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The predominating influence of the fe. male part of the human species over the interests of the species at large, is a phenomenon not less striking in itself than important as to its results; a phenomenon, that can scarcely fail to present the mind with a wide and serious subject for its contemplation.
Under its simpler bearings, such a subject has in it little that the most scrupulous could hold distasteful :-- but as, in the pages that are to follow, a sort of rebellion is to be betrayed against the principle of female authority, and an unequivocal protest put forth against its continued exercise (founded upon a denial of the rights, and sometimes of the merits, of women, to exercise such a sway)—as such is the position we take up, and are to maintain, we
feel that no pages ever needed a preface, and a preface that should justify their tenour, more than those now submitted to the reader.
The nature of such a theme demands, that in the taking it up, honesty of purpose should be avowed. Briefly, then, we seek in this adventure (and the object is well worth the seeking) to restore the legitimate authority of the one sex,—by the force of moral elevation to add to the true influence of the other,--and so to promote the happiness of the species at large. We may have stepped aside to become the accuser, but it is the principle of love which we have endeavoured to keep in view.
That the motive of our writing, as well as the scope of our argument, will incur misconstruction, is a result for which we are not unprepared. To please all, in the exercise of such a task, is beyond hope ; while, to avoid offending some, and perhaps many (if many are to be our readers), is, we fear, impossible. That a work of such a nature should be acceptable to the
sex, the ascendancy of which it seeks, in however remote a degree, to lower, is of course not likely: that it should find friends among the many and eager worshippers of that sex, would be an expectation nearly as unreasonable.
We seek to force open the windows of truth ;-we are about to unrobe an idol. He who makes attempts of this kind, must look to be 'walked over by society in its eagerness. There is no swimming against the tide of custom without a few rough blows from its waves! Yet, though we have to assail prejudice and prejudice too of all others the most inveterate), though we make war upon opinion, though we defy power, we have the encouragement (and it is a sufficient one) of reflecting, that what we have to offer is truth-that to set forth new truth is duty,-while the natural operation of all truth is in the production of happiness.
And besides that it is always right to have a faith in truth (which is no more to be extinguished or soiled than the sun
beam, and which is still excellent though it flow not from the pen of a Burke),—apart from all abstract encouragements, there is likewise something of assurance in the peculiar and inviting character of the times in which we live. Big with expectation, the age before us speaks for itself. He must be blind indeed who does not see that men are at length making noble efforts to throw off their errors and their prejudices. No law of the Medes and Persians can there now be for controul of Opinion : it is the dress of the mind, altering and improving its fashion with growing civilization. Yes! great truths and principles at last walk fearlessly abroad, challenging investigation; and those which come home to our hearths and bosoms, must not remain longer unprobed.
The volumes before the reader are anonymous, but this can be of little moment : truth is of more importance than the name of its advocate; and it was apprehended there might seem somewhat presumptuous in an individual stepping forward on such