More Dead Men (Who Know Best) on Marriage: Part 3: T.S. Arthur

While we are making light and merry this Christmas season, I want to focus on a rare kind of man, one who seems to exude romance from his very pen. T.S. Arthur is not a well-known name today but he certainly made his mark among his own contemporaries of the nineteenth century. I imagine he was extremely popular among the ladies, especially when he published his monthly magazine around 1845, Arthur’s Ladies Magazine, full of excellent literature and fashion news. This Dickensian poet penned the loveliest verse for his wife on the occasion of their twelfth wedding anniversary. Read and enjoy it here, as published on Grace Gems where you can also read his biography by ‘one who knows him, 1873’:

White textile wedding backgroundOUR WEDDING-DAY.

Twelve years! it seems but yesterday
Since first I saw your face,
Its girlish beauty softened down
To woman’s lovelier grace;
And yet twelve years have passed away
Since, standing by your side,
I called you, with a thrill of joy,
My own, my loving bride.

Twelve years! not all the time have we
Been sporting ‘mid the flowers;
Twelve years! the lengthened chain is not
Linked all with sunny hours.
Yet though upon our way through life
Some shadows have been thrown,
How much of peace and sweet content
And sunshine have we known!

And now, though time has on my head
A few thin snowflakes cast.
And o’er your face, still young and fair,
His hiding fingers passed.
Though care and toil are still the dower
Life brings us day and night,
Love makes all time’s impressions dim,
Our heaviest burdens light.

In waking dreams I musing sit
And see you by my side,

The_ProposalThe fair young girl who long ago
Became my happy bride.
Your hand on me confiding laid.
Your breath upon my cheek,
Your loving eyes half dropped from mine,
To gentle, trusting, meek.

And can it be! I start to think
Twelve years have passed away,
And six dear children round us cling
On this our wedding-day!
Six happy children; none are lost,
All care I will forget;
I’m thankful most of all for this,
Their mother’s with them yet.

I do not think that many homes
Are happier, love, than ours;
I do not think that others’ paths
Wind more among the flowers;
I do not think the sunlight falls
More brightly on the way
Of many who have lived to see
Twelve times their wedding-day.

Timothy Shay Arthur certainly appreciated his wife. She is gentle, trusting and meek. She brings him contentment even in adversity. I love how he writes her girlish beauty is now softened down to woman’s lovelier grace. In a short essay called Marriage, Arthur states:

In the truest sense of the word, woman was created to be man’s comforter, a joyous helpmate in hours of sunshine, a soother, when the clouds darken and the tempests howl around his head; then, indeed, we perceive the divinely beautiful arrangement which marriage enforces.

Ah, the divinely beautiful arrangement which marriage enforces. Very well said and very true! I like this man. I plan to read more of his work. Much of it consists of short stories with a moral lesson, like Loved Too Late (must reading for husbands!). Arthur tells a tragic tale of an unappreciated wife who did not feel her husband’s love and the anguish that husband felt at her death, knowing he neglected to show his affection. Read it and wise up now, husbands!

I am going to let one other nineteenth-century dead man speak in Part 4 of this series and then I’ll take a bit of a break with a special Christmas post. Coming up next in Dead Men Speak on Marriage: Part 4 is a giant dead man in my book – J.R. Miller. It seems like he wrote more on the family, husbands and wives and children than any other. Being a wife myself, I will focus on what Miller, like Arthur, describes as an exemplary wife. Hope you’ll take a break from holiday festivities and listen to another dead man speak.


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