ELLA WHEELER WILCOX

She Says That Nothing Can Ever Compensate
a Woman for the Utter Absence of Tactfulness

By Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Copyright, 1907, by American-Journal-Examiner

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The possession of talent, education, and all the feminine virtues, cannot compensate a woman for the utter absence of tact.
  By tact I do not mean diplomacy.
  Diplomacy suggests the designing woman; the woman who has always her own ends in view; while tact springs from the unselfish and kind impulse.
  The perception of tact is so keen that it intuitively avoids the phrase and tone which would wound; and applies the soothing balm of the right word in the right place to one who is suffering from another's lack of tact.

Silence is Eloquent

A woman of gifts and good intentions called upon another woman whose name was also known in the world of art.
  "I have enjoyed my call so much," she said on leaving. "And I find you so unlike what you are said to be; I shall be so happy to set some people right in their ideas of you."
  Could anything be more tactless, or denote a greater lack of the finer sensibilities?
  Her hostess (in spite of her sense of humor which made the situation more amusing than otherwise) was left with the impression that save for her departing guest, her reputation in some unexplained particulars, was in dire jeopardy.
  The tactful woman would have made her departure gracefully; and whatever rightings of wrongs, or correcting of mistakes, she had to do among her acquaintances afterward regarding her hostess, would have been done without a proclamation in advance, or a report afterward.
  "You can always depend upon me as a friend who will defend you when you are not present," one woman said to another.
  While any human being who possesses a particle of individuality or one charming quality, usually needs defence from envy and malice at some time in his or her life, yet no one likes to feel that his friend is obliged to carry weapons upon his account.


  The tactful friend carries them, but they are concealed; after he has shown them on the proper occasion, he does not relate the fact to the friend. Friendship speaks more loudly in silences of this nature than in loud boastings before or after defending another.
  And however loyal and true a friend may be, the friend who proves a continual delight, through years, must possess tact.
  The tactless woman frequently possesses a really kind heart; she is not to be confounded with the spiteful woman, who purposely makes her acquaintances (for she has no friends) uncomfortable.
  For the latter, not the former, were written these lines:

The Tactless Woman

She is wonderfully observing
  When she meets a pretty girl,
She is always sure to tell her
  If her hair is out of curl.

And she is so sympathetic;
  To her friend, who's much admired,
She is often heard remarking
  "Dear, you look so worn and tired."

  The tactless woman usually possesses great benevolence, and love of power. She wants to shine as a benefactor; and to have her friends realize her vigilance in their behalf.

And she said, "If you had heard me yester
     e'en I'm sure, my friend,
You would say I am a champion who
     knows how to defend."
And she left me with the feeling, most
     unpleasant, I aver,
That the whole world would despise me
     if it hadn't been for her.

But oftentimes the enemy from whom we are saved wounds less cruelly than the reported defence of the tactless friend.