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I do, with all the deference which befits a gentleman when a lady holds forth on the virtues of her own sex.

He is a parricide of his mother's name,
And with an impious hand murders her fame,
That wrongs the praise of woman; that dares write,
Libels on saints, or with foul ink requite
The milk they lent us.

Yours was the nobler birth,
For you from man were made-man but of earth
The son of dust!


What's this?


“Only a rhyme I learned from one I talked withal;" 'tis a quotation from some old poet that has fixed itself in my memory-from Randolph, I think.

ALDA. 'Tis very justly thought, and very politely quoted, and my best curtsey is due to him and to you ;-but now will you listen to me?


With most profound humility.


Nay then! I have done, unless you will lay aside these mock airs of gallantry, and listen to me for a moment ! Is it fair to bring a second-hand accusation against me, and not attend to my defence ?

MEDON. Well, I will be serious.

Do so, and let us talk like reasonable beings.


Then tell me, (as a reasonable woman you will not be affronted with the question,) do you really expect that any one will read this little book of yours?


I might answer, that it has been a great source of amusement and interest to me for several months, and that so far I am content; but no one writes a book without a hope of finding readers, and I shall find a few. Accident first made me an authoress ; and not now, or ever, have I written to flatter any prevailing fashion of the day for the sake of profit, though this is done, I know, by many who have less excuse for thus coining their brains. This little book was undertaken without a thought of fame or money: out of the fullness of my own heart and soul have I written it. In the pleasure it has given me, in the new and various views of human nature it has opened to me, in the beautiful and soothing images, it has placed before me, in the exercise and improvement of my own faculties, I have already been repaid ; if praise or profit come beside, they come as a surplus. I should be gratified and grateful, but I have not sought for them, nor worked for them. Do you believe this?


I do: in this I cannot suspect you of affectation, for the profession of disinterestedness is uncalled for, and the contrary would be too far countenanced by the custom of the day to be matter of reserve or reproach. But how could you, (saving the reverence due to a lady authoress, and speaking as one reasonable being to another,) choose such a thread bare subject?


What do you mean?

MEDON. I presume you have written a book to maintain the superiority of your sex over ours; for so I judge by the names at the heads of some of your chapters; women, fit indeed to inlay heaven with stars, but, pardon me, very unlike those who at present walk upon this earth.


Very unlike the fine ladies of your acquaintance, I grant you ; but as to maintaining the superiority, or speculating on the rights of women-nonsense ! why should you suspect me of such folly ?-it is quite out of date. Why should there be competition or comparison ?

MEDON. Both are ill judged and odious; but did you ever meet with a woman of the world, who did not abuse most heartily the whole race of men ?

ALDA. Did you ever talk with a man of the world, who did not speak with levity or contempt of the whole race of women?

MEDON. Perhaps I might answer like Voltaire—“ Hélas ! ils pourraient bien avoir raison tous deux." But do


thence infer that both are good for nothing?

ALDA. Thence I infer that the men of the world and the women of the world are neither of them-good for much.


And you have written a book to make them better?


Heaven forbid! else I were only fit for the next lunatic asylum. Vanity run mad never conceived such an impossible idea.

MEDON. Then, in few words, what is the subject, and what the object of your book?


I have endeavored to illustrate the various modifications of which the female character is susceptible, with their causes and results. My life has been spent in observing and thinking; I have had, as you well know, more opportunities for the first, more leisure for the last, than have fallen to the lot of most people. What I have seen, felt, thought, suffered, has led me to form certain opinions. It appears to me that the condition of women in society, as at present constituted, is false in itself, and injurious to them,—that the education of women, as at present conducted, is founded in mistaken principles, and tends to increase fearfully the sum of misery and error in both sexes; but I do not choose presumptuously to sling these opinions in the face of the world, in the form of essays on morality, and treatises on education. I have rather chosen to illustrate certain positions by examples, and leave my readers to deduce the moral themselves, and draw their own inferences.

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