Philobiblon: Ballard and Elstob

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Ballard and Elstob

Back to the historical world, which at least has the virtue of the pain, frustration and anger being muted by time ...

Elizabeth Elstob, the great Saxon scholar, was unable to win permission for her friend, George Ballard, to dedicate his Memoirs of Several Ladies (1752) to her employer, the Duchess of Portland. (She had been reduced to being a governess.)

She wrote:

"I am sorry to tell you the choice you have made for the Honour of the Females was the wrong'st subject you could pitch upon. For you can come into no company of Ladies or Gentlemen, where you shall not hear an open and Vehement exclamation against Learned Women, and by those women that read much themselves, to what purpose they know best ... The prospect I have of the next age is a melancholy one to me who wish Learning might flourish to the end of the world, both in men and women, but I shall not live to see it."

(from a rather quaint volume: A Galaxy of Governesses, Bea Howe, Derek Verscoyle, 1954, p. 51)

Today is out the first report of Shere Hite's new book, about how women put down other women: the more things change ...

On a more cheerful note, while I'd love to buy a copy of Ballard I haven't found an excuse for the expenditure, but his biography of Anne Killigrew, poet and artist, is on the Net.


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