion, and
which is the mod indifputable. They will fmile,
yes, they will fmile, though told that
4 In beauty s empire is no meany
4 And woman, either Jlave or queen r
4 Is quickly Jcorn d when not adord.
But the adoration comes fird, and the fcorn is not an-
ticipated.
Lewis the XIVth, in particular, fpread factitious
manners, and caught in a fpecious way the whole na^
tion in his toils ; for edablilhing an artful chain of def-
potifm, he made it the intered of the people at large,
individually to refpeCt his dation and fupport his power.
And women, whom he flattered by a puerile attention
to the whole fex, obtained in his reign that prince-like
diflinCtion fo fatal to reafon and virtue.
A king is always a kingand a woman always a wo-
man*: his authority and her fex, ever dand between
* And a wit always a wit, might be added ; for the vain
fooleries of wits and beauties to obtain attention, and make
conquejls, are much upon a par.
them


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
8i.
:liem and rational converfe. With a lover, J grant
(he ihould be fo, and her fenfihility will naturally lead
her to endeavour to excite emotion, not to gratify her
vanity, bother heart. This 1 do not allow to be co-
quettry, it is the artlefs impulfe of nature, I only ex-
claim againft th^fexual defire of conqueft when the heart
is out of the queftion.
This defire is not confined to women; I have en-
deavoured, fays Lord Chefterfield, < to gain the hearts
* of twenty women, whofe perfons I would not have
1 given a fig for. The libertine, who, in a guft of paf-
fion, takes advantage of unfufpe&ing tendernefs, is a
faint when compared with this cold-hearted rafeal ;
for I like to ufe fignificant words. Yet only taught to
pleafe, women are always on the watch to pleafe, and
with true heroic ardour endeavour to gain hearts mere-
ly to refign, or fpurn them, when the victory is decid-
ed, and confpicuous.
I mud defeenej to the minutiae of the fubje£h
I lament that women are fyftematically degraded by
receiving the trivial attentions, which men think it man-
ly to pay to the fex, when, in fa£f,. they are infultingly
fupporting their own fuperiority.. It is not condefcen-
fion to bow to an inferior. So ludicrous, in fadf, do
thefe ceremonies appear to me that I fcarcely am able
to govern my mufcles, when I fee a man ftart with
eager, and feri6us folicitude to lift a handkerchief, or
fhut a door, when the lady could have done it herfelf,
had {he only moved a pace or two.
A wild wifh has juft flown from my heart to my
head, and I will not ftifle it though it may excite a horfe-
laugh.I do earneftly wifti to fee the diftin&ion of fex
confounded in fociety, unlefs where love animates the
behaviour. For this diftin&ion is, I am firmly perfuad-
ed, the foundation of the weaknefs of chara&er aferibed
to woman ; is the caufe why the underftanding. is ne-
gle&ed, whilft accompliftiments are acquired with fe-
dulous


82
VINDICATION OF THE
dulous care: and the fame caufe accounts for their pre-
ferring the graceful before the heroic virtues. i
Mankind, including every defcription, wifli to be
loved and refpe£ted for fomething ; and the common herd
will always take the nearelt road to the completion of J
their wifhes. The refpeft paid to wealth and beauty is
the mod certain, and unequivocal; and, of courfe, will
always attra6l the vulgar eye of common minds. Abi-
lities and virtues are abfolutely necefl'ary to raife men
from the middle rank of life into notice; and the natu-
ral confequence is notorious, the middle rank contains
mod virtue and abilities. Men have thus, in one Hatt-
on, at lead, an opportunity of exerting themfelves with ,
dignity, and of rifing by the exertions which really im-
prove a rational creature ; but the whole female fexare,
till their chara&er is formed, in the fame condition as
the rich : for they are born, I now fpeak of a Hate of ci-
vilization, with certain fexual privileges, and whilft they
are gratuitoufly granted them, few will ever think of
works of fupererogation, to obtain the edeem of a fmall
number of fuperior people.
When do we hear of women who, darting out of ob-
feurity, boldly claim refpedt on account of their great
abilities or daring virtues b Where are they to be found ?
* To be obferved, to be attended to, to be taken no-
( ticeof with fympathy, complacency, and approbation,
* are all the advantages which they feek.True! my
male readers will probably exclaim ; but let them, be-
fore they draw any conclufion, recolle6t that this was
not written originally as deferiptive of women, but of
the rich. In Dr. Smiths Theory of Moral Sentiments,
I have found a general chara&er of people of rank and
fortune, that, in my opinion, might with the greated
propriety be applied to the female fex. I refer the fa-
gacious reader to the whole comparifon ; but mud be
allowed to quote a padage to enforce an argument that
I mean to inlid on, as the one mod conclufive againft a
fexual


RIGHTS OF WOMAN*
83
fexual character. For if, excepting warriors, no great
men, of any denomination, have ever appeared among!!
the nobility, may it not be fairly inferred that their local
fituation fwallowed up the man, and produced a charac-
ter fimilar to that of women, who are localized, if I may
be allowed the word, by the rank they are placed in, by
courtefy ? Women, commonly called Ladies, are not
to be contradicted in company, are not allowed to exert
any manual ftrength ; and from them the negative vir-
tues only are expected, when any virtues are expeCted,
patience, docility, good-humour, and flexibility ; vir-
tues incompatible with any vigorous exertion of intel-
lect:. Belkles, by living more with each other, and be-
ing feldom abfolutely alone, they are more under the
influence of fentiments than paflions. Solitude and re-
flection are neceflary to give to withes the force of paf-
flons, and to enable the imagination to enlarge the ob-
ject:, and make it the moft defirable* The fame may
.be faid of the rich; they do not fufficiently deal in ge-
neral ideas,, collected by impaflioned thinking, or calna
inveftigation, to acquire that flrength of character on
which great refolves are built. B ut hear what an acute
obferver fays of the great.
* Do the great feem infenfible of the eafy price at
* which they may acquire the public admiration ; or do
they feem to imagine that to them, as to other men, it
mud be the purchafe either of fweat or of blood? By
* what important accomplifhments is the young noble-
man inltruCted to fupport the dignity of his rank, and
* to render himfelf worthy of that fuperiority over his
* fellow-citizens, to which the virtue of hisanceftors had
1 raifed them ? Is it by knowledge, by induftry, by pati-
ence, by felf-denial, or by virtue of any kind ? As all
his words, as all his motions are attended to, he learns
an habitual regard to every circumflance of ordinary
i behaviour, and ltudies to perform all thofe fmall duties
with the moft exaCt propriety. As he is confcious
* how


84
Y INDICATION OF THE
4 how much he is obferved, and how much mankind are
4 difpofed.to favour all his inclinations, he a£ts, upon
* the mod indifferent occafions, with that freedom and
4 elevation which the thought of this naturally infpires.
4 His air, his manner, his deportment, all mark that ele-
4 gant and graceful fenfe of his own fuperiority, which
4 thofe who are born to inferior ftation can hardly ever
4 arrive at. Thefe are the arts by which he propofes to
4 make mankind more eafily fubm-it to his authority,
4 and to govern their inclinations according to his own
4 pleafure: and in this he is feldotn difappointed.
4 Thefe arts, fupported by rank and pre-eminence, are,
4 upon ordinary occafions, fufficient to govern the world.
4 Lewis XIV. during the greater part of his reign, was
4 regarded, not only in France, but over all Europe, as
4 the mod perfeft model of a great prince. But what
4 were the talents and virtues by which he acquired this
4 great reputation ? Was it by the fcrupulous and inflex- -
4 ible juftice of all his undertakings, by the immenfe j
4 dangers and difficulties with which they were attended, |
4 or by the unwearied and unrelenting application with
4 which he purfued them ? Was it by his extenfive
4 knowledge, by his exquifite judgment, or by his hero-
4 ic valour ? It was by none of thefe qualities. But he
4 was, firft of all, the mod powerful prince in Europe,
4 and confequently held the highed rank among kings ;
4 and then, fays his hidorian, 44 he furpaffed all his cour-
44 tiers in the gracefulnefs of his fhape, and the majedic
44 beauty of his features. The found of his voice, no-
44 ble and affe&ing, gained thofe hearts which his pre-
44 fence intimidated. He had a dep and a deportment
44 which could fuit only him and his rank, and which
44 would have been ridiculous in any other perfon.
44 The embarraffment'which he occafioned to thofe who
44 fpoke to him, flattered that fecret fatisfa&ion with
i44 which he felt his own fuperiority.M 4 Thefe frivo-
4 lous accomplilhments, fupported by his rank, and, no
doubt,


RIGHTS OF WOMAtf.
8'S
* doubt too, by a degree of other talents and virtues,
* which feems, however, not to have been much above
4 mediocrity, eftabliihed this prince in the efteem of his
own age, and have drawn, even from pofterity, a good
1 deal of refpe<5t for his memory. Compared with thefe,
i in his own times, and in his own prefence, no other
\,vu*tue, it feems, appeared to have any merit, Knovv-
* ledge, induftry, valour, and beneficence, trembling*
* were abaflied, and loft all dignity before them.*
Woman alfo thus dn her felt complete/ by poffefling
all thefe/hW^jaccomplifliments, fo changes the nature
of things
--------* Float what foe wills to do or Jay
4 Seems zvifejly virtuoujej, dijcreetejl^ heji ;
- , 4 All higher knowledge in her prefence falls
4 Degraded. TVifdom in difccurfe with her
4 Ltfes dijcountenanc'd, andy like Folly tfoowsj
4 Authority and Reafon on her wait A
And all this is built on her lovelinefs!
In the middle rank of life, to continue the compan-
ion, men, in their youth, are prepared for profeftions,
and marriage is not confidered as the grand feature in
their lives; whilft women, on the contrary, have no
other fchemeto fharpen their faculties. It is not bufi-
nefs, extenfive plans, or any of the excurfive flights of
ambition, that .engrofs their attention ; no, their thoughts
are not employed in rearing fuch noble ftru&ures. To
rife in the world, and have the liberty of running from
pleafure to pleafure, they muft marry advantageoufly,
and to this obje£l their time is facrificed, and their per-
fons often legally proftituted. A man when he enters
any profeflion has his eye fteadily fixed on fome future
advantage (and the mind gains great ftrength by having
all its efforts direfted to one point), and, full of his bufi-
H nefs,


86
VINDICATION OF THE
nefs, pleafure is considered as mere relaxation ; whilfl
women feek for pleafure as the main purp'ofe of exig-
ence. In fad, from the education, which they receive
from fociety, the love of pleafure may be fa id to govern
them all; but does this prove that there is a fex in fouls ?
It would be juft as rational to declare that the courtiers
in France, when a dellrudive fyftem of defpotifm had
formed their charader, were not men, becaufe liberty,
virtue, and humanity, were facrificed to pleafure and
vanity.Fatal paffions, which have ever domineered
over the whole race !
The fame love of pleafure, foftered by the whole ten-
dency of their education, gives a trifling turn to the con-
dud of women in mod circumftances : for inllance, they
are ever anxious about fecondary things ; and on the
watch for adventures, inftead of being occupied by du-
ties.
A man, when he undertakes a journey, has, in gene-
ral, the end in view; a woman thinks more of the in-
cidental occurrences, the ftrange things that may pofli-
bly occur on the road; the impreflion that {he may
make on her fellow-travellers ; and, above all, fhe is anx-
ioufly intent on the care of the finery that llie carries
with her, which'is more than ever a pprt of herfelf,
when going to figure on a new (cene; when, to ufe an
apt French turn of expreffion, fhe is going to produce a
fen fat i o.mCan dignity of mind ex i ft with fuch trivial
cares ?
In fhort, women, in general, as well as the rich of
both fexes, have acquired all the follies and vices of ci-
vilization, and miifed theufeful fruit. It is not necef-
fary for me always to premife, that I fpeak of the con-
dition of the whole fex, leaving exceptions out of the
queftion. Their fenfes are inflamed, and their under-
ftandings negleded, confequently they become the prey
of their fenfes, delicately termed fenfibility, and are
"blown about by every momentary gull of feeling, d hey
are,


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
8?
are, therefore, in a much vvorfe condition than they
would be in were they in a fhite nearer to nature. Ever
reftlefs and anxious, their over exercifed Icnfibility not
only renders them uncomfortable themleives, but trou-
blesome, to life a loft phrale, to others. All their
thoughts turn on things calculated to excite emotion;
and feeling, when they (hould rcafon, their conduit is
linkable, and their opinions are waveringnot the wa-
vering produced by deliberation or progrelfive views,
but by contradictory emotions. By fits and (tarts they
are warm in many purfuits; yet this warmth, never
concentrated into perfeverance, loon exhaufis iifelf;
exhaled by its own heat, or meeting with fome other
fleeting paflion, to which reafon has never given any
fpeciSc gravity, neutrality enfues. Miferable, indeed,
mult be tha? being whofe cultivation of mind has o:vly
tended to indame its pallions! A diitinCtion (hould be
made between inflaming and ftrengthening them. The
pallions thus pampered, whilft the judgment is left un-
formed, what can be expeCted to enfue?Undoubtedly,
a mixture of madnefs and folly !
This c-bfervation (hould not be confined to the fair
fex ; however, at prefent, I only mean to apply it to
them.
Novels, mufic, poetry, and gallantry, all tend to make
women the creatures of fenlation, and their character
is thus formed during the time they are acquiring ac-
complilhments, the only improvement they are excited,
by their union in foe let y, to acquire. This overft retch-
ed fenfibiiity nrurally relaxes the other powers of the
mind, and prevents intellect from attaining that fove-
reignty which it ought to attain to render a rational
creature uleful to others, and content with its own Hati-
on: for the exercife of the utiderftanding, as life ad-
vances, is the only method pointed out by nature to
calm the paflions.
H 2 Satiety


VINDICATION OF THE
£8
Satiety has a very different effect, and I have often
been forcibly ftruck by an emphatical defeription of
damnation :when the fpirit is reprefented as continu-
ally hovering with abortive eagernefs round the defiled
body, unable to enjoy any thing without the organs of
ienfe. Yet, to their fenfes, are women made Haves,
becaufe it is by their fenlibility that they obtain prefent
power.
And will moralifts pretend to afferr, that this is the
condition in which one half of the human race Ihould
be encouraged to remain with liftlefs inactivity and ftu-
pid acquiefcence? Kind inliructors! what were we
created for ? To remain, it may be faid, innocent; they
mean in a Hate of childhood.We might as well never
have been born, unlefs it were neceflary that we Ihould
b* created to enable man to acquire the noble privilege
of reafon, the power of difeerning good from evil,
whilft we lie down in the du(t from whence we were
taken, never to rife again.
It would be an endlefs talk to trace the variety of
meanneffes, cares, and forrows, into which women are
plunged by the prevailing opinion, that they were creat-
ed rather to feel than reafon, and that all the power they
obtain, mu ft beobtained by their charms and weaknefs :
( Fine by defeft, and amiably weak !*
And, made by this amiable vveaknefs entirely dependent,
excepting-what.they gain by illicit fway, on man, not
only for protection, but advice, it is furprifing that, ne-
glecting the duties that reafon alone points out, and
fhrinking from trials calculated to ftrengthen their
minds, they only exert themfelves to give their defeats
a graceful covering, which may ferve to heighten their
charms in the eye of the voluptuary, though it link them
below the fcale of moral excellence ?
Fragile in every fenfe of the word, they are obliged to
look up to man for every comfort. In the molt trifling
dangers


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
s9
dangers they cling to their fupport, with parafitical te-
nacity, piteoufly demanding fuccour; and their natural
prote£lor extends his arm, or lifts up his voice, to guard
the lovely tremblerfrom what ? Perhaps the frown of
an old cow, or the jump of a moufe; a rat, would be
a ferious danger. In the name of reafon, and even
common ferife, what can fave fuch beings from con-
tempt ; even though they be foft and fair ?
Tlicfe fears, when not afFe/ted, may be very pretty ;
but they fhcw a degree of imbecility that degrades a ra-
tional creature in a way women arc not aware offor
love and eftecm are very diftin£l things.
I am fully perfuaded that we fhould hear of none of
thefe infantine airs, if girls were allowed to take fuffi-
cient exercife, and not confined in clofe rooms till their
mufcles are relaxed, and their powers of digeftion de-
flroyed. To carry the remark (fill further, if fear in
girls, inftead of being cherifhed, perhaps, created, was
treated in the fame manner as cowardice in boys, we
fhould quickly fee women with more dignified afpedts.
It is true, they could not then with equal propriety be
termed the fweet flowers that frnile in the walk of man;
but they would be more refpe£table members of fociety,
and difcharge the important duties of life by the light
of their own reafon. 1 Educate women like men, fays
Roufle^u, i and the more they refemble our fex the lefs
power will they have over us/ This is the very point
I aim at. I do not wifh them to have power over men;
but over themfelves.
In the fame (train have I heard men argue agiinfl
inftrudting the poor ; for many are the forms that ari-
f toe racy aflumes.* Teach them to read and write/ fay
they, and you take them out of the flat ion afligneil
1 them by nature/ An eloquent Frenchman has an-
fwered them, I will borrow his fentiments. But they
know not, when they make man a brute, that they may
expect every inflant to fee him transformed into a fero-
PI 3 cious


9
VINDICATION OF THE
cious bead. Without knowledge there can be no mo-
rality !
Ignorance is a frail bafe for virtue Yet, that it is the
condition for which woman was organized, has been
infilled upon by the writers who have mod vehemently
argued in favour of the fuperiority of man ; a fuperiori-
ty not in degree, but elfence; though, to loften the ar-
gument, they have laboured to prove, with chivalrous
generofity, that the fexes ought not to be compared ;
man was made to reafon, woman to feel: and that to-
gether, flefii and fpirit, they make the mod perfeCt
whole, by blending happily reafon and fenlibility into
one charaCler.
And what is fenfibility ? 1 Quicknefs of fenfation;
quicknefs of perception ; delicacy/ Thus it is defined
by Dr. Johnfon ; and the definition gives me no other idea
than of the mod exquifitely polifhed indinCt. 1 difcern
not a trace of the image of God in either fenfation or
matter. Refined feventy times feven, they are dill ma-
terial ; intellect dwells not there; nor will fire ever
make lead gold!
I come round to my old argument ; if woman be al-
lowed to have an immortal foul, die mud have, as the
employment of life, an underftanding to improve. And
when, to render the prefent date more complete, though
cv.ery thing proves it to be but a fra&ion of a mighty
fum, fhe is incited by prefent gratification to forget her
grand dedination, Nature is counteracted, or die was
born only to procreate and rot. Or, granting brutes,,
of every defeription, a foul, though not a reafonable one,
the exjpicife of indinct and fenfibility may be the dep,
which they are to take, in this life, towards the attain-
ment of reafon in the next; fo that through all eternity
they will lag behind man, who, why we cannot tell, had
the power given him of attaining reafon in his firft mode
of exideuce.
When


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
9*
When I treat of the peculiar duties of women, as I
fliould treat of the peculiar duties of a citizen or father,
it will be found that I do not mean to infinuate that they
fliould be taken out of their families, fpeaking of the
majority. He that hath wife and children, fays Lord
Bacon, hath given hoftages to fortune; for they are
* impediments to great enterprifes* either of virtue or
mifchief. Certainly the belt works, and of greatefl:
* merit for the public, have proceeded from the unmar-
i riedor childlefs men, I fay the fame of women. But,
the welfare of fociety is not built on extraordinary exer-
tions ; and were it more reafonably organized, there
would be (till lefs need of great abilities, or heroic vir-
tues.
In the regulation of a family, in the education of chil-
dren, undemanding, in an unfophifticated fenfe, is par-
ticularly required: ftrength both of body and mind ; yet
the men who, by their writings, have mod earneflly la-
boured to domefticate women, have endeavoured, by ar-
guments dictated by a grofs appetite, that fatiety had
rendered faftidious, to weaken their bodies and cramp
their minds. But, if even by thefe fmifter methods they
really perfuaded women, by working on their feelings,
to (lay at home, and fulfil the duties of a mother and
miftrefs of a family, I fliould cautioufly oppofe opinions
that led women to right conduct, by prevailing on them
to make the difcharge of a duty the bufinefs of life,
though reafon were infulted. Yet, and I appeal to ex-
perience, if by negleCting the underftanding they are as
much, nay, more detached from thefe domeftic duties,
than they could be by the mod ferious intellectual pur-
fuit, though it may be obferved, that the mafs of man-
kind will never vigoroufly purfue an intellectual objeCl*,
1 may be allowed to infer that reafon is abfolutely necef-
* The mafs of mankind are rather the jlaves cf their ap-
petites than of their pafjions.
fary


92
VINDICATION OF THE
fary to enable a woman to perform any duty properly*
and I mull: again repeat, that fenfibility is not reafon.
The comparifon with the rich Hill oceurs to me ; for,
when men negleft the duties of humanity, women will
do the fame; a common dream hurries them both along
with thoughtlefs celerity. Riches and'honours prevent i
a man from enlarging his underllanding, and enervate !
all his powers by reverling the order of nature, which
has ever made true pleafure the reward of labour. Plea-
fureenervating pleafure is, likewife, within womens
reach without earning it, But, till hereditary pofleffions
are fpread abroad, how can we expeCl men to be proud
of virtue? And, till they are, women, will govern them
by the mod direct means, neglecting their dull domeflic
duties to catch the pleafure that is on the wing of time.
The power of the woman, fays fome author, is her
* fenfibility ; and men, not aware of the confequence,.
do all they can to make this power fwallow up every
other. Thofe who condantly employ their fenfibility
will have mod: for example ; poets, painters, and coin-
pofers*. Yet, when the fenfibility is thus increafed at
the expence of reafon, and even the imagination, why do>
philofophical men complain of their ficklenefs ? The
fexual attention of man particularly ads on female fen-
fibility, and this fympathy has beenexercifed from their
youth up.. A hufband cannot long pay thofe attentions
with the paflion necedary to excite lively emotions, and
the heart, accudomed to lively emotions, turns to a new
lover, or pines in fecret, the prey of virtue or prudence.
I mean when the heart has really been rendered fufeep-
tible, and the tade formed; for I am apt to conclude,,
from what I have feen in fafhionable life, that vanity is
* Men ofthefe deferiptions pour it into their compofitions,
to amalgamate thegrojs materials ; and> moulding them with
pajjion, give to the inert body a foul; but, in woman s imagi-
nation*, kve alone concentrates thefe ethereal beams.
oftener


RIGHTS OF WOMAN*
93
>ftener fodered than fenfibi! ity by the mode of education*
md the intercourfe between the fexes, which I have re-
)robated ; and that coquetry more frequently proceeds
rom vanity than from that incondancy, which over-
trained fenfibility naturally produces.
Another argument that has had a great weight with
.Tie, mud, I think, have fome force with every confi-
Jerate, benevolent heart. Girls who have been thus
weakly educated, are often cruelly left by their parents
without any provifion ; and, of courle, are dependent on
not only the reafon, but the bounty of their brothers.
Thefe brothers are, to view the faired fide of thequedi-
on, good lbrt of men, and give as a favour, what chil-
dren of the fame parents had an equal right to. In this
equivocal humiliating fituation, a docile female may re-
main fome time, with a tolerable degree of comfort. But,
when the brother marries, a probable circumdance, from
being confidered as the midrefs of the family, {he is
viewed with averted looks as an intruder, an unneceffa-
ry burden on the benevolence of the mader of the houfe,
and his new partner.
Who can recount the mifery, which many unfortu-
nate beings, whofe minds and bodies are equally weak,
fuffer in luch fituationsunable to work, and adiamed
to beg r The wife, a cold-hearted, narrow-minded, wo-
man, and this is not an unfair fuppoiition ; for the pre-
fent mode of education does not tend to enlarge the
heart any more than the underdanding, is jealous of the
little kindnefs which her hufband {hews to his relations;
and her fenfibility not rifing to humanity, die is difpleaf-
ed at feeing the property of her children lavifhed on an
helplefs fider.
Thefe are matters of faft, which have come under
my eye, again and again. The confequence is obvious,
the wife has recourfe to cunning to undermine the habi-
tual affe£lion, which (he is afraid openly to oppofe ; and
neither tears nor carelfes are fpared till the fpy is work-


VINDICATION OF THE
94
ed out of her home, and thrown on the world, unprepar-
ed for its difficulties ; or fent, as a great effort of gene-
rality, or from fome regard to propriety, with a fmali
ftipend, and an uncultivated mind, intojoyiefs folitude.
Thefe two women may be much upon a par, with
refpedl to reafon and humanity; and changing fituati-
ons, might havea£ted juft the fame felffth part; but had
they been differently educated, the cafe would alio have
been very different. The wife would not have had that
fenfibility, off which ffelf is the centre, and reafon might
have taught her not to expedt, and not even to be flat-
tered, by the affe&ion of her hufband, if it led him to
violate prior duties. She would wilh not to love him
merely becaufe he loved her, but on account of his vir-
tues ; and the After might have been able toftruggle for
herfelf inftcad of eating the bitter bread of dependence.
I am, indeed, perfuaded that the heart, as well as the
underftanding, is opened by cultivation ; and by, which
may not appear ffo clear, {lengthening the organs ; I
am not now talking of momentary flaffies of fenfibility,
but of affe£lions. And, perhaps, in the education of
both fexes, the mod difficult talk is fo to adjuft inftrudti-
on as not to narrow the underftanding, whilft the heart is
warmed by the generous juices of fpring, juft raifed by
the ele£lric fermentation of the feafon ; nor to dry up
the feelings by employing the mind in inveftigations re-
mote from life.
With refpecl to women, when they receive a careful
education, they are either made fine ladies, brimful of
fenfibility, and teeming with capricious fancies; or
mere notable women. The latter are often friendly,
honeft creatures, and have a fhrevvd kind of good fenfe
joined with worldly prudence, that often render them
more r.feful members of fociety than the fine fentiment-
al lady, though they poffefs neither greatnefs of mind
nor taffte. The intelle£lual world is lhi.it againfl: them ;
take them out of their family or neighbourhood, and
they


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
95
they (land dill ; th mind finding no employment, for
literature affords a fund of amufement which they have
never fought to relilh, but frequently to defpife. The
fentiments and tafte of more cultivated minds appear ri-
diculous, even in thofe whom chance and family con-
nexions have led them to love; but in mere acquaint-
ance they think it all affeXation.
A man of fenfe can only love fuch a woman on ac-
count of her fex, and refpeX her, becaufeihe is a trufty
fervant. He lets her, to preferve his own peace, fcold
the fervants, and go to church in clothes made of the
very belt materials. A man of her own fize of under-
ftanding would, probably, not agree fo well with her ;
for he might wifti to encroach on her prerogative, and
manage fome domeftic concerns himfelf. Yet women,
vvhofe minds are not enlarged by cultivation, or the natu-
ral felfifhnefs of fenfibility expanded by refleXion, are
very unfit to manage a family ; for, by an undue ftretch
of power, they are always tyrannizing to fupport a fupe-
riority that only refts on the arbitrary diftinXion of for-
tune. The evil is fometimes more ferious, and domef-
tics are deprived of innocent indulgencies, and made to
work beyond their ftrength, in order toenable the notable
woman to keep a better tabfe^ and outihine her neigh-
bours in finery and parade. If fhe attend to her chil-
dren, it is, in general, to drefs them in a coftly manner
and, whether this attention arifes frarn vanity or fond-
nefs, it is equally pernicious.
Befides, how many women of this defeription pafs
their days ; or, at lead, their evenings, difcontentedly.
Their hu.fbands acknowledge that they are good manag-
ers, and chafle wives ; but leave home to feek for more
agreeable, may I be allowed to ufe a fignificant French
word, piquant fociety ; and the patient drudge, who ful-
fils her rafk, like a blind horfe in a mill, is defrauded of
her juft re ward ; for the wages due to her are the careftes
of her hufband; and women who have fo few refources
in


9&
VINDICATION OF THE
in themfelves, do not very patiently bear this privation'
of a natural right.
A fine lady, on the contrary, has been taught to look
down with contempt on the vulgar employments oflife;
though file has only been incited to acquire accompliih-
ments that rife a degree above fenfe ; for even corporeal
accomplifhments cannot be acquired with any degree of.
precifion, unlefs the underftanding has been ftrengthen-
ed by exercife. Without a foundation of principles
tafte is fuperficial; and grace muft arife from fomething
deeper than imitation. The imagination, however, is
heated, and the feelings rendered faftidious, if not fophif-
ticated; or, a counterpoife of judgment is not acquired,
when the heart ftill remains artlefs, though it becomes
.too tender.
-Thefe women are often amiable; and their hearts,
are really more fenfible to general benevolence, more a-
live to the fentiments that civilize life, than the fquare-
elbowed family drudge; but, wanting a due proportion
of reflexion and felf-government, they only infpire love;
and are the miftrefles of their hufibands, whilft they have/
any hold on their affedtidns; and the platonic friends of
his male acquaintance. Thefe are the fair defeats in*
nature ; the women who appear to be created not to en-:
joy the fellowfhipof man, but to fave him from finking
into abfolute brutality, by rubbing off the rough angles
of his charadter; and by playful dalliance to give fome.
dignity to the appetite that draws him to them.Gra-
cious Creator of the whole human race! haft thou creat-
ed fuch a being as woman, who can trace thy wifdom
in thy works, and feel that thou alone art by thy nature,
exalted above her,-for no better purpofe?Can fhe be-
lieve that fhe was only made to fubmit to man her equal;
a being, who, like her, was fent into the world to ac-
quire virtue?Can fhe confent to be occupied merely
to pleafe him ; merely to adorn the earth, when her foul
is capable of rifing to thee?And can fhe reft fupinely
dependent


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
97
dependent on man for reafon, when fhe ought to mount
with him the arduous fteeps of knowledge r
Yet, if love be the fupreme good, let women be only*
educated to infpire it, and let every charm be poliihed to
intoxicate the fenfes ; but, if they are moral beings, let
them have a chance to become intelligent ; and let love
to man be only a part of that glow ing flame of univerfal
love, which, after encircling humanity, mounts in grate-
ful incenfe to God.
To fulfil domeftic duties much refolution is necefiary,
and a ferious kind of perfeverance that requires a more
firm fuppovt than emotions, however lively and true to
nature. To give an example of order, the foul of virtue,
fonae auflerity of behaviour mull be adopted, fcarcely to
be expefied from a being who, from its infancy, has
been made the weathercock of its own fenfations.
Whoever rationally means to be ufeful mufl have a plan
of conduct ; and, in the difcharge of the fimpleft duty,
we are often obliged to adt contrary to the prefent im-
pulfeof tendernefs or companion. Severity is frequent-
ly the moll certain, as well as the mod fiiblime proof of
.left ion ; and the want of this power over the feelings,
:nd of that lofty, dignified affedtion, which makes aper-
fon prefer the future good of the beloved objedt to a pre-
fent gratification, is the reafon why fo many fond mo-
thers fpoil their children, and has made it queftionable
whether negligence or indulgence is moft hurtful: but
I am inclined to think, that the latter has done moft
harm.
Mankind feem to agree that children fliould be left
Under the management of women during their childhood.
Now, from all the obfervation that I have-been able to
make, women of fenfibility are the moft unfit for this
talk, becanfe they will infallibly, carried away by their
feelings, fpoil a childs temper. The management of
the temper, the firft, and moft important branch of edu-
cation, requires the fober fteady eye of reafon ; a plan of
I conduct


98 VINDICATION OF TH25
conduct equally diflant from tyranny and indulgence:
yet thefe are the extremes that people of fenfibility al-
ternately fall into; always fhooting beyond the mark.
I have followed this train ofreafoning much further, till
1 have concluded, that a perfon of genius is the molt im-
proper, perfon to be employed in education, public or I
private. Minds of this rare fpecies fee things too much I
in mattes, and feldom, if ever, have a good temper.
That habitual cheerfulnefs, termed good humour, is, -j
perhaps, as feldotir uni ted with great mental powers, as 1
with ftrong feelings. And thofe people who follow, i
with interefl and admiration, the flights of genius ; or, J
with cooler approbation fuck in the inftrudtion which j
has been elaborately prepared for them by the profound
thinker, ought not to be difgufted, if they find the for-
mer choleric, and the latter morofe ; becaufe livelinefs of
fancy, and a tenacious comprehenfion of mind, are fierce-
ly compatible with that pliant urbanity which leads a
man, at lead, to bend to the opinions and prejudices of
others, inflead of roughly confronting them.
But, treating of education or manners, minds of a fu-
perior clafs are not to be confidered, they may be left to
chance ; it is the multitude, wth moderate abilities, who
call for inftrudlion, and catch the colour of the atmof-
phere they breathe. This refpedtable concourfe, I con-
tend, men and women, fhould not have their fenfations
heightened in the hot-bed of luxurious indolence, at the
expence of their underflanding; for, unlefs there be a j
ballad of underflanding, they will never become either J
virtuous orfree: an ariltocracy, founded on property, or *
fieriing talents, will ever fweep before it, the alternate- ;
ly timid, and ferocious, (laves of feeling.
Numberlefs are the arguments, to take another view ;
of the fubjed^, brought forward with a fhew of reafon ;
becaufe fuppofed to be deduced from nature, that men ^
haveufed morally and phyfically, to degrade the fex. I *
muft notice a few. t
The


RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
99
The female underftanding has often been fpoken of
with contempt, as arriving fooner at maturity than the
male. I {hall not anfwer this argument by alluding to
the early proofs of reafon, as well as genius, in Cowley,
Milton, and Pope*, but only appeal to experience to de-
cide whether young men, who are early introduced into
company (and examples now abound) do not acquire the
fame precocity. So notorious is this faft, that the bare
mentioning of it muft bring before people, who at all
mix in the world, the idea of a number of fwaggeriqg
apes of men, whofe underftandings are narrovyed by be-
ing brought into the fociety of men when they ought to
have been fpinning a top or twirling a hoop.
It has alfo been afferted, by fome natural ids, that men
do not attain their full growth and ftrength till thirty ;
but that women arrive at maturity by twenty. I appre-
hend that they reafon on falfe ground, led aftray by the
male prejudice, which deems beauty the perfection of
womanmere beauty of features and complexion, the
vulgar acceptation of the world, whilft male beauty is
allowed to have fome connect ion with the mind. Strength
.of body, and that character of countenance, which the
French term a pbyfionomie, women do not acquire before
thirty, any more than men. The little artlefs tricks of
children, it is true, are particularly pleafing rnd attrac-
tive ; yet, when the pretty frefhnefs of youth is worn off,
thefe artlefs graces become ftudied airs, and difguft eve-
ry perfon of tafte. In the countenance of girls we only
look for vivacity and bafhful modefty ; but, the fpring-
tide of life over, we look for foberer fenfe in the face,
and for traces of pa(Tion, inftead of the dimples of animal
fpirits; expecting to fee -individuality of character, the
only faftener of the affedYionsf. We then wifh to con-
verfe,
* Many other names might he added.
+ The Jlrcngth of an affection is, generally, in the fame
I % proportion


ICO
-VINDICATION OF THE
verfe, not to fondle ; to give fcope to our imaginations
as well as to the fenfations of our hearts.
At twenty the beauty of both fexes is equal ; but the
libertinifm of man leads him to make the dibindion, and
fuperannuated coquettes are commonly of the fame opi-
nion; for, when they can no longer infpire love, they
pay for the vigour and vivacity of youth. The French*
who admit more of mind into their notions of beauty,
give the preference to women of thirty. I mean to fay
that they allow women to be in their mod perfect Rate,
when vivacity gives place to reafon, and to that magedic
ferioufnefs of charader, which marks maturity;or,
the refling point. In youth, till twenty, the body (boots
out, till thirty the folids are attaining a degree of denfity ;
and the flexible mufcles, growing daily more rigid, give
charader to the countenance ; that is, they trace the ope-
rations of the mind with the iron pen of fate, and tell
us.not only what powers are within, but how they have
been employed.
It is proper to obferve, that animals who arrive (low-
ly at maturity, are the longed lived, and of the nobleft
fpecies. Men cannot, however, claim any natural fu-
periority from the grandeur of longevity ; for in this re-
fped nature has not diftinguifhed the male.
Polygamy is another phyfical degradation ; and a
plaufible argument for a cuflom, that blafts every do-
medic virtue, is drawn from the welbattefled fad, that
in the countries where it is edablilhed, more females
are born than males. This appears to be an indication
of nature, and to nature, apparently reafonable fpecula-
tions mud yield. A further conclufion obvioudy pre-
fented itfelf; if polygamy be neceflary, woman mud be
inferior to man, and made for him.
proportion as the character of the fpecies in the object beloved,
is loft in that of the individual
With