Advice to Mrs. Mowat

Original Text: 
Grace Helen Mowat, The Diverting History of a Loyalist Town, 2nd edn. (St. Andrews, New Brunswick: Charlotte County Cottage Craft, 1937): 54-56. F 1044.5 .S13M6 1937 Victoria College Library Canadiana Collection. First edition (1932). HC M9359d Robarts Library
2                       Since the single state
3You've left to choose yourself a mate,
5And bliss or woe insured for life,
6A friendly muse the way should show
7To gain the bliss and miss the woe.
8But first of all I must suppose
9You've with mature reflection chose.
10And thus premised I think you may
11Here find to married bliss the way.
12Small is the province of a wife
13And narrow is her sphere in life,
14Within that sphere to walk aright
15Should be her principal delight.
16To grace the home with prudent care
17And properly to spend and spare,
18To make her husband bless the day
19He gave his liberty away,
20To train the tender infants mind,
21These are the tasks to wives assigned.
22Then never think domestic care
23Beneath the notice of the fair.
24But matters every day inspect
25That naught be wasted by neglect.
26Be frugal (plenty round you seen)
27And always keep the golden mean.
28Let decent neatness round you shine
29Be always clean but seldom fine.
30If once fair decency be fled
31Love soon deserts the genial bed.
33In all things there's a proper mean.
34Some of our sex mistake in this;
35Too anxious some -- some too remiss.
36The early days of married life
37Are oft o'er cast with childest strife
38Then let it be your chiefest care
39To keep that hour bright and fair;
40Then is the time, by gentlest art
41To fix his empire in your heart.
42For should it by neglect expire
43No art again can light the fire.
44To charm his reason dress your mind
45Till love shall be with friendship joined.
46Raised on that basis t'will endure
47From time and death itself secure.
48Be sure you ne'er for power contend
49Or try with tears to gain your end
50Sometimes the tears that dim your eyes
51From pride and obstancy arise.
52Heaven gave to man unquestioned sway.
53Then Heaven and man at once obey.
54Let sullen looks your brow ne'er cloud
55Be always cheerful, never loud.
56Let trifles never discompose
57Your temper, features or repose.
58Abroad for happiness ne'er roam
59True happiness resides at home.
60Still make your partner easy there
61Man finds abroad sufficient care.
62If every thing at home be right
63He'll always enter with delight.
64Your presence he'll prefer to all,
66With cheerful chat his cares beguile
68Never with woe his thoughts engage
69Nor ever meet his rage with rage,
70With all our sex's softening art
71Recall lost reason to his heart.
72Thus calm the tempest in his breast
73And sweetly soothe his soul to rest.
74Be sure you ne'er arraign his sense,
75Few husbands pardon that offence,
76T'will discord raise, disgust it breeds
77And hatred certainly succeeds.
79Still think him wiser than yourself.
80And if you otherwise believe
81Ne'er let him such a thought perceive.
82When cares invade your partners heart
83Bear you a sympathetic part.
85From morn till noon, from noon till night
86To see him pleased your chief delight.
87And now, methinks, I hear you cry;
88Shall she presume -- Oh vanity!
89To lay down rules for wedded life
91I've done nor longer will presume
92To tresspass on time that's not your own.


1] Hetty: a nickname for Mehetible Calef, who in 1786 at 18 married Captain David Mowat in St. John, New Brunswick, in what would, eighty years later, be part of Canada.
Hecht wrote her dedicatory poem on birchbark (Diverting History, 53-54). A few marks of punctuation whose omission this editor supplies would have hardly been necessary if, as seems likely, Anne Hecht read her work aloud to the wedding party, though those marks may have disappeared over time or become illegible. No possessive apostrophe appears in Mowat's transcription at lines 19 and 81. The spelling at line 91 is also Hecht's own and is well worth preserving. Back to Line
4] metamorphosed: transformed (from one species into another). This word-choice reveals Anne Hecht's direct or indirect knowledge of Ovid's Metamorphoses, which tells many stories of women who have fallen victim to love and whom the gods have, as a result, changed for good or bad. Back to Line
32] nice: over-tidy to the point of being uncomfortable for her husband. Back to Line
65] The original line lacks a period. Back to Line
67] The original lines here and at 68 lack a comma. Back to Line
78] The original line lacks a closing comma. Back to Line
84] Mowat marks this interruption as being illegible. There is no note as to how many lines the damage affects. Back to Line
90] The original lacks a question mark. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1999.