ADVICE TO LOVERS
by Beatrice Fairfax
New York Evening Journal, 1898
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.
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 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.
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.