Reflections

In 1798 Priscilla published her only book for an adult audience Reflections on the Present Condition of the Female Sex; with Suggestions for its Improvement. This book has been overshadowed by other more radical women authors of the time like Mary Wollstoncraft and Hannah More. What encouraged Priscilla to write this book and discouraged her from further adult book is unknown.

She begins the book with the words, ‘It is asserted by Doctor Adam Smith, that every individual is a burden, upon the society to which he belongs, who does not contribute his share of productive labour for the good of the whole.’ She contends that by implication, women cannot free themselves from the claim of the public for their proportion of usefulness.

Central to Reflections are two recurring themes in Priscilla’s writing; improving the education of girls and replacing the ‘indolent indulgence and trifling pursuits’ of young women with challenging duties, studies and employments.

‘The result of this improper treatment has been a neglect of their mental powers, which women really possess, but know not how to exercise ; they have been content to barter the dignity of reason, for the imaginary privilege of an empire , of the existence of which they can entertain no reasonable hope beyond the duration of youth and beauty.’ Reflections, p. 7.

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Published in: on September 12, 2009 at 5:15 am  Leave a Comment  

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