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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsA Woman Of The World: Her Counsel To Other People's Sons And Daughters - To Mr Ray Gilbert
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A Woman Of The World: Her Counsel To Other People's Sons And Daughters - To Mr Ray Gilbert Post by :Christine_S. Category :Nonfictions Author :Ella Wheeler Wilcox Date :May 2012 Read :932

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A Woman Of The World: Her Counsel To Other People's Sons And Daughters - To Mr Ray Gilbert

_Attorney at Law, Aged Thirty

My dear Mr. Gilbert:--Your letter followed me across the ocean, and chanced to be the first one opened and read in my weighty home mail to-day. I have lost all trace of you during the last six years, in that wonderful way people can lose sight of one another in a large city. Once or twice I heard you had just left some social function as I arrived, or was expected just as I was leaving, and once, recently, I saw you across the house at a first night, with a very pretty girl at your side. I fancy this is the "one woman in the world for you," of whom you speak in the letter before me--the letter written the evening before your marriage. How good you are to carry out my request made seven years ago, and to write me this beautiful letter, after reading over and burning your former boyish epistle, returning to me my reply.

It is every man's duty to himself, his bride, and the other woman, to destroy all evidences of past infatuations and affections, before he enters the new life. It is every woman's duty to do the same--_with a reservation_. Since men demand so much more of a wife than a wife demands of a husband, a woman is wise to retain any proof in her possession that some man has been an honourable suitor for her hand. She should make no use of such evidence, unless the unaccepted lover indulges in disrespectful comments or revengeful libels, as some men are inclined to when the fruit for which they reached is picked by another hand.

And it is when the grapes are called sour that the evidence may prove effective of their having been thought sweet and desirable.

It is a curious fact that no woman thinks less of a man for his having had his vain infatuations, and that all men think less of a woman if she has loved without response.

Therefore, it behoves her to destroy no evidence that the other man, not herself, was the discarded party.

But woe unto the man who retains old love-letters, or other tokens of dead loves and perished desires.

Few men could be guilty of showing or repeating the contents of another man's love-letters. Women who are models of virtue and goodness have been known to make public the letters written a man in earlier years by another object of his affections. I have to my personal knowledge known a woman to place before the eyes of a third person, lines written evidently in the very heart's blood of a former sweetheart of her husband--words the man believed he had destroyed with other letters, more than a score of years before. Imagine what the feelings of that early sweetheart, now a happy and beloved wife, would be, did she know the words written so long ago were spread before cold and critical eyes, and discussed by two people who could have no comprehension of the conditions and circumstances which led to their expression.

Because I know otherwise tender-hearted and good women are capable of such acts, I am glad you have obeyed my wish of seven years ago, and that all proofs of your boyish infatuation for an older woman are destroyed. You say you have told the girl you love that you once were foolishly fond of me, and that I helped you to higher ideals of womanhood and life.

That is wise and well, since you found her to be broad and sensible enough to share such a confidence. But had she seen your written words to me and my reply, it would have been less agreeable to her than to hear your own calm recital of the now dead passion.

Words written in a state of high-wrought intensity retain a sort of phosphoric luminosity, like certain decaying substances, and even after the passage of years, and when the emotions which gave them expression are dead and for-gotten, they seem to emit life and feeling.

_Burn your bridges as you walk along the highways of romance to St. Benedict's land_.

Since you compliment me by saying I have helped you to higher ideals of life, will you allow me to give you a little advice regarding your treatment of your wife?

You have every reason to know that I have been a happy and well-loved wife of the man of my choice. You know that I have neither sought nor accepted the attentions of other men when they crossed the danger-line lying between friendship and love.

Therefore it may astonish you when I confess that, at the time you temporarily lost your head, I was conscious of an undercurrent of feminine vanity at the thought that I was capable of inspiring a young and talented man with so sincere a feeling.

A similar experience with an older man would have suggested an insult, since older men understand human nature, and realize what a flirtation with a married woman means. But your ingenuousness, and your romantic, boyish temperament, were, in a measure, an excuse for your folly, and made me lenient toward you.

My happy life, my principles and ideals, submerged this sentiment of feminine vanity to which I confess, but I knew it was there, and it led me to much meditation, then and ever since, upon the matter of woman's weakness and folly.

As never before, I was able to understand how a neglected or misused wife might mistake this very sentiment of flattered vanity for the recognition of an affinity.

Had I been suffering from coldness and indifference at home, how acceptable your boyish devotion might have proved to me.

And how easily I would have been persuaded by your blind reasoning that we were intended by an all-wise Providence for life companions.

There is no sin a woman so readily forgives as a man's unruly love for her, and hundreds of noble-hearted women have been led to regard a lawless infatuation as a divine emotion, because they were lonely, and neglected, and hungry for affection.

See to it, my dear friend, as the years go by, that your wife needs no romance from the outside world to embellish her life with sentiment.

Do not drop into the humdrum ways of many contented husbands, and forget to pay the compliment, and cease to act the lover.

Notice the gowns and hats your wife wears, and share her pleasures and interests when it is possible.

Not that you should always be together, for separate enjoyments and occupations sometimes lend an added zest to life for husband and wife, but do not drift apart in all your ideas and interests, as have so many married people.

You are the husband of a bright and lovely girl, and if you forget this fact after a time, remember there are other Ray Gilberts who may realize it, and seek to awaken such an interest in her heart as you sought to arouse in mine.

You found the room occupied by its rightful host.

See it that no man finds the room vacant in your wife's heart.

Study the art of keeping your wife interested and interesting.

A woman thrives on love and appreciation. I know a beautiful bride of eighty years, who has been the daily adoration of her husband for more than half a century.

She has been "infinite in her variety," and he has never failed to appreciate and admire.

Devote a portion of each day to talking to your wife about herself.

Then she will not find it a novelty when other men attempt the same method of entertainment.

Whatever other matters engross your time and attention, let your wife realize that she stands first and foremost in your thoughts and in your heart.

Do not forget the delicacies of life, manner, speech, and deportment in the intimacy of daily companionship.

Never descend to the vulgar or the commonplace.

One characteristic of men has always puzzled me. No matter how wide has been a bachelor's experience with the wives and daughters of other men, when he marries it never occurs to him that his wife or daughters could meet temptation or know human weakness.

It must be the egotism of the sex.

Each man excuses the susceptibility of the women with whom he has had romantic episodes, on the ground of his especial power or charm. And when he marries, he believes his society renders all the women of his family immune from other attractions.

Do not rely upon the fact that your wife is legally bound to you, and therefore need not be wooed by you hereafter.

There are women who are born anew with each dawn, and who must be won anew with each day, or the lover loses some precious quality than can never be regained.

It will pay you to study your wife as the years pass.

Do not take for granted that you know her to-day, because you knew her thoroughly last year.

This is a long letter, but when one writes only once in seven years, brevity is not to be expected.

My greeting to you, and may the years be weaver's hands, which shall interlace and bind two lives into one complete pattern.

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