Tuesday 27 August 2013

Contemporary Reviews of Haywood's The Husband (1756)

Below are transcripts of two contemporary reviews of Eliza Haywood's The Husband (1756), with links to the original texts (now on Google Books). See here for a complete list of early reviews of Haywood's works available online.

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Ab.72 The Husband The Critical Review 1 (March 1756): 133–35, Art.7—online here, transcribed below, without the running quotation marks.

Art. VII. The Husband. In Answer to the Wife. Pr. 3s. Gardner.

THE Husband is penned by the author of the Wife, in much the same manner; with the same honest intention; but as from her sex she is a better judge of the duties of the latter; so is she rather partial to the ladies. However a man of sense will certainly be thankful for such hints as are thrown out with a view of promoting and establishing firmly that amicable correspondence, so necessary to the happiness of a couple united for life.

He, who considers properly, will neither assume too much from his being a man; nor yet tamely submit to be led by the nose as your asses are; in trifles he will give way to his wife, because of her sex, in the composition of which there seems to be a large share of the spirit of contradiction; in matters of importance he will find a way to make her adopt his own notions, without seeming to have intended it. For woman, being of a soft and pliable nature, is rather wrought upon by gentleness and soothing; than by menaces and austerity.

A person who is able to deport himself in this manner, will give no occasion to his wife to use the following stratagem; which we have extracted for its pertinence and entertainment; a man, in such engagements as the husband described in this short story, is as much out of his element as a fish out of water; and looks as ridiculous as a woman at the head of a troop of horse.

When a man takes it into his head to be present at the hiring of a new servant-maid,—questions her on what she is able to do,—cavils with her on the article of afternoons tea, and going out every other Sunday to visit an old aunt or cousin,—is always running into his kitchen while the victuals is dressing,—ordering how the sauces shall be made, |134|—giving directions concerning the stirring of the fire, so as to render it either concave or convex, according as he thinks the meat to be roasted or boil'd requires,—enters into a learned dissertation on nutmegs, and whether they are best pounded in a mortar or grated, for minced-pyes, and a thousand other discourses of the same nature:—I say, when a man gives himself this unbecoming trouble, he is sure of being laugh'd at by his servants, and seldom fails of being despised by his wife.

I shall close what I have to say upon this head with a little incident, the truth of which I can aver:—A smart young lady of my acquaintance happen'd to be married to a gentleman of the cast I am speaking of;—she soon perceived this humour in him, and resolved to break him of it, if possible, by fair means;—the method she took was this:—one day when she catch'd him haranguing in the kitchen, she said nothing but went directly into the stable, where she enter'd into a conversation with the groom on the management of horses.

The husband soon after missing her, and being told where she was gone, was a little surpriz'd, and immediately follow'd her,—“What has brought you hither, my dear,” cried he.—“I should not have wonder'd if any one except yourself had ask'd that question,” replied she, with a smile;—“but I cannot help thinking that I make as good a figure in the stable as you do in the kitchen; and that it becomes me full as well to enquire how many oats your horse eats in a week, as for you to examine how many eggs I order my maid to put into a pudding.”

Conscious of the justice of this repartie, and sensibly touch'd with it, he blush'd,—hung down his head, but had not power to speak a word:—she saw the effect of what she had said, and resum'd her discourse, with the same sprightliness and good-humour she had began,—“Lookye, my dear,” said she, “I either am or am not qualified for the management of your domestic affairs.—If I am, I beg you will leave them entirely to me;—if I am not, let us change sides,—do you take upon you what is commonly the province of a wife, and I will endeavour to learn that of a |135| husband;—for it would be too much for you to undergo the fatigue of both.

There are many scraps of advice scattered through this piece, which every man, who studies his own ease, will rather adopt than reject; among these, our author is certainly right in faying, that “A man who is desirous of acquiring the reputation of a good husband,—would have his family well govern'd, and his wife always faithful, chearful, and obliging, must never go about to deprive her entirely of those recreations to which she may have been accustom'd; but as the most innocent may be inconvenient, if too often repeated, to the end she may take them the more seldom, he should endeavour to make home as pleasing to her as possible, which can only be done by staying much in it himself, and behaving while there in somewhat like the manner describ'd in the seventh section in this book.”

Our author's observations upon gaming, jealousy, incontinence, drunkenness, and petulance, are well founded; but there is something whimsical and ridiculous in the regard which she expresses for shells in the latter end of the second section, book 3, and whatever opinion we may have of her heart, this gives us but a poor one of her taste; coins have their use in ascertaining facts of history; and society derives many advantages from encouraging statuary and painting; the consideration of which would carry us infinitely beyond our bounds; we allow that in the latter there are many impositions, with the forming which, if this writer had been fully conversant, she would have known that the Spaltham pot and chimney, are more efficacious in giving the tint of antiquity, than the fun, wind, or pumice-stone.

Upon the whole, we then venture to say, of the Wife and Husband, that tho' the stile is rambling and incorrect; yet it is far from being despicable; that there is a good attempt made at commixing morality with entertainment; and they may both be productive of good effects in the hands of young people that can indulge a little reflection.

[NB: This review was reprinted in The Repository, or general Review, consisting of a select Collection of literary Compositions, with occasional Remarks (1756): 165–67.]

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Ab.72 The Husband The Monthly Review 14 (April 1756): 360, Art.3—online here, transcribed below, without the running quotation marks.

IX. The Husband, in answer to The Wife. 12mo. 3s. Gardner.

In the Appendix to the thirteenth volume of our Review, Art. IX. of the Catalogue, we mentioned The Wife; to the Author of which we are obliged also for The Husband. The two performances are of equal importance. They are not calculated for readers of taste; but such books have their admirers; and may be of use to such readers as will condescend to regard them.

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