Elegant Wife – The Woman He Comes Home To. A beautiful story as quoted in the Fascinating Womanhood book. It inspires me of the qualities of a good wife, something every good wife should know. I loved it… we need more women like her to show us how to be a good christian wife.
A heart-tugging story, may we all be as beautiful and elegant as she was.
Washingston Irving’s essay, The Wife
My intimate friend Leslie had married a beautiful and accomplished girl, who had been brought up in the midst of fashionable life.
She had, it is true, no fortune; but that of my friend was ample, and he delighted in the anticipation of indulging her in every elegant pursuit and administering to those delicate tastes and fancies that spread a kind of witchery about the sex.
“Her life,” said he, “shall be like a fairy tale.”
The very difference in their characters produced a harmonious combination – he was of a romantic and somewhat serious cast; she was all life and gladness. I have often
noticed the mute rapture with which he would gaze upon her in company, of which her sprightly powers made her his delight; and how, in the midst of applause, her eye would still turn to him as if there alone she sought favor and acceptance.
When leaning on his arm, her slender form contrasted finely with his tall, manly person. The fond, confiding air with which she looked up at him seemed to call forth a flush of triumphant pride and cherishing tenderness
as if he doted his lovely burden for its very helplessness. Never did a couple set forward on the flowery path of early and well-suited marriage with a fairer prospect of felicity.
It was the misfortune of my friend, however to have embarked his property in large speculations; and he had not been married many months, when, by a succession of sudden disasters, it was swept from him,
and he found himself reduced almost to penury. For a time, he kept his situation to himself and went about with a haggard countenance and a breaking heart.
His life was a protracted agony; and what rendered it more insupportable was the necessity of keeping up a smile in the presence of his wife; for he could not bring himself to overwhelm her with the news.
She saw, however, with the quick eyes of affection, that all was not well with him. She marked his altered looks and stifled sighs and was not to be deceived by his sickly and vapid attempts at cheerfulness. She tasked all her sprightly powers and tender blandishments to win him back
to happiness; but she only drove the arrow deeper into his soul. The more he saw cause to love her, the more torturing was the thought that he was soon to make her wretched.
After a while, thought he, and the smile will vanish from that cheek – the song will die away from those lips – the luster of those eyes will be quenched with sorrow; and the happy heart
which now beats lightly in that bosom will be weighed down like mine, with the cares and miseries of the world. At length he came to me, one day, and related his whole situation, in a tone of the deepest despair.
When I heard him through I inquired, “Does your wife know all this?”
At that question, he burst into an agony of tears. “For God’s sake!” cried he, “if you have any pity on me, don’t mention my wife; it is the thought of her that drives me almost to madness.”
“And why not?” said I, “She must know it sooner or later, you can not keep it long from her, and the intelligence may break upon her in a more startling manner than if imparted by yourself;
for the accents of those we love soften the harshest tidings. Besides, you are depriving yourself of the comforts of her sympathy; and not merely that, but also endangering the only bond that can keep hearts together —
unreserved community of thought and feeling. She will soon perceive that something is secretly preying upon your mind; and true love will not brook reserve; it feels undervalued and outraged when even the sorrows of those it loves are concealed from it.”
“Oh, but my friend! to think what a blow I am to give to all her future prospects — how I am to strike her very soul to the earth, by telling her that her husband is a beggar! that she is to forgo
all the elegances of life — all the pleasures of society — to shrink with me into indigence and obscurity! to tell her that I have dragged her down from the sphere in which she might have continued to move in constant brightness, the
light of every eye, the admiration of every heart! how can she bear poverty? She has been brought up in all the refinements of opulence. How can she bear neglect? She has been the idol of society. Oh! it will break her heart – it will break her heart!”
P.s. The story is used in my Fascinating Womanhood Course to illustrate ‘Sympathetic Understanding‘ a quality of elegant wives.