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The Love Affairs of an Old Maid   By: (1867-1929)

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Transcriber's Note:

The original text noted chapters as 1, 2, 3 etc. in the TOC, and I, II, III etc. in chapter headers. These have been retained.




" Some ships reach happy ports that are not steered "


Copyright, 1893, by HARPER & BROTHERS. All rights reserved.


This book is dedicated very fondly to my beloved family, who, in their anxiety to render me material assistance, have offered me such diverse opinions as to its merit that their criticisms radiate from me in as many directions as there are spokes to a wheel.

This leaves the distraught hub with no opinion of its own, and with flaring, ragged edges.

Nevertheless, thus must it appear before the public, whose opinion will be the tire which shall enable my wheel to revolve. If it be favorable, one may look for smooth riding; if unfavorable, one must expect jolts.


It is a pity that there is no prettier term to bestow upon a girl bachelor of any age than Old Maid. "Spinster" is equally uncomfortable, suggesting, as it does, corkscrew curls and immoderate attenuation of frame; while "maiden lady," which the ultra punctilious substitute, is entirely too mincing for sensible, whole souled people to countenance.

I dare say that more women would have the courage to remain unmarried were there so euphonious a title awaiting them as that of "bachelor," which, when shorn of its accompanying adjective "old," simply means unmarried.

The word "bachelor," too, has somewhat of a jaunty sound, implying to the sensitive ear that its owner could have been married oh, several times over if he had wished. But both "spinster" and "old maid" have narrow, restricted attributes, which, to say the least, imply doubt as to past opportunity.

Names are covertly responsible for many overt acts. Carlyle, when he said, "The name is the earliest garment you wrap around the earth visiting me. Names? Not only all common speech, but Science, Poetry itself, if thou consider it, is no other than a right naming," sounded a wonderful note in Moral Philosophy, which rings false many a time in real life, when to ring true would change the whole face of affairs.

Thus I boldly affirm, that were there a proper sounding title to cover the class of unmarried women, many a marriage which now takes place, with either moderate success or distinct failure, would remain in pleasing embryo.

Of the three evils among names for my book, therefore, I leave you to determine whether I have chosen the greatest or least. The writing of it came about in this way.

In a conversation concerning modern marriage, the unwisdom people display in choice, and the complicated affair it has come to be from a pastoral beginning, I said lightly, "I shall write a book upon this subject some fine day, and I shall call it 'The Love Affairs of an Old Maid,' because popular prejudice decrees that the love affairs of an old maid necessarily are those of other people."

No sooner had the name suggested in broad jest taken form in my mind than straightway every thought I possessed crystallized around it, and I found myself impelled by a malevolent Fate to begin it.

It became a fixed intention on a Sunday morning in church during a most excellent sermon, the text and substance of which I have forgotten. Doubtless more of real worth and benefit to mankind was pent up in that sermon than four books of my own writing could accomplish. But, with the delightful candor of John Kendrick Bangs, I explain my lapse of memory thus

"I dote on Milton and on Robert Burns; I love old Marryat his tales of pelf; I live on Byron; but my heart most yearns Towards those sweet things that I've penned myself... Continue reading book >>

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