chapter  81
14 Pages

The Householder of Paris: Manual for His Wife (ca. 1392)

And as for the greater service that you say you would willingly do for me, if you were able and I taught it to you, know, dear sister, that I am well content that you should do me such service as your good neighbors of similar rank do for their husbands, and as your kinswomen do unto their husbands. Ask their advice in private, and then follow it either more or less as you please. For I am not so overwhelming in my attitude to you and your good intent that I am not satisfied with what you do for me therein, nor with all other services, provided there be no disorder or scorn or disdain, and that you are careful. For although I know well that you are of gentler birth than I, nevertheless that would not protect you, for, by God, the women of your lineage are good enough to correct you harshly themselves, if I did not, if they were to learn of your error from me or from another source; but I have no worry for you; I have confidence in your good intent. Yet although, as I have said, you owe me only the lesser service, I want you to know how to give good will and service and honor in greater measure and abundance than is fit for me, either so that you may serve another husband, if you have one, after me, or to be able to teach greater wisdom to your daughters, friends or others, if you choose and have such a need. For the more you know the greater your honor and the greater the praise belonging to your parents and to me and to others around you, by whom you have been nurtured. And for your honor and love, and not for my service (for I deserve only the common service, or less), since I had pity and loving compassion on you who for so long have had neither father not mother, nor any of your kinswomen near you to whom you might turn for counsel

in your private needs, but only myself, for whom you were brought from your kin and the country of your birth-for these reasons I have often wondered how I might find a simple general introduction to teach you the things which you might already have known how to introduce into your work and care, had you not had these difficulties. And lastly, it seems to me that if your love is as it has appeared in your good words, it can be accomplished in this way, namely in a general instruction that I will write for you and present to you, in three sections containing nineteen principal articles.