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comfortable within; the homely Saxon term housewife, plain and expressive, well describes the feminine ideal of these days.
Women were not expected or allowed to interfere with matters outside their homes. Though, owing to exceptional beauty or charm, they dominated kings and rulers, their influence upon the world at large in the way of manners and morals seems to have been small.
In the feudal days of Western Europe, when men gave all their thoughts to the tilt-yard and the battlefield, and left women practically in solitude at home, history has little to tell but of bloodshed and horror, of resistance and oppression. Men did not throw off their armour till, as it were, the iron had eaten into their souls and rendered them somewhat harsh and brutal; and when in subsequent centuries they did appear in another guise, it was only to give additional liberty to their drunken revelry. Many in the eighteenth century knew no moderation-and wallowed like swine in the slough of sensual enjoyment. In the Middle Ages, women were intermittently sickened by the frequency of warfare, which made their sons and husbands mangled corpses or maimed invalids, and intermittently hardened by privations and sorrows too common to excite emotion.
In the eighteenth century they were treated rather as agreeable dolls; never have they been taken so seriously as to-day.
In return for man's increased appreciation of the
higher qualities of women, he has been covered by showers of abuse as he never was before-after all it is impossible to deny that civilization is the result of his strong arm and on the whole well-balanced brain. Women should remember that to him she owes all modern improvements, such as railways steamships, and the like. No doubt he has been coarse and brutal in the past, but now that he appears ready to make amends, she should meet him half-way.
Heaven did not make women insinuating and persuasive that they might be peevish; it did not make them feeble that they might be imperious; it did not give them a softer voice than man in order that they might rail at him; nor delicate features to be disfigured by rage. Angry women forget themselves and the dignity of their sex, which has never gained much by scolding. The fact is that in a great many cases modern woman-in England, I mean-is spoilt. Many have no interests and too much time on their hands, with the result that they take up some fad. As for the well-to-do, a great number of them now seem to completely dominate their husbands. This struck the old Shah of Persia very much. "It seems to me," said he, "that an English or American husband is nothing better than a sort of butler."
Women should realize that at present they enjoy many privileges which, if they were considered as the absolute equals of men, would probably be withdrawn.
"Will you please to permit a lady to occupy this seat?" said a gentleman to another in a crowded railroad carriage. "Is she an advocate of women's rights?" asked the gentleman. "She is," was the reply. "Well, then, let her take the benefit of her doctrine, and stand up."
No doubt the professional women from whom the suffragettes are largely recruited have a number of more or less real grievances, but it is very doubtful if any legislation would really benefit their lot.
No legislation can force employers to pay women the same wages as men in occupations where the latter is more efficient. The best thing women can do is only to take up such professions which are well adapted to their capacities.
Women are generally fluent speakers. A curious thing is that they are far less given to stopping or stammering than men ; the reason of this perhaps is, that most of them talk so fast-a stammer has got no chance to get in. People "stutter" because they hesitate. But whoever knew a women to hesitate about anything?
As secretaries, and especially as copyists, women are admirable. Their aptitudes in the latter direction was long ago recognized by Elzevir, who employed women to correct the works issued by his press, assigning as his reason that they kept their eyes on the matter before them, and that as they understood nothing about it, their whole mind was occupied in taking care that there were no omissions; but that
EFFORT, NOT CLAMOUR
when he employed Greek and Latin scholars to perform the same duty, they attended to the merits of the work, and did not pay sufficient attention to the matter before their eyes.
A first-rate female secretary, I believe, can always obtain a good salary, though no doubt many copyists and typists are but poorly paid; the remedy for this, however, seems to me to lie less in clamouring for legislation than in united effort.
As a matter of fact, it is not the professional class among working women that suffer the most; for these, at least, can get enough for their work to keep body and soul together. It is the still harder labouring and worse-paid class, who, living in wretched slums, work day and night, who deserve the most sympathy; but it is difficult to see how any employer can ever be made to pay sufficient wages when, as is often the case, he himself finds it difficult to make both ends meet. There is, indeed, no reason to believe that woman-made law would be better than the present system. Well-meaning legislation based upon sentiment too often, alas! defeats the very object
for which it is devised.
There is an old French story-I think Rabelais wrote it-telling of the misfortunes of a married couple which bears some relation to the question of emancipated women and modern man.
A husband who had a dumb wife, though at first her other attractions outweighed her silence, eventually got bored with it.
Accordingly he determined that she should have the best medical advice, and eventually sent her to a celebrated physician, who effected a cure.
As time went on, however, the perpetual chatter of the good woman, who, naturally having only recently learnt to speak, had a good deal to say, ended by driving the man almost to distraction, with the result that he bitterly regretted that she had ever been made to talk.
At length he went again to the physician. Doctor," said he, "since she learnt to speak my wife has become such a terrible nuisance that I have come to ask you whether you can't make her dumb again."
"That I cannot do," was the reply, "but I can make you deaf, which seems the only remedy for your trouble." The husband, worn out and weary, eventually consented to undergo this drastic treatment, with the result that when his wife found she was unable to worry him any longer she went raving mad.
The position between the suffragettes and those who refuse them the vote is not unlike this.
Man, having for centuries kept woman in a sort of subjection under which she never expressed any serious opinions, now wants her to be a more educated and intelligent being, with the result that, owing to a better education, she has become attracted by all sorts of novel theories and ideas with which she is perpetually bothering him. When he closes his ears to her clamorous demands for equal political rights