deference and courtesy from men to women, as women, which was entirely inconsistent with that requirement. In my view, the equalizing theory can be enforced only by ignoring the habitual discrimination of men and women, as forming separate classes, and regarding all alike as simply persons,—as human beings. So long as a lady shall deem herself in need of some gentleman's arm to conduct her properly out of a dining or ball-room,—so long as she shall consider it dangerous or unbecoming to walk half a mile alone by night, —I cannot see how the ‘Woman's Rights’ theory is ever to be anything more than a logically defensible abstraction. In this view Margaret did not at all concur, and the diversity was the incitement to much perfectly good-natured, but nevertheless sharpish sparring between us. Whenever she said or did anything implying the usual demand of Woman on the courtesy and protection of Manhood, I was apt, before complying, to look her in the face and exclaim with marked emphasis,—quoting from her “ Woman in the Nineteenth Century,” — “let them be sea-Captains if they will!” Of course, this was given and received as raillery, but it did not tend to ripen our intimacy or quicken my esteem into admiration. Though no unkind word ever passed between us, nor any approach to one, yet we two dwelt for months under the same roof, as scarcely more than acquaintances, meeting once a day at a common board, and having certain business relations with each other. Personally, I regarded her rather as my wife's cherished friend than as my own, possessing many lofty qualities and some prominent weaknesses, and a good deal spoiled by the unmeasured flattery of her little circle of inordinate admirers. For myself, burning no incense on any human shrine, I half-consciously resolved to “ keep my eye-beam clear,” and escape the fascination which she seemed to exert over the eminent and cultivated persons, mainly women, who came to our out-of-the-way dwelling to visit her, and who seemed generally to regard her with a strangely Oriental adoration. But as time wore on, and I became inevitably better and better acquainted with her, I found myself drawn, almost irresistibly, into the general current. I found that her faults and weaknesses were all superficial and obvious to the most casual, if undazzled, observer. They rather dwindled than expanded upon a fuller knowledge; or rather, took on new and brighter aspects in the light of her radiant and lofty soul. I learned to know her as a most fearless and unselfish champion of Truth and Human Good at all hazards, ready to be their standard-bearer through danger and obloquy, and if need be, their martyr. I think few have more keenly appreciated the material goods of life,—Rank, Riches, Power, Luxury, Enjoyment; but I know none who would have more cheerfully surrendered them all, if the well-being of our Race could thereby have been promoted. I have never met another in whom the inspiring hope of Immortality was so strengthened into profoundest conviction. She did not believe in our future and unending existence,— she knew it, and lived ever in the broad glare of its morning twilight. With
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.