With our post-Valentine’s-Day brains still processing thoughts of hearts, we step back even further in time to newlywed advice from L.H. Winkley to Cabot Yerxa’s maternal grandparents, Charles and Frances Cabot. The clergyman clearly was a family friend and likely presided over the 1854 wedding, as he did 28 years later for the couple’s daughter Nellie (Cabot’s mother) to Fred Yerxa. Following are excerpts of Winkley’s guidance, which he prefaces by stating it is based on his personal experience in marriage.
I. Lay aside somewhat of your income this first year of your married life. If you can spare one dollar or five at this moment, make a deposit in some savings bank. That you may lay aside more, be not only economical but orderly and neat; for neatness and order are not only comforts in themselves, but save money also.
II. Lay aside all anger and jealousy toward each other. How is neither of you without faults? While you recognize them as uncomfortable, do not fret about them. The more you wish to have them abolished, the more patiently you must bear them and the more good-naturedly and affectionately you must labor to win each other from them. If you have love enough for each other to pursue this course, you may be sure of a very happy union. Just as far as you depart from it, you will find sorrowful hours, if not days.
III. Be cheerful and hopeful. You will have your share of troubles, for no one escapes them. Because they are sure to come, be ready for them. Meet all the vexations and trials of life, small or great, with a cheerful spirit. Despondency only adds to an evil. Cheerfulness makes prosperity brighter and destroys about one-half of adversity. Let no clouds, then, settle on each other’s brow.
IV. Be intelligent. By this I mean cultivate your minds. Read. Read together. Talk together of what you read. If you have but little time, still read, tho’ you read but five minutes a day. Read stories, only let them be good, if you are too weary to read anything else. You have no idea how much knowledge you will acquire in ten years by a little daily reading. This fullness of thought begets mutual respect and esteem and binds you together more and more firmly.
V. Be good. Not only promote each other’s happiness, but also all others as far as you may. Never do a wrong without mutual confession. Be good toward your relations and friends. Do not mind their faults. Do not talk about them. Rather, cultivate charity for their imperfections and love for their virtues.
And now my dear friends, I have said my brief say. It remains with you to profit by it. My long acquaintance with at least one of you deepens my interest in your happiness. I long for you both to have not only a happy new year [the letter is dated January 4], but also a happy lifetime. That you may shall ever be the prayers of
Your affectionate friend, L.H. Winkley
Though offered to newlyweds, L.H. Winkley’s timeless counseling should encourage anyone to think about harmonious living. The problem lies not in the fact that we don’t recognize the high road; it’s that too often we ignore “lane-departure” alerts and drift into a ditch. Self-correction here and there helps everyone traveling life’s highway.