The proper domestic duties of the wife (1836)

Original publication: Burlington Free Press (Burlington, Vermont) Date: May 27, 1836
Categories: 1830s, Culture & lifestyle, Love & marriage
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The proper domestic duties of the wife (1836)

Domestic knowledge of women

It is said by some who do not think domestic knowledge of any consequence, that in acquiring it, a young woman is thrown too much into the society of servants, thereby gaining some of their habits and ideas, and that it is better to defer the acquiring this knowledge till she shall have an establishment of her own, when they seem to expect that it will come naturally and intuitively.

Youth, undoubtedly, is very easily contaminated by and quickly falls into the habits and opinions of those with whom it associates; but as a guard against these evils, there is an innate pride in the disposition of every young woman, which will prevent her from making friends of her inferiors; and that mind, and those manners, must take an impression more easily than the softest wax, and be sooner sullied then the whitest snow, which take too deep an injury from one hour spent in the kitchen, for the remainder of the twenty-four to eradicate.

While to place a young woman at the head of a family, before she shall have learned her duties as one, is to subject her to much unhappiness during the early years of her married life, to the displeasure of a disappointed husband, who sees his wealth wasted, and the discomforts of his single life prolonged, through the ignorance of her whom he had fondly hoped to have found, not only the admired and couriered ornament of the drawing room, but also the able directress of his household, and the careful promoter of his home enjoyments.

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 endeavor 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 without his knowing how or when. He must reap the benefit of labors which he must never witness in their progress. He will know that to his wife he is obliged for those 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.

Image: Painting by Joseph H Davis of Charles & Comfort Caverly, with their son Isaac — 1836


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Source publication: Burlington Free Press (Burlington, Vermont)

Publication date: May 27, 1836


1 Comment

  1. They make it sound so gracious and professional. Was any woman ever such a paragon??

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