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Divided into two Parts.
The first proveth the dignity and worthiness
of women, out of divine Testimonies
The second shewing the estimation of the
Feminine Sex, in ancient and Pagan times; all which
is acknowledged by men themselves in their daily actions.
Written by Ester Sowernam, neither Maide,
Wife nor Widdowe, yet really all, and therefore
experienced to defend all.
John 3: 7
He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
Neque exin lex inflicior ulla
Quam necis Artisicem arte perie sua.
Printed for Nicholas Bourne, and are to be sold at his shop
at the entrance of the Royal Exchange, 1617
Gentlewomen, and others, virtuously disposed, of the Feminine Sex.
Right Honorable, and all others of our Sex, upon my repair to London this last Michaelmas Term; being at supper among friends, where the number of each sex were equal; As nothing is more usual for table-talk; there fell out a discourse concerning women, some defending, others objecting against our Sex: Upon which occasion, there happened a mention of a Pamphlet entitled The Arraignment of Women, which I was desirous to see. The next day a Gentleman brought me the book, which when I had superficially run over, I found the discourse as far off from performing what the Title promised, as I found it scandalous and blasphemous: for where the Author pretended to write against lewd, idle, and unconstant women, he did most impudently rage and rail generally against all the whole sex of women. Whereupon, I in defense of our Sex, began an answer to that full Pamphlet. In which, after I had spent some small time, word was brought me that an Apology for women was already undertaken, and ready for the Press, by a Minister's daughter1: Upon this news I stayed my pen; as I did expect some fitting performance of what was undertaken: At last the Maiden's Book was brought me, which when I had likewise run over, I did observe, that whereas the Maid did many times excuse her tenderness of years, I found it to be true in the slenderness of her answer, for the undertaking to defend women, does rather charge and condemn women, as in the ensuing discourse shall appear: So that whereas I expected to be eased of what I began, I do now find my self double charged, as well to make reply to the one, as to add supply to the other.
In this my Apology, Right Honorable, Right Worshipful, and all others of our Sex, I do in the first part of it plainly and resolutely deliver the worthiness and worth of women; both in respect of their Creation, as in the work of Redemption. next I do show in examples out of both Testaments: what blessed and happy choice has been made of women, as gracious instruments to derive God's blessings and benefits to mankind.
In my second part I do deliver of what estimate women have been valued in all ancient and modern times, which I prove by authorities, customs, and daily experiences. Lastly, I do answer all material objections which have or can be alleged against our Sex: in which also I do arraign such kind of men, which correspond the humor and disposition of the Author; lewd, idle, furious and beastly disposed persons.
This being performed, I doubt not but such as heretofore have been so froward and lavish against women, will hereafter pull in their horns, and have as little desire, and less cause so scandalously and slanderously to write against us then formerly they have.
The ends for which I undertook this enterprise, are these. First, to set out the glory of Almighty God, in so blessed a work of his Creation. Secondly, to encourage all Noble, Honorable, and worthy Women, to express in the course of life and actions, that they are the same Creatures which they were designed to be by their Creator, and by their Redeemer: And to parallel those women, whose virtuous examples are collected briefly out of the Old and New Testament. Lastly, I write for the shame and confusion of such as degenerate from woman-hood, and disappoint the ends of Creation, and Redemption.
There can be no greater encouragement to true nobility, then to know and stand upon the honor of Nobility, nor any greater confusion and shame than for Nobility to discount and abase it self to ignoble and degenerate courses.
You are women; in Creation, noble; in Redemption, gracious; in use most blessed; be not forgetful of your selves, nor unthankful to that Author from whom you receive all.
The Author of the Arraignment, and my self in our labors do altogether disagree; he railed without cause, I defend upon direct proof: He said, women are the worst of all Creatures, I prove them blessed above all Creatures: he writes, that men should abhor them for their bad conditions: I prove that men ????? bemoan them for their best dispositions, he said, women are the causes of men's ?????????, I prove, if there be any offense in a woman, men were the beginners. Now, in that it is far more woman-like to maintain a right, then it is man like to offer a wrong, I conceived (?) that I could not err in my choice, if I did direct a labor well intended, to worthy young youths, which are well disposed.
When you have past your minority, or served your Apprenships [apprenticeship?] under the government of others, when you began the world for your selves, the chiefest thing you look for is a good Wife.
The world is a large field, and it is full of brambles, briers, and weeds. If there be any more tormenting, more scratt??g [scratching?], or more poisonable weed than other, the Author has collected them in his loathsome Pamphlet, and does utter to his giddy company.
Now my self presuming upon your worthy and honest dispositions, I have entered into the Garden of Paradise, and there have gathered the choicest flowers which that Garden may afford, and those I offer to you.
If you believe our adversary, no woman is good, howsoever she be used: if you consider what I have written, no woman is bad except she be abused.
If you believe him that women are so bad Creatures, what a dangerous and miserable life is marriage?
If you examine my proofs to know directly what women are, you shall then find there is no delight more exceeding than to be joined in marriage with a paraditian Creature. Who as she comes out of the Garden, so shall you find her a flower of delight, answerable to the Country from whence she comes.
There can be no love between man and wife, but where there is a respective estimate the one towards the other. How could you love? nay, how would you loath such a monster, to whom Joseph Swetnam points?
Whereas in view of what I have described, how can you but regard faulty love with the uttermost strain of affection so incomparable a Jewel.
Some will perhaps say, I am a woman and therefore write more for women then they do deserve: To whom I answer, if they misdoubt of what I speak, let them impeach my credit in any one particular: In that which I write, Eve was a good woman before she met with the Serpent, her daughters are good Virgins, if they meet with good Tutors.
You my worthy youths are the hope of Man-hood, the principal point of Man-hood is to defend, and what more man-like defense, then to defend the just reputation of a woman. I know that you the Apprentices of this City are as froward to maintain the good, as you are vehement to put down the bad.
That which is worst I leave to your adversary, but what is excellently best, that I commend to you: do you find the gold, I do here deliver you the Jewel, a rich frock to begin the world with - all, if you be good husbands to use it for your best advantage.
Let not the title of the Book in some point distaste you, in that men are arraigned, for you are quit by Non-age. None are here arraigned, but such old fornicators as came with full mouth and open cry to Jesus, and brought a woman to him taken in adultery, who when our Savior stepped down and wrote on the ground, they all fled away. Joseph Swetnam said, A man may find Pearls in dust, pag. 47. But if they who fled had seen any pearls, they would rather have stayed to have had share, then to fly and to leave the woman alone, they found some foul reckoning against themselves in our Savior's writing, as they shall do who are here arraigned, And if they dare do like, as our Savior had the woman's accusers, He that is without sin throw the first stone at her; so let them rail against women, who never tempted any woman to be bad: Yet this is an hard case. If a man rail against a woman, and know no lewdness by any, who in his own experience try all had made many bad, he shall show himself a decompounded K[nave?]. I do not mean Knight: The best way is, he that knows none bad, let him speak well of all: he who has made more bad than he ever intended to make good, let him hold his piece least he shame himself. Farewell
If the Author of this Arraignment had performed his discourse either answerable to the Title, or the Arguments of the Chapters; he had been so far off from being answered by men, that I should have commended so good a labor, which is employed to give vice just reproof, and virtue honorable report. But at the very first entrance of his discourse, in the very first page, he discovered himself neither to have truth in his promise, nor religious performance. If in this answer I do use more vehement speeches than may seem to correspond the natural disposition of a Woman; yet all judicious Readers shall confess that I use more mildness than the cause I have in hand provokes me unto.
I am not only provoked by this Author to defend women, but I am more violently urged to defend divine Majesty, in the work of his Creation In which respect I say with Saint Jerome, Mean iniuriam patienter sustinui impietatem contra deum ferre non potui2. For as Saint Chrisostome said, iniurias Dei dissimulare impium est3 .
If either Julian the Apostata, or Lucian the Atheist should undertake the like work, could the own devil to write more blasphemously, or the other scoff and flout at the divine Creation of Woman, more profanely than this irreligious Author does?
Homer does report in his Illiads, that there was at the siege of Troy, a Graecian, called Thersites, whose wit was so blockish, he was not worthy to speak: yet his disposition was so precipitate, he could not hold his tongue. Joseph Swetnam in all records of Histories can not be so likely paralleled as with this Thersites. What his composition of body is I know not, but for his disposition otherwise, in this Pamphlet I know, he is as monstrous as the work is misshapen, which shall plainly appear in the examination of the first page only.
The Arguments of the first Chapter is, to show to what use Women were made; it also shows, That most of them degenerate from the use they were framed unto, &.
Now, to show to what use woman was made, he begins thus. At the first beginning a Woman was made to be an helper to Man: And so they are indeed, for they help to consume and spend, &. This is all the use, and all the end which the Author sets down in all his discourse for the creation of woman. Mark a ridiculous jest in this: Spending and consuming of that which Man painfully gets, is by this Author the use for which Women were made. And yet (said he in the Argument) most of them degenerate from the use they were framed unto. Woman was made to spend and consume at the first: But women do degenerate from this use, Ergo, Midasse does contradict himself. Beside this egregious folly, he runs into horrible blasphemy. Was the end of God's creation in Woman to spend and consume? Is helper to be taken in that sense, to help to spend? & Is spending and consuming, helping?
He runs on, and says, They were made of a Rib, and that their froward and crooked nature does declare, for a Rib is a crooked thing, &
Woman was made of a crooked rib, so she is crooked of conditions. Joseph Swetnam was made as from Adam of clay and dust, so he is of a dirty and muddy disposition: The inferences are both alike in either; woman is no more crooked, in respect of the one; but he is blasphemous in respect of the other. Did Woman receive her soul and disposition from the rib; Or as it is said in Genesis, God did breath in them the spirit of life? Admit that this Author's doctrine be true, that woman receives her froward and crooked disposition from the rib, Woman may then conclude upon that Axiome in Philosophy4 , Quicquid efficit tale, illud est magis tale, That which gives quality to a thing, does more abound in that quality; as fire which heats, is it self more hot: The sun which gives light, is of itself more light: So, if Woman received her crookedness from the rib, and consequently from the Man, how does man excel in crookedness, who has more of those crooked ribs? See how this vain, furious, and idle Author furnishes woman with an Argument against himself, and others of his Sex.
The Author having desperately begun, does more rashly and impudently run on in blasphemy, which he does evidently show in the inference upon his former speeches: And therefore (said he) Ever since they have been a woe unto Man, and follow the live of the first leader. Now let the Christian Reader please to consider how dishonestly this Author deals, who undertaking a particular, persecutes and persecutes a general, under the cloak and color of lewd, idle, and froward women, to rage and rail against all women in general.
Now, having examined what collections Joseph Swetnam has wrested out of Scriptures, to dishonor and abuse all women: I am resolved, before I answer further particulars made by him against our sex, to collect and note out of Scriptures; First, what incomparable and most excellent prerogatives God has bestowed upon women, in honor of them, and their Creation: Secondly, what choice God has made of women, in using them as instruments to work his most gracious and glorious designs, for the general benefit of man-kind , both during the law of Nature, and of Moses: Thirdly, what excellent and divine graces have been bestowed upon our Sex, in the law of Grace, and the work of Redemption: With a conclusion, that to manifest the worthiness of women, they have been chosen to perform and publish the most happy and joyful benefits which ever came to mankind.
What incomparable and excellent prerogatives God
has bestowed upon Women, in their first Creation.
In this ensuing Chapter I determine briefly to observe (not curiously to discourse at large) the singular benefits and graces bestowed upon Women: In regard of which, it is first to be considered; That the Almighty God in the world's frame in his Divine wisdom, designed to himself a main end to which he ordained all the works of his Creation, in which he being a most excellent work-master, did so Create his works, that every succeeding work was more excellent than what was formerly Created: he wrought by degrees, providing in all for that which was and should be the end.
It5 appears by that Sovereignty which God gave to Adam over all the Creatures of Sea and Land, that man was the end of God's creation, where upon it does necessarily, without exception follow, that Adam, being the last work, is therefore the most excellent work of creation: yet Adam was not so absolutely perfect, but that in the sight of God, he wanted an Helper: Where upon God created the woman his last work, as to supply and make absolute that imperfect building which was unperfected in man, as all Divines do hold, til the happy creation of the woman. Now6 of what estimate that Creature is and ought to be, which is the last work, upon whom the Almighty set up his last rest: whom he made to add perfection to the end of all creation I leave rather to be acknowledged by others, then resolved by my self.
It is furthermore to be considered, as the Maide, in her Mussell for Melastomus has observed: that God7 intended to honor woman in a more excellent degree, in that he created her out of a subject refined, as out of a Quintessence: For the ribs is in Substance more solid, in place as most near, so in estimate most dear, to man's heart, which does presage that as she was made for an helper, so to be an helper to stay, to settle all joy, all contents, all delights, to and in man's heart, as hereafter shall be showed.
That delight8 , solace, and pleasure, which shall come to man by woman, is prognosticated by that place wherein woman was created: for she was framed in Paradise, a place of all delight and pleasure, every element had his creatures, every creature does correspond the temper and the inclination of that element wherein it has and took his first and principal esse [essence], or being, So that woman neither can or may degenerate in her disposition from that natural inclination of the place, in which she was first framed, she is a Paradician [sic], that is, a delightful creature, born in so delightful a country.
When woman was created9 , God brought her unto Adam, and then did solemnize that most auspicious Marriage between them, with the greatest Majesty, and magnificence that heaven, or earth might afford. God was the Father, which gave so rich a jewel: God was the Priest which tied so inseparable a know. God10 was the Steward which provided all the pleasures, all the dainties, all the blessings, which his divine wisdom might afford, in so delightful a place.
The woman was married to Adam, as with a most sure and inseparable band, so with a most affectionate and dutiful love: Adam was enjoined to receive his wife, as is noted in the Bible printed in 1595.
There is no love (always exception the transcending love) which is so highly honored, so graciously rewarded, so straightly commanded, or which being broken, is so severely punished, as the love and duty which Children owe to their Parents: Yet this love albeit never so respective, is dispensed withal in respect of that love which a man is bound to bear to his wife: For this cause, said Adam, (as from the mouth of God) shall a man leave Father and Mother, and cleave only to his Wife. This word cleave is uttered in the Hebrew with a more significant emphasize, than any other Language may express; such a cleaving and joining together, which admits no separation. It may be necessarily observed, that that gift of the woman was most singularly excellent, which was to be accepted and entertained with so inestimable a love, and made inseparable by giving and taking the Ring of Love11 , which should be endless.
Now, the woman taking view of the Garden, she was assaulted with a Serpent of the masculine gender; who maliciously envying the happiness in which man was at this time, like a mischievous Politician12 , he practiced by supplanting of the woman, to turn him out of all: For which end he most craftily and cunningly attempts the woman; and tells her, that therefore they were forbidden to eat of the fruit which grew in the midst of the Garden, that in eating, they should not be like unto God: Whereupon the woman accepted, tasted, and gave to her Husband. In accepting the Serpent's offer, there was no sin; for there was no sin til the fruit was eaten: Now, albeit I have undertaken the defense of women, and may in that respect be favored, in taking all advantage I may, to defend my sex.
There are many pregnant places in the Scripture which might be alleged to extenuate the sin of the Woman, in respect of the sin of Adam: it is said Ecclesiast 2:5 Sin had his beginning in woman, Ergo, his fullness in man.
Saint Paul said, Rom 513 . By one man's sin death came into the world, without mention of the woman. The same Saint Paul14 writes to the Corinthians, to whom he affirmed, that all die in Adam, in which the fullness and effects of sin are charged upon Adam alone, not but that woman had her part in the Tragedy, but not in so high a degree as the man.
When Adam15 had eaten, and sin was now in fullness, he began to multiply sin upon sin: first he flew from the sight of God; next, being called to account, he excused his sin; and does expostulate (as it were) with Almighty God, and tells him, That woman which thou gave me, gave me, and I did eat: As who should say, if thou had not given the cause, I had not been guilty of the effect; making (herein) God the Author of his fall.
Now what is become of that love16 , which Adam was bound to bear towards his wife? He charged her with all the burden; so he may discharge himself he cares little how he clog her.
God having examined the offenders, and having heard the uttermost they could allege for themselves, he pronounced sentence of death upon them, as a punishment in justice due and deserved. Justice he administered to Adam17 : Albeit the woman does taste of justice, yet mercy is reserved for her, and of all the works of mercy which mankind may hope for, the greatest, the most blessed, and the most joyful is promised to woman18 .
Woman supplanted by tasting the fruit, she is punished by bringing forth her own fruit. Yet what by fruit she lost, by fruit she shall recover.
What more gracious a gift could the Almighty promise to a woman19 , than to bring forth the fruit in which all nations shall be blessed? So that as woman was a means to loose Paradise, she is by this, made a means to recover Heaven. Adam could not upbraid her for so great a loss, but he was to honor her more for a greater recovery: all the punishments inflicted upon women, are encountered with most gracious blessing & benefits; she has not so great cause of dolor in one respect, as she has infinite cause of joy in another. She is commanded to obey her husband; the cause is, the more to increase her glory. Obedience is better than Sacrifice20 : for nothing is more acceptable before God than to obey: women are much bound to God, to have so acceptable a virtue enjoined them for their penance.
Among the curses and punishments heaped upon the Serpent, what greater joy could she hear, or what greater honor could be done unto her, then to hear for the voice of God these words; I will put enmity betwixt the woman and thee, betwixt thy seed and her seed, and that her seed should break the Serpent's head? This must perforce be an exceeding joy for the woman, to hear and to be assured that her fruit should revenge her wrong.
After the fall, and after they were all arraigned and censured, and that now Adam saw his wives dowry, and what blessings God had bestowed upon her, he being now a bondslave to death and hell, stroke dead in regard of himself, yet he comforts himself, he takes heart from grace, he engages his hope upon that promise which was made to the woman. Out21 of this comes comfortable and blessed hope he now called his wife by name, in whose effects not only he, but all mankind should most blessedly share: he called her Eve, which is, the mother of the living: which is suitable as well in respect of the promised made to her and her seed, as in respect of those employments for which in her creation she and all women are designed, to be helpers, comforters, joys, and delights, and in true use and government they ever have been and ever will be, as hereafter shall be showed, maugre (?) the shameful, blasphemous and profane speech of Jospeh Swetnam, page 3.1 beginning line 15 as follows:
Abraham22 being in danger, was blessed and preserved in respect of Sara.
Rebecca23 by God's providence was the means to bring the blessing of Isaac to fall upon Jacob.
The Egyptian Midwives24 were a means to preserve the male children of the Israelites for the murder intended by Pharaoh.
Moses25 was preserved by the daughter of Pharaoh.
The Messengers sent by Duke Josuah26 to view the Land of Promise, were harbored and freed from danger by a woman.
When the Children of Israel had been twenty years oppressed by Jabin King of Canaan27 , Deborah and Jahell, two women; the one won the battle, the other slew the General.
When Abimilech28 had murdered seventy of his Brethren, he was punished and slain by a woman at the siege of Thebes.
Micholl29 adventured the hazard of her Father's displeasure to preserve her Husband David.
Abigail30 by incomparable wisdom withheld David from shedding innocent blood.
The City of Abdela31 being in danger, was preserved by a wife woman of that City.
In the great famine of Samaria32 , the widow of Sarepta was chosen to preserve Elias, and Elias to preserve her.
The like provision did the woman, a Sunamite33 , make for Elizeus, and Elizeus for the woman.
When the blood Royal of Judah had been all murdered34 , Joas afterwards King, was preserved by a woman.
What was that noble adventure so blessedly performed by Judith, in cutting off the head of Holofernes35 ?
With what wisdom did Queen Hester preserve her people36 , and caused their enemies to be hanged?
What a chast mirror was Susanna37 , who rather hazarded her life, then offend against God?
Never was greater magnanimity showed by a woman, than by that Mother which saw her seven children tormented most cruelly, yet she encouraged them to the death38 .
The first which comes in this place to be mentioned, is that, blessed mother and mirror of all womanhood, the Virgin Marie, who was magnified in the birth of Jesus, glorified by Angels, chosen by the Almighty to bear in her womb the Savior of mankind.
With what a faithful salutation did Elizabeth39 , Saint John Baptist Mother, entertain the Virgin upon her repair unto her?
Anna the old Prophetess40 did miraculously demonstrate our Savior.
The woman which had the issue of blood41 : the woman of Cannan, John 4. The Samaritan woman. Martha, the 11 of John: all these and sundry others are saved, healed, and have their sins forgiven, in respect of their true and lively faith.
What faith? what seal? what devotion did Marie Magdalen42 show toward Jesus, in prostrating her self at the feet of Jesus, anointing them with precious ointment, washing them with tears, and drying them with the hair of her head?
With what bounty and devotion did the Maryes, the wife of Herod's steward, did Joanna, with other women contribute of their goods to Jesus43 ?
How charitable was that poor widow, whose two Mites44 our Savior valued at a greater estimate, then any gifts of any other whatsoever?
In all dangers, troubles, and extremities, which fell to our Savior, when all men fled from him, living or dead, women never forsook him45 .
I should be over-tedious to repeat every example of most zealous, faithful, and devout women, which I might in the new Testament, whose faith and devotion was censured by our Savior to be without compare.
I will conclude for women that they have been chosen both to set out God's glory, and for the benefit of all mankind, in more glorious and gracious employments then men have been.
The first promise of a Messiahs to come was made to a woman: the birth and bearing of that promised Messiah was performed by a woman.
The triumphant resurrection with the conquest over death and hell was first published and proclaimed by a woman.
I might hereunto add those wives, widows, and virgins, which flourished in the primitive Church, and all succeeding ages sithence, who in all virtues have excelled, and honored both their sex in general, and themselves in particular, who in their martyrdoms, in their confession of Jesus, and in all Christian, and divine virtues, have in no respect been inferior unto men.
Thus46 out of the second and third Chapters of Genesis, and out of the Old and new Testaments, I have observed in proof of the worthiness of our Sex: First, that woman was the last work of Creation, I dare say the best: She was created out of the chosen and best refined substance: She was created in a more worthy country: She was married by a most holy Priest: She was given by a most gracious Father: Her husband was enjoined to a most inseparable and affectionate care over her: The first promise of salvation was made to a woman: There is inseparable hatred and enmity put between the woman and the Serpent: Her first name, Eve, does presage the nature and disposition of all women, not only in respect of their bearing, but further, for the life and delight of heart and soul to all mankind.
I have further showed the most gracious, blessed, and rarest benefits, in all respects, bestowed upon women; all plainly and directly out of Scriptures.
All which does demonstrate the blasphemous impudence of the author of the Arraignment, who would or durst write so basely and shamefully, in so general a manner, against our so worthy and honored a Sex.
Gentle Reader, in my first Part I have (what I might) strictly observed a religious regard, not to intermingle anything unfitting the granite of so respective an Argument.
Now that I am come to this second Part, I am determined to solace my self with a little liberty: What advantages I did forbare to take in the former, I mean to make use of in this second. Joseph Swetnam has been long unanswered, which had been performed sooner, if I had heard of his Book before this last Term: Or if the report of the Maiden's answer had not stayed me. I have not so amply and absolutely discharged my self in this Apology as I would have done, if either my leisure had been such, as I could have wished, or the time more favorable, that I might have stayed. What my repair into the Country enforces me to leave rather begin then finished; I mean (by God's grace) to make perfect the next Term: In the mean time (gentle Reader) I bid thee kindly farewell.
Plato in his Books de Legibus, estimated of Women, which do equal Men in all respects, only in body they are weaker, but in wit and disposition of mind nothing inferior, if not superior Whereupon he does in his so absolute a Common-wealth, admit them to government of Kingdoms and Commonweals, if they be either born thereunto by Nature, or seated in government by Election.
It is apparent, that in the prime of antiquity, women were valued at highest estimate, in that all those most inestimable and incomparable benefits which might either honor or preserve Mankind, are all generally attributed to the invention of women, as may appear in these few examples following.
When meun & tuum, Mine and Thine, when right and wrong were decided by wars47 , and their weapons then were the furniture of Nature, as Fists, Teeth, Stones, Stakes, or what came next to hand: A Lady of an heroical disposition, called Bellona, did first invent a more man-like and honorable weapon for war, which was the sword, with other Armor correspondent, for which she was at first (and so ever since) honored, as the Goddess of war.
When at the first the finest Manchet and best bread in use was of Acorns, by the singular and practical wit of a Lady called Ceres, the sowing of Corn, and Tillage was invented.
The invention of the seven liberal Sciences, of all Arts, of all Learning, has been generally with one consent ascribed to the invention of Jupiter's daughters, the nine Muses, whose Mother was a royal Lady Mneneosum.
Carmentis a Lady, first invented Letters, and the use of them by reading and writing. The royal and most delightful exercise of Hunting was first found out and practiced by Diana, who thereupon is celebrated for the Goddess of Hunting.
The three Graces, which add a decorum, and yield favor to Persons, Actions, and Speeches, are three Ladies, Aglaia, Thalia, and Enphrosune.
The heroical exercises of Olimpus, were first found and put in practice by Palestra a woman.
The whole world being divided into three parts in most ancient times, every division to this day keeping the name in honor of a woman.
The feminine Sex is exceedingly honored by Poets in their writings: They have Gods as well for things, as for bad; but they have no women- Goddesses, but in things which are especially good. They have Bacchus for a drunken God, but no drunken Goddess. They have Priapus the lustful God of Gardens, but no garden-Goddesses, except of late in the garden Allies. They will object her unto me Venus, she indeed is the Goddess of Love, but it is her blind Son which is the God of Lust; poor Lady, she had but her jointure in the Manor of Love, Cupid is Lord of all the rest, he has the royalty; she may not strike a Dear, but she must employ her Son that saucy Boy.
For Pride, they held it so far from women, that they found out Nemesis or Rhamnusis, to punish and revenge pride, but none to infect with pride.
They have Pluto the God of Hell, but no proper Goddess of hell; but Proserpina, whom Pluto forcibly took from Mount Aetna, and carried her away, and made her Queen of Hell; yet she does not remain in Hell but one half of the year, by a decree from Jupiter.
If I should recite and set down all the honorable records and Monuments for and of women, I might write more Books than I have yet written lines. I will leave and pass over the famous testimonies of sovereign Kingdoms and Common-wealths, in honor of our Sex: and I will only mention some few examples of our own Country and Kingdom, which have been incomparably benefited and honored by women.
Among the old Britains, our first Ancestors, the valiant Boadicea, that defended the liberty of her Country, against the strength of the Romans, when they were at the greatest, and made them feel that a woman could conquer them who had conquered almost all the men of the then known world.
The devout Helen, who besides that, she was the Mother of that religious and great Constantine, who first seated Christian Religion in the Imperial throne & in that respect may be styled the mother of Religion, is still more honored for her singular piety and charity towards him and his members, who died for us upon the Cross, than for her care and industry in finding out the wood of that Cross on which he died.
In the time of the Danes, chaste Aemma, whose innocence carried her naked feet over the fire-hot Plow-shares unfelt; with the Saxon's Queen Elsgive the holy widow, and the King's daughter Edith a Virgin Saint, both greater Conquerors than Alexander the great, that men so much boast of, who could not conquer himself.
Since the Normans, the herotical virtues of Eleanor wife to Edward the first, who when her Husband in the Holy Land was wounded with a poisoned Arrow, of which there was no hope of recovery from the surgeons, she sucked the poison into her own body to free him: together, curing that mortal wound, and making her own fame immortal: so that I think this one act of hers may equal all the acts that her great Husband did in those wars besides.
Philip, wife to Edward the third, no less to be honored for being the Mother of so many brave children, than of so many good deeds, which worthily got her the title of good.
Margaret the wise, wife to Henrie the sixth, who if her husband's fortune, valor, and foresight, had been answerable to hers, had left the Crown of England to their own Son, and not to a stranger.
The other Margaret of Richmond, mother to Henrie the forth, from whose breasts he may seem to have derived as well his virtues as his life, in respect of her herotical prudence and piety; whereof, besides other Monuments, both the Universities are still witnesses.
Besides this, it was by the blessed means of Elizabeth, wife to Henrie the fifth, that the bloody wars between the houses of York and Lancaster were ended, and the red Rose and the white united, &c.
It was by the means of the most renowned Queen (the happy Mother of our dread Sovereign) that the two Kingdoms once mortal foes, are now so blessedly conjoined.
And that I may name no more (since in one only were comprised all the qualities and endowments that could make a person eminent) Elizabeth our late Sovereign, not only the glory of our Sex, but a pattern for the best men to imitate, of whom I will say no more, but that while she lived, she was the mirror of the world, so then known to be, and so still remembered, and ever will be.
Daily experience, and the common course of nature, does tell us that women were by men in those times highly valued, and in worth by men themselves preferred, and held better than themselves.
I will not say that women are better than men, but I will say, men are not so wise as I would wish them to be, to woe us in such fashion as they do, except they should hold and account of us as their betters.
What travail48 ? what charge? what study? do not men undertake to gain our goodwill, love, and liking? what vehement suits do they make unto us? with what solemn vows and protestations do they solicit us? they write, they speak, they send to make known what entire affection they bear unto us, that they are so deeply engaged in love, except we do compassion them with our love and favor, they are men utterly cast away. One he will starve himself, another will hang, another drown, another stab, another will exile himself from kindred and country, except they may obtain our loves: What? will they say that we are baser than themselves? then they wrong themselves exceedingly, to prefer such vehement suits to creatures inferior to themselves: Suitors do ever in their suits confess a more worthiness in the persons to who they sue. These kind of suits are from nature49 , which cannot deceive them: Nature does tell them what women are, and custom does approve what nature does direct, Aristotle said, Omnia appetunt benum, every thing by nature does seek after that which is good. Nature then does carry men with violence, to seek and sue after women: They will answer, and seek to elude this Maxime with a distinction, that bonum is duplex, aut veram, aut apparens, that goodness or the thing which is good, is either truly good, or but apparently good; so they may say, women are but apparently good. But the heathen Orator and the divine philosopher to, affirm, if we follow the true direction of nature we shall never be deceived. Nature in her vehement motions is not deceived with apparent shows. It is natural, they will say, for the Male to follow the Female; so it is as natural; for the Female to be better then the male, as appears to be true in observation of the hawks: the Spar-hawk is of more esteem then the Musket; the Goshawk more excellent than the Telsell; so in Calcons, the females do excel. The like men are bound to acknowledge women; the rather in respect of their own credit and honor. To what obsequious duty and service do men bind themselves, to obtain a favor from their devoted Mistress, which if he may obtain he thinks himself to be much honored, & outs in place of most noted view, that the world may take note: he wears in his hat, or on his breast, or upon his arm, the Glove, the Scarf, or Ring of his Mistress50 : If there were not relics from Saintly creatures, men would not sacrifice so much devotion unto them.
Among divers causes which proceed from nature and custom, why men are so earnest Suitors to women, I have observed one, which by practice is daily confessed. Plato said, that Honesty is of that worthiness, that men are greatly enflamed with the love of it; and as they do admire it, so they study how to obtain it: it is apparent, young men which are unmarried, and called bachelors, they may have a disposition, or may serve an apprenticeship to honesty, but they are never free-men, nor ever called honest men, til they be married51 : for that is the portion which they get by their wives. When they are once married, they are forthwith placed in the rank of honest men, If question be asked, what is such a man? it is presently resolved, he is an honest man: And the reason presently added, for he has a wife; she is the sure sign and seal of honesty. It is usual among old and gray fathers, if they have a son given to spending and company-keeping, who is of a wild and riotous disposition, such a father shall presently be counseled, help your son to a good wife, marry him, marry him, that is the only way to bring him to good order, to tame him, to bring him to be an honest man: The ancient fathers do herein acknowledge a greater worthiness in women than in men; the hope which they have of an untowardly son, to reclaim him, is all engaged upon the woman.
In no one thing, men do acknowledge a more excellent perfection in women then in the estimate of the offenses which a woman does commit: the worthiness of the person does make the sin more markeable52 . What an hateful thing it is to see a woman overcome with drink, when as in men it is noted for a sign of good fellowship? and whosoever does observe it, for one woman which does make a custom of drunkenness, you shall find an hundred men: it is abhorred in women, and therefore they avoid it: it is laughed at and made but as a jest among men, and therefore so many do practice it: Likewise if a man abuse a Maid & get her with child, no matter is made of it, but as a trick of youth; but it is made so heinous an offense in the maid, that she is disparaged and utterly undone by it. So in all offenses those which men commit, are made light as nothing, slighted over; but those which women do commit, those are made grievous and shameful, and not without just cause: for where God has put hatred between the woman and the Serpent, it is a soul shame in a woman to carry53 favor with the devil, to stain her womanhood with any of his damnable qualities, that she will shake hand where God has planted hate.
Joseph Swetnam in his Pamphlet aggrauateth the offenses of women in the highest degree, not only exceeding, but drawing men into all mischief. If I do grant, that woman degenerating from the true end of womanhood, prove the greatest offenders, yet in granting that, I do thereby prove that women in their creation are the most excellent creatures: for corruption, boni pessima, the best thing corrupted proves the worst, as for example, the most glorious creature in heaven is by his fall the most damned devil in hell: all the Elements in their purity are most precious, in their infection and abuse most dangerous: so the like in women, in their most excellent purity of nature, what creature more gracious! but in their fall from God, and all goodness, what creature more mischievous? which the devil knowing he does more assault woman than man, because his gain is greater, by the fall of one woman, than of twenty men. Let there be a fair maid, wife, or woman, in Country, town, or city, she shall want no resort of Serpents, nor any variety of tempter54 : let there be in like sort, a beautiful or personable man, he may sit long enough before a woman will solicit him. For where the devil has good acquaintance, he is sure of entertainment there, without resistance: The Serpent at first tempted woman, he dare assault her no more in that shape, now he employs men to supply his part; and so they do: for as the Serpent began with Eve to delight her taste, so do his instruments draw to wine and banqueting; the next, the Serpent enticed her by pride, and told her she should be like to God; so do his instruments55 ; first, they will extol her beauty, what a paragon she is in their eyes; next, they will promise her such maintenance, as the best woman in the Parish or Country shall not have better: What care they, if they make a thousand oaths, and commit ten thousand perjuries, so they may deceive a woman? When they have done all and gotten their purpose, then they discover all the woman's shame, and employ such an Author as this (to whose Arraignment I do make haste) to rail upon her and the whole Sex.
Joseph Swetnam having written his rash, idle, furious, and shameful discourse against Women, it was at last delivered into my hands, presently I did acquaint some of our Sex with the accident, with whom I did advise what course we should take with him. It was concluded (that his unworthiness being much like to that of Thersites, whom I have formerly mentioned) we would not answer him either with Achilles fist, or Stafford-law; neither pluck him in pieces as the Thracian woman did Orpehus, for his intemperate railing against women: But as he had arraigned women at the bar of fame and report; we resolved at the same bar where he did us the wrong, to arraign him, that thereby we might defend our assured right: And withal (respecting our selves) we resolved to favor him so far in his trial that the world might take notice there was no partial or indirect dealing, but that he had as much favor as he could desire, and far more than he did or could deserve.
So that we brought him before two Judges56 , Reason and Experience, who being in place, no man can suspect them with any indirect proceedings: For albeit, Reason of it self may be blinded by passion, yet when she is joined with Experience, she is known to be absolute, and without compare, As for Experience, she is known of her self to be admirable excellent in her courses, she knows how to use every man in her courses, she knows how to use every man in her practice; she will whip the fool to learn him more wit; she will punish the knave to practice more honestly; she will curb in the prodigal, and teach him to be wary; she will trip up the heels of such as are rash and giddy, and bid them hereafter look before they leap. To be sure, there is not in all the world, for all estates, degrees, qualities, and conditions of men, so singular a Mistress, of so fit to be a Judgess as she, only one property she has above the rest, no man comes before her but she makes him ashamed, and she will call and prove almost every man a fool, especially such who are wise in their own conceits.
For his Jury57 , albeit we knew them to be of his dearest, and nearest inward familiar friends, in whose company he was ever, and did spend upon them all that he could get, or devise to get; yet we did challenge no one of them, but were pleased that his five Senses, and the seven deadly sins should stand for his Jury.
The party58 which did give evidence against him, we knew to be a sure Card, and one which would not fail in proof of anything, Conscience is a sure witness.
So all things being accordingly provided, the prisoner was brought to the bar, where he was called and bid hold up his hand, which he did, but a false hand God he knows, his indictment was read, which was this which follows:
Joseph Swetnam his Indictment
Joseph Swetnam, you are indicted by the name of Joseph Swetnam of Bedlemmore, in the County of Onopolie59 : For that you the twentieth day of December60 , in the year &c. did most wickedly, blasphemously, falsely, and scandalously publish a lewd Pamphlet, entitled the Arraignment of Women; In which, albeit, you did honestly pretend to arraign lewd, idle, froward, and inconstant women, yet contrary to your pretended promise you did rashly, and maliciously rail and rage against all women, generally writing and publishing most blasphemously that women by their Creator were made for Helpers, for Helpers (you say) to spend and consume that which Man painfully gets; furthermore, you do write, That being made of a rib, which was crooked, they are therefore crooked and froward in conditions, and that Woman was no sooner made, but her heart was set upon mischief; which you do derive to all the Sex generally, in these words, And therefore ever since they have been a woe unto man, and follow the line of their first leader. Further then all this, you do affirm an impudent lie upon Almighty God, in saying, that God calls them necessary evils, and that therefore they were created to be a plague unto man. you write also, That women are proud, lascivious, froward, cursed, inconstant, idle, impudent, shameless, and that they deck and dress themselves to temp and allure men to lewdness, with much and many more foul, intemperate, and scandalous speeches, &c.
When Joseph Swetnam was asked what he said to his indictment, Guilty or not guilty, he pleaded the general issues, not guilty, being asked how he would be tried, he stood mute, for Conscience did so confront him, that he knew upon trial there was no way but one; whereupon he thought it much better to put himself upon our mercy, then to hazard the trial of his own Jury.
Whereupon we did consider if we should have urged him to be pressed, the disadvantage had been ours: for then his favorites would have said as some did say, that Joseph Swetnam did not stand mute61 , as misdoubting the proof of what he had written: But seeing the Judges, the Jury, the Accusers, and all others, most of them of the feminine gender, he suspelled the question by us, being made General, that they would rather condemn him to please a general, although in particular respect of himself he knew they would favor him. And besides that he held it a strange course, that the self and the same persons be Judges and Accusers, whereupon we resolved to grant him longer time to advise with himself whether he would put himself to trial, or upon better deliberation to recall his errors.
But that the world might be satisfied in respect of the wrongs done unto us, and to maintain our honorable reputation, it was concluded, that my self should deliver before the Judges, to all the assembly, speeches to these effects following.
The answer to all objections which are material, made against Women.
Right Honorable and Worshipful, and you of all degrees; it has ever been a common custom among Idle, and humorous Poets, Pamphleters, and Pimers, out of passionate discontents, or having little otherwise to employ themselves about, to write some bitter Satire-pamphlet, or Rhyme, against women: in which argument he who could devise any thing more bittery, or spitefully, against our Sex, has never wanted the liking, allowance, and applause of giddy headed people. Among the rabble of servile writers, this prisoner now present has acted his part, whom albeit women could more willingly let pass, then bring him to trial, and as ever heretofore, rather condemn such authors the deign them any answer, yet seeing his book so commonly brought up, which argued a general applause; we are therefore enforced to make answer in defense of our selves, who are by such an author so extremely wronged in public view.
You all see he will not put himself upon trial: if we should let it so pass, our silence might implead us for guilty, so would his Pamphlet be received with a greater currant and credit then formerly it has been: So that as well in respect of our Sex, as for all general satisfaction to the world, I will take this course with our prisoner, I will at this present examine all the objections which are most material, which our adversary has vomited out against woman, and not only what he has objected, but what other authors of more import than Joseph Swetnam have charged upon women: alas, seely man he objected nothing but what he has stolen out of English writers, as Euphues, the Palace of Pleasure, with the like, which are as easily answered as vainly objected. he never read the vehement and professed enemies against our sex, as for Gracians, Euripieds, Menander, Simonides, Sophocles, with the like, among Latin writers Juvenal, Plautus, &c.
But of all that ever I read, I did never observe such general sincerity [errata notes this should be "scurrility"] in any, as in this adversary, which you shall find I will make as manifest as the Sun to shine at midday.
It is the main end that our adversary aims at in all his discourse, to prove and say that women are bad; if he should offer this upon particulars, no one would deny it: but to lash generally against all women, who can endure it? You might Mr. Swetnam, with some show of honesty have said, some women are bad, both by custom and company, but you cannot avoid the brand, both of blasphemy and dishonesty, to say of women generally they are all naught, both in their creation and by nature, and to ground your inferences upon Scripture.
I let pass your objections in your first page; because they are formerly answered, only whereas you say, woman was no sooner made, but her heart was set upon mischief: if you had then said, she had no sooner eaten of the fruit, but her heart was set upon mischief, you had had some color for your speeches; not in respect of the woman's disposition, but in consideration both of her first Tutor and her second instructor: For whereas scripture does say, Woman was supplanted by a Serpent, Joseph Swetnam does say, She was supplanted by the devil, which appeared to her in the shape of a beautiful young man62 . Men are much beholding to this author, who will seem to insinuate, that the devil would in so friendly and familiar a manner, put on the shape of man, when he first began to practice mischief: The devil might make bold of them, whom he knew in time would prove his familier friends. Hereupon it may be imagined it comes to pass that Painters, and Picture makers when they would represent the devil, they set him out in the deformed shape of a man; because under that shape he began first to act the part of a devil: and I doubt he never changed his suit sithence. Here it is to be observed, that which is worst is expressed by the shape of a man; but what is the most glorious creature is represented in the beauty of woman, as Angels. Woman as the first might easily learn mischief63 , where or how should she learn goodness? her first School master was abundant in mischief, and her first husband did exceed in bad examples. First, by his example he taught her how to fly from God: next how to excuse her sin: then how to cample and contest with God, and to say as Adam did, you are the cause, for, the woman whom you gave me, was the cause I did eat. What Adam did at the first, bad husbands practice with their wives ever sithence, I mean in bad examples. It was no good example in Adam, who having received his wife from the gift of God, and bound to her in so inseparable a bond of love, that forthwith he being taken tardy would presently accuse his wife & put her in all the danger; but the woman was more bound to an upright judge, then to a loving husband: it would not serve Adam's turn, to charge her, thereby to free himself64 : It was an hard and strange course, that he who should have been her defender, is not become her greatest accuser. I may here say with Saint Paul, by one man's sin, death, &c. so by the contagion of original sin in Adam, all men are infected with his diseases; and look what examples he gave his wife at the first, the like examples and practices do all men show to women ever sithence. Let me speak freely, for I will speak nothing but truly, neither shall my words exceed my proof.
In your first and second page, you allege David and Salomon, for exclaiming bitterly against women: And that Salomon said, Women (like as Wine) do make men drunk with their devices. What of all this?
Joseph Swetnam, a man which has reason, will never object that unto his adversary, which when it comes to examination will disadvantage himself. Your meaning is, in the disgrace of women to exalt men: but is this any commendation to men, that they have been and are over reached by women? Can you glory of their holiness, whom by women prove sinful? or in their wisdom, whom women make fools? or in their strength, whom women over come65 ? can you excuse that fall which is given by the weaker? or color that foyle which is taken from women? Is holiness, wisdom, and strength, so slightly seated in your Masculine gender, as to be stained, blemished, and subdued by women? But now I pray you let us examine how these virtues in men so potent, came by women to be so impotent. Do you mean in comparative degree, that women are more holy, more wise, more strong, than men? If you should grant this, you had small cause to write against them. But you will not admit this: What is, or are the causes then why men are so over taken by women? You set down the causes in your fourth Page; there you say, They are dangerous for men to deal withal, for their faces are Lures, their beauties baits, their looks are nets, and their words are charms, and all to bring men to ruin: Incidit in Scllam qui vult vitare Charibdim, while he seeks to avoid one mischief, he falls into another. It were more credit to yield our sex to be more holy, wise, and strong, then to excuse themselves by the reasons alleged: for by this men are proved to have as little wit as they are charged to exceed in wickedness. Are external & dumb shows such potent baits, nets, lures, charms, to bring men to ruin? Why? wild Asses, dotterels, and woodcocks, are not so easily entangled and taken ? are men so idle, vain, and weak, as you seem to make them? Let me now see how you can free these men from dishonest minds, who are over taken thus with beauty, &c. How can beauty hurt66 ? how can it be a cause of a man's ruin, of it self? what, do women forcibly draw? why, men are more strong? are they so eloquent to persuade? why, men are too wise; are they mischievous to entice? men are more holy; how then are women causes to bring men to ruin? direct causes they cannot be in any respect; if they be causes, they are but accidental causes: A cause as Philosophers say, caus fine qua non: a remote cause, which cause is seldom alleged for cause, but where want of wit would say somewhat, and a guilty conscience would excuse it self by something. Philosophers say, Nemo leditur ni fi a seipso, no man is hurt but the cause is in himself. The prodigal person among the Gracians is call Asotos, as a destroyer, an undoer of himself: When an heart fraught with sin does prodigally lash out a lascivious look out of a wanton eye; when it does surfeit upon the fight, who is Asotos? who is guilty of his lascivious disease but himself? Volenti non fit iniuria, he who is wounded with his own content, has small cause to complain of another's wrong: Might not a man as easily, and more honestly, when he sees a fair woman, which does make the best use that she can to set out her beauty, rather glorify God in so beautiful a work, then infect his soul with so lascivious a thought? And for the woman, who having a Jewel given her from so dear a friend, is she not to be commended rather that in the estimate which she shows, she will as carefully and as curiously as she may set out what she has received from Almighty God, then to be censured that she does it to allure wanton and lascivious looks? The difference is in the minds, things which are called Adiaphora, things indifferent, whose qualities have their name from the uses, are commonly so censured, and so used, as the mind is inclined which does pass his verdict. A man and a woman talk in the fields together, an honest mind will imagine of their talk answerable to his own disposition, whereas an evil disposed mind will censure according to his lewd inclination. When men complain of beauty67 , and say, That women's dressings and attire are provocations to wantonness, and baits to allure men, It is a direct means to know of what disposition or they are, it is a shame for men in censuring of women to condemn themselves; but a common Inn cannot be without a common sign; it is a common sign to know a lecher, by complaining upon the cause and occasion of his surfeit; who had known his disease but by his own complaint? It is extreme folly to complain of another, when the root of all rests within himself; purge an infected heart, and turn away a lascivious eye, and then neither their dressings, nor their beauty can any ways hurt you. Do not men exceed in apparel, and therein set themselves out to the view? Shall women betray themselves and make it known that they are either so bad in their disposition, or so wanton in their thoughts, or so weak in their government as to complain that they are tempted and allured by men? Should women make themselves more vain than youngest children, to fall in love with babies. Women are so far off from being in any sort provoked to love upon the view of men's apparel68 , and setting themselves, that no one thing can more draw them from love, than their vanity in apparel. Women make difference between colors and conditions, between fair show, and a foul substance: It shows a levity in man to furnish himself more with trim colors, than manlike qualities: besides that, how can we love at whom we laugh? We see him gallant it at the Court one day, &c brave it in the Country the next day; we see him wear that on his back one week, which we hear is in the brokers shop the next: furthermore we see divers were apparel and colors made of a Lordship, lined with Farms and Granges, embroidered with all the plate, gold, and wealth, their friends and Fathers left them: Are these motives to love or to laughter? Will or dare a woman trust to their love for one Month, who will turn her of the next? This is the surfeit which women take by brave apparel. They rather suspect his worth, then with his love, who does most exceed in bravery. So Mr. Swetnam, do you and all yours forbare to censure of the dressings and attires of women for any such lewd intent, as you imagine: Bad minds are discovered by bad thoughts and hearts. Do not say and rail at women to be the cause of men's overthrow, when the original root and cause is in your selves. If you be so affected that you cannot look but you must forthwith be infected, I do marvel (Joseph Swetnam) you set down no remedies for that torment of Love, as you call it: You bid men shun and avoid it, but those be common and ordinary rules and instructions: yet not so ordinary, as able to restrain the extraordinary humors of your giddy company. I will do you and your friends a kindness if you be so scorched with the flames of love. Diogines did long since discover the sovereign salve for such a wound: The receipt is no great charge, your self may be the Apothecary, it is comprehended in three words69 : First, try with [6 Greek letters], next with [4 Greek letters], if both these fail, the third is sure, [6 Greek letters]. This was Diogenes Antidote against that venomous infection. There are more milder remedies which you may put in practice: If your hearts be so fleshly, or you eyes so tender that you dare trust neither of them, then trust to your reason to turn your eyes away, or trust to your heels as Joseph did, to carry all away.
After you have railed against women, you bring in a fable of a contempt70 between the Wind and the Sun; and you apply the moral to women, when as it has a far other relation: for it ever has been applied to men, to instruct them in the government of woman, for I pray you who is to govern, or who are to be governed? You should seem to come from the Sauromatioan, whose wives were their masters: but I will set you down both the Fable and the Moral, as it was written in English verse long sithence.
TheWind began and did increase, each blast
As of themselves, let men of others judge,
What man will yield to be compel'd by rage?
At crabbedness and crustiness hearts do grudge,
And to resist, themselves they more engage:
And experience proves. It is a shame for a man to complain of a froward woman, in many respects all concerning himself. It is a shame he has no more government over the weaker vessel. It is a shame he has hardened her tender sided, and gentle heart with his boisterous & Northern blasts. It is a shame for a man to publish and proclaim household secrets74 , which is a common practice among men, especially Drunkards, Lechers, and prodigal spend-thrifts: These when they come home drunk, or are called in question for their riotous misdemeanors, they presently show themselves, the right children of Adam. They will excuse themselves by their wives, and say that their unquiteness and frowardness at home, is the cause that they run abroad. An excuse more fitter for a beast than a man. If you were a man you would take away the cause which urges a woman to grief and discontent, and not by thy frowardness increase her distemperature: forbare thy drinking, thy luxurious riot, thy gambling, and spending, and you shall have your wife give you as little cause at home, as you give her great cause of disquiet abroad. Men which are men, if they chance to be matched with froward wives, either of their own making, or others marring, they would make a benefit of the discommodity, either try his skill to make her mild, or exercise his patience to endure her crustiness: for all crosses are inflicted either for punishment of sins, or for exercise of virtues; but humorous men will sooner mar a thousand women, then out of an hundred make one good.
And this shall appear in the imputation which our adversary charges upon our sex, to be lascivious, wanton, and lustful75 : He said, Women tempt, allure, and provoke men. How rare a thing it is to women to prostitute and offer themselves? how common a practice is it for men to seek and solicit women to lewdness? what charade do they spare? what travail do they bestow? what vows, oaths and protestations do they spend, to make them dishonest? They hire Pandors, they write letters, they seal them with damnations, and execrations, to allure them of love, when the end proves but lust: They know the flexible disposition of Women and the sooner to overreach them, some will pretend they are so plunged in love that except they obtain their desire they will seen to drown, hang, stab, poison, or banish themselves from friends and country: What motives are these to tender dispositions? Some will pretend marriage, another offer continual maintenance, but when they have obtained their purpose, what shall a woman find, just that which is her everlasting shame and grief, she has made her self the unhappy subject to a lustful body, and the shameful stall of a lascivious tongue. Men may with foul shame charge women with this sin which they had never committed if she had not trusted, nor had ever trusted if she had not trusted, nor had ever trusted is she had not been deceived with vows, oaths, and protestations. To bring a woman to offend in one sin, how many damnable sins do they commit? I appeal to their own consciences. The lewd disposition of sundry men do appear in this: If a woman or maid will yield unto lewdness, what shall they want? But if they would live in honesty, what help shall they have? How much will they make of the lewd? how base account of the honest? how many pounds will they spend in bawdy houses? but when will they bestow a penny upon an honest maid or woman, except it be to corrupt them?
Our adversary brings many examples of men which have been overthrown by women76 . it is answered, before the fault is their own. But I would have him, or any one living, to show any woman that offended in this sin of lust, but that she was first solicited by a man.
Helen was the cause of Troyes burning; first, Paris did solicit her; next, how many knaves and fools of the male kind had Troy, which to maintain whoredom would bring their City to confusion.
When you bring in examples of lewd women, and of men which have been stained by women, you show your self both frantic, and a profane irreligious fool to mention Judith for cutting off Holofernes head, in that rancke.
You challenge women for untamed and unbridled tongues; there was never woman was ever noted for so shameless, so brutish, so beastly a school as you prove your self in this base and odious Pamphlet: You blaspheme God, you rail at his Creation, you abuse and slander his Creatures; and what immodest or impudent scurrilities is it, which you do not express in this lewd and lying Pamphlet?
Hitherto I have so answered all your objections against Women, that as I have not defended the wickedness of any; so I have set down the true state of the question. As Eve did not offend without the temptation of a Serpent, so women do seldom offend but it is by provocation of men. Let not your impudence, nor your consort's dishonesty, charge our sex hereafter, with those sins of which you your selves were the first procurers. I have in my discourse, touched you, and all yours, to the quick. I have taxed you with bitter speeches; you will (perhaps) say I am a railing scold. In this objection, Joseph Swetnam, I will teach you both wit and honesty77 : The difference between a railing scold, and an honest accuser, is this, the first rages upon passionate fury, without bringing cause or proof; the other brings direct proof for what she alleges: you charge women with clamorous words, and bring no proof; I charge you with blasphemy, with impudence, scurrility, foolery, and the like. I show just and direct proof for what I say; it is not my desire to speak so much, it is your desert to provoke me upon just cause so far; it is no railing to call a Crow black, or a Wolf a ravenour, or a drunkard a beast; the report of the truth is never to be blamed, the deserver of such a report, deserves the shame.
Now, for this time, to draw to an end; let me ask according to the question of Cassian, Cui bono? [what good?] what have you gotten by publishing your Pamphlet; good. I know none. You have (perhaps) pleased the humors of some giddy, idle conceited persons: but you have dyed your self in the colors of shame, lying, slandering, blasphemy, ignorance, and the like.
The shortness of time and the weight of business call me away, and urge me to leave off thus abruptly, but assure your self where I leave now, I will by God's great supply the next Term, to your small content. You have exceeded in your fury against Widows, whose defense you shall hear of at the time aforesaid, in the mean space recollect your wits, write out of deliberation, not out of fury; write out of advice, not out of idleness; forbare to charge women with faults which come from the contagion of Masculine Serpents.
An idle companion was raging of late,
Who in fury 'gainst Women expressed his hate:
He writs a Book, an Arraignment he calls,
In which against women he currishly bawleth.
He deserves no answer but in Ballad or Rhyme,
Upon idle fantastic who would cast away time:
Any answer may serve an impudent liar,
Any mange scab'd horse does fit a scal'd Squire:
In the ruffe of his fury, for so himself said,
The blasphemous companion he shamefully plays.
The woman for an Helper, God did make he did say,
But to Help consume and spend all away.
Thus, at God's creation to flout and to jest,
Who but an Atheist would so play the beast?
The Scriptures do prove that when Adam did fall,
And to death and damnation was thereby a thrall.
Then woman was an Helper, for by her blessed seed,
From Hell and damnation all mankind was freed.
He said , women are froward, which the rib does declare,
For like as the Rib, so they crooked are:
The Rib was her Subject for body we find,
But from God came her Soul, and dispose of her mind.
Let no man think much if women compare,
That in their creation they much better:
More blessings therein to women do fall,
Then unto mankind have been given at all.
Women were the last work, and therefore the best,
For what was the end, excels the rest.
For woman's more honor, it was so assign'd,
She was made of the rib of metal refin'd:
The Country does also the woman more grace,
For Paradise is far the more excellent place.
Yet women are mischievous, this Author does say,
But Scriptures to that directly say nay:
God said, 'twixt the Woman and Serpent for ever,
Strong hatred he would put, to be qualified never.
The woman being hateful to the Serpent's condition,
How excellent is she in her disposition?
The Serpent with men in their works may agree,
But the Serpent with woman that never may be.
If you ask how it happens some women prove naught,
By men turn'd to Serpents they are over-wrought.
What the Serpent began, men follow that still,
They tempt what they may to make women do ill.
They will tempt, and provoke, and follow us long:
They deceive us with oaths, and a flattering tongue.
To make a poor Maiden or woman a whore,
They care not how much they spend of their store.
But where is there a man that will any thing78 give
That woman or maid may with honesty live?
If they yield to lewd counsel they nothing shall want,
But for to be honest, then all things are scant.
It proves a bad nature in men does remain.
To make women lewd their purses they strain.
For a woman that honest they care not a whit,
They'll say she is honest because she lacks wit.
They call women whores, but their stakes they might save,
There can be no Whore, but there must be a Knave.
They say that our dressings and that our attire
Are causes to move them to lustful fire.
Of all things which are we evermore find,
Such thoughts do arise as are like to the mind.
Men's thoughts being wicked they wrack on us thus,
That scandal is taken, not given by us.
If their sight be so weak, and their frailty be such,
Why do they then gaze at our beauty so much?
Pluck away those ill roots whence sin do arise,
Amend wicked thoughts, or pluck out the eyes.
The humors of men, see how froward they be:
We know not to please them in any degree:
For if we go plain we are sluts they do say,
They doubt of our honesty if we go gay;
If we be honest and merry, for giglots they take us,
If modest and sober, then proud they do make us:
Be we housewifery quick, then a shrew he does keep,
If patient and mild, then he scorns a sheep.
What can we devise to do or to say,
But men do wrest all things the contrary way.
'Tis not so uncertain to follow the wind,
As to seek to please men of such humorous mind.
Their humors are giddy, and never long lasting,
We know not to please them, neither full nor yet fasting.
Either we do too little, or they do too much:
They strain our poor wits, their humors are such.
They say, women are proud; wherein made they trial?
They moved some lewd suit, and had the denial:
To be crossed in such suites, men cannot abide,
And thereupon we are entitled with pride.
They say we are cursed and froward by kind,
Our mildness is changed, where raging we find,
A good Jack says the proverb, does make a good Gill,
A curst froward Husband does change woman's will.
They use us (they say) as necessary evils,
We have it from them, for they are our devils.
When they are in their rages and humorous fits,
They put us poor women half out of our wits.
Of all naughty women name one if you can,
If she be proved bad, it came by a man.
Fair Helen forsook her Husband of Greece,
A man called Paris, betrayed that peace.
Medea did rage, and did shamefully murder,
A Jason was cause, which her mischief did further.
A Cresside was false, and changed her love,
Diomedes her heart by constrain did remove.
In all like examples the world my see,
Where women prove bad, there men are not free.
But in those offenses they have the most share,
Women would be good, if Serpents would spare.
Let women and Maids whatsoever they be,
Come follow my counsel, be warned by me.
Trust not men's suites, their love proves lust,
Both hearts, tongues, and pens, do all prove unfit.
How fair they will speak and write in their love,
But put them to try all how false do they prove?
They love hot at first, when the love is a stranger,
But they will not be tied to rack and to manger.
What love call you that when men are wooing,
And seek nothing else but shame and undoing.
As women in their faults I do not commend,
Sowise I all men their lewd suites they would end.
Let women alone, and seek not their shame,
You shall have no cause then women to blame.
'Tis like that this Author against such does bawle,
Who by his temptations have gotten a fall.
For he who of women so wickedly deems,
Has made them dishonest, it probably seems.
He has been a Traveler, it may be well so,
By his tales and reports as much we do know.
He promises more poison against women to thrust;
He does it for physic, or else he would brust.
Thus I bid him farewell til next we do meet,
And then as cause moves, so shall we greet.
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