How delicious is the blunt, honest frankness of men toward
each other, in their everyday intercourse, in contrast with the polite
little subterfuges, which form the basis of women-friendships! When one
man goes to make a man-call on another, he talks when he pleases, and
don’t talk when he don’t please. He is free to take a nap,
or to take a book; and his host is as free, when he has had enough of
him, or has any call away, to put on his hat, and to out to attend to
it; nor does the caller feel himself aggrieved. Now a woman’s nose,
under similar circumstances, would be up in the air for a month, with
the “slight!” her female friend had put upon her. The more
a woman don’t want her friend to stay, the more she is bound to
urge her to do it; and to ask her why she hadn’t called before;
and to wish that she might never go away, and all that sort o’ thing.
What she remarks to her husband in private about it afterwards is a thing
you and I have nothing to do with.
When two men meet, after a long absence, ten to one the
first salutation is, “Old boy, how ugly you’ve grown!”
In the female department we reverse this. “I never saw you look
prettier,” being the preface to the aside – (what a fright
she has become!) Then – (“blest be the tie that binds”)
– mark one man meet another in the street – perhaps to light
his cigar at that other’s nose, and pass on – without knowing
the important fact, whether he lives in “a mansion” or not.
How instructive the free-and-easy-and-audacious manner in which, after
this ceremony, they go their several ways to the tombstones, without a
spoken word! See them in the streets, my sisters, exchanging passing remarks
on any object of momentary street-interest, looking over one another’s
shoulders at each other’s “extras,” all the same as
it the same hatter had capped their climaxes, or as if they had been introduced
in an orthodox Grundy fashion!
See them, again, walk boldly up to a looking-glass, in
a show window, and honestly stare at their ridiculous solemn selves; whereas,
you women, pretend to be examining something else when you are bent on
a like errand, intend on smoothing your ruffled feathers.
The other day, in an omnibus, a gentleman “nudged”
another gentleman to hand down his fare. Now the nudged creature was out
of sorts – wanted his dinner or something – and so sat like
an image, without responding; another nudge – with no better success
– not a muscle of the nudged man’s face moved. At last, with
heightened colour, the gentleman handed it to the conductor himself, to
the inconvenience of several ladies; but he didn’t talk to his next
elbow-neighbour about “some people being so disagreeable,”
or call him a “nasty thing;” or try to look him into eternal
annihilation for what was really an ungracious action. He only rubbed
his left ear a little, and put his mind on something else, and he looked
very well, too, while he was doing it.
If a woman is visiting another at her house, and the
latter goes upstairs for anything, her female guest trots right after
her, like a little hunting dog. If she go to the closet to get her boots,
the shadow follows; she must be present when they are laced on; and discusses
rights and lefts, and hosiery, &c. When her hostess goes to the glass
to arrange her hair, or put on her bonnet, the shadow follows, leaning
both hands on the toilet table to witness the operation. Without this
bandbox-freemason confidence, you see at once that female friendship could
not be that sacred intermingling of congenial natures that it is. Your
friend would weep, sirs, and ask you “what she had done to be treated
A mouse and a woman! I know one of the latter, who always
gets up on a table if she sees either coming. Lady
Mary Wortley Montagu said a very witty thing once. I am afraid that
not even her discovery of inoculation will cancel the sin of it. It was
this: “The only comfort I ever had in being a woman is, that I can
never marry one.”
The moral of all this is, that women need reforming in
their intercourse with one another. There should be less kissing among
them, and more sincerity; less “palaver,” and more reticence.
But if you think I am going to tell them this in person, you must need
suppose that I have already arranged my sublunary affairs in case of accident.
This, not being the case, I decline the office, except so far as I can
fill it at a safe distance on paper.