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Title: Your Affectionate Godmother
Author: Glyn, Elinor
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                          _Your Affectionate
                              Godmother_


                            By ELINOR GLYN

                      Your Affectionate Godmother
                           The Point of View
                           Guinevere’s Lover
                               Halcyone
                            The Reason Why
                               His Hour

                        D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
                          NEW YORK AND LONDON

          [Illustration: “_Never ask your husband questions_”

                              [PAGE 146]]



                          _Your Affectionate
                              Godmother_

                                 _By_

                             _Elinor Glyn_

        _Author of “The Point of View,” “The Reason Why,” etc._

                            [Illustration]

                      _Illustrated by Grace Hart_

                       _D. Appleton and Company_
                           _New York_ _1914_

                          COPYRIGHT, 1914, BY

                        D. APPLETON AND COMPANY

            Copyright, 1912, 1913, by Harper’s Bazaar, Inc.

                        Published in England as
                         “Letters to Caroline”



                        _List of Illustrations_


                                                  _Page_

“_Never ask your husband questions_”

                                          _Frontispiece_

“_I think, firstly, she ought to understand
the colossal importance of beauty_”                  39

“_By all means play your golf and tennis,
but try and make your partner
feel that these things are a means to
securing the end he desires_”                        47

“_Numbers of young women do the
seeking and the hunting_”                            51

“_Marriage is the aim and end of all
sensible girls_”                                     77

“‘_It is better to marry the life you like,
because after a while the man does not matter_’”     81

“_Think what it would be to be with him always_”     85

“_If you want to keep him in the blissful
state, attend to pleasing his eye
and ear when alone with him_”                       103

“_Above all, do not be dramatic_”                   129

“_A great position will count more than
the romantic part of love_”                         134

“_I wonder if you smoke, dear girl?_”               161

“_The Tango--dance it, if your friends
dance it, and try to do it with the
most perfect grace_”                                207



I



                     _Your Affectionate Godmother_


NOVEMBER, 1912.

Now that you are soon about to return from Paris, Caroline--polished,
let us hope, in education--it may be interesting for us to have some
little talks together upon the meaning of things and the aspects which
life is likely to present to you.

If you had been with me from early childhood you would by now have grown
so completely to understand my point of view that words would not be
necessary between us. But circumstances have arranged that only in your
eighteenth year have you been given into my charge, so, as I want you to
be happy, my dear godchild, we must lose no time in looking at a number
of points which can assist that end.

I understand, by what I know of your character, that you have a clear
idea of what you want, and that is to take some place in the world of no
mean importance. Therefore, the first thing to assure yourself of is
that you are not the square peg screaming to get into the round hole.
There is nothing so warping as that egotistical ignorance which feels
itself fitted for whatever position it desires without question or
further effort.

To me the most startling difference between the Americans and the
English is this--that the English never boast of their attainments or
prowess, _in words_, because for hundreds of years they really have been
supreme among the nations, and so now they are simply filled with the
belief that this is still the case, and therefore that it is unnecessary
for them to try to learn anything new; on the other hand, the Americans
boast _in words_ continually that they are already ahead of the rest of
the world, while using their clever brains all the time to pick up from
every other nation equipments which will eventually make them so.

I leave it to your own powers of deduction to decide which, at the
present stage of the world’s rapid evolution, seems the more likely to
win in the end! But we are not now going to talk of the national
characteristics of your two parents--I merely use this as an
illustration of what I want to teach you so that you may have the
advantage of knowing how to cultivate the good side of both. The thing
to aim at is to make yourself fit for whatever position you aspire to,
and to keep your receptive faculties always on the alert to continue to
acquire good things even when you have obtained that position. Then you
will never need to demonstrate your supremacy _in words_, every human
being who comes in contact with you will see it. And you will have the
dignity of the one country and the ability of the other in your
possession.

The advice which was generally given to girls was a mixture of
altruistic idealism coupled with the intention to throw dust in their
eyes upon most of the facts of life.

We have fortunately changed all that now. But, before we come to any
material points, we shall have to get down to the bedrock of the main
principle of life which is our religion. And I do hope, Caroline, that I
shall not bore you by speaking of this--for my religion, and the one I
want you to believe in as yours, is a very simple one, and will not take
me long to explain. You see, we cannot possibly go on until this point
is settled, because it is the key to all others.

I believe I had better enclose you a dialogue I once wrote when
strongly under the influence of the style of Lucian, that later Greek
master of inimitable cynical humor. Your appreciation of style and your
sense of humor, I trust, have been cultivated sufficiently to be able to
grasp the fact that a reverent and divine belief is wrapped up in what
at first reads as flippant language. I wrote a number of these dialogues
upon all sorts of subjects when I was in the same mood, and, if you like
them, and understand them, I can send them to you from time to time, to
illustrate my meaning, for the finishing of your education, and the
perfecting of your armory of weapons which must be of a sort which is
not obsolete for the fight of life.

All godmothers writing to their godchildren--and indeed all women
writing to the young--are very apt to be dreadfully serious and to give
them only the heaviest fare, which must inevitably weary them. Now,
Caroline, there is not going to be any of that kind of thing between you
and me, because my aim is not to show you how many stereotyped moral
sentiments I can instill into you on orthodox lines--but it is to try to
prepare you for that place in the social sphere which you have a right
by accident of birth and fortune to expect. And, above all, my aim is to
try to help you to gain happiness spelt with a big H--as happiness is
obtainable in this hour of the world’s enlightenment. It is not always
possible for older people to secure it, because, when they were in the
gloomy retrogressionist atmosphere which held sway in their younger
days, they laid up for themselves limitations which may take them all
their lives on this planet to get through.

You, Caroline, have not had time to incur any serious debts to fate, so
you have a real chance to achieve the desired end, and so progress in
body, soul, and spirit. Now read the dialogue.


DIALOGUE BETWEEN ELINOR AND JOHN

_Dedicated to the shades of Lucian and Don Quixote_

ELINOR: Very well, my good friend, let us begin by discussing religion
then, and from there we can branch off to other matters which come up,
and, as you are here merely to make a few remarks, I gather, and leave
the hard work to me, I consider I have the right to select my
subjects--and I choose religion to begin upon.

JOHN: I’ll do my best to listen, but women are illogical beings, and you
will pardon a yawn now and then.

ELINOR: All I ask is good manners--conceal your yawn behind a respectful
hand.

JOHN: Begin--as yet I am all attention!

ELINOR: My religion is very simple. It started by being a rebellion
against the narrow orthodoxy which I had been taught in my youth. I
refused to credit the idea that we were all born miserable sinners. I
felt that we were glorious creatures who should stand upright and rise
into space. I resented the attitude of all saints and martyrs as
depicted in statuary and painting--a _mea culpa_ attitude--a pleading
for the charity of some omnipotent being to overlook a personal
fault--as it were to say, “If I grovel enough your vanity will be
appeased and you won’t punish me.” I looked round at the glorious world
of nature and at the wonder of my own body, full of health and vitality,
and I wanted to cry aloud to God, “Dear God, I am so glad you have made
me, and I mean to do the very best I can for your creation in return.”

JOHN: That is not altogether a bad idea.

ELINOR: I felt that human beings, because of their gift of articulate
speech, were different to animals, and had been given a higher spark of
the divine essence in their possession of the loan of a more responsible
soul. I seemed to realize that we had no smallest right to soil it or
degrade it, since God need not have lent it to us at all if He had not
wished. We were, so to speak, on our honor with the thing. I suddenly
understood that it was unspeakable disgrace to commit paltry actions
just because people would not know about them--that even if one had to
admit the necessity of bluff in the affairs of men sometimes it was
perfectly childish to use it in dealing with God--and not only childish,
but useless.

JOHN: You would be honest with God! Tut, tut!--a pretty state of things!
A theory like that could upset the world.

ELINOR: _Tant pis!_--I am not talking of expediency. I am stating my
beliefs.

JOHN: Go ahead.

ELINOR: I felt that because we had received this divine triple loan from
God of understanding, apprehension, and emotion, with its branches of
deduction, critical faculty, and appreciation--all things beyond the
material--we at least owed Him something in return. You will admit, I
suppose, that decent people do not accept the loan of a friend’s house
and then utterly neglect and defile it?

JOHN: It would be in shocking taste.

ELINOR: Then doing the thousand-and-one actions which defile the soul
are in shocking taste also. Don Quixote was infinitely nearer a true
knowledge of the obligation entailed by the possession of this loan than
any of us modern people!

JOHN: Oh, heavens! are you going to drag in fictional characters to
illustrate your tirade? I feel the yawn coming.

ELINOR: Then I will state what to me are the facts of religion. I
believe that I personally, and each one of us, have received from God,
for the term of our sojourn on earth, a spark of Himself, and, since He
has had the intelligence to construct this planet and a number of
others, He cannot be so wholly wanting in logic as deliberately to throw
this spark of Himself into temptation, and then deliberately to punish
it for falling. If I believed God capable of that I should utterly
despise Him.

JOHN: It sounds mean.

ELINOR: Of course. Now think a moment. Each unit being a part of the
eternal scheme, the soul of each unit being a spark of the Divine
Consciousness, it follows surely that the basis of all religion is that
we must not soil our souls--not from the fear of hell or hope of heaven,
but because they, being lent by God, must return to Him untarnished.
The law of cause and effect takes care of the punishments or rewards. We
bring each upon ourselves by our own actions; setting in motion an
inevitable machinery producing consequence, as surely as when we thrust
our hand into the fire it is burnt.

JOHN: That sounds all right; go on!

ELINOR: You see, then, our setting in motion this law can have nothing
to do with the anger or approval or complacency of God. “Be good, and
you will go to heaven: behave evilly, and you will go to hell”--one was
taught. Reward and punishment--personal gain or personal pain--which
gets it back to pure selfishness.

JOHN: Then you would take away these strong motives to influence human
conduct? You _are_ getting on to a high plane!

ELINOR: I began by saying we were talking of religion; you seem to
consider we are discussing a business concern.

JOHN: So it is--put it how you will.

ELINOR: I deny that from my point, but I admit it if you are going to
traffic with rewards and punishments.

JOHN: Then you mean to tell me that each unit is always to behave in the
purest manner and do his level best simply to return to God at death an
untarnished soul?

ELINOR: Certainly.

JOHN: But you would do away with all priestcraft, all politics, all
society! ’Pon my word, this is worse than Socialism. You know I never
bargained for that!

ELINOR: Nothing of the kind! The basic principle is that God is
omnipotent. Granted this, and the poorest intelligence might then credit
Him with having the best of all the attributes with which He has endowed
mankind, whom he created--chief of these being common sense.

JOHN: Go on.

ELINOR: It is hardly likely, then, that He is perpetrating a colossal
joke upon His creation by making the whole system experimental. It is
conceivable that a brain which could evolve the intricate organism of a
minute ant might be far-seeing enough to devise an immutable law which,
when our evolution is sufficiently advanced, we shall be able to
perceive, and to fall in with its action.

JOHN: We are all as yet struggling in the dark, then?

ELINOR: More or less. You see time is no object to God--these cycles
which to us mean so much may be no more than a day to Him. I think you
will admit we have let in a good deal of light in the last hundred years
or so.

JOHN: Well, yes. But just think, then, of the waste of time all the
religions and conventions and superstitions have entailed in the past.
It makes one giddy to realize it! Where would we be if we had always
understood your basic principle?

ELINOR: Nowhere. The evolution of the world has been perfectly
necessary, my good John--you don’t ask children to play golf before they
can walk.

JOHN: No--but now I gather from your remarks that you would sweep away
the incumbrances and restrictions of orthodox religions.

ELINOR: Not at all! In a large family everyone cannot be grown up at the
same time; the little ones have still to be thought of.

JOHN: I think we are getting a bit out of our depths--had we not better
get back to your muttons--in this case your idea of religion?

ELINOR: But I have stated it plainly; it is simply to endeavor to keep
the soul untarnished so as to return it to God--as a good butler keeps
his employer’s silver under his charge highly polished, even though it
is not all used every day.

JOHN: Then what is the first step to this end?

ELINOR: To think out the reason why of things, to try to see the truth
in everything.

JOHN: Good Lord! A fine task! Are you aware, my good woman, that this
has been the modest ambition of several million of philosophers and
theologians and metaphysicians before your day, and that none of them
have altogether succeeded? If I did not mind being rude, I might say, “I
like your cheek!”

ELINOR: Oh, say what you please! Your words cannot alter my basic
principle, which you will find very sound, if you care to apply to it
the test of common sense.

JOHN: You mean, to bring it to ordinary facts, that when I can get the
better of a friend by a bit of sharp practice and make a pot of money
without the risk of anyone’s finding me out, I am to refrain from doing
so because of this soul business? I do call that hard! considering I go
to church every Sunday, and subscribe to all the charities
liberally--and to the football clubs.

ELINOR: Yes, I mean that.

JOHN: And when you are jealous of a woman you are not to set about a
vile, false insinuation against her, even though it could never be
traced to your door?

ELINOR: Certainly not.

JOHN: But, my poor child, that would produce a universal state of
brotherly love. You had not suggested that before as one of your
component parts of religion!

ELINOR: John, when God made man I do believe He left out one colossal
quality in him--the faculty of seeing the obvious. Women can see it
sometimes, but men!--almost never! So I shall have to tell it to you in
plain words. _God is love!_

    HERE ENDS THE DIALOGUE

Now, when you have digested all this, Caroline, I want you to think what
that sort of religion really means--and how it must elevate its
believers into great broad aims and ends. How it must destroy all paltry
meannesses, because, once a person realized that, even if no one on
earth could ever know of his small action, his own soul would be aware
of it, and become tarnished in consequence--then surely he would
hesitate to commit that which would injure his own self-respect.

There is another point to be considered: how best to arrive at what is
actually right or wrong. And this can only be done by psychological
deduction, through effect back to cause. If the results of an action
produce pain and sorrow and evil, then the action--which is cause--must
be bad. And, as there is nothing new under the sun--and all actions you
would be likely to commit have already been committed by others in the
past--you can get a general idea as to their probable result. But, above
all other sides, the one to be examined is the effect upon the
community. If the result of the action can only affect yourself, then
you have the right to consider whether or no you will be prepared to pay
the price of it before you commit it. But if there is plain indication
that it can degrade or injure others who are near to you, or the
community at large to which you belong, then the sin of it “jumps to the
eyes,” as the French say.

The test of every action is whether or no it would injure your own
_self-respect_; firstly, entirely for you; and, secondly, in regard to
the community--because your self-respect would be injured if you felt
you had hurt the community.

You are a responsible being, you know, Caroline, a being with naturally
fine qualities, and one who has had the fortune to have received the
highest education. Therefore you must “make good,” and show that, when
art and science, directed by common sense, have done their best for a
young girl, she can prove in herself that it is worth while to use these
two things for the perfecting of the coming woman who is to be the
mother of that race of mental giants which we hope the middle of this,
our century, will produce.

I think I am a crusader for the cause of common sense--which is only
another word for what God meant when He endowed Solomon with wisdom.
And, as these letters to you go on, you will observe that every single
point we shall discuss will be ruled by this aspect.

For the highest ideals are only common sense poetically treated. And
now, Caroline, good-night--we have finished this talk upon religion--and
need not refer to it again, since I believe your intelligence is such
that you have grasped my basic principle. You will hear from me soon
upon another subject.

Your affectionate godmother,

E. G.



II


DECEMBER, 1912.

I hope you were not very bored by my last and rather serious letter,
Caroline. I was obliged to begin in that solid way, so that we could be
sure of our points of view being the same for future talks, but in this
missive I am going to write about something quite different, and almost
as important--your manners!

The tendency of the present day is to do away with all gentle things,
and among them courtesy has gone by the board, so that to see anyone
still with beautiful and gracious manners is a thing to be remarked
upon and rejoiced over. And I want you to be among this small company
of the survival of other days!

The modern young woman is so innately selfish that, as a rule, her
manners are only good when some definite momentary gain to herself makes
their display worth while. She is too short-sighted to look ahead and
see their value, and she is no longer a proud person remembering what is
due to herself, and, therefore, that good manners ought to be the stamp
of her breeding. She is often as primitive as a young savage, with a
smattering of a fair mental education on top.

Numbers of kind-hearted mothers about forty years ago began to think
that their own training had been horribly stiff and cruel, and gave a
much greater license to their offspring. Deportment masters and
mistresses grew to be less and less in vogue, and ridicule was cast upon
the rules that had been in practice for every girl entering society.
People began to laugh at numbers of things, a sense of humor was
reviving, and it attacked the methods and fashions of “young ladyhood.”
The children of those days, who are now mothers of the present young
girls, went a step further, with the best intentions, and augmented, by
the craze for exercise and out-of-door games, the effect of the lax
rules of deportment, so that now one hardly ever sees a really gracious
and graceful young girl, and some of them are the most unattractive
specimens of youthful females in consequence.

Now, Caroline, I want you to be a cunning creature and combine the
methods of the old and the new. If your tastes incline to violent
outdoor games, assiduously cultivate beautiful and gracious manners as
well, so that the young men you play with, while admiring your skill,
will not feel they can treat you as “another fellow,” hardly with
courtesy, and with no consideration.

Try not to swing your arms and be ungraceful in walking. Try not to sit
in every awkward position that may be comfortable. Do not cross your
legs and display yards of ankle, and, above all, do not lean both elbows
upon the table and eat as though at a picnic where gipsy’s ways were
good enough. One sees all these defects so constantly now that one has
almost ceased to remark upon them. The very tight skirts have done one
thing for women--they have enormously improved their walk, making those
long, manly strides impossible. I suppose no nation in the world has
such naturally perfectly-shaped bones and proportions--and no nation
spoils these advantages so much by their atrocious movements as we do.
Well, what a pity! And why cannot common sense step in and rectify this
failing? Why do anything with exaggeration? Why play games to death,
turning a pleasure into a grind? All is out of balance; and by these
unattractive methods girls have often had to become the seekers, not
the sought-after!

You must remember, Caroline, that you will be in a country where women
are in an enormous majority--and the effect of this is that the men,
unconsciously and naturally, have a great idea of their own value. It is
not their fault, or because they are particularly vain men; it is simply
because there are so few of them and so many of us! Therefore, if you
want really to enjoy life and count as a coveted quantity, you must rise
above the general company of young, unmeaning beings of your sex, so as
to make the nice young man you may fancy think of you, not as one of a
batch for him to choose from, but as the only desirable creature in all
the world for him to strive to obtain. The really interesting thing is
to be a personality, not one of the herd. And I would like to see you,
Caroline, with your beauty and your position, starting a new fashion in
young girls when you come out. For, my dear child, realize one
thing,--all the stuff and nonsense which you may have been told about
women fitting themselves for a self-sufficing existence, and their
“rights” and their assertion of equality, are pitiful makeshifts, of use
only if the poor things do not obtain the sole real joy and
happiness--to be the loved and honored mate of some nice man. If, by
your self-assertion and exaggerated mentality, you have been able to
crush out all sex instinct, then you become as the working bee--of a
third sex, an anomaly in nature, and a ridiculous excrescence in God’s
scheme of human progression. So for heaven’s sake, my sweet Caroline,
keep this in view. Train what individuality in yourself you will, but
keep your clear perspective so as to be able to see the ultimate goal of
happiness.

I think I have been rather generalizing, so now I want to come down to a
concrete description of what I think would be a perfect young girl, and
you must tell me if you agree with this picture of a female “admirable
Crichton”! I think, firstly, she ought to be sensible enough to
understand the colossal

[Illustration: “_I think, firstly, she ought to understand the colossal
importance of beauty._”]

importance and value of beauty, and to have learned to take care of her
personal appearance, so that in every way she is a pleasure to the eye.
She ought to have discovered early what style of garments suits her; she
should have practiced until she can do her hair becomingly; and by
exercises, and by care in remembering what is ugly and to be avoided,
she should have perfected the grace of her body’s movements. All these
things having been looked upon, not as vanities, but as the natural
polishing of the body God had entrusted her with, as the shrine for her
soul.

Her voice should be soft, and her cultivation at least
sufficient--should she not be naturally clever--to make her know the
topics of the day which are interesting to converse upon; and she should
be broad enough not to be prejudiced about any of them.

Unselfishness in her should go as far as not to want always to have her
own way, regardless of whom it hurts or discomforts. (One could not
expect more than that in these days!)

She ought to have so high a respect for herself that she could never
make herself cheap, but she should also have common sense enough to
realize that, because it is, numerically, such an unequal fight between
the sexes, she must have her weapons of attraction peculiarly well
polished. Then, out of the limited circle of possible husbands she will
have to choose from, she may hope to attract _the best_--because like
clings to like.

As she is my ideal young girl, she will not be stupid enough to set out
with the idea of making her own life self-sufficing. Whatever
circumstances may force her to do afterward, at least to start with she
will know that to be happily married is the natural goal, and that to
obtain this good thing she must take care of her equipments and fit them
for the post she aspires to.

She must have tact and a highly cultivated sense of humor, so that she
may not be a bore with her notions and her egotism. She must not stand
against the times, but be so ruled by fine taste that she cannot be
drawn into any exaggeration.

Her ambition is to become the inspiration and adored mate of whatever
nice man she may marry, because, as she is very highly refined and
balanced, she will not be attracted by the weakling or the fool, whom
she would inevitably rule while she despised him.

If she finds that somehow she has drifted into union with one of these
beings, then it will be time enough for her to assert her supremacy--and
the more self-controlled and equilibrated she is, the more successfully
will she be able to stand alone if necessity requires her to do so. But,
Caroline, remember that the natural goal and the happy and glorious goal
of a woman is to strive to be the refining influence, the inspiration
and the worshiped joy of a man. When she has to be self-sufficing,
then, no matter how great she may become, the happiness is only
second-best. So as you have youth and a clear sky, child, I want you to
set forth with a desire for this best and greatest happiness.

There are splendid and suitable young men coming on every year, so this
should not be an impossible attainment. Do you remember what Tennyson
wrote about King Arthur making his knights swear this vow after the
others?

    To love one maiden only, cleave to her,
    And worship her by years of noble needs,
    Until they won her; for indeed I knew
    Of no more subtle master under heaven
    Than is the maiden passion for a maid,
    Not only to keep down the base in man,
    But teach high thought and amiable words
    And courtliness, and the desire of fame,
    And love of truth, and all that makes a man.

Now, even with your limited experience, Caroline, I am sure you will
agree with me that there are very few modern maidens who are able to
make a young man desire to shine in any of these ways. They do not
inspire him with much reverence for themselves, or even much love!

Often the most they can make him feel is that they play a good game of
golf, or that they “aren’t bad sorts,” or something of that kind. For
you must not forget that whatever the other person thinks and feels
about you is what you yourself have given him the presentment of. It

[Illustration: “_By all means play your golf and your tennis, but try
and make your partner feel that these things are a means to securing the
end he desires._”]

entirely lies with you, therefore, what impression on his heart and
brain you wish to create. I do assure you, Caroline, that it is
infinitely more agreeable when he thinks you all that is perfect, and is
passionately in love, than when he is mildly attracted by your golf and
your _camaraderie_, while his unemployed senses, left at liberty to
roam, stray to the more cunning young women of the chorus, who have
realized that some feminine allurements are not bad things to cultivate.
By all means play your golf and your tennis if they give you pleasure,
but try and make your partner feel that these things are a means to
securing the end he desires: namely, your company and companionship; not
that you are the means to his enjoyment of the game. Do not throw away
all mystery and appear a loud, jolly schoolboy, because, if you do,
naturally the other “boys” will treat you as one of themselves, or as a
sister--not as “another fellow’s sister,” to be considered, and whose
favors are to be schemed for.

There used to be an idea that girls must be warned about wolves in
sheep’s clothing, who wandered in society ready to lead them astray,
corrupt their morals, and break their hearts! But, if these fabulous
creatures ever existed, they only survive now in a few daring, youngish
married men who make it their business to flirt with girls. I need not
warn you against these, Caroline, because

[Illustration: “_Numbers of young women do the seeking and the
hunting._”]

I know that you are a proud little lady, and one, therefore, whose
instincts would tell you that the attentions of a married man were
merely an insult, disguised in whatever form they happened to be. It is
only the lowest and cheapest sort of girl who willingly encourages such
people, blazoning to the world that her vanity is colossal and her
self-respect _nil_. So we need not touch more upon this subject. If a
man is not free to marry a girl, his assiduous attentions are an
impertinence, to say the least of it.

Owing to the scarcity of men, as I said before, they are inclined to
give themselves airs, and numbers of young women do the seeking and the
hunting, while the poor youths are scared of being captured, and, when
they are secured at all, it is unwillingly. Must not that be a hateful
blow to the girl’s pride when she thinks of it!

The legitimate way is to render yourself as utterly desirable as
possible, and then fate will bring you the particular needle your kind
of magnet draws.

There are all sorts of points about manners which add to a girl’s charm.
When you come into a room pay respect to elder people; it will not take
up much of your time, and is a gracious tribute of youth to age. And
when you go out to dine or lunch do not sit silent if you happen to be
bored with the person who is next you; you owe it to your hostess to
try to make things as agreeable as possible. And when you stay about in
country houses remember this also: You have been asked because the
hostess likes you, or you are a credit to her, or she is under some
obligation to return some civility from your family. In all three cases
you ought to make good by proving you are a most desirable guest. Try to
acquire prestige, so that none of the nicest parties are complete
without you; then you can choose which you prefer to go to. But prestige
is not acquired without tact and perfect manners on all occasions. The
tendency of all modern society is toward vulgarity and display, with a
ruthless, cynical, brutal worship of wealth, snatching at any means to
the end of luxury and pleasure. People accept invitations from those
they despise, for no other reason than because they are rich and the
entertainment will be well done. It is awfully cheap, is it not,
Caroline? and a long way from my basic principle which I explained to
you, that one must not in any way degrade oneself. Try to be kind to
everyone you come in contact with and make them feel at home, however
humble they may be, if they are your guests; be gracious and thoughtful
for their comfort and pleasure--you need never be familiar or gushing.
Be simple and modest; all pretense is paltry and all boasting is vain;
nothing but the truth lasts or gains any respect.

I should like to tell you a little story, Caroline, before I finish this
letter, as an instance of really exquisite manners.

A year or two ago I was staying in the North with a very great lady; we
were all going in to Edinburgh for the day. My friend was a little
short-sighted, and while we stopped at the bookstall before crossing
over the viaduct to the departure platform I noticed a rather
humble-looking little woman nervously and anxiously trying to bow to my
hostess, who did not perceive her. After we had mounted the stairs and
crossed the line her daughter told my great lady of this, and how Mrs.
Mackenzie, the new doctor’s wife, had looked quite hurt. My friend was
so distressed that she made an excuse to return to the bookstall, so
that she might casually pass the little woman again and bow and speak,
but not to hurt her feelings by making her feel she had done it on
purpose. I went with her, and while buying an extra paper she glanced up
sweetly at the humble-looking little woman, and said:

“Oh! how do you do, Mrs. Mackenzie? I hope your little children are
well, and the Doctor; so glad to see you are quite recovered from the
influenza I heard you had,” and then, with a gracious smile, she drew me
on, and we had to run back up the stairs to be in time for our train.
Such manners as these are the only true and beautiful ones, Caroline,
because they spring from a kind and tender heart.

Your affectionate Godmother,

E. G.



III


JANUARY, 1913.

I had meant, my dear Caroline, to write to you upon the interesting
subject of marriage in this letter, but before I can commence upon that,
I must speak of something else, and you must promise me not to be
offended at what I am going to say, since we both desire the same
end--your success and welfare. The fact is, your picture, which you tell
me was drawn by a friend, has just reached me. You say it is more like
you than the only photograph I possess of you, taken when you were
fifteen; and it is because of your assuring me of this that I cannot
remain silent--for, Caroline child, I must confess it shocks and
disconcerts me, and makes me feel that I must be very frank with you, if
you are ever going to be able to attain that position which we both hope
that you may.

Even if the drawing was perhaps done some months ago, and you have
altered your style of hair-dressing since then--still, that you were
ever able to have looked like that--you in Paris!--proves that your
observation and taste are not yet sufficiently cultivated to make you
anything of a success when you come out in May. Thus I must speak
plainly and at once.

Now, let us pretend that the little girl I see before me is not you at
all, but some abstract person; and let us dissect her bit by bit: her
type, her style, her suitability--or want of it--her attitude and the
general effect she produces. And then let me suggest the remedies and
alterations which can improve her.

Firstly, her type, Caroline, child, is not distinguished. She has a
large-eyed, dear little profile, which may be very pretty as a full
face, and which, framed in appropriately done hair, could succeed in
being picturesque, but in itself, with its little snub features, is
insignificant. She has rather a big head, and thick, bushy dark
hair--which I grieve to observe she has done in a large bun of sausage
curls!--a fashion which was never in vogue really among ladies, and for
over two or three years has been relegated to the pates of “roof-garden”
waitresses and third-class shop assistants. And further to provoke my
ire, although this girl in the picture is drawn in an ordinary morning
skirt and boots, she wears a light-colored ribbon in her hair! Caroline,
dearest, where could her eyes and observation and sense of the fitness
of things have been--with the example of the exquisite Parisiennes in
front of her--to be able to perpetrate these incongruities! But there is
more to come! Her skirt is a rough, useful serge skirt, and her boots,
although the heels are too high, are not a bad shape--but with this she
has put on one of those cheap, impossible blouses, cut all in one
piece--“kimono,” I believe they are called--with short sleeves and an
unmeaning black bow tacked to the cuff! Now, a shirt should be a
workmanlike thing, as neat as a man’s, and with long sleeves finished by
real shirt-cuffs with links. It can be composed of silk, flannel, or
linen, but if it is a shirt--that is, a garment for the morning, and to
be worn with a rough serge or tweed winter suit--it should have no
meaningless fripperies about it. If you want trimmed-up things, have a
regular blouse, and then wear it with an afternoon costume.
Short-sleeved blouses should only be indulged in in the summer, and when
they are made of the finest material. And even then, if the wearer has
what the little girl in this picture seems to have--thick wrists and
rather big hands--it is wiser to avoid them altogether!

Now that I have torn her garments and hair-dressing to pieces,
Caroline!--I must scold about her attitude. She is doing two of the most
ungraceful things: putting her arm akimbo and crossing her legs! You may
say every girl does them--which may be true, but that is no proof that
they are pretty or desirable habits! To digress a moment--I went to a
party the other night, a musical party where the guests were obliged to
sit still round the room quietly; and I counted no less than thirteen
of the younger women with their legs crossed, which in some cases, on
account of these very narrow skirts we are all wearing, caused the
sights to be perfectly grotesque. There is something so cheap about
exposing one’s ankles, to say nothing of calf, and almost the knee, to
any casual observer--don’t you think so?

But now to return to the girl in the picture! We have dissected the
details and got to her style, and the effect she produces. Her style, I
must frankly say, is common, Caroline, and the effect she produces is
unprepossessing, because it is incongruous; and incongruity in all
simple, morning, utility clothes is only another word for bad taste. I
could write pages and pages about the vagaries of fashion, and how what
looks _chic_ one year may be vulgar the next, but we have not time or
space for that. There are only these general rules always to be
observed: for the morning or the street, the most distinguished-looking
woman or girl is she who is garbed the most simply and the most neatly,
with tidy hair and every garment plainly showing its purpose and
meaning. It is in this that the Americans you can see any morning
walking on Fifth Avenue excel. But, alas! English maidens nearly always
spoil the picture by some unnecessary auxiliary touch or other.

Now, Caroline, be just, and, looking at the drawing with an unprejudiced
eye, you will admit that what I have said, though severe, is true.

With a type like yours you cannot be too particular to be on the side of
refinement and good taste, and my first advice is: Brush all that thick
bush of hair so that it shines, then part it and take the sides rather
farther back, so that they do not touch your eyebrows (I like the tiny
curl by the ear which has escaped--leave that!); then twist all those
dreadful sausages into the simplest twist, so as to make your head as
small as possible--which, apart from being the present fashion, is a
pretty balance. _Never_ wear a light ribbon in the day-time, although it
often looks very becoming at night.

In choosing an article of dress you must remember the vital matter of
its suitability; suitability generally, suitability for the occasions
you mean to wear it on, its suitability to yourself and your type. If
you cultivate these points and use your eyes and observation to see what
is the prettiest note in passing fashion, you can counteract the rather
commonplace, though pretty, appearance Nature has endowed you with, and
turn it into a quaint, picturesque little individuality.

Never buy things that you do not actually want just because they are
cheap. Cheap things nearly always have disadvantages, or they would not
be cheap. Have few clothes and good ones. Take care of them, and do not
ruthlessly crush and rumple them when you have them on, even though you
have a good maid to repair your ravages afterwards. I know you will not
have to bother about money, but I say all this because I see by the
blouse you are wearing in your picture that you have a leaning toward
these rubbishy things. Be extremely particular about your foot-covering,
too, Caroline. You look as though you had nice feet. Never buy any of
the eccentric fashions that you see in every shop window, and on the
feet of every little person trotting in the street. Go to one good
bootmaker and let him make a study of your foot, and then have the
simplest, neatest, and daintiest things made for you. You see, I am
writing to one who has ample money for whatever is required, so I am
giving her the best advice, because I fear her own taste is not
sound--and she is young enough to learn! If you were a poor girl,
Caroline, coming out in society on the narrowest means, I would send you
all sorts of hints how to arrange and manage to look sweet and lovely
upon a very small sum. It is not that all cheap things are ugly, but,
with a faulty taste and a large allowance, it is wiser for our end that
you should go only to the best shops. I implore you, Caroline, if the
instinct of personal distinction does not come naturally to you, to
cultivate it by observation. Every time you go out observe what women
look the nicest, and what makes them achieve this effect. Examine your
own little face, with its blue eyes and black hair, and try to imagine
which of the styles would suit you best and make you look the least
ordinary.

You have probably never thought of these things, and have just drifted
on with other school-girls until you present the mass of incongruities
your friend depicted in the drawing of you. I am extremely grateful that
you have sent me this sketch now, when it is not too late, and we have
still some months before us to alter matters. And your letter in answer
to my first one shows me that you have a charming nature, and will
understand this which I now write and take it as it is meant.
Exaggeration is one of youth’s faults, and easily corrected and
trained.

And now we can begin about marriage. But, as the post is going, I shall
not be able to say all that I want to in this letter.

Marriage is the aim and end of all sensible girls, because it is the
meaning of life. No single existence can be complete, however full of
interests it may be. It is unfinished, and its pleasures at best are but
_pis-allers_. You agree with me on this point, so we need not argue. But
marriage in this country is for life, unless it is broken by divorce,
which, no matter how the law may be simplified, and altered presently,
must always remain as a stain upon a woman and a thing to be faced only
in the last extremity. So, Caroline dear, when you marry you must

[Illustration: “_Marriage is the aim and end of all sensible girls._”]

realize that it is for life, and it is therefore a very serious step,
and not to be taken lightly. The rushing into unions without sufficient
thought is the main cause of much of the modern unhappiness. How can you
expect to spend peaceful, blissful years with a man whom you have taken
casually just because you liked chaffing with him and dancing with him,
or playing golf? Think of the hours you must spend with him when these
things will be impossible, and if you have no other tastes in common you
will find yourself terribly bored. In one of my books I once wrote this
maxim: “It is better to marry the life you like, because after a while
the man does not matter!” It was a very cynical sentence, but
unfortunately true. It is only in the rarest cases that “after a while”
either individual really matters to the other. They have at best become
habits; they are friendly and jolly, and if “the life” is what they both
like all rubs along smoothly enough. But love--that exquisite essence
which turned the world into Paradise--is a thing flown away.

Now, Caroline, I want yours to be one of those rare cases where love
endures for a long time, and even when it alters into friendship
continues in perfect sympathy.

So, when you feel yourself becoming attracted by a young man, pull
yourself together in time and ask yourself, if the affair goes on, would
you really like him for a husband?

[Illustration: “‘_It is better to marry the life you like, because after
a while the man does not matter._’”]

Think what it would be to be with him always, at the interminable meals,
for years and years, through all the tedious duties which must come with
responsibility. Ask yourself if his tastes suit yours, if his bent of
mind is the same, if you will be likely to agree upon general points of
view. And, if you are obliged honestly to answer these questions in the
negative, then have the strength of mind to crush whatever attraction is
beginning to spring in your heart. Once it goes on to passion, no reason
is of any use, so it is only in the beginning that judgment can be
employed.

You must remember that like draws like with more or less intensity
according to the force of

[Illustration: “_Think what it would be to be with him always._”]

characters. I know you are highly educated, Caroline, and if you do not
let yourself become priggish you should draw a very nice young man. Then
let us suppose you have done so, and marry him. You are then
contracting a bargain, and you have to fulfil your half. The modern
young woman seems to imagine she has done quite enough by going through
the ceremony, and henceforward she is to do exactly what she pleases,
and only consider her own pleasure on all occasions. This attitude of
mind makes things very hard upon the poor young man, who presently gets
bored with her, and, as in these days honor and rigid morality are
rather _vieux jeu_, he soon drifts away to other interests and
amusements. And one cannot blame him. It is upon your obligations and
behavior, not his, that I wish to write to you at length, Caroline, but
in this letter I shall have time only to begin. You must start by
understanding that the natures of men and women are totally different.
Men are infinitely more simple, and the British education helps them by
its drumming into their heads the knowledge of what is or is not
“cricket.” Their natural methods are more direct, and they are much
easier to deal with. They are fundamentally and unconsciously selfish,
because for generations women have been taught to give way to them. You
must accept this fact and not storm and rage against it. The only way
you can change it in regard to your own personal male belonging is by
inspiring in him intense devotion to yourself; but, even so, it is wiser
to face it and make the best of it, and not be disillusioned. You are
probably selfish also; it is one of the greatest signs of the age, the
growing selfishness of women. It is not altogether a bad thing; it is a
proof in one way of their increasing individuality; but meanwhile it
does not tend toward their happiness. Now, Caroline, I am sure you will
agree with me that to aim at happiness is a wiser and more agreeable
thing than just to express the growing individuality of your sex!

I must reiterate what I said in my former letters; I am advising you for
a _first start_ in all things. Circumstances may arise which may alter
possibilities, but, to begin upon, we may as well aim at the best, and
not fight windmills; storming that men _ought_ to be different, and
that women should not give way, being their superiors in most things!

It will take much longer than your lifetime (and I personally hope, in
spite of the wrath I shall excite in stating this,--much longer than
many lifetimes) to change the nature of men. So do not let us bother
over these abstract points, but accept men as they are, dear,
attractive, selfish darlings! with generous hearts and a quite
remarkable faculty for playing fair in any game. So you must play fair
also, and try to understand the rules and follow them. If the husband
you select has a stronger character than you have, and if he is also
extremely desirable to other women, the only way you will be able to
keep him through all the years to come will be by being invariably
sweet, loving, and gentle to him, so that, no matter what tempers and
caprices he experiences in his encounters with the many others of your
sex who will fling themselves at his head, he will never have a memory
but of love and peace at home. Never mind _what_ he does, supposing you
really love him and want to keep him, this is the only method to use. It
may even seem to bore him at the end of about the first two years, but
continue.

If he is young and handsome and attractive he must have his fling, and
you should let him have whatever tether he requires, while you influence
him to good and beautiful things, and always know and feel certain in
your heart that the intense magnetic force of your love and sweetness
will inevitably draw him back the moment the outside fascination palls.
These preliminary remarks, I dare say, are calculated to provoke the
fiercest argument among many girls; but wait, Caroline, until I have
finished explaining the reasons and dissecting the aspects, keeping in
view our end--common sense and happiness.

You must tell me if these things interest you before next month, when I
will write again. Because now I must end this letter.

Your affectionate Godmother,

E. G.



IV


FEBRUARY, 1913.

I am so glad, my dear Caroline, to hear that you were interested in my
last letter. It is an important subject--marriage--and one I want more
fully to discuss with you. No one accomplishes any rôle successfully
without some preparatory training--and the rôle of a married woman
requires a good deal of thought bestowed upon it before it should be
undertaken.

As I said in my last epistle, the affair is a bargain, in which too
often the modern young people refuse to recognize any of the
responsibilities. Let us, for the sake of our argument, suppose,
Caroline, that you have fallen in love with, and married, what appears
to be a suitable young man in fortune and character. We will pretend
that he is the eldest son of some one of importance, and in his turn one
day will occupy a great position. If you have carefully followed the
advice I have been giving you, you will be so distinguished in
appearance and manner that you ought to be an ornament to your new
station. And you must make your husband feel from the very beginning
that you mean to take the deepest interest in all his tastes and
pursuits: if they are political, that you will endeavor to forward his
interest and understand his aims; if they lie in the country and the
management of his estate, that you mean to fulfil all the duties which
such an existence requires. If he is a soldier, a sailor, a barrister, a
financier--no matter what--this same principle applies, though in the
latter professions you cannot take perhaps such active interest; but you
must show him that at all events you can give him your sympathy and
understanding, and make his home pleasant and agreeable when he returns
to it. If you make it smooth and charming for him you may be as certain
that he will prefer to spend all his spare time with you as that he will
break away immediately if you do not.

All human beings unconsciously in their leisure moments do what they
_like best_. If you find a man in his free hours doing something which
he obviously cannot like, it is because to _accomplish his duty_ is the
thing he _likes best_. Thus, if you bore your husband in his leisure, he
may stay with you for a while from a sense of duty, but he will begin to
make excuses of work to curtail the moments, and he will snatch time
from his real work for his pleasure elsewhere.

Whether you keep your husband’s love and devotion lies almost entirely
with yourself and your own intelligence, and I might say sagacity!
Remember this maxim: “A fool can win the love of a man, but it requires
a woman of _resources_ to keep it”--the difficulty being much greater in
a country like England, where the women are in the majority, than in
another where they have to be fought for, and the men are the more
numerous.

We will suppose that you desire to retain the love and devotion of your
husband, and have not only married him for a home and a place in
society. In this case face the fact that it is always a difficult matter
for a woman to keep a man in love with her when once she belongs to him,
and he has no obstacles to overcome. For man is a hunter naturally, and
when the quarry is obtained his interest in that particular beast wanes,
although the interest in securing by his skill another of the same
species remains as active as ever.

The wise woman realizes all these primitive and deep-seated instincts in
human nature, and adapts herself to them. She recognizes the futility of
trying to make her personal protest effective against what is a
fundamental characteristic of all male animals.

Who, seeing a wall with several gates in it, would be so foolish as to
fling herself against the stones instead of quietly going through one of
the openings, simply because she resented the wall’s being there at all!
And yet this is what numbers--indeed the majority--of women do,
figuratively, in their dealings with men; and so destroy their own
happiness. But I want you to be wiser, Caroline. Realize when you
embark upon matrimony that you will have to play a difficult game, with
the odds all against you, and that it will take every atom of your
intelligence to win it, the prize being continued happiness. You may
reply, “If Charlie requires all this management and thinking over, let
him go! I would not demean myself by pandering to such things.”

And I answer, “Certainly, if to let him go will make you as happy as to
keep him!” But if, on the contrary, it will make you perfectly
miserable, then it will be more prudent to use a little common sense
about it. Ask yourself the question frankly and then settle upon your
course of conduct.

If you decide to try to keep him, attend to your means of attraction.
While you were engaged to him you would not have allowed him to see you
looking ugly or unappetizing for the world--such things are even more
important after you are married. Never under any circumstances let him
have the chance of feeling physically repulsed--for the very first time
he experiences this sensation that will be the beginning of the end of
his being _in love_ with you, although he may go on treating you in a
very kind and friendly way. But if you want to keep him in the blissful
state, attend far more to pleasing his eye and his ear when alone with
him than to pleasing the world when you go out. Let him feel that
whatever admiration you provoke--and the more you do provoke the better
he will love you--still that your most utterly attractive allurements
are reserved as special treats for himself alone. If I were able to give
girls only one sentence of advice as to how to keep their husbands in
love with them, I should choose this one--Never revolt the man’s senses.
For, remember, this particular aspect of affection called being in love
is caused by the senses of both participants being exalted. He is moved
by what he thinks he sees in his beloved, and she likewise; and, if the
realities are far below the mark of his or her imaginary conception of
them, so much the more careful should each one be to keep up the
illusions. Very deep affection can remain when all sense of “being in
love” is over, but it has lost its exquisite aroma of sweetness.

A man will go on being in love with even a stupid woman who never fails
to please his eye and his ear--whereas he will lose all emotion for the
cleverest who revolts either. Grasp this truth, that the personal
attraction in a connection like marriage is of colossal importance, for
the moment that is over the affair will subside into a duty, a calm
friendship, or an armed neutrality. It can no longer be a divine
happiness. So if you can keep this great joy by using a little
intelligence and forethought, how much better to do so! I hope you agree
with me, Caroline?

Remember, all the other women

[Illustration: “_If you want to keep him in the blissful state, attend
to pleasing his eye and his ear when alone with him._”]

your husband will meet will only be showing their most agreeable sides
to him without the handicap of daily intercourse. Remember, also, that,
though he may have the most honorable desire to be faithful to you in
the letter and the spirit, he cannot by his own will suppress or
increase his actual emotion toward you, and if you destroy his ideal of
you it cannot be his fault if his ardor cools. That is one point of
gigantic importance which I want to hammer into your head,
child--whatever a person thinks and feels about you, you yourself are
responsible for. You have given his or her sensibilities that
impression, exactly as when you look in a mirror your reflection is
reproduced.

People complain of being misunderstood, but it is because they
themselves, unconsciously perhaps, have given the cause for
misunderstanding. A girl may say a man is a brute and a false traitor,
because in May he was passionately loving, making every vow to her, but
by October he had cooled, and by December he had become in love with
someone else! Granted that some men have fickle natures and more easily
stray than others, still the actual emotion for a particular person is
not under any human being’s control, only the demonstrations of it. I
must be very explicit about this statement in case you misunderstand me.

I mean that no man or woman can love or unlove at will--(by “love” I am
still meaning all the emotions which are contained in the state called
“being in love”). This state in man or woman is produced, as I said
before, by some attraction in the loved one, just as a needle is
attracted by a magnet. If the magnetic power were to lessen in the
magnet the needle could not prevent itself from falling away from it--or
if another and stronger magnet were placed near the needle it would be
drawn to that. It--the needle--would only be obeying natural laws and
therefore would not be responsible.

Which, then, could you blame--the original magnet or the needle?

Obviously the magnet is responsible.

You may reply. But the magnet did not wish to lessen in attraction;
that and the arrival of the stronger magnet were pure misfortunes and
accidents of fate.

Granted--but this only brings in a third influence--it does not _throw
the blame upon the needle_. So I want you to understand, Caroline, that
if a man ceases to love you it is your own fault--or misfortune--never
his fault; just as, if you cease to love the man, it is his fault or
misfortune, not yours.

These are truths which ninety-nine women out of a hundred do not care to
face. But the wise hundredth, realizing that she is the magnet, tries
her uttermost to keep her magnetic power strong enough to withstand all
misfortune or the attacks of other magnets--that is, if she wishes to
keep the man who is the needle.

And if he leaves her she must ask herself _how she is in fault_. She
must _never blame him_. If she cannot discover that she is in fault at
all, she is then in the position of the first magnet--and it is her
misfortune; but misfortune can be turned into success by intelligence,
and, with skill, a magnet can be recharged.

Now do you clearly understand this argument, Caroline? I hope so,
because I have put it plainly enough to make you conscious of your
personal responsibility in the matter of being able to retain your
husband’s love. So we can get back to the subject of the vital
importance of keeping his senses pleased with you. There are numbers of
girls who at the end of a month of marriage have done, said, and looked
things which they would have died rather than let their fiancés
perceive, hear, or see, and yet who are much astonished and feel
resentful and aggrieved because they begin to reap the harvest of their
own actions in the fact of their husbands showing less love and respect
for them.

How illogical! How foolish!

To please a man after marriage every attraction which lured him into the
bond should be continually kept up to the mark, because there are, then,
the extra foes to fight--the natural hunting instinct in man and the
destroying power of satiety. How could a girl hope to keep her husband
as a lover when she herself had abandoned all the ways of a sweetheart
and had assumed little habits which would be enough to put off any man!
If you have done everything a woman can possibly do to be physically and
mentally desirable to your husband, and yet have failed to keep his
love, you must search more deeply for the reason, and when you have
found it, no matter how the discovery may wound your vanity or
self-esteem, you must use the whole of your wits to remedy its result if
you are unable to eradicate its cause.

He may have idiosyncrasies--watch them and avoid irritating them. He may
have some taste which you do not share, and have shown your antagonism
to. Try to hide this, and if the taste is not a low one try to take an
interest in it. Try always and ever to keep the atmosphere between you
in harmony.

If the lessening of your attraction for him has been engendered by the
arrival of a stronger magnet on the scene, your efforts must be
redoubled to replenish your own magnetic powers. You certainly will not
draw him back to you by making the contrast between yourself and his new
attraction the greater through being disagreeable. If he outrages your
truest feelings, let him see that he has hurt you, but do not reproach
him--not because you may not have just cause to do so, but because
giving way to this outlet for your injured emotions would only defeat
your own end, that of bringing him back to yourself.

You may be perfectly certain that if that aim of your being remains
unchanged, and your love continues strong enough to make your methods
vitally intelligent, you will eventually draw him away from anything on
earth back to the peaceful haven of your tender arms. All this I am
saying presupposing that you are “in love” with the man, and the
greatest desire of your life is to keep his love in return.

But supposing that his actions kill your affection (this, though, is not
so likely to happen as that your actions will damp his--because of that
hunting instinct in man making him more fickle by nature)--but supposing
it does happen that you find yourself utterly disillusioned and
disgusted, then all you can aim at is to obtain peace and dignity in
your home, and at least merit your husband’s respect, and the respect of
all who know you. But this possibility I must leave the discussion of to
another letter; it would be a digression in this one.

The magnet and the needle simile works both ways. If your husband ceases
to draw your affection he will only have himself or his misfortune to
blame--not you. We have been speaking of emotions hitherto, and of their
impossibility of control--and to leave the discussion at that would
open a dangerous door to those feather brains who never, if they can
help it, look at the real meaning of an argument, but adapt it and turn
it to fit their own desires. So I must forcibly state that, although the
actual emotion in its coming or going is not under human control, the
demonstration of it most emphatically is, being entirely a question of
will. A strong will can master any demonstration of emotion, and it is
the duty of either the young husband or wife sternly to curb all vagrant
fancies in themselves, whose encouragement can only bring degradation
and disaster.

I am confining myself now to enlightening you, Caroline, upon your own
responsibilities. If your health should not be good use common sense
and try to improve it--make as light of it as possible, and do not
complain. It is such a temptation to work upon a loved one’s feelings
and secure oceans of sympathy, but often the second or third time you do
so an element of boredom--or, at best, patient bearing of the fret--will
come into his listening to your plaints. If he is ill himself do not
fuss over him, but at the same time make him feel that no mother could
be more tender and thoughtful than you are being for his comfort. Do not
be touchy and easily hurt. Remember he may be thoughtless, but while he
loves you he certainly has no deliberate intention of wounding you. Be
cheerful and gay, and if he is depressed by outside worries show him
you think him capable of overcoming them all. Let your thoughts of him
be always that he is the greatest and best, and the current of them,
vitalized by love, will assist him to become so in fact.

Think of all the young couples that you know. How few of them are really
in love with each other after the first year! They have bartered the
best and most exquisite joy for such poor returns--and they could have
kept their Heaven’s gift if they had only thought carefully over the
things which are likely to destroy it.

I believe you play the piano most charmingly, Caroline--in an easy way
which gives pleasure to everyone. Do not, when you marry, give this up
and let it be relegated into the background, as so many girls do with
their accomplishments. And if your husband should be one of those rich
modern young men who seem to have no sense of balance or responsibility,
but pass their lives rushing from one sport to another, try to curb his
restlessness and teach him that a great position entails great
obligations and that he must justify his ownership of it in the eyes of
the people who now hold the casting vote in their inexperienced hands. I
believe, from the little I know about politics, that I am a
Conservative, Caroline--but, when I see an utter recklessness and
indifference to their nation’s greatness and a wild tearing after
pleasure apparently the only aims of young lives in the upper classes,
it sickens me with contempt and sorrow that they should give the enemy
so good a chance to blaspheme.

And as women by their gentleness, tact, and goodness influence affairs
and governments and countries, through men, a thousand-fold more than
the cleverest suffragettes could influence these things by securing
votes for women--I do implore you, Caroline, when your turn comes to be
the inspiration of some nice young husband, to use your power over him
to make him truly feel the splendor of his inheritance in being an
Anglo-Saxon, and his tremendous obligation to come up to the mark.

Now you will think I am becoming too serious, so I will say good-night,
child.

Your affectionate Godmother,

E. G.



V


MARCH, 1913.

I find I must continue the subject we discussed in the last letter for a
little, Caroline, because, besides the question you have written to ask
me to answer, there are still some remarks I want to make about marriage
which may be for your enlightenment.

You write: “How would it be if the man I were to fall in love with and
marry were to be really fonder of me than I of him? Should I still have
to use such a lot of intelligence to keep him?”

Now, in reply to that, I want you to remember what I said about the
hunting instinct in man. Well, obviously, if he cares more for you than
you do for him, that instinct would still be in a state of excitement;
so that you would have this very powerful factor upon your side to
assist you in keeping your husband’s interest and affection. Marriages
are generally much happier when this is the case, but it cannot be
arranged--it is a question, one might almost say, of luck. Nothing was
ever truer than the French proverb, “Between two lovers there is always
one who kisses and one who holds the cheek.” And if the girl is the one
who holds the cheek she is fortunate indeed. But for some unaccountable
reason, although this often happens during the period of courtship,
after marriage the rôles change, and it will be then that the young
wife will require all her intelligence to keep what she has learned to
appreciate.

And no knowledge of the fact that your husband cares more for you than
you do for him ought to make you lessen your determination to be
attractive to him. To be absolutely unkind or cruel would not have so
alienating an effect as to be unattractive. No woman can count upon her
power if she ceases to charm the man’s senses. Should you be happy
enough to love a little less than your husband, you may feel that all
this analyzing of cause and effect which I have been treating you to
does not altogether apply in your case, but still, if you _are wise_ you
will take to heart most of it, and so hold what you have won.

Supposing you have returned from your honeymoon still mistress of the
situation, and, taking no trouble to please your husband, are just
asserting your own individuality and only consulting your own likes and
dislikes. Remember you have all your lives in front of you, and that
satiety is an ever-present danger. He adores you still--but he will see
you every day, and, if you take no pains to please him, that fact will
militate against a continuance of his adoration, and you may suddenly
realize that he is less eager to worship you--calmer under your
caprices, not so disturbed at your displeasure, and you will know that,
unless you use every art a woman possesses, your power over his
emotions will continue to wane.

There are some weak characters in men who are always ruled by their
wives, but of these I do not speak, because no woman ever really loves
them from the beginning, and you and I, Caroline, are discussing
marriages of love and how to keep the volatile little god an inmate of
your hearth and home.

If a girl has married a real man, there are three things she must not
forget:

That the man is stronger than she is; that the man is freer than she is;
that the man is more open to flattery than she is. And, as he is
stronger, so he will break bonds which are irksome to him more readily.
And, as he is freer, he will have more opportunity to indulge vagrant
desires. And, as he is more open to flattery, so will he be the easier
prey of any other woman who may happen to fancy him.

Thus, Caroline, even if he loves you more than you love him, you cannot
afford with safety to diminish your attractions for him. For, if you do,
it follows logically that he, as the needle, will eventually be no
longer drawn to a magnet whose magnetic force has decreased.

Now I want to discuss the two possibilities which I told you last time
must be for another letter. The first one was, supposing that you find
yourself at the end of the first year

[Illustration: “_Above all, do not be dramatic._”]

or two utterly disillusioned and disgusted--what then is best to be
done? Look the whole situation carefully in the face, and see what roads
will lead to better or worse conditions. Above all, do not be dramatic.
The ineradicable, insatiable dramatic instinct in some women has caused
them, for the pleasure they unconsciously take in a “scene,” to ruin
their own and their husbands’ lives. Men are not dramatic: they do not
“make scenes”--they loathe them; they loathe exhibitions of emotion
which, nine times out of ten, do not occur until some action of their
own provokes them, the action having proved that their interest in their
wives is going off. The wise woman instantly appreciates this point, and
knows that, if she gives way to her, perhaps just, reproaches, she will
be adding another millstone round her own neck in a further weakening of
her attraction for, and influence over, the man. The wise woman makes
quite sure that the matter which has annoyed her is really
important--she banishes it if not, and, if it is, she states her case
quietly and with dignity, so that her husband can answer her without
heat, and give her explanations--or excuses.

She must never forget that the momentary relief and satisfaction of
indulging her anger is but a poor consolation when it has produced
resentment and repulsion in her husband’s mind--even if, as in the case
of our present argument, she herself no longer cares for him. Whatever
the man has done, she ought to say or do nothing which can make him feel
_less respect for herself_ in return.

If you can keep in front of you always that basic principle which I
explained in my first letter, it will guide you on all occasions, and,
if you are disillusioned and disgusted with your husband, it will
suggest the finest course for you to take. Try to be just, do not
repine, admit to yourself that you have lost the first prize in the
lottery of marriage, but that there is still the second to be obtained,
namely, an unassailable position, your husband’s respect, perhaps the
interest in possible children, the interest in your life and your place
in the world. And, above all, that inward peace which comes from the
knowledge that you at least on your side are keeping up the dignity of
your name and station.

You may say all this would be but a very second best, when love had
been shipwrecked. I fully admit it, but it is more advisable to obtain
the second best than the tenth--or to go under altogether.

Accept the fact that such happiness as you had hoped for is not for you,
and decide to be a noble woman and do your duty. Reflection will tell
you that whatever you sow you will reap, so, if this misfortune should
come to you, keep your head, Caroline, and use your common sense.

Another thing to remember is that you will not always be young, and that
many years of your life will probably be passed when the respect of the
world, a great position, and the material advantages will count more
than the romantic part of love.

[Illustration: “_A great position will count more than the romantic part
of love._”]

And if, through your disillusion and disgust, and the pain of broken
idols, you permit yourself to act foolishly and with want of dignity at
a period when love seems of supreme importance, you will be laying up
limitations for yourself. And it is only the fool who lays up
limitations for himself or herself. You will not have got love back by
acting so, and you will have lost what might have compensated you in the
future. Nothing is more pitiful than the position of the woman of
forty-five who has made scandals in her youth, quarreled with her
husband and broken up her home, just because she herself was unhappy and
the man was a brute. She is then left with none of the consolations of
middle age. No one considers her; she is spoken of by her friends and
relations as “poor So-and-so.” If she has had children, they have grown
up under the wretched conditions of an atmosphere of partisanship for
either parent. She is ever conscious of an anomalous position, and has
to go through more humiliations than she would have had to do if she had
borne bravely the anguishes of the time of trial, and used the whole of
her intelligence to better the state of things.

However much a man may turn into a brute, if he has once loved the woman
she must in some way be to blame, because love is so strong a master
that it can soften the greatest wretch, and if the woman had kept him
loving her she would have kept her influence over him as well.

So you can see, Caroline, the tremendous responsibility you will be
taking upon yourself when you marry, and how terribly, tragically
foolish it will be of you to enter into this bond lightly and without
due reflection.

Now for the other subject I alluded to: the permitting and encouraging
of vagrant fancies. In these days, when no discipline has been taught
girls, and very little principle, they are prone to indulge any caprice
which comes into their heads. Good-looking and attractive young women
like you, Caroline, are bound to have many temptations to look elsewhere
for diversions very soon after they are married. And here wisdom--quite
apart from high principle--should teach you to resist as much as
possible, because of the end. Ask yourself if it is worth while to
start a ball rolling which can only roll down hill--if it is worth
while, for the momentary gratification of vanity, to open a door which
will let in complete disillusion for the life which you have undertaken
to live. Because all forbidden excitements are like drugs--they have to
be taken in stronger and stronger doses to produce their effect, until
the patient is a wretched maniac or dies under the strain. Suggestion
and a strong will are such great helps to happiness. Suggest to your
subconscious mind that you are perfectly happy and contented with your
legitimate mate--make the current between you one of tenderness and
charm, and sternly control every unbalanced fancy. I quote here another
of my maxims: “It is a wise man who knows when he is happy and can
appreciate the divine bliss of the tangible _now_. Most of us retrospect
or anticipate, and so lose the present.”

Do not retrospect--do not anticipate. Go on from day to day enjoying the
good things which fate has given you: _ménage_ them like a careful
housewife--use forethought--quite a different thing to anticipation!
Recognize that you are happy and decide what makes you so, and how you
can continue to employ the methods to keep this joyous state. Be
perfectly calm, and believe that nothing can alter or interrupt the
enchanting present. For do not forget--each one draws to himself or
herself what his or her thoughts dwell upon. Those who lay up for a
rainy day attract the rainy day as surely as those who always believe
that good will come secure good. A very useful thing for you to do is to
look round at all your young married friends, and see what niches they
have carved for themselves in the world--which ones are considered and
have prestige, which are treated as nobodies, which are laughed at or
pitied. Then try to decide upon the grade in public opinion you would
desire to occupy yourself, and what are the causes of your friends being
in whatever places they are. You will get a number of advantageous hints
if you do this before you embark upon marriage yourself.

You will find that simplicity, good manners, and absence of all pretense
are things which attract everyone. You will be wise never to be drawn
into a set one iota lower than the one you wish to shine in. Weed your
acquaintances and remain faithful to your friends. Society is composed,
so to speak, of three loops. There is the very common loop which, at its
upper edge, slightly overlaps the one above it, so that the best of
these common people will just be seen at the worst of the middle loop’s
parties. The middle loop, in its turn, overlaps at its highest point the
third and great loop, which never mingles with the first and lowest one.
You, Caroline, will enter society by the best door, so see that you are
not drawn to the lower edge of your loop, and so into the vortex
beneath. A large section of the world rave and storm that people are
snobs who desire to be in the best society, but they forget that it is
entirely the most amusing, the most intelligent and the most desirable,
and therefore a very natural goal for newcomers to aim at. The cleverest
men go where they meet the cleverest and most entertaining women. And
these are naturally to be found among the leisured classes, who have had
time to polish all their attractions, who have had money enough to see
the world and cultivate their critical faculties, who have learned to
dress and to move and to please the eye and ear, and whose abodes
provide their guests not only with rich food and drink and spacious
rooms, but surround them with an atmosphere of taste and distinction as
well. And when you see people with a fine title or great riches
commanding no prestige, you may know it is because in themselves they
have failed to come up to the standard of what the best society
requires. It is also the fashion to say wealth is necessary to a
position in society. It may be, if you are only trying to enter it, but
it is certainly not the case if you have a right to your position, and
are already there. Then, if you have just a sufficiency to swim with the
tide, and are charming and agreeable in yourself, you can create a
position for yourself and be the desired guest at all the best houses.

My aim for you, Caroline, is that you should come out this May with
every chance to have a glorious springtime of life, and then marry the
nicest young man, and live as happily as is possible ever afterwards.
But you must not start with impossible illusions. Men are not angels,
but spoilt, attractive darlings! And very few come anywhere near the
heroes of romance. If you fall in love with one who may be of good
family and position but is much less rich than yourself, Caroline, do
not, when you are married, ever under any circumstances taunt him with
the fact, as, I am sorry to say, some of the rich American women who
have married Englishmen have done. Never insinuate or infer that the
money is yours, and therefore you are mistress of the situation. The
man, although he may forgive you, will never recover from the sting and
the humiliation, and you will have created a canker in his feelings for
you which nothing you can ever afterward do will heal. Remember that, if
you have married a man poorer than yourself, you did it deliberately and
because you were convinced at the time that what he had to offer you in
exchange was worth while accepting. In these days no one is forced into
marriage, least of all an heiress like you, Caroline. And nothing can be
meaner or more unladylike than to remind your husband that it is you who
hold the purse-strings. Where love is, there never should be any desire
to humiliate, and, when love flies away, friendship can stay, and
dignity and respect take his place.

If your husband has a fine spirit you will have wounded him beyond
redress by taunting him with your money, and, if he has a small mind,
you will have galled him into enmity, besides having fallen far short of
that respect for yourself which is the mainstay of my basic principle.

Never ask your husband questions. If you do, you may be certain he will
only tell you the truth when he feels inclined--and one day you will
find it out, and then think he is always lying. Do not worry him when he
is tired. Never tell him of the petty delinquencies of the servants.
Learn to manage these yourself. Do not be egotistical and talk about
yourself. Do not recount to him the better position or greater
pleasures enjoyed by your friends. But, on the other hand, do not be
meek and submissive and without character, pandering to all his
weaknesses. Hold your own opinions when they are just and right, and
from the very first day inspire him with regard for you as well as love.
Let everyone in your new home understand that you mean to deserve their
respect, and so will exact its observance. Whether people are respected
in their own houses or not lies entirely with themselves, and not with
the manners or characters of their relations and servants. You can be
feared and respected, or you can be revered and respected, or you can be
outwardly respected and inwardly despised. You will be well served in
the first case; you will be exquisitely served in the second; and you
will be cheated and mocked in the third. It lies with yourself which of
these you choose to call forth. You may think, Caroline, that,
considering you are only just coming out, I might be talking to you upon
lighter and more frivolous subjects; but, as you are pretty and an
heiress, the marriage question will crop up so very soon that I feel
that now, while you will still listen to me, is my only chance to
impress its importance upon you--because the lighter things are for such
a little time, and marriage is for so many years! But in my next and
last letter before I shall see you, I will revert to the ways of girls,
to give you your last polish before you make your curtsey to the King
and Queen in May.

So now I will say good-night, child.

Your affectionate Godmother,

E. G.



VI


APRIL, 1913.

As this is the last letter I shall write to you before we meet,
Caroline, I shall have to collect all the little things I want to say to
you which are much easier to write than to express personally. And so,
first, I shall begin by suggesting what you had better avoid. The whole
tendency (as I think I said in a former letter) of modern society is
toward rowdiness and vulgarity, and if one is very young and full of
spirits it is so easy to be led away into indiscretions when one sees
most of one’s companions doing the same thing. But it is very foolish
and not in our scheme to secure for you prestige and a brilliant
future, my child, so I shall be quite ruthless in what I am going to
say.

It is very much the fashion now to lunch and dine at restaurants; even
the most youthful débutantes go to them with their chaperons, or to
large boy-and-girl dinners before balls or theater parties, when there
may be only one or two of the mothers present. I must give you a few
hints as to what I notice is common and unattractive behavior on these
occasions. One can derive a cynical amusement from sitting quietly and
watching the entrance and exit of people in restaurants, so atrocious
are the movements of most of them. It is seldom that anyone seems to
remember that in public true distinction is shown by the quietest and
most dignified bearing. You will see women and girls flustering in,
dragging on their gloves and taking great strides, or waddling in these
very narrow skirts, all self-conscious and plainly aware that they are
being observed by those sitting on the chairs at the sides of the halls.
In a public place true breeding should give you the same repose as at
home, and all but your own personal acquaintances should be apparently
unobserved. So, Caroline, cultivate this unconscious bearing. Finish
your toilet, in the way of adjustment of gloves, etc., etc., before you
leave the dressing-room, and then walk easily and without looking about
you to join your party. And when you are at the table, do not lean your
elbows upon it! If you have this deplorable modern habit in your own or
intimate friends’ houses, for heaven’s sake leave it behind you when you
come out! To see a lot of--presumably--ladies lounging all over the
cloth, as they lean forward eagerly to talk to their _vis-à-vis_ or the
persons next them, is not an engaging sight, and only a few years ago it
would have been considered as branding them as belonging to another
world. Whatever laxity of _tenue_ has become habitual in private life,
surely you can realize that it is very cheap to indulge in it in public,
and that the fact that everything is cheap now is no reason for you, who
are starting in life, and wish to be distinguished, to follow the
fashion. There is another frightful thing numbers of people do as they
leave restaurants--you will see them twisting their tongues round their
teeth or making some movement of the lips which gives the impression
that they have hardly finished their meal as they walk out! It is
perfectly revolting. It seems horrible to have to speak of such things,
child, but one sees them happen so constantly that I am obliged to warn
you.

Try to walk through halls gracefully, without self-consciousness or
swinging arms; and when the dinner has begun, enter into the spirit of
it, and endeavor to be agreeable to your neighbors, but never forget
that you are in a public place, and that at other tables there are
strangers whom you do not know, and before whom you certainly do not
wish to make yourself of no account. I have seen boy-and-girl parties at
restaurants where, if one had not known the names of the actual people,
one would have presumed they were a set of young hoydens imagining
themselves at a village feast. All noisy or unrestrained behavior is
really very vulgar in any mixed company. I am sure you will agree with
me about this, Caroline, and, if you will give yourself time to reflect
what self-respect really means, you will discover that, if it is innate,
it will guide you better than any words of mine; and that even as an
acquired quality it makes the only infallible standard to judge the
expediency or inexpediency of certain conduct by. You may, if you are
petulant, retort, “Goodness gracious, if I have got to be thinking all
the time of how I am behaving, I shall be a stuck-up, unnatural thing,
and won’t have any fun!” Now, listen, Caroline. We will make the simile
that society is an operatic stage, or, to give a still more up-to-date
example, the Russian Ballet! A certain organized institution. It could
not go on if the dancers had not been taught at all and thought they
could cavort about as they pleased on the plea of being natural. The
higher the state of their training, the _more perfectly natural_ do
their movements appear. So you, before entering society, should learn
in such perfection all the technical part of polish that to do the right
thing comes naturally to you, and gives you time, so to speak, to
encourage your individual talent, and be a Pavlova or a Karsavina. But,
if you are only at the stage of the last-joined chorus-girl, you cannot
hope to dance the _pas seul_! Should you desire to be so perfectly
savage that you need never think if you are doing ugly and unattractive
things or not, then you have no business to try to enter society at all,
which is admittedly a civilized circle, with standards of behavior which
are the result of centuries of evolution. It is not a primeval forest,
where you can climb trees and roll on the grass at will! No one forces
you to enter society, but for heaven’s sake, if you do, decide to do it
well!

[Illustration: “_I wonder if you smoke, dear girl?_”]

I wonder if you smoke, dear girl? There would be no use in my saying
that I personally think it looks utterly unattractive to see a very
young girl puffing her cigarette, because I know that I am
old-fashioned and, in this, have not gone with the times--but such is my
opinion. Should you not have begun to smoke yet, Caroline, put it off as
long as possible, and, if you do take to it, let it be because you
really like it, not for a pose, as some girls do. If you have acquired
the habit already, be very careful of your teeth as you get older, and
to have your hair beautifully brushed both night and morning--the smell
of stale smoke in the hair and breath and clothes is so disgusting.
While we are talking of personal habits and such things you will notice
that quantities of girls are not particular about their hands in these
days. The outdoor games and the boyish carelessness about wearing
gloves have almost destroyed beautiful white hands, in the present
generation, and you will often see the ugliest housemaid’s fists upon
the “Lady Clara Vere de Veres,” whose mothers are famed for the beauty
of their own fingers. Try to counteract by care the inevitable effect of
outdoor games upon your hands, Caroline; use creams, wear gloves when it
is possible, and keep your nails nicely polished. Why let one good thing
spoil another? Games are good for the health, and pretty white fingers
are pleasant to the sight.

Indeed, whatever your personal disadvantages may be, use the greatest
intelligence and get art to remedy them; do not let them slide with the
casual idea that they are only youth, and that you will grow out of
them. I am staying in a hotel in the South at the present moment, where
there is an extraordinarily pretty young girl, whose mother has allowed
her to stoop and stand all crooked. Her stockings are wrinkled and, with
a snowy neck, her arms are red and blotchy, while she leans upon the
table and eats in a horrible manner, with bright-red paws, holding her
knife and fork ungracefully; and, last of all, her head is arranged with
that awful bundle of sausage curls which I warned you about! The mother
looks a charming woman, but evidently has not what the Americans call
the natural “horse sense” to see that her poor child is being shamefully
handicapped and will be so for years, until the necessity to remove
these drawbacks strikes her own intelligence.

But, to turn from material things, there is another curious wave over
society which renders women less attractive than they were, and it is
caused by their numerical supremacy. A large percentage of them are the
seekers, not the sought-after. They actually hunt men!--the mothers for
their daughters, the girls for themselves--so that the attitude of most
of the modern _jeunesse dorée_ is one of self-defence. They are so sick
of invitations being poured upon them, of being grabbed for this and
that, so wearied with girls flinging themselves at their heads, that
their manners have often become of an insolence that would not have been
tolerated twenty years ago. But who can blame them? I implore you,
Caroline, to remain an old maid twenty times over rather than so degrade
your sex! Lots of girls are frightfully eager about their partners,
ferreting them out and reminding them of their engagements. I am sure
you are not of this sort, child, but I am only telling you of all these
horrid ways, so that you may observe them and not be led into them
unconsciously by seeing them practiced by your companions. If you have
with modesty shown you are agreeable and desirable to the young men, you
will have aroused their hunting instinct, which is always longing to
find expression, especially nowadays, when they themselves have to play
so often the part of the hunted! If you find yourself not a success,
you must ask _yourself_ why this is so; you must not get nervous about
being left behind, and turn into a seeker! There are many girls who seem
very popular and get plenty of public attention, but who behave
themselves so that they are spoken of lightly by every young man. Would
such popularity be worth having, and what would it bring in a few years?
Not much happiness, I fear. For, even if one of these girls does marry,
she will not have earned the respect of her husband, nor will she have
controlled her own emotions or desires sufficiently to be able to
maintain any stable position in life. When I look back upon those of
this sort that I knew when I was young, I ask myself where are they
now? Some of them are weary old maids--some have made hole-and-corner,
still enduring, wretched marriages--and some have gone under and are
divorced and forgotten. “Look to the end,” my dear girl, is an excellent
motto to apply to everything, especially to any common little pleasure
of the moment.

After the first season or two, if a girl does not marry she will have
drifted into one set or another, and you can judge instantly of her
status and prestige by the men she collects round her. If for the reason
of not meeting some one whom you feel you really want to marry, or for
any other reason you should remain free for a while, try at least to
have for your friends only the best and nicest, because, as I have said
again and again, like draws like, and the best is not likely to be
eventually found in the second-best circle, and I want you to have _the
best_ in everything, Caroline. Do not, as some girls do, look upon
society as simply the means to the securing of a husband, for, although
I told you in one of my former letters the goal of a sensible girl is
matrimony, still she must come naturally to this state through having,
by her own charm and complete equipment, mental and physical, attracted
a suitable mate; she must not have in front of her marriage as a
necessity, and so be ready to grab any creature who may show himself
willing with her to enter the bond. But, again, real self-respect would
ward off any of these dangers, so, if you have it, Caroline, my advice
is unnecessary. The woman who secures a husband by maneuvers and
scheming--often against the poor fellow’s will--is perfectly certain to
secure unhappiness of some sort, as well as a certain degradation to her
spirit. There are several notorious cases of this kind in society which
you will be able to observe, Caroline.

Supposing, by chance, that your tastes should turn to more serious
matters than just the amusements of balls and games and the pleasures of
your age, never be carried away by any fad or any new idea, as are
numbers of girls who are so highly educated that they have come rather
away from their more frivolous sisters. Fads are abnormal, and always
show some unbalance. One often hears would-be deep thinkers announcing
platitudes in cant phrases, and they frequently influence the young and
impressionable. You have often, for instance, heard them making remarks
about the “Rights of Man.” Now, ask yourself a common-sense question:
What are the Rights of Man? You will find that the answer is that there
are no such things! Man has evolved, and certain civilizations have
conceded him certain privileges, but as he made no bargain with the
Creator when he entered the world he cannot possibly have any “rights.”
Servants have “rights,” because they are doing specified work for food
and wages--they have made a bargain. All human beings have “rights”
between themselves when they make an agreement of exchange. But
man--just man in the abstract--can have no “rights” at all, for with
whom did he make a bargain? From whom can he claim them? So, when you
hear people using this phrase, you may know that they are talking
balderdash and have not thought about the matter.

Woman has no “rights” either. The whole aspect of these things for woman
is largely a question of geography, climate, and custom. One might say
the only natural “right” a woman appears to have is to become a mother,
because this seems to be her obvious mission in the scheme of things.
But the necessities of civilization and the laws of her country have,
above all things, restricted for her this privilege, except under
certain given circumstances laid down by law. So you see, Caroline, when
you come to analyze this phrase of “rights” it all falls to pieces! I
have only referred to it by chance, as an illustration of the folly of
using cant phrases. Never _pretend_ to be clever in any way; be natural
and easy, with that trained ease which is the highest attribute of
breeding. Another defect girls often have is shyness, and very few
people stop to analyze its cause. Shyness, when we have got down to the
bedrock of it, is pure personal egotism. People are shy because they
fancy others are observing them. If they were not so conscious of
themselves they would not be obsessed with this idea; they would realize
that they are probably not really very interesting, and may never have
struck others’ consciousness at all. But no--the perpetual, ever-present
perception of _self_ makes them awkward, makes them wonder what effect
they are producing, makes them nervous and the prey of every
foolishness. Whereas, if they were not so sensitively occupied with
their own feelings, they would do natural things without a tremor. I
have no patience when I hear a woman in a great position being excused
for stiffness and brusqueness by the plea of, “Oh, she is so dreadfully
shy!” It is not real humility--real humility would not be conscious of
self at all. It is vanity and egotism; and when seen in a grown woman
casts a very poor reflection upon those who had the charge of her
bringing-up from earliest childhood. If you are shy, Caroline, take
yourself sternly to task, analyze what makes you so, and overcome it.
Bashfulness and shyness are as great faults as boldness, and perhaps
cause more unhappiness. The antithesis of shyness is bumptiousness, and
this also comes from egotism; it is a different expression of the same
fundamental fault. Try to eradicate the root if you have a tendency to
either of its demonstrations.

There are all sorts of modern philosophers (in petticoats mostly, but
still some of them are _men!_) who, with more or less subtle reasoning,
are trying to inculcate an idea of the necessity of individualism in all
women. They urge _every unit_ to express her individuality, with the
result that the average female, who is little higher than the animal
world in intelligence, and not half so endowed with instinct, is
becoming a perfect bore! She has not the sense to see that, if she were
really gifted, nothing on earth could keep her from being individual,
and that, if she is not so, to try to push forward her commonplace ideas
only clogs the wheels of progress for the general company. Numbers of
foolish feather-brains, bitten with the idea that they have this high
mission of showing their individuality, have upset all possibility of
their own happiness and that of their families. Numbers of the poor
suffragettes are composed of these. The mass of women could not have
been intended to be individual by the laws of Nature--not of man--and
the few who are highly gifted have unconsciously been raised on
pedestals without their own effort. These are the first to comprehend
that it is necessary to look facts straight in the face, and to realize
that when it comes to the last stand, no matter what laws are made, man
will still be the master, through physical force. And oh! it would be
perfectly frightful, would it not, Caroline, dear? if we got back to a
state where men were obliged to club us to get their own way!

I am talking of this because I have often in these letters urged you to
acquire prestige through individuality, so I must explain, that you may
not misunderstand me. The thing I have been suggesting for you is
social, the individuality which exquisite manners and courtesy and
understanding can alone graft upon your natural talents and careful
education. Any other sort in a young girl turns to eccentricity. And if
when I see you I perceive that, though sweet and well educated, you are
still of a commonplace turn of mind, I shall desist from teaching you to
be a personage, but encourage you to take sensible pleasure in the
things suitable to your brain capacity; and so you will become a happy
little wife and a valuable atom of the community of England’s best
society.

And now, Caroline dear, I must conclude, and next week, when we meet in
London, I hope we shall clasp hands in mutual contentment.

Your affectionate Godmother,

E. G.



VII


JANUARY, 1914.

Since you came out last May, Caroline dear, we have seen so much of each
other at intervals that I have been able to tell you things, and have
had no occasion to write. But as I shall be abroad for several months,
and you in England, I shall have to begin again to help you in every way
I can by letters,--as--far from my task being over after your
presentation--we both found, did we not, dear child? that it had only
just begun! Because there are always new questions cropping up, which
you are sweet enough to want to ask my opinion about. And now I shall
answer the one contained in your letter of yesterday. You write that you
want to know what I think of the Tango and whether you ought to dance
it?

Let us take the subject from its broadest point of view, first--that of
new fads and fashions in general, and then we can get down to this
particular one which seems to be agitating so many minds in various
countries.

The first thing to realize is the _utter futility of going against the
spirit of the Age_. From the earliest days of civilization, waves of an
irresistible desire for some change--some freer expression of
emotion--have periodically swept over society; all the people with
limited horizons of thought have immediately launched forth their
protests, and their horrified and outraged feelings upon whatever the
subject happens to be have been expressed in frantic cries. But the
spirit of the Age has just laughed at them, and gone its way and they
have either eventually had to fall in with its mandates, or have been
swept aside and left high and dry in loneliness. I have no space here,
or desire to bore you, Caroline dear, by giving instances in the past of
what I mean, and besides most of them have been already cited in the
papers over this matter of the Tango. But to state two--everyone knows
the horror the introduction of the valse created, and the thought of a
lady bicycling would have made your grandmother shudder!

About every fad, every fashion, every new thing which is started, the
wise woman, Caroline, reserves judgment. Because these matters are not
questions of right and wrong, which a sense of duty should direct her to
have a decided opinion upon immediately; they are merely questions of
taste and expediency, and a calm review of them first is necessary
before making up the mind. If a girl or woman is of a sufficiently
distinguished personality, and is endowed with prestige and great social
position, she can start originalities herself if she pleases. But, if
she is a very young girl, this is most hazardous, and the really
sensible thing to do is to follow the oft-quoted maxim of the Prime
Minister and “wait and see!” It is as foolish to plunge with ardor into
an untested new fad--which you may be ashamed of presently--as it is to
treat it with antagonistic scorn and swear you will never have anything
to do with it! Either course of action may possibly place you in an
undesirable or ridiculous position after a while, when the fad or
fashion has either shown itself to be vulgar and impossible--or has come
to stay!

Give no opinion upon any radically new departure, my child. Quietly and
in your own mind weigh its merits and demerits, and see if they come
above or below the standard of your own self-respect and the true sense
of the fitness of things--and then presently decide for or against.
Never be ruled by the outcries of old-fashioned people any more than you
must be led away by the feather-brains of your own age. But when you
have arrived at the moment for decision judge _the thing itself_ by
those two standards that I have just indicated, and not by what anyone
else thinks of it. Ask yourself, “If I play this game, or wear these
clothes, or dance this dance, am I degrading my ideal of myself in any
way? Is there really something indecent and immodest in it? Or is it
shrieked at simply because some of the shriekers are too old to enjoy
it, or their minds have turned to whatever side of it they can fix upon
which can be developed into something suggesting impropriety?”

When you have sifted the motives for the outcries against the new
fashion, whatever it may be, and have come to your own conclusions, go
along steadily on your way, and be not disturbed, remembering always
that excess in anything is undesirable and all eccentricity is vulgar in
a young girl. There will be plenty of unbalanced youths and maidens in
your world who will rush headlong into any new fad the instant that it
is suggested to them. Well, Caroline, be very sagacious! And let them be
the _ballons d’essai_! Watch how the thing seems to you and if it is
likely to lead to pleasure or disgust. You will not have committed
yourself to either side by this abeyance of expressed opinion, and can
(to use another political phrase!) be safely “seated upon the fence”
for a sufficient time to be able to decide whether the debated thing is
only some small passing folly of one set--or if it is really something
brought by the spirit of the Age. You will soon be able to settle this
question, and, if you find that it has this omnipotent force at its
back, do not hesitate to adapt it to your desires, and _use it
gracefully_. I have emphasized these three words on purpose, because
therein lies the whole pith of the subject--for it is so often the
manner of a thing which counts more than the matter.

There is another important fact to be remembered, namely, the tremendous
force of familiarity and custom which can turn startling innovations
into unnoticeable and innocuous every-day occurrences.

If one stops to think for a minute one can conjure up numbers of sights
which, viewed from a detached point uninfluenced by the familiarity of
custom, would seem horribly shocking to one or other of our senses. For
instance, if we had never seen a butcher’s shop before, some of us would
faint at the first view of it! This unpleasant simile I give merely to
show you in a very concrete and forcible manner what I mean--your own
intelligence will apply the test to other subjects.

Thus, I remember, when first I saw a rather stout and elderly lady on a
bicycle, I felt a wave of repulsion and, with others in the street, I
turned my head to look at her in disgust. One sees them every day now
and one does not even remark the fact. I went with a party to a very
fashionable restaurant to see in 1913, where as a rule only the élite of
society congregate--and where reserve and decorum are the natural tone
of the place. However, for the New Year’s Eve feast, it seemed to have
opened its doors to a crowd of the most aspiring inhabitants of
Suburbia, who afterwards danced in the ballroom. They indulged in
wonderful “Bunny Hugs” and “Turkey Trots”--and probably the Tango,
although its name had not become so famous then, and I did not recognize
it. I recollect how we stood and watched them and laughed at some of the
sights. Respectable, and often very plump, _mères de familles_ with
agonized faces of strain in case they should forget a step, were bumping
against and clinging in strange fashion to some equally preoccupied
partner! I thought then how undignified, how even revolting it was. But
now when I go out here in Paris, even among the most _recherchées
grandes dames_ and see them (grandmothers some of them!) taking their
hour or two of exercise by dancing the Tango, I am moved by no spirit of
disgust, I merely feel critical as to whether or no they do it well--so
far has custom and familiarity removed antipathy!

So I want you to take this powerful factor into consideration, Caroline,
dear, in all matters of innovations. I want you to realize that they
will become unremarkable and unimportant--so that the only sensible,
just and _sagacious_ way to look at them, if you should feel you wish to
indulge in them, is to try to find out how far you can do so at that
present moment of the day without making yourself ridiculous or looking
unseemly. You can always exploit and expand your style when you see it
is advisable. As I said before, there is no rigid law of right and wrong
about such affairs, all are weighed by custom and suitability to present
circumstances. As an illustration I will tell you a story of, perhaps,
nineteen years ago.

I was in one of the great capitals of Europe when bicycling was just
starting, and at a court held a young American girl was presented to the
Queen. The presentations there were arranged quite differently to ours
in England and the august lady said a few words to each _débutante_.
When it came to the turn of the American girl, the Queen--a lady of
perhaps forty-five--asked her if she was interested in seeing the sights
of the ancient city.

“Why, no, Your Majesty,” the sprightly maiden replied, “I bicyclate--do
you bicyclate? It is no end of fun.”

The Queen became very pink and said coldly, “Such pastimes are hardly
suitable to my age or position,” and passed on--but the nice point of
the tale is that at that very moment the Sovereign was taking lessons
in the strict privacy of her own royal garden! Only her perfect sense of
the fitness of things made her not expose herself at that early day of
the fashion in public, or even admit that she was countenancing the new
exercise.

Do not think for a moment, Caroline, that, in all this that I have been
saying, I am advocating a hypocritical course of conduct which may be
applied to other things. This “wait and see” attitude I am only
suggesting as prudent to adopt over such light matters as fashions and
fads. But this, I hope, child, you have been intelligent enough to
understand as you have read my words. You are fortunately not of that
turn of mind which twists sentences to your own liking. So now, as I
feel that you will have grasped my point of view about all new
amusements and innovations, we can get on to the actual point of the
much discussed Tango!

It would seem that it has been brought by the spirit of the Age, and so
no outcries from any section of society will stop its progress. It will
only cease to be danced when satiety has set in, and the spirit which
brought it has moved further on. Its great difficulty will help to
lengthen its reign. Emperors and strict parents may desire its
banishment, and forbid its being indulged in by those over whose actions
they have command,--but presently their orders will be evaded by even
these, for youth will have its way, and general society will do as it
pleases.

This being the case, Caroline, you can come off your prudent fence
(where you were quite right to sit until now!) and take the very best
lessons in the Tango you can procure without a troubled thought in your
pretty head as to whether or no you ought to dance a dance of “low
Argentine origin,” or whether or no vulgar and immodest people can weave
into it some unpleasant features--the more they do so the more
gracefully and in the more distinguished fashion can you try to practice
it.

Do not endeavor to learn too many steps. Stick to a few until you can
do them so well that you can dance with any good partner without that
look of strain overspreading your face, and in the certainty that you
will be able to follow his lead. You can say to him as you start, “I
only know such and such steps.” Try at first to peep at yourself moving
in some long mirror--notice if your attitude is graceful and
sufficiently reserved without being stiff. And one thing I do implore of
you, Caroline, do not cavort constantly with any creature who may have
crept into the houses where you go, just because he is a good Tango
dancer, if he has no other quality to recommend him. Try to stick to the
young men of your own class and set, whose company you are accustomed to
in other games and other moments. They will learn to become good
dancers soon enough when they find that for them to do so is the wish of
the nicest girls. If you want an instance of what I mean, there was a
perfectly admirable illustration in the _Daily Mirror_ not long ago in
that page where the funny sketches are. I think it was called “Her
Ladyship’s Tango Partner,” or some such title, and was quite exquisitely
humorous--and gives the exact note of what I am advising you about. If
you did not happen to see it get the back numbers and look it up, as it
will show you exactly the way that it is undesirable that you should
have to look at those young men whom you allow to be your partners. When
they have sunk into just that “Her Ladyship’s Tango Partners,” then you
can know that I should not approve of your dancing with them. Unless you
have deliberately paid them to teach you, when the situation is
different and you turn into pupil and master, not a thoughtless
Caroline, using some humble person for her own ends without
remuneration, or with the remuneration of favors which should only be
granted to those of her own class.

There are always weird people in society among all ranks who seem to
take a delight in removing barriers, and the landmarks of suitable
conduct, by bringing paid instructors of fashionable pastimes out of
their places--making everyone round them uncomfortable, and themselves
conspicuous. These people--no matter what their worldly rank may
be--must have some strong strain of vulgarity in themselves not to
understand better the sense of the fitness of things, and they do much
to sound the death knell of the pastime itself. You should never forget
that gentle courtesy is due from you to every paid instructor you employ
in any of your games--but no familiarity--and if the golf master, or the
skating master, or the Tango master respects himself, he will be
disgusted with you if you forget your place with him. I believe this is
quite unnecessary advice to you, Caroline, child, but I cannot help
giving it, so unpleasantly surprised have I been at the behavior I have
witnessed among some girls who ought to have known better.

There is one other thing I have noticed and want to tell you about. I do
not know if it applies to England now also because I have not been there
since June, but here in Paris, for some strange reason, no one wears
gloves when dancing the Tango! And the result is that these clever
Parisiennes have taken unusual care about their hands--which seem whiter
and more attractive looking than ever, with superlatively polished
nails. It has brought in a regular cult of dainty fingers which I
sincerely hope will spread across the Channel. Just consider how
grateful we ought to be to the Tango if for no other reason! When one
thinks of the unappetizing red fists such numbers of our country-women
used to flourish!

Here at first one had an inclination to laugh when one saw the mothers
dancing the Tango as well as the daughters, but if they do this in
England do not let yourself be spiteful about it, Caroline. The exercise
is so splendid, and it keeps them young and inclined to be more
sympathetic with their children. What is really ridiculous in these
elderly ladies is to do anything--_soi-disant_--for pleasure which is in
reality a labor and a fatigue, just because they want to be in the swim.
But if mothers and chaperones honestly enjoy dancing and can find
willing partners, why not let them indulge their desires in peace? If
they have the dignity which they ought to have they will realize the
situations and the entertainments in and at which they ought to refrain
from participating actively. But try to be tolerant, Caroline, in your
judgment of them. For this is another remarkable feature which the
Spirit of this Age has brought--the intense desire in everyone to keep
young, and it is a good desire at its base.

I do not dance the Tango myself, although I am at the fashionable age
for it here (over forty!), but it is not from principle, but because it
would bore me terribly to have to do so--and I have arrived at a time of
life when I can please myself about my amusements. But to you who are
young I give this piece of worldly advice. Even if the Tango does not
particularly attract you, _if it is the rage among your set try to learn
it_ because otherwise you will soon begin to feel yourself left out and
neglected, no matter how pretty and accomplished you are in other ways,
for I know you well enough now to know that you are not strong enough,
dear child, to turn a tide or make any considerable quantity of your
friends follow your lead. There are only about three women in every age
who can ever do this, so do not be offended with me for my plain
speaking.

And for a last word about the Tango. Dance it, if your friends dance it,
and try to do it with the most perfect grace and modesty that diligent

[Illustration: “_The Tango--dance it, if your friends dance it, and try
to do it with the most perfect grace._”]

practice and natural refinement can suggest. It is hard work, and
nothing looks more unattractive than this dance when badly done. Be
particularly careful how you hold yourself and how you permit your
partner to hold you, and do try to keep your face from looking as though
you were counting. If a thing which is supposed to be a recreation
requires such concentration as that, it becomes no longer a pleasure to
indulge in it yourself, and gives none to those who are looking on at
you doing it. There are still numbers of old-fashioned people who have
never seen the Tango and who talk the most incredible nonsense about it,
based upon “what they have heard.” Let any of them see the dance
beautifully performed, and I am sure all prejudice against it would be
removed. But whether this is so or no, Caroline, I advise you, child, to
enjoy it while you can, allowing good taste and good sense to guide you
as to how you do it, where you do it, and when you do it.

And now, good-bye,

Your affectionate Godmother,

E. G.

       *       *       *       *       *

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

you will be so disguished=> you will be so distinguished {pg 94}

Copyright, 1912, 1913, by Harper’s Bazar, Inc.=> Copyright, 1912, 1913,
by Harper’s Bazaar, Inc. {front}





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