Successful Man's Wife
( Originally Published Late 1800's )
Wife, mother! The two most significant ideas of our modern civilization. The bare mention of the words causes the eye to kindle and the heart to throb; while the threatened safety or happiness of either stirs the deepest emotions of the human heart. How the thought of the one softens and subdues us! What a world of tender memories cluster around the name of the other! What a restful feeling comes to us as we return to the place that womanly hands have made beautiful and her toil has brightened! How the rough strife of life is forgotten! How the knots fade out of our brows, and anxiety out of our faces, and care out of our hearts as the wife welcomes us home to the brightness of the evening fireside. Then, truly, we feel that life is more than the toil of it, and that the reward of living is vastly greater than the trouble and work of it.
It was always mother that smoothed the rough places of our youth. It was she who dried our tears and healed the wounds of childhood. It is her kind face that dwells in memory still and which the crowding memories of years cannot efface. She may be old and gray and wrinkled now; her once graceful form may be pinched and racked and bent with age; she may be just ready to go and dwell with the other angels before the face of the Father; still her face shines with heavenly beauty when you go home to see her and she is still, in the hands of the wasting years, the fairest among women.
Wife and mother! The two brightest spots in the life of man. None can take the place of mother; none can be loved and honored so well as the wife. Nothing on earth can hold a man so long and so firmly as the love which he bears his mother and his wife, and when he loses these then he is lost indeed. It is probably no exaggeration to say that upon the sanctity of these two ideas and the relations which they represent depends the permanent good of this republic. Nor do we exaggerate when we say that in careless indifference to these two ideas and the relations which they involve lies the future damnation and destruction of this and every other republic. For the republic rests upon the union of States; the State rests upon the family, and the family upon marital and filial respect in the household.
When mother becomes less to a young man than the sorceress that tempts him from the sweetness of home to the graveyard of her enticements; when wife is no more to the husband than other women are; then, that man has gone back to barbarism, and his homelife has no power longer to keep him from drifting into the maelstrom of bestiality and a ruined life. There is no more hope for him as a man or a citizen. And again, when wife or mother forgets the high privleges, high duties, and high opportunities thrust upon her by virtue of her position; when she shuffles off to the shoulders of hired servant and hired nurse the care of helpless children; when she re-fuses to be mother to the children she has borne; when she sneaks away from her noble work; when, in laziness, extravagance, and waste, she gives her husband reason to institute a comparison between her and other women; when he comes to see that he must toil hard to support her in idleness; then he will think less of her than of other women. Then she has lost her opportunity. Then woe to home-life ! Woe to the happiness of that blasted house-hold ! Woe to the peace of husband and children ! Woe, woe ! a worm is eating at the root; the family-life is ruined, and a gloomy skeleton is all there is left of fair features and angelic grace. Oh, the sore hearts and crushed lives that struggle out to the light from the debris of the fallen temple of home-life ! When once that temple falls, there is no greater wreck in the universe.
The successful man's wife is doubtless the crowning factor of his success. If true to her womanly trusts, and he be true to his, she is the greatest power behind him to urge him on to manly deeds and high endeavor. Next after those native qualities of mind and soul that constitute a successful man, stands the wife of similar fiber of character, and the twain are one flesh. Before their united power the difficulties of a life-work vanish like fleeting demons from the presence of Omipotence.