Primary Source Evaluation, Sample Essay
I found the following primary source in [EEBO]:
Gouge, William. Of domesticall duties: Eight treatises. I. An exposition of that part of Scripture out of which domesticall duties are raised. ... By William Gouge. London: Printed by Iohn Haviland for William Bladen and are to be sold at the signe of the Bible neere the great north doore of Pauls, 1622.
Note: the textual information above should be enough for people to replicate your search, so you don't have to add a link if it seems daunting. For those who want to try: You can get the “durable URL” for this text in EEBO by clicking on the silver button in the upper right part of the screen that says “durable URL.” A window will pop-up that, in this case contains http://gateway.proquest.com/openurl?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2003&res_id=xri:eebo&rft_id=xri:eebo:image:3442 To make this into a link that will work in On Course, you paste http://bert.lib.indiana.edu:2048/login?url= in front of it: http://bert.lib.indiana.edu:2048/login?url=http://gateway.proquest.com/openurl?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2003&res_id=xri:eebo&rft_id=xri:eebo:image:3442.
"Necessary it is that good order be first set in families: for as they were before other polities, so they are somewhat the more necessary: and good members of the family are like to make good members of Church and common-wealth" (DD, Epistle Dedicatory, document image #3).
"I remember that when Domesticall Duties were first uttered out of the pulpit, much exception was taken against the application of a wives subjection to the restraining of her from disposing of the common goods of the family without, or against her husbands consent. … Other exceptions were made against some other particular duties of wives. … I take the maine reason of the many exceptions which were taken, to be this, that wives duties (according to the Apostles method) being in the first place handled, there was taught (as must have beene taught, except the truth should have been betrayed) what a wife, in the uttermost extent of the subjection under which God hath put her, is bound unto, in case her husband will stand upon the uttermost of his authority: which was so taken, as if I had taught that an husband might, and ought to exact the uttermost, and that a wife was bound in that uttermost extent to doe all that was delivered as dutie, whether her husband exact it or no. But when I came to deliver husbands duties, I shewed, that he ought not to exact whatsoever his wife was bound unto (in case it were exacted by him) but that he ought to make her a joynt Governour of the family with himselfe, and deferre the ordering of many things to her discretion, and with all honourable and kinde respect to carrie himself towards her. In a word, I so set downe husbands duties, as if he be wise and conscionable in observing them, his wife can have no just cause to complaine of her subjection. That which makes a wives yoake heavy and hard, is an husbands abuse of his authority: and more pressing his wives dutie, then performing his owne: which is directly contrary to the Apostles rule. This just Apologie I have beene forced to make, that I might not ever be judged (as some have censured me)* an hater of Women." (DD, Epistle Dedicatory, document image #4)
Part III: Essay
William Gouge's 1622 volume of Treatises on "Domestical Duties" is a vast compendium of biblically-justified advice on the proper ordering of households; it runs over 700 pages in all. I chose it because it can help me understand and explain the relationship between love and power in early modern marriages.
I was first drawn to Gouge's work as an example of the early modern ideas about household government discussed by Carole Shammas. As Gouge explains it, a well ordered family is the foundation of a well ordered society. It is "necessary … that good order be first set in families: for as they were before other polities, so they are somewhat the more necessary: and good members of the family are like to make good members of Church and common-wealth" (DD, Epistle Dedicatory, document image #3).
Gouge devotes the bulk of his text to discussion of marriage, which he regards as the cornerstone of family life and, by extension, of society at large: in his words, "church and common-wealth." His understanding of family differs from the modern sense of term, however, encompassing not only the relations of "Man and Wife" and "Parent and Child," but also "Master and Servant." Where my understanding of family relationships emphasizes the ties of love, Gouge puts an equal or greater emphasis on fear, obedience, and subjection to authority. Marriage, for Gouge, is a model for other social relationships because in it husbands model the loving administration of authority, and wives model Christian submission to that authority.
The long passage quoted above intrigued me because it suggests that Gouge’s audience did not readily accept his advice. He reminds us that these treatises were first “published” orally, as sermons, and thus might have reached a wider group of people than those who had access to books (not to mention the ability to read them). When Gouge’s sermons were “first uttered out of the pulpit, much exception was taken against” his emphasis on wives subjection to their husbands in all things, to the extent that he was “censured” as “an hater of Women.” Gouge is quite defensive about these charges, protesting he has been misunderstood and that he actually intends that the wife should be “joynt Governour of the family” (DD, Epistle Dedicatory, document image #4). This hint of controversy makes me want to learn more about how Gouge’s ideas were received. It also points to a tension in his work. His table of contents demonstrates that he is strongly invested in justifying hierarchical early-modern English social order as God-given and natural. This seems at odds with other claims he makes about the spiritual equality of all people, and in particular, about “joynt government” – in modern terms, partnership – between husbands and wives. If I were to write a paper about this source, I think I would focus it on the question of how he reconciles what seem to me to be incompatible ideas.
I could write an essay analyzing the tension between Gouge’s views on the subjection of women and his ideas about the “joynt government” by reading his text more closely, using the table of contents and the index as a guide. My questions about how his audience viewed him, and even about where Domesticall Duties stands in relation to other publications of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were harder to answer. I know that he was minister in London, and I could probably learn something about his parishioners by looking the records of his parish church, or local governmental records from this part of London, if these survive. I would check what other historians have to say about it before I attempted this.
I tried, using EEBO and ECCO, to learn more about how his book compared with other publications from his time, and whether his ideas were cited by later writers. EEBO shows that Domesticall Duties was published in three different editions between 1622 and 1634, so there must have been some demand for it and enough copies in print to make its survival not too surprising. EEBO categorizes this work under the subject headings of “Family – Religious Life” and “Households – Early works to 1800.” The first heading contains fifteen works in addition to Domesticall Duties, but their emphasis seems to be more explicitly on the family’s role in religious education, whereas Gouge touches on an much broader range of topics related to household government. “Households – Early works” contained only four other texts. Two of these appear to be agricultural manuals and another was a one-page broadside. The only one that resembled Domesticall Duties, was the 1542 text A glasse for housholders wherin thei maye se, bothe howe to rule theim selfes [and] ordre their housholde verye godly and fruytfull. This suggests that Gouge modeled his book on earlier texts, but it does not tell us about the long term impact of his own writing. Was it the last of its kind?
I tried to answer this question by searching for other works with the phrases “domestic” or “household government” in the title, and also for references to William Gouge. As far as I can tell, Gouge was cited as a religious authority into the eighteenth-century, but chiefly on other matters than household organization. There are other books about “household government” from about the same time as Gouge (especially when one searches for “gouernment” rather than “government”), but not many afterward. Search results for books with “domestic” in the title include agricultural manuals, a book on the education of children, a letter writing manual, and a ballad about “contented cuckolds,” among others. Their miscellaneous character makes Gouge seem distinctive. In ECCO, books on domestic duty are closer to what I had expected Gouge’s to be: advice to women on managing the home.
I can’t assess Gouge’s long term significance from these searches alone, because other writers might have borrowed his ideas without quoting him by name. My first impression, however, is by the eighteenth-century English domestic advice literature focused on husbands and wives and parents and children, and emphasized love and intimacy. This contrasts with Gouge’s emphasis on authority, and his inclusion of the relations of “master and servant” – and by implication all labor relations – within the realm of household government.