a harmless and inoffensive order of beings

The opening paragraph to “The History of Marcella”:

I was born to a large fortune, and bred to the knowledge of those arts which are supposed to accomplish the mind, or adorn the person of a woman. To these attainments, to which custom and devotion almost forced me, I added some voluntary acquisitions by the use of books, and the conversation of that species of men whom the ladies generally mention with horror and aversion by the name of scholars, but whom I have found, for the most part, a harmless and inoffensive order of beings, not so much wiser than ourselves, but that they may receive, as well as communicate knowledge, and more inclined to degrade their own character by cowardly submission, than to overbear or oppress us with their learning or wit.

From the Weekly Magazine, or Edinburgh Amusement Vol. XI (1771): 329.

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