LETTERS TO ABSTRACTIONS. No. VII.—TO VANITY.
Imagine my feelings when I read the following letter. It lay quite innocently on my breakfast-table in a heap of others. It was stamped in the ordinary way, post-marked in the ordinary way, and addressed correctly, though how the charming writer discovered my address I cannot undertake to say; in fact, there was nothing in its outward appearance to distinguish it from the rest of my everyday correspondence. I opened it carelessly, and this is what I read:—
RIDICULOUS BEING,—In the course of a fairly short life I have read many absurd things, but never in all my existence have I read anything so absurd as your last letter. I don't say that your amiable story about HERMIONE MAYBLOOM is not absolutely true; in fact, I knew HERMIONE very slightly myself when everybody was raving about her, and I never could understand what all you men (for, of course, you are a man; no woman could be so foolish) saw in her to make you lose your preposterous heads. To me she always seemed silly and affected, and not in the least pretty, with her snub nose, and her fuzzy hair. So I am rather glad, not from any personal motive, but for the sake of truth and justice, that you have shown her up. No; what I do complain of is, your evident intention to make the world believe that only women are vain. You pretend to lecture us about our shortcomings, and you don't seem to know that there is no vainer creature in existence than a man. No peacock that ever strutted with an expanded tail is one-half so ridiculous or silly as a man. I make no distinctions—all men are the same; at least, that's my experience, and that of every woman I ever met.
How do you suppose a woman like HERMIONE succeeds as she does? Why she finds out (it doesn't take long, I assure you) the weak points of the men she meets; their wretched jealousies, affectations and conceits, and then artfully proceeds to flatter them and make each of them think his particular self the lord of creation, until she has all the weak and foolish creatures wound round her little finger, and slavishly ready to fetch and carry for her. And all the time you go about and boast of your conquest to one another, and imagine that you have subjugated her. But she sits at home and laughs at you, and despises you all from the flinty bottom of her heart. Bah! you're a pack of fools, and I've no patience with you. As for you personally, if you must write any more, tell your fellow men something about their own follies. It won't be news to us, but it may open their eyes. If you can't do that, you had better retire into your tub, and cease your painful barking altogether. I've got my eye on you, so be careful. I remain (thank goodness)
Now that was not altogether an agreeable breakfast dish. And the worst of it was that it was so supremely unjustifiable. Had my indignant correspondent honoured me with her address, I should have answered her at once. "Madam," I should have said, "your anger outstrips your reason....