Henry H. Chamberlin, Jr.
REPRINTED FROM DECEMBER 1893 ISSUE
The study of Feminology is, perhaps, the most interesting branch of scientific research. Now, although investigations in this science are made by most of us between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five, yet, in general, our attention is so absorbed by the concrete phenomena of single specimens, that a comprehensive knowledge of the subject is hardly ever gained.
My purpose, in this exposition, is to give the reader such an accurate general knowledge of this subject as an analytical observer like myself may well have. To accomplish my purpose, it is necessary to divide my work into three heads. First, to summarize the different classes of the genus femina; second, to describe a specimen of each class; third, to state those underlying characteristics which the whole genus possesses.
The genus femina is divided into two great families: femina modesta and femina vulgaris. In the latter family, the specimens haunt such loathsome dens, and exhibit such disgusting traits, that I cannot speak of them here. Suffice it to say that, since the unhappy creatures are generally the victims of circumstance, they are rather to be pitied than to be blamed.
The family femina modesta may be roughly divided into three species: first, puella quieta; second, puella masculina; third, puella inconstans. Though a few other species exist, they are so insignificant as to be unworthy the attention of the experienced feminologist. Such, for example, is the species vulgarly termed “pills.” These are so appalling in their dulness that one shrinks from observing a single specimen.
Let us return to the important species. The first of these, puella quieta, through her excessive shyness and reserve, affords an almost insurmountable obstacle to the investigations of the feminologist. However, if the feminologist have the good fortune to secure the regard and confidence of one of this species, his task of analytical observation becomes, comparatively speaking, easy.
In the winter, for instance, specimens of puella quieta habitually avoid observation. They are rarely to be found outside of their dwelling places; and even when so found, their timidity renders analysis impossible. In the summer, on the contrary, when, with the rest of their kind, they migrate either to the mountains or to the sea-coast, they become bolder. At such times they flit gaily about in herds; and it is then that the feminologist, if he be lucky enough to be on familiar footing with one or two specimens, may without trouble pursue his investigation.
The second species, puella masculina, is far more susceptible of scientific analysis. Indeed, since specimens rather seek than shun observation, the feminologist, in collecting data, finds no difficulty whatever. The specimens are abundant at all times and in all places: they roam on the public highway: they frequent public amusements: they are, in fact, a trifle too pertinacious in thrusting themselves upon the public gaze.
The principal characteristic of puella masculina—from which she receives her name—is her inordinate fondness for adopting the various forms of men’s dress. Indeed, the raiment which covers the upper part of her body is eminently masculine. In protecting the lower limbs, however, she has up to this time conformed to those rules which custom prescribes for the genus femina modesta: but, since she is of an impatiently aggressive nature, it is a question of anxious conjecture among feminologists, whether she may not in the future break through these laws of custom and adopt throughout the apparel of man.
Thirdly comes the species known as puella inconstans. This, of all three species, is perhaps the easiest to observe superficially and the most difficult to analyze thoroughly. At first easy of approach, puella inconstans, grows more and more elusive as the investigation continues,—till at last the feminologist, unless very ardent, is fain to give up in despair.
The species, puella inconstans, numbers among its specimens some of the most beautiful examples of the genus femina modesta. Although, as I said before, all these specimens seem at first easily accessible, yet each specimen is in itself so intricate that a thorough examination of it would be the work of a lifetime. The feminologist will find infinite difficulty in such investigations; because his most profound inductions and his most careful deductions are likely as not to be rendered valueless by a single act of a single specimen of this eminently capricious species.
I have briefly described each species of this interesting genus. Let me now state the principal characteristics of the genus as a whole. To do this I cannot do better than to quote the distinguished feminologist, Guy de Maupassant, whose remarks on this branch of the subject are practically final.
“Je parle,” he says, “des femmes vraiment femmes, douées de cet esprit à triple fond qui semble, sur la surface, raisonnable et froide, mais dont les trois compartiments secrets sont remplis: l’un, d’inquietude feminine toujours agitée; l’autre, de ruse colore [sic] en bon foi, de cette ruse de dévots, sophistique et redoubtable; le dernier enfin, de canaillerie charmante, de tromperie exquise, de délicieuse perfidie, de tous ces perverses qualités qui poussent au suicide les amants imbécillement [sic] crédules mais ravissent les autres.”