After the sixteenth century, the lamp of learning in England flickered a good deal. The air was very unsteady, and winds came blowing from all quarters. The civil war, the austerity of the Puritans, the license of the Royalists, were not favorable to the arts of peace, and when political passions were dividing the country it was no time for poring over books and holding commune with philosophers and poets. The fault of the seventeenth century was its lack of earnestness about intellectual matters. It combined all the faults of all the ages—laxity of morals, indifference to high aims, combined with religious fanaticism and a lack of appreciation of knowledge and learning. Accomplishments were sought after rather than solid acquirements. There was learning to the lighter pursuits—music, dancing, needlework, and art..
It is in this century that the history of the fine arts, as far as women are concerned, really begins. About the middle of the century, too, women first begin to appear on the stage. It was an unfortunate moment for the introduction of actresses, and their presence gave rise to many scandals; and this opprobrium has never left it.
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.