The English Housewife

The English Housewife

Edited by Michael R. Best
Copyright Date: 1986
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    The English Housewife
    Book Description:

    Markham reveals the "pretty and curious secrets" of preparing everything from simple foods to such elaborate meals as a "humble feast" - an undertaking which entails preparing "no less than two and thirty dishes, which is as much as can stand on one table." He instructs the housewife on brewing beer and caring for wine, growing flax and hemp for thread, and spinning and dyeing. As a housewife was also responsible for the health and "soundness of body" of her family, he includes advice on the prevention of everything from the plague to baldness and bad breath.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6125-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-4)

    The life of Gervase Markham documents in many ways the varied world he records in his written works. Like many of his contemporaries, Markham was caught between a love for old, established values, and a fascination for things new. He was a younger son from a noble family in decline, and believed in the old, chivalrous virtues, particularly in the ideal of an orderly hierarchical society led by an aristocracy that was noble in action as well as in birth; yet he was fascinated by new ways of doing things, and was a natural though unscientific experimenter. During his life...

  5. CHAPTER I Of the inward virtues of the mind which ought to be in every housewife. And first of her general knowledges both in physic and surgery, with plain approved medicines for health of the household, also the extraction of excellent oils for those purposes
    (pp. 5-59)

    Having already in a summary briefness passed through those outward parts of husbandry which belong unto the perfect husbandman,¹* who is the father and master of the family, and whose office and employments are ever for the most part abroad, or removed from the house, as in the field or yard; it is now meet that we descend² in as orderly a method as we can to the office of our English housewife, who is the mother and mistress of the family, and hath her most general employments within the house; where from the general example of her virtues, and...

  6. CHAPTER II Of the outward and active knowledge of the housewife; and first of her skill in cookery; as sallats of all sorts, with flesh, fish, sauces, pastry, banqueting stuff, and ordering of great feasts
    (pp. 60-124)

    To speak then of the outward and active knowledges which belong to our English housewife, I hold the first and most principal to be a perfect skill and knowledge in cookery, together with all the secrets belonging to the same, because it is a duty really belonging to a woman; and she that is utterly ignorant therein may not by the laws of strict justice challenge the freedom of marriage, because indeed she can then but perform half her vow;¹ for she may love and obey, but she cannot serve and keep him with that true duty which is ever...

  7. CHAPTER III Of distillations and their virtues, and of perfuming
    (pp. 125-136)

    When our English housewife is exact in these rules before rehearsed, and that she is able to adorn and beautify her table, with all the virtuous illustrations meet for her knowledge; she shall then sort her mind to the understanding of other housewifely secrets, right profitable and meet for her use, such as the want thereof may trouble her when need, or time requires.

    Therefore first I would have her furnish herself of very good stills, for the distillation of all kinds of waters, which stills would be either of tin, or sweet earth; and in them she shall distil...

  8. CHAPTER IV The ordering, preserving, and helping of all sorts of wines, and first of the choice of sweet wines
    (pp. 137-145)

    I do not assume to myself this knowledge of the vintner’s secrets, but ingeniously² confess that one professed skilful in the trade, having rudely written, and more rudely disclosed this secret, and preferring it to the stationer, it came to me to be polished, which I have done, knowing that it is necessary, etc.³

    It is necessary that our English housewife be skilful in the election, preservation, and curing of all sorts of wines, because they be usual charges under her hands, and by the least neglect must turn the husband to much loss: therefore to speak first of the...

  9. CHAPTER V Of wool, hemp, flax, and cloth, and dyeing of colours, of each several substance, with all the knowledges belonging thereto
    (pp. 146-165)

    Our English housewife, after her knowledge of preserving and feeding her family, must learn also how, out of her own endeavours, she ought to clothe them outwardly and inwardly; outwardly for defence from the cold and comeliness to the person; and inwardly, for cleanliness and neatness of the skin, whereby it may be kept from the filth of sweat, or vermin; the first consisting of woollen cloth, the latter of linen.

    To speak then first of the making of woollen cloth, it is the office of the husbandman at the shearing of his sheep to bestow upon the housewife such...

  10. CHAPTER VI Of dairies, butter, cheese, and the necessary things belonging to that office
    (pp. 166-179)

    There followeth now in this place after these knowledges already rehearsed, the ordering and government of dairies, with the profits and commodities belonging to the same.

    And first touching the stock wherewith to furnish dairies, it is to be understood that they must be kine of the best choice and breed that our English housewife can possibly attain unto; as of big bone, fair shape, right breed, and deep of milk,¹ gentle, and kindly.

    Touching the bigness of bone, the larger that every cow is, the better she is: for when either age, or mischance shall disable her for the...

  11. CHAPTER VII The office of the maltster, and the several secrets and knowledges belonging to the making of malt
    (pp. 180-198)

    It is most requisite and fit that our housewife be experienced and well practised in the well making of malt, both for the necessary and continual use thereof, as also for the general profit which accrueth and ariseth to the husband, housewife, and the whole family: for as from it is made the drink, by which the household is nourished and sustained, so to the fruitful husbandman (who is the master of rich ground, and much tillage) it is an excellent merchandise, and a commodity of so great trade, that not alone especial towns and counties are maintained thereby, but...

  12. CHAPTER VIII Of the excellency of oats, and the many singular virtues and uses of them in a family
    (pp. 199-203)

    Oats, although they are of all manner of grain the cheapest because of their generality, being a grain of that goodness and hardness that it will grow in any soil whatsoever, be it never so rich or never so poor, as if nature had made it the only loving companion and true friend to mankind, yet is it a grain of that singularity for the multiplicity of virtues, and necessary uses for the sustenance and support of the family, that not any other grain is to be compared with it; for if any other have equal virtue, yet it hath...

  13. CHAPTER IX Of the office of the brew-house, and the bake-house, and the necessary things belonging to the same
    (pp. 204-212)

    When our English housewife knows how to preserve health by wholesome physic; to nourish by good meat, and to clothe the body with warm garments, she must not then by any means be ignorant in the provision of bread and drink; she must know both the proportions and compositions of the same. And forasmuch as drink is in every house more generally spent¹ than bread, being indeed (but how well I know not) made the very substance of all entertainment, I will first begin with it;

    and therefore you shall know that generally our kingdom hath but two kinds of...

  14. Appendix
    (pp. 213-216)
  15. Collation
    (pp. 217-224)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 225-289)
  17. Picture Credits
    (pp. 290-290)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 291-296)
  19. Glossary
    (pp. 297-312)
  20. Index
    (pp. 313-321)