I have often been puzzled to assign a Cause why Women should have this Talent of a ready Utterance in so much greater Perfection than Men. I have sometimes fancied that they have not a retentive Power, or the Faculty of suppressing their Thoughts, as Men have, but that they are necessitated to speak every Thing they think, and if so, it would perhaps furnish a very strong Argument to the Cartesians, for the supporting of their [Doctrine,] that the Soul always thinks. But as several are of Opinion that the Fair Sex are not altogether Strangers to the Art of Dissembling and concealing their Thoughts, I have been forced to relinquish that Opinion, and have therefore endeavoured to seek after some better Reason. In order to it, a Friend of mine, who is an excellent Anatomist, has promised me by the first Opportunity to dissect a Woman’s Tongue, and to examine whether there may not be in it certain Juices which render it so wonderfully voluble [or ] flippant, or whether the Fibres of it may not be made up of a finer or more pliant Thread, or whether there are not in it some particular Muscles which dart it up and down by such sudden Glances and Vibrations; or whether in the last Place, there may not be certain undiscovered Channels running from the Head and the Heart, to this little Instrument of Loquacity, and conveying into it a perpetual Affluence of animal Spirits. Nor must I omit the Reason which Hudibras has given, why those who can talk on Trifles speak with the greatest Fluency; namely, that the Tongue is like a Race-Horse, which runs the faster the lesser Weight it carries.
Which of these Reasons soever may be looked upon as the most probable, I think the Irishman’s Thought was very natural, who after some Hours Conversation with a Female Orator, told her, that he believed her Tongue was very glad when she was asleep, for that it had not a Moments Rest all the while she was awake.
That excellent old Ballad of The Wanton Wife of Bath has the following remarkable Lines.
I think, quoth Thomas, Womens
Of Aspen Leaves are made.
And Ovid, though in the Description of a very barbarous Circumstance, tells us, That when the Tongue of a beautiful Female was cut out, and thrown upon the Ground, it could not forbear muttering even in that Posture.
—Comprensam forcipe linguam
Abstulit ense fero. Radix micat ultima linguae,
Ipsa jacet, terraeque tremens immurmurat atrae;
Utque salire solet mutilatae cauda colubrae
If a tongue would be talking without a Mouth, what could it have done when it had all its Organs of Speech, and Accomplices of Sound about it? I might here mention the Story of the Pippin-Woman, had not I some Reason to look upon it as fabulous.
I must confess I am so wonderfully charmed with the Musick of this little Instrument, that I would by no Means discourage it. All that I aim at by this Dissertation is, to cure it of several disagreeable Notes, and in particular of those little Jarrings and Dissonances which arise from Anger, Censoriousness, Gossiping and Coquetry. In short, I would always have it tuned by Good-Nature, Truth, Discretion and Sincerity.