John Roebling, Pittsburgh's famous bridge builder, builder of Brooklyn Bridge, settled first at Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, where he manufactured the first wire rope. Here he married Johanna Herting, one of the settlers who had come with the colony from Germany. In 1864, when Roebling was building the Cincinnati-Covington bridge, his wife died. He wrote in the family Bible this beautiful tribute to her:
"Of those angels in human form who are blessing this earth by their unselfish love and devotion, this dear departed wife was one. She never thought of herself, she only thought of others. No trace of ill-will toward any person ever entered her unselfish bosom. And, oh, what a treasure of love she was toward her own children! No faults were ever discovered, she knew only forbearance, patience, and kindness. My only regret is that such pure unselfishness was not sufficiently appreciated by myself. In a higher sphere of life I hope to meet you again, dear Johanna. And I also hope that my own love and devotion will then be more deserving of yours."
Too often an angelic wife, an angel on earth, goes to heaven before we realize that she is an angel. In Browning's "Paracelsus" the philosopher who made fame and ambition his god, at the expense and sacrifice of human affection and love, confesses his error to Festus in the hospital at St. Sebastian:
And she is gone; sweet human love is gone!
'Tis only when they spring to heaven that angels
Reveal themselves to you; they sit all day
Beside you, and lie down at night by you
Who care not for their presence, muse or sleep,
And all at once they leave you, and you know them!
The word wife literally means weaver. In the times before the factories arose, the wool was spun by the girls, who were therefore called spinsters; and the thread was woven into cloth by the mother, who was therefore called wife. And Trench well remarks that "in this word is wrapped up a kind of earnest, indoor, stay-at-home occupation, as being fit for one who bears this name." This is indeed a far cry from many who bear this name today.—The Biblical Illustrator
A young skeptic in the congregation once interrupted Billy Sunday with the question:
"Who was Cain's wife?"
The Evangelist answered in all seriousness:
"I honor every seeker after knowledge of the truth. But I have a word of warning for this questioner. Don't risk losing salvation by too much inquiring after other men's wives."