The wife’s work: Saving the family’s money (1843)

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Family economy

by A Lady

There is nothing which goes so far towards placing young people beyond the reach of poverty as economy in the management of their domestic affairs. It is as much impossible get a ship across the Atlantic with half a dozen butts started, or as many bolt holes in her hull, as to conduct the concerns of a family without economy. It matters not whether a man furnish little or much for family; if there is a continual leakage in the kitchen or in the parlor, it runs away, he knows not how; and that demon, waste, cries more, like the horse-leech’s daughter, until he that provides has no more to give.

It is the husband’s duty to bring into the house, it is the duty of the wife to see that nothing goes wrongfully out of it — not the least article, however unimportant in itself, for it establishes a precedent; nor under any pretense, for it opens the door of ruin to stalk in, and he seldom leaves an opportunity unimproved. A man gets a wife to look after affairs; to assist him in his journey through life, and not to dissipate his property.

The husband’s interest should be of his wife’s care, and her greatest ambition carry her no further than his welfare and happiness, together with that of her children. This should be her sole aim, and her theatre of exploits is in the bosom of her family, where she may do as much towards making a fortune, as he possibly can do in the counting room or workshop. It is not so much the money earned that makes a man wealthy, as it is what is saved from his earnings. A good and prudent husband makes a deposit of the fruits of his labor with his best friend; and if that friend be not true to him, what has he to hope? If he dare not place confidence in the companion of his bosom, where is he to place it?

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A wife acts not for herself only, but she is the agent of many she loves, and she is bound to act for their good, and not for her own gratification. Her husband’s good is the end to which she should aim — his approbation is her reward. Self gratification in dress, indulgence in appetite, or more company than that his purse can entertain, are equally pernicious. The first adds vanity to extravagance; the second fastens a doctor’s bill, to a butcher’s account; and the latter brings intemperance, the worst of all evils, in its train.

Image: Woman sitting on a chair in a room (United States, 1843) by Alfred Edward Chalon

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