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"It is not difficult to form a picture of the lady of the house: amid her other duties, she dispensed doles and charity to the poor around her. Through her knowledge of simples she was also "simpler" of all the ills that flesh is heir to, not only in the case of man, but also of beast. The wisdom and observation of a long procession of forebearers are summed up in the recipes gathered in this book"
A Book of Simples, H. W. Lewer ed.
p. v -vi
The typical upper-class young woman of the eighteenth century did not have to work to earn her keep. In fact, she was discouraged from doing so, much in the same way that young men of noble or landed heritage were frowned upon if they were found to be "in trade" --- that is, earning money through a way other than their inherited properties.
Young ladies were allowed to only work on what were considered to be "womanly" activities, e.g., cooking "sweet things" like pastries and mulling wine, as well as other kinds of foods that would sweeten her temper and increase her patience -- all good qualities for a man who is looking for a wife. (Lewer, 23. Plat, liii-liv)
Most young women of good fortune or good family, found themselves married off at a young age. For those of good fortune, it was usually a way to ensure that the lady's inherited estate would stay in the safe hands of her husband. For those of good family but unfortunately little fortune, a rich husband, lured with the idea of his progeny becoming gentry, was the goal pursued as the young lady turned of marriageable age. (Plat, lxii)
A lot of these recipes also dealt with maladies in children, for when the young lady finally gets married.
Recipes from the Ladies Themselves
Recipes for Illnesses and Maladies of the Home
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