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Both of these the home has seen, from both of these the home has suffered. The house which has as its law the one imperious will of a master, the selfish whim of a mistress, cannot contain a true and happy home. The house which is ruled by any tyranny cannot be. I have known this tyranny to be in the children quite as painfully as in the parents—in the selfishness or the moodiness or the sin of one and another, which took all the light and joy out of the home, and made it so drear and sad, that the heart ached at merely thinking of it. . Can you not recall weary-looking, sad-faced wives, the silent, patient endurers of a husband's uncompromising will; noble men, inwardly thorned by petty and pettish irritations and exactions of their wives? Have you not known weary and heavy-laden fathers, stooping, wrinkled, gray, - mothers with faces so mutely eloquent of the heart's troubles, going prematurely down the vale of years unsupported, and unblessed, because of one who would not yield his habit, his wilfulness, his vice, but persisted in making it the centre and law of the home? Had these learned the compromises of love, remembered and respected the rights, the position, the comfort, the happiness of others, studied to deny self, to avoid clashing, to clip away the rough edges of temper and preference, which make too great friction and jar, and endanger safety; the selfsame persons might have made a home angels would have looked upon with joy, and blessed as a success. A wise writer of our own day says, “In travelling along at night we catch a glimpse into cheerful-looking rooms, with lights blazing in them, and we conclude, involuntarily, how happy the inmates must be. Yet there is heaven and hell in those rooms, the same heaven and hell that we have known in others.” The heaven or the hell are determined by the presence or the absence of a spirit of mutual compromise. Where shall this compromise begin, where shall it end ? What shall it include, what shall it exclude 2 These are questions to which only general answers can be given. They must be left mainly to each one's good sense and good conscience. I should say that one in a home might safely compromise in every thing but principle, and that where right and wrong are concerned, he should be as firm as God. But the compromising ought never to be all upon one side, as I have known it. Where any thing is yielded by the one, something should be yielded by the other. And this even in the little things, for it is the little things that sap and overthrow the dignity and the peace and the hope of home. The husband who expects the wife to give up every thing; the wife who will not yield though she sees the inevitable breach before her; the son, the daughter, the brother, the sister,
who insist on and press their several tyrannies, establish separate, and ever more and more widely diverging lines of life, and painfully illustrate that centrifugal force there is in a home that does not or will not recognize this necessity of compromise. Let it be felt that there must be giving up on all sides, let that giving up be guided and limited by principle, and I think we have a law of home intercourse which will prevent infinite trouble, and insure the best harmony. It is the bond of that surest unity — unity in diversity. In saying just now that we can afford to compromise in every thing excepting principle, I felt myself nearing a very delicate and difficult question, one which has troubled many, one which has not troubled other many quite enough. What is to be done when two persons are drawn together by love, in a home, whose religious opinions are unlike, who belong to different sects, each believing heartily and honestly in the way of his own faith? Is this a legitimate matter of compromise? If so, what shall the compromise be? Where the parties really care very little about it, and religious faith is the shallow thing it too much is, and religious obligation the easily shifted garment many make it, this may be no question at all; where one is very strenuous, and the other good-naturedly indifferent, it cannot take long to decide; but where both, by education, by conviction, have decided and decidedly opposite views, where each has a faith, a mode of worship not only preferred but loved, in which to them is the essence of life and hope, the question becomes serious, intricate, and not easy of solution. Which is to give up, — the one? the other ? or neither? Some say, - The wife should yield. The husband is the head, the wife should follow him. Some say, - Religion is a thing of more importance to a woman, therefore the husband should yield. Some say, - Neither should yield—religious conviction is as dear to the man, and as important as to the woman —each has a right to the exercise of his own preference and faith —there should be no compromise — they should go separate ways; while the parties themselves are quite apt to attempt the settling of the difficulty by a compromise, dropping the matter as a point of difference between themselves, and for their public purposes joining a church whose faith they do not accept, to continue hearers of what they do not believe, or become gradually drawn away from their own belief, not so much through conviction as through social ties and influences. I believe I am not any way wrong in saying that it is by no means uncommon, that when those of a more liberal faith become married to those of a stricter, they are apt to settle upon a third, as holding a convenient, intermediate ground, in which they hope to find, at least, peace, and that so the Episcopal church in New England has received no small increase.
I must confess that while I recognize some necessity of compromise, I do not see how it can be made, I do not know how I could make it. I pity a young and conscientious woman to whom this comes up as one of the things to be decided in that new life to which she goes; I pity the high-toned, believing young man who finds that the woman of his choice, though she can stand with him at the altar, cannot worship in the same house, or sit at the same table. And equally I pity them when one gives in to the other, not merely because of the present sacrifice, but because it so surely must end in indifference and neglect; while yet more I pity those who with separate interests and beliefs, go their separate ways on Sunday, dissociate in that thing which of all others should be the bond of special union. Perhaps there should be compromise here. Perhaps any compromise is desirable. I cannot see where it can be, of which it should be expected, and I am glad I have not the matter to decide.
I have never forgotten what was once said to me by a wife:– “If my husband had been of a different faith from myself I would not have married him.” I thought it strange then, but reflection and experience have shown me that it was preeminently just. There will be plenty to ridicule the declaration, and to doubt the genuineness of a love, the delicacy of a sentiment that could halt before a difficulty of so little moment. But the difficulty is not little. It is one