On this day in 1802 Harriet Martineau the English writer and sociologist was born.
Martineau’s work was admired by Queen Victoria and among her acquaintances were many notable women such as Florence Nightingale, George Eliot and Charlotte Bronte. She was never afraid to speak her mind and made herself unpopular on a trip to America when she wrote scathingly of the treatment of women and slaves there. Later she visited Egypt and shocked many by opining that there was little difference between the lifestyle of an ancient Egyptian and an English country squire.
Here is part of a poem by Aphra Behn, another strong woman who was not afraid to speak her mind. Her poem is about impotence, The Disappointment:
..Her balmy Lips encountring his,
Their Bodies as their Souls are joyn’d,
Where both in Transports were confin’d,
Extend themselves upon the Moss.
Cloris half dead and breathless lay,
Her Eyes appear’d like humid Light,
Such as divides the Day and Night;
Or falling Stars, whose Fires decay;
And now no signs of Life she shows,
But what in short-breath-sighs returns and goes.
He saw how at her length she lay,
He saw her rising Bosom bare,
Her loose thin Robes, through which appear
A Shape design’d for Love and Play;
Abandon’d by her Pride and Shame,
She do’s her softest Sweets dispense,
Offring her Virgin-Innocence
A Victim to Loves Sacred Flame;
Whilst th’ or’e ravish’d Shepherd lies,
Unable to perform the Sacrifice.
Today I will not be afraid to speak my mind.