PHAIDRA: ti touth o dae legousin anthropous eran
TROPHOS: aediston, o pai, tauton a lgeinon th ama - Euripides
"...aphorism are seldom couched in such terms, that they should be
taken as they sound precisely, or according to the widest extent of
signification; but do commonly need exposition, and admit exception:
otherwise frequently they would not only clash with reason and
experience, but interfere, thwart, and supplant one another." -Issac Barrow
"The very essence of an aphorism is that slight exaggeration which makes it more biting whilst less rigidly accurate." -Leslie Stephen
"A Pearl, A Girl." - Browning
There are of course, girls and girls; yet at heart they are pretty much alike. In age, naturally, they differ wildly. But this is a thorny subject. Suffice it to say that all men love all girls - the maid of sweet sixteen equally with the maid of untold age.
There is something exasperatingly something-or-otherish about girls. And they know it - which makes them more something-or-otherish still:- there is no other word for it.
A girl is a complicated thing. It is made up of clothes, smiles, a pompadour, things of which space and prudence forbid the enumeration here. These things by themselves do not constitute a girl which is obvious; nor is any one girl without these things which is not too obvious. Where the things end and the girl begins many men have tried to find out.
Many girls would like to be men- except on occasions. At least so they say, but perhaps this is just a part of their something-or-otherishness. Why they should want to be men, men cannot conceive. Men pale before them, grow hot and cold before them, run before them (and after them), swear by them (and at them), and a bit of a chit of a thing in short skirts and lisle-thread stockings will twist able-bodied males round her little finger.
It is an open secret that girls are fonder of men than they are of one another- which is very lucky for the men.
Girls differ; and the same girl is different at different times. When she is by herself, she is one thing. When she is with other girls she is another thing. When she is with a lot of men, she is a third sort of thing. When she is with a man... But this baffled even Agur the son of Jakeh.
As a rule, a man prefers a girl by herself. This is natural. And yet is said that you cannot have too much of a good thing. If this were true, a bevy of girls would be the height of happiness. Yet some men would sooner face the bulls of Bashan.
Some foolish men - probably poets - have sought for and asserted the existence of the ideal girl. This is sheer nonsense: there is no such thing. And if there were, she could not compare with the real girl, the girl of flesh and blood-which (as some one ought to have said) are excellent things in woman.
Other men, equally foolish, have regarded girls as playthings. I wish these men had tried to play with them. They would have found that they were playing with fire and brimstone. Yet the veriest spit-fire can be wondrous sweet.
Sweet? Yes. On the whole a girl is the sweetest thing known or knowable. On the six whole of this terrestrial sphere Nature has produced nothing more adorable than the high-spirited high-bred girl. Of this she is quite aware- to our cost (I speak as a man). The consequence is, her price has gone up, and man has to pay high and pay all sorts of things- ices, sweets, champagne, drives, church-goings, and sometimes spot-cash.
Men are always wishing they knew all about girls. It is a precious good thing that they don't. Not that this is in any way disparaging to the girls. The fact is a girl is an infinite puzzle, and it is this puzzle, that, among other things, tickles the men, and rouses their curiosity.
What a man doesn't know about a girl would fill a Saratoga trunk; what her does know about her would go into her work-box.
The littlest girl is a little women. No boy knows this- and precious few grown up men. Thus... Many a grown up man plays with a girl, then finds himself in love with her. As to the girl... Always the girl knows whether the play is leading: she probably chooses the game.
Very late in life does a man learn the truth (and significance) of that ancient proverb that Kissing goes by Favour. For the masculine mind is the slave of Law and Justice: Aphrodite never heard of Law or Justice: she was born at sea. That is to say, few are the men who at some time in their lives have not wondered at the vagaries of girlish complaisance: the foolish, the ne'er-do-well, the bully, the careless, the cruel- it is to these often that a girls' caress is given. And, curiously enough, that is, curiously enough as it seems to purblind law-loving man- should the favored one be openly convicted, that alters not one whit his stature with the girl; for, a girl, having given her heart, never recalls it not wholly: she may regret; she never recoils. In other words, to the man of her own free lawless choice a girl is always loyal; to subsequent and subordinate attachments she is dutiful. So, even the renegade, if loved by a girl, will be upheld by that girl through thick and thin- secretly, it may be, for often the girl, nevertheless devotedly, and only under compulsion will he listen to the detractor: he may desert her, or, if he sticks to her, he may beat her; no matter: he holds her heart in the hollow of his hand. But, but, few things mystify poor law-abiding man than this, that the central, the profoundest, the most portentous puzzle of the universe- the weal of woe of two high-aspiring, much-enduring, youthful human souls, should be the sport of what seems to him the veriest and merest chance.
The unconscious search of sweet sixteen is for (in mathematical language which will not sophisticate her) the integral of love. Yet in the short years between sixteen and twenty a girl's love will undergo rapid and startling developments.
A girl with lots of brothers has more chances of matrimony than a girl with none: she knows more of men; especially of their weaknesses and idiosyncrasies. And to know the weaknesses and idiosyncrasies of men is perhaps a wife's chief task; unless it be to put up with them.
Often enough the freckled and fringrant girl wins over the professional beauty.
Sometimes grown-up girls are just as shy as little ones- and for the same reasons because there is no one who knows how to play with them.
Girls often play with love as if it were one of the amusements of life; but a day comes when love proves itself the most sensuous thing on earth.
And a girl is quick to discover the kind of love that is required of her. As a rule, many a girl who has been sore put to it to prove herself whole-hearted. For of course, always every suitor expects whole heartedness. And this every girl instinctively knows. Indeed, is not a half-hearted love, or a half-hearted acceptress of love, a contradiction in terms?
A certain measure of the sophisticated or unsophistication of a youthful damsel may be found in her manner of receiving the attentions of a stranger in a station different from her own.
Young women, themselves but rarely unsophisticated, view with a certain pitying sort of curiosity unsophisticatedness in men. And a young man's unsophisticatedeness it is a great delight to a woman to eradicate. Yet a girl regards with complex emotions the man who has blossomed under the genial warmth of her rays; the flattery to own powers is counterbalanced by the evidence of lack of power in him.
A girl thinks she detects flippancy in seriousness. A woman thinks she detects seriousness in flippancy.
What would be conduct decidedly risqué in a city miss, is often innocent playfulness in a country maid.
Between the ages of sixteen and eighteen, girls play with love as if it were a doll; very soon after twenty they discover it is a dynamo. This is why an early and clandestine engagement often works more havoc than happiness. For either, one of the parties to the concealed compact receives or pays attention which perturb the other; or, a subsequent and acknowledged lover looks askance at the previous entanglement. Since even if a clandestine engagement (as is usually the case) is merely a flirtation with the emoluments which accompany a promise to marry, those emoluments are not nice things for a subsequent and avowed lover, whether masculine or feminine, to think upon. Lastly, a laxity with regard to the claims of courtship is apt to breed a laxity with regard to the claims of wedlock. In short, flirtations, like clandestine engagements, are an affront to love.
Accordingly, to the engagement-ring should be as attached as much importance as to the wedding-ring. Indeed, a difficult and a delicate path it is that a girl has to tread through life- and often enough a dangerous. Yet with extraordinary deftness she treads it. She must win her a mate, yet has to pretend that the mate wins her. She makes believe to be captured, yet has herself to be intent on the chase. To be wooed and wedded is the law of her being, yet not for one moment dares she to exhibit too great an alacrity to obey that law; for she knows instinctively that an easy victory prognosticates a fickle victor. Is she abundantly endowed with the very attributes that make for wife- and mother-hood, a strong and swaying passion and an affection unbounded, she must hold them in leash with exemplary patience; for, alas! Are they given the rein for a single passing moment, instead of being accounted unto her for righteousness, they work her ruin. She must win her one man, and she must win him for life; but she cannot pick or choose, for she must wait to be asked.
If she make test of many admirers, she is described as a flirt; if, conscientious and demure, she await her fate, a desirable fate is by no means assured.
In truth it seems that too often a girl must dissemble- hateful as dissemblance in men. T'is a hard road indeed that a girl has to travel. To win her a fellow-farer for life, she must go out of her way to accommodate so many travelers: and this one is lured by this, and that one by that, and another by something unnoticed by the throng. But, as she dissembles one iota too much, her fellow-farers look askance, and he who eventually joins her for good upbraids her for that by which she won.
Dissemblance is indeed at once the boon and the bane of a girl: without it, she thinks to be overlooked (often enough a preposterous assumption); with it, she is looked upon too much. And always, always a girl has to pretend that never did she descend to dissemblance. Which, nevertheless, is sometimes absolutely true, for just now and then there happens that miracle of miracles, where there flames up in the man, and there flames up in the maid, in both at once, unaided and unlooked-for, that divine and supra-mundane spark which smolders lambent in every youthful breast: when maid and man take mutual fire at touch of hands and look of eyes- fire lit at that vestal altar which knows no source and burns for aye.
"Duskolon esti to thremma anthropus." - Plato
For man, the over-grown boy, life has commonly two, and only two, sides: work and play. Happy he who has for a helpmate one who possesses the faculty of increasing a zeal for the first and of adding a zest to the second. Wherein, O' woman, thou mayest happily find the two-fold secret of thy life-work. For man is a greedy animal: he wants all or nothing. And fortunately for him, women tacitly extol man's greed: they will not be shared any more than they will share.
There is something canine in the masculine nature: like a dog over a bone, it snarls at the very approach of a rival.
It is curious, but it is true, that proud man becomes prouder (and- more curious still- at the same time humbler) when weak woman gives him something- a look a smile, a locket, her hair, a kiss, herself.
The greater a man's faith in himself, the greater his mistress hers in him. And perhaps, the greater his mistress her faith in a man, the greater his in himself. For a woman's faith in a man works wonders.
A man to whom a woman cannot look up, she cannot love. Yet, it is marvelous how a woman contrives to find something to look up to in a man.
Many men forget the artistic tendency of the feminine temperament, a tendency which shows itself in many ways-their love of pretty things, of pretty ways, and of pretty words. From which three alone we may deduce the rule that when with the woman he admires and whose admiration he seeks, a man cannot be too careful of his dress, his speech, and his manners.
A believer in Woman is a believer in Good. And vice versa, and mutatis mutandis.
Man's standard of value of a woman is usually determined by the scale of his own emotions. That is to say, the pedestal upon which a man places a woman (a man always puts a woman upon a pedestal) is a pedestal erected solely by the effect upon himself of her charms.
A man may boast himself invincible by men; never by woman.
The lady-killer is always an object of attraction to ladies, even to those whom he makes no attempt to slay.
It may perhaps be a thing as unreasonable as certainly it is indisputable, that however much wild oats a man may himself sow, he invariably entertains a very peculiar objection to any woman near or dear to him entering upon this particular branch of agriculture.
He is a fool who does not bear himself before his lady-love as a prince among men.
Some men are so gallant that they will never be outdone by the woman who encourages them. But it often leads to strange embarrassments and entanglements.
Few things terrify a man more than the knowledge of a woman's ability to make her emotions- when, if ever, he arrives at it.
That is a very silly man who thing she can play one woman off against another. For, in matters of emotional finesse the masculine instance is nowhere: it is blinded, befogged, befooled at every turn. Heaven help the man who is dragged into a quarrel between two wrathful ladies!
Three things there be- nay, four- which man can never be sure, how a greatsoever his acumen, his astuteness, or his zeal: a woman; a race horse; a patent; and the money-market. They defy both faith and fate; they should be the recreations not the resources of life; and he is a fool who stakes more than a portion of his substance on any one of them.
What a paltry thing, after all, is man, man uncomplemented by woman! Left to himself, he stagnates; linked with a woman, he rises -or sinks. A gentle touch stimulates him, a confiding heart makes of him a new creature. Under the rays of feminine sympathy, he expands who else would remain inert. Fame may allure him, friends encourage him, fortune cause him a momentary smile, but only woman makes him; and fame, friends, fortune, all are naught if there be not at his side a sharer of his weal. A man will strive for fortune, strip himself for friends, scour the earth for fame; but were there no woman in the world to be won, not one of these things would he do.
"Ehret die Fanen!" - Schiller
From woman, who e're she be, there seems to emanate a potency ineffable to man- impalpable, invisible, divine. It lies not in beauty or grace, not even in manner or mein; and it requires neither wiles nor artifice. It is not the growth of long and intimate acquaintance, for often it acts spontaneously and at once; and neither the woman who possesses it nor the man who succumbs to it can give it a name. For to say that it consists in the effluence or influence of personality or temperament, of affinity or passion, of sympathy or charm, is to say nothing save that we know not what it is. All unknown to herself, it wraps its owner round with airs the which to breathe uplifts the spirit, and yet, may be, perturbs the heart, of man. Even its effects are recondite and obscure. It allures; but how it allures now man shall tell. It impels; but to what, does not appear. It rouses all manner of hopes, stirs sleeping ambition, and desires and aspirations unappeasable; but for what purport or to what end, none stays to inquire. It incites; sometimes it enthralls. It innervates; it exhaults. Under its spell, reason is flung to the winds, and matters of great mundane moment are trivial and of no account: for it bewilders the wit and snatches the judgment of sane and rational men. It is most powerful in youth; it is most powerful upon youth; yet some retain it till far on in years, and no age but feels its sway:- a veiled and mysterious force; sometimes daemonical, often divine: at once the delight and the despair of man.
After all, the man who declares he understands women, declares his folly. For, if woman were not such a mystery, she would not be such an attraction. For again, what is known is ignored. (But woman need have no cause for apprehension.) Besides, mMen may be classified; women never. This is why generalizing in the case of women is useless; since woman is a species of which every woman is a variety. And every man must make up his mind to this, that every woman is a study in herself. However, if women were comprehensible to men, men and women would be friends, not lovers (But the race is safe). The simple fact is that womanliness is the supreme attraction, in however fair or however frail a personality it is embodied. And the sacred function of all womanhood is to kindle in man the divine spark by means of the mystic flame that burns ever in the vestal breast.
Every true woman's orbit is determined by two forces: Love and Duty. Which is another way of saying that women, like the lark, are true to the kindred points of heaven and home. But, it is only when the two foci are coincident and identical that her orbit becomes the perfect circle and her home becomes her heaven.
A woman's heart is an unfathomable ocean: nothing ever filled it; no one ever plumbed it. At the surface are glancing waves, or flying spume, or, it may be, raging billows; beneath are silent depths invisible to man. A thousand streams flow into it in vain. Towards varying coast-lines it bears itself variously; here, placid and content; there, dashing furious. But none ever stamped his marked upon its brim, and always it remains the refluent, reluctant sea. Of it man knows only the waves that break or ripple at his feet. It betrays no secrets; it asks not to be understood. Storm and calm but stir or still its surface, and what things it hides forever engulfed no one may learn. Subtle, yet mighty; an eternal, and entrancing, mystery to man.
A man's heart is the enclosing shore; measurable, impressionable, definite, and overt; thinking to house that sea, shaping it, over looking it, and staying and governing its tides. Yet changed by it, crumbling before it, yielding to it: at once its guardian and its slave. Yet perhaps the placidest of seas is that which is wholly land-locked.
Women, apparently, were made for men; men for themselves. Certainly men seem to carry out this design of Nature, that they should be ministered to by women.
A woman asks a woman questions in order to discover something. She asks a man questions in order to discover the man.
The last thing that a woman will risk is her personal appearance. Which is saying a good deal, for a woman will risk an interview at an unseasonable hour, but not in an unseasonable frock.
Never, never take a woman au pied de la letter.
Women's rights are: to be loved.
Women's duties are: to love.
There is always something sovereign and monarchial about a woman: like a queen's, her wishes are her commands. And in matrimony, woman's sovereignty is not abdicated. By no means; it is only transformed from an absolute into a constitutional monarch : she acts then by and with the advice of her First Lord. This is the ideal State.
Woman's true function, as a citizen, in this world is: to spur men on to high and noble action. And this, quite unconsciously, she does.
Woman's true function, as a woman, in the world is: to evoke man's most fervid emotions, and at the same time to keep them at their highest level. And this she also does- perhaps not quite so unconsciously.
They err who call women illogical. Feminine logic is inexorable. But it proceeds per saltum. It is man who has laboriously to reason step by step.
The most wayward woman craves control: To let a woman have her own way is interpreted by her as indifference. And the surest way to fail to please a woman is to let her do what she pleases.
Woman is born to acting as the sparks fly upward. And what a woman really is, nobody knows, least of all herself. To see a woman as she really is, one must see her with her babe. For it is curious, but it is true, that not even before the passionate and accepted lover to whom she has utterly devoted herself can a woman bare her heart as can she to her babe. Perhaps we may go so far as to say that motherhood always partially eclipses wife-hood: when the child comes, the man stands aside. For it is not within the capability of man to evoke or to develop the totality of woman. There are feminine potentialities he is powerless to awake. There is a portion of womanliness always hidden from him. To her babe alone she opens the innermost recesses of her soul. For him she wears no masks, affect no accent, plays no part. Even her features take on a different and unique expression before the offspring of her womb. Never is she more womanly, never so strong, never so quite, never so self-contained, never so completely herself, and never so beautify when bending over her helpless infant son. And naturally: for say what one will, motherhood is the goal of womanhood. And howsoever she comes by it, a woman's burthen is always to her "That Holy Thing". So no one knows what a woman is like till she is a mother. In other words motherhood reveals womanhood. And, be it remembered, there be childless women- both spinsters and wives- who could mother mankind in their bosoms. Such women wield great influence. For many a mere man there is has owed his all to a motherly woman.
Nor speech, not restore, nor expression of feature, nor all combined, will ever reveal the real feelings of a woman. To unbosom herself is impossible to woman. Do not expect it, for definite and accurate utterance is not given to woman.
The chief business of woman is: first, to get married; second, to get others married.
It is difficult to say which have played the greater havoc among men: the women with too much conscience, or the woman with none.
When a woman repulses, beware. When a woman beckons, be warier.
Woman are always prepared for emergencies.
With woman, tact and jealousy rarely go hand in hand; tact and spite never. The only instance in which a woman's tact is apt to be at fault is in detraction of a woman whom she regards as her rival; the instance in which a woman's tact is seen as its best is in deploying the men who she knows are rivals for her hand. And usually when a woman has more than one admirer, she not only deploys them, but tries to make them advance en echelon. For few things disconcert a woman more than a multiple and simultaneous attack delivered front a front. But the way in which a woman will maneuver her attackers is marvelous.
They say a woman cannot argue. Hear her explain an indiscretion!
An independent woman is a contradiction in terms. For woman's chief want is to feel that she is wanted. Therefore it is that with women, cruelty is more easily borne than coldness. Indeed, it is astonishing how much downright cruelty a woman will stand from the man she loves or has loved. On the other hand, melancholy also attracts women. Naturally, women are made to soothe, to pity, to comfort, to delight. Therefore it is that to see a strong man in a weak woman's arms is a sight which should arouse- not our laughter, but our envy [Footnote: common gender]. So it does.
Let not the simpleton think a woman will sympathize with his simplicity: No woman is a simpleton. What women admire is a subtle combination of forcefulness and gentleness. If a woman has to choose between forcefulness and gentleness, always she will sacrifice the latter. And it is astonishing to what lengths forcefulness can go without endangering a woman's admiration. If it sweeps her off her feet... well, in nothing does a woman so clearly exhibit the inherent femininity of her nature as in the delight with which, at the bottom of her heart, she recalls moments when she has been swept off her feet. She may sigh over them; but generally, a woman's sighs are by no means those of remorse. A woman never brings pure reason to bear upon her actions; she acts by sentiment and she judges her acts by sentiment. This is why even when a woman has deceived and betrayed, she does not regard herself culpable. Always, she says to herself, she was driven to it, and therefore she is blameless. Accordingly, a penitent woman is rare: even when a man, with his so-called superior reason, thinks he has proved her wrong, at the bottom of her heart she knows herself right.
Many have been the discussions as to woman's most powerful weapon. The simple fact is, she is armed cap a pie [Footnote: "They are all women, and they dart like porcupines, from every part" - Anacreontics]. Indeed, every woman is a sort of feminine Proteus, not only in the myriad shapes she assumes, but also in her amenability to nothing but superior force. Women form, perhaps, where men are concerned, the single exception to the rule that in union there is strength. One woman often enough is irrepressible; two (be the second her own mother) break the charm an association of women is the feeblest of forces.
All women are rivals. And this they never forget. Consequently, mistrust a truce between hostile ladies.
Amongst women, modesty is of infinitely more potent influence than is ability. Yet to a woman's modesty ability is a wonderfully enhancing setting. And modesty is the most complex and the most varied of emotions. Perhaps when modesty and frailty go hand in hand, there is no more delectable combination known to men; and Aphrodite has not the subtle charm of a Cynthia. Perhaps this is why such a wondrous halo of romance hangs about the name of a Heloise, of a Marguerite, of a Marianna Alcoforado; of a Concetta of Afragola; of a Catalina; of Robert le Diable's Helena, of Isolde; of Lucia of Bologna, the enchantress of Ottaviano; of Francesca; of Guenevere; of the sweet seventeen-year old novice of Andouillets, Margarita, the fille who was "rosy as the morn"; of the Beguine who nursed Captain Shandy; of the fille de chamber who walked along the Quai de Conti with Yorick; of Ameilia Viviani, the inspirer of Shelly's most ecstatic lyric; of Dryden's masque-loving Lucretia. For, after all, is the star any the less starry to the rapt star-gazer when he finds it to be a tremulous planet? Cynthia may have blushed in heaven; bit did the blush make her any less lovely to the Latmian? Only in the clear and unclouded pool is the star undimmed embosomed.
They say a woman is capricious. But the consistency of woman's capriciousness is only exceeded by the capriciousness of man's consistency. Man calls woman capricious simply because he is too stupid to comprehend the laws by which she is swayed. Woman does not call man capricious- the inference is obvious.
To women the profoundest mysteries of the universe give place to two things: a lover, and a baby. But perhaps these are the profoundest mysteries of the universe.
How many women there be who, deeming themselves fitted to be the consorts of kings, yet comport themselves dutifully as the wives of wastrels! And indeed, given beauty, cleverness, and grace, there is no position to which a woman could not aspire; for being Woman, she is ex officio Queen.
Speak to a woman disparagingly of her sex, she is up in arms. Speak to her disparagingly of a member of her sex, well, she will not be up in arms. The reason for her bellicosity in the former case is the fact that a woman always interprets abstract disparagement of her sex personally. And she is perfectly right.
It is not only the woman who cannot be accounted quite as stainless as the stars that sometimes trade on their charms. When a strong-souled woman wholly and unreservedly loves, her love will go to lengths passing the comprehension of man. For women prefer a despot to a dependent. It is marvelous to what a pitch of demureness features by nature that the most coquettish can be set. (A Man's features are often a clue to his character; a woman's rarely.) So it comes about that the owner of a seraphic face is often owner of a temper satanic. Nevertheless, often enough a spice of diablerie in a woman at once enhances all her charms. It is indeed fortunate for the men that so many women are unaware of the power of their charms.
A woman would much rather you lied to her concerning herself than that you told her something unpleasant to hear.
Some women seem to be envious of some men's familiarity with immorality. It is by woman that a woman will be first suspected; and it is by a woman she will be last forgiven.
The last thing a woman will ask you for is your esteem. And yet cast a slur upon a woman's character and you are considered indiscreet. Cast a slur upon a woman's personal appearance, and you are considered culpable. Fashion is a woman's sole law. And the surest evidence of strong-mindedness in woman is to fly in the fact of fashion.
Ridicule is woman's keenest weapon; it is the poisoned arrow in her quiver. Well is it for the men that she never, or so rarely, has recourse to it.
A woman is quick to discern the quality of the admiration bestowed upon her.
No one, not even herself, knows what a woman will do next. Doubtless this is trite. But it is true as trite. Yet men rarely find it out till late in life- and forget it as soon as found out.
A woman can say more in a sigh than a man can say in a sermon.
Nothing piques a woman so much as indifference to her favors.
Indifference to her undiscovered passion she quite otherwise regards.
The woman knows the male heart probably better than does it itself. She knows above all things, that to hold that heart she must never wholly satisfy it. And many- and multiform- and marvelous- are the ruses by which she accomplishes that end. And yet, women there are who firmly believe that, were they to try, they could enthrall any man beyond possibility of extrication. And so perhaps they could; but the achievement would require as much unscrupulousness as it would seductiveness. The seductive and unscrupulous woman is hatred of women.
Under the gaze of a group of men whom she knows that her brilliancy dazzles, a woman, like the snow-clad hearth, sparkles: Under the gaze of a man by whom she knows she is passionately desired, like the same earth under the lordly sun, she melts.
All women think they can cozen men: few women think they can cozen women.
The women who perturb men most are those who combine too effectively adorableness with desirableness.
As in nature, so in humanity, flight on the part of the lady is not always symbol of unwillingness of pursuit. On the other hand, feminine audacity by no means betokens feminine immodesty. Feminine obduracy is invincible by man. Luckily, it is rare.
Men call women variable: did she not vary, men would tire. This, women instinctively know. Women rightly dislike and disgust variability in men. For women like best to be liked: to lead gives them but paltry and temporary pleasure. (Though this they do not always instinctively know; or, if they do, they conceal their knowledge.) And wariability is incompatible with leadership.
How delicately a loving woman reproves! How defiantly an unloving! How many lonely women-married and unmarried-the world contains, only these lonely women know.
The feminine métier par excellence is: to allure. And the subtle and elaborate means by which women will devise to intensify the lure, passes the comprehension of men. Yet in all ages, to make herself attractive was as right and proper for the woman as to make himself feared was for the man. Besides, with women the art of attracting has long since become second nature.
Women are quick to recognize a rake. For a rake always rouses curiosity, never aversion.
A worsted woman always, either silently or volubly, calls down a curse upon her successful rival. And 'tis a curse that too often fails. Many women handicap other women; and they handicap them in multifarious ways. Probably the one most frequently used is lavishness of favors. The woman who is lavish of favors is hated of her stricter sisters. But, before these, what an air of bravado she wears!
As a rule, women are far better readers of character than are men. A woman will often startle a man by her penetrating insight into character. And many a man has been put on his guard by female institution.
The fragilest woman will be ill content with suppressed embraces. And the ablest-bodied woman loves being petted. Even a prude is a shy coquette.
The man who judges of a woman by her letters is a fool. Her gesture will contain more matter than her journal. Besides, the woman who could punctuate could reason.
The debut of a younger sister evokes mixed emotions.
The prayer- uttered or unexpressed- of many an undowered young woman is, may a moneyed man fall in love with me! And she is not always over-careful to add, And may I fall in love with that moneyed man!
If the "New Woman" (Note 3: A phrase, and not much more than a phrase, much in vogue in Europe and America in the last two decades of the nineteenth century of the area known as Christian) turns out to be a fitter companion for men than the old, no man will complain of her novelty. Yet men regard the advent of the New Woman rather askance. Why? Because to judge from certain feminine utterances, the New Woman seems more inclined to aim at rivalry than at companionship with man. However, there need be no fears as to the result, since such is the mysterious potency of womanhood, that, whether new or old, woman will always lead man captive. Besides as every new variety of fashion in dress seems becoming to women, so, it is probable, every variety of fashion in manners will become them also. But probably the phrase the "New Woman" is not unlike the phrase the "New Chemistry": the materials are the same; what is new is the nomenclature.
A woman's peccadilloes are generally worse than a man's. At all events they are more reprobated. Abashment intensifies a woman's love for him so making her abashed. And, there is a shame that is sweeter than joy. (As there is a fear more tremulous than delight.) For mastery is a woman's standard of man. And there is an element of the freest and frankest savagery in the most refined and spiritual of women. (How otherwise can any one explain the extraordinary fable of Selene and Pan?(Note 4: Though Browning tried. See "Dramatic Idyls, "Pan and Luna"). And man? But that man was ever a savage. It may be added that the defenselessness of woman is a conventional fiction: she can avert an attack by a look; she can terminate a siege by a taunt.
Solomon has objurgated the invincibly garrulous woman. The invincibly taciturn woman is so rare as to have escaped objurgation. Yet she too is a terror to men.
Every woman is suspicious and jealous of any woman that opens a man's eyes; even though she knows that never was there a woman who could and would deliberately wholly enlighten a man.
And, yet, marvelous and curious amongst things curious and marvelous, will but a woman fling artifice to the winds, and look and act and say as great Nature prompts, - wildly, willfully, wantonly - that woman will captivate as no feminine wiles will ever captivate. If the man were worth it, many a woman would dispense with the marriage ceremony. For Ah! Love-love-love, given love, what else is needed? (Unfortunately love can never be sure of itself-much less of anything else. Accordingly, the marriage contract is a device on the part of the community to provide for the preservation of the home: it makes the parties promise fidelity.) But precious few are the men who are worth the risking. Unfortunately, more women succumb to strength of will than to strength of character. Neither, in general, are women overcurious to enquire whether the strength of character. Neither, in general, are women over curious to enquire whether the strength of the masculine will makes for good or for evil. So long as the masculine will overmaster the feminine, the feminine mind is satisfied. Of course there are exceptions, but as a rule, women- whether young or old, married or single, strong-minded or weak - are never happier than when they can depend on a man. Accordingly, the lover or the husband who is weaker than, and depends upon, the woman, will some day rue his weakness and dependence. And yet, to see a strong male at her feet- that is exquisite to the woman. So exquisite that it is with difficulty that a woman refrains from exhibiting a man's servitude to others. On the other hand, there is an element of intimidation in a resplendent woman. And of this she is aware. Hence perhaps her power.
A woman will attain her ends by adroit finesse, where a man would blunder into open hostility. And it is well that man should blind his eyes to feminine wiles, since, always a woman kindly pretends oblivion of masculine blunders.
The woman whose tastes and refinements are above her station, is in pitiable plight: she is too fastidious to espouse the men who would marry her; the men she would marry she rarely meets. For, the only thing that, to love, is insupportable is vulgarity. Since love, romantic love, the efflorescence and bloom of life, is besmirched unless tenderly touched.
To generalize passes the wit of woman; but in penetration she is preternatural.
What fascinates a woman is the man who unwittingly attracts her against her will. But such a man rouses a combination of emotions comprehensible only by women.
A woman's answer to an insuperable argument is: a look. And a most cogent answer it is. Indeed, speech is a woman's least effective weapon; rarely if ever does she resort to it: in the affairs of life, as in the affairs of love, where men be concerned, it is upon her personality that she relies, not upon her speech whether written or uttered.
Her personal appearance is to a woman, what his personal honor is to a man: it must be immaculate; constant with the fashion of the hour; and strictly in accordance with her or his status in society. Accordingly, dress and demeanor- these form the code of feminine ethics. Even deception on the part of a woman is merely diplomacy; women deceive only be cause man is too blind to see. That is to say, since man in past ages has never allowed woman either freedom of action or frankness of speech, it is not to be expected of her that she should be all at once an adept in their use. To her credit be it said that, generally a woman deceives only in order to arouse or to retain the admiration of man. For example, many a woman has surreptitiously made love to the man- and few are the men who have detected it.
Why this woman fascinates all who come within the sphere of their influence, and that women, does not, no earthly sage will ever know. As well ask what makes one man a Napoleon, another a poltroon. So, too, it is impossible for a woman to say 'I will be loved,' as it is for a man to say 'I will be obeyed.' Perhaps love and Power are divine miracles.
(At the risk of treading on delicate ground, ground off which I shall be hooted by the modern woman, I venture to say that) The idea that a woman is the property of the man of her choice, rail as it as the woman may, has not yet been ousted from the feminine mind- and heart. Indeed, so firmly implanted in the feminine breast is the idea of the ownership of her by the man, that it is to the man who assumes and exercises ownership that she clings. This is why a woman easily changes her allegiance; since, allegiance, to a woman, means loyalty to the man who assumes and exercises ownership over her: let a man who a fractional part of a second evince the shadow of a doubt of his proprietorship- at once he undermines a woman's allegiance. Consequently, it is folly for men to express amazement at the ease with which a woman will transfer herself and her affections. A woman will transfer herself bodily over and over again, but only because the previous owner lightly esteemed, or weakly maintained, his ownership. As a matter of fact, in pristine days woman was, naturally and necessarily, the property, the chattel, of the man: marriage was not then a matrimonial syndicate of two: marriage meant that a woman sought a provider, a supporter, a defender; the man a mate for his delight, his comfort, and his solace, a keeper of his cave or hut, a mother and nurse for his heirs. And provision, support, and defense, being, in pristine days, matters of strength, prowess, or cunning, naturally and necessarily pristine man gained him and kept him a mate by strength, prowess, or cunning; he regarded that mate as his by right of force, not as a partner in a compact. And the most complicated of modern communities has no whit altered the relationship of man to mate, conceal though it may the origin and history of marriage. Finally, no woman at the bottom of her heart has any objection to being owned. Indeed (though no woman would say it, a man may), every woman at the bottom of her heart delights to be owned, and tacitly and secretly seeks the man who she thinks will glory in that ownership and keep his property safe- not only from material harms, but from temptations to changes of ownership. In which last little fact lies a curious truth.
Women like to be defended against themselves. In this little matter men and women differ: That any other man should dare for one instant to covet or alienate (Note 5: How women must laugh in their sleeves at the fact that one man may sue another in a court of law for "alienating his wife's affections"!) that most precious of his possessions, his mate, nothing rouses to a higher pitch man's unappeasable wrath than this; against the man so daring, a woman's wrath is never roused: rather she regards him as one having discernment, and his daring is a commendable compliment to herself. In fine, and in short, allegiance, to a man, on the part of a woman, means, in her eyes, loyalty to him who properly exercises the right of ownership. In simple truth, a woman gives herself to a man: to the man who proves himself worthy the gift, she is true. And this is why women, all women, even the New ones, love being petted and admired and made much of all their lives: this but proves the possession of the gift to be appreciated. Besides, the male is the dominant animal-not necessarily in his cave or his hut, by no means, but in the stress and struggle of life; and women tacitly (though never openly) look up to and admire this dominance, even when exercised over themselves; since THIS, in turn, proves the masterfulness, the worth, of the man; albeit sometimes they rebel against it if carried to far. At least, unless a man continues to exhibit his appreciation of the gift by word as well as by deed, the woman is apt to imagine that that appreciation is on the wane.
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