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sary to give a man that consciousness of his dignity, of his character as head and ruler, and of his importance, which is absolutely essential to the well-being of the family, and through it, of society itself. It is a power, a privilege, of which the man is, and should be, proud—so proud that he should husband it, and not squander or debase it. Too many a man, with a recklessness that can only be attributed to ignorance of its value, exhausts or defiles this noble prerogative of his manhood, a possession as precious in its own way as that of chastity—“The fayrest vertue far above the rest."
The whole being of the man cries out, at this period of his life, not for the indiscriminate indulgence, but for the regulated use of his matured sexual powers. And at this time, therefore, but not before, the medical man will recommend marriage.
No doubt can exist that marriage is in itself a state conducive, when well regulated, not only to increased happiness, but to long life.
"amidst the abundant statistics which have been collected lately, it has been demonstrated that bachelors live a shorter time than the Benedicts. This assertion is only true on condition that married couples live happily together; otherwise bachelors must have the advantage. In a happy marriage everything conduces to enjoyment, well-being, health, and longevity, for life is passed without shocks and agitation; there is a kernel of felicity, around which are collected all other possible pleasures, and which must soften the misfortunes whereunto humanity is predestined. In an unhappy marriage, when each person is a perpetual cross for the other, all is anguish, torment, trouble, and disquietude; to-day, to-morrow, and always, at each moment the bitter cup, full to overflowing, approaches and touches the lips. Is there a constitution sufficiently strong, health sufficiently robust, or a soul sufficiently firm to flatter itself that it can resist such cruel attacks ?"
My advice to all young men above twenty-five, who are in good health, is, to marry as soon as their circumstances enable them to maintain a wife. Everything tends to prove that the moderate gratification of the sex-passion in married life is generally followed by the happiest consequences to the individual. And no wonder, for he is but carrying out the command of the Creator_“Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth"in the way appointed by the Almighty Himself.
HINDRANCES TO MARRIAGE, REAL AND IMAGINARY.—It is a great misfortune, and a cause of much evil, that in our present state of civilization, the means of maintaining a family are so difficult of attainment as, in the case of certain classes, very much to restrict the power of fulfilling the above command, or of enjoying the privileges attendant on obedience to it.
It would be well if competent medical men who are called upon to give their opinion on this question of marriage, were only met by the difficulties of narrow means or the fear of having a large family. Many men are sorely distressed by forebodings, which can only arise from an ignorance that to the general public may seem hardly credible. In many instances it is a previous bad life which is the real source of most of the timorous unwillingness to marry. Few persons, perhaps, come into contact with so many conscience-stricken young men as I do. A youth who has abused himself, as soon as he learns the consequences, becomes alarmed, and sets down all his subsequent ailments to the particular cause which is ever uppermost in his thoughts, and his principal cause of disquietude is that he is unfit for the married state.
Among the most frequent consequences of this hypochrondriacal feeling, is the suspicion that he may not be able to comsummate marriage. As this is a very common fear, and as, moreover, the vaguest notions exist among young men about marital duties, perhaps I may state that, as a matter of fact, there are comparatively few adults who would be really unable to consummate marriage. The symptoms indicating a condition of real impotence will be fully given in subsequent pages, and of course those who really suffer in this way could never be advised by their medical attendants to contract matrimony. To those, however, who forswear matrimony only because they have an exaggerated notion of the sexual duties required from a married man, I would say, if a competent medical authority sanctions your marriage, you may be perfectly satisfied and should follow his advice.
CHOICE OF A WIFE.—Perhaps one of the least considered questions relating to married life, and the one on which, consequently, the most frequent and fatal errors are often made, is that which stands actually at the very threshold—What sort of person to marry ?
I know full well that in many, if not most cases, any advice on this point is quite superfluous. The person is fallen in love with first, and any, even the mildest, stricture on his or her absolute fitness for married life is resented as a personal injury. To such ardently inconsistent inquirers any suggestions of mine are simply valueless.
I am, however, often consulted by men who, after having led so secluded or continent a life as hardly even to have thought of any woman, find themselves in a position to marry. Such persons may not be sorry to have some few hints to guide them in what is, to them, not only a novel but rather a critical undertaking—the choice of a wife. The same hints may perhaps serve to point out even to younger and more impulsive persons than these sober woers, not so much the kind of wife they should choose, as the kind they should not.
First as to age : I think there should always be an interval of about ten years between a man of mature age, and his wife. Women age much more rapidly than men, and as the reproductive functions should cease in both partners about the same time, some such interval as this is evidently desirable. Still, if a man will marry whilst young, there are so many risks of unhappiness from his marrying a mere child of fifteen or sixteen, that it would be well in such cases to seek a companion somewhat nearer his
As to health, every man should be very careful, and note every characteristic about any woman who attracts him, which may serve as an indication of this primary requisite, or of its absence. The existence of insanity or consumption in her family to any serious extent, should warn him, for his own sake and the sake of the children he might have, not to run the really terrible danger of marrying a woman whose family labor under either of these serious affections.
No one, it may safely be said, who has been habitually ailing during her girlhood, will make a good wife. Nay, I would carry the rule farther, and warn my prudent readers that pale women with colourless faces and waxy skins, even if they are tolerably strong themselves, very seldom have healthy children. So important is it to select for a future partner for life, and mother of children, a woman of undoubted health, that I even go one step further, and urge the man who consults me on such a subject, if he were free to choose, to select a country wife, especially if he himself be necessarily a dweller in a large town. The children of parents who are both Londoners are especially difficult to rear, so much so indeed, that some lay it down as a rule that, after three generations, every family that has uninterruptedly been born, lived and died in town becomes entirely extinct.
If a man be himself fair, I should advise him not to choose as a wife a woman with flaxen hair, let him rather select a brunette. We often notice that parents, both of whom have light coloured hair, beget scrofulous children, particularly if there be, as is often the case, a latent hereditary predisposition on either side, although no actual disease may exist in either parent.
Closely connected with the question of health is that of education and past history. It is probably almost unnecessary to urge men to avoid, if possible, a vulgar or bad-tempered mother-in-law. But it should not be forgotten, in the natural desire to escape unpleasant relations, that a member of a large family will, primâ facie, make a healthier, and sweeter-tempered wife, than an only child. As to intellect, accomplishments, and fortune, men need little advice. Literary women are not likely to be much sought after for wives. And great accomplishments so seldom survive the first
year of married life, that men of the world are too sensible to allow them to outweigh the sterling qualities of a pleasant manner, a sweet temper, and a cheerful disposition.
As to fortune, it is hardly my province as a medical man to advise on this subject. Still I would suggest that, if the previous course of life which I have pointed out as best, has been really followed; that is, if a young man has lived a thoroughly continent life, in body and mind, until he is in a position to maintain a wife, there seems little reason, in choosing his partner, to give the question of fortune any great weight. Most women will spend the fortune they bring, and the propriety of the husband's supporting, rather than being supported by his wife, as tending to make the home happier, is obvious.
As to rank and position in society, it is of course desirable that the wife should be selected as nearly as possible from the same rank of society as her husband. But if there is to be a difference, the husband ought, I think, to select a wife from a class rather above him. Men can and often do rise from a humble origin to a social status far above that of their wives, however great the disparity was originally. But this is very seldom the case as regards women. They generally maintain to the end socially the same as they were born. Money and a husband's position may do much, but it can hardly raise a vulgar, low born, or originally immodest woman one step in the social scale, however great her husband's fortune and position may be, or however faultless her own married life. She may, perhaps, to a certain extent, hide the traces of her early training from men, but her own sex, whom she meets in the rank of her husband's society, will be sure to detect them at once.
I have been often asked, “Shall I (other things being equal) marry for beauty?" I answer, “Yes, if you can get your beauty to accept you.” Let ugly people talk as they may about intellect and the evanescent charms of mere outward comeliness, still some degree of beauty is, if not the first, certainly the second requisite in most cases, to a happy married life. A tolerably large
1" How exquisitely absurd, to tell girls that beauty is of no value, dress of no use! Beauty is of no value ; her whole prospects and happiness in life may often depend upon a new gown or a becoming bonnet; and, if she has five grains of common sense, she will find this out. The great thing is to teach her the just value, and that there must be something better under the bonnet than a pretty face, for real happiness. But never sacrifice the truth.” -The Rev. Sidney Smith.