An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex/Letter 1

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An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex by Judith Drake
To the most ingenious Mrs. — on her admirable defence of her sex
This letter is a poem by James Drake for his wife, the author.
To the Moſt Ingenious Mrs. — or her admirable Defence of Her Sex.


LOng have we ſung the Fam’d Orinda’s praiſe,
And own’d Aſtrea‘s Title to the Bays,
We to their Wit have paid the Tribute due,
But ſhou‘d be Bankrupt before juſt to you.
Sweet flowing Numbers, and fine Thoughts they writ.
But you Eternal Truths, as well as Wit.
In them the Force of Harmony we find,
In you the Strengh, and Vigour of the Mind.
Dark Clouds of Prejudice obſcur’d their Verſe,
You with Victorious Proſe thoſe Clouds diſperſe;
Thoſe Foggs, which wou’d not to their Flame ſubmit,
Vaniſh before your Riſing Sun of Wit.
Our Sex have long thro’ Uſurpation reign’d,
And by their Tyranny their Rule maintain’d.
Till wanton grown with Arbitrary Sway
Depos’d by you They practice to obey,
Proudly ſubmitting, when ſuch Graces meet,
Beauty by Nature, and by Conqueſt Wit.
For Wit they had on their own Sex entail’d,
Till for your ſelf, and Sex you thus prevail’d.
Thrice happy Sex! Whoſe Foes ſuch Pow’r diſarms,
And gives freſh Luſtre to your native Charms,
Whoſe Nervous Senſe couch’d in cloſe Method lies,
Clear as her Soul, and piercing as her Eyes,
If any yet ſo ſtupid ſhou’d appear,
As ſtill to doubt, what ſhe has made ſo clear,
Her Beautie’s Arguments they would allow,
And to Her Eyes their full Converſion owe.
And by Experiment the World Convince.
The Force of Reaſon’s leſs, than that of Senſe.
Your Sex you with ſuch Charming Grace defend,
While that you vindicate, you Ours amend:
We in your Glaſs may ſee each foul defect,
And may not only ſee, but may correct.
In vain old Greece her Sages would compare,
They taught what Men ſhou‘d be, you what they are.
With doubtfull Notions they Mankind perplext,
And with unpracticable Precept vext.
In vain they ſtrove wild Paſſions to reclaim,
Uncertain what they were, or whence they came.
But you, who have found out their certain Source,
May with a happier Hand divert their Courſe.
Themſelves ſo little did thoſe Sages know,
That to their Failings We their Learning owe.
Their Vanity firſt caus’d ’em to aſpire,
And with fierce Wranglings ſet all Greece on Fire:
Thus into ſects they ſplit the Grecian youth,
Contending more for Victory than Truth.
Your Speculations nobler Ends perſue,
They aim not to be Popular, but true.
You with ſtrict Juſtice in an equal Light,
Expoſe both Wit and Folly to our Sight.
Yet as the Bee ſecure on Poyſon feeds,
Extracting Honey from the rankeſt Weeds:
So ſafely you in Fools Inſtructours find,
And Wiſdom in the Follies of mankind.
With purer Waves henceforth ſhall Satyr flow,
And we this change to your chaſt Labours owe;
Satyr before from a Polluted Source
Brought Native Filth, augmented in its courſe.
No longer muddy ſhall thoſe Streams appear,
Which you have purg‘d, and made ſo ſweet, and clear.
Well may you Wit to us a wonder ſeem,
So ſtrong’s the Current, yet ſo clear the ſtream,
Deep, but not Dull, thro’ each tranſparent Line
We ſee the Gems, which at the Bottom ſhine.
To your Correction freely we ſubmit,
Who teach us Modeſty as well as Wit.
Our Sex with Bluſhes muſt your Conqueſt own,
While yours prepare the Garlands you have won.
Your Fame ſecure long as your Sex ſhall laſt,
Nor Time, nor Envy ſhall your Lawrels blaſt.


James Drake.