- Love, the Source of Happiness or Misery - Women's Place in Mohammed's Paradise - Marriage an Ordinance of Heaven - Parents Stamp their Characteristics on their Children - Nature's Time for Marrying - Well Developed Mind and Body - Evil Habits - Self- Government and Discipline - Industry and Thrift - Young Ladies and the Fashions - Domestic Duties - Value of Self Reliance - Lamentable Ignorance - Hereditary Influence - Marriage Means Parentage - Lawful Pride in Fine Offspring
No emotion in the human breast is more powerful than that of love. None is more productive of happiness when rightly controlled and directed. When allowed to run wild and override all reason and restraint, none is so fruitful of misery. Love is the law of heaven and earth. It makes life a blessing or a curse. Milton in one of his loftiest poetic flights exclaims:
Hail wedded love, mysterious law, true source of human offspring.
Mohammed acted with unusual sagacity, displayed no ordinary understanding of human nature, and adopted effectual means for the accomplishment of his cherished object, when, to secure converts to his new religion, he promised that the eternal abode of the faithful should be made joyful, and lighted up with the charms and smiles of Woman! This was an appeal to one of the strongest passions of our nature, and proved effectual in securing the attention of the stronger sex; and, in that age, this object achieved, secured the influence and commendation of the gentler and more refined half of our race.
From the earliest time, and among all nations, whether shrouded in Pagan darkness or enjoying the pure and elevating influence of Christianity; among those who treat the female sex like slaves and beasts of burden, and those who recognize her as entitled to an equal rank with man, companionship between the sexes has ever been found to be the strongest desire of our race. It is not peculiar to either sex, but is cherished in common by both.
This is an ordinance of Heaven, none can deny. And the origin of the institution of matrimony might convince the skeptic of his error; for the only volume which gives an authentic early history of our race, declares in the outset, that in our creation, the distinction of sex was ordered as a contribution to our enjoyment, and that therefrom should follow perpetual companionship. "And the Lord God said, it is not good that man should be alone: I will make him an helpmeet for him." And after He had created woman, and given her to Adam to be his wife, Adam acknowledged the precious gift with the profoundest gratitude. He said of her, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;" and the sacred volume adds, "Therefore shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh."
Love and Marriage are Natural
Marriage is also sanctioned by the very laws of our being. It is just as natural to love and marry as it is to breathe. The world loves; the world marries. Misery, you say, grows out of married life; so does the purest, deepest enjoyment. The misery is nothing against marriage itself, but against wrong, hasty, foolish marriages. These every mother, every father, should guard against, yes, and young people themselves.
We cannot be too well acquainted with those qualifications and organizations capable of transmitting the qualities which we most desire in our children. As perfect children are the most valued and beloved, as the laws of reproduction are unchangeable; and as perfection is only in proportion to obedience to these laws, in order to secure our highest wishes, we see the almost imperious necessity of our not only understanding, but complying with these requirements of nature.
If we were as honest and careful in choosing companions for life as we are in business transactions, we should not then run the risks we now do; and the majority of those who marry would be comparatively happy; because each would be better suited, much more satisfied - would know better what to expect of the object of their choice; since they would have a better understanding of each other, and would be less liable to discord.
Causes of Unhappy Marriages
Married as many are, at the present day, and have been in years past, they are more liable to commit crime than they would be if single, and their children grow up to curse them for their existence; when, if they had been properly married, they would have made the best of companions and parents. The evils consequent upon these unphilosophical and unscientifical marriages, result in much of the social and domestic disarrangements, quarrels, separations, and divorces of such frequent occurrence in society; but, guided by judgment and science, there is but little room for disappointment or dissatisfaction. Among qualifications that might be mentioned, a few only will be noticed.
A Well Developed Mind and Body
To show who would be true companions and parents, a sound mind and body are indispensable. Nothing is done as it should be without them; as in after life the first movements will be regretted, while they will necessarily be destined to a course of life, which to them is a source of continual annoyance, if not dissatisfaction. The above qualifications are necessary because a full, complete, and healthy action of all the functions of the body and mind, is necessary in order to discharge the duties which almost inevitably fall upon married persons.
The natural duties of man are never in advance of his natural qualifications; and those who hurry, force, or try to outdo nature, do so, much to their disadvantage. Nature's time and ways are the best; and those who are premature in their plans in the commencement of life, are very apt to find a premature decay of those powers they then call into action. It is almost an every day occurrence that persons, particularly females, hurry into married life before they are fully developed, either mentally or physical, and before they have either judgment, reason, or experience.
No precise rule can be given when every person ought to marry, only that none should think of so doing, until they have arrived at maturity. Bot the mental and physical powers of some are developed many years before those of others; yet, as a general rule, woman is as well qualified in development at twenty as man at twenty-five; but that age is rather early for the majority.
The Educated Woman
Woman, after marriage, as a general thing, enter soon upon the duties of a parent; and, as society now is, has very limited opportunities for mental culture; and, as education is absolutely necessary in order to train and educate children properly, she should before marriage, store her mind with useful information.
A young man who marries before he has come to years of discretion, is like a mariner who pushes out to sea without a compass, or even a knowledge of it. He takes upon himself the cares and responsibilities of a family, without even thinking what they are, and much less without making preparations beforehand to meet them.
But persons should not only be old enough for a full development of their mental and physical powers, with an education adequate to their maturity, and a full knowledge of, and preparation for, all the duties devolving upon them in these near relations, but they should bear in mind that, in proportion as they are naturally deficient in any of the mental or physical elements, just in that proportion are they disqualified to discharge all the duties of married life.
As society is, and as children are brought into the world, and educated, we cannot expect many perfect souls or bodies. yet, if perfection be needed, or desirable anywhere, it is in these relations. And from the fact that the majority of persons are more or less imperfect, they are not prepared to appreciate perfection, if they should find it; consequently they should endeavor to select those whose imperfections would be the least inconvenient to them.
If one parent be very deficient in any one thing, it is unfortunate; but if both parents are very deficient in the same quality, it is still worse, both on their own account and that of their offspring.
Self-government and Discipline
Without some restraint, a family is like a horse without a driver or a bit, a ship without a rudder, a church without a priest, a nation without a ruler, or a day without a sun. Proper restraints are as necessary as a table in a kitchen, or chairs in a parlor.
The evils of greed wood, a smoky house, a scolding wife, and crying children, are not half as bad when they are all joined together, as the absence of self-government and mental discipline; for, without them, we have all the above-mentioned evils, and in fact more; for in domestic arrangements there would be a want of every thing that is convenient, appropriate, and desirable; and abundance of every thing as it should not be, and nothing as it should be. Self-government is absolutely necessary to government in a family; and if as parents, our own minds are not trained and disciplined, we cannot succeed in training and disciplining those of others.
Without these qualifications a family is always on the extreme. You never know where to find them, or what to depend upon; "they are full of variableness and shadow of turning." Easily carried away by every change and tide of doctrine; not having the power to regulate their own affairs or to steer their own course through life, they allow all their neighbors, who wish, to help them; one day listening to the advice of one, and the next, perhaps assenting to something entirely the reverse of it; thus confusion is the order of the day; too late for the boat, too late to church, never quite ready or in season; easily tempted, easily influenced.
Without industry there is no continued success; where, industry exists in a family, it is sure to thrive, and not be dependent on others for support. Idleness produces many evils; it is the road to vice and bad habits. Industry is the mother of plenty, and makes man cheerful, happy, and blessed. Industry and good habits combined, lead to health, wealth, honor and plenty, and secure the confidence and respect of friends and associates, while idleness and bad habits destroy them all.
It matter not how many good habits a young family may have; for, there are many which greatly facilitate business, and add much happiness to the family enjoyments. But bad habits are a stain and a curse on any family.
There are some habits which have a direct tendency to destroy connubial enjoyments; and, where they exist, marriage should positively be prevented.
False Ideas and Customs
Young ladies, who have formed habits connected with the pernicious customs of the day, are not the best persons for companions or parents. Their attention to extremes in dress, in fashion, their artificial airs, their studied hypocrisy, their idleness, irregular habits, false and imperfect ideas of beauty and perfection; their tight-lacing, and their wrong standard of character, all tend, directly and indirectly, to destroy the qualities which are indispensable prerequisites for constituting good companions and parents.
That such habits do have the most alarming and degrading influences on mind and body, and are directly calculated to poison and corrupt all the sources of connubial felicity, as well as entail upon innocent offspring the most fearful calamities, diseases, and premature deaths, in numerous ways, needs no proof more clear than is afforded by the lives, characters, and confessions of thousands of those who have had the bitter experience of their blighting effects upon their own physical, mental, and intellectual endowments, and by the indescribable wretchedness they have brought into so many families and communities.
But distressing as these revelations prove them to be, the evils do not commonly end with their own generation; but, by a law of hereditary descent, parents generate the same evil propensities in their offspring, and thus perpetuate them, from generation to generation; so that from one degraded and miserable slave to vice, hundreds and thousands are ruined. So far are such persons from being qualified for the high responsibilities of the marriage duties, they are a curse to any community; for their influence upon others, be it ever so little, is all evil, and that continually.
Preparation for Married Life
That an education which will fit persons for domestic duties, is as necessary as it is for any other department of life, is self-evident; yet, such an education by many almost entirely neglected, and by a vast majority too much so. Although the marriage state is one which is designed for wise and important purposes, and by the fulfilment of which man gratifies some of the strongest desires of the human mind, yet, as a general thing, we are as poorly qualified for it by mental training and information as for any other condition in which we may be accidentally placed. We use double the means to obtain the object that we do to qualify ourselves for enjoying it when obtained.
When we speak of education as being adapted to the social department, we have special reference to a well disciplined mind, to an experimental acquaintance with domestic labor, and a familiar knowledge of household matters and duties; young women should be able to sympathize with those engaged in domestic affairs, by an individual experience in the same matters.
Every Girl Should be Independent
Every young lady, whether she be rich or poor, especially if she anticipates marriage, should be as familiar with the necessary duties of the family, as she is with the keys of her piano; and much more than with the fashionable acquirements of the day; for none can fill the sphere of a companion and parent, until they are intimate with household labors, are capable of arranging family matters, and supplying their own wants, particularly in the line of making garments, preparing food, etc.
It will not do in this country to depend upon the slightest tenure of property; for it is an everyday occurrence that wealth takes wings and lies away. To be dependent upon the milliner, the cook, and domestic, (which in our cities are mostly of the lower, and ignorant class,) is a slavery to which a truly independent mind would never be willing to submit. And yet scarcely a day passes over our heads, but many young women take this too often unhappy step, without understanding even the common rudiments of housekeeping.
Young men, with their eyes blinded by beauty and wealth, or accomplishments which are generally laid aside and forgotten after marriage, frequently hurry on the wedding day, but find that they have but a painted doll, a mere automation in the great drama of life. Young men also are frequently through ignorance as poorly qualified to discharge their duties in the domestic department; and when thus disqualified, they are thereby incapable of adapting themselves so agreeably, or to appreciate the pecular feelings of a wife in her various circumstances.
There Must be Home Education
They will, as husbands, expect as much at one time as another, and fail to make those allowances which the nature of the case requires, being less qualified to adapt themselves to her in the various changes of circumstances. Where this is the case the wife pines away, grows pale and languid, and not unfrequently becomes discouraged and broken hearted.
What should we think of a man who, the first time he steps on board of a vessel, declares himself able to take command, pushes off, and raises sail for a foreign port? All would join in saying that he was rash and unwise, and that he ought first to make himself acquainted and familiar with the rigging of the ship, and the use of all the instruments on board. No one will hesitate in predicting to him a rough if not a dangerous passage, and would be unwilling to embark with him. How many are there in married life who make a fatal shipwreck of all they possess, simply because they do not understand how to steer and balance the matrimonial ship.
To manage a family well, and adapt one's self successfully to a companion, is as much as art as anything else, and requires as much preparation, skill and judgment, and much more presence of mind, patience and common sense, than any other conditions of life.
Parents do their children a great injustice by neglecting the instruction of their sons and daughters in these matters, which are so intimately connected with their future success and happiness in this life. The details of that education cannot be dwelt upon here.
Children are Not as They Make Themselves
We should marry with regard to posterity, as well as to our individual happiness. The fact that society is affected by hereditary influence, is established beyond a doubt. Every farmer in the country is prepared to admit the general principle as applied to animals; and, every one acquainted with history, is obliged to admit the fact as applied to man. Children, then, are as they are made by others.
And as the laws of prodcution are unchangeable, and the mental and physical organization the necessary result of law and those laws in teh hands of parents, it lays them and all who expect to be parents, under strong moral obligations duly to appreciate the result of their labors.
If society were not affected by hereditary influences, and if the next step after marriage were not parentage, then it would be less important to think of, or care for the future, in those particulars. But as things now exists, it is not sufficient for those who intend marriage to consult their own individual happiness, but they should also consult that of posterity. If this were the case, each generation would be an improvement on proceding ones. At present, however, the majority of society, from all appearances, live only for selfish purposes, regardless of the consequences to posterity; and thus, the improvement of the race is much retarded, man is degraded, and God dishonored.
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