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The fundamental and intrinsic differences of character that exist in
individuals are well illustrated by those that distinguish the two sexes, and
which begin to assert themselves even in the nursery, where all the
children are treated alike. One notable peculiarity in the character of the
woman is that she is capricious and coy, and has less straightforwardness
than the man. It is the same in the female of every sex about the time of
pairing, and there can be little doubt as to the origin of the peculiarity. If
any race of animals existed in whom the sexual passions of the female
were as quickly and as directly stirred as those of the male, each would
mate with the first who approached her, and one essential condition of
sexual selection would be absent. There would be no more call for
competition among the males for the favour of each female; no more
fighting for love, in which the strongest male conquers; no more rival
display of personal charms, in which the best-looking or best-mannered
prevails. The drama of courtship, with its prolonged strivings and doubtful
success, would be cut quite short, and the race would degenerate through
the absence of that sexual selection for which the protracted preliminaries
of love-making give opportunity. The willy-nilly disposition of the female
in matters of love is as apparent in the butterfly as in the man, and must
have been continuously favoured from the earliest stages of animal
evolution down to the present time. It is the factor in the great theory of
sexual selection that corresponds to the insistence and directness of the
male. Coyness and caprice have in consequence become a heritage of the
sex, together with a cohort of allied weaknesses and petty deceits, that
men have come to think venial and even amiable in women, but which
they would not tolerate among themselves.
Various forms of natural character and temperament would no doubt
be found to occur in constant proportions among any large group of
persons of the same race, but what those proportions may be has never yet
been investigated. It is extremely difficult to estimate it by observations of
adults, owing to their habit of restraining natural ill Previous page Top Next page