- The Patroness
- The Beauty
- The Gossip
- The Widow
- The Guest
- The Old Maid
- The Gentlewoman
- The Self-made Man
- The Bachelor
- The Young Man
- The Young Girl
- The Clubman
- The Parson
- Unpleasant People
- The Patroness
"Under the patronage of" is an addition to many a programme; the same words might as well be written on many an invitation card to a fashionable function. It isn't always one's hostess who is the moving power in the ball, the dinner, the afternoon reception. The affair is so plainly under the patronage of that old lady in the thin black satin, with ugly old family jewels on her neck and arms, or that fussy wiry woman who is here, there, and everywhere at the same time, or that very great lady indeed who stands beside the hostess while she receives, and to whom the guests often give the first hand-shakes and smiles. She looks so much as if she expected it ! I wonder how a hostess feels at her own tea under the patronage of some other woman ? True, that other woman got you and me to call on the hostess; that other woman drove in the hostess's carriage, ordered the hostess's servants about until they openly defied her, and left, with tears for their mistress, whom they adored, and curses upon the patroness, whom they detested.
That patroness took possession of the card salver, and divided its contents into three piles. The first she called probable, the second possible, and the third lay where they fell. It wasn't necessary to acquaint the hostess with the fact that they were impossible. The way the patroness forgot them altogether was conclusive. After the patroness went home (in the carriage, and having dined exceedingly well) the hostess gathered up those cards and spent an unhappy hour over them.
There were addresses on back streets on them; many were written ones; some in dainty, old-fashioned handwriting. There was her old governess; her mother's old friend (in the grocery business); her own school chums, some of them married to rich shopkeepers, some of them struggling along with abundant progeny and a tendency to wear woollen gloves on cold days. There was the wife of a great manufacturer (how her face burned as she remembered the way the patroness had focussed her lorgnette on that one), and the poor little girl who had married the curate on six hundred a year, and the tailor's wife who used to reside in the other half of the house down town, and who had taught her much housekeeping lore in days not so far gone by.
The patroness had positively scolded the hostess's little daughter for stopping the carriage and gathering in two of the tailor's daughters and driving them, according to their rapturous bidding, up and down the biggest thoroughfare at the noon hour. And, awed by her lorgnette and impressive voice, the child had been moved to promise never to do it again, and had revived and recanted with tears of rage an hour later.
There is a patroness who is not rich; eh bien! if the hostess be rich, Like the early Christians, they have all things in common. Early in the morning the patroness telephones if she wishes to go to town, or to pay calls after luncheon, which simply means that the hostess calls for her in the carriage in good time. Ten to one she comes to luncheon; if not, she stays for dinner, taking her pleasure freely and with a gentle insouciance unanswerable and inevitable. She praises or blames the cook; advises the hostess about her wines (and mind you, her advice is worth taking); condescendingly converses with the family; reduces the cheeky son to atoms and papa to a cypher (which she adds to her own sum total to increase its value); rebukes the maid gently in an undertone for some lapse of attention. La-la! She is great, the patroness who is not rich but enjoys the riches of her protégées!
The fussy patroness is a great bore to everyone. "Don't you find dear Mrs. -- -- looking lovely to-day?" she purrs to you, as you glance at the hostess. "She always seems to me so rare a type. Don't you think so?" and before you can agree or disagree: "How do you like the drawing-room since it was re-decorated? I had such a hunt with Mrs. -- -- for those portières. Thought the room never would be ready for this crush! Isn't it a charming tea? Did you ever see more elderly men? That's such a compliment, when the elderly men turn out!" And so on, the same to everyone.
There is a patroness who is frankly brutal. She tells you exactly how the land lies. "You see, he's in my husband's firm;" (or regiment, or business, as the case may be). "I have to take her about a bit until she knows people. Have driven all my people to call at the mouth of the gun. Believe she has social ambitions, as they are called. Imbecility, isn't it? But I must see her through. There goes young Mrs. A . I must go and tell her to send this woman a card for her tea. And who is the secretary of the ball committee? They had better get tickets for that ball, and hubby must take her into supper. Poor dear! He shouldn't have had that new partner without making sure he was a bachelor. Goodness knows we have girls enough of our own to settle, and it would be nice to have a son-in-law in the firm." This may be brutal, but there is a touch of nature, too! Sometimes the patroness goes back on her protégée, finding the game not going to her liking, or seeing better fish to fry elsewhere. Then you see one of two results. If the protégée has taken hold judiciously she may be able to hang on alone, climb, struggle, wriggle her way up and on until she, too, may develop into a patroness. Or she may sink back into her former niche and eat humble pie before the tailor and the grocer and the draper's wives, and at all events feel that her home, her husband and her children are her own and may be managed as she sees fit. The loss of a patroness is not always an unmixed evil!
- The Beauty
Some score of years ago the appellation Professional Beauty vulgarized English society. It was about this time that the loveliness of Mrs. Langtry roused even the august pulses of the heir to the Throne of Great Britain to beat a somewhat recklessly gallant measure. The Professional Beauty was as short-lived as she was objectionable. The variety stage parodied her and her ways and she became impossible. A woman may be a Beauty these days and yet keep her portrait out of the shop windows, even though she fall into the snare of Munsey's or the Puritan but to be a Beauty she must relinquish much that makes life pleasant. The Beauty feels her position; sometimes she rejoices, and oftener she mourns.
She must give up all hope of a choice of companions; other Beauties will not be of her company, and she may not have the men friends she likes about her, by reason of the thronging of the silly set, the men who will exploit her, because she is a Beauty. She will be asked to sit on the box seat when the coach is out; she will have to occupy the centre of the loge at the theatre; society papers will rave over her gowns in a fervor of description which is almost immodest; whispers will smite her ears as she enters a drawing-room or passes in and out of church. And the starers will batten on her everywhere ! She is not the happy creature who has merely a magnificent figure, or a fine pair of eyes, or a wealth of shining hair, or a marvellous complexion; she has them all in pitiless abundance, and while one-half the world who know her are telling the other half who don't that she paints, pads, wears false hair and has a savage temper, she is living under a microscopic criticism, sharpened by envy and jealousy, embittered by the coldness of married women whose lords cannot help having eyes in their heads, and stung by the innuendoes of girls who feel themselves set aside by every false and fickle male who looks and longs as she goes by. There is no living creature who is bathed in venom after the sad fashion of the Beauty. Everyone interests themselves in her affairs. If she be single, she is engaged to at least a dozen men during the season; if she be married, verily the scent is keener and the trail more eagerly followed. It is so easy to say things, and a shrug over the name of the husband may mean a volume; a half-hour's quiet chat with a nice man is reported at all the clubs before noon next day; a new jewel is gossiped about; a man who has been perforce snubbed by the patient Beauty for vinous gallantries prowls in and out, chagrined and vicious, whispering a word which grows and becomes a history ! The unmarried Beauty is soon shopworn; if she does not marry in her first or second season, she is (not unaccountably) passée. One has seen and heard so much of her that it seems those two years are ten ! Sometimes she never marries, and one meets her in after years when her eyes have a network of wrinkles around them, and a bone has become evident in front of each ear, and one says reminiscently; "She was a Beauty; she has traces of it yet. That was fifteen years ago."
There is a popular feeling that a Beauty should marry well, but she seldom does so. The strapping young fellow who is her fitting mate goes cold at the sight of her lace and sickens at the swish of her silken skirts, and she knows it, and asks her mother to tell him she is to marry old Mr. Q, or addle-pated young Z, for she cannot quite undertake to ensure her voice its tone, or her cheek its color, while she tells him herself. Sometimes rich roué or golden goose does not come her way; she always wears the laces and the silken skirts in hope, and sends the strapping youth white-faced away, and she races from winter ballroom to summer hotel piazza, and watches and waits, and perhaps accepts someone with quite a modest rent roll, when her youth is over.
Very few of the Beauties keep a natural and unconscious manner after a few months of celebrity. They harden, and a certain self-weariness, even self-scorn, grows into their expression. The Married Beauty never retains her place if she falls into habits of maternity. One cannot sit on the box-seat and occupy the centre of a theatre loge under such conditions, consequently the family of the Married Beauty may always be counted on the first finger, if it be existent to be counted at all. Sometimes there have been beautiful paintings of the Married Beauty, in full ball or dinner toilette, sitting beside the cradle of her infant treasure, or with the infant treasure's arms clasped tightly about her neck. These are fancy pictures. It never happens that the Beauty has time before the dinner to pensively muse over her sleeping treasure, and no treasure is awake at the hour a Beauty goes to a ball; and moreover, fancy the ball-gown which has been mauled by a baby ! It is culpable to misrepresent things in such a manner. In her thorny path, (for even such roses as strew it seem more than half thorns}, the Beauty meets all the weaker attributes of men, and all the wickedest meannesses of women. The world has no sense of her rights. Nature has done enough for her, so let man and civilization even things up. She is a Beauty, therein lies her crime, and for that she must be punished.
She appeals to the most pitiless part of man and woman; she has no shield, as she walks her careful way, against the sword of desire or the barbed dart of envy.
Even in her heyday there is a subtle pathos and a fearsome risk combined. If the heart of the Married Beauty's husband doth safely trust in her, she is at least spared the pang of querulous or causeless upbraidings. If she loves him, she has a little haven into which she can creep and be like a saint in a shrine. Then she is the Beauty of all Beauties and men bow before her. But she, like the crowned head, has many uneasy hours, if she be not exceptionally blessed; she is apt to sicken of praise, to gird at flattery, and to be tempted to wish that some other woman had been born at the particular moment which caught the Graces in such a prodigal mood.
- The Gossip
When the All Wise made man, he gave him two eyes, two ears, but only one tongue, and," continues the sage, "this was in order that he might see and hear twice as much as he told." But, nous avons changé tout cèla! It is now the usage to tell not only twice, but a hundred times as much as one sees and hears. The perfect practice of this accomplishment evolves the gossip, and the amount of envy, malice and all uncharitableness incorporated in the individual determines just how irrational, insatiable and damnable he or she will be. There is a harmless trifling gabble of words, dealing with small matters, which passes by the name of gossip, but is no more the real thing than is a man's shadow a man. Moreover, such gossip is not a gossip; it is in the definite article that the deadliness lies. There is no sex distinction in the gossip, who is, male or female, equally deadly and detestable. The gossip may ply a foul trade in the happiness and misery of men in the august precincts of the club or the scented silken-hung boudoir. He and she may spread their venom anonymously by means of the penny-post, or by word of mouth, passed swiftly and sneakily from one to another, denied, refuted, proved a lie, and yet living, like the worm that it is, to crawl yet further afield. Only one tongue, yet it is more than enough to make two eyes stream tears and two ears burn with shame and rage, and misery unfathomable. The gossip puts on many a disguise to hide the vileness which would frighten a world into avoidance. Sometimes it is philanthropy, which would know all and have all known, that the just might be further justified and the evil punished; sometimes it is sympathy that pretends to yearn over some misled or deceived creature; sometimes, again, it is purity that is shocked at the wickedness of humanity, or justice that would gather statistics and evidence only to judge righteously. Bah ! It is only the same old ghoul, gnawing at the bones of the soul of its fellow soul, drinking the life-blood of its fellow man, poisoning his breath with the foulness of its own. In every little social world the gossip has a place. He knows the lightness of this woman and the looseness of that man; she knows what woman imbibes too freely and what girl is on the high road to a compromise; what bachelor has an establishment unchronicled in the Blue Book, and what maid accepts gifts which never confess their donor. She knows the frailties of the husband and the concessions of the wife, and she freely gives to both their fitting object. He will whisper of confidences reposed in him by some addled toper; she will tell of loathsome practices and hideous liaisons if so be she can find a low person or a timid, horrified creature who will listen to her. To listen is to become in turn a gossip, for human nature is weak and prone to err, and what one hears unlawfully one will repeat unworthily. The gossip is often a religious poser -- then nothing this side of the infernal regions comes near his or her infamy. The gossip exacts secrecy when she is doing her worst. "I wouldn't have you repeat it for the world" says she. "Of course, old man, this goes no further," says he. Just as rational, as they perfectly well know, would it be to let loose a rabid dog with the remark, "I sincerely trust you won't bite anybody." They want the vile story to fly; if they did not, they wouldn't tell it. There is meanness unspeakable in the gossip, a meanness ignoring the ties of blood, of friendship, of gratitude. The gossip has lost honor, the foundation of character. "Let be; 'tis so foul a thing the dogs will not touch it !" says the outraged chevalier, as he dismisses a gossip. Even dogs, it seems, have a line to draw ! Yet, in high society, such a line may not be drawn. The gossip is, like the poor, ever with us. You and I, maybe, have escaped the befouling touch of its tongue by reason of being insignificant creatures, workingmen whose plain, sordid lives of toil and sleep leave no hours for dalliance, no leisure for drunkenness, no nights for bestiality.
This is a heartsome and consoling thought and we must needs make the most of it. But let us go warily, else the forked tongue may torture even you and me. The gossip has dared to touch with a grimy finger the first woman in Europe; the gossip has put a brand on the tender babe asleep in its cradle, on the gentle girl going smiling among the roses, on the bright youth, over-sensitive and over-proud, on the fair woman, on the anxious man, on the gray-haired and the sorrowful, for the gossip knows no such word as pity. He lounges in his club, whispering and insinuating; she lolls in her carriage hatching her unsightly brood of scandals and destruction. The outraged world cannot flay him or burn her as they deserve. And they are dined, and wined, and lunched, and danced, for everyone dreads to overlook them; they know such omission is paid for in heart's blood. Once in a while some man launches out, be he innocent or guilty; seldomer, some woman lets loose her tongue and withers up a gossip, like the trash he or she is; but generally the long-suffering, peccant, coward world cringes and dreads, and the gossip walks by unassailed. "I wouldn't be that woman and have such things said of me," cried a shocked listener, as the gossip finished the rending of a neighbor's reputation. "Say, rather," said a quiet voice, "you wouldn't be the woman who could say such things of another woman."
- The Widow
In one particular the weaker sex has distinctly the advantage over its masters - no man can ever be a widow! True, he may be, and unhappily is occasionally, a widower, liable to be pitied or envied according to the point of view, but his state is not to be set forth as typical. Once in a blue moon a widower mourns artistically and attracts approving notice from society; oftener he stiffens his upper lip and resents any condolences or remarks on his affliction. He isn't picturesque; a black band on the hat, on the arm, a sombre tie and inky-tinted hand-wear suggest gruesomeness and are unbecoming. But study his triumphant rival, the widow ! Plain, she may be, insignificant and dowdy, anything, she is transformed as soon as she dons the regulation garb of the forlorn and the bereaved. She does not become a society type in her first season, of course; sometimes she retains her weeds and their fetching effect for years, going discreetly into society; concerts are her pet diversion; sometimes one sees the lovely, snowy, airy nothing of her headgear at the theatre; sometimes she sits snuggled in her great veil at a lecture; rarely she is taken in to dinner reverently, and her glass is specially kept under the butler's eye. Even he, man as he is, recognizes the subtle claim of a pair of lisse (smooth) streamers. Man is a credulous animal; the widow improves the fact. Tradition makes the widow an object of sympathy; a tenderhearted, dependent, helpless, sorrowing creature, sure to arouse a note of chivalry in the oldest spinnet of a man And when she bravely braces up to join a dinner party or to take a hand at whist, the great, protecting, masterful man is a footman at her elbow, a door-mat for her small feet! St. Paul, that observant bachelor, discriminated between widows and widows. Papa Weller, more self-preservative and more experienced in woman's way, lumped them in one broad "Beware!" The society type reaps much harvest from the sanctity of the widow who is a "widow indeed;" if she be not the rose, she at least wears rose leaves. There is a tradition that the widower who shows his sense of loss in the plainest manner is sure to console himself first. This isn't the way of the widow. When she intends to put a new king in the old king's seat, you may always detect it. A trifling anxiety, unrest and self-consciousness betray her design. She is crude in her plots -- the widow! She twitters when she ought to sigh, and she forgets how dignified she might be, if she chose. It is estimated that a homely widow may be as dignified as a countess, while for a handsome widow there is no limit, even in royalty, to the amount of "presence" her weeds allow. When the widow's soul revolts against her first habiliments of woe, she begins to "lighten." She goes to dinners in a black and white frock, the most fetching frock on earth if well selected. Then she wears violets; then she has a whole cascade of lavender ribbons and frills; after that, the bloom is off the peach, she is no longer a widow through and through.
Sometimes she takes advantage of her experience to tell curious stories, to pose as that most repulsive creature, a knowing woman, and she enjoys a tete-a-tete of scandal with the club bachelor, or an exchange of unholy anecdotes with the aging benedict, whose vest increases with his years, and who likes to take the "lightened" widow in to supper. They both get red in the face, not with blushes, but with champagne, and their voices are carefully lowered, for it would never do to talk as they are talking in tones calculated to carry far. When the widow reaches this stage of degeneration, her chances of re-marriage are practically niL She has become a type not altogether desirable for a man to take to his bosom, but she is rather good fun, pour s'amuser.
There is a spurious sort of an entity which pervades society in these days of gold seeking, which is known as the "grass" widow. She is more to be commiserated with by the thoughtful observer than the Simon pure article. She is so accepted a type just now as to have given rise to the enquiry reported to have been made by a Senator at Washington which made the people laugh. "Grass or grave?" asked the longheaded politician on being informed that his dinner partner was a widow. One does not accord to her the sympathy with the inevitable which goes to the widow, as one does not feel that pity for the sprained ankle which one accords to the amputated limb. Time will ameliorate her condition, whereas Time, man as he is, must find "another man'' to uproot the weeds his scythe can only prune down with a perfunctory sweep, now and then.
The widow has certain privileges. She can belong to the whist clubs, which taboo married couples (because life is short and war is unprofitable). She can go where and when she pleases unattended and unremarked. She is very seldom asked to be a chaperone, the young things being firmly and obstinately mistrustful of her. She can go further in a risky flirtation, and withdraw more successfully than any other woman; just a sigh and a retreat behind her dignity will quench the greatest roué as a chemical extinguisher puts out fire.
If she have a family dependent upon her, she gains and holds positions no one would sustain such a woman in, were she not a widow. She "works" magnates on behalf of her boys, and gets her girls invited to the most desirable houses; in the garb of a widow looking after a departed father's children, she is a private orphan asylum levying taxes on every well filled pocket and every kind heart. Nearly always the widow's family get on a deal better when decapitation has been performed. "Ah, my friend," she sighs, "you've never been a widow." With this last unspeakable advantage over my sex, I reverently leave her for your consideration.
- The Guest
It may have been possible something more than a decade ago for the guest to visit the hostess and silently steal away with no danger of becoming a society type. At present his or her arrival is heralded a week in advance in the daily papers; appearances, titles, relationships, pedigrees, peculiarities, traits and achievements are freely enlarged upon; the expected guest is advertised as fully as a new invention or a patent medicine; there is a crow of satisfaction in print from "hosts of welcoming friends." As soon as the train arrives upon which the much-heralded visitor travels there are enumerated teas, dinners and luncheons given "in honor" of the visit of Mrs. A. to Mrs. B., probably on the notion that a poor excuse is better than none. Hostesses of whom one has never heard before blossom out with afternoon receptions and evening card-parties, reaping a fleeting fame from their proud position, and rushing about with their guest in a gush of unwonted dissipations. One notices the air of patient endurance on the face of the quiet guest who comes from the country or some tranquil town, after she has been introduced to and shaken hands with by some hundred frivolous city folks. Her limbs ache, her head aches, she is weary, hungry and unutterably miserable, the poor guest in whose honor the hostess is spending time and temper and coin of the realm. The guest with smart clothing reflects glory on her hostess and is valued accordingly. Sometimes the hostess draws a long bow in her behalf. It is so easy to whisper small falsehoods touching her wealth, her accomplishments, her ability, and her standing in some other city. When the guest is a man the dinner generally supplants the afternoon tea as a means of distinguishing him over his fellows, and the tales may be varied by imaginary feats of valor and perils by land or sea. Lord, 'tis so easy to tell them ! When the tales may be strung on a title it is preferable. A colonel is good, a general better, a naval title is much thought of, and a few medals are of use.
When a scion of aristocracy strikes the silly set there is always an immense furbishing up and airing of the whole stock in trade, especially if the scion be of the male persuasion. The guest who has My Lord or My Lady as a manner of greeting from lesser fry, brings a kudos of large importance to his or her host and hostess. The host dresses carefully to take My Lord to the club; the hostess receives indifferently invitations to bring My Lady to houses she would otherwise make happy haste to enter. Calm dignity and a pleased consciousness of added importance is the gift to the host from the passing sojourner whose name is found in Burke. Sometimes the guest is a devastator of friendship, and leaves track of ruined peace, and burning of jealousy, and thoughts of revenge among the young folks. Everyone has heard tales from other girls of the shameless hunting down of Lord A. by some girls; the boys can tell you what Miss B. thinks of the floral and saccharine offerings which were laid at her feet by other boys. Whole cliques have gone to civil (and uncivil) war over the doings and the undoings, the conquests and the scornings of some wee visiting minx of a girl who loved mischief, or some handsome eligible who laughed and rode away.
The visit of a lord has caused a social turmoil and set whole communities a-buzz and a-bite; the transit of a radiant flirt has broken plighted troths and sent men to the frontier and maids to angry cloisterhood not a thousand miles away, and you and I have seen it.
The guest is not always a distinct blessing. Sometimes the old lady focusses her lorgnette upon her and says in a high key, "I wonder where they picked her up ?" Sometimes "they" did indeed pick him or her up in a summer hotel, at the mountains, on a steamer, and impulsively made themselves cheap by insisting upon a visit, and ended by finding themselves in the police court to identify the spoons and the guest in a terrible bouleversement (turmoil). Sometimes they nourished a title in their bosoms and were bitten by an adventurer who borrowed the title sans ceremonie and left no P.P.C. cards, nor yet the family jewels, when he took his leave. Such guests have visited within a radius of ten miles from King and Yonge streets.
A very frequent and undesirable guest is the one who comes to visit you and remains to visit your social rival. By a glint of mirth, or a look of war in said rival's eye you are apprised that your guest has played you false and that your rival has a fifth ace up her sleeve, which she will play to your undoing some day.
The guest who visits from house to house has the peace of mind of every hostess at her mercy. There is the cranky guest who has a temperance mania, or the guest who has philanthropic fads, and is visited by dowdy secretaries of leagues and councils, and other persons whom you don't care to have taking tea from your best china; and the guest who doesn't come when people have been specially invited to meet him; and the guest who stays until the man of the house grows quite rude to her; and the guest who takes you unawares when the children have croup; and the guest who simply treats your house as a free hotel and begs you to let him or her come and go as the spirit moves, which is, perhaps, of all guests, the most trying. If you want to take your wife to the play, the independent guest, previously having announced an evening's absence, pops in just as a pick-up dinner is on, and says, "Do go ! Don't mind me; I can quite well stay alone," which of course is out of the question. In short, there are so many orders and degrees of guests that it is a good thing that there are just as many hosts to match them.
- The Old Maid
It seems brutally frank to speak of the woman who has escaped or declined matrimonial fetters with an adjective which, for some mysterious reason, is considered detrimental to any female on the hither side of her semi-centennial celebration. After fifty summers have scorched and winters bleached her, no woman still in single blessedness could with propriety refuse to be regarded as an old maid, however much springs of eternal youth might gurgle through her being, but there is a numerous company adorning society which numbers women past their first youth, who, from disposition, circumstances or personal non-attractiveness of form or feature, have failed to inspire the creature man with the idea of possession in sufficient clearness to express it in an answerable proposition, or who, preferring liberty and certainty to fetters and the risk of dissatisfaction, have steadily scouted the possible or positive declaration of affection which the perversity of some obtuse man threatened or precipitated.
There is a saying that every woman has at least one chance to write Mrs. before some man's name. Be that as it may, (for the tastes of men are marvelous and past accounting for), it does not result in any sensible diminution of the class under consideration - the old maids who may be seen any day in society. One approaches the subject with hesitation, owing to the peculiar fact that while it is universally acknowledged sotto voce that there is an inadequacy and a subtle detrimentality in a life sentence of spinsterhood, at the same time, commiseration thereon would be a faux pas deeply resented and direly revenged by the unattached sisterhood generally. There scarcely lives a man or woman who can truthfully assert that any old maid has been known by them to frankly avow that she would get married if she got a chance. Should such exist it is probable that if a bold wooer presumed on her declaration of willingness to wed she would laugh in his face her refusal. An old maid who could face the world with the upset tradition of offers refused in one hand, could hold any known explosive in the other. One cannot, therefore, pity the old maid, much less sympathize with her. She presents even a more complicated problem than the widow. Each stands alone, the latter inviting condolence, the former flouting it. Says the widow, "Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." The old maid says nothing; she shrugs her shoulders over temporary connubial bliss. When the old maid leaves her high estate there is a tremulous amusement in society's smile - one congratulates her with effusion to hide contraband mirth.
An engaged old maid is a curious study. If she give herself up to the abandon of happy absorbed worship of the bald or gray-whiskered beau who has selected her for honor, society giggles and has a delightful lot of amusement, tempered with impatience at her lack of dignity; if she conceals her feeling or refutes accusations of tardy sentiment, society slyly suggests that she took what she could get, seized a last chance, and that she must be very thankful she had it. Should the old maid recklessly bestow her concreted affections upon a youthful suitor, society shrieks with laughter and points the finger of derision at her. It takes a good deal of grit, one would suppose, in any old maid, to plunge into matrimony. There is a pathetic side to it; something like what is suggested on the sudden inheritance of a fortune by an old man who has lived meagrely and toiled hard all his life. It seems a great pity it was so long in coming!
Old maids develop many diverse traits. One runs to adipose and adopting waifs and strays. This species always pours teas at bazaars and is secretary to some important charity. Another takes up general culture and encourages art; she is one of the independently dowered, has her own pretty home and entertains daintily. This old maid is a welcome type in any well ordered social circle. To her, men have so little interest that they almost cease to exist. She may at any time, however, be enslaved, preferably by a protègè whom she will, a la Baroness-Burdette Coutts, marry off-hand and live devotedly attached to until her life's end. The thin-featured, acidulated old maid, so common a type in sentimental eras, is now almost extinct. The impetus given to women's enterprise, and the avenues opened for thought and work have delivered many a clever old maid from the misfortune of turning sour. She is always clever, the acidulated old maid, full of force and cursed by nerves which will not rest; generally placed in a position more or less dependent, and feeling her limitations bitterly, she is of all the sisterhood least likely to be offered means of escape. The clever old maid need not be sour; she may be of tempered sweetness, enjoying a competency, the result of honest work. She may be aristocratic, a lover of good dinners, a crack hand at whist, a devotee of cribbage; she may belong to the whist club including the clubman and the widow, whose sessions are as inevitable as Medo-Persian legislation, and as enjoyable as keen appreciation can make them.
She may not, however, hear the stories which the clubman tells to the widow until the next day; a tradition of girlish innocence still remains, which the clubman recognizes, and the stories must reach the old maid by word of a woman.
As a chaperone the old maid is not much sought after. She isn't sympathetic, and though she is not distrusted by girls as is her rival, the widow, she unconsciously repels them more. There is a ghastly type of old maid, the giddy gusher, who hunts men as a sort of ghoulish Diana, and preens and prances everywhere. Boys tolerate her, men fly before her, women make faces that express many unlovely thoughts as she flutters by. She puts her arm about her woman friend's waist, calls her dearest and sweetheart, prattles and pranks in a medley of bewildering inanity and absurdity. For her sake many a shaft is aimed at the spinsterhood. The last type, which mankind views with murderous and hostile eyes, and woman-kind is often afraid of, is the franchise fiend. She is so seldom seen in society that it scarcely boots to consider her. Society, which diverges on issues of good and evil, is a unit on the subject of the Advanced Old Maid. She is voted a bore, and her death-knell rings. Her views, her bloomers, her meetings, and speeches, and pamphlets, all go into the dustbin of society, and at dinner, whist, supper or rout she has no place. That connection, money and an iron-bound epidermis keep her still a type of warning here and there is very regrettable. She never marries; there are ameliorations in man's hardest lot!
- The Gentlewoman
There are none other gentlewomen than those whose natures are gentle, refined, pure and steadfast. Gentlewomen, like poets, are born, not made. There is no episode too trifling or no crisis too grave to be met by the gentlewoman, and met with dignity and self-respect. If her nerves fail her, she flings herself upon her traditions. She infinitely pities, in a secret way, the people who have no traditions. She does it secretly because perhaps it may displease or annoy them to know of her feeling, and to displease or annoy her fellows is impossible to her. She has a delicate sense of honor; the gentlewoman could not defraud an individual, a corporation or a government; she pays her debts, her car-fare, her taxes, and the duty on her Paris gowns, with equal exactness and sense of obligation. She pays, even when she is sensible of overcharge, because one of her traditions forbids her to haggle, but equally forbids her to employ again the rapacious tradesman or workwoman. The gentlewoman is absolutely innocent of scandals. She would be more deeply distressed at having repeated ever such an innocent if unfounded report than her neighbor would at having inadvertently smashed a priceless bit of a friend's Sevres tea-set. She is a good Churchwoman, usually of the Anglican or Romanist faith, which two divisions of the Church most reverence tradition. She often has prejudices, and sometimes she is lacking in knowledge of the social and intellectual advances up to date, but she knows the benefit of charity in all matters and the danger of hasty conclusions. Some women are champagne, effervescing and fascinating; some are rich, red port, beclouding and passion strong; some are vin du pays, thin and a bit sour; some old Tokay, inspiring and exhilarating; the gentlewoman is pure spring water, cool, clear, crystalline, rippling from Nature's heart. She instinctively shuns marked and pronounced colors, opinions and fashions. A reserve, at once attracting and repelling her fellows, seems to enshroud her like a semi-translucent veil, now and then gently parted by a breath of impulse, a reverent touch of sympathy, or a stern word of duty. She is a bit of a Stoic in expression, one of her traditions being the duty of self-control; she is not apt to be loquacious, another tradition being that as a gentlewoman she is entitled to respectful attention when she speaks. This leads her to consider, so that what she says may be worthy of hearing.
The gentlewoman is utterly loyal. No question of position, expediency, or any possible emergency can make her false to a friend, or careless of an obligation. She may break her leg and fail to appear at an appointed time and place, but if she receives a confidence she will hold it sacred; if she makes a promise she will keep it to the letter; if she gives her word no government bond is surer. A very high and exalted idea of the rights of others is one of her strongest traits.. The gentlewoman may give up her share of a narrow sidewalk; she will never crowd over upon her neighbor's. Her maid-of-all-work is considered as justly and as carefully as the most exalted woman on her visiting list.
A delicate sense of the fitness of things makes the gentlewoman sensitive to many crudities and idiosyncrasies of less well poised and informed persons. But she does not rail at them, and continue her torture by dwelling upon its cause. If one woman's taste in adornment grates upon her finer sense of fitness and harmony, she looks away; if another's violent opinions and utterances jar upon her she changes either topic or company, for one of her traditions is that strife and argument are unprofitable and bad for the digestion and the temper. In trouble and sickness she is a sort of balm upon the wounds of nature; in dishonor she is a wordless and grieved creature; in privation she is a brave and uncomplaining participant; in dispute and wrath she is a tender pleader for peace and forgiveness.
As a young girl, the gentlewoman is not assertive. She is conscious of her value, but does not put a ticket of market price upon her forehead. Love comes to her with a different face from the laughing one with which he wooes the common herd. He finds her rare game for his subduing, and she is hardly won. The sly boy pauses before her dignity, her modesty and her reserve. The world sees a quiet wooing and an imperceptible surrender; the angels turn from a world of careless, easily-captured maidens to watch the capitulation of that white shrine, the young heart of the gentlewoman. With a gentlewoman a betrothal is almost a marriage. She grows in value as she takes up one of life's experiences after another. She is a wife worthy of wise old Solomon's highest flight of praise. Whether the man who wins her be good or bad she makes the best of him, and sometimes inspires him to justify her beautiful faith. As a mother she is the strongest power for good the world has yet known. Living her principles, she makes them more vital to her children than they are even to herself Her sons may be gray and her daughters wrinkled, but her lovely life will be as vivid and fresh an inspiration to them as it ever was. It may have been lived only for them, as they always believe.
Society will never know what it owes to the gentlewoman. She is so quiet a force, so gentle a suasion, so silent a teacher, so wise a guide ! One sees her here and there in the gilded halls, carefully gowned and gracefully moving, quietly conversing and attentively listening, receptive, sympathetic, reposeful; at the concert and the lecture, thoughtful, critical and appreciative, kindly in judgment and interested in the success of the performers; at the play, rising to enthusiasm over the heroics and melting to smiles at the fun shunning vulgarities, and at sea with doubles entendres, quick to detect fine work and following the story with ever fresh pleasure. The gentlewoman has the gift of not hearing the things which do not please her, of not seeing unfitting sights. She draws herself into her seclusion, and the objectionable cannot penetrate it. She likes her dinner, her game, and her quiet chat, when, life's day waning, she puts her feet on her footstool and folds her careful, delicate hands. And when she goes away, society draws a long breath of regret - vapid, hurrying, feverish, and unsatisfied society sighs, " One of the old school," and goes humbly to her funeral.
- The Self-made Man
There are two distinct varieties of the self-made (so-called) male member of society - the man who makes himself on his own original and individual plan, and the man who makes himself after a pettern. There is just the same difference between the two as there is between a snob and a cad. Both have their short-comings, the latter having them in more abundance, but the similarity does not go so far as to handicap the self-made man should he enter for the popularity stakes. In fact, the first-named sort, the original conception, is more often than not a most estimable and likable person. His integral force of character commands respect, and he has with him a certain dignity and earnestness, resultant on the perils he has passed, which affects the world with the same emotions of affection and admiration as Othello recognizes in Desdemona, and credits to their true cause. This self-made man is always a noticeable figure in society. He is usually of the leonine type, big and broad, and suggesting in his personality strength, dominant and victorious. In the giddy rush he stands like that stern gray rock which parts the Rhine fall at Schaff-hausen; around him the tide of frivolity, discord, wit and merriment ripples and sparkles, but scarcely damps his finger-tips, much less disturbs his equilibrium. Sometimes the self-made man has the bulging brow and the deep-set eyes that whisper of long study, forethought, struggle, and it may be that in the achievement of his life-work he incidentally achieved social distinction, as a sort of floral tribute to his more solid success. A self-made man has made himself by making a great railroad, another self-made man has made himself, so to speak, out of good whiskey; self-made men built on such slippery foundations as good beer and porter are now giving millions to advance scientific research and humanitarian enterprises.
This type of self-made man has a nobility which outranks almost every advantage known. He is the financier whose word is final, the engineer to whom nature bows the knee, the thinker to whom science whispers the secret of her twisted knotty points; and in the drawing-room he is the man who stands grave and silent beside an exquisitely gowned wife, and shakes hands with hundreds of tea-goers with a conscientious indifference to weariness and the futility of the whole performance, which is a strong side-light on the innate strength and poise of his nature. He never utters the puerile wail or snarl against society, which escapes from the self-made man of lesser weight, and would despise the voicing of the cynical phrases culled by the feebler type from the vocabulary of his model. He takes society as he takes his good old wines, as a more or less pleasant and enjoyable accompaniment to his success, not as the aim and end of it. He is sometimes an invaluable leaven to the frothy and unruly constituents among which he is placed, and his consideration and amenability never reach the point which places him disadvantageously therein.
Sometimes society, finding out with intuitive sharpness and maliciousness the weak spot in this worthy creature, sets to work to undermine him therewith. He may somewhere nourish a grain of libertinism, with which more perfectly developed libertines will tempt him to his ruin. The self-made man's one break does him more irredeemable damage than the scores of unutterable wickednesses of the aristocratic roué who is practically free from punishment in most cases. Or he may be fired with a half patriotic, half self-seeking desire to represent his country for his country's good. Parliament has often a knock-out drop ready for the self-made man. ''Oh, you would, would you? Then take that ! says the vox populi (the opinions or beliefs of the majority), or the party, or some of the murderous voices that do him to his death.
The self-made man nearly always builds him a palace wherein his women folk may prink and prance, and the glory of which may be gurgled over in the columns of the society papers and make gentlefolks yawn and the servants' hall exclaim, "O Lor ! " When he gives a party those who are invited are patronized by those who are not; the latter, however annoyed to miss a night's fun, consoling themselves by a superior bearing and a scarcely perceptible smile and shrug. Society is exceedingly comical in this phase of its treatment of the new-comer. Society, which usually goes like a flock of sheep after one leader, is divided over the acceptance of the self-made man. As a householder, he is a bonanza to the tradespeople; if his women folk are of any sort at all possible, he receives just the backing he needs from them in his risky essay as an entertainer. With due care, excessive patience and many prayers he gets himself accepted as a giver of well planned dinners, ideal suppers, and his wife can give an afternoon tea of many carriages and a due attendance of the real people. Sons and daughters make suitable friends, engagements, followed by marriages, moor the ship of family safe among the elect, and paradise opens to the rugged Peri who has stormed her golden gates.
The self-made man who makes himself upon a model is never a success. In the first place his ignorance and lack of proper values frequently lead him to select a model of anything but correct style. A poor pattern generally presupposes a poor imitation. The result justifies the supposition. The self-made man aims to be a gentleman; he smokes, he drinks, he drives and rides; he wears thunder and lightning clothing, and neckties which alone would be his condemnation. He tries to be a devil of a swell. He succeeds in being a sight and a laughing-stock, if he's lucky enough to escape being a nuisance. His money secures him toleration with certain cliques, of which the women are not invariably like Caesar's wife, nor the men like Caesar, honorable. One sees him perched on a coach beside the beauty, or in some shady corner with the widow over fifty, or exchanging winks and nods with the gossip who knows him like a book, and uses him like a door-mat when he ceases to send theatre tickets and invitations to her. He adores his dress-suit in private and reviles it in public, following the lead of the blasé person upon whom he models himself. He mentions frequently the names of his acquaintances in exclusive circles, in familiar terms, and holds his breath when he is in their company. He is often good-natured, and so long as he is reticent, he may remain a tolerated member of society's inner circle, for self-made men get even there, nowadays. Very seldom, though, does he marry one of the better class of women. There are limits. Even the beauty who has ridden and driven his horses turns from the thoughts of a wedding tour with him. He often develops into a pronounced bachelor club man, a gourmand, and has been known to even achieve gout. He dies content, if he dies of it!
- The Bachelor
Do not confound the bachelor with the unmarried man. There is as great a distinction to be made between bachelors and bachelors as there is between widows and widows. Temporarily unattached would describe a certain make of weed-wearer, and the same sort of bachelor might be classed as merely awaiting matrimony the inevitable. But the bachelor proper (or improper, and miore often this than that, says Grundy), is a confirmed and well-nigh final development of a certain type of man. Looking at his unresponsive eye and calm lip one knows that he has sized up the fair sex and found it wanting, that is, as a matrimonial investment. The bachelor goes into society, and enjoys it; he loves his good dinner and knows wine from wine. Sometimes he dances, and he generally does it well; he, however, prefers a promenade, a chat in a cosy corner, and is apt to know well the way to that small sanctum where mine host or the ball committee have fitted up the necessary outfit for lubrication and "Here's to you !" There are bachelors who inspire all womankind with a rabid desire to assist at their retributive marriage to any sort of a feminine encumbrance. Aggravating in the extreme is the Ritualistic parson bachelor, whose vow of celibacy hangs as a red rag of defiance to the wiles of his congregation, and fires the zeal of the widow, the old maid, the beauty, the gossip, and even the patroness, to haul it down and fliy Cupid's banner in its place. The way a hearty young woman looks at her celibate parson is one of the most laughable topsy-turvies of life.
There are bachelors upon whom one can depend. They will never marry, and everyone knows why. Away back, before most of you were born, a lad loved a lass, as the gods love. By and by, another man loved the same lass, as men love. To him she, being a woman, gave herself, and took his housekeeping and cradle-rocking into her life-work. The man of the ideal love still loved her, only the small, rosy ray of hope faded from his love. He takes tea with her sometimes, and watches her growing old with eyes that do not see her wrinkles nor her avoirdupois (weight). He would probably, had he lost her by death, have married and fulfilled his duty to his country, but she lived ! For the sake of his ideal, perchance for a bit of false shame at fickleness, he has remained single, a refined, courteous gentleman, living and dying pure and decent, the bachelor par excellence of his class.
Sometimes the bachelor who was worsted by another aspirant in his love-tilt takes his defeat sourly and becomes the cynical, blasé, ill-tempered club man, who snarls at women and their ways, and never has an intimate, nor even a dog for a friend. When he is forced into society he is the picture of impotent rebellion and deep chagrin. The badinage (witty conversation) and the persiflage (mockery ) make him furious; the noise disturbs his nerves and the eatables his digestion, and only this gentleman's gentleman knows to what depths of vindictive anger the temporary appearance reduces him. The bitterness of his remarks while on duty are taken lightly and laughed over by society, and " What old Mr. Curmudgeon said at the wedding" affords much mirth to the women who heard it. He preferably lives at his club, where he has his own chair and his own corner, and men tolerate him as a grim sort of bric-a-brac, a crouching, queer sort of animal, only roused to get up on its haunches and rage if the club be thrown open for a dance or a picture exhibit and the profaning foot of woman be allowed to trip across the threshold.
The sporty bachelor is, next to the celibate parson, an exasperation. The latter is so superior, the former is so satisfied with himself, that women feel the superfluity of their sex in a most trying manner. The sporty bachelor gives them plenty of good times; he enjoys their enjoyment, admires their skill in field or on lawn, gives them brotherly pointers about their "form" and tips them sure ones for the races. After a time, his hardness affects them in a curious way. They also take on a defiant little veneer, and affect a mannish contempt for sentiment and susceptibility, which is really their woman-wound showing its scar. It is also a confession of their ignorance. Did they but know the whole life of the ordinary sporty bachelor, in nine cases out of ten the average woman would weep, the rare woman would read up the Patriarchs and set to work to justify him by their example.
The bachelor is an unfailing object of interest to society. Mrs. Grundy would be lost without him. If he talks over-long to the debutante Mrs. Grundy tells her mother he is - oh, well, everyone knows, and the debutante is haled home, rebellious and indignant. If he pays more than the most perfunctory attention to the young matron Mrs. Grundy figuratively gets her skates on and puts up a danger signal, and whispers of the thinness of the ice. If the bachelor occasionally says a naughty word, being over-harried and watched and tormented, who shall lay it unto his account at the final revision? Hope springs eternal that some female will subdue the bachelor, and society watches for his capitulation as the small child waits the raise of the curtain on the Christmas pantomime - such quiet fun is the amorous lion, such a superb joke is his surrender to some chit of a girl, who recks not of his long resistance nor the traditions of his impregnable strength. He is just a man who is in love with her, not The Bachelor ! His fellows chaff him unmercifully if he be of the amiable type, or warily if he have an irascible side, and they are to be caught sighing in secret if the object of his affections be well gilded, and Hymen be forging his fetters of precious metal set in varied gems. There is a mysterious make of bachelor who simply prefers a single life, and usually makes his home with a chum of like disposition. The home and the bachelor are at the mercy of Tiberius, a female Tiberius who does for them in more or less comfort. Sometimes the home is such a nest of cosy ease, the dinners so piping hot and well chosen and cooked, with after-smoke in half-lit corner of cushioned divan, or in capacious arm-chair before ruddy fire, that the most hopeful spinster would fold her hands in despair of coaxing the bachelor out. Sometimes the freaks of Tiberius include gin and bitters, and a partiality for dust, and second dishes, and small omissions of seasonings and spices. It is marvelous what an example of patient long-suffering the bachelor sets his married friends under such circumstances. They should emulate his philosophy - and frequently invite him to dinner.
There is finally a type of bachelor more en evidence in society than any other, and broadly classed "ineligible." He has no money, not much brains, less love of work, and a dress suit which needs frequent renewals, for it is hard-worked. He is invited everywhere, has opinions on every social question, is easy on the lapses of others, thinks loss of character far less than loss of style, tells stories that make the widow shriek and the matron gasp, has no squeamish dislike to the nouveaux riches if his set accept them - is long on precedence and short on morality, and everyone likes him.
- The Young Man
In this this new and busy community the young man of leisure is almost an unknown quantity. Here and there is a young man who has, unfortunately, either no inclination or no need to work, and goes about like the French girl sighing, "Oh, won't you come and play wiz me !" to the crowd who are occupied with more or less urgency in paddling each his own canoe. His plaintive loneliness often drives him into matrimony, into drink, or into work, which last, and often which first refuge proves his salvation. He is apt to be blasé In society, the rich young man, for it shows to him its least attractive side. The women who flatter him and the men who toady to him do so because he is rich and they are not. Certain others, rich themselves, accept him indifferently; he is an alternate object of spoiliation and compassion, is the rich young man. His best point is his rarity. He is apt to go abroad for his bride, unless some extra clever and slightly advanced girl makes up her mind to annex him. She, too, is often rich, and they lead a dull and luxurious existence thence-forward.
The poor young man in society is almost always a bank clerk, bank clerks being the only poor young men who can afford to go to dances three or four times a week and wear boutonnières in the winter season. He does not mention his poverty; he keeps decently mum, and always puts on an air of debonair bon camaraderie which ill befits his small cares and overdrawn account. It takes some heroism to be a bank clerk in a smart social season, when there are ball tickets to purchase, and if he allows himself the luxury of a "special," she wants candy and five o'clock tea, and roses and coupes ad infinitum. It must be that she confuses her ideas and allows the notion of a bank full of notes and gold to envelope her hapless swain until he takes on a money solvency quite inconsistent with his salary. Should the poor young man not live within the aura of a financial institution, but be a worker in one of the professions with a shingle attached, he goes less jauntily and less frequently into his dress suit. The struggling barrister does not appeal to the butterfly mind of society's belles, nor yet the young doctor whose time is so largely given to patience instead of patients. Their meagre gains, dingy offices and forced gaiety suggest a state of affairs which no butterfly could spread her wings over, and though sometimes the butterfly sits tight awaiting the evolution of a great pleader, or the recognition of a great surgeon, with love in her heart and matrimony in her mind, 'tis often a long wait and a tough struggle in which there is little time or wish for dance and rout. The poor young man must be indeed an optimist (or a bank clerk), if he cuts much figure in society.
The rising young man is an entrancing problem to chaperones. They see him getting rich, adding acre to acre of promising property, stock to stock of solid investments, budding out with a nag and a trap, and taking unto himself a patronizing air and a confident voice. As he waxes rich the mothers lay cunningly baited traps for him, the daughters kiss each other viciously on his account, the fathers speak of him in tones of mingled commendation and warning in the presence of their women folks. A general "catch-if- you-can" and encouraging voice papa uses when he mentions the rising young man to the daughter of his heart. If the rising young man isn't more than human he begins to fancy himself a good deal. He hectors the club waiters and is genially familiar and slightly patronizing to the older members. He looks over his invitations with gravity, untinged by the slightest gratification; in very advanced stages of "magnum caput" he swears softly at the insignificant ones. When the rising young man takes a sporting streak he develops a mania for "form"; he becomes an Anglo-maniac and is difficult to a degree. He affects the military, if they will allow him, and amuses their wives, being always game to set up a dinner, or a picnic, or a drive for these mighty beings. Sometimes his sport is his eclipse; he runs horses and goes broke, or he buys a yacht and gets the craze so badly that terrestrial society sees him but seldom; sometimes he marries, and that always seems to sober him, if he needs it. He continues to rise and in time becomes a judge, a consulting surgeon, a general manager, whatever it may be; he ceases to interest us in this article.
Of late years several conditions have changed, and with them the young man has also changed. There are young men who rarely go into society now, who ten years ago would have been glad to kill spare evenings in that way. Take the hockey fiend; he is very young, but he has learned to refuse his best and most blandishing girl's society the night the game is on. She may go to the rink and hang over the gallery rail and catch any number of pulmonary complaints to be near him, but he would play just as happily if she were miles away. The hockey young man on his skates and the football young man in his hair are not bothering much about society.
The occasional young man cuts a great figure while he lasts; sometimes his advent and impression are the features of the social season. He comes from abroad, a peripatetic Briton with a title, a foreigner with curious ideas of women, and a tendency to use strong perfumery; a vague person, affecting rough attire and strong boots, but perfectly at home among the tea-cups of the five-o'clocker. For the first species the life is fast and furious; teas, dinners, luncheons, girls and men fall over each other in his honor; a sort of mania seizes the silly set; even the more solid section of society sends out cards to meet Lord A. or Count B. The occasional young man is apt to mop his brows and marvel on the rate the Colonials live at. Sometimes, in order to ensure a reaction of proper proportions, he has even been known to annex the jewels of some enthusiastic host, and end his sojourn in our midst doing time under prison rules. Much more harmless, if less exciting, is the visit of the young man from the Motherland, who speaks with a strong United Empire accent, and often marries one of our prettiest girls, taking her to unknown regions of ice and snow on his career as an agricultural experimentalist or a mounted policeman.
One more young man is the absent young man. Perhaps he is most in evidence just now, while he toils and freezes and writes tales unholy and untrue of the gold fields and the glaciers to his mother and his sister and his sweetheart, who looks at his unobtrusive engagement ring and finds it distinctly inadequate as a consoler. By and by he will be back, baulked or successful in his search for fortune, and take his place once more as the poor young man, or marry the sweetheart, invest his earnings and pay his taxes as a good citizen. Yes, he is still a possible strong figure in society, is the absent young man, from whom everything is expected!
- The Young Girl
As a type she is curious, stupid, exasperating, annoying, repulsive, seductive or admirable. There is no one who may do so much or so little for society; no one I type which so affects the outlook, and so well or so ill repays any cultivation given her. The young girl begins with her mother's mother or her father's mother, and as the grandmamma is bent so the grand-daughter will be inclined; the traditions of the third generation make or mar the young girl. If her mother has been carefully taught and trained in those thousand and one matters which are to the outsider foolishness, but to the initiated social entity the very essence of social perfection, the young girl will benefit by the fact. She will be taught the medium between familiarity and primness, the art of ensuring attention without seeking it - the beauty of receptive and sympathetic manners as set against brusque and repellent mannerisms, the safety and the danger of man's friendship, the strength and the weakness of woman's influence, and she will generally learn her lessons unconsciously. She will mistrust the critical attitude, and abjure sarcasm, and avoid fault-finding. Some girls, naturally sweet and generous and wholesome in disposition, escape these things, but others less royally blessed by the gods need the wise fore-training of the wise mother, who has had it and learned its value. One sees every stage of development of both classes in modern society, and in very recent years there has set a current running towards the depths of carelessness in the social sea which has spoiled many a girl's trial trip. The young girl has various advantages. In the first place she may become anything. No mother, be she ever so wise and potent in society, can foresee her daughter's "finish" in her debutante season. Whether she will achieve a triumphant progress, with a good marriage at the end, or stand a wallflower in the house of neglect, or acquire a reputation as a wit or a shrew, or, oh, horror of horrors ! compromise herself in some unbusinesslike or unfortunate intimacy, it is not told on the housetops on her coming-out eve. We see her by dozens, in her white satin gown, with her young face expectant and her eyes alight, as she stands under watchful eyes, meeting her fate of partners, great or small, with calm or flustered mien and it is a dubious toss-up whether the morrow's sun sees her a success, a failure or a simple "also ran." The success of the young girl depends on the merest trifles. A clever mot uttered to an appreciative and blasé clubman will waft her into the odor of cleverness, whereas the same good thing, launched at a boy with a strangling collar and a pair of patent leather pumps, will only arouse in him a mild mistrust and a mental reservation of future attentions. If she dances well, chats pleasantly and knows how to lead her partners to talk about themselves, she will be the darling of the football fiend and the bank clerk, and not distasteful to any male creature; if she has a smart story or two, the papas will desert lady patronesses and take her in to supper; if she can be good-natured when a gawky boy or a prancing officer tears her chiffon draperies she will make the men her slaves, and every eagle-eyed chaperone will cheerfully credit her with good breeding. The young girl in society should have great consideration; she is straining strength and nerves, and her elders and the public generally should be good to her. Plain girls with tact and brains have three chances to one for success in competition with mere beauties. "There is nothing," said a club- man, "that tires me so much as a pretty girl;" which statement needs thinking over. "Whom are you to have ?" asked a spoiled pet of an officer in discussing a proposed blow-out with a rich young man. "Oh, Lord ! Can't you get me something I can enjoy? Ask little Miss Brightmind." And the rich young man was amazed, for he had asked the beauty and the grass-widow, and he never for a moment suspected Her Majesty's scarlet of being ambitious for a chat with a plain, merry, well-bred girl, whose people actually kept only one servant! Everyone knows that there are houses with young girls in them, to which men, old and young, find time to flock for Sunday afternoon teas. Everyone also knows that there are other houses of which a man says, "I really must look in to-day !" and to which he goes as he goes to church. The difference is merely in the sort of young girl who is the sub-convener of the afternoon gathering. People rail against cliques, gossips prate about a steady companionship. Cliques and steadies will endure, for where a man is comfortable or a woman happy there they will assuredly go early and often, and moreover, stay late ! The career of a worthy young girl is often marred and her doings made ridiculous by an over-zealous mother or effusive admirer. Nothing irks the social world more than to be deluged with the exploits, aims and perfections of a daughter, a sister or a friend. The social world does not dispute, it derides, and the doing and saying of the perfect one are repeated with a wink and a grin, which is her sure disaster.
The young girl is almost more than any other being at the mercy of her associates. One undesirable escort will place her effectually where the attentions of regiments of eligibles are of no avail; one unaccredited chaperone will cheapen her until she is no longer desirable. In her insatiable thirst for pleasure the young girl should consider this. Where you go is a trifle; with whom you go can make or break you in the lorgnettes of society. The poor young girl must often deny herself a jolly time; the rich young girl must often curtail her generous impulse to show about an attractive nobody. They learn often to do so when the knowledge comes late. The young girl is rarely at her best until she has subjugated her father and added him to her string of admirers. The most delightful little sidelight on human nature shows the father suddenly confronted with his young daughter, in shimmer of satin and lustre of pearls, as she stands ready for her first ball. To the mother she is the embodiment of much anxious discussion and many hours of fitting, planning and shaping, and she eyes her with a jaded interest, but to the father she is a revelation at once touching and inspiring. If he be an Englishman he says, "Very nice, my dear,'' and hides his emotion in his heart; if he be a Frenchman he embraces her with due care of chiffons, and his eyes become humid; if he be a Scotchman he says honestly, "Tis a fine lass;" if he be an Irishman he sighs, "I wish I were a young man, darlin' ! " She brings with her a memory sometimes; we may have seen the debut of her mother; she brings with her always something fresh, and sweet, and hopeful, and plain, or pretty, rich or poor, the greatest blessing, the dearest happiness, the surest peace are in the pink palm of the young girl for all mankind.
- The Clubman
In a city rather overstocked with clubs the clubman is a frequently appearing figure in society. There are clubs and clubs, and according to the bent of his inclinations, according to his political convictions, or merely by his propinquity does the clubman select his club. If he is a young man he does not join an old-fashioned club where the waiters are sedate and patronizing and the game is whist. If he be a Scottish Presbyterian, a dyed-in-the-wool Grit, he selects a club where the whiskey is irreproachable and curling is a game in esteem. Fancy wines and French kickshaws in the entrée line don't hold his affections as do old Scotch and the honest dishes of the Land of Heather. He is generally a solid man, well fixed, fond of a story of some width, and genially happy to open a game or finish a horn in the company of his mates. He goes to church, and is apt to be an official with a business eye to the proper disposal of the funds and the credit of his kirk socially and financially. He is generally an honest, reliable man, and his influence in society is wholesome and desirable, for he is never a snob.
His anti-type is the young man of great social ambitions and pretensions and very little means or character. This clubman selects a sporty institution for his patronage, and has been known to be five years in arrears with his dues. He talks a good deal about his smart relatives and is happy for a decade if chance drops a man of title in his way, that he may put him up at the club in which he is so purely ornamental. Older members tire of the ambitious young man, but he has always his compeers, for he is by no means rare in society, where a man may exist for many moons without visible means of support and run not the slightest risk of being committed for vagrancy. He plays a rattling game, which is not whist, and turns many a dollar in the playing. He has no sense of the flight of time after eleven o'clock at night, and rarely confesses to a desire to turn in. He sometimes marries, fathers a numerous family, which his wife's dowry or people support, while he is still the clubman, older, more questionable, wrinkled and sharp-tongued, or he turns over a new leaf, makes of his mis-fit life some semblance of manhood, changes his club membership or gives up clubs altogether.
No sensible woman quarrels with her husband over his club. He may not particularly care for it, but as soon as madam abuse's it he champions it with ardor. Men do not quarrel in clubs, the others won't have it. If there is an out-and-out row one offender must resign. That has been done again and again, and generally the man least worthy stays in. In political clubs all coons are supposed to think alike on burning topics. That is the raison d'être of that sort of club, that men may assemble to strengthen and encourage each other in divers species of bigotry. A single man who lives at a comfortable club is one of society's free lances. It is hard to put him in double harness. When the question of matrimony is introduced to his inner consideration his first thought is that it stands between him and his club. Why women should harbor in their gentle breasts an undying dislike to and suspicion of The Club is one of the many mysteries that puzzle man in his study of femininity. He knows its security, its masculinity, its decent rules and regulations, its peace and comfort, its reserve and restfulness, and the more he tells her of it all the less she is likely to believe. This is and almost universal trait in women.
The clubman is popularly supposed to be a gossip. The supposition is as true as that every woman's sewing-circle occupies its spare moments in rending the reputation of non-members or absentees. No woman would dare it, and though men have the greater courage, their valor doesn't run to scandal. There are men as well as women who love the innuendo, the slighting story, the open shame of their fellows, but not more than a fair percentage of either belong to clubs or Dorcas societies. They would be scandal-mongers anywhere. True, many a bad and vicious tale is told by some clubmen, but it is heard even more eagerly in the boudoir than it was in the club.
The clubman demands something worth while when he gives up his cosy dinner, his peaceful smoke and his quiet rubber, to trot after his female rulers to the banquet or the the dance. He doesn't always get it; consequently he relieves his injured feelings by a jibe, or tries to liven a dull party with a story, and unthinking persons call him bad-tempered or careless of the majority of the ten commandments. When he is on his native heath, and the banquet is fractionally his own, the club echoes with laughter at the story and groans assent to the jibe against outer tyrannies.
A confirmed clubman accumulates a medley of fixed notions, small wants, strange prejudices and sharp comments which mark him in any company. No one can so justly pronounce a verdict upon a new comer, and from no verdict is it so hard to appeal. The veteran clubman is an oracle on form in certain masculine matters. What a man may or may not do is without contravention. Things which to the crude, unwatching, hasty world outside seem of small matter are added to the creed of the clubman and become a portion of himself If a greenhorn sins in ignoring some small item of the clubman's faith he is figuratively cast into outer darkness. If he won't go, and if many like him are gathered in, the old clubman uses gentle oaths sotto voce and goes his way, and the club sees him no more. Perhaps he marries the rich widow and hangs up his hat where his peculiarities will pever be questioned. He has been known to risk a youthful partner, and his disaster has simply depended on his chivalry. The bigger bully has speedily assumed the box seat.
The clubman learns several useful lessons in his club. He learns to let other men alone, and to live alone himself. A fussy, officious clubman, who talks over-much, and insists upon sociability, is soon given the cold shoulder by a pitiless lot of fellows. He must be very compelling and very important and influential if he escapes the resentment of the whole institution. This decent reserve gives him distinction, repose and dignity in society, and respect is his just due. A young wife exclaimed recently, "Have you not a membership in any club, my dear? How unfortunate! You don't half enjoy life!" Her father and brothers were pronounced clubmen, and it seemed to her quite a catastrophe that her husband had missed this good thing ! Many a man of yielding will, poor self-esteem or uncertain character has drawn positive force and inspiration from a membership in a good club, and almost the first terrified thought of the discovered evil-doer is "What will they say at the club ?" The final undoing of a bad man is his club's condemnation, though, except in certain sins known to the members as unpardonable, the club lets his life severely alone. Clubs are apparently beneficial and grateful institutions or the membership would never have become such a stepping-stone to the social, financial and political advancement of the clubman.
- The Parson
The Man of God, as he is sometimes inaptly described, is a type many-sided as a well-cut diamond, and his light is apt to shine with just as varied tint and lustre. There is the parson whom one never sees except at afternoon teas, at mothers' meetings and in the pulpit, with occasional appearances on the croquet lawn. He is a meek, gentle-toned, well meaning creature, deft of hand with the tea cups and bread and butter plates, mildly jubilant over a long range croquet, sweetly sympathetic with the children, who tolerate him, and piously deferential to the patroness who relaxes her brow and softens her voice to greet him. He has the ear-marks of a toady, but not the spirit of one. To avoid giving offence seems the key note of his life. Sometimes he is the father of nine children, and his wife wears depressed bonnets and sewn over gloves. The patroness snubs the wife but coddles the parson, and he meekly makes the best of the matter.
There is another type of parson by whom attractive ladies are taken into dinner with great success; one sees the ladies in fits of laughter, for the dining parson seems to know a good story and to tell it in a fetching manner. If this parson be paired with a frowsy or disagreeable lady, he devotes himself to his dinner and vouchsafes very little effort to amuse her. He is apt to give his hostess the impression that she has made a mistake in her arrangement, before the banquet is concluded. He enjoys his wine with unsparing praise if it be up to his requirements as a connoisseur, and abuses it with many epithets if it be cheap or improperly chilled or mellowed. He says "Fie-fie" to the woman who unloads the last scandal discreetly upon him, and shakes his head, with twinkling tears of mirth, over a spicy story she whispers into his ear.
His complexion is apt to heighten and his voice to lower as a good dinner wanes to its completion; if he has his trusty whist partner, the widow, for his dinner partner, she probably enjoys his society and wonders at his repertoire of murmured anecdotes. A very pretty girl once said she got the shock of her life when she saw her dinner partner of Saturday night appear in his robes of white and face her from the pulpit on Sunday morning. There is no doubt of the dining-out parson's versatility!
Whereas the mild type of parson and the dining-out parson are pretty sure to be benedicts (there is always a well-nourished lady in black somewhere down the dinner table, who is taken in by the self-made man), the ascetic parson flouts Hymeneal fetters, even if they be chains of roses from Love's fairest parterre. The mild-voiced parson may have a moustache, the rosy dining-out parson may have trim whiskers, but the celibate shaves as smooth as a tombstone. His fastings and vigils keep him spare and spiritual, and his self-repression gives his lips an austere curve, which alternately awes and exasperates the golf-playing girl who resents his pose healthily. The pose is sincere, beyond doubt; there's little fun in renouncing the rosy side of youth, and the natural turning of the emotional side to the light. The celibate parson rarely dines out. His fasts are sad interferences with society's arrangements; you can't have a man at your table with a rout of jolly guests tucking in at the rate of several dollars apiece, who refuses everything but bread and salad, who drinks plain Polly, and who informs you with calm insistence that it is the eve of St. Bridget the Less and a day of abstinence ! He makes you feel positively gluttonish, confound him! When the ascetic parson is taken in hand seriously by the athletic girl there is fun for the watching. She breaks her temper, sometimes her heart, and, incidentally, quite an assortment of the ten commandments. She scoffs at and wheedles him, and he prays and fasts and grows thinner, and sometimes goes out to Central Africa, or to frigid Alaska, where athletic girls dare not follow, a modern St. Kevin, tormented by a dashing Kathleen. Such an ascetic is the real thing. For some sinister or mulish streak in him he mars one life, or any number, and he becomes a tradition, and when he dies of African fever, or is lost in a blizzard, the eyes of the parish at home are heavy with resigned rebellion.
The athletic parson is seen very often in society, and like every hearty, happy, healthy creature, he sweetens and tones up the whole neighborhood. He has a masterful way with women, a genial brotherhood with men. He laughs sentimental girls out of their adoration of him, and makes violent love to the gentlewoman who is white-haired and dainty, and who admires him openly. One day he probably sits beside her, and she rests her frail old fingers on his arm while he tells her of his love for some queenly young gentlewoman, perhaps her granddaughter, and her sweet old eyes sparkle as she says: "My dear boy, I am so happy to hear this!" And he kisses her thin little hand and she calls him her son, and he has her blessing, rich with knowledge and truth, and a woman's loving earnestness. Other women may be fascinated by a celibate vow, and an attenuated face and hollow eyes - it's a morbid impulse, and one to which the old lady never gives way. Rather is her ideal parson the strong, active, muscular, masterful young chap, the frank chum of the golfer, male and female, the adoration of the worst and smallest choir boy, the honest, earnest priest, whose sermons are practical talks, who does not know, bless him, exactly when St. Bridget the Less died and went to glory, nor just what are the correct hangings for her holy day. The athletic parson and the young gentlewoman are apt to annoy society by being very quietly wedded some fine morning, with only their relations and the Bishop at the church, though after the vows, the school children and the poor folks flock and cheer. There will be a simple dignity and purity about the atmosphere of the parsonage; the parson's wife will not give an inkling of a confidence about her married life, even to the grandmother (who least desires it), and the parson will, with years, take on either the rubicund tint of the dining-out type, or the clear-cut and classic contour of the more refined aging, and if he be not made in due time a Bishop, there will remain a vacancy very deplorable in the noble array of lawn-sleeved dignities who are of all finite creations the most impressive and reverenced and whose presence at imposing society weddings gives such éclat to the whole function.
As a parti (match ) the parson is not regarded with special favor, the parson's wife having generally a round of duties incompatible with selectness in her choice of acquaintances. In this country, moreover, poverty is often her lot, competence rarely blesses her, affluence is almost unknown. Her life is not exciting, interesting to society, or given to its pleasures, and when she leaves the luxury of the self-made man's palace, the quiet cosy home of the maiden aunt, or the ancient residence of the patroness, one hears a sigh in the remark of her intimates, "Poor Mary! I suppose she will have very little time to herself, now she has married the parson!"
- Unpleasant People
Social circles, as the assemblages of the amusement seeking fraternity are called, contain almost always one person who is endured, tolerated and hated, and on account of his or her domineering and overbearing nature, the social slaves bow down in wrathful necessity, standing silent in the strong presence, but making up for this attitude by words many and forcible later on. Sometimes the marked man or woman is cursed with curiosity, and will ask any question, however unjustifiable and impertinent, take any liberty in looking or listening. Such an one is labelled "dangerous" everywhere. Who does not at once recall some man whose touchy and irascible temper is always a menace to the peace and happiness of his companions, whose boastful and self-assertive word and manner offend continually, whose peculiarities exact constant consideration and self-control from each one of his friends ? And what coterie is without its always idiotic and irrational she, whose suspicions disturb the nerves and tempers of her associates, whose woes are proclaimed upon the housetops, the maladies of whose children and the shortcomings of whose servants are dinned into the suffering ears of humanity. There is the stuttering or gobbling old gentleman, who corners the timid curate's wife and reduces her to nervous prostration in the course of an afternoon lawn party, and the very stout old lady who hangs upon your arm and says, "Tell me something amusing, Mr. Ko-Ko !" though if you were to tell her what is amusing you, as you study her, she would, in revenge, promptly set about manoeuvering your social downfall. There are wives who snub their husbands, and husbands who bully their wives, and children who ignore their parents, and parents whose example and precept are both injurious and infectious. There are fractious mothers and sullen daughters, who have failed to attract the eligibles, and take it out of the ineligibles in various subtle and cruel ways. There are men who are over-familiar, and men who are over-sensitive, and men who do not cleanse either their hearts or their garments, and women who do not wash their necks, and boys who neglect their nails, and girls whose frowsiness sends a shudder of loathing through a man. There is always a man who looks over-long upon the wine when it is red or golden, and whose wine is largely known by another name, and there is the woman whose vacant or daring eye rouses the devil of desire or the angel of pity or the curse of disgust in the man who meets her glances ''after taking." There is the bore with his long story, and there is the man who cannot live without passing on a tale of doubtful decency or frank nastiness, and the woman who encourages him with pretended horror and real enjoyment of his daring.
There is the lady with a past of decent remoteness and the man with a present which might be the better for a disinfectant; the woman who plays a little and the man who sings a little, the lady who writes poetry and the gentleman who makes puns. There are the idiots who insist upon playing games or having "a little music" when one has dined well and wishes for nothing but rest and dreamy conversation, knowing that it would disturb the digestion of an ostrich to play a game of "grab," with a parcel of shrieking people, after a good meal, and that an anaconda would have bilious headache if compelled to listen to a throaty man or a heady woman gurgling sentimental assertions to a piano accompaniment, when their dinner lies in the way of proper lung inflation. There is the woman who asks your opinion of your neighbor and your neighbor's wife, that she may promptly acquaint them therewith, if it be unfavorable and you so unwise as to betray yourself. And there is the awkward person, generally, alas, a man ! who breaks valuable ornaments and bric-a-brac and swears at his mischance. There is the dancer who makes his partner a show, and the damp-handed person, and the lady who asks you to guess her age, and the artist who surprises your honest opinion of his work.
What exceedingly unpleasant persons these are ! Upon enumerating them I am almost appalled at their number and their inevitableness. One must, however, meet them and put up with them, for society is permeated with their presence. The man with a family tree, the woman with a tradition of better days, the ill-fitting people, the angular people, the frankly bored and cruelly honest people, the people whose sense of duty is their excuse for candor, heart-breaking and home-rending; the women whose super-abundant charms shock modest man, and the skeletonized creatures whose vertebræ may be counted in horrible distinctness; the women and men whose revelation of apoplectic tendencies alarms one as the banquet does its work, the ghastly persons whose skin is daubed with various beautifiers and whose wigs surprise one with changing tints now and then; the barbarians who load themselves with jewels, l'Americaine or variety actress, at all hours and on any occasion; the men who smoke strong tobacco between the dances, and the women who cannot be decently gotten rid of when one falls into their clutches at a ball; the lady who delights in supper at the club or the café, and thinks it clever to "stick a man for it," as she tells other women with glee next day; the girl who takes your name in vain and is your reported fiancée before you've had time or thought to denounce her or recovered the ring she borrowed to "wish on;" the mother who leaves you tête-a-tête with her daughter, for a long evening, with an injunction not to think of going before supper, the father who asks your intentions; such a beastly unpleasant lot of people, are they not? It behooves thee and me, O, pleasant one! to look to it that we are free from each and every frailty, weakness and wickedness which compels me to set them all together in one horrid class as unpleasant people !