BEFORE taking leave of our subject we have a few words to say about the Studious Flirt. The woman who is truly scientific is not a flirt. The genuine frequenter of the Bound Room of the British Museum, of the South Kensington picture-galleries, or the lectures of the Society of Arts, would no more favour the advances of the male sex than would Pallas herself. But every true article has its imitations, every flower its parasites; and though the firmly rooted wall-flower of the National Gallery or of Exeter Hall would doubtlessly shrivel up like a mimosa under the male touch, yet the parasites, who are not truly studious, but only wish to seem so, behave very differently. Indeed, they too readily avail themselves of the opportunities which their pursuits furnish them with to carry on their flirtations in the most open way.
Young men, pushed by circumstances into learned society, may meet with young women dragged there by relations; or desperate flirts may even repair to these meetings on their own account, to hunt down the men who are too shy to show themselves at wedding breakfasts and similar matrimonial marts. And there are few things easier than to beg prettily for an explanation of that little difficulty which Indocta can never understand without a guide, but which Studiosus of course knows thoroughly how to explain.
An excuse being thus found for half-hours of conversation in which the chaperon takes little part, the down-hill road is safe and pleasant. Sometimes an old book-grub is sooner captured than a young one, both as being less on his guard and also as being less closely watched by the dragon aunt who generally presides over the destinies of studious young men. But woe to the damsel to whom the literate old gentleman uses the words 'my dear!' They mean that he is married long ago, and can be nothing to her. Even if widowed, those who say 'my dear' to a girl seen for the first time, seldom care to marry twice.
There is a Studious Flirt, who really has no pretence about her.
She has received an education of a very learned sort, which, has early filled her mind with a taste for science. She is, perhaps, the daughter of a professor or archæological lecturer. She began to assist her father in correcting proofs when she was sixteen, and by the time she was twenty she had learned to take a serious interest in his pursuits.AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM.
At her father's suggestion she tries her hand at an essay, which gets printed in a magazine. It treats of 'Woman's Dress in the Middle Ages,' and gives proof of observation and historical research. The style is, of course, loose, and the affected use of learned words makes the article read somewhat ludicrously to the critics. It gets 'whipped' in consequence. The young lady bites her lip, but rallies. Her next contribution to the press is couched in a more serious vein, and secures for her a few compliments from the critics. After this, Miss Studiosa gets formally admitted into the ranks of the learned.
She dons a double eyeglass, and lets herself be elected an honorary fellow of an Archæological Society. Accompanied by her father, she joins summer excursions into Cornwall and Wales where cromlechs, funeral tumuli, and vestiges of Roman camps are to be found.
She carries a reticule, into which she drops bits of flint, which are supposed to be arrow-heads and lance-heads of the Age of Stone. She becomes a connoisseur in antediluvian remains, and you could not deceive her about the precise age of a broken earthenware pot excavated from a sandpit.
But archæological excursions may lead to flirting. Those young professors in spectacles are often sly fellows, who can wink in stray corners, and convert the inspection of an old bone into an occasion for saying soft things. Studiosa is not made of wood, and listens kindly to the compliments that are paid her. For all that, she would rather flirt with a dragoon than with a savant, because woman likes to assert her superiority, and there is no possibility of doing this with a man who knows more about bones and tumuli than she does. But perhaps Studiosa botanises. In this case there are many fine days, when she can exchange soft nothings with young gentlemen interested, like her, in collecting ferns and orchids. She wears a tin box slung to her side. She stoops to find rare specimens of vegetation growing in rocky nooks. Some of these are out of her reach, and she requires assistance to climb up to them. Studiosus, fresh from Oxford, lends her a hand or a 'back up.' Between them they succeed in uprooting the rare vegetable. Studiosa, in consigning it to her tin box, says, 'So kind of you!' Studiosus answers, 'There is nothing I would not do for you.' After which he tries his tongue at a compliment. 'I wish I were that fern.' 'Why?' 'Because it is next your heart.' 'Oh!' says Studiosa, and slings the tin box round to her right side; but she has blushed, and Studiosus is half caught already. If she will only be kind to him during the rest of the botanising trip, he will make her an offer of marriage at the moment of separation.
Studiosa, however, may go in for abstruser subjects than archæology and botany. There are many free-thinking young ladies in these times. They have read Darwin, Renan, Herbert Spencer, and Huxley. They have made up their minds that this is an age of shams; that religion is an error; and society, as at present established, a delusion. They sneer when they pass churches; they contribute to atheistical publications; they think that marriage is a civil contract, and that sensible people should never have the nuptial knot tied in a church.
Studiosa, as an atheist, is sure to be an awful person, and will either not marry at all or will marry a curate after she has repented. Men do not much care to have free-thinking wives; but a pious curate, falling in with a comely infidel, may haply try to convert her, and render himself very interesting in her eyes by so doing. He will speak so softly that Studiosa will be touched. She will have learned by this time that science is vanity, and that the reading of Darwin brings no spiritual consolation. She will hanker after church services, and dream of getting married in a church in regular bridal attire and with full choral service. If she have a little money the curate will propose to her, and they will make a great fuss together about her taking the Communion for the first time, and thereby sealing her abjuration. Learned young ladies who have forsworn religion are generally most anxious to have their re-entry into the fold affirmed in the most solemn manner possible. If Studiosa could have her way she would, when marrying the curate, have all Darwin's and Kenan's books burned at the altar.
|About Flirts||Flirt's Power||Season Flirt||Example And Precept|
|Plain Sisters||Ecclesiastical Flirt||Home Regimental Flirts||Foreign Regimental Flirt|
|Seaside Flirt||Tourist Flirt||Country-Town-House Flirts||Sentimental Flirt|
|Taken from original text, as written. May contain OCR errors.|