Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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Sudden Attractions.
    The letter which forms the topic of this article
is so peculiar and so painful that it seemed,
at first reading, unwise to give it serious attention.
Yet with the possible belief that other such women
exist and may be set thinking on healthier lines, I
give the author of the letter in question a hearing.
    Her letter is too long to quote.  Briefly, her
peculiar story is this:
    She was married young to a worthy lover, whom
she adored.  He was industrious, successful, lib-
eral and devoted.  She became the mother of two
children, and believed herself the happiest woman
in the world for six years.  Then she met a man--
a stranger--for whom at first sight she conceived a
consuming passion.  It was a case of seeming
obsession.  She thought of him by day and dreamed
of him by night.  Of course, this concentrated
thought brought him across her path again.
    Instead of avoiding him, and calling on God and
all His angels to strengthen her wifely honor and
maternal pride, she encouraged the man's atten-
tions, and was only saved from public disgrace and
dishonor by his counsels.
    "Whether he was wiser than I, or whether he did
not love me," she says, "he advised me to avoid
scandal and to remain with my husband.  Seven
years have now elapsed, and instead of a feeling of
happiness at a noble deed done, I experience only
regret for my lost paradise.  Would it not have
been better to take what happiness God sent, than
to live this life of bitter discontent and regret?  My
husband is all that any girl could ask a man to be--
yet my heart cries continually for the other love!"
    This woman has allowed her caprices, her imagi-
nation and her passions to utterly pervert her mind
and principles.
    Sudden and magnetic attractions between two
people of opposite sexes are not uncommon occur-
rences, but they can be controlled and dominated
by the judgment and the will, and overcome by a
course of sensible reasoning.
    Passion and reason are not congenial comrades,
yet when a woman knows that by entertaining a
capricious passion she will ruin the happiness of a
good husband, whom she loves and respects, blem-
ish the future of blameless children, and blast her
own life, she should call every possible agency to
her aid.  Prayer, reason, will and conscience ought
all to be employed to save her from herself.
    The first moment a wife realizes that any man
has an influence over her, which she would not like
her husband or the world at large to know about,
that moment she must understand that her future is
jeopardized, unless she takes a firm moral stand,
and keeps it with unswerving decision.
    She must avoid thinking of the man--avoid meet-
ing him when it is possible to do so.  Let her say to
herself that she is above and beyond temptation--
that no human being can corrupt the divine woman-
hood which God has bestowed upon her.  Let her
keep the thoughts of wifely honor and maternal
obligation always in mind, while she fills her time
with unselfish duties and pleasures.  Gradually the
unwholesome passion will loosen its hold upon the
senses, and the mind and heart will cast it out
eventually as an unwelcome tenant.
    Instead of this, women too often dwell upon
thoughts of the man whom they feel is to bring
disaster to their lives, and indulge in repeated
    But, if an unwise passion is given no greeting, it
needs no adieu.  Farewells between hopeless lovers
result very much like attempting to smother a fire
by covering it with excelsior.
    The woman who regrets that she has not ruined
a good husband's life and disgraced her children, is
a degenerate or a lunatic.  She needs to go under
treatment for mental disorders.  She needs to fast
and pray and devote herself to the unearthing of
the better nature, which she has allowed to be hid-
den under a mass of selfishness and vanity.  She
wants to realize that we are not sent to earth to
gratify every impulse and passion, but to make the
most of our best selves, and to do our entire duty
by those nearest to us.
    So long as a wife and mother permits her
thoughts to dwell on a man, who could bring noth-
ing but shame and disgrace upon her, she is wrong-
ing herself and her family.
    Thoughts are things, and they are capable of cor-
rupting the minds of little children who dwell
under their influence, even while the mother be-
lieves she is devoting her life to duty.  What we
think is often more potent than what we say or do.
    Purify your mind, madam!  Look about you and
see the women who are struggling under heavy
loads of misery--women whose husbands are neg-
lectful or unfaithful, or whose children are a sorrow
and a curse.  Thank your God for your blessings,
and make up your mind to do some act of unselfish-
ness every day of your future life, as a token to
heaven of your repentance for your shameful
thoughts in the past.
Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
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