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Husband & Wife

While walking the wooded hills and hollows this morning, before the sun had risen, the trees took on quite human forms. This, as it has in the past, confirmed in me that a traveler's principle fears are found in the human aspects of nature (as Chesterton so wisely suggested). The thought did occur to me that, though the morning light would strip them of their humanity, the trees' continued struggle for life seems to match that of man's much closer than the plight of the deer in the forest. Modern man may be less in danger of the wolf and much more in danger of age and insidious creepy crawlies beneath the bark. We fear the night less these days and more the morning whose light will reveal the brown spots upon our leaves. I could probably take the metaphor too far and really it was only a passing fancy. For, another thought soon displaced it as the trail twisted before me.

Is not the English language missing the most obvious of words? Such a blaring omission cannot stand and yet it has until now. I can only speak for English, for I have little doubt that other languages which people use to communicate in this P.B.* world could not fail to have its equivalent.

I tripped over this pearl of great price while looking up into the bows of a nearby tree in which a pair of cardinals perched, the male blazingly red and the lady gentle and refined in her soft brown coat. A lovely pair they were, but their blissful state of birdly matrimony, however, led thusely to my consternation.

Marriage is, without a doubt, a unity, not, however, without its parts. The first one being husbandry and the second…well, drat it all, there is a second, but we don't have a word for it! If the very criminal act of thieving can be given such an honor as to have its action nounenized with "thievery" how has "wife" ever been neglected. The most lovely of concepts going untouched by the human tongue and pen! Let me then be the first to write it: "wifery."

A definition, I think, would be appropriate (a necessary component for its future inclusion in my spell check). It would be stated thus: "Gracefully receiving the worth attributed with natural flourishing."

Let me use it in a sentence: Marriage husbandry finds it greatest fulfillment in Marriage wifery. Very tidy.

Before going on, I know some will object to the use of husbandry in this manner, seeing as how it is not exactly the dictionary usage of the word. However, it is a great distance between having a word to be able to miss-use (and be understood) and not even having a word to miss-use. Hencely, the newly christened word "wifery" and its hence stated definition.

Now may I move to an example of its very practicality in the living of life and the sacred institutions therein?

In the course of walking around on the earth one chances to meet all kinds of people with all kinds of stories. Why, just this week I happened upon a fellow who gave me a firsthand account of his physical birth. In fact, this Dr. W.H. indicated this was not the least of his amazing memories!

I have also had the chance to make the acquaintance of another wonderful chap, a certain Mr. B.G. He is of advanced years and his life stories go on and on. We have talked of his time as a professional athlete, his wild successes as an entrepreneur, his many celebrity acquaintances, his recovery from battle wounds at Versailles, and his breadth of other experiences including our shared love for the beauty of the Flint Hills. However, the most touching moments and the ones that really stick with me were his tearful accounts of his wife, Grey. Years have passed since her death after dementia, but the dreams still come with heart wrenching awakenings that she, in her beauty, does not stand before him. He tells of his meeting her in middle age and being absolutely captivated. They raised a family of four children while her radiance and beauty ever grew before him. She was absolutely singular in his mind in companionship and loveliness of spirit. He would not fail to leave her side and he could not stand that she had to leave him first. He poured out a fortune in her care and honor as her mind left and he became a stranger. She did not change, however, he knew. It was only an outward feint. Grey, his love, will be the more beautiful when they meet again.

It is upon their case that I state my case for husbandry and wifery.

Let us be clear, the planter of the first garden who gave husbandry its weight and purpose in the same way made provision for the stunning beauty of wifery. The care and cultivation (if it is present) must find its reflection. As with garden husbandry, He who plants and he who waters has not the slightest power to make it grow. A response to ever increase in radiance is wifery!

Phillip Tippin
With the sun shining on the lawn
Roeland Park, KS

*Post Babel


January Dark

A night like this urges a low voice with close company around the fireside, the doors being secured from what lies without. In fact, I fear saying much here where the wind cannot reach but most anyone can read. The danger is the lack of volume control when writing on these walls of Rome. Dark days of January and darker specters of events are howling for these hushed words in drinks with trusted souls for outside is smoke and snow. Something is amiss or rather coming amiss, but it is certainly not yet the time for shouting. In short, the early days of January seem less a beginning and more a reality of the end having come and gone. It is the first month after the end.

Phillip Tippin
Behind Closed Doors
Roeland Park, KS


What Christmas is as We Grow Older

This is a guest post from the highly talented writer and conversationalist, Charles Dickens. His books have appeared in such places as every bookstore since his death and on television shows such as every other BBC special. This is an essay he wrote many years ago now, and—because Chronological Snobbery has no place here—I believe it is still appreciable and applicable today. Merry Christmas from the Ink Society!

          Time was, with most of us, when Christmas Day encircling all our limited world like a magic ring, left nothing out for us to miss or seek; bound together all our home enjoyments, affections, and hopes; grouped everything and every one around the Christmas fire; and made the little picture shining in our bright young eyes, complete.

         Time came, perhaps, all so soon, when our thoughts over-leaped that narrow boundary; when there was some one (very dear, we thought then, very beautiful, and absolutely perfect) wanting to the fulness of our happiness; when we were wanting too (or we thought so, which did just as well) at the Christmas hearth by which that some one sat; and when we intertwined with every wreath and garland of our life that some one's name.

        That was the time for the bright visionary Christmases which have long arisen from us to show faintly, after summer rain, in the palest edges of the rainbow! That was the time for the beatified enjoyment of the things that were to be, and never were, and yet the things that were so real in our resolute hope that it would be hard to say, now, what realities achieved since, have been stronger!

       What! Did that Christmas never really come when we and the priceless pearl who was our young choice were received, after the happiest of totally impossible marriages, by the two united families previously at daggers—drawn on our account? When brothers and sisters-in-law who had always been rather cool to us before our relationship was effected, perfectly doted on us, and when fathers and mothers overwhelmed us with unlimited incomes? Was that Christmas dinner never really eaten, after which we arose, and generously and eloquently rendered honour to our late rival, present in the company, then and there exchanging friendship and forgiveness, and founding an attachment, not to be surpassed in Greek or Roman story, which subsisted until death? Has that same rival long ceased to care for that same priceless pearl, and married for money, and become usurious? Above all, do we really know, now, that we should probably have been miserable if we had won and worn the pearl, and that we are better without her?

       That Christmas when we had recently achieved so much fame; when we had been carried in triumph somewhere, for doing something great and good; when we had won an honoured and ennobled name, and arrived and were received at home in a shower of tears of joy; is it possible that THAT Christmas has not come yet?

       And is our life here, at the best, so constituted that, pausing as we advance at such a noticeable mile-stone in the track as this great birthday, we look back on the things that never were, as naturally and full as gravely as on the things that have been and are gone, or have been and still are? If it be so, and so it seems to be, must we come to the conclusion that life is little better than a dream, and little worth the loves and strivings that we crowd into it?

       No! Far be such miscalled philosophy from us, dear Reader, on Christmas Day! Nearer and closer to our hearts be the Christmas spirit, which is the spirit of active usefulness, perseverance, cheerful discharge of duty, kindness and forbearance! It is in the last virtues especially, that we are, or should be, strengthened by the unaccomplished visions of our youth; for, who shall say that they are not our teachers to deal gently even with the impalpable nothings of the earth!


       Therefore, as we grow older, let us be more thankful that the circle of our Christmas associations and of the lessons that they bring, expands! Let us welcome every one of them, and summon them to take their places by the Christmas hearth.

       Welcome, old aspirations, glittering creatures of an ardent fancy, to your shelter underneath the holly! We know you, and have not outlived you yet. Welcome, old projects and old loves, however fleeting, to your nooks among the steadier lights that burn around us. Welcome, all that was ever real to our hearts; and for the earnestness that made you real, thanks to Heaven! Do we build no Christmas castles in the clouds now? Let our thoughts, fluttering like butterflies among these flowers of children, bear witness! Before this boy, there stretches out a Future, brighter than we ever looked on in our old romantic time, but bright with honour and with truth. Around this little head on which the sunny curls lie heaped, the graces sport, as prettily, as airily, as when there was no scythe within the reach of Time to shear away the curls of our first-love. Upon another girl's face near it—placider but smiling bright—a quiet and contented little face, we see Home fairly written. Shining from the word, as rays shine from a star, we see how, when our graves are old, other hopes than ours are young, other hearts than ours are moved; how other ways are smoothed; how other happiness blooms, ripens, and decays—no, not decays, for other homes and other bands of children, not yet in being nor for ages yet to be, arise, and bloom and ripen to the end of all!

       Welcome, everything! Welcome, alike what has been, and what never was, and what we hope may be, to your shelter underneath the holly, to your places round the Christmas fire, where what is sits open- hearted! In yonder shadow, do we see obtruding furtively upon the blaze, an enemy's face? By Christmas Day we do forgive him! If the injury he has done us may admit of such companionship, let him come here and take his place. If otherwise, unhappily, let him go hence, assured that we will never injure nor accuse him.

       On this day we shut out Nothing!

       "Pause," says a low voice. "Nothing? Think!"

       "On Christmas Day, we will shut out from our fireside, Nothing."

       "Not the shadow of a vast City where the withered leaves are lying deep?" the voice replies. "Not the shadow that darkens the whole globe? Not the shadow of the City of the Dead?"

        Not even that. Of all days in the year, we will turn our faces towards that City upon Christmas Day, and from its silent hosts bring those we loved, among us. City of the Dead, in the blessed name wherein we are gathered together at this time, and in the Presence that is here among us according to the promise, we will receive, and not dismiss, thy people who are dear to us!

         Yes. We can look upon these children angels that alight, so solemnly, so beautifully among the living children by the fire, and can bear to think how they departed from us. Entertaining angels unawares, as the Patriarchs did, the playful children are unconscious of their guests; but we can see them—can see a radiant arm around one favourite neck, as if there were a tempting of that child away. Among the celestial figures there is one, a poor misshapen boy on earth, of a glorious beauty now, of whom his dying mother said it grieved her much to leave him here, alone, for so many years as it was likely would elapse before he came to her— being such a little child. But he went quickly, and was laid upon her breast, and in her hand she leads him.

       There was a gallant boy, who fell, far away, upon a burning sand beneath a burning sun, and said, "Tell them at home, with my last love, how much I could have wished to kiss them once, but that I died contented and had done my duty!" Or there was another, over whom they read the words, "Therefore we commit his body to the deep," and so consigned him to the lonely ocean and sailed on. Or there was another, who lay down to his rest in the dark shadow of great forests, and, on earth, awoke no more. O shall they not, from sand and sea and forest, be brought home at such a time!

       There was a dear girl—almost a woman—never to be one—who made a mourning Christmas in a house of joy, and went her trackless way to the silent City. Do we recollect her, worn out, faintly whispering what could not be heard, and falling into that last sleep for weariness? O look upon her now! O look upon her beauty, her serenity, her changeless youth, her happiness! The daughter of Jairus was recalled to life, to die; but she, more blest, has heard the same voice, saying unto her, "Arise for ever!"

       We had a friend who was our friend from early days, with whom we often pictured the changes that were to come upon our lives, and merrily imagined how we would speak, and walk, and think, and talk, when we came to be old. His destined habitation in the City of the Dead received him in his prime. Shall he be shut out from our Christmas remembrance? Would his love have so excluded us? Lost friend, lost child, lost parent, sister, brother, husband, wife, we will not so discard you! You shall hold your cherished places in our Christmas hearts, and by our Christmas fires; and in the season of immortal hope, and on the birthday of immortal mercy, we will shut out Nothing!

       The winter sun goes down over town and village; on the sea it makes a rosy path, as if the Sacred tread were fresh upon the water. A few more moments, and it sinks, and night comes on, and lights begin to sparkle in the prospect. On the hill-side beyond the shapelessly-diffused town, and in the quiet keeping of the trees that gird the village-steeple, remembrances are cut in stone, planted in common flowers, growing in grass, entwined with lowly brambles around many a mound of earth. In town and village, there are doors and windows closed against the weather, there are flaming logs heaped high, there are joyful faces, there is healthy music of voices. Be all ungentleness and harm excluded from the temples of the Household Gods, but be those remembrances admitted with tender encouragement! They are of the time and all its comforting and peaceful reassurances; and of the history that re-united even upon earth the living and the dead; and of the broad beneficence and goodness that too many men have tried to tear to narrow shreds.

--Charles Dickens, 1851

Image: Unknown Painter,


The Maids of the Inn


This is a guest post from the dear F.W. Boreham.


Campagne de France (An Oil Selection)

Campaign of France
1864, Oil on Canvas
Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier

"God and the soldier
All men adore
In time of trouble,
And no more;
For when war is over
And all things righted,
God is neglected -
The old soldier slighted."


--Written on a sentry box at Prince Edward's Gate, Gibralter 

For more items of this nature please visit our Oil section here but not here.