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Here we are at last, and what a curious lot of people they are. In no drawing-room in Boston will you see so many people you never saw before, and probably you never saw so many people together before whom you would never care to see again. And curiously enough, they themselves care very little to see one another again, and it is easily explained. For here we have a mass of the literary excrescences of the day, and I have remarked that among the intellectual small-fry in Boston or elsewhere there is a startling lack of humility. Each man, and particularly each woman, feels called upon to assume a prominence in proportion to his own estimation of his powers; but this of course does away with some of the most necessary and most fundamental laws of our social system. For if you wish to talk, you must have some one to talk to; but here they all talk. If you wish for sympathy, you must have some one to sympathize with you; here they all wish for sympathy. If you wish to be loved, you must have some one to love you; but here they all wish to be loved and have no time for loving, and consequently they are not so comfortable with one another as others who are sometimes, perhaps infrequently, willing to shove "self" into the background. My dear fellow, if you want to make friends, and make them rapidly, pursue the acquaintances you make this evening. Let them talk to you, sympathize with them, love them, or try to, and you will become the most popular man in the room. Ask the young woman to send you her verses; she will do it; I can vouch for her most profuse willingness in that regard. Ask the Nihilist over there in the corner when and where he is to speak next on his pet subject, and win his regard for life. Allow the timid-looking old gentleman by the mantelpiece to tell you about co-education, and swallow every mad idea he offers you, and finish him up by asking for his last pamphlet on "A Refutation of the Arguments on the Physical Disability of Women to do Man's Work." Get the stout maiden lady over there without any corsets on to put her autograph in your album of her "Fragments," and she may possibly introduce you to her neice, who is charming (that is, she has never written anything and is willing to love), and I fancy you would be willing to have her do so here, and you can rest assured you will never see her anywhere else. In short, all you have to do is to put any mark of individuality in the background, allow them to swallow you up in their own enthusiastic conceits, egg them on to do the same, and you will gain friendships in proportion only to the raw literary material that will be showered upon you by tomorrow's mail. And now let me introduce you to Mrs. De Sorosis and Dieu te garde, while I continue my psychological investigations - by the way do not forget to tell Mrs. De Sorosis that you are strongly reminded of the French salons of two centuries ago; it will procure you invitations as long as she knows your address.
And now, having bent over Mrs. De Sorosis' hand without bursting the seams in my waistcoat, which is getting tremendously tight, and having seen my friend safely launched, let me tell you what I can about these people. There are two women I know by the window; they are talking about somebody, and if you like "feminities" you will hear something interesting from that standpoint, I am sure. One of them is a grass-widow (cause, spiritual incompatibility), and the other is a bona fide widow (cause, a few years' bad cookery with digestive powers in favor of the lady now before you). They are talking about Mrs. De Sorosis, and as I am a meek little person myself they do not mind me but continue the following conversation as though I was not present:
Grass widow. - I am sure I never saw him anywhere; she always goes about with that niece of here.
Bona fide widow. - Well, I always insisted upon it that my dear husband should accompany me everywhere.
Grass widow. - Perhaps he does not feel at home in intellectual society. I should not wonder a bit if he were a perfect boor; they say he made his money but a short time ago.
Great heavens! thought I; "at home in intellectual society;" for the G. W. is a music teacher now and boards on Columbus avenue.
Bona fide widow. - Well, I think it is much more respectable to have him round occasionally, even if he is not quite up to the mark - you know what a time I had with my dear John.
Grass widow. - Yes, but it is very wearing on a high-strung, nervous disposition to have a husband who has no sympathies with one's most sacred aspirations.
Bona fide widow. - I don't believe she cares a fig for him, anyway; she excuses it by saying that her intellectual reservoir would run dry without constant replenishing.
Grass widow. - Yes, I fancy her intellectual reservoir is of such dimensions as to be filled and still leave her with considerable time on her hands.
Bona fide widow. - (Laughingly) You caustic creature, let's go and speak to her.
No one hates women more bitterly and loves men, en masse, more tenderly than a grass widow. Verbum sap.
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