Are Woman Cowards?

The old, old story.

Has any one ever met, in real life, the woman who screams and jumps on a chair at the sight of a mouse? I have never heard of her out of the servants’ hall, where ladies’ maids appear to carry on the traditions of sensibility kept up by their betters two or three generations since, when nerves, swoonings, and burnt feathers played a prominent part in the lives of fashionable women. A little mouse has nothing terrible about it, vermin though it be in strict classification. Now, if it had been a rat! Or a blackbeetle! A large, long-legged, rattling cockroach! Truly, these are awesome things, and even the strongest-minded of women hate the sight of them. Very few women, I take it, are afraid of mice. And yet, as the world rolls on, that little story of a small grey mouse and screeching women will reappear again and again, dressed up in fresh fancy costumes, when news is scarce and a corner of the paper has to be filled up.

Are we moral cowards?

The children.

One need not fear to be brave.

But though we can watch with interest and amusement, and a sort of kindly feeling, the actions of a mouse, we are sad cowards all the same. Some of us are physically cowardly, though by no means all; but very few of us are morally brave. I heard a sermon not long ago on moral cowardice as shown in the home. And who shall deny that it is very, very difficult to obey the old dictum: “Fais ce que dois, advienne que pourra,” and to deal faithfully with the members of the home circle, from pater-familias himself down to the little maid in the basement territory? The responsibility of the whole matter lies with the wife and mother, involving many a hard task, many a battle fought against the secret shrinking from giving pain, or causing disappointment, or rousing temper. How difficult it is to refuse some pleasure to the children we love, because it is injudicious for them, and how fatally easy to give in weakly, and prove ourselves cowardly! And sometimes the punishment comes quickly: “Oh, if I had only been firm, all this might have been prevented!” we cry in pain and sorrow when all the evil consequences we had dimly foreseen have become actual fact. Some of us are so afraid that the children will love us less if we interfere with their childish joys and pleasures. But, after all, this need not be taken into account, for the youngsters possess a divining crystal in their own clear thoughts, and know well when Love is at the helm. They can discern in a moment whether an arbitrary self-will dictates the course of things or that single-minded affection that seeks the truest good of those who are in its charge. They will not love us less, but more, as time goes on.

Besides, it is ignoble to be influenced by consequences that may result to ourselves, even possible loss of affection, the only earthly thing that is worth living for. “Advienne que pourra” are the grand old words.

A difficult task.

A friend of mine, whose husband became a drunkard, told me that the most difficult thing she had ever done in her life was to remonstrate with him when he first began to drink too much. It was a clear duty, and she did it, but it required the summoning up of all her fortitude, as some who read these words may know but too well from their own experience. “When I began,” she told me, “my knees trembled, and at last I shook as if I had been in an ague. It was quite dreadful to me to speak to him, and yet he took it as though I were out of temper, and merely shrewish.” “And did it do any good?” I asked, and she told me that he was better for a few weeks, and seemed to be struggling against the love of drink, but that after a couple of months things were as bad as ever again.

Cowardice with friends.

I do not know any one possessed of sufficient moral courage to deal faithfully with their friends and relatives on the subject of objectionable little ways in eating or drinking, or in the hundred and one little actions of daily life. We endure silently the sight of excessively disagreeable habits rather than risk giving

  By PanEris using Melati.

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