Moral tales/The Complaining Huſbands

Moral tales (1795–1804)
The Complaining Huſbands
3245535Moral tales — The Complaining Huſbands1795-1804


WHEN Mr. Andrews firſt came to live in the village where his eſtate was, he was told that the poor men in general were great frequenters of the ale-houſe ; this he was very ſorry to hear, becauſe it was a proof that they did not live happily with their families ; however, as it was a rule with him, not to condemn any perſon unheard, he reſolved to go among them, and inquire what they had to ſay in excuſe for themſelves ; and having occaſion to employ a great many labourers to improve his eſtate, he made that a pretence for calling in at the George, to aſk the landlord whether he knew of any good, ſtrong, active, ſober men out of work? The landlord replied, that he had ſeveral in his houſe at that time who had no employment. It was then no more than eleven o'clock in the forenoon, and Mr. Andrews thought it had a very bad appearance for men to be at a public houſe at that early hour.

What he ſaid to the landlord was overheard by Timothy Sparks, who cried out, Sober men! What do you mean by that? here are ſober men enow in the village to work for twenty ſquires : then ſtaggering up to Mr. Andrews, and rudely ſeizing him by the coat, he ſaid, Come along Squire, and ſee a ſet of ſober fellows fit to work for a Lord. Mr. Andrews wiſhed much to have ſome converſation with these men, and with this view followed Timothy Sparks into the kitchen, where this drunken fellow flung himſelf into a chair, and ſoon fell aſleep; the reſt of the men were ſober, and made many excuſes to Mr, Andrews for the rudeneſs of their companion, and all declared their readineſs to go to work if they could get any to do. Mr. Andrews ſaid, that if there were any unemployed from that day for months to come, it would be their own fault; but from finding them in that place, and in a morning too, he was fearful their families would not be much the better for their earnings : and added, that he ſhould make it his buſiness to inquire who were the beſt huſbands, and diſtinguiſh them by ſome rewards. I am ſure, cried Thomas Wilkinſon, that it is Bet's fault and not mine that I come to the alehouſe, I do not love ſtrong drink, indeed I do not, Sir, but I love peace and good-humour, and theſe Bet has turned out of doors, ſo I thought it beſt to follow after. I cannot ſay but that ſhe is a notable buſtling woman as ever lived, and knows how to turn a penny ; but ſhe is ſo plaguy nice that I am afraid to ſet my foot in my own houſe : for the ſcolds like a fury if I make the leaſt dirt in the world. She wears herſelf out almoſt with rubbing and ſcrubbing ; and would treat me like a ſlave. I muſt ſcrape my ſhoes every time I come in, if it were twenty times a day I muſt pull them off to go up ſtairs, if ever ſo tired I muſt not ſmoke a pipe I muſt not ſtir the fire for fear I ſhould ſpoil the bright poker : in ſhort, there are ſo many fiddle faddles that I am quite tired out. I hate to be met with a mop and a pail, and followed with a ſieve, every time I leave the print of a foot in the ſand, and therefore I come here, Sir, where I can do as I please.

Henry Perkins ſaid, that he had no reaſon to find fault with his wife for being over nice, on the contrary, ſhe fairly ſtunk him out of doors. He added that he had always been used to a clean house in his firſt wife's time, but had never had one ſince he married the second. It was his folly, he ſaid to chuse a girl who had lived servant in a family, where the maids dreſſed like ladies, and were always frolicking ; and ſhe had ſuch a taſte for dreſſing and goſſipping, that let him carry home ever so much money he was not a bit the forwarder ; and ſhe was ſuch a flattern and dawdle, that he could never get a bit of meat dreſſed fit to eat, nor ſit down comfortably to enjoy a meal: and as for his little children they were never fit to touch, nor could Nancy, his firſt wife's daughter, be tidy if ſhe would ; so that with one thing or other he was really driven from home.

Benjamin Philips knew not what excuse to make for himself, and only ſaid, that when he got into work he would ſtay at home of evenings as he uſed to do ; but now he had no money he did not like to go home, for Mary did nothing but take on about having no victuals and cloaths for the three little children.

Mr. Andrews replied, that a huſband ought to comfort his wife under ſuch circumſtances inſtead of forſaking her; and that if they joined their prayers together, God would ſend them relief; but no bleſſing could be expected from going to alehouſes.

James Kingsman ſaid, that no man was more diſpoſed to love home than he was; and as he had had learning at a free ſchool, he could divert himſelf and his wife too of evenings; but ſhe was ſo touchy there was no living with her. Sometimes when he went home it would be nothing but my dear and my love, and ſhe would have a nice ſupper ready for him, and you would think they were the happieſt couple in the world, when, all of a ſudden, ſhe would bring up old grievances, and talk of former quarrels which he had forgot, till a new one ſprung up, entirely through her aggravating ways, which generally ended in fighting. Then ſhe had, he ſaid, another provoking cuſtom, which was coming to fetch him from the alehouſe ; this, he added, he never would bear. Mr. Andrews replied, that, to be ſure, it was very wrong for a woman to do ſo, becauſe it was acting as if ſhe had authority over her huſband, inſtead of her huſband over her ; but at the ſame time, the good gentleman observed, that he thought the beſt way for Tom Kingsman, was to tell his mind to his wife in private, and in a good-humoured kind way, and that when ſhe found he would not go home with her, and that ſhe made herself ridiculous, ſhe would doubtless give up the point.

Will Hudson said, he had a wife who would provoke a saint; for ſhe was always taking jealous fancies into her head. All the world could not persuade her that he did not give his company to other women, and yet he was certain he had not given her the smalleſt reason for thinking so, and therefore he thought it was very hard to be ſuſpected; nor would he ſtay at home to be lectured by the hour together, and ſee her fling herſelf into fits and paſſions. It was enough, he ſaid, to plague a man's heart out, eſpecially when he had no work to do, and wanted to read his book.

Mr. Andrews anſwered, that he was inclined to think Hudſon's wife had a great affection for her huſband, or ſhe would not be ſo deſirous of ſecuring his. He added, that it was very unfortunate for families, where this unhappy temper prevailed, either on the man's or woman's ſide; but he adviſed Hudſon to be good-humoured, and ſoothing to his wife; and ſaid, that perhaps in time ſhe might get the better of her jealouſy. Other men were beginning to make excuſes for themſelves, but Mr. Andrews ſtopped them by ſaying, Well, my lads, I have heard a number of complaints from many of you; I am heartily ſorry to find that ſuch diſagreements ſubſiſt between you and your wives; but I hope, now you have a proſpect of better times, you will go home in good-humour, and it is my opinion that you will ſoon find things there better than you expect. To-morrow morning all of you who deſire it ſhall be ſet to work. And if you have any big boys I will employ them alſo, only I muſt inſiſt on your ſending them to the Sunday School. All this the poor men promiſed to do, and thanked Mr. Andrews a thouſand times for his kindneſs, who took his leave, ſaying, Well, my lads, come to your buſineſs to-morrow with clear beads and cheerful hearts. When he returned home he gave an account of what had paſſed to Mrs. Andrews, who reſolved to go and viſit the women, in order to try what her influence would do in ſetting them to rights. Mr. Andrews had found, upon inquiry, that ſeveral of the men, not contented with drinking a great deal too much beer, were addicted to dram drinking, he therefore purchaſed a number of Dr. Stephen Hale's Admonition to the Drinkers of ſpirituous Liquors, in order to give away among them.

This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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