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True and False Manliness

By: James Freeman Clarke, 1886 MANLINESS means perfect manhood, as womanliness implies perfect womanhood. Manliness is the character of a man as he ought to be, as he was meant to be. It expresses the qualities which go to make a perfect man, — truth, courage, conscience, freedom, energy, selfpossession, self-control. But it does not exclude gentleness, tenderness, compassion, modesty. A man is not less manly, but more so, because he is gentle. In fact, our word ” gentleman ” shows that a typical man must also be a gentle man. By manly qualities the world is carried forward. The manly spirit shows itself in enterprise, the love of meeting difficulties and overcoming them, — the resolution which will not yield, which patiently perseveres, and does not admit the possibility of defeat. It enjoys hard toil, rejoices in stern labor, is ready to make sacrifices, to suffer and bear disaster patiently. It is generous, giving itself to a good cause not its own ; it is public-spirited, devoting itself to the general good with no expectation of reward. It is ready to defend unpopular truth, to stand by those who are wronged, to uphold the weak. Having resolved, it does not go back, but holds on, through good report and evil, sure that the right must win at last. And so it causes truth to prevail, and keeps up the standard of a noble purpose in the world. But as most good things have their counterfeits, so there is false manliness which imitates these great qualities, though at heart it is without them. Instead of strength of will, it is only willful; in place of courage, it has audacity. True manliness does what it believes right; false manliness, does what it chooses to do. Freedom, to one, means following his own convictions of truth; to the other it means thinking as he pleases, and doing as he likes. The one is reverent, the other rude; one is courteous, the other overbearing ; one is brave, the other foolhardy; one is modest, the other self-asserting. False manliness is cynical, contemptuous, and tyrannical to inferiors. The true man has respect for all men, is tender to the sufferer, is modest and kind. The good type uses its strength to maintain good customs, to improve the social condition, to defend order. The other imagines it to be manly to defy law, to be independent of the opinions of the wise, to sneer at moral obligation, to consider itself superior to the established

smoking. not because they are friends or relatives. but they often try to become so by copying the vices of men rather than their virtues. which makes one ready to say what he believes. becomes corrupted and debased by the bad examples around him and the bad literature which he reads. swearing. and their good swords rust.principles of mankind. and make him understand how infinitely above this mock-manliness is the true courage which ennobles human nature. In a recent awful disaster. They see men drinking. which try men’s souls. Firemen rush into a flaming house to save women and children. but because they are fellow-men. It is every-day courage which is most needed.—that which shrinks from no duty because it is difficult. They save them at this great risk. No matter how selfish mankind may seem. for we are not often called to meet such perils. The cure for this is to give him good books that show him truly noble examples from life and history. They read wretched stories about boy brigands and boy detectives. A false notion of manliness leads boys astray. — the dreadful scene was illuminated by the courage and manly devotion of those who risked their own lives to save the lives of others. Many a little boy who only wishes to be manly. the implacable sea and the pitiless storm. and become troublesome and mischievous. All boys wish to be manly. amid the blackness and darkness and tempest. whenever hours like these come. It shows us the real worth there is in man.” there are as high-hearted heroes now as ever. They mistake rudeness for strength. and women and children had no support but faith in a Divine Providence and a coming immortality. and fancy themselves heroes when they break the laws. Out of such false influences the criminal classes are recruited. — when men’s hearts were failing them from terror. It is more than readiness to encounter danger and death. Courage is an element of manliness. when his opinions are unpopular. they show that the age of chivalry has not gone. thinking they are making themselves more like men. disrespect to parents for independence. which does not . Such heroism is like a sunbeam breaking through the tempest. so these poor little fellows sedulously imitate such bad habits. that though ” The knights are dust. Sailors take their lives in their hands to rescue their fellow-men from a wreck.

allow him to postpone a duty. who deceives no one. and tyrannical lords. because they shrink from opposition. a bold demeanor. There are no tyrant barons now. He shrinks from the light. or because they are conscious of something wrong which they cannot defend. He who lives by firm principles of truth and right. it is often the courage of silence no less than speech. it is modest courage. but makes him ready to encounter it at once. The bad man may be audacious.the insane. Truthfulness is another element of true manliness. Therefore if we wish to be manly.” Its work is to protect those who cannot defend themselves. with no real firmness behind it. in man or woman or child. It holds fast to its convictions and principles. The true knights today are those who organize and carry on the societies to prevent cruelty. habits of conduct of which we are ashamed. rescues little children from bad usage. and falsehood is cowardice. whether men hear or whether they forbear. giants. because men are afraid of standing by their flag. and so conceal. His manliness is only a pretence. which is not the slave of custom. who defends animals from being cruelly treated. the oppressor and his victim. The good knight to-day is he who provides help for the blind. to stand between the tyrant and the slave. or to enforce the laws against those who for a little gain make . abusing its power over women and children and domestic animals. It says. He protects all these sufferers from that false manliness which is brutal and tyrannical to the weak. but he has no true courage. lead to falsehood. is true manliness. True manliness is humane. Lies usually come from cowardice. he hides himself in darkness. we must not do anything of which we are ashamed. the deaf and dumb. It is infinitely becoming in all persons. those who oppressed the poor and robbed helpless women and orphans of their rights. a courage which is not afraid of ridicule when one believes himself right. who therefore has nothing to hide. “We who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak. Secret faults. but the spirit of tyranny and cruelty is still to be found. It is identical in all times with the spirit of chivalry which led the good knights to wander in search of robbers. unpretending though resolute. And thus the sinner is almost necessarily a coward. secret purposes. he alone is manly. the fool of fashion. an empty shell. injures no one. Such courage as this. It does not seek display. and seeks to give working men and women their rights.

the heroes of our times. as in the Mohammedan regions. Neither you nor I can tell what that is till all artificial barriers are removed. The bravest and most heroic souls are usually the most loving. It fears their competition on equal levels. . Mazzini. rude and rough and overbearing. False manliness is self-willed and self-indulgent……. cynical and contemptuous. and wishes to keep them confined. who never feared the face of man. True manliness holds out the hand to woman. And this is the real chivalry of the present hour. True manliness differs also from the false in its attitude to woman. to be her protector and advocate. prejudice. ” Do whatever you are able to do. such men in their homes and their private life have a womanly gentleness. cold and hard. True manliness is temperate. Garibaldi. are examples of this union of courage and tenderness. it is capable of self-denial and renunciation. whatever God meant you to do. Kossuth. false manliness. Gustavus -Adolphus and William of Orange. with no kindly sympathies. False manliness is unfeeling.” Manly strength respects womanly purity. but it does not respect them. it is moderate. sympathy. and supposed feminine aptitudes. to maintain her claims. it exercises drunkards. Luther. Its knightly feeling makes it wish to defend her rights. and grace of heart. It flatters them. The giants and dragons to-day are those cruelties and brutalities which use their power to ill-treat those who are at their mercy. False manliness wishes to show its superiority by treating women as inferiors. not within walls. Bold as lions in the defense of the right. and you have full opportunity to try. and says. True manliness is tender and loving. but behind the more subtle barriers of opinion.