Thursday, October 16, 2008

Women, whether proper to be learned

In my daily grind I turned up a book by a prolific author John Dunton. He was an eccentric Londoner of Defoe's time and was fortunate to have been taken on by a capable wife. She ran his publishing business enabling him to spend his days scribbling. In the 1690s he scribbled up a periodical called Athenian Gazette which morphed into the Athenian Mercury both of which were popular magazines, the first of their kind. The Mercury had short news items and answered lots of questions sent in by readers. The book I found, Young Student's Library, gave lists of these questions in index format. Unfortunately, it didn't include the answers, but the questions themselves have interest. Here are a few from among the W's:

- Weapons, which most serviceable, Gun or Bow?
- Weed call'd Cats-tail, why does it come but once in three years?
- Weeping and Laughing, whence proceeds?
- Weeping on the Wedding night, from what it proceeds?
- Welch-light, before Persons die,
- What will make Persons wakeful?
- Whores common ones seldom have Children
- Widows more forward to marry than Maids
- Wife abus'd, how to demean her self?
- Wife doubly married, whose is she?
- Wife whither she may beat her Husband?
- Wife, taking for the Maid
- Wife, that forsakes her Husband
- Wife, whether oblig'd to discover her Husband, who has murther'd?
- Wife, whether she may dispose of her Husbands Goods?
- Wind in our Body, from whence it proceeds?
- Wind, its causes, and whether they go?
- Wind, whence it has its force?
- Wise, or the Fools, which most Happy·
- Witchcrafts, and other Possessions, whither Credited?
- Witches, whither there be any?
- Wits, why generally the greatest Sots?
- Wives, a form of Prayer for 'em
- Woman at Maryland, when she is with Child
- Woman believ'd when she says she will not marry
- Woman cloth'd with the Sun, what the meaning of it?
- Woman impoverish'd, by relieving her Relations
- Woman plagued with an ill Husband
- Woman proper to yield at first to a Man we love
- Woman taken in Adultery
- Woman with Childs longing, the Reason of marking, &c.
- Woman, how soon Marry after the death of a Husband?
- Womans Condition in Marriage, worse than Mans
- Women an Army of 'em, do more then Men
- Women supposed to have no Souls
- Women when bad, why worse than Men?
- Women, if meer Machines?
- Women, whether not Banter'd into a belief of being Angels?
- Women, whether proper to be learned?
- Women, whether they have Souls?
- Women, whether Wiser than Men?
- Women, why commonly fonder and falser than Men?
- Women, why fonder of those Men that slight 'em?
- Womens Voice shriller than Mens
- World hath it any kindness in it, besides Interest?
- World, does it hang upon nothing?
- World, what quarter of the Year it began?
- World, what was it made of?
- Worlds, are there more than one?

Here's the man's wikipedia entry and his very own home page. This is what the Cambridge History of English and American Literature has to say about him.

An engraving on the Dunton home page:

A page from the book, found on's library page:

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