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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Finley Peter Dunne (1867–1936)

Home Life of Geniuses

From “Mr. Dooley’s Opinions”

“A WOMAN ought to be careful who she marries,” said Mr. Dooley.

“So ought a man,” said Mr. Hennessy, with feeling.

“It don’t make so much diff’rence about him,” said Mr. Dooley. “Whin a man’s marrid he’s a marrid man. That’s all ye can say about him. Iv coorse, he thinks marredge is goin’ to change th’ whole current iv his bein’, as Hogan says. But it doesn’t. Afther he’s been hooked up f’r a few months he finds he was marrid befure, even if he wasn’t, which is often th’ case, d’ye mind. Th’ first bride iv his bosom was th’ Day’s Wurruk, an’ it can’t be put off. They’se no groun’s f’r dissolvin’ that marredge, Hinnissy. Ye can’t say to th’ Day’s Wurruk: ‘Here, take this bunch iv alimony an’ go on th’ stage.’ It turns up at breakfast about th’ fourth month afther th’ weddin’ an’ creates a scandal. Th’ unforchnit man thries to shoo it off, but it fixes him with its eye an’ hauls him away fr’m the bacon an’ eggs, while the lady opposite weeps an’ wondhers what he can see in annything so old an’ homely. It says, ‘Come with me, aroon,’ an’ he goes. An’ afther that he spinds most iv his time an’ often a good deal iv his money with th’ enchantress. I tell ye what, Hinnissy, th’ Day’s Wurruk has broke up more happy homes thin comic opry. If th’ coorts wud allow it, manny a woman cud get a divorce on th’ groun’s that her husband cared more f’r his Day’s Wurruk thin he did f’r her. ‘Hinnissy varsus Hinnissy; corryspondint, th’ Day’s Wurruk.’ They’d be ividence that th’ defendant was seen ridin’ in a cab with th’ corryspondint, that he took it to a picnic, that he wint to th’ theayter with it, that he talked about it in his sleep, an’ that, lost to all sinse iv shame, he even escoorted it home with him an’ inthrajooced it to his varchoos wife an’ innocint childher. So it don’t make much diff’rence who a man marries. If he has a job, he’s safe.

“But with a woman ’tis diff’rent. Th’ man puts down on’y part iv th’ bet. Whin he’s had enough iv th’ conversation that in Union Park undher th’ threes med him think he was talkin’ with an intellechool joyntess, all he has to do is put on his coat, grab up his dinner-pail an’ go down to th’ shops, to be happy though marrid. But a woman, I tell ye, bets all she has. A man don’t have to marry, but a woman does. Ol’ maids an’ clargymen do th’ most good in th’ wurruld an’ we love thim f’r th’ good they do. But people, especially women, don’t want to be loved that way. They want to be loved because people can’t help lovin’ thim no matther how bad they are. Th’ story books that ye give ye’er daughter Honoria all tell her ’tis just as good not to be married. She reads about how kind Dorothy was to Lulu’s childher an’ she knows Dorothy was th’ betther woman, but she wants to be Lulu. Her heart, an’ a cold look in th’ eye iv th’ wurruld an’ her Ma tell her to hurry up. Arly in life she looks f’r th’ man iv her choice in th’ tennis records; later she reads th’ news fr’m th’ militia encampment; thin she studies th’ socyal raygisther; further on she makes hersilf familyar with Bradsthreet’s rayports, an’ fin’lly she watches th’ place where life-presarvers are hangin’.

“Now, what kind iv a man ought a woman to marry? She oughtn’t to marry a young man, because she’ll grow old quicker thin he will; she oughtn’t to marry an old man, because he’ll be much older befure he’s younger; she oughtn’t to marry a poor man, because he may become rich an’ lose her; she oughtn’t to marry a rich man, because if he becomes poor she can’t lose him; she oughtn’t to marry a man that knows more thin she does, because he’ll niver fail to show it, an’ she oughtn’t to marry a man that knows less, because he may niver catch up. But, above all things, she mustn’t marry a janius. A flurewalker, perhaps; a janius niver.

“I tell ye this because I’ve been r-readin’ a book Hogan give me, about th’ divvle’s own time a janius had with his fam’ly. A cap iv industhry may have throuble in his family till there isn’t a whole piece iv chiny in th’ cupboard, an’ no wan will be the wiser f’r it but th’ hired girl an’ th’ doctor that paints th’ black eye. But ivrybody knows what happens in a janius’s house. Th’ janius always tells th’ bartinder. Besides, he has other janiuses callin’ on him an’ ’tis th’ business iv a janius to write about th’ domestic throubles iv other janiuses so posterity’ll know what a hard thing it is to be a janius. I’ve been readin’ this book iv Hogan’s, an’ as I tell ye, ’tis about th’ misery a wretched woman inflicted on a pote’s life.

“‘Our hayro,’ says th’ author, ‘at this peeryod conthracted an unforchnit alliance that was destined to cast a deep gloom over his career. At th’ age iv fifty, afther a life devoted to the pursoot iv such gaiety as janiuses have always found niciss’ry to solace their avenin’s, he married a young an’ beautiful girl some thirty-two years his junior. This wretched crather had no appreciation iv lithrachoor or lithry men. She was frivolous an’ light-minded an’ ividently considhered that nawthin’ was rally lithrachoor that cudden’t be translated into groceries. Niver shall I f’rget th’ expression iv despair on th’ face iv this godlike man as he came into Casey’s saloon wan starry July avenin’ an’ staggered into his familyar seat, holdin’ in his hand a bit iv soiled paper which he tore into fragmints an’ hurled into the coal-scuttle. On that crumpled parchmint findin’ a somber grave among th’ disinterred relics iv an age long past, to wit, th’ cariboniferious or coal age, was written th’ iver-mim’rable pome: “Ode to Gin.” Our frind had scribbled it hastily at th’ dinner iv th’ Betther-thin-Shakespeare Club, an’ had attimpted to read it to his wife through th’ keyhole iv her bedroom dure an’ met no response fr’m th’ fillystein but a pitcher iv wather through th’ thransom. Forchnitly he had presarved a copy on his cuff an’ th’ gem was not lost to posterity. But such was th’ home life iv wan iv th’ gr-reatest iv lithry masters, a man indowed be nachure with all that shud make a woman adore him as is proved be his tindher varses: “To Carrie,” “To Maude,” “To Flossie,” “To Angebel,” “To Queenie,” an’ so foorth. De Bonipoort in his cillybrated “Mimores,” in which he tells ivrything unpleasant he see or heerd in his frinds’ houses, gives a sthrikin’ pitcher iv a scene that happened befure his eyes. “Afther a few basins iv absceenthe in th’ reev gosh,” says he, “Parnassy invited us home to dinner. Sivral iv th’ bum vivonts was hard to wake up, but fin’lly we arrived at th’ handsome cellar where our gr-reat frind had installed his unworthy fam’ly. Ivrything pinted to th’ admirable taste iv th’ thrue artist. Th’ tub, th’ washboard, th’ biler singin’ on th’ fire, th’ neighbor’s washin’ dancin’ on the clothes-rack, were all in keepin’ with th’ best ideels iv what a pote’s home shud be. Th’ wife, a faded but still pretty woman, welcomed us more or less, an’ with th’ assistance iv sivral bottles iv paint we had brought with us we was soon launched on a feast iv raison an’ a flow iv soul. Unhappily befure th’ raypast was con-cluded a mis’rable scene took place. Amid cries iv approval, Parnassy read his mim’rable pome intitled: ‘I wisht I nivir got marrid.’ Afther finishin’ in a perfect roar of applause, he happened to look up an’ see his wife callously rockin’ th’ baby. With th’ impetchosity so characteristic iv th’ man, he broke a soup-plate over her head an’ burst into tears on th’ flure, where gentle sleep soon soothed th’ pangs iv a weary heart. We left as quietly as as we cud, considherin’ th’ way th’ chairs was placed, an’ wanst undher th’ stars comminted on th’ ir’ny iv fate that condimned so great a man to so milancholy a distiny.”

“‘This,’ says our author, ‘was th’ daily life iv th’ hayro f’r tin years. In what purgatory will that infamous woman suffer if Hiven thinks as much iv janiuses as we think iv oursilves. Forchnitly th’ pote was soon to be marcifully relieved. He left her an’ she married a boorjawce with whom she led a life iv coarse happiness. It is sad to relate that some years aftherward th’ great pote, havin’ called to make a short touch on th’ woman f’r whom he had sacryficed so much, was unfeelingly kicked out iv th’ boorjawce’s plumbin’ shop.’

“So, ye see, Hinnissy, why a woman oughtn’t to marry a janius. She can’t be cross or peevish or angry or jealous or frivolous or annything else a woman ought to be at times f’r fear it will get into th’ ditchn’ry iv biography, an’ she’ll go down to histhry as a termygant. A termygant, Hinnissy, is a woman who’s heerd talkin’ to her husband after they’ve been marrid a year. Hogan says all janiuses was unhappily marrid. I guess that’s thrue iv their wives too. He says if ye hear iv a pote who got on with his fam’ly, scratch him fr’m ye’er public lib’ry list. An’ there ye ar-re.”

“Ye know a lot about marredge,” said Mr. Hennessy.

“I do,” said Mr. Dooley.

“Ye was niver marrid?”

“No,” said Mr. Dooley. “No, I say, givin’ three cheers. I know about marredge th’ way an asthronomer knows about th’ stars. I’m studyin’ it through me glass all the time.”

“Ye’re an asthronomer,” said Mr. Hennessy; “but,” he added, tapping himself lightly on the chest, “I’m a star.”

“Go home,” said Mr. Dooley crossly, “befure th’ mornin’ comes to put ye out.”