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satisfaction of fatherhood is also an These unhappy victims of Puritanatrophied, abnormal member of society. ism have been prevented from realizAs an unreconciled bachelor, I have ing that Nature is only asking her own: wrestled hard with the problem and that she rejoices in the instinctive revehave reached certain conclusions, which, lations of sex; that adolescence is as I fear, are regarded by some of my natural as breathing, and must not be friends as most heretical.
too long ignored. I recognize, of course, that economic Among simple primitive folk, who conditions are partly responsible for have mercifully been spared the dark this abnormal situation; but I believe shadow of Puritanism on their sex-relathat this difficulty could be surmounted tions, the process of mating and of without much trouble if it were not for reproduction is rightly regarded as Naother much more serious influences. ture's richest gift. They do not affront The necessity of earning a living, in Nature by pleading for a delay, or feel order to care for dependents; the strug- guilty when obeying the imperious degle to acquire an education in law and mands of mature adolescence. As for medicine, as well as in other professions that matter, even our Puritan ancestors — all this often compels a lamentable were in this respect more normal and delay, or an indefinite postponement, of more moral than is the case to-day, in marriage. This delay is itself frequently favoring early marriages and in weltragic in the strain of inhibitions and coming the rather abundant harvests the consequent ills it imposes on both of such unions. sexes, at the time when Nature is call- Puritanism, in its peculiar definition ing imperatively for her unquestioned of moral purity and its gloomy approach rights.
to marriage, has created a stuffy atBut I am thinking primarily of those mosphere in which it is excessively who never marry, who bravely put up difficult for men and women to meet a cheerful front, but whose hearts are naturally. There is a restraint and a never free from a sense of irremediable prudery that render courtship difficult loss. I am thinking of those who can- or illicit love easy. Desperate measures not stand this strain, and who collapse, are necessary under such conditions. either mentally or morally. Economic Severe admonitions or cruel jests either reasons may in some cases absolutely kill budding affections or provoke to preclude marriage; but I believe that acts not infrequently unfortunate in other causes are of much greater weight. their consequences.
First of all, I accuse the spirit of Puri- And this preposterous attitude lasts tanism for having fostered a false atti- after marriage, when many a young tude toward the sex-instinct. Many a mother finds herself condemned to a boy and girl brought up in a Puritan painful reticence and evasion at a time environment have come to regard the when she should be boldly exultant in first attractions of sex as something her supreme realization of Nature's utterly unholy. They have resisted greatest miracle. Puritanism has seemthese inclinations and brooded morbidly ed to associate with this great joy over them, until they have felt damned something abhorrent and shameful! I beyond redemption. They have turned remember how I once shocked a cousin
a to ascetic discipline and severe tor- by remarking that one of our relations ments of the soul, until their outlook was expecting a baby; and how, later has become badly distorted, even at on, she admitted her inability to undertimes to the extreme of insanity. stand why she should have felt shocked.
The answer, of course, was this strange the effect is the same, by reason of the thing called Puritanism, which has cast emphasis they place on the entering of a dreadful pall on the most joyous and women into the various professions, natural instinct of mankind.
their right to economic independence, Next to Puritanism I accuse the and their obligation to demonstrate spirit of Romanticism — an odd part their absolute freedom. The making of ner in crime — for rendering marriage a home, the rearing of children, seem to so difficult to achieve. Poetry and fic- be regarded by the Feminists as, at tion have done their worst to foster best, nothing but an evil necessity, to fantastic notions concerning love and be borne under protest and to be avoidmatrimony. Preachers, moralists, psy- ed if possible. This attitude in some chologists, and writers of various kinds amounts virtually to an angry revolt have all united to represent the sex-in- against Nature for having been outstinct as exotic and unreal. The native rageously unjust in placing a heavier hue of passion has been sicklied o'er by burden on women than on men. The a very pale cast of thought. Youths way some of these Feminists talk would and maidens have attended theoretical lead one to infer that they desired legcourses in correspondence schools on islation from on high, to impose on men the subject of matrimony. They have part of the task of bearing children! been encouraged to subject their emo- Another and more sinister effect of tions to a compound microscope, to try Feminism has been the hideous reacto discover by analysis whether these tion of the argument against a double feelings are as described in the books. standard of morality for men and woThey have been led to be hypercritical men. Instead of inducing men to be to such an extent that they become more moral, the tendency would seem morbidly introspective. And all the decidedly to make women more lax, , time two sound hearts may have been and even cynical on the subject. I have calling loudly to each other in vain! In known women who, ignoring the sentheir search for a great romance, for the
tentious and incontrovertible argument proper stage-setting for courtship, they of Franklin concerning the double become utterly confused and hysterical standard, have frankly asserted the at times. They play on each other's right of a woman to have her 'fling' as nerves until something is bound to hap- well as a man. There are various sets pen; but what happens is too often a where an amused tolerance condones tragedy. Nature is scornful of play- moral delinquencies, or fosters a most acting in matters of the heart, and dangerous attitude toward marriage. visits fearful penalties on the actors. As in the case of certain social or stage Nature cannot but have a grudge celebrities, marriage becomes a joke, or against this Romanticism, which blinds a meaningless formality, well characterpeople to realities and impels them to ized by a shrewd Turkish observer as pursue an ignis fatuus, in an utterly un- ‘consecutive polygamy.' real world of intellectual creation.
It is to be hoped, and in fact is to be I accuse also the Feminist movement expected, that, after this exaggerated for its part in bewildering society re- movement of protest by the Feminists garding the relations of the sexes. has spent its force, we shall have a reMany excellent women, in their devo- turn to a sane and natural attitude totion and martyrdom to the cause of ward the marriage relation and all that equal suffrage, have practically taken it implies in obligations and ultimate vows of celibacy, like nuns. At least, contentment.
And out of Puritanism, Romanti- glorious ideal of marriage cannot be cism, and Feminism, as well as from pre- fully realized. vailing economic conditions, have grown Here is the difficulty: what constifalse standards of happiness. Nature tutes true happiness and absolute consays to a man and woman: ‘Unite, tentment? Many a man and woman make a home, have children, cherish have learned the answer by simple livthem, and build for their future, if you ing in accordance with the demands of would know true contentment. Mod- Nature. They have discovered that the ern civilization says: 'Do not think of standards of happiness set by modern marriage until after you have had a civilization in literature, theatre, colchance to enjoy yourselves in a life of lege, and social conventions are groindependence; until you have sufficient tesquely false. Yes, many a woman posmeans, a fine house, an automobile or sessing that greatest of gifts — an two, and a mate with whom to continue understanding heart — has achieved suyour good time. Do not think of hav
preme happiness through the simple ing children if they interfere in the least round, the daily task,'through the home with your good time; certainly do not loyalties and loving services. I have have more than one or two. And do known women whose love and devotion not stay married for a moment if any- have enabled them, not only to endure thing disagreeable occurs to mar your fearful humiliations at the hands of happiness.'
unworthy husbands, but actually to Or many a high-minded young man redeem them to a fine manhood in a or girl is thinking of perfect bliss in sanctified and reconsecrated home. I marriage, of an ideal union of kindred have known men whose patience and souls, that will ensure eternal harmony tenderness have endured the nagging of and contentment. Their conception of thoughtless wives, their extravagances, domestic happiness is too exacting and their follies, yes, their faithlessness; and unreal; it cannot allow for strain and have brought them back to a beautiful stress. It renders marriage either more and sane realization of true contentdifficult to achieve or impossible to ment. I have seen such men and women maintain.
learn, through the strain and stress of I recall an observation by a statesman married life, that the greatest happiness, of note, when addressing a group of after all, lies in sacrifice; that the basic college girls, to the effect that it was principle of our Western civilization is much better for a woman never to the obligation to build for others. The marry than to marry unhappily. This home is the cornerstone of that civilizasounds rather reasonable, but requires, tion and of true contentment. first of all, a clear definition of married In the light of this standard of happihappiness. Such a definition, under ness I venture to reply to the superficial modern conditions, is becoming increase observation on marriage by the statesingly difficult. Many a girl would be man to whom I have alluded, that it is rendered unhappy by being deprived of better by far to have known the joys certain comforts and privileges she has with the ills and sacrifices of motherenjoyed in her home. At least, she may hood than to live in a fancied single think so, and thus avoid matrimony blessedness. To live as Nature ordainand, very probably, miss true happi- ed, though with many a concern and ness. Other girls, who could readily many a chagrin, is infinitely preferable endure such privations, may be made to living in relative ease and serenity, in miserably unhappy to discover that their opposition to Nature's demands.
There is good reason to view with dis- of a home. When the prospective lovers gust and alarm certain tendencies of
came together, there was no constraint, the rising generation. The mode of dress either of Puritanism or of Romanticism. that exposes rather than discloses fem- On their finding each other congenial, inine charms; the dance that exacts the engagement was shortly entered vulgar postures and familiarities; the into, and marriage followed soon after. ‘petting' that arouses sexual emotions In the cases I have in mind there was
all this, I take it, lamentable as it is, every evidence in later years of tender may perhaps be regarded in part as a devotion and contentment. reaction from those unnatural condi- I hope it will not be thought that I tions which have militated against the am arguing in favor of marriages de wholesome relations of the sexes. It is a convenance as against sentiment and pity that the pendulum should swing so romance. There is nothing finer than violently to a dangerous extreme; but I some of the truly romantic and idyllic am hopeful that we may yet find a gold- courtships it has been my privilege to en mean, which will result in a greater witness. The grande passion does come general happiness
to some, and is greatly to be desired. I Such a golden mean I find on the am merely arguing that where such exother side of the Atlantic, where the traordinary experiences seem unlikely sex-instinct and marriage are regarded or unattainable, -as I fear they are more sanely and naturally than on this in most cases, obedience to the deside. Everything there – nature, par- mands of nature should compel one to ents, and society in general - unites to admit that marriage is not only desiraencourage young people to mate and ble but imperative. I am contending nest early. No exaggerated intellectual for a saner attitude on the part of sorefinements, no romantic fancies, no ciety in general toward the whole subsocial conventions stand in the way of ject. I am writing as frankly as I can, a free response to the cosmic urge.' out of the depths of experience, —
In the case also of Europeans of sweet as well as bitter, — to try to help means and education, marriage is rela- others to think more clearly on this vital tively easy, even when delayed for one problem. reason or another. It is erroneous to Society should do all in its power, in think that Continental marriages are my opinion, to render marriage easier, simply a matter of negotiations, irre in order to restore it to its rightful place spective of the sentiments and prefer- as the basic and primordial fact of life ences of those directly concerned. If itself. We should feel much greater sentiment and desire should not coin- concern over the unpleasant fact of the cide with interest, either side may freely large numbers of unmarried members use the right of veto. I recall several of society. And early marriages should German friends living away from Ger- be facilitated, in recognition of the fact many, who were precluded by this fact that delay can hardly be good, either and other circumstances from an early for the individual or for society in genmarriage. When the time arrived that eral. The home is the basis of our civilthey felt free to marry, it was a simple ization, and the more homes, the better matter to let the home folks know of the community. Whether early or late, this desire. They in turn found it easy marriage should be the immediate and to pass along the word to someone in the most serious concern of society at their circle of friends, who likewise had the desire to do her part in the making All that has been said thus far should
not be interpreted as minimizing in the the love that pardoneth all things, least the sacramental nature of mar- throughout the trials and vicissitudes riage as it rightfully is regarded by the of their wedded life. Church. To those who think deeply, Whether in a religious or a civil cerethere is hardly anything in life that may mony, this is what all reasonable beings not properly be deemed sacred. In fact, should pledge. It is a solemn acknowlit is this sense of the sanctity, beauty, edgment of the fundamental fact that and dignity of human relationships falling in love is not nearly of as great that brings the greatest joy in life. But importance as the sacred act of marit does not follow, because marriage is riage itself. The emphasis should be sacramental, that courtship is to be con- placed, not simply by the Church, but sidered as of divine origin, more than by all society, on the sacramental naany of the many other human relation- ture of married life. ships. What really matters is the spe Confucius said: 'A man and his wife cific act of consecration. The mating of should be as guests to each other.' man and wife may be elemental, a most Could anything more profound or more natural response to an imperative and exquisite be said of the marriage relairresistible command; but God may not tion? Unfailing courtesy and deferential have joined them together unless they consideration, thoughtful and delicate themselves have solemnly laid their attentions, rare patience and charity, plighted troth on his altar.
all that the hospitality of one soul to This to me is the true significance and another implies — is not this the final beauty of the marriage service, so often answer to the whole problem of marriage missed, alas, amid the pomp and the- and divorce? atricals of elaborate church weddings. This, it seems to me, is the attitude The thoughtless and the cynics, occu- society should aim to foster: a more pied with thoughts of how the bride natural approach to the sex-relation, looked or the groom behaved, are often freedom from fantastic notions and artitoo unmindful of the fact that here are ficial restraints, a shifting of emphasis two souls who have dared present them from the search for romantic courtships selves to dedicate their union before to the necessity of a daily courtship God and in the sight of man. They after marriage; in sum, insistence on a have solemnly pledged in prayer that, simpler and deeper conception of happicome what may, they are determined ness, based on home loyalties, sacrifices, to show each other patience, reasonable- and joyous revelations of life's mysterness, charity, forgiveness, loyalty, and ies, ‘until Death us do part.'