Life is a privilege, even to the unhappy. It allows them the opportunity to display the great qualities which God implanted in every soul, and to give the world higher examples of character.
He who leaves such an example to the world earns happiness for eternity.
To Miss Jessie Harcourt
Regarding Her Marriage with a Poor Young Man
And so there is trouble in the house of Harcourt, my dear Jessie. You want to marry your intellectual young lover, who has only his pen between him and poverty, and your cruel father, who owns the town, says it is an act of madness on your part, and of presumption on his.
And you are thinking of going to the nearest clergyman and defying parental authority.
You have even looked at rooms where you believe you and Ernest could be ideally happy. And you want me to act as matron-of-honour at that very informal little wedding.
Now, my dear girl, before you take this important step, give the matter careful study.
Your impulses are beautiful, and your ideal natural and lovely. God intended men and women to choose their mates in this very way, with no consideration of a worldly nature to mar their happiness.
But civilized young ladies are a far call from God’s primitive woman. You have lived for twenty-three years in the lap of modern luxury. Your father prides himself upon the fact that, although your mother died when you were very young, he has carefully shielded you from everything which could cast a shadow upon your name or nature. Your lover is fascinated with your absolute purity and innocence. Yet he does not realize that a young woman who has so long “sat in the lap of Luxury,” is unfit to be a poor man’s wife.
Some girl who might know much more than you of the dark and vulgar side of life, would make him a better companion if he could love her enough to ask her hand in marriage.
The girl who has received the addresses of this fascinating old fellow “Luxury,” never quite forgets him, or ceases to bemoan him if she throws him over for a poor man.
To look at two rooms and a bath is one thing, to live in them another, after having all your life occupied a suite which a queen might envy, with retinues of servitors at call.
You tell me you could die for your lover.
But can you bathe from a wash-bowl and pitcher, and can you take your meals at cheap restaurants, and make coffee and toast on an oil-stove or a chafing-dish?
Can you wear cheap clothing and ride in trolleys, and economize on laundry bills to prove your love for this man?
You never have known one single hardship in your life; you never have faced poverty, or even experienced the ordinary economies of well-to-do people.
You are an only daughter of wealth—American wealth. That sentence conveys a world of meaning. It means that you are spoiled for anything but comfort in this life.