ADVICE TO WOMEN - PREPARATION FOR MARRIAGE.
I need not repeat here the advice given to men, though much of it is, in its personal application, as suggestive of your own needs as theirs. In response to a request from some thirty young ladies, I gave them a lecture, and as I looked into their faces bright with the animation of youth, I asked them to be very frank with me, and holiest with themselves, in answer ing this question, How many of those before me were willing to accept marriage, its cares, discipline, and blessings, just as their mothers had done? Only two answered in the affirmative, for all were desiring and looking for something better. The greater part of them acknowledged that their mothers, often through much weakness, had been the power behind the throne, regulating, sustaining, and guiding the home interests, bearing many necessary, and some times unnecessary, burdens. This I well knew before, all being from homes where prosperity had crowned the united efforts of both parents, homes that, with some wives and mothers I have known, to guide them, would all have been a failure. I repeat here what I said to these young ladies " If you cannot now, for the true love you bear the man you are to marry, accept your home as your mother has done, and by your willing aid do what you can to make it a happy one, it is better not to be his wife till you can." The wife who drops, a helpless plaything or burden, upon her husband's hands, trying to rule hint by hysterical crying or puerile coquetries, will soon compel him to regard her as having a weak childish character. In all the material world and in marriage, the strong man must, and does, stand first, and lift life's heaviest burdens. His rule in the home should be the deciding one, but in all the strength of moral force, as well as in other help, woman should be a co-worker with her husband. No missionary going forth to distant fields of labor, leaning on an Almighty arm, should be more devoted to his chosen work than husband and wife in their marriage obligations.
It is from such parents in their strong unswerving courage in the maintenance of the right, that we look for the sanctity of the home, the saving of our children, and true national elevation. There is no more beautiful sight in the world than a noble mother and her children, except its counterpart, a husband and father, wl?o is her fitting companion. Cherish as your life the real value of your womanhood. Think of it only with reverence; avoid, as you would an infectious and loathsome disease, any association with other girls, or any one, who would rouse by thought, touch, or conversation, the generic sensibility. All such feelings are sacred to marriage; outside its hal lowed precincts they are adulterous. Never separate marriage from the thought of ?na.ternity. If it comes to you once in two or three years,.your health, your influ ence as a wife, and your happiness, will be advanced by it. If you cannot so far as this accept God's order, do not take the place of a wife or her solemn vows; for you do wrong to your husband and yourself. It has been said that marriage develops people, but . it is marriage with its completed round of parentage that brings out the best there is in men and women.
The ugliest " old maid," caring for the needy or degraded, teaching and guiding children with a lov ing mother-heart, will develop far more than the most lovely, accomplished, and educated woman who is only the toy or mistress of her husband. I have never known any old maids or old bachelors more undevel oped or narrowed by selfishness than some husbands and wives in elegant homes, who were, in their chosen dual isolation, subjects of real pity. A few weeks since, a lady came into my office with a long list of ailments. She had been married eleven years, had never had but one child, a healthy lad now ten years old. For the six years past she had been constantly under the care of her own and neighbor ing physicians, and wondered why she did not get better. I found her ailing from digestive derange ments, irregular circulation, pelvic disorders, and a restless, morbid, nervous condition which was not the least distressing among her symptoms. Upon questioning, I found that, since her little boy's birth, her one thought and endeavor had been to avoid motherhood. She " would not do wrong " only used " innocent measures " among which was compulsory onanism on the part of her husband. She had never wanted children, and her mother before her marriage repeatedly said, " I hope you will never have children." Her unnatural life, and morbid fears, the perpetually reversed nervous cur ents, added to other wrong habits of dress and diet, were all these years ever-present causes. perpetuating the ills that so burdened her. If this lady will accept a natural motherhood fully, mentally and physically doing all she can to get better, she will recover, but not otherwise. It is becoming a common thought, and I am afraid physicians as a class do not combat the error as they should, that women are sickly be cause they are women, that their peculiar functions necessitate feebleness. Now this is not true. Wo men average as great longevity as men; in endurance and tenacity to life, they are equal. In those coun tries where women live and work much in the open air, they become hardier than the men who are shut in shops and stores, and are less nervous. I am sure that not a few of the causes of nervousness and muscular debility among our daughters are avoidable. In early girlhood, and during life at home and at school, wise and resolute mothers can lay the foun dation, in mental and physical training, for a far higher standard of health with their daughters than most mothers are aware. When a young woman says, " I cannot sit up without my corsets," she acknowledges, without realizing it, that the muscles of the trunk, including these composing the abdominal walls, are not as strong as those of the healthy infant of ten months. Mothers never feel it necessary to put stays upon their baby before permitting it to sit alone upon the floor or in its crib. Young ladies often say " I have a much longer waist than formerly, my stomach is not so prominent," but they do not un derstand that this has been achieved at great cost of health, and is neither beauty nor symmetry, but a change of form relaxing the muscles and crowding the viscera in the abdomen downward into the pelvis, until its organs are displaced by the unnatural weight above.