......in wiche I write what I doe.
Some time ago a friend found this book for me in a charity shop. First published in 1937 it is a diary kept by a farmer's wife for one year - 1796 to 1797. The diary was handed down to her daughter and kept in the family until the early 1930's when it was published as a serial in Farmers' Weekly. I find it absolutely enthralling. I love diaries anyway = they are such fun to pick up and put down when doing some domestic chore like waiting for a cake to finish baking, or waiting for the kettle to boil. But, being a farmer's wife myself, I was interested to find how little had changed apart from the usual modern machinery on the farm and modern domestic appliances which cut the real chore out of hard housework.
This was obviously a farm of some substance - they seem to have "standing" in the village(Chepstow, Monmouthshire) and they did have servants as well as farm workers. But her day to day life, and the little secret thoughts she jots down, make fascinating reading.Here is a little bit of the diary to make you want to read it. I expect it is out of print now but you can always keep an eye on the bookshelves in your nearest Oxfam.
Excerpt from "The Diary of a Farmer's Wife 1796 - 1797."
(To put it in context, the servant, Sarah, has come to her mistress with a story that a gypsy family are hiding in an old derelict cottage, where the wife seems seriously ill and they are so poor that they have nowhere to go and nothing to eat. The farmer's wife knows that her husband has no time at all for gypsies - but she desperately wants to help this family. They arrange for help but she knows she really needs the farmer to help her.) Here is the entry forApril ye 30:-
"I do think I will have to tell John. I mix the pigges food all reddie and put the cowes in the byres for the milking. He be pleased so it did make him fare-minded then. He to a good tee.Me having his pipe all reddie and a good glasse of my eldernberrie wine, I did tell hym what is agaite, and did make to ask his counsel, not saying oute we had done so far. He did saye not to interfere with them. Then I, verrie sly did say it would be verrie kind if he would say Sarah's sister could nurse the pore retch, it being well known he bein a goodly man and kind. To this he did say verrie well he would help us.Att nite when all readie,John and me to Mistress Prue. She being verrie surprised to see John, I did wisper to her what to do, were uppon she did thank John verrie prettie for his kindenessfor his thought for a poore sowle; so letting him think that he have done well, which did please him".
Nothing much has changed, girls, has it? I think we would call this the "softening up" process.