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Silence Dogood essay 5: "Sir, I Shall here Present your Readers with a Letter ..."

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-- Mulier Mulieri magis congruet.     Ter.

To the Author of the New-England Courant.

["[No V" appears along right side of column. This number signifies this is the fifth Silence Dogood letter.]


I SHALL here present your Rea-
ders with a Letter from one,
who informs me that I have
begun at the wrong End of
my Business, and that I
ought to begin at Home,
and censure the Vices and
Follies of my own Sex, be-
fore I venture to meddle
with your's: Nevertheless,
I am resolved to dedicate
this Speculation to the Fair
Tribe, and endeavour to
show, that Mr. Ephraim
charges Women with be-
ing particularly guilty of Pride, Idleness, &c. wrongfully,
inasmuch as the Men have not only as great a Share in those
Vices as the Women, but are likewise in a great Measure
the Cause of that which the Women are guilty of. I think
it will be best to produce my Antagonist, before I encounter



" MY Design in troubling you with this Letter is, to de-
" sire you would begin with your own Sex first: Let the
" first Volley of your Resentments be directed against Fe-
" male Vice; let Female Idleness, Ignorance and Folly, (which
" are Vices more peculiar to your Sex than to our's,) be
" the Subject of your Satyrs, but more especially Female
" Pride, which I think is intollerable. Here is a large Field
" that wants Cultivation, and which I believe you are able
" (if willing) to improve with Advantage; and when you
" have once reformed the Women, you will find it a much
" easier Task to reform the Men, because Women are the
" prime Causes of a great many Male Enormities. This
" is all at present from

Your Friendly Wellwisher,
Ephraim Censorious."

AFTER Thanks to my Correspondent for his Kindness
in cutting out Work for me, I must assure him, that I find
it a very difficult Matter to reprove Women separate from
the Men; for what Vice is there in which the Men have
not as great a Share as the Women? and in some have
they not a far greater, as in Drunkenness, Swearing, &c.?
And if they have, then it follows, that when a Vice is to
be reproved, Men, who are most culpable, deserve the most
Reprehension, and certainly therefore, ought to have it.
But we will wave this Point at present, and proceed to
a particular Consideration of what my Correspondent calls
Female Vice.

As for Idleness, if I should Quaere, Where are the great-
est Number of its Votaries to be found, with us or the
Men? it might I believe be easily and truly answer'd, With
the latter
. For notwithstanding the Men are common-
ly complaining how hard they are forc'd to labour, only to
maintain their Wives in Pomp and Idleness, yet if you go
among the Women, you will learn, that they have always
more Work upon their Hands than they are able to do
, and
that a Woman's Work is never done, &c. But however,
Suppose we should grant for once, that we are generally
more idle than the Men, (without making any Allowance
for the Weakness of the Sex,) I desire to know whose Fault
it is? Are not the Men to blame for their Folly in main-
taining us in Idleness? Who is there that can be hand-
somely supported in Affluence, Ease and Pleasure by another,
that will chuse rather to earn his Bread by the Sweat of
his own Brows? And if a Man will be so fond and so foo-
lish, as to labour hard himself for a Livelihood, and suffer
his Wife in the mean Time to sit in Ease and Idleness,
let him not blame her if she does so, for it is in a great
Measure his own Fault.

And now for the Ignorance and Folly which he reproach-
es us with, let us see (if we are Fools and Ignoramus's)
whose is the Fault, the Men's or our's. An ingenious Wri-
ter, having this Subject in Hand, has the following Words,
wherein he lays the Fault wholly on the Men, for not al-
lowing Women the Advantages of Education.

"I have (says he) often thought of it as one of the most
" barbarous Customs in the World, considering us as a civi-
" liz'd and Christian Country, that we deny the Advanta-
" ges of Learning to Women. We reproach the Sex every
" Day with Folly and Impertinence, while I am confident,
" had they the Advantages of Education equal to us, they
" would be guilty of less than our selves. One would won-
" der indeed how it should happen that Women are conver-
" sible at all, since they are only beholding to natural Parts

" for all their Knowledge. Their Youth is spent to teach
" them to stitch and sow, or make Baubles: They are taught
" to read indeed, and perhaps to write their Names, or so;
" and that is the Heigth of a Womans Education. And I
" would but ask any who slight the Sex for their Understand-
" ing, What is a Man (a Gentleman, I mean) good for that
" is taught no more? If Knowlege and Understanding had
" been useless Additions to the Sex, God Almighty would
" never have given them Capacities, for he made nothing Need-
" less. What has the Woman done to forfeit the Priviledge of
" being taught? Does she plague us with her Pride and
" Impertinence? Why did we not let her learn, that she
" might have had more Wit? Shall we upbraid Women
" with Folly, when 'tis only the Error of this inhumane
" Custom that hindred them being made wiser."

SO much for Female Ignorance and Folly; and now let
us a little consider the Pride which my Correspondent thinks
is intollerable. By this Expression of his, one would think
he is some dejected Swain, tyranniz'd over by some cruel
haughty Nymph, who (perhaps he thinks) has no more
Reason to be proud than himself. Alas-a-day! What shall
we say in this Case! Why truly, if Women are proud, it
is certainly owing to the Men still; for if they will be such
Simpletons as to humble themselves at their Feet, and fill
their credulous Ears with extravagant Praises of their Wit,
Beauty, and other Accomplishments (perhaps where there
are none too,) and when Women are by this Means per-
swaded that they are Something more than humane, what
Wonder is it, if they carry themselves haughtily, and live
extravagantly. Notwithstanding, I believe there are more
Instances of extravagant Pride to be found among Men than
among Women, and this Fault is certainly more hainous
in the former than in the latter.

UPON the whole, I conclude, that it will be impossible to
lash any Vice, of which the Men are not equally guilty
with the Women, and consequently deserve an equal (if not
a greater) Share in the Censure. However, I exhort both to
amend, where both are culpable, otherwise they may ex-
pect to be severely handled by

Your Humble Servant

N. B. Mrs. Dogood has lately left her Seat in the Country,
and come to
Boston, where she intends to tarry for the Sum-
mer Season, in order to compleat her Observations of the pre-
sent reigning Vices of the Town.

The New-England Courant, May 28, 1722

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