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Men and the Making of Modern British FeminisM

Men and the Making of Modern British Femin]m Arianne Chernock

stanford university press Stanford, California 2010

This book has been published with the assistance of [Subsidy information pending]. Stanford University Press Stanford, California © 2010 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University All rights reserved No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system without the prior written permission of Stanford University Press. Chapter Two appeared in an earlier version as “Cultivating Woman: Men’s Pursuit of Intellectual Equality in the Late British Enlightenment” in the Journal of British Studies 45, no. 3 (July 2006). Chapter Five appeared in an earlier version as “Extending the ‘Right of Election,’” in Sarah Knott and Barbara Taylor, eds., Women, Gender, and Enlightenment, 2005 (Palgrave); reproduced with permission of Palgrave Macmillan. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Chernock, Arianne. Men and the making of modern British feminism / Arianne Chernock. p.  cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. isbn 978-0-8047-6311-0 (cloth : alk. paper) 1.  Male feminists—Great Britain—History—18th century.  2. Feminism— Great Britain—History—18th century.  3.  Women—Great Britain—Social conditions—18th century.  4.  Women in politics—Great Britain—History— 18th century. I. Title. hq1593.c48      2010 305.42081' 094109033—dc22 Printed in the United States of America on acid-free, archival-quality paper Typeset at Stanford University Press in 10/13 Galliard

2009016052

For my family

Acknowledgments

Countless individuals and institutions have helped me to tell this story, and it is a pleasure here to acknowledge their contributions. First, I would like to thank my dissertation committee at UC Berkeley, without whose support this book would have been impossible. Tom Laqueur provided incisive feedback throughout the research and writing process, always pushing me to ask bigger questions. Carla Hesse lent her theoretical expertise and deep knowledge of European gender and cultural history. Her work, which rigorously questions received narratives, has inspired much of my own scholarship. James Vernon helped me navigate a vast historiography, encouraging me to position my own research more precisely within the field. Perhaps more importantly, he offered camaraderie and coffee during my many visits to Berkeley. Catherine Gallagher gave me useful advice early on, by insisting that I examine novels and poems alongside philosophical, political, and religious texts. Finally, Barbara Taylor proved invaluable not only as an advisor but also as a scholar, mentor, and friend. Her enthusiasm and energy have been unflagging from this project’s inception. In every way, she has been the “champion” of this book. Boston University has been the ideal place to revise my manuscript. Over the past three years, I have benefited immensely from exchanges— both formal and informal—with my colleagues in the history department. I would especially like to thank Charlie Capper, Charles Dellheim, Barbara Diefendorf, Lou Ferleger, Fred Leventhal, Jim McCann, Brendan Mc­ Conville, Eugenio Menegon, Jon Roberts, Jim Schmidt, Bruce Schulman, Nina Silber, and Jonathan Zatlin for their advice on various chapters, and Brooke Blower for her close reading of the entire manuscript. I am also

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Acknowledgments

grateful to Jim Schmidt for giving me the opportunity to rehearse my main arguments at the Enlightenment and the Origins of Feminism conference, held at Boston University in the winter of 2008. Since I first began exploring this topic in 2000, a number of other individuals have also been exceptionally generous, with both their time and intellects. In the United States, Gina Luria Walker served as an incomparable guide to late-eighteenth-century Rational Dissent, and offered valuable suggestions on how to frame the book. Anna Clark and the anonymous reviewers of the Journal of British Studies helped me to refine the argument presented in Chapter Two, which originally had appeared as an article in that journal’s pages. Deborah Valenze offered a perceptive analysis of Chapter Four, and Lisa Cody provided an illuminating response to Chapter Five. In the United Kingdom, Michèle Cohen gave me useful feedback on the entire project, both in its dissertation and book forms. Her insights into eighteenth-century education and gender were particularly helpful. Jane Rendall also offered penetrating critiques of this work at every stage of its development. I am particularly indebted to Jane for introducing me to Alexander Jardine and David Steuart Erskine, and for highlighting more generally the vital importance of the Scottish Enlightenment. John Barrell, Norma Clarke, Penelope Corfield, Kevin Gilmartin, Kathryn Gleadle, Tim Hitchcock, Margaret Hunt, Sarah Knott, Matthew McCormack, Clare Midgley, Philip Schofield, Jane Shaw, John Tosh, and Rosemarie Zagarri met with me over various lunches and teas on both sides of the Atlantic to discuss my work. All in their own ways helped me to clarify my argument further. Anthony Page and Dan White also provided timely assistance in fleshing out the religious worlds of my subjects. I have been extremely lucky over the years to present my work to so many responsive audiences. I would especially like to thank the members of the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies at the University of York; the participants in the Gender and Enlightenment Seminar at the Institute of Historical Research; attendees of the Enlightened Masculinities Colloquium and Gender and Enlightened Utopias Colloquium; the members of the Department of History at Dartmouth College (who also made Carson Hall feel like a second home) and the members of the University Writing Program at George Washington University; participants in the DC and Boston Area British Studies Reading Groups, and in Boston University’s European Studies Seminar; Boston University’s 2008–9 Humanities Foundation fellows; and my audiences at various Pacific Coast, Northeast, and North American conferences on British Studies, and at the Gender/Cul-



Acknowledgments

ture/Power Conference at the University of Strathclyde, the Thirteenth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, and the International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Quadrennial Congress. Researching this project could easily have been a daunting task—the terms “woman,” “female,” “sex,” and “equality” rarely appear in card catalogues or indexes for eighteenth-century materials. That I found the experience highly enjoyable owes much to the librarians and archivists who helped me to conduct my research. These include the staff at the Bodleian Library (especially Bruce Barker-Benfield); the British Library (Rare Books Room); Cambridge University Library; the Colindale Library; Harris Manchester College, Oxford; Houghton Library, Harvard; the Huntington Library (especially Susi Krasnoo); the John Rylands University Library; the Library of Congress (European Reading Room); the National Library of Scotland; the New York Public Library; the Norfolk Public Record Office; Strathclyde University Library; the University of Edinburgh; the Warwickshire Record Office; Dr. Williams’s Library; and the Women’s Library. I have been fortunate to receive financial support from a number of institutions and organizations at various stages of my academic career. These have included the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the North American Conference on British Studies, the Department of History at UC Berkeley, the Center for Sexuality Studies at UC Berkeley, the Institute of International Studies at UC Berkeley, the Northern California Association of Phi Beta Kappa, the Huntington Library, and, most recently, the Humanities Foundation at Boston University. Their support enabled me to bring this book to completion. My editors at Stanford University Press helped me tailor the book in its final stages, and I want to extend heartfelt thanks to Norris Pope for his intellectual engagement, to Sarah Crane Newman and John Feneron for their informed responses to my every query, and to Martin Hanft for his thorough copyediting. My research assistant, Kathryn Lamontagne, also deserves thanks for fact-checking several chapters under a tight deadline. Needless to say, any errors here are my own. Finally, I owe a tremendous debt to my friends and family, who kept me grounded as I researched, wrote, revised, and revised again. My cohort at Berkeley—Shana Brown, Kate Fullagar, Michelle Hoffman, Andrew Jainchill, Benjamin Lazier, Rebecca Manley, and Priya Satia—bolstered me at every stage of researching and writing first the dissertation and then the book. Friends new and old also kept me smiling throughout the process, and never failed to lend a sympathetic (and discerning) ear. I owe particular

ix



Acknowledgments

thanks to Michael Anderson, Rebecca Blouwolff, Clare Burson, Jon Fasman, Leah Gordon, Jon Greenberg, Gretchen Heefner, Ben Kafka, Eric Klinenberg, Andrea Lee, Melissa Mann, James Moed, Abe Newman, Craig Pollack, Gillian Weiss, Bea Wilderman, Emily Woglom, and Kate Zaloom. Turning to my family, I would like to thank my sisters Rebecca, Larissa, and Phoebe, who continue to inspire and entertain me; my grandmother, Margaret Abeles, who first sparked my love of history with stories from her childhood in the Czech Republic; and my parents, David Chernock and Linda Abeles, who supported this project from the beginning in ways financial, intellectual, and emotional. My husband, John Mulliken, deserves special thanks for his love and logic, and for his enthusiasm in forging a life together that has taken us across an ocean and continent. We’ve come a long way from University and Shattuck, and I look forward to the continuing adventure. Last but certainly not least, I would like to thank Coby and Annabel for their patience and good humor. Coby, this is what I’ve been doing on the computer.

Contents

Introduction  1

1. Becoming Champions of the Fair Sex  11



2. Cultivating Woman  37



3. Publishing Woman  60



4. Revising the Sexual Contract  82



5. Imagining the Female Citizen  106



Conclusion: The Champions’ Legacy  131



Biographical Appendix  137 Notes  149 Bibliography  211 Index  245

Men and the Making of Modern British FeminisM

Introduction

In 1794, the young Norwich-based radical Thomas Starling Norgate provided one of the most inflammatory early arguments in favor of British women’s rights. His two-part essay “On the Rights of Woman,” published in the progressive periodical The Cabinet, likened woman’s position in Britain to that of a “poor captive bird” struggling to break free from its cage. Only the “sympathizing humanity of a friend,” Norgate observed, would prevent the “bird” from “singing itself to sleep.”1 To this end, he recommended that men help women secure equal education, increased legal rights, and even political suffrage—bold proposals at a time when the majority of Britons regarded women as “formed for the lighter duties of Life,” because of the “delicacy of their Frames, the Sensibility of their Dispositions, and, above all the Caprice of their Tempers.”2 Little wonder, then, that Norgate was teased by his Norwich peers for being a “Champion of the fair sex.” As the lawyer-in-training Thomas Amyot complained, after reading Norgate’s Cabinet essays, “A virtuous wife and an affectionate Mother are perhaps the most amiable Characters in the Universe. To these Characters let every female aspire and let us hear no more of the Rights of Woman.”3 Yet despite the unorthodoxy of his position, Norgate was not the only man in late Enlightenment Britain to explore women’s rights. Rather, he was one of several dozen male reformers—broad-minded theologians, headmasters, historians, essayists, publishers, and politicians, based in London, Norwich, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and elsewhere—who determined, at considerable risk to their reputations, that they too would need to become “champions of the fair sex.”4 To ignore the



Introduction

rights of women (conceived in a wide range of formulations, some limited, others more expansive), while pursuing the rights of slaves, nonconformists, and the disenfranchised more generally, would be to perpetuate tyranny, and thus to compromise their vision of “perfecting” their nation, a goal that took on fresh urgency with the centennial celebrations of the Glorious Revolution in 1788 and the onset of the French Revolution in 1789. Guided primarily by this principle, men proposed educational reforms, assisted women writers into print, and used their specialist training in religion, medicine, history, and the law to challenge common assumptions about women’s legal and political entitlements. These largely forgotten but foundational contributions are at the center of this book, which reconsiders men’s late-eighteenth-century role in the making of modern British feminism, a feminism, that is, explicitly interested in promoting equal rights for women.5  The late eighteenth century has long been seen as a crucible for the formation of modern British feminism. This, after all, was the moment when Britons, pulled between the poles of tradition and revolution, engaged in an unsettling debate about the status and reach of the “rights of man.” In the early stages of feminist historical inquiry, however, it was Mary Wollstonecraft, author of the commanding 1792 Vindication of the Rights of Woman, who received the lion’s share of attention, with scholars routinely citing her as a woman ahead of and defiantly at odds with her times—the British counterpart to France’s Olympe de Gouges. As Claire Tomalin explained in her absorbing 1974 biography, Wollstonecraft was a woman who “spoke up, quite loudly, for what had been until then a largely silent section of the human race.”6 Even today, the tendency to represent Wollstonecraft as an intrepid pioneer, the “founding mother” of British, and often Western feminism, persists in many quarters.7 In recent years, though, scholars have begun to adopt more nuanced and deeply historicist approaches to studying the feminism that emerged in Britain during this tumultuous period. The result has been a watershed in feminist and gender studies. While Mary Wollstonecraft still remains a crucial figure in treatments of late-eighteenth-century feminism, she is no longer cast as a lone crusader. Rather, as Barbara Taylor and others show, she was deeply imbedded within a radical culture, rooted in traditions of Rational Dissent (a theological approach that by the 1790s was becoming “synonymous” with “intellectual Unitarianism”), which nourished her proj-



Introduction

ect and gave her ongoing sustenance.8 What is more, Wollstonecraft herself is increasingly viewed as part of a larger community of “female Jacobins,” a community that included Mary Hays, Mary Robinson, Amelia Alderson, and, to a lesser extent, Anna Barbauld.9 Even those women typically viewed as harboring ideals antithetical to the feminist platform—such as the evangelical Hannah More—have recently been welcomed into the fold.10 All of these women in their own ways and despite their considerable differences, scholars stress, explored the opportunities that might be opened up for women in a new revolutionary age, pregnant with possibilities. Men, too, have begun to make some appearances in these discussions, even if the part they play is usually an indirect or supporting one.11 Already by 1985, Jane Rendall had observed in her seminal The Origins of Modern Feminism that a “small number of men” in Britain, France, and the United States “were also drawn to speculate on the possibilities of social change,” although she defined feminism itself as “the way in which women came, in the period from the late eighteenth to the mid nineteenth century, to associate together . . . and then to recognize and to assert their common interests as women.”12 In the past decade, scholars have become more attuned to this male presence, observing that certain men not only supported women’s rights during this formative stage but also provided crucial assistance to leading female feminists such as Wollstonecraft and Hays.13 In more implicit but no less significant ways, historians have also suggested that men, in their roles both as Rational Dissenters and as stadial theorists (philosophers committed to charting the successive stages of human development), fostered egalitarian thinking, in essence establishing the conditions in which modern feminism could later flourish.14 Historians of feminism are not the only ones to take note, albeit often in limited ways, of British men’s early interest in women’s rights. Historians of eighteenth-century radical reform, and of radical culture more broadly conceived, have also suggested that at least certain progressive men found feminism compelling. While stressing that British radicals as a whole were profoundly masculinist in their orientation, concerned as they were first and foremost with male sociability and male liberation (namely, though not exclusively, in the form of universal male suffrage and annual parliaments), scholars concede that there was, as E. P. Thompson put it in his landmark 1963 The Making of the English Working Class, a “small intellectual coterie” or, as he explained elsewhere in the book, “stubborn minority tradition,” within British radicalism that was interested in female emancipation. For Thompson, this “coterie” included not just Wollstonecraft but also her





Introduction

husband, William Godwin, artist William Blake, and agrarian reformer Thomas Spence.15 Since the publication of The Making of the English Working Class, Godwin, Blake, and Spence have thus received some attention as feminist thinkers and activists.16 A few more names—Dissenting reformer John Jebb, publisher Joseph Johnson, and utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham—have also been added to the list as radicals who, if they did not make feminism a priority, at least supported women’s rights.17 Even with historians’ increasing recognition that some men grappled with women’s rights in late-eighteenth-century Britain, however, we still know surprisingly little about the breadth and depth of these men’s feminist activities, let alone how many men gravitated toward feminist positions and for what reasons.18 With just a few exceptions for the more notable figures—for example, Godwin, Blake, Spence, Bentham—their feminist ideas have received only cursory treatment, and those treatments we have overwhelmingly emphasize men’s failures and limitations, or what Blake scholar Helen Bruder describes as the “missed opportunity” for male radicals in feminism.19 What is more, there has been little discussion of the ways in which these men understood women’s rights within the broader context of their radical commitments, and of how radical culture itself, in its material forms, helped promote a feminist dialogue. There is, in other words, a gap between the recognition that some British men were attracted to feminism during the late eighteenth century and a working understanding of what their feminism was and of the particular climate in which it developed. On one level, therefore, this book has a recuperative goal. In the pages that follow, I will identify who the main male feminist interlocutors were and how they were connected, as well as what positions they adopted and why they adopted them. Careful review of sermons, essays, memoirs, minute books, and correspondence, many heretofore unexamined, reveals that the men who embraced women’s rights included provincial journalists, Unitarian missionaries, political activists, university educators and even a progressive biblical critic. Moreover, they were supported in their efforts by extensive and often overlapping networks of friends and associates, the very networks that sustained radical reform initiatives more generally. By and large, their feminist “turns” were not private revelations but public and highly social acts, forged in response to particular ideologies, events, conversations, memberships, aspirations, and even rivalries. The views held by these men were extremely wide ranging, in terms of both scope and content. Drawing on the range of languages available to British reformers at the end of the eighteenth century—Lockean liberal-



Introduction

ism and sensationalism, Paineite republicanism, intellectual Unitarianism, Rousseauian sentimentalism, conjectural historicism, and English constitutionalism—they advanced different and sometimes competing interpretations of what “women’s rights” meant, the grounds on which such rights should be based, and the ends to which they should be pursued. As with any attempt to call into question long-held views, views, moreover, in this instance that were grounded in custom, law and Scripture, the tenor of their conversation was necessarily searching. “In what and where this sexual difference lies?” queried the Norwich poet John Henry Colls in his “Poetic Epistle Addressed to Mrs. Wollstonecraft,” one of many texts that strove to disentangle culture from biology.20 While some men focused exclusively on expanding female education, others targeted legal policies and political rights. There were even those who sought to erase, or at least ease, the material and linguistic signifiers of sexual difference. The artillery officer Alexander Jardine, a close friend of William Godwin, for example, took on the issue of clothing in his 1788 Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal & C., recommending that women exchange their dresses for breeches.21 The prominent Norwich Unitarian minister William Enfield, formerly a tutor at the Dissenting Warrington Academy, went so far as to advocate the adoption of “homo” as a common appellation for men and women. “Both men and women should certainly, in the first place, regard themselves, and should be treated by each other, as human beings,” Enfield explained in his review of Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman.22 On another level, however, this book intends to do more than recover these men’s feminist contributions, rich as they are in and of themselves. Including men more fully in the early women’s rights conversation also deepens our understanding of late-eighteenth-century constructions of gender, and especially of manhood and masculinity. This moment is generally regarded as one in which men embraced a chivalric or gallant model of masculinity that explicitly harkened back to medieval ideals. Within that context, to be a man was to be the protector of women; indeed, guardianship was seen as constitutive of masculine identity.23 The leading male advocates of women’s rights during this period, though, made the daring choice to define their own manhood in starkly different terms. As they asserted, real “manliness,” a term that they employed frequently to shore up their feminist arguments, was predicated less on protecting and defending women than on acting humanely and rationally (behavior that was construed as fundamentally at odds with chivalry, with all of its “ceremonies





Introduction

of adoration . . . unsupported by reason”24). On these grounds, it was the men who adopted a chivalrous stance toward women that were considered “unmanly,” not those who supported women’s rights. Such arguments did not always win these men many friends; more than a few recorded a strong sense of alienation from the majority of their sex, even from those within their reformist circles. Yet they simultaneously took pride in their position. In seeking to rescue women from their metaphorical cages, they were also redefining for themselves what it meant to be truly enlightened men living in a truly enlightened nation.25 In revealing these men’s earnest even if sometimes frustrated attempts to reimagine gender roles, this book thus also highlights the degree to which the early women’s rights conversation in Britain was a fundamentally collaborative effort. The men who embraced women’s rights were not just fellow travelers, helping to create the right conditions for modern feminism to develop. Rather, they were central participants, working together with women to create more “perfect” selves and a more “perfect” culture in which sexual discrimination might be minimized. Many, in fact, used their positions and power to initiate and expand arguments in support of women’s rights, ensuring that concrete efforts were made to translate egalitarian theories into social practices. Although sometimes also motivated by personal drives and desires, they insisted that women’s rights were of national consequence, as of much import to men as to women. This book confirms, then, that the link between sex and feminism needs to be denaturalized. Finally, just as a focus on these men helps to decouple sex and feminism, so it also calls heightened attention to the place of feminism within, instead of alongside, late Enlightenment British culture. While many radicals did not endorse women’s rights, there was a more dense and intricate feminist vanguard than previously thought, one that extended well beyond the Wollstonecraft-Godwin circle. What is more, this vanguard, or at least its most energetic participants, believed that securing women’s rights, however variously understood, was crucial to the project of “perfecting” their nation. For many of the men advocating women’s rights, as for the women with whom they corresponded, feminism was not an ancillary concern, to be treated gingerly and with profound hesitation. Rather, it was seen as an integral part of the broader radical reformist platform, one that included curbing the slave trade, achieving civil rights for religious Dissenters, and extending the franchise. In the words of William Hodgson, a physician active in the London Corresponding Society, it was within the context of a



Introduction

“general struggle” for freedom that it would be “a scandalous omission to overlook the injuries of the FAIRER PART OF THE CREATION.”26 This book thus serves as an important corrective to those who charge that enlightened thinkers in Britain were neither truly egalitarian nor universalist in their conceptions of self and society. While not apologizing for the British Enlightenment’s shortcomings, I do show that a core group of men wrestled with the meaning of the “man” at the center of so many of their arguments.  Who, exactly, were these men, and what were their relationships? Why did they choose to elaborate plans for female emancipation? How did they approach this potentially intractable subject? Those are the questions taken up in this book, which I develop and probe over the following five chapters. Chapter One, “Becoming Champions of the Fair Sex,” lays the foundation for this investigation by delving into the lives and worlds of the men at the center of this study. Situating these men within the late British Enlightenment, a philosophical movement “press[ing] for the completion of commitments half-fulfilled” by the Glorious Revolution, this chapter charts the various influences that encouraged them—against the odds—to embrace women’s rights.27 The centennial celebrations of the Glorious Revolution, followed soon after by the outbreak of the French Revolution, made the “rights of man” the rallying cry of reformers across Britain. Yet most radicals refused to extend those same rights to women, even as they gathered in their clubs and societies to argue for the abolition of slavery and the slave trade, religious toleration, and the expansion of the electorate. What, then, distinguished those men who took up the cause of women’s rights from their peers? As I demonstrate, a particular and unyielding commitment to perfectibility, or progress through reason, lay at the heart of most men’s decision to become feminist advocates. It was not just perfectibility, however, that informed their thought and actions. In deciding to tackle this contentious matter, many of these figures were also guided by their religious beliefs (chiefly Rational Dissent) and their own experiences of ostracism, as well as by personal exchanges and interactions with women, both at home and abroad. The next four chapters concentrate on questions of process, mapping how certain men took on particular women’s rights issues. These chapters also consider the central debates and divisions that emerged in the course of these feminist conversations, drawing attention in several instances to





Introduction

the challenges that men (as well as women) encountered in trying to think their way out of patriarchy. Chapter Two, “Cultivating Woman,” examines men’s attempts to legitimate – and initiate – equal education for men and women, perceived by many as the most important step that could be taken to liberate the “fair sex.” It also traces the disagreements that arose between them on the question of intent. Some reformers, who for heuristic purposes I label “instrumentalists,” insisted that women who received an equal education would exclusively benefit the family. Others, whom I describe as “egalitarians,” suggested that learned ladies would directly and actively contribute to the public good.28 To illustrate this tension, I turn to Anderson’s Institution, founded in accordance with the wishes of scientist and natural philosopher John Anderson in Glasgow in 1796. Anderson hoped that the school would provide female students with “such a stock of general knowledge” as to make them the “most cultivated in all of Europe.”29 At the same time, he was adamant that the education offered women at his institution would only better prepare them for their domestic duties. For some of those men who identified female education as serving a broader purpose, it was only logical that they facilitate women’s entrance into public life, and help them secure greater cultural and economic autonomy. Chapter Three, “Publishing Woman,” draws attention to men’s endeavors to support women as they entered the professions, with a specific emphasis on the literary marketplace. Of course, women of letters had long found ways into print without men’s assistance—Elizabeth Montagu of the Bluestocking Circle is a striking example. But even the most talented women writers could encounter obstacles in their attempts to go public with their work; many lacked the networks, insider knowledge, and, often, confidence needed to submit materials to editors and publishers. As I argue, certain men within the “literary public sphere” were keenly aware of those obstacles and strove to ease women’s entrance into print. Several prominent writers offered extended meditations on the value of female authorship, while key booksellers and literary critics helped women to establish professional connections, navigate the publishing process, and negotiate financial terms and contracts. To be sure, there was money to be made in these pursuits. But men also assisted aspiring female authors because they believed that women had a right to write and needed ways to maintain financial independence. Even these initiatives, however, did not accord women the full range of rights and opportunities that certain reformers deemed necessary. Just as efforts to provide women with equal education raised questions about the



Introduction

objectives of that education, so efforts to encourage women toward greater independence raised questions about the very legal and political systems that conspired to make women economically and socially vulnerable in the first place. Why did women have so little control over their property? Why were husbands expected to provide for their wives? Why was society itself structured around the institution of marriage? Those are the central questions addressed in Chapter Four, “Revising the Sexual Contract,” which illuminates some men’s struggles to create more equitable property arrangements and marital relations, concentrating especially on the problem of the femme coverte, or legal status of the married woman. Taking advantage of their training in and exposure to stadial theory, biblical criticism, and legal commentary, scholars, social reformers, theologians, and novelists examined the laws, customs, and traditions surrounding domesticity, only to conclude that here, too, were institutions in need of rational revision. In response, they proposed reforms that ranged from arguments for female control over property to demands for more flexible divorce and custody laws to the abolition of marriage itself. Given the links between the family and the state, it should not entirely surprise us that some of the most democratic-minded men would extend their egalitarian critiques to the political sphere as well. In late-eighteenthcentury Britain, less than 20 percent of men had the right to vote, and all women were excluded from formal participation in national politics. For the subjects at the center of the final chapter, “Imagining the Female Citizen,” these exclusions were of critical concern. Seizing on natural rights theory, constitutionalist rhetoric, and sensibility, these ultraradicals launched a campaign to overturn a limited conception of citizenship, emphasizing instead the sexes’ shared capacity for political engagement. This truly was a radical argument, as politics had long been held to be a bastion of male privilege. Wollstonecraft herself, after all, had only “hinted” at the possibility of female suffrage.30 In providing a range of arguments for male and female citizenship, then, these men helped to launch a debate that would continue through the Victorian and Edwardian periods. The conclusion charts these men’s paths into the nineteenth century. Although some abandoned feminism after the revolutionary moment had passed, there were several who continued to support and work for domestic reform, remaining attentive to questions of women’s rights. As Thomas Starling Norgate remarked toward the end of his life, in 1859, many of his “sober hints” regarding women’s status were still “worthy of attention.”31 During the first decades of the nineteenth century, certain men lobbied for



10

Introduction

the passage of a Reform Bill that included women, and schooled younger male reformers in their egalitarian arguments. This next generation, in turn, often incorporated such arguments into their own speeches and pamphlets. As a result, the men themselves became models for subsequent generations of progressive male reformers, who recognized that they had a particular responsibility to speak out in the name of “half the human race.”32 What emerges over the course of this examination, then, is a vital and long-standing feminist tradition, one in which men repeatedly identified women’s rights as firmly within their provenance.

chapter one

Becoming Champions of the Fair Sex

In a sermon delivered in Norwich on November 5, 1788, commemorating the centennial of the Glorious Revolution, the Unitarian minister William Enfield demanded removal of “the false maxims of ignorance and bigotry” still present in Britain.1 Speaking to a crowd assembled at the Octagon Chapel, one of the most politically and socially engaged Dissenting congregations in the nation, Enfield warned his audience of the dangers of complacency. Britain, Enfield insisted, had not completed its revolution; there was still significant work to be done. Even if Britons were more enlightened than other cultures, their country was not yet perfect. “It is the glory of Great Britain, that it has perhaps less to do, in the important work of political reformation, than any other nation in the world,” Enfield explained. “But this is surely a reason, not for remaining inactive, but for going on, with an accelerated motion, towards perfection.”2 In many respects, Enfield’s sentiments encapsulate the goals of the late British Enlightenment, a radical program spawned by a community of mostly middle-class and male nonconformist writers, thinkers, and innovators at the end of the eighteenth century. Theirs was a project committed to enlightening the British Enlightenment, to pushing its foundational precepts—toleration, liberty, the rule of law—to their imaginative limits. The term “radicalism” itself comes from the Latin radix, “relating to the root,” and this was just how enlightened radicals approached reform: they sought to “transform a system, a set of ideas or practices, from the ‘root’ upwards.”3 Historian Roy Porter elucidates this philosophical stance. As he explains, members of the British Enlightenment had always “thrived upon controversy, self-criticism and self-celebration,” but they now held themselves, and the world that they inhabited, to even higher standards.4

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Becoming Champions of the Fair Sex

This chapter analyzes the late British Enlightenment as a launching point for discussion of why some men took it upon themselves to explore women’s rights. Their efforts in behalf of women must be situated within this context, for it was precisely the philosophical principles promulgated by and social organs and institutions established during this radical moment that propelled certain men to reconsider the place of women in their polity. It is only after mapping the broad intellectual and social contours of this late Enlightenment project, then, that I provide a more focused discussion of the specific factors—philosophical, spiritual, and personal—that helped convince a select group of men to become “champions of the fair sex.” While the scope of their visions may have been exceptional, their ideas, arguments, friendships, and networks were firmly grounded in late-eighteenth-century radical culture.  Radicals’ vigorous engagement with Enlightenment principles owed no small part to the momentous conflicts and controversies of the last decades of the eighteenth century: the Earl of Bute’s unpopular 1762–63 prime ministry, the “Wilkes and Liberty” campaigns of the 1760s, the American War for Independence, increasing Irish Catholic unrest, the centennial commemoration of the Glorious Revolution in 1788, and the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789.5 It was these last two events, in particular, that had the effect of polarizing the British populace, pitting radicals against loyalists in a prolonged and often vicious pamphlet war that threatened Britain’s Revolution Settlement. The centennial commemoration of the Glorious Revolution renewed debate about the meaning of 1688–89, when William and Mary had replaced James II as joint sovereigns of England, entering a “contract” with the British people through the establishment of a Bill of Rights (1689). This was a debate that became only more heated once France launched its own revolution across the Channel, just a year after the commemoration celebrations. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, adopted by the National Assembly of France on August 26, 1789, was construed by British and French radicals alike as an outgrowth of the Bill of Rights. In the words of the Marquis de Condorcet, writing in 1792, both revolutions had been prompted by the same “cause”: “the hope of becoming free.”6 But were the British free? Was their own revolution even completed? As British radicals were quick to point out, Britain’s “old regime” persisted. Their “liberty-loving” nation still ruled over colonial subjects, prevented re-



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ligious Dissenters from holding municipal office, denied most people what they took to be basic “constitutional” privileges, and continued to promote slavery and the slave trade. In light of these realities, Britain needed to finish its own revolution. The Unitarian minister Richard Price offered the most explicit statement on this count in his controversial 1789 A Discourse on the Love of our Country, a sermon intended as much to incite the British as to praise the French. (It was Price’s speech that in part prompted Edmund Burke to pen his own 1790 Reflections on the Revolution in France, a rejection of the French Revolution and of “revolution principles” more generally.) “I would . . . direct you to remember,” Price observed, speaking to his fellow members of the Society for Commemorating the [Glorious] Revolution, “that though the [Glorious] Revolution was a great work, it was by no means a perfect work; and that all was not then gained which was necessary to put the kingdom in the secure and complete possession of the blessings of liberty.”7 Thomas Paine would elaborate on this theme in his own inflammatory 1791–92 Rights of Man, a two-part response to Burke in defense of Price, and one of the most widely circulated texts of the 1790s. Inveighing against those who resisted change, Paine challenged his readers to see the Revolution of 1688 as a process, an ongoing revolution in continual need of modification. “Every generation is and must be competent to all the purposes which its occasions require,” Paine famously explained. “It is the living, and not the dead, that are to be accommodated.”8 If there was a hint of regret in Price’s and Paine’s statements—Britain’s own revolution, Paine observed, paled in comparison to the “luminous Revolutions of America and France”9—their rhetoric was nevertheless intended to inspire action. That Britain had not yet achieved true greatness did not mean that it would not or could not do so. Echoing William Enfield, both insisted that the nation was capable of perfection, albeit, given Paine’s republican tendencies, with fundamentally different understandings of what “perfection” designated. It was this insistence on perfectibility, or the belief in progress through reason, in fact, that linked what would have otherwise been a disparate group of reformers.10 William Godwin may have been the most famous exponent of perfectibility with his 1793 An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, but the belief lay at the core of most reformist thinking produced during this period.11 Paineite republicans, millenarian enthusiasts, “real” or “honest” Whigs—almost all shared a commitment to creating a world in which the “enlarging orb of reason” could achieve its fullest potential.12 Only then, with reason in the ascendant, could humanity exist in a true state of perfection. The concept of perfectibility itself owed

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much to the tradition of Rational Dissent, with its insistence on accessing God via reason, but the term took on new, increasingly secular meanings during the 1790s, as Rational Dissent became radicalized, and associated with a more general spirit of critical inquiry.13 British radicals, then, were for the most part reformers rather than revolutionaries—men and a few women who wanted to inject reason into their existing world rather than to overturn it.14 This was a point borne out by the goals of the numerous and overlapping clubs and societies that sprang up throughout Britain during this period, organizations whose very existence reflected the profoundly social dimensions of the reformist enterprise.15 The Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, created by the medical ethicist Thomas Percival in 1781 but increasingly active during the 1790s, sought to encourage “a spirit of inquiry.”16 The London Corresponding Society (LCS), established by the shoemaker Thomas Hardy in January 1792 with the aim of democratizing the reform movement (membership cost only a penny), asserted its primary goal as to disseminate political knowledge.17 The Philomathian Society, begun by the artillery officer Alexander Jardine in London in 1793, intended simply to exclude “no subject . . . from conversation.”18 Although diverse in their approaches and courting different populations, these clubs shared a collective commitment to rational debate and deliberation. The numerous progressive journals created during this period communicate the same late Enlightenment vision. Joseph Johnson’s Analytical Review, begun in May of 1788, described its mission in terms remarkably similar to those that were used by Thomas Hardy four years later in a more plebian context. The journal’s “ambition,” as set out in the inaugural issue, was to “diffuse knowledge, and to advance the interests of science, of virtue and morality.”19 The Norwich Cabinet, launched by John March in 1794, similarly proclaimed its goal as to encourage “a spirit of free and dispassionate inquiry” and “a liberal investigation into the nature and object of civil government,” so as to “remind their fellow-citizens at once of their duties and their rights.”20 Of course, such positions became more difficult to maintain as the French Revolution entered its violent and combative stages, marked by Robespierre’s political ascendancy, the execution of Louis XVI and MarieAntoinette in 1793, and the escalation of war with Britain and Europe. In light of these threatening developments, British radicals’ desire to “perfect” their own revolution aroused suspicion, as the very concept of change was now increasingly associated with “king-killing.”21 Already in May of 1792,



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Prime Minister William Pitt’s government had circulated a royal proclamation against seditious writings—a response more to the coalescence of political opposition at home than to events in France. The royal proclamation was soon followed by the formation, during the winter of 1792–93, of the Association for the Preservation of Liberty and Property against Republicans and Levellers, under the leadership of the loyalist London magistrate John Reeves. The Crown and Anchor Society, as this association would be known (in reference to the tavern where the society first met), made it a priority to halt the “progress of such nefarious designs as are meditated by the wicked and senseless reformers of the present time.”22 Upward of two thousand similar loyalist organizations rapidly formed in the months and years following.23 To make radicals even more uncomfortable, Pitt issued the “Gagging Acts” in 1795 (the Seditious Meetings Act and the Treasonable Practices Act), which limited radicals’ ability to organize and publicize their views. “Pitt’s Terror” was largely successful. In 1792, Paine was placed on trial in absentia for libel for his antimonarchical Rights of Man. In 1794, numerous London Corresponding Society reformers, including Thomas Hardy, John Horne Tooke, John Thelwall, Thomas Holcroft, and Thomas Spence, were sent to jail, held in the Tower of London and Newgate Prison for months without recourse to habeas corpus, which had been suspended that year, before finally being acquitted. The Liverpool Literary Society, whose members included the prominent antislavery advocates William Roscoe and William Rathbone, terminated its meetings as early as 1793 for fear of government prosecution. The Society for Constitutional Information, which had been established by John Cartwright in 1780, disbanded in 1795. Joseph Johnson printed the last issue of the Analytical Review in 1798, the year in which he was imprisoned for publishing the religious controversialist Gilbert Wakefield’s A Reply to some Parts of the Bishop of Landaff’s Address, which embraced the idea of a French invasion. The London Corresponding Society was outlawed in 1799. Certainly, radicalism did not die in 1800—many radical reformers continued to agitate through the first decades of the nineteenth century—but the movement lost much of its earlier momentum.24 Despite these repressive measures, however, radicals were able to launch a muscular and multifaceted campaign during the late eighteenth century, which though never great in numbers was able to put considerable extraparliamentary pressure on government. No doubt the most popular radical cause, and the one that attracted the most adherents, was the push to end what was labeled “Old Corruption.” By this, most radical reformers meant

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adopting the Duke of Richmond’s plan, which demanded universal male suffrage and annual parliaments. Britain’s limited electorate (less than 20 percent of men could vote) and remote Parliament represented some of the clearest indications of an incomplete revolution at home. “As a Briton,” remarked the Manchester activist George Philips, “I rejoice at the political improvements of my countrymen, and I look forward with eagerness to the period that I believe to be near, in which the constitution of this kingdom shall be purified from its defects, and the undue power of individuals become mixed, and undistinguished in the energies of the people.”25 Democratic reforms, based on a belief in the need both to recover “ancient” constitutional liberties and to secure Paineite natural rights, were the most pressing consideration. A number of different projects, though, were joined under the banner of radical reform.26 The campaign to repeal the Test and Corporation Acts, acts established under Charles II that prevented nonconformists from holding offices under the Crown and that denied them access to Oxford and prevented them from receiving degrees at Cambridge, gained ground during this period, not least because many radicals themselves suffered these penalties. Reformers, led by the London surgeon Edward Jeffries, launched three coordinated campaigns to repeal the Test and Corporation Acts in 1787, 1789, and again in 1790.27 While each campaign ultimately proved unsuccessful, failing to gain the needed support in the House of Commons, Dissenters remained dogged in their efforts. “[We] are, with a calm and dispassionate firmness, determined to persevere in every peaceable and constitutional exertion, till we shall have obtained those equal rights to which all good Citizens are entitled,” observed the Manchester radical Thomas Cooper during a meeting of Protestant Dissenters held in Warrington in February 1790, just a month before the repeal’s final failure in the House.28 For Cooper, as for so many other reformers of Dissenting background, religious freedom was a central component of “perfection,” a belief that would only intensify after “Church and King” mobs thronged into Birmingham in July 1791 to burn Dissenters’ homes and chapels, with natural philosopher Joseph Priestley’s residence the principal target. Radicals also immersed themselves in the activities of antislavery, a movement that truly began to mobilize in 1787 with the establishment of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, formed under the leadership of the Anglicans Granville Sharp and Thomas Clarkson. Slavery, reformers insisted, was another glaring example of the “false maxims” still present in Britain, a system wholly incompatible with enlightened thinking. By 1791,



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antislavery reformers had submitted more than five hundred petitions to Parliament.29 Indeed, by 1792 the incompatibility of slavery and enlightenment was so striking that the Catholic biblical scholar and critic Alexander Geddes was compelled to lampoon those who would exclude the issue of slavery from the radical agenda in his Apology for Slavery: “In this curious and inquisitive generation, when the most venerable and hoary prejudices seem to flee, with precipitancy, before that blazing meteor, called The Rights of Man; some rash and inconsiderate assertors of those rights have gone so far as to maintain, that the vile and barbarous Blacks of Africa have an equal claim to freedom with the rest of the human race.”30 Alongside these major coordinated campaigns, participants in the late British Enlightenment committed themselves to myriad other reforming projects: modernizing charity schools, work houses, and public hospitals; limiting the practice of primogeniture; encouraging “cross-breeding” between the races; abolishing capital punishment; curbing hunger; promoting vegetarianism; preventing cruelty to animals; and even advocating the use of phonetics, so as to make the English language more accessible to the general population. As London Corresponding Society radical Thomas Spence explained, his hope was to reform both language and politics: “the one by a new alphabet, the other by a new Constitution.”31 Perfectionism, then, was a flexible ideology, to be molded by the user to suit his or her late Enlightenment vision.  It was this same quest for perfection that prompted several dozen male radicals and their sympathizers, joined by a handful of female “Jacobins,” to train their sights on the rights of women. For those keenly attuned to the shortcomings of the Glorious Revolution, here too was considerable cause for concern. As Rachel Weil argues, the Bill of Rights had raised profound questions about women’s status that had not yet been resolved: “Whig writers after 1688 were well aware that setting limits on royal power might raise questions about the limits on men’s power in the family.”32 To diffuse these tensions, defenders of the revolution shied away from dangerous comparisons by arguing that the political and the familial were decidedly distinct. However much John Locke might have objected to Sir Robert Filmer’s Patriarcha, the classic defense of divine right kingship, Locke refused to extend his critique to the realm of the domestic.33 As a result of this disavowal, women in late-eighteenth-century Britain continued to lack access to education, control (once married) over their

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property, and political representation.34 To be sure, there were some exceptions; patriarchal theories did not always translate into patriarchal practices. Marriage laws were open to interpretation, and the policy of coverture itself applied only to England, not to Scotland and Wales.35 Middle- and upperclass women also found ways to participate in the nation’s political life, even if barred from playing a formal role in national politics.36 Nevertheless, viewed as a whole, this was a world in which “Scripture, the law and other authorities jointly confirmed male superiority and the subordination of women.”37 Whatever this period may have offered the “fair sex,” women still led significantly circumscribed lives. In their attempts to complete the Glorious Revolution, then, a select group of radicals and their supporters helped initiate and advance a feminist conversation. At the core were many of the literati who frequented the progressive publisher Joseph Johnson’s dinner parties in St. Paul’s Churchyard, London, or what we might loosely call “the WollstonecraftGodwin circle,” although Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin themselves did not meet until 1791 and became a couple only in 1796. This was a mixed-sex circle—rare in this radical culture, which was predominantly masculine and masculinist in its orientation—composed of artists, journalists, novelists, physicians, attorneys, and other intelligentsia, who together self-consciously strove to put their reformist ideals into practice.38 Privileging directness and candor above all else in their conversations, they openly rejected prevailing norms and customs, especially in regard to gender.39 At Johnson’s Sunday dinners, the writers Anna Barbauld, Maria Edgeworth, Mary Hays, and Mary Wollstonecraft casually mingled with their male colleagues, and routinely weighed in on moral and political subjects.40 There was much to recommend the “simplicity and generosity of republican manners,” explained the poet George Dyer in a letter to Mary Hays, stressing the group’s overarching commitment to inclusive exchange.41 Given the culture of this circle—its rejection of social mores, its emphasis on experimentation, its embrace of mixed-sex sociability—it is perhaps not surprising that several of its participants took an interest in women’s rights. At the center of this group was Wollstonecraft, who published her impassioned and sustained argument in defense of women’s rights, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, with Joseph Johnson in 1792. Weighing in at 469 pages, the Vindication was intended as a challenge to reformers in France and Britain who had enthusiastically embraced the “rights of man” while refusing to extend those same rights to women. This propitious historical moment, Wollstonecraft insisted, also necessitated a “revolution in



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female manners,” a revolution that could be brought about only by granting women equal access to education, professional opportunities, legal rights within marriage, and even, for those women displaying minds of a “superior cast,” political representation.42 These rights, Wollstonecraft argued, would enable women to “labour by reforming themselves to reform the world.”43 The Vindication became the touchstone for 1790s British feminism and, in many ways, synonymous with women’s rights. But in her efforts Wollstonecraft was joined by a supportive group of associates, men and women who shared many of her feminist concerns. In part, their energies were directed at defending the Vindication, which caused a considerable and prolonged stir after its 1792 publication. (As the anonymous anti-jacobin author of the 1793 Rights of the Devil sneered, “The lady who wrote the Rights of Women, is certainly entitled to the thanks of the sex in particular, and of the country in general; inasmuch as she defeated the puny reasonings of Burke, whose apostacy [sic] render him contemptible in the eyes of all men.” In many quarters, Wollstonecraft was branded a “hyena in petticoats,” the epithet used to great effect by the writer Horace Walpole.44) Although Wollstonecraft’s affiliates did not always see eye to eye with her on what constituted female liberation, they used the forums at their disposal—Ralph Griffiths’s Monthly Review (launched in 1749), Joseph Johnson’s Analytical Review (launched in 1788), Benjamin Kingsbury’s Christian Miscellany (launched in 1792), and Richard Phillips’s Monthly Magazine (launched in 1796), as well as their own novels, sermons, speeches, and essays—to keep Wollstonecraft’s concerns in the public view. William Enfield, for example, the prominent Norwich-based Unitarian minister and a close friend of Joseph Johnson, provided a glowing endorsement of Wollstonecraft’s educational and professional schemes in his review of the Vindication for the Monthly Review, even as he questioned her plan to provide women with “an active part in civil government.”45 Thomas Holcroft, one of Godwin’s confidants and an associate of Wollstonecraft since 1787, when they had been introduced by Johnson, used his 1792 novel Anna St. Ives as a vehicle for exploring Wollstonecraft’s positions on female capability. “Courage has neither sex nor form: it is an energy of mind,” explains Holcroft’s heroine, a character modeled on Wollstonecraft.46 In 1793, Wollstonecraft’s friend Mary Hays published her Letters and Essays, Moral and Miscellaneous, in which she praised Wollstonecraft as the “sensible vindicator of female rights,” commending her as a writer who “with equal courage and ability hath endeavoured to rescue the female mind from those prejudices, by which it has been systematically weakened.”47

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Other acquaintances proved equally sympathetic, if also not always in entire agreement. The London-based attorney Benjamin Heath Malkin, a close friend of the artist and poet William Blake (who had illustrated Wollstonecraft’s 1791 Original Stories from Real Life), devoted large sections of his 1795 Essays on Subjects Connected with Civilization to supporting Wollstonecraft’s proposals for coeducation, although he deemed anything beyond equal intellectual training a “pure extravagance.”48 The poet Robert Southey, who met Wollstonecraft in the mid-1790s, wrote a poem “To Mary Wollstonecraft,” included in his 1797 Poems, in which he described his subject as a woman who had “snatch’d from coward man/The heaven-blest sword of liberty.”49 George Dyer, another associate, recommended that Wollstonecraft’s Vindication be distributed to the working classes as part of their instruction in radicalism.50 Some of Wollstonecraft’s acquaintances, in fact, were so committed to her cause that they continued to defend her Vindication even after the scandal caused by Godwin with the publication of his 1798 Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman, a work written in haste after Wollstonecraft’s sudden death from puerperal fever following childbirth in September 1797. Godwin’s revelation of Wollstonecraft’s many sexual and religious unorthodoxies, and especially the disclosure that Wollstonecraft had not been married to Gilbert Imlay, the father of her daughter Fanny, certainly tested Wollstonecraft’s affiliates. “Blushes would suffuse the cheeks of most husbands, if they were forced to relate those anecdotes of their wives which Mr. Godwin voluntarily proclaims to the world,” confessed one journalist writing for the Monthly Review, a publication that prided itself on its independent, Dissenting leanings.51 Yet shortly after the publication of the Memoirs, Wollstonecraft’s longtime friend William Roscoe, a Liverpool reformer, chastised Godwin for mourning Wollstonecraft with a “heart of stone.”52 Mary Hays also stood by her mentor when she published her 1798 Appeal to the Men of Great Britain in Behalf of Women, explicitly framed as an attempt to perpetuate and develop Wollstonecraft’s earlier initiatives.53 The author and actress Mary “Perdita” Robinson, too, sought to preserve Wollstonecraft’s legacy when she announced at the start of her 1799 Thoughts on the Condition of Women that “it requires a legion of Wollstonecrafts to undermine the poisons of prejudice and malevolence.”54 The Jamaican-born author James Henry Lawrence, an acquaintance of Godwin since 1796, likewise used his 1800 utopian romance The Empire of the Nairs; or, the Rights of Women to uphold Wollstonecraft’s earlier claims for women’s civil and political rights.55



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In a similar vein, Sir Charles Aldis, a surgeon and former acquaintance of Godwin and Wollstonecraft, drew up his Defence of the Character and Conduct of the Late Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin in 1803 as a way of reminding his readers of Wollstonecraft’s intelligence, independence, goodness, and greatness.56 Wollstonecraft alone, however, did not touch off the conversation on women’s rights. In fact, some members of her coterie had already begun to explore the subject well before Wollstonecraft set her own ideas down on paper.57 In 1788, the artillery officer Alexander Jardine, a close friend of William Godwin and active participant in London radical networks, published his Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal & C., in which he made an urgent appeal for women’s rights, citing the treatment of women as a crucial metric for measuring the overall health of a nation. “The rank and consideration of the sex must probably always follow the degrees of civilization,” Jardine observed, noting that “a wise government might do much towards modeling their character, and directing their education to the public good.”58 That same year, a male author identified only as “Calidore” (though likely the Scottish reverend turned writer Andrew Macdonald) published a series of letters in the Gentleman’s Magazine in which he offered “strictures in vindication of the inherent rights of women,” going so far as to suggest that women be admitted to the “House of Representatives.”59 Surely, Wollstonecraft had both of these texts in mind when she crafted her own Vindication of the Rights of Woman, with its ardent appeals to “reasonable men” as well as women.60 Once the Vindication was published, Wollstonecraft’s associates often used the text as a catalyst for their own inquiries and interrogations. In this sense, feminists within the Wollstonecraft-Godwin circle were engaged in more than the strict promotion of the Vindication. Thomas Starling Norgate and Thomas Cooper, for example, two authors who published with Joseph Johnson, used their essays and pamphlets to elaborate and expand on Wollstonecraft’s proposals for female suffrage, with Norgate going so far as to recommend that women serve both as electors and as members of Parliament.61 Mary Hays, Thomas Holcroft, William Blake, and James Henry Lawrence, too, used their novels and poems not only to underscore Wollstonecraft’s arguments but also to push her analysis in new directions, especially in their reflections on erotic love and the limitations of monogamous marriages—directions in which Wollstonecraft herself would not necessarily have approved. A few of Wollstonecraft’s affiliates even engaged in different projects altogether, though motivated by similar impulses. Such

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was the case for the Catholic essayist and theologian Alexander Geddes, Joseph Johnson’s chief theological reviewer for the Analytical Review, who created a more woman-friendly translation of the Old Testament.62 Just as Wollstonecraft was not the sole member of her circle pursuing a feminist line of inquiry, so her coterie was not the only locus for feminist discussion. In fact, to see the feminist debate as confined exclusively to the circle based in St. Paul’s Churchyard is to overlook both its import and reach. Similar conversations were being broached elsewhere, in the metropole as well as the provinces, where the subject of women’s rights gained significant even if limited traction. In London, feminism was taken up not just by members of the literati but also by a few of the leaders of the more plebian London Corresponding Society. Although long regarded as an organization wholly uninterested in women’s rights—the LCS denied female membership, and was committed first and foremost to securing universal male suffrage and annual parliaments—the LCS was home to four men who expressed at least a passing interest in feminism. The orator and surgeon John Gale Jones, an active LCS lecturer and campaigner, defended the idea of a “female legislature” in his 1796 Sketch of a Political Tour, an idea first introduced to him by a woman during his travels through Britain on behalf of the LCS.63 The physician William Hodgson, another LCS member imprisoned in 1793 for likening King George III to a “German hogbutcher,” planned to write a treatise on female citizenship, though he either failed to complete the text or chose not to publish it.64 William Frend, who joined the LCS in 1794 after his expulsion from Cambridge for his Unitarian sympathies and antiwar sentiments, played an instrumental role in supporting Mary Hays throughout her career, though especially during her public feud with Gilbert Wakefield over the nature of public worship in 1791.65 And the agrarian reformer Thomas Spence, a general committee member of the LCS, demanded in his 1797 Rights of Infants that women in their role as mothers have certain rights, including the vote, if for no other reason than that men have been “woefully negligent and deficient about their own rights” and someone needed to protect the children.66 What is more, the LCS published, on at least two occasions, advertisements for Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman at the back of their political pamphlets.67 Beyond London, there were other related feminist clusters, especially in Norwich, Manchester, and Birmingham. Norwich, a textile center with an extensive Dissenting population, strong tradition of participatory local politics, and dynamic literary and publishing community, particularly shines



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as a place where women’s rights were a component of the city’s “intellectual Jacobinism.”68 It was in Norwich, under the guidance of the Unitarian minister and author William Enfield, that the aspiring writer Thomas Starling Norgate penned his insistent essays “On the Rights of Woman” for The Cabinet, the Norwich periodical printed by John March, an affiliate of Joseph Johnson, and to which other ardent local reformers—Anabella Plumptre, Charles Marsh, Amelia Alderson, William Pattisson, and William Taylor—also contributed. It was also in Norwich that a group of men, led by the publishers William and Seth Stevenson, formed the United Friars in 1785, an organization committed to “learning, benevolence, and philanthropy” and that demonstrated a keen interest in supporting local female authors.69 One member of the Friars, the poet John Henry Colls, penned an epistle to Wollstonecraft, included in his posthumous Poems.70 Manchester also witnessed a lively, even if highly contested, conversation on the rights of women, again, not entirely surprising given the city’s reputation for radicalism, especially in its strident opposition to slavery and the slave trade.71 Here, the conversation centered primarily around the controversialist Thomas Cooper, a philosopher, lawyer, and politician with a seeming unflagging energy for promoting radical causes. (Cooper was labeled the “Duns Scotus of his day” by his friend and fellow Manchester radical George Philips.72) In his 1792 Reply to Mr. Burke’s Invective, a text in which he defended his decision to visit the Jacobin Club in France on behalf of the recently formed Manchester Constitutional Society, Cooper bravely extended the Constitutional Society’s mission to include the liberation of women. Comparing women to slaves and men to masters, he urged the “Defenders of male Despotism” to “answer (if they can) ‘the Rights of Woman’ by Miss Wollstonecroft [sic].”73 It was under Cooper’s “guidance” that George Philips, also a Constitutional Society member, agreed to acknowledge the need for male and female suffrage in his own 1793 The Necessity of a Speedy and Effectual Reform in Parliament, published shortly after Cooper’s Reply.74 Joining their ranks was the Edinburgh-trained physician Thomas Garnett, based in Harrogate, but who served until 1796 as a traveling lecturer in and around Manchester. (Garnett would have known at least Philips through their joint involvement in the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society.75) Garnett was an ardent supporter of female education, and made a point of lecturing on natural philosophy to mixedsex audiences. After 1796 he moved to Glasgow, where he held the first lectureship in natural history at Anderson’s Institution, a newly established university committed to the coeducation of men and women.

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Birmingham, too, proved a site for feminist discussion, although not to the same degree as Norwich or Manchester. A rapidly industrializing center, Birmingham attracted scientists, inventors, and innovators—those, in other words, who were strongly committed to the application of reason. At the forefront of experimentation were the members of the Lunar Society, a scientific society that met from 1765 to 1800, named as such because monthly meetings corresponded with the appearances of the full moon.76 Within the Society, at least three affiliates wrote treatises and a novel promoting “masculine” training for women, including the physicians Thomas Beddoes and Erasmus Darwin, and Midlands paper manufacturer Robert Bage.77 Such endorsements, however, did not mean that these Lunar men wanted their own daughters to become scientists; the professions were still reserved for their sons. Even so, their explorations of education reflected some of the most up-to-date thinking on the shared capabilities of the sexes. As the title character of Bage’s 1796 novel Hermsprong explains, women presently have “too little liberty of mind.” The consequences, according to Bage, were tragic: “Whilst [women] think of their charming figures . . . Mrs. Wollstonecraft must write in vain.”78 Of course, identifying these regional formations as distinct feminist communities or clusters obscures the dense and often overlapping nature of their networks. There was significant fluidity within these constellations, and some radicals traveled extremely easily between and beyond groups, both geographically and intellectually.79 Joseph Johnson’s circle itself encompassed writers and thinkers from across Britain, many of whom also happened to be engaged in feminist reform closer to home. William Enfield and Thomas Starling Norgate, for example, were both deeply immersed in Joseph Johnson’s community and in the Norwich Cabinet circles. Thomas Cooper published with Johnson and sought to bring feminism onto the Manchester Constitutional Society agenda. William Shepherd, a Liverpool Unitarian minister who favored female suffrage, dined at Johnson’s in London at least once in 1797, where he happened to meet Alexander Geddes, whom Shepherd commended as an “excellent table companion, brilliant in wit and full of anecdote.”80 Even the isolated Scottish aristocrat David Steuart Erskine, who wrote essays on the rights of women for Dr. James Anderson’s The Bee from his secluded home at Dryburgh Abbey, was in contact with George Dyer, with whom he no doubt exchanged ideas and information.81 What is more, there was significant movement out of London, as well as between regions. Wollstonecraft, Godwin, and Southey all frequented Nor-



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wich, and Wollstonecraft herself may have contributed to The Cabinet.82 The Cambridge law professor Edward Christian, a reformer who advocated the development of a more female-friendly legal system, was a guest at least on one occasion at the home of George Philips in Manchester.83 The Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, meanwhile, included at various points not just local feminist activists and writers—George Philips, Thomas Cooper, and Thomas Garnett—but also likeminded thinkers from Birmingham, Norwich, and Liverpool—Erasmus Darwin, William Enfield, and William Roscoe.84 In this respect, feminism, like radicalism itself, was marked by a sociability that defies easy categorization. The texts produced by feminists during this period reflect this profound sociability. To be sure, Wollstonecraft makes frequent appearances in most feminist materials published after 1792, and passages from the Vindication appear verbatim in several accounts. But the citations also extend well beyond Wollstonecraft, suggesting a more complex circulation of feminist ideas.85 George Dyer’s 1800 Poems, which praise the “female poet,” refer the reader to Benjamin Heath Malkin’s 1795 Essays on Subjects Connected with Civilization.86 Thomas Starling Norgate’s 1794–95 Cabinet essays on “The Rights of Woman” and John Bristed’s 1803 A Pedestrian Tour, meanwhile, include passages lifted directly from Thomas Cooper’s discussion of women’s political rights in his 1792 Reply to Mr. Burke’s Invective.87 Along these same lines, Norgate’s 1797 edition of Sir William Jones’s The Principles of Government refers the reader both to Cooper’s “excellent” Reply and to George Philips’s 1793 The Necessity of a Speedy and Effectual Reform of Parliament.88 “On the necessity of, and plan for parliamentary reform, I refer my readers to a pamphlet, by George Philips, of Manchester, where he will find the subject treated with ingenuity and argument,” Norgate counsels.89 Finally, the constellations themselves were subject to change; many of the figures active in the feminist community traveled, terminated memberships, modified or retracted their feminist commitments, or died at inopportune moments. George Philips, for example, offered one of the boldest arguments in favor of female suffrage in his 1793 Necessity, but came, quite quickly, to regret his inclusion of women because of the danger posed to his reputation.90 Thomas Cooper, frustrated by his inability to push through radical legislation and inspired by the example of Joseph Priestley (a close friend), immigrated to America to join him in 1794. William Enfield, a leader in the feminist discussion, died in 1797, the same year as Wollstonecraft. Moreover, those feminists who remained committed to the cause needed to respond to changing historical circumstances. What

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seemed possible to imagine in 1788, or even 1792, became exceedingly more difficult by 1798, the year that marked the height of the French invasion scare. Feminists worked out their arguments in real time, in response to contingencies and conflicts. In light of these shifting dynamics, it makes the most sense to view individual feminist interlocutors as participants in a broader and evolving radical vanguard, with related though by no means uniform ideals and ambitions. Those at the forefront introduced arguments that were strikingly bold and comprehensive. Alexander Jardine, Mary Wollstonecraft, Thomas Starling Norgate, Thomas Cooper, “Calidore,” Edward Christian, Thomas Garnett, Mary Hays, Alexander Geddes, Mary Robinson, William Enfield, and David Steuart Erskine provided schemes that tested the limits of what was conceivable during the late eighteenth century, offering visions of a world in which the sexes would be to a great extent “assimilate[d] and equalize[d].”91 But one did not need to trumpet a sweeping array of women’s rights in order to participate in this avant-gardist conversation. Most of the men and women engaged in this discussion, in fact, were far more likely to take on a single issue, or issues, beginning with female education. The Cambridge-based Unitarian minister Richard Wright, for example, proved a passionate advocate of equal educational training in a series of essays that he wrote for the Universalist’s Miscellany.92 The author Charlotte Smith used her 1792 novel Desmond to make a case for why women needed to be released from their “mental degradation.”93 Still others lent support for women’s rights through their actions: proposing curricular reforms, establishing schools, and assisting women writers into print. Even these more moderate proposals and gestures, however, were surprisingly bold. Feminism, despite its seeming fit with the radical program, never attracted widespread adherents. Women’s rights were one of the most controversial subjects of the period, provoking heated debate both within and beyond late Enlightenment communities. To take on this topic, then, was necessarily to open oneself to ridicule, to invite criticism. Those women who claimed to possess equal rights could expect to be pilloried for their “Amazonian spirit” or, as the Unitarian minister William Shepherd bemoaned, “doomed . . . to the hard lot of perpetual virginity.”94 Men could be teased, tormented, and on occasion shunned by their peers. In his unpublished autobiography, the Manchester radical George Philips writes at length of feminism’s alienating effects: “I was attacked first in the newspapers,” Philips recalls of the bitter period following the publication of his Necessity, which endorsed female suffrage. To counter his critics, Philips felt



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he had no choice but to publish a letter in which he attributed his arguments to the “foolish rashness of a young man.”95 Why the cold, and often cruel reaction? In part, the controversy stemmed simply from feminism’s challenge to prevailing assumptions about women’s “natural” roles and responsibilities, as prescribed by religion, law, and science. Women, it was widely believed, were intended to be inferior. They were necessarily dependent. “Nature has given Man the Superiority above Woman, by endowing him with greater Strength both of Mind and Body,” explained David Hume in his 1741–42 Essays, Moral and Political, reflecting popular opinion.96 But the tensions surrounding women’s rights also had another source: questioning the status of women inevitably leads to the questioning of gender binaries, and their corresponding social realities. The idea of minimizing, or perhaps even transcending, sexual difference was a hard pill for most late-eighteenth-century subjects to swallow, regardless of their position on the social and political spectrum. A “civilization without sexes”—as Pierre Drieu la Rochelle would come to describe the specter haunting twentieth-century interwar France—was just as difficult to countenance.97 These concerns, coupled with the facts of Mary Wollstonecraft’s own life, which specifically linked female emancipation with moral laxity, gave many Britons good reason to pause before engaging in a discussion of women’s rights. “Do not, my dear Sir, call me a champion for the rights of woman,” proclaims a male character in Maria Edgeworth’s 1795 Letters for Literary Ladies. “I am too much their friend to be their partisan, and I am more anxious for their happiness than intent upon a metaphysic discussion of their rights.”98 Opposition to feminism thus came not just from Loyalists or from readers of the reactionary Anti-Jacobin Review, but also from other reformers, male and female alike. The progressive Edgeworth, in other words, was not atypical in her reluctance to demand rights for women, even as she sought to expand women’s sphere of activity. The writer and educator Anna Barbauld, for example, who spoke out so passionately against the Test Acts and the slave trade, likewise hedged on the subject of women’s rights: “Separate rights are lost in mutual love,” she observed in her 1795 poem “The Rights of Woman.”99 Likewise, John Cartwright, a founder of the Society for Constitutional Information and fierce supporter of universal male suffrage, similarly dismissed the idea of women’s separate rights by noting that it was man’s chief responsibility to protect women, a responsibility that “must ever constitute an essential part” of his happiness.100

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 Given the charged status of women’s rights during the 1790s, what motivated certain men to become members of this feminist vanguard? Unlike those women who embraced women’s rights, after all, men would not seem to have had such a direct or vested interest in securing female emancipation. It would not have appeared self-evident that feminism would necessarily improve or enrich their existence. If anything, in fact, one could argue that men had much to lose by embracing women’s rights. Patriarchy was a system that granted men power, and gave them the upper hand in education, the professions, marriage, and politics. Why, then, argue for the diminution of male authority, an authority which had been carefully consolidated, even if at times contested, over several centuries?101 Their decision seems all the more striking when we consider the fact that their endorsements of women’s rights risked exposing them to public ridicule and placing their other reformist plans in jeopardy. Understanding their decision requires recognizing that most of these men prided themselves on being at the forefront of the late Enlightenment. As such, they felt compelled to take its claims most seriously. If the aim was to promote “perfection,” then they would demonstrate the degree to which reason could be marshaled to remove all errors and eliminate all false prejudices, including those regarding women. “LIBERALITY of opinion, and freedom of expression, are now spreading themselves more and more widely among mankind,” Thomas Starling Norgate proudly announces in his first essay, “On the Rights of Woman,” a text that reflects an unwavering belief in the author’s ability to expand the Enlightenment’s reaches. “[T]he theories of ages, the accumulated errors of a thousand years, now totter at the touch of reason, and hoary prejudice hides its wrinkled countenance, while the scrutinizing genius of modern times, spurning its despotic influence, endeavours to attract the attention of an enlightened world.”102 Within this particular context, therefore, women’s unequal status often first presented itself as a philosophical problem. If these men truly sought to eliminate all traces of “ignorance and bigotry” from their nation, how could they disregard female grievances? Skeptics and naysayers may have been confident that women were too dependent, too intellectually and emotionally immature to be deserving of separate rights, but these men were much less certain. Using their own reason, they invoked the arguments put forward by canonical Enlightenment figures—John Locke, JeanJacques Rousseau, David Hume, John Millar, William Alexander, and Lord Kames, among others—as well as British religious, legal, and political his-



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tory more generally, to show that at least some equal rights and opportunities needed to be extended to women. How could men and women have different mental capacities, when Locke had described the mind as a blank slate? If women were so inherently virtuous, as Rousseau had suggested, why limit women’s involvement to the domestic sphere? Given that women had played a critical role in the promotion of civilization, as Hume, Millar, Alexander, Kames, and other conjectural historians of the Scottish Enlightenment had posited, why then confine “modern” women to a subsidiary position? What made gallantry the civilized ideal? Such questions were repeatedly taken up by these male radicals, who were profoundly fearful of introducing enlightened ideas riddled with errors, inconsistencies, contradictions, and obfuscations.103 In fact, many of these men seemed to embrace women’s rights as much out of a desire to advance the cause of reason in general as out of a desire to advance women in particular. Ignoring the subject, they explained, would permanently mar their vision of a future state, in which “perfect theories may be reduced to practice.”104 No doubt, in this regard their views were at least partly fueled by the charges leveled against them by critics. As the moderate Whig author Richard Graves explained, in a caustic send-up of the English radical, here was a man who “harangued, till he is tired, on liberty and the ‘Rights of Man,’” only to return home and act “the tyrant in his family; perhaps without any regard to the ‘Rights of Women.’”105 If the goal, as William Enfield had put it, was to go on, “with an accelerated motion, towards perfection,” the thorny issues relating to sex and gender would therefore have to be confronted. There could be no exceptions. “To claim freedom of action and opinion for men of every class, and yet to hold women in subjection to the prejudices of barbarous ages and countries, would evince the pretended votaries of liberty to be unworthy of the cause in which they engage,” the attorney Benjamin Heath Malkin announced in his 1795 Essays on Subjects Connected with Civilization. “If rational principles of equality are to prevail, no part of the human race will be more benefited than the female sex, for none has been more injured by the protracted reign of despotism and ignorance.”106 In this formulation, women’s emancipation was construed not as a tangential or subsidiary concern, but as an issue reflecting the integrity of the entire late Enlightenment project. It was, many of them felt, the ultimate test of their commitment. Feminism thus functioned as a badge of enlightened radicalism, a sign of a man’s willingness to push late Enlightenment precepts to the limit. Many of these men wore that badge proudly. As the Unitarian minister William

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Shepherd gleefully reported in a letter to his wife, Fanny, written in 1792, he had been the only man at a recent dinner party to stand up for Wollstonecraft’s principles. The other men, he boasted, were “a set of male creatures who had never looked into her book, and who indeed could not have understood it if they had.”107 In contrast to the “male creatures” described by Shepherd, “champions of the fair sex” defined themselves as “manly”: “Nor do we find those who pretend to be so highly disgusted with learned or masculine women, to be the most manly or learned of men,” announced Alexander Jardine in his 1788 Letters from Barbary, in a typical barb leveled directly at those members of his sex displaying resistance to female advancement.108 By “manly,” Jardine and his feminist peers were referring less to physical qualities than to those attributes associated with the late British Enlightenment: the ability to think clearly, rationally, and generously. This is why women could also be described as “manly” in their outlook or accomplishments.109 Nevertheless, it was a clever move, as it aligned these men with robust, muscular thinking, in direct opposition to their less enlightened peers, alternately construed as passive, barbaric, and effeminate. Patriarchy was for the weak, while feminism was for the virile. Indeed, any man considering adopting a feminist mantle only had to consult Robert Bage’s Hermsprong or Thomas Holcroft’s Anna St. Ives for reassurance that such a move would not in any way upset or diminish his own masculinity. As Frank Henley, the intrepid hero of Anna St. Ives, explains in the concluding pages of the novel, shortly after demanding that men cease viewing women as property: “Ours is no common task! . . . Few indeed are those puissant and heavenly endowed spirits, that are capable of guiding, enlightening, and leading the human race onward to felicity!”110 This self-congratulatory ethos pervades the radical feminist literature produced during this period. Indeed, it was a language seized on as much by women as by men. “You know I am not born to tread in the beaten track,” Wollstonecraft explained in a 1797 letter to her sister Everina, a sentiment echoed the following year by Mary Hays in her own memoirs of the author, when she commended Wollstonecraft for taking pride in “quitt[ing] beaten paths.”111 Yet the men involved in the feminist project seem to have derived particular pleasure from casting themselves as harbingers of a new order, as distinctively forward-thinking: “Singularity of opinion naturally arises when a man thinks for himself,” observed William Frend in what seems a private note. “[F]or as the majority are content with what has been instilled into them and never give themselves the trouble to examine whether their



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opinions are founded in truth or erroneous, he who has pursued a different track will every day be going farther and farther from the beaten road.”112 By “gliding with the stream of general conduct,” explains Sir Charles Aldis, a man might win many friends, but “his own conscience will pronounce him guilty, for having sacrificed the dictates of his own understanding to the applause of an undiscriminating world.”113 Perhaps Alexander Jardine put it best in his Letters from Barbary: “The bold Political Innovator is probably as necessary a Character as any other for the Improvement of the World. He leads us beyond the Bounds of Habit and Custom, a necessary Step to future Advances; and though he may sometimes lead us wrong, it is perhaps better to go wrong sometimes than stand still too long.”114 Thomas Spence, the utopian agrarian reformer and supporter of women’s rights, admired this sentiment so much that he chose an extended version of this passage as an epigraph for his The Restorer of Society to Its Natural State, published at least a decade later.115 There is no doubt, then, that these men gravitated toward feminist positions largely in order to project an unwavering commitment to radical reformist principles. Endorsing women’s rights was a way of signaling a complete immersion in late Enlightenment ideals, a willingness to pursue truth wherever it might lead. That men were able to burnish their images as “manly,” “scrutinizing geniuses” in the process was an added boon, and made the turn to feminism that much more appealing. To suggest, however, that men endorsed women’s rights almost exclusively because of these rational and often self-aggrandizing calculations is to overlook the spiritual and personal considerations that also drew many of them to the subject. More was at stake in their deliberations than sheer philosophical necessity. The majority of the men who introduced feminist proposals were Ra­ tional Dissenters (most of whom by the 1790s identified themselves as Unitarians), and three—William Enfield, Richard Wright, and William Shepherd­—served as prominent Unitarian ministers.116 While this in and of itself is not surprising, given that Rational Dissenters formed the “backbone” of radicalism in 1790s Britain, their faith undeniably helped steer them toward prowoman positions.117 Why would Rational Dissent have predisposed certain men to sexual egalitarianism? Beyond the general questioning and criticism encouraged by Rational Dissenters—the “right to private judgment” that made Rational Dissenters such pivotal players in the late Enlightenment—theirs was an approach that explicitly recognized all human beings as rational subjects. Rejecting the Trinity, Calvinist principles, and the notion of Original Sin, Rational Dissenters instead took their

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cues from John Locke, positing a world in which men and women alike derived meaning from their experiences, a process that would ultimately lead them to God.118 Given this theological orientation, Rational Dissenters fostered female intellectualism, citing women’s education as necessary for both spiritual and practical purposes. As a number of scholars have recently demonstrated, Rational Dissenters were at the forefront of female education in the eighteenth century, pushing female family and friends to pursue knowledge, even if in different formats and toward different endpoints.119 And while the innovative Dissenting Academies at Warrington, Hoxton, Daventry, and New College, Hackney remained formally closed to women, some females were able to participate informally in the academies’ proceedings by attending sermons and reading their publications, as did Mary Hays at New College, Hackney.120 What is more, the academies themselves provided ample opportunities for their male students to contemplate women’s status in Britain, both by including lectures on the topic—Joseph Priestley drafted a course of lectures on the “Constitution and Laws of England” in 1765 at Warrington that included “Laws Relating to the Commerce of the Sexes,” “How Far the Husband and Wife Are One Person in Law,” and “Of Jointures”—and by furnishing their libraries with wide-ranging materials that reflected the most current, even if highly contradictory, thinking on the “fair sex.”121 It was not just theology, however, that made a significant number of Rational Dissenters amenable to feminism. The social and psychological also factored into the equation. Rational Dissenters’ status as a religious minority in Britain afforded them a particular vantage point on subjection, since they themselves still suffered a number of penalties under the British government. We must not forget that they argued for women’s rights in the context of demanding their own rights, both political and religious. While Rational Dissenting men wielded relative power, exercising considerable influence in culture and industry, they knew, from personal experience, what it felt like to be outsiders occupying a space on the fringes. “The analogy between the oppression of women and the penalties suffered by Dissenters was readily drawn,” writes Barbara Taylor, “and Wollstonecraft herself drew it in the Rights of Woman.”122 Neither group had yet “become free.” If Rational Dissenting congregations could serve as one laboratory for feminist sentiments, then the family, and especially the Rational Dissenting family, could serve as another. The impulse to act on behalf of someone



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else, after all, often stems from intimate and personalized knowledge.123 Certainly this was the case for Thomas Starling Norgate, author of the Cabinet essays on “The Rights of Women.” His memoirs, begun in 1812, devote pages to discussion of his admiration for and sympathetic identification with the women who raised and nurtured him. The child of the Norwich surgeon and Dissenting political activist Elias Norgate and his wife, Deborah Starling, Thomas Starling Norgate grew up in a family that stressed egalitarianism, and in which women were vociferous participants.124 Norgate’s grandmother ran a “school for little children” following the death of her husband.125 His mother and sister both boasted fierce intellects. “I have often felt the superior strength & acuteness of her intellectual powers in argument,” Norgate writes of his sister. “A habit of debate was formed on almost every topic which came before us.”126 When Norgate decided to marry, he searched for the same qualities in a potential wife. He was greatly relieved when he found Mary Susan Randall, the daughter of East India merchant Benjamin Randall, whom he married in 1797. “There is no day in the year so interesting to myself as the recurrence of that on which I was united to an affectionate Wife,” Norgate explains. Their marriage not only “bound me in bonds indissoluble of love and friendship to an Individual” but also “gave to us both a community, and identity of interest in each other’s concerns.”127 It was in response to these particular women’s talents, sacrifices, and affections, Norgate observed, that women in general deserved “from us [men] more than every return of attachment, kindness, gratitude, & love which it is in our power to confer.”128 On the one hand, Norgate stressed his obligation, as a thankful son, brother, and husband, to liberate women. Considering all of the comfort and camaraderie he had received from the women in his family, it was only just that he work toward improving their status. On the other hand, though, Norgate drew attention to the ways in which these women had helped shape him into the rational, inquisitive, indeed enlightened, man that he was. Without their guidance and companionship, he would not be a radical. Other men took similar pains to highlight female family members’ instrumental roles in their own self-fashioning. The minister Robert Robinson, for example, was inspired by his mother, Mary, a woman who “despite the cruel behaviour of her father, the immoral conduct of her husband, and the narrowness of her circumstances” managed to take “considerable pains in the improvement of her mind, and in forming her temper by the principles of Christianity,” a story he found motivational as he charted his own path as a Rational Dissenter.129 In his unpublished autobiography,

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the Unitarian minister Richard Wright, an outspoken advocate of women’s right to an equal education, also praises his mother for piquing his intellectual and spiritual curiosity.130 Wives loom particularly large in these accounts, figuring not just as lively companions but also as critical assistants and, in some cases, collaborators. The Dissenting theologian John Jebb found in his wife, Ann (nee Torkington), the “radical ideal of a wife.”131 “This lady proved to be a most suitable help-mate to him,” wrote the Reverend William Turner in his 1840–43 Lives of Eminent Unitarians, “uniting to superior powers of mind a warm interest in his pursuits, and a correspondence of sentiments and views, which rendered her a most valuable assistant.”132 As the couple did not have children, the Jebbs were able to devote their time together to intellectual projects, and Ann, writing under the name “Priscilla,” published a number of letters and tracts supporting the French Revolution and religious toleration.133 In perhaps one of the strongest partnerships, the Unitarian minister William Shepherd, a supporter of female suffrage, debated everything with his wife, Fanny, from the comparative treatment of women in the countries through which he traveled to the possibility of a husband changing his last name to that of his wife.134 In this context, the relationship between Godwin and Wollstonecraft—described by Godwin as one that “excites and animates the mind”—still seems progressive, but not entirely unusual.135 Women did not have to be family, however, to make a strong impression. The recognition that women had untapped potential, and that men as much as women would likely benefit from tapping into that potential, also derived from encounters with “extraordinary” women at the podium, in journals, at the workplace, and at the dinner table. The fact that many of these men were on intimate terms with radicals such as Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Hays played no small part in keying them in to female grievances and injustices. But the exchanges transcended Joseph Johnson’s parties. In his autobiography, for example, the Unitarian minister Richard Wright recalls the significance of an early encounter with a female preacher. “I went with some of my relations, about three miles to hear a female Methodist preacher,” Wright recalls. “The novelty of hearing a woman preach, the earnestness of her manner, and in particular her preaching extempore, deeply impressed my mind, and led to new trains of thought.”136 The Cambridge radical George Dyer was indebted to a group of Dissenting ladies who had sent him to charity school and helped secure him a coveted spot as a student at Christ’s Hospital.137 John Gale Jones, the political activist who agitated on behalf of the LCS and favored female suffrage, took note of the many



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bold women whom he met during his journeys across England—the “democratic” woman with whom he shared a coach from Maidstone to Rochester, the lady who refused to dance with a certain gentleman on account of their different political “principles.”138 Such women not only encouraged Jones to reconsider female potential but also challenged him to revisit and expand his own political views. Encounters with women abroad also elicited strong responses, spurring consideration of the culturally bound nature of social roles and conventions—a point that would have been only underscored in the burgeoning ethnographic literature emerging during this period.139 Alexander Jardine, the artillery officer and ardent sexual egalitarian, observed a range of customs during his travels through North Africa and Europe during the 1770s and 1780s. In his 1788 Letters from Barbary, a compilation of essays inspired by his voyages, Jardine noted that in parts of Spain, Switzerland, Germany, and France, he had observed men and women living and working side by side, observations that ultimately led him to the conclusion that collaboration between the sexes increases “the powers and exertions, the good order, of the whole.”140 The Jacobin novelist Thomas Holcroft similarly commented in his 1804 Travels from Hamburg, through Westphalia, Holland, and the Netherlands, to Paris, of an inn at which the husband “sweeps the rooms” and the wife “sweeps the yard.” Impressed by the housekeeping skills of the man, Holcroft queried, “Was the self-sufficiency of this man uncommon? We must make further inquiries.”141 Philosophical impulses thus combined in various ways with religious beliefs, family dynamics, and personal encounters to convince certain men that feminism had to be bundled with their other reformist programs. To pursue the rights of middle- and working-class men, of religious minorities, and of slaves, while ignoring the rights of women, would be to leave their world less than perfect, the “false maxims of ignorance and bigotry” still present. Whatever the particular circumstances that led men to this conclusion, theirs was a decision that had great consequence. The male participants in this late Enlightenment vanguard not only helped prepare, elaborate, and expand egalitarian arguments but also used their expertise and relative power to explore contentious subjects such as divorce and female suffrage, and to help translate feminist theories into feminist practices. At the same time tensions invariably emerged, as they do when a group, any group, attempts to speak on behalf of another. As Antoinette Burton has written, in the context of exploring Victorian and Edwardian feminists’

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efforts to liberate Indian women, “The extent to which the vocabulary of ‘coming to voice,’ ‘speaking for,’ ‘representing,’ ‘recovering,’ ‘restoring to history’ are both deeply politicized and inscribed equally in contemporary patriarchal and world-imperial relationships is something that all feminist practitioners and historians in general need continually to be aware of.”142 As we shall see, these men at times acknowledged women’s rights less as an end in and of themselves than as a means to an end, be it men’s own personal fulfillment and professional ambitions, or the success of a particular political, economic, or philosophical program. This tendency has already shown itself in the way that they invoked women’s rights as a way of shoring up the late Enlightenment, and of demonstrating their own “manliness.” Part of the appeal of feminism for men lay in the fact that it enabled them to rescue women—to free the poor, suffering bird from her cage—thus ironically reinforcing chivalric codes.143 Although it is not quite right that their feminist “priorities” were driven “by the personal needs and predicaments of the men themselves,” we need to be sensitive to the ways in which these men, at least on occasion, used women’s rights to promote their own interests and causes.144 Wollstonecraft herself was acutely aware of the limits of some of even her most “generous” male supporters. As she explained in a letter of counsel to Mary Hays in 1792, “Your male friends will still treat you like a woman.”145 Such tensions and contradictions, however, should not inure us to the daring and often visionary quality of their arguments. Regardless of the impetus, these men, like the women with whom they collaborated, were involved in a new and extremely challenging project, one that posed perplexing problems and offered few easy answers. In engaging with women’s rights they were entering largely uncharted terrain, terrain that required fresh approaches and demanded critical thinking. Some traveled the distance; others abandoned feminism when the road became too unfamiliar and difficult. Yet all were pioneers in their efforts to bring women’s rights to the late British Enlightenment agenda.

chapter two

Cultivating Woman

When “champions of the fair sex” declared that women had certain rights, to what rights were they referring? While these men may have disagreed, sometimes profoundly, about the content of their claims, the majority concurred that the “right to education” was a priority. Indeed, most “champions” identified the freeing of women from their mental imprisonment as essential to curbing arbitrary male authority, and thus by extension to promoting the “perfect” society that they believed Britain was capable of becoming. As the freshly minted attorney Benjamin Heath Malkin—a selfproclaimed “strenuous advocate for female rights”—explained in his 1795 Essays on Subjects Connected with Civilization, “the pleasing prospect” of “continual approximations to perfection” depended on the “cultivation of the [female] mind.”1 It was on this premise that several dozen male radicals at the end of the eighteenth century joined Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Robinson, and Mary Hays, among other female reformers, in mounting a vigorous defense of intellectual equality and the corresponding need for equal education. It was also on this premise that some of these men used their relative power and prestige to translate their proposals into practices, with one even establishing a coeducational university. Such arguments and initiatives, then, reveal a breadth and depth of commitment to feminist educational reform within late Enlightenment circles that has not previously been described. In fact, these men’s actions confirm that, contra much of the literature that has been written on this subject, the pursuit of more equitable instruction during this period was a wholly collaborative enterprise, a goal shared by the sexes.2 At the same time, and as will be explored at length later in this chapter, it is precisely in tracing men’s attempts to ground women’s rights in the “establish[ment of ] a new code

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of education” – the formulation of the Scottish aristocratic political agitator David Steuart Erskine (Lord Buchan)—that one is offered the first clues to the challenges male reformers faced in endorsing feminism during this period.3 What was the goal of equal intellectual training? Like the women with whom they collaborated, men struggled to answer this question. Yet they felt particularly pressed to consider the implications of their proposals, since they were in a position to create the conditions of possibility for realizing radical educational reforms. As a result, “champions” diverged in their conclusions. In the face of potential change, some men, whom for heuristic purposes I describe as “instrumentalists,” ultimately clung to traditional sexual divisions. Others, whom I label “egalitarians,” were willing to contemplate, if not actively embrace, a brave new world in which sexual differences might be significantly diminished, even as they refused to abandon entirely the “instrumentalist” arguments.4  It might seem that addressing inadequacies in female education would have provided the men and women in this radical vanguard with a relatively uncontroversial intervention. The “right to education,” after all, had been a “prime call” of the British Enlightenment and of the European Enlightenment more generally.5 “Sapere Aude! Have the courage to use your own understanding,” Immanuel Kant had boldly recommended.6 And despite Kant’s own reluctance to include women in his improving paradigm, countless others had insisted that his mantra be extended to women. Demands for the “cultivation” of women were a central feature of enlightened discourses. “[N]ature,” Jean-Jacques Rousseau explained in his 1762 Émile, a work that was largely responsible for setting the Enlightenment educational agenda and that attracted a widespread audience in Britain, “wants [women] to think, to judge, to love, to know, to cultivate their minds as well as their looks.”7 In his 1774 A Father’s Legacy to His Daughters, the immensely popular Scottish conduct-book writer John Gregory, a disciple of Rousseau, likewise encouraged women to read those books that “improve your understanding, enlarge your knowledge, and cultivate your taste.” 8 This sentiment would be echoed in another widely disseminated conductbook, James Fordyce’s 1776 The Character and Conduct of the Female Sex, which recommended that women “cultivate” themselves, provided that they maintain a “proper regard for decorum and elegance.”9 By the close of the century, such exhortations had become commonplace. Thus even conservative evangelical moralists like Thomas Gisborne and Hannah



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More were urging the “cultivation” of the female mind. “The mind is originally an unsown field, prepared for the reception of any crop,” Gisborne explained in his 1797 Enquiry into the Duties of the Female Sex. “[A]nd if those to whom the culture of it belongs, neglect to fill it with good grain, it will speedily be covered with weeds.”10 Hannah More sounded a more dire warning in her 1799 Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education, lambasting “modern” female education for privileging the “phrenzy of accomplishments” over substantive learning.11 In short, enlightened Britons of various political and religious persuasions had long recognized that middle-class women deserved more rigorous and “systematic” forms of educational training.12 Their collective concern was less with the location of women’s study—roughly 60 percent of middle-class girls were instructed at home under the direction of governesses or tutors, in comparison to boys, who tended to receive at least some of their education at formal institutions—than with the method of education itself, which stressed superficiality over substance.13 Although girls typically received rudimentary instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic, it was “home economics” and the “ornamental accomplishments” that proved the primary focus of a “fashionable” education.14 Regardless of whether a girl was instructed at home or at a boarding school, most of her energy would have been directed toward forays into cooking, sewing, embroidery, painting, dancing, and language study, skills commonly perceived as useful in attracting a husband. Boys, meanwhile, typically received sustained training in the classics, mathematics, philosophy, and in some cases, the sciences. There were some notable exceptions to these patterns. Middle-class boys, too, could be subject to haphazard training, and the male educational curriculum itself was somewhat in flux over the eighteenth century, as the public grammar schools, along with Oxford and Cambridge, faced heightened competition from the private, and especially nonconformist, institutions, which increasingly stressed the need to prepare boys for “active and civil life” through fresh emphasis on practical and useful subjects such as science and industry.15 We should not overly romanticize the “regularity” or “systemization” of boys’ education. Some girls, moreover, received what we would consider a rigorous education, either through their own strenuous efforts or the generosity of a concerned male family member, neighbor, or tutor.16 Margaret Cavendish, Elizabeth Carter, Caroline Lucretia Herschel, Hannah More, and Maria Edgeworth were just some of the women who benefited from the conscientious instruction of husbands, fathers, brothers, and mentors, or what Edgeworth described as the “unprejudiced

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testimony” of male kin.17 Women within nonconformist, and especially Unitarian, families were also more likely to receive sustained and varied instruction, though such background provided no guarantee of more stringent training.18 Overall, though, the contrasts were stark. As the Unitarian writer and philanthropist Catharine Cappe would complain, recalling the education provided by her Anglican Yorkshire family, her “formal” education had been limited to a brief stint at a dancing-school in York and some instruction in the “ornamental needle-work then in fashion.”19 “[T]he fact was,” Cappe ruefully explains, “that although in other respects extremely liberal, [my father] had imbibed some of the prejudices of the day, in respect to the cultivation of the female mind. And if he saw in his daughter an early desire of mental improvement, and some capacity for making progress in it, it is probable that he might think it the more necessary not to encourage, but rather to restrain the growing propensity.”20 This frustration would be echoed in the writings of many other aspiring female authors of the period, most notably Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Hays, who documented the significant hurdles they also had encountered in becoming educated. The widespread recognition that women deserved more careful “cultivation,” however, should not be confused with (at least overt) feminist sympathy. Most enlightened reformers wished to improve female education, but the words “equal” or “equality” seldom if ever passed their lips. The goal, rather, was “suitable cultivation,” as the Cambridge Intelligencer editor Benjamin Flower stated with carefully chosen words.21 This was not an endorsement of women’s unfettered access to knowledge. Rather, this was a call for a more “systematic” and “moral” training that would better prepare women for their duties as wives and mothers, those responsibilities that came after a husband had been successfully courted. When the evangelical moralist Hannah More excoriated “modern” female education, for example, her driving concern was that the concentration on “accomplishments” sapped the family, since women were not equipped with the skills needed to be attentive wives and mothers.22 More, however, was by no means arguing for the leveling of the educational field. A real and persistent fear remained that too much education might jeopardize women’s ability to pursue domestic enterprises. More was not alone in her anxieties. Other enlightened men and women also cautioned against equating “cultivation” with “masculine” training (even as these reformers disagreed among themselves as to the precise content of a “proper” female education; More, for example, was no



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Rousseauian). The classics and philosophy were as much as possible to be avoided, they insisted, since girls’ “brows,” in the words of the Anglican clergyman John Bennett, “were not intended to be ploughed with wrinkles, nor their innocent gaiety damped by abstraction.”23 Most sciences, too, were deemed inappropriate. There remained, in short, a prevailing sense that women had a strong potential for improvement, but not to the same degree or in the same capacity as men. Those unfortunate women, moreover, who did aspire to “masculine” training were destined for a sad fate, since no man would want such a woman for a wife. The “masculine woman” was an “unamiable creature” who “confounded” the sexes, explained James Fordyce.24 It was this concern that drove John Gregory to urge his own daughters to conceal their learning from potential suitors, since men “generally look with a jealous and malignant eye on a woman of great parts.”25 It is only in this context that we can appreciate the radicalism of the proposals advanced by advocates of women’s equal rights, in contradistinction to the proposals of those men and women just discussed. While such advocates by no means introduced the subject of female educational reform, they helped expand dramatically the scope of the conversation by insisting that women had a right to training that was in large part, if not entirely, equal to that of men.26 In their assessment, the “learned lady” was someone to be admired rather than feared. That is, they recommended education for women that included the study of classics, mathematics, abstract philosophy, and the natural sciences, topics that had been singled out by the more moderate reformers as inherently “masculine” subjects. “Shake off the trifling, glittering shackles, which debase you,” wrote the author and actress Mary Robinson in 1799. “Let your daughters be liberally, classically, philosophically and usefully educated.”27 In several instances, feminists even endorsed the highly controversial idea of coeducation, suggesting that women and men would learn best when studying side by side. The Jamaican-born German-educated radical James Henry Lawrence, for example, suggested in his 1800 novel The Empire of the Nairs; or the Rights of Women that boys and girls should both be admitted to Eton, where “ability” could be used as the primary metric for ranking students.28 It was these kinds of recommendations, grounded in a belief in the sexes’ identical intellectual capabilities, that distinguished feminists from the majority of their enlightened associates. As a result, they found themselves on predominantly new ground, which forced them to articulate new rationales and define and defend the scope of their visions.

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 The radical men involved in defending women’s right to an equal education did not shy away from the enterprise, even as it placed them in a potentially isolating position. Rather, they actively engaged alongside women in the project of promoting this cause, first and foremost by helping to build a convincing case for the equality of minds—the basis for their demands for egalitarian education. To substantiate their claim that “[i]ntellect admits of no sexual distinction,” the phrase used to great effect by Benjamin Heath Malkin in his 1795 Essays on Subjects Connected with Civilization, male radicals, like their female compatriots, drew on a rich mix of Cartesian dualism, Scottish stadial theory, and Lockean sensationalism.29 Their arguments, for example, can be traced (though none did so explicitly) to the French philosopher and theologian François Poulain de la Barre, who had looked to Descartes when he declared in the late seventeenth century that the “mind has no sex”—an argument that gained a limited following in Britain in the ensuing decades, as evident in the writings of the Tory Mary Astell, who was also greatly influenced by Cartesianism.30 What is more, they could show that the egalitarian principle itself was at least implicit in the Scottish stadial or conjectural histories, which had become popular from the mideighteenth century. In the works of David Hume, John Millar, William Alexander, and Lord Kames, among other Scottish philosophers, women figured as the “virtuous” and “sympathetic” creatures who had succeeded in transforming men from barbarians into civilized subjects through polite conversation.31 Female “virtue” could be interpreted in a variety of ways, and some read into the Scottish conjectural histories justifications for male gallantry. But these stadial narratives also had the potential to liberate women. “Let those who wish to know more of the matter [of women] than we can tell them, consult Alexander’s History of Women, or Kames’ Sketches of Man, or St. Pierre’s Studies of Nature,” advised John Bristed, a progressive author who eventually settled in the United States, where he married the eldest daughter of John Jacob Astor and became an Episcopalian clergyman. These texts, Bristed felt, “show[ed] that [women’s] powers, of virtue and of knowledge, are at least equal to those of men.”32 It was incumbent upon men, Bristed therefore concluded, to provide women with an equal education, since the democratization of knowledge would promote further social advancement and reflect Britain’s own progress as a “civilized” nation. In his interpretation of stadial thinking, Bristed echoed the logic invoked by Wollstonecraft in her Vindication of the Rights of Woman, when she in-



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sisted that denying women rational education would “stop the progress of knowledge.”33 It was Lockean theory, however, the cornerstone of Rational Dissent, which provided radical men, as it provided radical women, with their best weapon for revealing the “absurd and illiberal doctrine” of the “natural inferiority of the female mind.”34 Digging deep into the arguments of John Locke—as well as those of David Hartley and Claude Adrien Helvétius, who were Locke’s key eighteenth-century interlocutors—these men insisted that their more accommodating peers had not taken Locke’s arguments to their logical conclusion, a claim that reflected this vanguard’s broader commitment to enlightening the Enlightenment, a theme explored at length in the previous chapter. If the mind was a “blank slate” as Locke had suggested in his 1690 Essay Concerning Human Understanding, there could be no original intellectual differences between the sexes. One could not both accept Locke and propagate ideas of different mental propensities or capacities. This was the logic that they repeated ad nauseam: “The instances which might be brought to prove [intellectual equality], are all too well known to admit of citation”; “That the female mind is not capable of improvement equal to that of the other sex, I am happy to think . . . is a groundless prejudice”; “[T]here is no sex in minds, and the female understanding is, at least, equal in power to that of the male”; “It is owing to the education, not the nature, of women that so many are what they are . . . abilities are not sexual.”35 To try to convince others of the rationality of the sensationalist position, male radicals helped develop and propagate several central metaphors. In a series of controversial “Letters on Women” written for William Vidler’s Universalist’s Miscellany from 1799 to 1801, for example, the minister Richard Wright, a figure actively involved in promulgating Unitarian doctrine in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, where his congregation was based, took his readers to a figurative “quarry” where he compared the male and female minds to two blocks of stone, which would look strikingly similar if shaped by the same sculptor—perhaps an allusion to Joseph Addison’s earlier comment in The Spectator that “a human soul without education” was “like marble in the quarry.”36 “As both the blocks would be equally capable of receiving impressions from the chisel of the artist, so both the sexes are equally capable of sensation and reflection, by which all our ideas are produced, and all our knowledge attained,” Wright explained. “Since the souls are intended to mingle and be entwined together, why should you not give to both the same nice touches and masterly finishes, which may make them

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resemble each other as completely as two statues, formed of the same materials, by the same exquisite hand, with the same labour and care?”37 Although reprimanded in the pages of the same publication for espousing views that went against nature—“The frame, texture, and passions of the female are considerably weaker than those of the male,” insisted one J. Bowstead, “and there remains but little doubt, but the passions have a certain influence over the mental organization”—Wright remained resolute in his convictions. “I have never said that there is ‘no distinction betwixt one individual and another in point of perception and reflection,’ or that every individual is capable of improving to the same degree,” he responded. “[B]ut that there is that specific distinction, which Mr. B. contends for, established in nature between the sexes is what I deny: that the male is naturally endowed with quicker perception, and bent to deeper reflection, than the female, is what I believe incapable of proof. . . . The blocks of stone which I introduced to illustrate the subject of education, so far as I can perceive, remain entire, notwithstanding the blows of this gentleman.”38 For Wright, this insistence on the shared capability of the sexes reflected his more general belief that all of God’s creatures had been given “a capacity to understand his will, and ability to do it.”39 Knowledge of God, as much as of self, was the goal toward which all humans ought to strive, a proposition that reflected Wright’s immersion in Rational Dissent. Plant metaphors also proved a useful vehicle for illustrating Lockean principles, especially given the popularity of “cultivation” as a model for thinking about the development of the mind. In his first essay “On the Rights of Woman,” written for the Norwich periodical The Cabinet, the author Thomas Starling Norgate suggested that women’s and men’s minds were like plants that had simply been tended to and watered in different fashions. It is “not to the infecundity of the soil we are to attribute the barrenness or immaturity,” Norgate wrote, “but to the want of that ripening power, deprived of whose kind assistance, the most vigorous of mental plants soon fade away.”40 John Bristed used strikingly similar language in his A Pedestrian Tour through Part of the Highlands of Scotland to describe the sexes’ shared mental capacity—yet another indication of the degree to which these men were in dialogue with each other: “[T]he infrequency of the instances of females displaying masculine virtues, is not owing to the sterility of the soil, but to want of proper culture. The barrenness and immaturity, so often observed, and so constantly sneered at by men without understanding and without benevolence, in the minds of women, arise from the absence of the fecundating and ripening power, without whose



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cheering aid, the hardiest and most promising intellectual plants wither and decay.”41 In his own writing on the subject, Unitarian minister and author William Enfield preferred to draw more directly on Edenic metaphors: “The tree of knowledge, planted by the hand of nature, in an open plain, invites every passenger to partake of its bounty; and man, instead of rudely hedging it round with thorns, to deter the approach of woman, ought to assist her in plucking the fruit from those branches which may happen to hang above her reach.”42 But these men did not need to dwell exclusively in the realm of metaphors to prove their point. Alongside their vivid descriptions comparing women’s minds to stones in need of polish or to plants in need of water, they also cited the accomplishments of those “learned” women who had already demonstrated the female capacity for rational understanding. Rebuffing those critics who insisted that the “appearances” of “masculine” women were “too uncommon to support the notion of a general equality in the natural powers of their minds,” they eagerly identified Mary Astell, Elizabeth Carter, Catharine Macaulay, Mary Wollstonecraft, Maria Edgeworth, and Mary Hays as women whose accomplishments reflected the broad capabilities of the female mind.43 Rather than accept that there was not as yet “a Female Homer, or Virgil, or Bacon, or Newton,” as one smug writer pointed out in the Monthly Magazine (who used this as evidence to justify women’s decidedly inferior intellect), these radicals argued that talent was at least in part acquired rather than innate, and congratulated those women who had made significant intellectual strides in spite of their poor learning environments.44 In this sense, these men were working within the tradition of George Ballard’s 1752 Memoirs of British Ladies who have been celebrated for their writings or skill in the learned languages, arts and sciences and John Duncombe’s 1754 The Feminiad, both works that showcased women’s accomplishments while berating “lordly men” for ignoring female talent.45 As Benjamin Heath Malkin observed, “[T]he occasional display of female heroism” in itself indicated that “mental inferiority is only the consequence of untoward circumstances.”46 The key distinction between Malkin and Ballard, however, was that Ballard had celebrated talented women as remarkable aberrations. Malkin, on the other hand, cited such women as a way of demonstrating the potential of all females. Malkin’s “female heroines” were examples rather than exceptions. Given what these men took to be the overwhelming evidence in favor of intellectual equality, how did they make sense of the fact that so few women realized their potential? Like their fellow female reformers, these

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men held education chiefly responsible, citing the unevenness in training, the dilettantish approach to instruction, and the emphasis on surface over substance. With such a mode of cultivation, how could most women move beyond what Mary Hays described as their state of “perpetual Babyism”?47 As the frequent recourse to metaphors illustrated, women and men would think the same if they were treated the same from birth. Since they were not treated the same, men and women only appeared to reason differently. “The talents or abilities of the sexes are probably nearly equal, when equally cultivated,” the military officer and former British agent Alexander Jardine patiently explained in his exceptionally forward-thinking 1788 Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal & C., adding that “if some mental constitutional differences exist, these are not greater than between individuals of the same sex, and not beyond the power of habit and education to assimilate and equalize.”48 But male radicals also had another target: men. Their vitriol was directed not just at educators and educational institutions but also at men as a category—all those who, whether intentionally or not, promoted female immaturity by doting on women at dinners and dances, avoiding more serious topics of conversation in their presence, and deferring on certain subjects, fearing offense. “Men had entered into an open and avowed conspiracy against the exertions of female intellect,” explained John Bristed.49 Women, too, were more than willing to assign blame to the opposite sex for their subjection, and frequently ridiculed those men frightened by the prospect of intellectual equality. “[T]he men who can be gratified by the fawning fondness of spaniel-like affection, have not much delicacy,” explained Wollstonecraft in a clever riposte to the charge that the education of women would lead to the emasculation of men.50 Yet such accusations took on a different tenor when leveled by men against members of their own sex. Rejecting the gallant model of manhood—that theory elaborated by enlightened men to perpetuate male authority under the guise of modern “manners and morals”—these male radicals argued that true manliness rested on abandoning all pretenses of “politeness.”51 Against John Gregory, James Fordyce, and some of the other popular conduct book writers of the period, who had maintained that men’s ultimate responsibility was to protect and provide for women because women were endowed with a “timidity of temper” and “tenderness of make,” these men leveled at times fierce rejoinders at those who continued to place women on a pedestal. It was an insult not just to women but to men as well, they argued, to suggest that women needed men’s “protec-



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tion upon a thousand occasions,” as Fordyce had insisted in his 1776 The Character and Conduct of the Female Sex.52 In their estimation, in fact, male gallants were engaged in nothing more than an embarrassing charade, one in which alleged male intellectual superiority was merely the product of deception and deferential treatment. “Suppose any sensible and well-informed man should address to his own sex the flattery and absurd nonsense with which he assails the other,” Thomas Garnett, a progressive educator, chemist, and physician, who assumed a leading role in establishing the coeducational Anderson’s Institution in Glasgow, caustically observed in his 1800 Observations on a Tour through the Highlands. “[W]ould he not be knocked down, or confined in a mad-house? But why does he treat the female sex in this manner? When in their company, why does he not converse rationally on subjects of taste, of science, or of morality, as when he is in company with men?”53 The attorney Benjamin Heath Malkin was equally condemnatory, labeling gallantry an “erroneous” system. “We have at length descended from the altitude of Gothic politeness,” he wrote, “but the ritual of modern fashion, with all the ceremonies of adoration by which women are to be approached, is borrowed from the great original appointed by our ancestors, and though modified, retains the spirit of the primary institution.”54 In the most strident example, the Scottish aristocratic political reformer David Steuart Erskine (Lord Buchan) taunted those “men of Europe” who “have crushed the heads of the women in their infancy, and then laugh at them because their brains are not so well ordered as they would desire.”55 Truly enlightened men, they concluded, would work to remedy this unfortunate situation by rejecting chivalrous codes of conduct. Only then, they explained, would men and women alike be capable of becoming “perfect”: honest, just and, above all, rational individuals. Of course, as I suggested earlier, certain men were drawn to feminist arguments at least in part because of, rather than in defiance of, gallantry. Although few would openly admit it, the desire to provide women with an equal education was likely prompted to some degree by a similar desire to save women—the very desire, that is, underwriting male gallants’ chivalric treatment of women.56 It was the truly enlightened man’s responsibility, in Thomas Starling Norgate’s phrasing, to liberate women from their cages, even if his ultimate goal placed Norgate in a radically different position from that of most of his acquaintances. This is not to condemn their impassioned arguments in favor of women’s intellectual freedoms, but rather, to highlight the fact that adopting the heroic stance of “champion of the

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fair sex” could serve as much to enhance as to undermine traditional gender roles and attitudes. Even in their most antipatriarchal moments, these men could not completely transcend the schemes that had structured their world.  If men at times struggled to abandon the language of gallantry entirely, they nevertheless tried to put their prejudices aside. Nowhere were such efforts more on display than in some of these men’s attempts to turn their egalitarian rhetoric into reality. Here their training and professional status, as educators, ministers, attorneys, journalists, and military officers, enabled them to launch some at times quite ambitious programs aimed at transforming female education. While women, too, could take on these projects—already in the late seventeenth century Mary Astell had proposed the creation of a women’s college, an idea later taken up, ultimately unsuccessfully, by both the wealthy patroness Elizabeth Montagu and the Quaker author Priscilla Wakefield; and several Unitarian women proved instrumental in providing their daughters with “rational” training—men were overwhelmingly at an advantage in their ability to implement reforms, because of their combined knowledge, networks, and access to resources.57 Many such experiments began in the home, the site where most pedagogical innovation took place in the eighteenth century, and where the majority of middling women already received their instruction. The Dissenting minister Robert Robinson, for example, mentor to the writer Mary Hays, instructed his daughters in the classics, languages, math, and science.58 According to Joseph Priestley, who delivered the funeral sermon for Robinson in 1790, the minister had firmly believed that “the minds of women are capable of the same improvement, and the same furniture, as those of men.”59 The writer and London Corresponding Society member William Frend made similar choices in the education of his beloved daughter, Sophia. “Improve your mind as far as you can,” he instructed her, after learning that she was reading Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding.60 A few of the pioneering inventors and industrialists who made up the Lunar Society of Birmingham demonstrated a similar resolve to give their daughters “masculine” (by which they meant scientific) training. The potter Josiah Wedgwood educated all of his children together at home, while some of the Lunar men’s daughters were included in club proceedings. Mary Anne Schimmelpenninck, the daughter of Samuel Galton, fondly recalled one evening spent with the “Lunatics” in which she was



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praised for catching a snake that had accidentally been set free, an anecdote that suggests that Schimmelpenninck was not only present at the society’s gatherings but also encouraged to play an active even if limited role in its scientific affairs.61 Not all of these male reformers, however, trained their sights purely on the domestic. Some hoped to reform existing institutions, others to create new ones. Lunar Society member Thomas Beddoes designed a series of anatomical lectures intended for a mixed-sex audience during the 1790s that he defended on the grounds that “Women . . . attend without scruple lectures in which the eye is demonstrated . . . mothers, the most delicately educated, brave disgust for the sake of a child.”62 The physician Erasmus Darwin and naturalist Joseph Banks, also both affiliated with the Lunar Society, supported the establishment of a Botanical Society in Lichfield that they hoped would “induce ladies & other unemploy’d scholars to study Botany.”63 Both Darwin and Banks held high hopes for female botanists. In a letter written in 1796, Banks expressed pleasure that botany was a hobby “not of men only but also of a large number of the handsomest & most amiable of the English Ladies who have of late years taken this amusing Study under their immediate Protection.”64 While botany was often construed as one of the more “feminine” sciences, especially given the focus on flowers and gardens, the notion of women taking up its study could still rankle.65 The author Richard Polwhele would denounce “botanizing girls” in his 1798 poem The Unsex’d Females, in which he linked the study of plants with the study of human sexuality, and with Mary Wollstonecraft’s feminist proposals more generally.66 Perhaps most remarkably in this period, the Scottish natural philosopher John Anderson, a professor at the University of Glasgow, founded a coeducational university. In a will written shortly before his death in 1796, Anderson laid out a plan for the establishment of “Anderson’s Institution,” a school of higher learning designed to bring men and women together to study mathematics, science, and philosophy. According to Anderson, the Institution would be explicitly designed to provide “the ladies of Glasgow” with “such a stock of general knowledge” as to make them the “most cultivated in all of Europe.”67 As Anderson’s other writings on “natural history” make clear, he was resolutely opposed to the assumption that the female intellect was “naturally” inferior. All people were capable of “bodily and mental powers,” he once noted, if provided with sufficient “exercise and Emulation.”68 His own experiences lecturing to the “labouring and manufacturing classes” at the University of Glasgow had only reinforced that

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belief. Although women may not have been in attendance at those early lectures (the evidence is inconclusive), they were certainly never far from Anderson’s mind. In writing his will in 1796, Anderson explicitly drew on his experience teaching laborers to conclude that women could also become “distinguished in a high degree, for their general knowledge, as well as for their abilities and progress in the several arts.”69 Anderson’s words were heeded, and the coeducational institution opened its doors in 1796. From the outset the school’s directors encouraged female participation; some of the earliest advertisements for the school address the institution’s desire “to afford a rational and agreeable amusement to the Ladies.”70 Minutes from initial managerial meetings, meanwhile, go so far as to cite women’s education as the priority of the Institution. As one set of minutes indicates, “Mr. John Anderson Professor of Natural Philosophy, by his Latter Will and Testament bequeathed his Library, Museum, Philosophical Apparatus etc. to the Public for the Improvement of Science, particularly for the establishment of Lectures in Natural Philosophy to Ladies.”71 These same commitments were reflected in the trustees’ choice of instructors. Thomas Garnett, the first professor of natural philosophy—a chemist and physician who had already pioneered a series of lectures on natural philosophy and chemistry for mixed-sex audiences in Yorkshire—was extremely enthusiastic about the prospect of lecturing to ladies, insisting that Anderson’s ideas were “perfectly in unison” with his own.72 In his lectures, offered “for a small fee,” Garnett introduced women to subjects including astronomy, electricity, magnetism, hydrostatics, hydraulics, and optics.73 As Garnett proudly announced in his own assessment of the school, “This is the first regular institution in which the fair sex have been admitted to the temple of knowledge on the same footing with men.”74 In all senses, Anderson’s was a significant development. Long before Britain’s other universities began admitting women, Anderson and his followers had already launched an ambitious plan to level the educational playing field.75 That Thomas Garnett left Anderson’s Institution in 1799 to join the fledgling Royal Institution in London—another organization that encouraged women to join its ranks—only makes a stronger case for the importance of Anderson’s in the history of women’s higher education in Britain. The Royal Institution, like its Glasgow affiliate, admitted women to its classrooms from its inception (though denying them a role in the management of the school), and boasted the participation of such prominent women as the Duchess of Devonshire.76 As Dr. Young, a teacher at the Royal Institution, remarked in a lecture dated January 20, 1802:



Cultivating Woman The many leisure hours which are at the command of females in the superior order of society may surely be appropriated with greatest satisfaction to the improvement of the mind, and to the acquisition of knowledge, than to such amusements as are only designed for facilitating the insipid consumption of superfluous time. The Royal Institution may in some degree supply the place of a subordinate university to those whose sex or situation in life had denied them the advantage of an academical education in the national seminaries of learning.77

Anderson’s and Garnett’s own philosophy was clearly reflected in this argument, and in the fact that the Royal Institution, like Anderson’s Institution, was committed to educating members of the working classes as well as women. What impact were these initiatives meant to have on women’s function and destiny? Surely, the men engaged in these projects realized that equal education would raise questions about women’s place not only within the classroom but also within the broader culture. If capable of studying Latin, philosophy, and science alongside men, then what else might the “fair sex” be fit for? It was precisely this question that had made Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman such a controversial book. Not only had it endorsed coeducation, but it had also suggested that coeducation was but the starting point.78 In his own writing about his Institution, Anderson studiously avoided contemplating this subject. Far from imagining it as a place where women might become trained for professional life, he insisted—no doubt reassuringly to many of his subscribers—that “education for domestic affairs” would “not be interrupted” by attending his school and that the goal of acquiring “general knowledge” would always be the female’s return to the home, a sentiment reflected in the school’s decision not to grant women degrees for their course of study.79 As Anderson and his followers repeatedly explained, scientific education was but another form of preparation for motherhood, a role that, for all of Anderson’s interrogation of the category of the “natural,” he never seriously questioned. Even Thomas Garnett, the first professor of natural philosophy at the school and strident in his commitment to female intellectual equality, was far more subdued when it came to discussing the implications of his seemingly radical agenda. Education, Garnett wrote, “enables [women] to fulfil, with credit and propriety, the most important occupation in life, which is generally committed to their charge: I mean the cultivation of the infant mind, which is to lay the foundation of the morals, patriotism, religion, and all the virtues that adorn society. It is justly observed by an excellent writer, that the seeds of virtue and morality are oftener sown by the mother than

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the tutor.”80 Here Locke’s emphasis on reason and Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s focus on motherhood appear not so much at odds as mutually reinforcing.  Institutions like Anderson’s thus helped raise important questions about the objectives of equal education, and the benefits more generally that might accrue to a society that supported such measures. What was the ultimate goal in bringing the sexes closer together (at least intellectually) than ever before? In what concrete ways might equal education benefit the polity? The more moderate reformers, such as James Fordyce and John Gregory, had rarely questioned the purpose of female education. It was assumed that women would improve their understandings in order to become better wives and mothers. Female education was regarded as a domestic tonic. “I would want a young Englishwoman to cultivate pleasing talents that will entertain her future husband with as much care as a young Albanian cultivates them for the harem of Ispahan,” explained Rousseau.81 But radicals, who prided themselves on the consistency of their arguments and actions, faced a profound dilemma. If they insisted on equal “cultivation” for women, then why not also equal professional opportunities, and legal and political rights? How far, in other words, to extend their leveling principles? Male radicals, like the women with whom they collaborated, roughly divided in their responses to these questions. While some—“instrumentalists”—insisted that equal education would not challenge the status quo, others—“egalitarians”—ventured (in various ways and to different extents) into the new and certainly more daring areas of professional, legal, and political reform.82 Not surprisingly, a host of men refused, on record at least, to speculate on the broader implications of their programs. For these radicals, the “instrumentalists,” equal education was described primarily as a boon to family life. If the family was to reflect and, in a very real sense, perpetuate civil society (through the production of the next generation of citizens, as Rousseau had so powerfully insisted), then educated women, in their special role as companions and guardians, would be more equipped to undertake their maternal duties.83 This was the view espoused, for example, by certain members of the Lunar Society, who maintained that they were imparting a rational, scientific education to their daughters so that they might become better homemakers.84 William Frend, an advocate of equal education, similarly noted in a letter to his sister that the ideal woman was one who displayed rational capabilities while still recognizing “home as the place of her



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happiness.”85 Even Benjamin Heath Malkin, who proved so outspoken in his support of coeducation, insisted that women’s reason, once cultivated, “must be exercised in different directions.”86 Malkin’s notion of the “common rights of humanity” thus did not extend beyond the walls of the classroom. As these examples make clear, the goal was to incorporate radical principles into domestic conceptions of femininity rather than to rethink fully gender roles. There were clear reasons why some men might have felt the need to contain their arguments, the first and foremost being practical. A man like John Anderson, founder of Anderson’s Institution, could well have believed that exploring the broader consequences of his plan would have jeopardized his project. He needed financial backers, trustees, and instructors. It was best, then, to play it safe. Women’s rights would need to be achieved piecemeal, rather than all at once. But the acceptance by some men of this “instrumentalist” logic also points to the fact that it was difficult, even for those who conceived themselves as the vanguard of the late Enlightenment, to abandon custom and tradition entirely. The idea of woman as homemaker exerted a powerful hold, indeed, a hold that was only increasing in potency at the close of the eighteenth century. This is why so many of the women pressing for equal education, Wollstonecraft and Hays included, also at least touched on the ways in which such training would better prepare women for their domestic obligations. Yet even those who were reluctant to push their arguments further were engaged in a radical reconsideration of the domestic paradigm. Although they sounded at first blush like Rousseau they were positing something quite audacious; as they repeatedly stressed, intense learning was compatible with women’s traditional duties. To appreciate the novelty of this position, we need to remember that the more moderate reformers had frequently warned of the dangers of too much learning for women. Improved understanding was deemed desirable, but there was real hostility toward the idea of the pedantic or “learned” lady. “[It] is sufficient,” noted John Bristed in parsing the more moderate reformist position, “to say a woman is passionately fond of reading, science, or the fine arts, in order to draw an immediate inference that she neglects the management of her family, that her servants are in disorder, that her children are in tatters, and that her husband cannot even obtain a button to his shirt.”87 Vicesimus Knox, successful headmaster of the Tonbridge School, had made a similar point in his earlier 1778 essay “On Female Literature”: “[Gentlemen of a different persuasion] entertain a notion, that a lady of improved understanding will

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not submit to the less dignified cares of managing a household. She knows how to make verses, says the witling, but give me the woman who can make a pudding.”88 These men, in striking contrast, did not see education and homemaking as part of a zero-sum game. There was no such thing as a dangerously overeducated woman, or a woman—pace Gregory—who would need to hide her learning for fear of ridicule or social ostracism. As they explained, women with equal training did not necessarily need to become Bluestockings (those women of an earlier generation who had become learned ladies, often to great public acclaim, but who had been predominantly widows or “old maids,” in the words of the poet William Hayley).89 In fact, they argued, learned ladies would be better wives and mothers. According to Knox, such women would be “more likely to submit to her condition, whatever it may be, than the uneducated or the half-learned.”90 In this way, even those men hesitant to extend their principles beyond education made substantial contributions to the re-evaluation of femininity. A constellation of men, however, refused to accept that learned women’s futures lay primarily in making pudding. Although by no means rejecting women’s domestic functions altogether, several argued, in statements with far-reaching implications, that true perfection could only be achieved by granting women a more public role, as advisors, friends, authors, scholars, and sometimes even politicians. This was the position adopted by the Unitarian minister William Shepherd, a supporter of female suffrage, who praised the efforts of his friend Anne Wakefield (wife of the religious controversialist Gilbert Wakefield) for seamlessly combining “cooking” with “studying.” For Shepherd, pudding-making did not preclude serious scholarship or engagement in politics.91 As even the moderate Anglican clergyman Robert Nares conceded, in a “prologue” read before performances of the playwright Elizabeth Inchbald’s Every One Has His Fault at the TheatreRoyal in Covent Garden, “[S]ince the Sex at length has been inclin’d/To cultivate that useful part—the mind; —/Since they have learnt to read, to write, to spell; —/Since some of them have wit—and use it well; —/Let us not force them back with brow severe,/Within the pale of ignorance and fear,/Confin’d entirely to domestic arts,/Producing only children, pies, and tarts.” Mary Wollstonecraft may have “strain’d too far” in her recommendations, Nares observed, but he nonetheless did not wish to see “female genius” hampered.92 For this group of men, then, the “egalitarians,” there was an absurdity in insisting on intellectual equality and in training men and women to be



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more like each other than ever before, only to reinscribe difference as the endpoint of the educational experience. Thomas Poole, a writer who briefly entertained notions of joining poets Robert Lovell, Robert Southey, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge in forming a “Pantisocratic” utopian community on the banks of the Susquehanna in Pennsylvania, directly highlighted this inconsistency. Noting that it was the Pantisocrats’ “regulations relating to the females” that proved the most “difficult,” he pitted the poets’ belief that “the greatest attention is to be paid to the cultivation of [females’] minds” against their belief that “[t]he employments of the women are to be the care of infant children . . .”93 As Poole implied in his letters, this was a strange proposition. Why couldn’t the goal be to bring the sexes nearer together— not only during a brief period of formal schooling but also throughout life? Like Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Hays, these men wished to provide certain women with a “road” by which they could “pursue more extensive plans of usefulness and independence.”94 “Till one moral and mental standard is established for every rational agent, every member of a community, and a free scope afforded for the exertion of their faculties and talents, without distinction of rank or sex, virtue will be an empty name, and happiness elude our most anxious research,” Mary Hays observed in one of the many letters that she wrote to the Monthly Magazine.95 This impulse prompted some men to begin to imagine a more expansive role for women, which would allow them heightened influence in the public sphere. As they frequently insisted, domestic responsibilities could not possibly occupy all of a woman’s time. Children grew up; husbands were frequently away (or died). Given this, why couldn’t women be wives and mothers at certain times, and philosophers and scientists at others?96 Men, after all, daily demonstrated their ability to play many parts, to assume a flexible identity. As Unitarian minister Richard Wright observed in his “Letters on Women,” “The other sex [men] is supposed capable of learning the duties of husbands and fathers, of acquiring the knowledge of a trade, or regular profession, consistently with their receiving a liberal education.”97 Why then must woman’s accomplishments always be defined by her sex and limited to such a small sphere of operation? This insistence on the desirability of female knowledge as a public benefit rather than on female knowledge as the precondition for wifedom and motherhood revamped older paradigms regarding female sociability. Here women appear not just as the softening or restraining agents that David Hume envisioned in his midcentury Essays, Moral and Political but also as active intellectual contributors in their own right.98 This marks the begin-

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ning of an argument for the inclusion of women in the nation’s cultural, economic, and in some instances, political spheres on the grounds that the nation that included women would be more competitive, prosperous, and civilized—key terms that reflected those thinkers’ direct engagement with Scottish stadial histories. As one writer for the Edinburgh Review would later comment, scolding Britain for keeping half of its “talent” behind closed doors: It is of great importance to a country, that there should be as many understandings as possible actively employed within it . . . but, as the matter stands at present, half the talent in the universe runs to waste, and is totally unprofitable. It would have been almost as well for the world, hitherto, that women, instead of possessing the capacities they do at present, should have been born wholly destitute of wit, genius, and every other attribute of mind of which men make so eminent an use.99

Educated women, it was presumed, should not only instruct the next generation of citizens but also spur their culture to greater productivity and achievement. Some “egalitarians” merely hinted at the public activities that an educated woman might pursue. In his 1790 sermon on the death of the Reverend Robert Robinson, Joseph Priestley observed that the minister had believed that women ought to have not only the same education as men but also the “same power of instructing the world by writing, that men have.”100 In a review of Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman for the Monthly Review, William Enfield conceded that “the world, as well as the nursery, may be benefited by their [women’s] instructions.”101 In a later review of Maria Edgeworth’s Letters for Literary Ladies, Enfield offered clarification of this point. He did not wish “all our affectionate wives, kind mothers, and lovely daughters” to be converted “into studious philosophers or busy politicians,” but at the same time, did not rule out the possibility of at least some women participating in public pursuits.102 Enfield’s choice of the word “all” here is highly significant. As he would state that same year in the Monthly Magazine, speaking through the character of one “Margaretta,” a sage expert on female education, “With suitable opportunities and advantages, I see no reason why minds of a particular cast, among women as well as men, may not contribute essentially to the advancement of knowledge.”103 Erasmus Darwin offered a similarly cautious yet striking call for expanding the sphere that educated women might inhabit. For Darwin, such claims seem to have been prompted primarily by his concern that middling



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women have ways of securing a livelihood, particularly if the “inactivity, folly, or death of a husband” rendered such activity necessary—concerns, no doubt, fueled by witnessing his own illegitimate daughters’ recent struggle to make a living by establishing a school in Derbyshire.104 At times in his 1797 Plan for the Conduct of Female Education in Boarding Schools, however, Darwin shifts from an exclusively practical argument for female intellectual activity toward a more general encouragement of women’s participation in the public sphere. For those women possessing “inquiring minds,” he writes, the study of “geography, civil history, and natural history,” as well as “other sciences,” might not only afford them present amusement, but might enable them at any future time to prosecute any of them further, if inclination and opportunity should coincide; and by enlarging their sphere of taste and knowledge, would occasion them to be interested in the conversation of a greater number of more ingenious men, and to interest them by their own conversation in return.105

Here Darwin expresses his opinion that female education will transform the social field, drawing men and women (or at least women with “inquiring minds”) more closely together than ever before. There were several “egalitarians,” however, who were far more direct in their claims. The minister Richard Wright, for example, insisted in his “Letters on Women” in the Universalist’s Miscellany that women’s contribution to society ought to consist of more than “making puddings, keeping the house in order, administering to the gratification of their male companions, and . . . contributing towards the procreation and rearing of the next generation.”106 In a subsequent piece, Wright praised those women who had pursued “works of imagination” and “excelled in the fine arts,” as well as the “female astronomer [perhaps Caroline Herschel?], by whose discoveries the boundaries of that science have been enlarged.”107 The goal of educating women to the same degree as men, Wright stressed, was not only to make the “fair sex” better wives and mothers but also to “stimulate” them to a more general “active usefulness in society.”108 David Steuart Erskine (Lord Buchan) provided an even more stunning vision of the social revolution, or “instauratio magna” as he put it, that would ensue once women began to receive an education “in no way differing from that of men.”109 As he suggested in his essays written for The Bee, a periodical begun by Dr. James Alderson in 1790 with the purpose of “disseminat[ing] useful knowledge,” such an education would “render them [women] happy in themselves, agreeable in their families, and useful to society.” But for Erskine, it was the personal and social benefits, rather

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than familial ones, that preoccupied most of his attention. With his essays, we see a firm response to the “instrumental” feminists regarding the purpose and function of women’s education. According to Erskine, education was preparation for living—for pursuing interests and supporting oneself—as well as for nurturing. Education would no longer be confined to a period before marriage, but would instead become a lifelong project, to be pursued in a range of settings, as determined by one’s particular needs and desires. For women of the middling to upper classes, this might lead to work in higher education: “A female professor in a college, as at Bologna,” Erskine wrote, “will be no longer mentioned as a solecism, nor Macaulays, Montagues, Carters or Blackburnes be stared at as wonders, or envied by the ladies, and laughed at by the gentlemen.”110 For women of the lower classes, education would provide a more practical function: to ensure financial livelihood. “Haberdashers, grocers, and every kind of shop-keeping, watch-making, and all the nicer operations of the hand in sedentary occupations,” Erskine urged, “might be performed by them [women], whereby the wealth and strength of nations would be greatly increased, and a greater militia kept up (without hurting the community) to preserve order at home, and defend the property and honour of nations abroad.”111 Throughout his essays, Erskine focused on this link between women’s education and national prosperity. Preventing women from contributing their knowledge and skills to public pursuits, he argued, was akin to wasting valuable resources: Supposing there are, at this moment, twenty thousand men in the world, whose minds have been refined by science, by art, and by the general culture of philosophy and literature, in such a way as, in some important department or other, to increase the mass of useful science and art, to touch society at large, and to advance the welfare of mankind; we may fairly state the numbers of individuals who would be added to the workers of this magnificent machine for raising the superstructure of human happiness, by the introduction of women, at an equal, if not a superior quota; and how much this might accelerate the improvement of society . . . is past all calculation.112

Given the potential benefits a society would reap from freeing female talent, Erskine wondered, why were men so keen to restrict women’s activity? It was this insistence on the national import of women’s civic participation that proved to be one of the most consequential ideas offered by radicals during this period. As Alexander Jardine suggested, in remarks based on his own observations of different cultures in Europe and North Africa, the “best habits” of any given society proceeded from the “constant inter-



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course and mutual inclination of the sexes,” not from their separation and differentiation.113 Jardine marshaled this evidence primarily as a caution to Britain to maintain its claims to progress. His countrymen would not want to be like the “Asians,” Jardine warned, committed to the “subordination and separation between the sexes” at the expense of “absurd and pernicious tyranny.”114 The minimization of such differences was vital to civil society. Women, he thus enthused, ought to work as “companions and assistants, as mothers and tutors” in all the “learned and sedentary professions,” in whatever combination or combinations they might choose.115  In these more probing interpretations, we have intimations of the dramatic changes afoot. Here is the suggestion that woman once encouraged to flee the cage (as Thomas Starling Norgate would have it) will not, and ought not to, be persuaded to return to her former resting place. From this perspective, true perfection depended not only on “cultivating” women to be men’s intellectual equals but also on encouraging them to play a more prominent and equitable role in the nation’s public life. If man and woman shared the same Lockean capabilities, then why could not she, like he, pursue whatever course she desired? Why the persistence of the idea that men and women “are not destined to the same employments?”116 Was not this, too, but indicative of another error regarding the “fair sex”? These were central concerns for those men who admitted that women might be their “partners and companions” in some larger sense. Once they began to distinguish woman from her stereotype, it became increasingly clear that the ties should be loosened in other respects as well. For these men, as for a select group of their female associates, the admission of intellectual equality was only the beginning.

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“[M]an owes his proud pre-eminence, in the republic of letters, solely to his having been favoured with those advantages of education and means of improvement of which woman has unjustly been deprived,” explained the prominent Unitarian minister Richard Wright, in his series of “Letters on Women” written for the Universalist’s Miscellany between 1799 and 1801. “Otherwise she might have shone with equal luster in the world of literature and science, and have ceased to be that mere helpless dependent on, and appendage to man which she now so generally is.”1 Wright’s comments suggest that it was men’s responsibility, now that they recognized their own “pre-eminence in the republic of letters” to be merely the product of privilege, to enable women to achieve greater cultural and economic autonomy. A patriarchal ideology that insisted on limiting women’s activity exclusively to domestic concerns was as imperfect as an ideology that insisted on barring women from equal forms of education. Why, Wright queried, cast women perpetually in the role of “helpless dependent[s]?” Wright’s formulation was not empty rhetoric. During the late British Enlightenment, a cluster of progressive booksellers, critics, and writers— “champions of the fair sex” who took seriously the “egalitarian” charge detailed in the last chapter—made a concerted effort to legitimate and secure women’s right to participate in the republic of letters (mostly as authors of fiction and nonfiction, but also as reviewers, translators, compositors, and executors). In this sense, these men were elaborating on traditions that had been established earlier in the century, as evidenced in Edward Cave’s encouragement of female contributors to the Gentleman’s Magazine and Dr. Johnson’s endorsements of the Bluestockings Elizabeth Carter, Elizabeth



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Montagu, Hannah More, Fanny Burney, and Charlotte Lennox, women who rose to national prominence from the mid-eighteenth century.2 One would not necessarily grasp this continuing, and if anything intensifying, male support, however, in reading through accounts of the consolidation of female authorship in late-eighteenth-century Britain.3 Here, with some notable exceptions, one is typically struck by the absence of discussion of mixed-sex collaboration, with a focus instead on women’s pluck and perseverance in the face of adversity.4 An abstract capitalism, or so the story goes, served as handmaiden, providing the entrepreneurial woman writer with many paths to follow into the literary marketplace. According to John Brewer, it was the rise of a specifically British commercial literary culture in the eighteenth century—engendered by the lapse of the Licensing Act in 1695 and the end of perpetual copyright, as decided in the landmark 1774 case of Donaldson v. Beckett—that provided “the potential author,” male or female, with “many entrances and numerous routes to eventual publication.”5 This new literary culture, reflected in the rapid expansion of the periodical press, quadrupling of annual sales of books, multiplication of printing houses, and heightened attention to the marketing and distribution of texts, granted women artistic as well as professional license. As Carla Hesse explains, English women writers benefited from the “general tide of commercial literary expansion,” a view further supported by Paul Keen, who has explored “the ways that women writers exploited existing literary opportunities in order to promote the condition of women.”6 The archives, however, tell a more nuanced story about the ways in which certain men functioned as invaluable facilitators, helping ease women’s entrance into the literary marketplace. Some of these men, whose arguments I began to explore in Chapter Two, bolstered literary ladies by offering a range of philosophical justifications for why women’s presence in the republic of letters was desirable—why, that is, giving women the right to write would help produce the “perfect” state. “[E]mployment for females” was “among the greatest desiderata of society,” explained the chemist and physician Thomas Beddoes, who hired a female compositor to prepare his own writing for publication.7 Others, however, lent support to women writers less through their words than through their deeds, by helping women forge professional networks, prepare manuscripts, navigate the “labyrinthine” publishing process, and gain confidence that their works would be met with fair, if not always favorable, treatment upon publication.8 To acknowledge that certain men played a notable role in fostering female participation, however, is not to suggest that women were unable to

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help each other—women also defended female literary employment and proved that they too could be formidable power brokers.9 Nor is it to suggest that men in any collective sense uniformly welcomed women into the republic of letters, or, for that matter, that those men who did aid women were operating under strictly feminist principles. Financial and personal considerations were also at stake, especially for those booksellers and authors looking to turn a profit, a theme that will be explored later in this chapter. Yet by focusing exclusively on such limitations, we lose sight of the vital nature of some men’s contributions, both theoretical and practical. The chief aim, then, is to illuminate and illustrate those contributions while at the same time recognizing the perils that went hand in hand with male championship of literary ladies.  Providing theoretical justification for women’s entrance into the republic of letters in late-eighteenth-century Britain was no easy feat, since women’s forays into print, though increasingly common, were still met with suspicion from many quarters. The author and educational reformer Thomas Day—a disciple of Rousseau—captured this unease when he confessed, to the great dismay of the aspiring writer Maria Edgeworth, “a horror of female authorship.”10 How, then, did men help articulate a rationale in defense of the literary lady? As the Unitarian minister Richard Wright’s emphasis on the “advantages of education” suggests, Lockean sensationalism figured prominently in many reformers’ arguments in favor of female literary production, just as it had in the arguments in favor of female intellectual equality. If women and men had equal mental capabilities, it made little sense to stymie women in their quest to write for the public. This was a particularly powerful point for nonconformists, especially those immersed in the culture of Rational Dissent, since literature was one of the few arenas in which they themselves could wield power. “Debarred from politics by their faith,” writes Paul Keen, “dissenters discovered in literary achievements both a form of self-legitimation and a vehicle for promoting political change. They could establish their credentials as citizens fit to participate in the political sphere by demonstrating their abilities and their integrity within the literary republic.”11 The arguments deployed in support of female participation in literature, however, could also lean quite heavily on Scottish stadial theory and Rousseauian sentimentalism (a testament to the fundamentally exploratory and ad hoc nature of feminism during this nascent period). In the hands of



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certain radicals, the civilizing narratives of the Scottish philosophers Lord Kames, John Millar, William Alexander, and others offered clear endorsements of women’s participation in literary pursuits, on the grounds that the nation that included women most fully in its public life would be the most advanced or “civilized.” Artillery officer Alexander Jardine relied heavily on stadial thinking in his 1788 Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal, & C., when he suggested that “[t]he civilization of almost every country might be measured by the respect shown and employment allotted the female part of society,” and argued that it was the society in which “men and women live, and are most employed, together” that was in fact the civilized ideal.12 In his review of Priscilla Wakefield’s 1798 Reflections on the Present Condition of the Female Sex, Catholic theologian and Analytical Review critic Alexander Geddes likewise linked female literary activity with social advancement, noting that Wakefield’s concern with providing more professional opportunities for women “bears testimony to the progress of civilization.”13 This sentiment would be echoed by the Scottish reformer David Steuart Erskine (Lord Buchan), who drew on stadial theory in explaining why he had decided to appoint women as his literary executors. “[It] is my opinion that without a much greater Degree of paralelism [sic] than now exists between the Sexes,” he explained, “the progress from rudeness to real refinement in Society must be greatly checked.”14 To equate “parallelism” with “civilization,” however, required a controversial interpretation of Scottish stadial theory, for many would argue— Lord Kames, John Millar, and William Alexander included—that it was precisely women’s freedom from labor that would ensure the “civility” of the nation. As the scientist John Reinhold Forster had observed in his influential 1778 Observations Made during a Voyage Round the World, on Physical Geography, Natural History, and Ethic Philosophy, based on notes taken while serving as the naturalist on James Cook’s second Pacific voyage, savages forced their women into demanding and often quite physical labor: “In TIERRA DEL FUEGO women pick the muscles [sic] from the rocks, which constitute their chief food. In NEW-ZEELAND [sic], they collect the eatable fern-roots. . . . [T]hey dress the victuals, prepare the flax-plant, and manufacture it into garments, knit the nets for their fishing, and are never without labour and employment, whilst the surly men pass the greater part of their time in sloth and indolence. . . .”15 As this passage indicates, Forster equated the “civilized” state with the one in which the roles were reversed—that is, in which physical inactivity (recast in domestic terms) was transformed from a male vice into a female virtue.16

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To counter claims of “savagery,” Jardine and his peers therefore had to clarify that they were not advocating the kinds of labor forced upon women by “Barbarous nations,” but rather literary projects—employments of the mind rather than of the body. As Jardine made explicit in his Letters from Barbary, he was not in favor of returning women to that “most laborious and abject state of bondage” in which “they labour and carry burdens for their tyrants the men.” Instead, he supported women’s involvement in writing and teaching.17 It was those kinds of professions that would enable British women to make the most of “their natural, active, and useful dispositions.”18 Why the fixation on writing? As Jardine and others insisted, writing provided the ideal vehicle for women’s transmission of their “natural” talents, precisely because it allowed the “fair sex” to work without leaving them physically taxed or in any other way compromising their femininity.19 This was an activity, they explained, that was ideally suited to the person who was an intellectual equal but who lacked man’s physical constitution, and was necessarily weaker and more delicate. That writing was also an occupation that could be conducted in the privacy of one’s home lent further credence to their belief that female literary work was eminently “civilized.” In this respect, they also had a ready response to those skeptics (even within the feminist vanguard) who maintained that women ought not to move “too far from the sphere of domestic concerns,” as the attorney and educator Benjamin Heath Malkin emphatically put it in his 1795 Essays on Subjects Connected with Civilization.20 To overcome prevalent suspicions about female employment, then, reformers who drew on stadial theory tried to frame writing as an activity not so entirely different from the “needle-work” and “knitting” that moralist Dr. John Gregory had recommended his daughters pursue as a way to “fill up, in a tolerably agreeable way, some of the many solitary hours you must necessarily pass at home.”21 In fact, this was a sentiment that many aspiring female authors of the period also tried to project. As Harriet Guest notes of this rationalization in her discussion of the author Elizabeth Hamilton, “[Hamilton] found ‘the dangerous distinction of authorship’ more compatible with the demands of feminine privacy than the more intermediary forms of polite sociability, and because her attention to the proper boundaries of the closet allowed her to define her activities in the moral language of the division of labor without representing herself as engaged in unfeminine professional employment.”22 John Brewer has similarly emphasized this private dimension of writing as fundamental to the construction



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of the poet Anna Seward as a national icon. It was her physical location in Lichfield, he argues, far removed from the hustle and bustle of London, that enabled her to be seen as a woman laboring in private, even if her products—poems—were widely distributed.23 That virtually all of the prominent women writers of the late eighteenth century, from the more radical Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Hays to the compromising Anna Barbauld, endorsed rational motherhood at various points in their essays, plays, and fiction—that for many, in fact, this was the ultimate goal of their writings—only lent further credence to this image of the writing woman as working in the tradition of respectable femininity. Although often subversive in their claims, their objective at least included the consolidation and perpetuation of the enlightened family unit, even as they used their status as “mothers” to address far broader concerns.24 If Scottish stadial theory provided one powerful rationale for women’s entrance into the literary public, then Rousseauian sentimentalism provided another. In Rousseauian sentimentalism, which posited women as particularly sensitive, intuitive, and conciliatory—a sex whose nerves were construed as “more delicate and more susceptible than men’s”—some reformers found a convenient tool for discussing the unique contributions females might make to the literary world, contributions, moreover, that would complement rather than compete with men’s own productions.25 Indeed, there was a strong sense among many supportive radicals that women writers would speak in a different voice—or, at the very least, that women’s authorial voice would have different qualities, possessing as they did what the Unitarian minister Theophilus Lindsey described as a “lively imagination.”26 The writer and London Corresponding Society activist William Frend marshaled this language to great effect in explaining why Mary Hays (writing under the name “Eusebia”) had made such a vital contribution to literature with her 1791 Cursory Remarks . . . Inscribed to Gilbert Wakefield, B.A, a piece that chided Wakefield for his disapproval of public worship among Rational Dissenters. “So much candor of sound reasoning cloathed in insinuating language,” noted Frend, “excited in us the hopes that the aid of the fair sex may in future be called in to soften the animosity and fervor of disputation.”27 Much of the appeal of Hays’s intervention, as Frend understood it, lay in the fact that she had been able to tame an otherwise potentially savage male exchange. In his 1798 Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman, William Godwin similarly dwelled on the ways in which Mary Wollstonecraft’s “sensibility” informed his philosophy. Even as Godwin embraced the

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notion of woman as a rational subject, he perpetuated certain dualisms in his analysis of Wollstonecraft’s legacy, specifically of her intellectual impact on his own work: A companion like this, excites and animates the mind. From such an one we imbibe, what perhaps I principally wanted, the habit of minutely attending to first impressions, and justly appreciating them. Her taste awakened mine; her sensibility determined me to a careful development of my feelings. She delighted to open her heart to the beauties of nature; and her propensity in this respect led me to a more intimate contemplation of them. My skepticism in judging, yielded to the coincidence of another’s judgment; and especially when the judgment of the other was such, that the more I made experiment of it, the more was I convinced of its rectitude.28

In this passage, taken from the second edition of the Memoirs, published in August 1798, we see the equation of man with reason and woman with feeling. This was a standard trope in Enlightenment thought, though a trope that feminists (with mixed success and in different ways) were simultaneously trying to undercut.29 Here, Godwin argues that both the “masculine” and “feminine” are necessary to the smooth operation of the republic of letters; men and women are at their best when borrowing from each other. Ironically, these same men frequently ascribed women’s “sensibility” less to innate differences between the sexes (although there remained a physical component to their arguments) than to differences in education, the very differences, that is, that in other contexts some hoped to minimize or eliminate. That women were often autodidacts, the products of haphazard educations, enabled them to access feelings and emotions in ways unavailable to men. In his “Preface” to the poet Elizabeth Bentley’s 1791 Genuine Poetical Compositions, for example, the Norwich publisher William Stevenson described Bentley as “possessing not only the strong, bold outline of Genius, but likewise the pure, mellow colouring of Art; yet, both of them uncultivated and unassisted.”30 Because of their particular cultural status, women were in a better position to produce inspired prose, precisely because their passions dictated what they read and wrote. As Stevenson continued, “Elizabeth Bentley had no education; she read only by accident; but from the moment she did read, she felt in herself a power of imitation, and a faculty of combining imagery, together with a facility of poetical expression, which, with adequate advantages, would have placed her in a situation little inferior to the first in Lyric composition.”31 It was this same association of femininity with authenticity that prompted some men to define women as suited as much to preaching as to writing.32



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If these men relied most heavily on Lockean sensationalism, Scottish stadial theory, and Rousseauian sentimentalism in building their case for female authorship, they also occasionally tried to persuade with economic analysis. The Catholic theologian Alexander Geddes defended women’s right to write in part because he believed that women needed employment. As he explained in his review of Mary Hays’ Appeal to the Men of Great Britain in Behalf of Women for the Analytical Review, women’s “happiness” rested not, as it should, upon “rights clearly defined and acknowledged,” but rather, on their husbands’ “personal qualities.” After marriage, Geddes wrote, a woman became nothing but “property,” a “vassal” to her husband, “against whose tyranny, whose avarice, whose profligacy, except in extreme cases . . . there lies neither appeal nor redress.” As Geddes himself put it, this was surely a “precarious dependence.”33 For Geddes, in an argument clearly inspired by Hays’ text, a society structured around strict adherence to a bourgeois family model posed a real threat. The romanticized notion of the division of labor failed to take into account the many women who, either by chance or design, would spend some part of their life alone or in a troubled marriage. Even those women who seemed at present happily married, and secure in their finances, were only a conflict, or death, away from a perilous existence. In such a context, the alternative to writing might be starvation or, perhaps worse, prostitution—a result of the fact that women, unlike men, could not “plunge into business.”34 Self-sufficiency was therefore imperative.35 Rigid interpretations of domestic ideology would need to be discarded in favor of more flexible approaches to women’s capabilities and functions. The life stories of most late-eighteenth-century female authors only confirmed Geddes’s bleak conclusions. Unlike the Bluestockings of a generation earlier, who “were all reluctant to seem to be writing for financial gain,” the majority of women writing during the later 1780s and 1790s depended on the money to survive.36 The playwright Elizabeth Inchbald began writing soon after the death of her husband, the actor Joseph Inchbald. Mary Hays took up the pen after her fiancé, John Eccles, died from a sudden fever. The poet and novelist Charlotte Smith, celebrated writer of the 1788 Emmeline and 1792 Desmond, was the mother of twelve children, and had endured marriage to a delinquent (and largely absent) husband. “I . . . may safely say,” explained Charlotte Smith, “that it was in the observance, not in the breach of duty, I became an Author.”37 The novelist Mary Meeke, a frequent contributor to the Minerva Press, was a widow, with many children to feed, as was Eliza Parsons, another Minerva novelist, whose “worthy and

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respectable husband left me under the most deplorable circumstances with eight children entirely unprovided for,” as she herself put it in a December 1792 letter to the Literary Fund, an agency established two years earlier by the Welsh Dissenting minister and political reformer David Williams to assist “authors in distress.”38 Here, then, was more grist for the feminist mill.  Alongside (and sometimes including) those who provided philosophical justifications for women’s entrance into the republic of letters, there were the men on the ground—reform-minded booksellers, critics, and writers—who offered more concrete assistance. These men bolstered women not necessarily by providing fresh readings of John Locke, Lord Kames, or Jean-Jacques Rousseau, but rather by going out of their way to prepare and publish women writers, and ensure that their works were taken seriously. While many of these men may never have reflected publicly on why they made these choices (though several did), it is clear that they too were struck to varying degrees by women’s combined literary potential and economic vulnerability. Any discussion of men’s practical assistance of female authors during the late eighteenth century must necessarily begin with the “liberal” bookseller Joseph Johnson, founder and publisher of the probing Analytical Review (a thorn in the side of the British government) and host of weekly dinners for the chattering classes at his home in St. Paul’s Churchyard, a man whose generosity and kindness were heralded by friends and acquaintances alike in both London and the provinces. As William Godwin observed in his obituary of Johnson, which appeared in the Morning Chronicle in December 1809, “He was always found an advocate on the side of human nature and human virtues, recommending that line of conduct which springs from disinterestedness and a liberal feeling, and maintaining the practicability of such conduct.”39 This commitment to promoting “human virtues” translated into a willingness, and often eagerness, to publish texts that defended not just American independence, the French Revolution, freedom of speech, the expansion of the electorate, the campaign to repeal the Test and Corporation acts, and the abolition of the slave trade but also women’s rights.40 It also translated into a more general desire to promote female authorship. Johnson’s publishing record demonstrates this enthusiasm to shepherd women into print, specifically those authors who used their writing to link the “fair sex’s” grievances to larger political and spiritual concerns. In 1774,



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Johnson published Mary Scott’s The Female Advocate, a decision that “offered the first intimations” of this “new long-term interest in and support for women’s writing on his part.”41 This commitment became manifest in Johnson’s early encouragement of the author Anna Barbauld; correspondence between the two in 1783 suggests a lively intellectual exchange, with Barbauld quick to remind Johnson to send her more books.42 In 1795 he published Maria Edgeworth’s Letters for Literary Ladies, a work that made a passionate case for improving female education (even though, as I noted in Chapter One, Edgeworth herself resisted championing the “rights of woman”). “Give them [women] more employment for their thoughts, give them a nobler spirit of emulation, and we shall hear no more of these paltry feuds,” one of Edgeworth’s male characters suggests to his friend, a man contemplating whether to provide his own daughter with a “literary education.” “[G]ive them more useful and more interesting subjects of conversation, and they become not only more agreeable, but safer companions for each other.”43 In addition to his support of Edgeworth, Johnson also proved an able mentor to Mary Hays and Priscilla Wakefield, whose respective Appeal to the Men of Great Britain in Behalf of Women and Reflections on the Present Condition of the Female Sex; with Suggestions for It’s [sic] Improvement he published in 1798. Of all of Johnson’s interactions with aspiring female authors, however, it was his financial and intellectual support of Mary Wollstonecraft that most distinguishes him as a “champion of the fair sex.” When Wollstonecraft met Johnson in 1786, she was just beginning to connect Rational Dissenting concerns to feminist lines of inquiry (nurtured, no doubt, by her time spent with the Reverend Richard Price and the Newington Green Dissenters). Johnson encouraged these tendencies by agreeing to publish her first book, Thoughts on the Education of Daughters, commissioning her to write pieces for the Analytical Review and ensuring that the financially unstable Wollstonecraft always had enough money to live on, a worthwhile investment for Johnson, since Wollstonecraft was increasingly proving one of his most profitable authors.44 Johnson should receive no small credit for Wollstonecraft’s successful transformation from literary hack into femme philosophe, for it was he who urged her to write both the 1791 Vindication of the Rights of Men and the 1792 Vindication of the Rights of Woman after she became furious at what she took to be the specious claims made by Edmund Burke in his 1790 Reflections on the Revolution in France. According to William Godwin, Wollstonecraft’s first three years of publishing with Johnson were the most productive of her life.45

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Johnson, however, was not the only progressive bookseller to take a strong interest in nurturing the careers of women, especially when this interest also made economic sense. In surveying the field of reform-minded booksellers operating during this period, we find a few other instances of this same kind of generous behavior. The esteemed London-based bookseller Thomas Cadell, Sr., (and after 1793, Thomas Cadell, Jr., and William Davies), for example, took great pains to cater to the needs of the struggling poet and novelist Charlotte Smith, an author who had already garnered widespread praise for her 1784 Elegiac Sonnets but who continued to labor under severe financial constraints. Throughout their contractual relationship with Smith, the booksellers—who published some of the most forward-thinking texts regarding women’s rights during this period, including John Jebb’s 1787 Works, Alexander Jardine’s 1788 Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal, & C., Edward Christian’s 1800 edition of William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, and Thomas Garnett’s 1800 Observations on a Tour through the Highlands—gave Smith advances to help her pay for the expenses she incurred in raising her twelve children, a difficult task for any woman, but even more so for Smith, whose husband had fled to Scotland.46 What is more, they extended credit to Smith, and served as her administrators and bookkeepers. As Judith Phillips Stanton notes, “From 1787 to 1793, [Cadell, Sr.] gave [Charlotte Smith] advances, handled her mail in London, and trusted her to fulfill her contracts with him,” actions for which Smith expressed repeated gratitude.47 In her letters, Smith described Cadell, Sr., as “equally liberal & respectable” and, on a later occasion, as someone who “conducted himself towards me with a liberality which is from the account of others sometimes unusual with him.”48 Even so, Cadell’s support of Smith did have its limits. When Smith decided to endorse the French Revolution in her 1792 novel Desmond, recommending the adoption of certain reforms at home, Cadell, Sr., deemed the work too radical; Smith published Desmond with George Robinson instead, a Whig bookseller more openly aligned with her political sympathies. The London-based bookseller William Lane was similarly intent on promoting women’s fledgling careers, though his unapologetically commercial and immensely successful Minerva Press, which printed lurid Gothic fictions from his headquarters at 28 Leadenhall Street, was perhaps too suggestive of Grub Street to attract all of the women that he sought to publish.49 (Charlotte Smith rebuffed Lane when he inquired about becoming her publisher, and she observed in a letter of 1788–89 that she felt “humbled & hurt at being supposed liable to his negociations [sic],” fretting that her



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need for money had become public knowledge.)50 Still, Lane was singlehandedly “responsible for a substantial number of the later eighteenth-century novels by women.”51 Using aggressive recruitment tactics, Lane succeeded in attracting unprecedented numbers of women to write for the Minerva Press.52 In turn, those women who chose to publish with Lane were guaranteed larger readerships and higher incomes than any of their female peers during that same period.53 Of course, publishing with William Lane required a readiness to submit to his directives, and a willingness to work within the parameters of the Gothic form (with its obligatory haunted castles, secret potions, dark knights, and damsels in distress).54 As the novelist Mary Meeke openly accepted in her Midnight Weddings, published by Lane in 1802, “She [the female novelist] must (which as being a more competent judge than herself of the prevalent taste, she ought to do) consult with her publisher. Indeed to secure their approbation is rather the general aim; for should you fail of meeting with a purchaser, that labour you hope will immortalize you is absolutely lost; a most mortifying circumstance in every sense of the word.”55 Lane counted on his female authors to share Meeke’s pliability, a quality that no doubt made him regard women as attractive employees. But Lane also seems to have deserved his reputation as a bookseller “liberal in his ideas” and “free, generous and encouraging,” a reputation that he himself was eager to burnish.56 In May 1795, Lane petitioned the Literary Fund on behalf of Eliza Norman, a novelist who had fallen on extremely hard times. Norman, Lane pleaded in a letter to the fund, was “a child of woe” (a reference to Norman’s novel, The Child of Woe) desperately in need of “relief.”57 This communication, intended for a private audience, indicates that Lane was genuinely concerned—at least to some extent—about the welfare of his female writers. That many of the Minerva novels themselves contained biting, even if at times veiled, feminist social commentary is also noteworthy, suggesting that Lane’s decision to name his press after “Minerva,” the Roman goddess of wisdom, was more than incidental. The anonymous author of the 1793 Minerva novel Errors of Sensibility, for example, offers direct praise to “the author of ‘The Rights of Woman,’ . . . for many excellent criticisms,” and observes that “some of the general principles of her work deserve more attention than will, perhaps, be paid them,” since “love of system turns the heads of wise men.”58 In a similar vein, the heroine of Regina Roche’s 1798 Minerva novel Clermont is adopted by a well-educated countess and her female friends, who train her in literature and philosophy. Roche proudly notes that her heroine “received and prof-

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ited by all the advantages of a liberal education” and chastises “the world” for thinking that “when women talk philosophy” they must be either “indisposed or out of temper.”59 Perhaps even more tellingly, Lane chose in 1796 to publish Robert Bage’s Hermsprong, a Jacobin novel unabashed in its endorsement of women’s rights. In his novel, Bage, a man of Quaker upbringing with close links to the Lunar Society of Birmingham, lambasted those who found it “absurd” to “talk of women doing men’s work.” Speaking through his heroine, the defiant Miss Campinet (a fictive disciple of Mary Wollstonecraft), Bage writes, “One may excuse the absurdity, supposing it to be one [of women doing men’s work] for the sake of the compliment. Few men will allow us capacities for their employments.” 60 That Lane chose to publish Bage’s novel therefore demonstrates that he was willing to take at least some political risks. Clearly, Bage’s were not mainstream opinions: as the author Elizabeth Hamilton would later observe in her 1801 Letters on Education, the notion of “an equality of employments and avocations” was “founded upon the erroneous idea of a perfect similarity of powers.”61 In the provinces, and especially in Norwich, a particular hotbed of radicalism, there is also evidence that certain publishers took considerable pains to enable women to secure an income from their pens.62 The United Friars of Norwich, for example, a reform-minded fraternal organization with feminist leanings, founded by Thomas Ransome in 1785 with the intention of emulating “the monks and friars in their scientific acquisitions, love of learning and philanthropy,” devoted significant attention, and resources, to ensuring that local literary women were able to publish by soliciting subscribers and printing women’s material at a local press.63 One such beneficiary was Elizabeth Bentley, the Norwich-based poet, who lacked formal education, but who proved to have a “natural gift for rhyming,” and had recently been orphaned after the death of her father, an apprentice cobbler.64 The Friars were first introduced to Bentley’s poetry in May of 1789, and by 1791, on the urging of “Father and Brother Stevenson,” had resolved to publish her work; records of the Friars’ transactions state the society’s recognition of William and Seth Stevenson for their “benevolent and indefatigable Exertions in Favor of Elizth [sic] Bentley. . . .”65 It was fitting that William and Seth Stevenson were at the helm. William Stevenson was, from 1785, the proprietor of the Norfolk Chronicle (formerly the Norwich Gazette), a newspaper that, at least in the early days of the revolution, sympathized with the French cause (“Shall Britons the Chorus of Liberty hear / With a cold and insensible mind?” proclaimed one song



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published in the Chronicle in 1791).66 William was also a publisher with the Norwich firm Stevenson, Matchett, and Stevenson. His son, Seth, took a similar interest in literary affairs, assuming proprietorship of the Chronicle upon his father’s death in 1821. Under their joint direction, the Friars agreed to publish Bentley’s Poetical Compositions, a collection of poems that publicized, among other humanitarian concerns, the author’s opposition to slavery and objections to the cruel treatment of animals, and succeeded in securing “upwards of 1500 subscribers,” including “the masters of several Cambridge colleges and people from as far away as Southampton, Lichfield and Sheffield.”67 In his “Preface” to the Compositions, William Stevenson explained to the readership that Bentley’s work had been approved by the Friars, “Gentlemen of taste and fortune,” who had judged that “the Authoress, who is not less respectable for her modest virtues than her superior abilities, has some claim to the Choir, and is not the last or meanest in the train who ‘Follow where seraphic Milton led.’”68 Stevenson hoped that the “candid Critic” would agree with him on these points.69 The Friars continued to support Bentley right through the first decades of the nineteenth century; for instance, they gave Bentley a guinea in exchange for her “Ode on the Glorious Victory over the French and Spanish Fleets, on the 21st of October, 1805, and the Death of Lord Nelson,” subsequently published by William Stevenson in 1805.70 When William Stevenson died in 1821, Elizabeth Bentley expressed her gratitude to Seth Stevenson by writing a letter, to which she attached a poem written about her mentor. The poem, Bentley felt, could not possibly communicate her sense of indebtedness, and remained but “an inadequate tribute of respect to that kind, deceased Friend, to whose memory I shall ever look up.”71 Booksellers were only one of the many (predominantly male) groups that women writers would have encountered en route to authorship. After the advances had been paid and copyright terms settled, they had to focus on the next hurdle: winning over the critical press. Not surprisingly, women often encountered hostility from critics based simply on the fact that they were women, engaged in an activity deemed inappropriate and unladylike by large segments of the literary establishment. The best that many aspiring women writers could hope for was the kind of cautious endorsement expressed by the dramatist Richard Cumberland, who insisted that women’s literary projects were to be supported if and only if such pursuits did not “overshadow and keep out of sight those feminine and proper requisites, which are fitted to the domestic sphere and are indispensable qualifications for the tender and engaging duties of wife and mother.”72

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When the subject of women’s writing was deemed controversial, winning over critics could be even more difficult. In a telling exchange, Mary Hays met with censure after publishing a “Letter from ‘A Woman’ on Remarks on A.B.’s Strictures on the Talents of Women,” in the Monthly Magazine in July 1796. (The piece attacked an earlier letter-writer for deriding female intellect.) As one “C.B.” argued in a published rejoinder to Hays’s letter, her logic was founded on “flimsy” premises. “The destination of the female sex appears, by the dispensation of nature, to be entirely different from that of man,” C.B. explained, noting that women who attempted to pursue learning and literature to an equal degree as men were “formed for celibacy.”73 Yet there were certain critics far more amenable to women writers, even when the views women expressed virtually guaranteed that disputes would ensue. William Enfield and Alexander Geddes, two men who wrote for the liberal press, proved particularly sympathetic in their reviews of female authors. Enfield, the energetic Norwich-based educator, essayist, and Unitarian minister, supplied a steady stream of decidedly female-friendly reviews for the Monthly Review, founded by Ralph Griffiths in 1749.74 Over the course of his tenure at the periodical, Enfield offered warm encomiums to the poet and novelist Helen Maria Williams for her 1786 Poems (“The piece has so much merit, that we cannot deny ourselves the satisfaction of presenting it to our Readers entire”); to Mary Wollstonecraft for her 1792 Vindication of the Rights of Woman (“a great variety of just observations and bold reflections”); to Elizabeth Inchbald for her 1793 play Every One Has His Fault (“[the risible humour of naiveté], combined with character and passion, is the peculiar excellence of Mrs. Inchbald”); and to Maria Edgeworth for her 1795 Letters for Literary Ladies (“We have . . . been highly gratified with the perusal of the sensible and elegant performance at present before us”).75 What is more, Enfield stood up for these “high-spirited females,” as he called them, when they were under siege.76 Responding in late 1793 to the author of Letters on the Female Mind, its Powers, and Pursuits, addressed to Miss H. M. Williams, with particular Reference to her Letters from France—a mean-spirited and misogynistic attack on Helen Maria Williams for her impassioned defense of the French Revolution—Enfield maintained, even at the height of the Terror, that Williams had every right to express her political views: “As to the sarcastic and indignant contempt with which Miss Williams is treated in the volumes before us, for no other offence than that of publicly expressing the natural feelings of a generous mind on the contemplation of so great an event as that of a nation rescuing itself from the yoke of tyranny, and asserting its natural rights to govern itself



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according to its own will; we shall only say that, if this be a sin, let our souls be with such Sinners.” He continued by noting that the anonymous author of the attack, apparently a woman, had no place discrediting Williams for her display of erudition, as her own “abilities” provided more than enough evidence “against her arguments in depreciation of the female mind.”77 Enfield further defended women’s right to disseminate knowledge in his essays written as “The Enquirer” for the Monthly Magazine, founded by Richard Phillips in 1796, edited by the younger John Aikin, and sold by Joseph Johnson.78 “If, in the depressed state in which female intellect has hitherto been kept,” he argued, writing from the perspective of one “Eliza,” “the ancient world had its Aspasias, Cornelias, and Hypatias; and modern times can boast of their Carters and Macaulays, their Barbaulds and Wollstonecrafts, what may not be expected in a new order of things, in which rational beings, of both sexes, shall meet together, to prosecute, without any frivolous interruptions, or childish restraints, the noble object of intellectual improvement?”79 Alexander Geddes, the Scottish Catholic reformer and biblical scholar who offered such strong endorsements of female authorship, developed a similar reputation for sympathetic treatment of women writers in his many reviews for the Analytical Review, in which he signed off as “A.G.”80 A man keen to adopt a rational-skeptical approach to the study of religion and philosophy, Geddes routinely took on the most challenging arguments penned by women, making sure to give ample space to exposition.81 His 1798 review of Mary Hays’s Appeal to the Men of Great Britain in Behalf of Women, for example, stretched to thirteen pages and, as Geddes himself readily admitted, “exceeded our usual limits” in length.82 But, as he carefully explained, “[T]he welfare and happiness of half the human species” was a subject “of no inconsiderable importance.”83 In the review itself, Geddes gamely commended Hays for “assail[ing] [us] with no unskillful weapons,” agreeing with the author that men’s relationship to, or rather administration of, women had a decidedly “imperial” quality.84 Of Priscilla Wakefield’s Reflections on the Present Condition of the Female Sex; with Suggestions for it’s [sic] Improvement, reviewed that same year, Geddes offered similar words of encouragement. What is particularly striking about his review of Wakefield’s Reflections, however, is that Geddes not only praised Wakefield’s bold platform—she argued for the establishment of a female college and the expansion of women’s professional opportunities—but also used it as grounds for airing his own views on women’s public roles and responsibilities. The review was more than an endorsement

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of Wakefield’s own argument; it was a piece of advocacy for female employment in general.85 “[T]he lucrative employments pointed out and recommended to women for the purpose of useful occupation, and for procuring themselves an independent subsistence, are peculiarly worthy of attention,” Geddes observed in his concluding paragraph. “We recommend, with pleasure, to our fair country-women, a production which, if not distinguished by eloquence or polished composition, will probably suggest to them many useful and important hints towards the real melioration and improvement of their situation.”86 As with Johnson in the bookselling scene, Enfield and Geddes were not alone in their enthusiasm for promoting women writers, although they were certainly the most consistently supportive. At the Monthly Review, the Norwich-based reviewer and translator William Taylor could also be counted on to provide generous feedback to women writers, even authors as daring as Mary Hays, whose 1796 novel Emma Courtney explored women’s sexual and intellectual passions. In his assessment of the novel, Taylor remained entirely judicious, and at times quite supportive: “Many remarkable and several excellent reflections are interspersed; and the whole displays great intellectual powers.”87 If he did not entirely agree with Hays’s conclusions, he at least never questioned her right to present such views to the public. After all, as Taylor would divulge in a review published later that year of Thomas Gisborne’s reactionary An Enquiry into the Duties of the Female Sex, women deserved a role that transcended the domestic. Gisborne, Taylor put it bluntly, was “old-fashioned in his notions of female excellence.”88 “Criticism,” however, was not limited to the pages of the periodical press. Reforming men also used their own poetry, essays, and novels as vehicles to voice their approval of those women who in recent years had increasingly put pen to paper (especially, though not exclusively, those women who had championed progressive causes). The Manchester attorney and activist Thomas Cooper, for example, devoted part of a key footnote in his 1792 Reply to Mr. Burke’s Invective, which endorsed female suffrage, to praising those women, both in England and France, who had furthered the cause of liberty by taking their writing to the public: I have read the Writings of Mrs. [Catharine Macaulay] Graham, of Miss [Mary] Wollstonecroft [sic], of Mrs. [Anna] Barbauld, of Mrs. [Elizabeth] Montague [sic], Miss [Elizabeth] Carter, Miss [Anna]Seward, Mrs. [Susannah] Dobson, Miss [Helen Maria] Williams, & c. in England . . . . What these Women are, other Women might become.89



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The Cambridge Dissenter George Dyer took a similar opportunity to commend the efforts of modern women writers in his 1800 Poems, published by Joseph Johnson. In his “Preface” to the Poems, Dyer credited contemporary women writers, and specifically Wollstonecraft, with inspiring his own writing: “[On] reading Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin’s Rights of Woman, I was disposed, and still am, to admire female talents, in proportion as such writers as [Jean-Jacques] Rousseau, [John] Gregory, and [James] Fordyce, underrate them.”90 This tone, at once both defensive and celebratory, runs throughout his writing. In a footnote to a poem on the subject of female creativity, Dyer asserts, “The names of [Charlotte] Smith, [Hannah] More, [Helen Maria] Williams, [Mary] Robinson, [Elizabeth] Carter, [Anna] Seward, [Amelia] Opie . . . are well known:—whoever wishes to be acquainted with such other English ladies, as have attempted poetry, may receive satisfaction from two volumes of poems, written entirely by ladies, published, if I mistake not, about twenty years ago, (I have not the volumes at hand).—Two of the best modern writers of plays, at least that I have read, are ladies.”91 One immediately senses Dyer’s immersion in a greater debate about the proper place and potential of women. Yet even the most supportive critics were quick to point out what they perceived as a work’s weaknesses, whether or not it was penned by a woman. That was especially true in those instances where the piece under review was produced explicitly for the purpose of rapid sale. As William Enfield once complained to Ralph Griffiths, publisher of the Monthly Review, “I have no objection to lounging now and then an hour in [William] Lane’s shop: but to be shut up for several days together in his warehouse is to an old man an irksome confinement.”92 But there was criticism as well for those novels and tracts informed by more careful philosophical and spiritual inquiry. William Taylor openly registered his concerns about Mary Hays’s Emma Courtney: “There are . . . sentiments which are open to attack, and opinions which require serious discussion.”93 Some of Mary Wollstonecraft’s most sympathetic readers were also quick to identify what they construed as the more problematic aspects of her Vindication of the Rights of Woman, a theme explored at length in this book’s first chapter. The republic of letters after all, particularly in its dissident form, personified the idea of equality, a commitment that extended, at least among certain practitioners, to male criticism of female-authored texts. As much as women writers relied on the sympathies of booksellers and well-placed critics, so they also depended on family, friends, and associates—those networks that, as Naomi Tadmor shows, continued to do so

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much political, economic, and social work in eighteenth-century England.94 Here too men served a vital function, reviewing women’s drafts, cheering them on as they rushed to meet deadlines, and providing comfort when there were doubts or anxieties about publishing their work. What is more, they served as informal literary agents by introducing women (and representing their works) to other prominent players in the field and by assisting with negotiations between author and bookseller, this long before the position of “agent” was formally created in the late nineteenth century.95 “The best friend an aspiring author could have was someone already experienced in the ways of Grub Street,” writes historian John Brewer. Brewer is explicitly referring here to those benefits that accrued to men who befriended their “brother scribblers,” but he could just as well have been describing the advantages gained by women befriended by writers already established in the literary marketplace.96 Women, in fact, would have been only more dependent on such associations. Denied access to the coffeehouses and taverns where so much easy fraternizing occurred, they looked to literary insiders to keep them in the loop.97 Several men with feminist proclivities, if not explicit endorsers of women’s rights—Erasmus Darwin, George Dyer, William Godwin, William Hayley, Hugh Worthington—recognized this, and were more than happy to play the role of cultural liaison. Erasmus Darwin, the Lunar Society physician who acknowledged that at least some women ought to be able to pursue projects in the public sphere, offered just such services to Anna Seward, the poet who would become the “Queen Muse of Britain” following the publication of her 1780 An Elegy on Captain Cook and 1781 Monody on Major André. Discovering that Seward had a quick intelligence and strong perceptions, Darwin singled her out in her youth as one who, as Seward herself put it in an animated letter from 1763, had “an atom more mind than the generality of misses.”98 To help cultivate this capable “mind,” Darwin devoted significant time to instructing Seward in botany. As Seward would later recall in a 1789 letter to her friend Humphry Repton, author of several works on landscape gardening, Darwin “became a sort of poetic preceptor to me in my early youth. If I have critical knowledge in my favourite science [botany] I hold myself chiefly indebted for it to him.”99 Perhaps, though, Darwin also recognized Seward’s indebtedness—to a fault. In 1789, Darwin incorporated some of Seward’s verses into his own The Loves of the Plants, a lengthy poem intended to explain and illustrate the Linnaean scheme of plant classification, with especial attention to plant sexuality (later reprinted as part of his highly popular 1791 The Botanic Gar-



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den). Yet Darwin did not acknowledge Seward’s contribution.100 Seward, who had initially encouraged Darwin to pursue the project, was less than pleased. Clearly, the relationship between male mentor and female writer, founded on a power imbalance, was not without its complications. Despite such tensions, the advantages of male friendship could outweigh the perils. Darwin, for example, may have taken advantage of Seward, but he also helped build her literary reputation at a formative moment in her career. As Seward herself recorded, again in her letter of 1763, “Lately in a crowded company, somebody observed that Doc Darwin said Miss Seward had genius.”101 Like Darwin, a few other men seem to have taken their roles as emissaries just as seriously. The generous playwright and poet William Hayley, patron to William Cowper and William Blake, made a point of introducing Charlotte Smith to Cowper, whom Hayley believed, correctly, would appreciate her company.102 Similarly, George Dyer introduced the writer Mary Hays to the editors of the Critical Review, for which she began writing in 1795. And it was Dyer who gave Hays a copy of Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman shortly after its publication, well aware that the two women had much in common and would benefit from exchange and interaction.103 Once introductions had been made and networks forged, male friends also provided assistance in reading through and commenting on drafts. Generally possessing a deeper knowledge of publishing and criticism than their female peers, men could prepare women for all possible angles on which their work might be attacked. Not least important in this drafting process was the correction of spelling and grammar, fundamentals of which women, many of whom were autodidacts, may have lacked sufficient grasp. William Godwin provided just such a service to Elizabeth Inchbald, the self-educated actress-turned-author, who depended on the philosopher for instruction and guidance while she was composing her first novel, A Simple Story, published in 1791. “[P]ray mark bad spelling and grammar, obscenities, tediousness, &c & c,” Inchbald urged Godwin in an undated letter.104 Only after correcting the text, she explained, could he share her efforts with an expanded readership, beginning with the playwright Thomas Holcroft, a close acquaintance of both of them.105 As Inchbald clearly realized, presentation would in large part determine whether her work was taken seriously by others. Godwin, however, oversaw more than the dotting of “i”s and crossing of “t”s. Inchbald also expected him to be her most demanding reader. By anticipating the primary points on which her books might be judged before

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they went to press, she hoped to avoid some of the hazards of authorship. Again, in an exchange from 1805—when Inchbald was likely beginning to prepare what would become her multivolume collection, The British Theatre—she rejected Godwin’s “compliment” regarding the material he had read so far, and demanded that he be more “rational” in reviewing her work: “I have read your letter over again, and am shocked at the extravagance of the compliment you pay me in it. For Heavens sake be more rational in your critique on this Manuscript.”106 In subsequent letters, she elaborated on the idea of Godwin as a mediator between her private and public worlds: “Should I ever come to the perilous resolution of publishing the work,” she informed him, “I shall certainly avail myself of your farther advice.”107 Given Godwin’s investment of both time and energy in Inchbald’s literary labor, it is perhaps fitting that, in her concluding letter on the subject, she referred to her work as his “fatigue.”108 This is not to suggest that Inchbald was the only one to benefit from the intellectual exchange. She too commented on Godwin’s texts, most crucially providing feedback on his 1794 novel Caleb Williams. Male friends also provided emotional support, by means more difficult to pin down, but no less important. When Mary Hays began to harbor doubts about whether to publish her Letters and Essays, a work that aimed to provide female readers with a basic understanding of the central tenets of Rational Dissent, her friend Hugh Worthington, an instructor at New College, Hackney, helped assuage her anxieties. Responding to Hays’s concerns about the audacity of her enterprise (for who was she, a woman writer just embarking on a literary career, to engage in such a pursuit?), Worthington provided comforting words. “Whether you ever publish or not a certain work, do something at it daily, for present amusement and mental benefit,” Worthington counseled in September 1792. “The less you think of the press, the more free, easy and perfect will be your work.”109 Three months later, as her piece neared completion, he offered further encouragement, preparing her for the prospect of being judged by literary critics: “Be not disheartened. Your work has great excellence. If some should censure, many will applaud it. You have very considerable powers of composition.”110 Hays published her Letters and Essays with the bookseller Thomas Knott in 1793.  In ways both theoretical and practical, then, certain men smoothed what was no doubt still a rocky path into print for late-eighteenth-century



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women writers. By helping to devise a range of powerful, even if sometimes contradictory, arguments in favor of female authorship, and by offering concrete assistance in their capacities as booksellers, critics, friends, and associates, these men played a pivotal role in aiding women’s forays toward cultural and economic independence. Yet would their words and actions be enough? Was the right to work, and more specifically, the right to write, the endpoint of feminist consideration? While some radicals were content to limit their engagement with women’s rights to the literary arena, others saw in women’s struggle to express and support themselves the seeds of a larger debate about property, marriage, and the family, a debate, that is, about the very legal and religious institutions and traditions that conspired to place women in a vulnerable position.

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On November 28, 1788, the Capel Court Society in London staged a debate on polygamy, posing the following question: “Would a Plurality of Wives . . . be more productive of Confusion or real Advantage to Society?”1 The inspiration for the debate was an incendiary book entitled Thelyphthora that had been published eight years earlier by the iconoclastic Methodist minister Martin Madan, disciple of John Wesley and son of the eighteenthcentury poet Judith Madan.2 In the book, Madan had endorsed polygamy, arguing—quite provocatively—that polygamous marriage arrangements would elevate the status of women in Great Britain. If men were required to marry any and every women with whom they engaged in sexual relations, he explained, there would no longer be prostitutes or “fallen” women—the kind of women whom he had observed at close range during his years serving as a chaplain at the Lock Hospital in Hyde Park Corner in London. To substantiate his claims, Madan turned to the Old Testament. Arguing that “divine law” had been much abused over the centuries, and especially during the Roman period, when polygamy first became criminalized, Madan cited lengthy passages from Genesis and Deuteronomy to illustrate that God had originally intended men to assume multiple wives as a way of “protecting” women. It was the abandonment of this original plan that had prompted the degradation of women in Western civilizations. “One Thing is very certain,” Madan announced, with words intended to cut to the quick, “that the Security and Protection of the Female Sex, is one great Object of the Divine Law, but it is as certain, that we have departed from the System of the Divine Government, and that in the Eye of our Municipal



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Laws, Women are of less Consequence than the Beasts of the Field—for it is less penal to seduce, defile and abandon to Prostitution and Ruin, a thousand Women, married or unmarried, than to steal, kill, or even maliciously to maim or wound, an Ox or a Sheep.”3 To be sure, Madan’s argument met with fierce resistance from the British reading public, not only in the years immediately following publication, but well into the 1790s. How could someone—a minister at that—have produced such a blasphemous attack on the institution of marriage? Did Madan really believe that women in “civilized” Britain were treated less sympathetically than the “beasts of the field”? Such questions prompted countless heated discussions in London’s taverns and halls. La Belle Assemblée, a female debating society, devoted two successive November 1780 meetings to debate about Madan’s controversial argument.4 And in December 1780, the Westminster Forum, School of Theology, King’s Arms Society, and Coachmakers Hall—all London-based debating clubs—accorded ample discussion to Madan’s propositions.5 “Would it not be prudent to suffer the Convocation to sit,” the Westminster Forum announced in a notice for their next meeting, “in order to consider the dangerous Doctrines contained in the late Publication of the Rev. Mr. Madan?”6 The debate about Madan’s publication soon spilled over into print. Between 1780 and 1792, no fewer than twenty-seven articles, poems, and plays—virtually all of them negative—were produced in response to Madan’s argument, including pieces by Samuel Johnson and William Cowper (Madan’s own cousin), the Methodist controversialist and parliamentarian Richard Hill, and the playwright B. Walwyn, whose 1792 drama The Farce of Chit Chat, or penance for polygamy subjected Madan’s ideas to ridicule before audiences at the Theatre-Royal in Dublin.7 Walwyn transformed Thelyphthora into farce, but others were less willing to make light of Madan’s argument. The theologian Samuel Badcock, writing in the Monthly Review, described Thelyphthora as “of the most pernicious tendency . . . far better calculated to encourage the libertine, than to edify the Christian.”8 This was a sentiment echoed by Samuel Johnson, who condemned Madan in his 1781 poem “The Temple of Fashion” for promoting “libertine” tendencies.9 Many likened Madan to a Muslim, seeking to spread the word of the Koran on Britain’s shores, with one anonymous author going so far as to describe Madan’s “lascivious system” as “calculated only for those eastern regions where men buy their wives, as farmers here do their cattle, as so much per head—where the females are trained up to be slaves, and kept as slaves

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during life—where they are regarded either as mere instruments of pleasure, or as mere household drudges and beasts of burden.”10 Yet the stridency of the response to Thelyphthora suggests that Madan had struck a chord, and for none more so than a vanguard of late Enlightenment radicals, some of whom were just beginning to develop their own critiques of marriage at the height of the polygamy scandal. For these reformers— including the legal scholars Jeremy Bentham and Edward Christian, philosopher William Godwin, writers Mary Hays and Mary Wollstonecraft, and theologian Alexander Geddes (who was in direct contact with Madan)—there were clear resonances between Madan’s attack on modern marriage and their own evolving concerns about British women’s marital and legal rights.11 While most did not endorse Madan’s views on polygamy, they shared his frustration with the ways in which marriage, and the laws and practices surrounding that institution, conspired to keep women in a vulnerable position. What is more, they shared Madan’s more general disregard for custom and tradition, his eagerness to “call in question the truth of long-received opinions.”12 At the same time, though, these converging impulses led radicals down a different path. Seeped not in Madan’s evangelicalism, but rather, in a more broadly conceived late Enlightenment culture, they transformed Madan’s argument by stressing that parity, not protection, was their ultimate goal. Unlike Madan, they wanted to do more than rescue women from the streets (though prostitution was certainly a concern). Rather, their chief aim was to minimize, if not entirely eliminate, male authority, an aim virtually absent from Madan’s proposal. Madan’s Thelyphthora, after all, in many ways sought to reinforce men’s power with its explicit endorsement of the one husband–many wives model. (As much as Madan wanted to save prostitutes and their bastard children, he also endorsed polygamy because he believed that men—and men alone—had a “natural” desire for, and even responsibility to pursue, multiple sexual partners: “Go forth and multiply” was one of the central dictums driving Madan’s argument.)13 In this sense, Madan stands as a critical transitional figure, serving, as John Cairncross has rightly pointed out, as a bridge between an older debate about the legitimacy and righteousness of polygamy, as practiced by the biblical patriarchs, and a newer, more explicitly egalitarian conversation about how to curb the “patriarchal attitude in general.”14 This chapter takes up this new, vigorous, and at times quite wideranging radical conversation during its formative stages, with a focus on those roughly fifteen men who used their specialist training and social



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status to make a distinct contribution to the dismantling of patriarchy within the family.15 Although some of these radicals’ arguments and initiatives regarding women’s marital and legal rights have been treated in isolation (most notably those of Godwin and Bentham), their collective ideas on this subject have never before been considered. Bringing the more familiar voices into conversation with those of their lesser known peers, this chapter will reveal the ways in which a cluster of male radicals as a group approached the difficult task of rethinking marriage and the family during the late eighteenth century, and the range of (sometimes flawed) proposals they developed. What linked them, at root, was a shared belief that male authority—even at the most intimate levels—was illogical, and that they had a responsibility, as men, to remove most if not all of its traces if their nation were to become truly perfected.  The radical men who took up the cause of marriage reform with the goal of curbing male authority were engaged in a delicate operation. First, there were specific, sex-based challenges: advocating changes in marriage and family policy required a fundamental rethinking of masculinity. Adult male “gender identity” during this period was founded on “forming a household, maintaining it, protecting it, and controlling it.”16 To reject the patriarchal model of marriage and the family was therefore to reject a key component of the male self, as understood in the late eighteenth century. The Scottish poet Robert Burns, in fact, seized precisely on this point in his clever 1792 poem “The Rights of Women,” which appropriated feminist rhetoric for different purposes. Yes, women had “rights,” Burns explained, but these rights involved first and foremost men’s “protection” of their interests.17 No doubt, it was this hurdle that proved too much even for some “champions of the fair sex,” as they equated the loss of household authority with what Anna Clark describes as the “loss of male potency.”18 As the Unitarian minister Richard Wright explained, in justifying why he endorsed equal education and expanded professional opportunities for women, but not equal marriage, “Man is undoubtedly the head of the woman in the conjugal relation, the domestic circle, and in the exercise of authority when it relates to those things which concern both sexes.” 19 Wright remained comfortable with the notion that, in the context of marriage at least, women remained men’s “second selves.”20 The second issue these radicals had to contend with was that the institutions of marriage and the family were grounded in particular and

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powerful interpretations of the Old Testament and Common Law, the cornerstones of the British polity. Attacks on those institutions, then, could easily be construed as attacks on the very fabric of British civilization. As one pointed critic of Madan had emphasized, the minister had “tread under Foot all those sacred and tender Ties by which Society is bound together.”21 This was a point underscored by the Reverend James Hurdis, a conservative Sussex clergyman and professor of poetry at Oxford, who delivered a sermon on “equality” in 1794 (subsequently, and perhaps surprisingly published by Joseph Johnson), in which he insisted that the “inequality” of family life was not only religiously justified but also necessary to the smooth functioning of society. “In every dwelling-house upon earth, in which a family lives, there must be inequality,” Hurdis observed, comparing the family to the military.22 To question the authority of the father, therefore, was a highly precarious act, immediately reminiscent of the sexual schemes put forward by John Milton, Hugh Peter, Francis Osborne, and Henry Nevile—radicals who had urged civil marriage, open divorce, free love, and polygamy—during the seventeenth-century English Civil Wars.23 Finally, in perhaps what posed their greatest challenge, radical reformers had to respond to those who believed that the institution of marriage, and attitudes toward women and the family, had already been updated to suit a more “modern” era. By the late eighteenth century, in fact, there was something of a consensus that the nation had made great strides forward in the domestic arena. Certainly, many men and women would concede, there were inequities. Coverture (derived from the French couverture, or “covering”) denied married English and Welsh women at least nominal control over their own property or affairs. And a sexual double standard made it difficult for women to secure divorces, or to gain inheritance rights for children born out of wedlock.24 Yet since the mid-seventeenth century, reform-minded men and women alike had pushed to soften these penalties by encouraging stronger emotional bonds between husband and wife. The presence of love, it was argued, would compensate for the absence of legal equality. The “companionate” model of marriage, which gained increasing popularity over the course of the eighteenth century, was the result of these efforts.25 This ideal (for it was always more an ideal than a practice) stressed marriage as a primarily feeling, rather than functional, tie, a “tie of affection,” in the approving words of Benjamin Heath Malkin—another radical who refused to include marriage reform on his own feminist agenda—rather than a “contract of interest.”26 In this scheme, wives



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were regarded as “helpmates” and husbands as benevolent providers and protectors. As Lawrence Stone explains, “It was still the duty of wives to be ‘submissive, subject and obedient to their husbands,’ but it was also the duty of husbands to ‘love their wives,’ a duty which carried obligations of affection, fidelity and care.”27 It should not surprise us, then, that it was during this period that Eve herself began to receive more generous treatment in biblical interpretations, a practice that had been fashionable with the Puritans during the English Civil Wars but had since fallen out of favor. Rather than focus on Eve’s subjection, ministers once again now concentrated on her role as partner and assistant. According to the Anglican minister John Bennett, author of the 1787 Strictures on Female Education, Eve was a woman responsible for “civilizing” Adam through her “amiable deportment and soothing blandishments.”28 The Reverend Thomas Harwood, another enlightened Anglican clergyman, similarly dwelled on Eve’s “worth” in the Garden of Eden.29 This revaluation of Eve—a signal of women’s improved status within marriage—spoke, for many, to the enlightened attitudes of the British nation. There was no need to carry reformation further.  Given these prevailing sentiments, and the potential threats any attack on marriage posed to British manhood, British civilization, and British conceptions of enlightenment, progress, and morality more generally, how did radical men mount their critiques? What was their method? For several of these men, the initial step was to undercut established narratives. Rather than characterizing patriarchal marital and familial arrangements as enduring emblems of masculinity and civility, they sought instead to highlight the particular, remote, and often turbulent historical conditions that had brought such policies and laws first into existence. The goal, in other words, was to expose the contingencies and contradictions inherent in “modern” customs and traditions. Conjectural history, that relatively new weapon of enlightened thinkers, had been pioneered by the Scottish moralists of the mid-eighteenth century with their detailed accounts of humans’ journey from savagery to civility. Yet these authors—William Alexander, John Millar, and Lord Kames, to name just a few—had predominantly viewed historical developments through the lens of progress, a perspective that extended to their treatment of women (even as many traced the seeds of Britons’ civilized and enlightened attitudes regarding the “fair sex” to the early Germanic and Anglo-Saxon

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tribes, which had exhibited exceptional, by which most meant gallant, behavior toward women).30 In his 1779 The History of Women, for example, William Alexander narrated women’s history as a long but ineluctable movement toward their improved treatment. Although he conceded that British women would stand to gain from greater intellectual freedom and legal autonomy, he devoted his work primarily to celebrating Britain’s achievement.31 Late Enlightenment radicals drew on these earlier historical narratives, then, but reworked them to call heightened attention to the tensions and ambiguities to which Alexander and others had merely alluded. Theirs were what I will describe here as “critical histories,” or histories explicitly intended to question custom and tradition, especially as those customs and traditions affected women. Coverture, primogeniture, the stringent policies surrounding divorce, monogamy itself—these principles, they argued, did not reflect the “advancements” of a modern, civilized society. Rather, they were markers of past human errors and inconsistencies, and thus in need of further revision. Alexander Geddes, the chief theological reviewer for Joseph Johnson’s Analytical Review, who played such an important role in welcoming women into the republic of letters, was one such reformer committed to this particular kind of historical enterprise. In his translation of the Holy Bible, commissioned and published by Johnson in 1792, Geddes daringly described the Bible as a work of literature created by the Hebrew people. Drawing on the exegetical impulses coming out of Germany during this period—what Jonathan Sheehan refers to as the construction of an “Enlightenment Bible”—Geddes strove to place the Bible within its historical context, to make it a product not of the sacred but of the profane.32 Citing the work of enlightened German biblical scholars (Johann Eichorn, Johann Jakob Griesbach, and Johann Andreas Cramer, among many others), Geddes exulted in the idea of “severe rational critique.”33 His goal, in sharp contrast to the Rational Dissenting tendency to rationalize the Bible, was to question the Bible’s very status as a divine text.34 “Why might not the Hebrews have their mythology, as well as other nations?” Geddes speculated in his preface. “[A]nd why might not their mythologists contrive or improve a system of cosmogony, as well as those of Chaldaea, or Egypt, or Greece, or Italy, or Persia, or Hindostan?”35 Geddes’s project had dramatic implications for women, especially in his explication of Book I of the Old Testament, Genesis. If the Bible was fiction, then Genesis, too, must be understood as part of this “mythology.”



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Geddes did not shy away from this line of interpretation—perhaps not surprising given the encouragement and attention that he lavished on female writers, as explored in the previous chapter. (In his 1798 review of Mary Hays’s Appeal to the Men of Great Britain in Behalf of Women, Geddes described women’s subjection as the legacy of men’s “doubtful and savage authority.”)36 Genesis, Geddes dramatically suggested, had been invented by the Hebrew people in order to legitimate the cultural domination of men over women. The “history of the Fall,” he wrote, was “an excellent mythologue,” a word he coined for the purposes of his argument.37 By extension, Eve’s decision to taste the forbidden fruit, a transgression that resulted in “[t]he sorrows of conception and child-birth, and a continual subordination to her husband,” was also a myth promulgated to secure male authority.38 The “whole chapter” of Genesis, he concluded, was nothing but “an incomparable example of oriental mythology.”39 For making these kinds of comments, Geddes encountered fierce criticism, with savage attacks on his Holy Bible coming from across the political spectrum. Like Martin Madan, who had been engaged in a related though by no means identical project, Geddes was regarded as a blasphemer for transforming the Bible into a historical document, a cultural text. The Anti-Jacobin Review, the leading conservative cultural and political organ, lambasted Geddes’s Holy Bible for treating “the history of the Fall of Man as a mere fable.”40 Those men with more liberal sentiments also expressed their reservations about Geddes’s production. The progressive scientist and Rational Dissenting theologian Joseph Priestley, for example, wondered aloud whether “such a man as Geddes, who believed so little, and who conceded so much, could be a Christian.”41 The historicist assault on male authority, however, did not just come from religious quarters. During this same period, a handful of radicals trained in or interested in the law also began to investigate the legal status of women, as that status had evolved in a historical context. Legal commentary, like biblical criticism, was itself a recent invention. In Britain, the pioneer of this format was William Blackstone, legal writer, judge, and first Vinerian professor of Law at Oxford, whose magisterial fourvolume Commentaries on the Laws of England, published between 1765 and 1769 was “a comprehensive work intended to give educated gentlemen an introduction to the legal system of their country.”42 The Commentaries, based on a course of lectures Blackstone had delivered at Oxford, identified and categorized the laws of England, providing Britons with the valuable guide that they had until then been lacking.43 As Blackstone himself

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proclaimed in the introduction to his work, “[It] has been the peculiar lot of our admirable system of laws, to be neglected, and even unknown, by all but one practical profession; though built upon the soundest foundations, and approved by the experience of ages.”44 As this brief passage from Blackstone’s text suggests, the Commentaries were overwhelmingly congratulatory in tone. Blackstone’s goal was to systematize English laws, but in such a way as to underscore the inherent superiority of the English system, especially in comparison with that of other nations. Only rarely did Blackstone criticize or historicize; as his own study took great pains to reveal, English laws were sound, sturdy, timeless, and impervious to reform. This approach was on display in Blackstone’s discussion of the laws regarding the treatment of women in his fifteenth chapter, “On Husband and Wife.” Blackstone first observed, “By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage.” He then went on to observe, contentedly, that this system was “for the most part intended for [the wife’s] protection and benefit,” since the “female sex” was “so great a favourite . . . of the laws of England.”45 In Blackstone’s Commentaries, therefore, certain “champions of the fair sex” saw an opening for feminist legal inquiry. Rejecting Blackstone’s argument that English laws were inherently beneficial to the female sex, they instead probed the nation’s past for evidence of the sources and developments of these codes. From whence had such laws come? On what grounds had they been implemented? What they discovered offered a striking counterpoint to Blackstone’s sunny estimations (even as they were indebted to Blackstone for laying the groundwork for their investigations). The anonymously authored Laws Respecting Women, published by Joseph Johnson in 1777, provided one of the first hints of skepticism toward Blackstone’s conclusions. The author made clear his position in the preface to the text: the Norman Invasion of 1066 had been “fatal to the rights of women.”46 As the author explained, in an analysis that placed heightened attention on the Anglo-Saxons’ embrace of women’s rights (as opposed to the Anglo-Saxons’ embrace of chivalry, the emphasis in most Scottish moralists’ histories), women in “Ancient Briton” had been “advanced to rank and eminence.” “In the Saxon times,” the author noted, “the rank and consequence of women appear to have been considerable.”47 Feudalism, however, introduced with the Normans, had dramatically altered the landscape, transforming the “English liberties” that had previously been enjoyed by all into the privilege of a select few. Nowhere, the author added,



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was this shift more apparent than in the changing attitudes toward women’s role in regard to their right to hold property: By the introduction of feudal tenures, women were at first totally excluded from holding lands so granted; and the greatest part of the lands in kingdom were possessed on such tenures. After some time indeed, their right of enjoying lands in chivalry was admitted, but then the unnatural power of the lord over his female tenant, if a minor, was severally oppressive; he might dispose of her in marriage to whom he thought fit, the inclination and sentiment of his ward were not in the least consulted, but the object with him was to get the greatest possible price by the contract.48

Coverture, the author thus concluded, was the product of foreign Norman invasion in the eleventh century—not, as Blackstone would have it, a timetested “English” legal practice. This was a reading of British history, then, that put a decidedly feminist twist on the idea of the “Norman Yoke.”49 The arguments introduced in The Laws Respecting Women would be further developed during the late 1780s and 1790s, as certain radicals attempted to link their feminist interpretations of Anglo-Saxon history to the more general demands to restore men’s “ancestral liberties” as established in the “ancient constitution.”50 In 1788, one “Calidore”—probably the Scotsman Andrew Macdonald—published a daring letter in The Gentleman’s Magazine (especially daring, given the politically moderate stance of the publication for which he was writing) that demanded legal and political rights for women.51 “Calidore,” like the author of The Laws, grounded his argument in a historical account of the evolution of women’s position in Britain. And he too identified a sharp disjuncture between Anglo-Saxon and Norman practices. The Saxons, he boasted, had encouraged women to “retain separate property”—again, a clear blow to coverture. What is more, he added, Saxon women had “had a power to make wills and bequeath legacies, even while their husbands were living.”52 In his second 1795 Cabinet essay, “On the Rights of Woman,” Thomas Starling Norgate also singled out 1066 as a critical turning point in the legal history of English women. Norgate, a courageous thinker who has made repeated appearances in this book, had been trained as a lawyer (a career path that he was bullied into by his father, Elias).53 Although Norgate ultimately rejected law as a profession in favor of literature, he found his legal knowledge invaluable in making a case for women’s rights. Assailing Blackstone for his self-satisfying stance on women’s legal rights, Norgate announced, “I do not know that the rights of women are any where more insulted than in England.” Like the authors of The Laws and the Gentleman’s Magazine letter, Norgate too plumbed legal history, only to arrive at the

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same conclusion: the “preference of males to females, which is arrogated in English legislation,” had its origins in feudalism.54 One “P,” another contributor to The Cabinet, similarly identified the Normans as responsible for bringing the practice of primogeniture to England. “A turbulent, martial, proud, and unfeeling race of nobles,” the author complained, had “parceled out the territory of the unfortunate Anglo-Britons.”55 By the mid-1790s, of course, this harping on the Normans would also have been a strategic ploy, aimed to win over audiences concerned both about the violent course of the French Revolution and the imminent threat of French invasion. Taken collectively, these critical histories made a provocative point: the laws regarding women and regulating the domestic site, contra Blackstone, were highly contingent. They had been fashioned ad hoc, in response to particular—and now outmoded—developments and imperatives. Patriarchy was a construct. What is more, or at least as many of them insisted, it was an imported construct, which had arrived on Britain’s shores only with the arrival of the Normans. The purpose of these accounts, however, was never purely descriptive. In calling attention to the historicity of the laws, they strove simultaneously to illuminate the fact that change was possible. What Anglo-Saxon women had once had, or so many of them claimed, could be restored. The Norman Yoke might yet be lifted.  The critical historicist assault on religious and legal traditions thus had an emboldening effect, encouraging certain radical men (including but not limited to those who had launched the critiques) to consider how the laws regarding women might become more reflective of the just, democratic, and equal world that they aspired to create. In the words of Frank Henley, the fictional hero of Thomas Holcroft’s 1792 feminist novel Anna St. Ives, the “unjust laws and customs worthy of barbarians” had in previous ages and “will again be guilt to keep.”56 But which laws would need to be changed, and to what extent? What would egalitarian marriage, or the egalitarian family more generally, look like? Was marriage even the ideal form of contract? As was the case with those radicals who struggled to determine the proper place of the learned lady, here too men diverged in opinion. Employing a mix of constitutional, liberal, ethnographic, and, in the case of Bentham, utilitarian logics, some embraced the idea of legal reform, while others insisted that the only way to liberate women was by reconfiguring and, in some cases, eliminating marriage and the family, at least as traditionally envisioned.



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For those who determined that legal reforms were the key to achieving a more enlightened relationship between the sexes, coverture was a primary object of attention. As the historical accounts of the laws regarding women had indicated, coverture was a policy not just foreign in its origins but also suited to particular and now remote historical conditions. Under feudalism, Thomas Starling Norgate conceded in his Cabinet essays, it might have made sense to favor men in the transmission of property. But such preferences seemed anachronistic in late-eighteenth-century Britain, a nation primarily commercial rather than agrarian in orientation. If “this preference under a feudal government was certainly politic, if not justifiable,” Norgate observed, then “under our own it is neither the one nor the other.”57 Why, in a modern age, Norgate queried, were a husband and wife to be considered as “one person”? For Norgate, it was time to return to the Anglo-Saxon constitution. A similar line was taken by Edward Christian, barrister at law and, from 1788, professor of the laws of England at Cambridge University—a man fiercely committed to the idea of “natural rights” and once described by William Wordsworth (his former teacher at Hawkshead Grammar School) as “very, very clever.”58 As the editor of Blackstone’s Commentaries, Christian used his popular thirteenth edition, published in 1800, to highlight the ways in which the practice of coverture might be modified.59 In a lengthy footnote to Blackstone’s chapter on “Husband and Wife,” intended as a direct rebuttal to Blackstone’s earlier triumphalist assertions, Christian announced that he was “not so much in love with my subject as to be inclined to leave it in possession of a glory which it may not justly deserve. . . . I fear there is little reason to pay a compliment to our laws for their respect and favour to the female sex.” “Husband and wife, in the language of the law, are stiled baron and feme,” Christian reminded his readers, noting that “the word baron, or lord, attributes to the husband not a very courteous superiority.” He proceeded to recommend that a husband cease to be “absolutely master of the profits of the wife’s lands during the coverture.”60 Along with their requests to modify or eliminate coverture, several men also identified divorce as an area where radical enlightening needed to take place. Drawing on the language of John Milton, who in his divorce tracts of 1643–45 had already urged “prudent and religious men” to “repress the encroachments and to work off the inveterate blots and obscurities wrought upon our minds by the subtle insinuating of error and custom,” these lateeighteenth-century radicals similarly strove to make divorce more open and equitable.61 Of course, divorce was not an exclusively feminist issue.

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For both sexes, divorce, at least legal divorce, could be granted only by private act of Parliament. Such acts were not passed with great frequency; as Lawrence Stone calculates, only 131 divorce acts were issued between 1670 and 1799, the majority of which were granted to men.62 Yet women had a doubly challenging task, since the terms on which they could file for divorce were significantly more stringent than those for men. Whereas a man could divorce his wife on grounds of adultery alone, a woman could not divorce a philandering husband. To build her case for divorce, she also needed to demonstrate “aggravating circumstances,” which might include sodomy or sexually transmitted disease.63 The “champions of the fair sex” who took on this issue recognized the special obstacles facing women. Their reforms thus had two primary goals: to wrest divorce from the control of Parliament and to liberalize and equalize the terms for both sexes on which divorces could be granted. These tendencies were on display in a series of review essays on the subject of divorce penned by one “H.H.” and included in the June 1790 issue of the Analytical Review. No doubt, Joseph Johnson—editor and publisher of the journal—chose to feature divorce that month in response to the news that French legislators were considering removing their own restrictions on divorce, a decision that the French Legislative Assembly enacted in 1792 (though more “restrictive” laws were again imposed under Napoleon in 1803).64 In the essays, H.H. first congratulated the French for making divorce an object of attention, noting, “It was to be expected that among the various corrections and improvements projected by the French nation, in the present era of revolution and change, we should find some new regulations respecting marriage; one of the most interesting and important objects that can fall under the cognizance of a legislature.” 65 According to H.H., divorce was a “natural and reasonable” option that ought to be beyond legislation. After all, as the author took considerable pains to illustrate, “[D]ivorce was allowed, and even instituted, from the beginning of the world, adopted by the Jews, the Egyptians, the Athenians, and the Romans, and, when founded on just motives, proved by Jesus Christ.”66 So again, we see the impulse to historicize. What is particularly striking about H.H.’s Analytical pieces, however, is that the author pins his arguments for divorce reform on British attitudes toward women. It is in those nations that consider “female society” to be “the very first ingredient of happiness,” the author stresses, that divorce reform will be a cardinal issue.67 Implicit in this statement was a criticism. France, unlike Britain, was mindful of female happiness.



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Even after the French Revolution entered its decidedly less “female friendly” stages, however, certain British radicals continued to frame divorce as at least in part a feminist issue. On December 5, 1796, the London Forum—a debating club known for taking on controversial issues relating to the status of women (Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman received multiple hearings at London Forum proceedings, even as late as 1798)—staged a debate on the topic “How to Make All the World Happy,” posing the question, “Would it not be likely to prevent Conjugal Infidelity, and abolish quarrels between Man and Wife, if Married Persons had the Privilege of Divorcement, as soon as they would declare upon oath, that they were unhappy, and heartily tired of each other?” Expressing the same irreverence for custom and tradition, the authors who advertised the debate observed that “[a]mong the Antients the Law of Divorce was carried to a considerable extent.”68 Thomas Spence, the London Corresponding Society member, land reformer, and ultraradical publisher, echoed some of these concerns in his own arguments in favor of open divorce for men and women.69 As Spence insisted in his 1801 The Restorer of Society to Its Natural State, a work perceived as so threatening in its recommendations for the abolition of private property that Spence faced a year’s imprisonment in Shrewsbury jail, men and women alike would remain emotionally estranged from themselves and ill-disposed toward their spouses (caught in the “chains of Hymen”) until divorce was accessible to all on equal terms.70 For Spence, the benefits of such a scheme included not only emotional and sexual satisfaction but also the creation of a more level and, as he described it, “natural” playing field. Marriage, Spence explained, would only become truly enlightened when it was regarded as a contract, to be terminated when either party saw fit.71 The utilitarian philosopher and legal reformer Jeremy Bentham similarly condemned divorce as an unjust and unequal institution, recommending that men and women alike be able to terminate unhappy marriages. In his Principles of the Civil Code, first published in France in 1802, Bentham observed, “The government which interdicts [divorces], takes upon itself to decide, that it understands the interests of individuals better than they do themselves.”72 Bentham, though, was particularly troubled by women’s position vis-à-vis divorce. As he explained in his 1789 Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, divorce laws, and the patriarchal family more broadly conceived, were remnants of an age when physical strength had determined one’s status. Because men were stronger, he argued, they had been able to design the laws in such a way as to provide maximum

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benefit to themselves, and minimum benefit to women.73 Surely this was an unsuitable legal framework for a modern, enlightened age, when intellect— reason—ought to be the foundation of the legal system. If anything, then, the laws would need to be revised with the interests of women at the forefront of consideration. The laws, he observed, “ought to be in favour of the weakest—in favour of the females, who have more wants, fewer means of acquisition, and are less able to make use of the means they have.”74 These recommendations for abolition of coverture and divorce reform were joined by other proposals. From some quarters, for example, there were demands for the decriminalization of abortion.75 Jeremy Bentham, for one, took on this issue as early as the mid-1770s. He objected to the stigmas attached to abortion, particularly so because abortion was sometimes necessary for those “ricketty women” who put their own lives at risk when carrying babies to term.76 The Norwich poet John Henry Colls, a member of the United Friars and open supporter of Mary Wollstonecraft (his “Poetic Epistle, Addressed to Mrs. Wollstonecraft,” had condemned “tyrannic man” for transforming women into “splendid playthings”), also urged a more conciliatory approach to mothers who opted to abort or kill their young children, especially in a colonial context where women were burdened both by their sex and by their status as slaves.77 In his “Gumilla and Cora, a Dialogue,” a narrative poem set in the West Indies, Colls defends a female slave, Cora, who has made the decision to cut the umbilical cord of her newborn daughter close to the body so as to cause the infant’s death. As Colls explains, “What mother, yearning with a mother’s care, Would to her baby deny a timely death, Which left to live and draw the vital air, Would curse its being to its latest breath.”78 George Dyer and Jeremy Bentham even acknowledged primogeniture as a gender (as opposed to strictly class) issue. While most participants in the late British Enlightenment were opposed to primogeniture, they objected to the practice primarily because they saw it as a symbol of the weakness and corruption of the aristocracy—an argument bolstered by the French Constituent Assembly’s decision to abolish primogeniture in 1790. As Thomas Paine put it in the first part of The Rights of Man (1791), primogeniture illustrated why the British needed to “exterminate the monster Aristocracy, root and branch.”79 Dyer and Bentham, though, also honed in on the specific implications of this policy for women (albeit still in antiaristocratic terms), objecting to primogeniture not just because it privileged first-born children in the transmission of property but also because it privileged sons over daughters.



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Dyer, for example, dwelt at length on the misogyny of primogeniture in his The Complaints of the Poor People of England, a democratic tract that aimed to ease class differences, first published by Joseph Johnson in 1793. According to Dyer, primogeniture was particularly loathsome because it left so many daughters in desperate financial circumstances. “To females,” he angrily observed, “towards whom the present customs of society are on other accounts peculiarly unfavourable, and to whom, therefore, parental regards ought at least to have shewn impartiality; to females, I say, the law of primogeniture is peculiarly unfavourable. To this unnatural law are to be traced the prostitution of many young women of good birth, and the unsuitable connections which they have formed, merely to procure a maintenance.”80 Jeremy Bentham, too, would have harsh words for primogeniture as a system that gave “to female nothing.” In his “First Lines of a Proposed Code of Law for any Nation Compleat [sic] and Rationalized,” a manuscript written in 1821 though clearly reflecting earlier thinking, he drew attention to the fact that the practice had long outgrown its original function. When first introduced, Bentham conceded, “there existed a cause which was not wholly destitute of reason.” Primogeniture, after all, had been implemented during a time when “the state of the whole community was a state of continual, all-pervading, and imminent danger.”81 Such, however, were not the conditions of the modern British state. As in his arguments regarding the need for open divorce, here too Bentham used history to show just how unsuitable “ancient” practices were for “modern” times. The idea was even floated of equalizing criminal laws. According to Edward Christian, the Cambridge professor who edited Blackstone’s Commentaries, it was in the context of criminal law that the most sinister aspects of men’s married status as “lords” revealed themselves. Why was it, he demanded, that in enlightened Britain, “if the baron kills his feme, it is the same as if he had killed a stranger, or any other person; but if the feme kills her baron, it is regarded by the laws as a much more atrocious crime; as she not only breaks through the restraints of humanity and conjugal affection, but throws off all subjection to the authority of her husband. And therefore the law denominates her crime, a species of treason, and condemns her to the same punishment as if she had killed the king.”82 The only way to correct this egregious inequality, Christian urged, was by revising common law to ensure that a husband receive the same punishment for killing his wife as a wife receive for killing her husband.83 There was considerable range, in other words, in terms of the kinds of

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legal reforms proposed, as well as the grounds on which such proposals were based. What had become clear by 1800 was that a select group of male radicals believed that men’s authority under the law was to some extent artificial, if not downright arbitrary, and that the laws would thus need to be altered to create more equitable conditions. Even within these more reformist ranks, however, there were some dissidents, especially within the London-based Wollstonecraft-Godwin circle. William Godwin, along with the novelist and playwright Thomas Holcroft, artist William Blake, and novelist James Henry Lawrence, shared a belief that legal reforms alone would not eliminate male tyranny. Rather, they pushed for more dramatic revisionist plans, rejecting the notion that monogamous marriage, in any form, was the ideal organizing unit. Even if property was redistributed and divorce made accessible, they contested, marriage would still be problematic. No doubt, that was a view inspired in part by a spate of recently published travel literature documenting the alternative marital and sexual practices of non-Western peoples, from Captain Cook’s revelations of his encounters with Fuegans and Tahitians in the South Seas to the Earl of Charlemont’s documentation of the customs of Lesbians on the Greek isle of Metelin, where eldest daughters, not sons, inherited the family’s property.84 As one anonymous author reported in An Accurate Description of the Marriage Ceremonies Used by Every Nation in the World (1782), published after Cook’s much publicized voyages, the marriage customs of the Mexicans, the Japanese, the Persians, the Mahometans, and the Hottentots were markedly different from those of the British, though, as the author took great pains to point out, each in their own way no less “pious.”85 Such reports played a crucial role in prompting fresh lines of inquiry regarding the culturally bound nature of laws and customs. In part, though, arguments recommending the more dramatic reconfiguration, if not overhaul, of marriage were also responses to domestic scientific inquiries, especially in the field of botany. Erasmus Darwin, a pioneer in this field, published his popular poems The Loves of the Plants (1789) and The Botanic Garden (1791), which implicitly equated the polygamous practices of plants with human sexual freedoms. Encouraged by discoveries both abroad and at home, then, certain ultraradicals concluded that the only way to achieve true enlightenment was by erasing the family itself, at least in its current manifestation. Moving toward more collectivist and socialist schemes, they plotted new, more “natural” and “rational” ways of imagining household organization. Their hope was to create a British



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society in which men and women would be bound by general passions and commitments, beyond the particulars of the family. This was the platform adopted by the Jacobin novelist and playwright Thomas Holcroft, an intimate member of the Godwin circle and vigorous contributor to the dissident republic of letters, who assumed an antimarriage stance in his controversial 1792 novel Anna St. Ives, which explored the possibilities for creating a more “benevolent” culture.86 (It was “the welfare and happiness of mankind,” Mary Wollstonecraft explained in her largely positive review of the novel, which Holcroft tirelessly promoted.)87 For Holcroft, the abolition of marriage was central to this forging of a more selfless race of people. In the novel, Holcroft’s hero, the tireless reformer Frank Henley, decries marriage as an institution encouraging jealousy and covetousness.88 Anticipating a world in which there might be true parity, Holcroft insisted that the family, like Engels’s state, would eventually wither away: “I doubt whether in that better state of human society, to which I look forward with such ardent aspiration, the intercourse of the sexes will be altogether promiscuous and unrestrained; or whether they will admit of something that may be denominated marriage. The former may perhaps be the truth: but it is at least certain that in the sense in which we understand marriage and the affirmation—This is my wife—neither the institution nor the claim can in such a state, or indeed in justice exist.”89 Holcroft viewed marriage as a dangerous obstacle to humanitarianism, a means of confining passion to particular rather than general causes. As William Hazlitt explained, in his 1816 Memoirs of the Late Thomas Holcroft, Holcroft had longed for a world marked by “mutual philanthropy, and generous, undivided sympathy with all men,” a world in which “every man would be a brother” and “[e]xclusive friendships could no longer be formed, because they would interfere with the true claims of justice and humanity.”90 These sentiments would also be forcefully articulated by the philosopher William Godwin, Holcroft’s friend and partner of Wollstonecraft, who shared Holcroft’s belief that marriage was an impediment to universal benevolence. In his 1793 An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, Godwin characterized his “perfect” society as one in which marriage “as now understood” would no longer exist. Marriage, he explained, “is an affair of property, and the worst of all properties.”91 “So long as two beings are forbidden,” Godwin wrote, “by positive institution, to follow the dictates of their own mind, prejudice is alive and vigorous. So long as I seek to engross one woman to myself, and to prohibit my neighbor from proving his superior desert and reaping

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the fruits of it, I am guilty of the most odious of all monopolies.”92 It was the possessive nature of marriage that disturbed Godwin, its suppression of the “spirit of democracy.” As with Holcroft, justice, not passion, determined Godwin’s antimarriage stance. In his future state, in fact, Godwin hoped that lust itself might disappear, with sex reduced to a strictly reproductive act, or, as he put it, a “trivial object . . . regulated by the dictates of reason and duty.”93 These sentiments, of course, did not stop Godwin from finally marrying Wollstonecraft—a union to which he conceded in order only to protect his pregnant wife from criticism. But then again, as Godwin himself cautiously noted in the third edition of his Enquiry, published in 1798 shortly after Wollstonecraft’s death, marriage might be transformed into “a salutary and respectable institution.” What he principally objected to was “that species of marriage in which there is no room for repentance, and to which liberty and hope are equally strangers.”94 Passion may not have been first and foremost on the minds of Holcroft and Godwin, who were both drawn to antimarriage schemes out of a desire to forge a “selfless” state. But the liberation of eros was a concern for William Blake and James Henry Lawrence, who both identified the erotic as a foundational human drive. Blake, the radical poet, printmaker, and political agitator—a regular fixture at Joseph Johnson’s shop, where he worked as an engraver—opposed marriage on the grounds that men and women shared a “desire for freedom from moral repression.”95 It was this insistence on both sexes’ active search for pleasure that led Blake, a reformer who was deeply influenced by Alexander Geddes’s biblical exegeses, to trumpet men and women’s joint sexual freedom in his illuminated books Songs of Innocence and Experience, America, Visions of the Daughters of Albion, and The Song of Los, published between 1793 and 1795.96 Blake’s commitment to liberating women, or at least their bodies, is particularly on display in his 1793 Visions of the Daughters of Albion, which traces the trials and travails of Oothoon, a woman who finds considerable strength through her sexual desire, and who uses that desire to confront and question male authority, in the form of the patriarch Urizen, even if with devastating consequences. It is in large part because of this particular evocation of woman that Helen Bruder has commended Blake for his “belief that women have the right to reject all prescribed roles, all instruction and instead should trust to their own desires and perceptions.”97 The eccentric Jamaican-born German-educated aristocrat James Henry Lawrence—a fringe member of the Godwin circle, who dabbled in radical causes—provided a similarly explicit endorsement of human



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sexuality in a series of essays and a novel that he wrote romanticizing the free-love practices of the Nairs, a Hindu caste living on the Malabar Coast in southwest India.98 The Nairs, as Lawrence imagined them, were a caste who had rejected the institution of marriage, encouraging men and women to couple at whim and let desire rather than decorum dictate their interactions. As a result of this open sexual arrangement, Lawrence explained, maternity was a certainty, but paternity an unknown in their culture. The Nairs thus gave primary responsibility to mothers, allowing all children—and possessions—to pass down through the female line. On one level, Lawrence was drawn to the Nair system for ethical reasons. As he enjoyed broadcasting, he considered himself a “man of generous sentiments” with a fierce commitment to women’s rights.99 (He identified Wollstonecraft, an acquaintance through Godwin, as a key inspiration, and acknowledged his indebtedness to her in his published work.)100 On these grounds alone, Lawrence felt compelled to endorse the Nair system, since he maintained that marriage could never be an egalitarian institution. As he explained, “[No] political body, no literary society, no convivial meeting, can be properly conducted without a President; and that marriage could not exist, if one of the parties were not invested with superior authority.”101 In this respect, Lawrence clearly differentiated himself from Martin Madan, who had explicitly rejected the Nair model in Thelyphthora on the grounds of its being “contrary to nature.”102 On another level, though, Lawrence idealized the Nairs because he wished to free men and women from their sexual inhibitions. In The Empire of the Nairs; or, the Rights of Women, a utopian novel published in German in 1800 and translated by the author into English in 1811, Lawrence’s male and female characters alike make flirtatious advances, display themselves naked in public, and take on multiple sexual partners. The world conjured by Lawrence is one in which as much emphasis is placed on the fact that woman is no longer denied “the intercourse of any other man” as on the fact that man is no longer “enjoined to select a woman, with whom he must live during the whole course of his life.”103 It was only this kind of sexually permissive society, Lawrence later explained, that would fully “restore the liberty and equality of the two sexes.”104 Blake and Lawrence deserve places in the feminist conversation, then, if for no other reason than that they believed that women were entitled to sexual pleasure. This was an argument that Mary Hays and Mary Wollstonecraft also daringly explored in their own experimental novels The Memoirs of Emma Courtney (1796) and The Wrongs of Woman,

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or Maria (1798), but that diverged significantly from mainstream lateeighteenth-century understandings of female sexuality, wherein women were increasingly regarded as passive vessels, devoid of sexual needs and desires.105 These more frank reassessments thus helped to pave the way for the relatively open discussions of female sexuality and contraception staged by Richard Carlile, Francis Place, Henry Thomas Kitchener, and Thomas Bell in the first decades of the nineteenth century.106 Yet while there is much to appreciate here, there are also clearly troubling dimensions to Blake’s and Lawrence’s arguments, as well as to the other antimarriage proposals under consideration in this chapter, all of which to some degree advocated free love. Yes, these were sincere attempts to liberate women. The men who advocated the transformation or abandonment of marriage took great pains to distance themselves from libertinism, even if that was the charge hurled at them by their critics (and even if their own texts at times belied their intentions).107 As Holcroft stressed in his Anna St. Ives, “the unprotected fair” would not be “abandoned to all the licentiousness of libertinism!” “I am supposing,” he carefully explained, a society “wholly the contrary” to the “perverse and vitiated” state of contemporary Britain.108 These radicals aspired to something more morally and philosophically ambitious than mere sexual titillation: the creation of a “perfect” state. At the same time, however, it also becomes clear that men’s needs, wants, and desires sometimes trumped the considerations of women, and what is more, that those needs were not always aligned with what we would take to be women’s rights, or egalitarianism more broadly considered. As many women reading and responding to these more extreme recommendations were themselves quick to point out, the potential outcomes were of unclear benefit to women, even if ultimately pitched as efforts to improve the female condition. Would women’s situation actually improve in a world without marriage? The reform-minded writer Amelia Alderson Opie, for example, made clear her skepticism in her 1804 novel Adeline Mowbray, which satirized William Godwin’s and Mary Wollstonecraft’s earlier efforts to disavow marriage. At the start of the novel, Opie depicts her heroine, Adeline, as a woman captivated by the theories put forward by the philosopher Frederic Glenmurray (a stand-in for Godwin), especially his belief that marriage ought to be a “union cemented by no ties but those of love and honor.”109 As the novel progresses, however, and Adeline and Glenmurray attempt to put his “free love” theories into practice, Adeline comes to realize just how dangerous his doctrine is. Alienated from family, friends, servants,



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and “society,” Adeline renounces her “past opinions,” “not from interest, or necessity” but “from change of principle, on assurance of error.”110 Perhaps even more crucially—though only touched on by Opie—was the question of offspring. In a marriageless state, who would take responsibility for the rearing of children? Regardless of the grounds on which they staked their claims, few male radicals openly considered this question. Sex, they repeatedly assured their readers, would never be coercive, but the consequences of such sexual acts received little attention. Holcroft, for example, never elaborated on the place of children in his new “benevolent” democracy. Godwin, too, studiously avoided addressing this question, a reflection, perhaps, of his primary fixation on the conflicts marriage inspired between man and man, rather than between man and woman, even though women’s status as “property” was also clearly a great cause of concern.111 It was precisely this lack of attention to female reproduction (and this in an age when few were yet familiar with birth control techniques) coupled with an overwhelming emphasis on the male perspective that likely made most women reluctant to promote free love. Policies trumpeted by men as being of immeasurable advantage to women could simultaneously be viewed as dangerous social experiments. The one exception here would be James Henry Lawrence, who tried to think more methodically through the implications for women of his free love proposal. In The Empire of the Nairs, Lawrence carefully explains that women in a Nair society will be the primary caregivers for young children, with support provided by the state. But Lawrence’s scheme itself is not without its challenges. Although Lawrence dwells at length on the numerous benefits Nair society poses to women—coeducation, exclusive property rights, sexual pleasure—one can not help but notice that Lawrence is more enthused by the prospects a matrilineal culture opens to men. As Lawrence explains, it is only in situations where men lack wives and children—no “houses on their backs”—that they can truly achieve greatness.112 “What a race of politicians, generals, and philosophers, might be expected in a nation where every lofty goal were unimpeded, by the care of providing for its offspring, from following any grand object in contemplation!” Lawrence ecstatically notes in his “Essay on the Nair System of Gallantry,” a text first published in Germany in 1793. “This consideration has detained the field; has deadened the curiosity of the philosophers, and stopped the voice of the patriot.”113 For all of Lawrence’s insistence on male-female equality, women, it seems, will not be pursuing these same public pursuits.114 So here, too, an argument ostensibly formulated to liberate women is also, and

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perhaps even primarily, about freeing men from the shackles of marriage and from domestic obligation. In the final analysis, Lawrence’s opus is as much a paean to bachelorhood as a celebration of female potential. Men’s forays into the terrain of women’s legal rights, then, were not always clear or straightforward. The motivations could be mixed, the propositions ill-tuned to the realities of women’s conditions, and the logics themselves blind to the fact that they perpetuated some of the patriarchal assumptions and attitudes that they ostensibly aimed to erase. This is not to discredit their attempts, but to highlight the complexity of their “generous” gestures. It is also once again a reminder of the embryonic state of women’s rights thinking during this period, and the necessarily improvisational quality of the discussion. As many of these men were themselves aware, the struggle to secure “truth” would itself involve some errors and miscalculations.  When radicals attacked the institution of marriage, to what extent were they also attacking the British state? The family, after all, had long been regarded as the most basic political unit, a configuration whose laws and dynamics were believed to mirror those of the polity. The clergyman James Hurdis captured this analogy perfectly in his antiegalitarian sermon on Equality when he observed that “[t]he father is the king and prince of his household, with an undoubted right to control his children, and with still greater authority over his servants.”115 That is why, historically, radical reformers had often initiated their attacks on the state through an attack on the family. Consider the case John Milton made for divorce reform during the turbulent 1640s: “[No] effect of tyranny can sit more heavy on the Common-wealth, then this household unhappiness on the family. And farewell all hope of true Reformation in the state, while such an evill [sic] as this lies undiscern’d or unregarded in the house.”116 Indeed, there was a good reason why revolutionaries in France wished to make divorce more open. This act had significant implications not only for the family but also for the state. An egalitarian family presaged an egalitarian polity; men would need to scrutinize their own behavior as husbands and fathers in order to root out “tyranny” at home if they had any hopes of successfully rooting out tyranny on the national stage. And yet, as we have observed in our examination of the laws structuring eighteenth-century family life in Britain, the domestic site seemed to be less enlightened than the post-1688 British state. The Glorious Revolution had



Revising the Sexual Contract

initiated a contractual form of government, in which the ruler was beholden to Parliament. Such reforms, however, had not extended to the governance of the family. As Rachel Weil astutely observes, reformers during the late seventeenth century, although quick to make “connections between the family and the state, marriage vows and political allegiance, husbands and kings,” nevertheless studiously avoided drawing connections between their political revolution and a revolution in the family: “Virtually all defenders of the Revolution were eager to distance themselves from the notion that marriage (or even government) could be dissolved so casually.”117 Rather, Whigs repeatedly demonstrated that political contractarianism and familial contractarianism were decidedly distinct. In this respect, one could argue that proposals for legal reform, including those in favor of divorce and the abolition of primogeniture, were efforts to update the family so as to mirror the contractual arrangement established between the ruler and the people one hundred years earlier. But these measures were not all designed simply to update the family so as to conform to and reinforce the post-1688 political order. Even the proposals focusing exclusively on legal reform did more than simply align the family with the modern state. For the ideal families that many of these reformers aimed to realize—families headed by two individuals, with joint control over their property, free to terminate their union at any time—signified a far more radical configuration than the present political order. Those imagined by Holcroft, Godwin, Blake, and Lawrence signaled something even more extreme. Although a contractarian government clearly existed in 1788, the contract did not yet include significant groups of people. Less than 20 percent of men had the ability to vote; all women were excluded from formal participation in national politics.118 The arguments for domestic reform and reconfiguration, far from closing a gap between the familial and the political, thus actually helped to highlight a critical disjuncture. If equality in the family, then why not equality in politics? If women could be equal participants in the “sexual contract,” then why not equal participants in the “social contract?”119 These were serious questions for those men most committed to dismantling patriarchy. Their struggles to answer these questions will be explored at length in the next chapter, which traces ultraradicals’ efforts to imagine female citizenship.

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Imagining the Female Citizen

In 1797, Whig leader Charles James Fox delivered a speech in the House of Commons in support of Charles Grey’s motion for electoral reform. Eager to secure increased political representation for Britain’s well-to-do male population—less than 20 percent of men had the right to vote—the politician demanded suffrage for all those possessing economic and social “independence.” By grounding the right to vote in the concept of “independence,” Fox believed himself to be establishing a criterion that would apply only to particular men. “Why has it never been imagined that the right of election should be extended to women?” Fox queried. “Why! But because by the law of nations, and perhaps also by the law of nature, that sex is dependent on ours.”1 Fox, however, could not have been more deeply mistaken in his assumptions about women and politics. During the years leading up to Fox’s speech, the female citizen had attracted considerable attention, at least from those radicals with the strongest democratic instincts. The late 1780s and 1790s witnessed the flowering of an intense, though now largely overlooked, discussion of women’s political citizenship, a discussion in which men, again primarily because of their social position, were the dominant participants.2 London Corresponding Society members John Gale Jones, William Hodgson, and Thomas Spence, Manchester reformers Thomas Cooper and George Philips, radical essayists George Dyer, Thomas Starling Norgate, “Calidore” (likely the Scotch author Andrew Macdonald), and “Citizen Randol” (possibly the radical publisher and London Corresponding Society member Daniel Isaac Eaton), legal scholars Jeremy Bentham and Edward Christian, artillery officer Alexander Jardine, and Uni-



Imagining the Female Citizen

tarian minister William Shepherd—these select radicals joined Mary Wollstonecraft, one of the few British women to go on record as a defender of female suffrage during this period, to make a concerted effort to overturn the “masculine” conception of citizenship forwarded by Fox and so many other political reformers.3 Taking “manly” inquiry to what they perceived as its limit, they proposed that the “right of election” be extended not only to most if not all men—a claim that in and of itself distinguished their position from that of the more moderate Whig reformers like Fox—but also to new classes of women. How did these radicals arrive at this striking conclusion? Certainly, a recognition of the contradictions in natural rights theory contributed to their assessment, but their arguments were also inspired by interpretations of the “ancient constitution” and a particular understanding of feminine “sensibility.” In the following pages, I will first consider precisely what was at stake for these radicals in recommending female citizenship, and then explore the various rationales they invoked to turn the prevalent “masculinist” notions of citizenship on their head. By way of conclusion, I will briefly examine the debates leading up to the Reform Act of 1832, suggesting that the feminist arguments first advanced by radical reformers of the late eighteenth century helped to launch a serious and sustained dialogue about the sexual qualifications for citizenship in Great Britain.  By all counts, the radicals who took up the cause of female suffrage were passionate players in the late British Enlightenment. They stood at the forefront not just on feminist issues but also on questions of political and legal reform, religious toleration, humanitarian intervention, and the French Revolution. Thomas Cooper, for example, one of the most active radicals in Manchester, chaired a meeting of the Deputies of Protestant Dissenters in Warrington, inveighed publicly against slavery, and traveled to Paris in 1792 to pledge allegiance to the Jacobin cause on behalf of the Manchester Constitutional Society. Alexander Jardine, an intimate associate of the Wollstonecraft-Godwin circle, was a founding member of the Philomathian Society, which brought together men pursuing “truth, knowledge, mind,” as well as of the Literary Fund, which was formed in 1790 to provide assistance to authors and their families when in financial distress.4 Jeremy Bentham, pioneer of the modern utilitarian school of philosophy, directed his seemingly unbounded energies toward reforming penal law, education, religion, parliamentary procedure, the poor laws,

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and economic policy; he was made an honorary “French citizen” by the National Assembly in 1792. Because most of these men were prominent figures in the late Enlightenment, they took note of each other’s activities and movements. Shared geographies, memberships, and friendships facilitated communication. John Gale Jones, William Hodgson, and Thomas Spence, despite their philosophical differences, were leading members of the London Corresponding Society. Thomas Cooper and George Philips developed a close (even if at times fraught) relationship through their joint involvement in the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society and Manchester Constitutional Society.5 Edward Christian, a professor of the laws at Cambridge, was once a guest at Philips’s Manchester home.6 And the Unitarian minister William Shepherd knew Thomas Cooper, since Cooper had assisted Shepherd’s friend, Abraham Compton, in his defense against charges of high treason. It was Shepherd, in fact, who publicly labeled Cooper an “eater of asses” after word got out that Cooper had served a donkey at a recent dinner party.7 These men’s relationships, however, also transcended the local and affiliative. Thus Thomas Starling Norgate, writing from Norwich in his 1797 edition of The Principles of Government, expressed great admiration for the political thought of Cooper and Philips.8 And Thomas Spence looked to both George Dyer and Alexander Jardine, fellow Londoners though themselves never members of the London Corresponding Society, for political inspiration.9 Such credentials—and camaraderie—were necessary to speak out publicly in favor of female political representation. For here, more than in any of the other feminist arguments, these radicals were on extremely volatile ground. There was a strong misogynistic current running through much of the 1790s reformist political discourse, a current against which it was exceedingly difficult to swim. One did not have to be sympathetic to the conservative moralist Richard Polwhele, in other words, to agree with him that women would only confuse “us and themselves in the labyrinth of politics,” as he famously proclaimed in his 1798 poem The Unsex’d Females.10 As Barbara Taylor observes, writing of the political culture of the late Enlightenment, “[T]he poetics of political life, the shaping of political vocabularies by gendered metaphors of power and desire, made directing such themes to feminist ends an extremely hazardous business.”11 While radicals may have disagreed about the precise terms on which they based their claims for an expanded electorate, the majority shared an overwhelming commitment to designating the political subject as male.12 Women, it was generally as-



Imagining the Female Citizen

sumed, lacked the qualities deemed necessary for political participation, be those qualities reason, independence, fortitude, virtue, or property. This misogynist tendency becomes clear in examining texts issued by late-eighteenth-century reformers, including some with feminist proclivities. Consider George Butler, an inquisitive member of the Speculative Society of Cambridge and advocate of female educational reform, who stated in a paper delivered to the society on December 3, 1793, that the “fair sex” ought to “beware of politics, their discussion of which, besides its being injurious to the temper of its devotees, cannot possibly be productive of good, as they are effectually excluded from any share of authority in the administration of publick affairs.”13 (Butler would become headmaster of Harrow School and, in 1842, dean of Peterborough.)14 Even William Enfield, the Norwich-based minister and author who defended equal education and expanded professional opportunities for women, expressed extreme caution in his treatment of women and politics. Writing in the December 1793 issue of the Monthly Review, Enfield observed that women ought to have an understanding of politics, inasmuch as they were educators of their offspring: “[H]aving necessarily so large a share in the education of men, who are to live in society, [women] doubtless ought to be well-acquainted with the general rights and obligations of men as associated beings; and thus far, at least, it is their duty to be politicians.”15 He avowed, however, that women should not aspire to be politicians in any formal sense. Butler and Enfield’s anxieties about introducing women into the world of politics stemmed in part from the fact that antiwoman rhetoric was streaming in from across the Channel. The French revolutionaries had explicitly excluded women from “active” citizenship in their Constitution of 1791 and, two years later, banned the formation of female political associations. The republican journalist Louis-Marie Prudhomme represented the views of many Jacobins when he suggested that it was men’s responsibility alone to “make the revolution.”16 As Prudhomme remarked in his 1791 “On the Influence of the Revolution on Women,” “The reign of courtesans precipitated the nation’s ruin; the empire of queens consummated it.”17 Writing in December 1793, Butler and Enfield would have taken seriously such cautionary tales, particularly given the fact that the French Revolution had now firmly entered its more bloody stages. But the antifeminine political bias also had strong domestic antecedents. The Levellers of the mid-seventeenth century had drawn on the language of “manly patriotism” to legitimate the participation of new kinds of men in the public sphere.18 The Wilkite radicals of the 1760s and 1770s relied

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on this same rhetoric to promote the cause of universal (male) suffrage, contrasting their own “critical, objective, manly” behavior with that of the “effeminate” aristocrats.”19 That such rhetoric had ultimately failed to secure the vote for new classes of men only amplified these “antifeminine” tensions. Rather than banding together with women to put increased pressure on government, many radicals of the 1780s and 1790s chose instead to further distance and distinguish themselves from the “fair sex” by highlighting their particular masculine attributes. As Anna Clark convincingly demonstrates, this was the reasoning of working-class men who, in an effort to secure the vote for themselves, adopted the middle-class language of domestic respectability, or “separate spheres,” to convince politicians of their suitability for representation.20 These, then, were the significant hurdles that radicals committed to women’s political rights had to overcome in making a case for female as well as male suffrage. Against those who insisted that women were too irrational, too dependent, too fragile to participate formally in the nation’s public life, they had to prove that women needed to be included in the category of citizenship if Britain were to be truly perfected. To build their case, this committed group of reformers, which included some of the most determined “champions of the fair sex,” thus developed a series of provocative and highly innovative, even if at times tentative, arguments designed to undercut the majority sentiment.  During the 1790s, natural rights theory gained a prominent place on the radical political agenda. Seeking “annual parliaments” and “universal suffrage,” members of the London Corresponding Society (LCS) and other corresponding and constitutional societies across Great Britain insisted that representation was a natural right, regardless of property or social status. Working- and middle-class men had as much claim to political participation as any landowner or aristocrat. Thomas Paine eloquently made his case in his 1791–92 The Rights of Man: “Natural rights are those which appertain to man in right of his existence. Of this kind are all the intellectual rights, or rights of the mind, and also all those rights of acting as an individual for his own comfort and happiness, which are not injurious to the natural rights of others.”21 By “man” here, of course, it is generally believed that Paine was referring exclusively to men, not to men and women.22 As Joan Wallach Scott explains, in discussing the inherent antiwoman bias of natural rights discourse, “[T]he political individual was



Imagining the Female Citizen

. . . taken to be both universal and male; the female was not an individual, both because she was nonidentical with the human prototype and because she was the other who confirmed the (male’s) individual individuality.” 23 Hilda Smith describes this phenomenon as the adoption of the “false universal.”24 Certainly, there is truth in this line of argumentation. How else to explain the fact that the radical reformer John Thelwall, lecturer for the LCS, addressed his speeches regarding “universal suffrage” to his fellow “gentlemen”?25 Scholars, however, have perhaps been too quick to focus exclusively on the limits of natural rights discourse. Although the rhetoric of natural rights was certainly construed by most as of limited applicability to women, there was a carefully constructed counterargument circulating during the period. One need only consult the pamphlets and membership profiles of the LCS itself, in fact, to see that there was not clear consensus on this issue. While it is true, as Anna Clark notes, that the LCS did not admit women as members, some male participants did demonstrate an interest in female political activity, even if that interest remained secondary to other concerns.26 On at least two separate occasions, publisher Richard Lee printed advertisements for Mary Wollstonecraft’s 1792 A Vindication of the Rights of Woman at the back of LCS pamphlets endorsing “universal suffrage and annual parliaments.”27 Moreover, John Gale Jones, Thomas Spence, and William Hodgson, all active members of the LCS, at least suggested in their own appropriations of natural rights theory that their “man” was a “universal man,” insofar as it also included women and free blacks (though still excluding minors and the insane). Jones, a talented surgeon, politician, and master debater (E. P. Thompson described him as having “an excellent voice; sharp, clear, and distinct”), traveled around England on behalf of the LCS promoting the idea of universal suffrage and a “female legislature,” an idea first presented to him by a politically engaged woman in Chatham.28 Spence, meanwhile, stated that women deserved the full rights of citizenship, including the vote, in his writings on the politics of his utopian “Spensonia.”29 Hodgson, a close friend of Benjamin Franklin who was imprisoned in Newgate prison from 1793 to 1795 for likening King George III to a “German hog butcher,” offered direct support for “female citizenship” in his 1796 Proposal for Publishing by Subscription a treatise, called the Female Citizen, or a Historical . . . Enquiry into the Rights of Women, although he failed to spell out what precisely he meant by “citizenship.”30 When one considers the basis for the natural rights argument, it is actually not surprising that certain radicals understood it as a justification for

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women’s political participation. Natural rights, after all, were predicated on a state of mind, not a particular social or economic status. The external trappings of wealth, prestige, or property mattered little; rather, it was the ability to be self-determining and think independently that were of consequence. This was, as Matthew McCormack rightly notes, “an unprecedentedly accessible model of personal independence as the basis for political entitlement.”31 If the independent mind were to be the sole grounds for citizenship, what was to prevent women from being included in the category? Some natural rights advocates might have maintained that women lacked the mental faculties needed to be taken seriously as voters, but there was more than enough evidence in circulation that women were as rational as men, a subject explored at length in Chapter Two. Alexander Jardine was one radical keen to draw attention to this apparent discrepancy. As he remarked in his 1788 Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal, & C., in a passage to which I referred earlier, “The talents or abilities of the sexes are probably nearly equal, when equally cultivated: or, if some mental constitutional differences exist, these are not greater than between individuals of the same sex, and not beyond the power of habit and education to assimilate and equalize.”32 It was on these grounds that Jardine insisted that “[t]he nation that shall first introduce women to their councils, their senates, and seminaries of learning, will probably accelerate most the advances of human nature in wisdom and happiness.”33 Thomas Cooper’s 1792 Reply to Mr. Burke’s Invective, written in response to Edmund Burke’s condemnation of Cooper for traveling to Paris on behalf of the Manchester Constitutional Society, draws a similar conclusion. After observing that “the right of exercising political power, whether about to commence or actually existing, is derived solely from the people”—a passage Cooper had first written in 1787 as part of his PROPOSITIONS respecting the FOUNDATION of CIVIL GOVERNMENT, included in full in his Reply to Burke­—Cooper added a significant footnote that reflected the evolution of his thinking on women. Whereas Cooper had initially considered only unmarried women fit to vote, all other women being “incapable of selfdirection,” he now insisted that all women had the potential to become reasonable political actors: I have often felt my own inferiority, and often lamented the present iniquitous and most absurd notions on the Subject of the disparity of the Sexes. I have conversed with politicians, and read the writings of politicians, but I have seldom met with views more enlarged, more just, more truly patriotic; or with political reasonings more acute, or arguments more forcible, than in the Conversation



Imagining the Female Citizen of Theroigne, and the Writings of Miss Wollstonecroft [sic]. Let the Defenders of male Despotism answer (if they can) ‘The Rights of Woman’ by Miss Wollstonecroft [sic].34

The last words of this passage seem to have achieved a degree of cultural currency during the 1790s, for they subsequently appeared not only in the British essays of Thomas Starling Norgate and John Bristed but also in an American article entitled “On the Rights of Woman,” published in the National Magazine in 1800.35 A contradiction thus lay at the heart of natural rights theory, a contradiction, moreover, that moderate and conservative critics were all too willing to point out. As the “Independent” author Robert John Thornton, M.D., argued in his 1795 The Politician’s Creed, ridiculing natural rights reformers, “If this right be natural, no doubt it must be equal, and the right, we may add, of one sex, as well as of the other.—Whereas every plan of representation we have heard of begins by excluding the votes of women: thus cutting off, at a single stroke, one half of the public from a right which is asserted to be inherent in all.”36 Women were excluded from natural rights arguments on the grounds of their limited mental faculties – their state of intellectual “dependency” – but there was an increasing body of knowledge that suggested that women were in fact as capable, if not, as Cooper indicated, more capable, of reasoning as men. Identifying reason as a human rather than sexual attribute, these radicals could thus characterize political engagement as the ultimate form of “natural” self-expression for women. Indeed, that was the framework within which Wollstonecraft laid out her own claims to political citizenship in the Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Drawing up a portrait of woman as a rational being—a being whose reason was a gift from God—Wollstonecraft briefly sketched out the political implications of her radical argument for those women whom she described as “of a superior cast”: “I may excite laughter, by dropping an hint, which I mean to pursue, some future time, for I really think that women ought to have representatives, instead of being arbitrarily governed without having any direct share allowed them in the deliberations of government.”37 Several male radicals were quick to expand on Wollstonecraft’s argument. Pursuing Wollstonecraft’s “hint,” the Norwich essayist Thomas Starling Norgate described his own 1794–95 Cabinet essays “On the Rights of Woman” as in part an “endeavour to supply the omission, by considering on what that right [to female representation] is founded,” a “right”

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that Norgate located in men’s and women’s shared capacity to reason. 38 Would that the House of Commons represented “rational beings, men and women,” the Cambridge Dissenter George Dyer lamented in his 1793 The Complaints of the Poor People of England, in a chapter devoted to the “Defects in the English Constitution, as to Representation,” which explicitly rejected “property, and property of a particular kind” as the legitimate basis for citizenship.39 Jeremy Bentham likewise noted in a series of unpublished musings on the French Revolution, made available to the public only in the nineteenth century, that women possessed the “soundness” of mind—or, as he sometimes put it, “appropriate intellectual aptitude”—required of political actors, even though his argument for women’s inclusion in the electoral process was grounded more in utility than natural right.40 For Bentham, the fact that women were capable of reason meant that they needed to be accounted for in his general felicific calculus. Provided that women passed a literacy test, Bentham continued, he thought them fit not only to vote but also to stand for parliament.41 The very rationality that these men claimed as a human attribute, however, must be considered, for it was a rationality of a qualitatively different nature from the independent, autonomous variety endorsed by many of their reformist peers. As they insisted throughout their arguments, their reason was necessarily bounded, shaped in a social context. Independence itself was a myth. As Bentham carefully explained in his “Observations on Article 6” of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, responding to the argument that political rights would “call [women] from the exercise of their domestic duties,” “The men have their domestic duties as well as the women: it will not call off the one sex more than the other.”42 Five years later, Thomas Starling Norgate would make a similar point in his essays on “The Rights of Woman”: “What man is there disengaged from domestic concerns? We all, whether male or female, have a part, and none, whether male or female, have the whole of our time so necessarily employed as not to admit leisure for investigating a subject of such paramount importance to everyone, as that of politics.”43 Manchester reformer George Philips further corroborated these claims in his 1793 The Necessity of a Speedy and Effectual Reform in Parliament, addressed to the “Friends of the People” meeting at the Free Mason’s Tavern in London.44 In a key footnote to his text, Philips boldly acknowledged women’s right to representation, and argued that a woman would be no more influenced by a man than a man by a woman. “It is objected against them [women] that they are subject to an undue influence from male elec-



Imagining the Female Citizen

tors,” Philips observed. “[B]ut if this be a sufficient plea for exclusion, what chance will men have of retaining their privilege? Are not they, to say the least, as liable to undue influence from the other sex?”45 In an ironic development, Philips would soon retract his own demands for women’s political rights on the grounds that he himself had been under the “undue influence” of wayward radicals, especially fellow Manchester reformer Thomas Cooper.46 Even so, Philips had registered grave concerns. If women were to be excluded from natural rights arguments on the grounds of their poor reasoning abilities, then men, too, failed to make the bar. As much as these men were justifying women’s fitness for political life, they were also simultaneously scrutinizing the category of reason itself.  Natural right was not the only grounds on which certain radical reformers advocated both male and female citizenship.47 The “ancient constitution,” as much as Paine’s “rights of man,” informed the rhetoric of those who sought to expand the franchise to include new groups of men and women.48 Revisiting­ a “pure” Anglo-Saxon history, radicals could claim political citizenship as the right of both sexes, legitimated by that “lost, but not irrecoverable, heritage of ancestral liberties”—a method that we have already seen put to powerful use in many of these same men’s arguments for marriage and family reform.49 In his 1793 Complaints of the Poor People of England, for example, George Dyer remarked, “It has frequently been observed, that in the saxon times, all who paid scot and lot had a vote in framing the laws. To what extent this policy extended, has been disputed by many; but it seems highly probable, from the great concourse of people that assembled, and from the terms in which those assemblies were described, that none were, at least, excluded from attendance.”50 Dyer’s “great concourse of people” explicitly included women. Such an argument might seem counterintuitive, especially since scholars tend to see constitutionalist discourses as offering much to those men who sought to expand male suffrage, but very little to women or their feminist champions. “[T]he constitutionalist notion of citizenship,” explains James Epstein, was “rooted” within “traditions of Anglo-American political thought in which civic virtue was armed and male.”51 The language of classical republicanism, with its “hyper-virile imagery of citizenship,” saturated much of the constitutionalist rhetoric.52 But why interpret constitutionalism in such a strict sense? After all, as James Vernon elucidates, “being unwritten, lacking a definitive text whose interpretation could be fixed and

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secured as definitive, [the constitution’s] meaning, and the identities it gave voice to, were always unstable and endlessly contested.”53 That Scottish conjectural historians had already begun to map women’s prominent position in the early Germanic and Anglo-Saxon tribes (even if with a different purpose in mind) only made constitutionalism that much more compatible with feminist inquiry.54 And indeed, where many reformers saw only evidence of a militaristic and exclusively male political past, Thomas Starling Norgate, Thomas Cooper, “Calidore,” George Philips, and George Dyer located alternative and far more egalitarian meanings in early English history. As Dyer mused in his writings on the constitution, “[T]he advantages of the British constitution belong to all: they should belong equally to all; all equally should feel an interest in their support.”55 Chastising those around them for treating the constitution like “a sensitive plant, shrinking from the slightest breath of inquiry” (the words were Cooper’s, but Norgate borrowed them in his own 1797 edition of The Principles of Government), they found that, upon “close inspection,” the nation’s early political actors were neither as exclusively militaristic nor as exclusively male as was generally assumed.56 In their readings, rather, the “principles of the English constitution” revealed strong protofeminist leanings.57 The author “Calidore,” for example, wrote in the Gentleman’s Magazine of the Saxons’ favorable attitudes toward women’s political inclusion. His “Saxon ancestors,” he explained in a letter written in 1788, “looked up to the female sex as imbued with a superior intelligence, and deliberated with them in national emergencies.” Nor was “this deference for the softer sex . . . left behind them by our forefathers, when they migrated into this island . . . for we find that the Abbesses had seats in the great council holden in 694.”58 “Calidore” substantiated his claims by citing George Hickes’s Thesaurus, the definitive eighteenth-century account of Anglo-Saxon culture and politics. According to “Calidore,” Hickes’s text indicated that “not only Abbesses, but other women, sat and decided in the county-courts (‘the great seats of Saxon justice,’ Blackstone), in equal numbers with the men. For instance, after the Abbots and Nobles are mentioned, the ladies follow, with many other ‘Thanes and good wives’ whose names are omitted.”59 In his own writings on the subject, which drew heavily on John Millar, Thomas Starling Norgate moved forward about two hundred years, paying particular attention to a general council held by Ethelwolf in 885, at which abessess as well as abbots had actively participated.60 For Norgate, this provided significant evidence that women should be able not only to elect



Imagining the Female Citizen

representatives but also to serve as representatives themselves, an argument that he substantiated by citing examples from other early cultures: Can we maintain that females are unfit for councils, when Artemisia, queen of Halicarnassus, before the battle of Salamis, saved, by her advice, the mighty army of Xerxes, who remarked, when the battle was over “that on this day the women had behaved like men, and the men like women”; or shall we say that they are unfit to govern, when the ability with which Semiramis swayed the scepter of Assyria, induced Plato to maintain “that women as well as men ought to be instructed with the government of states, and the conduct of military operations?”61

The “ancients,” Anglo-Saxon, Greek, and Assyrian alike, had all set a positive egalitarian example. It was not only the distant past that Norgate and others called up in making an argument for extending the “right of election” both to men and women. More recent history also offered tantalizing evidence of a specifically English prowoman political tradition, anchored in Anglo-Saxon traditions that had survived the Norman Invasion. In particular, they cited the fact that women could become queen in England, unlike in France, where Salic Law forbid women to hold executive power.62 This was a policy that England had long defended, particularly so when Henry IV attempted to introduce French policy to English soil. As Norgate proudly observes, “[W]hen a tyrant and usurper Henry IV endeavoured to introduce the Salique law (by which every female and even the descendants in a female line were excluded from the crown of France) the commons of England, equally disregarding his entreaties and his threats, peremptorily refused to gratify his desire.”63 In a self-congratulatory fashion, some of these men thus linked Elizabeth I’s sixteenth-century successes with the probity of earlier English legislators—a move reminiscent of certain Scottish conjectural theorists who had frequently cited the absence of Salic Law in Britain as evidence of the nation’s “civility” (although they had stopped short of demanding female political representation).64 In an essay entitled “Observations on the Reign and Character of Queen Elizabeth,” for example, published the same year as his Cabinet essays “On the Rights of Women,” Norgate summed up Elizabeth’s reign in the following terms: I shall conclude with the most willing acknowledgment that Elizabeth possessed many excellent qualities: she paid all the debts which had been contracted by her father, sister, and brother, in three preceding reigns; never demanded, nay generously refused, any supply from parliament, when she had no immediate

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Imagining the Female Citizen and pressing occasion; she was wonderfully tolerant in matters of religion, if we consider the example which her predecessor had set; her abilities were great and splendid. . . .65

Elizabeth’s “great and splendid” abilities were construed as a sign not only of woman’s political adroitness but also of England’s prescience in providing such an avenue for female expression. When it came to the treatment of queens, Norgate argued, Britain reigned supreme. Yet this very national strength also helped illuminate another contradiction. In Britain, a woman could hold the highest office but was excluded from all “subordinate” political positions. Why, “Calidore” demanded, were women in Britain able “to hold the supreme executive power, without any subordinate; to be queens, but not constables?” Why, given that women could exercise ultimate political control, were they barred from “the least part of the legislative?”66 Norgate shared the concerns of “Calidore”: “It seems not a little extraordinary and inconsistent,” he noted, that we should be thus jealous of depositing in female hands, authority and offices of an inferior nature, when we have not scrupled to place the sex in that situation which of all others has been esteemed the most honourable and momentous—we have not scrupled to place them on a THRONE.67

Jeremy Bentham was also troubled by these legal “inconsistencies,” and condemned the system that placed a woman on a throne but barred her from balloting in an election. In his unpublished critique of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of 1789, he appealed to English history, arguing that “if no sensible inconvenience can be found to arise from the entrusting them with the exclusive power of royalty, what danger can there be in their possessing so small a fragment of political power, and that in common with the other sex[?]”68 For Bentham, nowhere were the British laws more contradictory and confused than in regard to woman—on the one hand telling her that she was too emotional to vote, on the other allowing her to fill the highest political office; on the one hand insisting on her unsuitability for leadership, on the other allowing her to take on formal responsibilities. Bentham loved to cite those cases that challenged orthodox ideas about women and politics. His 1795 “Nonsense upon Stilts, or Pandora’s Box Opened,” for example, refers readers to the case of “The King against Alice Stubbs and Others,” argued before the King’s Bench in 1788, in which it was ruled that Alice Stubbs could legally serve as “overseer of the poor” in her tiny township of the monastery of Ronton Abbey.69 In his Plan of Parliamentary Reform, published in 1817, Bentham would note that “[in] the county of York, if



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my information be correct, may be found a borough, to which belong two seats, in relation to which the electoral function is virtually performed by a single person of the female sex.”70 As Bentham repeatedly demonstrated, one did not need to look to the distant past for evidence of an alternative to an exclusive politics. Although people might avert their eyes, women continued to exercise formal, as well as informal, political power in Britain.71 The Anglo-Saxon abbess was not an aberration but, rather, a signifier of a vital female political tradition.  In examining natural rights and constitutionalist arguments for female citizenship we have seen how some radicals drew markedly different conclusions from those languages that have been typically construed as “masculine” in their orientation. As much as natural rights-based and constitutionalist arguments were invoked to claim citizenship as specifically male, so they could be equally called on to create a gender neutral political actor. This same flexibility was apparent in the language of sentimentalism, a language that, again, in the tradition of Rousseau, gendered women as soft, sensitive, and acutely feeling subjects.72 For many, this particular conception of femininity prompted concerns about what might happen to real women in the political sphere. That woman was identified as “more feeling” was seen as justification for her lack of representation. Even though it was widely believed that woman, as a “sensible” subject, had a particular obligation to prepare her sons and husbands for the duties of citizenship, it was man’s ultimate responsibility to protect her and defend her political interests.73 As George Butler warned in his 1793 speech delivered to the Cambridge Speculative Society, cited earlier in this chapter, women’s involvement in formal politics would only prove “injurious to the temper of its devotees.”74 But against those who implied, either implicitly or explicitly, that politics was too rough a playing field for such delicate creatures, several men—including Alexander Jardine, “Calidore,” Thomas Starling Norgate, George Dyer, and Thomas Spence—again mounted a compelling defense. Far from denying women’s inherent sensibility, these men embraced it, only they used this feminine difference as the grounds for her inclusion in politics. That women did “seem to possess greater degrees of sensibility,—quicker and nicer perceptions,” as Alexander Jardine put it, could be seen as a distinct political asset.75 Or, as Thomas Starling Norgate explained, just as women “humanize the heart,” so will they humanize politics.76

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Women, too, of course had long been exploiting their supposedly superior sensibility for political gain; Georgian women frequently cited their status as sympathetic subjects in order to convince others of the legitimacy of their public interventions.77 As Linda Colley observes, “[If] politics was indistinguishable from morality . . . then surely women as guardians of morality must have some right of access to the political?”78 But these radicals’ arguments were different in the sense that they claimed that woman’s heightened sensibility warranted not only her presence in the public sphere but also her formal involvement in the nation’s political life. Beyond encouraging her to embroider liberty caps, they wanted her to cast a ballot. Unlike those critics who urged women to “beware of politics” lest they suffer injury, these men asserted that women’s sensitivity would make them valuable political players. Rejecting outright the argument that women would actually be physically harmed by the jostling and pushing so characteristic of elections—as George Philips carefully explained in his Necessity of a Speedy and Effectual Reform in Parliament, “voting by ballot” would prevent disorder at the election site—they insisted that women, as benevolent subjects, were in a position to make a strong contribution to enlightening politics.79 In part, this was because they believed that women would be able to curb men’s brash tendencies. Drawing again on ideas about the female sex elaborated by conjectural theorists, they insisted that her mere presence at the voting box would help “civilize” the proceedings.80 Women, Jardine observed, “can . . . more easily stop the source of the most destructive passions, and hence of the greatest evils in life,” critical skills in the realms of politics.81 “Calidore,” meanwhile, suggested in his February 1788 letter to the Gentleman’s Magazine that female politicians would serve as “softening” and “restraining” agents.82 That “Calidore” regarded women as inherently different from men (and yet no less capable of contributing to the public good) was only further underscored in a subsequent letter, published in March 1788, in which he “lament[ed]” the fact that his “strictures in vindication of the inherent rights of women” had “not been arranged and adorned by one of the fair sex,” since then his letters would have “possessed that superior elegancy which a female hand alone can give.”83 But these men were not interested in women exclusively as mediators or softeners; they also felt that female politicians would practice a more humane politics. As John Gale Jones commented, citing a conversation held with an “amiable and virtuous” wife in Chatham, “A female legislature . . . would never have passed those horrid Convention Bills, or abrogated the



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dear prerogative of speech!”84 “Calidore” offered very similar views in his letters. “The natural tenderness of the sex, if they had been permitted to assist at the national councils, would most indubitably have prevented our numerous legal proscriptions, which are written deeper in blood from year to year,” he insisted, adding that Their humanity, so tremblingly alive toward the preservation of mankind, who are so peculiarly instructed to their care during the early stages, would have been studious to contrive laws preventive of crimes, instead of dealing out sanguinary edicts, which extirpate, without amending, the human race.85

For “Calidore,” what mattered was not simply that “abbesses” had been present at Anglo-Saxon councils, or that Elizabeth had ruled England, but that these women, as exemplary female politicians, had tended to be more humanitarian in the policies that they endorsed. “When the Saxon women sat . . . in our courts,” he observed, “capital punishments were extremely rare.” He also noted (inaccurately) that during the reign of Elizabeth “[no] person died by the hands of the executioner.” Capital punishment, slavery, warfare—these were, in the opinion of “Calidore,” “absurdities truly masculine.”86 By “absurdities truly masculine,” “Calidore” was really referring to those policies to which he and many of his fellow reformers were opposed. In praising a “feminine” politics, they were as much endorsing their own reformist platform—one advocating an end to slavery, to war, to cruelty, to religious discrimination—as they were acknowledging the real accomplishments of past illustrious women. The “feminine,” in this sense, was a means of venting an oppositional politics in a way that attacked the current administration. Female legislators, “Calidore” and others assumed, would necessarily favor those very reformist policies that they were trying to push through. Woman thus stood for all those ideas and actions to which reformers seeking to update the social contract themselves subscribed. This tendency to use the “feminine” as a metonym for all reformist goals and aspirations became more explicit in works published after 1789, the period in which radicals increasingly embraced a perfectibilist vision. In the writings of George Dyer and Thomas Spence, woman came to represent not only the ideal itself but also the means by which reformers would achieve political perfection. Dyer, the Cambridge-based Dissenting poet, identified a revolutionary potential in women’s sensibility (although for him, woman’s deep-seated humanitarian spirit stemmed less from “nature” than from her own culturally specific experience of subjugation). In a note

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to his ode “On Liberty,” published as part of his Poems of 1792, Dyer explained how unleashing this feminine sensibility would promote the “rights of both sexes”: [T]he modes of education, and the customs of society are degrading to the female character; and the tyranny of custom is sometimes worse than the tyranny of government. When a sensible woman rises above the tyranny of custom she feels a generous indignation; which, when turned against the exclusive claims of the other sex, is favourable to female pretentions; when turned against the tyranny of government, it is commonly favourable to the rights of both sexes. Most governments are partial, and more injurious to women than to men.87

Dyer believed that women, once given formal power, would put aside their specific grievances with men in order to reform the system that, as a whole, had worked to perpetuate their subjection. Based on this belief, Dyer concluded that women were generally “more uniformly on the side of liberty” than men. As G. J. Barker-Benfield notes in his discussion of Dyer’s progressive attitude toward women’s presence in politics, the female sex was, in Dyer’s view, “primed for revolution.”88 The radical bookseller, LCS member, and utopian land reformer Thomas Spence clearly shared Dyer’s beliefs. In addition to publicizing Dyer’s work on the subject (Spence included part of Dyer’s The Complaints of the Poor People of England in his own Pig’s Meat; or, Lessons for the Swinish Multitude in 1793), Spence expanded on this logic in his own musings on “Spensonia.”89 Achieved through dramatic land redistribution, Spensonia—a community that Spence began imagining during the 1770s (though not spelling out in its fully articulated egalitarian form until 1797)—would be a place in which men and women would share equal property rights, and, by extension, equal civil and political rights.90 As Spence noted in his Something to the Purpose, women in Spensonia would possess the “same right of suffrage” as the men, and would demonstrate a strong interest “in every public transaction.”91 Spence further elaborated on this point in his Constitution of Spensonia: “The constitution guarantees to all the Spensonians Equality, Liberty, Safty [sic], Property, parochial and private, the free exercise of worship, the enjoyment of all the Rights of Man.”92 As this quotation suggests, Spence, a disciple of Paine, grounded his argument for women’s political representation largely in natural rights theory. But it was also a decision based on what he took to be women’s unique contributions to the field of politics. Spence knew that his was a bold vision, one that would demand the utmost energies from the reforming populace if it were ever executed. And



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like Dyer before him, he suspected that men on their own might not be completely up to the task. In The Rights of Infants; or the Imprescriptable Rights of MOTHERS to Such a Share of the Elements as Is Sufficient to Enable Them to Suckle and Bring Up Their Young, sold for two pence from his bookstall in Chancery Lane, London, in 1797, Spence openly recounted his loss of faith in the male population’s ability to transform their social conditions. “[We] have found our husbands to their indelible shame, woefully negligent and deficient about their own rights, as well as those of their wives and infants,” Spence explained, in a fictionalized exchange between a “woman” and an “aristocrat.” Following that observation, Spence’s “woman” proceeds to demonstrate that it is her sex that is the ultimate “defender of rights”—or, as David Worrall puts it, the “immediate agents of revolution.”93 “Our sex were defenders of rights from the beginning,” Spence’s “woman” spits at the “aristocrat”: And though men, like other he-brutes, sink calmly into apathy respecting their offspring, you shall find nature, as it never was, so it never shall be extinguished in us. You shall find that we not only know our rights, but have spirit to assert them, to the downfall of you and all tyrants. And since it is so that the men, like he-asses, suffer themselves to be laden with as many pair of panyers of rents, tythes, & c. as your tender consciences please to lay upon them, we, even we, the females, will vindicate the rights of the species, and throw you and all your panyers in the dirt.94

Because Spence thought that women were more closely aligned with Nature (in a Rousseauian sense), he suggested that they were also more aware of and willing to fight for natural rights. Unlike man, who had slipped completely over to the side of Culture, woman was still in tune with the natural world and, as such, constantly reminded of what it was that those around her (especially her offspring) had sacrificed to live in a competitive commercial society. To that end, Spence portrayed women as the catalysts of change. While his male characters are out drinking, his women demonstrate a steely resolve to set the world aright through coordinated political activity: [We] women, mean to take up the business ourselves and let us see if any of our husbands dare hinder us. Wherefore, you will find the business much more seriously and effectually managed in our hands than ever it has been yet. You may smile, tyrants, but you have juster cause to weep. For, as nature has implanted into the breasts of all mothers the most pure and unequivocal concern for their young, which no bribes can buy, nor threats annihilate, be assured we will stand true to the interest of our babes, and shame, woe, and destruction be to the pitiful varlet that dare obstruct us.95

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There was a distinct conclusion to be drawn from this argument: if reformers were to be successful in toppling the aristocracy, they would need to include women in the political process. Anna Clark describes Spence’s budding feminism as an effort “to goad apathetic men into activism by portraying them as so unmanly that their wives have to demand their rights themselves.”96 For Clark, Spence’s repeated trumpeting of women’s strong sentiments has less to do with touting “woman power” than with convincing men that they must leave their houses and fight the good fight. Certainly, Spence’s argument is problematic, particularly so when viewed through a modern lens. One cannot help but feel that he was using woman (in her role as sentimental Mother) to achieve particular political ends. His reductive understanding of woman as a figure naturally sympathetic to revolution suggests that he was far more comfortable dealing with female political participation in the abstract than in its concrete, and unquestionably messier, form. What, for instance, would Spence have made of the woman who was not at all maternal, or who was maternal but at the same time entirely comfortable with the status quo? The criticism advanced by one outspoken opponent of Spence’s political plan (and of women’s political representation in general) draws attention to this problem. In his 1817 Constitutional Politics, Thomas Williams, editor of the Philanthropic Gazette, astutely observed that “Spence indeed admits females to the elective franchise, and even married women; but if these vote with their husbands, then has every married man a double vote—if against them, their votes are neutralized. But what abundant food is here for perpetual domestic strife!”97 Reading this critique now, one only wonders whether Spence himself would have supported those women who did not exhibit “revolutionary” sentiments, or worse, those who rejected the Spensonian plan. “Doubling,” in other words, held out tremendous appeal to Spence, but “neutralizing” was something that he does not seem to have contemplated. One suspects that he would not have responded favorably to the political participation of a conservative evangelical like Hannah More. To characterize Spence’s “woman” as mere propaganda for the “male cause,” however, is to fail to read his writing in context. For his vision of a society transformed by “feminine” influence shares much with other arguments circulating during the period. Indeed, for “Calidore,” Jardine, Dyer, and Spence alike, the “feminine” had become less a device for “goading” men than the embodiment of what they themselves, as activists, aspired to. Throughout their arguments, they insisted that woman, in her capac-



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ity as elector and, in some instances, even as representative, would work tirelessly to promote justice, humanity, and equality, the very goals of their movement. To be sure, this was an essentialist argument. That women had the potential to create controversies rather than solve disputations, to advocate war rather than counsel peace, to support capital punishment rather than authorize its curtailment—such possibilities were simply not contemplated by these reformers. But the fact that the feminine (as represented by a heightened sensibility) had come to have such positive reformist connotations is a critical development, even if it was founded on an essentialist notion of sexual difference. For these men who characterized women as acutely feeling beings, the prospect of female suffrage was eagerly anticipated. In their opinion, all women aspired to be reformers, and all reformers, in a sense, aspired to be women.  These were the central arguments marshaled in favor of women’s political rights, but they were by no means exclusive. To each of these major discourses—natural rights–based, constitutionalist, and sentimental—radicals added other justifications and explanations, although all were usually presented as secondary considerations. These included the benefits of greater numerical representation, the necessity of transforming women’s “informal” political power into legitimate participation, and the injustice of taxation without representation. George Philips, for example, was attracted to the idea of female political representation not only because he was a natural rights theorist but also because he believed that promoting this platform would be a boon to the democratic movement. As he explained, political reform required one to pay attention “not merely to a few individuals, but to the whole.” Regardless of personal feelings about women’s suffrage, it was in men’s interest to include the “fair sex” in their platform simply because doing so would ensure men their own liberty. Those excluded from the political process, Philips warned, would find new ways to corrupt the system. The way to maintain “public tranquility” was by giving “every one (excepting only those who are minors and insane) the power of voting for an equal number of representatives.”98 One “Citizen Randol of Ostend”—possibly the radical publisher Daniel Isaac Eaton—would echo these claims in his 1795 A Political Catechism of Man, in which he recommended that the vote be extended to unmarried women on the grounds that “the more numerous the elective body is, the more permanent will the rights and liberties of the people be.”99 (Although

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a clear follower of Paine—“Citizen Randol” explicitly fashioned himself as a Paineite—he did not subscribe to the natural or constitutional-rights based arguments for female citizenship.) Just as the “indigent husbandman and mechanic” were thought to offer great assistance in securing change, so, too were women. By bringing women into the political sphere, radicals would be able to advance their agenda, despite how women actually voted. It was the numbers that mattered. Jeremy Bentham, meanwhile, recommended that women be given the vote not only because they were rational beings whose status was unduly confused in the nation’s laws and institutions but also, quite simply, because women already exerted a strong informal influence over formal political proceedings. As he explained in his “Observations on Article 6” of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, Supposing it ever so desirable to exclude the women from all political influence, it will be acknowledged to be impossible. To exclude them from all influence in political matters, you must change the nature of things and exclude them from all influence. The question is then whether what influence they possess they shall enjoy it by law or contrary to law: quietly or by struggling: openly or contraband: whether the one half of the species are to be subjected to a stigma in the view of preventing what it is impossible to prevent.100

Given the fact of “female influence,” why not transform women’s boudoir politics into something more transparent and official? As Bentham suggested, the only way to end the “nocturnal administration” of women was by bringing the “fair sex’s” political activities into the daylight. To these subsidiary arguments, George Dyer and Edward Christian added an additional assertion: women of the landed classes (and presumably unmarried) should be granted immediate representation simply on the grounds of their property ownership. Although both sought more comprehensive political reforms, they believed that certain women should be entitled to vote under the current legislative restrictions. “Females, though possessed of 100,000 l. a year, either in land or money, have no representatives,” Dyer noted in his Complaints of the Poor People of England.101 Christian was even more emphatic in his “notes and additions” to Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, in which he insisted that all women who paid taxes should be allowed to vote: “With regard to the property of women, there is taxation without representation; for they pay taxes without having the liberty of voting for representatives; and indeed there seems at present no substantial reason why single women should be denied this privilege.”102



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But there were also other, undoubtedly more self-serving considerations. Natural rights arguments, evidence wrought by study of the “ancient constitution,” conceptions of femininity, utility, property—these were all important reasons why certain radicals chose to endorse female political rights. For many, however, significant appeal also lay in the fact that advancing this argument would further distinguish them from their countrymen, a theme that I touched on in the Introduction and Chapter One. By arguing for female political representation, in other words, men could highlight the extent of their own generosity and enlightenment, an outlook that served to separate them to an even greater degree from their more narrow-minded peers. As Thomas Starling Norgate and George Philips both acknowledged, in the context of their discussion of women’s political rights, they were men of a superior cast—“scrutinizing geniuses,” “citizens of the world.”103 In this sense, the public endorsement of female suffrage served as the ultimate marker of enlightened “manliness.” This self-aggrandizing rhetoric would become a mainstay of male feminist political activity right through the nineteenth century. As the writer Israel Zangwill noted, in a speech delivered to the Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage, established in 1907, “If ever a person had a right not only to quiet hearing, but an almost pharisaic self-satisfaction—if anybody could exclaim ‘I am not as other men,’ it would be a member of this league.”104  That there were so many ways in which one could express one’s commitment to female political rights only substantiates the claim made earlier in this chapter: the female citizen was not universally dismissed during the last decades of the eighteenth century, but rather, was openly and seriously debated by a vocal minority. True, the numbers were not large, but several of the radicals who took on this issue explored the subject in significant and often surprising depth, developing a range of rationales linking women’s political rights to the establishment of a “perfect” nation. The presence of these dissenting voices challenges us to rethink the historiography (and chronology) of women’s suffrage. While their arguments did not lead directly to female political representation—for that right, British women would have to wait until the early twentieth century—they did, to quote William Stafford, significantly expand “what could be said, where it could be said, and by whom it could be said.”105 These reformers, virtually all prominent figures within late Enlightenment circles, established an important precedent for speaking out in favor of the female citizen. What

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is more, through various forms of argumentation, they highlighted how integral women’s political rights would be to the achievement of true enlightenment. These were not abstract considerations. A brief survey of the first decades of the nineteenth century suggests that, after a period of relative quietism during the Napoleonic Wars, inclusive arguments were again picked up (sometimes verbatim) by the next generation of radical reformers.106 As the revolutionary generation aged, adjusted their positions, and in some instances emigrated, younger radicals revived and refashioned their disquisitions for a new era.107 The natural rights argument for women’s political representation would resurface in the parliamentary speeches of Henry Hunt (a close friend of an aging John Gale Jones) and Matthew Davenport Hill (a friend of Bentham).108 Constitutionalist arguments, meanwhile, played a central role in the essays of George Ensor, whose The Independent Man, published by Joseph Johnson in 1806, demanded, “Have we not, in our own annals, women famed for their political government?”109 Samuel Ferrand Waddington, a radical who penned a “Vindication of Female Political Interference” for Richard Carlile’s The Republican in 1819 in the aftermath of the Peterloo massacre, drew similar attention to the nation’s history. Quoting directly from the 1788 letters to the Gentleman’s Magazine by “Calidore,” Waddington observed that “in this island, the Abbesses had seats in the Great Council”—a point that would be made again in the 1831 New Charter, in which the anonymous author cited the English policy toward Salic Law as further evidence of women’s ancient liberties.110 Why were so few prepared for an extension of the franchise to women, the author queried, when no one appeared “startled at the appointment of the Duchess of Kent to the office of regent, or at the prospect of the Princess Victoria one day becoming queen?”111 Arguments for the feminization of reform also continued to circulate, with the “female revolutionary” featuring regularly in T. J. Wooler’s The Black Dwarf (a newspaper published from 1817 to 1824 devoted to parliamentary reform), among other publications. As one author demanded, writing in 1818, “[W]hat security have the men to offer? They have betrayed their own interests, how can they be expected to be true to the interests of others? They have mortgaged their own future welfare—how can they guarantee the future welfare of others? No! no! ladies. Trust them no further . . . Erect the banner of female independence, since man has confessed himself a slave.”112 Samuel Ferrand Waddington likewise congratulated women for their extreme commitment to “humanizing” the age.113 In fact,



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as Barbara Taylor shows, it was this precise association of femininity with revolution that encouraged the Owenites to bring women into their ranks during the 1820s and 30s.114 All of these rationales would come together in William Thompson’s Appeal of One Half the Human Race, Women, Against the Pretensions of the Other Half, Men, published in 1825. In this text, the Owenite socialist drew on many of these earlier arguments to make a decisive attack on the political philosopher James Mill, who had maintained in his 1820 “Article on Government” that women did not need the vote because “almost all” of their “interests” were “involved either in that of their fathers, or in that of their husbands.”115 Charging Mill with bringing “barbarism, under the guise of philosophy, into the nineteenth century,” Thompson emphasized that “despotism” would disappear only when men and women shared equally all civil and political rights.116 In the end, then, what we see is a lively debate that continued into the first decades of the nineteenth century and beyond. Within this framework, the Reform Act of 1832 itself takes on new meanings. For in defining the citizen exclusively as male—the first time that the political subject became gendered in official British discourse—the act must be seen first and foremost as a response to the ambiguity of citizenship during this period.117 It was not, as has often been argued, merely confirmation of what had long been taken to be self-evident. Against those who claimed that “the principle of universal suffrage . . . leads to an absurdity [the female voter],” there were those who believed that female political representation was critical to national regeneration.118 As in so many other instances, the language of 1832, with its insistence on “separate spheres” for men and women, belied a far more complicated reality, one characterized by competing hopes and visions for the future.

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Conclusion: The Champions’ Legacy

Tracing the contributions the “champions of the fair sex” made to the lateeighteenth-century women’s rights conversation in Britain demonstrates the depth and range of certain men’s commitment to feminism, a depth and range that have not previously been acknowledged. A more nuanced understanding of the creation of modern British feminism in turn opens up the possibility for reconsidering feminism’s place within the late British Enlightenment. Far from being the “ism” that “missed its moment,” feminism was in key ways a feature of the radical reformist agenda, especially among the most forward-thinking proponents of Enlightenment ideas.1 With the revival of questions in the 1780s regarding British social policy, which only intensified during the commemoration celebrations of the Glorious Revolution in 1788 and after the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, a vanguard of men and women banded together to interrogate anew the relationship between the sexes.2 These radical reformers—committed to pushing Enlightenment precepts to their limits, predominantly immersed in the culture of Rational Dissent, intimately familiar with women’s plights and potentials—recognized that the rights of women, along with the rights of slaves, nonconformists, and the disenfranchised more generally, would need to be acknowledged if they could ever claim to live in a truly “perfect” nation. Until active steps were taken to combat patriarchy, Britain, and the men who controlled power within the polity, would remain profoundly “unmanly.” True, there was little consensus among radicals, male and female alike, about what it might mean to combat patriarchy. Patriarchy itself, after all, referred to more than a discrete set of legal and political codes, easily iden-

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tifiable and thus easily singled out for attack. Patriarchal assumptions and attitudes informed virtually all customs and practices, as they had been developed and elaborated over the centuries. These underlying assumptions and attitudes could not help but shape, and at times limit, feminists’ own logics. It was the deeply ingrained nature of patriarchy that lent feminism its multivalent and often improvisational qualities during this early period. Feminist reformers were not entirely sure where “culture” began and “nature” ended. The fact that this nascent feminism was fundamentally and necessarily inchoate, however, does not mean that women’s rights advocates were unable to put forward a rich range of proposals for women during this period, proposals that included revamping educational curricula, expanding professional opportunities, and securing legal and political rights. Nor does it mean that they were unable to translate any of those plans into action. As attorney Benjamin Heath Malkin observed in his 1795 Essays on Subjects Connected with Civilization, “[T]he speculative investigation of human rights is only preparatory to their practical exercise. . . .”3 It was in this respect, in particular, that men proved crucial to the late-eighteenth-century British feminist enterprise. “Champions of the fair sex” not only endorsed coeducation but also set up coeducational lectures and institutions. Anderson’s Institution, established by John Anderson in Glasgow in 1796, was the most striking development. Similarly, “champions” not only supported the idea of the woman writer but also played an instrumental role in helping women to enter the literary marketplace and gain an audience. Men’s specific contributions to the creation of modern British feminism, however, lay not just in institution-building and networking. Some of the more ultraradical men in this late Enlightenment vanguard constructed powerful and innovative critiques of the legal and political systems, and offered several recommendations aimed at improving women’s civil status. Those recommendations, while not immediately implemented, helped to lay the groundwork for future activity. The radicals who called for divorce and marriage reforms during the late eighteenth century directly influenced the thinking of Richard Carlile, Eliza Sharples, Francis Place, Robert Owen, and a host of other men and women during the first decades of the nineteenth century, who petitioned for the similar easing, if not in some cases abandonment, of legal restrictions on marriage. James Henry Lawrence’s “utopian romance” The Empire of the Nairs, in fact, with its explicit endorsement of free love, deeply impressed the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and his circle, and Shelley and Lawrence themselves corresponded on the subject



Conclusion: The Champions’ Legacy

in 1812.4 Along these same lines, those men who defended women’s right to political representation, including Jeremy Bentham, Thomas Cooper, Alexander Jardine, and Thomas Starling Norgate, largely defined the terms (sometimes verbatim) in which men and women would lobby for female suffrage in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.5 It is significant that the reformer Samuel Ferrand Waddington looked back to the 1788 letters to the Gentleman’s Magazine by “Calidore” to substantiate his own argument for women’s political rights in 1819.6 As these links suggest, “revolutionary” feminist activity in Britain was not confined to a brief period between 1789, the outbreak of the French Revolution, and 1798, the publication of William Godwin’s Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman, as has so often been maintained.7 Once we expand our frame of reference to include new categories of men in the early women’s rights project, it becomes clear that late-eighteenth-century feminism should not be bracketed in this way. Rather, the feminism that emerged at this particular juncture transcended the specific ideologies and circumstances that had first brought it into existence, even as a very real cultural backlash—engendered not just by the publication of Godwin’s Memoirs but also by the threat of French invasion, the subsequent rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, and the growing popularity of religious evangelicalism—made such ideologies difficult to pursue and prosecute. The continuities between “revolutionary” feminism and the feminisms that emerged in Britain in the ensuing decades become only more apparent when we consider individual ”champions’” paths into the nineteenth century. Instead of abandoning women’s rights when the road became more difficult, several of the radicals treated in this book continued to engage in feminist inquiries and activities, albeit often in more muted forms. Jeremy Bentham, for example, devised a plan in 1815 for a Chrestomathic school (an experimental school in which older students would teach younger students) wherein he made a strong case for the inclusion of “the female sex.” John Gale Jones, too, remained highly active in feminist reform, supporting M.P. Henry Hunt in his efforts to secure “universal suffrage” for men and women in the years leading up to the Reform Act of 1832.8 A handful of these men also seem to have imparted their feminist ideals to their children and grandchildren. Thomas Garnett’s youngest daughter, Catherine Grace Godwin (1798–1845), for example, became a poet and protégée of William Wordsworth.9 Thomas Holcroft’s daughter, Fanny Margaretta Holcroft (1780–1844), was a celebrated writer and translator who promoted her father’s liberal causes.10 Thomas Starling Norgate’s granddaughter Kate Nor-

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gate (1853–1935), meanwhile, was one of the first female historians to adopt a professional approach to the writing of history. At her death, the Times described her as the “most learned woman historian of the pre-academic period.”11 This is not to suggest that all of the men who endorsed women’s rights during the late eighteenth century continued to do so in a more conservative climate. One only need trace the trajectory of Thomas Cooper, who transformed himself from an extremist Manchester radical into a South Carolinian committed to slavery and secession, to recognize that feminism was for some a badge worn proudly in youth, but unable to survive personal and historical change.12 “I am no radical here,” Cooper wrote from South Carolina to his old friend George Philips in Manchester in 1822, describing his remarkable conversion.13 Even those who remained nominally committed to women’s rights damped down their rhetoric in order to offer more cautious endorsements—thus Thomas Starling Norgate’s admission in his memoirs that some of the feminist “schemes and suggestions” offered by the earlier “visionary reformers” (himself included) were indeed worthy of “ridicule.”14 Nevertheless, enough radical reformers were committed to preserving their feminist ideals in some form to help channel late-eighteenth-century feminism into new nineteenth-century reformist, Owenite, and Chartist currents. Revealing these continuities enables us to see some of the more celebrated male feminists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries themselves in a new light. Just as Mary Wollstonecraft can no longer rightly be described as the “first feminist,” so the Owenite socialist William Thompson and liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill—along with a host of other Victorian and Edwardian reformers including William Johnson Fox, Frederick Pethick-Lawrence, Jacob Bright, Ben Elmy, and Israel Zangwill—can no longer be characterized as isolated or exceptional male spokesmen for women’s rights, “traitors” to the “masculine cause.”15 Rather, they were working in a vital reformist tradition of which they themselves were acutely aware. When Thompson penned his 1825 Appeal of One Half the Human Race, Women, Against the Pretensions of the Other Half, Men and Mill his 1869 The Subjection of Women, for example, they drew on arguments that had been rehearsed by the men and women who came before them. Jeremy Bentham, in particular, a shared acquaintance of both Thompson and Mill, proved an especially important conduit. Both Thompson and Mill, like their male predecessors, gravitated toward feminism in large part because they perceived the unequal treatment



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of women to be an affront to their enlightened sensibilities, at odds with their larger reformist vision. Thompson makes this sentiment explicit in an “Introductory Letter” to his partner, Anna Wheeler. “Though I do not feel like you—thanks to the chance of having been born a man,” Thompson explains, “looking lonely on the moral desolation around; though I am free from personal interest in the consideration of this question; yet can I not be inaccessible to the plain facts and reason of the case.”16 Of course, Thompson and Mill can be faulted for their self-interested impulses—both men had striven to curry favor with their partners, Anna Wheeler and Harriet Taylor, vocal feminists in their own right—and for the ways in which their arguments at times dismiss or downplay female “agency and autonomy” by depicting women as passive victims.17 But to focus primarily or exclusively on these limitations undercuts the broader purpose of their arguments. What Thompson and Mill stressed above all else was that the question of women’s rights was of consequence for both sexes.18 This revelation, elaborated by the “champions of the fair sex” during the late eighteenth century, proved the cornerstone of the male feminist ethic. Its underlying precept, that the liberation of women would necessarily liberate men, too, illustrates the degree to which feminism, at its most promising moments, has always been a collaborative project. Ben and Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy, a husband and wife team committed to securing women’s rights in the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, captured this spirit in their 1898 essay on “Feminism,” the first British article to explain the term. In defining feminism, the couple offered lines from Lord Alfred Tennyson’s 1847 poem “The Princess”: “The Woman’s Cause is Man’s; they rise or sink/Together, dwarf ’d or godlike, bond or free.”19

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Brief Biographies of Major Late-Eighteenth-Century “Champions of the Fair Sex”

I have chosen in the following brief biographies to emphasize those aspects of these men’s lives that relate to their feminist thought and activity. For more general accounts of their personal experiences and professional accomplishments, see the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, which includes entries for most of these figures. J o h n A n d e r s o n . A professor of natural philosophy at the University of Glasgow and activist strongly supportive of the French Revolution, John Anderson (1726–96) dedicated much of his life to promoting women’s higher education. Born in Dumbartonshire, the son of devout Presbyterians (both his father and grandfather were ministers), Anderson demonstrated an early and persistent belief that women were “rational beings” and deserved every opportunity to “cultivate” their understanding. This commitment culminated in a deathbed wish to found a coeducational technical university. In a detailed will, Anderson outlined a plan whereby “the ladies of Glasgow” might be provided with “such a stock of general knowledge” as to make them the “most cultivated in all of Europe.” His school would offer a “Ladies Course” in natural philosophy in which women, “for a small fee,” would be introduced to a range of scientific subjects. Although Anderson did not live to see his dream realized, the school, aptly named Anderson’s Institution, was successfully established in 1796. As Anderson had requested, the Institution offered women courses in astronomy, electricity, magnetism, hydrostatics, hydraulics, and optics. Thomas Garnett, one of the school’s early instructors, praised Anderson for recognizing that the provision of women’s equal education was a necessary part of the “civilizing” process. As Garnett wrote in his 1800 Observations on a Tour through the Highlands, “The ladies of this city are undoubtedly much indebted to the founder [Anderson], as being the first person in this island who set on foot a plan of rational education for them, which affords the means of acquiring knowledge, not only useful to themselves in various circumstances of life, and capable of always supplying a rational amusement, without the necessity of seeking it elsewhere; but which fits them for companions for the other sex, and puts them on a footing of equality in conversation.”

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Appendix R o b e r t B a g e . The novelist Robert Bage (1728–1801) was a Midlands paper manufacturer who came to writing late in life, following a failed commercial venture as a partner in an iron manufactory. His first novels included Mount Henneth (1781), Barham Downs (1784), The Fair Syrian (1787), and James Wallace (1788). It was only in the 1790s, however, that Bage found a distinctive authorial voice, publishing two of the most important “Jacobin” novels of the period, Man As He Is (1792) and Hermsprong, or Man As He Is Not (1796). In both works, though particularly in Hermsprong, Bage succeeded in incorporating feminist concerns into his political narrative. In Hermsprong, the title character returns to England after spending years among the Aborigines of America, in order to convert its citizens to a natural rights philosophy. For women, this entails an awakening to the rights espoused by Mary Wollstonecraft. As Hermsprong explains to the women that he encounters, they currently “have too little liberty of mind.” “Whilst they [women] think of their charming figures,” Bage writes, “Mrs. Wollstonecraft must write in vain.” Mary Wollstonecraft praised Man As He Is and Hermsprong in the pages of the Analytical Review. T h o m a s B e d d o e s . The radical physician and chemist Thomas Beddoes (1760– 1808) was educated at Oxford, receiving his M.D. in 1786. After graduating, he became a reader in chemistry at Oxford, although he had to leave his post in 1792 when his revolutionary sympathies became known, eliciting a hostile response from the establishment. In 1794, Beddoes married Anne Edgeworth, sister of the author Maria Edgeworth and daughter of Richard Lovell Edgeworth. Subsequently, Thomas Beddoes and Richard Edgeworth worked together to create a Pneumatic Institute, established at Clifton in 1798. Throughout his career, Beddoes strove to use medicine to improve the lives of the British population in general and of women in particular. He achieved the latter goal by encouraging women to study science and medicine and by using his own research to improve their quality of living. In 1796, Beddoes praised one Mrs. Fulhame for publishing her “Essay on combustion with a view to a new art of dyeing and painting.” As Beddoes explained in his review of her work, “We applaud the lady’s persevering ingenuity, we admire her dexterity in carrying on her researches almost without apparatus, and we sincerely sympathise with her on account of that disabling and discouraging narrowness of circumstances of which she so feelingly complains.” Beddoes also created a series of anatomy lectures designed for women—perhaps a reflection of his larger belief that “employment for females is among the greatest desiderata of society.” Justifying his lectures, Beddoes simply noted, “Women . . . attend without scruple lectures in which the eye is demonstrated . . . mothers, the most delicately educated, brave disgust for the sake of their children.” In his 1802–3 Hygeia, a series of “moral and medical” essays, Beddoes offered a number of suggestions for ways in which women’s health might be improved, citing boarding schools as especially harmful to young girls for encouraging passivity. Beddoes also noted that women were particularly susceptible to depression, a condition, he noted, that “very seldom begins at home; not unfrequently at school, and sometimes not till after marriage. It arises from repeated vexations—rarely from any single misfortune.” Beddoes concluded Hygeia by expressing his desire that “we might live to see the female sex, emancipated from constraint and maltreatment in youth, and from debility and sickliness in riper years.”



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J e r e m y B e n t h a m .  Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832), the preeminent legal theorist of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, is known primarily for elaborating a utilitarian philosophical system. He is less celebrated for his feminist views, though surely those were also pioneering. In 1789, Bentham composed his “Observations on Article 6,” in which he challenged the authors of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen for not translating their “universalist” rhetoric into political practice. Although not published during his lifetime, the “Observations” reflect Bentham’s increasing recognition that women deserved at least some political rights. “Why admit women to the right of suffrage?” Bentham demanded, to which he responded: “Why exclude them? Of the two sexes of which the species is composed how comes all natural right to political benefits to be confined to one?” In his “Observations,” Bentham also assured his audience that politics was completely compatible with femininity: “The men have their domestic duties as well as the women: it will not call off the one sex more than the other. It is not more necessary that women should cook the victuals, clean the home and nurse the children than it is that the greater part of the male sex should employ an equal share of their time in the labours of the workshop or the field.” In addition to arguing for the inclusion of women in the polity on purely rational grounds, Bentham was also quick to cite precedent. In England, for example, he noted that women in some select communities already held political positions at the local level. He also suggested that all women—whether wittingly or no—had and would continue to exercise informal political influence through their husbands, brothers, fathers, and other male acquaintances. Given this, why not extend and formalize that power by granting women the vote? Throughout his writing, though in somewhat muted form in later years, Bentham always insisted that “all men (i.e. all human creatures of both sexes) remain equal in rights.” T h o m a s C o o p e r . Thomas Cooper (1759–1839), a Manchester-based attorney, political activist, and educator, was a man with keen democratic instincts. Committee member of the Society for the Purpose of Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade, leader in Dissenting circles, cofounder of the Manchester Constitutional Society, and coeditor of the Manchester Herald, Cooper publicized his strong prowoman views during an ardent political exchange with the conservative M.P. Edmund Burke regarding the course of the French Revolution. In his 1792 A Reply to Mr. Burke’s Invective, written in response to a particularly nasty speech delivered by Burke in the House of Commons (in which Burke had chastised Cooper for traveling to France on behalf of the Manchester Constitutional Society), Cooper argued in a lengthy footnote that all those capable of “self-direction”—women included— had a right to the basic liberties advocated by the French revolutionaries. “I have repeatedly considered the subject of the Rights of Women,” Cooper wrote, “and I am perfectly unable to suggest any Argument in support of the political Superiority so generally arrogated by the Male Sex, which will not equally apply to any System of Despotism of Man over Man.” Cooper’s statement attracted attention, and was reprinted in the essays of British writers Thomas Starling Norgate and John Bristed, as well as in an American article entitled “On the Rights of Woman,” published in the National Magazine in 1800. It was under the “influence” of Cooper that George Philips, a fellow Manchester radical, published his own prowoman 1793 The Necessity of a Speedy and Effectual Reform in Parliament. Frustrated with reform efforts in

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Appendix Britain, Cooper in 1794 followed Joseph Priestley to America, where he lobbied against John Adams’s administration and taught mineralogy and chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, eventually becoming president of South Carolina College (today the University of South Carolina) in 1820. In South Carolina, Cooper renounced most—if not all—of his earlier radical positions, and remained silent on the question of women. E r a s m u s D a rw i n . Erasmus Darwin (1731–1802) was a physician and natural philosopher who played a central role in the formation of the Lunar Society of Birmingham. In 1797, Darwin published A Plan for the Conduct of Female Education in Boarding Schools, written to support his two illegitimate daughters, who had recently opened a boarding school in Derbyshire. In the Plan, Darwin chastised parents of the “last half century” for not taking enough pains to educate their daughters: “Hence it happens, that female education has not yet been reduced to a perfect system.” To create this “perfect system,” Darwin recommended that young women be instructed not only in “grammar, languages, and common arithmetic” but also in “geography, civil history, and natural history,” as well as in botany and chemistry. He also encouraged teachers to engage their female students in regular physical activity. The Plan was generally well received, although John Aikin complained in the Monthly Review that Darwin had “done no more than slightly touch on a few leading ideas.” Female education, however, was only one of Darwin’s many causes. Overweight and sybaritic, this wide-ranging thinker (who fathered fourteen children) was also deeply committed to liberating eros. His 1791 poem “The Botanic Garden,” which publicized the Linnaean system of classification, cited the polygamous practices of plants as a means of legitimating sexual freedoms for both men and women. As Darwin, the grandfather of Charles Darwin, once observed, love is “the purest source of human felicity, the cordial drop in the otherwise vapid cup of life.” G e o r g e D y e r . Author and political reformer George Dyer (1755–1841) was born in London, the son of a watchman. When Dyer was a young boy, a group of Dissenting ladies took an interest in his education and sent him to school at Christ’s Hospital. Dyer completed his training at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, receiving his B.A. in 1778. Beginning in 1785, Dyer served as tutor to the children of Robert Robinson, a prominent Dissenting minister who was also a mentor to the aspiring writer Mary Hays. Robinson clearly exerted a strong influence over the young Dyer. During this period, Dyer became a Unitarian and decidedly more outspoken in his political views. In 1789, Dyer wrote an Inquiry into the Nature of Subscription to the 39 Articles, in which he illuminated the injustice of the Test and Corporation Acts. In 1792, Dyer moved to London to try his hand as a professional writer, penning several pieces that combined feminism and radicalism. In his The Complaints of the Poor People of England, published by Joseph Johnson in 1793, Dyer argued against primogeniture, in part on the grounds that it was unfavorable to women, and called for an expansion of the suffrage to include “rational” members of both sexes. “Whom, or what does a house of commons represent?” Dyer demanded. “[N]ot always rational beings, men and women; but for the greater part, property; and property of a particular kind.” In his Poems, published by Johnson in 1800, Dyer



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praised female novelists and poets for their literary efforts. As he explained in his preface, “[To] speak the truth, on reading Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin’s Rights of Woman, I was disposed, and still am, to admire female talents, in proportion as such writers as Rousseau, Gregory, and Fordyce, underrate them.” In that same vein, Dyer recommended the Vindication as a text that ought to be disseminated to the working classes to instruct them in radicalism. W i l l i a m E n f i e l d .  William Enfield (1741–97) served alternately as a tutor and rector at the Dissenting Warrington Academy, Unitarian minister at the Octagon Chapel in Norwich, and essayist and reviewer for various progressive periodicals. He was also a mentor to the younger Norwich feminist Thomas Starling Norgate. Throughout his varied career as a teacher, preacher, and writer, Enfield channeled much of his energy into fighting for women’s right to equal education. In book reviews written for the Monthly Review, he touted woman’s mental abilities, encouraging man to treat her as his intellectual equal. Perhaps Enfield’s most intriguing assertion, however, was that a new term was needed to describe the human species in toto. Assessing Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, he noted that he disliked the terms “man” and “woman,” feeling that they were designations that emphasized the differences between the sexes, rather than their overwhelming commonalities. Yes, there were biological distinctions, he explained, but most of the perceived differences stemmed less from physiology than from cultural context. It was his aim, he noted, as an enlightened subject, to minimize the gap between the sexes (though not in such a way, he insisted, as to completely “confound” man and woman). Enfield himself was no doubt working in that spirit when he decided—likely playfully—to use the pseudonym “Homo” in the essays he wrote for the radical Norwich periodical the Cabinet. D av i d S t e u a rt E r s k i n e . David Steuart Erskine (1742–1829), eleventh Earl of Buchan, and member of one of the oldest Scottish families, could easily have accepted the status quo. Born into privilege, there was seemingly little reason for him to become an outspoken reformer. Yet reformer he was. Sympathizing with Whig causes, Erskine defended John Wilkes, stood behind the American colonists, and affiliated with the London Society of the Friends of the People and the Society for Constitutional Information. Throughout his career, Erskine also repeatedly demonstrated his feminist leanings. At the University of Edinburgh, as a member of the Belles Lettres Society, Erskine spoke out on why “women ought to be taught the Sciences.” Later, as a regular essayist for Dr. James Anderson’s Bee, begun in December 1790, Erskine wrote often on the subordination of women. In a substantial number of these articles, later reprinted in The Anonymous and Fugitive Essays of the Earl of Buchan, published in 1812, Erskine repeatedly critiqued the system that trained women to become “Automatons” rather than encouraging them to become critically engaged and rational individuals. Writing in the voice of one “Sophia” on June 22, 1791, Erskine observed: “The rights of men begin now to be every where felt, understood, and vindicated; by and by, I would fain hope, the rights of our sex will be equally understood, and established upon the basis of a new code of education suited to the dignity and importance of our situation in society. And it is hard to say, whether the general welfare of the community will not be as much promoted

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Appendix by this last revolution as by the first. Women will then perhaps receive an education no way differing from that of men, in all things relating to the cultivation of the rational powers of the understanding.” It was on these same grounds that Erskine decided to appoint women as his own literary executors. As he wrote in a letter in 1802, explaining his decision, “[It] is my opinion that without a much greater Degree of paralelism [sic] than now exists between the Sexes the progress from rudeness to real refinement in Society must be greatly checked.” Erskine also served as an important early mentor to the army medical officer James Barry, a woman who disguised herself as a man in order to pursue a career in medicine. It is believed that Erskine knew Barry’s secret, and nevertheless encouraged her to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh, from which she received her MD in 1812. T h o m a s G a r n e t t . Thomas Garnett (1766–1802) was a scientist committed both in theory and practice to educating women. Trained in medicine at the University of Edinburgh, Garnett spent a considerable part of his brief professional career lecturing on natural philosophy to mixed-sex audiences, first around Manchester, where he served as a traveling lecturer, and then, from 1796, at Anderson’s Institution in Glasgow, where he held the first lectureship in natural philosophy. Upon joining the faculty of Anderson’s Institution, Garnett noted that John Anderson’s desire to create a coeducational school was “in perfect unison” with his own. As he recounted in his Observations on a Tour through the Highlands, published in 1800, the education of the “fair sex” was of incalculable importance. “Suppose any sensible and well-informed man should address to his own sex the flattery and absurd nonsense with which he assails the other,” Garnett wrote. “[W]ould he not be knocked down, or confined in a mad-house? But why does he treat the female sex in this manner? When in their company, why does he not converse rationally on subjects of taste, of science, or of morality, as when he is in company with men? Because their minds have not been cultivated, and they cannot take a share in such conversation.” In 1799, Garnett moved to London, where he taught science at the newly established Royal Institution, which also opened its lecture halls to women. In addition to teaching at Anderson’s and the Royal Institution, Garnett was an active member of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester, the Royal Medical, Royal Physical, and Natural History societies of Edinburgh, the Medical Society of London, and the Royal Irish Academy. He married Catherine Grace Cleveland, a woman whom Garnett fondly described as “the companion of my studies, and partner of my literary labors.” A l e xa n d e r G e d d e s . Alexander Geddes (1737–1802), biblical scholar and literary critic, was born in Abderdeenshire, Scotland, the son of Catholic parents. After training at the Scots College at Paris, as well as at the college of Navarre and the Sorbonne, Geddes returned to Scotland in 1764, where he became a Catholic priest, first in Dundee and then, in 1769, near Aberdeen. In 1779, Geddes left his post after a dispute with the church, and soon moved to London. In London, Geddes demonstrated an increasing desire to pursue his literary interests, joining the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and developing plans for a new translation of the Bible. Befriended by the liberal London bookseller Joseph Johnson, who appointed Geddes chief theological reviewer of his Analytical Review, Geddes also grew decidedly



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more rational and skeptical in his approach to religion. Geddes’s translation of the Bible was commissioned by Johnson, and the first volume appeared in 1792. Needless to say, the translation was highly controversial and was lambasted by the AntiJacobin Review for treating “the history of the Fall of Man as a mere fable.” What the Anti-Jacobin Review objected to, however, proved a boon to feminism. In his Holy Bible, Geddes argued that Genesis was a fiction constructed by the Hebrew people to legitimate patriarchy within their own society. By providing that particular reading of Eve’s sin, Geddes demonstrated that women’s subjection had little religious foundation. Geddes had the opportunity to air his prowoman positions further in book reviews written for the Analytical Review, in which he commended women for their feminist arguments, praising in particular Priscilla Wakefield for her Reflections on the Present Condition of the Female Sex; with Suggestions for it’s [sic] Improvement and Mary Hays for her Appeal to the Men of Great Britain in Behalf of Women. “[T]he welfare and happiness of half the human species,” Geddes wrote in his review of Hays’s Appeal, was “of no inconsiderable importance.” T h o m a s H o l c r o f t . Thomas Holcroft (1745–1809), dramatist and novelist, was the son of a shoemaker who worked as a stable-boy before launching a career in writing. A string of literary successes in the 1780s made him a fixture in the London literary scene, where he soon distinguished himself for his radical political positions. (Holcroft has been described as the “first revolutionary novelist.”) A member of the Society for Constitutional Information, Holcroft was indicted for high treason in 1794. Eventually acquitted without a trial, Holcroft continued to agitate for reform long after Jacobin sympathizing fell out of favor. Holcroft’s radicalism extended to his ideas regarding male-female relations. In his 1792 novel Anna St. Ives, Holcroft drew on the philosophical arguments of his close friend William Godwin to imagine a world in which men and women might reject civil marriage and join themselves together instead in what Mary Wollstonecraft, in her review of the work, described as “democratic sentiments.” “Of all the regulations which were ever suggested to the mistaken tyranny of selfishness,” Holcroft wrote, “none perhaps to this day have surpassed the despotism of those which undertake to bind not only body to body but soul to soul, to all futurity, in despite of every possible change which our vices and our virtues might effect, or however numerous the secret corporal or mental imperfections might prove which a more intimate acquaintance should bring to light!” Although Holcroft’s arguments opened him to charges of libertinism, the testimonies of his many mixed-sex friends and acquaintances make clear that he was ultimately interested in promoting human happiness. As Wollstonecraft observed, summing up Anna St. Ives, “Some of the characters are rather over-charged, but the moral is assuredly a good one. It is calculated to strengthen despairing virtue, to give fresh energy to the cause of humanity, to repress the pride and insolence of birth, and to shew [sic] that true nobility which can alone proceed from the head and the heart, claims genius and virtue for its armorial bearings, and possessed of these, despises all the foppery of either ancient or modern heraldry.” A l e xa n d e r J a r d i n e . The Scottish army officer and foreign intelligence agent Alexander Jardine (1739?–99) developed feminist views during his travels through Europe and North Africa during the 1770s and 1780s, where he encountered women

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Appendix in a range of unconventional social roles. In his Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal, & C., published in 1788, Jardine—a close friend of the philosopher William Godwin—expressed his wish that women “may go on to rise to that equality with men in natural rights,” paving the way for the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman four years later. “The talents or abilities of the sexes are probably nearly equal, when equally cultivated,” he observed. “[Or], if some mental constitutional differences exist, these are not greater than between individuals of the same sex, and not beyond the power of habit and education to assimilate and equalize.” Jardine further elaborated this position in his edition of An Essay on Civil Government, or Society Restored, translated from the Italian of Antonio Borghesi in 1793, in which he argued for coeducation and marriage reform. In her preface to An Appeal to the Men of Great Britain in Behalf of Women, published in 1798, Mary Hays would cite the work of both Jardine and Wollstonecraft in explaining why she had waited so long to publish her own views on the subject. Hays’s pairing of these two figures in her preface suggests that Jardine’s argument in support of women’s rights attracted considerable notice during the 1790s. J o s e p h J o h n s o n .  Joseph Johnson (1738–1809), bookseller and editor of the Analytical Review, was a man revered for his generosity and open-mindedness. As William Godwin observed in his obituary of Johnson, which appeared in the Morning Chronicle in December 1809, “He was always found an advocate on the side of human nature and human virtues, recommending that line of conduct which springs from disinterestedness and a liberal feeling, and maintaining the practicability of such conduct.” This commitment to promoting “human virtues” translated into direct support not only of the antislavery campaign, American independence, the French Revolution, freedom of speech, and the expansion of the electorate and the campaign to repeal the Test and Corporation acts but also of women’s rights—a cause that he supported more through deeds than through words. Throughout his lengthy career, Johnson expressed a willingness to publish some of the most progressive texts by women and about women, including Thomas Cooper’s 1792 Reply to Mr. Burke’s Invective, Mary Hays’s 1798 Appeal to the Men of Great Britain in Behalf of Women, and Priscilla Wakefield’s 1798 Reflections on the Present Condition of the Female Sex; with Suggestions for it’s [sic] Improvement. It was Johnson’s support of Mary Wollstonecraft, however, which gives us our clearest indication that he championed women’s rights. When Wollstonecraft first met Johnson in 1786, she was just beginning to connect Rational Dissenting concerns to feminist lines of inquiry. Johnson encouraged those tendencies by agreeing to publish her first book, Thoughts on the Education of Daughters, commissioning her to write pieces for the Analytical Review and ensuring that the financially unstable Wollstonecraft always had enough money to live on. Later, Johnson urged Wollstonecraft to write both the 1791 Vindication of the Rights of Men and the 1792 Vindication of the Rights of Woman after she became furious at what she took to be the specious claims made by Edmund Burke in his 1790 Reflections on the Revolution in France. J o h n G a l e J o n e s .  John Gale Jones (1769–1838), a gifted politician and surgeon, was one of the most extreme members of the London Corresponding Society. He experienced imprisonment on multiple occasions—once in 1796 for holding a large assembly at the Bell Public House in Birmingham, a clear violation of the



Late-Eighteenth-Century “Champions of the Fair Sex”

Seditious Meetings Act. Jones’s extremism made him perhaps more sympathetic to prowoman positions than many of his other male colleagues. At the Westminster Forum, of which Jones was an active member during the 1790s, participants debated such topics as: “Would it not be advantageous to the liberty and happiness of the world, that Woman should equally partake [of] all the Rights and Privileges of Man?” In 1796, Jones published his Sketch of a Political Tour through Rochester, Chatham, Maidstone, Gravesend, & C., in which he chronicled his travels to various corresponding societies across Britain, citing in particular an exchange with a radical woman in Chatham. This “Lady,” he noted, “was a disciple of equality, and had studied Mrs. Wolstonecroft’s [sic] Rights of Women.” She succeeded in convincing Jones that “a female legislature . . . would never have passed those horrid Convention Bills, or abrogated the dear prerogative of speech!” As Jones explains in his Sketch, “There was nothing, she thought, to which women were not competent, and she strongly censured our sex, for first depriving them of every source of intelligence, and then reproaching them for their levity and indiscretion! She had truth and reason on her side; I, therefore, heartily concurred in the justice of her remarks.” Jones was one of a limited group to endorse women’s political rights during this period, although fellow supporters included Thomas Spence and William Hodgson, also London Corresponding Society members. Jones continued to be engaged in radical reform right through the first decades of the nineteenth century, by helping to establish the British Forum (a progressive debating club) in 1806, and by delivering speeches on behalf of the prowoman politician Henry Hunt. “[A] bold, aspiring, and independent character like that of Mr. Hunt,” Jones observed in a speech delivered June 1, 1818, “alone is calculated, like another Hercules, to wield the massy club of Reform against the hydra-headed giant of Corruption, and stem the overwhelming torrent that threatens to destroy this devoted land.” J a m e s H e n ry L a w r e n c e .  Born in Jamaica, educated at Eton and in Germany, James Henry Lawrence (1773–1840) was an enthusiastic advocate of “Nairism”—the radical idea, loosely modeled on the cultural practices of the Nairs of southwest India, that all societies should ban marriage, encourage casual sexual relationships, and replace the patriarchal family with a matrilineal system of inheritance. In several essays, novels, songs, and poems, including his most famous “utopian romance,” The Empire of the Nairs, or The Rights of Women (published in German in 1800 and translated with some modifications into English by the author in 1811), Lawrence waxed philosophic on the benefits of Nairism, celebrating its promotion of love, truth, and equality between men and women. Lawrence described himself as a disciple of Mary Wollstonecraft. Even so, his arguments were not always clearly in line with Wollstonecraft’s reasoning. In attacking prevailing attitudes toward marriage, education, property, and morality, Lawrence was perhaps more interested in liberating men than in liberating women. What Lawrence hoped to achieve, in implementing the Nair system, was a nation in which men—lacking both wife and children—could commit themselves to “masculine” pursuits. “What a race of politicians, generals, and philosophers, might be expected in a nation where every lofty goal were unimpeded, by the care of providing for its offspring, from following any grand object in contemplation!” Lawrence ecstatically noted in his “An Essay on the Nair System of Gallantry and Inheritance.” “This consideration has detained the field; has deadened the curiosity of the philosophers, and stopped the voice of

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Appendix the patriot.” The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley read Lawrence’s Empire of the Nairs with great interest. B e n ja m i n H e a t h M a l k i n . Attorney, headmaster, and historian Benjamin Heath Malkin (1769–1842) was born in London and trained at Harrow School and Trinity College, Cambridge, from which he received his B.A. in 1792. A close friend of the artist William Blake, Malkin presented a scathing indictment of gallantry in his 1795 Essays on Subjects Connected with Civilization. “We have at length descended from the altitude of Gothic politeness,” Malkin wrote “but the ritual of modern fashion, with all the ceremonies of adoration by which women are to be approached, is borrowed from the great original appointed by our ancestors, and though modified, retains the spirit of the primary institution.” He fiercely objected to a system that placed women on a pedestal, while at the same time refusing to acknowledge them as rational beings. To that end, Malkin heaped considerable praise on Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman for shining light on those prejudices “which have prevailed to the exclusion of half our species from the common rights of humanity, and the unfettered exercise of reason.” At the same time, however, Malkin believed that Wollstonecraft had run into “extravagance” in her claims for coeducation, because, as he explained, “the different formation of the body, the difference of strength and constitution in the sexes prove that they are not destined to the same employments; as domestic duties are the province of the ones, and the cares of the world are consigned to the other, the virtues to be cultivated by each must be different, though relatively connected, and reason must be exercised in different directions.” In later years, Malkin would find success as an instructor. From 1809 to 1828, he served as headmaster of the grammar school at Bury St. Edmunds. In 1830, he became a professor of history at the University of London. T h o m a s S ta r l i n g N o r g a t e . The progressive writer Thomas Starling Norgate (1772–1859), a disciple of William Enfield, came from a family of Norwich radicals; his father, the surgeon Elias Norgate, was a Unitarian Dissenter and Whig who was very active in local politics during the 1770s and 1780s. As one of the leading essayists for the Cabinet, a prodemocratic publication printed in Norwich by John March from 1794–95, Thomas Starling Norgate provided a sustained argument in support of women’s rights. In a two-part essay aptly entitled “On the Rights of Woman,” he emphatically insisted that “the mind knows no difference of sex,” and proceeded to explain why it was necessary to provide women with an equal education, as well as legal and political rights. “It has been urged by the tyrannical opposers of female rights,” Norgate wrote, “that women have occupations of a domestic kind, in which they are much better employed than in exercising any political office, or in wielding a massy argument in favour of any political hypothesis; it is true that they have domestic occupation; but . . . what man is there disengaged from domestic concerns? We all, whether male or female, have a part, and none, whether male or female, have the whole of our time so necessarily employed as not to admit leisure for investigating a subject of such paramount importance to everyone, as that of politics.” In older age, Norgate would revise some of his more extremist feminist beliefs—chalking them up to the radicalism of his youth—although he continued to insist that many of the more “sober hints” were still “worthy of attention.”



Late-Eighteenth-Century “Champions of the Fair Sex”

G e o r g e P h i l i p s . The prominent Manchester textile manufacturer and politician George Philips (1766–1847), born into a large merchant family, briefly entertained some of the most forward-thinking positions on female citizenship. Influenced by his friend Thomas Cooper, a fellow member of both the Manchester Constitutional and Literary and Philosophical societies, Philips—like Cooper— came to believe that reformers needed to address the rights of women. In his 1793 The Necessity of a Speedy and Effectual Reform in Parliament, Philips acknowledged in a footnote that the suffrage ought to be extended to members of both sexes. “I make no exception of women either single, or married,” he explained. “They are as well entitled as men are to vote for representatives, and have an equal interest in the government of a country.” Perhaps even more daringly, Philips observed in this same footnote that men and women alike were subject to “undue influence,” and that there was therefore no reason to bar women from voting on these grounds. After the publication of the Necessity, however, Philips faced intense opposition from the local press for his endorsement of female citizenship. As a result, he decided to retract his position. Philips explained in his unpublished Memoirs, written in 1845, that he had felt he had no choice but to chalk his beliefs up to the “foolish rashness of a young man.” In later life Philips became a distinguished Whig politician and passionate supporter of free trade, representing several different constituencies in Parliament from 1812 to 1834. W i l l i a m S h e p h e r d . The Unitarian minister and political reformer William Shepherd (1768–1847) was born in Liverpool to a Dissenting family. After his father’s untimely death, William and his mother were taken in by his uncle, Tatlock Mather, minister at a Unitarian congregation at Rainford. Under his uncle’s supervision, Shepherd received an education at the Dissenting Academies at Daventry and New College, Hackney. According to a fellow student, Shepherd’s training at Daventry and Hackney transformed him into an “energetic champion of civil and religious liberty.” After completing his studies in 1790, Shepherd was hired as a tutor to a Dissenting family in Liverpool. At that same time, Shepherd became a friend of the writer and progressive thinker William Roscoe, an associate of Mary Wollstonecraft. In 1791, Shepherd was appointed minister of the Unitarian chapel at Gateacre, and shortly thereafter married Frances Nicholson. The couple’s extensive correspondence provides a window into Shepherd’s prowoman views. The two debated everything with each other from the different national customs regarding women to the possibility of a husband’s changing his last name to that of his wife. In one letter, written in 1792, Shepherd expressed his disgust at a “set of male creatures” whom he had recently dined with who “had never looked into her [Wollstonecraft’s] book, and who indeed could not have understood it if they had.” Shepherd’s endorsement of Wollstonecraft’s positions seems to have extended to politics as well. According to historian Raymond V. Holt, Shepherd endorsed female suffrage in 1794. By 1832, however, Shepherd had apparently retreated from that position. As he acknowledged in a speech given in Liverpool shortly after the passage of the Reform Act, “I have lived to witness three important triumphs of our cause—the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, Catholic Emancipation, and Parliamentary Reform—My mission, then, seems to be at an end.”

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Appendix T h o m a s S p e n c e . The radical Paineite bookseller, London Corresponding Society member, and utopian land reformer Thomas Spence (1750–1814) helped imagine a greater role for women in society and politics. In his 1797 The Rights of Infants, Spence suggested that women would be better politicians than men, as women were more fiercely committed to providing their offspring with promising futures. On those grounds, Spence argued that women made for the ideal social activists. It was perhaps this consideration that prompted Spence to promise that in “Spensonia,” a utopian community in which all people would have an equal claim to the land, women would vote alongside men. As Spence explained in his Constitution of Spensonia, most likely published in 1803, “Female Citizens have the same right of suffrage in their respective parishes as the men: because they have equal property in the country, and are equally subject to the laws, and, indeed, they are in every respect, as well on their own account, as on account of their children, as deeply, and in fact more interested in every public transaction.” Spence was arrested on numerous occasions for his incendiary publications, most famously after writing and distributing The Restorer of Society to Its Natural State in 1801. After Spence’s death in 1814, his followers formed the Society of Spencean Philanthropists, which remained active in political reform through the first decades of the nineteenth century. R i c h a r d W r i g h t . The Unitarian minister Richard Wright (1764–1836) experimented in his youth with a number of different faiths. As a teenager, he became a devout Calvinist, only soon to convert to Arminianism, Calvinism, Baxterianism, and Wesleyan Methodism, before finally settling on Unitarianism. Once committed to Unitarianism, however, Wright demonstrated a remarkable enthusiasm for propagating its central tenets, particularly as they applied to women. Rejecting the idea of original sin (on which he published an essay in 1815) and embracing in its place the idea of human perfectibility, Wright wrote a series of “Letters on Women” to the Universalist’s Miscellany, edited by William Vidler, from 1799 to 1801 in which he aimed to convince his readers that God had intended men and women as intellectual equals. “Woman,” he wrote in his first letter, “who was formed to be the counterpart to man, to share in all his sentiments, virtues, and enjoyments, has been strangely degraded in all parts of the world; and by such degradation deprived of that mental improvement which she might otherwise have attained, and rendered incapable of that usefulness in society of which she might otherwise have been.” In addition to preaching and writing, Wright was also involved in the establishment of a Female Benefit Society in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, as well as of a society designed to supply needy women with linens “necessary for the bed, the woman and the child, during the first month after delivery.” Wright was also an active member of the Wisbech Scientific Society, and from 1806, a missionary in the Unitarian Fund.

Notes

Introduction 1. Thomas Starling Norgate, “On the Rights of Woman,” in The Cabinet, 3 vols. (Norwich: J. March, 1795), Vol. I, p. 184. 2. Thomas Amyot to William Pattisson, February 18, 1795, reprinted in Penelope Corfield and Chris Evans, eds., Youth and Revolution in the 1790s (Phoenix Mill: Alan Sutton Publishing, 1996), p. 120. 3. Thomas Amyot to William Pattisson, February 18, 1795, reprinted in Youth and Revolution in the 1790s, p. 120. Emphasis Amyot’s. 4. Throughout this book I will be using the term “champions of the fair sex” to describe those men who, first and foremost, went on record as supporters of women’s equal rights (understood in various and sometimes competing ways) in late-eighteenth-century Britain. I will, however, also include within this category those men who “championed” women’s rights in more indirect but no less significant ways, either by attempting to translate women’s rights arguments into egalitarian proposals, programs, and policies, or by helping to disseminate and defend texts promoting women’s rights. 5. There are many ways to define modern feminism (or, as might be more accurate, feminisms), and no definition will necessarily satisfy all of my readers. The term “feminism” itself, after all, was introduced into the English language only in the late nineteenth century, and from the beginning it was used to denote a range of theories and practices. Nevertheless, I have chosen to stress the rights-based dimension of modern feminism because it was precisely this emphasis on “rights” that distinguished the discourse on women that emerged in the late eighteenth century, and that has remained with us ever since, from earlier conversations about women’s nature, abilities, and status. In this respect, I take my cue from Barbara Caine, who makes a compelling case in English Feminism, 1780–1980 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 4, for “rights” as forming the “core of modern feminism.” For an extended discussion of the history of the term “feminism,” see Estelle B. Freedman, No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women (London: Profile

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Notes to the Introduction Books, 2002), pp. 3–6. For an analysis of the development of feminism during the modern period, both in Britain and elsewhere in Continental Europe and America, see Karen Offen, European Feminisms, 1700–1950: A Political History (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000); and Jane Rendall, The Origins of Modern Feminism: Women in Britain, France and the United States, 1780–1860 (Chicago: Lyceum Books, 1985); as well as Barbara Caine, English Feminism. The factors that contributed to the elaboration of rights-based feminism in late-eighteenth-century Britain (and elsewhere) will be explored at length in the following chapter. 6. See Claire Tomalin, The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974), p. 257. The tendency to depict Mary Wollstonecraft as a lonely pioneer has a long history, one that reaches back into the late nineteenth century, with the publication of Elizabeth Robins Pennell’s 1884 Life of Mary Wollstonecraft and the History of Woman Suffrage, edited by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage and published in three volumes between the years 1881 and 1886. By 1937, in fact, George R. Preedy could remark that Wollstonecraft’s Vindication “has often been quoted as the forerunner of the ‘freedom’ of women that took place during the nineteenth century, at least in Great Britain, and Mary Wollstonecraft herself has been acclaimed as a prophetess of the emancipation of her sex, and as one who did much to smooth the way for subsequent female triumphs.” See George R. Preedy, This Shining Woman: Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, 1759–1797 (London: Collins, 1937), p. 9. 7. For a discussion of the hagiographic impulse in treatments of Mary Wollstonecraft, see Barbara Taylor, “Mother Haters and Other Rebels,” London Review of Books 24, no. 1 (January 3, 2002). 8. See Barbara Taylor, Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination (Cambridge­: Cambridge University Press, 2003). On Rational Dissent, see Knud Haakonssen, “Enlightened Dissent: An Introduction,” in Enlightenment and Religion: Rational Dissent in Eighteenth-Century Britain, ed. Knud Haakonssen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), p. 4. A fuller discussion of Rational Dissent will follow in Chapter One. 9. For illuminating examples of this new scholarship, see the essay collection Women, Gender and Enlightenment, ed. Sarah Knott and Barbara Taylor (New York: Palgrave, 2005), esp. Gina Luria Walker, “Mary Hays (1759–1843): An Enlightened Quest,” pp. 493–518; Felicia Gordon, “Filles publiques or Public Women: The Actress as Citizen: Marie Madeleine Jodin (1741–1790) and Mary Darby Robinson (1758– 1800),” pp. 610–629; and Daniel E. White, “‘With Mrs. Barbauld It Is Different’: Dissenting Heritage and the Devotional Taste,” pp. 474–492. 10. See Anne Stott’s provocative Hannah More: The First Victorian (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003). 11. In this respect, the literature on men’s involvement in late-eighteenth-century British feminism is markedly different from that covering the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, wherein scholars have already begun to flesh out some of the important connections between men, feminism, and radicalism. See, for example, M. L. Bush, What Is Love? Richard Carlile’s Philosophy of Sex (London: Verso, 1998); Clare Eustance and Angela John, eds., The Men’s Share? Masculinities, Male Support and Women’s Suffrage in Great Britain (New York: Routledge, 1997); Jane Rendall, “John Stuart Mill, Liberal Politics, and the Movements for Women’s Suf-



Notes to the Introduction

frage, 1865–1873,” in Women, Privilege, and Power: British Politics 1750 to the Present, ed. Amanda Vickery (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), pp. 168–200; and Barbara Taylor, Eve and the New Jerusalem (New York: Pantheon, 1983). 12. Jane Rendall, The Origins of Modern Feminism, pp. 33, 1. Within the British context, Rendall was thinking in particular of the Jacobin novelists Robert Bage and Thomas Holcroft, and the Utopian novelist and essayist James Henry Lawrence. See also Alice Browne, The Eighteenth-Century Feminist Mind (Brighton, Sussex: Harvester Press, 1987), which touches on the feminist activities of some British men, including Alexander Jardine, Thomas Holcroft, Martin Madan, and Edward Christian. 13. On men’s support for women’s rights in late-eighteenth-century Britain, esp. women’s political rights, see Anna Clark and Sarah Richardson, “General Introduction” to History of Suffrage, 1760–1867, ed. Sarah Richardson (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2000), p. xxii; and Kathryn Gleadle, “British Women and Radical Politics in the Late Nonconformist Enlightenment, c. 1780–1830,” in Women, Privilege, and Power, esp. pp. 129–30. Clark and Richardson single out, though do not elaborate on, the efforts of George Philips, Thomas Cooper, and Thomas Spence. Gleadle cites the activities of Thomas Beddoes, John Jebb, William Shepherd, Thomas Holcroft, and John Gale Jones. On British men’s support for female feminists, esp. Wollstonecraft and Hays, see Barbara Taylor, Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination; and Gina Luria Walker, Mary Hays (1759–1843): The Growth of a Woman’s Mind (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006). This trend has not been confined to Britain. Historians of French, German, and American feminism have also begun to focus heightened attention on men’s participation in the early women’s rights conversation. See, for example, Karen Offen, European Feminisms, which discusses the feminist activities not just of the Marquis de Condorcet in France but also of Theodor Gottlieb von Hippel in Prussia and Thomas Thorild in Sweden, among others. 14. On the Rational Dissenting contribution, see Kathryn Gleadle, The Early Feminists: Radical Unitarians and the Emergence of the Women’s Rights Movement, 1831–1851 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995); and Ruth Watts, Gender, Power and the Unitarians in England 1760–1860 (London: Longman, 1998). Gleadle and Watts both cite the important role of Rational Dissenting and Unitarian men in promoting sexual egalitarianism. On the significance of stadial theory, see Sylvana Tomaselli, “The Enlightenment Debate on Women,” History Workshop Journal 20 (Autumn 1985): 101–24, and, more recently, “Civilisation, Gender and Enlightened Histories of Woman,” in Women, Gender and Enlightenment, pp. 117–35; Mary Catherine Moran, “Between the Savage and the Civil: Dr. John Gregory’s Natural History of Femininity,” also in Women, Gender and Enlightenment, pp. 8–29; and Karen O’Brien, Women and Enlightenment in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), esp. Chapter Two, pp. 68–109. Whether or not stadial or conjectural histories actually promoted sexual egalitarianism is open to debate. Certainly, women played a central role in stadial narratives, but they were not necessarily assigned much authority. As Jane Rendall has recently pointed out: “If women were agents of civilization, it was as passive conduits of sentiment and refinement.” See Jane Rendall, “Women and the Enlightenment, c. 1690–1800,” in Women’s History: Britain, 1700–1850, ed. Elaine Chalus (New York: Routledge, 2005), p. 22.

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Notes to the Introduction 15. E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (London: Victor Gollancz, 1980 [1963]), p. 162. 16. For Godwin’s feminism, see William St. Clair, The Godwins and the Shelleys (London: Faber and Faber, 1989). For Blake, see Helen Bruder, William Blake and the Daughters of Albion (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997); and Jon Mee, Dangerous Enthusiasm: William Blake and the Culture of Radicalism in the 1790s (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992). For Spence, see Anna Clark, The Struggle for the Breeches (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995). Clark also acknowledges the feminist activities of political reformers Thomas Cooper and William Hodgson. 17. For John Jebb, see Anthony Page, John Jebb and the Enlightenment Origins of British Radicalism (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003), esp. pp. 221–25. For Joseph Johnson, see Helen Braithwaite, Romanticism, Publishing and Dissent: Joseph Johnson and the Cause of Liberty (New York: Palgrave, 2003), p. 39. For Jeremy Bentham, see Lea Campos Boralevi, Bentham and the Oppressed (New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1984); and Annie L. Cot, “‘Let There Be No Distinction between the Sexes’: Jeremy Bentham on the Status of Women,” in The Status of Women in Classical Economic Thought, ed. Robert William Dimand and Chris Nyland (Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2003). 18. To date, no book has attempted to provide a comprehensive and historically sensitive account of men’s engagement with feminism in late-eighteenth-century Britain. In fact, the only book that directly engages with this subject (albeit from a much broader chronological and geographical perspective), Sylvia Strauss’s “Traitors to the Masculine Cause”: The Men’s Campaigns for Women’s Rights (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1982), offers insufficient contextualization and treatment of the few British figures she identifies. 19. See Helen Bruder, William Blake and the Daughters of Albion, p. 122. Bruder is not exceptional in her skeptical stance toward those men who explored the subject of women’s rights in its nascent stages. For another trenchant example, see Anna Clark, The Struggle for the Breeches, esp. pp. 146, 149. Barbara Caine also adopts such an approach in her English Feminism, where she calls attention to men’s personal reasons for promoting feminist causes, although her emphasis is primarily on nineteenth-century male reformers. While such skepticism is certainly warranted—men could have done more and adopted different strategies, and were, on occasion, motivated primarily by self-interest—this focus obscures the seriousness, and serious approaches, of the many men who embraced women’s rights as part of a broader late-Enlightenment reformist program. 20. See John Henry Colls, “A Poetic Epistle, Addressed to Mrs. Wollstonecraft; Occasioned by reading her celebrated essay on the Rights of Woman, and her Historical and Moral View of the French Revolution,” in Poems (Norwich: J. Payne, 1803?), pp. 25–27. 21. See Alexander Jardine, Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal, & C., 2 vols. (London: T. Cadell, 1788), Vol. I, pp. 321–23. See esp. his remarks on p. 322, in which he faults clothing for creating a “violent and ridiculous difference of appearance between the sexes, as if they were animals of a different species.” 22. William Enfield, “Review of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” Monthly Review 8 (June 1792): 209. Enfield himself was likely working in this spirit when he decided, playfully, to use the pseudonym “Homo” in



Notes to the Introduction and Chapter 1

the essays he wrote for the Norwich Cabinet. See Penelope Corfield, “Contributors to The Cabinet Vols. 1–3,” in Youth and Revolution. 23. For a fuller discussion of the chivalric model of masculinity, see esp. Michèle Cohen, “‘Manners’ Make the Man: Politeness, Chivalry, and the Construction of Masculinity, 1750–1830,” Journal of British Studies 44 (April 2005): 312–29; as well as Michèle Cohen, Fashioning Masculinities: National Identity and Language in the Eighteenth Century (New York: Routledge, 1996); Michèle Cohen and Tim Hitchcock, “Introduction,” in English Masculinities, 1660–1800, ed. Michèle Cohen and Tim Hitchcock (London: Longman, 1999); and Barbara Taylor, “Feminists versus Gallants: Manners and Morals in Enlightenment Britain,” in Women, Gender and Enlightenment, pp. 30–52. Of course, as Karen Harvey and Alexandra Shepard stress in their insightful essay “What Have Historians Done with Masculinity? Reflections on Five Centuries of British History, circa 1500–1950,” Journal of British Studies 44 (April 2005): 278, even the most “hegemonic codes” of masculinity are “elastic.” 24. See Benjamin Heath Malkin, Essays on Subjects Connected with Civilization (London: C. Dilly, 1795), pp. 259–60. 25. That the “champions of the fair sex” rejected the chivalric model, however, does not mean that they were entirely able to escape its grasp. The very act of “championing,” after all, suggests chivalric behavior. In his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 2 vols. (London: 1789), Vol. II, p. 401, Edward Gibbon even describes the knight—the embodiment of chivalry—as the “champion of God and the ladies.” I will return to this subject in subsequent chapters. 26. William Hodgson, Proposals for publishing by Subscription, a treatise called the Female Citizen, or a historical . . . enquiry into the rights of women (London: 1796). Emphasis Hodgson’s. 27. On the late British Enlightenment, see Roy Porter, The Creation of the Modern World: The Untold Story of the British Enlightenment (New York: Norton, 2000), p. 423. 28. I borrow the terms “instrumentalist” and “egalitarian” from Alice Browne. See Alice Browne, The Eighteenth-Century Feminist Mind, p. 6. 29. John Anderson, Extracts from the Latter Will and Codicil of Professor John Anderson (Glasgow: W. Reid and Co., 1796), pp. 16–17. 30. See Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (London: J. Johnson, 1792), p. 335: “[W]omen ought to have representatives, instead of being arbitrarily governed without having any direct share allowed them in the deliberations of government.” 31. Thomas Starling Norgate, Hora Otiosa, Norfolk Record Office, MC 175/3, p. 81. 32. William Thompson, Appeal of One Half the Human Race, Women, Against the Pretensions of the Other Half, Men, to Retain Them in Political, and Thence in Civil and Domestic Slavery (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, 1825).

Chapter 1 1. William Enfield, A Sermon on the Centennial Commemoration of the Revolution, Preached at Norwich, November 5, 1788 (London: J. Johnson, 1788), p. 17. 2. William Enfield, A Sermon on the Centennial Commemoration of the Revolution, p. 16.

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Notes to Chapter 1 3. See Timothy Morton and Nigel Smith, eds., Radicalism in British Literary Culture, 1650–1830: From Revolution to Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 1. 4. Roy Porter, The Creation of the Modern World: The Untold Story of the British Enlightenment (New York: Norton, 2000), p. xxiv. 5. For an extensive discussion of the conditions “crucial to British radicalization,” see Roy Porter, The Creation of the Modern World, pp. 397–423. 6. Marquis de Condorcet, “Reflections on the English Revolution 1688, and that of the 10th of August, 1792,” reprinted in A Narrative of the Proceedings relating to the Suspension of the King of the French on the 10th of August, 1792 (Manchester: M. Falkner, 1792), pp. 37–38. There exists a vast literature on the British response to the French Revolution. For two broad assessments, see Seamus Deane, The French Revolution and Enlightenment in England, 1789–1832 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988); and Albert Goodwin, The Friends of Liberty: The English Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution (London: Hutchinson and Co., 1979). 7. Richard Price, A Discourse on the Love of our Country, delivered on November 4, 1789, at the meeting-house in the Old Jewry, to the Society for commemorating the Revolution in Great Britain (London: T. Cadell, 1789), p. 35. 8. Thomas Paine, Rights of Man: being an answer to Mr. Burke’s attack on the French revolution (London: J. S. Jordan, 1791), p. 9. 9. Ibid., p. 82. 10. Ann J. Hone describes the commitment to “perfectibility” as a “nearly universal radical belief.” See Ann J. Hone, For the Cause of Truth: Radicalism in London 1796–1820 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982), p. 2. 11. For an extended discussion of Godwin’s perfectionist stance, see Mark Philp, Godwin’s Political Justice (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986), esp. pp. 89–96. 12. Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, p. 82. 13. See Mark Philp, “Rational Religion and Political Radicalism in the 1790s,” Enlightenment and Dissent 4 (1985): 35–46, esp. pp. 43–44. 14. Of course, there were more overtly revolutionary dimensions to some radicals’ plans—beyond those of Thomas Paine. The London Corresponding Society activist and agrarian reformer Thomas Spence, for example, hoped to create a “Spensonia.” London Corresponding Society activist William Hodgson intended to establish a “commonwealth of reason.” Other radicals, such as William Godwin, idealized an anarchic state. For the most part, though, British radicals aspired to “perfect” the present system, rather than to reinvent it. For more on the utopian dimension of radicals’ thought, see Utopias of the British Enlightenment, ed. Gregory Claeys (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994). 15. As Mark Philp stresses, “[We] need to see radicalism not simply as an ideology—i.e. as a set of abstract beliefs—but, much more crucially, as a social phenomenon.” See Mark Philp, “Rational Religion and Political Radicalism in the 1790s,” p. 41. See also Mark Philp, Godwin’s Political Justice, p. 127, wherein he elaborates on this point: “These men and women were not the isolated heroes and heroines of Romanticism pursuing a lonely course of discovery; they were people who worked out their ideas in company and who articulated the aspirations and fears of their social group.”



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16. Memoirs of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester, 6 vols. (Warrington: W. Eyres, 1785–), Vol. I, p. vii. For background on the Society, see Donal Sheehan, “The Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society,” Isis, 33, no. 4 (1941): 519–23. 17. See London Corresponding Society, The London Corresponding Society’s addresses and resolutions (London: 1792), p. 4. 18. See Alexander Jardine, “List of people who ought to see one another frequently, and from (w)hom might be formed a Select Club,” Bodleian Library, Abinger Collection, Dep.c.532/4. 19. “To the Public,” Analytical Review 1 (May–August, 1788): v. 20. See “Preface” to The Cabinet, 3 vols. (Norwich: J. March, 1795), Vol. I, p. iv. 21. See John Barrell, Imagining the King’s Death: Figurative Treason, Fantasies of Regicide, 1793–1796 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000) for a detailed discussion of the fears surrounding regicide. 22. Proceedings of the Association, no. 1, p. 5, as cited in Austin Mitchell, “The Association Movement of 1792–3,” Historical Journal 4, no. 1 (1961): 58. 23. See Chris Evans, Debating the Revolution: Britain in the 1790s (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), p. 20. 24. For more on “Pitt’s Terror,” see John Barrell, The Spirit of Despotism: Invasions of Privacy in the 1790s (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006); and John Barrell and Jon Mee, eds., Trials for Treason and Sedition, 1792–1794 (Brookfield, VT: Pickering and Chatto, 2006). 25. George Philips, The Necessity of a Speedy and Effectual Reform in Parliament (Manchester: M. Falkner, 1793), p. 59. 26. As Barbara Taylor explains in Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 149, radicalism “was a rich brew of disparate political traditions and aspirations.” See also Mark Philp, “The Fragmented Ideology of Reform,” in The French Revolution and British Popular Politics, ed. Mark Philp (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 50–77; and J. G. A. Pocock, “Varieties of Whiggism from Exclusion to Reform: A History of Ideology and Discourse,” in Virtue, Commerce and History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 215–310. 27. See G. M. Ditchfield, “The Parliamentary Struggle over the Repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, 1787–1790,” English Historical Review 89, no. 352 (July 1974): 551–77, for a more detailed discussion of the campaign to repeal the acts. 28. Thomas Cooper, “At a meeting of Deputies from the Congregations of Protestant Dissenters, in the Counties of Lancaster and Chester, held at the Red Lion Inn, in Warrington, on Thursday the fourth Day of February 1790,” The John Rylands University Library, William Wood Test Act Material, A21, f 81. Emphasis Cooper’s. 29. Chris Evans, Debating the Revolution: Britain in the 1790s, p. 46. 30. Alexander Geddes, An Apology for Slavery (London: J. Johnson, 1792), p. 4. 31. Thomas Spence, The Important Trial of Thomas Spence (London: T. Spence, 1803), p. 59, cited in Joan C. Beal, English Pronunciation in the Eighteenth Century: Thomas Spence’s Grand Repository of the English Language (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999), p. 8.

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Notes to Chapter 1 32. Rachel Weil, Political Passions: Gender, the Family and Political Argument in England, 1680–1714 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999), p. 122. 33. In this sense, Whigs were no different from their Tory opponents. See ibid., p. 235: “[T]here was a certain homogenization of whig and tory discourses on gender and the family after the Revolution of 1688. Both groups wanted to associate themselves with the maintenance of hierarchy and order in the family, and to cast their opponents as subverters of that order.” 34. For background on women’s legal status in eighteenth-century Britain, see Gillian Skinner, “Women’s Status as Legal and Civic Subjects: ‘A Worse Condition than Slavery Itself ’?” in Women and Literature in Britain, 1700–1800, ed. Vivien Jones (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 91–110; Amy Louise Erickson, Women and Property in Early Modern England (New York: Routledge, 1995); and Susan Staves, Married Women’s Separate Property in England, 1660–1833 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990). 35. See Tanya Evans, “Women, Marriage and the Family,” in Women’s History: Britain, 1700–1850, ed. Hannah Barker and Elaine Chalus (New York: Routledge, 2005), pp. 57–77. 36. See Elaine Chalus, “Women, Electoral Privilege and Practice in the Eighteenth Century,” in Women in British Politics, 1760–1860: The Power of the Petticoat, ed. Kathryn Gleadle and Sarah Richardson (Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 2000), pp. 19–55; and Kathryn Gleadle, “British Women and Radical Politics in the Late Nonconformist Enlightenment, c. 1780–1830,” in Women, Privilege, and Power: British Politics, 1750 to the Present, ed. Amanda Vickery (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), pp. 123–51. 37. Roy Porter, The Creation of the Modern World, p. 320. 38. Radicalism, writes Barbara Taylor, was “for the most part a staunchly masculine affair.” See Barbara Taylor, Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination, p. 176. 39. See Mark Philp, Godwin’s Political Justice, p. 128: “The rules of debate for this group were simple: no one has a right to go against reason, no one has a right to coerce another’s judgment, and every individual has a right—indeed, a duty—to call to another’s attention his faults and failings. This is a highly democratic discourse, and it is essentially non-individualist: truth progresses through debate and discussion and from each submitting his beliefs and reasoning to the scrutiny of others.” 40. See Gerald Tyson, Joseph Johnson: A Liberal Publisher (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1979), p. 118, for a discussion of Johnson’s dinner parties—the details of which Tyson himself gleaned from Godwin’s diary entries. See also Barbara Taylor, Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination, p. 146. 41. See Annie Wedd, ed., The Love Letters of Mary Hays (London: Methuen and Co., 1925), p. 238. 42. Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (London: J. Johnson, 1792), pp. 92, 335. 43. Ibid., p. 93. 44. See respectively “Introduction” to The Rights of the Devil (Sheffield, 1793) and The Letters of Horace Walpole, ed. Mrs. Paget Toynbee (Oxford: 1905), Vol. XV, pp. 131–32, 337–38. As Regina Janes makes clear, however, Walpole’s primary objec-



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tions were not to A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, which he had not read, but rather to Wollstonecraft’s 1794 Historical and Moral View of the Origin and Progress of the French Revolution, with its irreverent treatment of Marie-Antoinette. See Regina Janes, “On the Reception of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” Journal of the History of Ideas 39, no. 2 (1978): 294. 45. See William Enfield, “Review of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” Monthly Review 8 (June 1792): 208–9. 46. Thomas Holcroft, Anna St. Ives, 7 vols. (London: Shepperson and Reynolds, 1792), Vol. 7, p. 58. 47. Mary Hays, Letters and Essays, Moral and Miscellaneous (London: T. Knott, 1793), pp. v–vi. 48. Benjamin Heath Malkin, Essays on Subjects Connected with Civilization (London: E. Hodson, C. Dilly, 1795), pp. 262–63. 49. Robert Southey, Poems (Bristol: Joseph Cottle, 1797), p. 3. 50. See Barbara Taylor, Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination, p. 178. 51. “Review of William Godwin’s Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” Monthly Review 27 (November 1798): 321. For background on the Monthly Review, see Benjamin Christie Nangle, The Monthly Review, First Series 1749–1789 Index of Contributors and Articles (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1934). For a fuller discussion of the scandal that ensued following the publication of Godwin’s Memoirs, see Anna Clark, Scandal: The Sexual Politics of the British Constitution (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), esp. pp. 135–36. 52. See William Roscoe, “Lines Written by M. Roscoe on Reading Godwin’s Life of Mary Wollstonecraft,” Harris Manchester College, Oxford, MS Shepherd, Vol. XV, f. 11. For another ardent defense of Mary Wollstonecraft following the publication of Godwin’s Memoirs, see the Irish painter and author James Barry’s A Letter to the Dilettanti Society (London, 1799 [2d edition]), first published in 1798 but reissued thereafter. As Barry insists, p. 169, “Her [Wollstonecraft’s] honest heart, so estranged from all selfishness, and which could take so deep and generous an interest in whatever had relation to truth and justice, however remote as to time and place, would find some matter for consolation, in discovering that the ancient nations of the world entertained a very different opinion of female nature, at which her indignation was so justly raised.” For further details on Barry’s response to Wollstonecraft, see N.F. Lowe, “James Barry, Mary Wollstonecraft and 1798,” Eighteenth-Century Ireland 12 (1997): 60–76. 53. By 1800, Hays was still offering praise for Wollstonecraft in her anonymous “Memoirs of Mary Wollstonecraft,” published as part of the Annual Necrology for 1797–8 (London: R. Phillips, 1800). Gina Luria Walker has provocatively suggested that Hays “intended” this piece “as the first entry” for her Female Biography, published in 1803. See Gina Luria Walker, “Pride, Prejudice, Patriarchy: Jane Austen reads Mary Hays,” unpublished paper presented at the Sorbonne, March 2008. For more on Hays’s complex and evolving relationship to her mentor, see Gina Luria Walker, ed., The Idea of Being Free: A Mary Hays Reader (Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 2006), and Gina Luria Walker, Mary Hays (1759–1843): The Growth of a Woman’s Mind (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006).

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Notes to Chapter 1 54. Mary Robinson, Thoughts on the condition of women, and on the injustice of mental subordination (London: T. N. Longman and O. Rees, 1799 [2d ed.]), p. 2. This text was originally published as A Letter to the Women of England, on the Injustice of Mental Subordination under the pen-name Anne Frances Randall. 55. See James Henry Lawrence, The Empire of the Nairs; or, the Rights of Women. An Utopian Romance, in Twelve Books (London: T. Hookham and E. T. Hookham, 1811). The novel was published in German in 1800, and translated into English by the author in 1811. For background on Lawrence’s relationship to Godwin, see William St. Clair, The Godwins and the Shelleys (London: Faber and Faber, 1989), p. 264. 56. For background on Aldis, see his son’s memoirs: Charles Aldis, Biographical Memoirs of Sir Charles Aldis and Dr. Aldis (London: Reynell and Weight, 1852), esp. p. 8. For Aldis’s defense of Wollstonecraft, see Sir Charles Aldis, Defence of the Character and Conduct of the Late Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (London: James Wallis, 1803), esp. p. 148. 57. In this respect, as William St. Clair asserts in The Godwins and the Shelleys, p. 509, “Wollstonecraft’s achievement may . . . have been to unify and reinforce a protest . . . rather than to devise a new philosophy.” 58. Alexander Jardine, Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal, & C., 2 vols. (London: T. Cadell, 1788), Vol. I, p. 310. Ten years later, Mary Hays would cite both Jardine’s Letters and Wollstonecraft’s Vindication as reasons why she had delayed publication of her own Appeal to the Men of Great Britain in Behalf of Women. 59. Calidore, “To Mr. Urban,” Gentleman’s Magazine (March 1788): 224. “Calidore” also published a letter in The Star and Evening Advertiser in January 1789. That letter was posthumously attributed by the journalist John Taylor to Andrew Macdonald (who also wrote under the pseudonym “Matthew Bramble.”) Macdonald was a Spenserian, so it seems likely that he would have chosen “Calidore” as a pseudonym. 60. See Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, p. 342. Wollstonecraft had actually reviewed Jardine’s Letters from Barbary for the Analytical Review. 61. See, respectively, Thomas Starling Norgate, “On the Rights of Woman, Continued,” in The Cabinet, 3 Volumes (Norwich: J. March, 1795), Vol. II, p. 43; and Thomas Cooper, A Reply to Mr. Burke’s Invective Against Mr. Cooper, and Mr. Watt, in the House of Commons, on the 30th of April, 1792 (London: J. Johnson, 1792), pp. 98–99. 62. See Alexander Geddes, trans., The Holy Bible (London: J. Johnson, 1792). Geddes’s project will be explored in greater detail in Chapter Four. 63. See John Gale Jones, Sketch of a Political Tour through Rochester, Chatham, Maidstone, Gravesend, & C., including Reflections on the Tempers and Dispositions of the Inhabitants of Those Places, and on the progress of the societies instituted for the purpose of obtaining a parliamentary reform (London: J. S. Jorand and J. Smith, 1796), p. 91. 64. See both William Hodgson, The Commonwealth of Reason (London: H. D. Symonds et al., 1795), and William Hodgson, Proposal for Publishing by Subscription a treatise, called the Female Citizen, or a Historical . . . Enquiry into the Rights of Women (London, 1796). For additional details on Hodgson’s life and imprisonment, see



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John Barrell, The Spirit of Despotism: Invasions of Privacy in the 1790s, esp. Chapter Two, “Coffee-House Politicians.” Barrell describes Hodgson, p. 86, as “a strong advocate of the political rights of women.” 65. For a detailed discussion of the Hays-Wakefield dispute, see Gina Luria Walker, “Mary Hays (1759–1843): An Enlightened Quest,” in Women, Gender and Enlightenment, ed. Sarah Knott and Barbara Taylor (New York: Palgrave, 2005), pp. 493–518. On pp. 499–500, Walker states, “Chivalrous, sympathetic, conciliatory, Frend wrote to ‘Eusebia’ soon after hearing from Wakefield. In his letter, Frend introduced himself, praised her pamphlet, and appealed to her to continue as peacemaker between sectarian men. . . .” For a more general discussion of Frend’s support of Hays, see Mary Hays, Memoirs of Emma Courtney, ed. Eleanor Ty (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000 [1796]). As Eleanor Ty notes, p. xi, Frend “did encourage Hays as a writer, making marginal comments in late 1792 on the manuscript version of her Letters and Essays, Moral and Miscellaneous, a work influenced by Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). By 1794 Hays and Frend were corresponding with each other, and they met in London frequently in the company of Rational Dissenters and radicals such as Theophilus Lindsey, John Disney, George Dyer, and later, Thomas Holcroft and William Godwin.” 66. See Thomas Spence, The Rights of Infants; or, the Imprescriptable Right of Mothers to Such a Share of the Elements as Is Sufficient to Enable Them to Suckle and Bring Up Their Young, in a Dialogue between the Aristocracy and a Mother of Children. To Which Are Added, by Way of Preface and Appendix, Strictures on Paine’s Agrarian Justice (London: T. Spence, 1797), p. 8. 67. See, for examples, Account of the Proceedings of a Meeting of the London Corresponding Society, Held in a Field Near Copenhagen House, Monday, Oct. 26, 1795; Including the Substance of the Speeches of Citizens Binns, Thelwall, Jones, Hodgson, & C., With the Address to The Nation, and the Remonstrance To The King. And the Resolutions Passed by Upwards of Two Hundred Thousand Citizens, Then and There Assembled (London: Citizen Lee, at the Tree of Liberty, 1795); and, one month later, Account of the Proceedings of a Meeting of the Inhabitants of Westminster, in Palace-Yard, Monday, Nov. 26, 1795. Including the Substances of the Speeches of the Duke of Bedford, Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Fox, & C. With the Petition to the House of Commons (London: Citizen Lee, at the Tree of Liberty, 1795). Both publications contain the following advertisement: “Shortly will be Published, a New Edition of the Rights of Women, by Mrs. Wollstonecraft—Price 6d.” 68. For background on Norwich, see Albert Goodwin, The Friends of Liberty, esp. Chapter Five, “The Origins of Provincial Radicalism, 1790–1792”; C. B. Jewson, The Jacobin City: A Portrait of Norwich in its Reaction to the French Revolution, 1788–1802 (Glasgow and London: Blackie and Son, 1975); and Helen Braithwaite, Romanticism, Publishing and Dissent: Joseph Johnson and the Cause of Liberty (New York: Palgrave, 2003), esp. p. 135. 69. See United Friars of Norwich MS, Norfolk Record Office, COL/9/1COL/9/37. 70. See John Henry Colls, “A Poetic Epistle, Addressed to Mrs. Wollstonecraft; Occasioned by reading her celebrated essay on the Rights of Woman, and her Historical and Moral View of the French Revolution,” in Poems (Norwich: J. Payne, 1803?).

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Notes to Chapter 1 71. See Helen Braithwaite, Romanticism, Publishing and Dissent, p. 77. Braithwaite describes Manchester as the “most active provincial center of anti-slave trade opinion.” 72. George Philips, Memoirs of George Philips of Weston Park, transcript Dr. R. Coope, Warwickshire Record Office, CR 1381, Book 1, p. 73. 73. Thomas Cooper, A Reply to Mr. Burke’s Invective Against Mr. Cooper, and Mr. Watt, in the House of Commons, on the 30th of April, 1792, pp. 98–99. The conservative M.P. Edmund Burke had attacked Cooper for visiting France on behalf of the Manchester Constitutional Society. 74. George Philips, The Necessity of a Speedy and Effectual Reform in Parliament (Manchester: M. Falkner, 1793), pp. 12–13. 75. From 1793, Garnett was a “corresponding member” of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, and delivered two papers there on climatology. See S. G. E. Lythe, Thomas Garnett (1766–1802): Highland Tourist, Scientist and Professor, Medical Doctor (Glasgow: Polpress, 1984), p. 15. At this time, George Philips was a member of the society. Thomas Cooper had been a member of the society, but withdrew from its proceedings in 1791, frustrated by the society’s unwillingness to support Joseph Priestley after his Birmingham home was burned by “Church and King” mobs. 76. There has been a resurgence of interest in the Lunar Society. For a detailed, fresh analysis of the Society, see Jenny Uglow, Lunar Men: Five Friends Whose Curiosity Changed the World (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2002). Roy Porter also includes an extensive discussion of the Society in The Creation of the Modern World: The Untold Story of the British Enlightenment, esp. pp. 428–38. For an older account of the Society, see Robert E. Schofield, The Lunar Society of Birmingham: A Social History of Provincial Science and Industry in Eighteenth-Century England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963). 77. See Thomas Beddoes, Hygeia: or Essays Moral and Medical, on the Causes affecting the Personal State of our Middling and Affluent Classes (Bristol: R. Phillips, 1802); Erasmus Darwin, A Plan for the Conduct of Female Education in Boarding Schools (Derby: J. Drewery for J. Johnson, 1797); and Robert Bage, Hermsprong; or, Man As He Is Not, 3 vols. (London: William Lane, 1796). 78. Robert Bage, Hermsprong, Vol. II, pp. 167, 170. 79. As Mark Philp explains in Godwin’s Political Justice, p. 173, writing of the sociology of radicalism, radicals were participants in “inter-related social groups.” 80. See William Shepherd to Frances Shepherd, July 8, 1797, Harris Manchester College, Oxford, MS Shepherd, Vol. IV, f. 15. 81. See James Gordon Lamb, David Steuart Erskine, 11th. Earl of Buchan: A Study of His Life and Correspondence (D. Phil, St. Andrews, 1963), p. 347. 82. See Albert Goodwin, The Friends of Liberty, p. 152; and Penelope Corfield, “Contributors to the Cabinet, Vols. 1–3,” in Penelope Corfield and Chris Evans, eds., Youth and Revolution in the 1790s (Phoenix Mill: Alan Sutton Publishing, 1996). 83. See George Philips, Memoirs of George Philips of Weston Park, Book 1, p. 37. 84. See Memoirs of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester. 85. Strangely, though, given the surfacing of feminist texts at this same moment in other countries, such as the Marquis de Condorcet’s 1790 pamphlet On the



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Admission of Women to the Rights of Citizenship in France and Theodor Gottlieb von Hippel’s 1792 On Improving the Status of Women in Prussia, men and women in Britain generally did not acknowledge these texts—either because they were unaware of them or, perhaps, because they conceived of “women’s rights” first and foremost as a national problem. 86. George Dyer, Poems (London: J. Johnson, 1800), p. 304. 87. See, respectively, Thomas Starling Norgate, “On the Rights of Women, part first,” in The Cabinet, Vol. I, pp. 182–83; and John Bristed, A Pedestrian Tour Through Part of the Highlands of Scotland, in 1801 (London: J. Wallis, 1803), pp. 373–74. 88. It is likely that Norgate encountered the ideas of both Cooper and Philips through his Norwich friend (and fellow Cabinet essayist) William Enfield. Enfield knew both men through his involvement with the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, as well as through his work for Johnson in London. 89. Sir William Jones, The Principles of Government, ed. Thomas Starling Norgate (Norwich: J. March, 1797, 2d ed), p. 44. Jones, a political activist, orientalist, and judge, had originally written The Principles of Government in 1782, at the Paris home of Benjamin Franklin, to demonstrate to Franklin that a “peasant” was capable of participating in the nation’s political life. The text gained widespread attention when it was circulated for free by the Society for Constitutional Information. See the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry for “Sir William Jones” for additional biographical information. 90. See George Philips’s Memoirs, esp. Book 2, p. 61. 91. Alexander Jardine, Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal, & C., p. 311. 92. See Richard Wright’s series of “Letters on Women,” published in the Universalist’s Miscellany from 1799 to 1801. 93. Charlotte Smith, Desmond, 3 vols. (London: G. G. J and J. Robinson, 1792), Vol. I, p. iv. 94. See Mary Ann Radcliffe, The Female Advocate; or An Attempt to Recover the Rights of Women from Male Usurpation (London: Vernon and Hood, 1799), p. xi; and William Shepherd to Frances Shepherd, 1794, Harris Manchester College, Oxford, Shepherd MS, Vol. IV, f. 11. 95. See George Philips, Memoirs, Book 2, p. 62. 96. David Hume, “Of the Rise and Progress of the Arts and Sciences,” in Essays, Moral and Political (London: A. Millar, 1748 [3d ed]), p. 185. 97. See Mary Louise Roberts, Civilization without Sexes (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), p. 2. 98. Maria Edgeworth, Letters for Literary Ladies (London: 1799 [2d ed]), pp. 88–89. 99. See Anna Barbauld, “The Rights of Woman,” in Selected Poetry and Prose, ed. William McCarthy and Elizabeth Kraft (Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 2002), pp. 130–31. For Barbauld’s positions on slavery and the Test Acts, see her Epistle to William Wilberforce, Esq. On the Rejection of the Bill for Abolishing the Slave Trade (London: J. Johnson, 1791), and An Address to the Opposers of the Repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts (London: J. Johnson, 1790). Daniel E. White offers a nuanced account of Barbauld’s complicated relationship to feminism in “‘With Mrs.

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Notes to Chapter 1 Barbauld It Is Different’: Dissenting Heritage and the Devotional Taste,” in Women, Gender and Enlightenment, pp. 474–92. 100. John Cartwright, An Appeal, on the Subject of the English Constitution (London: J. Johnson, 1797), p. 21. 101. For background on the construction of patriarchy, see Anthony Fletcher, Gender, Sex and Subordination in England 1500–1800 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995), esp. his concluding chapter on “Gender, Patriarchy and Early Modern Society.” 102. Thomas Starling Norgate, “On the Rights of Woman,” in The Cabinet, Vol. I, p. 178. 103. Radicals’ specific engagement with Enlightenment theories will be addressed at greater length in the four ensuing chapters. 104. Benjamin Heath Malkin, Essays on Subjects Connected with Civilization, p. 293. 105. Richard Graves, The Reveries of Solitude (London: G.G. and J. Robinson, 1793), p. 4. 106. Benjamin Heath Malkin, Essays on Subjects Connected with Civilization, p. 271. 107. William Shepherd to Frances Shepherd, December 1792, in A Selection from the Early Letters of the Late Rev. William Shepherd, LL.D., ed. Richard C. Scragg (Liverpool: 1855), p. 74. 108. Alexander Jardine, Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal, & C., Vol. I, p. 333. 109. See Michèle Cohen and Timothy Hitchcock, “Introduction” to English Masculinities, 1660–1800, ed. Michèle Cohen and Timothy Hitchcock (London: Longman, 1999), p. 7. Cohen and Hitchcock explain that “because manliness was a virtue that could be aspired to by both sexes, women could equally be praised for their ‘manly’ characters.” 110. Thomas Holcroft, Anna St. Ives, Vol. VII, p. 259. 111. See Mary Wollstonecraft to Everina Wollstonecraft, November 7, 1797, in Ralph Wardle, ed., Collected Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1979), p. 165; and Mary Hays, “Memoirs of Mary Wollstonecraft,” Annual Necrology, 1797–1798 (1800): 411. 112. William Frend [date unknown], Cambridge University Library, Frend MSS Add. 7886, f. 300. 113. Sir Charles Aldis, Defence, pp. v–vi. 114. Alexander Jardine, Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal, & C., Vol. II, p. 474. 115. Thomas Spence, The Restorer of Society to its Natural State (London: A. Seale, 1801?). 116. A note here is necessary on the distinction between Rational Dissent and Unitarianism. Rational Dissenters were anti-Trinitarians who shared a fundamental belief in the “right to private judgment” and subscribed to a rational approach to questions of faith. Thus, Rational Dissenters were bound less by any particular theological position than by their method. As Timothy Lang explains in The Victorians and the Stuart Heritage: Interpretations of a Discordant Past (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 95, “Since it entailed an approach to theo-



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logical questions rather than a specific body of dogma, Rational Dissent generated a variety of doctrinal positions, including the Arianism of Richard Price, the Socinianism of Joseph Priestley, and even the atheism of William Godwin.” By the 1790s, however, most Rational Dissenters subscribed to Unitarianism, a theology openly disavowing the divinity of Christ, popularized by Joseph Priestley in the last decades of the eighteenth century. For general background on Rational Dissent in the late-eighteenth-century context, see Mark Philp, “Rational Religion and Political Radicalism in the 1790s,” Enlightenment and Dissent 4 (1985); and Knud Haakonssen, “Enlightened Dissent: An Introduction,” in Enlightenment and Religion: Rational Dissent in Eighteenth-Century Britain, ed. Knud Haakonssen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 1–12. 117. For general background on the relationship between Rational Dissent and the late Enlightenment, see again Mark Philp, “Rational Religion and Political Radicalism in the 1790s,” p. 41; and Knud Haakonssen, “Enlightened Dissent: An Introduction,” in Enlightenment and Religion: Rational Dissent in Eighteenth-Century Britain, pp. 1–12. 118. See Kathryn Gleadle, The Early Feminists: Radical Unitarians and the Emergence of the Women’s Rights Movement, 1831–1851 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995). As Gleadle argues, p. 10, “Locke’s materialistic concept of knowledge, together with the theories of Locke’s successor, Hartley, became the intellectual linchpins of Unitarian thought.” 119. See ibid.; Kathryn Gleadle, “British Women and Radical Politics in the Nonconformist Enlightenment, c. 1780–1830,” in Women, Privilege and Power, ed. Amanda Vickery (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001); Ruth Watts, Gender, Power and the Unitarians in England 1760–1860 (London: Longman Press, 1998); Helen Plant, “Gender and the Aristocracy of Dissent: A Comparative Study of the Beliefs, Status and Roles of Women in Quaker and Unitarian Communities, 1770– 1830, with Particular Reference to Yorkshire” (D. Phil., University of York, 2000); and Barbara Taylor, Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination. Raymond Holt’s older The Unitarian Contribution to Social Progress in England (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1938) also contains a substantive discussion of the rich prowoman strands in Unitarian thinking. 120. For background on the Dissenting Academies, esp. their innovations in pedagogy, see Irene Parker, Dissenting Academies in England: Their Rise and Progress and Their Place among the Educational Systems of the Country (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1914). For a discussion of Hays’s involvement with New College, Hackney, see Gina Luria Walker, Mary Hays (1759–1843): The Growth of a Woman’s Mind (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006), p. 44. 121. For Joseph Priestley’s lectures, see his “A Syllabus of a Course of Lectures on the Constitution and Laws of England,” in An Essay on a Course of Liberal Education for Civil and Active Life (London: 1765), pp. 125–27. For a sense of the range of books housed in the academies’ libraries, see “Select Catalogue of Books in the Library belonging to the Warrington Academy” (1775), reprinted in Irene Parker, Dissenting Academies in England: Their Rise and Progress and Their Place among the Educational Systems of the Country, pp. 154–59. 122. Barbara Taylor, Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination, p. 104.

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Notes to Chapter 1 123. See Thomas Laqueur, “Bodies, Details, and the Humanitarian Narrative,” in The New Cultural History, ed. Lynn Hunt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), p. 177: “[T]he humanitarian narrative relies on the personal body, not only as the locus of pain but also as the common bond between those who suffer and those who would help and as the object of the scientific discourse through which the causal links between an evil, a victim, and a benefactor are forged.” Lynn Hunt makes a similar claim in her recent Inventing Human Rights: A History (New York: W. W. Norton, 2007). 124. See Kathleen Wilson, The Sense of the People: Politics, Culture and Imperialism in England, 1715–1785 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), for background on the Norgate family’s active role in Norwich politics. As Wilson notes, pp. 413–14, “Surgeons Elias Norgate and Robert Cooper . . . were among the independent contingent on the Common Council. They helped to maintain vital links with the national agitation, involving themselves in a variety of civic initiatives and providing institutional leadership for the more broadly based radical politics in the town.” 125. Thomas Starling Norgate, Hora Otiosa, Norfolk Record Office, MC 175/3, p. 48. 126. Ibid., p. 190. 127. Ibid., p. 280. 128. Ibid., p. 82. 129. George Dyer, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Robert Robinson (London: G. G. and J. Robinson, 1796), pp. 8, 3–4. 130. Richard Wright, Autobiography, Harris Manchester College, Oxford, MS Wright 11. 131. See Anthony Page, John Jebb and the Enlightenment Origins of British Radicalism (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003), p. 5, as well as Page’s more recent article, “‘A Great Politicianess’: Ann Jebb, Rational Dissent and Politics in Late Eighteenthcentury Britain,” Women’s History Review 17, no. 5 (November 2008): 743–65. 132. William Turner, Lives of Eminent Unitarians (London: Unitarian Association, 1843), pp. 83–84. 133. Ibid., p. 84. 134. William Shepherd to Frances Shepherd, 1793, and William Shepherd to Fanny Shepherd, July 5, 1804, Harris Manchester College, Oxford, MS Shepherd, Vol. IV, f. 5 and f. 31. 135. William Godwin, Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman (London: J. Johnson, 1798 [2d edition]), p. 204. 136. Richard Wright, Autobiography, p. 32, Harris Manchester College, Oxford, MS Wright 11. The Primitive Methodists, under the leadership of Hugh Bourne, encouraged a number of women to become preachers. For details on female preachers and Methodism, see John T. Wilkinson, Hugh Bourne, 1772–1852 (London: Epworth Press, 1952). For information on female preachers and Quakerism, see Phyllis Mack, “In a Female Voice: Preaching and Politics in Eighteenth-Century British Quakerism,” in Women Preachers and Prophets through Two Millennia of Christianity, ed. Beverly Mayne Kienzle and Pamela J. Walker (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), pp. 248–63.



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137. See the entry for George Dyer, in the old Dictionary of National Biography. 138. John Gale Jones, Sketch of a Political Tour Through Rochester, Chatham, Maidstone, Gravesend, & C., Including Reflections on the Tempers and Dispositions of the Inhabitants of Those Places, and on the Progress of the Societies Instituted for the Purpose of Obtaining a Parliamentary Reform, pp. 88–89, 91. 139. For a rich discussion of late-eighteenth-century travel literature, and esp. of its impact on understandings of gender and sexuality, see Harriet Guest’s useful essay “Looking at Women: Forster’s Observations in the South Pacific,” in Johann Reinhold Forster, Observations Made during a Voyage around the World, ed. Nicholas Thomas, Harriet Guest, and Michael Dettelbach (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1996 [1778]), pp. XLI–LIV. 140. Alexander Jardine, Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal, & C., Vol. I, pp. 313–14. 141. Thomas Holcroft, Travels from Hamburg, through Westphalia, Holland, and the Netherlands, to Paris, 2 vols. (London: R. Phillips, 1804), Vol. I, pp. 148–49. 142. See Antoinette Burton, Burdens of History: British Feminists, Indian Women, and Imperial Culture, 1865–1915 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994), p. 212. 143. Angela V. John raises a similar point about male contributions to the later women’s movement in “Men, Manners and Militancy: Literary Men and Women’s Suffrage,” in The Men’s Share? Masculinities, Male Support, and Women’s Suffrage in Britain, 1890–1920, ed. Claire Eustance and Angela V. John (New York: Routledge, 1997), p. 107. 144. See Barbara Caine, English Feminism, 1780–1980 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 56. 145. Mary Wollstonecraft to Mary Hays, November 12, 1792, in Collected Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft, p. 219.

Chapter 2 1. See Benjamin Heath Malkin, Essays on Subjects Connected with Civilization (London: C. Dilly, 1795), pp. 5, 269–70. In his “Introductory” essay, Malkin establishes the framework for his inquiry; in his essay “On the Female Character,” he explains how female education fits into this framework. 2. Much of the secondary literature on feminist educational reform during this period depicts these initiatives as largely or primarily female-driven. See, for example, Ruth Watts, Gender, Power and the Unitarians in England 1760–1860 (New York: Longman, 1998), p. 26: The work of demonstrating “Rousseau’s sexist fallacies” was left to “some writers, particularly women.” This is not to suggest that men have been assigned no place in the literature. Several scholars, Watts included, have observed that Rational Dissenters as a group believed that “knowledge is power” and that education needed to be extended as much to women as to men. Yet, at the same time, scholars stress that most Rational Dissenters did not necessarily understand their endorsements of female education as feminist interventions. As Kathryn Gleadle explains in The Early Feminists: Radical Unitarians and the Emergence of the Women’s Rights Movement, 1831–1851 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995), p.

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Notes to Chapter 2 26, the goal for most eighteenth-century Unitarians was “to improve the treatment and education of women,” but not to “assume a radical stance on the issue.” The achievement of equal rights and opportunities for women, in other words, was not a central feature of their agendas, even as Rational Dissenters’ arguments helped, in the words of Watts, p. 96, sow “the seedbed of future feminism.” For illuminating discussions of Unitarians’ progressive educational philosophy in eighteenth-century Britain, see also Ruth Watts, “Knowledge Is Power—Unitarians, Gender, and Education in the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries,” Gender and Education 1, no. 1 (1989): 35–50; and Marjorie Reeves, Female Education and Nonconformist Culture, 1700–1900 (London: Leicester University Press, 2000). 3. David Steuart Erskine (Lord Buchan), “On Female Education,” Bee (June 22, 1791), reprinted in The Anonymous and Fugitive Essays of the Earl of Buchan, Collected from Various Periodical Works (Edinburgh: J. Ruthven and Co., 1812), p. 30. 4. I borrow the terms “instrumentalist” and “egalitarian” from Alice Browne, who uses these labels to distinguish between two dominant strands of eighteenthcentury feminist thought. See Alice Browne, The Eighteenth-Century Feminist Mind (Brighton, Sussex: Harvester Press, 1987), p. 6. 5. See Roy Porter, The Creation of the Modern World: The Untold Story of the British Enlightenment (New York: Norton, 2000), p. 337. 6. See Immanuel Kant, “An Answer to the Question: What Is Enlightenment?” (1784), reprinted in What Is Enlightenment? Eighteenth-Century Answers and Twentieth-Century Questions, ed. James Schmidt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), pp. 58–64. 7. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Émile, trans. Allan Bloom (New York: Basic Books, 1979 [1762]), p. 364. 8. John Gregory, A Father’s Legacy to His Daughters (London: W. Strahan, T. Cadell, and J. Balfour, 1774 [2d edition]), p. 22. This book went through more than twenty-two printings between 1774 and 1828. Source: British Library Integrated Catalogue. 9. James Fordyce, The Character and Conduct of the Female Sex, and the Advantages to be derived by Young Men from the society of Virtuous Women. A Discourse, in three parts. Delivered in Monkwell-Street Chapel, January 1, 1776 (London: T. Cadell, 1776), p. 28. 10. Thomas Gisborne, An Enquiry into the Duties of the Female Sex (London: T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1797), p. 45. 11. Hannah More, Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education, 2 vols. (London: T. Cadell, 1799), Vol. I, p. 69. 12. “Enlightened opinion in the late eighteenth century,” writes Barbara Taylor, “was unanimous about the need to remedy this debilitating situation.” See Barbara Taylor, Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 45. 13. I would like to thank Michèle Cohen for clarifying this point. For the statistics cited, see Nicholas Hans, New Trends in Education in the Eighteenth Century (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1951), pp. 194–96. For general introductions to education in eighteenth-century Britain, see Charles Camic, Experience and Enlightenment: Socialization for Cultural Change in Eighteenth-Century Scotland (Edin-



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burgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1983); J. Lawson and H. Silver, A Social History of Education in England (London: Methuen and Co., 1973); Josephine Kamm, Hope Deferred: Girls’ Education in English History (London: Methuen, 1965); H. McLachlan, English Education under the Test Acts: Being the History of Nonconformist Academies, 1662–1820 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1931); and Alan Richardson, Literature, Education, and Romanticism: Reading as Social Practice, 1780–1832 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994). 14. Although much is still to be learned about the texture of female education in the eighteenth century—Deborah Simonton has recently referred to a “virtual desert” in the scholarship—we do know that this was the typical curriculum. For Deborah Simonton’s broad survey of female educational patterns, see her “Women and Education,” in Women’s History: Britain, 1700–1850, ed. Hannah Barker and Elaine Chalus (New York: Routledge, 2005), pp. 33–56. For more on the particular subjects covered in girls’ schooling, see Bridget Hill, “Female Education,” in Eighteenth-Century Women: An Anthology (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1984), pp. 44–67; and Susan Skedd, “Women Teachers and the Expansion of Girls’ Schooling in England, c. 1760–1820,” in Gender in Eighteenth-Century England: Roles, Representations and Responsibilities, ed. Hannah Barker and Elaine Chalus (New York: Longman, 1997), pp. 101–25. 15. See, for the best example of this new emphasis in masculine training, Joseph Priestley, An Essay on a Course of Liberal Education for Civil and Active Life (London: J. Johnson, 1765). For discussions of this shift, see Ruth Watts, Gender, Power and the Unitarians in England, esp. p. 16; and Roy Porter, The Creation of the Modern World, pp. 346–47. 16. As Michèle Cohen’s recent work has shown, there were women who received extremely rigorous educations, even within the home. See Michèle Cohen, “‘To think, to compare, to combine, to methodise’: Girls’ Education in Enlightenment Britain,” in Women, Gender and Enlightenment, ed. Sarah Knott and Barbara Taylor (New York: Palgrave, 2005), pp. 224–42. Kathryn Gleadle’s innovative research on the Plymley family bears out these findings. See Kathryn Gleadle, “‘Opinions deliver’d in conversation’: Conversation, Politics, and Gender in the Late Eighteenth Century,” in Civil Society in British History: Ideas, Identities, Institutions, ed. Jose Harris (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. 61–78. 17. Maria Edgeworth, Letters for Literary Ladies (London: J. Johnson, 1799 [2d edition]), p. 103. For more on men’s role in educating female family members, see Miriam Leranbaum, “‘Mistresses of Orthodoxy’: Education in the Lives and Writings of Late Eighteenth-Century English Women Writers,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 121, no. 4 (August 1977): 281–301. 18. For more on women’s educational experiences within nonconformist communities, see, again, Kathryn Gleadle, The Early Feminists; Marjorie Reeves, Female Education and Nonconformist Culture, 1700–1900; and Ruth Watts, Gender, Power and the Unitarians in England. As Gleadle observes, p. 24, the education afforded even Unitarian women was by no means always of a superior quality. 19. Catharine Cappe, Memoirs of the Life of the Late Mrs. Catharine Cappe (London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green, 1826 [3d edition]), p. 32. 20. Ibid., p. 16.

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Notes to Chapter 2 21. Benjamin Flower, “Reply from the Editor,” Cambridge Intelligencer, June 20, 1795. Emphasis Flower’s. The letter was a response to one reader named “Eliza,” a “disciple of the justly-admired Wollstonecraft,” who had submitted a letter to the paper demanding that men “unite your laudable efforts to expand and adorn the [female] mind.” See her “To the Editor of the Cambridge Intelligencer,” Cambridge Intelligencer, June 20, 1795. “Eliza” may well have been the schoolteacher Eliza Gould, daughter of John Gould, who was a regular subscriber to the Intelligencer and who would go on to marry Flower in 1800. Their daughters, Sarah and Eliza Flower, were active nineteenth-century feminists. 22. Hannah More, Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education, Vol. I, p. 69. As Anne Stott explains, fleshing out More’s concerns, “[W]omen were being fobbed off with a trivial and superficial education that left them intellectually crippled, morally defective, and ill equipped to be companionable wives or effective mothers.” See Ann Stott, Hannah More: The First Victorian (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), p. 219. 23. John Bennett, Strictures on Female Education; Chiefly as It Relates to the Culture of the Heart, in Four Essays (London: T. Cadell, 1787), pp. 122–23. 24. James Fordyce, Sermons to Young Women (London: D. Payne, 1766 [6th edition]), p. 53. 25. John Gregory, A Father’s Legacy to His Daughters, pp. 31–32. As Barbara Taylor explains in “Feminists versus Gallants: Manners and Morals in Enlightenment Britain,” in Women, Gender and Enlightenment, p. 39, “Animus against learned women, particularly those displaying their wisdom in print, was a long-standing feature of British intellectual life that few Enlightenment writers sought to challenge.” 26. I am indebted to Barbara Taylor, “Feminists versus Gallants,” for clarifying this point. 27. Mary Robinson [under the pen-name Anne Frances Randall], A Letter to the Women of England, on the Injustice of Mental Subordination (London: Longman and Rees, 1799), pp. 93–94. 28. James Henry Lawrence, The Empire of the Nairs; or, the Rights of Women, 12 vols. (London: T. Hookham and E. T. Hookham, 1811), Vol. I, p. 126. Lawrence published the novel in German in 1800, and translated it into English with some modifications in 1811. 29. Benjamin Heath Malkin, Essays on Subjects Connected with Civilization, p. 258. 30. For an in-depth treatment of Poulain de la Barre’s seventeenth-century feminism, see Siep Stuurman’s “The Deconstruction of Gender: Seventeenth-Century Feminism and Modern Equality,” in Women, Gender and Enlightenment, pp. 371–88, and his book, François Poulain de la Barre and the Invention of Modern Equality (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004). For an extensive discussion of Mary Astell’s feminism, see Ruth Perry’s “Mary Astell and Enlightenment,” in Women, Gender and Enlightenment, pp. 357–70, and her book The Celebrated Mary Astell: An Early English Feminist (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986). 31. For detailed analyses of the treatment of women in stadial theory, see Mary Catherine Moran, “Between the Savage and the Civil: Dr. John Gregory’s Natural



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History of Femininity,” pp. 8–29; and Sylvana Tomaselli, “Civilization, Patriotism and Enlightened Histories of Woman,” pp. 117–35, both in Women, Gender and Enlightenment. Scottish stadial theory also helped underscore the malleability of human behavior. As Ann Stott explains in Hannah More, pp. 220–21, “The pioneer sociologists of the Scottish Enlightenment showed that societies differed from each other and evolved over time; thus, far from being fixed by nature, the position of women was contingent upon social developments and therefore capable of improvement.” 32. John Bristed, A Pedestrian Tour Through Part of the Highlands of Scotland, in 1801, 2 vols. (London: J. Wallis, 1803), Vol. I, p. 329. For details on Bristed’s life, see the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry for his son, Charles Astor Bristed. 33. Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (London: J. Johnson, 1792), p. vii. 34. John Bristed, A Pedestrian Tour, Vol. I, p. 356. 35. See, respectively, Vicesimus Knox, Liberal Education (Dublin: W. Halhead, L. Flin, and P. Byrne, 1781), p. 173; George Butler, “On Female Literature,” delivered December 3, 1795, reprinted in the Minutes and Essays of the Speculative Society of Cambridge, 1788–1795, British Library Add MSS, 19716; John Bristed, A Pedestrian Tour, Vol. I, p. 332; George Ensor, The Independent Man: or, An Essay on the Formation and Development of Those Principles and Faculties of the Human Mind which Constitute Moral and Intellectual Excellence, 2 vols. (London: J. Johnson, 1806) Vol. II, p. 417. 36. For background information on Richard Wright’s work, see his own A Review of the Missionary Life and Labors of Richard Wright. Written by Himself (London: Sold by D. Eaton, C. Fox, and Co.; Parsons and Brown, Bristol; and the Booksellers in general, 1824), as well as his unpublished Autobiography, Harris Manchester College, Oxford, MS Wright 11. For Addison’s comment, see Joseph Addison, The Spectator 2, no. 215 (November 1711): 338. 37. Richard Wright, “Letter VI on Women,” Universalist’s Miscellany 5 (April 1801): 137–38. 38. See J. Bowstead “Remarks on Mr. Wright’s Letters of Female Education,” Universalist’s Miscellany 5 (June 1801): 209; and Richard Wright, “Letter VII on Women,” Universalist’s Miscellany 5 (August 1801): 303. 39. Richard Wright, An Essay on the Doctrine of Original Sin (London: Printed by Stower and Smallfield and sold by David Eaton, 1815), p. 45. 40. Thomas Starling Norgate, “On the Rights of Woman,” in The Cabinet, 3 vols. (Norwich: J. March, 1795), Vol. I, p. 179. 41. John Bristed, A Pedestrian Tour, Vol. I, p. 357. 42. William Enfield, “The Enquirer. No. III,” Monthly Magazine I (April 1796): 181. 43. John Bristed, A Pedestrian Tour, Vol. I, p. 356. Emphasis Bristed’s. For another excellent example of this strategy, see Thomas Garnett, Observations on a Tour through the Highlands and Part of the Western Isles of Scotland, Particularly Staffa and Icolmkill: to Which Are Added, a Description of the Falls of the Clyde, of the Country Round Moffat, and an Analysis of Its Mineral Water, 2 vols. (London: T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1800), Vol. II, p. 204: “But is the mind incapable of cultivation? If we

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Notes to Chapter 2 look round, we shall find in all who have had equal opportunities, that at least equal improvements have been made. With what justice the female mind has been charged with having less capacity for knowledge than men, I appeal to all who have read the works of those ladies who have cultivated their understandings.” 44. “Letter from A.B,” Monthly Magazine (May 1796): 289–90. The letter was a response to William Enfield’s “The Enquirer. No. III.” 45. See Norma Clarke, The Rise and Fall of the Woman of Letters (London: Pimlico Original, 2004) for an extensive discussion of this earlier prowoman tradition. 46. Benjamin Heath Malkin, Essays on Subjects Connected with Civilization, pp. 257–58. 47. Mary Hays, Appeal to the Men of Great Britain in Behalf of Women (London: J. Johnson, 1798), p. 97. 48. Alexander Jardine, Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal, & C., 2 vols. (London: T. Cadell, 1788), Vol. I, p. 311. 49. John Bristed, A Pedestrian Tour, Vol. I, pp. 412–13. 50. Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, p. 322. 51. For an important discussion of the relationship between enlightened gallants and feminists, see again Barbara Taylor, “Feminists versus Gallants,” in Women, Gender and Enlightenment, pp. 30–52. 52. See James Fordyce, The Character and Conduct of the Female Sex, p. 40. 53. Thomas Garnett, Observations on a Tour through the Highlands, Vol. II, p. 204. 54. Benjamin Heath Malkin, Essays on Subjects Connected with Civilization, pp. 259–60. 55. David Steuart Erskine (Lord Buchan), “On Female Education,” Bee (June 22, 1791), reprinted in The Anonymous and Fugitive Essays of the Earl of Buchan, p. 29. How such harsh pronouncements would have been read alongside the Bee’s more benign scholarly and scientific articles on topics such as “Description of Abyssinian thorn” and “Making Parmesan cheese” must be left to the reader’s imagination. For more information on Lord Buchan’s life, see James Gordon Lamb, David Steuart Erskine, 11th. Earl of Buchan: A Study of his Life and Correspondence (D. Phil, St. Andrews, 1963). 56. Again, see Angela V. John, “Men, Manners and Militancy: Literary Men and Women’s Suffrage,” in The Men’s Share? Masculinities, Male Support and Women’s Suffrage in Britain, 1890–1920, ed. Claire Eustance and Angela V. John (New York: Routledge Press, 1997), p. 107, for an illuminating discussion of this current in later nineteenth-century men’s feminist activity. 57. For more on these Unitarian initiatives, see Ruth Watts, Gender, Power and the Unitarians, esp. Chapter Four, “To ‘Loose the Female Mind’: Unitarians and Women 1760–1815,” pp. 77–96. 58. See Gina Luria Walker, “Curricula for Autodidacts,” paper presented as part of the session Learned Ladies and Lady Learners: Educating Women in the EighteenthCentury, International Society for Eighteenth Century Studies Congress, the Clark Library, UCLA, 2003. As Walker notes, p. 2, Robinson was “the first ‘generous man’ to address Hays’s autodidacticism seriously, providing his own texts that exposed Hays to religious pluralism, heterodox skepticism, and cognitive training.” For more on the sometimes complicated support that Hays received from “gen-



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erous men,” see Gina Luria Walker, “Benevolent Misogyny: Mary Hays in The Monthly Magazine,” paper presented at Places of Exchange: Magazines, Journals and Newspapers in British and Irish Culture, 1688–1945, University of Glasgow, July 25–27, 2002. Hays herself would go on to attend lectures and meetings at New College, Hackney, which was founded in 1788. 59. Joseph Priestley, Reflections on Death. A Sermon, on Occasion of the Death of the Rev. Robert Robinson, of Cambridge, Delivered at the New Meeting in Birmingham, June 13, 1790 (Birmingham: J. Johnson, 1790), p. 23. 60. William Frend to Sophia Frend, June 1, 1821, Cambridge University Library, MS Add. 7887, folio 9. 61. Mary Anne Schimmelpenninck, Life of Mary Anne Schimmelpenninck (London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Robert, 1858), pp. 36–37. Of her own father’s attitudes toward women, however, Schimmelpenninck was less than enthusiastic, suggesting that she received a substantial education in spite of, not because of, her father’s enlightened leanings. As she notes of her father on p. 260, “He was . . . able to give me only the remnants of time already more than engrossed, and of a mind thoroughly pre-occupied. This was, perhaps, the reason that, notwithstanding my father’s exact ideas respecting female conduct and character, I was allowed much indiscriminate reading.” 62. Cited in Dorothy Stansfield, Thomas Beddoes M.D. 1760–1808 (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers Group, 1984), p. 190. 63. Cited in John Gascoigne, Joseph Banks and the English Enlightenment: Useful Knowledge and Polite Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), p. 105. 64. Cited in ibid., p. 108. 65. See Ann B. Shteir, Cultivating Women, Cultivating Science: Flora’s Daughters and Botany in England, 1760–1860 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), for an extended discussion of women and botany. As Shteir observes on p. 3, the very name “Flora” “resonates with traditional associations from myth and literature that link flowers and gardens with women and nature and with femininity, modesty, and innocence. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, cultural linkages like these helped smooth the path for women into botanical work of many kinds.” 66. See Richard Polwhele, The Unsex’d Females (New York: William Cobbett, 1800 [1798]), p. 11. 67. John Anderson, Extracts from the Latter Will and Codicil of Professor John Anderson (Glasgow: Printed in the Courier Office, by W. Reid and Co., 1796), pp. 16–17. For general background information on John Anderson, and Anderson’s institution, see James Muir, John Anderson Pioneer of Technical Education and the College He Founded (Glasgow: John Smith and Son, 1950); and A. Humboldt Sexton, The First Technical College: A Sketch of the History of “The Andersonian,” and the Institutions Descended From It, 1796–1894 (London: Chapman and Hall, 1894). 68. John Anderson, “Essay on Natural History” [date unknown], University of Strathclyde Archives, John Anderson Collection MS. 69. See John Anderson’s own description of the course in his Institutes of Physics (Glasgow: 1777), and his Extracts from the Latter Will, pp. 16–17.

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Notes to Chapter 2 70. See “List for the first series of lectures” [1796], University of Strathclyde Archives, John Anderson Papers, OB/5/1/2/1. This general notice for Anderson’s Institution states its goals as follows: “The late Professor Anderson of the University of Glasgow, having bequeathed a Valuable Apparatus, Library and Museum, for the Establishment of Lectures in Natural and Experimental Philosophy in this City, the Trustees of this Institution are of Opinion, that it is worthy of Public patronage and encouragement, as it is calculated to diffuse that useful branch of knowledge more generally among Artists and Manufacturers connected with the trade and prosperity of this City and its environs, as well as to afford a rational and agreeable amusement to the Ladies, who, by the Professor’s Will, are admitted to the benefit of these Lectures, they are therefore adopting measures to promote the success of an Object so laudable, interesting and public spirited. In these endeavours they trust to be liberally supported by the Citizens of Glasgow and its Neighbourhood, for whose immediate benefit the Institution is designed, and whose aid is now sought, to enable the Trustees to erect a suitable building for delivering such a Course of Lectures in, as will reflect honour on the Founder and gain the approbation and encouragement of the Ladies and Gentlemen of Glasgow and its vicinity.” Emphasis mine. 71. See “Transcripts of Minute Books,” University of Strathclyde Archives, John Anderson Papers, OB/1/2/1. Emphasis mine. 72. Ibid. 73. According to S. G. E. Lythe, Thomas Garnett (1766–1802): Highland Tourist, Scientist and Professor, Medical Doctor (Glasgow: Polpress, 1984), p. 23, the course in natural philosophy, as taught at Anderson’s Institution by Thomas Garnett according to Anderson’s specifications, “began with the properties of matter but, presumably to hold the popular audience . . . went on quickly to astronomy, electricity and magnetism with eye-catching experiments—‘the aurora borealis imitated’, ‘the animated feather’ and the like. Similarly, having passed rapidly over hydrostatics and hydraulics, he [Garnett] went on to optics, promising to amaze his audience by his ‘solar microscope’ whereby a flea could be enlarged to ‘ten or twelve feet.’” 74. Thomas Garnett, Observations on a Tour through the Highlands, Vol. II, p. 202. 75. As Sarah J. Smith notes in “Retaking the Register: Women’s Higher Education in Glasgow and Beyond, c. 1796–1845,” Gender and History 12, no. 2 (July 2000): 326, the Ladies Courses were an “important introduction for thousands of women (and working men) to the previously inaccessible realm of higher education.” 76. See Henry Bence Jones, The Royal Institution: Its Founder and Its First Professors (London: Longman, Green and Co., 1871), p. 137: “It was decided that ladies should be admitted as proprietors and subscribers, and entitled to all privileges, ‘excepting only that ladies will not be called upon to take any part in the management with the officers of the Institution.’” 77. Cited in ibid., pp. 241–42. Anderson’s Institution helped shape not only the Royal Institution but also the Mechanics’ Institute. Dr. George Birkbeck, another early instructor at Anderson’s Institution, left Glasgow to found the Institute in 1823. Although Birkbeck does not seem to have welcomed women to the Institute, he did play a critical role in democratizing education. As he noted in an article,



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“Public Meeting, for the Establishment of the London Mechanics’ Institute,” published in Mechanic’s Magazine, Museum, Register, Journal & Gazette 12 (November 15, 1823): 177–92, the links between Anderson’s and the Mechanics’ Institute were explicit: “At the commencement of the present century, whilst discharging the duties of Professor of Natural Philosophy and Chemistry, in Anderson’s Institution, at Glasgow, I had frequent opportunities of observing the intelligent curiosity of the ‘unwashed artificers,’ to whose mechanical skill I was often obliged to have recourse.” See British Library Add MS 27823, f. 302. 78. See Regina Janes, “On the Reception of Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” Journal of the History of Ideas 39, no. 2 (1978): 293–302. 79. John Anderson, Extracts from the Latter Will, pp. 16–17. We should not, however, assign too much power to the degree. As Deborah Simonton explains in “Women and Education,” p. 50, “An important feature of ‘higher’ education during this period was that graduation was not the focus of study—learning was. At Edinburgh, ‘graduation was simply unimportant’ before the nineteenth century and fewer than 12 per cent of medical students ‘bothered to graduate’ each year. Indeed, ‘graduation before 1858, except perhaps in Aberdeen, seems to have been something of an eccentricity.’ It was similar in the ancient English universities, so while 70 per cent graduated, the absolute number was small, and the value of a degree was itself minimal. Therefore, the degree was of less relevance than access to courses of study, lectures and exposure to a range of educational experiences.” 80. Thomas Garnett, Observations on a Tour through the Highlands, Vol. II, p. 205. 81. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Émile, p. 374. 82. Again, see Alice Browne, The Eighteenth-Century Feminist Mind, for a fuller discussion of these terms. 83. The insistence on female higher education as preparation for wifedom and motherhood would be a mainstay of Victorian discourse. For an analysis of the nineteenth-century context for the education debate, see Ellen Jordan, “‘Making Good Wives and Mothers?’ The Transformation of Middle-Class Girls’ Education in Nineteenth-Century Britain,” History of Education Quarterly 31, no. 4 (Winter 1991): 439–62. 84. See Jenny Uglow, Lunar Men: Five Friends Whose Curiosity Changed the World (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2002), p. 313. The Lunar men, writes Uglow, “saw their sons as potential captains of industry or engineers or chemists or doctors” and their daughters “plainly as future wives and mothers.” 85. William Frend to Mary Frend, soon after November 22, 1784, Cambridge University Library Manuscripts Department, Add. MSS 7886–7887 T49. 86. Benjamin Heath Malkin, Essays on Subjects Connected with Civilization, pp. 262–63. 87. John Bristed, A Pedestrian Tour, Vol. I, p. 423. 88. Vicesimus Knox, Essays Moral and Literary, 2 vols. (London: Charles Dilly, 1778), Vol. I, p. 332. Knox’s statement may have been a direct reference to Dr. Johnson’s earlier description of the Bluestocking Elizabeth Carter: “My old friend, Mrs. Carter, could make a pudding as well as translate Epictetus from the Greek and work a handkerchief as well as compose a poem.”

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Notes to Chapter 2 89. William Hayley, A Philosophical, Historical, and Moral Essay on Old Maids (London: T. Cadell, 1785), p. xiii. See Harriet Guest, “Bluestocking Feminism,” The Huntington Library Quarterly 65, no.1/2 (2002), and Harriet Guest, Small Change: Women, Learning and Patriotism, 1750–1810 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), pp. 95–151, for extensive discussions of the Bluestockings, and esp. Elizabeth Carter, as learned ladies and public spectacles. Sylvia Harcstark Myers also provides an informative discussion of the Bluestocking women in her The Bluestocking Circle: Women, Friendship, and the Life of the Mind in Eighteenth-Century England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990). 90. Vicesimus Knox, Essays: Moral and Literary, p. 333. Elsewhere, Knox further elaborated on this point. See, for example, his Liberal Education: or, a Practical Treatise on the Methods of Acquiring Useful and Polite Learning (Dublin: W. Hallhead, L. Flin, and P. Byrne, 1781), p. 170: “There are many prejudices entertained against the character of a learned lady; and perhaps if all ladies were profoundly learned, some inconveniences might arise from it; but I must own it does not appear to me, that a woman will be rendered less acceptable in the world, or worse qualified to perform any part of her duty in it, by having employed the time from six to sixteen, in the cultivation of the mind.” 91. William Shepherd, “A Song in Praise of Miss Anne Wakefield, frequently known by the name of Deiopoea,” c. 1801, Harris Manchester College, Oxford, Shepherd MSS, Vol. VI, f.35. 92. Robert Nares, “Prologue” to Every One Has His Fault; as it is performed at the Theatre-Royal, Covent-Garden. By Mrs. Inchbald. (Dublin: 1795). 93. Thomas Poole to Mrs. Haskins, September 22, 1794, reprinted in Mrs. Henry Sandford, Thomas Poole and His Friends (London: Macmillan and Co., 1888), p. 98. The Pantisocrats sought to establish an egalitarian community in America, along the lines of the settlement planned by Joseph Priestley and Thomas Cooper on the banks of the Susquehanna in Pennsylvania. For additional background information on the Pantisocrats, see J. R. MacGillivrary, “The Pantisocracy Scheme and its Immediate Background,” in Studies in English, by Members of University College, Toronto, ed. Malcolm W. Wallace (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1931), pp. 131–69; and William St. Clair, The Godwins and the Shelleys (London: Faber and Faber, 1989). 94. Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, p. 335. 95. Mary Hays, “Letter from M.H.,” Monthly Magazine (March 1797): 195. 96. In certain respects, this strand of argumentation has much in common with Charles Fourier’s philosophy regarding women, as developed in the first decades of the nineteenth century. See Bee Wilson, “Charles Fourier and Women,” unpublished paper delivered at the Institute of Historical Research, London, January 2004. 97. Richard Wright, “Letter V on Woman,” Universalist’s Miscellany 4 (March 1800): 112. 98. David Hume, “Of the Rise and Progress of the Arts and Sciences,” in his Essays, Moral and Political (London: A. Millar, 1748). As Hume notes, pp. 186–87, “What better School for Manners, than the Company of virtuous Women; where the mutual Endeavour to please must insensibly polish the Mind, where the Example of the Female Softness and Modesty must communicate itself to their Ad-



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mirers, and where the Delicacy of that Sex puts every one on his Guard, lest he give Offence by any Breach of Decency?” 99. Cited in John Platts, ed., The Female Mentor; or, Ladies’ Class-Book: Being a New Selection of Three Hundred and Sixty-Five Reading Lessons, Relating to the Education, Characteristics, and Accomplishment of Young Women (Derby: Printed for Henry Mozley and sold by G. Cowie, 1823), pp. 18–19. 100. Joseph Priestley, Reflections on Death, p. 23. 101. William Enfield, “Review of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” Monthly Review 8 (June 1792): 198. Emphasis mine. 102. William Enfield, “Review of Letters for Literary Ladies,” Monthly Review 21 (September 1796): 25. Emphasis mine. 103. William Enfield, “The Enquirer. No. III,” Monthly Magazine 1 (April 1796): 184. Emphasis mine. 104. Erasmus Darwin, A Plan for the Conduct of Female Education in Boarding Schools (Derby: J. Drewery for J. Johnson, 1797), p. 11. 105. Ibid., pp. 40–41. 106. Richard Wright, “Letter I on Women,” Universalist’s Miscellany 3 (April 1799): 112. 107. Richard Wright, “Letter VII on Women,” Universalist’s Miscellany 5 (August 1801): 305. 108. Richard Wright, “Letter I on Women,” Universalist’s Miscellany 3 (April 1799): 113. 109. See, respectively, David Steuart Erskine, “On Female Education,” Bee (July 20, 1791), reprinted in The Anonymous and Fugitive Essays, p. 45, and David Steuart Erskine, “On Female Education,” Bee (June 22, 1791), reprinted in The Anonymous and Fugitive Essays, p. 30. 110. David Steuart Erskine, “On Female Education,” Bee (June 22, 1791), reprinted in The Anonymous and Fugitive Essays, p. 30. 111. Ibid., pp. 30–31. 112. David Steuart Erskine, “On Female Education,” Bee (July 20, 1791), reprinted in The Anonymous and Fugitive Essays, p. 46. 113. Alexander Jardine, Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal, & C., Vol. I, pp. 313–14. Jardine further elaborated on these views in his “Notes and Observations on the Foregoing Treatise, Collected by the Editors,” in his edition of Antonio Borghesi’s An Essay on Civil Government, or Society Restored, by Means of I. a Preface of Peace, II. A Reform in Metaphysics [sic] and III. A Political Code and Constitution, Adapted to the True Nature of Man (London: J. Ridgeway, 1793), p. 67: “Many wise men have thought it essential that the sexes should work and live together as much as possible. . . .” 114. Alexander Jardine, Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal, & C., Vol. I, pp. 313–14. 115. Ibid., Vol. I, pp. 316, 331. 116. See Benjamin Heath Malkin, Essays on Subjects Connected with Civilization, pp. 262–63. Malkin believed that although the sexes shared “the same capacity of mind,” their occupations in life were “necessarily different.”

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Chapter 3 1. Richard Wright, “Letter VI on Women,” Universalist’s Miscellany 5 (April 1801): 135–36. 2. As John Brewer observes in The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1997), p. 160, “Johnson enjoyed his role as literary patron and played it with gusto. Though, as Hester Piozzi complained, he said ‘very contemptuous things of our sex,’ he helped a number of female poets and novelists into print, notably Anna Williams, Frances Burney, and Charlotte Lennox. Such was his enthusiasm for Lennox’s writing that he induced fellow members of the Ivy Lane Club to throw an all-night party to celebrate the birth of her ‘first literary child.’” For further discussion of these earlier traditions, see Alison Adburgham, Women in Print: Writing Women and Women’s Magazines from the Restoration to the Accession of Victoria (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1972); Norma Clarke, Dr. Johnson’s Women (London: Hambledon and London, 2000); and Harriet Guest, Small Change: Women, Learning and Patriotism, 1750–1810 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000). For a discussion of the ways in which women were already contributing to the book trade in all of its aspects from the outset of the eighteenth century, see Paula McDowell, “Women and the Business of Print,” in Women and Literature in Britain, 1700–1800, ed. Vivien Jones (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). Men in literary professions would continue to be important players in the women’s rights movement through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As Angela V. John explains, “Male supporters of women’s suffrage [during the early twentieth century] included a considerable number who mainly earned their living by their pen: scholars, novelists, playwrights and poets.” See Angela V. John, “Men, Manners and Militancy: Literary Men and Women’s Suffrage,” in The Men’s Share? Masculinities, Male Support and Women’s Suffrage in Great Britain, 1890–1920, ed. Claire Eustance and Angela V. John (New York: Routledge, 1997), p. 89. 3. If the eighteenth century, as Vivien Jones notes, saw women begin “to contribute in significantly large numbers to an increasingly powerful print culture,” then the late eighteenth century only saw the acceleration of that process, especially in the production of the novel. See Vivien Jones, “Introduction” to Women and Literature in Britain, 1700–1800, p. 1. Statistics illustrate this trend. While in the 1770s, 14.3 percent of all published novels were written by women, that number expanded to 29 percent during the 1780s, and 36.9 percent by the 1790s. See James Raven, “Historical Introduction: The Novel Comes of Age,” in The English Novel, 1770–1829, 2 vols., ed. Peter Garside, James Raven, and Rainer Schöwerling (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), Vol. I, pp. 15–121. 4. For a key exception, see Dustin Griffin, Literary Patronage in England, 1650– 1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996). As Griffin insists, p. 5, in his important re-evaluation of patronage systems in the eighteenth century, “Previous studies of patronage have focused too narrowly on the growth of a literary marketplace which apparently made patronage outmoded.” 5. John Brewer, The Pleasures of the Imagination, p. 140. For additional background on the rise of a specifically British commercial culture during the eighteenth century, see The Birth of a Consumer Society: The Commercialization of Eighteenth-



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Century England, ed. John Brewer, Neil McKendrick, and J. H. Plumb (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982); and The Consumption of Culture, 1600–1800, ed. Ann Bermingham and John Brewer (New York: Routledge Press, 1995). For a discussion of how this new culture transformed the literary industry in particular, see Books and Their Readers in the Eighteenth Century, ed. Isabel Rivers (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1982); and David Vincent, Literacy and Popular Culture, 1750–1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989). 6. See Carla Hesse, The Other Enlightenment: How French Women Became Modern (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), p. 39; and Paul Keen, The Crisis of Literature in the 1790s (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 173. There are many others who have put forward, or elaborated on, this thesis. Paula McDowell, for example, links women’s increased participation in print to the freeing up of literary culture more generally: “At every level of the press this combination of phenomenal expansion and diminished institutional control was conducive to the participation of women.” See Paula McDowell, “Women and the Business of Print,” in Women and Literature in Britain, 1700–1800, p. 138. Catherine Gallagher, too, has analyzed how the commercial marketplace benefited women writers by enabling them to cast themselves as “nobodies” in order to “capitalize” on their femaleness. See Catherine Gallagher, Nobody’s Story: The Vanishing Acts of Women Writers in the Marketplace, 1670–1820 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), p. xxiv. 7. Thomas Beddoes, Letter to a Lady on the Subject of Education, cited in J. E. Stock, Memoirs of the Life of Thomas Beddoes (London: J. Murray, 1811), p. 68. According to Claire Tomalin, The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1974), p. 111, this work was “judged too free in its sentiments to be distributed.” As such, there is no published record of this text. 8. See John Brewer, The Pleasures of the Imagination, p. 142. 9. For example, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, provided significant finan­ cial assistance to the author Mary Robinson, while Lady Anna Miller, who led the Batheaston Circle, helped Anna Seward to establish herself as a writer. Mrs. Boscawen, Mrs. Crewe, and Mrs. Locke—“three well-connected friends”—helped to procure subscriptions for Frances Burney. See George Justice, The Manufacturers of Literature (Newark, NJ: University of Delaware Press, 2002), p. 209; and, for further discussion of these themes, see Hannah Barker, “Women, Work and the Industrial Revolution: Female Involvement in the English Printing Trades, C. 1700–1840,” in Gender in Eighteenth-Century England: Roles, Representations and Responsibilities, ed. Hannah Barker and Elaine Chalus (London: Longman, 1997), pp. 81–100. Additionally, as Paula McDowell notes in “Women and the Business of Print,” pp. 140–41, “[T]here were female booksellers, distributors, engravers, illustrators and binders,” the last a particularly popular field for women, as it involved the “sewing skills most women already had.” 10. Memoirs of Richard Lovell Edgeworth, ESQ. Begun by Himself and Concluded by His Daughter, Maria Edgeworth, 2 vols. (London: R. Hunter, 1820), Vol. II, pp. 341–42, as cited in Cliona O’ Gallchoir, “Gender, Nation and Revolution: Maria Edgeworth and Stéphanie-Félicité de Genlis,” in Women, Writing and the Public Sphere, 1700–1830, ed. Elizabeth Eger, Charlotte Grant, Cliona O’ Gallchoir, and Penny Warburton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), p. 204. 11. Paul Keen, The Crisis of Literature in the 1790s, p. 38.

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Notes to Chapter 3 12. Alexander Jardine, Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal, & C., 2 vols. (London: T. Cadell, 1788), Vol. II, p. 110, and Vol. I, pp. 313–15. 13. Alexander Geddes, “Review of Priscilla Wakefield’s Reflections on the Present Condition of the Female Sex,” in Analytical Review 28 (November 1798): 538. Emphasis mine. 14. See David Steuart Erskine to Dr. James Anderson, April 19, 1802, cited in James Gordon Lamb, David Steuart Erskine, 11th. Earl of Buchan: A Study of his Life and Correspondence (D. Phil, St. Andrews, 1963), p. 278. 15. John Reinhold Forster, Observations Made during a Voyage Round the World, on Physical Geography, Natural History, and Ethic Philosophy (London: G. Robinson, 1778), p. 418. I would like to thank Kathleen Wilson for drawing this text to my attention. 16. Even Forster’s text, however, offers a contradictory reading of women’s status in “civilized” society. In his treatment of Tahitian women, for example, whom he considers relatively advanced (in comparison with other primitive cultures), Forster commends them for their “greater equality” and their “influence” not just in “domestic” but also “public affairs.” See ibid., p. 260; and Harriet Guest, “Looking at Women: Forster’s Observations in the South Pacific,” in Johann Reinhold Forster, Observations Made during a Voyage around the World, ed. Nicholas Thomas, Harriet Guest, and Michael Dettelbach (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1996 [1778]), p. xlvii. See also, for an extended treatment of Forster, Harriet Guest, Empire, Barbarism and Civilisation: Captain Cook, William Hodges and the Return to the Pacific (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008). 17. Alexander Jardine, Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal, & C., Vol. I, p. 331. 18. Ibid., Vol. II, p. 111. 19. In this respect, even the most radical egalitarians did not seek to question the degree to which men and women differed in a physical sense. While they may not have “recoiled,” as John Gregory did, when hearing a woman speak of “her great strength, her extraordinary appetite, her ability to bear excessive fatigue,” they subscribed to the belief that women were physically weaker and thus not well suited to physical labor. See John Gregory, A Father’s Legacy to His Daughters (London: W. Strahan, T. Cadell, and J. Balfour, 1774), pp. 50–51. 20. Benjamin Heath Malkin, Essays on Subjects Connected with Civilization (London: E. Hodson, C. Dilly, 1795), p. 278. 21. John Gregory, A Father’s Legacy to His Daughters, p. 51. In this respect, arguments for the “femininity” of authorship mirrored those similar justifications made by Methodist female preachers, who explained that their religious work was really just another form of “domestic” activity. As Deborah Valenze observes in her analysis of women’s prominent role in cottage religion in early industrial England, “Cottage industry flourished during a specific preindustrial phase of popular evangelicalism, when public and private converged within the domestic framework of laboring life.” See Deborah Valenze, Prophetic Sons and Daughters: Female Preaching and Popular Religion in Industrial England (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985), p. 11. 22. Harriet Guest, Small Change, p. 332.



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23. See John Brewer, The Pleasures of the Imagination, Chapter Fifteen, “‘Queen Muse of Britain’: Anna Seward of Lichfield and the Literary Provinces,” pp. 573– 612. 24. See Anne K. Mellor, Mothers of the Nation: Women’s Political Writing in England, 1780–1830 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002), pp. 11–12. Mellor argues that women’s cultural power as authors was derived from their status as “moral” mothers monitoring the nation: “Women writers were primarily responsible for insisting that the conduct of the British government must be moral—that political leaders should demonstrate the same Christian virtues that mothers and daughters—and fathers and sons—were expected to practice at home.” 25. See G. J. Barker-Benfield, The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), pp. xvii–xviii. For discussions of the history of sensibility in Britain, see, in addition, John Dwyer, Virtuous Discourse: Sensibility and Community in Late Eighteenth-Century Scotland (Edinburgh: John Donald, 1987); Paul Goring, The Rhetoric of Sensibility in Eighteenth-Century Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Paul Langford, A Polite and Commercial People: England 1727–1783 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989); John Mullan, Sentiment and Sociability: The Language of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988); Janet Todd, Sensibility: An Introduction (New York: Methuen, 1986); and, in an American context, Sarah Knott, Sensibility and the American Revolution (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008). 26. Theophilus Lindsey to Mary Hays, April 15, 1793, Dr. Williams’s Library, MS 24.93 (1). 27. William Frend to Mary Hays, April 16, 1792, cited in The Love Letters of Mary Hays, ed. Annie F. Wedd (London: Methuen, 1925), p. 220. Emphasis mine. 28. William Godwin, Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman (London: J. Johnson, 1798 [2d edition]), pp. 204–5. Emphasis mine. 29. See Carla Hesse, The Other Enlightenment, esp. Chapter Six, “Fiction as Philosophy,” pp. 130–53. 30. See “Preface” to Elizabeth Bentley, Genuine Poetical Compositions, on Various Subjects (Norwich: Printed by Crouse and Stevenson for the Authoress, 1791). 31. Ibid. 32. See, for example, Richard Wright, Autobiography, unpublished MSS, Harris Manchester College, Oxford, MS Wright 11, pp. 31–32; and George Dyer, An Inquiry into the Nature of Subscription to the Thirty-Nine Articles (Cambridge: 1789?). For background information on the emergence of female preachers, esp. within the Quaker faith, see Phyllis Mack, “In a Female Voice: Preaching and Politics in Eighteenth-Century British Quakerism,” in Women Preachers and Prophets through Two Millennia of Christianity, ed. Beverly Mayne Kienzle and Pamela J. Walker (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), pp. 248–63. 33. Alexander Geddes, “Review of Mary Hays’ Appeal to the Men of Great Britain in Behalf of Women,” Analytical Review (1798): 24. Emphasis Geddes’s. 34. John Gregory, A Father’s Legacy to His Daughters, p. 11. 35. Women writers were eager to make these same connections. Harriet Guest has shown how Priscilla Wakefield and Mary Ann Radcliffe characterized their au-

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Notes to Chapter 3 thorship as the “redemptive” alternative to “the sexualized corruptions of prostitution and adultery.” See Harriet Guest, Small Change, p. 324. 36. Sylvia Harcstark Myers, The Bluestocking Circle: Women, Friendship, and the Life of the Mind in Eighteenth-Century England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990), p. 155. 37. Cited in Jane Spencer, The Rise of the Woman Novelist (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986), p. 20. 38. Eliza Parsons to the Literary Fund, December 17, 1792, British Library, Archives of the Royal Literary Fund, M1077/1. For more on the Literary Fund, see Janet Adam Smith, The Royal Literary Fund (London: Royal Literary Fund, 1990). 39. Cited in Gerald Tyson, Joseph Johnson: A Liberal Publisher (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1979), p. 216. See also Helen Braithwaite’s recent biography of Johnson, Romanticism, Publishing and Dissent: Joseph Johnson and the Cause of Liberty (New York: Palgrave, 2003), for a useful discussion of Joseph Johnson’s relationship to Dissenting culture and politics writ large. 40. According to Mark Philp, “Rational Religion and Political Radicalism in the 1790s,” Enlightenment and Dissent 4 (1985): 40, Johnson was responsible for “half the radical contributions to the debate on France.” 41. Helen Braithwaite, Romanticism, Publishing and Dissent, p. 39. As Braithwaite elaborates, p. 39, “Scott’s talk of fairness, freedom and opportunity evoked striking contemporary parallels with the rhetoric of home-grown dissenting and American ‘patriots,’ as it put the case for another group of fellow-subjects who were themselves the victims of too much concentrated power but now bravely struggling to assert their own worth.” 42. See Anna Barbauld to Joseph Johnson, September 1783, Huntington Library, HM 1605. 43. Maria Edgeworth, Letters for Literary Ladies (London: J. Johnson, 1799 [2d ed.]), pp. 48–49. 44. See Barbara Taylor, Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 40, 43. As Taylor notes, p. 40, “[Johnson] not only gave [Wollstonecraft] work on his new Analytical Review but also lent her money, found her a home, took an active interest in the rest of her troublesome family—in short, displayed ‘an uncommon interest,’ as Wollstonecraft told her sister Everina, which ‘save me from despair and vexations I shrink back from.’” 45. See Janet Todd, Mary Wollstonecraft: A Revolutionary Life (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2000), p. 123. 46. Judith Phillips Stanton, ed., The Collected Letters of Charlotte Smith (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003), p. xvi. 47. Ibid., p. xvii. 48. Charlotte Smith to William Hayley, late 1788–89, and Charlotte Smith to George Robinson, June 18, 1789, included in ibid., pp. 18, 20. 49. According to James Raven, “Historical Introduction: The Novel Comes of Age,” in The English Novel, Vol. I, p. 79, William Lane was responsible for the publication of one-third of all new novels during the 1790s—an impressive output. 50. Charlotte Smith to William Hayley, London late 1788–89, in The Collected Letters of Charlotte Smith, p. 18.



Notes to Chapter 3

51. Cheryl Turner, Living by the Pen: Women Writers in the Eighteenth Century (London: Routledge Press, 1992), p. 40. Lane’s production totals for successive five-year periods from 1780 to 1804 were 18, 74, 93, 121, and 166. These numbers mirror the growth patterns identified in women’s fiction. 52. See, for example, an advertisement published in the Star, May 9, 1791: “From the extent and manner in which this Office is conducted, the printing materials entirely new, and upwards of thirty men selected from the trade constantly employed, Ladies and Gentlemen will find it highly advantageous to commit their works to this Press; and authors of Novels, Tales, Adventures, will have proper encouragement—Such as are capable to examine, collect, and regulate Manuscripts, are also requested to apply—as it is intended the utmost care, diligence, and assiduity in every department of this plan shall mark and claim the favour of the Public, who are at all time promoters of merit, and the patrons of literature.” For a full discussion of Lane’s publishing tactics, see Michael Sadleir, “Minerva Press Publicity,” Library 21 (1941): 207–29. As Sadleir notes, p. 207, “His [Lane’s] advertisements show an enterprise and an elaboration of publicity-method which are astonishing of their period.” For background on the press itself, see Dorothy Blakey, The Minerva Press, 1790–1820 (London: Printed for the Royal Bibliographic Society at Oxford, 1939); Martin Tropp, Images of Fear: How Horror Stories Helped Shape Modern Culture, 1818–1918 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Co., 1990); Deborah Ann McLeod, “The Minerva Press” (Ph.D. diss., University of Alberta, 1997); and my own undergraduate honors thesis, “‘When the Press Fell Off from Literature’: The Minerva Press and the Transformation of the Literary Public Sphere” (unpublished honors thesis, Brown University, 1997). 53. Cheryl Turner, Living by the Pen, pp. 90–91. According to Dorothy Blakey, The Minerva Press, p. 74, women typically received twenty pounds per Minerva novel—considerably more than other booksellers were paying their female authors during this period. 54. For a discussion of the Gothic genre and its popularity during the last decades of the eighteenth century, see Kate Ferguson Ellis, The Contested Castle: Gothic Novels and the Subversion of Domestic Ideology (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1989); Carol Ann Howells, “The Pleasure of the Woman’s Text: Ann Radcliffe’s Subtle Transgressions,” in Gothic Fictions: Prohibition/Transgression, ed. Kenneth W. Graham (New York: AMS Press, 1989); and Angela Keane, Women Writers and the English Nation in the 1790s (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), esp. Chapter Two, “Domesticating the Sublime: Ann Radcliffe and Gothic Dissent.” 55. Mary Meeke, Midnight Weddings (New York: Arno Press, 1977 [orig. Lane, 1802]), p. 4. 56. Anonymous, The Follies of St. James’s Street (London: William Lane, 1790). Cited in Dorothy Blakey, The Minerva Press, p. 30. 57. Letter from William Lane to the Literary Fund, May 30, 1795, British Library, Archives of the Royal Literary Fund, M1077/1. It is also noteworthy that the Minerva Circulating Library held a copy of Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman. See A Catalogue of the Minerva General Library, Leadenhall-Street, London (London: 1795?).

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Notes to Chapter 3 58. The Errors of Sensibility, 3 vols. (London: William Lane, 1793), Vol. I, p. 154. 59. See Regina Roche, Clermont (London: Folio Press, 1968 [originally published by Lane in 1798]), pp. 42, 113. For other examples of Minerva novels promoting the “literary lady,” see Eleanor Sleath’s The Orphan of the Rhine (London: William Lane, 1798); and Eliza Parsons’s Castle of Wolfenbach (London: William Lane, 1793). 60. Robert Bage, Hermsprong; or, Man As He Is Not, 3 vols. (London: William Lane, 1796), Vol. II, pp. 176–77. Biographical information on Bage comes from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. For a more detailed study of Bage, see Gary Kelly, The English Jacobin Novel 1780–1805 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976), esp. pp. 20–63. 61. See Elizabeth Hamilton, “On Associations Prejudicial to the Female Character,” an extract from her 1801 Letters on Education, included in The Advocate and Friend of Woman, ed. George Nicholson (Poughnill: G. Nicholson, 1805), p. 9. 62. For statistics on the growth of the provincial publishing industry, see John Brewer, The Pleasures of the Imagination, pp. 137–39. Brewer observes, p. 139, that by the mid-1780s “[w]hat had begun as a London trade had become a national business.” 63. C. B. Jewson, The Jacobin City: A Portrait of Norwich in Its Reaction to the French Revolution, 1788–1802 (London: Blackie and Son, 1975), p. 145. The Friars’ interest in women writers, however, transcended the local. Minutes from the Friars’ meetings indicate that a portrait of Mrs. Inchbald was “executed and given” to the society by Brother Singleton on October 18, 1787. At a later meeting, on April 3, 1798, the Friars read “a beautiful paper on education relative to the subject from the monthly magazine written as, it is said by Mrs. Barbeau [sic].” See “Transactions of the Society from 1785–1794,” Norfolk Record Office, COL/9/1. 64. In addition to Elizabeth Bentley, the Friars also took an interest in one Mrs. Bonhote, whose Pretensia was published by the Friar William Stevenson. 65. Minutes for May 19, 1789, and May 17, 1791, “Transactions of the Society from 1785–1794,” Norfolk Record Office, COL/9/1. 66. “The Trumpet of Liberty,” Norfolk Chronicle, July 16, 1791, reprinted in The New Oxford Book of Romantic Period Verse, ed. Jerome McGann (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 79. 67. C. B. Jewson, The Jacobin City, p. 147. For additional biographical information on William and Seth Stevenson, see the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 68. See the “Preface” to Elizabeth Bentley, Genuine Poetical Compositions, on Various Subjects. Emphasis Stevenson’s. 69. Ibid. 70. See the United Friars Minutes for December 10, 1805, and January 14, 1806. On December 10, 1805, the record notes that “Elizabeth Bentley presented to each member of the Society An Ode on the glorious victory of Lord Nelson on the 21st of October last—Ordered that Bro. Matchett be requested to present her with a guinea in testimony of their estimation of the Poem, and her attention to the Society.” On January 14, 1806, we read of Bentley’s response: “The following letter was read from Eliz. Bentley. Gentlemen, December 18, 1805, I think it my duty to return



Notes to Chapter 3

you my most grateful acknowledgment for your very liberal present of a guinea, which I received by Mr. Matchett on Wednesday last.” See “Transactions of the Society from October 18, 1804—March 18, 1817,” Norfolk Record Office, COL/9/3. The ode was published as An Ode on the Glorious Victory over the French and Spanish Fleets, on the 21st of October, 1805, and the Death of Lord Nelson (Norwich: Stevenson and Matchett, 1805). 71. Letter from Elizabeth Bentley to Seth Stevenson, May 1821, Norfolk Record Office, MS 4566. 72. See Richard Cumberland, The Observer: being a collection of moral, literary and familiar essays (Dublin: P. Byrne, R. Marchbank, and W. Jones, 1791), p. 312. 73. See, respectively, “Letter from ‘A Woman’ on Remarks on A.B.’s Strictures on the Talents of Women,” Monthly Magazine (July 1796): 469–70, and “Reply to ‘A Woman’,” Monthly Magazine (August 1796): 526–27. For additional information on the debate, and Hays’s relationship more generally to the Monthly Magazine, see Gina Luria Walker, Mary Hays (1759–1843): The Growth of a Woman’s Mind (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006), esp. pp. 169–71. 74. William Enfield reviewed 203 novels between 1774 and 1797, not just for the Monthly Review but also for the Monthly Magazine. In part, these numbers were dictated by Enfield’s financial circumstances. Reviewing was a critical source of income. See James Raven, “General Introduction: The Novel Comes of Age,” in The English Novel, Vol. I, p. 116. 75. For Enfield’s reviews, see, respectively, “Review of Helen Maria Williams’ Poems,” Monthly Review 75 (July 1786): 44; “Review of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” Monthly Review 8 (June 1792): 199; “Review of Elizabeth Inchbald’s Every One Has His Fault,” Monthly Review 10 (March 1793): 303; and “Review of Maria Edgeworth’s Letters for Literary Ladies,” Monthly Review 21 (September 1796): 25. The attribution for reviews written by Enfield, and by all reviewers in the Monthly Review, comes from Benjamin Christie Nangle, The Monthly Review, First Series 1749–1789 Index of Contributors and Articles (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1934), and The Monthly Review Second Series 1790–1815, Indexes of Contributors and Articles (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1955). 76. See William Enfield’s “Review of Maria Edgeworth’s Letters for Literary Ladies,” Monthly Review 21 (September 1796): 25. 77. William Enfield, “Review of Letters on the Female Mind, its Powers, and Pursuits, addressed to Miss H. M. Williams, with particular Reference to her Letters from France,” Monthly Review 12 (December 1793): 399. 78. We know that William Enfield was “The Enquirer” because John Aikin acknowledged him as such in his “Biographical Account” of Enfield, following his death in 1797: “The institution of a new magazine, under the name of the Monthly, which in its plan embraced a larger circle of original literature than usual with these miscellanies, engaged him to exercise his powers as an essayist on a variety of topics; and the papers with which he enriched it, under the title of the Inquirer, obtained great applause from the manly freedom of their sentiment, and the correct elegance of their language.” See John Aikin, “Biographical Account,” included in William Enfield, Sermons on Practical Subjects, by the late W. Enfield, LL.D. (London: J. Johnson, 1798), pp. xxiii–xxiv.

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Notes to Chapter 3 79. William Enfield, “The Enquirer, No. III,” Monthly Magazine 1 (April 1796): 183. 80. For a discussion of Alexander Geddes’s decision to use his own initials in his Analytical Review pieces, see Mitzi Myers, “Sensibility and the ‘Walk of Reason’: Mary Wollstonecraft’s Literary Reviews as Cultural Critique,” in Sensibility in Transformation: Creative Resistance to Sentiment from the Augustans to the Romantics, ed. Syndy McMillen Conger (Teaneck, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1990), p. 139. 81. See Helen Braithwaite, Romanticism, Publishing and Dissent, p. 88: “[Geddes was] characterized by his dissenting contemporaries as free-thinking, ultra-liberal and a ‘primitive christian.’” For additional background on Geddes’s rational approach to biblical exegesis, see Jonathan Sheehan, The Enlightenment Bible: Translation, Scholarship, Culture (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005). 82. Alexander Geddes, “Review of Mary Hays’ Appeal to the Men of Great Britain on Behalf of Women,” Analytical Review (July 1798): 36. 83. Ibid. Emphasis Geddes’s. 84. Ibid., pp. 25, 24. 85. Alexander Geddes, “Review of Priscilla Wakefield’s Reflections on the Present Condition of the Female Sex; with Suggestions for it’s [sic] Improvement,” Analytical Review 28 (November 1798): 538. 86. Ibid., p. 540. Emphasis Geddes’s. 87. William Taylor, “Review of Mary Hays’ Emma Courtney,” Monthly Review 22 (April 1797): 449. 88. William Taylor, “Review of An Enquiry into the Duties of the Female Sex,” Monthly Review 24 (December 1797): 361. For additional information on Taylor, see J. W. Robberds, A Memoir of the Life and Writings of the Late William Taylor of Norwich (London: John Murray, 1843). 89. Thomas Cooper, A Reply to Mr. Burke’s Invective (London: J. Johnson, 1792), p. 99. 90. George Dyer, Poems (London: J. Johnson, 1800), p. lxvi. 91. Ibid., p. 301. 92. William Enfield to Ralph Griffiths, October 4, 1795, Bod. MS Add.c.89, f. 93, as cited in James Raven, “Historical Introduction: The Novel Comes of Age,” in The English Novel, p. 117. 93. William Taylor, “Review of Mary Hays’ Emma Courtney,” Monthly Review 22 (April 1797): 449. 94. See Naomi Tadmor, Family and Friends in Eighteenth-Century England: Household, Kinship, and Patronage (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), esp. Chapters 5–7. 95. For a history of the creation of the literary agent, see John Feather, A History of British Publishing (London: Croon Helm, 1988), p. 177. See also James Hepburn, The Author’s Empty Purse and the Rise of the Literary Agent (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968). 96. John Brewer, The Pleasures of the Imagination, p. 158. 97. Ibid., p. 161. Brewer seems to overlook the gendered implications of his argument in his somewhat romanticized account of the eighteenth-century liter-



Notes to Chapter 3

ary world: “[T]hroughout the period writers frequented coffee houses and taverns which were open to anyone who could pay the reckoning. In these informal surroundings an introduction or witty remark could lead to acquaintance, and acquaintance to friendship with an established author or critic whose circle of influence might include booksellers, newspaper proprietors and the literary managers of magazines. Fellow authors could rarely offer financial support . . . but had something far more valuable—influence and connections, the power to mobilize the resources that the aspiring author so desperately needed.” In fact, those kinds of casual social relations were far more difficult for women authors to forge and sustain. As Michael Davis notes in his entry on “coffeehouses” in An Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age: British Culture, 1776–1832, ed. Iain McCalman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 459, “Although women participated in more respectable commercial debating clubs, there is little evidence for their involvement in coffeehouse equivalents.” See also John Barrell, “Coffee-House Politicians,” Journal of British Studies 43 (April 2004): 206–32, for an account of this overwhelmingly male culture. 98. Anna Seward, draft of a letter written from Lichfield, February 7, 1763, National Library of Scotland, MS 879, Vol. I, f. 25. Emphasis Seward’s. In this sense, my reading of Seward’s expression of indebtedness to Darwin goes against John Brewer’s interpretation of their relationship in The Pleasures of the Imagination, pp. 600–601, in which he suggests that “[h]er debts to Darwin—his encouragement of her verse and his role in enlarging her circle of acquaintance—go largely unacknowledged.” 99. Anna Seward to H. Repton, Esq., July 15, 1789, in Letters of Anna Seward, Written between the Years 1784 and 1807, in Six Volumes (Edinburgh: Printed by George Ramsay for Archibald Constable, 1811), p. 312. 100. See the entry for Erasmus Darwin in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 101. Anna Seward, draft of a letter written from Lichfield, February 7, 1763, National Library of Scotland, MS 879, Vol. I, f. 26. 102. Hayley not only provided Smith with useful introductions but also served as her financial negotiator. According to Judith Phillips Stanton, Collected Letters of Charlotte Smith, p. xviii, Hayley “defended [Smith] to Cadell, Sr., after she borrowed 50 [pounds] while at Brighton to avoid being evicted for back rent.” Hayley played a similar role for Anna Seward. See John Brewer, The Pleasures of the Imagination, p. 605. 103. Gina Luria Walker, Mary Hays (1759–1843): The Growth of a Woman’s Mind, p. 63. 104. Elizabeth Inchbald to William Godwin, date unknown, Bodleian Library, Abinger Collection, Dep.c.509. 105. Ibid. 106. Elizabeth Inchbald to William Godwin, March 29, 1805, Bodleian Library, Abinger Collection, Dep.c.509. 107. Elizabeth Inchbald to William Godwin, date unknown, Bodleian Library, Abinger Collection, Dep.c.509. 108. Elizabeth Inchbald to William Godwin, May 11, 1805, Bodleian Library,

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Notes to Chapters 3 and 4 Abinger Collection, Dep.c.509. Unfortunately, Godwin’s letters to Inchbald during this intellectual exchange have not been preserved. Godwin also read drafts of Mary Hays’s Emma Courtney. 109. Hugh Worthington to Mary Hays, September 3, 1792, Dr. Williams’s Library, 24.93, f. 15. 110. Hugh Worthington to Mary Hays, December 9, 1792, Dr. Williams’s Library, 24.93, f. 16. Emphasis his.

Chapter 4 1. See Donna Andrew, London Debating Societies, 1776–1799 (London: London Record Society, 1994), pp. 242–43. Unfortunately, there is no written record of the Capel Court Society’s conclusions on this important question. Nor can we determine who was in attendance at this particular meeting. We do know, however, that the society had a radical orientation—John Thelwall, future leader of the London Corresponding Society, was an early member of the debating society. See Marcus Wood, “William Cobbett, John Thelwall, Radicalism, Racism and Slavery: A Study in Burkean Parodics,” in Romanticism on the Net 15 (August 1999). 2. Martin Madan, Thelyphthora; or, a Treatise on Female Ruin, in Its Causes, Effects, Consequences, Prevention, and Remedy; Considered on the Basis of the Divine Law, 2 vols. (London: J. Dodsley, 1780), Vol. I, p. xviii. 3. Ibid., Vol. I, p. iv. 4. On November 11 and November 18, 1780, La Belle Assemblée debated the question, “Can the Rev. Mr. Madan’s doctrine of a plurality of wives be justified either by the laws of policy or religion?” See the London Courant, November 9 and November 16, 1780, respectively, for advertisements for the meetings, cited in Donna Andrew, London Debating Societies, p. 115. 5. The advertisements for these debates appeared in the London Courant, November 30; Daily Advertiser, December 9; Gazetteer, December 19; and Gazetteer, December 19 and December 27; cited in Donna Andrew, London Debating Societies, pp. 117–23. 6. See the London Courant, November 30, 1780. 7. This calculation is based on an extensive search through the databases of the British Library Integrated Catalogue and English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC). 8. Samuel Badcock, “Review of Thelyphthora; or a Treatise on Female Ruin,” Monthly Review; or, Literary Journal 63 (1780): 279. 9. Samuel Johnson, The Temple of Fashion (Shrewsbury: 1781), p. 11. 10. Anonymous, A Word to Mr. Madan, or Free Thoughts on His Late Celebrated Defence of Polygamy. In a Letter to a Friend (Bristol: W. Pine, 1781), pp. 48–49. 11. For evidence of Geddes’s relationship to Madan, see Geddes’s undated letter to the Reverend Charles Godfrey Woide, an Oriental scholar and librarian, which includes a passage requesting that Woide reserve a copy of a book for Martin Madan. See Alexander Geddes to the Reverend C. G. Woide, British Library Manuscripts Division, Add Mss 48706. 12. Martin Madan, Thelyphthora, Vol. I, p. 1. Emphasis Madan’s. 13. Ibid., Vol. I, p. 178. 14. John Cairncross, After Polygamy Was Made a Sin: The Social History of Christian Polygamy (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1974), p. 164.



Notes to Chapter 4

15. Certainly, women also participated to some degree in this late-eighteenthcentury conversation. In her Vindication of the Rights of Woman (London: J. Johnson, 1792), pp. 338, 331, Mary Wollstonecraft described modern marriage as a form of “legal prostitution” and attacked the “laws respecting women” for making “an absurd unit of a man and his wife” by reducing the wife to “a mere cypher.” Mary Hays, too, in her Appeal to the Men of Great Britain in Behalf of Women (London: J. Johnson, 1798), pp. 265, 277, expressed her desire to reform marriage and singled out “the laws with regard to the sex” as in need of being “revised and corrected.” In particular, Hays objected to women’s extreme state of dependency in marriage, with the possibility for “justice” hinging entirely on the “husband happening to be, a sensible, a reasonable, a humane man, in a more than ordinary degree.” The author Charlotte Smith, meanwhile, used her novel Desmond (London: G. G. and J. Robinson, 1792) to protest the uneven power relations between husband and wife. In these respects, Wollstonecraft, Hays, and Smith were building on the earlier efforts of Mary Astell, who had offered an extended critique of male authority within marriage in her 1700 Some Reflections Upon Marriage. Yet men could use their expertise and authority to undermine the religious and legal traditions underpinning marriage in ways that would have been more challenging for, or simply inaccessible to, women. Additionally, men were also willing to explore those contentious subjects—divorce, abortion, free love—that women, because of the sexual double standard, tended to shy away from contemplating in print. In these respects, men made a distinct contribution to the discussion. 16. John Tosh, “The Old Adam and the New Man: Emerging Themes in the History of English Masculinities, 1750–1850,” in English Masculinities, 1660–1800, ed. Tim Hitchcock and Michèle Cohen (London: Longman, 1999), p. 223. 17. Robert Burns, “The Rights of Women,” posthumously published in The Works of Robert Burns; with an Account of his Life, 4 vols. (Liverpool: 1800), Vol. II, p. 418. 18. Anna Clark, The Struggle for the Breeches: Gender and the Making of the British Working Class (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), p. 156. 19. Richard Wright, “Letters on Women,” Universalist’s Miscellany 3 (April 1799): 114. 20. Richard Wright, “Letters on Women,” Universalist’s Miscellany 3 (November 1799): 326. 21. A Nymph of King’s-Place, A Poetical Epistle to the Reverend Mr. Madan, on the Publication of His Thelyphthora; or a Treatise on Female Ruin, in Its Causes, Effects, Consequences, Prevention and Remedy (London: Printed for Fielding and Walker, 1781). 22. James Hurdis, Equality: A Sermon (London: J. Johnson, 1794), p. 14. For background on Hurdis, see Helen Braithwaite, Romanticism, Publishing and Dissent: Joseph Johnson and the Cause of Liberty (New York: Palgrave, 2003), pp. 139–40. As Braithwaite notes, p. 139, Hurdis applied the principles to the family that he believed to be true of society more generally: “Hurdis reverted to the line commonly dispensed from establishment pulpits that ‘gradations of excellence’ among men in society were God-given. . . . Mindful of the current military context, he likened Britannia to a man-of-war which could have no force or vision without a hierarchy of command or ‘unity among its crew.’” For another formulation of this position,

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Notes to Chapter 4 see Principles of Order and Happiness under the British Constitution (London, 1792), p. 11: “We ought to prevent it [the wife having the same power as a husband], for it would throw all things into confusion.” 23. See John Gillis, For Better, for Worse: British Marriages, 1600 to the Present (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985); Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas during the English Revolution (New York: Penguin, 1975); and Ann Hughes, “Gender and Politics in Leveller literature,” in Political Culture and Cultural Politics in Early Modern England, ed. Susan D. Amussen and Mark A. Kishlansky (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1995), pp. 162–88. Gillis, p. 102, describes the “first modern sexual revolution” as “a broadly based revolt against traditional marriage discipline in which the strands of puritanism and antinomianism seemed at times to reinforce one another.” 24. In practice, married women seem to have exercised greater control. What is more, Scottish women were exempt from many of these customs. As Tanya Evans notes, “Recourse to equality and ecclesiastical law, and the use of marriage settlements, allowed women of all social classes to retain control over their property. It meant that they managed finances on their own behalf, as well as with their husbands. Marriage settlements became increasingly popular among wives, at all levels of society, eager to control their own property. Moreover, the use of coverture was particular to English law. Scottish women experienced very different systems of marriage and divorce throughout this period, and may well have been less constrained upon marriage, both in theory and practice. The patriarchal model of marriage set down in the statute books, therefore, needs to be tested carefully in the context of the emergence of modern family life.” See Tanya Evans, “Women, Marriage and the Family,” in Women’s History: Britain, 1700–1850, ed. Hannah Barker and Elaine Chalus (New York: Routledge, 2005), pp. 57–77. For an overview of married women’s property in England, see Susan Staves, Married Women’s Separate Property in England, 1660–1833 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990); and Amy Louise Erickson, Women and Property in Early Modern England (New York: Routledge, 1993). 25. For a discussion of the rise of the “companionate” model of marriage, see Lawrence Stone, The Family, Sex and Marriage in England, 1500–1800 (New York: Harper and Row, 1977); and Randolph Trumbach, The Rise of the Egalitarian Family: Aristocratic Kinship and Domestic Relations in Eighteenth-Century England (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978). For a subtle analysis of the ways in which the “companionate” domestic model worked to perpetuate male dominance (as opposed to supplant it, as Trumbach would have it), see Clara Tuite, “Domesticity,” in An Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age: British Culture, 1776–1832, ed. Iain McCalman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 129–30. As Tuite explains, “[T]he bourgeois, liberal development of the companionate marriage often remained merely a modified or ‘enlightened’ version of earlier patriarchal patterns and so carried its own forms of sexual injustice.” 26. Benjamin Heath Malkin pitted modern “ties of affection” against older “contracts of interest” in his Essays on Subjects Connected with Civilization (London: E. Hodson, C. Dilly, 1795), p. 282. 27. Lawrence Stone, The Family, Sex and Marriage in England, p. 165.



Notes to Chapter 4

28. John Bennett, Strictures on Female Education (London: T. Cadell, 1787), p. 2. 29. Thomas Harwood, Annotations upon Genesis with Observations Doctrinal and Practical (London: 1789), p. 17. 30. Although most of the Scottish moralists were inclined to write forwardlooking histories of women, that was not uniformly true. In his 1778 A View of Society in Europe, in its progress from rudeness to refinement, Gilbert Stuart cast the Anglo-Saxons as more advanced than modern Britons in regard to their treatment of women. For illuminating discussions of women’s complex position in the Scottish moralists’ histories, see Jane Rendall, “Writing History for British Women: Elizabeth Hamilton and the Memoirs of Agrippina,” in Wollstonecraft’s Daughters: Womanhood in England and France 1780–1920, ed. Clarissa Campbell Orr (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996), pp. 79–93; Jane Rendall, “Tacitus Engendered: Gothic Feminism and British Histories 1750–1800,” in Geoffrey Cubitt, ed., Imagining Nations (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998); and Karen O’Brien, Women and Enlightenment in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), esp. Chapters Two and Three. 31. See William Alexander, The History of Women, from the Earliest Antiquity, to the Present Time, Giving Some Account of almost every interesting Particular concerning that Sex, among all Nations, ancient and modern, 2 vols. (London: W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1779), Vol. II, p. 313. 32. See Jonathan Sheehan, The Enlightenment Bible: Translation, Scholarship, Culture (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005). Sheehan examines the ways in which the Bible was “transformed and reconstructed” during the eighteenth century as a primarily cultural text. Sheehan includes some discussion of Geddes’s role in this process. See pp. 243–45. For additional background on Geddes’s translation, see Reginald Fuller, Alexander Geddes, 1737–1802: A Pioneer of Biblical Criticism (Sheffield, UK: Almond Press, 1984). 33. Alexander Geddes, Dr. Geddes’s Address to the Public on the Publication of the First Volume of his New Translation of the Bible (London: J. Johnson, 1793), p. 5. 34. See also Kathryn Gleadle, The Early Feminists (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995), p. 17. Gleadle provides a useful discussion of the fundamental challenge posed by the German “higher criticism” to early nineteenth-century Unitarianism. 35. Alexander Geddes, The Holy Bible, or the Books Accounted Sacred by Jews and Christians; Otherwise Called the Books of the Old and New Covenants: Faithfully Translated from Corrected Texts of the Originals. With Various Readings, Explanatory Notes, and Critical Remarks (London: J. Johnson, 1792), p. vii. 36. Alexander Geddes, “Review of Mary Hays’ Appeal to the Men of Great Britain in Behalf of Women,” Analytical Review, 28 (July 1798), p. 24. 37. Alexander Geddes, The Holy Bible, p. vii. 38. Ibid., p. xi. 39. Ibid. 40. Anti-Jacobin Review 3 (May 1799): 2. 41. See the entry for Alexander Geddes in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 42. Susan Staves, Married Women’s Separate Property in England, pp. 14–15. 43. Ibid. For general background on eighteenth-century jurisprudence, see Da-

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Notes to Chapter 4 vid Lieberman, The Province of Legislation Determined: Legal Theory in Eighteenthcentury Britain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989). 44. William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, 4 vols. (Oxford: 1765–9), Vol. I, p. 5. 45. Ibid., Vol. I, pp. 430, 433. 46. Anonymous, The Laws Respecting Women (London: J. Johnson, 1777), p. xi. 47. Ibid. 48. Ibid. 49. These anti-Norman arguments were not constructed purely out of malice or disrespect for the French. As Randolph Trumbach affirms, a “patrilineal” and “primogenitural” ideology went hand in hand with the introduction of feudalism: “[W]ith the introduction of feudal institutions, it became the ideal to maintain the continuity of the aristocratic family. Brothers and their male cousins began to hold property in common. Sometimes special rights were given to the eldest son, and at other times only one son was allowed to marry. Women lost most of their property rights, and their status was further lowered by the introduction of practices like the use of wet nurses, which implied that they were more wives than mothers.” See Randolph Trumbach, The Rise of the Egalitarian Family, pp. 1–2. 50. On the “ancient constitution,” see J. G. A. Pocock, The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987 [2d edition]); and James Vernon, ed., Re-reading the Constitution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996). 51. As I noted in Chapter One, “Calidore” also published a letter in The Star and Evening Advertiser in January 1789. That letter was posthumously attributed by the journalist John Taylor to Andrew Macdonald (who also wrote under the pseudonym “Matthew Bramble”). 52. “Calidore,” Gentleman’s Magazine 58 (February 1788): 101. 53. As Norgate notes on p. 178 of his unpublished autobiography, Hora Otiosa, Norfolk Record Office, MC 175/3, “Active & industrious himself, [my father] could not regard with complacency an inglorious sacrifice to indolent repose, a dereliction of the possibility of distinction in public life, accompanied with a lazy ignoble love of rural occupations, rural scenery, rural society.” 54. Thomas Starling Norgate, “On the Rights of Woman, Continued,” in The Cabinet, 3 vols. (Norwich: J. March, 1795), Vol. II, p. 41. 55. “Primogeniture,” in The Cabinet, Vol. II, p. 117. 56. Thomas Holcroft, Anna St. Ives, 7 vols. (London: Shepperson and Reynolds, 1792), Vol. V, pp. 39–40. 57. Thomas Starling Norgate, “On the Rights of Woman, Continued,” in The Cabinet, Vol. II, p. 41. 58. See the entry for Edward Christian in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; and Richard Hough, Captain Bligh and Mr. Christian: The Men and the Mutiny (London: Hutchinson, 1972), p. 56. 59. According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Christian’s editions “were often reissued down to 1830.” 60. William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, in Four Books, ed. Edward Christian (London: Cadell and Davies, 1800), p. 445.



Notes to Chapter 4

61. For John Milton’s earlier arguments, see his The Divorce Tracts, Areopagitica and of Education (Menston, UK: Scolar Press, 1968 [1643–45]), p. 1. “The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce,” the essay from which the passage cited was taken, was written in 1643 and addressed to the English Parliament. For a discussion of Milton’s attitudes toward divorce, and his sexual politics more generally, see James Grantham Turner, One Flesh: Paradisial Marriage and Sexual Relations in the Age of Milton (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987); and Julia M. Walker, ed., Milton and the Idea of Woman (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988). Nor was Milton alone in his arguments in favor of divorce. Again, see Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down, for a discussion of the range of arguments and ideas introduced during the English Civil Wars. 62. Lawrence Stone, The Family, Sex and Marriage in England, p. 38. 63. For a more extensive discussion of the basis on which eighteenth-century men and women could secure divorce, see Douglas Hay and Nicholas Rogers, Eighteenth-Century English Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), pp. 42–43. The scene on the ground, though, suggests a different and somewhat more flexible reality; as one conveyancer of the Inner Temple observed in the early nineteenth century, “It is a lamentable truth that scarce a week passes without advertisements in some of the daily prints, publishing the parting by elopement, adultery, agreement, or otherwise, of some unhappy pair.” Women and men alike may well have had more control over their lives than the laws would indicate. See Randle Lewis, Reflections on the Cause of Unhappy Marriages, and on Various Subjects Therewith Connected (London: W. Clarke, 1805), p. 63. 64. For accounts of the changes in divorce law in France during and following the French Revolution, see Margaret Darrow, Revolution in the House: Family, Class, and Inheritance in Southern France, 1775–1825 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989); Lynn Hunt, The Family Romance of the French Revolution (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992); Roderick Phillips, Family Breakdown in LateEighteenth-Century France: Divorces in Rouen, 1792–1803 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980); and James F. Traer, Marriage and the Family in Eighteenth-Century France (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1980). 65. H.H., “Review of Du Divorce (Paris: 1789),” Analytical Review 7 (May–August 1790): 121. 66. Ibid., p. 122. 67. Ibid., p. 121. 68. See Donna Andrew, London Debating Societies, p. 350. 69. For background on Spence and his philosophical and social commitments, see Keith Armstrong, ed., Bless’d Millennium: The Life & Work of Thomas Spence (Tyne and Wear, UK: Northern Voices, 2000); and Iain McCalman, Radical Underworld: Prophets, Revolutionaries and Pornographers in London, 1795–1840 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988). 70. See Thomas Spence, The Important Trial of Thomas Spence, For a Political Pamphlet, Intitled ‘The Restorer of Society to Its Natural State,’ on May 27, 1801, at Westminster Hall, Before Lord Kenyon and a Special Jury (London: Printed by A. Seale, 1801), which includes a copy of The Restorer of Society to Its Natural State. 71. See Helen P. Bruder, William Blake and the Daughters of Albion (New York:

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Notes to Chapter 4 St. Martin’s Press, 1997), p. 100. According to Bruder, Spence believed that open divorce would have many “beneficial effects”: “Not only would its availability improve the quality of personal relationships, but Spence also believed that it would help combat the effects of the double-standard and ‘reclaim’ many women in less humiliating ways than the . . . Magdalen Hospital.” 72. Jeremy Bentham, Principles of the Civil Code, in Works, ed. John Bowring, 11 vols. (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838–43 ), Vol. I, p. 355. The Principles were likely written during the 1780s but were first published in France in 1802. 73. See Jeremy Bentham, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, ed. J. H. Burns and H. L. A. Hart, in the Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham (London: Athlone Press, 1970), p. 237. Bentham’s text was first published in 1789. 74. Jeremy Bentham, Principles of the Civil Code, in Works, Vol. I, p. 335. For an extensive discussion of the feminist dimensions of Bentham’s utilitarian philosophy, see Annie L. Cot, “‘Let There Be No Distinction between the Sexes’: Jeremy Bentham on the Status of Women,” in The Status of Women in Classical Economic Thought, ed. Robert William Dimand and Chris Nyland (Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2003), pp. 165–89; and Lea Campos Boralevi, Bentham and the Oppressed (New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1984). 75. Abortion became a statutory offense in 1803. Yet, even before abortion became criminalized, it was looked on extremely unfavorably. For a discussion of shifting attitudes toward abortion, and esp. debates about when life began, see Angus McLaren, Birth Control in Nineteenth-Century England (London: Croom Helm, 1978), esp. pp. 31–33. 76. See Jeremy Bentham, “Abortion. In ricketty women, whether to be permitted,” c. 1776, University College, London, Bentham MSS, LXXB, folder 22, ff.270–72. 77. John Henry Colls, “A Poetic Epistle, addressed to Mrs. Wollstonecraft, Occasioned by reading her celebrated essay on the Rights of Woman, and her Historical and Moral View of the French Revolution,” included in his Poems (Norwich: J. Payne, 1803?), pp. 27–28. 78. John Henry Colls, “Gumilla and Cora, A Dialogue,” in his Poems, pp. 114– 15. 79. Thomas Paine, Rights of Man (London: J. S. Jordan, 1791), p. 70. 80. George Dyer, The Complaints of the Poor People of England (London: J. Johnson, 1793), p. 185. 81. Jeremy Bentham, “First Lines of a Proposed Code of Law for any Nation Compleat and Rationalized,” in The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: ‘Legislator of the World’: Writings on Codification, Law and Education, ed. Philip Schofield and Jonathan Harris (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), p. 204. 82. William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, ed. Edward Christian, p. 445. 83. Ibid. 84. As Frank E. and Fritzie P. Manuel observe in Utopian Thought in the Western World (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1979), p. 535, “Particularly after the discovery of the Blessed Isles of the South Seas and the publication of travelers’ reports . . . a flood of utopias depicting sundry exotic forms of marriage and sexual relations inundated Europe.” On Captain Cook’s travels, see Kathleen Wilson, “Thinking



Notes to Chapter 4

Back: Gender Misrecognition and Polynesian Subversions aboard the Cook Voyages,” in A New Imperial History: Culture, Identity and Modernity in Britain and the Empire, 1660–1840, ed. Kathleen Wilson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 345–62. On the Earl of Charlemont’s reports from Metelin (Lesbos), see James, Earl of Charlemont, “Account of a Singular Custom at Metelin, with Some Conjectures on the Antiquity of Its Origin,” in Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy (Dublin: George Bonham, 1790), p. 5. (The earl’s paper was first read at the society on December 19, 1789.) 85. Anonymous, An Accurate Description of the Marriage Ceremonies Used by Every Nation in the World: Shewing the oddity of some, the absurdity of others, the drollery of many; and the real or intended piety of all (Edinburgh: 1782). 86. For a useful general account of Thomas Holcroft and his pioneering efforts to create a “novel of purpose,” see Rodney M. Baine, Thomas Holcroft and the Revolutionary Novel (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1965). 87. Mary Wollstonecraft, “Review of Anna St. Ives,” Analytical Review 13 (May– August 1792), p. 73. 88. Thomas Holcroft, Anna St. Ives, 7 vols. (London: Shepperson and Reynolds, 1792), Vol. VII, p. 259. 89. Ibid., Vol. V, pp. 35–37. 90. William Hazlitt, Memoirs of the Late Thomas Holcroft, 3 vols. (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1816), Vol. II, pp. 129–30. 91. William Godwin, An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, 2 vols. (Dublin: Luke White, 1793), Vol. II, p. 381. 92 Ibid. 93. Ibid., p. 383. 94. William Godwin, An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, 3d ed., 2 vols. (London: G. G. and J. Robinson, 1798), Vol. II, p. 510. 95. Jon Mee, Dangerous Enthusiasm: William Blake and the Culture of Radicalism in the 1790s (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), p. 144. 96. See Jon Mee, Dangerous Enthusiasm. According to Mee, p. 165, Blake “would have at least encountered Geddes’s work at Johnson’s shop, if not the man himself.” 97. See Helen P. Bruder, William Blake and the Daughters of Albion, p. 35. This is not to suggest that Bruder is uncritical of Blake’s treatment of women. While acknowledging Blake’s radical treatment of female sexuality, she also explores the ways in which Blake’s books fail to extend his feminist analysis to the subject of women’s political rights—a tendency that Bruder identifies as “underlin[ing] how easy it is for a male radical to allow his proto-feminist sentiments to dwindle.” 98. See William St. Clair, The Godwins and the Shelleys (London: Faber and Faber, 1989), p. 264. St. Clair describes Lawrence and his friends (a group that included the celebrated vegetarian John Newton) as men who “played at radicalism” while living off the profits of their families’ plantations. 99. James Henry Lawrence, An Essay on the Nair System of Gallantry and Inheritance; Shewing Its Superiority over Marriage, As Insuring an Indubitable Genuineness of Birth, and Being More Favorable Tu Population, the Rights Ov Women, and the Active Disposition Ov Men [sic]. (London: J. Ridgeway, c. 1800), p. 31.

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Notes to Chapter 4 100. In The Godwins and the Shelleys, p. 264, William St. Clair notes that Godwin and Lawrence had been introduced as “early as September 1796” and that Godwin would see Lawrence “at the British Museum pursuing his annual researches.” 101. James Henry Lawrence, An Essay on the Nair System of Gallantry and Inheritance, p. 10. 102. Martin Madan, Thelyphthora, Vol. I, pp. 200–201. 103. James Henry Lawrence, The Empire of the Nairs; or, The Rights of Women: An Utopian Romance, in Twelve Books, 4 vols. (London: T. Hookham, Jun., and E. T. Hookham, 1811), Vol. I, p. 17. 104. James Henry Lawrence, The Children of God, or the Religion of Jesus Reconciled with Philosophy (London: John Brooks, 1833), p. 6. 105. For the now classic interpretation of male-female sexual differentiation during the eighteenth century—the shift from a one-sex to two-sex model—see Thomas Laqueur, Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992). This interpretation, however, has been called into question in recent years. See esp. Karen Harvey, Reading Sex in the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), for a discussion of the range of models in play in the eighteenth century. 106. In the early nineteenth century, Henry Thomas Kitchener and Thomas Bell developed a more sophisticated medical understanding of the physiology of female sexual arousal. According to Kitchener, women received “as much delight” as men during sexual intercourse. Bell meanwhile asserted that “the penis of the male, and the clitoris of the female, seem, in some respects, to resemble each other—they are both possessed of similar sensibility, they are both capable of erection, and each of them can support these states till the action, excited during coition, alters the sensation.” These medical discoveries, coupled with the spread of new reproductive technologies such as the sponge and condom during the 1820s, lent further weight to those arguments in favor of establishing a society founded on the principle of free love. These claims would be repeated during the 1820s in the pages of Richard Carlile’s Republican. As Carlile observed, “[It] is a barbarous custom that forbids the maid to make advances in love, or that confines that advance to the eye, the fingers, the gesture, the motion, the manner. It is ridiculous. Why should not the female state her passion to the male, as well as the male to the female?” See, respectively, Henry Thomas Kitchener, Letters on Marriage, on the Causes of Matrimonial Infidelity, and on the Reciprocal Relations of the Sexes (London: C. Chapple, 1812), p. 327; Thomas Bell, Kalogynomia, or the Laws of Female Beauty: Being the Elementary Principles of that Science (London: J. J. Stockdale, 1821), p. 185; and Richard Carlile, “What Is Love?” Republican 11, no. 18 (1825): 546. 107. For a more extensive discussion of the complicated links between libertinism and feminism, see Iain McCalman, Radical Underworld: Prophets, Revolutionaries and Pornographers in London, 1795–1840 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988); Barbara Taylor, Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), esp. pp. 198–200; and Libertine Enlightenment: Sex, Liberty and License in the Eighteenth Century, ed. Peter Cryle and Lisa O’Connell (New York: Palgrave, 2005). David Wooten’s “Pierre Bayle, Libertine?” and Karen O’Brien’s “Libertine Feminism: Locke and Mandeville,” both presented at the Feminism and Enlightenment Colloquium on “Gender, Morality, and



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Equality in the Early Enlightenment,” November 28, 1998, also provide provocative analyses of this theme. 108. Thomas Holcroft, Anna St. Ives, Vol. V, pp. 38–39. 109. Amelia Alderson Opie, Adeline Mowbray, 3 vols. (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, 1805), Vol. I, p. 35. 110. Ibid., Vol. III, p. 147. Yet, as Eleanor Ty underscores in The Unsex’d Revolutionaries: Five Women Novelists of the 1790s (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993), pp. 28–29, it would be wrong to treat Adeline Mowbray as a complete rejection of Wollstonecraft’s and Godwin’s project. Opie did have grave concerns about the institution of marriage. According to Ty, p. 29, “[W]hile advocating the institution of marriage, Opie demonstrates its deficiencies at the same time. In the novel marriage affords women neither security nor protection from the fickle nature of men, nor from the possibility of their abusing their prerogative and paternal authority.” 111. For more on the problematic dimensions of Godwin’s marriage stance, see Katharine Rogers, Feminism in Eighteenth-Century England (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982), p. 182. 112. James Henry Lawrence, The Empire of the Nairs, Vol. I, p. 90. 113. James Henry Lawrence, An Essay on the Nair System of Gallantry, pp. 29– 30. 114. In her introduction to a reprint of The Empire of the Nairs (Delmar, NY: Scholars’ Facsimiles and Reprints, 1978), Janet Todd draws out this tension. As Todd explains, p. ix, Lawrence “allows his men to become heroes but his women to become only ‘mothers of heroes.’ In his society, women’s duties are maternal and domestic as definitely as men’s are political and martial.” 115. James Hurdis, Equality: A Sermon, p. 14. Hurdis continues, pp. 14–15: “Were either children or servants to rebel, and insist upon an equal division of his property, they would be guilty of flagrant injustice towards him, and bring ruin upon themselves.” 116. John Milton, “To the Parliament of England,” in The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce: in Two Books (London: Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, 1820), p. 5. 117. Rachel Weil, Political Passions: Gender, the Family and Political Argument in England, 1680–1714 (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1999), pp. 2, 124. According to Weil, in fact, “[T]he writers who made an analogy between a people’s right to depose a ruler and a wife’s right to ‘depose’ a husband were generally opponents of the Revolution who wanted to illustrate the dangerous consequences of political contractarianism.” See Rachel Weil, Political Passions, p. 123. 118. For background on the unreformed electorate, see Frank O’Gorman, Voters, Patrons, and Parties: The Unreformed Electoral System of Hanoverian England, 1734–1832 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989). 119. See Carol Pateman, The Sexual Contract (Oxford: Polity Press/Basil Blackwell, 1988).

Chapter 5 1. Charles James Fox, “Debate on Mr. Grey’s Motion for a Reform of Parliament,” in The Parliamentary History of England (London: 1818), Vol. III, p. 726. 2. As Amanda Vickery observes in her “Introduction” to Women, Privilege, and

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Notes to Chapter 5 Power: British Politics 1750 to the Present, ed. Amanda Vickery (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), p. 36, “Although male opposition to female suffrage is notorious, the activities of supportive men have until very recently been lost to view.” That is certainly true of the scholarship covering the late eighteenth century, where there is as yet no equivalent to Claire Eustance’s and Angela John’s excellent edited collection The Men’s Share? Masculinities, Male Support and Women’s Suffrage in Great Britain, 1890–1920 (New York: Routledge, 1997). Almost all of the literature on late-eighteenth-century political reform continues to argue, in the tradition of Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, that male political emancipation remained the exclusive goal: “Exalting women as naturally loving and nurturing wives and mothers, the male heirs of the Enlightenment repudiated the notion that women like men, should enjoy political rights—should be citizens.” See Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, “Women and the Enlightenment,” in Becoming Visible: Women in European History, ed. Renate Bridenthal, Claudia Koonz, and Susan Stuard (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987), p. 272. For a more recent formulation, see John Barrell, Imagining the King’s Death: Figurative Treason, Fantasies of Regicide, 1793–1796 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 100: “If occasionally I refer in what follows to ‘universal suffrage,’ I do so simply for the sake of varying a phrase which a book on this subject must employ very frequently; the word ‘manhood’ should be understood. The only person I have come across in the 1790s who advocated women’s suffrage—and that in a footnote—was George Phillips [sic].” 3. That Wollstonecraft was one of the few British women to go on record as a defender of women’s political rights during this period does not mean that other women did not hold similar convictions. Already in 1740, one Margery Weldone had written an article for the Gentleman’s Magazine recommending women for Parliament. In 1788, La Belle Assemblée, a female debating club based in London, devoted a meeting to the subject of female political representation, although we do not know how they concluded their discussion. Charlotte Smith observed in her novel Desmond (London: G. G. and J. Robinson, 1792), Vol. I, p. iii, that, contra popular opinion, politics was women’s “business,” although she did not elaborate on what she meant by this. By the same token, there were likely also other men who believed in female suffrage, even if they did not commit their views to print. John Jebb, for example, observed in his Works that “compact supposes equality,” a statement that has led Jebb’s biographer, Anthony Page, to conclude that “he was privately entertaining the idea of women having political rights.” See Anthony Page, John Jebb and the Enlightenment Origins of British Radicalism (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003), pp. 224–25. As this book goes to press, I have also discovered that another radical, the physician Richard Dinmore of Watton, Norfolk (and later of Washington, DC) was strikingly forward-thinking on the subject of women’s political rights. As Dinmore explained in his A Brief Account of the Moral and Political Acts of the Kings and Queens of England, from William the Conqueror to the Revolution in the Year 1688 (London: H. D. Symonds and J. Ridgway, 1793), pp. 178–79, in the context of assessing Queen Elizabeth’s reign, “Indeed, the character of this Queen convinces us of the injustice that has hitherto been done to the Rights of Women; they are equally subject to the laws as the Men; why not then have an equal voice in the choice of the representatives of the people? The want of this right is peculiarly absurd in this kingdom, where a woman may reign, though not vote for a Member



Notes to Chapter 5

of Parliament. Even the liberal [Thomas] Cooper seems to hesitate whether married women should possess the right of voting; why should they not? Is it because their votes may be influenced by their husbands? So much the better reason to grant the right; it would add to the consequence of the married members of society, which a wise state should aim at with all its powers.” 4. See Alexander Jardine, “List of people who ought to see one another frequently, and from w(hom) might be formed a Select Club,” Bodleian Library, Abinger Collection, Dep.c.532/4; and James Dybikowski, On Burning Ground: An Examination of the Ideas, Projects and Life of David Williams (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 1993), p. 279. 5. See Memoirs of George Philips of Weston Park (February 1845), transcript by Dr. R. Coope, Warwickshire Record Office, CR 1381. As Philips notes, Book I, p. 73, he had some regrets about his connections with Cooper, and suffered “prejudice” from his friends and neighbors for his association with Cooper. 6. See ibid., p. 37. 7. Shepherd’s description of Cooper appeared in the Manchester Gazette, where, according to Shepherd’s friend Richard C. Scragg, the editor of Shepherd’s letters, it attracted “much notice.” See William Shepherd, A Selection from the Early Letters of the Late Rev. William Shepherd, LL., ed. Richard C. Scragg (Liverpool: 1855), pp. 75–77. 8. See Thomas Starling Norgate, ed., The Principles of Government, in A Dialogue Between a Gentleman & a Farmer. By the late Sir William Jones (Norwich: J. March, 1797), pp. 21, 44. 9. Thomas Spence included part of George Dyer’s 1793 The Complaints of the Poor People of England, originally published by Joseph Johnson, in his 1793 Pig’s Meat; or Lessons for the Swinish Multitude. In his 1801 The Restorer of Society to Its Natural State, Spence chose an epigraph from Alexander Jardine’s 1788 Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal, & C. 10. Richard Polwhele, The Unsex’d Females: A Poem (New York: William Cobbett, 1800 [1798]). 11. Barbara Taylor, Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 209. 12. See, for useful arguments regarding the gendering of citizenship during this period, Anna Clark, The Struggle for the Breeches: Gender and the Making of the British Working Class (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), esp. Chapter Eight, “Manhood and Citizenship: Radical Politics, 1767–1816”; Matthew McCormack, The Independent Man: Citizenship and Gender Politics in Georgian England (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005); and Kathleen Wilson, The Sense of the People: Politics, Culture and Imperialism in England, 1715–1785 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995). 13. George Butler, “On Female Literature,” in The Minutes and Essays for the Speculative Society of Cambridge, 1788–1795, British Library, ADD MSS 19716. 14. See the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry for George Butler. 15. William Enfield, “Review of Letters on the Female Mind, Its Powers, and Pursuits, Addressed to Miss H. M. Williams, with particular Reference to Her Letters from France,” Monthly Review 8 (December 1793), p. 399. 16. Cited in Karen Offen, European Feminisms, 1700–1950 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000), p. 63.

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Notes to Chapter 5 17. Louis-Marie Prudhomme, “De l’influence de la revolution sur les femmes,” Les Révolutions de Paris 9, no. 83 (February 5–12, 1791): 227, reprinted in Karen Offen, European Feminisms, p. 58. Although Prudhomme’s Revolutions of Paris does not seem to have been translated into English during this period, his Les crimes des reines de France, depuis le commencement de la monarchie jusqu’a Marie-Antoinette was published in London in 1792. This is not to suggest that there was universal opposition to the idea of the female citizen in revolutionary France. As in Britain, the situation was extremely complicated. Offen, p. 58, notes that the Journal of the Rights of Man expressed prowoman political views, and Olympe de Gouges and the Marquis de Condorcet were only two French figures who articulated their strong feminist leanings in print. It is unclear, however, how familiar British audiences would have been with their work. Extensive searches of the English Short Title Catalogue, Nineteenth-Century Short Title Catalogue, British Library Integrated Catalogue, and periodical indexes indicate that the Marquis de Condorcet’s On the Admission of Women to the Rights of Citizenship, published in France in 1790, was not translated into English during the 1790s, and none of the radicals that I treat in this book explicitly acknowledged that document. (Condorcet’s Outlines of an Historical View of the Progress of the Human Mind, though, was published by Joseph Johnson in 1795, the same year that it was distributed in France.) Olympe de Gouges’s Declaration of the Rights of Woman, published in France in 1791, similarly seems to have failed to attract an audience in Britain. For an extensive, if somewhat problematic, discussion of the debate regarding French women’s political rights during this period, see Anne Verjus, Le cens de la famille: Les femmes et le vote, 1789–1848 (Paris: Belin, 2002), as well as Karen Offen’s review of Verjus’s book for H-France Review 3 (September 2003) at http://www.h-france.net/vol3reviews/offen.html. 18. Ann Hughes, “Gender and Politics in Leveller Literature,” in Political Culture and Cultural Politics in Early Modern England, ed. Susan D. Amussen and Mark A. Kishlansky (Manchester: University of Manchester Press, 1995), pp. 162–88. 19. See Kathleen Wilson, The Sense of the People, pp. 43–44. 20. See Anna Clark, The Struggle for the Breeches, esp. Chapter Eight. 21. Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1992 [1791–92]), p. 39. 22. What Paine himself thought about female citizenship is unclear at best. For some time, Paine was considered to be the author of “An Occasional Letter on the Female Sex” (1775), but that attribution has now been called into question. See Mary Catherine Moran, “The Progress of Women,” History Workshop Journal 59 (2005). To further complicate matters, there is no clear discussion of sex or gender in any of Paine’s works after 1776. 23. Joan Wallach Scott, Only Paradoxes to Offer: French Feminists and the Rights of Man (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996), p. 8. 24. Hilda Smith, All Men and Both Sexes: Gender, Politics, and the False Universal in England 1640–1832 (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002), p. 3. Smith defines the “false universal” as the “social phenomenon of not seeing or perceiving women in certain contexts” and not conceiving of women as “having inherent qualities or relevant experiences for the categories from which they are omitted.”



Notes to Chapter 5

25. See, for example, John Thelwall, The Natural and Constitutional Right of Britons to Annual Parliaments, Universal Suffrage, and the Freedom of Popular Association: Being a Vindication of the Motives and Political Conduct of John Thelwall, and the London Corresponding Society in General (London, 1795). 26. See Anna Clark, “Women in Eighteenth-century British Politics,” in Women, Gender and Enlightenment, ed. Sarah Knott and Barbara Taylor (New York: Palgrave, 2005), pp. 570–86. 27. For the LCS pamphlets advertising Wollstonecraft’s work, see Citizen Binns, Thelwall, Jones, Hodgson & C., Account of the Proceedings of a Meeting of the London Corresponding Society Held in a Field Near Copenhagen House, Monday, October 26, 1795; Including the Substance of the Speeches of Citizens Binns, Thelwall, Jones, Hodgson, & C., with the Address To The Nation, and the Remonstrance To The King. And the Resolutions Passed by Upwards of Two Hundred Thousands Citizens, Then and There Assembled (London: Citizen Lee, at the Tree of Liberty, 1795); and Account of the Proceedings of a Meeting of the Inhabitants of Westminster, in Palace-Yard, Monday, November 26, 1795. Including the Substance of the Speeches of the Duke of Bedford, Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Fox, & C. With the Petition to the House of Commons (London: Citizen Lee, at the Tree of Liberty, 1795). 28. See E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (London: Victor Gollancz, 1980 [1963]), p. 159; and John Gale Jones, Sketch of a Political Tour through Rochester, Chatham, Maidstone, Gravesend, & C., including Reflections on the Tempers and Dispositions of the Inhabitants of Those Places, and on the progress of the societies instituted for the purpose of obtaining a parliamentary reform (London: J. S. Jordan and J. Smith, 1796), p. 91. 29. For Thomas Spence, see Something to the Purpose. A Receipt to Make a Millennium or Happy World. Being Extracts from the Constitution of Spensonia. From the Declaration of Rights (London: T. Spence, 1803). 30. See William Hodgson, Proposal for Publishing by Subscription a treatise, called the Female Citizen, or a Historical . . . Enquiry into the Rights of Women (London: 1796). Unfortunately, I have been unable to locate the treatise itself in any of the major research libraries and archives in North America and the United Kingdom. This suggests either that the treatise was destroyed, or that it was never actually written. Hodgson’s earlier The Commonwealth of Reason, published in 1795, had limited his proposed electorate to men. It seems, though, that his thinking was evolving on this issue. For background information on Hodgson, see his entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. See also John Barrell, The Spirit of Despotism: Invasions of Privacy in the 1790s (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), which includes an extensive discussion of the context for Hodgson’s imprisonment. 31. Matthew McCormack, The Independent Man, p. 132. 32. Alexander Jardine, Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal, & C., 2 vols. (London: T. Cadell, 1788) Vol. I, p. 311. 33. Ibid., Vol. I, p. 145. 34. Thomas Cooper, “Propositions Respecting the Foundation of Civil Government. Read at the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester, on March 7, 1787, and First Published in the Transactions of That Society, Vol. 3,” revised and reprinted in A Reply to Mr. Burke’s Invective Against Mr. Cooper, and Mr. Watt, in

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Notes to Chapter 5 the House of Commons, on the 30th of April, 1792 (London: J. Johnson, 1792), p. 99. While Cooper thought that reason was an important criterion for suffrage, he also believed that property should be taken into consideration. 35. See Thomas Starling Norgate, “On the Rights of Woman,” in The Cabinet, 3 vols. (J. March, 1795), Vol. I, p. 183; John Bristed, A Pedestrian Tour Through Part of the Highlands of Scotland, in 1801 (London: J. Wallis, 1803), pp. 373–74; and “On the Rights of Woman,” National Magazine, or, A Political, Historical, Biographical, and Literary Repository 2 (1800): 206. I would like to thank Rosemarie Zagarri for bringing this last American article to my attention. For more on the American scene, see Zagarri’s article “American Women’s Rights before Seneca Falls,” in Women, Gender and Enlightenment, pp. 667–91, and her recently published book, Revolutionary Backlash: Women and Politics in the Early American Republic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007). 36. Robert John Thornton, M.D., The Politician’s Creed, 3 vols. (London: Johnson, Robinsons, Owen and Manson, 1795), Vol. I, p. 125. For other examples of critics invoking the “rights of women” in order to shore up a Burkean logic, see Observations on Mr. Mackintosh’s Defence of the French Constitution, and its English Admirers (London: 1792), pp. 6–7; and A Letter from a Magistrate to Mr. William Rose, of Whitehall, on Mr. Paine’s Rights of Men (London: 1791), p. 46. 37. Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (London: J. Johnson, 1792), p. 335. 38. Thomas Starling Norgate, “On the Rights of Woman, Continued,” in The Cabinet, Vol. II, p. 43. 39. George Dyer, “Defects in the English Constitution, As to Representation,” from The Complaints of the Poor People of England (London: J. Johnson, 1793), reprinted in Part Second of Pig’s Meat; or, Lessons for the Swinish Multitude (London: T. Spence, 1793), p. 149. 40. This argument was first explored in Bentham’s unpublished “Observations on Article 6 [1789]”, UCL Bentham MSS, CIXX, f. 144, and further developed in his “Nonsense upon Stilts, or Pandora’s Box Opened, or The French Declaration of Rights Prefixed to the Constitution of 1791 Laid Open and Exposed—with a Comparative Sketch of What Has Been Done on the Same Subject in the Constitution of 1795, and a Sample of Citizen Sièyes,” written in 1795 though not published until 1816 in French. This line of argumentation is also taken up in his “Plan of Parliamentary Reform, in the form of a Catechism,” published in 1817. Both of these texts were reprinted in The Works of Jeremy Bentham, ed. John Bowring, 6 vols. (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1843), Vols. II and III. 41. See Jeremy Bentham, “Continued Discussion of the French constitution [1789],” UCL Bentham MSS CIXX, f. 151. Again, for provocative feminist readings of Bentham’s utilitarianism, see Annie L. Cot, “‘Let There be no Distinction between the Sexes’: Jeremy Bentham on the Status of Women,” in The Status of Women in Classical Economic Thought, ed. Robert William Dimand and Chris Nyland (Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2003), pp. 165–89; and Lea Campos Boralevi, Bentham and the Oppressed (New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1984). 42. Jeremy Bentham, “Observations on Article 6, continued,” UCL Bentham MSS, CIXX, f. 145.



Notes to Chapter 5

43. Thomas Starling Norgate, “On the Rights of Woman, Continued,” in The Cabinet, Vol. II, p. 48. Emphasis Norgate’s. 44. The Friends of the People was a moderate Whig reformist group that had formed in 1792 with the goal of expanding the electorate and mandating frequent elections. 45. George Philips, The Necessity of a Speedy and Effectual Reform in Parliament (Manchester: M. Falkner, 1793), p. 12. 46. See George Philips, Memoirs of George Philips of Weston Park, Warwickshire Record Office, CR 1381, Book 1, p. 73. 47. See Barbara Taylor, Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination, p. 214: “[Natural right] was . . . but one of a quiverful of intellectual weapons to be kept sharp and handy for contestation.” 48. Again, on the “ancient constitution,” see J. G. A. Pocock, The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987 [2d edition]); and James Vernon, ed., Re-reading the Constitution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996). 49. Albert Goodwin, The Friends of Liberty: The English Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution (London: Hutchinson and Co., 1979), p. 31. 50. George Dyer, The Complaints of the Poor People of England, p. 197. 51. James A. Epstein, Radical Expression: Political Language, Ritual, and Symbol in England, 1790–1850 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), p. 23. 52. Barbara Taylor, Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination, p. 211. See also Michèle Cohen, “‘Manners’ Make the Man: Politeness, Chivalry, and the Construction of Masculinity, 1750–1830,” Journal of British Studies 44 (April 2005), for a rich discussion of the revival of chivalry in the late eighteenth century, and the role of the English medieval past more generally in the construction of “enlightened” masculine identities. 53. James Vernon, “Notes toward an introduction,” in Re-Reading the Constitution, p. 2. 54. Again, for background on the Scottish conjectural historians’ treatment of women under the Germanic tribes and Anglo-Saxons, see Jane Rendall, “Writing History for British Women: Elizabeth Hamilton and the Memoirs of Agrippina,” in Wollstonecraft’s Daughters: Womanhood in England and France 1780–1920, ed. Clarissa Campbell Orr (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996), pp. 79–93, and Jane Rendall, “Tacitus Engendered: Gothic Feminism and British Histories 1750–1800,” in Imagining Nations, ed. Geoffrey Cubitt (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998). 55. George Dyer, “On the Best Means of Promoting the Fundamental Principles of the English Constitution,” reprinted in The Pamphleteer 24 (1818): 438. Emphasis Dyer’s. This essay originally appeared in Leigh Hunt’s Reflector for the year 1811–12, and was included in George Dyer, Four Letters on the Constitution (London: 1812). 56. See Thomas Starling Norgate, ed., The Principles of Government, p. vi. 57. Certainly, theirs were selective readings. Men inclined toward “championing” the female sex no doubt intended to highlight those aspects of the “ancient constitution” that reinforced their feminist political philosophy. This does not mean

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Notes to Chapter 5 that we should reject their readings. The constitution, after all, existed only at the level of interpretation, to be manipulated by radicals and conservatives alike. And clearly, there was at least some basis for their feminist interpretations. As Sheila C. Dietrich argues in “An Introduction to Women in Anglo-Saxon Society (c. 600– 1066),” in The Women of England: From Anglo-Saxon Times to the Present, ed. Barbara Kanner (London: Mansell, 1980), pp. 32–44, Anglo-Saxon records certainly can lend themselves to feminist readings. She writes, p. 32: “Women (at least the upper class women usually depicted in the documents) emerge from Anglo-Saxon records possessing an impressive independence and influence.” 58. “Calidore,” “To Mr. Urban,” Gentleman’s Magazine 58 (February 1788): 100. 59. Ibid. 101. The text to which “Calidore” was referring here is George Hickes’s Linguarum Vett. Septentrionalium Thesaurus Grammatico-Critico et Archaeologicus. L.P. (Oxoniae: E. Theatro Sheldoniano, 1703–5). 60. Thomas Starling Norgate, “On the Rights of Woman, Continued,” in The Cabinet, Vol. II, p. 46. Of this council, Norgate explains in a footnote, “A general council was held by Ethelwolf in 885 praesentibus et subscribentibus archiepiscopis et episcopis Angliae universes, nec non Beorredo rege Merciae, Edmundo East-Anglorum rege, abbatum et abbatissarum, ducm, & c. infinita multitudine. [Millar on English Government.] The convention of this Wittenagemote was to grant a charter or tythes, and at which were present and subscribed their names, the archbishops and bishops of England, Burthred king of Mercia, Edmund king of East-Anglia, and of abbots, abbesses, dukes & c. a great multitude.” Emphasis Norgate’s. 61. Thomas Starling Norgate, “On the Rights of Woman,” in The Cabinet, Vol. I, pp. 180–81. 62. Some men outside of this select feminist vanguard, however, were inclined to view Salic Law differently. The reformer Thomas Christie, for example, cited Salic Law as a shining example of France’s politeness and civility regarding the “fair sex.” As he noted in his Letters on the Revolution in France, and on the New Constitution (London: J. Johnson, 1791), p. 218, “That ancient Salic Law . . . was considered by the Assembly as a fundamental and wise regulation . . . which merited to be solemnly renewed, and permanently established. Thus this polite people, the most attached and attentive to the sex of any in Europe, have manifested superior wisdom, in shewing that they know where to draw the line, and so to honour the sex as not to injure their real happiness, or endanger the welfare of society. They have rightly judged, in not raising them out of their natural sphere, in not involving them in the cares and anxieties of state affairs, to which neither their frame nor their minds are adapted.” Emphasis Christie’s. 63. Thomas Starling Norgate, “On the Rights of Woman, continued,” in The Cabinet, Vol. II, p. 46. 64. See, for example, William Alexander, M.D., The History of Women, from the Earliest Antiquity, to the Present Time (London: W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1779), p. 317. 65. Thomas Starling Norgate, “Observations on the Reign and Character of Queen Elizabeth,” in Essays, Tales, and Poems (Norwich: J. March, 1795), pp. 142– 43. 66. “Calidore,” “To Mr. Urban,” Gentleman’s Magazine 58 (February 1788): 101.



Notes to Chapter 5

67. Thomas Starling Norgate, “On the Rights of Woman, Continued,” in The Cabinet, Vol. II, p. 46. Emphasis Norgate’s. 68. Jeremy Bentham, “Observations on Article 6,” UCL Bentham MSS, CIXX, f. 144. Bentham apparently experienced difficulty choosing the right words with which to express this belief. In his manuscript, the words “occupying” and “sharing” are written next to “possessing”—“sharing,” however, is crossed out. 69. “The King against Alice Stubbs and Others,” April 21, 1788, in Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Court of King’s Bench from Trinity Term, 27th George II to Michaelmas Term, 29th George III. Both Inclusive, ed. Charles Durnford and Edward Hyde East (London: Printed for His Majesty’s Law-Printers, 1789), p. 396. 70. Jeremy Bentham, Plan of Parliamentary Reform, in the Form of a Catechism, With Reasons for Each Article. With an Introduction Shewing the Necessity of Radical, and the Inadequacy of Moderate, Reform (1817), reprinted in The Works of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. III, p. 463. 71. In this sense, Bentham was making an argument for what feminist scholars have recently come to celebrate—the fact that long before women in Britain received the vote, their “political power could carry legal weight.” See Elaine Chalus, “Women, Electoral Privilege and Practice in the Eighteenth Century,” in Women in British Politics, 1760–1860: The Power of the Petticoat, ed. Kathryn Gleadle and Sarah Richardson (New York: Palgrave, 2000), p. 19. Hilda Smith makes a similar point in “Women as Sextons and Electors: King’s Bench and Precedents for Women’s Citizenship,” in Women Writers and the Early Modern British Political Tradition, ed. Hilda Smith (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 324–42. 72. As discussed in Chapter Three, there is a rich literature on sentimentalism in Britain. See G. J. Barker-Benfield, The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992); John Dwyer, Virtuous Discourse: Sensibility and Community in Late Eighteenth-Century Scotland (Edinburgh: John Donald, 1987); Paul Goring, The Rhetoric of Sensibility in Eighteenth-Century Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); John Mullan, Sentiment and Sociability: The Language of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988); Janet Todd, Sensibility: An Introduction (New York: Methuen, 1986); and, in an American context, Sarah Knott, Sensibility and the American Revolution (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008). 73. See John Dwyer, Virtuous Discourse, p. 136. 74. George Butler, “On Female Literature,” delivered December 3, 1793, reprinted in the Speculative Society of Cambridge—Minutes and Essays, 1788–1795, British Library Add MSS 19716, f. 147. 75. Alexander Jardine, Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal, & C., Vol. I, p. 312. 76. Thomas Starling Norgate, “On the Rights of Women, Continued,” in The Cabinet, Vol. II, p. 37. 77. See Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707–1837 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992); and Anne K. Mellor, Mothers of the Nation: Women’s Political Writing in England, 1780–1830 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000).

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Notes to Chapter 5 78. See Linda Colley, Britons, p. 274. 79. George Philips, The Necessity of a Speedy and Effectual Reform in Parliament, p. 54. 80. For an extensive discussion of the ways in which the gendering of “civilization” helped women gain greater access to the public sphere, see Mary Catherine Moran, “Between the Savage and the Civil: Dr. John Gregory’s Natural History of Femininity,” in Women, Gender and Enlightenment, pp. 8–29. 81. Alexander Jardine, Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal, & C., Vol. I, p. 312. 82. “Calidore,” “To Mr. Urban,” Gentleman’s Magazine 58 (February 1788): 100. 83. “Calidore,” “To Mr. Urban,” The Gentleman’s Magazine, 58 (March 1788), p. 224. 84. John Gale Jones, Sketch of a Political Tour, p. 91. The London Corresponding Society had petitioned against the passage of the Convention Bills on several occasions, as indicated by publications including Account of the proceedings of a meeting of the people, in a field near Copenhagen-House, Thursday, Nov 12; including the substance of the speeches of citizens Duane, Thelwall, Jones, &c. With the petitions to the King, Lords, and Commons . . . on the subject of . . . a convention bill (1795) and To the British Nation. The reply of the London Corresponding Society, to the calumnies propagated by persons in high authority, for the purpose of furnishing pretences for the pending Convention Bill (1795). 85. “Calidore,” “To Mr. Urban,” in Gentleman’s Magazine 58 (February 1788): 101. Emphasis Calidore’s. 86. Ibid. Emphasis Calidore’s. The poet Robert Southey also seems to have shared these views. According to William St. Clair, The Godwins and the Shelleys (London: Faber and Faber, 1989), p. 162, Southey’s poem “The Triumph of Woman,” published in 1797, came “near to suggesting that women are a superior species who, if given a political chance, could turn aside the aggressiveness of males and bring about international peace and disarmament.” 87. George Dyer, “On Liberty,” in Poems (London: J. Johnson, 1792), p. 36. 88. G. J. Barker-Benfield, The Culture of Sensibility, p. 381. 89. Much has been written about Spence and his ideas about land reform. Indeed, with the exception of Jeremy Bentham, Spence is perhaps the best known of the figures discussed in this chapter. It is my purpose here, therefore, to focus exclusively on the “Spensonian” plan as it related to women, and in particular, the ways in which he expected the “fair sex” to help him realize his utopian vision. 90. See Francis Place, Collection for a Memoir of Thomas Spence, and the Spenceans, Illustrative of the Folly and Cruelty of the Government in Prosecuting the Spenceans, British Library, Add MS 27808, f.161. Place notes that Spence delivered a lecture on the Spensonian or Spencean System to the Philosophical Society of Newcastle on November 8, 1775. But as Malcolm Chase explains in The People’s Farm: English Radical Agrarianism, 1775–1840 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), p. 57, “In his original lecture of 1775 ‘the whole people’ would seem implicitly to exclude women, while the remaining publications of his Newcastle and early London years certainly disregard any need to make an explicit case for the rights of women. However, in a striking parallel to the development of his millennial interests, his Rights of Infants of 1797 contains a sustained argument in favour of allowing women full political rights.”



Notes to Chapter 5

91. See Thomas Spence, Something to the Purpose. A Receipt to Make a Millennium or Happy World. Being Extracts from the Constitution of Spensonia. From the Declaration of Rights (London: T. Spence, 1803?). At the same time, though, Spence was careful to note that women would be “exempted from, and . . . ineligible to all public employments”—a distinction that makes little sense in the overall context of Spence’s argument. 92. Thomas Spence, The Constitution of Spensonia, A Country in Fairy-Land, Situated Between Utopia and Oceana, Brought from Thence by Captain Swallow, Printed as Part of the Important Trial of Thomas Spence, For a Political Pamphlet, Intitled ‘The Restorer of Society to Its Natural State’ on May 27th, 1801 (London: A. Seale, 1803?), p. 91. 93. See Thomas Spence, The Rights of Infants; or, the Imprescriptable Right of Mothers to Such a Share of the Elements as Is Sufficient to Enable Them to Suckle and Bring Up Their Young, in a Dialogue between the Aristocracy and a Mother of Children. To Which Are Added, by Way of Preface and Appendix, Strictures on Paine’s Agrarian Justice (London: T. Spence, 1797), p. 8; and David Worrall, Radical Culture: Discourse, Resistance and Surveillance, 1790–1820 (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1992), p. 31. 94. Thomas Spence, The Rights of Infants, p. 8. 95. Ibid. 96. Anna Clark, The Struggle for the Breeches, p. 149. David Worrall, Radical Culture, p. 32, similarly dismisses Spence’s feminism, describing Spence as “at best, an opportunist feminist, someone who perhaps drew a quick political lesson from events like the women’s march on Versailles in 1789, but the tactics of having women in the vanguard of a coup d’état was a piece of practical revolutionary politics that the Spenceans well understood.” 97. Thomas Williams, Constitutional Politics; or The British Constitution Vindicated, Against the Spenceans, and Other Advocates of Universal Suffrage, Election by Ballot, & C. Lately Published in The Philanthropic Gazette: and Now Revised, and Considerably Enlarged (London: 1817), p. 9. 98. George Philips, The Necessity of a Speedy and Effectual Reform, pp. 9–10. 99. Citizen Randol of Ostend, A Political Catechism of Man. Wherein His Natural Rights Are Familiarly Explained and Exemplified, in a Variety of Observations on the Government of a Neighbouring Island. Also, the Real and Political Consequence of the Honest Husbandman, and Industrious Mechanic, and Their Incontrovertible Right to Legislate for Themselves Clearly Expounded. Together With Some Remarks on the Unsocial Tendency of Catholic Churches, Established by Law (London: Daniel Isaac Eaton, 1795), p. 27. In Radical Expression, p. 168, James Epstein suggests that “Citizen Randol” was possibly Daniel Isaac Eaton. At the very least, Eaton was the publisher. It is also highly likely that Eaton was the author of the satirical Pernicious Effects of the Art of Printing Upon Society, Exposed (London: Daniel Isaac Eaton, 1794), a tract that parodied those who would exclude women from the franchise. See esp. p. 9: “With similar mistaken notions of liberty, even many women are infatuated; and the press, that grand prolific source of evil—that fruitful mother of mischief, has already favoured the public with several female productions on this very popular subject—one in particular, called Rights of Women, and in which, as one of their rights, a share in legislation is claimed and asserted—gracious heaven! To what will this fatal delusion lead, and in what will it terminate!”

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Notes to Chapter 5 100. Jeremy Bentham, “Observations on Article 6,” UCL Bentham MSS, CIXX, f. 145. 101. George Dyer, “Defects in the English Constitution, As to Representation,” from The Complaints of the Poor People of England, reprinted in Part Second of Pig’s Meat, p. 149. 102. William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, ed. Edward Christian (London: T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1800 [13th edition]), p. 445. 104. See, respectively, Thomas Starling Norgate, “On the Rights of Woman,” in The Cabinet, Vol. I, p. 178 and George Philips, The Necessity of a Speedy and Effectual Reform, p. 58. 104. Cited in Claire Eustance and Angela V. John, “Shared Histories—Differing Identities: Introducing Masculinities, Male Support and Women’s Suffrage,” in The Men’s Share?, p. 23. 105. William Stafford, “Shall We Take the Linguistic Turn? British Radicalism in the Era of the French Revolution,” Historical Journal 43 (2000): 588. 106. For a useful survey of the aims of these postwar reformers, see Arthur Burns and Joanna Innes, eds., Rethinking the Age of Reform: Britain, 1780–1850 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), esp. the editors’ Introduction, pp. 1– 70. 107. Alexander Jardine died in 1799. Thomas Starling Norgate ceased publicizing his opinions on women’s political rights, though he did remain active in the public sphere through the printing of a newspaper, The East Anglian, from 1830 to 1833. Edward Christian, George Philips, and William Shepherd fell silent on the subject of women’s “right of election.” In fact, in a speech delivered in 1832 following the passage of the Reform Bill, Shepherd remarked, “I have lived to witness three important triumphs of our cause—the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, Catholic Emancipation, and Parliamentary Reform—My mission, then, seems to be at an end.” See William Shepherd, Speech of the Rev. W. Shepherd, At the Public Dinner to celebrate the passing of the Reform Bills in Liverpool, on Tuesday the 4th of Sept. 1832 (Liverpool: Wales and Baines, 1832), p. 12. Thomas Cooper, meanwhile, immigrated to America in 1794, where he became an opponent of John Adams’s administration and in 1820, the president of South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina). John Gale Jones, George Dyer, and Jeremy Bentham alone remained actively involved in advocating the extension of political rights to women in the nineteenth century, although they too became more muted on the subject of women’s rights. As Lea Campos Boralevi argues in Bentham and the Oppressed, p. 16, Bentham “play[ed] down” his arguments regarding women’s representation in later years in large part because he “feared that his opponents’ scorn for women was also extended to the claim for universal male suffrage.” These issues will be taken up in greater detail in the Conclusion of this book. 108. See the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entries for Henry Hunt and Matthew Davenport-Hill. See also Rosamond and Florence Davenport-Hill, The Recorder of Birmingham. A Memoir of Matthew Davenport Hill; with selections from his correspondence (London: Macmillan and Co., 1878). 109. George Ensor, Esq. The Independent Man: or, An Essay on the Formation and Development of Those Principles and Faculties of the Human Mind Which Consti-



Notes to Chapter 5 and the Conclusion

tute Moral and Intellectual Excellence, 2 vols. (London: J. Johnson, 1806), Vol. II, p. 417. 110. See Samuel Ferrand Waddington, “Vindication of Female Political Interference,” Republican 1, no. 3 (September 10, 1819): 45, and The New Charter (London: 1831), p. 3. 111. The New Charter, p. 3. The author of this incredible document also cited many other reasons why women should have the vote, including the fact that women had the ability to reason; that women were not always properly provided for by brothers, fathers, and husbands; and that election in the future would be by ballot, thus eliminating the “rancorous spirit and riotous proceedings of elections.” 112. The Black Dwarf 2, no. 36 (September 9, 1818): 576. The author may have been Thomas Hardy. 113. Samuel Ferrand Waddington, “Vindication of Female Political Interference,” Republican 1, no. 3 (September 10, 1819): 45. 114. Barbara Taylor, Eve and the New Jerusalem: Socialism and Feminism in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993 [1983]). 115. James Mill, “Article on Government,” in Encyclopedia Britannica (London: 1820), p. 500. 116. William Thompson, Appeal of One Half the Human Race, Women, against the Pretensions of the Other Half, Men, to retain them in political, and thence in civil and domestic slavery; in reply to a paragraph of Mr. Mill’s celebrated ‘Article on Government’ (London, 1825), pp. ix, 213. In his concluding argument, Thompson asks, “Shall none be found with sufficient knowledge and elevation of mind to persuade men to do good, to make the most certain step towards the regeneration of degraded humanity, by opening a free course for justice and benevolence, for intellectual and social enjoyments, by no colour, by no sex to be restrained? As your bondage has chained down man to the ignorance and vices of despotism, so will your liberation reward him with knowledge, with freedom and with happiness.” 117. As Elaine Chalus notes in “Women, Electoral Privilege and Practice in the Eighteenth Century,” in Women in British Politics, 1760–1860: The Power of the Petticoat, p. 20, “[W]omen in England and Wales were not legally disenfranchised until the Reform Act of 1832.” 118. Anonymous, England’s Danger; or, Reform Unmasked (London: John Hatchard, 1819), p. 9.

Conclusion 1. See Helen Bruder, William Blake and the Daughters of Albion (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997), p. 115. 2. The idea of a “revival of questions” owes much in its formulation to J. C. D. Clark. In his English Society 1660–1832: Religion, Ideology and Politics during the Ancien Regime (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000 [1985]), p. 398, Clark notes that the 1780s were characterized by the same questioning and criticism that marked the 1680s. 3. See Benjamin Heath Malkin, Essays on Subjects Connected with Civilization (London: C. Dilly, 1795), p. 181. 4. For more on the correspondence between James Henry Lawrence and Percy

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Notes to the Conclusion Bysshe Shelley, see Kathryn Gleadle, Radical Writing on Women, 1800–1850 (New York: Palgrave, 2002), pp. 130–32. Lawrence’s Nairs also made it into the pages of Richard Carlile’s The Lion. 5. In this sense, I wholly agree with Amanda Vickery, “From Golden Age to Separate Spheres?” Historical Journal 36, no. 2 (1993): 392: “[E]qual rights feminism was less a reflex response to a newly imposed model of stifling passivity, than the fruition of a political tradition.” 6. In Chapter Five, I discussed Samuel Ferrand Waddington’s direct citation of these letters by “Calidore”. See Samuel Ferrand Waddington, “Vindication of Female Political Interference,” Republican 1, no. 3 (September 10, 1819): 45. 7. A number of scholars have argued that the “revolutionary” feminism unleashed during the 1790s was confined to a particular historical moment. See, for example, Barbara Taylor, Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 177: “[It] is worth recalling just how limited and temporary a flowering of feminist ideals occurred over this period.” Barbara Caine and Anna Clark have adopted similar positions. See, respectively, Barbara Caine, English Feminism, 1780–1980 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 53; and Anna Clark, Scandal: The Sexual Politics of the British Constitution (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), esp. Chapter Six. For an alternative perspective and one more in line with the position I have adopted here, see Kathryn Gleadle, Radical Writing on Women. Gleadle, p. 1, stresses the continuities in British feminist discourse, and argues that “feminism was alive and kicking in early nineteenth-century Britain.” 8. See, respectively, Jeremy Bentham, Chrestomathia, ed. M. J. Smith and W. H. Burston (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983 [1815]); and Henry Hunt, The Memoirs of Henry Hunt, 3 vols. (London: W. Molineux, 1820–22). As Bentham observed in Chrestomathia, p. 122, “In the whole of the proposed field of instruction . . . scarcely will there be found a spot, which in itself, custom apart, will not be, in respect of the information presented by it, alike useful to both sexes.” 9. See the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry for Catherine Grace Godwin. 10. See the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry for Thomas Holcroft. 11. The Times, May 6, 1935, as cited in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry for Kate Norgate. 12. For more on Thomas Cooper’s transformation, see George Philips, Memoirs of George Philips of Weston Park (February 1845), transcript by Dr. R. Coope, Warwickshire Record Office, CR 1381, Book 1, esp. pp. 100–104. 13. Thomas Cooper to George Philips, September 15, 1822, reprinted in Philips’s Memoirs, Book 1, p. 99. 14. Thomas Starling Norgate, Hora Otiosa, Norfolk Record Office, MC1 175/3, pp. 80–81. 15. See Sylvia Strauss, “Traitors to the Masculine Cause”: The Men’s Campaigns for Women’s Rights (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1982), for a formulation of male feminists as “traitors” to their sex. Claire Eustance and Angela V. John have already gone a long way toward debunking this myth of exceptionalism with their edited collection, The Men’s Share? Masculinities, Male Support and Women’s Suffrage



Notes to the Conclusion

in Britain, 1890–1920 (New York: Routledge, 1997), which fleshes out men’s participation in the women’s suffrage campaigns of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 16. William Thompson, Appeal of One Half the Human Race, Women, against the Pretensions of the Other Half, Men, to Retain Them in Political, and Thence in Civil and Domestic Slavery; in Reply to a Paragraph of Mr. Mill’s Celebrated “Article on Government” (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, 1825), pp. v–vi. 17. For this critique, see Barbara Caine, English Feminism, 1780–1980 , p. 56. 18. See Barbara Taylor, Eve and the New Jerusalem: Socialism and Feminism in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993 [1983]), for a rich discussion of William Thompson’s feminism in particular, as well as of the Owenites’ larger desire to secure human liberation. 19. See Ben Elmy and Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy (writing under the joint pseudonym “Ellis Ethelmer”), “Feminism,” Westminster Review 149 (1898): 62; and Barbara Caine, English Feminism, p. 143.

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Index

Abbesses, 116, 128 Abortion: attitudes toward, 192n75; decriminalization of, 96 An Accurate Description of the Marriage Ceremonies Used by Every Nation in the World, 98 Addison, Joseph, 43 Adeline Mowbray (Opie), 102–3, 195n110 Aikin, John, 75, 183n78 Alderson, Amelia, 3, 23 Alderson, James, 57 Aldis, Sir Charles, Defence of the Character and Conduct of the Late Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, 21, 31 Alexander, William, 28, 29, 42, 63, 87, 88 Amyot, Thomas, 1 Analytical Review, 14, 15, 19, 22, 67, 68, 69, 75, 94 Anderson, James, 24 Anderson, John, 49–50, 51, 53, 137 Anderson’s Institution: establishment, 49, 50, 53; goals, 51, 172n70; influence of, 172–73n77; instructors, 23, 50, 172n73 Anglo-Saxons: chivalry, 90; women’s political participation, 115, 121, 128; women’s status, 90 Anna St. Ives (Holcroft), 19, 30, 92, 99, 102

Anti-Jacobin Review, 89 Antislavery movement, 15, 16–17 Association for the Preservation of Liberty and Property against Republicans and Levellers, 15 Astell, Mary, 42, 45, 48, 187n15 Badcock, Samuel, 83 Bage, Robert: biography, 138; Hermsprong, 24, 30, 72; support of female education, 24 Ballard, George, Memoirs of British Ladies, 45 Barbauld, Anna: Johnson and, 69; as reformer, 3, 27; social network, 18; “The Rights of Woman,” 27 Barker-Benfield, G. J., 122 Beddoes, Thomas, 24, 49, 61, 138 The Bee, 24, 57 La Belle Assemblée, 83, 196n3 Bennett, John, Strictures on Female Education, 41, 87 Bentham, Jeremy: biography, 139; Chrestomathic school, 133; on divorce­ laws, 95–96; “First Lines of a Proposed Code of Law for any Nation Compleat and Rationalized,” 97; influence of, 134; Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, 95–96; “Nonsense on

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Index Stilts, or Pandora’s Box Opened,” 118; “Observations on Article 6,” 114, 126; Plan of Parliamentary Reform, 118–19; on political rights of women, 106, 114, 118–19, 126, 206n107; on primogeniture, 96, 97; Principles of the Civil Code, 95; reform efforts, 107–8; scholarship on, 4; social networks, 128; on women’s marital and legal rights, 84 Bentley, Elizabeth, 66, 72, 73, 182–83n70 Bible: Eve, 87, 89; marital institution based on, 85–86; seen as cultural text, 88–89; translation by Geddes, 22, 88–89 Bill of Rights, 12, 17 Birckbeck, George, 172–73n77 Birmingham: Lunar Society, 24, 48–49, 52, 173n84; reformers in, 24 Blackstone, William, Commentaries on the Laws of England, 70, 89–90, 93, 126 Blake, William: illustrations, 20; on marriage, 100; patron, 79; scholarship on, 4; on sexual desire, 100; social network, 20; on women’s marital and legal rights, 98; works, 21, 100 Bluestockings, 54, 60–61, 173n88 Booksellers, support of women writers, 68–73. See also Publishers Botany, 49, 78, 99, 171n65 Bowstead, J., 44 Brewer, John, 61, 64–65, 78 Bristed, John: on female education, 53; life, 42; A Pedestrian Tour through Part of the Highlands of Scotland, 25, 44–45, 46; on stadial theory, 42 British government: critiques of, 12–13; reaction to French Revolution, 14–15; reform attempts, 15–16; repression of dissent, 15. See also Parliament Bruder, Helen P., 4, 100 Buchan, Lord, see Erskine, David Steuart

Burke, Edmund: Cooper and, 112; Reflections on the Revolution in France, 13, 69 Burney, Fanny, 61 Burns, Robert, “The Rights of Women,” 85 Burton, Antoinette, 35–36 Butler, George, 109, 119 The Cabinet, 1, 14, 23, 24, 25, 44, 91–92, 93 Cadell, Thomas, Jr., 70 Cadell, Thomas, Sr., 70 Cairncross, John, 84 “Calidore”: letters in Gentleman’s Magazine, 21, 91, 116, 118, 120, 121, 128, 133; on political rights of women, 106, 116, 118, 119, 124; reform proposals, 26 Capel Court Society, 82, 186n1 Cappe, Catharine, 40 Carlile, Richard, 102, 128, 132, 194n106 Carter, Elizabeth, 39, 45, 60–61, 173n88 Cartesian dualism, 42 Cartwright, John, 15, 27 Cave, Edward, 60 Cavendish, Margaret, 39 “Champions of the fair sex,” see Reformers, male Charlemont, Earl of, 98 Chartists, 134 Childrearing, 103 Chivalry, 5, 36, 47 Christian, Edward: Blackstone Commentaries edition, 70, 93, 126; on marriage laws, 97; on political rights of women, 106, 126; reform proposals, 26; social network, 25, 108; on women’s marital and legal rights, 84 Christianity: abbesses, 116, 128; female preachers, 34, 66, 164n136, 178n21. See also Bible; Dissenters Christian Miscellany, 19 Christie, Thomas, 202n62 “Citizen Randol,” 106, 125–26



Index

Citizenship, 129. See also Legal status of women; Political participation of women; Suffrage Clark, Anna, 85, 110, 111, 124 Clarkson, Thomas, 16 Clermont (Roche), 71–72 Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, 55 Colley, Linda, 120 Colls, John Henry: “Gumilla and Cora, a Dialogue,” 96; “Poetic Epistle Addressed to Mrs. Wollstonecraft,” 5, 23, 96 Compton, Abraham, 108 Condorcet, Marquis de, 12, 198n17 Conduct-books, 38, 41, 46 Conjectural history, 29, 42, 87–88, 116, 117. See also Stadial theory Contractarianism, 104–5 Cook, James, 63, 98 Cooper, Thomas: biography, 139–40; immigration to America, 25, 134, 206n107; influence of, 25, 115; on political rights of women, 106, 112–13, 116; publications, 21, 24; radicalism, 107; reform proposals, 26; Reply to Mr. Burke’s Invective, 23, 25, 76, 112–13; on rights of dissenters, 16; social network, 24, 25, 108, 115, 160n75, 197n5; support of women writers, 76 Corporation Act, 16, 68 Coverture, 18, 86, 88, 91, 93, 188n24 Cowper, William, 79, 83 Criminal law: on abortion, 192n75; reforms, 97 Critical histories, 88 Critical Review, 79 Critics: hostility toward women writers, 73–74; sympathetic, 74–76, 77 Crown and Anchor Society, 15 Cultivation of female minds, 37, 44–45. See also Education Cumberland, Richard, 73

of the Plants, 78–79, 98; Plan for the Conduct of Female Education in Boarding Schools, 57; Seward and, 78–79; social network, 25; support of female education, 24, 49, 57; on women’s roles, 56–57 Davies, William, 70 Day, Thomas, 62 Debating clubs, 83, 95, 110 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, 12, 114, 118, 126 Democratization: of education, 172–73n77; political, 15–16; of reform movement, 14. See also Suffrage Descartes, René, 42 Desmond (Smith), 26, 70, 187n15, 196n3 Dinmore, Richard, 196–97n3 Dissenters: lack of religious freedom, 12–13, 16, 32; legal discrimination against, 16, 32; writers, 62. See also Rational Dissent Dissenting Academies, 32 Divorce laws: English, 86, 94; French, 94, 104; history, 94; questioning of, 88; reform proposals, 93–96, 104 Domestic roles of women: compatibility with literary pursuits, 64; education for, 51–54; questioning of, 53, 55; traditional, 53; of writers, 64–65. See also Married women; Mothers Drieu la Rochelle, Pierre, 27 Duncombe, John, The Feminiad, 45 Dyer, George: biography, 140–41; The Complaints of the Poor People of England, 97, 114, 115, 122, 126; education, 34; “On Liberty,” 122; Poems, 25, 77, 122; on political rights of women, 106, 114, 116, 119, 121–22, 124, 126, 206n107; on primogeniture, 96–97; relations with accomplished women, 34; social network, 18, 108; support of women writers, 77, 79; Wollstonecraft and, 20

Darwin, Erasmus: biography, 140; The Botanic Garden, 98; The Loves

Eaton, Daniel Isaac, 106, 125–26 Edgeworth, Maria: critics of, 62;

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Index education of, 39–40, 45; Letters for Literary Ladies, 27, 56, 69, 74; social network, 18 Edinburgh Review, 56 Educated women: accomplishments, 45; Bluestockings, 54, 60–61, 173n88; male attitudes toward, 41, 46–47; professors, 58; scientists, 57; social roles, 55–59. See also Women writers Education: advantages for nation, 56, 58–59; arguments for equality, 42–48; Bentham’s Chrestomathic school, 133; of boys, 39; coeducational, 20, 41, 49–51, 133; criticism of current system for women, 45–46; democratization, 172–73n77; Dissenting Academies, 32; gender differences, 39, 40–41; goals, 51–52, 58; implications of equal, 52, 54–59; importance, 37; innovations, 48–51; lifelong, 58; of lower-class women, 58; of middle-class women, 39–40; obstacles to women, 40, 45–47; as preparation for motherhood, 40–41, 51–54; rights to equal, 41; role of male family members, 39–40, 48– 49; self-, 66; supporters of women’s, 23, 24, 32, 37; of women writers, 66. See also Scientific education Egalitarians, 38, 52, 54–59 Electoral reform, 106. See also Suffrage Elizabeth I, Queen, 117–18, 196n3 Elmy, Ben, 134, 135 Elmy, Elizabeth Wolstenholme, 135 Émile (Rousseau), 38 The Empire of the Nairs (Lawrence), 20, 41, 101, 103, 132–33 Enfield, William: biography, 141; death, 25; essays as “The Enquirer,” 75, 183n78; on female education, 45, 56; language proposals, 5; on perfecting of nation, 11, 29; reform proposals, 26; review of Vindication of the Rights of Woman (Wollstonecraft), 5, 19, 56, 74; reviews by, 56, 74–75, 77, 183n74; A Sermon on the Centennial

Commemoration of the Revolution, 11; social network, 23, 24, 25, 161n88; support of women writers, 74–75; as Unitarian minister, 31; on women’s roles, 56, 109 Enlightenment: critiques of marriage, 84; debates, 12–13; expanding, 7, 28, 29, 43; feminism and, 6–7, 26, 31, 131; goals, 11; support of female education, 38–39, 43. See also Scottish Enlightenment Ensor, George, The Independent Man, 128 Epstein, James, 115 Equality: educational rights, 41; in families, 104; intellectual, 37, 41, 43–46, 62, 64. See also Political equality Errors of Sensibility, 71 Erskine, David Steuart (Lord Buchan): biography, 141–42; on female education, 37–38, 57–58; literary executors, 63; reform proposals, 26; social network, 24; support of women writers, 63; writings, 24, 47 Eve, interpretations of, 87, 89 Families: childrearing, 103; education of women by male family members, 39–40, 48–49; egalitarian, 104; ideal, 105; of male reformers, 32–34; as political units, 104; radical social change in, 98–101, 102–4, 105; radicals seen as attacking, 104; support of women writers, 77–80, 133. See also Marriage; Mothers Femininity, 119, 121–22, 124–25 Feminism: cross-cultural comparisons, 35, 58–59, 64, 98; debates on, 26–27; definition, 149n5; distinction between political and private realms, 17; historical scholarship, 2–4; importance for men, 135; in late eighteenth century, 2–4, 6–7, 131; in nineteenth century, 133–35; opponents, 27; in reformist platform, 6–7. See also Reformers

Feudalism, 190n49; women’s status, 90–91, 92 Flower, Benjamin, 40, 168n21 Fordyce, James, 41, 52; The Character and Conduct of the Female Sex, 38, 46–47 Forster, John Reinhold, Observations Made during a Voyage Round the World, 63, 178n16 Fox, Charles James, 106 France: abolition of primogeniture, 96; Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, 12, 114, 118; divorce laws, 94, 104; political rights of women, 109, 198n17; Salic Law, 117, 202n62; wars, 14 Franklin, Benjamin, 111, 161n89 French Revolution: British reactions, 12, 14–15, 70, 72–73, 74; Burke on, 69; women excluded from political participation, 109 Frend, Sophia, 48 Frend, William: education of daughter, 48; on ideal woman, 52–53; pride in radicalism, 30–31; support of Mary Hays, 22, 65, 159n65 Friends of the People, 114, 201n44 Gagging Acts, 15 Galton, Samuel, 48, 171n61 Garnett, Thomas: at Anderson’s Institution, 23, 50, 172n73; biography, 142; daughter, 133; lectures, 23, 160n75; Observations on a Tour through the Highlands, 47, 70; reform proposals, 26; social network, 25; support of female education, 23, 51–52 Geddes, Alexander: Apology for Slavery, 17; Bible translation, 22, 88–89; biography, 142–43; reform proposals, 26; reviews, 67, 74, 75–76, 89; social network, 24; support of women’s employment, 75–76; support of women writers, 63, 67; on women’s marital and legal rights, 84

Index Gender roles: domestic, 51–54, 64; implications of education, 52, 54–59; intellectual, 55–59; in marriage, 86–87, 104; of men, 55; multiple, 55; in other cultures, 35, 63; reason vs. feeling, 66; traditional, 27. See also Domestic roles of women; Married women; Mothers Gentleman’s Magazine, 60–61; “Calidore” letters, 21, 91, 116, 118, 120, 121, 128, 133 Gisborne, Thomas, 38–39, 76 Glorious Revolution: centennial, 11, 12–13; contractarianism, 104–5; Paine on, 13; seen as incomplete, 13, 16, 18, 104–5 Godwin, Catherine Grace, 133 Godwin, William: atheism, 162– 63n116; An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, 13, 99–100; friends, 19, 20, 21; Inchbald and, 79–80; on marriage, 84, 98, 99–100, 102–3; marriage to Wollstonecraft, 34, 65– 66, 100; Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman, 20, 65–66; obituary of Johnson, 68; scholarship on, 4; travels, 24–25. See also Wollstonecraft-Godwin circle Gothic novels, 71 Gouges, Olympe de, 2, 198n17 Graves, Richard, 29 Gregory, John, 52, 64; A Father’s Legacy to His Daughters, 38, 41 Grey, Charles, 106 Griffiths, Ralph, 19, 74, 77 Guest, Harriet, 64 Hamilton, Elizabeth, 64, 72 Hardy, Thomas, 14, 15 Hartley, David, 43 Harwood, Thomas, 87 Hayley, William, 54, 79, 185n102 Hays, Mary: Appeal to the Men of Great Britain in Behalf of Women, 20, 67, 69, 75, 89, 187n15; critics of,

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Index 74; Cursory Remarks . . . Inscribed to Gilbert Wakefield, 65; education of, 32, 40, 45, 170–71n58; Emma Courtney, 76, 77; on female education, 46; feminism, 3; feud with Wakefield, 22, 65; on intellectual equality, 37; Johnson and, 69; Letters and Essays, Moral and Miscellaneous, 19, 80; letters to Monthly Magazine, 55, 74; life, 67; male supporters, 3, 22, 79, 80, 159n65, 170–71n58; on marriage, 84, 187n15; The Memoirs of Emma Courtney, 101–2; reform proposals, 26; reviews of works by, 75, 76, 77; social network, 18, 34; Wollstonecraft and, 19, 20, 21, 30, 36, 79, 157n53; on women’s roles, 55; writings, 21, 79 Hazlitt, William, Memoirs of the Late Thomas Holcroft, 99 Helvétius, Claude Adrien, 43 Henry IV, King, 117 Hermsprong (Bage), 24, 30, 72 Herschel, Caroline Lucretia, 39, 57 Hesse, Carla, 61 Hickes, George, Thesaurus, 116 Hill, Matthew Davenport, 128 Hill, Richard, 83 Historians, female, 133–34 History, see Conjectural history; Stadial theory Hodgson, William: imprisonment, 22, 111; on political rights of women, 22, 106, 111; social networks, 108; on women’s rights, 6–7 Holcroft, Fanny Margaretta, 133 Holcroft, Thomas: Anna St. Ives, 19, 30, 92, 99, 102; biography, 143; daughter, 133; imprisonment, 15; on marriage, 102, 103; social network, 19, 79; Travels from Hamburg, 35; view of marriage, 98, 99; writings, 21 Homemaking, see Domestic roles of women Hume, David, 27, 28, 29, 42, 55

Hunt, Henry, 128, 133 Hurdis, James, Equality: A Sermon, 86, 104, 187–88n22 Imlay, Gilbert, 20 Inchbald, Elizabeth, 67; Every One Has His Fault, 54, 74; Godwin and, 79–80; A Simple Story, 79–80 Inheritance, see Primogeniture; Property ownership Instrumentalists, 38, 52–54, 58 Jardine, Alexander: activism, 107; biography, 143–44; death, 206n107; Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal & C., 5, 21, 30, 31, 35, 46, 58–59, 63, 64, 70, 112; on manliness, 30; Philomathian Society and, 14; on political rights of women, 106, 112, 119, 124; reform proposals, 26; support of women writers, 63, 64; travels, 35; on women’s roles, 58–59, 64 Jebb, Ann, 34 Jebb, John, 4, 34, 70, 196n3 Jeffries, Edward, 16 Johnson, Joseph: Analytical Review, 14, 15, 19, 22, 67, 68, 69, 75, 94; biography, 144; Blake’s work as engraver, 100; as bookseller, 75; obituary, 68; publication of women’s writings, 68–69, 176n2, 180n44; scholarship on, 4; social network, 18, 19, 24, 34; Wollstonecraft and, 180n44; works published by, 18, 21, 24, 77, 90, 97, 128 Johnson, Samuel, 60–61; “The Temple of Fashion,” 83 Jones, John Gale: biography, 144–45; on political rights of women, 106, 111, 120–21, 133, 206n107; relations with accomplished women, 34–35; Sketch of a Political Tour, 22; social networks, 108, 128 Jones, Sir William, The Principles of Government, 25, 161n89

Journals: publication, 61; reformist, 14, 15, 19 Kames, Lord, 28, 29, 42, 63, 87 Kant, Immanuel, 38 Keen, Paul, 61, 62 Kingsbury, Benjamin, 19 Knott, Thomas, 80 Knox, Vicesimus, “On Female Literature,” 53–54 Lane, William, 70–72, 77, 181n52 Language reforms, 5, 17 Lawrence, James Henry: biography, 145–46; The Empire of the Nairs, 20, 41, 101, 103, 132–33; “Essay on the Nair System of Gallantry,” 103; on female education, 41; feminist goals, 20; Godwin and, 20, 194n100; on human sexuality, 100–101; influence of, 132–33; on marriage, 103–4; on women’s marital and legal rights, 84, 98; writings, 21 Laws Respecting Women, 90–91 LCS, see London Corresponding Society Lee, Richard, 111 Legal status of women: in Anglo-Saxon culture, 90; Blackstone on, 89–90; critical histories, 90–92; effects of Norman invasion, 90, 91; in feudalism, 90–91, 92; in late eighteenth century, 17–18; of married women, 17–18, 84, 86; philosophical problem, 28–29; property ownership rights, 91, 188n24 Lennox, Charlotte, 61, 176n2 Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal & C. (Jardine), 5, 21, 30, 31, 35, 46, 58–59, 63, 64, 70, 112 Letters on the Female Mind, its Powers, and Pursuits, 74–75 Levellers, 109 Lindsey, Theophilus, 65 Literary Fund, 68, 71, 107 Liverpool Literary Society, 15

Index Locke, John: arguments used by feminists, 28, 29, 43–46, 52; Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 43, 48; lack of attention to women’s rights, 17; on mind as blank slate, 29, 43; Rational Dissent and, 31–32; sensationalism, 62 London Corresponding Society (LCS): establishment, 14; exclusion of women, 22, 111; goals, 14, 22; members, 15, 22, 106, 108; political rights debates, 110, 111; publications including advertising for A Vindication of the Rights of Women, 22, 111; repression of, 15. See also Spence, Thomas London Forum, 95 Lovell, Robert, 55 Lunar Society, 24, 48–49, 52, 173n84 Macaulay, Catharine, 45 Macdonald, Andrew, 21, 158n59. See also “Calidore” Madan, Martin, 86; Thelyphthora, 82–84, 101 Male reformers, see Reformers, male Malkin, Benjamin Heath: biography, 146; Essays on Subjects Connected with Civilization, 20, 25, 29, 37, 42, 47, 64, 132; on marriage, 86; on women’s education, 20, 45, 53; on women writers, 64 Manchester, reformers in, 23 Manchester Constitutional Society, 23, 24, 107, 108, 112 Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, 14, 23, 25, 108, 160n75 Manliness: attitudes toward educated women, 46–47; attributes, 30; of male reformers, 5–6, 30, 31, 36, 46–48, 127; of women, 30. See also Masculinity March, John, 14, 23 Marriage: abolition, 99–100; Biblical foundation, 85–86; companionate, 86–87; critiques of, 84, 87–92,

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Index 187n15; gender roles in, 86–87, 104; monogamy, 88, 98; in other cultures, 98; parity in, 84; patriarchal model, 85; polygamy, 82–84, 98; radical social change in, 98–101, 102, 105; traditional views, 86 Marriage laws: application of, 18; changes, 86; common law foundation, 85–86; feminist inquiry, 90; historical investigations, 90–92; protection of wives, 85, 90; reform proposals, 85–87, 92–98, 102–4, 105; wife’s property rights, 17–18. See also Divorce laws Married women: coverture, 18, 86, 88, 91, 93, 188n24; criminal laws applied to, 97; dependence, 67, 187n15; domestic roles, 51–54, 64; legal rights, 84, 86, 188n24; male protection of, 85, 90; property ownership, 17–18, 126, 188n24. See also Mothers Marsh, Charles, 23 Masculinity: chivalric conception, 5, 36, 47; gallantry, 46–48; in marriage, 85; multiple roles, 55; protection of women, 5, 47, 119. See also Manliness McCormack, Matthew, 112 Mechanics’ Institute, 172–73n77 Meeke, Mary, 67, 71 Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman (Godwin), 20, 65–66 Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage, 127 Methodist preachers, female, 34, 164n136, 178n21 Mill, James, “Article on Government,” 129 Mill, John Stuart, 134–35 Millar, John, 28, 29, 42, 63, 87 Milton, John, 86, 93, 104 Minerva Press, 67, 70–72, 181n52, 181n53 Misogynism, 108–10 Montagu, Elizabeth, 48, 60–61 Monthly Magazine, 19, 45, 55, 74, 75 Monthly Review, 19, 20, 56, 74, 83, 109 More, Hannah: education of, 39; male

supporters, 61; as reformer, 3; support of female education, 38–39, 40–41 Mothers: childrearing, 103; education of, 51–54; rights, 22; slaves, 96; writers as, 65, 179n24. See also Families; Married women Nairs, 20, 41, 101, 103, 132–33 Nares, Robert, 54 Natural rights: arguments for political equality, 110–15, 122, 128; of men, 110–11; supporters, 93; of women, 111–15 Nevile, Henry, 86 New Charter, 128, 207n111 Nonconformists, see Dissenters; Unitarianism Norfolk Chronicle, 72–73 Norgate, Elias, 33, 91 Norgate, Kate, 133–34 Norgate, Thomas Starling: biography, 146; family, 33, 133–34; legal training, 91; on male responsibility, 47; marriage, 33; memoirs, 33, 134; newspaper, 206n107; “Observations on the Reign and Character of Queen Elizabeth,” 117–18; “On the Rights of Woman,” 1, 23, 25, 28, 44, 91–92, 93, 113–14, 118; on political rights of women, 106, 113–14, 116–18, 119, 127; The Principles of Government, 108, 116; publications, 21; reform proposals, 9, 26; social network, 24, 108, 161n88 Norman, Eliza, 71 Norwich: publishers, 72–73; reformers, 22–23; United Friars, 23, 72, 96, 182n63; women writers, 72, 73. See also Cabinet Opie, Amelia Anderson, Adeline Mowbray, 102–3, 195n110 Osborne, Francis, 86 Owen, Robert, 132 Owenites, 129, 134

Paine, Thomas: natural rights theory, 110, 122; The Rights of Man, 13, 15, 96, 110; trial, 15 Pantisocratic community, 55, 174n93 Parliament: antislavery petitions to, 17; electoral reform debates, 106; reform proposals, 16. See also Marriage laws Parsons, Eliza, 67 Patriarchy, 28, 60, 85, 131–32 Pattisson, William, 23 Perfecting nation project: desirability of women writers, 61; Enfield on, 11, 29; feminist reforms and, 6, 28, 29; marriage reforms, 102; of reformers, 13–14, 17; role of education, 37, 59 Peter, Hugh, 86 Philips, George: autobiography, 26–27; biography, 147; critics of, 26–27; feminist views, 25; The Necessity of a Speedy and Effectual Reform in Parliament, 23, 25, 26–27, 114–15, 120; on political reforms, 16, 25; on political rights of women, 106, 114–15, 116, 125, 127; social network, 25, 108, 115, 160n75, 197n5 Phillips, Richard, 19, 75 Philomathian Society, 14, 107 Pitt, William, 15 Place, Francis, 102, 132 Plumptre, Anabella, 23 Political equality, arguments for: ancient constitution rhetoric, 115–19, 128; challenges, 108–10; civilizing effects, 120; natural rights theory, 110– 15, 122, 128; in nineteenth century, 128–29; queens as examples, 117–18; reasoning capacity of women, 113– 15; secondary considerations, 125–27; sentimentalism, 119–25, 128–29 Political participation of women: in Anglo-Saxon times, 116, 121, 128; debates on, 106–7; differences from male politicians, 120–22; expected reformism, 121–22, 123–25; female legislature, 111; in France,

Index 109, 198n17; informal, 18, 119, 126; misogynism in debates, 108–10; supporters, 111, 133, 196–97n3, 206n107; value of, 119–22. See also Suffrage, female Political reforms, 15–16. See also Suffrage Polwhele, Richard, The Unsex’d Females, 49, 108 Polygamy, 82–84, 98 Poole, Thomas, 55 Porter, Roy, 11 Poulain de la Barre, François, 42 Preachers, female, 34, 66, 164n136, 178n21 Price, Richard, 13, 69, 162–63n116 Priestley, Joseph: burning of home, 16, 160n75; funeral sermon for Robinson, 48, 56; on Geddes, 89; immigration to America, 25; lectures on gender issues, 32; Socinianism, 162–63n116 Primogeniture, 88, 92, 96–97, 190n49 Printing houses, 61. See also Publishers Property ownership: by married women, 17–18, 126, 188n24; women’s rights, 91, 188n24; women’s voting rights and, 126. See also Primogeniture Prostitution, 67, 82 Prudhomme, Louis-Marie, 109 Publishers: commercial literary culture, 61, 177n6; employment of women, 177n9; Minerva Press, 67, 70–72, 181n52, 181n53; negotiations with women writers, 78; in Norwich, 72–73; support of women writers, 66, 68–73. See also Johnson, Joseph; Women writers Queens, 117–18, 128 Radcliffe, Mary Ann, 179–80n35 Radicalism, 2–3, 4, 11, 26, 30–31. See also Feminism; Reformers Randall, Mary Susan, 33 Ransome, Thomas, 72

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Index Rathbone, William, 15 Rational Dissent: beliefs, 31–32; culture of, 2; distinction from Unitarianism, 162–63n116; educational reforms, 165n2; feminism and, 31–32; Hays’s Letters and Essays, 19, 80; perfectibility concept, 13–14; support of female education and, 32; Wollstonecraft and, 69; writing of supporters, 62 Reason: association with men, 66; capacity of women, 113–15; progress through, 13–14 Reeves, John, 15 Reform Act of 1832, 129, 133 Reformers, female: criticism of, 26, 27; in early nineteenth century, 132, 133–34; on intellectual equality, 37; in late eighteenth century, 3; opponents of feminism, 3, 27; radicalism, 26, 30; social networks, 18; views of marriage, 187n15 Reformers, male: alienation from other men, 6; association with French Revolution, 14–15; challenges, 36, 108–10; children and grandchildren, 133–34; collaboration, 6; critics of, 26–27, 29; critique of British government, 12–13; diverse views, 4–5, 131–32; in early nineteenth century, 15, 102, 128–29, 132, 133, 206n107; egalitarians, 38, 52, 54–59; Enlightenment principles and, 11, 12–13, 28–29; evolving views, 25–26; families, 32–34; instrumentalists, 38, 52–54, 58; issues, 6–7, 13–14, 15–17; legacy, 132–35; manliness, 5–6, 30, 31, 36, 46–48, 127; misogynism, 109; motivations, 6, 28–36; mutual influences, 25; organizations, 14, 15, 22–26; radicalism, 26, 30–31; relations with accomplished women, 34–35; repression of, 15; scholarship on, 3–4; self-interest, 35–36; social networks, 18–22, 24–26, 34–35, 108; successes, 206n107; support of female suffrage, 23, 107–8, 112–13,

127–29, 133, 195–96n2, 196–97n3; travels, 35; as vanguard, 26; wives as collaborators, 34. See also Education; Feminism; Political equality; Rational Dissent Religious freedom, 12–13, 16, 32 Religious work, see Preachers, female Rendall, Jane, 3 Repton, Humphry, 78 Rights, see Legal status of women; Natural rights; Political equality; Suffrage The Rights of Man (Paine), 13, 15, 96, 110 Rights of the Devil, 19 Robinson, George, 70 Robinson, Mary: on female education, 41; female patrons, 177n9; feminism, 3; on intellectual equality, 37; reform proposals, 26; Thoughts on the Condition of Women, 20 Robinson, Robert, 33, 48, 56, 170n58 Roche, Regina, Clermont, 71–72 Roscoe, William, 15, 20, 25 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques: arguments used by feminists, 28, 52; Émile, 38, 52; sentimentalism, 62, 65–66, 119; support of female education, 38, 52; on women’s virtue, 29 Royal Institution, 50–51 Salic Law, 117, 128, 202n62 Schimmelpenninck, Mary Anne, 48–49, 171n61 Scientific education: anatomy, 49; at Anderson’s Institution, 23, 50, 172n73; botany, 49, 78, 171n65; lectures for mixed-sex audiences, 23, 49, 50; as preparation for motherhood, 51–54; reserved for men, 39, 41; for women, 24, 49, 51–54, 78, 171n65 Scientific societies, see Lunar Society Scientists, female, 24, 57 Scott, Joan Wallach, 110–11 Scott, Mary, The Female Advocate, 69 Scottish Enlightenment, conjectural

historians, 29, 42, 87–88, 116, 117. See also Stadial theory Sentimentalism, 119–25, 128–29 “Separate spheres” language, 110, 129 Seward, Anna, 65, 78–79, 177n9, 185n102 Sexuality, 100–102, 194n106 Sharp, Granville, 16 Sharples, Eliza, 132 Sheehan, Jonathan, 88 Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 132–33 Shepherd, Frances, 29–30, 34 Shepherd, William: biography, 147; on female education, 54; on female reformers, 26; marriage, 34; on political rights of women, 106–7; social network, 24, 108; support of women’s rights, 29–30; support of women writers, 206n107; as Unitarian minister, 31 Slavery and slave trade, 13, 15, 16–17, 96 Smith, Charlotte: Desmond, 26, 70, 187n15, 196n3; Elegiac Sonnets, 70; male supporters, 70, 79, 185n102; marriage and children, 67; publishers, 70–71 Smith, Hilda, 111 Sociability, 25, 55–59 Socialism, 98, 129, 134 Society for Commemorating the [Glorious] Revolution, 13 Society for Constitutional Information, 15 Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, 16 Southey, Robert: Pantisocratic community and, 55; “To Mary Wollstonecraft,” 20; travels, 24–25 Spence, Thomas: on abolition of private property, 95; biography, 148; Constitution of Spensonia, 122; imprisonment, 15; Pig’s Meat, 122; on political rights of women, 119, 121; reform proposals, 17; The Restorer of Society to Its Natural State, 31, 95; The Rights of Infants, 22, 123;

Index scholarship on, 4; social networks, 108; Something to the Purpose, 122; “Spensonia,” 111, 122–24; on women’s rights, 22, 106, 111 Stadial theory, 3, 42–43, 56, 62–64. See also Conjectural history Stafford, William, 127 Stanton, Judith Phillips, 70 Stevenson, Matchett, and Stevenson, 73 Stevenson, Seth, 23, 72, 73 Stevenson, William, 23, 66, 72–73, 182n64 Stone, Lawrence, 87, 94 Stubbs, Alice, 118 Suffrage, female: historiography, 127–29; opponents, 129; property ownership and, 126; supporters, 23, 107–8, 112–13, 127–29, 133, 195–96n2, 196–97n3; for unmarried women, 125–26. See also Political participation of women Suffrage, male: limited electorate, 16; supporters of expansion, 23; universal, 16, 27, 110, 133 Tadmor, Naomi, 77–78 Taylor, Barbara, 2, 32, 108, 129 Taylor, Harriet, 135 Taylor, William, 23, 76, 77 Tennyson, Alfred, “The Princess,” 135 Test Acts, 16, 27, 68 Thelwall, John, 15, 111, 186n1 Thompson, E. P., 3–4, 110, 111 Thompson, William, Appeal of One Half of the Human Race, 129, 134–35 Thornton, Robert John, The Politician’s Creed, 113 Tomalin, Claire, 2 Tooke, John Horne, 15 Turner, William, Lives of Eminent Unitarians, 34 Unitarianism: ministers, 31; Rational Dissent and, 162–63n116; women’s education, 40, 48. See also Rational Dissent

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Index United Friars, 23, 72, 96, 182n63 Universalist’s Miscellany, 26, 43, 57, 60 University of Glasgow, 49–50 Vernon, James, 115 Vidler, William, 43 Vindication of the Rights of Woman (Wollstonecraft): advertisements, 22, 111; criticism of, 19, 51, 77; defenders, 19–20; Enfield’s review of, 5, 19, 56, 74; on female education, 42–43, 46, 51; influence of, 21, 25, 77; influences on, 21; Johnson’s encouragement of writing, 69; on political rights, 18–19, 113; publication, 18; rationality of women, 113; on religious dissent, 32 Virtue, female, 42 Voting rights, see Suffrage Waddington, Samuel Ferrand, 128, 133 Wakefield, Anne, 54 Wakefield, Gilbert: feud with Hays, 22, 65; A Reply to some Parts of the Bishop of Landaff’s Address, 15; wife, 54 Wakefield, Priscilla: Reflections on the Present Condition of the Female Sex, 63, 69, 75–76; support of female education, 48, 75; as writer, 179–80n35 Walwyn, B., The Farce of Chit Chat, or penance for polygamy, 83 Wedgwood, Josiah, 48 Weil, Rachel, 17, 105 Weldone, Margery, 196n3 Wheeler, Anna, 135 Whigs, 13, 17, 70, 105, 106, 201n44 Wilkite radicals, 109–10 Williams, David, 68 Williams, Helen Maria, 74–75 Williams, Thomas, Constitutional Politics, 124 Wollstonecraft, Mary: coeducation proposals, 20; death, 20; education of, 40, 45; on female suffrage, 9, 107; fictional characters modeled on, 19; Hays and, 19, 20, 21, 30,

36, 79, 157n53; influence of, 65–66, 101; on intellectual equality, 37; Johnson’s support, 69, 180n44; on marriage, 84, 187n15; marriage to Godwin, 34, 100; Original Stories from Real Life, 20; poetry addressed to, 5, 20, 23, 96; pride in radicalism, 30; radical culture and, 2–3, 34, 69; Rational Dissent and, 69; reform proposals, 26; relationship with Godwin, 34, 65–66; review of Anna St. Ives (Holcroft), 99; social unorthodoxies, 20, 27; supporters, 3, 20–21, 36; Thoughts on the Education of Daughters, 69; travels, 24–25; Vindication of the Rights of Men, 69; The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria, 101–2. See also Vindication of the Rights of Woman Wollstonecraft-Godwin circle, 18–22, 24–25, 34, 98, 100 Women: employment in publishing industry, 177n9; femininity, 119, 121– 22, 124–25; physical differences, 64, 178n19; preachers, 34, 66, 164n136, 178n21; queens, 117–18, 128. See also Educated women; Gender roles; Married women; Mothers Women’s rights, see Legal status of women; Political equality; Suffrage, female Women writers: different voices, 65, 66; domestic roles and, 64–65; economic motives, 67–68, 179–80n35; education of, 66; female patrons, 177n9; of Gothic novels, 71; hostile critics on, 73–74; increased number, 176n3, 177n6; literary agents, 78; male encouragement and support, 60–61, 68–73, 76–81, 133; moral leadership, 179n24; motherhood, 65, 179n24; motives of male supporters, 62, 68; networks of friends and family members, 77–80; organizations supporting, 23, 68, 71; publication of, 68–69, 176n2, 181n53; respectable

femininity, 64–65; scholarship on, 61; suspicion of, 62; sympathetic critics, 74–76, 77; theoretical justification of, 61, 62–68 Wooler, T. J., 128 Wordsworth, William, 93, 133 Worrall, David, 123 Worthington, Hugh, 80 Wright, Richard: biography, 148; fam-

Index ily, 34; female preacher and, 34; “Letters on Women,” 43–44, 55, 57, 60; support of female education, 26, 62; as Unitarian minister, 31; view of marriage, 85; on women’s roles, 57; writings, 26 Writers, female, see Women writers Zangwill, Israel, 127, 134

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