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described in the Scotch song, who had
“ Neither pot nor pan,
But four bare legs together," for I had a house tolerably furnished for a poor man before. No thanks to Dad, who, I understand, was very much pleased with his politic management; and I have since learned, that there are other old curmudgeons (so called) besides him, who have this trick to marry their daughters, and yet keep what they might well spare, till they can keep it no longer. But this by way of digression; a word to the wise is enough.
I soon saw, that with care and industry we might live tolerably easy and in credit with our neighbours; but my wife had a strong inclination to be a gentlewoman. In consequence of this, my old-fashioned looking-glass was one day broke, as she said, no one could tell which way. However, since we could not be without a glass in the room, “My dear,” saith she, “we may as well buy a large fashionable one, that Mr. Such-a-one has to sell. It will cost but little more than a common glass, and will look much handsomer and more creditable.” Accordingly, the glass was bought and hung against the wall; but in a week's time I was made sensible, by little and little, that the table was by no means suitable to such a glass; and, a more proper table being procured, some time after, my spouse, who was an excellent contriver, informed me where we might have very handsome chairs in the way; and thus by degrees I found all my old furniture stowed up in the garret, and every thing below altered for the better.
Had we stopped here, it might have done well enough. But my wife being entertained with tea by the good women she visited, we could do no less than the like when they visited us; and so we got a tea-table with all its appurtenances of china and silver. Then my spouse unfortunately overworked herself in washing the house, so that we could do no longer without a maid. Besides this, it happened frequently, that when I came home at one, the dinner was but just put in the pot, and my dear thought really it had been but eleven. At other times, when I came at the same hour, she wondered I would stay so long, for dinner was ready about one, and had waited for me these two hours. These irregularities occasioned by mistaking the time, convinced me, that it was absolutely necessary to buy a clock, which my spouse observed was a great ornament to the room. And lastly, to my grief, she was troubled with some ailment or other, and nothing did her so much good as riding, and these hackney horses were such wretched ugly creatures that I bought a very fine pacing mare, which cost twenty pounds; and hereabouts affairs have stood for about a twelvemonth past.
I could see all along, that this did not at all suit with my circumstances, but had not resolution enough to help it, till lately, receiving a very severe dun, which mentioned the next court, I began in earnest to project relief. Last Monday, my dear went over the river to see a relation and stay a fortnight, because she could not bear the heat of the town air. In the interim I have taken my turn to make alterations; namely, I have turned away the maid, bag and baggage, (for what should we do with a maid, who, beside our boy, have none but ourselves?) I have sold the pacing mare, and bought a good milch cow with three pounds of the money. I have disposed of the table, and put a good spinning-wheel in its place, which methinks looks very pretty ; nine empty canisters I have stuffed with flax, and with some of the money of the tea-furniture I have bought a set of knitting-needles, for, to tell you the truth, I begin to want stockings. The fine clock I
have transformed into an hour-glass, by which I have gained a good round sum, and one of the pieces of the old looking-glass, squared and framed, supplies the place of the great one, which I have conveyed into a closet, where it may possibly remain some years. In short, the face of things is quite changed, and methinks you would smile to see my hour-glass hanging in the place of the clock. What a great ornament it is to the room! I have paid my debts and find money in my pocket. I expect my dear home next Friday, and, as your paper is taken at the house where she is, I hope the reading of this will prepare her mind for the above surprising revolutions. If she can conform herself to this new manner of living, we shall be the happiest couple perhaps in the province, and by the blessing of God may soon be in thriving circumstances.
I have reserved the great glass, because I know her heart is set upon it; I will allow her, when she comes in, to be taken suddenly ill with the hcad-ache, the stomach-ache, fainting fits, or whatever other disorder she may think more proper, and she may retire to bed as soon as she pleases. But, if I should not find her in perfect health, both of body and mind, the next morning, away goes the aforesaid great glass, with several other trinkets I have no occasion for, to the vendue, that very day; which is the irrevocable resolution
Of, Sir, her loving husband, and
Answer. I don't love to concern myself in affairs between man and wife.
LETTER FROM CELIA SINGLE.
FROM THE PENNSYLVANIA GAZETTE, JULY 24TH, 1732.
MR. GAZETTEER, I must needs tell you, that some of the things you print do more harm than good; particularly I think so of the tradesman's letter, which was in one of your
late papers, which disobliged many of our sex, and has broken the peace of several families, by causing difference between men and their wives. I shall give you one instance, of which I was an eye and ear witness.
Happening last Wednesday morning to be at Mrs. W.'s, when her husband returned from market, among other things he showed her some balls of thread, which he had bought. “My dear,” says he, “I like mightily those stockings, which I yesterday saw neighbour Afterwit knitting for her husband, of thread of her own spinning. I should be glad to have some such stockings myself. I understand that your maid Mary is a very good knitter, and, seeing this thread in market, I have bought it, that the girl may make a pair or two for me.” Mrs. W. was just then at the glass, dressing her head, and turning about with the pins in her mouth,
Lord, child,” says she, “are you crazy? What time has Mary to knit ? Who must do the work, I wonder, if
you set her to knitting ?” “Perhaps, my dear,” says he, “you have a mind to knit them yourself
. I remember, when I courted you, I once heard you say, that you had learned to knit of your mother.” “I knit stockings for you!” says she; “not I, truly! There are poor women enough in town, who can knit; if you please, you may employ them.” “Well, but my dear,” says he, “you know a penny saved is a penny got, and there is neither sin nor shame in knitting a pair of stockings; why should you have such a mighty aver
sion to it? And what signifies talking of poor women? You know we are not people of quality. We have no income to maintain us but arises from my labor and industry. Methinks you should not be at all displeased, when you have an opportunity of getting something as well as myself.” “I wonder,” says she, “you can propose such a thing
Did not you always tell me you would maintain me like a gentlewoman? If I had married the Captain, I am sure he would have scorned to mention knitting of stockings.” Prythee,” says he, a little nettled, “ what do you tell me of your Captain ? If you could have had him, I suppose you would, or perhaps you did not like him very well. If I did promise to maintain you as a gentlewoman, methinks it is time enough for that, when you know how to behave yourself like one. How long, do you think, I can maintain you at your present rate of living ?” “Pray,” says she, somewhat fiercely, and dashing the puff into the powder-box, “don't use me in this manner, for I'll assure you I won't bear it. This is the fruit of your poison newspapers; there shall no more come here, I promise you.” “Bless us,” says he,“ what an unaccountable thing is this? Must a tradesman's daughter, and the wife of a tradesman, necessarily be a lady? In short, I tell you, if I am forced to work for a living, and you are too good to do the like, there's the door, go and live upon your estate. And, as I never had or could expect any thing with you, I don't desire to be troubled with you."
What answer she made, I cannot tell; for, knowing that man and wife are apt to quarrel more violently when before strangers, than when by themselves, I got up and went out hastily. But I understand from Mary, who came to me of an errand in the evening, that they dined together very peaceably and lovingly,