An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex

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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 ourſelves 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 myſelf 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, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.