1. Much Better to Be Alone.—He who made man said it is not good for him to be alone; but it is much better to be alone, than it is to be in some kinds of
company. Many couples who felt unhappy when they were apart, have been utterly miserable when together; and scores who have been ready to go through fire and water to get married, have been willing to run the risk of fire and brimstone to get divorced. It is by no means certain that because persons are wretched before marriage they will be happy after it. The wretchedness of many homes, and the prevalence of immorality and divorce is a sad commentary on the evils which result from unwise marriages.
2. Unavoidable Evils.—There are plenty of unavoidable evils in this world, and it is mournful to think of the multitudes who are preparing themselves for
needless disappointments, and who yet have no fear, and are unwilling to be instructed, cautioned or warned. To them the experience of mature life is of
little account compared with the wisdom of ardent and enthusiastic youth.
3. Matrimonial Infelicity.—One great cause of matrimonial infelicity is the hasty marriages of persons who have no adequate knowledge of each other’s
characters. Two strangers become acquainted, and are attracted to each other, and without taking half the trouble to investigate or inquire that a prudent
man would take before buying a saddle horse, they are married. In a few weeks or months it is perhaps found that one of the parties was married already, or
possibly that the man is drunken or vicious, or the woman anything but what she should be. Then begins the bitter part of the experience: shame, disgrace,
scandal, separation, sin and divorce, all come as the natural results of a rash and foolish marriage. A little time spent in honest, candid, and careful
preliminary inquiry and investigations would have saved the trouble.
4. The Climax.—It has been said that a man is never utterly ruined until he has married a bad woman. So the climax of woman’s miseries and sorrows may be said to come only when she is bound with that bond which should be her chiefest blessing and her highest joy, but which may prove her deepest sorrow and her bitterest curse.
5. The Folly of Follies.—There are some lessons which people are very slow to learn, and yet which are based upon the simple principles of common-sense. A young lady casts her eye upon a young man. She says, "I mean to have that man." She plies her arts, engages his affections, marries him, and secures for
herself a life of sorrow and disappointment, ending perhaps in a broken up home or an early grave. Any prudent, intelligent person of mature age, might have
warned or cautioned her; but she sought no advice, and accepted no admonition. A young man may pursue a similar course with equally disastrous results.
6. Hap-Hazard.—Many marriages are undoubtedly arranged by what may be termed the accident of locality. Persons live near each other, become acquainted, and engage themselves to those whom they never would have selected as their companions in life if they had wider opportunities of acquaintance. Within the
borders of their limited circle they make a selection which may be wise or may be unwise. They have no means of judging, they allow no one else to judge for
them. The results are sometimes happy and sometimes unhappy in the extreme. It is well to act cautiously in doing what can be done but once. It is not a
pleasant experience for a person to find out a mistake when it is too late to rectify it.
7. We All Change.—When two persons of opposite sex are often thrown together they are very naturally attracted to each other, and are liable to imbibe the
opinion that they are better fitted for life-long companionship than any other two persons in the world. This may be the case, or it may not be. There are a
thousand chances against such a conclusion to one in favor of it. But even if at the present moment these two persons were fitted to be associated, no one
can tell whether the case will be the same five or ten years hence. Men change; women change; they are not the same they were ten years ago; they are not the same they will be ten years hence.
8. The Safe Rule.—Do not be in a hurry; take your time and consider wvan execution. This disposition is thoroughly morbid, and to be overcome by going where you are invited, always, and with a sacrifice of feeling.
7. The Common Blunder.—Don’t shrink from contact with anything but bad morals. Men who affect your unhealthy minds with antipathy, will prove themselves very frequently to be your best friends and most delightful companions. Because a man seems uncongenial to you, who are squeamish and foolish, you have no right to shun him. We become charitable by knowing men. We learn to love those whom we have despised by rubbing against them. Do you not remember some instance of meeting a man or woman whom you had never previously known or cared to know—an individual, perhaps, against whom you have entertained the strongest prejudices—but to whom you became bound by a lifelong friendship through the influence of a three days’ intercourse? Yet, if you had not thus met, you would have carried through life the idea that it would be impossible for you to give your fellowship to such an individual.
8. The Foolishness of Man.—God has introduced into human character infinite variety, and for you to say that you do not love and will not associate with a
man because he is unlike you, is not only foolish but wrong. You are to remember that in the precise manner and decree in which a man differs from you, do
you differ from him; and that from his standpoint you are naturally as repulsive to him, as he, from your standpoint, is to you. So, leave all this talk of
congeniality to silly girls and transcendental dreamers.
9. Do Business in Your Way and Be Honest.—Do your business in your own way, and concede to every man the privilege which you claim for yourself. The more you mix with men, the less you will be disposed to quarrel, and the more charitable and liberal will you become. The fact that you do not understand a man, is quite as likely to be your fault as his. There are a good many chances in favor of the conclusion that, if you fail to like an individual whose acquaintance
you make it is through your own ignorance and illiberality. So I say, meet every man honestly; seek to know him; and you will find that in those points in
which he differs from you rests his power to instruct you, enlarge you, and do you good. Keep your heart open for everybody, and be sure that you shall have
your reward. You shall find a jewel under the most uncouth exterior; and associated with homeliest manners and oddest ways and ugliest faces, you will find
rare virtues, fragrant little humanities, and inspiring heroisms.
10. Without Society, Without Influence.—Again: you can have no influence unless you are social. An unsocial man is as devoid of influence as an ice-peak is
of verdure. It is through social contact and absolute social value alone that you can accomplish any great social good. It is through the invisible lines
which you are able to attach to the minds with which you are brought into association alone that you can tow society, with its deeply freighted interests, to
the great haven of your hope.
11. The Revenge of Society.—The revenge which society takes upon the man who isolates himself, is as terrible as it is inevitable. The pride which sits alone
will have the privilege of sitting alone in its sublime disgust till it drops into the grave. The world sweeps by the man, carelessly, remorselessly,
contemptuously. He has no hold upon society, because he is no part of it.
12. The Conclusion of the Whole Matter.—You cannot move men until you are one of them. They will not follow you until they have heard your voice, shaken your hand, and fully learned your principles and your sympathies. It makes no difference how much you know, or how much you are capable of doing. You may pile accomplishment upon acquisition mountain high; but if you fail to be a social man, demonstrating to society that your lot is with the rest, a little child
with a song in its mouth, and a kiss for all and a pair of innocent hands to lay upon the knees, shall lead more hearts and change the direction of more
lives than you.