[HNW] Source of Anonymous Quote

Valerie Justus-Rusconi valerie_kalyani at yahoo.com
Sun Jun 26 09:12:34 PDT 2011

I have seen this quote on many signature lines:

Oh heaven preserve us from a wife with fancy work run wild! - Anon

I know where it came from. :>) 

It is from a book published in 1852. It was reprinted in Harper's Monthly that same year, but they omitted the final verse when it went to press. I have copied it below so you can read the whole thing. What a rotten husband!

>From A History of Needlemaking by M. T. Morrall, 1852.

                    The Husband's Complaint

I hate the name of German wool, in all its colours bright;
Of chairs and stools in fancy work, I hate the very sight;
The shawls and slippers that I've seen, the ottomans and bags
Sooner than wear a stitch on me, I'd walk the streets in rags.

I've heard of wives too musical, - too talkative - too quiet,
Of scolding and of gaming wives and those too fond of riot;
But yet of all the errors known, which to the women fall;
For ever doing fancy work, I think exceeds them all.

The other day when I went home no dinner was for me,
I asked my wife the reason; she answered, 'One, two, three,'
I told her I was hungry and stamped upon the floor.
She never even looked at me, but murmured 'One green more.'

Of course she made me angry, - but she didn't care for that,
And chatters while I talk to her 'A white and then a black,
Seven greens and then a purple, - just hold your tongue my dear,
You really do annoy me so, I've made a wrong stitch here.'

And as for conversation with the eternal frame,
I speak to her of fifty things - she answers just the same!
'Tis 'Yes my love, five reds and then a black, I quite agree with you,
I've done this wrong, seven, eight, nine, ten, an orange then a blue.'

If any lady comes to tea, her bag is first surveyed,
And if the pattern pleases her, a copy there is made.
She stares too at the gentleman, and when I ask her why,
'Tis 'Oh, my love, the pattern of his waistcoat struck my eye.'

And if to walk I am inclined ('Tis seldom I go out)
At every worsted shop she sees Oh how she stares about.
And there 'tis 'Oh! I must go in, that pattern is so rare,
That group of flowers is just the thing I wanted for my chair.'

Besides the things she makes are such touch-me-not affairs,
I dare not even use a screen, -a stool, - and as for chairs!
'Twas only yesterday I put my youngest boy on one
And until then I never knew my wife had such a tongue.

Alas! For my dear little ones, they dare not move or speak:
'Tis, 'Tom be quiet, put down that bag; Harriet, where's your feet?
Maria standing on that stool - it was not made for use,
Be silent all - three green, one red, and then a puce.'

Ah! The misery of a working wife, with fancy work run wild,
And hands that never do aught else for husband or for child;
Our clothes are rent and minus strings, my house is in disorder,
And all because my lady wife has taken to embroider.

I'll put my children out to school,  I'll go across the seas
My wife's so full of fancy work, I'm sure she won't miss me;
E'en while I write she still keeps on her one, two, three and four,
'Tis past all bearing, on my word, I'll not endure it more.

~Valerie Kalyani, La Reine de Couleur

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