Friday, August 16, 2019

Casting the mould for domestic happiness

To his eldest Daughter.

My Dear Daughter, (from) Buffalo, Nov. 26th, 1856.

My thoughts dwell with you, and my heart, brimful of the most tender and affectionate solicitude, clings to you. Alone in my room, there is something which keeps you ever present. The step you are about to take is the step of life—with a woman it certainly is such.

You have given your hand to a young man of irreproachable character, of an amiable disposition, and a cultivated mind, and were it not that he is of kin, the match would be as free from objection and quite as promising as need be.

That you are both poor is no ground of solicitude; happiness is above riches, and if you are not happy, being poor, wealth would not, I apprehend, make you happy. Poverty has its virtues, and my struggles with it are full of pleasant remembrances. I hope your experience will tally with mine. I do not say, strive to be content, for in that there is no progression; but be content to strive.

I told Will you ought to live to yourselves. It would be a high gratification to have him make my house his home; but I think, on your account, it would be better for you to betake yourselves to housekeeping. True, if you do, it must be in a very plain way. Your Mother and I commenced housekeeping when my pay was $40 a month, and we lived as happily then as we do now.

I attach great consequence to the manner and place of life for the first year or two after marriage: it is then that the mould for domestic happiness is cast; it is then that true character and disposition develop themselves on both sides, and that is the time for assimilation to take place, each accommodating and moulding oneself to the other.

If you go to yourselves you will have time to familiarise yourself with your husband's affairs, which you will not do if you live in a crowd; and that, my daughter, should be your first duty; for thereby you fit yourself to become his counsellor, companion, and friend in the broadest sense of the term.

I found, when I arrived here this morning, a letter from your Mother. She tells me there is a talk of your being married before Lent. I am sure she is, as I am, entirely disposed to consult your own wishes in this matter.

• • • •

27th, morning.—I was dreaming of you, the sweetest of the dreams of sweet sleep last night; I waked again and again to a consciousness of the pleasant visions, enjoyed them waking, and dozed off to enjoy them over again in sleep, bless your heart!

There was a great jam at the lecture last night. Before the doors were opened, the side-walks for three squares were blocked up by people going an hour before the time to make sure of a good seat. They tell me that 2 or 3000 were turned away. I have lectured two nights in the rain to well-filled halls; I am as bright as a lark this morning; they have procured the largest church in the city for this evening.

My love and a kiss for Nannie. . . . Love to all hands. God bless you, my child, is daily the prayer of Your affectionate father,

M. F. Maury.
Source: A Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury

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