But you must draw the line at married men, happy or unhappy. Any confidential, tete-a-tete companionship of a single woman with a married man cheapens her in the eyes of all other men and women.
It is a simpler matter to drift into free and easy manners and call them “bohemian” than to cleanse your reputation of their stain, or lift your mind from the mire to which they inevitably lead.
Once a woman begins to excuse her lawless conduct on the ground of her “artistic temperament,” there are no depths to which she may not sink.
Take pride in being at once independent yet discreet; artistic, yet sensible; a student of men, yet an example of high-minded womanhood; an open foe to needless conventions, yet a staunch friend of principles; daring in methods, yet irreproachable in conduct; and however adored by men, worthy of trust by all women.
Do not take the admiration of men too seriously. Waste no vitality in a rage over their weaknesses and vices. Regard them with patience and inspire them to strive for a better goal than self-indulgence.
You can safely take it for granted that many who approach you with compliments for your charms, and pleas for your favours, would make the same advances to any other attractive girl they chanced to encounter.
Too many young women mistake a habit for a grand passion. And they forget, while they are studying man, that he is studying woman, and testing her susceptibility to flattery and her readiness to believe in his simulated infatuation.
Do not fall into the error of so many young country girls in a large city, and imagine you can establish new laws, create a new order of things, and teach men new lessons.
A great city is like an ever-burning fire,—the newcomers who thrust in their fingers will be scorched and scarred, but the fire will not be changed or extinguished.
Keep out of the fire.
There is no reason why you should scar yourself or smoke your garments while keeping comfortably warm.
To Mr. Charles Gordon
Concerning the Jealousy of His Wife After Seven Years of Married Life
I have read your letter with care. I can readily understand that you would not appeal to your wife’s mother in this matter upon which you write me, as she has been the typical mother-in-law,—the woman who never gets along well with her children, and who never wants others to succeed where she fails. I recollect your telling me how she marred the wedding ceremony, by weeping and fainting, after having nagged her poor daughter during twenty years of life, and interfered with her friendships, through that peculiar jealousy which she misnamed “devoted love.”
And now you are afraid that your wife is developing the same propensity, and you ask me to use my influence to cure her of it in its incipiency. You think I stand closer to Edna than any other friend.