Not long ago a tired little woman committed
suicide because her husband scolded her.
He came home late at night and found her em-
ployed in labor which seemed to him suitable for
the morning hours, and he spoke angrily about her
tardy habits. She flung herself from the window
and died in the hospital soon afterward.
There seems to be a mixture of the pathetic, the
tragic, and the absurd in all this.
It was a small thing to cause a wife to sacrifice
her life--just a man's irritable criticism. But we
must take into consideration all that preceded this
There had been scolding after scolding without
doubt. She had been found fault with for so many
derelictions, for so many deeds done and undone,
that this final criticism was merely the last straw on
the camel's back.
A cross, fault-finding wife is a terrible being.
But a man can take his hat and go to the club, to
the corner grocery, or to the saloon when her
tongue becomes too aggressive.
When the husband comes home and scolds the air
of the house blue, there is nothing for a wife to do
but submit or jump out of the window.
The wife who died in the hospital had submitted
for many years, undoubtedly; and then, finding that
submission did not better matters, she tried the
It would have been wiser to walk out at the door.
It is more discreet to go into the highways of earth
uninvited than to force an entrance into the myste-
rious realm of death.
The man or woman who commits suicide is a spir-
itual pauper. He who has spiritual strength knows
he will be aided to the end, and waits his call. But
the spiritual pauper declares himself a bankrupt
when he ends his own earth existence.
We know there are homes for paupers in this
world. We do not know what provision is made for
them in the next.
It is always well to go into a new land with a full
purse; and it is well to enter the next world with a
good supply of spiritual wealth, and not as a bank-
Meantime there is the scolding husband to carry
his remorseful heart through life. It is good
enough for him, and yet we cannot help pitying
He is so sorry he said what he did. He never
dreamed she would take it so to heart. He would
give all he possesses to go back and live that night
over, and do, oh, so differently! He would under-
stand her so much better, and be so much better, if
she were alive to-day.
Sometimes the only way a wife can make her
husband understand her is to die. Then, he sees
and admires all her sweet, tender qualities.
I like to think the world is peopled with--happy
wives and husbands! I know many. Many more
exist--unknown to me. Happiness is ofttimes
secretive and quiet; misery is noisy and communi-
cative. Happiness seeks no confidant; unhappiness
wants to be sympathized with.
Happiness thanks God in the silence. Misery
cries aloud to the world! And so we grow to think
that unhappiness is the rule, and happiness the
exception. But I do not believe it.
Still, in this overfull world, and "overcivilized"
state of society, there are hundreds of unhappy
wives to be found; wives who feel often on the
verge of acts as desperate as that of the poor little
woman, who forms the subject of this sketch; and
husbands who are as blindly thoughtless and as
unkind as the one whose irritable words drove her
to her death.
If you who read these lines are a man and a
husband, ask yourself just what are you doing
toward making your home the peaceful place a
home should be. What are you doing to render
your wife happy at the thought of seeing you each
evening? Are you praising her for every good
quality she possesses, and thanking her for all her
efforts to please you?
Are you telling her she is a good wife and a good
mother, or are you finding fault with every small
failure of hers and ignoring her great virtues?
Do not imagine a good woman is satisfied with
virtue's own reward. The consciousness of her own
worth is not sufficient to keep her happy if you are
silent and never seek to impress upon her mind the
fact that you realize her good qualities. And this
is especially true if you take every opportunity to
assure her that you see her faults.
Why not study your wife as you study your
partner? Why not be as tactful and as patient
with her as you are with him? Why not enter-
tain and amuse her as you do your customers and
If you called at your neighbor's house and found
anything amiss, how suave and amiable you would
be about it. Are you equally so when things go
amiss at your own home?
If not, why not?
Why are neighbors to be treated with more con-
sideration than your very dearest ones?
If you owed your partner or your patron money,
you would feel ashamed to make him ask for it;
you would feel it consistent with your business
honor and pride to be prompt in such a matter.
Then why would you humiliate the partner you
have taken for life by making her ask for money
which is her rightful portion as the keeper of your
home and the sharer of your fortunes? Why do you
not feel as delicate in this matter with her as in
dealings with men?
I can never understand how a wife or a husband
can be more thoughtful of outsiders than they are
of each other. I cannot understand how they can
be ill-tempered and fault-finding with each other,
and courteous and conciliatory to strangers.
There is no woman on the face of the earth to
whom you should show such considerate thoughtful-
ness as to your wife. You should study to avoid
aggravating her faults, and you should strengthen
her best qualities by judicious praise.
A strong man can make a woman over into any-
thing in the world he desires her to be, if he will go
about it with the same perseverance and determina-
tion which he puts into his business. Only when
he loves the woman as he loves the dollar is this
And remember always-- the real business of life
is the making of a happy home. Everything else
is secondary to that; for, when you come to sift the
whole chaff of existence, everything goes to the
winds but the happiness we have had at home.
Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.