Thursday, June 16, 2005
Advice to Lovers
by Beatrice Fairfax
New York Evening Journal, 1898 Dear Madam: I am a young lady who is very much in love with a young man who is now at present a soldier with the First Regiment, Company K at San Francisco. Before leaving, he promised to write to me, pretending he cared for me. He never fulfilled his promise, and since he left, I have found out that while he was going with me, he was at the same time going with another girl. I would like to ask your advice what I should do. Write to him and tell him what I think of him or let him pass out of my mind forever?
My Dear Girl: To write a letter requires some mental effort. To send it requires a two-cent stamp. Believe me, your fickle soldier is worth neither expenditure. Let him pass out of your mind without flattering his vanity by reproaches.
Dear Madam:I am a married woman, considered nice-looking, age twenty-eight, have been married eleven years, have always had to work hard, and now my husband's business is very good. He makes on an average of $20 to $25 a week, or maybe $30. He claims that $11 a week is enough to pay $12 a month rent, clothe and feed my little girl and boy, my husband and myself. I cannot possibly do it, so I have made up my mind to let him keep the children in clothes and pay their board, and I will strike out for myself. I think a man does not deserve a wife that is so close with his money. Can he do anything if I take the children away and leave the home to him, or what am I entitled to? He is very abusive sometimes, too. The last time he abused me, he deliberately took his foot and tripped me, sending me full length and weight on one side.
Your case is a very hard one, Ethel May, but I would certainly not advise you to "strike out" if it necessitates leaving your children, and there are so few things open to a woman with children. I cannot imagine anything more desolate for them than to be put out to board while their father saved his money and their mother "struck out" for herself. The law will oblige your husband to support you in accordance with his means. Why don't you have a serious talk with him and tell him that it is impossible for you to get along on the allowance he makes you. It is just possible that the hundredth talk on the subject might find him reasonable if you talk quietly and don't "nag."
And you might be able to earn a little money in your own home by taking in plain sewing or making preserves, or doing whatever you can do best. If you leave him, he can divorce you for desertion. In the meantime, your children ought to be a great comfort to you if you are the right sort of a little woman, and I know you are. They ought to compensate for a great deal.
Dear Madam: I have been keeping company with a young man for some time, and I love him. He seemed to love me in return, but he told me some time ago that he did not care to keep steady company, and left me.... I asked him the last time if he thought we would ever go together again, and he said he could not tell, as at the present time, he did not want any girl, but still he likes to go out with me. I keep company with a young man who loves me, and I like him, but I do not love him as much as I do the other.... I would accept my first lover tomorrow. If I were to be married, and were at the altar with the second one, and could see the chance to marry the first, I would back out and return with my old love, if I knew he would be true to me.
Lida May, you sentimental girls who lack pride and self-respect and call that lack "love" are rapidly destroying my sympathy with the victims of the tender passion.
Have you any ground whatever for believing that a man who has played fast and loose with your feelings as your admirer would be a faithful or loving husband? Why don't you summon a little common sense to your aid? The man has insulted, rebuffed and wounded you. Could you possibly put yourself again in a position where he could again hurt you? A broken heart--I dare say you think you are suffering from that--is a trifling complaint compared to a bad husband. Do be brave and self-respecting, and dismiss this creature from your mind and life.
Dear Madam: I read that you will advise young persons concerning their love affairs. I want your advice. I came from Ireland six months ago. A young man whom I have known since I was a little girl asked me to promise to marry him. . . . It was breaking my heart to come away, and I loved him dearly when he asked me. So I said yes. He is to come over as soon as he gets enough money. When I reached this country I met another young man at my married sister's. I have been to some picnics with him, and I see him often, and I think I have fallen in love with him. It will kill my friend in Ireland if I am not true to him, and it will kill me if I have to be. Please advise me.
My Dear Nora:
I am glad that you are, although apparently fickle, at least conscientious enough to be troubled by your fickleness. That is a sign that your heart is pretty nearly in the right place....
Don't try to decide anything now. Don't see the new young man much. Avoid the occasions of inconstancy. Remember that as an honest girl, you cannot encourage him while you are pledged to another. And wait. Grow accustomed to your new surroundings and your new life. Then act as your heart directs. And be sure of this, Nora dear. It will not kill the young man if you should fail him. Death is not so easily accomplished.
Beatrice Fairfax is the pen name of Marie Manning, who penned
America’s first write-in advice column on July 20, 1898
for William Randolph Hearst's “New York Evening Journal.”
The column was an instant success, and in the following decades,
both Manning and others wrote under the pen name Beatrice Fairfax.