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E. Temple Thurston
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 338 pages of information about Sally Bishop.
thousand years in the making; they are the women at whose breasts are fed the sons of men.  The whole race has been weaned by them; every country has been nursed into manhood in their arms.  But they are too normal or they are too much a class to have men sing of them.  There is not one mother of children in the vast calendars of history who stands out now for our eyes to reverence.  Upon the stage of the world their part is played, and what eye is there can grasp in comprehensive glance the whole broad sweep of power which their frail hands have wielded?  Only upon that mimic platform of fame, raised where the eyes of all can watch the figure as it treads the boards, have women stood apart where the recorder can jot their names upon a scroll of history for the world to read.  There is no virtue essential here; virtue indeed but adds a glamour with its absence.

There is some subtle attraction in a Catherine of Russia or a Manon Lescaut which tempts the cunning lust of men to cry their praise for the nobility of heart that lies beneath.  But what elusive charm is there in the mother of children whose stainless virtue is her only personality?  None?  Yet to the all-seeing eye, to the all-comprehending brain—­to that omniscience whom some call God, be it in Trinity or in Unity, and others know not what to call—­these are the women who lift immeasurably above fame, infinitely above repute.

So, therefore, rob them of their virtue and you prize a jewel from its setting, you wrench a star from the mystery of the heavens and bring it down to earth, you filch from the generous hand of Nature that very possession which she holds most dear.  For without virtue, these women are nothing.  Without virtue, you may see them dragging the bed of the streets for the bodies they can find.  It is the last task which Nature sets them—­bait to lure men from the theft of that virtue in others which they can in no wise repay.

And this very virtue itself needs no little power of subtle comprehension to understand; for intrinsically it is a fixed quality while outwardly it changes, just as the tide of custom ebbs or flows.  Intrinsically then, it is that quality in a woman which breeds respect in men—­respect, the lure of which is so often their own vanity.  And the pure, the chaste, the untouched woman, whether it be vanity or not, is she whom men most venerate.  Of these they make mothers—­for these alone they will live continently.  And however much love a man may bear in his heart for a woman whom some other than himself has possessed, the knowledge of it will corrupt like a poison in the blood though he forgive her a thousand times.

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