has long been enrolled among the vices which we should
abhor, – has been execrated by the church, and condemned
by popular consent as a spiritual attribute to be eradicated;
and there is a sort of pride, or a degree of pride, which
is altogether personal, petty, and unworthy, and which
is only saved from being most offensive by being ridiculous.
however, is essentially and fundamentally one of the virtues,
not one of the vices. Pride, if you analyze it, seems
to be one of the component parts of love. For in love
there is an unreasoned, incomprehensible attraction for
another, which draws us often in spite of [Page
213] our better judgment, in spite of our finer
instinct, and which we call the physical element of love.
It is not at all an ignoble quality, as many have mistakenly
fancied. It is not a quality of which to be ashamed, or
of which we should try to rid ourselves. It is probably
governed by reasons more complex and subtle than we comprehend.
And powerful as it is, its mandates must be given their
Physical attraction, or the primitive
blind forceful bidding of cosmic nature, is only a third
of love, however. There are two other constituents, equally
important. The second constituent is spiritual, and partakes
of the nature of worship or reverence, and leads to those
beautiful enduring acts of devotion which we so commonly
associate with the idea of love. But the third constituent
of the passion of love is pride. Love manifests itself
in our bodies as instinctive craving, in our souls as
devotion, and in our minds as pride.
No love is complete without pride.
It is not enough that I feel an irresistible liking for
[Page 214] my friend, and that I rejoice
in an unswerving devotion toward him. I must be able to
retain my pride in him as well. My judgment must be able
to consider him in all his dealings and find him good.
When I can no longer take pride in my friend, there is
only the ghost of love left. When he does that of which
I must disapprove, perfect friendship is imperilled. I
may continue to be devoted as before, but the fair relation
of our lives is impaired. I can no longer give him that
unqualified enthusiasm, that delightful zest of the spirit,
which betokens a great friendship. When I think of him
my thought is infected with sadness. I no longer love
him with my whole being; my pride in him, for the time
being at least, has suffered injury.
Just so in the relations of men
and women, pride is the savour of love. Adam is enamoured
of Eve, first by propinquity, second by admiration, lastly
be unselfish devotion. But the admiration, the pride in
Eve’s traits and accomplishments, is at first probably
much [Page 215] more than one-third of
Adam’s feelings toward her. And all through their
courtship Eve has enough intuitive wisdom to foster this
pride of Adam’s toward herself; and Adam, taught
by the same wise nature, knows without thinking that he
must be his best before Eve. Then follows the ceremony,
the sad enthrallment, which appears to be necessary still,
and which is so often fatal to love. But why fatal? Why
should marriage be so indubitably a means of the destruction
of love? Why is it so rarely the ideal relation which
we persist in pretending it is?
Is it not because of disillusionment?
And does not the disillusion follow from carelessness?
sooner has Eve become Mrs. Adam than she takes Adam’s
love for granted. She begins to rely on her marriage certificate.
That terrific endowment is endowed with so much real and
manifest power over the will and the action of her companion
that she inevitably comes to consider Adam’s heart
as firmly bound as Adam’s person. Little by [Page
216] little she neglects those instinctive admonitions
of her nature, which would bid her always appeal to Adam’s
pride in her. She no longer feels it necessary to please
him, to appear to best advantage in his sight. He is only
her husband; it doesn’t matter. She “braces
up” “for company,” but when “only
Adam” is at home she may go as slipshod and negligent
as she pleases.
And Adam? Well, Adam doesn’t
shave every day now. There will be no one at breakfast
but Eve. When the dinner is not good he can grumble a
little, if there is no one present but his wife. He, too,
has forgotten that pride is one-third of love.
So Adam and Eve reveal to each
other their petty faults, their insignificant flaws of
character, which so little care would hide; the admiration
of each for the other is gradually destroyed; pride is
allowed to die, and with the death of pride love receives
a mortal wound. Oh, Eve, how can you be so foolish? How
can you imagine that any silly writing [Page 217]
upon paper will bind an immortal being to you,
when you allow that being’s pride in you to be outraged
every day? And oh, Adam, what a fool you must be to allow
Eve to suffer one moment’s disillusion in regard
to you! If you cannot retain the love of Eve, it is your
fault, very often, and not hers; and you deserve to lose
her. And if she cannot command your continual regard,
ten to one it is her own fault and not yours.
Of all the cause which make for
the overthrow of love and the destruction of the happiness
between men and women, (so sad and, alas, so common!),
surely none is surer nor more frequent than this loss
of pride. Yet some men are so fatuous that they will not
allow others to retain any illusion in regard to themselves.
They insist on revealing all their weaknesses, with a
fond notion that an engaging frankness is better than
deception. Not so. No man has the power of reaching his
own ideal, unless he inculcates that ideal of himself
in the minds of others [Page 218].
But noble, generous, wise, and
modest pride is not a virtue much in vogue in our day.
Are we not apt to think that democracy consists in making
ourselves no better than our neighbours? Whereas true
democracy implies only the free and fair chance to each
man to be his best. The capacity for being one’s
best remains unchanged; and the duty of being one’s
best stands as obligatory as ever. I believe in freedom
for all (the wise man might say), because I believe in
it for myself, in order that I may realize my better and
greater self. And to do this one must have pride, –
pride that keeps one erect and unflinching to the last,
– pride that insists on scrupulous manners, admirable
breeding, deep culture, and impeccable self-control, –
pride that preserves for ever the beautiful and radiant
illusions of the soul. For without pride in ourselves,
in our work, and in each other, life becomes sordid and
vulgar and slovenly; the work of our hands unlovely; and
we ourselves hopeless and debased [Page 219].