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thing in its success depends upon the fitness of the founders of the home to each other and their work. They who propose to marry have in the outset a most difficult question to settle. It is not one in which fancy, or passion, or property, or position, or caprice, custom, or convenience, should have a word to say. They have to consult, not merely for the present, but for the future ; not merely their own good, but the good of those whom God shall by and by intrust to their charge. It is the most important question given to man's decision, for of it are even the issues of eternity. When I think how inexperienced we are when the choice is made, by what motives we are swayed, by what customs blinded, by what outsides deceived, —when I think how impertinently base considerations thrust themselves in upon a decision so momentous, —I wonder that so many escape a fatal error, that so many homes are fair and bright with love and promise. When we reflect that the selection is often made, and the future determined, at a time when we consider no habit or principle of character fixed, one may almost marvel that a Divine wisdom should have left the matter to individual decision; and yet God has done in this, as he always does, that which is best. Where we are compelled to go, we find neither happiness nor virtue; and were wives and husbands chosen for us, – were marriage a compulsion, and not a

choice, — the home would sink rapidly back toward barbarism. Kings, and the so-called nobles, marry thus, but do the chill splendors of their state create a home 2 May we not define the word home as a thing impossible for kings, and say of it, that freedom of choice is one of the corner-stones of its permanence and purity and value? While few, I suppose, will deny that the greatest precaution should be exercised in the matter of choice, that marriage should not be the mad freak of a passion or the stupid bargain of convenience or of gold, there is a question lying behind this, not often thought of, but none the less momentous. A writer, whom I cannot but think speaks wisely, says: “The seasonable time for the exercise of prudence is not so much in choosing a wife or a husband, as in choosing with whom you will so associate as to risk the engendering of a passion.” And here I shall come to an issue at once with the younger portion of my readers, if not with their parents. The younger will ask, why should you seek to circumscribe the freedom of acquaintance, by suggesting the possibility that out of it may grow some serious, perhaps not wise, affection? I reply, Because serious and not wise affections have again and again sprung out of the unguarded, unsuspecting intercourse of the young. The parents will say, Why suggest the idea of love at all to those too young to be thinking of it? Why put an awkward constraint upon intimacies and companionships so pleasant and so innocent 2 I reply, that the idea is in the heads, if not the hearts, of the young already, and we all know it. Every young person of seventeen or eighteen years of age shows by the accidents of conversation, if no other way, that this thing floats more or less distinctly before them. At this age, the young are constantly having their partialities, if not their loves, – many affections which shape and control the lives of the parties and of generations do grow up that time, – and knowing that, and how uncontrollable and unaccountable are the leaps and leanings of the young heart, a wise, a religious, even a worldly prudence, would demand care in the choice of associates. I do not think it prudish or unnecessary to say to those of that age, in presence of the fact of such exposure, Let your society be with those among whom you are not afraid to run the risk of a serious attachment. And I must go a step further back than this, and say that this is not a matter to be left wholly with the inexperience of the young, but should be one of the things thought of by father and mother. The older civilization of England and the Continent attends to this, – in many cases too exclusively attends

to it, leaving the child no freedom of choice what

ever. We, in deference to our ideas of liberty, leave the whole thing with the young. No young people in the world are so early and so exclusively their own masters. Parents elsewhere have something to say about many things with which parents among us are not permitted to meddle. Too often the last advice sought by the young is parental advice. The young man and young woman choose their own associates; why, they could hardly tell you, but mostly the whole thing is an accident. It is equally accidental whether the parents know them by name or by sight. They are street and party acquaintances, sometimes never introduced to the home, and the first thing parents may know is, that they are called on to receive into their affections, into a son's or a daughter's place, one of whose character and antecedents they know absolutely nothing. In this they are not true custodians of their children's welfare. They have failed at least In one of the earlier necessities of their relationship, —in getting the confidence of their children. I am no advocate of a system of espionage on the part of the parent. I abhor every thing like management and manoeuvring; the deliberate, pitiful making of matches; the unnatural trade that parents sometimes make, – the soul of a child for the purse of a rascal. But I ask if there be not a middle ground which may be safely and wisely taken, – if, without setting one's self deliberately to prevent this, or bring about that, it be not possible so to control the companionships of the young, that the risks attending marriage may be greatly abridged? With very few exceptions, the young person judiciously brought up will give heed to the wisdom — I do not say whim, or prejudice, or passion — of the parent, will drop the objectionable companion, or put a check upon the freedom of intercourse. With all this, and with every care, there will still be some shade of truth in the common saying, that “marriage is a lottery.” But it need be only a shade 1 The choice made, the abode selected, the home commenced, and the domestic relations are established which Aristotle calls “the master facts of humanity.” Two comparative strangers come together in relations of closest intimacy and dependence, to build out of their oppositions of sex, education, temperament, an harmonious home. They are to learn that high mystery, that art of arts, the art of living together. They are to see day by day all that is factitious drop away, and, with no retreat, to find the dream vanish before the coming of the fact. Too happy, if, in the dropping of the romance, they do not falter in their love. Differing in gifts and powers, they are to discover that neither by nature nor by right is the one superior to the other, but each the complement of each, the one

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