Duties of a Wife,
poem, pg 11
Domestic happiness, thou only bliss
Of Paradise that has surviv'd the fall!
Tho' few now taste thee unimpair'd and pure,
Or tasting, long enjoy thee: ----
* * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * *
Thou art the nurse of Virtue. In thine arms'
She smiles appearing, as in truth she is,
Heaven-born, and destin'd to the skies again.
Thou art not known, where pleasure is ador'd,
That reeling goddess, with the zoneless waist
And wand'ring eye, still leaning on the arm
Of novelty, her fickle frail support:
For thou art meek and constant, hating change,
And finding in the calm of truth-tied love
Joys that her stormy raptures never yield.
Forsakin thee, what shipwreck have we made
O honour, dignity, and fair renown!
pg 209-210 A man by marrying places his domestic comforts in the power of his wife, and relinquishes to her all command and management of them; and she must so regulate them, as that he shall in no particular imagine or feel that anything could be better arranged; she must endeavour that her house shall be the best ordered, her servants the best, and even her table the best, of any that come under his observation; and all this must be done, and may be done, without his knowing how or when; he must reap the benefit of labours which he must never witness in their progress; he will know that to his wife he is obliged for these comforts and pleasures, but he must never be deprived of her society at those times when he seeks for the enjoyments of his home, because she is busily employed in household affairs; by a proper and methodical arrangement of her business and time, she may always be ready to meet him and his friends in the drawing-room, while the kitchen has not been neglected.
Education and Domestic Duties
Pp. 40-41 Do not think it a mark of judgment to despise the appropriate duties of woman. The pursuits of your school-days may have given you habits of study incompatible with the present demands upon your time. The true excellence of your education will now be tested. If you can practice cheerful self-denial, in yielding up for a time your own tastes and pleasures, and learning with readiness many things in domestic economy, as useful, but less agreeable, than your former pursuits, you have acquired something of the art of self-government. In amusing your younger brothers and sisters, you may exercise judgment as well as good nature. Good-sense may be shown about trifles, and not wasted upon them either. Dr. Johnson used to say of Mrs. Elizabeth Carter, "that she could make a pudding as well as translate Epictetus from the Greek, and work a handkerchief as well as compose a poem."
Pp. 29-30 It has been said, that the tour of a woman's gaiety should terminate with marriage; certain it is that her chief happiness should then be derived from home. A turn for dissipation in any woman is unseemly, in a married woman it is criminal. Home duties are the peculiar duties of woman, and are those in which she shines pre-eminently, and from the execution of which she derives her highest influence. Time was, when the women of New-England were accustomed from childhood to the constant employment of their hands. I would write in letters of gold the indisputable fact, that the habits of industry and personal exertion, thus acquired, gave them a strength and dignity of character, a power of usefulness, and a capability of doing good, which the higher theories of modern education fail to impart. Their sphere of action was their own fireside, and the world in which they moved was one where pleasure of the highest, purest order naturally arises out of acts of duty faithfully performed. Order in your household is essential to the performance of its various duties. Without system, you will be always busy, and always a little too late. Determine to finish every duty at its proper time; - to do, when it should be done, and you will never appear in a bustle; and in the after-part of each day seldom have any of the essentials of a household to attend to; or rather, seldom have such duties to perform , as could not be conveniently laid aside upon the appearance of your husband and his friends. If your husband is a man of order, how much of your happiness may hinge on attention, regular attention, to your household duties. How soon his eye will detect the absence of a controlling, governing, and sufficient power. Let such matters as affect his personal comfort have your first attention; trifling as the circumstance may be considered, - a button off a collar or a wristband, - the absence of a pair of slippers from their appropriate place, has given rise to animadversions which have let in the spirit of discord. and laid the foundation of confirmed discontent; recollect that habitual disregard of small duties displays the presence of negligence and indifference as much,or more, than the occasional neglect of important ones.
How to maintain your husbands attention when company is present
Pp. 41-42 Nothing would disgust this man so much, or drive him away so effectually, as any assumption on the part of his wife of a right to detain him. The next most injudicious thing she could do, would be to exhibit symptoms of grief - of real sorrow and distress at his leaving her; for whatever may be said in novels on the subject of beauty in tears, seems to be rendered null and void by the circumstance of marriage having taken place between the parties.
The rational woman, whose conversation on this occasion is to serve her purpose more effectually than tears, knows better than to speak of what her husband would probably consider a most unreasonable subject of complaint. She tries to recollect some incident, some trait of character, or some anecdote of what has lately occurred within her knowledge, and relates it in her most lively and piquant manner. If conscious of beauty, she tries a little raillery, and plays gently upon some of her husband's not unpleasing peculiarities, looking all the while as disengaged and unsuspecting as she can. If his attention becomes fixed, she gives her conversation a more serious turn, and plunges at once into some theme of deep and absorbing interest. If her companion grows restless, she changes the subject, and again recollects something laughable to relate to him. Yet all the while her poor heart is aching with the feverish anxiety that vacillates between the extremes of hope and fear. She gains courage, however, as time steals on, for her husband is by her side, and with her increasing courage her spirits become exhilarated, and she is indeed the happy woman she has hitherto but appeared; for at last her husband looks at his watch, is astonished to find it is too late to join his friends; and while the evening closes in, he wonders whether any other man has a wife so delightful and entertaining as his own.
LOVE OF DOMESTIC CONCERNS
Pp. 175-176 But, lastly, young women should love domestic life, and the care and society of the young, because it is, without doubt, the intention of Divine Providence that they should do so; and because home, and the concerns of home, afford the best opportunities and means of moral improvement.
The prerogative of woman- the peculiar province which God in nature has assigned her- has been already alluded to with sufficient distinctness. Let every reader, then, follow out the hint, and ask herself whether it is not important that she should love the place and circumstances thus assigned her; and whether she who hates them, is likely to derive from them the great moral lessons they are eminently designed to inculcate.
Is it asked what moral lessons, so mightily important, can be learned in the nursery and in the kitchen? In return, I may ask, what lessons of instruction are there which may not be learned there, and what moral virtues may not there be cultivated? Each family is a world in miniature; and all the necessary trials of the temper and of the character, are usually found within its circle.
Domestic bliss pg 85-87
"It pains me excessively to know, from actual observation, that the latter is the true picture of a proportion of our modern female companions. They do not seem to marry with a view to the happiness of domestic life. They appear to regard home - the kitchen, especially - as the grave of all true freedom and enjoyment. What object such persons have in view, in entering into wedlock, it is difficult to conceive, unless it be to comply with fashion, and t avoid reproach. Do they not resemble, in some respects, the seven persons who are represented in the language of prophecy, as laying hold of the skirt of one Jew, saying - 'We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel, only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach?'
"There is something radically wrong in that education which permits females to come to maturity without the most exalted notions of domestic bliss, and without the highest anticipations of sharing in the honor of its creation. How much more erroneous still, to suffer the to come upon the stage of action, not only destitute of this sacred regard for domestic felicity, but even hating it. And yet I have seen may a young lady of mature years, who honestly confessed that shoe should dread death far less than confinement to a single house, and to the cares of a household.
"How totally unfit is such a person to become a help-meet to man! How entirely disqualified to discharge the great duties which providence assigns her in the work of educating herself and others!
"If there be among my readers a young wife who has entertained these sentiments, let her consider. It is not too late. She may bring herself to take pleasure in what she now hates. Strong faith of belief in the importance of a thing, and a powerful will to execute what we believe to be right, are almost omnipotent.
"Let her consider well the structure of human society.. Let her consider well what is the fires tan d most important nursery of thought and affection - the first school for the formation of human character. Let her consider who is the first - nay, the most efficient - of human teachers. Let her remember the power, as well as the influence of maternal love. Let her hearken to the voice of nature, which speaks toe her of duty, and points her to the highest happiness. Let her hear the still small voice of conscience, unless that conscience has been most strangely stifled or perverted. Let her hear, lastly, the voice that speaks from heaven, which prescribes her being's end and aim, her proud prerogative, and her sacred responsibilities, and which assigns her reward.
"There are no duties on earth so nearly angelic as those which devolve on woman. Let the young wife then gird herself to the work which is made to be - a messenger - an angel. Let her take hold of the promises which belong to the faithful wife, and resolve that what she knows to be her duty shall be faithfully pursued. Let her do this, and what is right will soon become agreeable, on the known principles of human nature."
Poem, "ideal" woman, as pictured by Solomon, pg 88
"She seeketh wool and flax,
And worketh diligently with her hands.
She is like the merchants' ships;
She bringeth her food from afar.
She riseth also while it is yet night,
And giveth meat to her household,
And a portion to her maidens."
"She perceiveth that her merchandize is good:
Her candle goeth not out by night.
She layeth her hands to the spindle,
And her hands hold the distaff.
She stretcheth out her hand to the poor;
Yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of the snow for her household;
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
She maketh herself coverings of tapestry;
Her clothing is silk and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sitteth among the elders of the land.
She maketh fine linen and selleth it;
And delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
Strength and honor are her clothing;
And she shall rejoice in time to come.
She openeth her mouth with wisdom;
And eateth not the bread of idleness.
Her children arise up and call her blessed,
Her husband also, and he praiseth her."
Domestic Bliss, contd, 93
"I would that women of true benevolence and piety, were not so apt to dwell on the narrowness of their sphere of usefulness, and the smallness of their means for accomplishing good. They forget, in my opinion, what doing good is. They forget, or do not know, that to make the domestic circle what it should be, is one principal object of their mission. They forget that heaven, if it begin at all, must begin below the sun; and that the fairest known type of the bliss beyond the grave, is the little world of bliss which woman forms around the domestic fireside"
w/o Domestic Work..., pg 94-95
"O woman! thou knowst the hour when the 'good man of the house' will return at mid-day, while the sun is bowing down the laborer with the fierceness of his beams, or at evening, when the burden and heat of the day are pat; - do not let him, at such a time, when he is weary with exertion, and faint with discouragement, find, upon his coming to his habitation, that the foot which should hasten to meet him is wandering at a distance - that the soft hand which should wipe away the sweat from his brow is knocking at the door of other houses; nor let him find a wilderness where he should enter a garden - confusion where he should see order, or filth that disgusts, where he might hope to behold neatness that delights and attracts.
"If this be the case, who can wonder that, in the anguish of disappointment, and in the bitterness of a neglected and heart-broken husband, he turns from his own door for that comfort which he wished to enjoy at home, and that society which he hoped to enjoy in his wife, and puts up with the substitutes for both which he finds in the houses of other men, or in the company of other women."
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