The Spinning Wheel and Chinese Shoes

Image from Corbis


A little house well filled —
A little wife well will’d —
A little land well till’d.

Our ancestors lived on bread and broth,
And woo’d their healthy wives in home-spun cloth;
Our mother’s, nurtur’d to the nodding reel,
Gave all their daughters lessons on the wheel.
Though spinning did not much reduce the waist,
It made their food much sweeter to the taste.
They ply’d with honest zeal the mop and broom,
And drove the shuttle through the noisy loom.
They never once complained, as we do now —
“We have no girls to cook, or milk the cow;”
Each mother taught her red cheeked son & daughter
To bake and brew, and draw a pail of water;
No damsel shunned the wash-tub, broom, or pail,
To keep unsoiled, a long grown finger nail.
They sought no gaudy dress, on wasp-like form,
But eat to live, and worked to keep them warm;
No idle youth — no tight-laced, mincing fair,
Become a living corpse for want of air!
No fidgets, faintings, fits, or frightful blues,
No painful corns from wearing Chinese shoes.

The Ohio Repository (Canton, Ohio) Mar 3, 1836

Image from the Cultural China website Embroidered Arched Shoes Collection.

Image from the Explore PA History website.


THE times, the times, I say the times,
Are getting worse than every.
The good old way our fathers trod,
Shall grace their children never.
The homely hearth of honest mirth,
The traced of their plough;
The places of their worshipping,
Are all forgotten now.

Farewell, the farmer’s honest looks,
And independent m?en
The tassel of his waving corn,
The blossom of the bean,
The turnip top and pumpkin vine,
The produce of his toil,
Have given placed to flower pots,
And plants of foreign soil.

Farewell, the pleasant husking night,
Its merry after cenes,
When Indian pudding smoked beside,
The giant pot of beans.
When lasses joined the social band,
No once affected fear,
But gave pretty cheek to kiss,
For every crimson ear.

A??? of modesty was not
The test of virtue then,
And few took pains to swoon away,
At sight of ugly men,
For well they new the purity,
Which woman’s life should own,
Depends not on appearances,
But on the heart alone.

Farewell the jovial qu?lum? match,
The song and merry play
The whirling of the pewter plate,
The many pawns to pay,
The mimic marriage brought about,
By leaping o’er the broom,
The good old play of blind man’s bluff,
The laugh that shook the room.

Farewell the days of industry —
The time has flitted by,
When pretty hands were prettiest
At making pumpkin pie —
When waiting maids were needed not,
As morning brought along
The music of the spinning wheel,
And milk maid’s careless song.

The Ohio Repository (Canton, Ohio) Mar 13, 1829

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