University of Virginia Library


Astell used both pen and pencil to make various additions, deletions, and
substitutions within the text of her copy of SPII; she also added significant pa-
ratextual comments and notes to the front and rear endpapers and pastedowns.
Many of the in-text changes follow a general pattern of revision evident in, for
instance, the single-word changes between the first and second editions of Let-
ters Concerning the Love of God
(1695; 1705). Stylistically, Astell almost invariably
revised "downwards," substituting less rarified words for her sometimes esoteric,
or archaic, terminology. Thus, in letter 3 of Letters, Astell replaced "recondite"


Page 201
with "hidden," and "Benevolence" with "Good-will." In letter 5, "meliorating"
becomes "improvement," while "sapid" becomes "relishing." In letter 7, "de-
faulting" and "peccant" are replaced by "taking" and "sinful," while in letter 9
"Diagnostick" is changed to "Mark."[8] This same tendency is apparent in Astell's
revisions of SPII; "lost its haut goust" becomes "lost its relish," "than a Bon-mien"
is changed to "than a good mien," "Nutrition" becomes "Nourishment," "Acu-
men" becomes "Sharpness," and "fill up my Vacuities" is replaced by "supply
my Wants."[9]

In all of her major works, Astell was necessarily attempting to strike a delicate
balance between accessibility and erudition; her changes thus reflect, at least in
part, a conscious attempt to narrow the distance between herself and those less-
educated women she hoped to reach. As she explains in the preface to Letters,
Astell was "far … from coveting the Fame of being singular" as an "ingenious
Woman"; she had a true rationalist's faith that any woman, "by employing her
Faculties the right way"—i.e., by receiving a proper education—could achieve
a high level of intellectual acuity (66). On the other hand, Astell was a gifted
thinker, and, in a sense, her own best witness. The smarter her writing, the more
convincing her argument that women's minds differed from men's in application,
not substance. In short, Astell needed to impress without putting off—a particu-
larly difficult line to negotiate given the vast discrepancy between the most and
least educated members of her intended audience, and one that became even
more pronounced with the onset of satires on Astell's "singularity" as a thinker
in the first decade of the eighteenth century.[10]

All of Astell's in-text notes and emendations have been recorded in Appendix 1.
It is certain that she made many of these changes after 1714, when the three-
volume The Ladies Library appeared in print. Volume one of this work contains
an extensive selection stolen, with some editorial changes, from chapter three of
SPII; Astell interlaces with pen and pencil many, but not all, of these unsolicited
editorial changes into her text and margins.

It is conceivable that a few in-text changes may have been made as the first
issue was still being printed in 1697. For instance, Astell's printed text reads
"we grope in the dark"; Astell has crossed out "grope" in ink and inserted in
the margin "stumble." While the copy of SPII in the British Library also has
the original "grope," Patricia Springborg's copy text in the Folger Library has
"stumble," indicating that stop-press changes must have been made along the


Page 202
way.[11] It is possible, then, that Astell made this change in 1697 for the original
compositors to follow; but it is also possible, and I think more likely, that this an-
notation and others like it reflect a later attempt on Astell's part to bring the text
into accord with the final state of the first printing. This would explain why Astell
made in-text corrections to errors already included in the list of errata.[12]

Surrounding the text are various but, I believe, related additions. I have
transcribed these in a series of appendices, as follows:

  • Appendix 2. Front pastedown—references to The Ladies Library; biography of Fénelon; ref-
    erence to "changes."
  • Appendix 3. First front free endpaper, recto and verso—note on English statutes relating
    to the "erection of hospitals," etc.
  • Appendix 4. Penultimate rear free endpaper, recto—quotation from a sermon by George
  • Appendix 5. Final rear free endpaper, recto and verso—accounts for "Sutton's Hospital."

Throughout, I have recorded Astell's comments as faithfully as possible. Illegible
words or phrases have been denoted as such in brackets, except where a plausible
guess could be made, in which case any uncertain word is preceded by an itali-
cized question mark. I have provided a brief introduction to each appendix.


See Letters, pp. 79, 80, 87, 91, 100, 100, 112. For a full recording of such emendations,
see Letters, Appendix One (167–183).


See below, Appendix 1, entries for 12.12 (75.9), 12.14 (75.1O), 24.14 (81.9fb), 24.2fb
(81.4fb), and 29.8–9 (83.17). These and all further references to Astell's in-text emendations
have been keyed by page and line number first to Astell's copy of the 1697 edition, then, in
parentheses, to Springborg's modern edition (Pickering and Chatto, 1997). The abbreviation
"fb" stands for "from the bottom of the page."


Susanna Centlivre in The Basset Table (1705) and either Richard Steele or Jonathan
Swift in two numbers of The Tatler (1709; nos. 32 and 63) each satirized Astell through the cre-
ation of an otherworldly, unnaturally intellectual, and otherwise weird character named "Ma-
donella." See Perry, III and 228–230. Donald F. Bond, it should be noted, thinks it unlikely
that Swift is the author of either number; see the notes on "Authorship" in his 1987 edition of
The Tatler, vol. 1, pp. 236 and 434.


See Appendix 1, entry for 47.4–5 (91.13).


See Appendix 1, entries for 22.8 fb (78.36) and 31.12 (84.8).