I had fully intended to share a love poem or letter today from one of our collections in honor of Valentine’s Day. But what I found instead was simply too good to pass up. In 1829, when he was just 21 years old, Lloyd Granville Sampson (1808-1838) penned an essay and poem about the joys of being a bachelor. He obviously could not see 3 years into the future or he would have known he would be leaving the “state of single blessedness” by marrying the lovely Mary Winsor. I wonder if she had any inkling of his views on marriage?
Sampson cannot be credited with his turn of phrase. The term “Single Blessedness” was used at the time to describe the lives of women who opted out of marriage. There were benefits to being a spinster in the 19th century that often outweighed those of matrimony for sure – a single woman could own her own property, run a business and sign contracts, things a married woman could not do by law. They could also come and go as they pleased and live an independent life, if they had the financial means, of course. There were also the dangers of childbirth and overbearing husbands to consider. So, remaining unattached was an attractive option (think of our fabulous Bradford Sisters of the Bradford House museum).
It seems Sampson was in favor of his own version of single blessedness. Based on his other witty writing we can assume the following is a bit tongue-in-cheek. I hope you enjoy this very un-Valentine’s day post.
Written in behalf of the fraternity of Bachelors
Know all to whom these presents my come that I am a Bachelor, that I have lived long in a state of “single blessedness” and in that state I shall die. I know not how happy a matrimonial life may be, yet I know how peaceful is that of a Bachelor. The former may be pleasing, the latter is well known to me to be so. The double man may avoid many evils, the single man is sure to avoid one. In short I know of no life so well calculated for the comfort and care of man as a single one, when evening comes and the sun has quietly gone to rest, it is then the state of single blessedness is most dear to me. Then there is a comfort in running over past events long gone by, and a delight in anticipating the future. The Bachelor goes to his “round-a-bout” and takes his care, look at him as he sits with his head inclined upon his elbow puffing a friendly cigar, he has not a scolding wife no disobedient child no few cents for milk, no yelping brats to distract and perplex him, but goes to his bed a quietly as the sun faces the west. True it is the single man will have not long train to follow him to his “last home” no tears from a “better half” to wet the turf which covers his grave – yet for all this I am a Bachelor – the troubles of the double man will come upon him while the single man is at ease and without care. When the storm beat upon our casements and the winds whistle round our dwellings, then the troubles of the married man should be recollected. While the Bachelor sits peacefully by his fire “now and then” disturbing the burning embers with the friendly poker. The one may experience many anxious hours for a son at sea or for the indisposition of a child, the other is free from all these anxious hours and a deal of leisure to “patch stich [sic] and darn”
A single life the life for me,
How, dearly I do love it,
Free as the air I’ll live & die,
If I leave no heir behind me.
The man without a wife is blest
His life is one continued rest
Free from family, care & strife
He’s merry and happy without a wife