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In the Character of a Lady, but really by



I HAVE lately seen a letter upon the subject of white-washing, in which that necessary duty of a good house-wife is treated with unmerited ridicule. I should probably have forgot the foolish thing by this time but the season coming on which most women think suitable for cleansing their apartments from smoke and dirt of the winter, I find this saucy author dished up in every family, and his flippant performance quoted wherever a wife attempts to exercise her reasonable prerogative, or execute the duties of her station. Women generally employ their time to better purposes than scribbling. The cares and comforts of a family rest principally upon their shoulders; hence it is that there are but few female authors; and the men, knowing how necessary our attentions are to their happiness, take every oppor tunity of discouraging literary accomplishments in the fair sex. You hear it echoed from every quarter. "My wife cannot make verses, it is true; but she makes an exceilent pudding: she can't correct the press, but she can correct her children, and scolds her servants with admirable discretion: she can't unravel the intricacies of political economy, and the federal government; but she can knit charming stockings." And this they call praising a wife, and doing justice to her character, with much nonsense of the like kind.

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I say, women generally employ their time to much better purposes than scribbling; otherwise this facetious writer had not gone so long unanswered. We have ladies who sometimes lay down the needle, and take up the pen; I wonder none of them have attempted some reply. For my part, I do not pretend to be an author. never appeared in print in my life, but I can no longer forbear saying something in answer to such impertinence, circulate how it may. Only, sir, consider our situation. Men are naturally inattentive to the decencies of life; but why should I be so complaisant? I say, they are naturally filthy creatures. If it were not that their connexion with the refined sex polished their manners, and had a happy influence on the general economy of life, these lords of the creation would wallow in filth, and populous cities would infect the atmosphere with their noxious vapours. It is the attention and assiduity of the women that prevent men from degenerating into mere swine. How important then are the services we render; and yet for these very services we are made the subject of ridicule and fun. Base ingratitude! Nauseous creatures! Perhaps you may think I am in a passion. No, sir, I do assure you I never was more composed in my life, and yet it is enough 10 provoke a saint to see how unreasonably we are treated by the men. Why now, there's my husband-a good-enough sort of man in the mainbut I will give you a sample of him. He come into the parlour the other day, where, to be sure I was cutting up a piece of linen. "Lord!" says he, "what a flutter here is! I can't bear to see the parlour look like a tailor's shop; besides, I am going to make some important philosophical experiments, and must have sufficient room." You must know my husband is one of your would-be-philosophers. Well, I bundled up my linen as quick as I could, and began to darn a pair of ruffles, which took no room, and could give no offence. I thought, however, would watch my lord and master's important business. In about half an hour the table was covered with all manner of trumpery; bottles of water, phiala

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of drugs, pasteboards, paper and cards, glue, paste, and gum-arabic; files, knives, scissors, needles, rosin, wax, silk, thread, rags, jags, tags, books, pamphlets and papers. Lord bless me! I am almost out of breath, and yet I have not enumerated half the articles. Well, to work he went, and although I did not understand the object of his manœuvres, yet! could sufficiently discover that he did not succeed in any one operation. I was glad of that, I confess, and with good reason too: for, after he had fatigued himself with mischief, like a monkey in a china-shop, and had called the servants to clear every thing away, I took a view of the scene my parlour exhibited. I shall not even attempt a minute description: suffice it to say, that he had overset his ink-stand, and stained my best mahogany table with ink: he had spilt a quantity of vitriol, and burnt a large hole in my carpet; my marble hearth was all over spotted with melted rosin besides this, he had broken three china cups, four wine glasses, two tumblers, and one of my handsomest decanters. And, after all, as I said before, I perceived that he had not succeeded in any one operation. By the bye, tell your friend, the white-wash scribbler, that this is one means by which our closets become furnished with halves of china bowls, cracked tumblers, broken wine-glasses, tops of tea-pots, and stoppers of departed decanters. I say, I took a view of the dirt and devastation my philosophic husband had occasioned; and there 1 sat, like Patience on a monument, smiling at grief; but it worked inwardly. I would almost as soon the nelted rosin and vitriol had been in his throat, as on my dear marble hearth, and my beautiful carpet. It is not true that women have no power over their own feelings; for notwithstanding this provocation, I said nothing, or next to nothing, for I only observed, very pleasantly, what a lady of my acquaintance had told me, that the reason why philosophers are called literary men, is, because they make a great Litter: not a word more: however, the servant cleared away, and down sat the philosopher. A friend dropped in soon after-"Your servant, sir, how do

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you do?" "O Lord! I am almost fatigued to death; I have been all the morning making philosophical experiments." I was now more hardly put to it to smother a laugh, than I had been just before to contain my rage: my precious went out soon after, and I, as you may suppose, mustered all my forces, brushes, buckets, soap, sand limeskins, and cocoanut shells, with all the powers of housewifery, were immediately employed. I was certainly the best philosopher of the two; for my experiments succeeded, and his did not. All was well again, except my poor carpet-my vitrolized carpet, which still continued a mournful memento of philosophic fury, or rather philosophic folly. The operation was scarce over, when in came my experimental philosopher, and told me with all the indifference in the world, that he had invited six gentlemen to dine with him at three o'clock. It was then past one. I complained of the short notice; "Poh! poh!" said he, "you can get a leg of mutton, and a loin of veal, and a few potatoes, which will do well enough." Heavens! what a chaos must the head of a philosopher be a leg of mutton, a loin of veal and pota toes! I was at a loss whether I should laugh or be angry; but there was no time for determining; I had but an hour and a half to do a world of business in. My carpet, which had suffered in the cause of experimental philosophy in the morning, was destined to be more shamefully dishonoured in the afternoon by a deluge of nasty tobacco juice.-Gentlemen smokers love cigars better than carpets. Think, Sir, what a woman must endure under such circumstances; and then, after all, to be reproached with her cleanliness, and to have her white-washings, her scourings, and scrubbings made the subject of ridicule, it is more than patience can put up with. What I have now exhibited is but a small specimen of the injuries we sustain from the boasted superiority of men. But we will not be laughed out of our cleanliness. A woman would rather be called any thing but a slut,

as a man would rather be thought a knave than fool I had a great deal more to say, but am called away; we are just preparing to white-wash, and of course I have a deal of business on my hands. The white-wash buckets are paraded, the brushes ar ready, my husband is gone off-so much the better when we are upon a thorough cleaning, the firs dirty thing to be removed is one's husband. I am called for again,


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