London: Printed for and Sold by the Bookselling Batchelors in St. Paul's Churchyard, 1693. First edition. Bound in modern marbled wrappers with paper label to front. Pages measure 152 x 178mm. Internally complete, including all four pages called for by ESTC and listing its imprint in the colophon. Top margin shaved close, causing loss to page numbers; some creasing to lower quarter of leaves. In all a clean and neat copy of this scarce and important part of the debate on women. ESTC lists only 8 extant copies, with only 2 listed in the modern auction record.
The Querelle des Femmes (the Woman Question) was a debate on women's status that raged across Europe and England through the 16th to 18th century, depicted at times in drama and literature but most often enacted through broadsides and pamphlets. While early iterations of the debate focused on whether women were humans or indeed possessed souls, emphasis began shifting as an increasing number of women began printing responses of their own. Earlier in this same year, an anonymous author called only "Mary Want-man" produced a pamphlet from the women's side of the debate. The Petition of the Ladies of London argued that if men were going to require women marry for financial and social stability, but at the same time were going to rail against the dangers of women and marriage, women had a right to petition for new social rules: namely, the requirement that all men marry by 21, with those refusing being required to pay a fine to the State. The present pamphlet engages that by Mary -- and in attempting to break down the Petition's satirical arguments, it relies on many of the misogynistic commonplaces that the Ladies decried. And in its conclusion, An Humble Remonstrance teases the possibility that women were right about men's current debauched tendencies, shifting The Petition's desire for social instability to one of bawdy fulfillment for men's benefit. "The Ladies are weary of lying alone, and so are we: They would fain be advantageously married, and so would your humble Servants. The Quarrel on their side is therefore unjustly begun...[but] because Jacob could serve two Apprenticeships for his Rachel they imagine that we must do the same; not considering that the Race of Methuselahs and Patriarchs is quite extinct." (Item #3189)