William Cobbett (1763 – 1835) was an English pamphleteer, farmer and journalist, who was born in Farnham, Surrey. He was also a man of many words, and his rather rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-riches story gave him enough life experiences for him to write down all his life learnings into an advice manual: Advice to Young Men and (Incidentally) to Young Women in the Middle and Higher Ranks of Life. In a Series of Letters Addressed to a Youth, a Bachelor, … Husband, a Father, a Citizen, or a Subject. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can also download it for free courtesy of Project Gutenberg.
According to Cobbett, the choice of a partner is the most important decision of your life:
When we consider in how great a degree the happiness of all the remainder of a man’s life depends, and always must depend, on his taste and judgement in the character of a lover, this many well be considered as the most important period of the whole term of his existence.
So what should you look for in a wife:
But to have the [numerous delights of marriage], as well as the cares, the choice of the partner must be fortunate. I say fortunate; for, after all, love, real love, impassioned affection, is an ingredient so absolutely necessary, that no perfect reliance can be placed on the judgement. Yet, the judgement may do something; reason may have some influence; and, therefore, I here offer you my advice with regard to the exercise of that reason.
The things which you ought to desire in a wife are, 1. chastity; 2. sobriety; 3. industry; 4. frugality; 5. cleanliness; 6. knowledge of domestic affairs; 7. good temper; 8. beauty.
So Cobbett wants a personality-less woman who, in his own words, can maintain a house so well that he can come and go without a single worry.
And because this book is supposed to be advice for young women as well:
Young women may take my word for it, that a constantly clean board, well cooked victuals, a house in order, and a cheerful fire, will do more in preserving a husband’s heart, than all the ‘accomplishments,’ taught in all the ‘establishments‘ in the world.
Now, I would love to be a modern feminist and say that Cobbett is wrong, but you know, I think he’s completely right in his advice to women. I think every guy wants to come home to a good meal, kick his feet up and relax.
What do you think?