She spent her early years with her mother's family in England, until her mother's death when Maria was five.
I congratulate you, my dear sir, upon the birth of your daughter; and I wish that some of the fairies of ancient times were at hand to endow the damsel with health, wealth, wit, and beauty.
As I know it to be your opinion, that it is in the power of education, more certainly than it was ever believed to be in the power of fairies, to bestow all mental gifts; and as I have heard you say that education should begin as early as possible, I am in haste to offer you my sentiments, lest my advice should come too late.
Your general ideas of the habits and virtues essential to the perfection of the female character nearly agree with mine; but we differ materially as to the cultivation, which it is necessary or expedient to bestow upon the understandings of women.
You are a champion for the rights of woman, and insist upon the equality of the sexes: I cannot say that I have been much enraptured, either on a first view or on a closer inspection, with female prodigies. Prodigies are scarcely less offensive to my taste than monsters; humanity makes us refrain from expressing disgust at the awkward shame of the one, whilst the intemperate vanity of the other justly provokes ridicule and indignation.
I have always observed in the understandings of women who have been too much cultivated, some disproportion between the different faculties of their minds. One power of the mind undoubtedly may be cultivated at the expense of the rest, as we see that one muscle or limb may acquire excessive strength and an unnatural size, at the expense of the health of the whole body: I cannot think this desirable, either for the individual or for society.
I have seen women vain of exhibiting mental deformities, which to me appeared no less disgusting. In the course of my life it has never been my good fortune to meet with a female whose mind, in strength, just proportion, and activity, I could compare to that of a sensible man.
Allowing, however, that women are equal to our sex in natural abilities; from their situation in society, from their domestic duties, their taste for dissipation, their love of romance, poetry, and all the lighter parts of literature, their time must be so fully occupied, that they could never have leisure for, even supposing that they were capable of, that severe application to which our sex submit.
From academies, colleges, public libraries, private associations of literary men, women are excluded, if not by law, at least by custom, which cannot easily be conquered. Much attention has lately been paid to the education of the female sex; and you will say that we have been amply repaid for our care, — that ladies have lately exhibited such brilliant proofs of genius, as must dazzle and confound their critics.
I do not ask for proofs of genius, I ask for solid proofs of utility. In which of the useful arts, in which of the exact sciences, have we been assisted by female sagacity or penetration?
I must not speak of my contemporaries, else candour might oblige me to allow, that there are some few instances of great talents applied to useful purposes: In poetry, plays and romances, in the art of imposing upon the understanding by means of the imagination, they have excelled; — but to useful literature they have scarcely turned their thoughts.
I have never heard of any female proficients in science — few have pretended to science till within these few years. You will tell me, that in the most difficult and most extensive science of politics women have succeeded; — you will cite the name of some illustrious queens.
I am inclined to think, with the Duke of Burgundy, that "queens who reigned well were governed by men, and kings who reigned ill were governed by women.
castle rackrent an essay on irish bulls an essay on the noble science of self justification Download castle rackrent an essay on irish bulls an essay on the noble science of self justification or read online books in PDF, EPUB, Tuebl, and Mobi Format. The final 'Essay on the Noble Science of Self-Justification' serves as a wry critique of women's own self-deceptions. Complex and provocative, Letters for Literary Ladies demonstrates Edgeworth's early exploration of the subject that would define her srmvision.com: Maria Edgeworth. Edgeworth, Maria, The grateful Negro ; and The manufacturers / (Halifax [Nova Scotia]: Milner and Sowerby, ), also by Maria Edgeworth and Maria Edgeworth (page images at HathiTrust) Edgeworth, Maria, Harrington, a tale ; and, Ormond, a tale.
I should not refer you to the scandalous chronicles of modern times, to volumes of private anecdotes, or to the abominable secret histories of courts, where female influence and female depravity are synonymous terms; but I appeal to the open equitable page of history, to a body of evidence collected from the testimony of ages, for experiments tried upon the grandest scale of which nature admits, registered by various hands, without the possibility of collusion, and without a view to any particular system: Trace the history of female nature, from the court of Augustus to the court of Louis XIV, and tell me whether you can hesitate to acknowledge that the influence, the liberty, and the power of women have been constant concomitants of the moral and political decline of empires; — I say the concomitants: You will assert, that the fatal consequences which have resulted from our trusting the sex with liberty and power, have been originally occasioned by the subjection and ignorance in which they had previously been held, and of our subsequent folly and imprudence, in throwing the reins of dominion into hands unprepared and uneducated to guide them.
I am at a loss to conceive any system of education that can properly prepare women for the exercise of power. Cultivate their understandings, "cleanse the visual orb with euphrasy and rue", till they can with one comprehensive glance take in "one half at least of round eternity"; still you have no security that their reason will govern their conduct.
The moral character seems, even amongst men of superior strength of mind, to have no certain dependence upon the reasoning faculty; — habit, prejudice, taste, example, and the different strength of various passions, form the moral character.
We are impelled to action, frequently contrary to the belief of our sober reason, and we pursue what we could, in the hour of deliberation, demonstrate to be inconsistent with that greatest possible share of happiness, which it is the object of every rational creature to secure.
We frequently "think with one species of enthusiasm, and act with another": Allow me, then, to warn you of the danger of talking in loud strains to the sex, of the noble contempt of prejudice. You would look with horror at one who should go to sap the foundations of the building; beware then how you venture to tear away the ivy which clings to the walls, and braces the loose stones together.
I am by no means disposed to indulge in the fashionable ridicule of prejudice. There is a sentimental, metaphysical argument, which, independently of all others, has lately been used, to prevail upon us to relinquish that superiority which strength of body in savage, and strength of mind in civilized nations, secure to man.
We are told, that as women are reasonable creatures, they should be governed only by reason; and that we disgrace ourselves, and enslave them when we instil even the most useful truths as prejudices. When are we to expect this conviction? We cannot expect it from childhood, scarcely from youth; but, from the maturity of the understanding, we are told that we may expect it with certainty.Compra Letters for Literary Ladies: To Which is Added, an Essay on the Noble Science of Self-Justification.
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