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Archive -> Autobiography -> ‘As a Tale That is Told’ Extract 12 Page 42-43

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‘As a Tale That is Told’ Extract 12 Page 42-43

Parental values/Victorian constraints on women…Book given to mother by father

I have in my possession a book called “Wives and Mothers of England” which was given to my Mother near her wedding day by my Father. The inscription in it is “To Miss Sarah Ann Smith from her sincere friend and lover, Daniel Neal.”

…I believe it was thought much of and was quite a Victorian hand-book of morals and manners. I do not think I can do better while trying to make a picture of the young lady of these days than quote one or two passages from this book.
Here is the first one:-
“One important truth sufficiently impressed upon your mind will materially assist in this desirable/

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consummation - - - it is the superiority of your husband, simply as a man. It is quite possible you may have more talent, with higher attainments, and you may also have been generally more admired; but this has nothing whatever to do with your position as a woman, which is, and must be, inferior to his as a man.”
…. “The love of woman appears to have been created solely to minister; that of man, to be ministered unto.”

Could anything be more one-sided than this:-
“With regard to all your mother love affairs then, let ‘by-gones be by-gones’. It could do no good whatever for you to remember them; and the more you are dissociated from every other being of his own sex, the more will the mind of your husband swell upon you with unalloyed satisfaction. On the other had (sic) let no ill-advised curiosity induce you to pry too narrowly into his past life as regards affairs of this nature.”
And could anything better illustrate a woman’s place in the home than this?
“Some men particularly enjoy the cheerful welcome of a clean hearth and blazing fire, on a winter’s day; and all are more or less solicitous to stir the glowing embers, themselves, rather than to see them stirred by others. I knew an excellent woman who always had her fire built up in such a manner before her husband came home, as to present a tempting crust for him to break through on his arrival; and I much question whether /
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the good lady was not more loved for this act, than she would have been, had her husband found his fire neglected and herself engaged in tears and prayers for his individual welfare.”

Is it any wonder that women rebelled?

Though it was not until 1905 that the real struggle began which finally ended in women being given the Parliamentary Franchise.
 



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‘As a Tale That is Told’ Extract 12 Page 42-43