Wakefield on Wollstonecraft

In her Literary Journal for the 4th of April 1798 Priscilla recorded her thoughts about the publication Memiors of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by William Godwin. Wollstonecraft had died in September 1797 following childbirth and the book was published by her husband in January 1798. It revealed shocking aspects of her life  such as her  illigetimate children, love affairs and suicide attempts.

Literary journal for April 4 [1798]

The Life of Mary Wollstonecraft by Godwin

To a common mind the events that befell? her previous to her connection with Imlay might have passed with so little distinction as to be deemed not sufficiently interesting to engage public notice. but the different tint they received from the energy of her character render the most minute of them important as they tend to show that exertion and firmness  overcome many evils under which weakness and timidity suit?  Her mind was capacious her judgment clear and her promptitude in action equal to both. The originality of her genius was not curbed by any regular cultivation, her faculties were left to expand by their own force which probably contributed to leave her free from the actual fetters of prejudice – but whilst this neglect procured her so great an advantage it deprived her of the benefit of early impressions of religious principles. Void of fixed sentiments on this essential subject she deviated from those wholesome and necessary restraints wh. the doctrines of revelation impose upon natural inclination, when it leads beyond those limits wh. the good order of society and happiness require – Possessing those great talents in combination with many enviable qualities of the heart she might have formed a model for her sex by her example but unguarded by a sense of religious duty she wandered from that standard of female excellence wh. the Author of the Rights of Women should have defended by a purity of conduct consistent with the perfection she had delineated. Such a combination of great qualities and defects is a humbling lesson and teaches us to qualify our notions of human excellence. Her posthumous works are miscellaneous. The wrongs of women and her letters to Imlay are the most important.          The fragments of the Wrongs of Woman contains part of the evils the sex undergoes from the wickedness of seducers and bad husbands much more remains to be sketched had the picture been completed – the grand desideratum is the means of protecting the sex from similar misfortunes. A rational energetic education suited to the different ranks raising them to a nearer equality with their tyrants seems to offer the surest tho’ a gradual emancipation from the chains with wh. they are now so frequently manacled.


Published in: on July 11, 2010 at 4:41 am  Leave a Comment  

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