Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Husband's Instructions to his Family, 1685

Okay, so the sign really said "A Family well Govern'd is, like a Kingdom, well Ruled," but this is essentially the same thing. Read it and weep, sis.

The husband's instructions to his family:, or, Household observations fit to be observed by vvife, children, and servants is such a useful publication. In three instructive poems, we hear a husband's great ideas about how his wife, kids, and servants should behave. Just go to the column that represents the oppressed group to which you belong, and read what a rich white man thinks about you. TONS of good advice in here for all! We learn, for example, that a wife shouldn't wear makeup, or talk too loud, or nag nag nag her husband all the time he's the one making all the money around here for crying out loud what more do you want?!! The advice for servants is mostly about how they shouldn't steal or gamble. It also contains these immortal lines:

I hate a slut, too. And don't even get me started on saucy knaves! Good servants are so hard to find these days. Basically the entire thing is reinforcing that patriarchy through the magical medium of poetry. Together at last.

Finally, for good measure, a pretty funny Long S from the instructions for children poem to add to the collection:

Great set of instructions, husband! I'm off to wash off my makeup and work on my humility and modesty.


Tom Geller said...

...reinforcing that patriarchy through the magical medium of poetry

At first I read that as, "...through the magical tedium of poetry". Same thing.

Kathy English said...

uh, wow! I think this calls for the wife's response (and children's, and servants') to what an ideal spouse (hah! freudian slip? I typed "souse", originally), employer, and father should be!