Nothing is so likely to conciliate the affections of the other sex, as a feeling that woman looks to them for support and guidance. In proportion as men are themselves superior, they are as accessible to this appeal. On the contrary, they never feel interested in one who seems disposed rather to offer than to ask assistance. There is, indeed, something unfeminine in independence. It is contrary to nature and, therefore, it offends. We do not like to see a woman affecting tremors, but still less do we like to see her acting the Amazon. A really sensible woman feels her dependence; she does what she can, but she is conscious of inferiority, and, therefore, grateful for support; she knows that she is the weaker vessel, and that, as such, she should receive honor.
In every thing, therefore, that women attempt, they should show their consciousness of dependence. If they are learners, let them evince a teachable spirit; if they give an opinion, let them do it in an unassuming manner. There is something so unpleasant in female self-sufficiency, that it not unfrequently deters, instead of persuading, and prevents the adoption of advice which the judgment even approves. Yet this is a fault into which women, of certain pretensions, are occasionally betrayed. Age, or experience, or superior endowment, entitles them, they imagine, to assume a higher place and a more independent tone. But their sex should ever teach them to be subordinate; and they should remember that influence is obtained, not by assumption, but by a delicate appeal to affection or principle. Women, in this respect, are something like children; the more they show their need of support, the more engaging they are.
The appropriate expression of dependence is gentleness. However endowed with superior talents a woman may be, without gentleness she cannot be agreeable. Gentleness ought to be the characteristic of the sex; and there is nothing that can compensate for the want of this feminine attraction.
Gentleness is, indeed, the talisman of woman. To interest the feelings is to her much easier than to convince the judgment; the heart is far more accessible to her influence than the head. She never gains so much as by concession; and is never so likely to overcome, as when she seems to yield.
Gentleness prepossesses at first sight; it insinuates itself into the vantage ground, and gains the best position by surprise. While a display of skill and strength calls forth a counter array, gentleness, at once, disarms opposition, and wins the day before it is contested.