Man And Woman
( Originally Published 1879 )
MAN is bold—woman is beautiful. Man is courageous—woman is timid. Man labors in the field—woman at home. Man talks to persuade-woman to please. Man has a daring heart—woman a tender, loving one. Man has power—woman taste. Man has justice — woman has mercy. Man has strength woman love; while man combats with the enemy, struggles with the world, woman is waiting to prepare his repast and sweeten his existence. He has crosses, and the partner of his couch is there to soften them; his days may be sad and troubled, but in the chaste arms of his wife he finds comfort and repose. Without woman, man would be rude, gross, solitary. Woman spreads around him the flowers of existence, as the creepers of the forests, which decorate the trunks of sturdy oaks with their perfumed garlands. Finally, the Christian pair live and die united; together they rear the fruits of their union; in the dust they lie side by side; and they are reunited beyond the limits of the tomb.
Man has his strength and the exercise of his power; he is busy, goes about, occupies his attention, thinks, looks forward to the future, and finds consolation in it, but woman stays at home, remains face to face with her sorrow, from which nothing distracts her, she descends to the, very depths of the abyss it has opened, measures it, and often fills it with her vows and tears. To feel, to love, to suffer, to devote herself, will always be the text of the life of woman. Man has a precise and distinct language, the word being luminous speech. Woman possesses a peculiarly musical and magical language, interspersing the words with song. Woman is affectionate and suffers; she is constantly in need of something to lean upon, like the honeysuckle upon the tree or fence. Man is attached to the fireside, by his affection for her, and the happiness it gives him to protect and support her. Superior and inferior to man, humiliated by the heavy hand of nature, but at the same time inspired by intuitions of a higher order than man can ever experience, she has fascinated him, innocently bewitched him forever. And man has remained
enchanted by the spell. Women are generally better creatures than men. Perhaps they have, taken universally, weaker appetites and weaker intellects, but they have much stronger affections. A man with a bad heart has been sometimes saved by a strong head; but a corrupt woman is lost forever.
One has well said: "We will say nothing of the manner in which that sex usually conduct an argument; but the intuitive judgments of women are often more to be relied upon than the conclusions which we reach by an elaborate process of reasoning. No man that has an intelligent wife, or who is accustomed to the society of educated women, will dispute this. Times without number, you must have known them decide questions on the instant, and with unerring accuracy, which you had been poring over for hours, perhaps, with no other result than to find yourself getting deeper and deeper into the tangled maze of doubts and difficulties. It were hardly generous to allege ithat they achieve these feats less by reasoning than by a sort of sagacity which approximates to the sure instinct of the animal races; and yet, there seems to be some ground for the remark of a witty French writer, that, when a man has toiled step by step up a flight of stairs, he will be sure to find a woman at the top; but she will not be able to tell how she got there. How she got there, however, is of little moment."
It is peculiar with what a degree of tact woman will determine whether a man is honest or not. She cannot give you the reason for such an opinion, only that she does not like the looks of the man, and. feels that he is dishonest. A servant comes for employment, she looks him in the face and says he is dishonest. He gives good references, and you employ him; he robs you—you may be quite sure he will do that. Years after, another man comes; the same lady looks him in the face, and says he, too, is not honest; she says so, again,
fresh from her mere insight; but you, also, say he is not honest. You say, I remember I had a servant with just the same look about him, three years ago, and he robbed me. This is one great distinction of the female intellect, it walks directly and unconsciously, by more delicate insight and a more refined and a more trusted intuition, to an end to which men's minds grope carefully and ploddingly along. Women have exercised a most beneficial influence in softening the hard and untruthful outline which knowledge is apt to assume in the hands of direct scientific observers and experimenters; they have prevented the casting aside of a mass of most valuable truth, which is too fine to be caught in the material sieve, and eludes the closest questioning of the microscope and the test-glass; which is allied with our passions, our feelings; and especially holds the fine boundary-line where mind and matter, sense and spirit, wave their floating and undistinguishable boundaries, and exercise their complex action and reaction.
When a woman is possessed of a high degree of tact, she sees, as by a kind of second sight, when any little emergency is likely to occur, or when, to use a more familiar expression, things do not seem to go right. She is thus aware of any sudden turn in conversation, and prepared for what it may lead to; but above all, she can penetrate into the state of mind of those she is placed in contact with, so as to detect the gathering gloom upon anther's brow, before the mental storm shall have reached any formidable height, to know when the tone of voice has altered; when any unwelcome thought shall have presented itself, and when the pulse of feeling is beating higher or lower, in consequence of some apparently, trifling circumstance which has just transpired. In such and innumerable other instances of much the same character, woman, with her tact, will notice clearly the fluctuations which constantly. change the feeling of social life, and she can change the current of feeling suddenly and in such a way that no one detects her; thus, by the power which her nature gives her, she saves society the pain and annoyance which arise very frequently from trifles, or the mismanagement of some one possessing less tact and social adaptation.
Man is the creature of interest and ambition. His nature leads him forth into the struggle and bustle of the world. Love is but the embellishment of his early life, or a song piped in the intervals of the acts. He seeks_ for fame, for fortune, for space in the world's thought, and dominion over his fellow-men. But a woman's whole life is a history of the affections. The heart is her world; it is there her ambition strives for empire; it is there her avarice seeks for hidden treasures. She sends forth her sympathies on adventure; she embarks her whole soul in the traffic of affection; and if shipwrecked, her case is hopeless, for it is the bankruptcy of the heart.
To a man, the disappointment of love may occasion some bitter pangs; it -wounds some feelings of tenderness; it blasts some prospects of felicity; but he is an. active being; he may dissipate his thoughts in the whirl of varied occupation, or may plunge into the tide of pleasure; or, if the scene of disappointment be too full of painful associations, he can shift his abode at will, and taking, as it were, the wings of morning, can "fly to the uttermost parts of the earth, and be at rest."
We find man the cap stone of the climax of para. doxes; a complex budget of contradictions; a heterogeneous compound of good and evil; the noblest work of God, bespattered by Lucifer; an immortal being, cleaving to things not eternal; a rational being, violating reason; an animal with discretion, glutting, instead of prudently feeding appetite; an original harmonious compact, violating order and revelling in confusion. Man is immortal without realizing it; rational, but often deaf to reason; an animal, transgressing the law of appetite; a combination of noble powers, waging civil war, robbing, instead of aiding each other; yet, like the Siamese twins, compelled to remain in the same apartment. They were created allies, to promote their own happiness and the glory of their king; but Beelzebub, the first rebel against heaven, has made them conspirators. Appetite is led astray by pleasure; they first stupefy, then dethrone reason; immortality becomes paralyzed, and loses sight of things eternal—stupefied reason and voracious appetite run riot, and depose the soul, all these fall into the ditch together—the natural consequence of violating the law of common sense, reason, and revelation.
The following shows the love, tenderness, and fortitude of woman. The. lètter, which was bedimmed with tears, was written before the husband was aware that death was fixing its grasp upon the lovely companion, and laid in a book which he was wont to peruse:
"When this shall reach your eyes, dear G—, some day when you are turning over the relics of the past, I shall have passed away forever,, and\ the cold white stone will be keeping its lonely watch over lips you have so often pressed, and the sod will be growing green that shall hide forever from your sight the dust of one who has so often nestled close to your warm heart. For many long and sleepless nights, when all my thoughts were at rest, I have wrestled with the consciousness of approaching death, until at last it has forced itself on my mind. Although to you and to others it might now seem but the nervous imagination of a girl, yet, dear G____, it is so ! Many weary hours have I passed in the endeavor to reconcile myself to leaving you, whom I love so well, and this bright world of sunshine and beauty; and hard indeed is it to struggle on silently and alone, with the sure conviction that I am about to leave forever and go down alone into the dark valley. 'But I know in whom I have trusted,' and leaning upon His arm, ' I fear no evil.' Don't blame me for keeping even all this from you. How could I subject you, of all others, to such a sorrow as I feel at parting, when time will soon make it apparent to you? I could have wished to live, if only to Ile at your side when your time shall come, and pillowing your head upon my breast, wipe the death damps from your brow, and commend your departing spirit to its Maker's presence, embalmed in woman's holiest prayer. But it is not to be so; and I submit. Yoùrs is the privilege of watching, through long and dreary nights, for the spirit's final flight, and of transferring my sinking head from your breast to my Savior's bosom! And you shall share my last thought, the last faint pressure of my hand, and the last feeble kiss shall be yours; and even when flesh and heart shall have failed me, my eye shall rest on yours until glazed by death; and our spirits shall hold one fast communion, until gently fading from my view, the last of earth, you shall mingle with the first bright glimpses of the unfading glories of that better world, where partings are unknown. Well do I know the spot, dear G—, where you will lay me; often have we stood by the place, as we watched the mellow sunset, as it glanced its quivering flashes through the leaves, and burnished the grassy mounds around us with stripes of gold. Each perhaps has thought that one of us would come alone; and whichever it might be, your name would be on the stone. We loved the spot, and I know, you'll love it none the less when you see the same quiet sunlight and gentle breezes play among the grass that grows over your Mary's grave. I know you'll go often alone there, when I am laid there, and my spirit shall be with you then, and whisper among the waving branches, ' I am not lost, but gone before."
A woman has no natural gift more bewitching than a sweet laugh. It is like the sound of flutes upon the water. It leads from her in a clear sparkling rill; and the heart that hears it feels as if bathed in the cool, exhilarating spring. Have you ever pursued an unseen figure through the trees, led on by a fairy laugh, now here, now there, now lost, now found? We have. And we are pursuing that wandering voice to this day. Sometimes it comés to us in the midst of care and sorrow, or irksome business, and then we turn away and listen, and hear it ringing throughout the room like a silver bell, with power to scare away the evil spirits of the mind. How much we owe to that sweet laugh! It turns prose to poetry; it flings showers of sunshine Over the darkness of the wood in which we are traveling.
Quincy being asked why there were more women than men, replied, "It is in conformity with the arrangements of nature. We always see more of heaven than of earth." He cannot be an unhappy man who has the love and smile of woman to accompany him in every department of life. The world may look dark and cheerless without—enemies may gather in his path—but when he returns to his fireside, and feels the tender love of woman, he forgets his cares and troubles, and is comparatively a happy man. He is but half prepared for the journey of life, who takes not with him that friend who will forsake him in no emergency—who will divide his sorrows—increase his joys—lift the veil from his heart—and throw sunshine amid the darkest scenes. No, that man cannot be miserable who has such a companion, be he ever so poor, despised, and trodden upon by the world. No trait of character is more valuable in a female than the possession of a sweet temper. Home can never be made happy without it. It is like the flowers that spring up in our pathway, reviving and cheering us. Let a man go home at night, wearied and worn by the toils of the day, and how soothing is a word by a good disposition! It is sun-shine falling on his heart. He is happy, and the cares of life are forgotten. Nothing can be more touching than to behold a woman who had been all tenderness and dependence, and alive to every trivial roughness while treading the prosperous path of life, suddenly rising in mental force to be the comforter and supporter of her husband under misfortune, and abiding with unshrinking firmness the bitterest winds of adversity. As the vine which has long twined its graceful foliage about the oak, and been lifted by it in sunshine, will, when the hardy plant is rived by the thunderbolt, cling round it with its caressing tendrils, and bind up its shattered boughs. So it is beautifully ordained that woman, who is the mere dependent and ornament of man in happiest hours, should be his stay and solace when smitten by sudden calamity.
A woman of true intelligence is a blessing at home, in her circle of friends, and in society. Wherever she goes, she carries with her a healthgiving influence. There is a beautiful harmony about her character that at once inspires a respect which soon warms into love. The. influence of such a woman upon society is of the most salutary kind. She strengthens right principles in the virtuous, incites the selfish and indifferent to good actions, and gives to even the light and frivolous a taste for food more substantial than the frothy gossip with which they seek to recreate their minds.
Thackeray says : "It is better for you to pass an evening once or twice a week in a lady's drawing-room,, even though the conversation is slow, and you know the girl's song by heart, than in a club, a tavern, or a pit of a theater. All amusements of youth to which virtuous women are not admitted, rely on it, are deleterious in their nature. All men who avoid female society have dull perceptions, and are stupid, or have gross tastes, and revolt against what is pure. Your club swaggerers, who are sucking the butts of billiard cues all night, call female society insipid. Poetry is uninspiring to a jockey; beauty has no charms for a blind man; music does not please a poor beast who does not know one tune from another; but as a pure epicure is hardly tired of water, sauces, and brown bread and butter, I protest I can sit for a whole evening talking with a well regulated, kindly woman about her girl Fanny, or her boy Frank, and like the evening's entertainment. One of the great benefits a man may derive from a woman's society is that he is bound to be respectful to her. The habit is of great good to your moral men, depend upon it. Our education makes us the most eminently selfish men in the world."
Tom Hood, in writing to his wife, says: "I never was anything till I knew you; and I have been better, hap-pier, and a more prosperous man ever since. Lay that truth by in lavender, and remind me of it when I fail. I am writing fondly and warmly; but not without good cause. First, your own affectionate letter, lately re ceived; next, the remembrance of our dear children, pledges of our old familiar love; then a delicious impulse to pour out the overflowings of my heart into yours; and last, not least, the knowledge that your dear eyes will read what my hands are now writing. Perhaps there is an after-thought that, whatever may befall me, the wife of my bosom will have this acknowledgment of her tenderness, worth and excellence, of all that is wifely or womanly, from my pen."
I have observed among all nations that the women ornament themselves more than the men; that wherever found, they are the same kind, civil, obliging, humane, tender beings; that they are ever inclined to be gay and cheerful, timorous and modest. They do not hesitate like a man, to perform any hospitable or generous action; not haughty or arrogant, or supercilious, but full of courtesy, and fond of society, industrious, economical, ingenious, more liable, in general, to err than man, but, in general, also, more virtuous, and performing more good actions than he.
The gentle tendrils of woman's heart sometimes twine around a proud and sinful spirit, like roses and honeysuckles around a lightning-rod, clinging for sup-port to what brings down upon them the blasting thunderbolt.
These are the national traits of woman's character: The English woman is respectful and proud ; the French woman is gay and agreeable ; the Italian is ardent and passionate ; the American is sincere and affectionate. With an English woman love is a principle; with a French woman it is a caprice; with an Italian it is a passion; with an American it, is a sentiment. A man is married to an English lady; united to a French woman; cohabits with an Italian; and is wedded to an American. An English woman is anxious to secure a lord; a French woman, a companion; an Italian, a lover; an American, a husband. The Englishman respects his lady; the Frenchman esteems his companion; the Italian adores his mistress; the American loves his wife. At night the Englishman returns to his house; the Frenchman to his establishment; the Italian to his retreat; the American to his home. When an Englishman is sick, his lady visits him; when a Frenchman is sick, his companion pities him; when an Italian is sick, his mistress sighs over him; when an American is sick, his wife nurses him. When an Englishman dies, his lady is bereaved; when a Frenchman dies, his companion grieves; when an Italian dies, his mistress laments; when an American dies, his wife mourns. An English woman instructs her offspring; a French woman teaches her progeny; an Italian rears her young; an American educates her child.
The true lady is known wherever you meet her. Ten women shall get into the street car or omnibus, , and, though we never saw them, we shall point out the true lady. She does not giggle constantly at every little thing that transpires, or does some one appear with a peculiar dress, it does not throw her into con-fusion. She wears no flowered brocade to be trodden under foot, nor ball-room jewelry, nor rose-tinted gloves; but the lace frill round her face, is scrupulously fresh, and the strings under her chin have evidently been handled only by dainty fingers. She makes no parade of a watch, if she wears one; nor does she draw off her dark, neatly-fitting glove to display ostentatious rings. Still we notice, nestling in the straw beneath us, such a trim little boot, not paper soled, but of an anti-consumption thickness; the bonnet upon her head is of plain straw, simply trimmed, for your true lady never wears a "dress hat" in an omnibus. She is quite as civil to the poorest as to the richest person who sits beside her, and equally regardful of their rights. If she attracts attention, it is by the unconscious grace of her person and manner, not by the ostentation of her dress. We are quite sorry when she pulls the strap and disappears; if we were a bachelor we should go home to our solitary den with a resolution to become a better and a-married man. The strongest man feels the influence of woman's gentlest thoughts, as the mightiest oak quivers in the softest breeze. We confess to a great distrust of that man who persistently underrates woman. Never did language better apply to an adjective than when she called the wife the " better-half." We admire the ladies because of their beauty, respect them because of their virtues, adore- them be-cause of their intelligence, and love them because we can't help it.
Man was made to protect, love and cherish, not to undervalue, neglect, or abuse woman. Treated, educated and esteemed, as she merits, she rises in dignity, becomes the refiner, and imparts a milder, softer tone to man. No community has ever exhibited the refinements of civilization and social order where women were held in contempt and their rights not properly respected and preserved. Degrade woman and you degrade man more. She is the fluid of the thermometer of society, placed there by the hand of the great Creator. Man may injure the instrument, but can neither destroy or provide a substitute for the mercury.
Her rights are as sacred as those of the male sex. Her mental powers are underrated by those only who have either not seen, or were so blinded by prejudice, that they would not see their development. Educate girls as boys, put women in the business arena designed for men, and they will acquit themselves far better than boys and men would, if they were placed in the departments designed for females.
As a species, the perception of woman, especially in cases of emergency, is more acute than that of the male species; unquestionably so designed by an all-wise Creator for the preservation and perpetuity of our race. Her patience and fortitude, her integrity and constancy, her piety and devotion, are naturally stronger than in the other sex. If she was first in transgression, she was , first in the breach. Her seed has bruised the serpent's head. She stood by the expiring Jesus, when boasting Peter and the other disciples had forsaken their Lord. She was the last at his tomb, embalmed his sacred body; and the first to discover that he had burst the bars of death, risen from the cleft rock, and triumphed over death and the grave.
Under affliction, especially physical, the fortitude of woman is proverbial. As a nurse, one female will endure more than five men. That she is more honest than man, our penitentiaries fully demonstrate. That she is more religiously inclined, the records of our churches will show. That she is more devotional, our prayer meetings will prove.
Women have exercised a most remarkable judgment in regard to great issues. They have prevented the casting aside of plans which led to very remarkable discoveries and inventions. When Columbus laid a plan to discover the new world, he could not get a hearing till he applied to a woman, for help. Woman equips man for the voyage of life. She is seldom a leader in any prospect but meets her peculiar and best altitude as helper. Though man executes a project, she fits him for it, beginning in his childhood. A man discovered America, but a woman equipped the voyage. So every-where; man executes the performances, but woman trains the man. Every effectual person, leaving his mark on the world, is but another Columbus, for whose furnishing some Isabella, in the form of his mother, lays down her jewelry, her vanities, her comforts.