As promised, I’ve been reading through Sylvanus Stall’s What a Young Man Ought to Know to find you a representative excerpt from this 1897 book. There’s a lot in there, but I thought I’d focus in on this passage from a chapter titled “The Selection of a Wife.” With wedding season upon us, I’m sure there are plenty of young men who are wondering whether they picked the right gal to walk down the aisle with. Perhaps this will help?
You will need not only a wife, but you will need also a COMPANION. In such an alliance you should seek intelligence. A woman who is ignorant and stupid, or one who has simply learned to drum on the piano, to paint a few horrible pictures, to do a little embroidery, cannot properly be regarded as one suited for this important relation of life. There is also a large class of young women who deserve to be regarded as intelligent, whose deportment is irreproachable, who are at ease in good society, and who are sometimes even pious, but after all, who are devoid of those higher and nobler characteristics which would qualify them for companionship with a man of intelligence, and who has a real work to accomplish in life. Some of this class are even as pretty as the flowers, as pure as the snow, as sweet as the gentle breath of spring, “educated” and refined, but, after all, of no earthly use either to themselves or to anyone else. As wives and help-meets they can never be anything but worthless. They will make a home for no man, but as a class will build club-houses as refuges for many. If called upon to reason with a young man who was about to take upon himself such an incumbrance for life, we might not be able to formulate what to him would seem a valid argument against his alliance, but if forced to speak accurately we could scarely say anything more than they are, “Good, but good for nothing.” They are mere negative characters, can do little nothings nicely, but in real life they are not likely to undertake anything that is noble or worthy of true womanhood.
Hey, wait a second! Those sounds like pretty cool women to me.