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quotation from some old poet that has fixed itself in my memoryfrom Randolph, I think.

ALDA.

'T is very justly thought, and very politely quoted, and my best curtesy is due to him and to you :—but now will you listen to me?

MEDON.

With most profound humility.

ALDA.

Nay, then! I have done, unless you will lay aside these mock airs of gallantry and listen to me for a moment! Is it fair to bring a second-hand accusation against me, and not attend to my defence ?

MEDON.

Well, I will be serious.

ALDA.

Do so, and let us talk like reasonable beings.

MEDON.

Then tell me (as a reasonable woman you will not be affronted with the question), do you really expect that any one will read this little book of yours ?

ALDA.

I might answer, that it has been a great source of amusement and interest to me for several months, and that so far I am content: but no one writes a book without a hope of finding readers, and I shall find a few. Accident first made me an authoress; and not now, nor ever, have I written to flatter any prevailing fashion of the day for the sake of profit, though this is done, I know, by many who have less excuse for thus coining their brains. This little book was undertaken without a thought of fame or money: out of the fulness of my own

heart and soul have I written it. In the pleasure it has given me, in the new and various views of human nature it has opened to me, in the beautiful and soothing images it has placed before me, in the exercise and improvement of my own faculties, I have already been repaid: if praise or profit come beside, they come as a surplus. I should be gratified and grateful, but I have not sought for them, nor worked for them. Do you believe this?

MEDON.

I do: in this I cannot suspect you of affectation, for the profession of disinterestedness is uncalled for, and the contrary would be too far countenanced by the custom of the day to be matter of reserve or reproach. But how could you (saving the reverence due to a ladyauthoress, and speaking as one reasonable being to another) choose such a threadbare subject ?

ALDA.

What do you mean?

MEDON.

I

presume you have written a book to maintain the superiority of your sex over ours; for so I judge by the names at the heads of some of your chapters; women fit indeed to inlay heaven with stars, but, pardon me, very unlike those who at present walk upon this earth.

ALDA.

Very unlike the fine ladies of your acquaintance, I grant you; but as to maintaining the superiority, or speculating on the rights of women-nonsense! why should you suspect me of such folly ?-it is quite out of date. Why should there be competition or comparison ?

MEDON.

Both are ill-judged and odious; but did you ever meet with a woman of the world, who did not abuse most heartily the whc le race of men ?

ALDA.

Did you ever talk with a man of the world, who did not speak with levity or contempt of the whole human race of women ?

MEDON.

Perhaps I might answer like Voltaire—“Hélas ! ils pourraient bien avoir raison tous deux.” But do you thence infer that both are good for nothing?

ALDA.

Thence I infer that the men of the world and the women of the world are neither of them-good for much.

MENON.

And you have written a book to make them beiter ?

ALDA.

Heaven forbid ! else I were only fit for the next lunatic asylum. Vanity run mad never conceived such an impossible idea.

MEDON.

Then, in few words, what is the subject, and what the object of

your book?

ALDA.

I have endeavored to illustrate the various modifications of which the female character is susceptible, with their causes and results. My life has been spent in observing and thinking ; I have had, as you well know, more opportunities for the first, more leisure for the last, than have fallen to the lot of most people. What I have seen, felt, thought, suffered, has led me to form certain opinions. It appears to me that the condition of women in society, as at present constituted, is false in itself, and injurious to them,—that the education of women, as at present conducted, is founded in mistaken principies, and tends to increase fearfully the sum of misery and error in both

sexes; but I do not choose presumptuously to fling these opinions in the face of the world, in the form of essays on morality, and treatises on education. I have rather chosen to illustrate certain positions by examples, and leave my readers to deduce the moral themselves, and draw their own inferences.

MEDON.

And why have you not chosen your examples from real life? you might easily have done so. You have not been a mere spectator, or a mere actor, but a lounger behind the scenes of existence-have even assisted in preparing the puppets for the stage: you might have given us an epitome of your experience, instead of dreaming over Shakspeare.

ALDA.

I might so, if I had chosen to become a female satirist, which I will never be.

MEDON.

You wonld, at least, stand a better chance of being read.

ALDA.

at every

I am not sure of that. The vile taste for satire and personal gossip will not be eradicated, I suppose, while the elements of curiosity and malice remain in human nature; but as a fashion of literature, I think it is passing away ;-at all events it is not my forte. Long experience of what is called “the world,” of the folly, duplicity, shallowness, selfishness, which meet us turn, too soon unsettles our youthful creed. If it only led to the knowledge of good and evil, it were well; if it only taught us to despise the illusions and retire from the pleasures of the world, it would be better. But it destroys our belief—it dims our perception of all abstract truth, virtue, and happiness; it turns life into a jest, and a very dull one too. It makes us indifferent to beauty, and incredulous of goodness; it teaches us to consider self

as the centre on which all actions turn, and to which all motives are to be referred.

MEDON.

But this being so, we must either revolve with these earthly natures, and round the same centre, or seek a sphere for ourselves, and dwell apart.

ALDA.

I trust it is not necessary to do either. While we are yet young, and the passions, powers, and feelings, in their full activity, , create to us a world within, we cannot look fairly on the world without:-all things then are good. When first we throw ourselves forth, and meet burs and briars on every side, which stick in our very hearts ;—and fair tempting fruits which turn to bitter ashes in the taste, then we exclaim with impatience, all things are evil. But at length comes the calm hour, when they who look beyond the superficies of things begin to discern their true bearings; when the perception of evil, or sorrow, or sin, brings also the perception of some opposite good, which awakens our indulgence, or the knowledge of the cause which excites our pity. Thus it is with me. I can smile,—nay, I can laugh still, to see folly, vanity, absurdity, meanness, exposed by scorntul wit, and depicted by others in fictions light and brilliant. But these very things, when I encounter the reality, rather make me sad than merry, and take away all the inclination, if I had the power, to hold them up to derision.

MEDON.

Unless, by doing so, you might correct them.

ALDA.

Correct them! Show me that one human being who has been made essentially better by satire! O no, no! there is something in human nature which hardens itself against the lash—something in satire which excites only the lowest and worst of our propensities That avowal in Pope

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