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ISHOULD be quick to accuse myself of presumption in writing about so great and grave a theme as Home — a theme which has tasked the wisdom of many— did I offer in any way my home, or myself in it, as a model. Some things seem to have said themselves to me in life, and I feel that I should utter them. For it is more true and more vital than we are apt to make it, that which Emerson says, "We exchanged our experiences and all learned something." If we have deep experiences, why not have high talk about them, even though conduct come lagging lamentably behind? To stifle these because of the imperfectness of our attainment, is not merely injustice to ourselves, but a wrong to others.
Probably no four letters in the English language have so much significance, and call out such deep and varied feeling as the four letters which spell that little word Home! Probably no other thing has so much to do with making the man, and shaping his destiny in both lives. It is the place he finds himself in when he comes into the world; it is the place he goes from when he is called out of it, and every intermediate stage, youth, manhood, age, receives from it the strongest influences and incentives. To watch lest that sacred centre receive detriment at his hand should be every man's prime duty, and his aim to leave it better than he finds it. Are there not some fundamental things which a true home must have, without which it is hardly more than a name? Is it not the want of these which is changing the character so rapidly of our home life, and threatening the vigor, possibly the life, of an institution which not only sanctioned but created of God, seems inwoven with the very fabric of life and hope, and can only be dishonored at a fearful cost to the manhood and integrity of the race? It is the high tone of our homes, the peculiar home life obtaining in them, which has made the supremacy of the New-Englander, and enabled him, child of a colder clime, and a sterile soil, to triumph over the merely adventitious advantage of other sections of the country, and become the master spirit of this continent — will it be going too far to say the master spirit of the day?
A Home is not the accidental or natural coming together of human souls under the same roof in certain definite relationships — it is not an outright gift of God, but a thing to be slowly builded upon fixed principles, from known laws. It cannot grow of itself. There is nothing about it to make it inevitably a success. It is a work of time and care and art, as much as a picture or a statue is. It is to begin, and grow slowly into shape and finish. It is to have the earnest and hearty cooperation of each and every member, of each in all variety and complication of membership. And this from the very outset. A young man and woman have been attracted to each other by those secret affinities which it often baffles the keenest perception to detect. The why and the wherefore of their affection they could not themselves say. They have, probably, some undefined and undefinable idea that they were created for each other. After a few months of the falsest, most unsatisfactory acquaintance and intercourse, during which each so far as the other is concerned has been acting in masque, the law binds them in one and solemnly forbids any man to sever what God has joined. This ill-prepared couple, henceforth, are to live together, their separate wills, purposes, hopes, actions, thus far free, thus far utterly unlike by nature and by education, are expected now so to blend as to make a complete, a beautiful, a perpetual harmony. The fact of marriage is to do this. Every thing has the rose-color of their own imaginations. As all has been between them, so always it will be, and you run some risk of losing their regard, or your own credit for sanity by hazarding a doubt of the continuance of such a condition. But what is the universal testimony of experience? Let the tears of wives and the moods of husbands answer. A short time has served to wear off the lover. That is inevitable. There is a necessity for the assumption of their proper character as man and woman, as human beings. Is it possible there should be no jarring, no clashing? Has wedded love no revealings to try husband and wife, things either cunningly concealed from, or impossible to be revealed to unwedded love? Is there nothing in lives running their separate course through all these years, to stand in the way of an immediate and perfect blending? Can hearts that are wedded be at once welded, made actually into that one which the law assumes they are? The experience of the happiest and the best is against it. There is a grand season of trial, before all newly-married pairs, of which they are not enough forewarned, which takes them unawares, casts a deep shade over early married life, and sometimes makes an utter wreck of hope and love.
It ought to be understood, that between the somewhat unnatural life of lovers and the true married life, there stretches a broad intermediate ground, which all must enter and traverse on their way to that felicity which is not the dream of youth alone, but a possible attainment. Circumstances may postpone the time of entrance upon this middle ground; they may accelerate or retard our passage through it, but never did man and woman come together with any purpose at all of making a united and happy life, without finding that it lay before them, — most to their amazement, many to their despair. I trace much of the mistake and misery of married life to the ignorance of this great fact — that there is inevitably a season during which the process of assimilation between two dissimilar spirits is going on, during which they are learning to respect each others' views, to make allowance for each others' weaknesses, to mutually accommodate and adjust mutual wishes and rights — which must be a season of more or less unhappiness and trial — the east wind and the cloud, out of which are to be born all the beauty and promise of a true life. Once pass safely through it, and all is well. It is the " narrow" of their intercourse through which they must go before they can stand firm on the "broad" solidity and confidence of love. It argues nothing against the reality of the love between two hearts, nothing against their adaptation to each other, or the future progress and harmony of their lives. Only let them know beforehand, that this is to be; only let meddling and injudicious friends stand aside as the process goes on; only let those concerned most nearly in it, work the great result out by themselves, and if they are in earnest, by God's help, they shall issue out of the shade into the light that shall grow brighter and