Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Letters for Literary Ladies

Virginia LLLer Deirdra McAfee sent a link to MARIA EDGEWORTH. LETTERS FOR LITERARY LADIES. To Which Is Added, An Essay On The Noble Science Of Self-Justification. Second Edition, Revised, 1798.

Deirdra notes, "Maybe our motto is buried somewhere in the first letter, the one from 'a gentleman to his friend.' " [That gentleman was no friend!]

Some choice nuggets:
...we differ materially as to the cultivation, which it is necessary or expedient to bestow upon the understandings of women. You are a champion for the rights of woman, and insist upon the equality of the sexes... I may confess to you that I see neither in experience nor analogy much reason to believe that, in the human species alone, there are no marks of inferiority in the female... In the course of my life it has never been my good fortune to meet with a female whose mind, in strength, just proportion, and activity, I could compare to that of a sensible man.

...Whenever women appear, even when we seem to admit them as our equals in understanding, every thing assumes a different form; our politeness, delicacy, habits towards the sex, forbid us to argue or to converse with them as we do with one another: – we see things as they are; but women must always see things through a veil, or cease to be women. – With these insuperable difficulties in their education and in their passage through life, it seems impossible that their minds should ever acquire that vigour and efficiency, which accurate knowledge and various experience of life and manners can bestow....

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