Whom Do Great Men Marry?
Women, of course. But they show the same diversity of taste that is seen in the lower rank, and, on the whole, make worse mistakes. They, however, generally show the same sense in choosing wives that they show in managing other people’s affairs, whether it be good or bad.
Robert Burns married a farm girl with whom he fell in love while they worked together in a plow field. He, too, was irregular in his life, and committed the most serious mistakes in conducting his domestic affairs.
Milton married the daughter of a country squire, but lived with her only a short time. He was austere, exacting, a literary recluse; while she was a rosy, romping country lass that could not endure the restraint imposed upon her, so they separated. Subsequently, however, she returned and they lived tolerably happy.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were cousins, and about the only example in the long line of English monarchs wherein the marital vows were sincerely observed, and sincere affection existed.
Shakspeare* loved and wed a farmer’s daughter. She proved faithful to her vows, but we could hardly say the same for the great bard himself. Like most of the great poets, he showed too little discrimination in bestowing his affections on the other sex.
Byron married Miss Milbank to get money to pay his debts. It turned out a bad shift.
Benjamin Franklin married the girl who stood in her father’s door and laughed at him as he wandered through the streets of Philadelphia with rolls of bread under his arms and his pockets filled with dirty clothes. She had occasion to be happy when she found herself the wife of such a good and great man.
Washington married a widow with two children. It is enough to say of her that she was worthy of him, and that they lived, as married folks should, in perfect harmony.
John Adams married the daughter of a Presbyterian clergyman. Her father objected on account of John being a lawyer; he had a bad opinion of the morals of the profession.
Thomas Jefferson married Mrs. Martha Skelton, a childless widow, but she brought him a large fortune in real estate. After the ceremony she mounted the horse behind him and they rode home together. It was late in the evening, and they found the fire out. But the great statesman bustled around and rebuilt it, while she seized the broom and soon put things in order. It is needless to say that they were happy though Jefferson died a poor man, on account of his extreme liberality and hospitality.
John Howard, the great philanthropist, married his nurse. She was altogether beneath him in social life and intellectual capacity, and besides this, was fifty-two years old, while he was but twenty-five. He would not take “no” for an answer, and they were married and lived happily together till her death, which occurred two years afterward.
Peter the Great, of Russia, married a peasant girl. She made an excellent wife and a sage Empress.
Humboltd* married a poor girl because he loved her. Of course they were happy.
It is not generally known that Andrew Jackson married a lady whose husband was still living. She was an uneducated, but amiable woman, and was most devotedly attached to the old warrior and statesman.
John C. Calhoun married his cousin, and their children fortunately were not idiotic nor diseased, but they do not evince the talent of the great “States Rights” advocate.
Edward Lytton Bulwer*, the English statesman and novelist, married a girl much his inferior in position, and got a shrew for his wife. She is now insane.
Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Apr 16, 1869
*typos in the original newspaper article.