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year when his marriage occurred; nor does he himself distinctly remember, for he never kept a diary or record of any kind of his passing experiences. The probable date, however, was the year 1850, when Mr. Peebles was twenty-eight years of age. He was then married to Mary M. Conkey, a teacher in the Clinton Liberal Institute. She was considered intelligent, well-educated, refined, and very artistic in her tastes. As a painter she was said to excel. In a “ Pen Sketch of Reformers," published in Moses Hull's “Spiritual Rostrum," Mrs. H. F. M. Brown writes:
"Mary Conkey, the wife of our brother, has tried to keep pace with him in all his progressive ideas. However dark and rough the outer world has sometimes seemed, there has always been light, and a loving welcome in a home that Mary has beautified by her own artistic hand. Clouds have overshadowed the home, but they were the shadows of angel wings.
Three children in germ life were born to this union, neither of which matured, and one or two frail children, which Mr. and Mrs. Peebles adopted, died while yet in their childhood. In a letter to Mrs. H. M. F. Brown, written from Sacramento, in 1861, referring to the death of little “ Louie," we find these words: “He has gone to join and become a companion of our three little ones, who left the mortal ere earth's ills had tinged the gossamer of their spirit-garments with a single stain."
For the rest, we must depend upon our own observations and impressions. We do not think, however, we should be too curious to invade the private sanctuary of domestic life for the purpose of gratifying any individual or public curiosity. Such facts as may be useful and conducive to the general welfare we may properly interrogate and set forth, The probabilities are that very few young people get really acquainted with each other before marriage. They can form no rational judgment regarding their mutual fitness — or lack of it - for real helpmeets and companions through the various struggles incident to married life. People must be housed for months, if not years, under the same roof before
they can become thoroughly acquainted. The romance accompanying courtship is far more conducive to gallant attentions and mutual courtesies, than to the stern struggles of after days which call for self-denial and mutual sacrifices.
Now, although Mr. Peebles was twenty-eight years of age when he married, it is very doubtful whether he was acquainted with his wife, or she with him. It is doubtful, too, whether either found in the other the conditions that were helpful for living each their ideal life. A thorough acquaintance must needs have brought mutual disappointment in certain regards, for their lives were not attuned to the same keynote of the universal harmonies. Of this, sensitives are conscious. When much together, they unconsciously put a mutual check on the otherwise untrammeled outflow of intellect and feeling. The dove sent out from this ark must have oft returned with no place to rest her feet, and their souls must have cried out in the darkness of the night-season for a soul companionship they have never found.
O mystery of life! what are thy purposes ? But the mystery shall not be lightly solved. Both of these people are intelligent; both refined and carefully observant of the social obligations. What is there lacking here?
The writer spent two weeks at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Peebles, in the late autumn of 1862, at Battle Creek, Michigan. An air of culture and refinement pervaded that home. Mrs. Pecbles impressed us as a lady that possesses strong domestic ties, good common sense, neatness and order; naturally conservative, sensitive to public opinion, strictly observant of all social proprieties, averse to contact with the public, select and very cautious in her friendships, faithful in her attachments, doubting rather than trusting, and centered in her home as the place above all others where her heart had made its shrine.
Mr. Peebles's center has always been in his library more than around the domestic hearth, being supremely devoted to his literary work. He belongs as exclusively to the public as his wife does to the quiet domestic sphere. He becomes
inwardly impatient when his literary work is interrupted, though he is cordial and genial if the interruption is not too protracted. He has neither time nor inclination for society, except as he meets it in a public way, and still less time for domestic chit-chat. Visiting and novel-reading he abominates. He is in manner self-contained and independent, - a world unto himself. He chafes under trammels of any kind. His home can not be found in any house, however large or splendidly furnished, but is to be found in the great throbbing world of a teeming humanity. In that he finds the sacredness of solitude essential to his work. But few understand how exclusive a man of letters must become if he would serve the public royally with his voice and pen. For such, the hour given to meals is quite as much as can be spared for social communion. Mr. Peebles has long felt that he can strictly be a public man only through the most private and solitary manner of life; alone in his study? People do not know how many guests he daily entertains there,— Emerson, Victor Hugo, Plutarch, Plato, Shakespeare; these are more to him than Smith and Jones across the street, and these recuperate his mental fund for larger service, when he shall again go before the visible public.
A divided allegiance is difficult if not impossible. The husband can not be in the highest sense a companion to his wife unless his thought and life run on similar lines with hers, nor can the wife be a companion to her husband unless her natural impulsions, broadening, go out to include his province in a manner that he shall be inspired and uplifted by her presence and counsel.
From the writer's standpoint this mutual communion and helpfulness was lacking, for a reason which was beyond reach of either to remedy, without a sacrifice on the part of one or the other, which would involve the surrender of their marked individualities. She has probably been the greater sufferer of the two, for the reason that her sphere was domestic, confined and circumscribed; and also because social companionship to her was as the vital breath to her being.
This companionship lacking, the fountains of her life murmured their plaintive music in the minor key. The deep lines in that face tell the story of heart struggles, incompatibility, and self-denial. To how large an extent this all was due to temper, to conventional leanings, to the bondage which custom imposes, to the worldly standard which public opinion sets up,- it is impossible to estimate. The unhappiness from which mortals suffer, however, is more often due to their lack of conformity with the universal laws than to derelictions on the part of their associates and companions. Upon these home matters Mr. Peebles's lips have ever seemed sealed in silence.
In the summer of 1879 the writer spent two or three months with Mr. Peebles at his residence at Hammonton, N. J. There were two or three boarders in the family, including an Episcopalian minister. A high degree of culture and refinement were features in that household. In his study
where his center was established — Mr. Peebles abounded with geniality, spontaneity, and inspiration. But when the family were all seated at the family table, personal spheres were brought in contact which seemed difficult to interpenetrate or harmonize. Spontaneity and hilarity were vanished! An oppressive reserve seemed on every lip. The little conversation indulged in was labored and mechanical. An air of orthodox solemnity pervaded the place, while no member of the group seemed directly responsible for it. Back to the study again, a sunny equilibrium and cheerfulness were soon restored. How far the presence of the Episcopal priest contributed toward this social paralysis, it would be difficult
There is no doubt but that each member of this partnership strove to be just, the one toward the other, and to make the best of conditions as they existed. No blame is imputed to either side. Two excellent people embarked in the same boat for a long life-voyage; one preferring that it should traverse a peaceful, narrow, and quiet stream; the other preferring the bounding billows of the wide, blue ocean. But at length when the bound life shall be released; when the winter chains shall be broken and these two souls shall emerge from
the sepulchre gates, then the wisdom of those limitations imposed by the human will be so clearly understood by both that no censure will be indulged in, no blame will attach; neither will accusations be preferred, but the restraints and crosses which intruded into the path their weary feet have trodden, will then be recognized as stepping-stones to that higher freedom which every soul will ultimately achieve.
In one of Mr. Peebles's publications we find these eloquent passages :
Marriage in the divine plan, is as natural as sacred. It is not a sacrament, but contract. There should be less of it as a form and more of it as a mating. There should be less children born and better ones.
“ It is not expected that any two rational persons, in a wedlock or out, can always see the same star, the same shimmering sunbeams, trace the same outlines of the purple clouds, read with ecstasy the same books, or cognize or enjoy at all times the same mental emotions. Charity was pronounced the chief of the Christian graces. It should never fail. when the great throbbing soul, afire with genius and craving for beatitudes, finds little, save moral defects, dregs, ungracious incongruities, it shrinks in sorrow from the eclipse, shrinks from that raven shadow that sees in the over-arching vault, dreamily bright with the galaxies of glittering lights, only the skeleton of a gaunting despair. ...
"Freedom is the soul's inalienable birthright, and in the enjoyment and practical pursuance of this God-given right, it should feel no icy shackles, be saddled with no unnecessary burdens, press no crimsoned thorn-paths, drink no wormwood draughts, nor breathe the socially poisoned, pestilential air of dark, dismal dungeons.”
The martyr's fire-crown on the brow
Doth into glory burn;
To pearls of spirit turn,