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Gamache, Robert N.
b peculiar supporter of female writers
h [electronic resource] /
by Robert N. Gamache.
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University of South Florida,
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Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
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ABSTRACT: Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) is not traditionally known for valuing the company of women. While contemporary critics tend to be more forgiving and defer to the prevailing values of the eighteenth century, they generally do not dwell on the positive influence that Swift had on female writers of his day. This thesis will work towards remedying that omission by analyzing the writing of three prominent female contemporaries of Swift: Delariviere Manley, Mary Barber and Laetitia Pilkington. While varying in writing ability, each of the three women in this thesis had a personal relationship with Swift, was invited to join his "inner circle" for a time and received his advice on a variety of issues. Despite substantial analysis to the contrary, this thesis will emphasize the positive impact that Swift had on women writers of his day.While surely influenced by the mores of his time that relegated female writing to the "lower rungs" of literature, Swift nevertheless sought women out, reviewed their work and offered his suggestions and insights. Ever the keen social observer, Swift often expressed his doubts about the capabilities of the female mind through the veil of satire or by employing alternate literary voices. However, the Dean's ridicule does not mean that he was merely an insensitive misogynist. Despite the opinion of some critics, Swift was concerned with the development of the female mind, and dedicated human behavior troubled him deeply, he was nevertheless able and willing to support and befriend individual acquaintances (particularly females), lending them both personal and literary advice. Therefore, rather than bow to the prevailing societal pressures that kept women writers at arm's length, Swift welcomed female companionship, and helped them to become effective literary voices.The template that he advocated, however, was from the "male" perspective, as he encouraged his female prots to emulate "traditional" masculine behaviors in both their personal and literary endeavors. Therefore, this thesis focuses on three prominent female writers who benefited from the Dean's friendship and advice: Delariviere Manley (best known for her influential New Atalantis), Mary Barber (focusing primarily on her Poems on Several Occasions), and Laetitia Pilkington (notably through her groundbreaking The Memoirs of Laetitia Pilkington). While each writer wrote in a distinctive manner and possessed different public personas, Manley was perhaps the most talented of the three; in fact, many critics regard her as Swift's peer rather than simply a follower. Indeed, they were both concerned with many of the same issues, including dissatisfaction with those in power, a desire to satirically comment on the issues of the day and general disdain for the deficiencies of mankind.A primary influence for this thesis is the seminal work of Margaret Anne Doody. Her scholarship sheds light on Swift's positive influence on his female companions, as evidenced in numerous essays, including her essential "Swift among the Women" (1998). In this work, Doody offers evidence to support the Dean's concern for his female followers). This analysis will support her work and clarify the vital role that Swift played in the development of eighteenth century female writers.
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t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
Swift: Peculiar Supporter of Female Writers by Robert N. Gamache A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of English College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Pat Rogers, Ph.D. Regina Hewitt, Ph.D. Laura Runge, Ph.D. Date of Approval January 20, 2009 Keywords: Eighteenth Century, Manley, Barber, Pilki ngton Copyright 2009, Robert. N. Gamache
i Table of Contents Introduction: Swift: Peculiar Supporter of Female W riters 1 Delariviere Manley (1663 or c. 1670 Â– 1724) 5 Mary Barber (1685Â–1755) 12 Laetitia Pilkington (1706-1750) 20 Conclusion 29 Bibliography and Works Cited 31
1 Introduction: Swift: Peculiar Supporter of Female W riters Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) is not traditionally kno wn for valuing the company of women. While contemporary critics tend to be more f orgiving and defer to the prevailing values of the eighteenth century, they generally do not dwell on the positive influence that Swift had on female writers of his day. This t hesis will work towards remedying that omission by analyzing the writing of three prominen t female contemporaries of Swift: Delariviere Manley, Mary Barber and Laetitia Pilkin gton. While varying in writing ability, each of the three women in this thesis had a personal relationship with Swift, was invited to join his Â“inner circleÂ” for a time and r eceived his advice on a variety of issues. Despite substantial analysis to the contrary, this thesis will emphasize the positive impact that Swift had on women writers of his day. While surely influenced by the mores of his time th at relegated female writing to the Â“lower rungsÂ” of literature, Swift nevertheless sought women out, reviewed their work and offered his suggestions and insights; inde ed, he Â“provided a constant model and stimulus for women writers whoÂ…found themselves [li ke Swift]Â…in a position of subjugation and supposed docility when they would r ather speak out and vex the world a little as well as divert itÂ” (Doody, Â“SwiftÂ” 92). Ever the keen social observer, Swift often expressed his doubts about the capabilities of the female mind through the veil of satire or by employing alternate literary voices. However, the DeanÂ’s ridicule does not mean that he was merely an insensitive misogynist. Despi te the opinion of some critics, Swift was concerned with the development of the female mi nd, and dedicated much of his life
2 to nurturing it; he further explains that while he Â“ever hated all Nations, Professions, and Communities; [he did profess] love towards Individu alsÂ…Â” (Swift, Writings 634). Thus, while certain aspects of human behavior troubled hi m deeply, he was nevertheless able and willing to support and befriend individual acqu aintances (particularly females), lending them both personal and literary advice. Therefore, rather than bow to the prevailing societ al pressures that kept women writers at armÂ’s length, Swift welcomed female comp anionship, and helped them to become effective literary voices. The template that he advocated, however, was from the Â“maleÂ” perspective, as he encouraged his female pro tges to emulate Â“traditionalÂ” masculine behaviors in both their personal and lite rary endeavors (Barnett 161). Furthermore, Elias notes that Swift believed Â“women have just as much intellectual force and character as men and are just as capable, witho ut special help, of shaking off their mind-forged manacles themselvesÂ” (Â“IntroductionÂ” 2: 417). While one can understand why feminists have traditionally taken issue with t he Dean, it is clear that he believed women were capable of bettering themselves, particu larly if they resisted societyÂ’s pressure to be more concerned with their outward ap pearance than the development of their mind. One must also note that both Manley and Pilkington fell victim to the mistreatment and abandonment of men, but neverthele ss were able to channel their vengeance into creating significant works that addr essed this abuse. Thus, while each of these writers certainly would have succeeded withou t his assistance, this thesis will offer evidence to support the notion that SwiftÂ’s support helped them thrive in a maledominated profession. Therefore, this thesis focuses on three prominent f emale writers who benefited
3 from the DeanÂ’s friendship and advice: Delariviere Manley (best known for her influential New Atalantis) Mary Barber (focusing primarily on her Poems on S everal Occasions) and Laetitia Pilkington (notably through her grou ndbreaking The Memoirs of Laetitia Pilkington ). While each writer wrote in a distinctive manner and possessed different public personas, Manley was perhaps the m ost talented of the three; in fact, many critics regard her as SwiftÂ’s peer rather than simply a follower. Indeed, they were both concerned with many of the same issues, includ ing dissatisfaction with those in power, a desire to satirically comment on the issue s of the day and general disdain for the deficiencies of mankind. In contrast, while perhaps not as confident of her ability to succeed as a published female writer, Barber frequently employed the voice s of others, including her son, Constantine. However, rather than attempt to challe nge the prevailing norms that discouraged women from publishing, she chose to foc us on subject areas that would cause less controversy, such as domestic issues. S he also occasionally wrote for others who were less skilled at crafting persuasive writte n arguments. Finally, although not generally regarded as talente d or as versatile as Manley or as thoughtful as Barber, Pilkington achieved her succe ss by writing about the personal behaviors of public figures, particularly those of her mentor, Dean Swift. Critics believe that she was able to shed light on the Â“realÂ” man h idden behind the public facade, while also providing details about her own life and that of numerous public figures. Unlike many contemporaries (including Swift) who occasiona lly used pseudonyms to facilitate their ability to speak freely, PilkingtonÂ’s most po pular works were based on actual encounters; she had little use for fictional charac ters and situations that merely hinted at
4 the actions and motivations of others. While Swift would certainly not have approved of her tendency to reveal personal details of his life her Memoirs were published shortly after his death she documented his behavior with friends and acquaintances with a degree of candor that was a significant departure f or its time (particularly from a female perspective) and helped pave the way for the notori ous tabloids that continue to be prevalent to the present day. Thus, this thesis wil l conclude with a focus on Pilkington and the lasting impact that she has had on the lega cy of Swift, as evidenced primarily though her three-volume Memoirs A primary influence for this thesis is the seminal work of Margaret Anne Doody. Her scholarship sheds light on SwiftÂ’s positive inf luence on his female companions, as evidenced in numerous essays, including her essenti al Â“Swift among the WomenÂ” (1998). In this work, Doody offers evidence to support the DeanÂ’s concern for his female followers); indeed, SwiftÂ’s followers were inspired by his Â“energy, pungency and pointednessÂ” (often in the form or teasing and ridi cule), behavior that was intended to produce literature that shared his concern for soci al issues and personal behaviors (Doody, Â“SwiftÂ” 79). This analysis will support he r work and clarify the vital role that Swift played in the development of eighteenth centu ry female writers.
5 Delariviere Manley (1663 or c. 1670 Â– 1724) Delariviere Manley Kster suggests that her first name most likely in homage to Lady Delariviere Morgan (v) is perhaps most outwa rdly similar to her mentor; both are skeptical of the underlying motivations of others a nd use satire to lash out at those who they believe abuse the public trust. Their similar ities made it difficult for critics to distinguish between ManleyÂ’s work and her mentor, p articularly when they jointly authored the Tory pamphlet The Examiner ; she eventually succeeded him as principal writer (Rabb, Â“Manl(e)y,Â” 126). In fact, preliminar y computer studies indicate that Manley has some Â“quantitative resemblanceÂ” to the D ean (Kster xxii). Much like Swift, she also writes in a variety of literary modes (pam phlets, articles, novels, etc.), and at times includes situations of inappropriate male and female behavior. Manley was the third child of career military offic er Sir Roger Manley; her mother died when she was quite young. She was expo sed to writing from an early age, as her father wrote several articles concerning warfar e. After her motherÂ’s death, the three sisters and one brother were raised by governesses. Her brother followed his fatherÂ’s footsteps by pursuing a naval career, while the gir ls became romantically involved with men from the service. Indeed, her sister Mary Eliz abeth eventually married a captain, while Manley was involved with Ensign James Carlisl e, who was also active as an actor, playwright and author. Both Manley and Pilkington (as detailed later in th is thesis) were subject to the manipulation of men. Upon the death of her father a fter the revolution, Manley and her
6 sister Cornelia were left to the Â“careÂ” of her fath erÂ’s nephew, John Manley. Although her father had treated him like a son, John Â“marriedÂ” D elariviere under false pretenses, got her pregnant and forced her to live in a state of d epressed seclusion in London for several years; he eventually left her to rejoin his legal w ife in hopes of a promising business opportunity. Forced to fend for herself, Manley too k several short-term opportunities, including serving as an aide to the aging Duchess o f Cleveland. Upon her dismissal, she published several works, including Letters The Lost Lover and The Royal Mischief Kster notes that after achieving modest success, s he became the mistress of lawyer John Tilly, deputy warden of Fleet Prison, who, much lik e John Manley before him, ultimately left her to marry a rich widow (viii). Similar to Swift, her writing at times included a variety of controversial subjects such as adultery and sexual activity. Based in part on her troublesome experiences, her w riting style therefore developed into a unique blend of Â“amorous satirical fiction and politicsÂ” (Anderson 272). Her literary achievements include several plays, as well as her career highlight, the New Atalantis (1709-14), a Â“societyÂ” work infused with political commentary that was controversial, successful, and read by many importa nt published writers, including Pope and Swift. Her journalistic achievements included T he Female Tatler (1709) where she used the pseudonym of Mrs. Crackenthrope to express herself more freely. Despite this attempt at anonymity, however, she and her publishe r were jailed in 1709 when they refused to confirm that she was the author of these controversial articles. Other important published works include The Adventures of Rivella ( 1714 ), Lucius (1717) and The Power of Love (1720). She is generally considered to be the aut hor of the anti-Whig satire/romance The Secret History of Queen Zarah (1705), a fictionalized autobiography
7 based on Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough that she com pares to a Â“Romantick Tale of a TubÂ” (Novels 127). Despite the fact that she was widely read, she occasionally annoyed the likes of Swift, Pope and Fielding by including some controversial content (Kster v). Manley uses a number of pseudonyms to help her circ umvent the restrictions that society imposed on female writers. She and Swift w ere concerned with exposing the improper behaviors of others in a remarkably direct manner for the time. Her most popular novel was Atalantis, which she claimed was a translation of a much earl ier work. This important work comments on British society in a manner somewhat analogous to SwiftÂ’s GulliverÂ’s Travels (also published anonymously); here, she offers a s omewhat rambling narrative that comments on inappropriate b ehaviors and political corruption, along with a healthy portion of moralizing along th e way. Â“Innocence is banishÂ’d by the first dawn of early Knowledge; Sensual Corruptions and hasty Enjoyments affright me from their HabitationÂ…Human Nature is universally c orrupted, those that fight against them, are as wicked as themselvesÂ…Â” (Atalantis 3,15). Since she claimed that Atalantis was merely a translation of an earlier work, Manley felt comfortable offering frank observations. For example, while referring to the motivations of the goddess Astrea, Manley observes that Â“[h]er Design was rather for R ome, or the Metropolis of France or Great Britain, Places renownÂ’d in the Court of Jupi ter, for Hypocrisy, Politicks, Politeness and VanityÂ” (Novels 273). Years later, Swift also expressed his disdain for t he appalling behaviors of those in power, as suggested by this description of Laput a in GulliverÂ’s Travels Â“I was surprized to find Corruption grown so high and so q uick in the EmpireÂ…which made me less wonder at many parallel Cases in other Countri es, where Vices of all Kinds have
8 reigned so much longerÂ” (Writings 172). Note the similarity of directness and word choice in the two authors; both writers were intent on expressing their concerns in plain, unadorned language to emphasize their mutual disdai n for careless insincerity. This shared contempt of impropriety subsequently formed a bond between the two writers, and helped ensure a long relationship based on mutual r espect and concern with similar issues. Manley and Swift are also quite troubled by the unw arranted importance that society places upon external beauty. Rather than a harmless diversion, they see the pursuit of superficial beauty as detrimental and ul timately dangerous. For instance, Manley goes so far to admit that Â“[t]he love of Bea uty, is the loss of Reason. Neither is it to be suppress'd by Wisdom, because it is not to be comprehended with ReasonÂ” (Atalantis 60). Swift goes even further, offering a satirical description that accentuates the imperfections of the female body that are hidden fr om the casual observer. Writing here as Gulliver, he notes that two giant Â“Maids of Hono rÂ” in Brobdingnag Â“would often Â…lay me at full length in their Bosoms; wherewith I was much disgusted; becauseÂ…a very offensive Smell came from their SkinsÂ… with a Mole here and there as broad as a TrencherÂ…Â” (Writings 95). Thus, rather than allowing oneself to become entranced by the physical beauty of women, both writers remind t heir readers that a womanÂ’s true Â“beautyÂ” is based on character and intelligence, ra ther than merely a pleasing appearance. To further reinforce the danger that undue attentio n to superficial appearance can promote, Manley expresses her concern for societyÂ’s inability to distinguish between artifice and genuine values. Did Mankind confine themselves only to what was nec essary,
9 reasonable, or proper, there would indeed be no occ asion for most part of the great expence they are atÂ…every Country is sufficient to it self, for sustaining Life with Temperance, tho' not with Luxury (Atalantis 89). She also directs her comments to women whose self-e steem depends upon the admiration of others. Â“I pitied [RivellaÂ’s] Conduct, which I s aw must infallibly center in her Ruin: There was no Language approached her Ear but Flatte ry and Persuasion to Delight and LoveÂ… [she was] delighted with every Fop, who flatt er'd her VanityÂ” (Rivella 43-4). It is also interesting to note that this misguided behavi or was precisely what troubled Swift, as he believed that women were capable of thoughtful d iscussion (as demonstrated by their admirable literary efforts) and should not be restr ained by the stifling expectations of a male-dominated society. Manley is also not afraid to write with a degree of detail that may have occasionally made the Dean blush. Personally agains t the inappropriate public display of lust, she here offers a revealing look at a trouble d female protagonist with an aggressiveness traditionally associated with men. Â“ [S]he threw her self down upon a Bed, with only one thin Petticoat and a loose Nightgown, the Bosom of her Gown and Shift openÂ… (Atalantis 71). In this manner, Manley subtly directs her con cern at both sexes, and exposes the danger associated with such lewd be havior. Fabricant notes that this passage also reinforces the similar methods that bo th writers employed as Â“recorders of intimate scenes others might well think obsceneÂ” (1 57). Despite the consequences, both writers felt compelled to follow their conscience a nd (through the use of satire) expressed themselves in ways that were not always accepted by Â“politeÂ” society.
10 Unlike Swift, however, she is less skillful at weav ing Â“moralsÂ” throughout her writing, and often bluntly (or perhaps satirically? ) reinforces her points to ensure that her reader has understood them. Â“Your Story has two Mor als, one you have your self remark'd, the other is, Â‘That no Woman ought to int roduce another to the Man by whom she is belov'dÂ…Â” (Atalantis 83). In contrast, Swift generally avoided unadorn ed moralizing; by stating her morals so plainly, Manle y at times interrupts the flow of her writing. Nevertheless, both writers feel comfortable employi ng satire, particularly when it is directed at politicians and misguided leadership Indeed, both occasionally felt the consequences of such written attacks during the rei gn of Queen Anne; while writing for The Examiner they often targeted specific individuals and thei r misuse of power. Manley alternately uses romance to advance her poli tical attacks; indeed, she was imprisoned not because of her lewd observations in Atalantis and elsewhere, but rather due to her success in criticizing the Whig ministry (Rabb, Â“Manl(e)yÂ” 127). Thus, while critics have focused on her more provocative romanc es, her significant political satire is extensive and certainly worthy of further scholarsh ip. Much like Swift and several of his other female acq uaintances, Manley maintained a close personal and professional relati onship with the Dean. Indeed, although generally viewed as an Â“attack,Â” Fabricant suggests that Swift composed Â“CorinnaÂ” as a commentary on Manley, employing his characteristic teasing and satirical tone (156-157). With Cupid as his narrator, one ca n see the playful admiration that he had for his partner and friend. Â‘This little maid
11 Of love shall always speak and write:Â’ And I pronounce,Â” the Satyr said, The world shall feel her scratch and bite Â…Her common-place book all gallant is, Of Scandal now a cornucopia, She pours it out in Atalantis, Or Memoirs of the new Utopia (Swift, Poetical 205-6). Thus, similar to her mentor, Manley skillfully blen ded fiction and social commentary to express her concerns for a world that she believed was embracing values and behaviors that were ultimately harmful both to the individual and the advancement of society in general. Her ability to use a variety of literary modes emphasizes her considerable talents, and her literary output is im pressive by any standards. As Swift observes, Â“ManleyÂ’s narratives are built precisely upon this principle: episodic Â‘small circumstancesÂ’ [that] accumulate into greater matte rsÂ” (Rabb, Â“Manl(e)y,Â” 135).
12 Mary Barber (1685Â–1755) Unlike the versatile Manley, Mary Barber is not gen erally regarded as the most talented member of SwiftÂ’s female writing circle. S he is certainly, however, one of the most apologetic, and often feels the need to publis h anonymously, or mask her gender by employing voices of both sexes (Fanning 81). While she and Swift have a similar writing style and outlook on human behavior, this chapter p resents evidence to fortify her reputation as an insightful social critic in her ow n right. While little was known of her parents, it is appare nt that Barber came from a modest background. The wife of a woolen-draper Rupe rt and mother of nine children, with only four surviving childhood, she lived in Du blin from 1705 until 1724, and claimed that her primary motivation for writing was not financial, but rather a way of furthering the education of her children. A Mother, who vast pleasure finds In modeling her Childrens MindsÂ… Mingles in evÂ’ry Play, to find What Byass nature gave the Mind; Resolving thence to take her Aim, To guide them to the Realms of Fame; And wisely make those Realms their WayÂ… (Barber 7). Her focus on family was appropriate for the time, a nd helped justify her literary ambition, particularly since her primary motivation was to supplement her childrenÂ’s
13 learning. When she subsequently decided to publish her writing, she was nevertheless aware of the overwhelming resistance to female writ ers. Indeed, in the preface to her successful Poems on Several Occasions (1734), she echoes societyÂ’s opinion that a Â“woman steps out of her Province whenever she presu mes to write for the pressÂ” (xvii), since to speak in her own voice would be Â“an act of pride, a self-authorisationÂ” (Fanning 83). Due to these significant societal pressures, s he often hides her true identity by writing for others and employing a variety of satir ic personas. The Dean also shared an interest with domest ic issues, as he occasionally chooses everyday concerns as subjects of his works. For in stance, Â“A Description of the Morning,Â” focuses on the hasty efforts of a woman t o tidy up a room. Now hardly here and there an Hackney-Coach Appearing, showÂ’d the ruddy Morns Approach. Now Betty from her Masters Bed had flown, And softly stole to discompose her own The Slipshod Prentice from his Masters Door Had parÂ’d the Dirt, and sprinkled round the Floor. Now Moll had whirlÂ’d her Mop with dextÂ’rous Airs, PreparÂ’d to Scrub the Entry and the Stairs (Swift W ritings 518). While both writers employ a similar rhyming scheme (aa bb), SwiftÂ’s vocabulary is a bit more sophisticated and varied (Â“decompose, Â” Â“Slipshod,Â” etc.). Barber leans towards more common expressions (Â“pleasure,Â” Â“model ling,Â” etc.). Each of SwiftÂ’s lines are also more detailed and sophisticated, while Bar berÂ’s focus is on brief, straightforward observations. However, unlike Swift whose subject matter was far more diverse, her
14 primary focus on a motherÂ’s concern for her childÂ’s development appropriately lends itself to more commonplace observations and termino logy. However, unlike her mentor, Barber felt a pressing need to hide from the public; this is clearly evident in SwiftÂ’s preface to Poems that was originally a letter he had written to the Earl of Orrery to solicit support fo r Mrs. Barber. While praising her talents, Swift paraphrases a letter that Barber had earlier written to him, speculating upon which Â“Topicks she intends to insist on; [the EarlÂ’s] Lea rning, your Genius, your AffabilityÂ…Â” Some critics believe that this shifting back and fo rth between these two writers acts to blur the line between the two, reinforcing their cl ose literary relationship (Barber v; Fanning 83). From the very beginning of her published writing ca reer, Barber felt the need to mask her identity; indeed, she wrote her first publ ished poem, Â“The Widow GordonÂ’s Petition: To the Rt. Hon. the Lady Carteret," for t he impoverished widow of a fallen officer. By speaking with the voice of a woman of a higher social standing, BarberÂ’s ability to present an emotional plea here is more e ffective that it would have been had she chose to write under her own name. WearyÂ’d with long attendance on the court, You, Madam, are the wretchÂ’s last resort, Eternal King! If here in vain I cry, Where shall the fatherless and Widow fly? How blessed are they, who sleep among the Dead, Nor hear their Childrens piercing Cries for Bread! (Barber 2) While this urgent plead would certainly hold much l ess resonance had it come from a
15 novice female writer, BarberÂ’s use of Lady Carteret Â’s voice is surely more effective at drawing the attention and respect of more establish ed writers, including Swift. Barber also frequently writes from the perspective of her son, Constantine (Â“ConÂ”). On the surface, she appears to be concerne d with relating typical schoolboy complaints such as homework, uncomfortable clothes, etc. In one of her most popular poems, Â“Written for My Son, and Spoken by him at hi s first putting on Breeches,Â” she uses ConÂ’s voice to complain about the agony of wea ring uncomfortable school clothes. Writing in a self-depreciating manner, Barber is ab le to comment on the control that men had over the type of clothing that should be worn i n public, regardless of considerable discomfort. In the guise of her schoolboy son compl aining about tight pants, Barber draws attention to clothing designed more for appea rance sake than for the wearer; these clothes Â“suffer[ed] by Ligation, / To keep the Bloo d from CirculationÂ” (Barber 13), working her way to the head that is equally constri cted by the Â“Hat-band [that] helps to cramp our BrainsÂ” (14; Fanning 87). In this amusing manner, Barber subtly comments on t he absurdity of a maledominated society that calls for conformity in the dress of both sexes, even when it neglects the Â“discomfort and unhealthiness of their own wearÂ” (Doody, Â“LoveÂ” 496). Ridiculing societyÂ’s preference for appearance (as opposed to comfort and practicality) was a topic that she could discuss without censure by comically employing her sonÂ’s voice. While the motif of satirizing womenÂ’s cloth ing had been utilized many times before, Â“[o]ne can see how BarberÂ’s witty contempt for authority and custom, for public English authority and custom, would appeal to Swift Â” (Doody, Â“SwiftÂ” 74-5). This focus on absurd clothing practices recalls Gul liverÂ’s observations during his
16 voyage to Lilliput. Â“We apprehend his Imperial High ness, the Heir to the Crown, to have some Tendency towards the High-Heels; at least we c an plainly discover one of his Heels higher than the other; which gives him a Hobble in his GaitÂ” (Swift, Writings 30). While both writers were concerned with artifice, Swift go es a bit further when he returns to addressing domestic issues to ridicule the transien t nature of womenÂ’s cosmetic Â“beauty,Â” as observed in Â“The Progress of BeautyÂ”. Three Colours, Black, and Red, and White, So gracefull in their proper Place, Remove them to a diffÂ’rent Light They form a frightfull hideous FaceÂ… So Celia went entire to Bed, All her Complexions safe and sound, But when she rose, the Black and Red Though still in Sight, had changÂ’d their Ground (Sw ift, Writings 523). Thus, both Barber and Swift recognized the illusory nature of appearance, deriding its fleeting and often absurd nature. This skeptical view of artifice becomes all the more compelling, given the need for both writer s to hide themselves on occasion to more plainly comment on the deficiencies of others. While questioning the wearing of clothing, both authors are able to subtly suggest t hat decisions are not always made for the benefit of the public, but rather for appearanc e or politically-motivated concerns. Furthermore, her frequent willingness to portray he rself as a Â“comic and sometimes awkward figureÂ” was a technique she share d, and perhaps learned, from Swift himself (Doody, Â“SwiftÂ” 74). The Dean was certainly comfortable with looking closer to
17 home for subjects to ridicule; in A Tale of a Tub his mockery is clearly directed inward. I have one concluding Favour, to request of my Read er; that he will not expect to be equally diverted and informed by every Line, or every Page of this Discourse; but give some Allowance to the A uthorÂ’s Spleen, and short Fits or Intervals of DullnessÂ… (Swift, Writin gs 370-1). However, the careful reader must question how a wri ter who emphasizes modesty can nevertheless become quite assertive (and at times n early aggressive) while advancing her writing career. For instance, critics believe that Barber forged SwiftÂ’s signature to a letter of solicitation sent to Queen Caroline. Perhaps th e Dean was also pleased with the assertiveness that Barber employed while promoting herself, a traditional masculine quality that did not rely on the comeliness of the female to promote her agenda. Another instance of her assertive behavior occurred during a visit to England to raise subscriptions for her writing, where her acti ons evidently irritated Pope by requesting that he correct some of her verses. Act ing as mediator, Swift was able to convince Pope that Barber was torn between her wish to achieve literary acclaim and appropriate personal behavior. Indeed, Swift was u nwavering in his support throughout BarberÂ’s career. For example, his letter campaign t o solicit subscriptions helped her gain over nine hundred subscribers for Poems (1736), including Pope, Gay and other prominent literary and political figures of her tim e (Fanning 81). Furthermore, Poems was one of the first collections of poetry written by a woman for subscription, surpassing in its tally of subscribers those for George Faulkn erÂ’s complete editions of both Pope (1736) and Swift (1735) (Budd 206). Barber was also an ardent supporter of her mentor a s well; at one point, she,
18 Matthew Pilkington and others were arrested in Engl and for possessing manuscript copies of Â“Epistle to a LadyÂ” and Â“On Poetry: A Rap sodyÂ”, two of Swift's political poems that attacked the Walpole administration (Mayhew 15 9). Since her writing style was at times similar to Swift, ApolloÂ’s Edict was at one point thought to be hers (due to its inclusion in Poems on Several Occasions) ; others believe that it may have been written by Swift, or that Barber gave it to the Dean for re vision. Indeed, this poem Â“has long been cited as a typical example of SwiftÂ’s attitude towards poetic cant and outworn clich,Â” an attitude supported by none other than t he god Apollo himself (Ferguson 433, 440). Despite the lack of confirmation regarding i ts true authorship (Swift, Barber, a communal effort, etc.), there is clearly a distinct shift in word choice and tone, as it strays far from BarberÂ’s customary domestic focus. IreneÂ’s now our royal care: We lately fixÂ’d our Vice-roy there. How near was she to be undone, Till pious Love inspirÂ’d her Son! (Barber 107) In any event, her fortuitous decision to generally avoid the Â“pretentiousÂ” pentameter and employ SwiftÂ’s Â“quick colloquial rhy med tetrameterÂ” (Doody, Â“SwiftÂ” 75) helped make her writings more appealing to the reading public. It also is apparent that the DeanÂ’s emotional and financial support thr oughout her brief career helped her to achieve her own literary success. She unfortunately suffered from gout for much of he r life, an aliment that prevented her from reaching her full literary poten tial. As a result, her creative output tapered off considerably after 1734. However, to h elp her through this financially
19 troubling time, Swift again provided his support by offering her the English rights to his Complete Collection of Genteel and Ingenious Conver sation (1738). His respect for her literary talents was made clear in 1744, when (in r eference to her prominent inclusion in Poems by Eminent Ladies) he pronounced her the best poet of both kingdoms. She eventually succumbed to her illness and died in 175 5, while husband Rupert outlived her by another twenty-two years.
20 Laetitia Pilkington (1706-1750) In contrast to the frequent use of assorted literar y personas by Barber, Manley and Swift himself, Laetitia Pilkington ensur ed her success by emphasizing her femininity, her relationship with the Dean and her ability to comment on the behavior of public figures that distressed her in some way. Rat her than hide behind alternate personas and situations, Pilkington succeeded by writing abo ut everyday life, employing an approach similar to todayÂ’s popular tabloids and ma gazines that succeed due to the misfortunes of public figures. Her readiness to rev eal minute details of personal behavior sparked the interest of a reading public, perhaps l ooking for a diversion from more serious literature. However, it was her relationsh ip with Swift that helped attract attention to her work, as she was one of the few in dividuals who possessed first-hand knowledge of his private life, and was willing to s hare her observations with a curious public. In a new biography just published (2008), Norma Cla rke reinforces the general consensus of literary critics that no c redible resources on Pilkington exist beyond her own Memoirs (Hill, par. 6). Despite a lack of corroborating e vidence, however, it is clear that her interest in writing b egan at an early age. Â“From my earliest Infancy, I had a strong Disposition to Letters; but my Eyes being weak, after the Smallpox, I was not permitted to look at a Book; my Moth er regarding more the Beauty of my Face, then the Improvement of my MindÂ” (Pilkington 1: 13). Unfortunately influenced by prevailing public opinion, her mother believed that women should be more concerned
21 with their appearances than the development of thei r mind, an issue (as noted above) that deeply troubled Swift. Fortunately, her father was more supportive in this area and encouraged his daughterÂ’s interest in reading and l iterature. As an adult, Pilkington was eager to meet the Dean; however, she was forced to be patient and wait for the proper moment. Dr. Patr ick Delany, a close friend of Swift, had earlier introduced the Dean to her husband, Mat thew Pilkington, an ambitious clergyman with literary aspirations. It was Laetiti a, however, who urged her husband to obtain an introduction to Swift. So eager was Pilki ngton to meet the Dean that she even composed a few birthday verses for him in 1729. Onc e finally meeting Swift, he put her through a variety of uncomfortable tests that force d her to Â“earnÂ” his favor; at one point, he accused her of possessing a Â“womanÂ’s double natu re, of hiding her slovenly nature behind a faade of proprietyÂ” (Thompson 85). Nevert heless, she endured his unusual manner of tutoring (usually a combination of abrasi ve correction followed by praise) and emerged from his shadow as a popular writer in her own right. Despite substantial odds, her notable wit and determination, along with her p opular anecdotes about the Dean, helped her to succeed in a male-dominated professio n and secured her a place in literary history. Pilkington was born in or near Dublin fro m a respected family; her father was a physician and obstetrician who later became preside nt of IrelandÂ’s College of Physicians, while her mother was the niece of Sir John Meade. I n 1725, she met and married Matthew, an ambitious priest of the Church of Engla nd; shortly after their meeting, Swift secured Matthew the position of chaplain to the Lor d Mayor of London (1732-1733). It was this action, however, that ultimately planted t he seed of his wifeÂ’s literary career.
22 When visiting London, she discovered that her husba nd had become intimately involved with a Drury Lane Theatre actress. Perhaps motivate d by a sense of guilt or to divert attention away from his own indiscretions, Matthew introduced her to James Worsdale, an artist and womanizer who later purchased poetry written by Pilkington and sold it as his own, thus initiating her published literary car eer (although her true identity was initially concealed). Unfortunately, Matthew would later use her relationship with Worsdale as justification for divorcing her, despit e the fact that his own personal behavior was clearly inappropriate. Nevertheless, it was not until she met th e wealthy and elderly poet laureate Colley Cibber that she decided to write under her own name and support herself financially. Cibber, who had much success with his autobiographi cal Apology for the Life of Colley Cibber, Comedian enthusiastically encouraged her to follow his exa mple of using actual people and situations as the basis of her work. Â“Zo unds! Write it out, just as you relate it, and, IÂ’ll engage it will sellÂ” (Pilkington 1: 160). Elias notes that she ultimately decided to incorporate her own personal and professional diffi culties as the framework for her successful multi-volume Memoirs with the first two editions appearing shortly aft er the DeanÂ’s death in 1745 (Â“IntroductionÂ” 1: xvi-xvii). Thus, the primary inspiration for her published wri ting was not simply the result of a fertile imagination; indeed, her most successf ul work (the Memoirs ) was prompted by her determination to recover financially from wh at her husband and others regarded as Â“inappropriate behaviorÂ” for a married woman, despi te the fact that Matthew himself was inappropriately involved with other women during th eir marriage. The couple eventually separated in 1736; once Matthew went public with hi s wifeÂ’s Â“inappropriateÂ” behavior
23 (without admitting guilt on his part), he filed for divorce, forcing Laetitia to earn a living by utilizing her literary skills of observation, me mory and wit. Her subject matter, however, differed greatly from her female contempor aries, as it focused on vindicating the personal wrongs that she had endured by fearles sly attacking others whose behavior was equally inappropriate, or in some cases (partic ularly that of her husband) surpassed her own (Thompson 90). It was the time that Pilkington spent with Swift, h owever, that initially attracted the interest of the reading public. Indeed, prior to the public scandal initiated by Mr. Pilkington, Swift had earlier shifted his allegienc e from Matthew to Laetitia, as he recognized that she possessed a literary talent and wit far superoir to that of her husband. While SwiftÂ’s support lasted only until her husband went public with his accusations, he initially chose to support her over her more Â“socia lly acceptableÂ” spouse. SwiftÂ’s expectations, however, became rather extreme at tim es; indeed, many believe that her relationship with Swift may have contributed to the deterioration of their marriage. At one point, the Dean even forbade her to confide in her husband if she wished to remain the favorite of his inner circle. Â“[S]hake off the leavings of your sex. If you cannot keep a secret and take a chiding, you will quickly be out of my sphereÂ…Â” (Thompson 88). PilkingtonÂ’s probing wit, however, was uncharacteri stic of female writers at that time; while she greatly admired the DeanÂ’s abilitie s, believing his Â“true genuine Wit could fear no RivalÂ” (Pilkington 1: 23), her publis hed use of wit was viewed by some as problematic. Indeed, bluestocking leader Elizabeth Montagu believed that Â“Wit is dangerous in itself and especially so in women. It makes them incautious and, even worse, it attracts menÂ… [providing them with] too m uch sex appeal in menÂ’s eyesÂ”
24 (Elias, Â“IntroductionÂ” 1:LII-III). Thus, while Swif t was certainly known for a skillful and biting wit, PilkingtonÂ’s candid writing appeared to support the general perception that she was an unprincipled woman who deserved her notoriet y as a divorced woman. Thus, her writing skills, while essential in that they allowe d her to survive financially, also reinforced the judgmental perception that society h eld for outspoken women. Swift had been quite comfortable playing the role o f Â“paternalistic teacherÂ” to the younger woman he often regarded as simply a Â“little girl.Â” Hill notes that Swift enjoyed teasing Laetitia by Â“squashing her down with one ha nd until he could claim she measured only 3 ft. 2 ins. tallÂ” (par. 3). Despite this pat ronizing behavior, however, she recognized that his wearisome guidance would later help her de velop a unique voice. Â“[I]f I have any Merit, as a Writer, I must gratefully acknowledge i t due to the Pains [Swift] took to teach me to think and speak with ProprietyÂ…Â” (Pilkington 1: 45). Nevertheless, the source of her popularity was due to the subject matter nota bly Swift and other public figures and not on her ability to write in a style that was wid ely embraced by her peers and audience. Indeed, she was quick to admit that much of her rea dership was eager to learn more about her mentor. Â“I hope my Readers will indulge me in the frequent Mention I shall make of Doctor Swift; for thoÂ’ his works are universally kn ownÂ…few Persons now living, have had so many Opportunities of seeing him in private LifeÂ…Â” (Pilkington 1: 24). Thus, despite the inclusion of other prominent publ ic figures, it was her willingness to write at length about her mentor thr oughout the three volumes of her Memoirs that kept her in the public eye. In contrast to o ther biographers who wrote from a respectful distance, Pilkington had been an intim ate acquaintance of Swift and realized the power that resulted from revealing personal det ails about his interactions with others.
25 Furthermore, Elias emphasizes PilkingtonÂ’s belief t hat Â“domestic details often allow more insight into a great manÂ’s character than his official actsÂ” (1:xix). Yet as I have frequently observed in Life, that whe re great Talents are bestowed, there the strongest Passions are likewise givenÂ…During Mealtimes he was evermore in a Storm; the Meat was alwa ys too much or too little done, or the Servants had offended in some P oint, imperceptible to the rest of the CompanyÂ… (Pilkington 1:23). It was this insight that set her apart fr om other biographers who did not have direct access to the Dean on a regular basis and were forc ed to rely on second-hand information. Rather than rely on his writings and characters, he r ability to comment on a variety of domestic occurrences brought the Dean to life and e nabled her to further her literary career and support herself, despite her status as a Â“fallen woman.Â” In addition to her frequent anecdotes about the Dea n, she shared SwiftÂ’s concern with unfortunate elements of human nature, includin g the rampant lies of politicians and other public figures. Â“Lying is an Occupation / UsÂ’ d by all who mean to rise; / Politicians owe their Station / But to well concerted LiesÂ” (Pi lkington 1:107). This deep concern with corrupt politicians and the actions of misguid ed leaders was a theme that the Dean returned to time and again during his illustrious c areer, as illustrated here in The Examiner : [A]lthough the Devil be the Father of Lyes, he seem sÂ…to have lost much of his Reputation, by the continual Improvements th at have been made upon him. Who first reduced Lying into an Art, and adapted it to
26 Politicks, is not so clear from History; although I have made some diligent EnquiriesÂ… (Swift, Writings 452). PilkingtonÂ’s frustration and desire for vindication (becoming more pronounced with each successive volume of her Memoirs ) was directed at her husband and eventually the Dean himself. An example of SwiftÂ’s ridicule of the female mind is found in this excerpt from Â“The Furniture of a WomenÂ’s Mind.Â” A Set of Phrases learnÂ’t by Rote A Passion for a Scarlet-Coat; When at a Play to laugh or cry, Yet cannot tell the Reason why; Never to hold her Tongue a Minute; When all she prates has nothing in itÂ… (Swift, Writ ings 529) Thus, after enduring many years of disrespect by th e men in her life, she Â“had a very great Inclination to be even with [Swift and h usband Matthew], and expose the Inconstancy of MenÂ…Â” (Pilkington 1:39). Indeed, p rior to the DeanÂ’s death, she had composed The Statues (1739) as a response to the inability of men to tr eat women appropriately. In this pointed and satirical work, she highlights manÂ’s inability to remain faithful. The Race of Mortals are by Nature frail,
27 And strong Temptations with the Best prevailÂ… How false is Man! Nor recollects his Vows; With wild Inconstancy for all he burns, And evÂ’ry Nymph subdues his Heart by turns (Pilking ton 1:43). Elias notes that Pilkington may have been influence d by SwiftÂ’s insistence that his female followers modify their behaviors and take on more m ale characteristics, encouraging her to feel that she deserved the Â“same privileges as a manÂ” (Pilkington 1: LII), and found it upsetting and unfair that male Â“Seducers [such as h usband Matthew] should be our AccusersÂ” (Pilkington 1: 67). Much like the Dean, she often writes about controve rsial subjects (such as the infidelity and irrational behavior of public figure s); however, the focus on her own sexual missteps was quickly redirected for the purpose of revenge and indignation, and was not used to simply attract readers seeking lurid detail s. While she wrote plainly about the indiscretions of others (including married men who had propositioned her while still married, and her husbandÂ’s involvement with other w omen during their marriage), she is much less candid about her own failings. Indeed, El ias notes that when the narrative turned to herself, she quickly shifted the storylin e elsewhere (Â“IntroductionÂ” 1: LI), perhaps assuming that her private life had already been sufficiently exposed. Pilkington made no apologies for her rambling, auto biographical style; she admitted that she wrote hurriedly, preferring spont aneity rather than a measured writing style; the result was a narrative rich with realist ic dialogue and minute details. Elias
28 believes that this inclination, however, Â“moved [he r] even farther away from serious literary norms. She was sailing into relatively unc harted popular watersÂ” (Â“IntroductionÂ” 1: xxiv-v). More than her peers, PilkingtonÂ’s exper iences and adventurers mirrored those of contemporary women. Curiously absent from the ra nks of other eighteenth century female writers until recently, she experienced a li fe full of experiences and roles, Â“as daughter, wife, mother, and single woman.Â” However, Elias notes that she indeed remained herself, an Â“individual to the endÂ” (Â“Intr oductionÂ” 1:liv).
29 Conclusion This thesis has presented a close look at three fem ale writers from the eighteenth century who, despite considerable societal odds, ac hieved a measure of success due to the guidance and support of Dean Jonathan Swift. While other prominent male writers of the day believed that women were incapable of producing serious literature, SwiftÂ’s interest in the company of women both as acquaintances and s tudents of writing helped many of his female followers to succeed by means of what wa s then considered a Â“manÂ’s professionÂ”. While his methods of tutoring were indeed unusual ( particularly those that the Dean employed when dealing with Pilkington), those who were willing to endure his peculiar guidance improved their writing ability. His assistance, however, would be much less successful in todayÂ’s world, where his me thods would surely be branded as condescending and inappropriate. However, the suppo rt that he offered women during the eighteenth century was unique, since most successfu l male writers viewed women as incapable of serious thought and insight. Whether he was truly aware of the repercussions of his support, he nevertheless helpe d them develop the confidence and literary skills that they needed to succeed in the male publishing world. Indeed, Swift returned time and again in his attemp t to nudge the female members of circle toward what he (and many contemporaries) considered was a more Â“masculineÂ” way of thinking and writing. Indeed, perhaps one of the greatest benefits of their time with Swift was developing the confidence to seek ou t their own particular voice and
30 becoming comfortable with their independence; as no ted earlier in this thesis, both Pilkington and Manley produced their best work with out the support of a husband. Once their self confidence had strengthened, they were a ble to step outside the confining boundaries placed around Â“appropriateÂ” female behav ior, and produce works that were both popular and insightful. While Manley and Barbe r occasionally used alternative guises to make their writing more acceptable to the public, Pilkington took no such precautions; she published what she wished often to publicly reprimand the inappropriate behaviors of others and nevertheles s succeeded in creating a significant demand for her memoirs. Also notable is the subject matter that his followe rs utilized; rather than focus on light romance and domestic issues, all of the write rs featured in this thesis tackled serious issues intended to chastise inappropriate behaviors and corrupt leadership, and presented controversial elements (such as ManleyÂ’s intimate d etails) that were controversial even for established male writers. It is to SwiftÂ’s cred it that he was able to effectively support these efforts, and not take the conventional route by steering them toward more socially acceptable issues. Indeed, as Doody notes, When women writers of his era think of dealing with their domestic world in its hard detail, and often with some ill h umour as well as enjoyment, they tend to look at Swift as one of the ir modelsÂ…When they want to assert satiric energies against a worl d that seems inclined to drain them through the operation of pol iteness and duty, they turn to Swift again (Â“SwiftÂ” 89).
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