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she has not been found except in theory. The typical
woman, as she is
seen in the pages of history, is either very good or
very bad. We find
women saints and we find women demons; but we rarely
find a mean. Herein
is a cardinal distinction between the sexes. The man of
history is
rarely altogether good or evil; he has a distinct middle
ground, in
which we are most apt to find him in his truest aspect.
There are
exceptions, and many; but this may be taken as a rule.
Even in the
instances of the best and noblest men of whom we have
record this rule
will hold. Saint Peter was bold and cautious, brave and
cowardly, loving
and a traitor; Saint Paul was boastful and meek, tender
and severe;
Saint John cognized beyond all others the power of love,
and wished to
call down fire from heaven upon a village which refused
to hear the
Gospel; and it is most probable that the true Peter and
Paul and John
lived between these extremes. Not so with the women of
the same story.
They were throughout consistent with themselves; they
were utterly pure
and holy, as Mary Magdalene,--to whose character great
wrong has been
done in the past by careless commentary,--or utterly
vile, as Herodias.
Extremism is a chief feminine characteristic. Extremist
though she be,
woman is always consistent in her extremes; hence her
power for good and
for evil.
It is a mistaken idea which places the "emancipation" of
woman at a late
date in the world's history. From time immemorial, woman
has been
actively engaged in guiding the destinies of mankind. It