IS MARRIAGE A CURE FOR VICE? A mistake arising from ignorance, and encouraged by some translations from French authors, should be clearly pointed out. The saying, "A reformed rake makes the best husband," is as false a statement as that made in the French romance, of a courtesan, who prosecuted her wretched life, accumulated a fair competence, and then, settling down in an honorable marriage, proved an affectionate wife and mother. The statements, as applied to either, are contrary to all natural reason and experience, — in fact an utter falsity. The truant, idler, and vagabond may as reasonably be expected to turn out an intelligent and highly educated college professor, or the drunken gambler and spendthrift to awaken some morning with all his wasted wealth and honor about him, his body clean and sound, and his mind and heart clear.
In the thirtieth report of the Prison Association of the State of New York, one of its members has given a detailed history in one family, of drunkenness, adul tery, and crime. Scores of paupers and criminals were the increasing harvest of sin; and here, as everywhere, the unchecked vices of the parents went on through marriage, the foul stream blackening and widening in their descendants.
Marriage may, and does, hide from the world's eyes many a perverted life; makes a shield of respecta bility, or a shelter from open crime, for some, from whom the possibility of noble fatherhood or mother hood is gone forever. We would bid all such to seek its sacred shelter, and choose its pure sanctities, if they have made the fullest preparation for it possible for them, and been honest in the full mutual know ledge of each other's life; but the choicest fruitage of marriage can never be given to those who have not lived to marriage in chastity. Many years ago, a young woman, a wife of six years, then twenty seven years of age, came from a distant city for change of air, and thus fell under my care. I found her with marked symptoms of nervous exhaustion : weak lungs, a slight cough, feeble digestion, little blood, languid circulation, and a delicate, fitful ap petite. She sat up but little, and could walk but a short distance without trembling. A careful exam ination revealed no settled disease of the chest, abdo men, or pelvis, although she complained of her back; there was no tenderness of the spine, or any evidence of serious head trouble, and I was not a little at a loss to account for her extreme debility. I learned that she had been strong and healthful during her girlhood, but had grown steadily weaker since her marriage. She gained rapidly for one so much debilitated, but, at the end of some twenty days, suddenly announced that her husband was not well, and had written ask ing her to return immediately. I had questioned her specifically regarding her marital relations, but, though very reticent, she at last told me hesitatingly that she had never left her husband but a day or two at a time before, and in all her married life had never been exempt from his demands, except during such absences from him. She said he was feeble in health,
unable to labor, and depended much upon tonics; but, when I urged the necessity of intelligent instruction for him, she replied simply, " He knows : I think it would make no difference. I must do the best I can. I regret to return, for I am much better, but I know it is best." A year later, in talking with a lady from the same place, I inquired if she knew the family —, in the city where she resided. She asked, "Do you mean Judge —, or his son? " Asking for the son's family, she replied, " The Judge is one of the finest men inW—, but his son amounts to nothing; for, in his early youth, and until within a few years he has led a very fast life, and was a leader in a club of young men in all vice. Some six years ago he married a very fine woman, and since then he has been perfectly reformed. He goes to church with her quite often, and is perfectly devoted to her. I have heard some intimate friends of the faini!y say he could hardly bear her out of his sight for an hour." I thought how few know the life of this pa tient, self-sacrificing woman, taking up, in her mar riage, against her acknowledged convictions, this burden of a husband, a monomaniac adulterer. I re membered the story of the East Indian servant woman, who, to save her mistress and her children, put her own life between them and the Sepoy soldiers, who else had murdered them all. So this woman, because she thought it her duty, holding her husband by the only power that could do it, of which she knew, stood a wall between him and his otherwise blighting influence upon the young men of his circle mid their families, and those women who would have been degraded by him. Pitiable as such a sacrifice is, I am not sure but it is the highest fulfilment of duty left to all such unfortunate wives. Fortunately, they had no children; for, had maternity been possible with such a father, and all the attendant circum stances, the children could have received little more than a bare existence.
When man or woman, previous to marriage, has passed under the subjugating domination of several adulteries, it becomes very hard ever after for that one to hold the marriage vow inviolate. In the great majority of cases, as soon as they meet the trials that must surely enter every human heart and home, or fall under the influence of a third party, whose at tractions are, for the time, fascinating, they fail, and the oft-broken wall of chastity crumbles almost at a breath of the old temptation.