165 Hints to Young Wives (1852) By Fanny Fern
Shouldn ‘t I like to make a bon-fire of all the “Hints to Young Wives, “ “Married Women ‘s Friend, “ etc., and throw in the authors after them? I have a little neighbor who believes all they tell her is gospel truth, and lives up to it. The minute she sees her husband coming up the street, she makes for the door, as if she hadn ‘t another minute to live, stands in the entry with her teeth chattering in her head till he gets all his coats and mufflers, and overshoes, and what-do-you-call—‘ems off, then chases round (like a cat in a fit) after the boot-jack; warms his slippers and puts ‘em on, and dislocates her wrist carving at the table for fear it will tire him.
Poor little innocent fool! she imagines that ‘s the way to preserve his affection. Preserve a fiddlestick! the consequence is, he ‘s sick of the sight of her; snubs her when she asks him a question, and after he has eaten her good dinners takes himself off as soon as possible, bearing in mind the old proverb “that too much of a good thing is good for nothing. “ Now the truth is just this, and I wish all the women on earth had but one ear in common, so that I could put this little bit of gospel into it: ——Just so long as a man isn ‘t quite as sure as if he knew for certain, whether nothing on earth could ever disturb your affection for him, he is your humble servant, but the very second he finds out (or thinks he does) that he has possession of every inch of your heart, and no neutral territory ——he will turn on his heel and march off whistling “Yankee Doodle! “
Now it ‘s no use to take your pocket handkerchief and go snivelling round the house with a pink nose and red eyes; not a bit of it! If you have made the interesting discovery that you were married for a sort of upper servant or housekeeper, just fill that place and no other, keep your temper, keep all his strings and buttons and straps on; and then keep him at a distance as a housekeeper should ——“thems my sentiments! “ I have seen one or two men in my life who could bear to be loved (as women with a soul knows how), without being spoiled by it, or converted into a tyrant ——but they are rare birds and should be caught stuffed and handed over to Barnum! Now as the ministers say, “I ‘ll close with an interesting little incident that came under my observation. “
Mr. Fern came home one day when I had such a crucifying headache that I couldn ‘t have told whether I was married or single, and threw an old coat into my lap to mend. Well, I tied a wet bandage over my forehead, “left all flying, “ and sat down to it ——he might as well have asked me to make a new one; however I new lined the sleeves, mended the buttonholes, sewed on new buttons down the front, and all over the coat tails ——when it finally it occurred to me (I believe it was a suggestion of Satan,) that the pocket might need mending; so I turned it inside out, and what do you think I found? A love-letter from him to my dress-maker!! I dropped the coat, I dropped the work-basket, I dropped the buttons, I dropped the baby (it was a female, and I thought it just as well to put her out of future misery) and then I hopped up into a chair front of the looking-glass, and remarked to the young woman I saw there, “F-a-n-n-y F-e-r-n! if you ——are ——ever ——such ——a ——confounded fool again “ ——and I wasn ‘t.
Becoming America, Wendy Kurant, ed., CC-BY-SA