13 December 1856
FRESH FERN LEAVES.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1856, by ROBERT BONNER, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.
A CALL TO BE A HUSBAND.
Yes, I did say that "it is not every man who has a call to be a husband;" and I am not going to back out of it.
Has that man a call to be a husband, who having wasted his youth in excesses, looks around him at the eleventh hour for a "virtuous young girl," (such men have the effrontery to be very particular on this point,) to nurse up his damaged constitution, and perpetuate it in their offspring?
Has that man a call to be a husband, who believing that the more the immortal within us is developed in this world, the higher we shall rank with heavenly intelligencies in the next, yet deprecates for a wife, a woman of thought and intellect, lest a marriage with such should peril the seasoning of his favorite pudding, or lest she should presume in any of her opinions to be aught else that his echo?
Has that man a call to be a husband, who, when the rosy maiden he married, is transformed by too early an introduction to the cares and trials of maternity, into a feeble, confirmed invalid, turns impatiently from the restless wife's sick room, to sun himself in the perfidious smile of one whom he would blush to name in that wife's pure ears?
Has he any call to be a husband, who adds to his wife's manifold cares, that of selecting and providing the household stores, and enquires of her, at that, how she spent the surplus shilling of yesterday's appropriation?
Has he any call to be a husband, who permits his own relatives, in his hearing, to speak disrespectfully or censoriously of his wife?
Has he any call to be a husband, who reads the newspaper from beginning to end, giving notice of his presence to the weary wife who is patiently mending his old coat, only by an occasional "Jupiter!" which may mean, to the harrowed listener, that we have a President worth standing in a driving rain, at the tail of a three mile procession, to vote for, or—the contrary! and who, after having extracted every particle of news the paper contains, coolly puts it in one of his many mysterious pockets, and goes to sleep in his chair?
Has he call to be a husband, who carries a letter, intended for his wife, in his pocket for six weeks, and expects anything short of "Gunpowder Tea" for his supper that night?
Has he a call to be a husband, who leaves his wife to blow out the lamp, and stub her precious little toes while she is navigating for the bedpost?
Has he a call to be a husband, who tells his wife "to walk on a couple of blocks and he will overtake her," and then joins in a hot political discussion with an opponent, after which, in a fit of absence of mind, he walks off home, leaving his wife transformed by his perfidy into "a pillar of salt?"
Has he any call to be a husband, who sits down on his wife's best bonnet, or puts her shawl over her shoulders upside-down, or wrong-side-out, at the Opera?
Has he any call to be a husband, who goes "unbeknown" to his wife, to some wretch of a barber, and parts for twenty-five cents, with a beard which she has coaxed from its first infantile sprout, to luxuriant, full-grown, magnificent, unsurpassable hirsute-ness, and then comes home to her horrified vision a pocket-edition of Moses?
Has he any call to be a husband, who kisses his wife only on Saturday night, when he winds up the clock and pays the grocer, and who never notices, day by day, the neat dress, and shining bands of hair, arranged to please his stupid milk-and-water-ship?
Fanny Fern, "To Gentlemen. A Call to be a Husband," The New-York Ledger (13 December 1856): 4
To cite this project:
Fanny Fern, "To Gentlemen. A Call to be a Husband," Fanny Fern in The New York Ledger, Ed. Kevin McMullen (2018) http://fannyfern.org.