If "the proper study of mankind is man," it is also the chief delight of woman. It is not surprising that men are conceited, since the thought of the entire population is centred upon them.
Women are wont to consider man in general as a simple creation. It is not until the individual comes into the field of the feminine telescope, and his peculiarities are thrown into high relief, that he is seen and judged at his true value.
When a girl once turns her attention from the species to the individual, her parlour becomes a sort of psychological laboratory in which she conducts various experiments; not, however, without the loss of friends. For men are impatient of the spirit of inquiry in woman.
How shall a girl acquire her knowledge of the phenomena of affection, if men are not willing to be questioned upon the subject? What is more natural than to seek wisdom from the man a girl has just refused to marry? Why should she not ask if he has ever loved before, how long he has loved her, if he were not surprised when he found it out, and how he feels in her presence?
Yet a sensitive spinster is repeatedly astonished at finding her lover transformed into a fiend, without other provocation than this. He accuses her of being "a heartless coquette," of having "led him on,"—whatever that may mean,—and he does not care to have her for his sister, or even for his friend.
Occasionally a charitable man will open his heart for the benefit of the patient student. If he is of a scientific turn of mind, with a fondness for original research, he may even take a melancholy pleasure in the analysis.
Thus she learns that he thought he had loved, until he cared for her, but in the light of the new passion he sees clearly that the others were mere, idle flirtations. To her surprise, she also discovers that he has loved her a long time but has never dared to speak of it before, and that this feeling, compared with the others, is as wine unto water. In her presence he is uplifted, exalted, and often afraid, for very love of her.
Next to a proposal, the most interesting thing in the world to a woman is this kind of analysis. If a man is clever at it, he may change a decided refusal to a timid promise to "think about it." The man who hesitates may be lost, but the woman who hesitates is surely won.
In the beginning, the student is often perplexed by the magnitude of the task which lies before her. Later, she comes to know that men, like cats, need only to be stroked in the right direction. The problem thus becomes a question of direction, which is seldom as simple as it looks.