Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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Women's Influence Over Man.
    Very few women realize their influence on the
destiny of men.
    The light words of a woman, lightly spoken,
ofttimes weigh heavily on the scales of fate.
    Many a discouraged man has felt new life and
new ambition by hearing the woman who was
dependent upon him, whether wife, mother, or
daughter, say cheerfully: Oh, I am sure you
will succeed.  It is only a temporary cloud which
shadows you.  Everything is certain to come out
all right in time if we are patient.
    In just the same degree the disheartened man has
gone down lower and lower in the valley of depres-
sion, when the woman said: "I should think you
might find work; it is very queer that you always
fail where so many others succeed."
    Words like these have loaded many a suicide's
revolver.  The man was weak and disheartened, and
the woman was disappointed and thoughtless; and
so between them, crime sprang to action.  Not for
a thousand worlds would the woman have said such
words if she had dreamed of their effect.  She would
rather have gone forth and toiled for the man her
whole life long.  She did not know how hard he
had tried to find work, or how ashamed he was of
his failure.  She did not know that her words of
reproof would be the last feather's weight upon his
poor, tired heart, upon his overtaxed brain, worn
with worry.  If she had known, if she had thought,
it would all have been so different.
    More than one prison door has been opened for
and shut upon a bank defaulter, or a forger, by a
woman's words.
    "If I were a man, I am sure I would try and be as
smart as others, and get ahead.  I would never be
satisfied to dig along in the same dull old routine
all my life."
    "Other men make money in speculation, why
can't you?"
    There comes the temptation one day to speculate.
He has a tip from a friend; he borrows the bank's
money, sure that he can pay it back in a few weeks.
And he pictures the delighted face of the "dear,
little, ambitious woman" as he tells her of his good
    And when the blow falls and the man is proved
to be a defaulter, the whole world pities the wife,
the devoted, good wife of this bad, deceitful man.
    Of course, such a man is weak, inexcusably weak.
A wife's ambitions should not weigh heavier than a
man's principles when he is endeavoring to balance
the scales of duty.
    A strong man, strong in character and strong in
love, would dominate the situation and the woman.
He would never for one moment imagine that he
could make her happy by violating a principle.
But a weak man is not necessarily a bad man.
    Where his weakness lies in his overindulgent affec-
tions, he can be made a hero or a villain at a woman's
will, even by her caprice and without any premedi-
tated intention on her part.
    To some degree the most evenly balanced and
self-contained men are made better or worse,
weaker or stronger, by the woman they love.
    Therefore, let each woman weigh well the words
she utters in men's hearing.
    Her words are mightier factors in the world than
her ballots could ever be.
Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
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