An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex/Section 7

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I intend not in what remains to trouble you with any more ſuch inſtances; becauſe I am ſenſible theſe have already ſwell’d this Letter to a Volumn, which was not at firſt my intent. I ſhall therefore diſpatch the remaining part of the charge in as few Words as poſſible.
Diſſimulation become neceſſary.
Amongſt the reſt Diſſimulation is none of the leaſt Blemiſhes, which they endeavour to fix upon us. This Quality, though it can’t upon any occaſion deſerve the name of a Vertue, yet according to the preſent Conſtitution of the World, is many times abſolutely neceſſary, and is a main ingredient in the Compoſition of Human Prudence. It is indeed oftentimes criminal, but it is only accidentally ſo, as Induſtry, Wit, and moſt other good Qualities may be, according to the Ends and Purpoſes to which they are miſemploy’d. Diſſimulation is nothing but the hiding or diſguiſing our ſecret thoughts, or Inclinations under another appearance. I ſhall not endeavour to abſolve our Sex wholly from all uſe of this Quality, or Art (call it which you pleaſe) becauſe I think it may upon many ocſieaons be uſed with Innocence enough, and upon ſome can’t without great Imprudence be omitted. The World is too full of Craft, Malice, and Violence, for abſolute Simplicity to live in it. It behoves therefore our Sex as well as the other to live with ſo much Caution and Circumſpection in regard to their own Security, that their Thoughts and Inclinations may not be ſeen ſo naked, as to expoſe ’em to the Snares, deſigns, and practices of Crafty Knaves, who wou’d make a property of ’em; or lay ’em open to the wicked Efforts, and miſchievous Impreſſions of Envy, or Malice, whoſe pleaſure ſprings from the hurt of others. Nothing gives our Adverſaries ſo great an advantage over us, as the knowledge of our Opinions, and Affections, with ſomething agreable to which they will be ſure to bate all their Traps and Devices. For this reaſon it is that it has been Proverbially ſaid of Old, that, He that knows not how to diſſemble, knows not how to live. The Experience of all Ages ſince has confirm’d this Obſervation, and ours no leſs than any of the Preceding. This premis’d, I ſuppoſe no Wiſe Man will blame our Sex for the uſe of an Art ſo neceſſary, to preſerve ’em from becoming a Prey to every deſigning Man, an Art of which himſelf muſt make great uſe to deſerve that Title. Yet I am afraid, that upon enquiry our Sex will not be found to have ſo much of it as is requiſite, at leaſt not generally; Our ſedentary Life, and the narrow Limits to which our Acquaintance, and Buſineſs are Circumſcrib’d, afford us ſo little Variety, ſo regular a Face of things, that we want the means of obtaining the Maſter of ſo uſeful an Art, which no queſtion but we ſhou’d as ſoon acquire as Men, had we but equal Opportunities. Hence it is that Women are more apt to ſhow their Reſentments upon all Provocations than Men; and are thought naturally more Peeviſh and Captious, by thoſe that apprehend not the true reaſon; Whereas Men are altogether as Stomachful, and take Offence as ſoon, but they cover and ſuppreſs their Indignation better, not with a deſign to forget any Injury receiv’d, but to wreak their Revenge more covertly and effectually. This is another advantage Men derive from liberty of Converſation and promiſcuous Buſineſs, wherein the Variety of Contingencies they have to provide againſt, and the Diverſity of Tempers they deal with, force ’em to turn and wind themſelves into all Shapes, and accommodate themſelves to all Humours.
Diſſimulation when criminal.
There is indeed yet a higher ſort of Diſſimulation, which is always Criminal, that is when Men not only cloud their real Sentiments and Intentions, but make Profeſſion of and ſeem zealouſly to affect the contrary; this by a more proper and reſtrain’d Name is call’d Deceipt, and is always us’d in an ill Senſe. This Art is moſt practic’d in Courts where Policie, and Ambition reign; there You may ſee Enemies hugging and careſſing one another with all outward Expreſſions of Tenderneſs and Friendſhip imaginabe, while they are ſecretly contriving each others ruine. There you may ſee Men cringing to thoſe, they wou’d Spurn if they durſt, and Flattering thoſe they deſpiſe and rail at behind their Backs, The Court is a place where we come very rarely otherwiſe than as Spectators, not as Actours; as Ornaments, not as Inſtruments; and therefore are ſeldom involv’d in the guilty Practices of it. Nor is it the Court only, but all Places are infected with this Vice, where there is any Encouragement of Profit or Pleaſure to be hop’d from ſucceſsful Treachery, of which no Place is ſo barren as not to afford ſome. This Deceipt is ſo far from being the Vice of our Sex, that they are the common Object on which it is daily practic’d:
Falſe Love commonly practic’d.
Nothing is more frequently met with than falſe Love in Men, which is now grown ſo familiar, that a Company of Six of both Sexes can ſcarce meet, but a Sham Paſſion commences immediately, is urg’d, proteſted, and ſworn to be real with all imaginable Violence. If theſe falſe Arts, mock ſighing, and Dying prevail upon any fooliſh, eaſie, credulous Woman, the Sham Lover is blown up with the Succeſs, he is big and in Labour till he be deliver’d of the Secret, which with great ſatisfaction he proclaims in all Places where he comes: ’tis his higheſt Exploit of Gallantry, which he will by no means loſe the credit of. Thus he thinks her ruine a ſtep to Reputation, and founds his own Honour upon her Infamy. This Madam is the baſeſt of Treachery; for they are not ſatisfied with the Succeſs of their falſe Promiſes, and Oaths, but they inſult over the weakneſs of a too fond Woman, and Triumph in her Diſhonour. I am ſorry there are any Women ſo fooliſh and forward, as to give hopes and encouragement to ſuch ungenerous Fellows; yet we may be aſſur’d, that they are not a quarter ſo many as thoſe vain Boaſters wou’d make ’em. Much more be ſaid on this head, but that I think it high time to paſs on to the next, which is Enviouſneſs, ſo foul a Blot to a fair Character, that no Merit can waſh it out, or atone ſufficiently for it.