live in an age when too many women appear to be ambitious of morally unsexing
themselves before society, aping the language and the manners of men -
especially in reference to that miserable modern dandyism of demeanour, which
aims at repressing all betrayal of warmth of feeling; which abstains from
displaying any enthusiasm on any subject whatever; which, in short, labours to
make the fashionable imperturbability of the face the faithful reflection of the
fashionable imperturbability of the mind. Women of this exclusively modern
order, like to use slang expressions in their conversation; assume a
bastard-masculine abruptness in their manners, a bastard-masculine licence in
their opinions; affect to ridicule those outward developments of feeling which
pass under the general appellation of "sentiment." Nothing impresses,
agitates, amuses, or delights them in a hearty, natural, womanly way. Sympathy
looks ironical, if they ever show it: love seems to be an affair of calculation,
or mockery, or contemptuous sufferance, if they ever feel it.
To women such as these, my sister Clara presented as complete a contrast as could well be conceived.
Wilkie Collins, Basil, 1852