A Woman of the World
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Part 2 out of 3
people tell me) an agreeable personality. I know the value of correct
dressing, and I am not oversensitive. That is, I am not one who will go
down at the first rebuff. I have the real American spirit, which makes
me believe myself as good as anybody, and you know my family name is one
to buoy up that impression. Therefore, it seems to me I cannot fail to
attain some degree of success. I am sure to obtain entree to people and
functions, and I can describe what I see and hear in attractive form. I
shall shrink at no task, however difficult, and stop at no obstacle.
"I am determined to make a success as a reporter and a correspondent,
and after I have achieved something in that line I may look to an
editorial position; and who knows but my fertile imagination, coupled
with the experiences sure to come to me, may develop the great American
novelist the world is waiting?"
This is all interesting and admirable reasoning.
But, having seen much of the world, and known much of the various types
of young women writers and reporters and correspondents, I feel like
discussing the subject of your profession with you. At the instigation,
perhaps, of some editor who makes the mistake of thinking success must
be reached through sensationalism, you may be tempted to make your pen,
not _mightier_, but more _cruel_ than the sword.
I remember once upon a time meeting a young woman who had come, unbidden
by the hostess, to "write up" a social function where a number of
celebrated people were congregated.
Her employer had sent her to the house, telling her to obtain an entree
by fair means or foul; and as she was well dressed and quiet in manner,
she was not repulsed by an amiable hostess. This lady realized that the
reporter has his or her living to make, and must be either helped or
hindered by the willingness or unwillingness of people to furnish
material for copy. Being informed that the young woman was "literary,"
and chancing to stand near her for a few moments, I asked her the nature
of her work.
The young woman looked a trifle embarrassed, as she answered: "Well, to
tell you the truth, I write a good many disagreeable and nasty things
about people, especially people in public life. The editors who take my
work will have that kind. I have essayed better things, and they would
not touch them. So I am compelled to write the stuff they do want. I
must make a living." When I read the "stuff" in question, I was inclined
to doubt the assertion of the writer that "she must make a living." The
world would be the better should she and all her kind cease to exist.
Ridicule, falsehood, and insinuation were the leading traits of the
young woman's literary style. Costumes and personalities were
caricatured, and conversations and actions misstated. The entire article
would have been libelous, had it not been too cowardly to deserve so
bold a word.
It is useless for any man or woman to assert that such reportorial work
is done from necessity. The blackmailer and the pickpocket have as much
right to the plea, as the newspaper masked-assassin, with the concealed
weapon of a pen.
If you are ever asked by any editor to do this reportorial stiletto
work, let me urge you to take to professional burglary, rather than
consent to write what such an employer demands.
It is far less despicable to rob houses of things of mercantile value,
than to rob characters and reputations and personalities. Again, when
you are sent out upon a commission to obtain an interview with any
person, obtain what you seek and take nothing else away with you.
Just as you would scorn to pawn the watch of the famous actress which
you may find lying on the table as you pass out, so scorn to sell any
personal speech she may have carelessly dropped in your hearing which
you know was not intended for publication. Petty larceny is not a noble
feature of interviewing. Even though a facility for selling such
dishonestly gained property to advantage be yours, do not convince
yourself or be convinced that larceny should be included in your
I recollect speaking with you once upon the difficulties young women
encountered who attempted to win honours in a dramatic career. You felt
that the necessity to cater to the ideas and wishes of inferior minds,
in representing a character on the stage, would be one of the hardest
phases of stage life to meet.
"To be loud and spectacular where I wanted to be refined and subtle,"
you said, "just to catch some rough audience and fill the house, would
be insupportable. And yet I know actresses ofttimes must do that very
thing, to keep a foothold in the profession."
I am wondering how you will meet what seems to me a more humiliating
role, when you are sent out by an editor to gain an entree to some
person who does not wish to be interviewed.
Will you, when refused entrance at the front door, go in at the rear and
hobnob with the servants? will you spy, and watch and wait on street
corners, and hide yourself in hallways, and intercept and surprise, and
congratulate yourself when you have trapped your prey? That is the
shameful pathway which nowadays leads to what is called "successful
You need to realize the facts before you enter the profession. Were you
my daughter, I am certain I should feel much less concern were you to
enter the theatrical field.
And yet if you choose to stand by your ideals, and retain your
self-respect, you can do so, and succeed in journalism.
If you have, as you say, observation, expression, humour, and ambition,
you can create a style of your own: which will not necessitate the loss
of all womanly sense of decency and pride in dealing with your fellow
beings. It might be well for you to cultivate and add to the list of
your qualities appreciation of all that is best in human nature and
worthiest of respect. If you understand the law of concentration and
demand, you can obtain an entrance to the people you wish to see,
through the front hall and a properly engraved card.
If that fails, a polite and frank note, stating your purpose and
intimating your self-respecting ideas of your profession, may prove
effective. Once establish your reputation as an interviewer who is not a
highwayman in disguise, and you will achieve tenfold the success your
less reputable confreres gain in the long run. Try and remember always
that fame, glory, or even crime, do not destroy all human sensibilities,
or render the possessor invulnerable to the thrust of a pen.
The greatest warrior who ever conquered armies has still the power to
feel hurt when he sees some personal blemish or misfortune described in
You would never be guilty of saying to any man's face, "How hideous
your harelip renders you"--and why should you go from his presence and
make such a statement to the whole world concerning him? One of the most
gifted men America ever claimed was driven from his native land by the
cruel, bald, and heartless personalities of newspaper critics, who
seemed to consider it necessary to comment on his physical infirmities
whenever his genius was mentioned.
During the lifetime of one of England's great literary women, an
American correspondent who had been given an interview in her home
described her as possessing the "face of a horse." Surely this was
agreeable reading for a gifted woman whose genius had delighted
It has sometimes seemed to me that theatrical road life with a
one-night-stand company would be less brutalizing to the finer
sensibilities, and less lowering to the ideals of a young girl, than the
method of work required of many newspaper reporters in America to-day.
The editor who scores the actress for lax morals seems often to ignore
the fact that there is a mental as well as a physical prostitution.
Look to it that you do not trail your banner of noble womanhood in the
dust, at the demand of any editor or syndicate. Keep your purity of pen,
as well as your chastity of body, and believe no man who tells you that
you will get on better in the world by selling either. There is room
_A Former Maid_
Curiously enough, my dear little Nanette, I was thinking about you, and
wishing to know something of you, the very day your letter came.
Of many who have been helpers in my employ, you were one of the few who
seemed to care more for me than for the wages I paid.
There was between us that ideal condition which I wish might exist
between all employers and employees. You wanted the work you were fitted
to do, and I wanted such work done. You were glad of the money it
brought you, and I was glad to recompense you. You wanted appreciation
and sympathy and consideration aside from your earnings, and I wanted a
personal interest in my affairs, and a friendly wish to please me,
aside from the mere work well done. You never seemed to me less womanly
or less refined because you were a wage-earner, and I did not represent
to you oppression or monopoly merely because I paid the money and you
received it. I took you into my confidence in many ways, and you made me
feel I was your friend as well as your employer. We enjoyed cosy chats,
and yet you no more desired or wished to be present at my social
functions than you desired me to enter into all your merrymakings and
pleasures. You were, in fact, one of the most agreeable and sensible
women I have ever known in any station in life. And now you write me
that you are engaged to be married, and ask me to give you counsel in a
very serious matter.
Together with your other excellent qualities, you have possessed economy
At the age of twenty-five you have a tidy bank-account, the savings of
eleven years. This money is increasing, year by year, and drawing a
Now comes your lover, a hard-working and sober young man, so you say,
but earning only a small salary as a clerk.
He has met with some reverses, and is temporarily embarrassed. He wants
you to lend him a few hundred dollars, and he will pay you the same
interest you are now receiving, but you fear it would be unwomanly on
your part to take this interest money. At the same time you feel a
reluctance to break in upon your savings, which you had planned to use
in helping establish a home. You want to befriend your lover, and you
want to be wise and careful, and so you write to me, your old-time
adviser, for counsel. I fear I may hurt your feelings in what I am about
I have seen much of the world, and have studied humanity in many phases
and in many classes.
There is one type of man I have never yet known to be strong, reliable,
and trustworthy,--a man for a woman to lean upon in times of trouble and
sorrow,--a man I would like to see any friend take for a life
companion,--_and that is the young man who asks a loan of money from a
woman he loves, or one who loves him_. Believe me, there is some lack of
real moral fibre in such a man.
A husband and wife many years married, and united by common interests,
may become so one in purpose and thought that a common purse would be as
natural to them as a common dinner-table.
With mutual interests, planning for their future and the future of their
children, there could be no talk of "My money" and "Your money" between
But before marriage, or immediately after, the man who begins to ask a
woman for the use of her purse, should be distrusted by her. He could
not broach such a subject unless he lacked a certain refined strength
which makes a manly man a woman's protector by nature. Even where no
sentiment exists between a man and a woman, the really strong men of the
world never become borrowers from women. If through friendly interest
and affection some woman compelled such a man to take a loan, he would
know no rest or peace of mind until he had liquidated the debt.
When a man is a woman's lover, and asks her to advance money to him for
any reason, she may as well realize at once the reed on which she will
lean if she accepts him for a life companion. To deceive herself for a
moment with the idea that he will be a staff of strength, is but to
delay disillusion. A vital quality is left out of his character.
He is but one step removed from the man who _seeks_ a woman because she
has money. And he is the most despicable of the human race.
I have known three women of different social positions to lend money to
One man invested it and lost it, and never made an effort to reimburse
the lady, who broke her engagement in consequence, after two unhappy
years. Another went away owing the money, and was never again heard
from. The third married the unwise woman who had loaned him her
competence, and continued to look to her for support.
Therefore, my dear Nanette, I would urge you to think twice, and yet a
third time, before you lend your fiance your savings.
Tell him frankly that you will feel more respect for him if he is
willing to sacrifice comfort and save from his own income enough to lift
the debt he has incurred, and that you are sure he will feel less
humiliated as time goes by if he is not financially in debt to you. If
he were to fall ill tell him it would be your first impulse to devote
your money to his care; but while he is able-bodied and well, you do not
like to have him lean on you for aid.
You can judge something of the man's character by the way he receives
this statement from you.
And whatever may result, even if it is the end of your engagement, do
not grieve your heart away over it. Better far to have the end come now
than to marry a dependent and shiftless man, who will humiliate your
pride by a thousand and one mean traits. The moment a young wife becomes
the financial head of a household, and the man depends upon her to keep
the family free from debt, sentiment and romance fly from the windows of
the heart, and poor Cupid goes away with his head under his wing. This
situation might befall people long married, as I said before, without
causing disaster, because the wife would have years of other experiences
stored up in memory, to maintain her respect for her husband.
The natural instinct of a manly man is to be the protector and the
breadwinner. He loves to shield and support the woman of his choice. If
she has any talent or profession which gives her satisfaction to pursue,
and which yields her an income, he will, if broad-minded and
sympathetic, place no obstacle in her path so long as this vocation is
no barrier to their domestic happiness. But he is sensitive to her
assuming any of the financial burdens of life.
If circumstances render it necessary for her to do so, he suffers
keenly, and the utmost delicacy and consideration on her part alone can
save him from utter humiliation.
This is the attitude of the manly man, my dear Nanette, the man who
makes the good husband and father.
The unselfish, broad-minded and considerate wife will lead a husband to
think of her right to aid in the establishment and maintenance of a home
when she is able to do her part. But the man who makes a good husband
never suggests it as her duty, or asks her to advance money.
It is commendable in you to wish to aid in making a home. It is unmanly
in your lover to ask you to help him pay his debts. Beware of the lover
who asks for or accepts a loan.
To The Rev. Wilton Marsh
_Regarding His Son and Daughter_
My dear Cousin Wilton:--You have no idea how your letter took me back to
my merry girlhood, when you and I resided in the same neighbourhood, and
I was the concern of your precociously serious mind. Yes, indeed, I do
realize what a mistake you made in living the repressed life you did all
those early boyhood years. What a pity your parents reared one of your
sensitive and imaginative nature in the gloomy old doctrines of a
depressing religion, which so misrepresented the God of love: and how
odd that your father and mine should have been born of the same parents,
educated in the same schools, and yet be no more alike in beliefs or
methods of life than two people of a different race and era.
And again it is not strange, when we realize that hundreds of
generations lie back of both parents, and innumerable ancestors of both
father and mother contribute their different mentalities to the children
in a family. Back of that is the great philosophy of reincarnation--the
truth of which impresses me more and more each year I live.
Do you recall your horror the first time I told you I had read a book on
reincarnation, and confessed that it had made me anxious to study the
You said I was a pagan and a heathen, and that I would surely be damned
forever unless I turned to the way of salvation.
And do you recall your misery when I seized you one evening at your
birthday party (you were twenty), and dragged you about the room in a
waltz? That is, I waltzed, while you hobbled about like a lame calf,
much to the amusement of most of the company.
There were more who sympathized with my views of life than with yours.
You were such a wet blanket on our youthful spirits. Your ever-blazing
lake of brimstone did not even serve to warm the blanket.
I have been gratified to watch your growth the last ten years.
You have so changed your point of view, which indicates your real worth
and progressive good sense. And when you tell me that you have for years
regretted your lost opportunities for natural and moral pleasure, and
that you suffered beyond your power to describe in those old days in
conquering your desire to dance and play games, it brings the tears of
mingled rage and pity to my eyes. Rage at the old theology, and pity for
the poor children whose lives were shadowed by it.
And now what you tell me of your son and daughter proves another of my
theories true, and shows me how nature revenges its wrongs.
Children, my dear Wilton, especially the offspring of strong characters,
_inherit the suppressed tendencies of their parents_. They bring into
action the unexhausted impulses and the ungratified desires of those
The greatest singers are almost invariably the offspring of mothers or
fathers who _were music hungry_, and who were given no complete
gratification of this craving.
The poet, you will find, is the voice of an artistic-natured parent, who
was forced to be emotionally dumb.
And the proverbial clergyman's son is merely the natural result of the
same cause. He is charged with the tendencies and impulses which his
That your son loathes study, and hates church-going, and adores a brass
band and a circus, and runs away to the races, does not in the least
surprise me. Nor that your sixteen-year-old daughter grows hysterical at
the sound of dance music, and prefers a theatrical show in your village
hall to a Sunday-school picnic, and is mad to become an actress.
_They are your own wronged and starved emotions personified, and crying
out to you for justice._
The very best thing for you to do with the boy is to put him into a
gymnasium and a football team as soon as possible. Offer no opposition
when he wants to see a good horse-race. Urge him to go, and ask him to
tell you all about it when he returns. Begin right now to get close to
the heart of your children.
Once you do that, once you convince them you are near enough to their
lives to understand their needs and to try and gratify their natural
longings, all your worries will take wing and fly away; for your
children will cease to hide and cloak their actions and natures, and
they will no longer wish to deceive or attempt to defy you.
Send your daughter where she can learn dancing, in company with other
refined and well-bred young people. You have so far emancipated yourself
from your old superstitions and beliefs that this action on your part
will not antagonize the desirable members of your congregation.
Only a remnant of the old bigots and intolerants are to be found in any
congregation of intelligent people of to-day.
If that remnant is shaken out of its winding-sheet by being antagonized,
you may galvanize it into life.
At all events, do not endanger the peace of your home and the happiness
of your children, for fear of antagonizing a few parishioners of
arrested spiritual development.
Give your son and daughter an outlet for the youthful vitality which is
like steam: a moving power when used, dangerous and destructive when
Take young Wilton and Rebecca into a room, and talk the whole matter
Tell them how deeply you love them, and how you have just come to
realize the mistake you have made in trying to eradicate from them the
natural desire for wholesome pleasure instead of giving it proper
avenues of expression.
Say frankly that you see your error, and that you intend to rectify it.
Ask their cooeperation, and appeal to their good taste and affection not
to mortify or humiliate you in your position of clergyman, by
overstepping the bounds of decorum or discretion.
Lead them to talk of their ambitions and desires, and, as consistently
as you can, gratify them.
Let your daughter come to me for a season. I will help to reshape and
modify her ideals of enjoyment to some degree.
I am sure if she sees a few of our best spectacular plays, and hears
good music, and enjoys beautiful rhythmic dancing, she will not be so
carried away with the travelling show.
I will acquaint her with some of the commonplace facts concerning the
lives of theatrical people, and show her the frayed tinsel and worn
faces by daylight. This will do more for her than all your sermons on
the dangers of a theatrical career.
The young heart is fascinated with the thought of danger and temptation.
It is repelled by the commonplace and the ugly.
When you talk to a young mind in a whisper and behind locked doors about
a temptation to be avoided, you but give edge to appetite and curiosity.
When you bring the temptation out into the glare of sunlight, and speak
of it in presence of the whole world, you dispel the illusion.
I will gather together some data concerning the sporting men of America,
and send your son. I will also mail him the sporting papers regularly.
Let him talk and read openly about the subject, and it will lose half
its weird charm.
He, too, should learn to dance, swim, fence, and ride. His bounding
vitality needs directing in wholesome channels. I have never understood
the prejudice against dancing.
To me, it is a form of religious praise of the Creator of youth, health,
vitality, and grace. I have always loved dancing, and the exercise,
besides being eminently beneficial to the health and wonderfully
conducive to grace is, to my thinking, highly moral in its effect. Its
only danger lies in wrong associations, and these seem to threaten young
people who are restricted from the enjoyment in their homes and among
their rightful companions.
I cannot help thinking that Loie Fuller should have a niche in the hall
of fame, among the "Immortals," for having given the last century her
exquisitely beautiful creations in dancing.
No woman has given us a great epic, or a great painting, or a great
musical composition, but she has given us a great dance-poem, which is
at the same time a painting and a song. Oh, you poor starved, blind
soul, to be deprived of such beautiful spectacles. How I pity you, and
how I pray you to give your children the privileges you have missed
through a belittling idea of your Creator.
Do you fancy God would punish beautiful young Rebecca for dancing, any
sooner than he would blight the willow-tree for waving its graceful arms
to the tune the wind-harps play?
Come up out of the jungles of ignorance and bigotry, my dear cousin,
and live on the hilltops and bring your children with you. For there you
will all find yourself nearer to God and to humanity.
To Mrs. Charles McAllister
_Formerly Miss Winifred Clayborne_
I am glad that for once you have written and asked my advice before you
began your course of action.
You wrote me after you entered Vassar and asked me what I thought of
your doing so.
You wrote me after you married Doctor McAllister, and asked me what I
thought of that. My reply was a wedding gift and a telegram of good
wishes. Now, after three years of married life, you write again and ask
me to decide a question which has caused some discussion between you and
"He did not take my view of the matter at first," you say, "but he does
now. Still, I feel that I would like another unprejudiced opinion
before I take the contemplated step. You knew I left college before
finishing my course. I was in love and the doctor urged me not to make
him wait another year. He said I knew enough to make him happy, and so I
Then you proceed to tell me that you have never regretted this step, and
that you have the best husband in the world. But you have decided
musical gifts, and before meeting the doctor you intended going abroad
to cultivate them after you finished at Vassar. This old ambition has
taken hold of you again, and you want to join a friend, one of your
classmates, who sails in June to study art in Europe. You desire to take
a two or three years' course, and then you will be equipped with an
accomplishment which could be made a profession if necessity demanded.
"One never knows what the future holds," you say, "and it is the duty of
every woman to make the most of herself." Both remarks are as true as
they are trite. An almost graduate of Vassar should be more original in
But there is another duty a woman should not forget--the duty to stand
by her marriage vows and to make her husband a good wife. It seems the
doctor did not eagerly approve your idea at the beginning. I am glad he
did not. Unless a wife is in a precarious state of health or has an
ailing child, I always suspect the honesty of a husband who cheerfully
seconds her suggestion of a protracted absence from home.
When a man shows no regret at having his wife away for an entire season,
there is something wrong with his heart.
Love does not find its home there, or he could not speed her going so
far, and for so long a time, at the bidding of ambition or pleasure. You
evidently have won the doctor over by argument, and made him feel that
he is selfish to tie you down or clip the wings of your ambition. The
American husband is so fearful of seeming a tyrant. "He realizes now,"
you say, "that a woman has the right to develop the talents God gave
her just as a man does, and that it is a wrong against her 'higher self'
to crush down these ambitions. He realizes, too, that this separation
means greater powers of usefulness for me in the future, and greater
opportunities for pleasure. It will be a long and lonely time for both
of us, as I shall only come home once or twice and the doctor may not be
able to go over at all, though I hope he will. But the expense of my
studies will of course be great, and we shall both need to economize. It
is my intention to start a little conservatory after I return and take a
few high-priced pupils. In that way I can reimburse our expenditure."
But can you, my dear Winifred, _reimburse your mutual losses in other
ways_? You do not seem to realize what such a separation may mean. You
are both young and both attractive. I know now that you are beginning to
be angry at my suggestion, but, fortunately, you cannot interrupt me,
and you must hear what I have to say.
Of course you are not a frivolous flirt, or a silly-headed creature
with no ideals or principles. You have nothing of the adventuress in
your composition, but you are a young woman, with personal charms and
talents, and life will be unutterably desolate for you if you make a
recluse of yourself. You will be surrounded by people of artistic
temperaments and tastes, and I know, if you do not, that many of these
people do lack ideals, and some of them lack principles and take pride
in the fact. "Art for art's sake, life for pleasure's sake," is their
motto. The entire situation will be full of danger for you. But far more
danger will surround your husband. A man's temptations are always
greater than a woman's. That is, there are _more_ temptations in his
pathway, from the fact that he is by nature and environment less guarded
and protected, and the penalties for folly are less severe. And of all
men, unless it is a clergyman, a physician is most exposed to
temptation. He is the confidant of hysterical women and the sharer of
domestic secrets. Many a woman believes she is ill only because she
desires the sympathy of her doctor, just as many a woman fancies herself
disturbed with religious agitation only because she wants the society of
Of course a doctor of any character or principle does not compromise his
reputation or disgrace his calling readily. I hear Doctor McAllister
spoken of as a man of high standing, and his picture shows a
well-balanced head and an honest, manly face. But "A man's a man for a'
that," my dear Winifred.
We must accept facts as they exist all about us, and we must not demand
of half-evolved human beings what we would expect of wholly divine
creatures. It is an unnatural position for a man to be separated from
the wife he loves for months and years.
Unless he is sustained by intense religious beliefs, extreme sympathy or
sorrow for her (as he might be were she compelled by some great trouble
or duty to be absent), it is impossible for him not to grow in a measure
forgetful of his ideals of constancy, and to drift into bachelor habits
of distraction. Men do a thousand and one things for amusement which no
woman could or would. Gilded and glittering halls of vice are inviting
the inspection and patronage of men who are left at home by journeying
and pleasure-seeking wives.
I know this terrible statement to be absolutely true--_gambling-houses
and dens of infamy speak of their "best season" when wives leave town
for summer outings, just as a farmer speaks of his harvest season when
crops are ripe._ I do not suppose your husband will seek the
companionship of gamblers or depraved souls during your absence. Men as
seemingly high and strong as he have fallen so low, but I do not believe
he will. Yet, so long as we know such conditions exist, and so long as
men as a class take the liberties they do when left to find distraction
and entertainment, it seems to me little less than criminal when a young
wife like yourself deliberately leaves her home and husband for the sake
of any possible attainment.
You have no right to marry a man and then to make his happiness and his
comfort secondary to your ambitions.
If he had neglected you, if he failed to support you, if he was not
loyal to you, it would be different.
But you say he is "the best of men," and that you never have regretted
Then let me beg of you to stand by him, as a wife should, and to make
what progress in your music you can at home, and wait until your husband
can accompany you before you go abroad to study.
The highway of divorce is crowded with the student wives who have been
"abroad to study," leaving their husbands at home to earn the money. Do
not be one of them.
There are greater things than a satisfied ambition, and a clean, happy,
united married life is one.
To Mrs. Charles Gordon
I have tried to imagine myself in your place, as you requested, before
answering your letter.
To be the mother of two children, and to know that a third may be added
before the fifth anniversary of your wedding, is for the most maternal
of women a situation requiring rare patience and much philosophy.
I know that your strength is depleted, that you are nervously unstrung,
and I can understand your despondent state of mind.
It seems to you that all romance and sentiment in life is being
sacrificed to breeding the species. You feel that you have some personal
privileges as a wife and a woman, not less than a mother.
Like yourself, I do not believe woman's only mission in life to be the
production of offspring, yet I consider motherhood the highest privilege
accorded her who has for it the right physical and moral qualities.
Only strong, sensible, and healthy women should become mothers, and it
is a mistake for even such as they to be kept constantly in that
You possess all the requisites, and you ought to bring fine children
into the world, since you married the man you loved, and have been happy
But I can understand your reluctance to pass through the ordeal which
modern motherhood in civilized races means, for a third time, in so
short a period. But try and take another view of the situation.
Benjamin Franklin was the fifteenth child of a poor tallow chandler. It
is altogether probable that his coming seemed a misfortune to his
mother, taxed with the care of such a brood. Think what the world would
have missed had he not come to earth.
Then think of this unborn child as something wonderful and divine, given
to you to perfect. Believe it is to be the greatest blessing to you and
to the whole world.
Cultivate love and protection in your heart for it.
Tell yourself every hour of the day that the God of love will not desert
you or deprive you of strength and courage for your ordeal. That he will
be ever near, and sustain and comfort you.
Desire all beautiful and good qualities to be given your child, and
resolutely turn away from the contemplation of anything that is hideous,
or unwholesome, or depressing.
Look for pleasing objects, read cheerful and uplifting books, and from
infinite space call to you all ministering influences.
Consider how short a time, when compared to the span of human life,
expectant motherhood occupies, and realize the vastness of its
influence upon the nature of the child, and through that nature upon all
Once you grasp that consciousness, you will feel your closeness to the
Creator of all things.
Indeed, there is no other being on earth so nearly Godlike in power as
the mother who realizes what her influence over her unborn child may be.
The hard and painful path for you to walk is but a short one compared to
the long roadway to eternity for your child.
Perhaps some great statesman, or some great artist, or some great
scientist or philosopher is lying under your heart, and it is in your
power to make or mar his development. Perhaps a Joan of Arc, or a Rosa
Bonheur, or a Martha Washington will crown you with pride.
Such genius and influence for good as the world has never before known,
from mortal sources, may be given to it through your unborn child. How
wonderful your privilege, how vast your power!
Only a few short months, and then the growing wonder of a child's
unfolding mind, to beautify your days.
Think of it in this way, dear little tired and nervous woman, and God
and all his angels will hover over you, I know, and all will be well
My prayers are with you.
To Mr. Alfred Duncan
_Concerning the Ministry_
And so you have changed your plan of life and, instead of becoming an
experimenter with the flesh, are going to be a healer of souls.
And what do I think about it? I am glad you are not to be an M.D. There
is an era coming when the doctor will be a prehistoric creature. Oh, it
is far, far away, but already the most progressive minds have ceased to
regard the family physician as an infallible being.
Medicine has made the least progress of any of the sciences in the last
Credulity has cured more people than pills.
Were you to study medicine, I should advise you to take up surgery,
osteopathy, electricity, the Kneippe Cure, milk diet, and all the
various methods of stimulating circulation; for the people who
patronize these treatments are increasing, as the powder and pill
patrons are on the decrease.
Then, too, I should urge you to make a careful study of mental and
spiritual methods of cure, that you might be wholly equipped for the
dawn of the new age. You are a young man, and you will probably live to
see a wonderful change in the treatment of disease, and to find the
physician of the old school relegated to the historian.
But just as carefully you should now survey the religious horizon,
before beginning your studies for the ministry.
It is utterly useless to stand with lifted eyes and say, "The faith of
my parents is good enough for me--good enough for all mankind."
Had the children of ancient Salem said that, and their children repeated
it, you would probably be lighting faggots at this moment to roast a
"witch," instead of a brother of the opposite creed.
The narrow, intolerant old dogmas have been forced into elasticity by
the later generations, and the broadening work still goes on.
It makes no difference how satisfied you may be with a prospective lake
of fire for your enemies, the congregations you are to address will not
listen to that style of sermon as did your grandparents.
Only the ignorant minds to-day harbour ideas of cruelty and revenge in
connection with a Creator.
Thinkers find such theories inconsistent with religious belief.
Individual thought is leading to individual faith.
Where once I believed in a universal church for all the world, I now
believe in a separate creed for each soul, one fashioned to suit his own
particular need, with the underlying basis of love for all created
things as its foundation.
Let each man worship in his own way, and follow his own ideal of duty to
God and humanity.
If it is the pleasure of one to give up all his worldly goods, and to
go and live and labour among the poor, wish him Godspeed; but if another
keeps his place among men of affairs, makes money honestly, and uses it
unselfishly, let him, too, have your blessing, since he is setting a
good example for the worldly-minded. If one man finds himself nearer to
God on Sunday by going out and peacefully enjoying the beauties of
nature and the association of his kind, do not try to convince him that
he is on the highway to perdition because he does not sit in a pew and
listen to depressing sermons.
The day is over for that type of clergyman to succeed.
Make a study of the needs of men _to-day_, and suit your sermons to
Men need to know more of the wonders of God's universe. Talk to them in
a brief, concise, interesting manner of the recent discoveries of
science, and their frequent remarkable corroboration of the old
religious theories. Thousands of years ago, in Egypt and India, wise men
said that metals and all created things possessed life, and were a part
of one great immortal whole, of which man was the highest expression.
Science is "discovering" and proving the truth of many statements made
by those old seers and savants. Call the attention of the men of to-day
to this fact, and set them thinking on the wonders of the immortal soul.
The man of to-day is an egotist regarding his scientific achievements.
He has grown to think of himself as a giant before whose material
success all other things must give way. He believes that he has
discovered, invented, photographed and made profitable all the "facts"
of the universe, and is inclined to regard with intolerance any idea
beyond his own mechanical domain.
Tell him how much was divined thousands of years ago, and lead him to
realize the mighty depths of the unsounded ocean of his own being.
To know your own triple self, body, mind, and spirit, and to make
yourself a complete man, with the body beautiful, the mind clear, the
spirit radiant, is better than to have all the Bibles of the ages, in
all their ancient languages, at your tongue's tip.
Help men to the building of character, which shall enable them to be
honest in street and mart, unselfish in home and society, and
sympathetic to their fellow pilgrims.
Salvation is gained as a house is built, brick by brick, day after day,
not by spasmodic efforts one day in the week, and the destruction of
that effort in the remaining six.
And each man must be his own mason, and select and lay his own bricks.
All the clergyman can do is to act the part of overseer.
The man who goes to another, and expects his prayers to save him, is
like the mason who expects the "boss" to do his work, while he draws the
pay. Do no man's task--physical, mental, or spiritual. That is not
friendship or religion. Your work is to stimulate others to do their own
work, think their own thoughts, and live their own lives.
The world to-day demands facts to sustain faith.
_Spiritual facts are to be obtained_.
Find them: for once convinced of the continuation of life beyond the
grave, and of the necessity to earn its privileges, by self-conquest and
character-building, humanity will rise "from the lowly earth to the
vaulted skies," and will realize that this earth is but the anteroom to
larger spheres of usefulness.
Go forth and find--go forth and find, and do not be afraid to strike out
of beaten paths and avoid ruts. Cultivate spiritual courage. It is what
few clergymen possess, and it will give you individuality at least.
Preach the religion of happy harmonious homes. Make men and women
realize that heaven must begin here, in order to continue farther on,
and that the angelic qualities, of love, sympathy, goodness,
appreciation, must be rehearsed in the body, before they can be
successfully enacted in full-dress angel costume with wings.
God will not care for the eternal praises sung about his throne by a man
who swears at his wife on earth, or a wife who nags her husband and
children. It is no use expecting a role in a continuous performance of
happiness in heaven, if you do not learn one line of the part on earth.
Make your congregations think of the necessity to _live_ their religion
in earth's commonplace daily situations.
That is the religion the world needs.
To Mr. Charles Gray
All that you say, regarding the excitement over the seating of your Salt
Lake Senator, is quite true.
I have visited your city, and have made the acquaintance of many of your
people, and I know the private life of the gentleman you sent to
represent you in Washington is beyond reproach.
He is a good husband, a good father, a good citizen. He was born of a
polygamous father and mother, and his childhood's home was a happy one.
He was educated in the belief that it was wrong for a man to cohabit
with any woman not his wife, but right for him to marry many wives.
He has not married many wives, however, and does not intend to. His
private life, his domestic life and his financial record are all clean
and clear of stain.
So much cannot be said of many other Senators and Representatives at our
Good women are horrified when seeking government positions to find how
the sacrifice of virtue is demanded as payment for influence.
These statements cannot be evaded or denied. Let one who questions them
investigate the conditions existing in Washington in the past and
What a record it would be were every girl and woman who had been led
into the path of folly by married Senators and Representatives to come
forth and tell her story!
There are clean, decent, high-minded men in both houses. There are good
citizens, good patriots, good men there.
But so long as one married seducer and misleader of women retains a seat
in either house unmolested, so long as one man stays who is unfaithful
to his marriage vows, the opposers of the Senator from Utah should base
their objections on other than moral grounds.
But despite the facts you bring to bear on your argument, that polygamy
leads to more morality in the homes of the land than our present
conditions illustrate, I must disagree with you.
I am opposed to polygamy. Any social arrangement which licenses men to
possess several women, to give full rein to their desires, is a block to
the wheels of progress.
Not until man learns the lesson of self-control, as woman has learned
it, will humanity reach its highest development.
Not until man ceases to place himself on a par with the unreasoning male
animal, when he argues on the subject of the sexual relations, will he
become the master of circumstance he is meant to be.
One man and one woman living sexually true to each other is the ideal
domestic life. Better strive toward that ideal, and fail and strive
again, than to lower it and accept license and self-indulgence as the
standard, under some religious name.
Polyandry and polygamy are both evidences of a crude and half-evolved
They belong to a society which has not learned the law of self-control
as a part of its religious creed and the march of progress. The light of
science makes havoc of all such primitive conditions.
You tell me that your father was the husband of three wives, and that
all lived under one roof in sisterly love, and that you never heard an
unkind word spoken in your home, and that all three wives loved you as a
son. You tell me your father held high ideals of womankind, and that the
existence of a fallen woman was impossible in your community.
Now I contend that any woman who accepts less than the full loyalty of
the man to whom she gives herself for life _has fallen from woman's
highest estate_. She lowers not only herself, but the whole sex.
To take a third of a man's love, and to share his physical and mental
and spiritual comradeship with two other wives, is far more immoral, to
my thinking, than to take the whole of a man without legal authority.
It drags down and belittles woman in the eyes of man. It is useless to
contend that such conditions lead to respect.
There is too much of the big male I, and the little female you, in the
arrangement. There is too much of the old idea that God made man, and
accident made woman, for man's use. There is too much of self-indulgence
for the man, and repression for the woman,--a condition which has
blocked the highest development of the race for centuries.
Meanwhile, I think it a great pity that society does not hold the
expectant mother in the same reverence as in your community. That is
certainly a lesson we can learn from the Mormons. And that explains why
your children, born of polygamous mothers, are stronger physically, and
more universally endowed mentally, than the average children in the
world at large.
Mothers were guarded and protected and revered, and children were made
welcome, and no such crime as darkens our own social world--the crime of
destroying embryo life--was known in your midst.
It is a glorious heritage to give a child this parental love and
welcome. It lasts through eternity.
But it does not seem to me that it is necessary to have polygamy prevail
in order to produce right conditions for the propagation of offspring.
In time the world will realize the importance of teaching men and women
how to become good parents.
It will learn, too, the magnificent results to be obtained from one
moral code for both sexes, and this result could never be obtained in a
To Walter Smeed
_Concerning Creeds and Marriage_
Before you left us, I realized that you and my pretty secretary were
finding matters of mutual interest.
Therefore, I am not surprised that you are thinking seriously of her as
a future companion.
Rosalie is a charming, intelligent, warm-hearted, excellent girl, and
there is no reason why she would not make you a good wife, save the one
you mention--the difference in your creeds.
You are a Roman Catholic, Rosalie is a devout Protestant.
Were the cases reversed, and were you the Protestant and Rosalie the
Catholic, I should say the chances of happiness were greater than as
conditions now stand.
As a rule, the most religious man is more liberal than the religious
woman. And when marriage between a Roman Catholic and a Protestant is
the question, there is need of greater liberality on the part of the
Protestant than on that of the Catholic.
Why? Because with the Protestant there is no consideration to be thought
of outside of his or her own convictions and feelings.
With the Catholic, the power of the Church and the law regarding the
rearing of the children in its faith walks beside the contracting party,
sits at the table, and sleeps on the marital couch.
There is no happiness for the husband or wife who has entered into such
a marriage, after the arrival of children, unless the laws of the Church
When the wife is a Catholic, the fact that she is a good woman and true
wife satisfies the Protestant husband, as a rule, and he makes no
objection to her carrying out the contract with her Church regarding the
education of the children.
If they are as moral and good as their mother, he does not care what
faith occupies their hearts or in what way they worship God.
But to the mother this is a matter of vital importance.
Woman is by nature more devout than man.
Woman is by nature more tyrannical than man.
Take those two characteristics, and add to them the tendency of many
women to bigotry and intolerance, and it makes the matter of creeds
vital in marriage.
Rosalie is broader-minded than many women, yet she is devoted to the
Congregational Church, and rarely misses attendance.
It will be an easy matter for her to accept your faith for yourself and
to allow you to attend your own church, and she is, I am sure, broad
enough to go with you occasionally, if you request it.
But when she becomes a mother, and the children's minds are unfolding, I
doubt her willingness to have them brought up in any faith save her own.
To an unwedded girl in love, a child is a very indistinct creature.
To a mother, it is a very real being.
I have seen men as deeply in love as you are, with women as
liberal-minded as Rosalie, become very unhappy after marriage through
the opposite ideas of the wife regarding the education of children.
You must remember how much more closely a mother's life is entwined
about her children, and how much more of their association usually falls
to her than to the father.
This is especially true of daughters, and is true of sons up to a
You can understand, I am sure, how much more companionship a mother
would find in children who accepted her faith and attended her church
than in those whose spiritual paths led in another direction.
I know Rosalie realizes that a good life, not a certain creed, leads to
the goal she seeks, after this phase of existence closes, and she does
not ask you to change your faith. But while she would also believe her
children were on the road to that goal, she would want them to walk
through her path and by her side.
It will be hard to relinquish the woman you love, to-day, for the
children who might not come to-morrow.
Yet I can give you the counsel you asked on this matter only from my
personal observation of similar unions.
I should advise you to try an absence of some duration, and to forget
Rosalie if you can, since you have not yet declared yourself.
Better a little temporary sorrow than a life of discord.
As you grow older your religion will, in all probability, gain a
stronger ascendency over your nature, and the church to which you belong
is very tenacious in its hold upon its members.
Rosalie is not of a yielding nature, and as I said before, she is more
devoted to her church than most young women of the day.
The physical phases of your love blind you now. But these phases are
only a part of the tie which must bind husband and wife to make love
enduring through all of life's vicissitudes.
There must be mental companionship, and to be a complete union there
must be sympathy in spiritual ideas.
The very young do not realize this fact, but it is forced upon the
Marital love is like a tree. It first roots in the soil of earth, and
then lifts its branches to the heavens. Unless it does so lift its
branches it is stunted and deformed, and is not a tree. Unless it roots
in earth it is not a tree, but an air-plant or a cobweb.
You want to be sure the tree you are thinking to make a shelter for your
whole life, will have far-reaching and uplifting branches, and will not
be merely an earth-bound twig.
Since your church permits no second marriage save by the door of death,
do not make a mistake in your first.
Take a year, at least, of absence and separation, and think the matter
To Sybyl Marchmont
_Concerning Her Determination to Remain Single_
It is with genuine regret that I learn of your determination to send my
nephew out of your life. Wilfred is a royal fellow, as that term is
employed by us. He is what a man of royal descent in monarchies rarely
proves to be,--self-reliant, enterprising, industrious, clean, and with
high ideals of woman.
Eight years ago I declined a request of his for a loan, and told him my
reasons--that I believed loans were an injury to our friends or
relatives. My letter seemed to arouse all the strength latent in his
nature, and he has made a remarkable record for himself since that time.
I have known that he was deeply in love with you for the last two years,
and I had hoped you would listen to his plea. He tells me that you
imparted your history to him, and that you say it is your intention to
remain single, as you would not like to bring children into the world to
suffer from the stigma upon your name. He has shown me your letter
wherein you say, "I am not in fault for having to blush for the sins of
my parents; but I would be in fault if my children had to blush for the
blemish upon the name of their grandparents. I do not feel I could meet
their questioning eyes when they asked me about my parents. I can better
bear the loss of the personal happiness of a home and a husband's love."
Wilfred is just the man to protect you and to keep the world at a
distance, where it could not affect your life by its comments. He
regards your birth in the same light that I do, and would rather
transmit your lovely qualities of soul and mind to his descendants than
the traits of many proudly born girls who are ready to take him at the
first asking: for you must know how popular he is with our sex.
I can not believe you are insensible to his magnetic and lovable
qualities, but, as you say, you have been so saddened by the sudden
knowledge of your history that it has blunted your emotions in other
directions. I can only hope this will wear away and that you will
reconsider your resolve and consent to make Wilfred the happy and proud
man you could, by becoming his wife.
_Never forget that God created love and man created marriage_.
And to be born of a loveless union is a darker blight than to be born in
love without union.
But what I want to talk about now, is your determination to live a
single life and to devote yourself to reclaiming weak and erring women.
You are young to enter this field of work, yet at twenty-four you are
older than many women of thirty-five, because you have had the
prematurely ripening rain of sorrow on your life. I know you will go
into the work you mention with the sympathy and understanding which
alone can make any reformatory work successful. Yet you are going to
encounter experiences which will shock and pain you, in ways you do not
You are starting out with the idea of most sympathetic good women, that
all erring souls of their own sex fall through betrayed trust, and
broken promises, and misplaced love. Such cases you will encounter, and
they will most readily respond to your efforts for their reformation.
But many of those you seek to aid will have gone on the road to folly
through mercenary motives, and this will prove a vast obstacle.
When a woman sells to Mammon, under any stress of circumstance, that
which belongs to Cupid, there is something left out of her nature and
character which renders the efforts of the reformers almost useless. You
know all real, lasting reform must come from within. The woman who has
once decided that fine apparel, and comfort, and leisure, are of more
value to her than her virtue usually reaches old age or disease before
the reformer can even gain her attention. You will find many such among
your protegees, and you may as well leave them to work out their own
reformation, and turn your energies to those who long for a better life.
It is that longing which means real reformation. To paraphrase an old
The soul reformed against its will
Clings to the same old vices still.
I do not believe in a forced morality, save as a protection to a
community. I believe in it as a legal fence, but it possesses no value
as a religious motive. It helps to save society some annoyance, but it
does not materially improve the condition of humanity. Such improvements
must come from the desire of men and women to reach higher standards.
So, after you have planted a little seed in the mind of the mercenary
Magdalene which may in time sprout and grow, pass on, and find those who
have gone wrong from other causes, and who are longing for a hand to
lead them right.
And of all things do not expect a girl who has lived in the glare of red
lights, and listened to the blare of bands, and worn the ofttimes
becoming garb of folly, and stimulated her spirits with intoxicants--do
not expect her, I say, to suddenly be contented with quiet and solitude,
and drudgery, and cheap, unlovely garments, and goodness. Give her
something to entertain her and to occupy her mind, give her something to
live for and hope for and to be pleased over, besides the mere fact of
reformation. The opium victim, you must remember, can not at once
partake of wholesome food and be well and happy in the thought that he
has given up his drug. Neither can the folly victim. The standards of
happiness and contentment which the moral woman has always found
satisfactory, she too often considers sufficient for the sister who has
wandered from the path. But they are standards which, once lost, must be
gained step by step, painfully and slowly. They are not reached by a
bound. As much as possible keep your reformed sister's mind from
dwelling on the past, or from talking of her mistakes and sins. Blot
them from her memory by new and interesting plans and occupations. The
way to live a new life is to live it.
And our thoughts and conversation are important parts of living. Instead
of praying aloud to God to forgive her sins, show the God spirit in
yourself by forgiving and forgetting and helping her to forget.
And now a word about yourself.
You are twenty-four, lovely, sympathetic, fond of children and animals,
wholesome and normal in your habits, without crankiness, and popular
with both sexes. While there are many wives and widows possessed of
these qualities, there seems to be some handicap to the spinster in the
race of life who undertakes to arrive at middle age with all the womanly
attributes. Almost invariably she drops some of them by the wayside. She
becomes overorderly and fussy--so that association with her for any
length of time is insupportable--or careless and indifferent. Or she may
grow inordinately devoted to animal pets, and bitter and critical toward
children and married people.
She may develop mannish traits, and dress and appear more like a man
than a feminine woman.
She may ride a hobby, to the discomfort of all other equestrians or
pedestrians on the earth's highway. She may grow so argumentative and
positive that she is intolerant and intolerable. And whichever of these
peculiarities are hers, she is quite sure to be wholly unconscious of
it, while she is quick to see that of another. Now watch yourself, my
dear Sybyl, as you walk alone toward middle life; do not allow yourself
to grow queer or impossible. It was God's intent that every plant should
blossom and bear fruit, and that every human being should mate and
produce offspring. The plant that fails in any of its functions is
usually blighted in some way, and the woman who fails of life's full
experiences seems to show some repellent peculiarity. But she need not,
once she sets a watch upon herself; she has a conscious soul and mind,
and can control such tendencies if she will.
It is unnatural for a woman to live without the daily companionship of
man. The superior single woman must make tenfold the effort of the
inferior wife, to maintain her balance into maturity, because of her
enforced solitude. As the wife-mother grows older she is kept in touch
with youth, and with the world, while the opportunities for close
companionship with the young lessen as a single woman passes forty,
unless she makes herself especially adaptable, agreeable, and
And this is what I want you to do. At twenty-four it is none too soon to
begin planning for a charming maturity.
If you are determined upon a life of celibacy, determine also to be the
most wholesome, and normal, and all around liberal, womanly spinster the
world has ever seen.
Peace and happiness to you in your chosen lot.
To Mrs. Charles Gordon
_Concerning Her Sister and Her Children_
No, my dear Edna, I do not think it strange that you should seek advice
on this subject from a woman who has no living children.
It seems to me no one is fitted to give such unbiased counsel regarding
the training of children as the woman of observation, sympathy, and
feeling, who has none of her own.
Had I offspring, I would be influenced by my own successes, and
prejudiced by my own failures, and unable to put myself in your place,
as I now do.
A mother rarely observes other people's children, save to compare them
unfavourably with her own. I regret to say that motherhood with the
average woman seems to be a narrowing experience, and renders her less
capable of taking a large, unselfish view of humanity.
The soldier in the thick of battle is able to tell only of what he
personally experienced and saw, just in the spot where he was engaged in
The general who sits outside the fray and watches the contest can form a
much clearer idea of where the mistakes occurred, and where the greatest
skill was displayed.
I am that general, my dear friend, standing outside the field of
motherhood, and viewing the efforts of my battling sisters to rear
desirable men and women. And I am glad you have appealed to me while
your two children are yet babies to give you counsel, for I can tell you
where thousands have failed.
And I thank you and your husband for reposing so much confidence in my
I think, perhaps, we had better speak of the postscript of your letter
first. You ask my opinion regarding the chaperon for your
sixteen-year-old sister, who is going abroad to study for a period of
years. Mrs. Walton will take her and keep her in her home in Paris, and
Miss Brown also stands ready to make her one of three young girls she
desires to chaperon and guide through a foreign course of study in
France and Germany.
You like the idea of having your sister in a home without the
association of other American girls, until she perfects herself in
French, but you are worried about Mrs. Walton's being a divorced woman.
Miss Brown, the spotless spinster, seems the safer guide to your
friends, you tell me.
I know the majority of women would feel that a single woman of good
standing and ungossiped reputation was a safe and desirable protector
for a young girl.
The same majority would hesitate to send their girls away with a
But as I remarked in the beginning, I have stood outside the fray and
watched similar ventures, and I have grown to realize that it is not
mere respectability and chastity in a woman which make her a safe
chaperon for a young girl,--it is a deep, full, broad understanding of
temperaments and temptations.
Had I a daughter or a sister like your sweet Millie, I would not allow
her to live one year under the dominion of such a woman as Miss Brown
for any consideration. Why? because Miss Brown is all brain and bigotry.
She is narrow and high, not deep and broad.
She is so orthodox that she incites heresy in the rebellious mind of
independent youth. She is so moral she makes one long for adventure. She
would not listen to any questioning of old traditions, or any
speculative philosophizing of a curious young mind, and she would be
intolerant with any girl who showed an inclination to flirt or be
Your sister Millie is as coquettish as the rose that lifts its fair face
to the sun, and the breeze, and the bee, and expects to be admired. She
is as innocent as the rose, too, but that fact Miss Brown would never
associate with coquetry.
She would class it with vulgarity and degeneracy. Miss Brown is a
handsome woman, but she has no sex instincts. She does not believe with
the scientist, "that in the process of evolution it is only with the
coming of the sex relation that life is enabled to rise to higher
She believes in brain and spirit, and is utterly devoid of that feminine
impulse to make herself attractive to men, and wholly incapable of
understanding the fascination that Folly holds out to youth. She has
never experienced any temptation, and she would be shocked at any girl
who fell below her standard.
She would carefully protect Millie from danger by high walls, but she
would never eradicate the danger impulse from her nature by sympathetic
counsel, as a more human woman could.
Mrs. Walton is a much better guide for your sister.
She ran away from boarding-school at seventeen, and married the reckless
son of a rich man. She had a stepmother of the traditional type, and
had never known a happy home life. She was of a loving and trusting and
at the same time a coquettish nature, and she attracted young Walton's
eye while out for a walk with a "Miss Brown" order of duenna. The
duenna saw the little embryo flirtation, and became very much horrified,
and preached the girl a long sermon, and set a close watch upon her
There was no wise, loving guidance of a young girl's life barque from
the reefs of adventure. It was homily and force. The result was, that
the girl escaped from school before six weeks passed, and married her
He was fifteen years her senior, a reckless man of the world, even older
in experience than in years. He proved a very bad husband, but his young
wife remained with him until his own father urged her to leave him. She
was quietly divorced, and has lived abroad almost ever since, and holds
an excellent position in the French capital, as well as in other
European centres, and she is most exemplary in her life. Mr. Walton is
now an inmate of a sanitarium, a victim of paresis.
I can imagine no one so well fitted to exert the wisest influence upon
Millie's life as Mrs. Walton.
There is a woman who has run the whole gamut of girlish folly, and who
knows all the phases of temptation. She knows what it is to possess
physical attractions, and to be flattered by the admiration of men, and
she has passed through the dark waters of disillusion and sorrow. She
would be the one to help Millie out of dangerous places by sympathy and
understanding, instead of using sermons and keys.
She would mould her young, wax-like character by the warmth of love,
instead of freezing it by austere axioms.
Miss Brown would make an indiscreet young girl feel hopelessly vulgar
and immodest; Mrs. Walton that she understood all about her foolish
pranks, and was able to lead her in the better paths.
Miss Brown prides herself upon never having lost her head with any man.
Mrs. Walton is like some other women I have known, who have made
mistakes of judgment. She lost her head, but in the losing and the
sorrow that ensued she found a heart for all humanity.
There are women in this world whose cold-white chastity freezes the poor
wayfarer who tries to find in their vicinity rest and comfort and
Other women cast a cooling shadow, in which the sun-scorched pilgrim
finds peace--the shadow of a past error, from which spring fragrant
ferns and sweet grasses, where tired and bleeding feet may softly tread.
Mrs. Walton's life casts the shadow of divorce on her pathway, but it is
only the warm, restful shadow of a ripening and mellowing sorrow. Do not
fear to have Millie walk in it.
It will be better for her than the steady glare from a glacier.
I find I have said so much about your sister that I must reserve my
counsel about your children for another letter.
Your postscript was brief, but pregnant with suggestion, and called for
this long reply.
I shall write you again in a few days.
To Mrs. Charles Gordon
_Concerning Her Children_
Your wish to have your son, who is now four years old, begin to develop
the manly qualities, and your oldest daughter, who has reached the
mature age of three, start wisely on the path to lovely womanhood, is
far from being premature.
"The tree inclines as the twig is bent," we are told.
Most mothers wait until the tree is in blossom before they begin to
train its inclination.
Your boy is quite old enough to be taught manly pride, in being useful
to you and his sisters.
Such things are not successfully taught by preaching or scolding or
punishing; but are more easily inculcated by tact and praise,
object-lesson and play.
A four-year-old boy is all ears when his father's praises and
achievements are recounted. Any father, save a brute, is a hero in the
eyes of his four-year-old son. I am sure Mr. Gordon has many admirable
traits you can use as interesting topics.
Tell little Charlie how proud you are to have a son who will be like his
father, and attend to the needs of and look after the interests of his
mother and sisters.
Make him think that to be of service to you or his sisters is one of the
first steps toward manhood, as indeed it is.
When he performs any small kindness, praise his manliness.
Teach him to open doors, and to make way for women and elders, as a part
of manly courtesy.
Speak with gentle disapproval of the unfortunately common type of
American boy who pushes women and older people aside to scramble into
public conveyances and secure a seat before them.
Say how proud you are that your son could not be guilty of such unmanly
When you are walking with him, call his attention to any woman or child
or poor man in trouble, and if his services can be of use, urge him to
I saw one day a small boy spring to the aid of an old coloured woman who
had dropped a lot of parcels in the street, and I thought it was a
certain evidence that his mother was a rare and sweet woman. For the
manners of little boys are almost invariably what their mothers make
Awake early in his heart a sympathy for the deformed, the crippled, and
otherwise unfortunate beings.
There is no other country where such vulgar and heartless curiosity, and
even ridicule, is bestowed upon grotesque or unsightly types of
humanity, as in America.
A little dwarfed girl in New York City committed suicide a few years
ago because she was so weary of being laughed at and ridiculed by her
associates in the street and at school.
Think of that, in this Christian age, and in the metropolis of America!
An old street peddler was set upon by school-children and so annoyed and
misused that he became insane.
Another was injured by street children--the children of the public
schools--and died from the effects of their abuse.
This is the fault of mothers who have never deemed it their duty and
privilege to awaken the tender and protective qualities in the character
of their children.
Speak often to your boy of the pathos of dumb animals dependent upon
human thoughtfulness for food, drink, and decent usage.
Say what a privilege it seems to you to be able to befriend them, and to
be a voice for them in making others realize their duty to our dumb
Obtain interesting books on natural history and read stories of animal
life to your boy. Instruct him in the habits of beast, bird, and insect,
and talk to him of the wonderful domestic instincts and affections in
many of our speechless associates. The exhilaration of the wild bird,
and the happiness of the deer and the hare in the woods and fields, call
to his mind day by day. It will be more gratifying to you when he is man
grown to feel he is the loving friend and protector, rather than the
skilled hunter of bird and beast.
The higher order of man does not seek slaughter for amusement. He
realizes that he has no right to take, save for self-protection, that
which he cannot give.
Make your son a higher order of man by developing those brain cells and
leaving the destructive and cruel portions of the brain to shrink from
lack of use.
Even in his play with his inanimate toys, you can be arousing the best
or the worst part of your boy's nature.
The child who whips and screams at his hobby-horse usually, when a man,
whips and bellows at his flesh and blood steed.
Tell him the play-horse is more easily managed by coaxing and petting,
and that loud voices make it nervous and frightened.
Suggest water and feed at suitable times, and express sorrow for the
horses with no kind boys to look out for them.
Start a humane society in the nursery and make your boy president and
your little girl honorary member, and act as treasurer and secretary
Give him a medal when he offers food to a hungry street animal or speaks
to a driver cruel to his horse, or performs any other kind act. This
will be interesting play to your children, and it will be sowing seed in
Your baby girl is already old enough to take pride in picking up the
toys she scatters, and putting her chair where it belongs. Make it a
part of your hour of sport with her to help her do these things. She
will not know she is being taught order.
I learned this lesson from a famous author whose baby son was anxious
to play about the library where his father was at work.
The first act of the toddler was to toss all the books in sight upon the
floor and to sit down and turn the leaves, hunting for pictures. This
performance interested him for half an hour, when he proceeded to seek
new fields of action.
"But now let us have great fun putting all the books back just where we
found them," cried the tactful father, with a wink and a laugh, which
made the child believe he was to enjoy the sport of his life. And it
_was_ made sport by the foolish pranks of the father who knew how little
it took to interest a child.
The next day, and the next, the same fall and rise in the book market
took place, but on the fourth day the father was too deeply engrossed in
work to assist in the replacing of the books: when, lo! the small lad,
after a wistful waiting and unanswered call, proceeded to put the books
all back alone.
_The first important brick in the foundation wall of order was laid_.
So you can teach your little girl all the womanly habits of method, and
order, and neatness, and system, if you have the patience to act the
part of playmate with her a few moments daily.
As she grows in understanding and years, keep yourself at her side, her
nearest friend. Let her feel that she can express her every thought to
you, and that every question which presents itself to her developing
mind, you will seek to answer to the best of your ability.
Be her confidant, her adviser, her friend, and let her find pride and
happiness in doing things for you.
Never act as maid or domestic to your daughter.
Be the queen and make her your first lady-in-waiting, and show her the
courtesy and appreciation her position demands from royalty. She will be
a better daughter, and a better wife and mother, later in life, if you
do not make the mistake of the average American mother of waiting upon
her from the cradle to the altar. Let her grow up with the quiet
understanding that you are to be first considered, in matters social and
financial. Your wardrobe must be as well looked after as her own, and if
there is to be economy for one, let her practise it.
The daughter who has a whole household sacrificing and toiling for her
pleasures is spoiled for a wife and woman. The most admirable young
women I have known--and I have known many--are those who were taught to
take it as a matter of course that the mother was first to be
considered, and lovingly served.
Do not be afraid of making your daughter vain by telling her the
attractive features she may possess.
Some one else will if you do not, and it is well for her to hear it from
lips which may more successfully offer counsel afterward. A certain
confidence in her own charms gives a sensibly reared young woman a poise
and self-possession which is to be desired. A touch of feminine vanity
renders a woman more anxious to please, and more alert to keep always at
But beware of having her acquire egotism. Silly conceit is the
death-blow to higher attainments and to all charm.
Teach your daughter early the accomplishment of listening well. She will
be certain to please if she understands its value.
A woman who looks the converser in the eyes, and does not allow her
glance to wander and become distrait, and who does not interrupt before
the recital is finished, can be sure of popularity with both men and
Give both your son and daughter confidence in themselves and belief in
their power to achieve. There is tremendous power in the early
inoculation by the home influence of self-confidence, when it is
tempered by modesty and consideration for others.
Remember whatever in your own bringing up seems to-day unfortunate, and
avoid it in the training of your children.
Remember whatever was good and helpful, and emulate it.
To Miss Zoe Clayborn Artist
_Concerning the Attentions of Married Men_
I am sure, my dear niece, that you are a good and pure-minded girl, and
that you mean to live a life above reproach, and I fully understand your
rebellion against many of the conventional forms which are incompatible
with the career of a "girl bachelor," as you like to call yourself. But
let us look at the subject from all sides, while you are on the
threshold of life, in the morning of your career, and before you have
made any more serious mistakes than the one you mention.
For it was a mistake when you accepted Mr. Gordon's telephone message to
lunch alone with him at a restaurant, even though you knew his wife
might not object.
Mr. and Mrs. Gordon are happily married, parents of several children.
They are broader and more liberal and more unselfish than most parents,
and they went out of their path to extend courtesies to you, a young
country girl--at first because you were my niece, then because they
liked you personally.
When I first wrote Mrs. Gordon that you were to open a studio in Chicago
after your course of study in the East, she expressed deep interest in
you, and seemed anxious to have you consider her as a friend--always
ready to act as a chaperon or adviser when you felt the need of wiser
guidance than your own impulses.
Mrs. Gordon knew that your experience of the world was limited to a
country village in the West, and two years' study at the Pratt
Institute. While there she knew you boarded with a cousin of your
mother's, and enjoyed the association and privileges of the daughters of
To start alone in Chicago, and live in your studio, and dine from a
chafing-dish, and sleep in an unfolded combination bureau and
refrigerator--has more fascinations to your mind than to Mrs. Gordon's.
She was reared in comfort, bordering on luxury, and while her early home
life was not happy, she enjoyed all the refinements and all the
privileges of protected girlhood.
She knows city life as you cannot know it, and, although she discards
many of the burden-some conventions of society, she realizes the
necessity of observing some of its laws.
She wanted you to feel that you had the background of a wholesome home,
and the protection of clean, well-behaved married friends in your
exposed situation; her attitude to you is just what she would want
another woman to hold toward her daughter, were she grown up and alone
in a large city.
You have been her guest, and she has been your good friend. Mr. Gordon
admired you from the first, and that was a new incentive for this most
tactful and liberal of wives to befriend you. She always cultivates the
women he likes.
This is excellent policy on the part of a wife. If the husband has any
really noble qualities or possesses a sterling character, he will
appreciate and respect his wife's confidence, and never violate it; and
added to this, he will usually become disillusioned with the women he
has admired from a distance, when he sees them frequently at too close
A wife can make no greater mistake than trying to fence her husband
about and obtruding high walls between him and the women he admires. Far
better bring them near and turn on the calcium light.
Mr. Gordon is a born lover of the fair sex, a born gallant. He is, at
the same time, a clean, self-respecting man. But he has grown a trifle
selfish and a bit vain of late years.
He does not fully realize what the interesting family of children he
shows with such pride to his friends has meant to their mother.
It has not occurred to him that to be the mother of three children, the
youngest one year old, after six years of married life, has required a
greater outlay of all the mental, moral, and physical forces than has
been demanded of their father.
He is a good husband,--yet he is not the absolutely unselfish and
liberal and thoughtful husband that Mrs. Gordon is wife.
If she seemed to you at all nervous, or less adaptable to your moods
than he, you should stop and consider the many causes which might have
led to this condition.
You are young, handsome, gifted, and unconventional, and all these
things appeal to men. You can attract all the admirers you want, and
more than you need, to enlarge your ideas of life, and extend your
knowledge of human nature.
You say your ambition is to know the world thoroughly,--that it will aid
I think that is true, if you do not pass the border-line and lose your
ideals and sacrifice your principles. Once you do that, your art will
lose what it can never regain.
And remember this, my dear girl, no human being ever lived or ever will
live who gained anything worth having _by sacrificing the golden rule._
In your search for knowledge of the world, and acquaintance with human
nature, _keep that motto ever before your soul's sight,_ "Do unto
others as you would have them do unto you."
You say Mr. Gordon said or did nothing in that tete-a-tete luncheon his
wife might not have heard or seen, but the fact that he talked entirely
about you and art, and other universal subjects, and seemingly avoided
any reference to his wife and children, surprised you.
And now you are wondering if you did wrong to accept this invitation.
Never accept invitations of any kind from married men, unless the wife
or some member of the family is included.
No matter how willing the wife may be to have you enjoy her husband's
company, avoid tete-a-tete situations with benedicts.
You say you are not egotistical enough to imagine Mr. Gordon had any
hidden motive for wanting to be alone with you, or for seemingly
forgetting in his conversation that he was a husband and father. Yet I
can see that in a measure it disillusioned you.
You do not ask a man to fling his wife and children at the head of each
woman he meets, but you like him to recognize their existence.
You are a young, romantic girl seeking the ideal.
You want to find happy wives and husbands,--men and women who have
sailed away from the Strands of Imagination to the more beautiful land
of the Real, from whose shores they beckon you, saying: "Here is
happiness and great joy. Come and join us, and feel no fear in flinging
the illusions of youth behind you."
If married men only knew that is what young women are seeking,--if
married women only knew that is what young men are seeking, what
reconstruction would take place in the deportment of husbands and wives!
Never yet did a married woman indulge in flirtatious or sentimental
converse with a bachelor without lowering herself and all women in his
heart of hearts.
Never yet did a married man seem to forget his domestic ties in the
presence of single women without losing a portion of their respect,
however they may have been flattered by his attentions.
In every man's heart, in every woman's, is this longing to find husbands
and wives who are satisfied and happy and proud, above all other things,
of their loyalty.
It would be well for you to keep this fact before the minds of the men
you meet. You can, in a small way, do your little toward educating on
this subject the married men you encounter. And you can save yourself
some embarrassing experiences.
It is no compliment to you if the husband of your friend, or a stranger,
falls in love with you.
It is an easy matter for a young, attractive woman to infatuate
It is a far greater compliment to you when women respect and trust you,
and when you help elevate the ideals of weak men regarding your sex.
You can study the whole Encyclopedia of Manhood without breaking through
the glass doors of your friend's bookcases. And you can live a free,
unconventional life without sacrificing one principle, though you may
ignore some customs. It is not the custom in conventional society for
young women to go to theatres or dinners alone with young men. Yet I am
perfectly willing you should join the large army of self-supporting,
self-respecting, and well educated girls who do these things. You have
been reared with that American idea of independence, and with that
confidence in your ability to protect your virtue and good name, which
carries the vast majority of our young women safely through all the
vicissitudes of youth, and sends them chaste wives to the altar. Our
American men understand this attitude of our girls, and half of them
respect it, without being forced to, as the other half can be, if woman
There is no reason, to my thinking, why you should not enjoy the
companionship of interesting bachelors and widowers, and take the
courtesies they offer, with no chaperon but your own pride, taste, and
will. So long as you know, and these men know, that you are doing
nothing and going nowhere you need remember with shame or regret, the
next day, just so long you are on no dangerous path.
But you must draw the line at married men, happy or unhappy. Any
confidential, tete-a-tete companionship of a single woman with a married
man cheapens her in the eyes of all other men and women.
It is a simpler matter to drift into free and easy manners and call them
"bohemian" than to cleanse your reputation of their stain, or lift your
mind from the mire to which they inevitably lead.
Once a woman begins to excuse her lawless conduct on the ground of her
"artistic temperament," there are no depths to which she may not sink.
Take pride in being at once independent yet discreet; artistic, yet
sensible; a student of men, yet an example of high-minded womanhood; an
open foe to needless conventions, yet a staunch friend of principles;
daring in methods, yet irreproachable in conduct; and however adored by
men, worthy of trust by all women.
Do not take the admiration of men too seriously. Waste no vitality in a
rage over their weaknesses and vices. Regard them with patience and
inspire them to strive for a better goal than self-indulgence.
You can safely take it for granted that many who approach you with
compliments for your charms, and pleas for your favours, would make the
same advances to any other attractive girl they chanced to encounter.
Too many young women mistake a habit for a grand passion. And they
forget, while they are studying man, that he is studying woman, and
testing her susceptibility to flattery and her readiness to believe in
his simulated infatuation.
Do not fall into the error of so many young country girls in a large
city, and imagine you can establish new laws, create a new order of
things, and teach men new lessons.
A great city is like an ever-burning fire,--the newcomers who thrust in
their fingers will be scorched and scarred, but the fire will not be
changed or extinguished.
_Keep out of the fire_.
There is no reason why you should scar yourself or smoke your garments
while keeping comfortably warm.
To Mr. Charles Gordon
_Concerning the Jealousy of His Wife After Seven Years of Married Life_
I have read your letter with care. I can readily understand that you
would not appeal to your wife's mother in this matter upon which you
write me, as she has been the typical mother-in-law,--the woman who
never gets along well with her children, and who never wants others to
succeed where she fails. I recollect your telling me how she marred the
wedding ceremony, by weeping and fainting, after having nagged her poor
daughter during twenty years of life, and interfered with her
friendships, through that peculiar jealousy which she misnamed "devoted
And now you are afraid that your wife is developing the same
propensity, and you ask me to use my influence to cure her of it in its
incipiency. You think I stand closer to Edna than any other friend.
"It is only during the last two or three years that Edna has shown this
tendency," you say. "Until then she seemed to me the most sensible and
liberal-minded of women, always admiring the people I liked, and even
going out of her way to be courteous and cordial to a woman I praised.
Of late she has seemed so different, and has often been sarcastic, or
sulky, or hysterical, when I showed the common gallantries of a man fond
of the society of ladies."
You think it is her inherited tendency cropping out, and that she is
unconscious of it herself.
Well now permit me, my dear Mr. Gordon, to be very frank with you.
I met your wife only once before she married you.
She was a merry-hearted, healthy girl, with superb colour, and the
figure of a young Venus. She was a belle, and much admired by many
During her honeymoon, she wrote me a most charming letter speaking of
her happiness, and of her desire to make you an ideal wife.
You and Edna were my guests for a few days when your first child was a
year old. She seemed more beautiful than ever, with an added spiritual
charm, and you were the soul of devotion.
You are the type of man who pays a compliment as naturally as he
breathes, and whose vision is a sensitive plate which retains an
impression of every feminine grace. This impression is developed in the
memory-room afterward, and framed in your conversation.
The ordinary mind calls such a man a flirt, or, in common parlance, "a
jollier;" but I know you to be merely appreciative of womankind in
general, while your heart is beautifully loyal to its ideal. You are a
clean, wholesome man, who could not descend to intrigue. You are
fine-looking, and you possess a gift in conversing.
Of course women are attracted to you. Edna was proud of this fact, and
seemed to genuinely enjoy your popularity.
That was five years ago.
One year ago I visited your home. Edna was the mother of three children,
born during the first five years of marriage.
She had sacrificed her bloom to her babies, and was pallid and anaemic.
Her form had lost its exquisites curves, and she seemed years older than
her age--older indeed than you, although she is four years your junior.
It is a mere incident to be a father of three children. It is a lifetime
experience to be their mother. She had developed nerves, and tears came
as readily as laughter came of old.
She was devoted to her children, and felt a deep earnestness regarding
her responsibility as a mother. But she was still the intensely loving
wife, while you had sunk your role of lover-husband in that of adoring
You did not seem to think of Edna's delicate state of health, or notice
her fading beauty. You regarded her as a faithful nurse for your
children, and whenever you spoke of her it was as the mother, not as the
sweetheart and wife.
When I mentioned the drain upon a woman's vitality to bring three robust
children into life in five years, you said it was only a "natural
function," and referred to the old-time families of ten and twelve
children. Your grandmother had fourteen, you said, and was the picture
of health at seventy-five.
My own grandmother gave ten children to the world. But we must recollect
how different was the environment in those days.
Our grandmothers lived in the country, and knew none of the strain and
excitement of these modern times. The high pressure of social and
financial conditions, as we know them, the effort to live up to the
modern standards, the congested city life and the expensive country
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