And though the younger generation, like the younger generation of Quakers, shows change and some disintegration, the old Puritan traditions and standards are still, as we all know, of great effect among them. Especially with regard to women, and all that concerns them. Among the Ellesborough clan, which was a large one, there prevailed, along with the traditional American consideration for women, and especially among the women of the family themselves—a strict and even severe standard of sexual morals. There was no hypocrisy in it; they talked of it but little, but they lived by it; and their men were brought up in the atmosphere created by it. And as affection and tenderness and self-sacrifice were freely mixed with the asceticism, there was no rebellion—at any rate no open rebellion—among their men folk. The atmosphere created led, no doubt, to certain evasions of the hard problems of life; and to some quiet revaluations of things and persons when the sons of the family came to men’s estate. But in general the “ape and tiger,” still surviving in the normal human being, had been really and effectively tamed in the Ellesborough race. There was also a sensitive delicacy both of thought and speech among them; answering to more important and tested realities. Their marriages were a success; their children were well brought up, under light but effective control; and, if it be true, as Americans are ready to say, that the old conception of marriage is being slowly but profoundly modified over large sections of their great Commonwealth, towards a laxity undreamt of half a century ago, the Ellesboroughs could neither be taxed nor applauded in the matter. They stood by the old ways, and they stood by them whole-heartedly.
Ellesborough himself, no doubt, had knocked about the world more than most of his kindred, and had learnt to look at many things differently. But essentially, he was the son of his race. His attitude towards women was at once reverential and protective. He believed women were better than men, because practically he had found it so in his own circle; but he held also very strong beliefs, seldom expressed, as to their social disadvantages and their physical weakness. The record of the Germans towards women in France and Flanders, a record he had verified for himself, had perhaps done more than anything else to feed the stern flame of war in his own soul. At thirty-two, he would probably have already been a married man, but for the war. He rather fiercely held that it was a man’s duty to marry and have children. But beyond a few passing fancies he had never been in love; and since the American declaration of war, he had been, like his President, out to “make the world safe for democracy”; and the ardour of the struggle had swept his private interests out of sight.