The Battlefields of Life - Domestic Infelicity the Cause of Man's Failure

by C. E. Tibbles
Chapter XXX from Book of Letters: How to Make Best of Life vs. Woman Suffrage

Men's ambition and love for their wives and children lead them to the battlefields of labor, of literary, commercial, professional and political life. And so long as they know their families have faith in them, they look forward to the struggle with eagerness and continue in the struggle of endurance without pausing to think of its hardships. The confidence of their families strengthens and encourages them in their desires to fill the vacant space in the world's thought, which will, if they succeed, give them honor, fortune and fame.

While the husband fights out in the open, the good wife is on the alert protecting the children and caring for the home. He has trials and troubles to meet, but he thinks of his home, of his children; his lovely wife who is there with them, and this thought strengthens, cheers, rests and comforts him. Man is attached to his wife and children by his affection for them. It gives him happiness to protect and support them.

At the battle of Waterloo, Marshall Ney, Napoleon's most trusted officer, after he had been repulsed in many desperate charges by Wellington stood (with his clothes shot and torn off), half naked among the dead, only a few of his soldiers about him, and discharged his firearms until his ammunition was exhausted. Then be used his sword until it was broken, and after that used the hilt of it on the heads of the enemy until by main force he was crushed to the earth.

When his soul left the body and the spirit took wings, it was said: "He fought for those who had confidence in him, and died. for those whom he loved, his Emperor, his country and his home."

Many business men and politicians who have families to encourage them, have fought the battles of life with the same heroism Ney exhibited at Waterloo. Some succeeded, some failed; and it will be found that the successful were those whose families bad confidence in them, and that the greatest portion of those who failed did not have the confidence of their wives. The wives claimed higher rank than their husbands although their commissions were by the union, dated on the same day.

The general who does not have the confidence of the commanding officer, who has been put under the command of another officer whose rank is lower than his own, has no courage for battle, and, so it is with the man whose wife claims higher rank than he.

Man is strong, yet not strong enough to get through this world without having friends who have confidence in him, which gives him courage to fight life's battles.

One man went home and said to his wife, "I made an investment of a hundred dollars and the whole thing was a fraud. I lost 'the money and am sorry for it. We could ill afford to lose it." His wife replied, "I am sorry, too, but all men make mistakes, many of them greater than you have and you will be able to make it up, and within a short time we will not know the difference as to whether we lost or gained the one hundred dollars."

Next day the husband, happier than before, went to his business whistling and singing, rejoicing that he was among the living, fearing not at all for his success, and ready to enter the fray as Ney did at Waterloo.

A second man went home and said to his wife, "I am sorry, but I made an investment of a hundred dollars, and the whole thing was a fraud. I lost the money." Said his wife in reply, "I am surprised that YOU would do such a thing as that; any fool would have known better. You are always losing money. You are not cautious or wise enough to make a living."

He ate his dinner without a word, slunk off to the club rooms, sat in a dark corner watching other men enjoy themselves, which only made his heart more sad. The result of his wife not having confidence in him took from him all ambition and energy, the result of which was failure.

It has always been my policy in business never to employ a man who I knew was having trouble or disagreements with his wife. And I believe that rule is followed by all first-class business men. They believe that when a man has trouble in his family his mind cannot be in a right condition for attending to his business.

A friend handed me a clipping from some newspaper (name unknown), telling of an interview by Elbert Hubbard with a railway division superintendent at Ashtabula. I copy here the substance of what the superintendent said.

"You say disobedience to orders? No, it is domestic infelicity. Why should an engineer run past the station where he is ordered to stop? It is his own life he endangers most. Why should a train dispatcher send out two trains facing each other at the same time on one track or why does a train tender throw a switch right in front of a fast express?

"People call those things accidents but that is not the word. They are the result of mental conditions.

"Do you remember when two passenger trains met head on in Indiana last year? The engineer of one of those trains had in his pocket an order to take the sidetrack at a certain station. He ran by that station at the rate of fifty miles an hour and in five minutes there was a crash that snuffed out fifty-four lives and two hundred thousand dollars worth of property.

"I knew the engineer. He was married to a smashing, dashing, beautiful creature and they boarded at a hotel; had no children. boarded there, too, and we all made eyes at Hank's handsome wife. She was not a bad woman, JUST AN IDLE ONE. Hank was proud of her, too.

"One evening he kissed the dear woman good bye and started out to make a night run. The order was countermanded and Hank was ordered to take a special train out in the morning. He went home to tell his wife. He used to tell her everything, but when he got home she was not there; she had gone to the theater with a boot and shoe drummer from Chicago.

"Hank went away and walked the streets till morning. After that he was never the same. He used to confide in me; he had to tell some one, to keep his heart from bursting with suppressed grief. He grew absent-minded, lost flesh and was nervous.

"Hank did not work on our road or I would never have let him touch a throttle, no, not even if he had been my own brother; I knew what would come.

"He was found under his engine and in his pocket the order he had disobeyed and a picture in his watch of the woman who had caused the disaster. It probably has never dawned upon this woman that she caused the wreck.

"Marital infelicity was responsible for this railroad wreck and causes most of the others. The only safe man is the one whose heart is at rest; who has a home and wife who stays there, looks after the babies and has no secrets."

I think that the only really happy man in the world, is made so by his wife and family. For them he lives and strives.

And now I cannot see that there would be any difference in result if a man went home and found his wife had gone to the theater with another man or had gone to a political conclave or convention. Any man who would not lose his head under such conditions, must certainly believe in Letourneau's doctrine, to-wit: "There is, in fact, a great social interest before which the PRETENDED RIGHTS of families must be effaced."* [*Page 356, Evolution of Marriage.]

It has been said that no gentleman would seriously object to his wife voting in opposition to him. This may be true, but I venture to say that the man while not objecting, would be seriously thinking, the same as Hank was doing the night he walked the streets. He would know that if his wife accepted other men's advice in preference to his, she must have more confidence in them than in him. Such thoughts would not be a pleasant thing for a Man to ponder over, and he would lose confidence in his wife.

Those honorable office holders who have said "no gentleman would object to his wife casting her vote in opposition to his," did not consider whether the wife, if her husband cast his vote in opposition to hers would object. Should women be made politically equal with men, they will have quite the same right to object to what their husbands may do in the way of casting their votes, as the men to object to what their wives may do. And the women will not be slow to file their objections.

It seems to me that it would be impossible for husband and wife to go to conventions, make nominating speeches, the husband for one candidate, a woman, and the wife for another, a man, vote opposite, and still retain confidence in each other.

It has been said in the states where women have suffrage, the wife and husband talk matters over between themselves, go to the polls and "vote solidly as a family unit." All very nice, the best possible plan for keeping peace in the family, but if really the case, the author cannot see that giving the franchise to the women will change any of the laws of the United States or benefit the world in the least, because the result of the elections will be the same as if only husbands did the voting.

It seems that the writings and speeches of suffragettes often oppose one another, although made by the same persons.

In one place they claim that women will change the laws and make them better; that the men are more like the animal creation than the human, and the laws passed by them are oppressive to the female sex. Then in the next place they claim that the husband and wife go to the polls and vote as a family unit.

We have two propositions before us, first, if we make women electors they will vote in opposition to their husbands; second, they will vote with their husbands. If they vote in opposition to their husbands (or if the husbands vote in opposition to them), disturbances and trouble will result. If they vote with their husbands, no benefit will come from giving them the franchise, because it will not change the result of elections but will damage society, by taking the woman's attention and time away from her rightful duties in life, from the training of her children and care of her home.

Suffragettes, who do not seem to care much for their homes, think that distracting women's minds from their home duties, and engaging them in political affairs, will be but a trifling matter. In fact, one writer on Woman Suffrage says that a vote is only a little matter, seemingly the smallest thing imaginable in the world to him, and that conferring the suffrage upon the female sex is only a very small favor to grant them. If women vote with their husbands, the obligation of the ballot will cause them to neglect some of the duties which come in their natural sphere of life. And if they vote in opposition to their husbands, it would be better for us to pass divorce laws by which man and wife can separate at will by mutual agreement, instead of having to go through the long court procedure now required. |