Victorian London - Women - Children, Family and Husband - Husbands



    KEEP up the practice of reading the paper during the whole of breakfast time; of allowing your self to be spoken to half-a-dozen times before you answer, and then of asking your wife what it was that she said. Upon her telling you, make some reply which is nothing to the purpose, as if you were thinking of something else.
    Having been out over night at an evening party, which your wife was prevented from going to by indisposition, entertain her the next morning by a minute description of the young lady you danced with, descanting on every point as enthusiastically as possible.
    Take frequent opportunities of praising features and personal peculiarities which are as different as possible from your wife's. For instance, if she has blue eyes, say how you like black; if dark hair, how much you admire light : if she is tall, remark that you prefer a moderate height; and if short, be constantly quoting Byron, to the effect that you "hate a dumpy woman".
    Some wives are very particular about their fenders. Should this be the case with yours, always use it for your footstool. When fresh drugget has been laid down on the stairs, particularly if it is a rainy day, invariably forget to scrape your shoes.
    Discover, frequently, on a cold raw morning, that the room is close, and insist on having the windows open. On the other hand, be as often, during the height of the dog-days, affected with a chilliness, which shall oblige you to keep them shut.
    Very often order dinner punctually at five, and very seldom come home till a quarter to six. Occasionally, however, return at the appointed hour, and, not finding things ready, complain that you are never attended to.
    If your fish, your joint, or your vegetables, should happen accidentally to be a little under or over done, never smother your disappointment like some people, but express it as markedly as you can, and remain in an ill humour for the rest of the evening. Be never quite satisfied with what is set before you; but, if possible, find some fault with every dish : or, if not, quarrel with the arrangements of the table. If you can find nothing else to grumble at, think of something that you would have liked better than what has been got for you, and say so.
    Wives occasionally make pies and puddings, with a view to a little approbation. Never bestow this, on any account; but always say you wished these things were left to the cook.
    Knowing that there is nothing but cold meat in the house, bring home, every now and then. half-a-dozen men, unexpectedly, to take pot-luck with you. Your wife will probably sit a table flurried and uncomfortable; in which case, amuse them by joking at her expense.
    Should you chance, after dinner, to be affected by a slight drowsiness, never resist it because your wife wishes to chat with you; do not mind her, but go quietly to sleep.
    When you have an evening party at your house, come home to dress just as the company is beginning to arrive.
    Should you find yourself at eleven o'clock at night among a set of bachelor friends, and be offered a cigar, always stay and smoke it, and another after it if you like, and, if you please, another after that; in fact, as many as you find agreeable; never troubling yourself for an instant about keeping your wife and the servants up.
    In short, on all occasions, consult studiously your own inclinations, and indulge, without the least restriction, your every whim and caprice; but never regard your wife's feelings at all; still less make the slightest allowance for any weakness or peculiarity of her character; and your home will assuredly be as happy as you deserve that it should be.

Punch, Jan.-Jun. 1844

Victorian London - Publications - Humour - Punch - cartoon 63 - Little Lessons for Little Ladies

FAN-NY FAL-LAL, al-though she was not rich, nor a per-son of rank, was a ve-ry fine La-dy. She would pass all her time read-ing no-vels and work-ing cro-chet, but would ne-glect her house-hold du-ties; so her hus-band who was a ve-ry nice man, and fond of a nice din-ner, became a mem-ber of a Club, and used to stop out ve-ry late at night, which led to ma-ny quar-rels. How fool-ish it was of FAN-NY to ne-glect her house-hold du-ties and not to make her AL-BERT hap-py at home!

Punch, Jan.-Jun. 1850



    By Bachelor-Husband, we mean a husband who is made a bachelor pro tem, by the absence of his wife. 
    Of course such a kind of life has its little enviable privileges and advantages; but then it has its drawbacks and annoyances, for which no freedom can compensate. It is freedom made slavery.
    Husbands are always raving about the bliss of getting away from their wives, and, when they do, what miserable creatures they are! They are always whining then to have them back again.
    The Bachelor-Husband is a melancholy proof of this. His wife has gone on a visit to her papa, or some rich relation in the country, from whom she has great expectations. She is not to return for a fortnight. The "dear Hubby" is left alone - not altogether oat of love with the thought of being restored to liberty.
    And yet, the very first day, what a helpless creature he is! He is left the uncontrolled master of the house, and doesn't know where a single thing is kept. If he wants anything, he has to get up and search for it himself, and even then there is but a small chance of his finding it. For he doesn't know one key from another, and he tries them all; but, as a matter of course, the very key that is wanted is missing.
    The first day he meets some friends, he tells them with a triumphant. chuckle, that lie is a bachelor, and they must come home and dine with him.
    What a dinner! Probably it has not been ordered. How very foolish! He quite forgot that he has to go to the butcher's, and the poulterer's, and greengrocer's, every day himself now: or, if the dinner has been ordered, it is sure to be some vulgar dish which he is ashamed to see put upon the table, or else it turns out to be the very joint which he never touches. For the cook does not know all his whims and fancies, his choice aversions and preferences, as his wife does.
    Then again, the beer was "out" yesterday, and a fresh barrel has not been ordered in. There is a pause of ten minutes, therefore, to enable the cook to run out to the Adam and Eve for a pint of the best ale. When the best. is brought, no one can drink it.
    He is profuse in his apologies to his dear friends, who assure him that it does not in the least matter, but, as they leave, it is evident, from their blank faces, that they have turned down a page in the volume of their experience, as a private memorandum, never to trust to the tender hospitality of a Bachelor-Husband again.
    Poor Bachelor! He is crawling up to bed, like a melancholy snail, beginning to feel the weight of the house he has newly got upon his back, when suddenly he recollects he gave permission to the Nurse to pass the evening with her mother at Pentonville, and that she has not yet come in. He has raked the fire out in the parlour, and so he is obliged to go down into the kitchen, where he sits, listening to the tick-tick-tick of the kitchen clock, and amusing himself now and then with a grand battue of black-beetles, till past one o'clock in the morning, when the mildest ring at the bell proclaims Nurse's return.
    His troubles begin the first thing the next morning. He cannot get the servants out of bed. Then he has to ring separately for every article he wants. The servants' behaviour altogether is changed to what it is when Missis is at home. They seem to be aware of his helplessness, and do as little as they can to relieve it.
    When he goes down stairs, the room is scarcely dusted, or the dusters are lying about, and he nearly sits down upon the box of black-lead brushes that has been left in his arm-chair. He cannot get the urn, and has to ring for the toast, and cut his own bread and butter, and air the newspaper himself.
    Then he is pestered with applications from the maid for towels, or pearl-ash, or soap, or clean sheets; and, worse than all, has to meet that awful enquiry from the cook, "Please Sir, what will you have for dinner to-day?" The daily enquiry persecutes him to that extent that at last he is driven away from his home, and regularly dines out.
    Moreover, it is cheerless dining all alone-sitting opposite to his wife's empty chair-not person to take wine or exchange a word with. The silence grows oppressive, and any cheap saw-dust dining place, where there are nothing but chops and steaks, - excepting steaks and chops , - soon becomes preferable.
    Not that the Bachelor-Husband dines much at cheap dining places. He runs through the circle of his friends and relations, beginning with his friends first, for he knows they give the best dinners, and reserving the relations for the last. He requires no invitation - for the fact of his being a Bachelor, throws open every dining-room door to him, He begins to stop out late-associates with young men-sets into a habit of late suppers, and smokes incessantly - for a cigar is one of those recognised privileges which the Bachelor-Husband takes behind his wife's back, which he would never dare to do to her face.
    But smoking, even in his own parlour, is not enough to make the place happy. The place looks empty, dreary, and no wonder he comes home late, for it has lost all attraction, all comfort, in his eyes. It is a house for him, but no home. He is very little better than a lodger-he has merely taken a sitting-room and bed-room for a fortnight in his wife's mansion during her absence He leaves the first thing in the morning, and goes home the last thing at night to sleep.
    Everything loses the bright appearance it had when his wife was on the spot to look after th house. The drawing-room stares at him like a dingy Lowther Bazaar smothered in dust. Dust seems to spread itself over every little thing, and the servants themselves appear as if they would be all the better for a good dusting.
    The Bachelor-Husband is an outcast in his own house. He has but little control over any one - and pays the bills that are put before him without a question, being too glad to get rid of the nuisance as quick as possible. The washing, too, wears his life out. All his linen comes home wrong. His waistcoats and neck-handkerchiefs are washed so biliously he has not the face to wear them. The strings are off his collars: and, as for Bachelor's Buttons, he has not a shirt with one on. He does not know whom to ask to help him. He complains, but his complaints are not heeded, and if he has a cold, he is obliged to nurse himself, receiving pity, consolation, and water-gruel, from no hands but his own.
    He puts his name down to be entered at some West-End Club (a Club for Bachelor-Husbands, by-the-bye, would not be a bad move, open at all hours to all Bachelor-Husbands), so that, by the time his wife leaves him a Bachelor the second time, he may have some table of refuge where he can eat a good dinner in comfort, and invite friends to come and eat it with him.
    Wives should beware of this, and should never stop away too long,-but should rather return ere the fortnight has elapsed, before they receive a letter imploring them to come home as soon as possible - for when they receive that affectionate summons, they may be sure that the very climax of wretchedness has been attained by that poor, pitiable, persecuted, helpless, domestic hearth-broken individual, whom we call the Bachelor-Husband. Common prudence, not to say compassion, should whisper to them it is not fair, or worthy of the fair sex, to prolong any husband's sufferings to that extent! - unless perchance they leave him in the hands of a warranted mother-in-law.