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The Atom of Oxygen blushed
When it felt fair Hydrogen's breath,
Eager to Life out of Death.
Through Ocean's murmuring dell
Ran a whisper of rapture Elysian;
Ran a crack that whispered of fission.
Alas! that such things should be,
That cruel unkind separation,
Should follow the first osculation.
O tender lover and miss,
You cannot remember too well
Was the first Bathybian sell.
Not only are women rapidly invading the domain of chemistry, but they are also the yellow peril of her sister science, pharmacy. A drug-store without a dimpled damsel is now a fit subject for the sheriff's hammer.
There in the corner pharmacy,
This lithesome lady lingers,
Are fashioned by her fingers.
Her phiz behind the soda fount
May oft be seen in summer;
When you receive it from her.
While mixing belladonna drops
With tincture of lobelia,
Is fairer than Ophelia.
Each poison has its proper place,
Each potion in its chalice;
They call her digit-Alice.
Love has been the theme of every age and of every tongue. It is the test of youth and of the capability of progress. So long as a man can and does love, he is young and there is hope for him. Whoever saw a satisfactory definition of love? No one, simply because the science of physical chemistry is yet young, and it is only when moulded by the principles of that science that the definition is complete and intelligible. Love is the synchronous vibration of two cardiac cells, both of which, were it not for the ethics of etymology, should begin with an S. Love is the source of eternal youth, of senile recrudescence. It is the philosopher's stone, the elixir of life, the fountain of flowers. So love changes not—the particular object is not of much importance. One should never be a bigot in anything and a wise man changes often.
The grade of civilization which a nation has reached may be safely measured by three things. If you want me to tell you where to place a nation in the scale, don't tell me the name of it, nor the country it inhabits, nor the religion it professes, nor its form of government. Let me know how much sugar it uses per head, what the consumption of soap is, and whether its women have the same rights as its men. That nation which eats the most sugar, uses the most soap, and regards its women as having the same rights as its men, will always be at the top. And nowhere else in the world is more sugar eaten, more soap used, and women more fully admitted to all the rights of men than in our own United States and in the American Chemical Society.
To the chemist, as well as to other scientific men, woman is not only real but also ideal. From the fragments of the real the ideal is reconstructed. This ideal is a trinity, a trinity innominate and incorporeal. She is Pallas, Aphrodite, Artemis, three in one. She is an incognita and an amorph. I know full well I shall not meet her; neither in the crowded street of the metropolis nor in the quiet lane of the country. I know well I shall not find her in the salon of fashion, nor as a shepherdess with her crook upon the mountain-side. I know full well that I need not seek her in the bustling tide of travel, nor wandering by the shady banks of a brook. She is indeed near to my imagination, but far, infinitely far, beyond my reach. Nevertheless, I may attempt to describe her as she appears to me. Let me begin with that part of my ideal which has been inherited from Diana. My ideal woman has a sound body. She has bone, not brittle sticks
of phosphate of lime. She has muscles, not Aabby, slender ribbons of empty sarcolemma. She has blood, not a thin leucocytic ichor. I have no sympathy with that pseudocivilization which apparently has for its object the destruction of the human race by the production of a race of bodiless women. If I am to be a pessimist, I will be one out and out, and seek to destroy the race in a high-handed and manly way. Indoor life, inactivity, lack of oxygen in the lungs, these are things which in time produce a white skin, but do it by sacrificing every other attribute of beauty.
In the second place, my ideal woman is beautiful. I will confess that I do not know what I mean by this; for what is beauty? It is both subjective and objective. It depends on taste and education. It has something to do with habit and experience. I know I shall not be able to describe this trait, yet when I look up into her eyes-eyes, remember, which are mere fictions of my imagination—when I look into her face, when I see her move so statelily into my presence, I recognize there that portion of her which she has inherited from the Aphrodite of other days; and this I know is beauty. It is not the beauty of an hallucination, the halo which a heart diseased casts about the head of its idol. It is the beauty which is seen by a sober second thought, a beauty which does not so much dazzle as it delights; a beauty which does not fade with the passing hour, but stays through the heat and burden of the day and until the day is done.
The beauty which my ideal woman inherited from Aphrodite is not a fading one. It is not simply a youthful freshness which the first decade of womanhood will wither. It is a beauty which abides; it is a beauty in which the charm of seventeen becomes a real essence of seventy; it is a beauty which is not produced by any artificial pose of the head or by any possible banging of the hair; it is a beauty which the art of dressing may adorn but can never create; it is a beauty which does not overwhelm the heart like an avalanche, but which eats it slowly but surely away as a trickling stream cuts and grooves the solid granite.
I regard true beauty as the divinest gift which woman has received; and was not Pandora, the first of mythical women, endowed with every gift? And was not Eve, the
first of orthodox women, the type of every feminine perfection? Only Protogyna, the first of scientific women, was poorly and meanly endowed. If I were a woman I would value health and wealth; I would think kindly of honor and reputation; I would greatly prize knowledge and truth; but above all I would be beautiful-possessed of that strange and mighty charm which would lead a crowd of slaves behind my triumphal car and compel a haughty world to bow in humble submission at my feet.
In the third place my ideal woman has inherited the intellect of Pallas. And this inheritance is necessary in order to secure for her a true possession of the gifts of Aphrodite. For a woman can never be truly beautiful who does not possess intelligence. It is a matter of the utmost indifference to me what studies my ideal has pursued. She may be a panglot or she may scarcely know her vernacular. If she speak French and German and read Latin and Greek, it is well. If she know conics and curves it is well; if she be able to integrate the vanishing function of a quivering infinitesimal, it is well; if from a disintegrating track which hardening cosmic mud has fixed and fastened on the present, she be able to build a majestic, long extinct mammal, it is well. All these things are marks of learning, but not necessarily of intelligence. A person may know them all and hundreds of things besides, and yet be the veriest fool. My ideal, I should prefer to have a good education in science and letters, but she must have a sound mind. She must have a mind above petty prejudice and giant bigotry. She must see something in life beyond a ball or a ribbon. She must have wit and judgment. She must have the higher wisdom which can see the fitness of things and grasp the logic of events. It will be seen readily, therefore, that my ideal is wise rather than learned. But she is not devoid of culture. Without culture a broad liberality is impossible. But what is culture? True culture is that knowledge of men and affairs which places every problem in sociology and politics in its true light. It is that drill and exercise which place all the faculties at their best and make one capable of dealing with the real labors of life. Such a culture is not incompatible with a broad knowledge of books, with a deep insight into art, with a clear outlook over the field
of letters. Indeed it includes all these and is still something more than they are.
My ideal then, so regally endowed, is the equal of any man-even if he be the “ideal man of the American Chemical Society.
My ideal stands before me endowed with all the majesty of this long ancestral line. Proud is she in the consciousness of her own equality. Her haughty eye looks out upon this teeming sphere and acknowledges only as her peer the “ideal man," and no one as her superior. Stand forth, O perfect maiden, sentient with the brain of Pallas, radiant with the beauty of Venus, quivering with the eager vivacity of Diana! Make, if possible, thy home on earth. At thy coming the world will rise in an enthusiasm of delight and crown thee queen. [Long and enthusiastic applause.)