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pected without having data for any positive the smallness of the topics themselves, makes conclusion. The society of women is usually feminine talk fatiguing to you. Very small sought by men during hours of mental relax- things indeed have an interest when exhibitation, and we naturally find such a charm in ed in relation to larger, as men of science are their mere presence, especially when they continually demonstrating. I have been takare graceful or beautiful, that we are not ing note lately of the talk that goes on around very severe or even accurate judges of the me, and I find that when it is shallow and abstract intellectual quality of their talk, wearisome it is always because the facts menBut a woman cannot feel the indescribable tioned bear no reference to any central or charm which wins us so easily, and I have governing idea, and do not illustrate anything. sometimes thought that a superior person Conversation is interesting in proportion to of your sex might be aware of certain de- the originality of the central ideas which ficiencies in her sisters which men very read- serve as pivots, and the fitness of the little ily overlook. You tell me that you feel em- facts and observations which are contributed barrassed in the society of ladies, because by the talkers. For instance, if people hapthey know so little about the subjects which pened to be talking about rats, and some one interest you, and are astonished when you informed you that he had seen a rat last week, speak about anything really worth attention. that would be quite uninteresting: but you On the other hand, you feel perfectly at ease would listen with greater attention if he said; with men of ability and culture, and most at The other night, as I was going up stairs your ease with men of the best ability and very late, I followed a very fine rat who was the most eminent attainments. What you going up stairs too, and he was not in the complain of chiefly in women seems to be least hurried, but stopped after every two or their impatience of varieties of thought three steps to have a look at me and my canwhich are unfamiliar to them, and their con- dle. He was very prettily marked about the stant preference for small topics.
face and tail, so I concluded that he was not It has long been felt by men that if women a common rat, but probably a lemming. Two could be more freely initiated into great sub nights afterwards I met him again, and this jects the interest of general conversation time he seemed almost to know me, for he would be much increased. The difficulty ap- quietly made room for me as I passed. Very pears to lie in their instinctive habit of mak- likely he might be easily taned.” This is ining all questions personal questions. The eti- teresting, because, though the fact narrated quette of society makes it quite impossible is still trifling, it illustrates animal character. for men to speak to ladies in the manner If you will kindly pardon an “improvewhich would be intellectually most profitable ment" of this subject, as a preacher would to them. We may not teach because it is call it, I might add that an intellectual lady pedantic, and we may not contradict, because like yourself might, perhaps, do better to it is rude. Most of the great subjects are raise the tone of the feminine talk around conventionally held to be closed, so that it is her than to withdraw from it in weariness. a sin against good taste to discuss them. In There are always, in every circle, a few supeevery house the ladies have a set of fixed rior persons who, either from natural difficonvictions of some kind, which it is not po-dence, or because they are not very rich, or lite in any man to appear to doubt. The con- because they are too young, suffer themselves sequence of these conventional rules is that to be entirely overwhelmed by the established women live in an atmosphere of acquiescence mediocrity around them. What they need which makes them intolerant of anything like is a leader, a deliverer. Is it not in your bold and original thinking on important sub-power to render services of this kind? Could jects. But as the mind always requires free you not select from the younger ladies whom play of some kind, when all the great subjects you habitually meet, a few who, like yourself, are forbidden it will use its activity in play- feel bored by the dulness or triviality of what ing about little ones.
you describe as the current feminine converFor my part I hardly think it desirable for sation? There is often a painful shyness any of us to be incessantly coping with great which prevents people of real ability from subjects, and the ladies are right in taking a using it for the advantage of others, and this lively interest in the small events around shyness is nowhere so common as in England, them. But even the small events would have especially provincial England. It feels the a deeper interest if they were seen in their want of a hardy example. A lady who true relations to the great currents of Euro- talked really well would no doubt run some pean thought and action. It is probably the risk of being rather unpleasantly isolated at ignorance of these relations which, more than first, but surely, if she tried, she might ultimately find accomplices. You could do much, I tution; but it is incessant, it is continual. to begin with, by recommending high-toned Men disguise their thoughts for women as if literature, and gradually awakening an inter- to venture into the feminine world were as est in what is truly worth attention. It dangerous as travelling in Arabia, or as if the seems lamentable that every cultivated wo-thoughts themselves were criminal. man should be forced out of the society of There appeared two or three years ago in her own sex, and made to depend upon ours Punch a clever drawing which might have for conversation of that kind which is an ab- served as an illustration to this subject. A solute necessity to the intellectual. The truth fashionable doctor was visiting a lady in Belis, that women so displaced never appear gravia who complained that she suffered from altogether happy. And culture costs so much debility. Cod-liver oil being repugnant to her downright hard work, that it ought not to be taste, the agreeable doctor, wise in his generpaid for by any suffering beyond those toils ation, blandly suggested as an effective subwhich are its fair and natural price.
stitute a mixture of cream and curaçoa. What that intelligent man did for his patient's
physical constitution, all men of politeness do LETTER VIII.
for the intellectual constitution of ladies. In
stead of administering the truth which would TO A LADY OF HIGH CULTURE.
strengthen, though unpalatable, they admin
ister intellectual cream and curaçoa. Greatest misfortune in the intellectual life of women-They do
The primary cause of this tendency to say not hear truth---Men disguise their thoughts for womenCream and curagoa-Probable permanence of the desire what is most pleasing to women is likely to be to please women-Most truth in cultivated society-Hopes as permanent as the distinction of sex itself. from the increase of culture.
It springs directly from sexual feelings, it is I THINK that the greatest misfortune in the hereditary and instinctive. Men will never intellectual life of women is that they do not talk to women with that rough frankness hear the truth from men.
which they use between themselves. ConverAll men in cultivated society say to women sation between the sexes will always be paras much as possible that which they may be tially insincere. Still I think that the more supposed to wish to hear, and women are so women are respected, the more men will de much accustomed to this that they can sire to be approved by them for what they are scarcely hear without resentment an expres- in reality, and the less they will care for apsion of opinion which takes no account of their proval which is obtained by dissimulation. It personal and private feeling. The considera- may be observed already that, in the most intion for the feelings of women gives an agree- tellectual society of great capitals, men are able tone to society, but it is fatal to the sever- considerably more outspoken before women ity of truth. Observe a man of the world than they are in the provincial middle-classes. whose opinions are well known to you,-notice Where women have most culture, men are the little pause before he speaks to a lady. most open and sincere. Indeed, the highest During that little pause he is turning over culture has a direct tendency to command sinwhat he has to say, so as to present it in the cerity in others, both because it is tolerant of manner that will please her best; and you variety in opinion, and because it is so penemay be sure that the integrity of truth will trating that dissimulation is felt to be of no suffer in the process. If we compare what we use. By the side of an uncultivated woman, know of the man with that which the lady a man feels that if he says anything different hears from him, we perceive the immense dis- from what she has been accustomed to she advantages of her position. He ascertains will take offence, whilst if he says anything what will please her, and that is what he ad- beyond the narrow range of her information ministers. He professes to take a deep interest he will make her cold and uncomfortable. in things which he does not care, for in the The most honest of men, in such a position, least, and he passes lightly over subjects and finds it necessary to be very cautious, and can events which he knows to be of the most mo- scarcely avoid a little insincerity. But with mentous importance to the world. The lady a woman of culture equal to his own, these spends an hour more agreeably than if she causes for apprehension have no existence, heard opinions which would irritate, and prog- and he can safely be more himself. nostics which would alarm her, but she has These considerations lead me to hope that missed an opportunity for culture, she has as culture becomes more general women will been confirmed in feminine illusions. If this hear truth more frequently. Whenever this happened only from time to time, the effect comes to pass, it will be, to them, an immense would not tell so much on the mental consti- | intellectual gain.
| lady; she does not like to hear a conversation
going forward without taking a part in it, and TO A YOUNG MAN OF THE MIDDLE CLASS, WELL rather an important part so that whatever EDUCATED, WHO COMPLAINED THAT IT WAS
subject is talked about in her presence, that DIFFICULT FOR HIM TO LIVE AGREEABLY WITH
subject she will talk about also. Even before HIS MOTHER, A PERSON OF SOMEWHAT AU
specialists your mother has an independence THORITATIVE DISPOSITION, BUT UNEDUCATED.
of opinion, and a degree of faith in her own: A sort of misunderstanding common in modern households
conclusions, which would be admirable if Intolerance of inaccuracy--A false position--A lady not they were founded upon right reason and a easily intimidated-Difficulty of arguing when you have to careful study of the subject. Medical men. teach-Instance about the American War-The best course in discussion with ladies-Women spoilt by non-contradic- and even lawyers, do not intimidate her; she tion--They make all questions personal-The strength of is convinced that she knows more about distheir feelings-Their indifference to matters of fact.
ease than the physician, and more about legal I HAVE been thinking a good deal, and seri- business than an old attorney. In theology ously, since we last met, about the subject of no parson can approach her; but here a womour conversation, which though a painful one an may consider herself on her own ground, is not to be timidly aroided. The degree of as theology is the speciality of women.' unhappiness in your little household, which All this puts you out of patience, and it is ought to be one of the pleasantest of house intelligible that, for a young gentleman of inholds, yet which, as you confided to me, is tellectual habits and somewhat ardent temovershadowed by a continual misunderstand-perament like yourself, it must be at times ing, is, I fear, very common indeed at the rather trying to have an AUTHORITY at hand present day. It is only by great forbearance, ever ready to settle all questions in a decisive and great skill, that any household in which manner. To you I have no counsel to offer persons of very different degrees of culture but that of unconditional submission, You have to live together on terms of equality, have the weakness to enter into arguments can be maintained in perfect peace; and nei- when to sustain them you must assume the ther the art nor the forbearance is naturally part of a teacher. In arguing with a person an attribute of youth. A man whose schol- already well-informed upon the subject in arly attainments were equal to your own, dispute, you may politely refer to knowledge and whose experience of men and women which he already possesses, but when he does was wider, could no doubt offer you counselnot possess the knowledge you cannot argue both wise and practical, yet I can hardly say with him; you must first teach him, you that I should like you better if you followed must become didactic, and therefore odious. it. I cannot blame you for having the nat- I remember a great scene which took place ural characteristics of your years, an honest between you and your mother concerning the love of the best truth that you have attained American War. It was brought on by a too to, an intolerance of inaccuracy on all sub-precise answer of yours relatively to your jects, a simple faith in the possibility of teach- friend B., who had emigrated to America. ing others, even elderly ladies, when they You mother asked to what part of America happen to know less than yourself. All these B. had emigrated, and you answered, “The characteristics are in themselves blameless; Argentine Republic." A shade of displeasure and yet in your case, and in thousands of clouded your mother's countenance, because other similar cases, they often bring clouds she did not know where the Argentine Repubof storm and trial upon houses which, in a lic might be, and betrayed it by her manner. less rapidly progressive century than our own, You imprudently added that it was in South might have been blessed with uninterrupted America. “Yes, yes, I know very well," she peace. The truth is, that you are in a false answered; "there was a great battle there position relatively to your mother, and your during the American War. It is well your mother is in a false position relatively to you. friend was not there under Jefferson Davis." She expects deference, and deference is Now, permit me to observe, my estimable scarcely compatible with contradiction; cer- young friend, that this was what the French tainly, if there be contradiction at all, it must call a fine opportunity for holding your be very rare, very careful, and very delicate. tongue, but your missed it. Fired with an You, on the other hand, although no doubt enthusiasm for truth (always dangerous to full of respect and affection for your mother the peace of families), you began to explain in your heart, cannot hear her authoritatively to the good lady that the Argentine Repubenunciating anything that you know to be lic, though in South America, was not one of erroneous, without feeling irresistibly urged the Southern States of the Union. This led to set her right. She is rather a talkative to a scene of which I was the embarrassed
and unwilling witness. Your mother vehe-Cape of Good Hope as being in Africa. mently affirmed that all the Southern States “Then it belongs to France, as Africa behad been under Jefferson Davis, that she longs to France.” “Oui, chère mère,” he knew the fact perfectly, that it had always answered, in his usual formula; “ vous avez been known to every one during the war, and raison.” that, consequently, as the Argentine Repub-l He alluded to this afterwards when we were lic was in South America, the Argentine Re- alone together. “I was foolish enough some public had been under Jefferson Davis. Rap-years since," he said, “to argue with my belle idly warming with this discussion, your mère and try to teach her little things from mother “supposed that you would deny next time to time, but it kept her in a state of that there had ever been such a thing as a chronic ill-humor and led to no good; it war between the North and the South.” spoiled her temper, and it did not improve Then you, in your turn, lost temper, and you her mind. But since I have adopted the plan fetched an atlas for the purpose of explaining of perpetual assent we get on charmingly. that the southern division of the continent Whatever she affirms I assent to at once, and of America was not the southern half of the all is well. My friends are in the secret, and United States. You were landed, as people so no contradictory truth disturbs our amiaalways are landed when they prosecute an ble tranquillity.” argument with the ignorant, in the thankless! A system of this kind spoils women comoffice of the schoolmaster. You were actual- pletely, and makes the least contradiction inly trying to givo your mother a lesson in ge- tolerable to them. It is better that they ography! She was not grateful to you for should at least have the opportunity of hearyour didactic attentions. She glanced at the ing truth, though no attempt need be made book as people glance at an offered dish to force it upon them. The position of ladies which they dislike. She does not understand of the generation which preceded ours is in maps, the representation of places in geo- | many respects a very trying one, and we do graphical topography has never been quite not always adequately realize it. A lady like clear to her. Your little geographical lecture your mother, who never really went through irritated, but did not inform; it clouded the any intellectual discipline, who has no no countenance, but did not illuminate the un- tion of intellectual accuracy in anything, is derstanding. The distinction between South compelled by the irresistible feminine instinct America and the Southern States is not easy to engage her strongest feelings in every disto the non-analytic mind under any circum- cussion that arises. A woman can rarely destances, but when amour propre is involved tach her mind from questions of persons to it becomes impossible.
apply it to questions of fact. She does not I believe that the best course in discussions think simply, “Is that true of such a thing?" of this kind with ladies is simply to say once but she thinks, “Does he love me or respect what is true, for the acquittal of your own me?" The facts about the Argentine Repubconscience, but after that to remain silent on lic and the American War were probably that topic, leaving the last word to the lady, quite indifferent to your mother; but your who will probably simply re-affirm what she opposition to what she had asserted seemed has already said. For example, in the dis- to her a failure in affection, and your attempt cussion about the Argentine Republic, your to teach her a failure in respect. This feeling proper course would have been to say first, in women is far from being wholly egoistic. firmly, that the territory in question was not They refer everything to persons, but not neca part of the seceded States and had never essarily to their own persons. Whatever you been in the Union, with a brief and decided affirm as a fact, they find means of interpretgeographical explanation. Your mother ing as loyalty or disloyalty to some person would not have been convinced by this, and whom they either venerate or love, to the would probably have had the last word, but head of religion, or of the State, or of the the matter would have ended there. Another family. Hence it is always dangerous to enfriend of mine, who is in a position very like ter upon intellectual discussion of any kind your own, goes a step farther, and is deter- with women, for you are almost certain to ofmined to agree with his mother-in-law in fend them by setting aside the sentiments of everything. He always assents to her prop- veneration, affection, love, which they have ositions. She is a Frenchwoman, and has in great strength, in order to reach accuracy been accustomed to use Algérie and Afrique in matters of fact, which they neither have as convertible terms. Somebody spoke of the nor care for.
till fourteen, when through an unlucky inci
dent I was made a hopeless cripple. At that ARISTOCRACY AND DEMOCRACY. day I was earning the noble sum of eightpence
per day, quite as much as any boy of that age
got in the lead mines. I suffered much for LETTER I.
two years; after that, became much easier, TO A YOUNG ENGLISH NOBLEMAN. but my legs were quite useless, and have con
tinued so up to the present time. The right A contrast-A poor student-His sad fate -Class-sentiment
Tycho Brahe-Robert Burns-Shelley's opinion of Byron thigh-bone is decayed, has not got worse tbese
a y an suits-Studies that add to gentility--Sincerity of interest at all events, for life is sweet even at this needed for genuine culture-The exclusiveness of schol- cost; not but what I could die quietly enough, arly caste-Its bad influence on outsiders-Feeling of
I dare say. I have not been idle these Burns toward scholars-Sureness of class-instinct-Unforeseen effect of railways-Return to nomadic life and l years...." the chase Advantages and possibilities to life in the (Here permit me to introduce a parenthesis. higher classes.
He certainly had not been idle. He had eduIt is one of the privileges of authorship to cated himself up to such a point that he could have correspondents in the most widely dif- I really appreciate both literature and art, and ferent positions, and by means of their frank | had attained some genuine skill in both. His and friendly letters (usually much more frank letters to me were the letters of a cultivated than any oral communication) to gain a singu- gentleman, and he used invariably to insert larly accurate insight into the working of little pen-sketches, which were done with a circumstances on the human intellect and light and refined hand.) character. The same post that brought me “I can do anything almost in bed-except your last letter brought news about another getting up. I am now twenty-two years old. of my friends whose lot has been a striking My father was a miner, but is now unable to contrast to your own.*
work. I have only one brother working, and Let me dwell upon this contrast for a few we are about a dozen of us; consequently we minutes. All the sunshine appears to have are not in the most flourishing circumstances, been on your side, and all the shadow on his. I but a friend has put it in my power to learn Born of highly cultivated parents, in the 'to etch. I have got the tools and your handhighest rank in England under royalty, you book on the subject." have lived from the beginning amongst the These extracts are from his first letter. most efficient aids to culture, and Nature has Afterwards he wrote me others which made so endowed you that, instead of becoming in- me feel awed and humbled by the manly different to these things from familiarity, cheerfulness with which he bore a lot so you have learned to value them more and dreary, and by the firmness of resolution he more in every successive year. The plainest showed in his pursuits. He could not quit statement of your advantages would sound his bed, but that was not the worst; he could like an extract from one of Disraeli's not even sit up in bed, and yet he contrived, novels. Your father's principal castle is sit- I know not how, both to write and draw and uated amongst the finest scenery in Britain, letch on copper, managing the plaguy chemiand his palace in London is filled with master-cals, and even printing his own proofs. His pieces of art. Wherever you have lived you bed was on wheels, on a sort of light iron carhave been surrounded by good literature and riage, and he saw nature out-of-doors. All cultivated friends. Your health is steadily the gladness of physical activity was comrobust, you can travel wherever you choose, pletely blotted out of his existence, and in and all the benefits of all the capitals of that respect his prospects were without hope. Europe belong to you as much as to their own And still he said that “ life was sweet.” O marcitizens. In all these gifts and opportunities vel of all marvels, how could that life be sweet! there is but one evil-the bewilderment of Aided by a beautiful patience and resignatheir multiplicity.
tion the lamp of the mind burned with a My other correspondent has been less for- steady brightness, fed by his daily studies. tunately situated. “I began school," he says, In the winters, however, the diseased limb "when six years old, was taken from it at gave him prolonged agony, and in the aueleven and sent to the mines to earn a little teumn of 1872, to avoid the months of tortur towards my own support. I continued there that lay before him, he had himself put in * I think it right to inform the reader that there is no fiction
the railway and sent off, in his bed, to Edinin this letter
burgh, sleeping in a waiting-room on the