The Colonel mopped his brow with a large bandanna handkerchief. “Sir,” he resumed, “obnoxious as it is to a sensible man to do so, let us glance at the hero type of the most popular recent novels by women, the figure which strikes admiration into the feminine soul. Now,” he roared (and I declare, my hair rose on end), “the most awful thing any nigger can call another is a ‘nigger.’ So we all rebel against what we feel to be the weaknesses of our own position. None so quick as the vulgar to denounce ‘no gentleman.’ And so on. Thus, as we see, there is nothing the weaker sex so much despises in a man as weakness of character, and, as is consistent with all such reactions of feeling, nothing which so much attracts it as a firmness and strength of will beyond itself. Naturally, the adored figures in the popular women’s fiction are always of the ‘strong man’ type, in feminine eyes. And here we come to a most extraordinary obliquity of the feminine eye.
“What,” he demanded, “are the marks by which you are to know a ’strong man’—in the feminine picture? A strong man, of course, is a man with the bark on; polish is incompatible with rugged strength. An exhilarating air of brusqueness breathes from all strong men. They are as ignorant of manners as they are of the effete conventions of grammar. They have fought their way up, and no one can down them. They can be depended upon absolutely as what are called ’good providers.’ In short, by the written confession of her heart, woman’s idea of a ‘dear,’ after several centuries more or less of civilisation, remains precisely the primitive conception that it was in the days when man wooed her by grabbing her by the hair and handing her one with a club.”
The Colonel was breathing heavily with the exertion of animated speech as he added: “In real life a man of any stability of judgment would be decidedly suspicious of the hero of a modern woman’s novel if one should walk into his office, or, doubtless, he would observe this whimsical caricature with something of the amusement he would find in the ludicrously false comic Irishman of the vaudeville stage. This irreverent flight of fancy on our part, however, is yanking the strong man from his appropriate and supporting setting, where paste is given the glow of an authentic stone; in the sympathetic pages created by feminine intuition he dominates the machine. When the heroine takes into her own hands the right of the individual to a second chance for happiness,” the Colonel declaimed with a demoniac grin, “she turns to experience with such a one perfect love, as the honoured wife of a splendid and prosperous man and the mother of beautiful children.