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«A Thesis Submitted for the Degree of PhD at the University of Warwick This thesis is made available online and is ...»

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Introduction, pp.1O-12 feminine responsibilities can be found in almost any century. She, amongst others, has also shown that the concept of 'separate spheres' had an essentially discursive status.l 2 Reality was much more diverse and the rigid boundaries established by theorists were routinely broken and negotiated in the course of daily life. Revisionists have thus argued that, "the foundation of the 'separate spheres' framework was established through a particular reading of didactic and complaint literature... confidently built on the sands of prescription," that "the degree to which in practice families actually adhered to separate spheres' ideology remains the subject of much debate."13 Recent scholars have thus recommended that, rather than taking idealised models from published sources and forcing the details of personal existence into them, historians should show an awareness that "conventional definition of roles and the actual performance of them in everyday life can be quite different things."14 As a result, many have rejected the concept of 'separate spheres' as of no use to the historian, as a tool that has for too long clouded historical research. Vickery has proposed that such "orthodox categories" should be "jettisoned," and that the way forward is through detailed research and case studies. 15 However, the utility of the notional model has not entirely run its course. Accepting the point that strict models are antithetical to the multiplicity of social reality, the concept remains useful for examining the area to which it is applicable; prescriptive and fictional writings and, Vickery, 'Golden Age to Separate Spheres?' pp.383-414; A. Vickery, The Gentleman's Daughter: Women's Lives in Georgian England (New Haven and London, 1998), especially pp.3-11 13 Vickery, 'Golden Age to Separate Spheres?', pp.385-6; M. Hunt, 'Wife Beating, Domesticity and Women's Independence in Eighteenth-Century London', Gender and History 4, 1 (Spring 1992), p.27 14 K. Wrightson, English Society 1580 - 1680 (London, 1993), p.92 15 Vickery, 'Golden Age to Separate Spheres?', pp.413-4 according to my argument, pictorial imagery. 'Separate spheres' were clearly elucidated throughout eighteenth-century prescriptive and fictional literature. And, as portraiture ran a parallel course to prescription, gendered domains were similarly apparent in conventional pictorial forms and narrative devices. Thus, this chapter will suggest that both literary and visual evidence reveals the doctrine to have been dominant in such ideological realms before the Victorian period focussed on by Davidoff and Hall. Similarly, through examination of portraits ranging from depictions of middling-class couples from Derbyshire to King George ill and Queen Charlotte, it will imply that 'separate spheres' had prescriptive purchase for a broader spectrum of society than just the middling sorts. However, this latter argument will be chiefly elucidated in the conclusion. 16 * * * * * As we have seen, the eighteenth century witnessed an elevation of the roles of wife and mother and "the generally low opinion of women inherited from seventeenth-century religious works was reversed into an idealisation of women as superior to men in virtue."17 However, this discourse did not supplant patriarchal prescription; rather it proffered a moderated version of abiding precepts. First, writers of this period built on and developed the traditional precept of mutuality, thereby tempering the rule of masculine superiority and authority by emphasising reciprocal duties. For example, whilst the supposedly female author of The Hardships of the 16 See conclusion, pp.324-33 17 F.A. Childs, 'Prescriptions for Manners in English Courtesy Literature, 1690-1760, and their Social Implications', (unpub. Ph.D. thesis, Oxford, 1984), abstract; chapter 1, pp.66-9 English Laws in Relation to Wives promoted masculine authority and stated that the law of God had endowed man with ultimate command, she desired that his legal supremacy should be tempered by conscience. She argued that a husband owes his wife protection in return for the trust she puts in him, for her respect and for her deference. 18 Such a reciprocal relationship, if taken to its logical conclusion, implied that a husband who failed in fulfilling his side of the bargain should accept the exemption of his wife from the fulfilment of hers. For example, the eponymous heroine of The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless argues that, if a husband "is ignorant of the regard he ought to have for his wife, or forgets to put it in practice, he can expect neither affection nor obedience." Thus, when Mr Munden is finally discovered to be having an affair with Madame de Roquelair, Betsy is completely absolved from her duties and begins her 'Dear John' letter to him thus; "you cannot but be sensible, that the mutual engagements between us have been strictly adhered to on my part, and almost in every particular falsified on yours".19 However, for some, this was an extension of mutuality to an uncomfortable degree. Samuel Richardson, for example, warned, "the Husband's breach of duty cannot warrant a failure in that of the wife. "20 18 The Hardships of the English Laws in Relation to Wives (London and Dublin, 1735), pp. 3, 14, 15, 18. Similarly, but much later in the century, Thomas Gisborne in Enquiry into the Duties of the Female Sex (1797) (London, 9 th edition, 1810), pp.242, 245 cited "faithful and willing obedience" as a wife's duty but "mildness," "conciliating forbearance" and "lively and never-failing tenderness of affection" as that of a husband.





19 E. Haywood, The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless (1751), ed. B. Fowkes Tobin (Oxford, 1997), pp.450, 530 S. Richardson, A Collection of the Moral and Instructive Sentiments, Maxims, Cautions and Reflections Contained in the Histories of Pamela, Clarissa, and Sir Charles Grandison (London, 1755), p.43 As well as perpetuating earlier themes of mutuality, eighteenth-century writers softened patriarchal statements by ceasing to assert male dominance unequivocally.

Such authors as William Gouge in 1622 had discussed patriarchy in unquestioned and unquestionable terms. 21 Later writers, in contrast, espoused new programmes of rationalisation, proffering such dictums via 'logical' arguments. In 1705, Bishop Fleetwood followed Gouge in structuring his treatise on the model of Ephesians, delineating mutual duties between husbands and wi ves, parents and children and servants and masters. However, he differed from his predecessor in providing justifications for masculine superiority in these relationships. He reasoned that all partnerships require a superior partner for purposes of workability and proceeded to aver that this must inevitably be the man due to his greater strength and abilities, the tenets of custom and the doctrine of Christianity as elucidated in St.Paul's gospe1. 22 Thus, "older-style patriarchy with its emphasis on paternal prerogative, hierarchy and the exercise of force had gradually yielded to new-style patriarchy with its appeal to reason, co-operation between the sexes and the non-coercive exercise of authority."23 However, most importantly, the persistence of male domination in the eighteenth century can be seen in the fact that the cult of femininity enforced the traditional separateness of the genders, by barring women from masculine rights and privileges. Writers of the period may have asserted a new parity between men and women, but they did not claim that parity to lie in equivalent characteristics. Rather, W. Gouge, Of Domesticall Duties (1622) (London, 3rd edition, 1634), p.273 22 W. Fleetwood, The Relative Duties of Parents and Children, Husbands and Wives, Masters and Servants (1705) (London, 3rd edition, 1722), pp.132-9, 236-67. Repeated in R. Steele, The Ladies Library 3 Vols. (London, 1714), I, pp.59-63 23 B. Kowaleski-Wallace, 'Home Economics: Domestic Ideology in Maria Edgeworth's Belinda', The Eighteenth Century 29,3 (1988), pp.242-3 masculine rational, intellectual and physical superiority was matched by feminine excellence in the fields of feeling and imagination. The quintessential evocation of this division of gendered characteristics was that of The Tatler on 16 May 1710: "I am sure, I do not mean it an Injury to Women, when I say there is a Sort of Sex in Souls... the Soul of a Man and that of a Woman are made very unlike, according to the Employments for which they are designed."24 This notion of "Sex in Souls" was reiterated both by the Reverend Fordyce who spoke of "a sex in Minds," and by Francis Douglas who examined this "perfect contrast in their exterior and interior endowments" in some depth. He argued that men possess "a strong and robust constitution, equal to the greatest fatigue" as opposed to women who are "more delicate" and have "persons elegant, graceful and lovely." He then reinforced these physical disparities by detailing psychological divergences. Whilst masculine minds have a certain vigour, women are "susceptible of the most tender impressions."25 There were, of course, alternative messages available, particularly and increasingly from those who were dissatisfied with the contemporary state of female education.

Some, such as Vicesimus Knox in 1781, even dared suggest that women might be entitled to a similar education to that provided for men, incorporating classical subjects such as Latin and Greek. 26 However, such progressives were in something of a minority.

The Tatler no.l72 (16 May 1710), in The Tatler (1709-1711), ed. D.F. Bond, 3 Vols.

(Oxford, 1987), II, p.444 25 J. Fordyce, Sermons to Young Women 2 Vols. (1766) (Dublin, 4th edition, 1766), II, p.l54;

F. Douglas, Reflections on Celibacy and Marriage; in Four Letters to a Friend; In which the ADVANTAGES and DISADVANTAGES o/the two STATES are compared (London, 1771), p.l0 V. Knox, Liberal Education; or, A Practical Treatise on the Methods 0/ Acquiring Useful and Polite Knowledge (London, 1781), pp.235-6. Knox, however, was not unequivocal on this issue. He Similarly, a limited number of writers disputed the inherent nature of gender distinctions. Eliza Haywood boldly stated in The Female Spectator in 1744 that;

"there is, undoubtedly, no sex in souls."27 More famously, Mary Wollstonecraft later contended that such segregation was a tool of male tyranny, declaiming: "I here throw down my gauntlet, and deny the existence of sexual virtues, not excepting modesty.

For men and women, truth, if 1 understand the meaning of the word, must be the same."28 However, as G.1. Barker-Benfield has pointed out, her views prompted considerable outrage. The barrage of criticism that followed the publication of A Vindication of the Rights of Women was concerned to reinforce the principle of gendered characters. 29 In particular, Hannah More decried such feminist "petty cavils and contentions for equality," recommending "co-operation and not competition."

Asserting that strength of body and mind was as natural to man as the fin to the fish and the wing to the bird, she warned that to deny women's inherent qualities was to negate their advantages of softness and refinement. 30 These sexually contrasted and defined capacities and talents in tum authorised disparate activities. As mainstream discourse constantly repeated, masculine

–  –  –

Salignac de la Mothe Fenelon developed this argument in his highly popular treatise did not want women to be taught such subjects "without exception", but only if they possessed a particular talent (p.233).

27 E. Haywood, The Female Spectator (1744-1746), ed. G.M. Firmager (London, 1993), p.l01 28 M. Wollstonecraft, 'A Vindication of the Rights of Women' (1792), in 1. Todd, ed., Mary Wollstonecraft: Political Writings (Oxford, 1994), p.119 29 G.J. Barker-Benfield, The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Chicago and London, 1992), p.364 H. More, Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education, with a view of the Principles and Conduct prevalent among Women of Rank and Fortune 2 Vols. (London, 1799), II, pp.14, 22, 24on the education of daughters, first translated into English in 1707 and reprinted throughout the century. He began by asserting that women were weaker but more inquisitive than men, concluding that such traits logically prescribed female duties to "be of a quiet and sober tum." Feminine discrimination, "natural assiduity and authority at home... carefulness, attention to particulars, industry, and... (a) soft persuasive manner" enabled women to fulfil domestic and familial responsibilities which, he claimed, "cannot be deemed of less importance to society than those of the male."31 Fordyce later took up the message when he specified that the "hardy and rough" mental and physical constitution of men enabled them to perform tasks from which women were excluded by virtue of their "decorum," their "softness" and their "fear." However, whilst barring them from war, commerce and politics, he consoled his female audience with the thought that they had an empire of their own; "that which has the heart for its object, and which is secured by meekness and modesty, by soft attraction, and virtuous love. "32 * * * * * 31 F. de Salignac de la Mothe Fenelon, Fenelon's Treatise on the Education of Daughters:

Translatedfrom the French, and adapted to English Readers, with an Original Chapter 'On Religious Studies' (1707, first French edition 1688) (Cheltenham, 1805), pp.3, 6, 7 32 Fordyce, Sermons to Young Women, I, pp.122, 198. Such ideas persisted throughout the century. as revealed in writings such as Gisborne, Enquiry into the Duties of the Female Sex, pp.19-21.

In similar terms to Fordyce. he begins by elucidating the physical strength and robustness of men, enabling them to farm, to build and to fight, activities from which women are excluded due to their "smaller mould" and "looser texture." He then extends this physical divergence to corresponding mental characteristics, men having "powers of close and comprehensive reasoning, and of intense and continued application" unknown to women.



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