Saturday, 18 June 2011

1902-05-02 Saturday Musings

Saturday Musings Spectator May 03, 1902

“Marriage is a solemn matter, but single life is much more so,” says Rev. Thomas B. Hyde, Cincinnati, Ohio. What with wars killing off the men, and the majority of births being girls, it is getting to be a serious question where the husbands are to come from. The last Dominion census shows that Hamilton has a population of 3.000 more females than males; and the chances are, when the footings for the whole Dominion are given, the same preponderance will exist in nearly all the cities and towns. The young men of the present day certainly have a large circle of fine-looking girls from which to make choice of life partners, and they are responsible for the dearth of marriage. Only give the girls a chance, and there will not be an eligible man in Hamilton without a wife at the end of sixty days. But the poor girls cannot propose, nor can they even hint to the young men that married life is more desirable without being charged with forwardness and immodesty. The chances are that there are dozens of young men in Hamilton today who would be glad to have homes of their own, and a good wife to make life one perpetual round of happiness, if they could only muster up courage to pop the question. Married life is the natural condition for healthy men and women, and it seems to be a crime against nature for so many bright young people to be living apart when a little finesse on the part of the girl could straighten out the tangle and create an immediate demand for marriage licenses and the services of a minister of the gospel.
Have you ever noticed the crowds that promenade King and James streets on Saturday night? The large majority are young people who are enjoying themselves at the close of the week’s work. It is their night off, and nothing is allowed to interfere with the pleasure of the promenade. The oldest inhabitant cannot remember when the custom began. Man may come and man may go, but the Saturday night promenade goes on forever. Away back, when the sexes in Hamilton were more equally divided than now, every boy had his girl to walk with, but nowadays one meets a cluster of girls wandering to and fro by themselves, and off in another gang is a lot of young men. It looks unnatural to say the least. The trouble with the young men of the present day is either backwardness in making the acquaintance of the girls, or a selfish spirit that fears the expense of keeping a wife. And it may be that the girls are not altogether without fault, for since they have been making their own way in the world, a feeling of independence has grown with their years, and they object to the cares and responsibilities of married life, unless they can begin house-keeping in an elegantly furnished house, with a piano in the parlor and a girl to do the kitchen work. Of course, all girls are not like those, but the young man, earning only small wages, does not feel like taking the risk.
The truth of the matter is the boys and girls of the present generation want a little more of the get-up-and-go spirit of their fathers and mothers, who married early and then went to work to accumulate enough of this world’s goods to keep them comfortable as they journeyed down the western slope of life. The old stagers who lived in Hamilton long before this great family journal was ushered into existence tell us of the good primitive days when young men began to brush up to the girls as soon as they became of age; and hat a young girl of eighteen who had not rejected half a dozen lovers was almost rare enough for the parks board to put into the museum of curiosities out in Dundurn Castle. Marriage licenses those days cost $1 each, but cared a young man; he could afford to pay it, as people did not fool away their money on bridal tours, but remained at home and began life in modestly furnished houses.
But things have changed since Hamilton passed the fifty thousand mark, and instead of every girl having at least one lover all to herself, the census shows that the city has a surplus of nearly three thousand women. Marriage may be a solemn matter, as the Cincinnati parson says, but certainly single life is much more so as viewed from the standpoint of the girls who are passing through the third decade of life without any brilliant prospect of making some bashful son of Adam happy. If the Spectator could only hit upon a plan o change the present order of things, we would gladly do so, but fate has placed this whole machinery of life in the hands of unmarried young men and women, and they must work it out as best they can. Of late years there has been a great deal said about marriage being a failure, but the facts are it is nip and tuck nowadays to find a young couple with nerve enough to get married. The young men must see to it that the surplus of unmarried girls is reduced. Hamilton wants more homes and fewer boarding houses.

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