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Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 99, December 6, 1890   By:

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VOL. 99.

December 6, 1890.




The Manly Maiden may be defined as the feminine exaggeration of those rougher qualities which men display in their intercourse with one another, or in the pursuit of those sports in which courage, strength, and endurance play a part. In a fatal moment she conceives the idea that she can earn the proud title of "a good fellow" by emulating the fashions and the habits of the robuster sex. She perceives that men have a liking for men who are strong, bluff, outspoken, and contemptuous of peril, and she infers mistakenly, that the same tribute of admiration is certain to be paid to a woman who, setting the traditions of her sex at defiance, consciously apes the manly model without a thought of all that the imitation involves. She forgets that as soon as a woman steps down of her own free will from the pedestal on which the chivalrous admiration of men has placed her, she abandons at once her claim to that flattering reticence of speech, and that specially attentive courtesy of bearing, which are in men the outward and visible signs of the spiritual grace which they assume as an attribute of all women. In spite of what the crazy theorists of the perfect equality school may say, men still continue to expect and to admire in women precisely those qualities in which they feel themselves to be chiefly deficient. Their reverence and affection are bestowed upon her whose voice is ever soft, gentle and low, and whose mild influence is shed like a balm upon the labours and troubles of life. Of slang, and of slaps upon the back, of strength, whether of language or of body, they get enough and to spare amongst themselves, and they are scarcely to be blamed if at certain moments they should prefer refinement to roughness, and gentleness to gentlemen. However, these obvious considerations have no weight with the Manly Maiden. In fact they never occur to her, and hence arise failures, and humiliations, and disappointments not a few.


The Manly Maiden is not, as a rule, the natural product of a genuine country life. The daughter of rich parents, who have spent a great part of their lives in a centre of commercial activity, she is introduced to a new home in the country at about the age of fourteen. Seeing that all those who live in the neighbourhood are in one way or another associated with outdoor sports, and that the favour in which the men are held and their fame vary directly as their power to ride or to shoot straight, she becomes possessed by the notion that she too must, if she is to please at all, be proficient in the sports of men. Merely to ride to hounds is, of course, not sufficiently distinctive. Many women do that, without losing at all the ordinary characteristics of women. She must ride bare backed, she must understand a horse's ailments and his points, she must trudge (in the constant society of men) over fallows and through turnips in pursuit of partridges, she must be able to talk learnedly of guns, of powders, and of shot, she must possess a gun of her own, and think she knows how to use it, she must own a retriever, and herself make him submissive by the frequent application of a silver headed dog whip.

These attainments are her ideals of earthly bliss, and she sets out to realise them with a terrible perseverance. Her father, of course, knows but little of sport. He is, however, afflicted with the ordinary desire to shine as a sportsman, and as a host of sportsmen. He stocks his coverts with game, and invites large shooting parties to stay with him. He himself takes to a gun as a hen might take to the water; although, as his daughter contemptuously expresses it, he is calculated to miss a hippopotamus at ten yards, he seems to imagine, if one may be permitted to judge from the wild frequency of his shots, that it is the easiest thing in the world to hit a pheasant or a partridge flying at ten times that distance... Continue reading book >>

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