Arthur Freeling. The Young Brides's
Book. New York:1849. G360 F854 Y849.
P. 6 Perhaps one of the most indispensable and endearing qualifications of feminine character is an amiable temper. Cold and callous must be the man who does not treasure the meek and gentle spirit of a confiding woman. Her lips may not be sculptured in the lines of beauty, her eye may not roll in dazzling splendor; but if the native smile be ever ready to welcome, and the glances are fraught with clinging devotion or shrinking sensibility, such must be held as far above "gold and rubies." a few moments of enduring silence would often prevent years of discord and unhappiness, but the keen retort and waspish argument too often break the chain of affection, link by link, and leave the heart with no tie to hold but a stern and frigid duty.
It is almost impossible to pay too much attention to these things. Nor should that aid and assistance which a faithful and considerate wife may render to her husband in his business be disregarded. A woman may be of great assistance to her husband in business, by wearing a cheerful smile continually upon her countenance. A man's perplexities are increased a hundred fold, when his better half moves about with a continual scowl upon her brow. A pleasant cheerful wife is a rainbow set in the sky, when her husband's mind is tossed with storms and tempests; but a dissatisfied and fretful wife, in the hour of trouble, is like one of those fiends who delight to torture lost spirits.
P. 7 The first requisite to the proper discharge of the important duties of a mother, is a due and entire acquaintance with the physical wants of children. It has been frequently observed, that of all animals children are the most helpless when the first come into the world; how necessary, then is it, that those who have the care of their earliest existence should be well acquainted with the signs and tokens of their physical demands upon their attention and care. Let no mother, unless under circumstances of the most pressing necessity, consign the entire care and management of her infant to another. God has given her peculiar sensibilities, which no one, standing in a more remote connection with the child, can possess, and it is therefore her peculiar duty, and ought to be her most delightful occupation, to minister to the necessities of the helpless being committed to her care. She who can voluntarily abandon her offspring to the care of others, forfeits all claim to the sacred name mother.
P. 10 Suppose your husband has wantonly, or even outrageously, offended you; do not reject his first offer of reconciliation,- that is the moment of softened feeling, - of self-reproach,- of mental humiliation, - it is also, of a jealousy of these feelings being seen, and unappreciated. do not make the moment of reconciliation the time of canvassing the degree of error, or the effect of that error; a woman's tact will enable you, at an early opportunity, to let him know the misery you have endured, without giving rise even to a passing unkindness. On any occasion of misunderstanding, especially avoid that miserable chattering recapitulation of past follies or faults, (real or imaginary) of which some women , one would think, kept a catalogue, to make it available for their own misery, and the irritation of their husbands, - thus laying the foundation of constant and permanent quarrels.
Pp. 10-11 Do not be discouraged by even a repetition of the same conduct, however improper; all dispositions cannot be changed by a single effort: persevere, and his mind, if not absolutely callous to human feelings and affections, must be soon impressed with the conviction that he is making a wreck of your happiness, - that the greatest patience will wear away,- and that he will, by a reiteration of violence, destroy your health, or transform the treasure he has possessed - the being he must love and honor, into the most abject and deplorable of all God's creatures - an irritable shrew- a domestic scold. Yes, let me entreat you, by the hopes of your own happiness, - as you desire the welfare of your children, (if you are blest with any,)- by the love you yet bear you husband, - to try the conduct I have proposed, and to believe that the time of his regret and contrition, of self- humiliation, is the time for you to confirm your influence - not by an intemperate exertion of your power, but by your persuasive mildness.
Pp. 15-16 I have said, that the influence which each has had upon the character of the other, previous to, frequently passes away after marriage. It will do so if it has not been the result of changed principles, and is not continued by the same efforts by which it was obtained. The assiduity to please, which was then rendered delightful, and was sufficiently compensated by affecting its object, must still be persevered in; the same endeavours must not now be relaxed; then, your happiness might depend upon your success; now it does depend upon it. Let it therefore never be forgotten, that during the whole life, beauty must suffer no diminution by inelegance, but every charm must contribute to keep the heart which it contributed to win; whatever would have been concealed, as a defect, from the lover, must with still greater diligence be concealed from the husband. The most intimate and tender familiarity cannot surely be supposed to exclude decorum; and there is a delicacy in every mind which is disgusted at the breach of it, though every mind is not sufficiently attentive to avoid giving an offence which it has often received. One of the most bitter and repulsive thoughts that can rankle in a husband's bosom, is, that his wife should only have deemed it necessary to charm his eye until she had obtained his hand; and that through the whole of his after- life, he must look vain for the exercise of that kind consideration in consulting his tastes and wishes, that used to lend so sweet a charm to the season of youthful intercourse.
P. 16 "It is not," says Mrs. Ellis, "presumed that women possess more moral power than men; but happily for them, such are their early impressions, associations, and general position in the world, that their moral feelings are less likely to be impaired by the pecuniary objects which too often constitute the chief end of man, and which, even under the limitations of better principle, necessarily engage a large portion of his thoughts."
Pp. 17-18 By the term in the title of this chapter, and its divisions subjoined, it will be seen that ill-temper is most particularly referred to. No person can be so blind as not to perceive the advantages of a good temper, but many will scarcely consider the disadvantages resulting from a bad one, or notice the insidious way that it makes its advances, until a good temper becomes bad; a moderate one, violent; and a naturally bad one, unbearable. Every temper is inclined in some degree to peevishness, obstinacy, or passion; but it is as unbecoming the female character to be betrayed into ill behaviour, by passion, as by intoxication; one would think, therefore, shame alone would preserve a young woman from giving way to it. Such is the opinion of one of your own sex. Can you expect that your husband's will be more favorable? - you cannot. There is then no lesson which a young wife has to learn, which will have a greater effect upon her future happiness than the government of her temper.
P. 28 NATURE, reason, and religion declare that man shall be vested with the controlling power. When two persons differ upon a subject which must be decided one must give way. You have in your marriage vow sworn to "obey:" this is a difficult lesson for a proud spirit to learn, but, when learned, is the most active principle in the production of woman's happiness. It is useless to attempt an evasion of this duty by assuming to yourself abilities superior to those of your husband; for, as Mr. Jay observes, "you should not marry a fool: you may be deceived as to piety, you cannot as to sense." A woman's power in the married state should arise from the influence of character and conduct, and not be the result of obstinacy and opposition: in the former case, it will be attended with every happiness of which the married state is susceptible; in the latter, with most of the intellectual miser to which human nature is heir.
Pp. 29-30 It has been said, that the tour of a woman's gaiety should terminate with marriage; certain it is that her chief happiness should then be derived from home. A turn for dissipation in any woman is unseemly, in a married woman it is criminal. Home duties are the peculiar duties of woman, and are those in which she shines pre-eminently, and from the execution of which she derives her highest influence. Time was, when the women of New-England were accustomed from childhood to the constant employment of their hands. I would write in letters of gold the indisputable fact, that the habits of industry and personal exertion, thus acquired, gave them a strength and dignity of character, a power of usefulness, and a capability of doing good, which the higher theories of modern education fail to impart. Their sphere of action was their own fireside, and the world in which they moved was one where pleasure of the highest, purest order naturally arises out of acts of duty faithfully performed. Order in your household is essential to the performance of its various duties. Without system, you will be always busy, and always a little too late. Determine to finish every duty at its proper time; - to do, when it should be done, and you will never appear in a bustle; and in the after- part of each day seldom have any of the essentials of a household to attend to; or rather, seldom have such duties to perform , as could not be conveniently laid aside upon the appearance of your husband and his friends. If your husband is a man of order, how much of your happiness may hinge on attention, regular attention, to your household duties. How soon his eye will detect the absence of a controlling, governing, and sufficient power. Let such matters as affect his personal comfort have your first attention; trifling as the circumstance may be considered, - a button off a collar or a wristband, - the absence of a pair of slippers from their appropriate place, has given rise to animadversions which have let in the spirit of discord. and laid the foundation of confirmed discontent;recollect that habitual disregard of small duties displays the presence of negligence and indifference as much,or more, than the occasional neglect of important ones.
Seek a Sympathetic Ear in God alone
Pp. 33-34 Confidence is a most important duty you owe to your husband, and secrecy is not less incumbent upon you; upon the due observance of these, much of your happiness depends. Consult him upon every point of doubt; inform him of every action in which he can be interested, and never, no not to your dearest friend, expose his failings or his errors; it cannot, by any chance, be of service - it will be productive of positive mischief. The woman who seeks to lesson her trials by such disclosures, will find herself fatally mistaken; she may obtain temporary relief from the sympathy of her friend; but she will find that the trivial suspension of pain will give strength to the disease, which will be aggravated by the conviction that the partial ease was obtained by the breach of a positive duty, and by the certainty that if the breach of confidence becomes known, it will create a distrust which will be an impassable bar to happiness; for he that has none to trust, has but little to hope; and the discovery of such a breach of conjugal fidelity could not fail of souring his mind, and thereby producing a host of evils. In the unhappy dissensions which will occasionally occur, let the Deity alone be your confidant; - the outpourings of a wounded spirit He will not disregard; and there is an unspeakable quietness and comfort derived from unburdening the laboring bosom to such a friend - one whom you know can direct you, and who, if you trust in him, will either relieve you from the trial, or so compose your mind as to enable you to bear it; this conference and confidence will indeed impart a satisfaction which will never be regretted, and will relieve the mind much more than communication with any earthly friend.
P. 35 I have said much respecting the personal and family duties of a wife, and of the influence their due performance will confer. I have, however, hitherto restricted my observations to the influence she may have upon the disposition, temper, the domestic and commercial concerns of her husband. If she is a superior- minded and well-educated woman, she may raise the intellectual character of her husband; - even statesmen have owed some of their finest bursts of eloquence - their most lucid reasonings, to the influence of a superior wife. The honors of the bar, the senate, and even of the battlefield, have been won under the inspiring influence of woman! She may, however, have still higher aims; she may be the means of bringing her husband to the knowledge of the gospel, or an instrument in upholding his faith. She may by her wisdom, her example, her influence, not only happily pass with him her pilgrimage on earth, but die with a "full and certain hope" of enjoying with him a glorious eternity.
Pp. 41-42 Nothing would disgust this man so much, or drive him away so effectually, as any assumption on the part of his wife of a right to detain him. The next most injudicious thing she could do, would be to exhibit symptoms of grief - of real sorrow and distress at his leaving her; for whatever may be said in novels on the subject of beauty in tears, seems to be rendered null and void by the circumstance of marriage having taken place between the parties.
The rational woman, whose conversation on this occasion is to serve her purpose more effectually than tears, knows better than to speak of what her husband would probably consider a most unreasonable subject of complaint. She tries to recollect some incident, some trait of character, or some anecdote of what has lately occurred within her knowledge, and relates it in her most lively and piquant manner. If conscious of beauty, she tries a little raillery, and plays gently upon some of her husband's not unpleasing peculiarities, looking all the while as disengaged and unsuspecting as she can. If his attention becomes fixed, she gives her conversation a more serious turn, and plunges at once into some theme of deep and absorbing interest. If her companion grows restless, she changes the subject, and again recollects something laughable to relate to him. Yet all the while her poor heart is aching with the feverish anxiety that vacillates between the extremes of hope and fear. She gains courage, however, as time steals on, for her husband is by her side, and with her increasing courage her spirits become exhilarated, and she is indeed the happy woman she has hitherto but appeared; for at last her husband looks at his watch, is astonished to find it is too late to join his friends; and while the evening closes in, he wonders whether any other man has a wife so delightful and entertaining as his own.
Expenditure on Dress
P. 51 In regulating your expenditure, do not delude yourself with the idea, that in making an appearance above your station you are furthering the interests of your husband; this is frequently a masque to conceal a wife's vanity and ambition; she persuades herself that such a connection is desirable, "for how very important it will be to my husband" to cultivate it; - the expense is never calculated - the extra style of dress- the extra establishment is obtained; the cost is certain, the success problematical, perhaps incompatible with reason; and if she would but look into her own heart, she would probably find that selfish vanity, or silly rivalry, has been the secret spring, which she has shut from her view by the veil of a supposed benefit to her husband; be assured that where success is once attained by the assumption of a style above a person's circumstances, ruin is ten times oftener the result.
P. 54 The following maxims on dress and fashion are worthy of the attention of every person of discretion:
Do not permit fashion to impair the health.
Dress should never infringe on delicacy.
Dress ought not to involve unnecessary expense.
Dress should not engross too much time.
To the above may be added, Dress should be consistent with station, place, age. All of these subjects would bear amplification, but they will immediately suggest trains of thought to every ingenuous mind. Mr. Giles has in a few words summed up the evils of the absence of economy, and with them I shall close this chapter:-
"Want of economy has involved thousands in misery and in those houses where it is predominant, little is beheld but disorder and confusion; their families are in general as dissipated and as thoughtless as themselves. Harmony and decorum, with their inseparable companions, peace and happiness, are guests that find within such walls neither residence nor repose."
Reading as Recreation
Pp. 56-57 After the duties of your house have been satisfactorily arranged for the day, there can be no objection to vary the occupation of needle-work occasionally by reading' as if the books are properly selected, their reasoning powers are improved, some lesson of wisdom is continually acquired, some information obtained, which will tend to facilitate the performance of your ordinary duties, and enable you to make your home more delightful to its various inmates; when a female mind is properly furnished, there is no charm so attractive to our sex as the conversation of woman: from the natural construction of her mind, from the minuteness of her observation, from the rapidity of her perceptions, and the intensity of her feelings, she is provided by the Deity with the means of becoming the magnet of the social circle, the charm by which its members should be united and made happy. One of the most delightful of home amusements is conversation; by this we improve our own attainments by imparting them, receiving in exchange new views of each subject, or confirmation in the justness of those we possess. What treasures of delight have those been deprived of, who have never known the happiness, the ever-varying pleasure, of a reciprocal exchange of intellectual feelings and acquirements - what a powerful ally has that woman lost who has not that intellectual hold upon her husband's heart, which arises from the power of a reciprocation of ideas, a community of feelings.
But, while proper reading furnishes the mind and matures the judgment, there is a class of books which has a tendency directly the contrary; I refer to works of imagination, novels and the like. Not that I would wholly exclude works of imagination from the female library, but I would urge a most careful selection and a very limited perusal of them. The indiscriminate reading of novels is one of the most injurious habits to which a married woman can be subject. Besides the false views of human nature it will impart, and the waste of time, it indisposes for all serious occupation, it produces contempt for ordinary realities, which will be highly detrimental. It is a habit also that increases by its gratification and in many cases becomes so inveterate from indulgence, that not only the convenience of a family, the duty owed to husband and children, have been forgotten, but the health has been destroyed by the excitation produced, and the loss of rest caused, by pursuing the infatuation object during the hours which nature has allotted to sleep. "I am assured," says Mrs. Chapone, "that the reading of such kind of books corrupts more female hearts than any other cause whatever."
P. 60 I could not close this little volume without a few words upon family prayer and the devotion of the closet. I could not give you directions for your general conduct in your new situation at the head of a family, without saying a few words respecting that duty which you owe to the Great Being from whom alone can come a blessing, even on the most prudent conduct. A prayerless, cannot be a happy family. Independent of the good accompanying the exercises of devotion, when blest by the immediate influences of the Spirit of God, of how much practical benefit is even the mere habit of family and private prayer the source. What a check is the former to poor human nature; for how could you publicly and daily, before your servants, humble yourself before God-bewail your sins of omission and of commission - ask for his Spirit to be with you, to guide you into all good, and to deliver you from evil-to enable you to subdue the man of sin which is within you, and to control the natural impetuosity of your temper - how could you, I say, thus worship God at the family altar, and live in the habitual exercise of tyranny over your servants, of pride in your ordinary relations, or in the commission of any open immorality: and when you retire to your closet - when the whole soul is (in words) laid bare before God - when you call over, at the end of each day the secret sins by which it has been sullied, the errors of thought, as well as of conduct - when you entreat his forgiveness and ask his blessing- how, I say, can this be persevered in, without your manifesting a desire to observe his laws and be guided by his will, and exhibiting that desire, by striving against, and not indulging in, any secret sin?
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