Wednesday, 11 May 2011

How things are in the Lews (part 4)

Some of the manners and customs of this class however, would astonish and scandalise our Social Science Reformers. The women, for instance, do all the heavy work. They dig, delve and hoe; they carry heavy loads of manure to the fields, and in the peat season you may see them all day carrying creelfuls of peat from the bog. You will often see a man trudging along the road beside a woman, but the creel is always on the woman's back. If they come to a river or ford, the woman crosses first, deposits her creel on the other side, and then returns to carry the man across. I only saw this once, but the farmers tell me it is a thing of everyday occurrence. When the creel is empty, the man sometimes slings it over his own shoulders, and then mounts upon the back of the woman, who carries them both across together. This I am told, is the only occasion on which by any chance, you see a creel on the back of a man.
The woman in the rural districts here is, in fact, a beast of burden, and men, in looking out for wives, look largely to muscular development. A story is current among the English-speaking farmers that illustrates this conception of woman's mission. In the middle of one peat season, when labour was much in demand, a man, who was supposed to be a confirmed bachelor, suddenly married. A friend met him some days later.
"What for di you take a woman like that?" said the friend.
"Did you'll no hear," replied the man, "that my horse was deed?"

Glasgow Herald, 5 July 1867, page 4

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