An Alphabet of Wifely Excellence


The subject of this portrait is a lady of some position who has servants to manage (15c) and money to invest (16).  As her husband’s trusted partner (11), she has sole responsibility in her domain, which extends beyond the house to the management of her lands (16) and to dealings in the market, where she is as shrewd a seller (11, 18, 24) as a buyer (13-14).  She treats her advantages not as a means to self-indulgence but as a widening of her responsibilities (27), for she is a tireless worker (15, 18-19): there are the poor to help (20) and the vicissitudes of life to meet forearmed (21, 25b).  Yet, with all her thrift, she is not austere (22) and, with her business sense, she is not hard but a friend in need (20) and the delight of her children and her husband (28-29).  Her charm and her success…

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