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Marriage And Misery
by [?]

In English homes are the friendships of generations and beneath their spreading trees their lives epitomise the lotus eater’s religion–“There is no joy but calm.” Our women know neither the one nor the other. Our social creed and dogma know nothing of friendship, and calm to them is as Greek papyri in a kindergarten. Thus have we grown avaricious and vulgar and in their weariness of things as they are, have our women grown base. They know that their lives miss something, they know that their fierce rivalry and feverish straining for precedence bring them no nearer the Mecca that closes its austere gates to their aching eyes. And for the dignity and pride their lives have lacked, they give their fortunes and sell their bodies and exchange, for a title, the name of which they have grown ashamed. They perhaps shrink, in physical repulsion, from the man who they feel despises while he endures them. They perhaps hunger, with all the woman- nature their pitiful lives have left them, for other lips murmuring in slumber beside them. But over their burning eyes they press the metal circle for which they have crushed their hearts and outraged their sex, and around the delicate limbs they draw the ermines that cannot hide their shame, and in all their poor, empty glory they only read in the cold eyes of the patrician women around them the chill contempt that stamps them as among, but not of their order. “I sometimes think it wisest not to think,” and this warped and twisted human nature has a pathos in all its chasing after a gilded butterfly that has always a grinning skull peering through the gold of its wings. The hunger that finds but Apples of Sodom, the life-labor that wins but the gold of Midas, the ambition that crushes its toy baloon–“and man plods his way through thorns to ashes.”

America freed her blacks but rests her social aegis on barter far more hideous. Optimists prate of the world growing better, with their eyes on the mountain tops, but when one reads of frail Lais fined ten dollars in the court- room for earning her daily bread in the only manner possible to a nature in which sin has been bred in the bone by generations of ancestors, and then pictures Dr. Brown of exclusive St. Thomas’, New York, murmuring “Benedicite!” over an international marriage ceremony, his handsome face and melodious voice and aristocratic bearing doing full justice to the grandeur of the occasion–it is a contrast in which there is a bitter humor, a farce in which there is something horrible, a comedy that smells of the charnel house.

Is there plan and purpose in all the meaningless mystery and misery? Is “heaven but the vision of fulfilled desire, hell the shadow of a soul on fire?” And are we both? Are we improving? Look on life within its gates. Are we retrograding? Strip the curtains from the hearts of men and women. And marriage, the great pivot upon which swings life itself, what is it? Is it covenant with deity, or contract with the devil? Boise, Ida., October 1.