From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY
April 23rd, 1864
The Amiable Woman Photographed
Mrs. Bland is an exceedingly popular personage, indeed, esteemed quite a model by herself; and also by that class of highly respectable and incomparable individuals who congratulate themselves upon having the ability to please the whole world in consequence of possessing that wonderfully desirable trait of character – amiability.
We do not mean amiability as defined by Webster, but as understood by the class referred to; who should certainly be appreciated in “these degenerate days.” They are so excessively punctilious. And how entertaining and instructive! In their society one fears no wounds from keen, sparkling repartee, from scorching, dazzling wit, of meteor- like brilliancy. Nor is there danger of experiencing that uncomfortable feeling – envy. Nor do their genius, talents, individuality, or intellectual attainments, tempt to a violation of the seventeenth commandment; neither are they so deplorably ignorant as to call things by their proper names, unpleasant morals being known in their vocabulary; nor do they adhere to an opinion longer than is perfectly convenient. Neither have they the bad taste to insist upon the possession of their own souls! (granting they have any, which some uncharitable people doubt,) but seem quite ready to humbly beg pardon for committing the impropriety of entering the world at all.
True, they cannot understand lofty principle, nobility of soul, immutablility of opinion, speaking for the oppressed, and, if need be, battling for the right. But do they not veer round to all points of the compass to please? With consciences India-rubber-like, avowing loyal sentiments to the loyal union man loving his contry next to God, and the next moment agreeing with a vile, slimy, creeping copperhead, a rank secessionist, hissing forth treason and venom.
Their motto is, – be always popular; for if a man, there is the hope of office; if a woman, the prospect of matrimony. For do not many of the generous, liberal-minded, and discerning “Lords of Creation,” prefer a gentle, plastic, creature, an artificial nonentity, to a noble, whole-souled, high-minded woman, lest the contrast between them be too suggestive? One with intellect of Lilliputian order, seldom fancies have a wife’s colossal.
So anxious mamas desire their daughters to copy Mrs. Bland, who never offends Mrs. Grundy, and is too amiable to possess strong feelings, but whose limited stock is invariably called into exercise if a woman ventures to have an opinion, or, far worse, has the audacity to express one at variance with old, pre-conceived notions. And, if so “unwomanly” as to differ from a “gentleman,” she witheringly exclaims, “I had before supposed Miss Lawton was an amiable young lady!”
And did not this pattern for imitation, – this woman, par example, when her parents wished, break the engagement existing between herself and a poor young man, though with all her capacity loving him, when a merchant (who had failed, and was therefore rich) solicited her hand, and she married him, while attached to the other. For, as she remarked, “there is nothing like having all one’s friends satisfied.”
True, the poor young man soon after attained high eminence, and, in a pecuniary point of view, (as well as every other,) was a more desirable match than Mr. Bland; but that could not be forseen, and Mrs. Bland is far too amiable, if she feels any regrets at the irrevocable step, to express them. Lancilotte. Southold, Suffolk Co., N.Y. 1864.