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a web of many textures

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Page 265


Mr. Blifkins is a social and genial man. He belongs
to a number of associations, that require his absence
from home occasionally, and there are times when he
chooses to indulge in a little sit-down with his friends,
and enjoy for a time an abandon of care, whether of a
business or of a domestic nature. Mr. Blifkins has one
of the best of wives. She is exemplary in all the walks
of life, and fully up to the Solomon standard of domestic
excellence, as set forth in the thirty-first chapter of
Proverbs. There is but one thing in the way of Mr.
Blifkins' entire felicity, and that is her disposition to
measure Mr. B.'s grain by her own bushel, so to speak,
and because she is perfect, and feels no drawing towards
the pursuits of her amiable husband. Preferring
her own home to everything else in the world, and
knowing no desire or wish beyond it, she expects Blifkins
to be the duplicate of herself. Hence, without
meaning anything unkind, she presumes occasionally to
lecture her spouse, and wonders that he should go and
sleep with the children rather than hear lessons so well
intended. These lessons afflict poor Blifkins, who loves
his wife and loves his children, but he has a love for
friends likewise, and does not believe in the crucifixion
of all affection outside the domestic ring. He even
believes that integrity to his manhood requires that he
should cultivate such affection, and that to crush it
down would be to make his other affection diseased, as
the entire physical system may be thrown out of bias
by a felonious finger or a gouty toe. This is heresy to
good Mrs. Blifkins, for the reason that she don't understand
it, and continually persists in making herself unhappy


Page 266
by the unhappiness she reflects from the audience
to which she lectures — Blifkins.

“Mrs. Blifkins,” said he, one day, “will you condescend
to give me your idea of a perfect husband?”

“Certainly, Mr. B.,” said that most excellent lady,
“and I hope the model I shall draw will be followed by
you, and, heaven knows, there is need of improvement;
for, what with lodge-meetings and such things as I don't
know about, you don't act as a married man should,
with a lovely family, that need a head to look after

“Well,” said Blifkins, lighting a cigar, and putting
his feet upon the table, “now fire away.”

“Well, then,” said she, “my model husband would
not address his wife in that way; he would have said,
`Proceed, my dear.' It all comes of keeping company
with masons and odd fellows, and fellows that, perhaps,
— I can say perhaps, Mr. Blifkins, — are not so respectable.
My model husband has none of the small vices
of some husbands that I could name; of one, at least.
He does n't spit in the house, nor put his feet on the
table, nor smoke when his wife is speaking to him. He
is too respectable for that. He stays at home every
night, and find his lodge at that shrine of the true
heart, the domestic fireside. He never comes home
with excuses that nobody knows if they are true or not.
He never has people come to see him, to be shut up
with him for an hour, in conversation that his wife is
not allowed to hear. He never goes out without he
takes her with him. He never spends money that he
cannot account for if she asks him, and never doubts
the wisdom or the expediency of purchases that she
may make. He is just where he is wanted when he is
wanted. He never contradicts his wife, nor treats her


Page 267
like a brute, as some husbands do, nor makes her cup a
bitterness, when he should strive to make it pleasant.
In short —”

“In short,” said Blifkins, starting up, and throwing
his cigar into the grate, with startling violence, “in
short, you want a miserable, spiritless, senseless, contemptible
thing, — brainless and heartless, — that will
throw himself under the wheels of the matrimonial juggernaut,
and allow it to crush him, without turning;
and then, when you have found such a being, and the
world points at him as the `hen-pecked,' the `spoon,'
the `automaton,' you would love him better, would
you, than you do the gallant, handsome, and spirited
Blifkins, who has the delight to acknowledge you as his
wife, but not his tyrant nor overseer?”

Mrs. Blifkins brightened up at this a very little, but
she does n't know where it will end.