Title: How to Get Married, Although a Woman; or, The Art of Pleasing Men
Author: Irene W. Hartt
Release date: September 11, 2021 [eBook #66270]
Credits: Demian Katz, Craig Kirkwood, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net (Images courtesy of the Digital Library@Villanova University.)
THE ART OF PLEASING MEN.
By “A YOUNG WIDOW.”
(Copyright 1892 by J. S. Ogilvie Publishing Co.)
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|I.||Girls and Matrimony||5|
|II.||The Girl whom Men Like||20|
|III.||The Girl who Wins||41|
|IV.||The Girl who Fails||55|
|V.||Some Unfailing Methods||84|
|VI.||A Word of Warning||91|
|VII.||The Secret of the Widow’s Power||107|
|IX.||The Loved Wife||128|
|Choice Selections in Poetry and Prose||145|
HOW TO GET MARRIED,
ALTHOUGH A WOMAN.
It is natural for girls to wish to marry. The desire to do so is not to be condemned, but rather applauded, for it is Heaven-born. The Creator implanted it in the human heart, man and woman alike. God made man for woman and woman for man. He did not intend that they should live apart from each other. When He said, “It is not good for man to be alone,” He included woman in the man. It is not good for woman to live alone. He put a longing in the heart of man and woman alike which is only satisfied by the love of the other. He made a void in the heart which can only be filled by the companionship and love of one of the opposite sex. Man and woman are alike in this. It is as natural to her as to him: she can no more help it than he can. The unnatural part is that a woman must keep still about it, and if no one comes to woo, try to stifle the longing.
There are plenty who hold up their hands in holy horror when it is said that a certain girl wishes to marry. It is nothing at all out of the way when Mr. Jones says he has determined to marry. If his sister Mollie gave voice to such a sentiment, it would be shocking, however. It would be shocking for her to give expression to the longing the all-wise Father has implanted in her heart. It is a heart, too, that will never be satisfied with yearning only, with fame, with any vocation, with dumb animals, with other people’s children; and it is a wise thing it will not. It is not a wise thing, however, that Mollie will be condemned because she cannot be satisfied without having a fireside and home of her own, because she wants a big loving fellow to care for her and to protect her, and whom she can love and make happy, because she wants her own home, no matter how small it is, to adorn and make pretty, her own housekeeping to look after, her own and his children to care for; because she wants her own wifehood, just as her brother wants a wife and home of his own and will not be satisfied to be a bachelor.
Let him make up his mind to marry. The world will approve of his decision. Let Mollie do the same thing. I want to see girls marry. I am always glad when I hear that one is engaged to do so. To help some to do so, I write these few chapters. There are too many old maids. There are more than there need to be.
I feel particularly sorry for the girl who has passed the line of youth and who has no admirers. Her brothers are all married, and most of her girlhood friends are absorbed in a husband and a baby. She has none, when doubtless she has it within her to make a good wife and mother. She is often restless, unsatisfied, disappointed. If she is at all weak-minded, she becomes sour as she grows older. She grows envious of all happily married women, and has a secret grudge toward men because she feels that she has been slighted by the sex generally. Many a girl who would make a good wife is soured by her failure to become one, and turns out an unpleasant member of society. All old maids are not by any means like this, however. There are many unmarried women in the world that will take up cheerfully any fate, turning their disappointment into a blessing for others.
But I fear that, after all, they go through life with a heart unsatisfied. Alone, when they look into the secret chambers of that uncomplaining heart, they see there the old longings for love.
There are unmarried women who do a great deal of good in the world. They accept their solitary lot as the will of the Heavenly Father. But is it His will? Does He give the heart longings which He will not satisfy? No. A thousand times, No. That would be tantalizing us. Too often we make mistakes in life, and then declare the consequences to be His will. It is so in failing to marry. Girls make mistakes in their conduct and remain spinsters. The fault is their own. They do not know how to attract, and so are passed by.
Plenty of girls do so well understand the art of attracting men, that they have numberless offers of marriage. I know women who could not count up on their ten fingers the men who have been in love with them: among them men who for their sakes have remained unmarried through life. I have had personal acquaintance with women who have been married three times, and could, some of them, be married again. I know other women who have never had one admirer.
I know girls who can attract men to them, and almost as soon as they are attracted, repel them. That sort of a girl never marries. She wants to do so, and acts through ignorance. I have sometimes felt like giving a girl a good shaking when I have seen her spoil her own chances. I have been dying to whisper a word of advice at times, but was too wise to do so, knowing it would not be well received. Girls know so fearfully much! The experiences of a mature woman count for nothing beside the wonderful knowledge some girls in their teens have! In the hope that some of these maidens will be willing to read what they would not hear, when it was too personal, I determined to write down what I know about being attractive to the other sex, what I know about girls’ failures, and why they fail.
Not long ago there appeared in “The Woman’s Department” of one of our daily papers a letter from a young girl, in which she confessed that she loved a young man who did not return her affection. She asked what she should do to win him. The editor could not tell her, advising her to give him up, very much as if it were a pleasure excursion the poor girl was writing about. There are times when it is necessary to give up all hope of winning a man. This, however, did not appear to have been one of them. The girl should have been told just how she could attract, then win him. Perhaps the editor did not herself know.
If a girl is thrown much in the society of a young man whose affections are not previously engaged, and if she knows how to do it, she is quite sure to make him love her. If, however, he cares for some one else, who cares for him, no true woman will in any way try to come between the two: she will rather avoid doing so. If the girl has become interested before she knows of his engagement, it is a case of misplaced affections. There I must advise giving him up. Get interested in another man, and win that one. It might be well always for a girl to find out first whether or not a man is interested in some one else. That would often save a world of trouble. A misplaced affection, when foolishly adhered to will stand in the way of a happy marriage. It is not always the man you love. Not unfrequently it is your ideal which you make a certain man fill. Often, if you are not blinded, you will see that instead of filling it, he “wobbles” around in the large space you have given him. That ideal can easily be transferred to another man. Very few hearts are so true that they love but once. They may do so in stories, but in real life we change. We rarely marry our first love, and almost always forget all about him.
After marriage it is a different thing. Then it is no ideal: it is real. The man you love is real. The love is real, and continues even after “death do you part.”
So, let no misplaced affection stand between you and marriage. Return a love if it is offered you and the man is desirable, or set yourself to win one. Do not go about sighing for a man who belongs to another girl. He never gives you a thought—they are hers. Have too much self-respect, and too high an opinion of your charms to think about him. In a few years, impossible as it may seem now, when you meet him middle-aged and a family man, you will wonder what you ever saw in him to care about. This sounds heartless, but it is true. It goes to prove that in early life before marriage it is the ideal and not the man a girl often loves. If I am mistaken in that, I am not mistaken in saying that a girl is happier married to a man for whom she cares less than she did for this ideal, than in remaining a spinster because some other girl bore off the heart she craved. To my mind a woman is happier married under almost any circumstances than single. That I know is against the teachings of to-day, and does not savor the least of woman’s rights. I believe her “rights” is to be married.
Sometimes a girl who is attractive enough to win any man is kept from marriage by the selfish attentions of one man who either cannot or will not say anything to her about marrying him. This is not an unfrequent occurrence. A man who, on account of his circumstances, cannot marry, or who, because he prefers his freedom, will not marry, will pay attention to a girl for years. He wins her affections, and keeps away others who would be glad to marry her. Meantime she hopes that every day she will hear the words he has given her a right to expect to hear. In the end, if she allows this thing to continue, she will be an old maid.
No matter how much you care for a man, give him up if, after a certain length of time, he says nothing to you about marriage. You will lose nothing in the end by doing so, and may gain him. If he really cares for you, the danger of losing you will make him more anxious to possess you. Then, if ever, he will find means to ask you to marry him. If he does not then, he never would. If giving him up hurts you, heal the wound by remembering that his intentions could not have been serious, and that he has allowed himself to lose you. Remember, too, that the hurt will come some time, anyway, and most likely when you are beyond the age to attract any one else. So giving him up while you are yet young means a marriage with some other man. Clinging weakly to him means, without doubt, that he will, when you are no longer young and attractive, cast you away for a fairer face.
Never so far forget your self-respect as to ask a dilatory lover his intentions. Never allow your father or brother so to demean you. If a man has intentions, no matter how bashful he is, he will declare them. If he does not do so, he has none, and you had better give up all hope in that direction. There are always plenty more men about who will care for you, and who will let you know it too.
Three such cases have come to my knowledge. The girl acted differently in each one. The first clung to her dilatory lover till he finally left her when she was too old to attract any one else. Now, alone in the world, she supports herself by keeping a boarding-house. The second one had her father ask the lover his intentions, and in that way roped him in. It was not a happy marriage. A third gave up the man who would not propose, and shortly afterwards married another man for whom she grew to care a great deal more.
Some attractive girls live in small towns where they can meet no one whom they could or would marry. Consequently they have to remain single. In such a case a man would go out and seek a wife. A girl cannot exactly do that. She can, however, sometimes change her place of residence for that purpose. When it makes little difference, as far as business is concerned, where a family live, I believe a father owes this duty to his unmarried daughters. He can take her where she will be likely to meet an eligible man. I once knew a father with two young daughters who left his country home for their sakes. He took a nice house in Philadelphia, and remained there till they were both married, then returned home. A widow with three daughters left her farm and rented a large furnished house in New York City. As a means of support she took first-class boarders. The eldest was considerably over thirty, but they were all three attractive. Being so placed where they met gentlemen, none of them were long in marrying. A maiden lady of forty-one, very jolly, bright, and good-natured, interesting but not pretty, and so fleshy she was a sight, had never in the east met a man whom she could marry. She went to California to visit a sister, and in less than a year was married to a wealthy widower.
Change of residence will often change the lonely spinster, young or advanced, into a happy wife.
Leaving matrimony out of the question, it is desirable for a girl to aim to be a favorite with men generally. She should be a girl whom all men like, whether or not that liking ripens into a feeling more tender. Then she always stands the chance of its so ripening. Many a man goes through life till he has made a success of his business without giving a thought to marriage. When he is ready to marry, he looks about him without any sentiment often to see whom of his lady friends he would like for a wife. Ten to one he hits upon a girl whose character has called forth his friendly admiration. This once settled he straightway falls in love with something to build upon. Widowers will frequently marry a girl of whom they thought well when the wife was yet living.
Mere beauty counts for less in the long run than is generally supposed. It has less power in determining matrimonial choice than you would think. Its first effects are too strong in proportion to its other effects. It is seen at once, and instead of growing upon the beholder, its power rather lessens as it becomes familiar. The two most beautiful girls I ever met are now old maids. The most winning girl I ever knew had absolutely a plain face. There was a charm about her which attracted all men, and which made them swear, after they knew her, that she was a most beautiful creature. Even after she had refused a man, he loved and admired her.
You all want to look as pretty as you can, but you must not place any dependence upon beauty to settle you in life. Many men prefer stylish girls to pretty ones. Look about you at the married women of your acquaintance. How few of them are pretty now, or were in their youth. Two of the worst wives I have ever known are pretty women. Their husbands made the mistake of marrying for beauty. A vain girl is generally selfish, and men do like an unselfish girl. A man wants an unselfish wife.
If you wish men to admire you, you must first be a true woman with a noble character. Look to your home-life. Men catch glimpses of that when you least think it. They know well that an industrious, sweet-tempered, unselfish daughter makes an industrious, sweet-tempered, unselfish wife. A girl of whom her brother is very fond, and whose special friend she is, goes into the society of men, where it is known, with a wonderful recommendation. As a general thing you can tell how a girl will treat her husband by the way she treats her brother. I once knew a young man who asked a girl to marry him because he saw her tender, loving solicitude for her brother.
Men like bright girls. Even the most sober prefer a jolly, laughing girl. As I once heard a man say about a very merry one, “Think of having such a creature always in your home! You wouldn’t have much chance for blues.” I knew a wonderfully homely girl who was so jolly that men surrounded her wherever she went. Men like a good time, and a lively girl will give it to them. If you cannot all be jolly, you can be bright, talkative, and interested. Jolly girls are never sentimental. A man hates a sentimental girl. Sentimental looks, long faces, teary expressions are only attractive in novels. Men, out of books, do not like to wipe away tears—they prefer to walk away from them. Never forget that a man is a selfish being. Keep that little fact in view continually; and if you want to please him, pander to it. If anything will disgust a man with a girl, it is to see her make a fuss. Even if you have real heart-sorrow, the more you control yourself, the more you will be admired. Remember you look your very worst when you cry. The tears do not “well up,” and “overflow,” “chasing each other down your alabaster cheeks like so many pearly drops,” as they do in novels. No: your face squints up, while your eyes and nose get red. Instead of being attractive, unless the man for whose benefit you have gotten up this scene loves you, he will walk away. It is manlike to walk off at the first sign of a storm, and to avoid everything uncomfortable. Bear that in mind. When you treat a man to a scene on any subject, you lose your hold upon him. Ten to one he will leave you to seek the society of some lively girl who is wise enough to hide her tears.
A man likes a sensible girl. He likes real good common sense. Nothing is more trying than an unreasonable woman, and a man will not have anything to do with her when he does not have to do so. He may be politely pleasant to her, but he does not care to have her for his wife. To be sure plenty of unreasonable, trying women are wives. (I would they were not!) They had the faculty of hiding their real character before the binding vows were spoken. It is better to have nothing to hide. Be your honest true self always. If you are naturally endowed with common sense, try to cultivate it. Learn to be reasonable, and try not to be governed by your feelings. A man never cares for a girl whose feelings and not duty are her guide. Bear in mind that I am not talking about the man who is in love with you, but the one who views you calmly but may sometime love you.
Men like good-natured girls. I know two sisters, the eldest of whom is quick-tempered, resentful, ill-spoken, and is over thirty without a gentleman friend. She never had one. The younger, not yet nineteen, is good-natured and lively. All the men who know her like her. One man, in fear of her being carried off by some one else, has secured her promise to marry him.
A man likes to feel that the wife he takes to his home is going to brighten that home. He does not want a high temper to contend with. A girl never shows off to a worse advantage than when she is angry. Men are attracted by sweetness of disposition. No greater compliment could be paid to any woman than is paid to the Princess of Wales when she is called Her Royal Sweetness. Directly we hear that, we are drawn to her.
Sweetness of mind and manner is woman’s greatest charm. A sweet woman is beloved by every one. It is woman’s province to be sweet. Gail Hamilton says, “It is the first duty of woman to be a lady.” I say, it is her first duty, after being a Christian (which is certainly first of everything), to be sweet. She says to be a lady is more than to be a prince. Let me add that to be Her Royal Sweetness is more than to be Her Royal Highness. We all are won by a sweet manner. A sweet smile will even draw us to a stranger. It can be yours if you will cultivate it. Begin at home. Lay the foundation there. Be sweet at heart. Do not put on gracious smiles and winning ways for the outside world only. If they are not natural, you will be caught tripping sometimes. Circumstances may arise when you will show the man whom you are the most anxious to win what you truly are. Although that will be a good thing for him, it will be bad for you. Be genuine. Counterfeit is detected in the long run. I know a woman who outside is the very ideal of sweetness, but who is a perfect demon at home. She won her husband, whom she now drives almost to madness, by that assumed sweetness. In spite of smiles and graciousness, she is the most friendless woman I know. The world demands genuine coin, and will detect counterfeit. So begin at home to be sweet, and unconsciously it will become your natural manner. You will not have to assume it: it will be your own.
A girl may be more than plain, even homely, but if her manners are gentle, her voice sweet and low, her bearing womanly, her power is wonderful. A charming smile unlocks many a door which is barred to a stiff, ungracious manner. A charming smile warms every one it greets. It is particularly winning to a man. It has in it a welcome which fascinates him, and brings him to you again. A gracious, sweet manner is of more account in winning your way with the sterner sex than millions. More girls are married for their sweetness than for their money. A charming, bright greeting, will sometimes engage a man’s interest or attention on the spot.
“Be courteous” at all times. “Be courteous” under all circumstances even the most trying, in your family, among friends, and with strangers. I remember it was said of a sweet girl at school, “She would be polite to Satan himself if he came to her room.” I almost believe it. I once heard a truly sweet girl say, “I was so provoked;” when another girl broke in, “I don’t believe that. Any one knows that you cannot get provoked.”
Sensible men like an economical girl. A man does not want to feel that after marriage all his money, especially if he does not have much of it, is going to be wasted.
Men like healthy girls. A man hates to hear a woman complain. He is not sympathetic. Men rarely are; but then you must take them as you find them, not as you would have them. Just there lies the secret of some girls’ failure to attract; they have no patience with a man’s imperfections, and are unwise enough to allow him to see that they have discovered them.
Men like girls who are hearty and who have a hearty interest in things. A real live girl is always a favorite. A man avoids a sentimental girl. Do not quote poetry. Do not look languishing. Do not model your conduct after the heroines of novels. Study real life, and be real. Do not expect anything to occur to you as it does to girls in novels: it never will.
Do not exact too much attention. A man hates to give it where it is exacted, even when it is your right. It is their way to pay it only when they feel like doing so. A man never wants to be controlled. Before he is in love, he is particularly alive to any effort to do so. When he is in love, he is more blind to it; but even then it is not well to press it.
To be thoroughly attractive you must have a great deal of tact. Tact has been called the supremest weapon in a woman’s hands. Without it, she is helpless. With it, she is powerful. Tact will enable you to see just what to do, how to do it, what to say, and how to say it. Men are not all alike. What will please one may not please another. They are all built on the same general plan, however, and if you know one well, you know pretty much all there is to be known about the whole sex. Yet different lines of conduct are to be pursued with different men. A girl with tact grasps this in a moment. Indeed, she grasps the situation every time and pleases every time. You must understand man-nature. You can learn a great deal of it from your brother. Let me tell you too that if girls would more frequently advise with their brothers, they would get along a hundred-fold better. A brother can give you an insight into other men, and at the same time look after your interests. You will rarely fail to go right and to do right, if you will make him your confidant. Find out what he likes, and you will know what other men like.
If you would be attractive, you must hide your feelings. I know of no time at home or abroad when it is well to show your real feelings if they are disagreeable. Bear in mind that I do not lay down a code of laws to be practised only abroad regardless of your home-life. Let the first man upon whom you try your winning arts be your father. Make him sure that you are the most perfect of girls. Then try your brothers. As the most lovely of daughters and sisters, you will be real when you are attracting other men by your winning manners.
A man likes a girl who is read up—at least in the news of the day. He does not want to be instructed, and he never likes a girl who knows better than he does about things. If even you are sure he is wrong, do not correct him. That would be a wound to his vanity, which is itself a fatal thing to do. If you are better educated than he is, do not let him know it. Appear to receive instruction, and let your knowledge be a sort of cushion for his. Be interested in what he talks about, and willing to learn. Give him your full attention when he talks to you. It is a lack of tact that makes a girl show a want of interest. It is a lack of tact too that makes a girl let a man see what a good opinion she has of herself, when she ought to be showing him what a good opinion she has of him. It is very well to have it settled in your own mind just what you are, and what your attractions are, but do not let any know of that opinion. It is well to have a good opinion of yourself: it will give you an ease in society and a confidence to go ahead and win. Be sure, however, that you are worthy of that opinion. Be sure that you are not deceiving even yourself.
Never allow a man to sacrifice his comfort for you. If he is rude enough even to ask to smoke in your presence, with your sweetest smile give him permission to do so. Promote his comfort in every possible way. They notice these things and like such attentions. Do not feel it your right always to have the best of everything and he the worst. Decline to accept the sacrifices that he as a gentleman will insist upon making. Some girls will heedlessly accept anything with a sort of blind gross selfishness. The girl who is unselfish at home, and who looks out for the comfort of her family before she does her own, will unconsciously carry the same winning spirit with her wherever she goes. The girl who is selfish at home, and who puts on her sweetness with company dress, will often forget all about it, especially under any excitement.
Do not allow a man to spend much money upon you. He rarely cares to do so, but does it because it is customary among a certain class, and thinks that you expect it of him. Give him a pleasant surprise when he invites you into a restaurant or elsewhere, by declining. You do not want to be indebted to him in a monetary point of view—it lessens your dignity. It would not be a pleasant thing to hear him count up how much he has spent upon you. A man will do it, and make remarks about it to other men too. They have it all done to a fine point, and know just which girl is expensive in her tastes, and which one it costs the most to take out. I have heard them talk when I have been behind the scenes. Some girls, I am sorry to say, will even go so far as to hint that they would like to be taken to a certain entertainment or out for refreshments. There is much bitter truth in the jokes we read about the ice-cream girl. The writer of them, I always think, has smarted under the custom.
No matter what a man is himself, he likes a modest girl. True modesty has a great charm. A girl without it is like a faded flower. As a general thing, her end is sad. Beauty is fleeting, but modesty gives a charm which outlasts youth. A retiring, gentle girl is something to seek after; and a man rather seek. A bold girl may receive more attentions from a certain class of men, but less love in the long run. That “certain class of men” you want to avoid instead of seeking to attract them. The real gentleman, the kind for whose attentions you care, never wants anything to do with a bold, loud girl. The loud girl is never a lady. Cultivate a low, sweet voice at all times. Abjure slang and chewing gum. Of the two evils I do not know which is the worst; but I do know that no true lady is addicted to either.
Men like large-minded, large-hearted girls. They like girls who have no envy in their nature, who can be fair and just even to a rival, who will see good in every one, and speak of that instead of the evil.
If you meet a girl whom you feel is your superior, emulate her; try to become all she is. At the same time, be large enough to acknowledge her excellence. Your very humility and sweet praise of her will be a winning grace. Ten to one the man will think how sweet you are instead of seeing the excellent traits you point out in her. Bitter, narrow-minded girls have an idea they can bring a superior girl down to their level by casting mud at her. It is a species of mud that always flies back, with a sort of a double back-action arrangement, and does all the harm to the thrower. In the first place, it is not Christ-like to speak unkindly of any one; in the second, men hate to hear it. It is only a weak one who will join in with you. In the third place, it is so small, and tells so plainly that you are narrow, envious, inferior. Instead of trying to pull a girl down, always try to climb up beyond her heights. Be large enough to discern and acknowledge whatever good you see in any one. Be charitable to the wrong-doings of your friends. Never mention the plainly seen faults of another girl. In this evil world, be as though you saw no evil. Be pure. “To the pure all things are pure.” Let all things and all people be pure in your sight.
Make yourself worth having, and men will want to have you. Strive to cultivate a true womanliness and to become an efficient person. Be a girl who can help herself, who is not ignorant of work or too lazy to do it. Do not be a mere toy whom men will flirt with and then drop when they want to marry a woman who will be a helpmeet. Sensible men do not want to marry a bundle of nothing for a wife. When they are cheated into doing so, they repent it all their lives. You do not want to think that the man whom you will marry is going to repent the act. I know I would rather die on my wedding-day. I think that if a man to whom I was married should hint by word or deed of such a repentance, I would feel that my life was a complete failure, and should want to go out of it then and there.
Be accomplished and brilliant if possible, but above all things prepare yourself to be a helpmeet for a man. Men like talents in a girl, especially music; but a man likes to have his wife know how to keep house. Learn that. Learn to make all sorts of garments and to cook, even if you are wealthy.
Being an attractive girl whom all men like is not exactly the same thing as setting about deliberately to win some one man’s heart. It has been said that the girl thinks of matrimony before the man does. He goes on blindly and thoughtlessly until he is so deep in love that he cannot retreat; while from the very start she thinks whether or not she would like to wed him.
It may be that you know some young man whom in a womanly way you would like to win. Let us suppose that in the secret recesses of your heart you have decided that you would like to marry him.
In the first place, you must not fall deeply in love with him. If you fail, you do not want to be broken-hearted; and too, when a girl is really up and down in love, she loses control of herself. She is no longer sure of herself and of her conduct. You must keep cool and calculating. You must admire the man, and feel that at that time he is the only one you could love. Lose just enough of your heart so that, when he is won and asks for your love, you can give it to him.
You must be able to arrange your mode of warfare, and always have perfect possession of yourself. There must be no silly excitement when he is present, and downcast face when he is away. Such a course would surely provoke comment; and your conduct must not be commented upon. No one must be allowed to suspect that you are interested in him. It is not your province in any way to go a-wooing; but you can work wonders in the way of winning the man you want. I have read that a woman may marry whom she will. I almost believe she can. You cannot, however, go about in an open way as a man can. With him the battle is sometimes half won when he makes it known that he wishes marriage. With you it would be all lost.
You must never run after a man. Make yourself so attractive that he will seek you. Then it is all in your own hands. You can keep him beside you. You may have to wait some time for him to come. Be patient. Nothing is ever accomplished without patience. An impatient, nervous anxiety on your part will be likely to spoil everything. Never go where you know he will be and where he does not expect you, if you can avoid doing so. Better, by far, let him miss you where he anticipates seeing you than to see too much of you. His disappointment will show him how much he is interested in you.
Do not hesitate to let him see that you have a modest, maidenly interest in him. Men like that. It must be done in a retiring way as if you did not intend to have him see it, but could not help yourself. While a man will boast of a girl running after him, this little secret of yours, which by his acuteness(!) he has discovered, he will keep sacredly to himself. The very modesty with which you try to veil it will heighten its value in his eyes.
Do not hesitate to let him see by your greeting that he is welcome. I do not mean that you are to be effusive. It is done by your smile, your look, more than by words. Girls make the mistake of greeting a man coolly in fear of appearing forward or of showing a regard. Never be cool to the man you want to win. Ward McAllister says in his “Society as I Have Found It”: “The value of a pleasant manner is impossible to estimate. It is like sunshine; it gladdens. You feel it, and are at once attracted to the person without knowing why.”
Young girls are rarely mistress of these sweet, little, but telling arts. The knowing just how comes later in life. Balzac has said that a woman of thirty is at her most fascinating and dangerous period. The women who have been the most famous for their power over hearts have all been nearer forty than twenty. This seems incredible to you yet in your teens. You now look upon twenty-five as a species of old age. At thirty, you think, as far as men are concerned, a woman is in the sere and yellow leaf; while at forty they are little less than in their dotage. Look out, that while you are counting on your youth to marry you, some of these females in the sere and yellow leaf, or even in their dotage, will carry off the prize, because she knows how and you do not. The fact is, the woman of thirty is still young now-a-days, whatever she was in our grandmothers’ time.
She can win men’s love too. She knows the world so well that she takes men as she finds them, while the girl in her teens does not. The girl aspires too often to make them fit in her narrow mould. Girls are too often narrow in their ideas. In the secret acceptance of a man’s faults, or taking him as you find him, lies a great deal the secret of power over them. You girls are too sure of yourselves, too fixed in your opinions, too certain that you are right and that others are wrong. You are too anxious to set a man right. They have a way of their own of not wanting to be set right. They never want to be corrected. If they are wrong, their ignorance is bliss to them.
Girls have little charity. They are generally hard in their judgments of everything and of everybody. They take delight in showing off what they know, and making a man feel like a fool. A man never allows the same girl to make him feel like a fool twice. Once is enough for any man. He seeks the society of another straightway. Girls are given to display a superiority, and make a man feel small. Again he walks off. A man never falls in love with a girl who makes him feel small. Now the charming girl hides her own opinions—her superiority, and brings out what is best in the man. This is what you must do every time. When you seek to win a man, make him pleased with himself. The better he is pleased with himself the better he will like you. This is not done by bold, outspoken flattery (although a man will swallow larger doses of that than you suppose), but by adroitly showing him his own best side. If you have to touch his tender places, do it with a soft hand that will soothe instead of wound.
A man likes a smart girl. Your smartness or your brilliancy must, however, be kept in the background. You must not use it to dazzle him, but to make him feel that he is brilliant. If he is witty, never try to be more so than he is. If he is highly educated and you are more so, still be willing to be instructed by him. Never aspire to teach him. A man does not want to be set right by a woman.
If he is a talker, so manage that he will do all the talking, if he wishes to, while you are the interested listener. I do not mean that you are to be mum: you are to be so interested that you cannot help sometimes breaking in. All your remarks should be to the point, and so worded that he will be led on until he is even surprised at his own powers of conversation and brilliancy. There is no surer way than this to keep him at your side. If he looks at his watch it will be to see how much longer he can remain with you, not because he wishes to hurry away. When he finally must leave you, he will have so much better an opinion of himself that he will be quite a new man. His thoughts of you will be most flattering. He will not know why. Men rarely analyze their emotions. If they did, it would be worse for us and our little arts. In a certain way they go about blindly.
A man is self-centred. He loves to talk about himself. His vanity is his weak point. If he is no talker, and all other topics fail, lead him to talk about himself. Only one man in a hundred will fail to respond to this bait. He does not know that he is engrossing the conversation in this way: he only knows that you are delightful.
The wonderful charm some girls have for men lies in the interest she shows in him, and the tact with which she makes him think well of himself.
A man will not be snubbed. In novels, especially of the Duchess kind, the abject small creature whom she calls the hero thrives upon it. His love feeds upon snubbing, and grows more intense. He falls in love at first sight, and the worse his charmer treats him the more he loves her. This is not true to life. These books are full of false ideas, and do much harm to the girl who reads them.
It seems almost coarse to advise flattery. Flattery is coarse. You can, however, discover a man’s good qualities, talents, etc., and praise them without limit. Men will swallow large doses of praise without so much as a wink. They do not even know you are praising them; they are only conscious of being pleased. You must be discreet, however, in giving your doses, and above all things avoid getting the name of being a flatterer. You can sometimes give praise with an unsparing hand, but you must be sure of the right occasion. A public man may be praised ad libitum. In fact, a man who sings, acts, speaks in public needs it.
The private man wants it too. He gets less of it from the world in general, and your good opinion, delicately expressed, will be all the more acceptable. When you have a field all to yourself, be sure and improve the occasion.
The girl who is affectionate wins. I do not mean to imply that you are to embrace every man you meet or to allow anything of the kind from them. You are to show a certain warmth of feeling. No man likes a cold girl. Ice repels. A friend of mine, whose great attraction was her warmth of manner, mowed down hearts like ten-pins Her greeting always was more than cordial. She gave almost an affectionate grasp of the hand, allowing her hand to lie there a mere shadow of time, while her beaming smile showed her delight at the meeting. There was life and warm blood in the touch of her slender fingers which made many a man’s heart beat quickly for her. She made a man feel that in winning her he would be winning a loving wife, and that is what a man always wants.
Another equally successful girl made the man with whom she was talking feel that he was the only man of much importance in the world; all her interest was in him—just in him. Every look was flattery of the worst kind.
We sometimes say that a girl has an indescribable charm and a way with her that no man can withstand. I think her power is simply that she makes a man think better of himself. She gives him a confidence in himself. She makes him pleased with himself. She shows an interest in his greatest interest, himself. Instead of wounding his vanity, which is almost greater than his heart, she flatters it. Men rarely overlook an insult to the former. A girl who has made a man think less of himself may give that man up on the spot. She is crossed off of his books forever.
There are occasions when you must exercise a good deal of forbearance with a man if you wish to win him. A man is prone to wander. He may be paying attention to some other girl when you most want him. Although it is very annoying, there must be nothing cold in your greeting when he comes to you again. You must not reproach him. You must simply make yourself a great deal more fascinating than she is. You must be more sweet and winning if possible than you were before. Take pains never to speak ill of this possible rival. It is neither Christian-like or lady-like to do so. It is bad taste. The man knows you are jealous. He hates to hear bitter words. It looks very much as if you could and would make bitter remarks to your husband. If you reproach him now for wandering, he may judge truly that your husband will have little liberty. If you are jealous and inclined to make a fuss before there is even any engagement, what will you be like after marriage?
If you would win, cultivate a sweet, gentle, forbearing spirit. Be always gracious. Cultivate a kindly manner. “Be free from arrogance, self-assertion, self-consciousness, considerate of the feelings of others.” Be courteous and kind in manners to every one.
“The young man fights shy of the girl who makes a dead set after him,” was the inelegant, but o’er-true paragraph I read in the paper not long since. The paragraphist was evidently a man and knew his sex.
The girl who runs after a man fails. She more likely disgusts him than flatters him. He does not want her or her attentions when he can have them without the seeking. It is man’s province to woo, and his whole nature seems to revolt against a turning of the tables. I call to mind a schoolmate who on this account was a complete failure. She was pretty, bright, even witty, well educated, moved in good society, and had money, but no man wanted her. Her boldness disgusted all of them. When she saw one she fancied, she paid such open court to him that he avoided her. Some time afterwards, when she saw the uselessness of pursuit there, she turned her attentions elsewhere, running after another man. Although naturally attractive, I never knew a man who wanted her.
I have known of other girls who have never married for this same reason. It seems to be a common fault. It is a serious one. If you are at all inclined to be forward with men, stop it. You will not only fail to marry, you will lose respect. You gain nothing and lose all. You cheapen yourself and your charms when you “throw yourself at a man’s head.” As it has been decreed from the beginning of the world that man is the head of the woman, so it is decreed that as he shall protect her, he is the one to woo and she the one to be won. You will meet coarse men who will respond to all your advances. They will pay you attention just for the fun of the thing. They will never marry you, and it would be a good lesson to you if you could hear them talk of you among themselves. A man never spares a girl who has no respect for herself. A man whom you run after may even say many tender things to you. He may lead you up to the point where, if you had not begun it, you would have a right to expect him to ask you to marry him. He doesn’t. He stops just there.
A girl’s great charm is a sweet, womanly modesty, which appears to hide a love she cannot help feeling.
It is a great mistake to let your male friends see you with any blemishes upon you. If you have a breaking-out on the face, a swollen cheek, a red nose, or anything which disfigures you, hide yourself till it is over. Men like to idealize a girl whom they admire, and they cannot idealize a swollen face or a red nose. I knew a girl who continually had styes on her eyes. She was not wise enough to hide herself at the time, but continued to go out where she would meet her male friends. She has never married, and I have always thought that this is the reason. Another girl had her front teeth drawn, and went about toothless for a while. Other girls do not hesitate to let men see them with their bangs in curl-papers. A man will never let you see him with his hair not combed or with his face lathered for shaving.
Be tidy always. Have your hair combed, your dress neat, even if it is old. Patches are to be respected, while holes mark the sloven. Always, even if you are scrubbing the floor, be ready to see any one who comes. The very one in whose eyes you most desire to appear well may come then. Some men have a way of dropping in at such unexpected times. Many a man has been disillusionized by a dirty dress or a frowsy head. Men like a nice appearance. They never want to marry a sloven if they know it. A bright and interesting writer has never married for this reason. Her head is never combed, and there is always a rip somewhere in her dress. Her hands are generally touched off with ink.
The independent, self-reliant girl is rarely a favorite with men. A man loves to protect. He does not like a masterful, bossy girl. He does not want to follow as if he were a spaniel. It is a poor specimen of a man who does not want to lead. Three sisters were left with a very little money at the death of their father. They were self-reliant and thorough business women. They invested their money to such good advantage in real estate that in a few years they became wealthy women. They were never married. It would have been impossible for any man with any self-respect to have loved either of them: they were so mannish, independent, and self-reliant.
Do not be of the so-called woman’s rights order. Men hate strong-minded women who are forever harping on the wrongs of women and of the rights they are going to have. That kind of girl generally does have a wrong—the wrong of being neglected by the sterner sex. A woman’s right is a husband, a home, and children. It is her right to have something to love and to make happy. When she wants to usurp a man’s place, she is going out of her sphere and makes a failure of her life. If you have a leaning towards “woman’s rights,” erect yourself and lean the other way. If you do not, you are doomed to unattractive spinsterhood, dress reform, and the lecture platform, and to feed on husks. That sweet little wife yonder, who hardly knows who is being voted for, and whose horizon is bounded by her husband, is feeding on corn. She believes that her rights are wifehood and motherhood, and she has them.
A self-assertive girl fails. A self-assertive, selfish, self-centred girl is no man’s ideal. It is unwomanish as well as unwomanly. A girl who can push ahead and take her own part is generally allowed to do so. It is a mistake to be anything that is unfeminine. Men never admire girls who have masculine characteristics. Only a fool will marry her. Do not ape men in dress or manner. Strive to be womanish and womanly at all times in every way. The attractive woman is womanly sweetness personified.
The girl who insists upon attentions gets none. The girl who looks upon her escort as her slave pro tem. loses him. You must never treat a man as if he were your servant. He will not stand it from you, although you may be attractive in other ways. His manhood will assert itself, and no matter how much he has loved you, that love will be killed. It is a poor outlook for married happiness. He does not care to wed where he knows he will be henpecked.
A poor girl will marry before a wealthy one will. The latter has it written upon her that it costs a mint to keep her. She may be much admired, but she is an expensive luxury. Unless a young man has exceptional means, he must give her up. You will find numbers of unmarried women in the highest society everywhere. Men are afraid to marry the daughters of millionnaires, unless a large dowry is going to be among the wedding presents. Extravagant habits, they know, have been her rule. She has never been taught to economize in anything. She must have an establishment as elegant as her father’s. She could not think of beginning as humbly as her parents likely did. So she either fails to marry at all, or marries late in life, when the death of her parents has given her an independent fortune.
A girl who shows her anxiety to marry generally fails to do so. A man feels that it is marriage and not himself that she wants. That wounds his vanity. She is never self-possessed in the society of men. She is so anxious to please that she plans beforehand what she will say. When she says it, it comes out wrong and does not fit in. She is trembling and eager even if she does not run after him. Like vaulting ambition, she o’erleaps herself. Every time you meet her, she has new and fresh hopes. She is waiting always anxiously for a proposal, and would accept any man who offered himself regardless of creed (almost color), circumstances, character, and condition.
The sharp, snubby girl never succeeds. A man will not stay where he is snubbed or where his vanity is wounded. Some girls, especially very young ones, have an idea that they are saying smart things where they are only saying sharp things. You hardly realize what a great mistake you are making when you try to be witty at a man’s expense. You only make a greater one when you are cutting in your remarks. Girls have an idea that it does a young man good to have, as they express it, “the conceit taken out of him.” I doubt if it does, and even so, you are not the one to do it. Let him have a good opinion of himself in his youth. Help him to it, rather than to try to take it away from him. The outside world will give him knocks enough as he battles his way up in it, to take any amount of conceit out of him. Maybe he comes to you sometimes just smarting from one. Let him find for his wounds a balm. Learn to soothe and sympathize instead of hurting. Your tongue is sometimes so unwittingly cruel. Your laugh is so heartless that you make a man with a rhinoceros skin shrink. It all flies back upon your own head, however. You will suffer for it afterwards. It will only drive him from you. Girls often can attract who cannot keep a beau. Notice them. See if they have not sharp tongues and do not love to take the conceit out of a man. “He has too good an opinion of himself, but I let him know what I thought of him,” I have heard girls say. One thing is certain—if you have done that, you will never hear from him that he thinks much of you.
So round off your sharp corners. Remember that the young man with a good opinion of himself is the more easy to win, because you can play upon his vanity.
Do not speak your mind plainly. Certain persons pride themselves on plain speaking, as if there were a virtue in hurting some one else’s feelings. When you hear any one say, “I always speak my mind,” you may know she says disagreeable things. She thinks when she has said that that she can go ahead, cutting right and left with her tongue. They are never people who praise. It appears that those who say “just what they think” generally think unkind things.
Avoid doing so, especially to a man. It is unkind. It makes more enemies the world over than anything else. Men will swallow praise ad nauseum, but they will not take censure.
The eccentric girl had better never have been born, as far as men are concerned. They will have nothing to do with her. If you are eccentric and have prided yourself upon it, the sooner you become like folks the better for you. A man will not pay attention to an oddity. An outlandish hat that causes comment will sometimes drive him away. He may not know what is the matter with it, but he knows he will not ask you out while there is any danger of your wearing it. It is a mistake to be odd in your conduct or language. Eccentricity grows upon one. If you are given to it in your youth, what will you be in your old age? A man would know that if he were rash enough to marry you, every day you would make him ashamed.
The girl who has too many gentlemen friends hardly ever marries. There is something in every man’s heart which subscribes to
There are cases where jealousy of another’s man’s attentions will hasten a proposal. But two are in the case there, however, and both are in love. Avoid many gentlemen callers. Do not allow your house to become a meeting-place. A man will not fall in love where he sees you smile as sweetly on another man as you do upon him. He will reign alone. He never goes on shares where a heart is concerned. A man may call often, where he knows he will meet other men, but it is only as a friend. He does not fall in love with his hostess. When he marries it will likely be some little modest girl who hardly knows any man but himself.
When I was very young I remember hoping that when I grew older I would have as many gentlemen callers as a certain young lady who lived near us. Every night her parlors were thronged. It seemed to be a general meeting-place for young men. Her sister and herself lavished their smiles upon them. She never married. Her sister married a man whom she met in another place, and who hardly ever came to the house. Another girl had quite as many callers. She must have seen her danger, for she ceased to receive them. Some time later she married.
It is flattering to your vanity to have a great many gentlemen friends who call, and who take you out, but it will certainly stand in the way of marriage. It is fun, doubtless, to count up a long list of escorts, but the girl who can do so rarely counts up a long list of offers. A girl who was so retiring that she was rarely invited out by a gentleman, was loved by almost every man who got well-acquainted with her. She could have counted up a long list of offers but a short list of escorts. At a party she was a wall-flower. She had few gentlemen callers, yet it seems as though all men longed to possess her. She passed most of her evenings alone with her family, and married well. So it shows that knowing many men would rather indicate no marriage than a surety of one.
The cold girl never succeeds. A man would as soon make love to an icicle. A man prefers fire. He likes a warm, living heart. He wants to see that a girl has that heart. A pretty, stylish young girl whom I want to see settled in life is failing to do so on just that account. She in not naturally cold, but when she is at all interested in a man, she becomes almost frigid in his presence. She is too afraid of showing her interest in him to allow him to see that she responds to his. A man wants an affectionate, warm-hearted wife. So he will marry what seems to him to be an affectionate girl. There is a certain warmth of manner that will show this disposition.
A girl fails who will not let the man who is beginning to love her see that she can return love. It must be shown modestly, however. You must be sympathetic. Man has his success and his failures in life. As he comes to you, he is thinking of them more than he is of you. He wants to talk of them. If you do not show a sympathetic interest, he will go where he can get it. Draw him out on his favorite topic, no matter if it is himself. I remember once walking two squares with a gentleman who talked of nothing else but a slight injury on his hand.
An interesting, intellectual lady is going through life unmarried for no other reason, I believe, than her lack of sympathy. You are conscious of this lack whenever you converse with her. If you mention yourself, your humble aim and ambitions, a dead silence falls. You feel as if you were undone and wish you could hide your head. A woman will hasten to change the subject and to make amends. A man leaves and never returns.
A man likes to look, as it were, in a mirror. He likes to see himself reflected in the eyes that meet his. He wants to feel that the girl has so much interest in him that she is interested in every word he says about himself.
The girl who talks about herself usurps his prerogative. He does not relish that, and her society is stupid to him. I is a man’s pronoun. You is a woman’s. Very young girls who are filled with themselves and their own affairs are very much given to this. As they grow older, they see it does not do. Bear in mind that no matter how pretty you are or how sweet, if you will talk about yourself to a man, you become “as tedious as a twice-told tale vexing the dull ears of a drowsy man.” There is an old witticism which tells the truth in a nutshell: “What is a bore? A man who talks about himself when you want to talk about yourself.”
The high-tempered girl fails. A man bent upon matrimony avoids her if he is aware of it. If you have such an infirmity, try to get rid of it as you would a facial blemish. Try harder; for it is indeed far worse than any bodily disfigurement. Our Lord, whose strength is sufficient for you always, will help you to do so. Some girls falsely call it a high spirit. It is anything but that. It is a weak spirit. A girl who gives way to temper has no control over herself. She is weak instead of high and strong. Her doors are always open, and whoever will may come in and upset her. Instead of being proud of it, be ashamed of it. While possessing it, your life is a failure everywhere.
A sweet, interesting, lively conversationalist is one thing, and a girl with a long tongue is another. Avoid gossip and meddling.
It is a mistake to entertain a gentleman with an account of your neighbor’s failings and backslidings. His interests are broader. He rarely stoops to such little things, and they weary him. Men never care for girls who have the reputation for being gossips. Fill your mind with better things. Read and enlarge your powers of conversation.
It is a mistake to be inquisitive. While a man likes a girl to be interested in him and in his doings, he does not want to be questioned about them. A walking interrogation point is never a pleasant companion. When you draw him out it must be with tact.
A precise, prim, what we call an old maidish girl is a failure. She is born to a lonely life of spinsterhood. Unless she change she cannot escape her fate. At heart she may be all that is true and good, but no man will ever find that out. As a rule men judge of us by outward appearances. They take women more for what they seem to be than for what they are. The good qualities of the prim girl are all lost upon him.
With gentlemen a loud girl never succeeds. She can always attract the attentions of coarse men, but a well-bred man avoids her. He loves modesty. He does not want the girl whom he escorts to be conspicuous by boisterous talking and laughing. He does not want her to be hail-fellow-well-met with every man they meet. It shows she has no modesty. He cannot respect her and will not marry her. It is never nice to be “gay” or “fast.” The men whom you attract about you by it are not the men you want to marry. They are the kind who do not want to marry you or any one else.
Loud, conspicuous dressing is never an attraction. Men like stylish, well-dressed girls, but they never like anything that is flashy or that attracts attention.
The girl who imagines every man she meets is in love with her rarely is loved by one. This is a common fault with young girls. It comes either from innate silliness or from the reading of too many novels. The worst of it is, she is not even cured of her folly when the men do not propose to her, but do to some other girl. She imagines some insurmountable difficulty was in his way, and that he has only married the other girl out of pique. That is the way it was in the last novel she read. Girls, be sensible. Every man you meet will not fall in love with you. When one does, he will let you know it. Men are not given to sighing in secret over one girl, then marrying another without love. A man who loves you will be open about it. He will not avoid you. He acts on the spot: sometimes without much thought. So when a man does not pay attention to you, rest assured, unless you have offended him, that he does not want to do so. He is not in love with you. He is more likely to pay attention without loving, than to love without paying attentions.
A vain girl fails. The pretty girl who depends altogether upon her looks and is proud of her beauty, rarely marries. I have spoken of this before. It has been thought that in matrimony, as in other fields, the plain-featured girl has the greatest success. A pretty girl starts out with false notions of her charms. She thinks that she has only to be seen to be loved. She overestimates her one gift, and does not try to cultivate others. Youths who easily fall in love and as easily out again are caught by a merely pretty face. Men want something more.
Let me quote from an article on this subject which I read the other day: “Look about you and count the number of faded, thwarted beauties you know, who are embittered dependents, or else late in life have picked up a broken stick in the shape of a partner to help disguise their crippled vanity. In fact, so frequently is this the case that between the ages of sixteen and twenty-six only extraordinary virtue and talent ever saves a belle from grievous folly in her aspirations.” So if you are a beauty and wish to marry, I advise you strongly to put aside all vanity, and to cultivate the superior charms of your plainer sisters.
Never allow your mother to do the courting. There are times when a girl can win a man against his will, and he will never know that it was she who did it. A mother never can do this. A man knows it every time. When he sees her efforts, he is forewarned and on his guard. It is all done in cold blood and deliberately by the mother. The daughter has less deliberation and a great deal of warm blood when she attempts it. He is likely to think: “What an interesting girl! I believe I could get her if I tried,” and may try. Of the mother’s efforts, he thinks: “That old woman wants me to marry her daughter. I can see through her. I won’t do it.”
A mother may make herself so attractive that, if she were a girl, she would win him. Notwithstanding that, he hardens his heart against the daughter. A lady who, even as a grandmother, is attractive to men, tried in her early married days to win a young man for her sister. He responded quickly to her overtures, and seemed glad to come to the house. She thought she was succeeding, when one day he said to her: “I know what you are about. You might as well give it up, you won’t accomplish it. If you were not married, however, I would propose to you to-day.”
She did give it up.
A girl makes a mistake who brags of her conquests. She should never speak of them to any one. If a man whom you cannot accept offers you his hand, forget that he did so. By your manner to him when you meet afterwards, endeavor to make him forget it. The girl who tells about the hearts she has won, wins no more. Men grow afraid of her. She is not to be trusted, they think. If she will lead other men on to propose only to reject them, then tell of it, she will do the same to them.
A girl who fears that the man to whom she only is pleasant will think she is in love with him, is not likely to accomplish much matrimonially. She grows too self-conscious and stiff in her manner. You must forget yourself, or remember only that a man is won by a pleasant manner. If he did think you were a bit interested in him, he would be flattered by it, and might return it shortly.
By a pleasant manner I do not mean a continual giggling. While you must be animated and lively, you cannot laugh continually. A sensible girl can be grave as well as gay. There are times, and plenty of them, when laughter jars. There is certainly a time to laugh and a time to cry; but there is never a time to giggle. Solomon gives a list of almost everything for which we have time, but he never says a word about giggling. A bright, animated manner and continual giggling are two different things. A bright girl is everywhere a success. A giggler is generally considered half-witted. A giggler has no depth of feeling. A bright, lively girl generally has a great deal of feeling; she is not slow to show it, either.
Do not laugh when you talk. Do not laugh the moment a man speaks to you, keeping it up all the time he is with you. It looks as if you were delighted out of your senses. Do not laugh every time he looks at you till he begins to wonder if there is a black spot on his nose. Some men may prefer a grave girl any way. You might study the man and the place before you are too lively.
It may be that some of you who read these chapters have failed so far to win any man’s love. Examine yourself and your peculiarities to see wherein the trouble lies. When you have found it, strive to overcome the difficulty. You cannot do it in your own strength. The Lord will help you. He will give you grace to overcome every evil temper, every disagreeable habit, every unlovely manner. If you ask Him, He will make you sweet and lovely. Rest assured that He is interested in your success; for He did not intend woman to live alone.
It is universally known that when a man and woman have a mutual interest, they get interested in each other. When they are in any way drawn together, they soon find that they cannot live apart. When a man grows accustomed to a woman with whom he is pleased, he desires to keep her with him. So we may consider that a companionship with a man is an unfailing way to win him. This companionship unfortunately is not always easy to arrange.
It is often difficult to get up a mutual interest. When you can, be sure to do so. It must come naturally however. A forced arrangement, plainly seen, would defeat itself.
Marriages frequently take place between parties who board in the same house. Seeing each other daily, getting well acquainted, and the mutual interest, even of the table, will draw them together. A young lady boarded, with her brother, in a house where there were no other young ladies, but a number of gentlemen. All admired her, several were smitten with her, and two asked her hand in marriage. A third began to think more of her than of the girl to whom he was engaged.
A widow, with a nice home of her own, took two clergymen to board. It was not long before both wanted to marry her. She did not want either of them, but took the one who was the most persistent.
Singing together is another mutual interest. It is the means of many a marriage. In a quartette, the soprano and tenor marry, the bass and alto. The singer may marry his accompanist. Jennie Lind married her unknown pianist, Goldschmidt, who was younger than herself. Actors, who are always thrown much together, marry and unmarry ad libitum in a disgraceful way.
The marriage of the type-writer and her employer is so frequent that it has passed into a joke. They grow interested in each other from mere companionship.
A student falls in love with the sister of his friend where he visits during vacation. The late Henry Ward Beecher met his wife at her father’s home whither he had gone with a college chum, her brother. I had an aunt who had offers from two students brought home by her brothers. This is such a common occurrence that enterprising mothers sometimes urge sons to bring home desirable students to introduce to her daughters.
A lawyer will marry a fair client. I might add that he is the more likely to do so if he is settling up a large estate for her.
A physician rarely marries a patient. If your heart is set upon a certain physician do not play the rôle of an invalid. When you are sick you should have a married physician. A young lady was taken ill with pneumonia. Her family were strangers in the place, and, without knowing it, called in an unmarried physician. He was interested in the case, but not in the least in her. A year later he met her, when in perfect health, at the house of a mutual friend and fell in love with her.
Living next door to each other will often make young people interested in each other. Church-work which brings young men and maidens together is fruitful of many marriages. A young man was put on a fair-table with a number of ladies. He fell in love with the only unmarried one on it. A young clergyman comes in contact with so many girls, and is so run after, that going to his church and entering into the work for his sake is but lost labor. If you want to work in a Church, do it for the Lord, without a thought of who has charge of that body of worshippers.
We learn from Abelard and Heloise what the pupil will become to the teacher. Almost always, when neither are married, free lessons in love accompany another kind of a lesson—that is, if the lessons are private. Men fall in love with a lady who teaches them anything. A young lady was taught Hebrew by an unmarried clergyman. They married about a year after the lessons began.
A man and woman who are in business together almost always marry. An author has been known to marry her publisher. A Mr. Maxwell published Miss Braddon’s novels, and now she is Mrs. Maxwell. Margaret Sydney is the nom de plume of a writer who married her publisher, Daniel Lothrop, of Lothrop and Co.
An almost certain way to win a man’s love is to win his confidence. When a man talks to a woman about his greatest interest, he becomes interested in her. When he opens his whole heart to her, he gives her that heart. I never knew this to fail. How to win this confidence is the puzzle. The very man you want may be the one who knows the most about keeping his affairs to himself. You will have to use tact and patience in drawing him out. Get him to talk about his business, or make him talk of his books, his pleasures, his family: always about himself. Persist in this gently. Show him you can keep a secret. Encourage him to talk about himself until he touches upon something that is nearest his heart. Some men will do this sooner than others. The man who readily confides in you, readily falls in love—and almost as readily falls out. It is said that the heart which is easily won is hard to keep; and that the heart which is hard to win you never lose. When you have drawn any man to tell you his heart unreservedly, he is yours.
A young man was in love with a girl of whom his mother did not approve. He was much distressed by the fuss she made. He did not want to give up the girl or to pain his mother. He must talk of his trouble to some one, and he selected a young girl who was visiting the family. He told her all his troubles. She encouraged him with infinite tact until he spoke unreservedly. Whenever he could find her alone he talked of that and of nothing else. Then he planned to be alone with her. Before three months he loved her better than he did the first one.
The greatest mistake a girl can make is to allow familiarities from men. A girl must be circumspect in her conduct. She must be self-respecting. Having a proper self-respect and being a prude are two different things. A man never likes a prude. He never, in his heart, cares for one who has no self-respect. A man, of a certain class, will pay her attention and take advantage of the liberties she allows, but he never marries her.
You are not safe if you allow the least digression from the right path. A slip once made can never be recalled, and the second follows very easily on the first. Then comes the third, and so on, till ruin is the end for you—not for him.
It is a girl’s own fault if she fall. It is her place to guard her honor.
You will meet many a man who is lover-like and fascinating, but if he says nothing about marriage, leave him alone. You do not want to hear of love, if that is all he has to say. Never mind if you do love him. If he loves you and finds he cannot possess you otherwise, he will want to marry you.
Beware of the beginning. Be careful of your conversation. Never smile at a joke with a double meaning. Meet it with silence. Do not pretend you do not understand if you do: there are men who would take pleasure in enlightening you. There are times when it is well to show that you do not approve of it; you may even have to rebuke it. Thereafter avoid that man. If he cares to continue your friendship, he will know how he must behave himself.
Never let a young man repeat a story to you that he would not repeat if your mother were present. A man who would do that, means no good to you. An old and excellent rule is, never talk about anything to a man you would not talk about before a third party; and never talk to a girl as you would not talk if a man were present. Never say anything to either which you would not repeat to your mother. A well-known writer has lately said: “It is always a mistake for a young girl to talk to a man as if she were blasé and widely experienced in all human emotions, frailties, and faults. Many inexperienced, innocent girls adopt this manner, thinking it will render them fascinating in the eyes of men. Men take us for what we seem, not for what we are. The most hardened mondaine who wears a mask of frank innocence fares better with them than the good, sweet-hearted girl who puts on blasé airs and pretends to be a little wicked.”
Let your heart be pure. Keep your lips pure. God can make and keep them so. He can take away all interest in sin.
Never make an appointment with a young man of which you cannot tell your mother. When a young man urges you to deceive your mother, he means to deceive you. Your mother is your best friend; make her your confidante in all things, then you will never go astray. On the first approach of familiarities, consult her and be guided by her advice.
Men do not have to be told: they know what girl they may approach familiarly and what one they must treat with respect. You may be sure there is something wrong in your conduct if you are approached as you do not wish to be.
Be careful not to call a man by his first name unless he is a relative. A well-bred lady will not even address a man thus whom she has known in her childhood. Do not allow a man to call you by your first name. You can easily show by your manner that it is distasteful to you. Check even the liberty of your Christian name with the prefix Miss. Although you may have an older sister, you have a right to your father’s name. If you cannot be Miss Jones, you can be Miss Mary Jones.
When you are out walking with a gentleman, do not allow him to grasp your elbow. Some men do this instead of offering the arm. He is ill-bred if he attempts it. It is too familiar altogether, and is becoming too common. A polished gentleman will not do it. He will offer his arm.
Beware of allowing a caress from a man to whom you are not engaged. Stifle in the beginning any attempt to do so. Do not so much as allow him to hold your hand. No matter if you do like him, and if his warm grasp does send the happy blood to your heart, it is a happiness you have no right to—neither has he, until he has spoken. Sometimes these things, small as they seem, are but the first step on the broad path that leads to destruction. Perhaps you like as much to feel that strong arm about you as he does to put it there. It is in his power to make it right to do so; it is not in yours, so refuse it. Believe me, you will gain nothing by it, and may lose all. If a man finds he cannot embrace you unengaged, he will take steps to be engaged to you if he loves you.
Poor child! You allow it because you love him. It may be anything but love for you and your good that prompts his action. A man rarely binds himself to a girl who allows his caresses without it. Another thing, while you are treasuring up this caress as a closely-guarded secret, he is doubtlessly telling his comrades what liberties be can take with you. That is too true. The indiscretions which a girl will hide, he will boast of—it is a man’s nature. He judges you by himself, too. He knows that he kisses other girls when he can get a chance, and he supposes that you allow other men’s caresses. A man cares more for the caress than for the girl. When he is not genuinely in love, one girl will do almost as well as another. He supposes it is the same with you. He argues that if you are cheap to him, you will be cheap to other men.
“Never speak of love till your lover speaks of marriage,” is a good old rule. Men do not talk much about marriage to a girl who will profess her love before he asks her to be his wife.
Be careful to whom you give your photograph. Like figures, they cannot lie. If you have given it, you cannot deny doing so: it is there, a fact, in the young man’s possession—he may show it to whom he pleases. He generally pleases to show it to all his male friends. It is another thing which cheapens you. Your picture is one of a collection he has of girls. Maybe for a while, when exhibiting his gallery of beauties, he may call you his best girl. He does it all lightly, and as the young men look over the collection, they will make remarks about you all which, if you heard them, would make you blush. If a girl has no more respect for herself than to give a picture to every man who asks for it, you must not expect men to respect her. It is no sign a man loves you because he asks for your picture. If he does, let him ask for you first. He more likely wants to enlarge his collection of photographs. If you went into his room, you would see it stuck up in his mirror with a dozen or so of others.
It is a mistake to imagine that an engagement breaks down all barriers. Engagements are so frequently broken. Instead of being almost as sacred as marriage, they are held lightly. You must continue after your engagement to be careful of your conduct and not to allow any undue liberties. Do not let your lover’s caresses be too frequent or passionate. Some young people act as if they only become engaged so they might kiss each other—they spend all their time at it when they are alone. Some of these things are sweeter if they are waited for. Couples who are parted during their engagement generally are the most happy when they are married. They have not exhausted their affection; instead of its being an old story, it is fresh.
If it were worth the while, I would advise you not to sit on a man’s lap till you were his wife. It is quite customary with lovers, I know; but it seems to me to be letting down bars which should be left up. Engagements are so easily broken that there should be stricter lines drawn. Surely no true woman who has entered upon her second engagement wants to remember how she sat on the lap of the first betrothed. While there is no harm in so doing, you will be on the safe side not to.
It is wrong to take money from your betrothed. If you live on dry crusts and work till you drop, refuse it. Be married in calico rather than have his money buy your wedding-dress. Sometimes girls will urge a speedy wedding-day. You have no more right to do that than you have to ask him to marry you—the two go together. If he is too slow and you know of no reason why he should be, he does not care much for you; you had better break the engagement. However, if your heart would break with the engagement, try to make him more anxious to have you all to himself. It is not a girl’s place to be eager for the marriage. If you are self-supporting and want to marry him because you are tired of working, you wrong him. No matter what reason you may have for wishing an early marriage, it is never your right to propose it.
Attentions from a married man are blasting to a girl’s reputation. No matter how fascinating he is, how much you admire him, how much you like his attentions, refuse to accept them. He is desecrating the most sacred ordinance, marriage. He is insulting you and wronging his wife. Eventually he will return to her, leaving you with a tarnished name. His wife will forgive him, and society will forget he went astray; but his wife will never forgive you, and society will never forget it. You will always be spoken of as the girl that was “crazy after him.” It will stand in the way of a marriage for you. Men do not care to marry a girl who has been talked about, or whose name was coupled with a married man’s. You lose everything by it, almost your character. There is no such food for gossip as the attentions of a married man to a girl. They suspect you are not all you ought to be, they have good reason to do so. They may think if you will encourage a man to trample on his marriage vows, you would trample on your own. You are condemned by every one.
Your vanity may lead you to feel a degree of triumph in winning a husband from a wife. It is no triumph, however, to do so. The man who will be so won is in most cases extremely weak and decidedly untrue. It is not that your attractions are superior to hers, it is that he is fickle, and you were the first girl who accepts his unlawful love. Instead of being a triumph, it is a sin. Instead of being a subject for boasting, it is something to be ashamed of. Instead of encouraging him for one moment, flee from him. Instead of looking upon him as your lover, consider him your worst enemy: an enemy who for the selfish indulgence of the time would ruin your whole life. In this world of sin and sorrowful consequences of sin, you cannot be too careful of yourself, your conduct, and your associates. If a man is known by the company he keeps, much more is a girl. Much misery will come from one imprudent, maybe innocent, act. A trifle may sometimes be what starts you on the road to destruction. That road is broad, and very enticing to some; but the end is death. Never drink with a man. The pity of it that this should have to be written down! There is a class of girls who aim to be a little fast. They think they make themselves attractive to men by keeping pace with all their sins. They think men will like them if they have a “good time” with them. They call this a “good time.” It is an unmitigated bad time; a time that will make you and him bad too. You will fail in your object, for you will not attract him. It is a low man who will care for a girl who cares so little for herself.
Instead of drinking with a man, keep him from doing so. Your power over men is very great, girls; it is much greater than you think. You can make him good or bad, if he loves you. If he is only your friend, you can help him withstand temptation and turn him from wrong. Try to exhibit the ideal woman always. Let your character be so elevated that you will raise the man who walks beside you. Be a pure, true girl, and he will be a better, purer man. The very thought of you, as he goes out into a sinful world and meets temptations of which you are ignorant, will be a shield to him. Next to the strength God can give him, will be the remembrance of your goodness and purity. He will, for your sake, abhor things which before had a fascination for him.
Always be wrapt in a cloak of sweet maidenly reserve and dignity. Then no tongue can assail you, no man will dare to offer you any familiarity; the conversation and conduct of men will take a better tone in your society.
Try to make every man you meet, even a passing acquaintance, better. Resolve that you will know no man whom you will not influence decidedly for good. So act that when you look back in after years you can honestly say that you tried to make every man whom you knew well, a Christian. So strive to lead young men to Christ that you will see the fruits of your efforts dotted all along your path of life. Let every man whom you know be able to say, as he looks back, “I have been a better man for knowing her.”
In all your intercourse with men, do everything to ennoble and nothing to lower his character. “Let him see that you are a true woman and a Christian: one whose life is beautiful in its maidenly dignity and attractive loveliness.”
There is no doubt that a widow can, if she choose, attract a man where a girl is powerless to do so. She has a charm which is irresistible when she pleases to exercise it. This power lies greatly in her knowledge of man-nature. It lies also in her taking a man just as he is. Instead of wounding his vanity by trying to make him conform to her ideas, she makes him pleased with himself as he is. Girls have sharp corners which hurt a man if he runs against them; widows never have. Girls are unkind; widows never are. Girls like to tease and ridicule a man; a widow is too wise to do so. Girls will wound even a man who is not sensitive; a widow soothes. Girls never remember a man’s feelings; a widow never forgets them.
She has studied one man thoroughly. She knows his peculiarities, his weaknesses, his strong points, his likes and dislikes. In knowing one man well, she knows his sex. She has learned well what will please one man. In learning that she knows what will please all men. She has learned to sink her own individuality. She has learned to follow, and has no desire to lead. She knows that men like to be obeyed. She knows they like their ease. She knows they would rather be amused, entertained, than to dance attendance. She knows that the best way to entertain a man is to make him talk of himself or his hobby. She never minds how much he rides this hobby when he is with her. A girl would forbid its entrance. A widow may even get up and ride with him. When a girl would show a man she has no interest in his affairs, a widow would make him believe she was even more interested than he was. A girl would say, “I get so sick of hearing that man talk on that subject that I won’t listen to him.” The widow draws him out. Where a girl would cut him short, she encourages him to go on at length. He begins to connect her with his hobby. He learns to come eagerly to her with every new development, sure of sympathy. When he is downcast about it, he comes to her as quickly for the encouragement he is sure to get. He begins to feel that there is no one in the world who understands and appreciates him as she does. The rest soon follows.
A widow is sympathetic—she is sincere in that sympathy. She has suffered and feels for all who suffer. She can understand a heartache, because she knows what it is to have her dearest earthly hopes shattered. Her life is a disappointment, and she can weep with those who have been disappointed. She has found out that life is not a bed of roses only, but has many thorns. She will help soothe the wounds that thorns have made in other hearts. She knows that men have troubles, little or great; and she knows too much to give him any more. She has stood by one man as he has fought with the world, and knows that it is woman’s province to strengthen him by her sympathy and helpful word for the battle. She knows that when a man seeks a woman’s society he wants peace. She knows his vanity is wounded every day in his contact with men, and that when he comes to her he wants it flattered.
So a widow tries to make a man happy and comfortable. She rarely alludes to her own grief. It is more interesting because she does not. She mutely appeals for sympathy, while she gives that same sympathy. Few young girls know anything about sorrow; they cannot understand what it is. They are generally so full of themselves they cannot sympathize. Herein lies their weakness, and herein lies a widow’s strength. Sympathy is a woman’s greatest power. Girls are self-centred; a widow never is. A girl is absorbed in her own pleasure; a widow has learned to make the pleasures of another hers. A girl puts herself forward prominently; a widow sinks her personality. She has learned to do so. She knows the man with whom she is talking is more interested in himself than he is in her. She knows that no man cares as much for her interests, plans, hopes, as he does for his own; and she talks of his only. She lets him take the lead in the conversation, she follows.
A young girl has moods; a widow has none. She is always the same. A man is sure of her. He knows when he leaves her, she will be the same when he meets her again. I have known girls to lose an admirer by a cool greeting or change of demeanor. A widow never would. It is said that Madame Recamier’s great charm was her gracious sweetness, which was under all circumstances the same.
A girl fancies that a man thinks of her all the time, as she does of him. She likely thinks of him all day and dreams of him by night. A man, out in the world, is engrossed in business—that is his first consideration. It is only his leisure he can give to her. He goes to her for his pleasure. A widow knows this. She has other things to occupy her mind, and comes as fresh to him as he does to her. She knows that he has not lived over and over her last remarks, and she has not dwelt upon his. She makes no mistakes in estimating his affection for her.
She never puts his affection to a test. Girls love to do so. A widow knows that it will have to be a pretty strong one that will stand it. She never makes any experiments. She knows him in and out. She knows what will please him and what will not please him. She knows what flatters his vanity and what will drive him away. Her lessons have been too thorough to allow any mistake.
Experience has taught her that the best way to win a man is to make him think more of himself. Experience has taught her that she can have her own way easily by proper management. A girl fights openly for her own way. She is unsuccessful as her plans are open.
A widow knows that the royal road to a man’s heart lies through his stomach. Her little dinners and tempting lunches are a part of her mode of warfare. A man will always go where he can get a good dinner. He does not wait for a second invitation, and hardly a first. A man is always pleased with himself (unless he is a bad case of dyspepsia) when he has a good dinner. When he is pleased with himself, he is pleased with those about him.
When a man knows that an evening call means a pretty little lunch, he is quite sure to come again. He goes first for the sake of his stomach, and later for the sake of his heart.
A widow never forgets that the better friends she and the man become, the more likely he is to love her. With a man and woman there is but a short step from friendship to love. It has been said that there is no such thing as Platonic friendships between the two sexes. A widow knows that friendship ripens more quickly over the well-laden table than under any other circumstances. A girl trusts to romantic surroundings. A widow never does. She has found out that her hero was fleshly, and she knows that all men are. She knows that only a boy, wildly in love, prefers moonlight to a substantial meal.
If a girl takes a meal with a man it is always at his expense. A widow never allows a man to spend much, if any, money upon her. She knows just how little he cares about doing so. She has heard the opinion of one man strongly expressed on that subject. She will not put one stumbling-block in a man’s way.
A widow knows how to dress. She knows just the kind of dresses a man likes. She rarely is given to display. She chooses quiet tones or continues to wear black. Costly apparel she is well aware will frighten away a man of limited means. She studies herself, and how to dress, so as to make the best of both. Her art is so perfect that it is hidden.
A widow is in no haste to wed. Many do not wish to do so at any time. She does not have to marry for a home: she either has inherited one or is able to support herself. She has no fear before her eyes of being an old maid. Years do not lessen her chances, as they do a girl’s. She does not pretend to be young. Youth is not her attraction. In these respects she is as independent as a man. It is not matrimony alone she cares for, if she marries, but a congenial companion. If she does not meet the right one this year, she may the next. She can afford to wait.
A widow is conscious of her power. That gives her a good command of herself. She knows, from one man at least, if not from more, the full value of her charms. She knows her power to retain one man’s love even until the end. She knows how to make a man happy. She has done so. She knows that what once won love will do so again. She knows a man’s weak points: she knows his strong ones. She knows her own weak points: she may have been told of them very plainly. These she takes pains to strengthen.
Old bachelors are proverbially hard to win. When one does marry it is almost always a widow. She only seems to know how to attract him. She knows what a hard fight it will be, and sets deliberately about doing it. She knows he is selfish. Only a selfish man tries to avoid family ties and troubles. Your warm-hearted, unselfish men always marry. A widow is not shocked at his selfishness. She has not looked for perfection. She helps him be selfish. She makes him look upon her as one who will encourage his pet foibles. She shows him that she will help him with them; instead of having to give up for her “my dog and my cat,” she will pet “my dog and my cat.”
Yet a widow has a great drawback. There are some men at whom she can never get a chance. A man who does not wish to marry avoids a widow. He will pay attention to a young girl perfectly sure he can withstand her charms; but the young widow is a different person. He knows that if he allows himself to begin there, he cannot break off. Dickens gave the key-note to the whole situation when he said, “Samivel, beware of the widders.” For ages Samivels who do not wish to marry have obeyed that injunction.
The following is quoted, verbatim, from an English novel entitled, “Lady Beauty; or, Charming to Her Latest Day.” As it bears upon this subject, and many may not have read the book, I copy some parts.
“You will find that your own enjoyment is heightened by the consciousness of power to please others.... Let this ever be in your mind: ‘I am a creature formed to give pleasure.’ Be courteous, be gentle, be refined, be sweet in all your dealings. Never lose your temper: it ruins the face; and it always leaves a disagreeable impression which nothing rubs out. Depend upon it, men may respect those creatures who are called women of character, which generally means women who perform awkwardly duties which with a little thought they might perform in a charming way: men may respect them, but when they want enjoyment they turn to women who study the art of pleasing. Now, what I want to teach you is, to be solid and pleasing too. Believe me a woman is seldom called upon to do anything which she may not do in an agreeable style if she will only take pains.... Never disarrange for an instant the drapery of pleasantness which a woman ought always to wear: keep it on you even for your husbands.... Be agreeable even when you are alone with your looking-glass. Please everybody as far as you can. Study morning, noon, and night to be agreeable.
“Don’t expect too much of men and women, and you will learn to be good-humored over their selfishness and hypocrisy.
“Learned talk is very affected. Be as well-educated as you please, but don’t seem so.
“She had a frank, spontaneous sympathy with life all around and in every part, such as I never met in any one beside herself. By reason of this virtue she was always interested in what was going on, and the very quality which subdued her individuality in one way made her character fresh and delightful in another. She resolved to charm others with happiness and goodness in view, not mere society conquests.... She used worldly methods for most unworldly means. The polish, the graces, the social attractions, the accomplishments, literature, and wit, which some despise, she used as the very material out of which her noble purpose must be woven.... In the secret interior of her intentions she was truly devoted, trying by the spell of a beautiful womanhood to make those with whom she lived better and happier.
“‘Tell me about it,’ she whispers, oh so low, so deliciously. She meant, ‘Anything you say will be sweet to hear.’
“Too womanly for coquetry or coyness, she gave her answer at once.
“Warmth, purity, tenderness, principle, all the finer parts of character were hers.... Her face was beautiful because it was the image of the soul.
“It is a good maxim: ‘Never really be angry.’
“To the opposite, her sister relied on her beauty for a place among her sex, and was at no pains to cultivate conversation, letters, or any branch of the art of pleasing except the setting forth of her personal charms. Had her manner and her talk been what she might easily have made them, she would have shone out as a beauty in the prime of her womanhood. She had no lack of sense nor of education, either; but proudly reposing on her incontestable loveliness, she rather withdrew than put forward her attractions.
“I wish to convince women that it is a great mistake on their part to suppose that their power to please departs with youth. At all times I have noticed that men of sense seldom admire—or grow enamored of—women for beauty alone, but for character, manner, taste, and conversation. Now, while beauty, we must admit, lessens with time, character, manner, taste, and conversation may each be refined and enriched.... Mere beauty is but one bright unchanging beam: it will even grow wearisome; but wit, sense, courtesy, and humanity are forever casting forth new and unexpected rays and enlivening intercourse with agreeable surprises.
“She was the best dresser I ever knew. Her appearance pleased numbers of people before they saw her face.... She managed through all the changes of fashion to respect herself and her own figure and face: in the fashion she would always be; but still she would modulate it so as to be the queen and not the slave.
“Her manners in society were captivating. With what graceful attention she heard what you had to say. How modestly she gave her own opinion.... She tried to please. She knew that a woman ought to be an object of admiration and affection, and she ruled her whole life with a view to this fact. Her religion gave a richness, a sweetness, a seriousness to all her charms.
“You will laugh when I tell you that Lady Beauty at the age of fifty-three had a new lover.”
“Rule One.—A woman’s power in the world is measured by her power to please. Whatever she will wish to accomplish, she will manage it best by pleasing. A woman’s grand social aim should be to please.
“Rule Two.—Modesty is the ground on which all a woman’s charms appear to the best advantage. In manner, dress, conversation, remember always that modesty must not be forgotten.... Not prudery. Modesty is of the soul. Prudery is on the surface.
“Rule Three.—So the woman’s aim is to please, and modesty is the first principle.
“Rule Four.—Always dress up to your age or a little beyond it. Let your face be the youngest thing about you, not the oldest.
“Rule Five.—Remember that what women admire in themselves is seldom what men admire in them.
“Rule Six.—Women’s beauties are seldom men’s beauties.
“Rule Seven.—Gayety tempered by seriousness is the happiest manner in society.
“Rule Eight.—Always speak low.
“Rule Nine.—A plain woman can never be pretty. She can always be fascinating if she takes pains. I remember well a man who was a great admirer of our sex telling me that one of the most fascinating women he ever knew was not only not pretty, but as to her face decidedly plain. ‘Her figure,’ he said, ‘was neat, her dressing faultless, her every movement graceful; her conversation was clever and animated, and she always tried to please. She was one of the most acceptable women in society I ever knew. She married brilliantly.
“Rule Ten.—Every year a woman lives, the more pains she must take with her dress.
“Rule Eleven.—In all things, let a woman ask what will please a man of sense before she asks what will please the men of fashion. You see, if a woman lives for the commendation of men of fashion, she will, if pretty, piquant, or what not, have a reign of ten years. But if she remembers that she has charms of mind and character and taste, as well as charms of figure and complexion, the men of sense will follow her for a half century; and in the long run the men of fashion will be led by the men of sense.
“I have often asked myself, ‘What is the secret of her character?’ and I have always come to the same conclusion: that if her religious faith were deducted from her, she would not be what she is, but must become a less agreeable and not so good a woman.”
Our life-story does not end, as it does in the novel, when the wedding-bells ring. After that comes the real life. The wedding-bells are but the call to more faithful duties, more earnest, unselfish love, greater effort to be attractive, more pains to make the husband happy than were taken to win his love. They ring out the birth of a love that is until death. They ring out the knell of all coyness and romance. The hero becomes the very human man: the shy girl is a woman who is to be his helpmeet. They ring out the beginning of a battle where man and woman must stand shoulder to shoulder if they would win. They tell of a conflict where there will be strength in union, but in division weakness, destruction of happiness, complete failure, disgrace, and sometimes even death.
A girl rarely considers the deep responsibilities she takes upon herself when she marries. She is more often thinking of the happiness it will give her than of what she is to be to the man. She does not stop to think whether or not she is going to make her husband happy. She forgets that from that time his whole happiness, his success in life, almost his soul, are in her keeping. “A man must ask his wife’s leave to thrive” is altogether true. A wife may be a dead weight or an inspiration. The dead weight drags even the strongest down, and an inspiration helps him to conquer every time. I have heard a man with a bad wife say: “Oh, I have no heart in me to do anything. She takes it all out of me.” I have known a man with less ability, but with a true wife to inspire him, to conquer where the other failed.
Marriage itself is not happiness unalloyed. Life never is in any state. You are happier married than single, but marriage has its hard places. The romance soon dies out. Real life comes. The every day living together brings friction. It is for better and for worse. It seems a light thing to say at the time when you are sure it will all be for the better. You fancy you have only half learned his goodness. In many cases that is so. In many more it is not: it is for the worse. Then the break comes. Gradually his weaknesses will be revealed to you. The golden idol shows clay feet. Slowly the gilding is all rubbed off, and the idol is seen to be clay all through. Many a woman meets with this disappointment. It is the great disappointment of her life. God help the woman who finds that her husband is unworthy of her love! A weak woman sinks under the blow, and drags him even farther down. A strong woman will stand up bravely and in the end draw him up to her heights.
She must gather together all her love for him. She must allow religion to take the helm with this love or all is lost. Sometimes love reels: sometimes the senses do. Then, of all times, a woman must watch herself well. She is fighting a terrible battle with her disappointment as well as with his faults. They must be silent battles: the more silent the stronger they will be, and the more sure she will be of victory. She must never by hint or word let any one outside know of his failings. If they are of the kind which go before or which are well known by the community, she must show the world that she is blind to them. She must never speak against her husband even to her own mother. She must never admit that he has a fault. She has entered into a partnership where one partner cannot be untrue to the other. She has promised before God to honor him. Her loyalty may save him. It is certain that if she does talk about him, and it comes to his ears, it will drive him away from her. When a breach is made between husband and wife, it widens continually. What in the beginning is a tiny thread soon becomes a broad gulf. It is really wonderful what a little while it takes for this breach to widen, and how disastrous are the effects. Our daily papers are a continual illustration of that fact.
A perfect wife will never allow her opinion of her unworthy husband to be known. If he is unkind to her, she hides it as she hides her own misdeeds. Indeed, she would rather take upon herself the blame for any trouble others may have seen. She is pleased always with any kind attention he receives. A lady wrote her sister, with whom her husband was stopping for a few days: “He writes me you are doing every thing to make his visit pleasant. Thank you. Whatever kindness you bestow upon him you bestow upon me.”
You will find plenty of listeners when you tell of your husband’s faults and your own wrongs. They will be your apparent sympathizers. Not one, however, will respect you for doing so. No one will care about you. Almost all will repeat it to some one else. It will be generally said that you live unhappily with your husband. You will have as much blame as he has. It is the way of the world. It knows pretty well that the wife who so far forgets herself as to talk against her husband is as much to blame for the trouble as he is. She cannot be a good, loving, Christian wife, who is trying to lead him to better things. Such a woman would hold her tongue. In telling, you have simply opened all the doors and windows of your house and invited the community to look their fill at your most private affairs. The rest of the doors and windows of the community are closed. You have noticed—have you not?—that your confidence has not been returned. No, indeed. It is well known that the woman who cannot guard her husband’s honor cannot respect another’s confidence. If only in the sight of men then, the untrue wife is the loser. She sends him into greater wrong. She undoes herself as she undoes him. Together they must rise or fall. Many a woman in her blind anger at her husband has tried to crush him. Like Samson, when he would crush the Philistines, she has succeeded, but only to bury herself in the ruins with him.
That her husband is not what she thought him, is no excuse: she took him for worse as well as better. She is simply showing that she is not one whit above him, and that he has been decidedly deceived in her. He has gotten the worse too.
Unfortunately true, good men have bad wives, too—they are not confined to bad husbands only. There are wives of good men who forget that the husband’s whole happiness depends upon them. Many a wife forgets this great responsibility. His business may be successful and everything outside going along satisfactorily, but if he has no peace at home he has no happiness. A woman who does not make her husband happy fails in her great life-work. She is unworthy to be the mother of his children. God gave woman to man to be his helpmeet; she is no helpmeet if she makes his life wretched. It is her highest pleasure, her great “rights,” to smooth his path. If she fail there, she far better never have married.
What a man wants in his wife is companionship, sympathy, and love. He wants to feel that she is his best friend. He never wants to look anywhere else for sympathy and help: he never will if he can get all he needs from her. His life has many hard places: he needs a companion to go over them with him. He is often overtaken by misfortunes: he needs some one to stand by him and sympathize as she helps him to bear them. He has to fight with poverty often, and he needs a woman whom he feels, when he puts his arms about her, is worth fighting for. He has many enemies: he needs a wife whose loving words will make up for the bitter ones he hears from them. He needs a wife who will make him forget, when he is in her presence, that there is an unkind world outside. He meets sin everywhere: he wants a wife who will give him words of counsel, and who will take his hands and lead him to greater faith in, and love for, the Father. Storms will come all through life, he must encounter them. He needs a woman who will cling to him through the hardest. He needs her love through sunshine and victory as well.
He wants to feel through all that his refuge is in her arms as hers is in his. He wants a wife upon whose breast he can lay his head, when sorrows come, and weep. He wants one who will make him feel that no matter where else death strikes, as long as he has her he can endure life. I remember a man who, when his dearly-beloved sister died, laid his head on his wife’s shoulder, weeping, and said, “If it were you I should die.”
There are in history women upon whose strong hearts strong men have leaned and have become more strengthened in that leaning. Weak men have become manly through a womanly wife. Strong men have been weakened by a weak, wicked wife. Truly a man is made or marred when he marries. He must indeed ask his wife leave to thrive.
It is in every woman’s power to be a well-loved wife. She cannot exact it: she must win it. She has his affection to start upon. She must increase it, instead of allowing it to decrease. She must not go upon the principle that because she is his wife it is his duty to worship her. If she does, she will be bankrupt as far as his affection is concerned. Men are not made in that way, as I have said before, and you must take them as you find them if you take one at all. Many a wife has allowed her husband’s affection to die. She has fancied, maybe, that she was lowering her dignity to try to keep what she considered was her due. Nothing is our due of which we are not worthy. We are not worthy of a love we do not try to keep. Women who are exacting after marriage are generally the ones who tried the hardest to attract the man at first. It is generally the girl who runs after a man till she gets him who makes no effort after marriage to retain his love, and who talks the loudest about her “rights, and not grovelling at his feet,” if it is suggested that she do better.
Before she married she dressed for him. Nothing she owned was too pretty to put on when she knew he would see her. She was careful to be tidy in her person. She would never let him see a room in her home which was in disorder. She was courteous always. She never said an impatient word to him or before him. If he was cross, she bore it like an angel. She greeted him always when he came with a sweet smile and caress. She had loving words for him as she told him how she wanted to see him every minute since they had parted. She desired in every way to appear at her best before him. She hid every defect of temper or disposition.
After marriage she does not care how untidy she is when he comes home. She never thinks of dressing for him. She is not courteous to him. She has no loving word, and she never hesitates to speak a cross one to him. She has smiles yet for the outside world, but none for the man whom she has promised to love and honor. She talks to him as she would be ashamed to have any one hear her speak. She never bears with him. If he is cross, she is crosser. Is it any wonder she loses his love? She is not what he thought she was, or what he thought he was marrying. If he had seen her in her true colors before the fatal words were spoken, he never would have bound himself to her. The beautiful soul, the sweet smile that won him, are gone. The gentle spirit he fancied he detected, was a delusion. What he loved, he does not possess. He possesses an unwomanly wife, and that he did not woo. With a weak man there comes a break. He often seeks his happiness with another woman. A strong man endures in silence, growing old and sad, broken in his youth.
Ought this to be? There is no reason, because you have grown familiar to each other, you should not try to hide your temper as you did before. There is no reason, because he is “caught” and cannot get away from you, that you should cease to be attractive to him. You spread your net well. Now make the nest so attractive that he will be glad that he was “caught.” Be all that you led him to fancy you were.
Why should not a woman dress for her husband? Why should she not cultivate a sweet disposition for him and endeavor to make his home the happiest spot on earth? Why not try to banish from it every cloud, everything that will annoy or irritate? Is it of no use? It is of the greatest earthly use. It is a means of helping you both on to Heaven. If you must be selfish, remember it is making yourself happier to have your husband love you as he loves no other earthly being. Men, after all, are easily pleased—you found that out in your courtship days. They are easily managed too. A man will do almost everything for the wife that makes him happy. He is almost too much of a slave to her. She can do what she will to him. With him, getting her own way is only a matter of tact and sweetness. Husbands are almost all like the man in the fable of the wind and sun. The sun beat in the end. Warmth of love and sweetness of manner will gain a victory, where an ill-tempered insisting upon “rights” fails completely.
Ward McAllister says in his “Society as I Have Found It,” “My advice to all married women is to keep up flirting with their husbands as much after marriage as before; to make themselves as attractive after their marriage as they were when they captivated them; not to neglect their toilet, but rather to improve it: to be as coquettish and coy after they are bound together as before when no ties held them.”
RHODUM L. GRIGGS.
We know that there is an unfortunate tendency in human nature to treat with levity the subject of love, courtship and marriage. But a moment’s consideration should convince you how utterly repugnant it is to all manly feelings to jest in these matters. They are the most serious questions of your life, as your weal or woe, and the weal and woe of those who come after you, depend in great measure, upon the wisdom and virtue with which you conduct your preparations for marriage. The whole tendency of such lightness is to cause the marriage relation to be lightly esteemed, and the true aim of courtship to be lost sight of, for unless you view it in its true light, with that sober earnestness which the subject demands, your courtship will be nothing more than a grand game of hypocrisy, resulting in misery the most deplorable.
Love is an actual need, an urgent requirement of the heart. Every properly constituted human being who entertains an appreciation of loneliness and looks forward to a home of happiness and content, feels the necessity of loving.
Without love, life is unfinished; hope, without aim; nature defective, and man miserable. Love is the ruling element of life; the great instrument of nature; that soft, subduing sun against whose melting beams there is not one human soul in a million, not a thousand men in all earth’s domain, whose hearts are hardened. Love, if pure, unselfish and discreet, constitutes the chief happiness of human life. No man or woman is complete in their experience of life until they have been subdued into union with the world through their affections. The bosom which does not feel love is cold; the mind which does not conceive it is dull; the philosophy which does not accept it is false; the only true religion in the world has pure, undying love for its basis. Look back over your life; if there is a bright spot to be seen, it is where the star of love shed its light; if there is a plant, flower or any beautiful thing visible it is where the smiles and tears of your affections were spent; where some fond eye met your own; where some endearing heart was clasped to yours.
Love, to make your life and home beautiful, must shine on through years, and its radiance linger till the shadows of death darken altogether.
Is the first turning point in your life, crowded with perils and temptations. The rose tints of affection dazzle and bewilder your imagination. You should not trust too much to the impulse of the heart, or be too easily captivated by a winning exterior.
Not once in a hundred times do two natures, brought side by side, harmonize in every part. While always bearing in mind that life without love is a wilderness, it should not be overlooked that true affection requires solid support. Your object in courtship should not be to charm, gratify, nor please simply for the present pleasure, but for the selection of a companion who must bear, suffer and enjoy life with you in all its forms; one who will walk pleasantly, willingly and confidingly by your side through all the intricate and changing vicissitudes incident to mortal life; one possessed of a constitution of soul similar to your own; of similar age, opinions, tastes, habits, modes of thought and feeling; one who under any given combination of circumstances would be affected as you would; one who would approve what you approve and condemn what you condemn; not for the purpose of agreeing with you but of her own free will; one who is already united to you by the ties of spiritual harmony. In the selection of a wife, a pure, loving heart and good common sense are many times more valuable than personal beauty or wealth, for once installed in the affections of such a woman, you have a life claim on her good offices, and no sacrifice that she can make is too great, no adversity so strong that it can shake her firmness. True courtship is withal a beautiful sight. Only the coarse and illiterate can see there aught for ridicule or jest. It is the flowing together of two separate lives that have heretofore been divided, now mysteriously brought together, to flow on through all time, and only God in His infinite wisdom knows how far in the shadowy hereafter.
For all professions, trades and callings in life, men and women prepare themselves by previous attention to their principles and duties. They study them, devote time and money to them. Every imaginable case, difficulty or trial is considered and duly disposed of according to the general principles of the trade or profession. But marriage, the most important and holy relation of life, involving the most sacred responsibilities and influences, social, civil and religious, that bear upon men and women, is entered upon in hot haste or blind stupidity by a great majority of the men and women of to-day.
No man has a right to ask a woman to enter matrimonial bonds with him unless he is thoroughly acquainted with the female constitution and character, for he who knows not her nature knows not how to gratify or satisfy that nature. It is ignorance in these matters that causes a great amount of matrimonial infelicity. Marriage, to be a blessing, must be properly entered. It has its fundamental laws, which must be obeyed.
The conditions upon which its joys and advantages are realized may be learned beforehand, and should not be entered in blindness, but in the light of a perfect knowledge of its rules and regulations, its promises, conditions, laws and privileges, so that no uncertainty shall follow a knowledge of its reality. Some are disappointed in marriage because they expect too much from it. Their imagination has pictured a condition of things never experienced on this side of heaven. With the marriage ceremony you enter a new world, if you enter understandingly, and live as becomes thoughtful, considerate human beings, each trying to bear with the other’s infirmities, and to consider the other’s happiness as paramount to their own. Marriage then becomes a delightful scene of domestic happiness, to which all true men and women look forward as the condition of life most consonant to their true happiness.
To the young woman who is just about to determine her start in life, we would say: Give up your whole mind to this problem of finding a husband whom you can love, and who can love you. It is worthy of your utmost effort. Remember that in selecting the father of your child the qualities which will show in the little one have no relation to his accomplishments, and that even the homeliest features may become beautiful, shining with the light of his noble qualities.
The profession of motherhood stands ready to give you every repayment if you will but devote to fitting yourself for its duties the same patient effort you would give to the study of any science, or the same energy you would throw into social duties.
Unlike social distinction, it will not be disappointing; but as the years go by, loving children will stand ready to enthrone you in their hearts and gratefully recognize your every effort in their behalf.
First—Give perfect truth and exact it.
Second—Use every endeavor to eradicate your own faults, and gently, patiently and lovingly help your companion to do the same.
Third—Do not expect too much from either yourself or your mate. Be humble, with a clear understanding of your own limitations; but be firm in the determination that with each day you will climb together to a higher level.
Fourth—Do not be discouraged at slow progress. Do not doubt that in the end you will be repaid for all effort. So also do not doubt that if you are careless, selfish or deceitful you will be planting seeds for eventual catastrophe.
It pleases her to be told that she is fascinating; to be called well dressed; to be called sensible; to depend on some man and pretend that she is ruling him; to be told that she improves man by her companionship; to be treated courteously and with respect, and to be talked to reasonably.
It pleases her to be treated sensibly and honestly; to be considered and questioned, and not treated as a butterfly with no head or heart. It pleases her to be loved and admired by a man who is strong enough to subdue her and make his way her way; to lead her and take care of her; and it pleases her to find happiness in being ruled by an intellect that she can look up to admiringly, and one to whom her mind bows in reverence.
It pleases the man to have a woman love him; to have her lead him in the way he wants to go; to have her sometimes treat him as a great big baby, to be cared for, petted and caressed; also to have her think him great, and good, and true, and favor him with her attentions accordingly. It pleases him to have a woman’s bright eyes expressing the approbation, approval and admiration the lips do not speak.
It pleases him to have her hand smooth away the careworn expression and wrinkles from his brow, and to have her strength to help him over the weak places in life. It pleases a worthy man who tries to be good to have a sweet woman lead him in the way called beautiful. A woman can sink a man to the depths of misery or help him to the zenith of happiness; her smile inspires him.
“I think that the Almighty intended the work of woman in this world should be, above all, the rearing of a family. He gave into her keeping the souls and characters of the young, to make or mar. And surely there is no nobler or more responsible work than this. From the home—the domain of woman—spring most of the highest impulses of humanity. And to fit woman for her great work the Creator made her of a finer cast than man; there is nothing on earth so noble, so pure, so exalted, so near the ideal of character, as a woman. Woman can rise higher than man, but she can likewise sink lower. The very height which she can attain seems to make her fall the greater when she does fall. There is great strength and great weakness in woman’s character; and it is a vital duty of men, whose greater evenness of temperament gives them greater self-control, and consequently a commanding position, to do everything in their power to enable the woman to be true to her higher nature.
“I believe that, other things being equal, the happiest woman is the woman who is a mother and the maker of a home; but if she cannot fulfil her true destiny, if she must enter the business world, she should be given the greatest consideration, simply because she is a woman. I have heard women say that they ask for nothing on the ground of sex. Perhaps they don’t, but personally I cannot forget their sex. Even in a purely business matter, my attitude and manner toward them are not just what they would be toward men.”—Dwight L. Moody.
“God has made the mind of woman the complement to the mind of man.
“When properly coupled they are a source of strength to each other. As steel and flint strike fire, so the brightest wit and best thought spring from the intellectual union of man and wife. Beginning as a stimulus to research and higher endeavor, each learns to know the mind of the other. A glance often reads thought without the spoken word.”
Yes, we agree with that old poet, who said that a low, soft voice was an excellent thing in woman. Indeed, we feel inclined to go much farther than he has on the subject, and call it one of her crowning charms. How often the spell of beauty is rudely broken by coarse, loud talking! How often you are irresistibly drawn to a plain, unassuming woman, whose soft, silvery tones render her positively attractive. In the social circle, how pleasant it is to hear a woman talk in that low key which always characterizes the true lady. In the sanctuary of home how such a voice soothes the fretful child and cheers the weary husband.
It is the hardest thing in love to feign it where it is not, or hide it where it is; but it is easier counterfeited than concealed. The face of her we love is the fairest of sights, and her voice the sweetest harmony in the world. A man is more reserved in his friend’s concerns than in his own; a woman, on the contrary, keeps her own concerns better than another’s. A woman will think herself slighted if she is not courted, yet pretends to know herself too well to believe your flattery. Absence is to love what fasting is to the body; a little stimulates it, but a long abstinence is fatal. The greatest pleasure of life is love; the greatest treasure, contentment; the greatest possession, health; the greatest ease is sleep; and the greatest medicine, a true friend.
“Thousands marry and the majority of them live together all their lives. But I think that not more than one couple in ten love each other, continuously, during that time.
“As soon as they have taken the marriage vows they feel an ownership of each other, feel that they are bound so that they cannot get away, and so grow careless about each other’s comforts and pleasures, until, before they realize it, love has flown, and then it depends upon the dispositions of the two whether it is a cat-and-dog life or one of friendship and companionship without love. Remember this: It is nature to love, and if you do not retain the love of your husband or wife, some one else is liable to do so.
“For a while you may bind a person to you by marriage vows, but love can only be bound by love, and it takes the same devotion, the same love after it is won that it takes to win it in the first place.”—Goe Van Hise, Glendale, Cal.
Many boys and girls enter matrimony before they are old enough to realize the responsibility they assume, and they frequently fill their lives with bitterness by acting so rashly. Wait till you are old enough to exercise judgment in the choice of your companion; then choose wisely, and enthrone the goddess of Love upon a heart stamped with eternal fidelity, and be your home a palace or a cottage, it will indeed be a “sweet, sweet home.”
The Outlook, in the Thorwaldsen Gallery, Copenhagen.
Friend—It reminds me forcibly of the time when “they were both naked and were not ashamed.” Indeed, it gave me a new comprehension of the meaning of that text.
Guide—Which of all Thorwaldsen’s works did you like the best?
Philosopher—How is it possible to tell? There were at least a dozen best.
Friend—The “Ages of Love,” because it suggested a sermon to me which I am going to preach some time.
The “Ages of Love” is a bas-relief consisting essentially of six figures, though so combined as to make, as it were, one tableau. In the first, a covered basket contains a number of imprisoned Cupids, and a child is curiously lifting a corner of the cover to look in and learn what love is like. In the second an attendant female figure—Venus?—has taken a Cupid out of the basket, and a maiden is eagerly and imploringly reaching out both hands to receive it. In the third her prayer has been granted, and the woman clasps the Cupid to her breast. In the fourth the woman is still holding Cupid, but carelessly by the wings, her mind evidently on other things intent. In the fifth a man sits looking upon the ground, while Cupid sits perched upon his back, and he knows not why he is there. In the sixth Cupid has taken his flight and is just beyond the reach of an old man, who stretches out his hands in vain to recover the fugitive.
Guide—And pray, parson, what would your sermon be?
Friend—Just Thorwaldsen’s sermon; nothing more. It would be in five subdivisions. First: Childhood inquiring into love. It is right to inquire. The father and mother should answer the inquiry and not leave the child to learn of this most sacred mystery of life from profane lips. Second: Maidenhood seeking love. She is right to seek it. It is idle to sing, “Love not, love not! the thing you love will die.” Love is “the greatest thing in the world,” above all others best worth seeking. Third: Motherhood possessing. Love is wealth indeed, and the only wealth worth having. The poorest is rich if he have love, and the richest is poor if he have it not. Fourth: Manhood forgetting love. Alas, that so many of us no sooner possess love than we forget it, and are indifferent to it, and put it aside. Love, the most valuable of all knowledge, has been bestowed on us, and we forget it; the most sacred of all possessions has been given us, and we turn our backs upon it. Ambition usurps love’s crown, and the true king is forgotten. And thus, fifth, and last of all: Love, forgotten, flies away, and the unloved old man looks longingly about for some one to love him, and there is none, and he drops into his grave unloved and not missed. It is the tragedy of life: youth inquiring; maidenhood seeking; motherhood possessing; manhood forgetting; old age losing.
Guide—When you preach that sermon, give us notice and we will come to hear it.
Friend—Better, instead, buy a photograph of Thorwaldsen’s bas-relief and study that. The sermon is all there—and more is there besides.
Kind words may prove pearls of the highest price; soften and turn away wrath; make friendship out of enmity, and build a monument of good that the storms of time cannot destroy. Cherish them, dear boys and girls. A kind heart full of love and sympathy and loving words, will spring to your lips to bless, to help and to comfort all around you. “That which the fountain sends forth returns again to the fountain.”
A life of real virtue, of nobleness, of true greatness, is not an accident. It comes, if it comes at all, from lofty aspirations, from incorruptible motives, long cherished, and held sacred as life.
“Sin is the most expensive thing possible. It wastes money. It wears the body into decay. But, bad as these things are, there are even worse behind, for it blights the intellect and withers the moral nature of man. It weakens the will; it blunts the conscience; it hardens the heart. It dries up all the finer feelings of the soul, so that ultimately all regard for truth and holiness and purity is gone. But worse yet, sin is an enslaving thing. It becomes the master of the man who indulges in it and sets him to do the hardest drudgery. It hires him out, as it were, to feed swine, leaving him to feed along with them. That which was at first a joy becomes in the end a bondage. That which was first a pleasant companion becomes at length a cruel task-master, which compels him to make bricks without straw, and sometimes even without clay.”—Dr. W. M. Taylor.
Let not sin, therefore, reign in your M-O-R-T-A-L body.—Rom. vi. 12.
There are many young girls who complain that they do not know how to talk to men. They have probably been brought up almost exclusively among their own sex, and, therefore, look upon men very much as upon beings of another world, and when they find themselves in masculine society they are at a loss to know how to make themselves agreeable, and what to talk about. Their task would be lightened if they realized that men are, after all, very nearly akin to themselves, and that they have very much the same ideas, feelings and sentiments. The failure to recognize this fact generally earns them the character among their male acquaintances for unamiability or pride; seldom, indeed, are they credited with the timidity of ignorance. The girl who generally is acceptable with men is without self-consciousness, and talks to a man much in the same style as she would to a girl friend.
She is not always thinking of herself and the impression she creates, but she is kind and sympathetic, and she interests herself in him and his affairs, and lets him feel it; always, however, taking care to avoid excess in this respect. When talking with him she shows interest in the matter under discussion, but, while holding to her own opinions, she takes care not to assert them with too great eagerness.
No man was ever really influenced by a self-assertive, dogmatic woman, and the woman who wishes to have men friends must remember that the secret of both her power and her popularity lies in her gentleness, sweetness and good temper. She must be cheery, too, and ready with her smiles; but that is quite another thing, be it remembered, from the senseless giggling which some girls seem to fancy is particularly charming to the other sex.
Men have, since the world began, been angled for deliberately by girls, and times out of count have been caught.
Girls will continue to fish for husbands, and will continue to catch them as long as marriage is a fashion—a state likely to coincide with the length of time the world lasts.
But for all that, it need not be asserted, as it so often is, that all girls angle. Why should the word be used, moreover, with such bitterness? Surely it is not wrong of girls to behave charmingly and make themselves look attractive and pretty, and especially so in the eyes of those men for whose good opinion they are most anxious? If they were to wear sackcloth and go about veritable kill-joys, is it likely that they would succeed in winning what they want?
It is said that love is never evenly distributed, and that in every engaged couple there is more love on one side than on the other. Women fall in love with the opposite sex just as often as the opposite sex does with them. What is to happen if a girl sees a man she believes she could fondly love, and whom she is sure would fondly love her, if she is debarred from angling for him?
A girl may not propose to a man. She may not put to him the anxious question, “Do you love me?” From her lips it would be unpardonable were the tender pleading, “Will you marry me?” to proceed. But she sees one whom she has good reason to think she could wed and be happy with, and the sole step she can rightly take to bring about a declaration of love from him is just this: She can make herself so pleasant and fascinating that he falls in love with her, and asks her that sweet question she has so deeply longed to hear from him.
The feminine angler should be very cautious. Let her declare her purpose—should it be only by a startled word—and a hundred eyes will dart scorn at her, a hundred tongues condemn her. She who is wise, however, is careful—both for the sake of the man she loves and her own reputation—that the little wiles she practices shall appeal only to him, and shall not be observable by those onlookers who are popularly supposed to see most of the game. Women are undoubtedly endowed with a special measure of instinct, and are therefore able to accomplish wonders, apparently never planned or premeditated. Woe be it to the swain who does not want to fall in love, should some fair daughter of Eve will that he shall!
There is this to console him, however: that the said daughter of Eve, should she be discreet and diplomatic, will so work matters that the happy man will never guess that he has been singled out for preference. He will take the bait and greedily swallow it, all the time under the impression that he was the angler, and that it was only after the greatest struggle that he managed to land his prize.
He will be as proud of his achievement as he can be—that is to say, if the girl who has caught him has been very canny during her maneuvers. She need not be deceitful, nor forward, nor unwomanly, nor any of the other plain-spoken and objectionable epithets applied to the feminine angler.
As has been pointed out, she need merely be a tactful, purposeful, clever girl, one who, knowing her own powers to charm, exercises them for the most valuable end and aim life offers—that of forming a home in which two persons may be happy, and from which they may radiate a sufficiency of joy to make the world about it more contented and felicitous than it was before.
Do marriages arranged as an outcome of the angling principle turn out well? Does the fascinating little woman whose bright eyes, pretty ways and dainty dress won her a husband, having secured what she desired, make for the man whose helpmeet she has elected to be a good wife? If she does, a dozen to one he will never find out that he was caught; or if she in some sweet moment should divulge to him the secret, and tell him in whispers and with shy kisses, how she did her best to draw him to her, he will, with further kisses, solemnly declare unto her his delight and gratitude that she so thoughtfully and cleverly made things easy for a blundering idiot like himself.
On the contrary, should she abandon every effort to please directly or soon after the golden circlet is firmly on her finger, how rapidly will his eyes be opened to all the crude and ugly scheming she employed to secure him! How bitterly will he rue the weak moment in which he succumbed to her blandishments. Then will the memory of her charming little speeches and sweet little ways be dust and ashes to him. He will cease to believe in women, taught by his captor to distrust the sex for her sake.
There is all the difference in the world between the girl who angles honestly, so that a happy union may be had with the man she loves, and the girl who angles simply for the achievement of some tribute to her vanity—a wealthy husband, a husband with more money than her friend’s husband possesses, or a husband who will give her a title and position.
There are few women so purely calculating that, once having achieved their object, they can deliberately show themselves in their true colors. Captious, irritable, ill-tempered, untidy—all these distressing characteristics they may reveal to their miserable husbands later, but for the first few weeks of marriage they rarely unmask. It is when the home is settled into, and the regular routine of existence begins, that the test is fairly made.
The admirable angler now shows herself in her true colors. She means to be a good housekeeper, so she studies her husband’s likes and dislikes, and incontestably, though silently, demonstrates to him that since he hates bacon he shall not have it every morning. Above all, she reflects, and recollects, and realizes that what he loved her for in those very early days, when first she taught him to grow fond of her, were her pretty ways. And who shall say, with so glorious a result as this winning woman shall achieve, that she was wrong in her girlhood to be an angler?
If there were more of them! But there are more than is imagined. Only it is the happy country that has no history, and the successful angler that has no historian.
An engaged girl should endeavor to be both a comfort and a help to her lover; not merely a pet and plaything. It is a very bad augury for the future when a man instinctively feels that a wax doll would be of as much use to his worries as she whom he intends making his helpmeet for life. And yet, only the other day, a gentleman was heard to exclaim: “No, no; I would not trouble Lily for the world; why, she is only made for the sunshine and the flowers.”
Again, it is the engaged girl’s duty to be open and candid in all her relations with her lover. The seeds of much future distrust and unhappiness are sown if once he suspects she is keeping a secret from him. It is also her duty to be considerate of his wishes, and if he have a harmless antipathy to any little thing or other, let her humor him in this. No doubt she also has some little “fads” which require consideration.
For instance, that girl was wise who ceased adopting “mannish” ways because her sweetheart disapproved. By doing so she only rendered herself more charming than ever in his eyes. To be punctual is another of the engaged girl’s duties. She has no more business to keep her lover waiting than he has to keep her waiting. Tardiness is not a sign of maidenly indifference, as some damsels seem to think. It is merely an indication of bad manners. Of course, it is her bounden duty to be engaged openly. Her lover should be known to her parents, and, where practicable, should visit her at her own house. In conclusion, I will mention the last and most important duty of all, and that is that she should love her lover with her whole heart, mind and strength. If she does not perform this office thoroughly and well, the others might just as easily be left alone.
Marriage is a divine and beautiful arrangement, as designed in God’s providence. It is the blending of two spirits in one. Man is incomplete without his wife: he has strength, she has beauty. “It is not good that man should be alone.” “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing.”
Premature marriages are among the greatest evils of the times—the result of fancy. The ballroom or evening party never develops real character. Matches made at such places, or made under similar circumstances, are not of the class that originate in heaven. They more generally are conceived in the opposite place, and bring forth only iniquity.
The true way to study and learn one another is to do it at home, in the parlor, in the kitchen, and on occasions that test the temper. We see the result of premature unions in the almost daily divorces that are taking place; in the running away of husbands—leaving their wives and children to starve—and in the elopement of wives. Not only this, but we witness it in broken-spirited men, made old in the prime of life, struggling on for mere food, clothing, and mere shelter; and in woman, cross, sluttish and wrinkled. And the result does not stop with the husband and wife. There are the children; they partake of the feebleness and vices of the parents, both physical and moral, and go out into the world stunted and gnarled. Young friends, beware!
A judicious writer, alluding to the matrimonial state, says: “There is not a city, scarcely a township, which does not number among its inhabitants women who have married on very short acquaintance, only to be abused, deserted, and left a burden and a lifelong sorrow to the families in which they were born and reared, and which they most imprudently and improperly deserted to share the fortunes of relative strangers.”
If young ladies would realize how grossly indelicate, as well as culpably reckless, such marriages appear in the eyes of the observing, they surely would forbear. A year’s thorough acquaintance, with the most circumstantial accounts, from disinterested and reliable witnesses, of the antecedents from childhood, are the very least guarantee which any woman who realizes what marriage is, will require of a stranger.
Even then, if her parents are not fully satisfied, as well as herself, she should still hesitate. Marriage is an undertaking in which no delay can be so hazardous as undue precipitation.
“A prudent man foreseeth the evil and hideth himself; but the simple pass on and are punished.”—Solomon.
In how many instances, of the present day, is marriage merely a union of hands—the affection not being taken into consideration. The question on the one side, “Is she handsome? has she money?” on the other, “Can he support me in style? shall I be able to make an appearance?” How much better would it be to ask, “Has the woman a heart capable of pure affection?” “Will she be willing to share with me adversity as well as prosperity?” “Will she forsake all others and cleave only to me through weal and woe?”
And woman, yes, woman, she whose very nature ought to stimulate her to higher and holier motives for taking upon herself the marriage relation, is too often anxious only as to the length of her husband’s purse, and the amount of his bank stock; the heart, the mind, the intellect, in fact everything really worth marrying for, being non-essentials.
But, oh, the misery which too often follows such marriages! The husband, when it is too late, laments his blindness and his folly. The wife is made to realize that riches take to themselves wings and fly away; and then comes the consciousness of a want of sympathy and congeniality of feelings. Both are thrown back upon themselves, for not a chord in the breast of one vibrates in unison with the other.
Let the young beware how they enter the marriage state from such motives, lest they wake too late from the delusion. Consult the judgment, and hesitate when that says “Beware.” Let the property be in rather than with the companion.
Oh, the loneliness of an unwedded heart! The hands may be united, but to feel that in heart you are separated must be misery indeed. To think of being obliged to associate for life with one who has not a feeling of sympathy with you, and who is, moreover, in sentiment, taste and feeling directly opposed to you—how revolting the thought! Then, let love, not ambition, lead you to form those ties that naught but death can honorably sever.
Weigh well the consequences of one wrong or hasty step in the choice of a companion for life. Walk softly here, lest you fall, to rise no more. Seek wisdom from above. “In all thy ways acknowledge the Lord, and He shall direct thy paths.” “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” at all times, and you are safe.
Husband, have you this gift of gifts? Has God in superabounding mercy given you a dear wife, lovely, virtuous, prudent, sensible, intelligent, and above all a God-fearing wife, meek, modest, humble, Christlike?—“an helpmeet” in very deed? Well, what do you think of it? Do you appreciate the blessing duly?—make suitable returns? Can you do it? Such a gift is unspeakable. How few, comparatively, appreciate the gift of a good wife?
A very godly man said to us recently, “I thank the Lord daily, hourly, for the jewel of a wife God hath given me.” A distinguished writer—speaking of the value of a good wife—remarks thus: “In the true wife the husband finds not affection only, but companionship—a companionship with which no other can compare. The family relation gives retirement without solitude, and society without the rough intrusion of the world. It plants in the husband’s dwelling a friend who can listen to the details of his interests with sympathy, who can appreciate his repetition of events, only important as they are embalmed in the heart. Common friends are linked to us by a slender thread. We must retain them by ministering, in some way, to their interest or their enjoyment. What a luxury it is for a man to feel that in his house there is a true and affectionate being, in whose presence he may throw off restraint without danger to his dignity; he may confide without the fear of treachery, and be sick or unfortunate without being abandoned. If in the outward world he grow weary of human selfishness, his heart can safely trust in one whose soul yearns for his happiness, and whose indulgence overlooks his defects.”
Give your wives to understand that you esteem them above all others; make them your confidants; confide in them and they will confide in you; confidence begets confidence, love begets love, sweetness begets sweetness.
Above all, sympathize with the wives of your bosoms in the hour of affliction. Rejoice with them when they rejoice, and weep with them when they weep. Who, if not a bosom companion, will wipe from the cheek the falling tear of sorrow? Finally, husbands, remember that death will soon sever the connubial cord! When you behold her, with whom you lived, and toiled, and wept, and rejoiced, cold and lifeless, laid in the coffin—
Will you then regret that you studied always to promote her happiness? that the law of kindness and love dwelt on your lips evermore? O think, and be now her ministering angel!
“A prudent wife is from the Lord,” directly; to God be all the praise.
Jeremy Taylor says, “If you are for pleasure, marry; if you prize rosy health, marry; and if money is your object, marry. A good wife is heaven’s best gift to man—his angel and minister of graces innumerable—his gem of many virtues—his casket of jewels—her voice, his sweetest music—her smiles, his brightest day—her kiss, the guardian of his innocence—her arms, the pale of his safety, the balm of his health, the balsam of his life—her industry, his surest wealth—her economy, his safest steward—her lips his faithful counselors—her bosom, the safest pillow of his cares—and her prayers the ablest advocates of heaven’s blessings on his head.”
The Literary Sensation of the Hour
The Confessions of
A Young Girl
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“A Young Widow” is a pen name of Irene W. Hartt.
Punctuation has been made consistent.
Variations in spelling and hyphenation were retained as they appear in the original publication, except that obvious typographical errors have been corrected.
The following change was made:
p. 7: illegible first letter assumed to be y (with yearning only,)
p. 63: her inserted (as her parents)
Ad for “FORTUNE-TELLING BY CARDS, DICE, and CRYSTAL”: The address is missing at the end of the ad after the “Address” label.