Page:Poems of Anne Countess of Winchilsea 1903.djvu/121

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INTRODUCTION cxvii ���way," who dares to trace "unusual things," will be con- sidered an intruder on the rights of men, a presumptuous creature whom no excellence of work can justify, and in many a dark moment she is ready to confess that "a woman's way to charm is not by writing." But when the splenetic mood is past she brings forth all sorts of defensive arguments, her best weapons being always drawn from the arsenal of the Old Testament. It was, in fact, almost imperative to carry on the contest with Hebrew arguments, for the foes to the advancement of women had from the out- set massed their forces in the Garden of Eden. This sort of discussion is well illustrated in some contemporary anonymous letters between a certain Chloe and Urania who are discussing woman's education. Chloe, being a repre- sentative Fair One, cannot argue for herself, but she repeats with pretty docility, and much apparent loss of force, the arguments of her lover, Lysander. His reasoning is to the effect that "in the Beginning Woman was created for Obedience and Man for Rule" but that if to the beauty of woman reason should be added, not Deity itself could main- tain the order of precedence. Urania in answer merely expresses a laconic surprise that Lysander should be so inti- mately in the secret counsels of the Almighty. But Mary Astell takes up, in a minute and exhaustive manner, the texts commonly quoted against female education, and she reaches the comforting conclusion that the " Bible is for, and not against us, and cannot, without great violence done to it, be urg'd to our prejudice." And Lady Winchilsea earnestly reminds her readers that holy virgins joined in the song when the ark was brought back ; that conquering David was welcomed by a bright chorus of women; that Deborah led the fainting hosts of Israel to victory, and so on through the convincing proofs that if Ardelias wish to write pindarics they should be given pen and ink. ��� �