Stand Aside and Let Him be a Man

You may be thinking, how does this picture fit? Because it simply does.

Something has come together slowly for me over the past couple of years as I’ve let go of control in my marriage (not that I ever really had it, mind you).   As I’ve let go, my husband, who has lead very well, has only stepped up and taken on more.  He has become more masculine, more manly, more protective, more caring, more everything that the does.

Here’s what so many women today do not understand.  What a husband is, what a husband does, first comes from a place of being Man.  Therefore, we don’t get to say what that means.  Let me rephrase.  Rather, we do get to say, but very often what we say we want, often falls sadly short of the truth of what we actually desire.

Fairly often, at the Red Pill Women Reddit, we get questions about how a woman could make (sometimes it will say help) her man be more dominant or more alpha.   Many of the articles were removed or the women were told that they cannot do this.  You cannot make your man more dominant.  It caused quite a bit of confusion as we often talk about how our men became more dominant in our marriages.

Here is the problem.  There is a stark difference between “building a better beta” and stepping back and letting a man be his own man.  Building a better beta involves teaching a man or submitting to him just enough so that he is more confident and therefore more dominant to better the marriage but also includes the wife having some control so as to make her comfortable and feel safe with him.  This is very much seen in the large checklist that women make about the man they say they deserve.

Rollo has a post up awhile ago entitled The Myth of the ‘Good Guy.

If you read through any woman’s online dating profile you undoubtedly come across some variation of what Roissy has described as the “483 bullet point checklist” of stated prerequisites a man must possess in order for her to consider him a viable candidate for her intimacy. While I don’t think there are quite that many items on the checklist, you’ll find a host of common-theme personal qualities a guy has to have in order to be her boyfriend – confident (above all), humorous, kind, intelligent, creative, decisive, sensitive, respectful, spiritual, patient,..I could go on or you could just read this old joke.

. . . .

The confusion that most Beta men make is presuming that what women list as being necessarily ‘attractive’ IS what makes him ‘arousing’.

What we say we desire, this checklist we desire from a man who simultaneously respects us (not to be confused with civility) and who excites us; who is simultaneously sensitive with his emotions and masculine; who is kind yet strong and so on, all of these characteristics come from a feminine mindset.  We tend to believe that a man can be all of these things, but we demand them in a way we (think we) prefer.  Only, for men, it usually doesn’t translate.  We expect men to give us things on our terms and not on their own.  We expect men to respect us in the way we understand the term (how we feel it) and not in the way men understand the term (do it).  In short, we want men to understand all about us and how we feel without learning all about them.  And most of us don’t even realize this is what we expect.

We need to step back and stop demanding and asking for these things on our terms.  Rather, it is time to try to understand what these things mean to our men and accept them on their terms.  It’s time to step back and learn that just because our men are not responding in the way we expect, that does not mean that we are not getting the things we would like from them.  It just simply looks different in a masculine form.  What’s more, this masculine way of respect, kindness, love, and decisiveness is what draws us to them.  Can it sometimes be frustrating?  Of course, especially if we do not understand.  But, very often, it is these things that they give to us that draws us to them even more.  That attracts and arouses us while they love us, in their way.

While we cannot make our men be more alpha or even help them on their way (directly) what we can do is step back.  We can recognize that we are often getting what we desire from them, just not in the feminine way we’ve come to expect and desire (and ultimately, resent).  When we do this, when we accept and nurture our men for who they are, Men, very often their masculinity will soar and draw us even closer to them.  In this place, we will see that we don’t make them more masculine, we simply let them be who they are.

Matt Walsh Tells the Truth ~ Women, Fix Yourselves

I want to add to this.  I want to break it down further to discuss, but really there’s nothing more I can say.  I’ll just put this snippet up to give you a taste.  But you really should go read the whole thing.

What I mean is, ‘men’ aren’t the problem, Rebecca. It’s you. You’re the one. You’re the common denominator. You’re to blame. There has been one person conspicuously involved in all of Rebecca’s romantic flops, and her name is Rebecca. Maybe you should take a look at her for a change.

#NoNothingNovember Update

It’s day 10 of #NoNothingNovember.  So far, I would say I am doing fair.

1.  Get off the internet for frivolity.  I had been doing quite good at this up till yesterday.  I was on it less yesterday than I normally would have been but still more than I would have liked. I’ve completely blown it today, however as it was not a very good day with school and the internet is my go to place to de-stress.  Alas, as I have discovered, it actually makes me more stressed, just for a far different reason (those migraines I recently learned about?  They’re stress induced.  Low and behold, my head is great on the days I’m not on the net.  They turn bad when I am.  The things I read about and comment on apparently get under my skin far more than I ever realized).  Back on track tomorrow.

2.  Diet.  Balance it without being crazy about it.  I’ve done rather well with this one. I blew it yesterday, but it was intentional and mostly planned.  I blew it more than I planned for, but not WAY over the top.  Right back on track today without a problem.

3. Organized my home.  I’ve done pretty well with this one.  Being off the internet helps a lot with it.  I’m still not where I would like to be, but I’ll take the improvement for now.

4. Expand my reading.  Nope.  Failing miserably.  My excuse: The things I would like to read require focus and the time of the day for me to focus is after the kids are in bed. At which time, I would promptly fall asleep reading what I wish to read.  I need to de-stress some more to not be so tired at the end of the day (I am utterly amazed at what I have discovered about my self regarding these headaches and my stress.  I used to walk around all day so tensed in the shoulders that it caused me serious migraines.  I never even felt the tension until I went to the doctor.  It’s such a habit now for me to tense my shoulders that it is like quitting a horrible 4 year habit that I didn’t even know I had.  It’s strange).

So, overall, I’m improving with some setbacks that need to be focused on.  As I knew, the internet is the hardest thing and also the thing that is interrupting my life the most.  Go figure.

Liebster Award

Elspeth sent me this award and I am incredibly grateful!  

She has asked her nominations to post 7 random things about themselves.  This is surprisingly hard to do.

1.  I was a pretty good athlete and singer in high school.  I didn’t much care for school and these two things (and band.  I played the french horn) really helped the 4 years to pass much easier for me.

2.  I met my husband at a party in college where he made a heck of an impression on me.  A year later, purely by chance, we ended up being RA’s in the same building.

3.  I wish I was more like I am online in real life.  Alas, real life has no delete button.

4.  I messed my knee up in high school trying to snowboard with ski boots on.  Not too bright.

5.  I”m a country girl and cities freak me out.

6.  I was a huge tomboy as a child.  I remember thinking that one day I would wake up with boy parts (we’re talking very young here) and I had mixed feelings about this.

7.  I actually have met another woman who thinks much like I do in the wild.  I was pleasantly shocked.

I’m not sure who else to nominate other than TempestTCup.  As far as I can tell, everyone else I read has deservedly received it! So, I nominate you Tempest.  How about just 7 random facts about yourself?  I can’t come up with any interesting questions to ask.  I guess a random fact #8 would be that I am terrible at things like this.

Thanks so much, Elspeth.  I very much appreciate the kind words and the award!


Kidstrangelove of is doing something for the manosphere called #NoNothingNovember.  He began it for himself last year and wants to expand it to the whole sphere this year.  If you’re a blogger and you participate, he’s even offering a prize.  If you don’t blog and want to participate, you can do so here).  For a couple of weeks now, there is one big thing and a few smaller things I have been meaning to get around to improving and what a better way (not to mention more motivating way) to get around to them).  So, I am going to join in and also spread the word.  I encourage others to do so as well.  As I understand it, one of the reasons for doing this is to try to spread the word that a large part of the motivation of the manosphere is for self improvement and not just the mis-sah-jin-ey.

So here are my goals:

1. By far my biggest, most important and most difficult: Get off the internet for frivolity.  I’ll not be giving it up entirely.  It is too useful a tool and to be honest, after the first five days, this would be rather easy for me.  It is far harder for me to use the tool as intended but not waste time on it using it not as I intended to.  How will I measure this.?  I will allow myself to read a small handful of blogs.  Those blogs in which I still continue to learn from.  The big three, Vox Popoli, John C. Wright, and Elspeth.  I will only be reading comments if I think they might add to any learning for me.  Also, the occasional stop in to the Red Pill Women reddit.  If I don’t see a post where I think I can help, I will shut my computer.  No lingering.  Otherwise, my internet use will be only for research purposes and blogging.

2.  For the past 3 months or so, I’ve been rather sick.  I found out a couple of weeks ago I have been suffering from migraines.  My diet has been awful.  I’ve been too nauseous to eat protein and fat and now that I am feeling better it’s time to get back to it.  My biggest challenge? I am one of those people who in the past let perfect be the enemy of good.  Find a balance.  I don’t need to go full board, balls to wall, all out.  I need to find a balance.  I need to not drive everyone around me crazy by following my diet to a T.  Balance is my goal and my main difficulty.

3. Organize my home.  I’m kind of a fly by the seat of my pants type of girl.  Things get done, but it’s not optimal.  I have been promising myself to fix that.  And it’s been flying out the window.  Time to change that.

4. Expand my reading.  I began reading Frederic Bastiat’s The Law again last night.  I didn’t finish it last time.  A horrible habit of mine.  I may have some posts in November that have to do with some religious or other questions that I have been struggling with simply because it would help me to work them out.  Or maybe posts about things that I have read.

These are my big four for now.  All of this starts on November 1st though I am posting this today  to get it into my head and to hopefully pass the idea to a few other before it begins.  I think it’s a great idea to spread around.  If any others decide to join in, please let me know!.

Subtle Defiance of Feminism

A hat tip to red pill women reddit for this as I don’t listen to pop music.  There is a good write up about it here.  I am ready for women to stop lying to themselves about what makes them joyful.

“Chandelier” by Sia

Party girls don’t get hurt
Can’t feel anything, when will I learn?
I push it down, push it down

I’m the one “for a good time call”
Phone’s blowin’ up, ringin’ my doorbell
I feel the love, feel the love

1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, drink
1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, drink
1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, drink

Throw ‘em back ’til I lose count

I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist
Like it doesn’t exist
I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry
I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier

But I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down, won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight
Help me, I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down, won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight
On for tonight

Sun is up, I’m a mess
Gotta get out now, gotta run from this
Here comes the shame, here comes the shame

1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, drink
1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, drink
1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, drink

Throw ‘em back ’til I lose count

I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist
Like it doesn’t exist
I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry
I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier

But I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down, won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight
Help me, I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down, won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight
On for tonight

On for tonight
‘Cause I’m just holding on for tonight
Oh, I’m just holding on for tonight
On for tonight
On for tonight
‘Cause I’m just holding on for tonight
‘Cause I’m just holding on for tonight
Oh, I’m just holding on for tonight
On for tonight
On for tonight

The Whole Duty of a Woman

I was watching Alton Brown’s Good Eats last week when in passing, it mentioned this book.  It was written in 1696.  The author is listed simply as Lady.  I am trying to read it, but in truth, it’s not an easy read.  In part because the lower cases “s” looks very much like a lower case “f”.  In one sections talking about the how God is Wise, I keep reading the word as wife.  It’s not conducive to understanding. Anyway, my plan is to put some of my favorited parts of the this book up here.  To begin with just the cover page (with different spellings attempted to be left intact):

The Whole Duty of a Woman

Or, an infallible

Guide to the Fair Sex

Containing, Rules, Direction, and Observations, for the Conduct and Behaviour through all Ages and Circumstances of Life, as Virgins, Wives, or Widows with Directions, how to obtain al Use and Fashionable accomplishments suitable to the SEX.  In which are comprised all Parts of GOOD HOUSEWIFERY, particularly RULES and RECEIPTS in every Kind of COOKERY.

1. Making all Sorts of Soops and Sauces

2. Dressing Flesh, Fish and Fowl; this last illustrated with Cuts, shewing how every Fowl, Wild or Tame, is to be trust for the Spit: Likewise all other King of Game.

3. Making above 40 different Sorts of Puddings.

4. The whole Art of Pastry in making Pies, Tarts, and Pasties

5. Receipts for all Manner of Pickling, Collaring, etc.

6. For Preserving, making Creams, Jellies, and all Manner of Confectionary.

7. Rules and Directions for fetting out Dinners, Suppers, and Grand Entertainments.

to which is added,

BILLS of FARW for every Month in the Year, curiously graven on Copper Plate, with the Forms of Tables and Dishes, and he Shapes of Pies, Tarts, and Pasties.  With Instructions for Marketing.


RULES and RECEIPTS for making all the choicest Cordials for the closet: Brewing Beers, Ales, etc.  Making all Sorts of English Wines, Cyder, Mums, Mead, Metheglin, Vinegar, Verjuice, Catchup, etc. With some fine Perfumes, Pomatums, Cosmeticks and other Beautifiers.

I’ve tried to keep some of the formatting, but you really should look at this page for yourself.  I think this book is going to be fascinating.

If anybody knows what Mums (I’m thinking not the flower), Metheglin, Verjuice or Pomatums are, I would love to hear from you.

Reason 1,534 We Homeschool

Reported by National Review:

A Nebraska school district has instructed its teachers to stop referring to students by “gendered expressions” such as “boys and girls,” and use “gender inclusive” ones such as “purple penguins” instead.

. . . .

If teachers still find it “necessary” to mention that genders exist at all, the document states, they must list them as “boy, girl, both or neither.”

Furthermore, it instructs teachers to interfere and interrupt if they ever hear a student talking about gender in terms of “boys and girls” so the student can learn that this is wrong.

Read further and the Superintendent states, “We don’t get involved with politics,” and “We don’t get involved with gender preferences. We’re educating all kids . . . and we can’t be judgmental.”

We choose to raise Men and Women here, whom both know their value.

More excellent reading here.

Tolkien on Marriage and Women

Vox posted a part of this letter from JRR Tolkien to his son Michael.  I thought it so good I wanted to post it in it’s entirety.

From a letter to Michael Tolkien 6-8 March 1941

[On the subject of marriage and relations between the sexes.]

A man’s dealings with women can be purely physical (they cannot really, of course: but I mean he can refuse to take other things into account, to the great damage of his soul (and body) and theirs); or ‘friendly’; or he can be a ‘lover’ (engaging and blending all his affections and powers of mind and body in a complex emotion powerfully coloured and energized by ‘sex’). This is a fallen world. The dislocation of sex-instinct is one of the chief symptoms of the Fall. The world has been ‘going to the bad’ all down the ages. The various social forms shift, and each new mode has its special dangers: but the ‘hard spirit of concupiscence’ has walked down every street, and sat leering in every house, since Adam fell. We will leave aside the ‘immoral’ results. These you desire not to be dragged into. To renunciation you have no call. ‘Friendship’ then? In this fallen world the ‘friendship’ that should be possible between all human beings, is virtually impossible between man and woman. The devil is endlessly ingenious, and sex is his favourite subject. He is as good every bit at catching you through generous romantic or tender motives, as through baser or more animal ones. This ‘friendship’ has often been tried: one side or the other nearly always fails. Later in life when sex cools down, it may be possible. It may happen between saints. To ordinary folk it can only rarely occur: two minds that have really a primarily mental and spiritual affinity may by accident reside in a male and a female body, and yet may desire and achieve a ‘friendship’ quite independent of sex. But no one can count on it. The other partner will let him (or her) down, almost certainly, by ‘falling in love’. But a young man does not really (as a rule) want ‘friendship’, even if he says he does. There are plenty of young men (as a rule). He wants love:innocent, and yet irresponsible perhaps. Allas! Allas! that ever love was sinne! as Chaucer says. Then if he is a Christian and is aware that there is such a thing as sin, he wants to know what to do about it.

There is in our Western culture the romantic chivalric tradition still strong, though as a product of Christendom (yet by no means the same as Christian ethics) the times are inimical to it. It idealizes ‘love’ — and as far as it goes can be very good, since it takes in far more than physical pleasure, and enjoins if not purity, at least fidelity, and so self-denial, ‘service’, courtesy, honour, and courage. Its weakness is, of course, that it began as an artificial courtly game, a way of enjoying love for its own sake without reference to (and indeed contrary to) matrimony. Its centre was not God, but imaginary Deities, Love and the Lady. It still tends to make the Lady a kind of guiding star or divinity – of the old-fashioned ‘his divinity’ = the woman he loves – the object or reason of noble conduct. This is, of course, false and at best make-believe. The woman is another fallen human-being with a soul in peril. But combined and harmonized with religion (as long ago it was, producing much of that beautiful devotion to Our Lady that has been God’s way of refining so much our gross manly natures and emotions, and also of warming and colouring our hard, bitter, religion) it can be very noble. Then it produces what I suppose is still felt, among those who retain even vestigiary Christianity, to be the highest ideal of love between man and woman. Yet I still think it has dangers. It is not wholly true, and it is not perfectly ‘theocentric’. It takes, or at any rate has in the past taken, the young man’s eye off women as they are, as companions in shipwreck not guiding stars. (One result is for observation of the actual to make the young man turn cynical.) To forget their desires, needs and temptations. It inculcates exaggerated notions of ‘true love’, as a fire from without, a permanent exaltation, unrelated to age, childbearing, and plain life, and unrelated to will and purpose. (One result of that is to make young folk look for a ‘love’ that will keep them always nice and warm in a cold world, without any effort of theirs; and the incurably romantic go on looking even in the squalor of the divorce courts).

Women really have not much part in all this, though they may use the language of romantic love, since it is so entwined in all our idioms. The sexual impulse makes women (naturally when unspoiled more unselfish) very sympathetic and understanding, or specially desirous of being so (or seeming so), and very ready to enter into all the interests, as far as they can, from ties to religion, of the young man they are attracted to. No intent necessarily to deceive: sheer instinct: the servient, helpmeet instinct, generously warmed by desire and young blood. Under this impulse they can in fact often achieve very remarkable insight and understanding, even of things otherwise outside their natural range: for it is their gift to be receptive, stimulated, fertilized (in many other matters than the physical) by the male. Every teacher knows that. How quickly an intelligent woman can be taught, grasp his ideas, see his point – and how (with rare exceptions) they can go no further, when they leave his hand, or when they cease to take a personal interest inhim. But this is their natural avenue to love. Before the young woman knows where she is (and while the romantic young man, when he exists, is still sighing) she may actually ‘fall in love’. Which for her, an unspoiled natural young woman, means that she wants to become the mother of the young man’s children, even if that desire is by no means clear to her or explicit. And then things are going to happen: and they may be very painful and harmful, if things go wrong. Particularly if the young man only wanted a temporary guiding star and divinity (until he hitches his waggon to a brighter one), and was merely enjoying the flattery of sympathy nicely seasoned with a titillation of sex – all quite innocent, of course, and worlds away from ‘seduction’.

You may meet in life (as in literature1) women who are flighty, or even plain wanton — I don’t refer to mere flirtatiousness, the sparring practice for the real combat, but to women who are too silly to take even love seriously, or are actually so depraved as to enjoy ‘conquests’, or even enjoy the giving of pain – but these are abnormalities, even though false teaching, bad upbringing, and corrupt fashions may encourage them. Much though modern conditions have changed feminine circumstances, and the detail of what is considered propriety, they have not changed natural instinct. A man has a life-work, a career, (and male friends), all of which could (and do where he has any guts) survive the shipwreck of ‘love’. A young woman, even one ‘economically independent’, as they say now (it usually really means economic subservience to male commercial employers instead of to a father or a family), begins to think of the ‘bottom drawer’ and dream of a home, almost at once. If she really falls in love, the shipwreck may really end on the rocks. Anyway women are in general much less romantic and more practical. Don’t be misled by the fact that they are more ‘sentimental’ in words – freer with ‘darling’, and all that. They do not want a guiding star. They may idealize a plain young man into a hero; but they don’t really need any such glamour either to fall in love or to remain in it. If they have any delusion it is that they can ‘reform’ men. They will take a rotter open-eyed, and even when the delusion of reforming him fails, go on loving him. They are, of course, much more realistic about the sexual relation. Unless perverted by bad contemporary fashions they do not as a rule talk ‘bawdy’; not because they are purer than men (they are not) but because they don’t find it funny. I have known those who pretended to, but it is a pretence. It may be intriguing, interesting, absorbing (even a great deal too absorbing) to them: but it is just plumb natural, a serious, obvious interest; where is the joke?

They have, of course, still to be more careful in sexual relations, for all the contraceptives. Mistakes are damaging physically and socially (and matrimonially). But they are instinctively, when uncorrupt, monogamous. Men are not. …. No good pretending. Men just ain’t, not by their animal nature. Monogamy (although it has long been fundamental to our inherited ideas) is for us men a piece of ‘revealed’ ethic, according to faith and not to the flesh. Each of us could healthily beget, in our 30 odd years of full manhood, a few hundred children, and enjoy the process. Brigham Young (I believe) was a healthy and happy man. It is a fallen world, and there is no consonance between our bodies, minds, and souls.

However, the essence of a fallen world is that the best cannot be attained by free enjoyment, or by what is called ‘self-realization’ (usually a nice name for self-indulgence, wholly inimical to the realization of other selves); but by denial, by suffering. Faithfulness in Christian marriage entails that: great mortification. For a Christian man there is no escape. Marriage may help to sanctify & direct to its proper object his sexual desires; its grace may help him in the struggle; but the struggle remains. It will not satisfy him – as hunger may be kept off by regular meals. It will offer as many difficulties to the purity proper to that state, as it provides easements. No man, however truly he loved his betrothed and bride as a young man, has lived faithful to her as a wife in mind and body without deliberate conscious exercise of the will, without self-denial. Too few are told that — even those brought up ‘in the Church’. Those outside seem seldom to have heard it. When the glamour wears off, or merely works a bit thin, they think they have made a mistake, and that the real soul-mate is still to find. The real soul-mate too often proves to be the next sexually attractive person that comes along. Someone whom they might indeed very profitably have married, if only —. Hence divorce, to provide the ‘if only’. And of course they are as a rule quite right: they did make a mistake. Only a very wise man at the end of his life could make a sound judgement concerning whom, amongst the total possible chances, he ought most profitably to have married! Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might have found more suitable mates. But the ‘real soul-mate’ is the one you are actually married to. You really do very little choosing: life and circumstance do most of it (though if there is a God these must be His instruments, or His appearances). It is notorious that in fact happy marriages are more common where the ‘choosing’ by the young persons is even more limited, by parental or family authority, as long as there is a social ethic of plain unromantic responsibility and conjugal fidelity. But even in countries where the romantic tradition has so far affected social arrangements as to make people believe that the choosing of a mate is solely the concern of the young, only the rarest good fortune brings together the man and woman who are really as it were ‘destined’ for one another, and capable of a very great and splendid love. The idea still dazzles us, catches us by the throat: poems and stories in multitudes have been written on the theme, more, probably, than the total of such loves in real life (yet the greatest of these tales do not tell of the happy marriage of such great lovers, but of their tragic separation; as if even in this sphere the truly great and splendid in this fallen world is more nearly achieved by ‘failure’ and suffering). In such great inevitable love, often love at first sight, we catch a vision, I suppose, of marriage as it should have been in an unfallen world. In this fallen world we have as our only guides, prudence, wisdom (rare in youth, too late in age), a clean, heart, and fidelity of will.….

My own history is so exceptional, so wrong and imprudent in nearly every point that it makes it difficult to counsel prudence. Yet hard cases make bad law; and exceptional cases are not always good guides for others. For what it is worth here is some autobiography – mainly on this occasion directed towards the points of age, and finance.

I fell in love with your mother at the approximate age of 18. Quite genuinely, as has been shown – though of course defects of character and temperament have caused me often to fall below the ideal with which I started. Your mother was older than I, and not a Catholic. Altogether unfortunate, as viewed by a guardian. And it was in a sense very unfortunate; and in a way very bad for me. These things are absorbing and nervously exhausting. I was a clever boy in the throes of work for (a very necessary) Oxford scholarship. The combined tensions nearly produced a bad breakdown. I muffed my exams and though (as years afterwards my H[ead] M[aster] told me) I ought to have got a good scholarship, I only landed by the skin of my teeth an exhibition of £60 at Exeter: just enough with a school leaving scholarship] of the same amount to come up on (assisted by my dear old guardian). Of course there was a credit side, not so easily seen by the guardian. I was clever, but not industrious or single-minded; a large pan of my failure was due simply to not working (at least not at classics) not because I was in love, but because I was studying something else: Gothic and what not. Having the romantic upbringing I made a boy-and-girl affair serious, and made it the source of effort. Naturally rather a physical coward, I passed from a despised rabbit on a house second-team to school colours in two seasons. All that sort of thing. However, trouble arose: and I had to choose between disobeying and grieving (or deceiving) a guardian who had been a father to me, more than most real fathers, but without any obligation, and ‘dropping’ the love-affair until I was 21. I don’t regret my decision, though it was very hard on my lover. But that was not my fault. She was perfectly free and under no vow to me, and I should have had no just complaint (except according to the unreal romantic code) if she had got married to someone else. For very nearly three years I did not see or write to my lover. It was extremely hard, painful and bitter, especially at first. The effects were not wholly good: I fell back into folly and slackness and misspent a good deal of my first year at College. But I don’t think anything else would have justified marriage on the basis of a boy’s affair; and probably nothing else would have hardened the will enough to give such an affair (however genuine a case of true love) permanence. On the night of my 21st birthday I wrote again to your mother – Jan. 3, 1913. On Jan. 8th I went back to her, and became engaged, and informed an astonished family. I picked up my socks and did a spot of work (too late to save Hon. Mods. from disaster) – and then war broke out the next year, while I still had a year to go at college. In those days chaps joined up, or were scorned publicly. It was a nasty cleft to be in, especially for a young man with too much imagination and little physical courage. No degree: no money: fiancée. I endured the obloquy, and hints becoming outspoken from relatives, stayed up, and produced a First in Finals in 1915. Bolted into the army: July 1915. I found the situation intolerable and married on March 22, 1916. May found me crossing the Channel (I still have the verse I wrote on the occasion!) for the carnage of the Somme.

Think of your mother! Yet I do not now for a moment feel that she was doing more than she should have been asked to do – not that that detracts from the credit of it. I was a young fellow, with a moderate degree, and apt to write verse, a few dwindling pounds p. a. (£20 – 40), and no prospects, a Second Lieut. on 7/6 a day in the infantry where the chances of survival were against you heavily (as a subaltern). She married me in 1916 and John was born in 1917 (conceived and carried during the starvation-year of 1917 and the great U-Boat campaign) round about the battle of Cambrai, when the end of the war seemed as far-off as it does now. I sold out, and spent to pay the nursing-home, the last of my few South African shares, ‘my patrimony’.

Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament. …. There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth, and more than that: Death: by the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the surrender of all, and yet by the taste (or foretaste) of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained, or take on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, which every man’s heart desires.

1  Literature has been (until the modern novel) mainly a masculine business, and in it there is a great deal about the ‘fair and false’. That is on the whole a slander. Women are humans and therefore capable of perfidy. But within the human family, as contrasted with men they are not generally or naturally the more perfidious. Very much the reverse. Except only that women are apt to break down if asked to ‘wait’ for a man, too long, and while youth (so precious and necessary to a would-be mother) is swiftly passing. They should, in fact, not be asked to wait.


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