Lilian Bell.

From a girl's point of view online

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you thought anybody belonging to you did
not have all the clothes she wanted, and
the best in the market. But you think it
is a huge joke when we say that we are
mentally cold and hungry a great deal of
the time, and that you are a storehouse,
with all that we need right within your
hearts and brains, only you will not give it
to us.

When you want to surprise us with a
present, what do you do? You buy us a
sealskin or a diamond-ring. Is that what
you think we want ? Perhaps some of you
have a wife who only wants such things, and
who cares for nothing else so much. If so,
give them to her. If her higher nature is
satisfied with plush, let her have it. Smother
her in sealskins, weigh her down to earth
with jewels. But the rest of us? What
are you going to give us ?


If tJiou must love me, let it be for naught
Except for love's sake only. Do not say
' / love her for her smile her look her


Of speaking gently for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes


A sense of pleasant ease on such a day.'
For these things, in themselves, beloved,

Be changed or change for thee and love

so wrought

May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my checks

dry ;

A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love there-


Rut love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou mayst love on through love's eter-


OF course, to begin with, every man hon-
estly believes that he has made, is making,
or could make a good lover.

So I admit at the outset that I am talk-
ing to the lover who not only is successful-
in his own estimation, but the one who has
been encouraged in that belief by his own
sweetheart or wife until he has every right
to believe in himself.

You are about to be told the honest truth
for once in your life, so much so that your
wives and sweethearts will tell me behind
your back that every word of it is true. But
after you have clamored for years to know
" how women honestly felt on such sub-
jects," and when, nettled at not getting the
truth from us individually, you have de-
clared that " the best of women are natural-


ly a little bit hypocritical," the loveliest
part of it all is that you will not believe a
word of what I have said, and, in accord-
ance with that belief, will calmly announce
that I don't know what I am talking about.

Well, perhaps I don't. A woman's aim is
never quite true. I could not hit the bull's-
eye. But in this case, please to remember
that I am firing at a barn-door with bird-

I don't blame you for not believing me.
It is against your whole theory of life. Not
,to believe in yourself were a great calamity.
My grandfather was so unfortunately accu-
rate that with advancing years he came
whimsically to consider himself infallible.
And when, urged by the clamoring of his
equally accurate family, he sometimes con-
sented to consult the dictionary, and he
found that he differed from it, it never
disturbed his belief in himself. He closed
the book, saying, placidly, "But the diction-
ary is wrong." He considered such a trifle
not worth even getting heated about. He
dismissed it with a wave of his hand. But
there was a twinkle in his eye. A typical


man, you see, was my grandfather. And,
in consequence, a great many other people
besides himself believed in him.

But to return. Know, first of all, that you
cannot cover me with confusion by pointing
to your wives to prove that you have been
successful lovers. I never said you could
not get married. There is nothing intricate
about that. Anybody can marry.

Nor am I to be daunted by the fact that
you have been so good a lover as to make
your wife happy. You may not be consid-
ered a perfect lover even if you have com-
passed that very laudable end. In fact, the
very ones I mean are the apparently suc-
cessful lovers with happy or contented wives.

No shadow of a doubt as to your success
as lovers has ever crossed your dear old
satisfied minds. To you I am alluding
to the very ones who never gave the sub-
ject a thought before. Wake up, now, and
listen. Your wives have thought about it
enough, even if you have not.

Remember then that I am only trying to
tell you, not why men fail as lovers, but how
they fail in how much you fail.


Leave out all flirting, all precarious en-
gagements, all unhappy marriages, and pre-
suppose a sweet, lovable woman, contented-
ly married to a real man a man who truly
loves, even if he has not completely mas-
tered the gentle art of love-making. No
skeleton in the closet ; no wishing the mar-
riage undone ; with no eternal fitnesses of
things to make the gods envious ; no great
joys of having met each other's star-soul ;
with plenty of little every-day rubs, either in
the shape of hateful little economies in the
choice of opera-seats and cab-hire, or petty
illnesses and nerves. Just a nice, ordinary,
pleasant marriage, with only love to keep
the machinery from squeaking, and no moral
obligation on the man's part to see that the
supply of love does not run short. A great
many men can stand a squeak constantly.
But women have nerves, and will go to any
trouble to remove one which their husbands
never hear.

You have worked early and late to buy
your wife even more luxuries than you really
could afford. But you love her so much
that it was your greatest pleasure to heap


good things upon her. And very nice of
you it is. You are a dear, good man to do
it, and I honor you for it. Her physical
needs are abundantly supplied. Indeed,
you are so good a lover that you remember
your courting-days enough to send her flow-
ers on her birthdays and Easter. So her
sentimental needs, represented by flowers,
are supplied.

There remain but two needs more. Those
oi her mind and heart.

It is too delicate a subject to discuss
whether you are clever enough for her.
Very likely you are. If not, she ought to
have attended to that before she married
you, because that is one of the few things
that you really can know something about
during an engagement if you are not too
much in love to have any sense left at all.
Therefore again I take for granted that you
and she are congenial. If she is devotedly
fond of music, you do not hate it so that you
cannot occasionally go with her in the even-
ing to the opera, with abundant props in the
shape of tickets for the matinee, to which
you generously bid her to " take one of the


girls." If she loves books, you like to hear
her talk about them, because she does it so
well, and because she knows the ins and
outs of your mind so thoroughly that in ten
minutes she can give you the plot, and half
an hour's reading aloud of striking passages
will give you so excellent an idea of the
style that you can talk about it to-morrow
more intelligently than some bachelors who
have really read it by themselves most con-
scientiously. That is because you are clever;
because your wife is more clever. You have
a brain, and your wife photographs her per-
sonality and her subject upon it, because
she understands you and has studied you,
and has a pride that you shall appear to
advantage among her friends and not de-
generate into a mere business machine, as
too many men do. I suppose it never oc-
curred to you to try to do a similar thing
for her. You could, if you wanted to. But
it is a good deal of trouble, and you are
generally tired. But what do you suppose
would happen if you should exhibit the
same eagerness that she does to keep the
flame of love alive, so that your marriage


should not sink to the dead commonplace
level of all the other marriages you know?
Suppose, even after you have caught the
car, that you occasionally got off and ran
beside it a while, just for healthful exercise,
and to keep yourself from growing ordinary?

Suppose you occasionally hunted out a
new book, and marked it, and brought it
home to read to her, not because you think
she wouldn't have got it without you, but
just to show her that you are trying to pull
evenly, and that you wanted to do some-
thing extra charming for her in her line,
and to prove that you have a conscience
about keeping this precious, evanescent,
but carelessly treated love at a point
where it is still a joy. It is a sad thing
to get so used to a beautiful exception
like love that you never think of it as

A man never seems to be able to under-
stand that, in order to obtain the supremest
pleasure from an act of thoughtful ness to
his wife, he must be wholly unselfish and
give it to her, in her line, and the way
she wants it and the way he knows she


wants it, if he would only stop to think.
I know a man who hates to go out in
the evening, but who occasionally, in or-
der to do something particularly sweet and
unselfish to please, his wife, takes her to
the theatre. She loves fine plays, trag-
edy, high-grade comedy. But he takes her
to the minstrels, because that is the only
thing he can stand, and for two weeks after-
wards he keeps saying to her, " Didn't I
take you to the theatre the other night,
honey? Don't I sometimes sacrifice myself
for your pleasure ?" And she goes and
kisses him and says yes, and tries not to
think that his selfishness more than out-
weighs his unselfishness. Women have
more conscience about deceiving themselves
into staying in love than men have.

But even yet, suppose you are not that
kind of a man, we have not got to the point
of the subject yet. Our way lies through
the head to the heart. And the man who is
scrupulously careful about acts has yet to
watch at once the greatest joy, the greatest
grief, the supremest healing of even deliber-
ate wounds words. It is a question with


me whether a woman ever knows all the
joys of love-making who has one of those
dumb, silent husbands, who doubtless adores
her, but is able to express it only in deeds.
It requires an act of the will to remember
that his getting down-town at seven o'clock
every morning is all done for you, when he
has not been able to tell you in words that
he loves you. It is hard to keep thinking
that he looked at you last night as if he
thought you were pretty, when he did not
say so. It is hard to receive a telegram,
when you are looking for a letter, saying,
"Have not had time to write. Shall be
home Sunday. Will bring you something
nice." It is harder still to get a letter tell-
ing about the weather and how busy he
is, when the same amount of space, saying
that he got to thinking about you yester-
day when he saw a girl on the street who
looked like you, only she didn't carry her-
self so well as you do, and that he was a
lucky man to have got you when so many
other men wanted you, and he loved you,
good-bye would have fairly made your
heart turn ' over with joy and made you


kiss the hurried lines and thrust the letter
in your belt, where you could crackle it now
and then just to make sure it was there.

Nearly all nice men make good lovers in
deeds. Many fail in the handling of words.
Few, indeed, combine the two and make
perfect lovers.

But the last test of all, and, to my mind,
the greatest, is in the use of words as a
balm. Few people, be they men or women,
be they lovers, married, or only friends, can
help occasionally hurting each other's feel-
ings. Accidents are continually happening
even when people are good-tempered. And
for quick or evil-tempered ones there is but
one remedy the handsome, honest apology.
The most perfect lover is the one who best
understands how and when to apologize.

I have heard men say, to prove their
independence, their proud spirit, their un-
bending self-respect, " I never apologize."
They say it in such conscious pride, and so
honestly expect me to admire them, and I
am so amiable, that I never dare remon-
strate. I simply keep out of their way.
But I feel like saying: " Poor, pitiful soul!


Poor, meagre nature ! Not to know the
gladness of restoring a smile to a face from
which you have driven it. Only to know
the coldness of a misnamed pride ; never
to know the close, warm joy of humility."

Many people know nothing about a real
apology. A lukewarm apology is more in-
sulting than the insult. A handsome apol-
ogy is the handsomest thing in the world
and the manliest and the womanliest. An
apology, like chivalry, is sexless. Perhaps
because it is a natural virtue of women, it
sits manlier upon men than upon women.

. . . " It becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown."

Even as chivalry, being a natural attribute
of men, becomes beautiful beyond words to
express when found in women.

I often have heard men say they never
apologize. Sometimes I have heard women.
Pitiful, indeed, it becomes then. A woman
without religion is no more repulsive to me
than one who " never apologizes." How I
pity the people who love those men and
women who "never apologize."



A delicate apology brings into play all
the virtues necessary to a perfect humanity.
The proudest are generally those who can
bend the lowest. It is not pride ; it is a
stupid vanity and an abnormal self-love
which prevent a man or woman from apol-
ogizing. An apology requires a native
humility of which only great souls are
capable. It requires generosity to be will-
ing to humble yourself. It takes faith in
humanity to think that your apology will
be accepted. You must have a sense of
justice to believe that you owe it. It re-
quires sincerity to make it sound honest,
and tact to do it at the right time. It
requires patience to stick to it until the
wound has ceased to bleed, and the best,
highest, truest type of love to make you
want to do it.

There is only one thing meaner than a
person who never apologizes, and that is a
person who will not accept one.

It requires a finer type of generosity to re-
ceive generously than to give generously.
And a nature is more divine which can for-
give honestly and quickly than one which


can only apologize and is not capable of a
swift forgiveness. But it is a wise dispensa-
tion of Providence that the two are twin
virtues, and are generally to be met with in
the same broad and beautiful nature.

Used against a high soul, there is no
surer method of humiliation than an apol-
ogy. In one skilled at reading human nat-
ure, an apology becomes a weapon. When
you are not the one who should apologize
first, when you are less to blame than he,
be you the one to apologize first, and see
how quickly his noble nature will abase it-
self, and rush to meet you, and how sure
and glorious and complete the reconcilia-
tion will be !

I never can blame people who refuse to
accept an apology in the shape of flowers
when the wound has been given in words.
The whole of Europe would not compen-
sate some women for a hurt, when the hurt
had been distinctly worded and the apology
came in the shape of a dumb, voiceless

From the standpoint of observation and
inexperience, I should say that the supremest


lack of men as lovers is the inability to say,
" I am sorry, dear ; forgive me." And to
keep on saying it until the hurt is entirely
gone. You gave her the deep wound. Be
manly enough to stay by it until it has
healed. Men will go to any trouble, any ex-
pense, any personal inconvenience, to heal
it without the simple use of those simple
words. A man thinks if a woman begins to
smile at him again after a hurt, for which
he has not yet apologized, has commenced
to grow dull, that the worst is over, and that,
if he keeps away from the dangerous sub-
ject, he has done his duty. Besides, hasn't
he given her a piano to pay for it? But
that same man would call another man a
brute who insisted upon healing up a finger
with the splinter still in it, so that an acci-
dental pressure would always cause pain.

If you do not believe this, what do you
suppose the result would be if you should
apologize to your wife for something you
said last year. If you think she has forgot-
ten, because she never speaks of it, just try
it once.

I honestly believe that the simple phrase,


" I am sorry, dear ; forgive me," has done
more to hold brothers in the home, to en-
dear sisters to each other, to comfort moth-
ers and fathers, to tie friends together, to
placate lovers; that more marriages have
taken place because of them, and more have
held together on account of them ; that more
love of all kinds has been engendered by
them than by any other words in the Eng-
lish language.


" Thou art so very sweet and fair,

With such a heaven in thine eyes,
It almost seems an over-care
To ask thee to be good or wise,

" As if a little bird were blamed

Because its song unthinking flows ;
As if a rose should be ashamed
Of being nothing but a rose."

'// is so hard for Shrewdness to admit
Folly means no harm when she calls black


PEOPLE who criticise the grammar of
those young girls who say " I don't think,"
should have a care. For it is more true
than incorrect. Most girls don't think.

But there are two kinds of girls girls
under twenty-five and others.

Of course, although you may not know
it, age has no more to do with that state-
ment than it had to do with the one when I
hinted that man reached the ripe state of
perfection at the mystic age of thirty-five.
These are but approximate figures, and are
only for use in general practice. They have
no bearing on specific cases, when it is al-
ways best to call in a specialist.

I know many girls who are still seeing
and hearing unintelligently, and have not
begun to assimilate knowledge, even at



twenty-five. I know others of twenty, who
have assimilated so well that they will
never be under twenty-five. But it is a
literal fact, and this statement I am willing
to live up to, that the majority of girls
must have lived through their first youth
before a thinking person can take any com-
fort with them.

I am sure Samuel Johnson had this in
mind when he said: " 'Tis a terrible thing
that we cannot wish young ladies well with-
out wishing them to become old women."
Or possibly the exclamation was wrung from
him after an attempt to talk to one of them.
Many brave men, who would stop a run-
away horse, or who would dare to look for
burglars under the bed, quail utterly before
the prospect of talking to a young girl who
frankly says, "I don't think."

How can those girls, who give evidence
of no more thought than is evinced by their
namby-pamby chatter, call their existence
living? They mistake pertness for wit;
audacity for cleverness ; disrespect to old
age for independence ; and general bad man-
ners for individuality. Has nobody ever


trained these girls to think? What kind of
schools do they attend ? Who has spoiled
them by flattery, until they are little pea-
cocks to whom a mirror is an irresistible
temptation ?

Why do unthinking parents supply them
with money, and never ask how they spend
it? How does it come that if you want to
find great numbers of them together you
go to Huyler's instead of to Brentano's?
What kind of women will these girls make,
to whom a wrinkle in their waist is of more
moment than their soul's salvation ?

I often wonder what kind of mothers
these girls have. Surely there can be no
family conversation where they live. Surely
they never hear the great questions of the
day discussed at the dinner-table. From
the number of hours they spend upon the
street, I often am tempted to say, what the
poor, tired woman, who stood for miles in
the street-car, said to her fellow-passengers,
" Have none of yez homes ?"

Poor, empty-pated little creatures ! Poor
lovely little clothes-racks, who occasionally
organize a concert for newsboys whose


lives are busier and more useful than their
own ! A Street Waifs' Benefit for Street
Waifs !

If the crude young person who stands
with such eager feet where the brook and
river meet that she has wetted her pretty
shoon in her haste to be in the society of
men could only have the wit to sing :

"O \vad some power the giftie gie us,
To see oursels as others see us,"

she might discover strange points of resem-
blance between herself and a very young

In the earliest days of earthly existence
a baby is in a jelly-fish state, from which
no one can say what he will emerge. His
brain is a sponge. He receives everything
and gives nothing. He is pretty to look
at, and seems made for nothing but love.
He coos and gurgles, he seldom does any-
thing more intelligent than to smile, and
he prefers men to women.

The greatest fault that thinking men find
with this sort of girl is, that she becomes
sillier every day that she lives. I have


heard women complain of the degeneracy
of the boys who seek their daughters in
marriage ; but when I look at the many
girls of this type I am tempted to say,
"Well, madam, who but a degenerate would
care to marry your daughter ?"

Men claim that it is difficult to maintain
their ideals in regard to women, in the face
of such selfishness, crudeness, bad manners,
and jealousies as exist between young girls
of this sort. Of course, they who have be-
come belles by reason of their lovely faces
never know that the thinking class of young
men criticise them adversely, and they would
not care if they did. There are still many
men who do admire and who will fall in
love with them, and the others are not

We must not blame them too severely for
rejoicing in their loveliness. It might be a
hard struggle for the rest of us not to do
the same if we had their beauty.

Men often wonder why girls' friendships
are so hollow. They wonder why we are
so ungenerous to each other. " So hate-
ful," we call it. Hateful is not a man's


word. It is a woman's ; and trust a woman
to know exactly what it means.

Well, the truth of it is that men are at
the bottom of a great deal of it. Girls sel-
dom quarrel with each other except over
some man, and, while they intend to be loyal
to each other, they cannot seem to manage
it if there is a man in the case.

Most girls have two natures. One she
shows to men ; the other to other girls.
What we know of one is the way she droops
and is so openly bored by other girls that
it is quite a blow to our vanity to be obliged
to be with her. We recognize the other at
the approach of a man, even if we cannot
see him, by the changes in the girl's face.
She straightens herself, puts a hand on
each side of her waist, and pushes her belt
down lower, moistens her lips, a sparkle
comes into her eyes, she touches her back
hair, and runs a finger under the edge of her
veil. Then she smiles such a smile as the
other girls have not been able to win from
her in three hours.

These girls are very clever sometimes
even these little, soft, kitteny girls, who do


not know anything about books, who never
read, who never study, and are popularly
called empty-headed even by the very men
who make love to them. These girls are
keen beyond words to express in their
intuitive knowledge of human nature and
the differentiation between man nature and
woman nature. They are capable of using
the outward and apparent motives of hu-
manity for an effect, and secretly of plying
the subtlest and most occult.

It is difficult to designate their exact
methods, and dangerous to exploit them,
for you immediately lay yourself open to the
suspicion of being capable of the same
double-dealing yourself, or of its being be-
neath your dignity to accuse any one of such
duplicity ; and yet there are the causes and
there are the results. You can shut your
eyes to them if you wish.

It is just here where a girl of this kind is
so uncanny. Of course, for those of us who
wish to take a lofty view of love and lovers,
who wish to think each woman sought out
by a man for her beauty and virtues and
married for love, it is very repugnant to

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Online LibraryLilian BellFrom a girl's point of view → online text (page 4 of 8)