235. There are turns and casts of fancy, there are sentences, little handfuls of words, in which a whole culture, a whole society suddenly crystallises itself. Among these is the incidental remark of Madame de Lambert to her son: “Mon Ami, ne VOUS PERMETTEZ JAMAIS que des FOLIES, qui VOUS FERONT grand PLAISIR”—the motherliest and wisest remark, by the way, that was ever addressed to a son.
236. I have no doubt that every noble woman will oppose what Dante and Goethe believed about woman—the former when he sang, “Ella GUARDAVA SUSO, Ed Io in Lei,” and the latter when he interpreted it, “the eternally feminine draws us aloft”; for this is just what she believes of the eternally masculine.
How the longest ennui flees, When a man comes to our knees!
Age, alas! and science staid, Furnish even weak virtue aid.
Sombre garb and silence meet: Dress for every dame—discreet.
Whom I thank when in my bliss? God!—and my good tailoress!
Young, a flower-decked cavern home; Old, a dragon thence doth roam.
Noble title, leg that’s fine, Man as well: Oh, were he mine!
Speech in brief and sense in mass—Slippery for the jenny-ass!
237A. Woman has hitherto been treated by men like birds, which, losing their way, have come down among them from an elevation: as something delicate, fragile, wild, strange, sweet, and animating--but as something also which must be cooped up to prevent it flying away.
238. To be mistaken in the fundamental problem of “man and woman,” to deny here the profoundest antagonism and the necessity for an eternally hostile tension, to dream here perhaps of equal rights, equal training, equal claims and obligations: that is a typical sign of shallow-mindedness; and a thinker who has proved himself shallow at this dangerous spot—shallow in instinct!—may generally be regarded as suspicious, nay more, as betrayed, as discovered; he will probably prove too “short” for all fundamental questions of life, future as well as present, and will be unable to descend into any of the depths. On the other hand, a man who has depth of spirit as well as of desires, and has also the depth of benevolence which is capable of severity and harshness, and easily confounded with them, can only think of woman as ORIENTALS do: he must conceive of her as a possession, as confinable property, as a being predestined for service and accomplishing her mission therein—he must take his stand in this matter upon the immense rationality of Asia, upon the superiority of the instinct of Asia, as the Greeks did formerly; those best heirs and scholars of Asia—who, as is well known, with their increasing culture and amplitude of power, from Homer to the time of Pericles, became gradually stricter towards woman, in short, more Oriental. How necessary, how logical, even how humanely desirable this was, let us consider for ourselves!