IN looking over almost any assemblage of persons some candidates for marriage might be found. Young men whose countenances would betray them, and young women that need not deny the natural yearnings of their hearts. Now, girls, while reading this do not shrug your shoulders, and exclaim you do not wish to marry, for I am quite sure you do, and when an excellent offer is given you will prove my words are true. That would be right. God has planned it so, and no one need object. But before you accept, consider well the act, and be sure that you are prepared in other words, are qualified! No man or woman should accept an opportunity of marriage unless both are qualified. The reader may exclaim, "Qualified! Must we have certificates, as teachers do, before they can have a school?" I answer, yes. Some plan like that would be excellent.
It would be wise, in the management of these matters, to have committees appointed to wait upon the anticipating pair two gentlemen to counsel with the swain, and two ladies to confer with the prospective bride; and these should ask important questions, and wait for the replies. If satisfactory answers could not be given, they should advise them to postpone the marriage until they had gained more wisdom. The first query might be, Do you know the nature of the companion you would have? Is there an ideal in your mind? If a young man wants a horse, he knows before he sees it just the creature he would have; it is pictured on his mind. It must be a black horse or a grey one, a brown horse or a bay one; it must be heavy built or slight; have good eyes, good ears, no blemish no disease, and must travel at a certain pace. All the good qualities his horse must have the youth could tell. But ask him what kind of a wife he wants, and he would doubtless hesitate, or say "I don't know." If young men would take as much interest in the study of the natural character and disposition of the women they select for their life associates, for the partners of their joys and sorrows, for their bosom companions, for their wives; as they do in the choice of a beast of burden that might without objection be sold or given away, according to the impulse or caprice, there would be happier homes than we now often find. Upon a careful study of this subject, it will be discovered that there is as much difference between women as there are differences among horses. Women with dark hair do not act like women with light hair; tall women do not act like short women; or broad women like narrow women. Therefore if a young man admires a woman with light hair, he should not marry one with dark hair, or his ideal will not be met, nor will his happiness be complete.
Ask a girl what style of hat she wishes, and she can soon explain. It must be either a high or a low hat; it must have a narrow brim or a broad one; it must have plumes or flowers she has a "love of a hat" in her mind. But ask her what style of a husband she would have, and at once she will reply that she does not know she has never thought about that, only it must be one who will support her. What happiness this knowledge must afford! To know that ladies are waiting for support. What bliss for young men to know there is a chance to spend their money; to pay board bills and to purchase shawls. It must indeed be charming! But girls should know, that there is much more to consider in the acceptance of a husband than the mere support. The question might be asked how are you now supported? And some might reply "by our own efforts." Then, dear girls, you know that it is done and perhaps as satisfactorily as if you were married, for, with due respect to all my readers, I have known some wives who have not only supported themselves, but likewise husbands and whole families.
Healthy, able, energetic young women never need marry for support. They should be equal to the task of being self-sustaining and ought to be encouraged in the effort to secure a sufficient amount for the labour they perform to live so that the marriage state might be entered from choice rather than necessity. If such were the case, there would be fewer unhappy marriages then we find to-day When a young woman can teach, do needlework, millinery, or engage in music, art, or manual labour, and receives the proper remuneration, she may do well. If her portion be but small, from ten to twelve shillings a week, she may be comfortably maintained. What she earns is her own, to do with what she likes. At the end of the week, when she holds her half-sovereign in her hand, she experiences a feeling of independence, a triumph of gain over necessity; that something has been accomplished. Now, dear girls, I shall whisper very low, yet loud enough for you to hear, that I have known some married women who have seldom seen a bright half-sovereign at the end of the week when their hard work is done. They worked perhaps as hard as you, and all they got was their clothing and their food, and both were sometimes very poor. So girls don't leave your post of duty for the simple hope of making money by being some man's wife.
Young men, have you any means on hand, if you are about to marry? I think I hear you say there will be no money needed if the girls must earn their way! You need not infer from my remarks that young women must or even can earn the same amount after marriage they could before. You must not suppose that your wife can serve at any trade, or do any kind of business that she had done, perhaps, while single, for she cannot keep your house, look after family wants, and earn from other sources. That source of revenue must cease when she becomes your wife. But some young men never think that money will be needed; hence they are not provident, but marry all the same. A young man I met, after the ceremony was performed, asked the parson what was the fee? "A guinea," was the reply. The newly-made husband said, "Won't ten shillings do; it is all I have?" He paid out his last money; exhausted his exchequer; was financially bankrupt; but he had a wife, though nothing to support her.
Young men must have money; but I would not advise the girls to favour wealth; for it often does not bring happiness. If a young man has inherited a fortune from father or friend, not having business talent, he is quite liable to lose his property; then the fall from riches to poverty will prove a serious misfortune, and the wife will suffer more inconvenience and humiliation than if she had not married an heir. If the man has earned a large amount by his close application, and saved it through close-handed habits, the wife may see but little of his wealth; and when she asks her husband for cash to purchase books or to pay for lectures, with emphasis he proclaims against such extravagance, and soon reminds her that he earned his money, and does not intend to spend it in this way: and she is really worse off in many respects than wives with humbler means and more generous husbands.
A young man who is industrious and can save; one who knows where and when to spend for the comfort of his body and the improvement of his mind; who has paid his debts, board, boot, and laundry bills, and has twenty pounds in the bank, may become a candidate; he has proven that he can earn and can save above his daily wants; and if he marries a young woman well trained to business, who is prudent and economical, the two may become successful partners, and by their combined efforts may soon win a pleasant home, and have it well surrounded with comforts and coming luxuries; and that home becomes the mutual property of both. The husband should not say my house, my lot, my cow, for these are not solely his they belong to both. It would be much more proper to say our house, our home, our cow.
My is a selfish little word; one had better practise saying our, our, our, while single, then it will be less difficult. And when the money is earned by the husband it also belongs to the wife, for they are partners now, and should equally share profits; so please do not store the money away as sole dictator of its use, but have a general receptacle from which both can have an equal chance to spend, as it equally belongs to both.
If there is anything that makes a woman discontented, and actually dislike and hate a man (for woman can hate as earnestly as she can love), it is being compelled to cringe and beg for what is really her own. Deprive her of her independence, and treat her as a child, and she will naturally wish to spend the shillings she may find; but throw her upon her dignity, and prove that you have confidence in her ability, and she will soon show evidence that money is valued by her, and often she will become most judicious in her expenditure. Another question I would ask: If the girls can bake a loaf of bread, broil a steak, or in a general sense, keep house? Ah, so many girls cannot; to attempt to bake would break their hearts, because the dough won't leave their dainty fingers; and mothers keep the house, while the girls practise on the organ, or embroider. It is well enough to practice music and entertain your husband; but you will find that husbands must be sustained as well as entertained; that, however charming the music is, however sweet, you will not have good-natured husbands unless they have good food to eat; and if the wife is not informed upon these important matters, and cannot prepare a meal, nor direct its preparation, the husband may have to give her lessons, and teach her to cook as "his mother did", the way his mother prepared a steak, the delicious bread she used to bake until the wife resents, and tells him sharply that he had better go and live with his mother if her cooking suits him better.
So, from this defect in her education, arises a cause for contention, and greater troubles may ensue. Then, girls, get ready. Take lessons of your own mothers, nor think that you will lose your caste by being trained to keep a house as it should be kept when you are married. If a wife does not require to do the work herself, she should at least be able to superintend and to direct.
Some women prefer to attend to other business instead of turning their hands to housekeeping; if so, it may be best. Women, as well as men, have special talents, and these should rule their lives, to a great extent, as their happiness depends upon their use. Some are natural artists, some musicians, some mechanics, some teachers, while others may become physicians; and if such are happily endowed with special talents in these departments, it would be as difficult to turn their tastes and their desires from the positions in which their talents would naturally place them to sweeping floors and kindling fires, as it would to turn the lawyer from his client to the anvil, or the natural clergyman to the work-shop or the engine, and make a great success. This all would decide to be impossible. Then, where woman displays a natural talent, it would be well to give it the opportunity to develop, and she may earn by it enough to have her house well kept by those who enjoy such work. If these rules were carried out, there would not be so much discontent as we see in the marriage state to-day, and more family comforts and luxuries might be secured, and perhaps at less expense.
The next inquiry I should make would be in regard to age; and if the young man should answer that he was twenty, and thought he was quite old enough to marry, I should from necessity have to say, "Why, you are but just a boy; you do not know yourself, nor what you need and would admire in your wife. What you might to-day admire, you would reject in five years time. The face so round and smooth, with pretty dimpled cheeks and chin, in five years' time you might declare was as characterless as putty. As you advance from early youth to the years of mature development, your ideas and your love will change. So do not fix your heart upon your boyhood's choice, although sometimes they may continue faithful. Twenty-five is young enough for a man to marry." And if the girl should say that sweet sixteen was not too young for a girl to marry, or at least to be engaged, at once I would suggest that she should go to school and complete her education, and wait until she had come to the age of womanhood until she had her growth. As yet her bones are soft, are not developed; her muscles are soft, and her brain is also. Wait, dear girls, until you are of age, or twenty-one, before you change conditions.
It is not strange that the young should love all persons do love, and some almost from babyhood; but these are not the loves of absolute maturity. No doubt but we can all recall to mind the loves of early days, how even at school we formed very strong attachments. I well remember, when just a child, I thought I loved as much as any woman could; it was one of the schoolboys who attracted me his name was Joe Whitehead. He was my favourite, and, as his home is far away, I may use his name more freely than I otherwise should do. Joe was a handsome boy, with a round face, brown eyes, and dark curling hair. When he was not at school, the days were long, but when he was, then time flew too fast. And Joe loved me, I thought, from the pictures cut out of almanacs, and the fruits and flowers he brought. One day he had his pockets full of apples, had more than they could hold, and he carried a large red apple in his hand, which he gracefully tossed up, and caught every time it fell. No doubt but he perceived an anxious look, so when the teacher's back was turned, he threw the apple across the school-house yard; I caught it in my two hands, and it thrilled them just like electricity, to the very elbow joints; because it came from Joe. I looked at Joe, Joe looked at me; he smiled, then I smiled too, and when I ate that apple it did not seem to reach the stomach, but every mouthful found the heart, as lovers' apples always do.
Time passed on, and changes came ; my love for Joe began to wane I really liked his brother better. Such is human nature among the growing boys and girls: they must not depend upon their loves until they become matured. Suppose that Joe and I had married then, what a foolish couple we should have been, and now to-day I might be living in some cottage, on some other hillside, darning Mr. Whitehead's stockings, no happier than that other couple, who watched the flowers grow, but cared nothing for each other. Then, youths of either sex, be careful.
Children are imbued with a pure affection which we might all be proud to have bestowed on us, and as time progresses, and the gentle hand of maturity softly touches the spotless brows of youth and early maidenhood, the heart at once responds like the famous rock of old to the rod of Moses, and the silver springs of love gush out from the misty fog of child hood, and pour their sparkling waters at the feet of almost anyone who skilfully applies the magic wand of flattery, praise, or marked attention. This the noblest boon to mortals given is often sacrificed upon the unworthy altar of ambition, selfish gain, or passion.
Few parents, even after having passed through many of life's experiences, and been subjected to temptations, regard or comprehend the affectional demands of their own children. If they did they would surely win them to themselves.
In accordance to nature's plan, fathers and daughters, mothers and sons affiliate more completely than mothers and daughters, or fathers and sons. If this law of attraction obtains in every other department of life with which we are acquainted, we will not ignore it in the family circle.
Claiming this to be natural, let the daughter bestow her love upon her father and brother ; and the son his upon the mother and sister.
The daughter can thus receive at her father's side the affection which she needs, without danger to herself. His conduct will be guided by the wisdom of experience and by the tenderness of paternal love.
Let me emphatically urge upon parents the importance of special love and tenderness towards these dear children during this transitional period. Yet how often do we hear the thoughtless parent coldly repel, if not rebuke, the aflectionate expression of son or daughter with, "Go away, don't bother me; you act like a child." It is a child he thus repels, and a growing love he turns away, that might lie upon his bosom more brilliant and more precious than all other jewels he could wear.
Is it any wonder that the sad young heart turns away to find, in someone else, the love it should have found at home?
It is no wonder that premature marriages so often occur between very unsuitable parties, and that life-long misery follows "The first mistaken impulse of an undisciplined heart."
Fathers and brothers, then, do not forget the claims these dear girls rightfully hold upon you, which, if neglected in consequence of other society, or pressure of business, may induce them to accept improper offers, and wander from the fold, to become lost to happiness while in search of it. Their days may be spent in misery, and their lives be cut short by sorrow all of which you might have saved had your duty been understood and conscientiously fulfilled.
"The heart, like a tendril, accustomed to cling,
Mothers and sisters! Upon you likewise is there an incumbent duty to discharge: that of studying the nature and inclination of those noble sons and brothers, who so much need your love to shield them from the glaring temptations of the world. With your tender affection and timely advice, many may be saved from hasty, unfortunate marriages, or from the terrible consequences of a dissolute life.
Love properly expressed has a more salutary influence than any form of corporeal restraint. When persons are conscious of the fact that they are uncared for; have no one at home to rejoice at their corning, or to bless them with a parting kiss; knowing, "There is no one to love, none to caress," it is natural for a sense of recklessness to overshadow the mind; and under such circumstances habits may be contracted and associations formed of the most unprofitable and degrading kind.
I may make a suggestion to the gentlemen not to marry sickly girls. If you do, you will regret it, for you will not be as fond of them as you will of healthy ones. We never enjoy disease in fruits, flowers, or persons. If we were to pass a tray of fruit to a dozen friends, and tell them to take their choice, no one would prefer a gnarly worm-eaten apple, or one decayed, to apples ripe and sound. No one would from choice select a withered rose, or a faded pink; the healthiest fruits and flowers are always sought, and so should be healthy wives and husbands. But these remarks do not apply to the married people. If wife is ill, or complaining, there may be sufficient cause through harder work, or greater cares since marriage, to induce this suffering some over-exertion, some strain of nerve to make her husband happy, or to save expense. Family wants must be supplied, and sometimes without much money ; then not to have her children detained from school, or untidily dressed, many a mother has washed and ironed the garments, and had them ready to use next day, and no one but herself has known just how tired and wearied she has been, nor how much she has suffered. So, husbands should consider well the cause of illness, and do all in their power to relieve it, and bring the bloom of health again upon the faded cheek, and brightness to the sunken eye; and greater happiness for both of you will be found in store.
And when a husband has lost his health, the cause may lie in overwork, or too close application, to bring the comforts of food and raiment to the waiting loved ones; or to pay for a home, he works all day, and too late at night, to earn an extra shilling to help in his endeavours.
So, if indigestion, rheumatic pains or other ailments dire, beset him, wives must do all they can to again restore good health, when mutual happiness will be complete. I know that illness will overtake the most discreet. But, young men, do not marry one in bad health. Take healthy wives or none. And to ascertain if ill or well, there is no need to ask the questions if head or back is weak. If the eye is bright, and a healthy hue of brow and cheek, and the waist a natural size, you may decide that she is in good health ; but if the waist is quite too small, not larger than you can span with your two hands, you should not marry her, you will need the doctor by the year; for there will be a pain in her right side, then in her left; and you will have pain near your heart, and wish you had never seen her.
So, young men, have your standard raised, and take this mott : "A natural waist or no wife." You may say that all the ladies lace, and you will never find your choice. It is true there are but few who do not now wear corsets, but you can soon reform the dress and change the fashion. By you it can be done easily. All who incline to have the change should unite in one conclusion: to have a hall secured, and to meet there twice a week, and to call it the Anti-corset Society. Make your speeches, encourage each other, and give your reasons boldly. Wear small white ribbons as your badge in private and in public circles. The girls will see the badge, and soon inquire what the colour indicates, and to what society you belong? And when they are told it is the Anti-corset Society, and that you will not marry girls that lace, they will soon agree it is all right, and take their corsets off; declaring they are unhealthful things, and should not be worn by women. And when they take them off, let them come and join your meeting, for they are now of your opinion. Have them bring their corsets with them not wearing them, but wrapped in paper and you have a deep hole dug near by; and when they come, let them drop their parcels in, one by one, until the corsets all get there; then cover them up and let them stay until the resurrection day; and you will be blest with healthy women.
Then, girls, in giving up your freedom, your fathers' homes, or business, there is much to risk; so, to make a choice, or rather to accept an offer, to become a companion to some men for life, be cautions and observing, that you may avoid the trials and sufferings that some endure from marrying men who drink. Hold to the motto firm and strong, "Teetotallers or no husbands." Have your meetings twice a week, read your essays, make your speeches, and encourage each other: show to the world your principles by your good example, and the blue ribbon on your dresses. When young men who drink propose, see that you object, and do not entertain the drinking class, they will rather abandon drink than lose your friendship and respect; you will induce them to reform. And in this way both classes may be the better off for the pains they take.
The flimsy basis of many a union is cause enough for all their sorrows. Some men are attracted by a pretty face, a graceful step, or a shapely hand; and then, again, the eyeglass men, and men with curled moustache, attract the attention of some young women, and they would risk their lives for them. Some marry for high position, some for wealth, some for fear of being old maids. Some men marry to have housekeepers, some to have wood-choppers, as I have reason to know. A single man wrote some time ago, stating his case and needs. He had a house, and lived alone, cooked his meals and washed his dishes, and he said, "as you meet with many in your travels, if you find one you think would suit, please send the address with name, for I need someone to bake my pancakes for me." If there are any young women expert at turning pancakes over, and wish to apply yourselves, here is a chance for you. And, on the other side, a woman said that she would have lived single all her life but for her want of fuel that every winter she had a large amount of wood to chop, and so she married a man to chop it.
If there are young men who can swing the axe with grace, send in your names, and if I find more candidates with the same needs, I can pass them over to you. True marriage must be based on nothing less than a supreme love for companionship and for the love of home.
"Home's not merely four square walls,
And, next to wife, what makes home more cheerful and more dear than the society of children? When father comes from study, counting-room, or shop, and meets his little one, with arms extended, calling, "Papa! papa!" he takes her up and folds her to his heart, and both are happy. And what brings to the mother's heart more joy than the silvery voice of her darling boy as he comes from school, when calling, "Mother! mother!" No sweeter music ever thrilled her ear than the voices of these she holds so dear; and this is home in earnest. And to complete this happiness, these children must be healthy, with minds well balanced. Here I find the never-changing law of heredity as potent among the human-kind as in the lower creatures. And from the neglect of this, we see the unmistakeable result, in the need of prisons with their high stone walls and grated windows, dark and dreary; where criminals are often stowed in narrow cells, whose limbs must bear the weight of manacles, and they have no companions night or day but their own sad reflections, which wear their lives away; and these the offspring of improper marriages.
Again, the evidence is very plain in the great number of the insane who find a refuge in asylums: poor maniacs, who tear the garments from their backs, and in their madness pull their hair; and idiots, without the power of thought, that cannot raise their hands to feed themselves, and with less mental strength than babes at birth. Much of this suffering, no doubt, depends upon incompatible parentage. Temperaments should be studied, that the laws of heredity may take effect to bring, in the future, specimens ot human-kind as far above the average class as cultivated fruits are superior to the wild. Whatever is possessed in a high degree, whether physical or mental, will naturally be transmitted.
Two should not marry whose temperaments are the same, nor yet absolutely opposite. If the same, the intensity may result in a non-development of the parents' natures, and a blight stamped upon the offspring throughout life. If opposite there would be so much difference that the parents could not agree, nor be physiologically in sympathy, which fact would be adverse to the perfection of offspring. Degrees of difference should exist. For instance, one of the vital temperament, with sandy hair, florid face, round head, round body and limbs, should seek in marriage one having either more of the mental or of the motive temperament; in other words, one whose head is large in proportion to the size of the body; full high forehead, and slender figure; or one who is of tall stature, more angular, with sharper features, and nose quite prominent.
Then the life-sustaining forces of the vital combined with the mental force of the other party, would rationally yield a good physical constitution to support a well-developed brain; or if the motive temperament, which is characteristic of endurance, should predominate, a favourable union would be with the mental and vital; thus showing the three temperaments upon posterity, resulting in a harmonic nature which is well to have.
Two positive persons should not marry, both having a predominance of self-esteem, combativeness, destructiveness, and firmness. Both are born to be rulers; under such circumstances, which will yield? The husband will be sure that his way is right, and the wife will be equally sure that she cannot be mistaken. The husband will bid his wife to sign a deed; the wife will say, "Indeed I will not do it." He will ask her why they have so many quarrels? She will say they always start with him; he will tell her that the fault is in herself, and their troubles will never end.
That man married the wife suitable for some other man, with whom she might have been most happy. We stopped with such a couple once, were storm-bound to our regret. The husband and wife were engaged in hot discussions the whole week; and to crown their discordance they quarrelled over our board bill. We paid the money to the husband when we ought to have paid it to the wife; unfortunately, there was but a thin partition between their room and mine, and for two hours that subject was discussed. She declared the money was hers by right, for all she got was from the guests she entertained. He as warmly held to his position that because he had it in possession it was rightfully his to keep. She begged, and wept, at his apparent selfishness; he said words I will not repeat. Wearied and tired, I fell asleep in the midst of their conversation. Next morning when we met, he laughingly remarked, "You heard us talking, perhaps, last night"? "Yes," I replied, "that I had heard talking all the week." "Well" he said, we are getting along better than when we were first married; then we did not understand each other; but we do much better now! much better!" How it used to be I cannot imagine; but while we stopped with them It was bad enough.
No two should marry who are constitutionally negative with light hair, blue eyes, small combativeness and destructiveness, and weak in firmness and self-esteem. Such would not have much ambition, and would be so easy and so good, they would be good for nothing. It would be much better for the positive person to marry the negative; the combination would be more successful regarding their own happiness and the welfare of their children.
I once spent two weeks in such a family which was composed of husband and wife, a little son and daughter, a big dog and a cat. One night, before the lecture, the boy put a pillow on the floor; he and the dog laid their heads upon it, and stretched out their limbs to rest. The little girl came in, with the cat in her arms, and sat down by the pair, and they all enjoyed themselves. The wife sat by the table sewing; the husband, a merchant, who had been on his feet the whole day, took up the newspaper, drew up a chair, sat down, and put both his feet on her lap. He turned to me, and with a smile, said, "That is the way we do!" I remarked, "Continue to do the same; I do not disapprove." The wife did not shrink from his touch, and brush her dress as if it were being hurt she was only too happy to rest his weary limbs, and he was as happy to have a chance to rest them on the lap of one that he loved most. Not a word of discord was heard in that happy home, an evidence of being properly mated. Again, persons that instinctively repel each other should not unite in marriage. A certain quality of nerve-force emanates from every individual, and we are all more or less affected by approach. Some natures harmonize, and others are discordant. The simple touch of some will cause us pain, while that of others will comfort us. The evidence of our own experience will remove all doubts upon this subject. We sit down by some individuals, and, without knowing why, we soon get up and leave them; while, on the other hand, we sit by some and naturally incline to draw our chairs up nearer; and why, no reason can be given.
If we suffer pain, we may often obtain relief by rubbing; but it is not the friction only which affords the benefit; or a board or book might bring it. It is the hand that brings relief; yet by the rubbing of some hands pain will be increased. There is something we call nerve-force, or magnetism, which passes from the hand to the head; or the hand takes from the head what caused the pain, and comfort is restored.
A public speaker becomes aware of this latent healing power, as I can well attest. In the afternoons my audiences of women do not afford the strength that audiences of men and women do. And at the close in the afternoon, I am more exhausted than at night, for often feeble women, with nerve-force to correspond, compose my hearers, and from them I get but little magnetic element. In the evenings, when the audience is made up of the stronger sex, I find a force pervades the air from which I draw a strength that fits me better for my work, and there is less fatigue when I leave the platform at ten at night than at four in the afternoons. Then marriages should be entered upon magnetically, or greater unhappiness will accrue than more palpable causes might induce ; and there is but little sympathy from the world, and no cause the legal statutes would recognise by which to obtain a divorce; so a life of misery must follow.
Kinship should be avoided for reasons patent. Cousins may entertain a high regard for each other, but to marry would be very unwise the transmission of natures so much alike as such possess is often most unfortunate, resulting in some deficient faculty, or bodies imperfect in their development. Mutes, deafness, feeble-minded creatures may many timeS be traced to consanguineous parentage, particularly where these unions have been carried down through successive generations. The effect is more deplorable in the human family than among plants and animals, where the law of improvement is carefully watched, and is adhered to by horticulturists and farmers who cultivate their fruit and stock with greater pertinacity than ever entered the heart of man for the improvement of his own race.
After the ideal object has been discovered, something more is now required, and courtship must be entered upon before the more serious steps are taken.
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