The exception is supposed to prove the rule. A woman may be forgiven for defying Popular Prejudice, if she is very pretty, very silly, and very wicked. Popular Prejudice has the natural instinct of yielding to any little weakness that may be imagined to flatter a Man. But Popular Prejudice is superbly angry with a woman who is perhaps not pretty, yet ventures to claim good sense and personal will, and who may be innately good. Popular Prejudice is the fast friend of lean-faced Envy; and woe betide the woman (or even the man) who would presume to sit down at the board of these allies uninvited.
Popular Prejudice, having decided that woman is a poor, weak creature, credulous, easily influenced, holds that she is of necessity timid; that if she were allowed as much as a voice in the government of her native country, she would stand appalled if war were even hinted at. If it be proved by hard facts that woman is not a poor, weak creature, then she must be reprimanded as being masculine. To brand a woman as being masculine, is supposed to be quite sufficient to drive her cowering back to her 'broidery-frame and her lute.
Popular Prejudice abhors hard facts, and rarely reads history. Yet nobody can deny that facts are stubborn things, or that the world rolls calmly round even when wars, rumours of wars, revolutions, and counter-revolutions, are raging in every quarter and sub-division of its surface.
War is, undoubtedly, a horrid alternative to the average woman, and she shrinks from it—as the average man shrinks. But, walking down the serried ranks of history, we find strange records of feminine bravery; as we might discover singular instances of masculine cowardice, if we searched far enough.