|C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the Worlds Best Literature.|
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.
|To the Countess of Bute|
|By Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (16891762)|
LOUVÈRE, March 6, 1753. I CAN truly affirm, I never deceived anybody in my life, excepting (which I confess has often happened undesigned) by speaking plainly; as Earl Stanhope used to say, during his ministry, he always imposed on the foreign ministers by telling them the naked truth,which as they thought impossible to come from the mouth of a statesman, they never failed to write information to their respective courts directly contrary to the assurances he gave them. Most people confound the ideas of sense and cunning, though there are really no two things in nature more opposite: it is in part from this false reasoning, the unjust custom prevails of debarring our sex from the advantages of learning,the men fancying the improvement of our understandings would only furnish us with more art to deceive them, which is directly contrary to the truth. Fools are always enterprising, not seeing the difficulties of deceit or the ill consequences of detection. I could give many examples of ladies whose ill conduct has been very notorious, which has been owing to that ignorance which has exposed them to idleness, which is justly called the mother of mischief. There is nothing so like the education of a woman of quality as that of a prince: they are taught to dance, and the exterior part of what is called good breeding,which if they attain, they are extraordinary creatures in their kind, and have all the accomplishments required by their directors. The same characters are formed by the same lessons: which inclines me to think (if I dare say it) that nature has not placed us in an inferior rank to men, no more than the females of other animals, where we see no distinction of capacity; though I am persuaded, if there was a commonwealth of rational horses, as Doctor Swift has supposed, it would be an established maxim among them that a mare could not be taught to pace.