An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex

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An essay in defence of the female sex.  (1696) 
by Judith Drake

Anonymously written, but attributed to Judith Drake.



In Defence of the


In which are inserted the



A Pedant, A Vertuoso,
A Squire, A Poetaster,
A Beau, A City-Critick, &c.

In a Letter to a Lady.

Written by a Lady.

The Third Edition with Additions.

Since each is fond of his own ugly Face;
Why shou’d you when we hold it break the Glass?

Prol. to Sir F. Flutter


Printed for A. Roper at the Black Boy, and R. Clavel at the Peacock, both in Fleetstreet, 1697.

“The Question I shall at present handle is, whether the time an ingenious Gentleman spends in the Company of Women, may justly be said to be misemploy’d, or not.”
“Our Company is generally by our Adversaries represented as unprofitable and irksome to Men of Sense, and by some of the more vehement Sticklers against us, as Criminal.”
“It remains then for us to enquire, whether the Bounty of Nature be wholly neglected, or stifled by us, or so far as to make us unworthy the Company of Men? Or whether our Education (as bad as it is) be not sufficient to make us a useful, nay, a necessary part of Society for the greatest part of Mankind.”
“Let us look into the manner of our Education, and see wherein it falls short of the Mens, and how the defects of it may be, and are generally supply’d.”
“To begin with Vanity, it is a Failing the greatest Part of Mankind are tinctured with, more or less.”
Impertinence is a humour of busying our selves about things trivial, and of no Moment in themselves, or unseasonably in things of no concern to us, or wherein we are able to do nothing to any Purpose.”
“Amongst the rest Dissimulation is none of the least Blemishes, which they endeavour to fix upon us.”
Envy is the Parent of Calumny, and the Daughter of Jealousie.”
“We stand yet charg’d with Levity, and Inconstancy, two Failings so nearly related, and so generally United, that it is hard to treat of ’em apart; we will therefore consider ’em briefly together.”
“These are the most considerable Imperfections, or at least those, which with most Colour of Reason are charg’d upon us, as general Defects; and I hope, Madam, I have fairly shown, that the other Sex are both by Interest and Inclination more expos’d, and more Subject to ’em than we, Pride, Lust, Cruelty, and many more, are by the Declaimers against us thrown into the Scale to make weight and bear us down, but with such manifest Injustice, that without giving my self any further trouble, I dare appeal to any reasonable Man, and leave him to decide the Difference.”


[Drake, Judith]. An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex. In Which Are Inserted the Characters of a Pedant, a Squire, a Beau, a Vertuoso, a Poetaster, a City-Critick, &c. In a Letter to a Lady. Written by a Lady. 1st edition. London: A. Roper, E. Wilkinson and R. Clavel, 1696. Facsimile in Internet Archive. Accessed 17 June 2009.

——. 3rd edition. London: A. Roper and R. Clavel, 1697. Facsimile in St Clair, William and Irmgard Maassen, eds. Conduct Literature for Women 1640–1710, Volume 5. London: Pickering & Chatto, 2002. pp. 4–188.

This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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