Rare Original Letter from 1903
(Seeing as how this column (5 reasons marriage doesn’t work anymore) has become quite popular lately, I thought it was fitting to share this similar concern from a distressed gentleman in 1903, written to the New-York Tribune in a fit of distress.)
(Not really, this is my satire. But you get it… don’t you?) – Dani
I am writing to this esteemed publication because I have a serious concern about the future of our cities, indeed the very fabric of our great nation. It is my belief, as a gentleman of New York and an established member of society, that marriage can no longer be the sanctuary and happy haven it once was, in our new industrial age.
What is the hindrance to domestic bliss, you ask? I shall give you five reasons. The first, my dear sirs, it is nothing less than Henry Ford’s cursed invention, the automobile.
No more can gay parties of young people ride out for a day of fox-hunting or horsemanship, and so become engaged to a worthy partner of their choosing. No longer to docile ladies and comfortable gentlemen engage in Sunday drives in small buggies, just the right size for appropriate closeness to one’s spouse.
No! No! Today we zoom about in these infernal machines, so loud we cannot engage in civilized conversation and so dirty that our driving-clothes are reproachably sullied after a short outing, requiring much more time and energy spent on the laundry. No lady, no matter how beautiful, can be made to look desirable in those hideous goggles, and we daily see young people dashing about with hair askew and windblown, quite the opposite of the order and decency that makes for healthy matrimony. The automobile is so corrupting our morals and meddling with our society that I fear within 20 years young people will not wish to marry at all, but will live listless lives of unproductive excitement-chasing, all in the pursuit of speed and thrills.
Which brings me to my second point. Young men, rather than donning a sharp waistcoat and boots to meet ladies of repute, are now walking about in whatever dismal jacket they see fit, without so much as a proper hat to appear respectable. It’s no wonder the young ladies are so unwilling to become tied down to one of these scamps – indeed, my esteemed neighbor, Mrs. Winston, informed me last evening that her niece neglected to become engaged until the eve of her 28th birthday, because of lack of suitable mates. I’d wager she finally found herself a fellow with a clean waistcoat, but I fear for her fair, younger sisters.
So, this leads me directly into point three. I married my own bride when I was only just 20 years old, fresh from university, with a steady income from my family’s estate and pockets full of dreams, all set to marry a young lady my parents approved of. Why on God’s glorious Earth are these young ladies and gentlemen not doing the same? Why not marry, set up house, bring forth lovely children and make your families proud? I will go back to my first point, that the automobile has much to do with this, although I also fear that we have been too lax with our youngsters and indulged their whims for too long. Our country shall suffer without these blessed young marriages, I’ll tell you.
Point four follows in equally dismal observations: that more young men are ceasing to farm and breathe the healthful country air, but are instead hanging about in dirty cities, with uncivilized work. What gentleman runs factories, I ask you? Not a genuine one, as all the real gentlemen are growing food and families in the broad countryside of our lovely nation. Time in cities will not serve our young people well, I tell you, as they will age into minds as cramped as a Harlem tenement. Do not even conscience the thought of the young ladies they shall find in such places – all immigrants and servant-girls and ladies of ill-repute, to be sure.
Which brings me to my last and final point, indeed the most grievous one of all to me – that our young ladies and gentlemen can hardly be called such anymore, as the old names and old crests mean nothing to today’s youth. Why, just the other day I was purchasing goods at Mrs. Parris’ shop and a young fellow had never heard of my family name. I tell you, this might be America but my grandfather is from good English stock and his lands and titles ought to mean something. Young people nowadays should have some respect for the old ways and the old country, even if we are in the new world.
For these five points and many more, I regret to say that I fear marriage is done for, dear sirs. I hope that we may yet rescue it, but only if we burn every automobile and industrial building to the ground. With modern contrivances I just simply cannot see how anyone can remain in a happy union, and so I shall retire to the country with my dear wife and wait out the end of my days in despair for my beloved children, who have been so led astray by that damnable Henry Ford and his ilk, inventing needless contraptions and ruining our society.
Sincerely, the Honorable Mr. Alastair Jenkins, Esq.
View the original post here and give this girl a nice “Thank you” for a job well done!