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Quotes about Bobbin lace by William Cowper

William Cowper lived from 1731-1800. At one point, he lived in Olney in Buckinghamshire. This was in one of the main lace producing areas of England. He wrote a poem called Truth, which was published with other poems of his in 1782. In this poem, he obviously disapproves of the French writer Voltaire, and compares him to:

Yon cottager, who weaves at her own door,
Pillow and bobbins all her little store;
Content though mean, and cheerful if not gay,
Shuffling her threads about the live-long day,
Just earns a scanty pittance, and at night
Lies down secure, her heart and pocket light;
She, for her humble sphere by nature fit,
Has little understanding, and no wit,
Receives no praise; but though her lot be such
(Toilsome and indigent), she renders much;
Just knows, and knows no more, her Bible true

However by 1770 the industry went into decline and in 1780, William Cowper wrote "I am an eye-witness to their poverty, and do know that hundreds in this little town are upon the point of starving, and that the most unremitting industry is but barely sufficient to keep them from it. There are nearly one thousand and two hundred lace makers in this beggarly town."

Lacemaker by John Fairburn

This was painted by John Fairburn, an English painter, in 1795. The lacemaker "who weaves at her own door" is working outside. English lacemakers often did this, as the light was better.