NED AND HARRY:
Ned giving Harry an Account of his Courtship
and Marriage State.
edited by R. H. Cunningham
Ned.—Honest Harry, I am glad to see you. You're welcome
to York. You're a great stranger. When came you
Harry.—I came to your town last night, Ned, and am
glad to see you. I inquired after you of my landlord, and
he told me you was well, and had been married two or three
years. I wish you much happiness; but how d'ye like
Ned.—In good faith, Harry, scrubbing his shoulders, but
so, so; however, I will not discourage you.
Harry.—But don't you remember, Ned, that you and I
made an agreement that which of us two was married first,
should tell one another of the way of courtship, and how he
liked it and a married state.
Ned.—'Tis true we did so, Harry, but now I have not
time to tell you, for it will take me more than two or three
hours to give you a full account of both parts.
Harry.—What! are you in haste then, Ned? 'Tis a great
while since I have seen you, and shan't we have one mug
Ned.—Faith, Harry, I'm loath to deny you; but if I go
with you, I must send home to my wife, and let her know
where I am.
Harry.—So you may Ned, and tell her you are with an
old friend that would be glad to see her.
Ned.—Not a word of that, Harry, for if I go with you and
stay any time, we shall have her company without sending
Harry.—Say you so. Come then, let us go to Tom
Swan's. Well, Ned, I am glad to see thee—ring the bell.
Jenny, bring us a pint of your best ale. Come, Ned, sit
down. And how long was it before you got your wife into
the mind to marry; for if I speak to any of the female sex,
they are so very coy, I can't tell what to make of them?
Ned.—That's very true. They are so, Harry, for when I
spoke to my wife first, she was so very coy and huffish, and
told me she did not know what I meant. She was not for
marrying. She lived very well as she was, and if she should
marry, she must then be confined to the humours of a husband.
Harry.—Well, but how then, Ned, tell me all.
Ned.—Faith I have not time now, Harry, for I must go
Harry.—Come, my service t'ye, Ned, I will have you be
as good as your promise.
Ned.—Then if I must, I will stay a little longer and tell
you. I told her I had as good a trade as any of my neighbours.
Upon these words she was called away.
Harry.—How then, Ned?
Ned.—Faith I went home, but could not get her out of my
mind. The next day I went again to see her, and took her
by the hand, but she pulled it away with scorn, saying,
"Pray don't banter me, for I know you men love to banter
us silly women." Upon my faith, madam, said I, I am in
good earnest, for a man of my trade must have both journeymen
and prentices, therefore I cannot well be without a
wife, and you are the only person I always thought would
make me happy. Then I took her by the hand again, and
with much ado got a kiss off her. "Pray be quiet," said she,
"Goodness! what do you mean? you are so troublesome!"
and looked very angry, and so left me.
Harry.—Very well, Ned, go on, this is vastly pleasant.
Ned.—That very kiss made me think of her, and love
her more than ever I did, for after that kiss I was always
wishing myself in her company, and was never at rest. The
Sunday after, I saw her in the minster at prayers, and
thought everything handsome and pretty about her—her
face, her eyes, her mouth, her breast, her shape. I watched
her coming out of the choir, and walked with her in the
minster, and asked her if she would please to take a walk
into the Groves, but she told me she was engaged. Believe
me, Harry; I was so daft with that answer that my heart
was fit to break with fear that she should love another better
than myself. However, I went home with her. She told
me she was engaged, and I need not trouble myself any
further. Madam, said I, the first that ever I saw you, I was
struck with the thought that you was the woman that was
to make me a happy wife. "You men," said she, "say so to
all women you meet with." "Truly, madam," said I, "what
I say is really true, from the bottom of my heart, and I hope
you will find it so." "You men always promise fair," said
she, "before you are married, but when the job is over you
seldom or never perform your promise." "Pray, try me,
madam," said I, "for upon my word, you will find me
always as good as I have said, by this kiss." "Fye," said
she, "I swear I will never come into your company any more, if
you will not let me stand quietly by you." Then I asked
her again the favour to take a walk, for it was a fine evening,
and would do her a great deal of good. She told me at
last, she was to meet two or three of her acquaintances at
seven o'clock in the Groves, just to take a turn or two and
so come home again, so bid me good night.
Harry.—Well, Ned, I hope you went to the Groves to
meet her, did you not?
Ned.—Yes, you may be assured I did, and within a quarter
of an hour after I was there, my mistress came, but her
friends were not with her, as good luck would have it.
Harry.—Were not you glad of that, Ned, though I dare
swear, she knew of nobody to meet her at that time.
Ned.—Yes, faith, I was very glad of it; and when we
had taken a turn or two, I asked her if she would go to
the cheese-cake house, and with much ado I got her to consent
Harry.—Well, Ned, what discourse had you there?
Ned.—Why, faith, we were very merry. I called for some
cheese-cakes, and a bottle of cider, and at last began to
ask her about marrying me. She told me she heard I had a
good trade, and did mind it now very well, but how I would
mind it, if she should consent to marry me, was her fear. I
told her she need never fear that, for marrying of her
would be the only means to make me mind my business, if
possible, more than I have done. I do assure you, Harry,
that the servants which we call chamber-maids, stand as
much upon their honour, as some of them will call it, in
courting, as their mistress, nay, and more.
Harry.—Why, Ned, I have observed that all along you
have called her madam whenever you named her, but I hope
it is not a custom here at York, to call your chamber-maids
madam at every word.
Ned.—Yes, faith we do, and they themselves call one
another so, for if there be five or six of them together at the
parting with one another, you shall hear them take leave
of one another with, "Madam, good-night to you," says
one; "Madam, your servant," says another; "Pray my
service to you know who"——'Tis very true, Harry.
Harry.—How could you ever expect Ned, that such an
one would make you a good wife that minded nothing but
Ned.—Well, Harry, but you are mistaken, for some of
them do make very good wives and are very good housewives
Harry.—How long were you a-courting her, before she
gave consent to marry you?
Ned.—Why, about a year or more, and all that while I
very little did mind myself for minding of her, for I was
fain to watch her as a cat watcheth a mouse, for fear of a
rival. At last I told her I hoped now she would consent to
marry me, if not, to tell me so, for it was a great loss to me
to lose my time so day after day. Upon these words she
told me she thought I was in earnest, but she did not much
like the house I lived in. I told her it was a very pretty
house, and I should be glad to see her in it. Upon this she
smiled and gave me her consent.
Harry.—Was you asked in the church, Ned, or had you a
Ned.—I went on purpose to ask her that question, and
she told me she was a gentlewoman born, and did not care to
be asked in the church, for, she said, there was nobody asked
in the church but cook-maids and kitchen-maids, so it cost me
about twenty shillings for a license. Well, married we were,
and very merry were we that day.
Harry.—But now, Ned, in the second place, come tell me
how you and your wife agree together, for I think it is said
your York wives will be masters of their husbands in less
than a year's time if possible they can. Well then, Ned, I
do suppose it is with you as with most of your neighbours,
your wife is the master?
Ned.—Faith, Harry, not much matter (scratching his head),
but I doubt she'll come and find us together, and then there
Harry.—What then, Ned, let her come, I have a mug or
two at her service and shall be glad to see her.
Ned.—So shall not I, Harry.
Harry.—Why, Ned, how can she be angry with you when
she sees you with an old acquaintance you have not seen for
two or three years?
Harry.—What, Ned, do not you agree then really, and has
been married but three years. Suppose she should come,
what would or could she say to you?
Ned.—Dear Harry, do not desire me to tell you, for if I
would, and if you should happen to tell it again, and it
should come to her ears that it was I told you, I might as
well run my country as stay at home.
Harry.—Ned, my service to you, upon my honour, as the
gentleman says, I will never say anything of it to anybody.
Ned.—Well then, Harry, if I be out at any time, as now
with you, when I go home, as soon as I get within doors
she'll begin with a pretty tone she has learned off her neighbours.
"Oh! brave sir! You are a fine husband, you mind your
business and shop, as you promised me before we were
married: do you not, you drunken dog? you rogue, you
rascal, where have you been these six hours (though it were
but three), sirrah, give me account where you have been."
Harry.—Well, Ned, do you give her an account where you
were, or what answer do you make her?
Ned.—All that I say to her is, "Pray, my dear, be not in
such a passion, for I was with an old friend that I have
not seen two or three years." "A pox on your old friend,"
says she, "and you too must go and fill your belly with good
meat and drink, and I and my poor children starve at home,
with only a little bread and cheese. A curse on the first
day I saw you."
Harry.—Why, Ned, I hope your circumstances are not so
low in the world, but that you can afford your wife pretty
well to keep house with.
Ned.—Why, Harry, there's hardly a day but we have a
joint of meat, either boiled or roasted, and I am sure she
never wants for good bread, cheese, eggs, and butter.
Harry.—Pray, Ned, what does she do towards maintaining
your house, does she endeavour any ways to get a penny?
What portion had you with her?
Ned.—Harry, never marry a chamber-maid, for they bring
nothing with them but a few old clothes of their mistresses,
and for house-keeping, few of them know anything of it; for
they can hardly make a pudding or a pie, neither can they
spin, nor knit, nor wash, except it be a few laces to make
themselves fine withal.
Harry.—What would she be at?
Ned—Why always a-gossiping, there is such a company
of them in our street that there's never a day but some or
other of them meet together.
Harry.—Where do they meet?
Ned.—Where the best country ale is.
Harry.—What, do they make a sitting of it when they
Ned.—A sitting of it; yes, yes, they will sit from three till
ten at night, and drink like fishes, and talk against their
Harry.—What do you say when she comes home? Do
you not ask her where she has been that she stayed so late?
Ned.—I dare not say one word to her, but am glad she will
let me go to bed and sleep quietly.
Harry.—What becomes of your children those days; who
looks after them all this while?
Ned.—Nobody but a silly maid she hired who can do
nothing; I am fain as well as I can, to boil them their milk
for their suppers and help to get them to bed.
Harry.—Does not she ask when she comes home how her
children do, and who gave them their suppers and got them
Ned.—Never, never, Harry, but perhaps the next morning
will get them up herself, and put them on, poor things, the
same linen they had on three days before.
Harry.—How do you allow your wife? do you allow her
so much a week? how gets she the money to spare for
Ned.—Why, she watches me; and if I sell anything in the
shop, then she comes to me and tells me, such a child wants
this, and such a one that, so I am fain to give her money for
Harry.—Why, Ned, she makes a mere fool of you.
Ned.—'Tis not my case alone, Harry, for most of my
neighbours have not much better wives, for the better sort
they say, love carding and gossiping and cold tea.
Harry.—Well, Ned, I think you have almost satisfied me,
and I promise you for your sake I will never marry any one
of that sort called chamber-maids.
Ned.—If ever you marry, Harry, marry one that's bred
up in business, I mean one that knows how to look after her
house? and as you endeavour to get a penny in your way
she will endeavour to get another in hers, such a one will
make both you and herself happy.
Harry.—Pray then, Ned, what can your wife or any other
man's wife say against her husband if he takes all the pains,
as you say you do, to maintain her and her children handsomely?
Ned.—I know not but I hear this is their way. If any
new married wife come among them; first she must pay for
her admittance, then presently after, some of them will begin,
"Neighbour, your good health;" another, "Neighbour I wish
you health and happiness;" another, "Pray neighbour, what
kind of a humoured man is your husband?" another, "Is he
kind to you?" another, "Does he allow you as he should do?
If he does not, neighbour, let us know, and we will tell you
how to manage him I warrant you."
Harry.—Well, Ned, I pity thee, with all my heart, and
all them that have such wives; but now you must make the
best of it, and live as quietly as you can.
Ned.—Harry, I must so. Well, come, let's know what's to
pay. I have stayed too long, so I am sure of a lecture when
I go home.
Harry.—Come, Ned, I treat you this time because I
invited you, it may be you will find your wife in a better
humour than you think of.
Ned.—I wish I may, Harry. I am sure of it that it shall
make me stay at home and mind my business a great deal
better than I have done of late.
Harry.—How many children have you, Ned?
Ned.—Two boys, and I believe another coming.
Harry.—Well, Ned, she cannot complain of the smallness
of her family.
Ned.—Well, Harry, I must take my leave of you, and I thank
you for me, and if you do not go out of town to-morrow, I hope
I shall see you again; there is a great deal more in a married
state than I have told you of, that is all charges to the husband,
the sickening-day, the week-day, the christening-day,
three-week-day, the churching-day; all these days they have
their meetings and discourses, which would take half a day
to tell them all; and if the husband be not there to wait upon
them on those days, some of them will say, "Neighbour,
where is your husband? he should be here to wait on us."
"If my husband, should serve me so," says another, "when
I lie in, odds had." A third will say, "Indeed, neighbour,
you give your husband too much liberty, more than I would
do." So, Harry, when I go home she falls a-telling me what
such a one and such a one, and all the company said of me,
for my not being there to wait upon them.
Harry.—Well, Ned, thou has satisfied me very well, and
for thy sake will never marry a chamber-maid. Come, ring
the bell, we'll see what there's to pay, and should be glad of
your company longer, if it stand to your conveniency.
Ned.—Harry, I thank you, but home I must go now.
Harry.—Jenny, what's to pay? "One shilling sir."—Ned,
good-night to you, my service to your spouse; and if I stay
to-morrow, I'll come and see you and her.
Ned.—Harry, good night to you, I thank you for me, and
I shall be glad to see you to-morrow; but whether my wife
will or no I cannot tell, for I doubt I will find her but so-and-so
in her humour.
Harry.—Good-night to you, Ned, thank you for your good
company; it has been very pleasant, and I hope you will
find all things easy and quiet at home.