Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Essay: "The Noble Science of Self-justification." Maria Edgeworth (2).

Review: The war of the sexes—if they are married. How to torture your husband. How to destroy the enemy’s [your husband’s] logical, rational arguments—when you are a woman in the 16th or 17th centuries. Sounds very contemporary to me.

“Did not you say so? Don’t you remember? Only answer me that.”

“I know what you were going to say.”

“…like Queen Anne, you will only repeat the same thing over and over again, or be silent. Silence is the ornament of your sex; and in silence, if there is not wisdom, there is safety.”

“Nothing provokes and irascible man, interested in debate, and possessed of an opinion of his own eloquence, so much as to see the attention of his hearers go from him: you will then, when he flatters himself that he has just fixed your eye with his very best argument, suddenly grow absent—your house affairs must call you hence—or you have directions to give to your children—or the room is too hot, or too cold—the windows must be opened—or door shut—or the candle wants snuffing.”

“Remember, all such speech as these will lose above half their effect, if you cannot accompany them with the vacant stare, the insipid smile, the passive aspect of the humbly perverse.”

“Whilst I write, new precepts rush upon my recollection; but the subject is inexhaustible.”

The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present. Ed. Phillip Lopate. New York: Anchor Books. A Division of Random House, Inc. 1995.

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