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As a rule, authoresses do not care much about lovely women; and they must naturally despise the miserable masculine weakness which is led captive by a pretty face, even if it be only upon paper. They can have no patience with such feebleness, and it may well seem to them to be a high and important mission to help to put it down. It became, accordingly, the fashion at one time among the feminine writers of fiction to make all their fascinating heroines plain girls with plenty of soul, and to show, by a series of thrilling love adventures, how completely in the long run the plain girls had the best of it.
It is not unworthy of remark, as regards these two points of comparison between civilization and barbarism, that, as the woman gets more civilized, she seems more disposed to meet her pursuer halfway. In the game of kiss-in-the-ring, for instance, although the lady does not run after the gentleman, but, on the contrary, shows her maiden modesty by giving him as hard a chase as she can, she still delicately paves the way for osculation by throwing the pocket-handkerchief. And, in the Christmas fights under the mistletoe (if we may take Mr.
Boys at college indulge in this too generous fallacy. For grown-up men there is less excuse. They ought to know that obscure uneducated women are all the more likely on that account to fall short of magnanimity, self-control, self-containing composure, than girls who have grown up with a background of bright and gracious tradition, however little their education may have done to stimulate them to make the foreground like it. To have a common past is the first secret of happy association--a past common in ideas, sentiments, and growth, if not common in external incidents.