Jere, I want you to read this through, even though you
may not like it, agree with it, or even understand it. It's something
I've tried to tell you all my life, but now it has become of paramount
importance. You say that violence is the only language I understand, what
a simple way to exonerate yourself and how wrong you are. Have all these
years of driving and beating the poor brute brought you any result or
is it just the old question of getting the old mare down to one straw
a day before the ungrateful thing went and died. It's very easy to rule
through fear, but the cost is high. Not only does it brutalize the perpetrator,
but it is pretty well established that such a rule carries within it the
seeds of its own destruction.
Is this the Kingdom you would rule? A wife so cowed she
obeys every order blindly and explicitly, and afraid to make a decision
for herself, a household that breathes a sigh of relief whenever you're
out of it, without joy, without any real affection. How can there be spontaneous
joy when you must match your Master's mood, can you love the heavy hand
held over you? And the cost is eternal vigilance, eternal friction eternal
discontent. Sure, your explicit order is obeyed, but your comfort is not
anticipated. Through fear of blows you will get obedience, but will you
get love? Your wife will be a stranger that shares your house, and your
children will flee you as soon as they are able. And though you may not
prize it very highly right now, it will cost you my love, which you will
probably shrug off and say "Words, words, that's all you have ever given
me. Words that don't mean anything." Maybe it doesn't mean much now, but
it was very real to me at one time, and the core of my whole existence.
When we married I loved you as deeply, truly and passionately as it is
given one human being to love another, and my only aim (though you hotly
deny it) was to make you happy. If your being happy meant for me to subjugate
myself, follow all your moods in swift succession, cater to you, yes,
and even spoil you, then that was perfectly all right with me. Since the
children were born it wasn't possible to devote myself to such a degree,
and though you were always first and uppermost in my mind, you can't deny
them a certain responsibi1ity, we owe them that, food for their growing
bodies, love and understanding for their growing minds. But I was ever
willing to please you first, last and always, and if I erred it was because
of misunderstanding, and not because I didn't care. Bear in mind that
we are two separate entities and speech was invented to bridge that gap.
To children and slaves you give orders and expect immediate obedience,
but in a partnership explanations are in order. Oh, I realize very well
that works both ways, and probably, or if you will, certainly the fault
lies with me. I know my limitations better than anyone. I'm obstinate,
sure, but has your beating me ever done anything except to make me more
stubborn? and more disagreeable?
And that brings me to the point of this letter. You have
no right, no right whatsoever to beat me like a dog, no man has that right,
it is intolerable and degrading, and not worthy of anyone who wants to
be ca11ed a Man. Leave me, if you must, but never lay a hand on me again.
For the sake of our future together and our children's serenity, never
drive me to the point where I must answer a blow with a blow.
Every time you hit me you strike at my heart, the bruises
heal, the soul forgives, but a broken heart is never mended. If you would
murder that blithe spirit I once was, it were better for you to put your
two hands around my throat and snuff out my life.
Think it over,