HONESTY OF MEN AND WOMEN
Mark Twain was honored by multitudes for his qualities as a man, and for nothing more than for his chivalric, almost Quixotic, honesty. But this he disclaims for himself in an anecdote printed in The Forum. In his own words:
"A man can be easily persuaded to step outside the strict moral line, but it is not so with a woman. It was my wife who said: 'No. You shall pay 100 cents on the dollar, and I am with you all the time.' She kept her word, and it is rather more due to her than to myself."
Accordingly, instead of paying 30 cents on he dollar and getting a legal quittance, he paid 100 cents and died an honest man.
But was it really necessary for him to be so very honest as to take away his own character and give it to his wife? And he phrased it so that he seems to have ranked masculine honesty below feminine. How about that very important matter? Is everybody agreed that women are more honest than men? How many women would have done what Mark Twain did, without or with the inspiration of their husbands? Or, having done so, how many would have uttered words like Mark's in his posthumous tribute to petticoat morals? To put matters concretely, let us suppose that a lady telephones to her grocer to send her a bottle of pyro, and that he sends "Old Crow" and charges for pyro. Would the ladies all pay the higher price? Or would they say that the grocer had made enough out of them in various grocer's ways, and that the little windfall would be accepted? Are men or women honester about paying their car fares when the conductor does not make a personal demand? What is the proportion of male and female shoplifters? These exciting questions are doubtless better suited to cooler weather, but Mark Twain is posthumously responsible for throwing this apple of discord in this current week.
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