Women Who Are Like Flowers
( Originally Published 1892 )
Women are more difficult to understand, and more diversified in type than men."
All men have certain qualities in common—a certain aggressiveness in regard to our sex; a certain egotism; a vein of worship, and a vein of disdain for woman, running side by side in their mental makeup ; a certain pride in their own superiority, and a proud consciousness of their ability to have a good time without us, no matter how adorable they think us.
There are as many kinds of women as there are of flowers and vegetables. But there are a few distinct types of femininity that are easily classified and interesting to study.
I never meet a woman that I do not analyze her, to see in which department of my mental conservatory she belongs. It is a question easily decided in one interview—often at one glance. Sometimes, however, it requires a more careful study and analysis.
There is the handsome woman for instance, She is usually large, and her features are regular and strongly outlined. She may be pale or rosy, but if she has color it does not suggest warmth. She may be blonde or brunette, gay or reserved, animated or reposeful, but I never think of any word but handsome for her. She is not pretty, lovely, beautiful or charming to me. She is handsome. I love to look at her. I will go out of my way to see her, but I do not want to touch her, and I am not anxious to talk to her. She wins my admiration as does a fine picture, a house, a piano, or a statue. Men always turn to look at her, and are eager to be introduced. She is admired, flattered, sought; but seldom loved deeply. Her husband is very proud of her, but he is not her passionate lover.
I place her with my camellias, dahlias, holyhocks fuschias, and other scentless, but attractive flowers.
The "lovely" woman is quite another type. She may be small or large, distinctly beautiful, pretty, or merely interesting, but she is always spoken of as "lovely." She is seldom forceful in character or noticeably strong; but she possesses an individuality of her own and it is always winning and never aggressive. Without any effort on her part, you always feel that she is unselfish, kind-hearted and pure-minded. She praises other women and enjoys other's pleasures, and is thoughtful in small things. She is a great favorite with her own sex, and men give her an idolized sort of friendship, which is very apt to grow into affection if they are very much in her society. She is inclined - to treat men exactly as she treats women, because she is so sweet and pure minded, and unconscious of her own loveableness. She is seldom a belle, but she has always a host of loving friends and tender admirers, and her husband regards her as a sort of cross between an angel and a child. She brings out all that is best in him without attempting a reform. Women are seldom jealous of her, because her innate goodness is felt by one and all.
I place this woman among my sweet lilies, thornless roses, and sprays of mignonette and heliotrope, and surround her with rose geraniums and evergreens ; for no matter how old she may grow, she is always "lovely! "
Then there is the "kissable" woman. Her size, age, tints, features, disposition, character—one and all have seemingly nothing to do with her charm. All you are conscious of in her presence is the desire to take heroin your arms and kiss her. She may be absolutely devoid of personal beauty, and not young, and yet nine men and a-half and seven women out of each ten, will want to kiss her if they are in her presence five minutes. Sometimes she is good and kind and unselfish, and possessed of beauty; and then she is always breaking hearts without meaning to do so, and winning love she cannot return. She sees more beautiful women giving more encouragement to men than she gives, and indulging in far more desperate flirtations without causing any such disaster as she causes, by one kind sweet smile; and she cannot understand it all, at least not until she has had all sorts of trouble out of it. But the fact is, that the men who are quite hardened to flirtations with the merely beautiful woman, lose their heads in an insane desire to seize the kissable girl in their arms. Women who do not possess this charm, and who play a bold game of flirtation without incurring any such risks and dangers, find it impossible to explain the effect of the kissable girl upon her admirers. They think she must be a very deep and adroit siren at heart, while, in fact, she is often frankness personified. She is inclined to become somewhat selfish however, as time passes, in her love of admiration, and to take as her natural right more love than belongs to her. But she is never malicious or intentionally unkind. She feels sorry for her lovers after she has won them, and she never wounds another woman if she can help it without a too great sacrifice of the love and devotion which is her native element. She is full of love herself, and her friendships are inclined to be as ardent as the loves of the "handsome woman." Her rejected lovers become her friends almost always and her husband worships her and finds her a better wife than she was a sweetheart. If she marries a man strong and tactful enough to keep her entire heart, she becomes a great favorite with her own sex, for women have always been inclined to adore her When they were not jealous of her influence over men.
I place the kissable woman among my luscious roses—with now and then a hidden thorn—my spicy carnations, wherein a bee may be concealed, and my fragrant magnolias.
Then there is the "designing" woman, with the fair face and voluptuous form, who is politic in all she says or does. She always has her little axe to grind, hidden somewhere in the folds of her costly robe—for she always wears costly dresses and favors jewels. She seeks the love of men who can advance her interests and increase her revenue, and she considers nothing immoral that is not found out. She studies the weakness of the sterner sex and is willing to take any risk with the expectation of financial or social benefit. She assumes great virtues, frequents churches, is liberal in public charities, courts the women who can give her a back-ground of respectability; ignores snubs, and smiles down cold stares. She invites herself to houses where she thinks it is well for her to be seen, and if the soeiety paper chronicles her name as one of the guests she feels repaid for any neglect or indifference she may have received while there. She cares only for men as they may be useful to her, but she is such an adept in the arts of fascination that she is capable of incurring their very intense----if very fleeting—devotion, and they are not infrequently ready to sacrifice name and honor for her. But she disillusions them with her mercenary frivolities, and her husband finds her disloyal, and her career is certain to end in that of an adventuress. She is sure to attract a vast amount of comment and notice wherever she goes, and she is quite content if she can make a sensation.
She belongs to the uncanny cactus plants, and the gorgeous-hued tropical flowers from which deadly poisons are distilled.
Then there is the distinctly "intellectual" woman, who is so alarmingly well-informed on all subjects, and so anxious to have you realize her mental superiority. She has thought on every subject under and over the sun, and has formed her convictions on all matters, and the instant you broach a subject she hastens to assure you that she knows all about it. She sometimes possesses handsome features, but her too active intellect has sharpened them, and hued away the curves of beauty. She is inclined to dress severely, and to wear very dignifled bonnets. She thinks out her answers a sentence ahead of your remarks, and waits for you to finish, with mere tolerance. Her woman friends speak of her with great respect as "such an intelligent person," and the clergyman of her faith is the only man who ever bestows any voluntary attentions upon her. Her husband considers her a remarkably intelligent woman—but he is given to dining at the club a great deal, and meekly acknowledges that he cannot hold a candle to his wife in brain.
The useful, healthful, but strong and tear-starting leek is suggested to me by this woman. A very small flavoring of this vegetable is all one's taste requires.
The "useful" girl is another type. She can• sew, cook a dinner if need be, amuse children, assist in getting up entertainments for other people to participate in, dance enough to fill up an impromptu set, play cards well enough to take a hand when the old people need her, and she is an excellent nurse, and reads aloud well, and sings a little—enough to rock a child asleep or to help out a chorus. She is not noticeable in any way—is neither pretty nor ugly, and is very simple in her attire. Everybody makes use of her, and everybody likes her. She has no enemies and no lovers. Women like her wry much, and men speak highly of her when she is brought to their attention in some way; but they never think about her voluntarily. They appreciate her highly when she helps them out of a corner, and thank her cordially, and then forget her until they need her again. She is not apt to marry, for men do not care for useful girls before marriage. She usually drifts into old maidenhood, or marries a widower with a lot of children.
She is like the green "everlasting" or old-fashioned "live-forever" plants — scentless, and not beautiful, yet indispensable in a garden. Everybody needs it in a bouquet to serve as a background for the bright flowers, but nobody cares for it for itself. No man ever thinks of plucking it for his boutonniere, but he appreciates its effect and value in the garden.
Then there are the every-day "pretty girls"—pretty with youth, and hope, and good spirits merely — who have no distinguishing traits or peculiarities but who please the eye while it ,beholds them, like the common field-daisies, buttercups and clover blossoms growing by. the roadside. And again, there are the critical, pessimistic, faultfinding, fault-discovering women, who always make you feel dissatisfied with yourself and the world; and these are the prickly-pears, the burrs and thistles of womankind.
Not all women can become the human flower of their choice, but all women can, at least, avoid becoming weeds and thistles.