University of Virginia Library

Preface to the American Edition

We seldom lay down a book, which had commanded our admiration, without wishing to know something more of the Author than is to be gathered from the work. This arises, frequently, from our desire to know whether his character corresponds with the sentiments he has expressed; whether he adds to his precepts the powerful force of example. It is to gratify so laudable a curiosity, that the Republisher of this work does himself the honour of prefixing to it a few sentences by way of preface.

MR POLEWHELE was born, in 1760, at the patrimonial estate of the family, Polewhele, in the county of Cornwall. He was educated at the neighbouring grammar-school of Truro, became a member of Christ Church College, took orders, was for years Curate of Kenton, near Exeter, and is now Rector of Mannacan in Cornwall. He was an author at a very early age, and has, for some years past, stood high in the ranks of literature, whether considered as a Divine, an Historian, a Naturalist, or a Poet, in which last character he is surpassed by very few. His genius, however, bright as it is, merits not the applause which is due to his zeal and orthodoxy. In times like the present, these are the qualities that render a man valuable to his country, and in these Mr. Polewhele yields to no one: to inculcate loyalty and religion is the great object of all his productions.

The little Poem, which is here submitted to the public, owed its origin, it seems, to a passage in the pursuits of Literature. The author of that celebrated Satire, took occasion to make some very severe, though very just animadversions on those literary ladies, in Great Britain, who had thrown aside that modesty, which is the best characteristic and the most brilliant ornament of their sex, and who, with unblushing front, had adopted the sentiments and the manners of the impious amazons of republican France; whence they were, by the Author of the Pursuits, denominated, "The Unsex'd Females."

Mr. Polewhele improves upon the hint, and, with a voice at once awful and harmonious, endeavors to charm them back to the paths from which they have strayed. He calls to each and all of them, points out their deviations, warns them of the certain and fatal consequences, of which exhibits a fearful example in Mary Wollstonecraft, from the contemplation of whose disgraceful life and whose melancholy end he leads them to the chearing society of another group of Females, who are sufficiently characterised by placing at their head the incomparable Miss Hannah More.

To the several parts of the Poem are subjoined Notes, explanatory and critical; and, it were sincerely to be wished, that fathers and mothers would take a caution from these notes, respecting the female productions, which they introduce into their families; for the approaches of vice are never so dangerous as when it is introduced by the pen of a sprightly and profligate woman.