Friday 29 April 2011

Hints for Husbands and Wives


    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, 1844

    YOUR first consideration before marriage was, how to please your lover. Consider any such endeavour, after marriage, to be unnecessary and ridiculous; and, by way of amends for your former labour, let your sole object be, to please yourself.
    Be at no pains to look well of a morning. A long toilet is tiresome; particularly when it is cold. "Taking the hair out" occupies nearly ten minutes :  come down to breakfast, therefore, in curl papers; also in a flannel dressing-gown; and, unless you expect callers, remain in déshabille all day. Husbands are nobodies, and comfort is to be studied before appearance.
    But are you to neglect your attire altogether? By no means. Indulge your taste in dress to the utmost. Be always buying something new; never mind the expense of' it. Payments belong to husbands. If you see a shawl or bonnet in a window, order it. Should a silk or a muslin attract your eye, desire it to be sent home. Does a feather, a ribbon, a jewel, strike your fancy?  purchase it instantly. If your husband is astonished at the bill, pout; if he remonstrates, cry. But do not spoil your finery by domestic wear. Reserve it for promenades and parties. It is the admiration of society, that you should seek for, not your husband's.
    Be constantly seeing tables, chairs, window curtains, and other furniture which you like better than your own; and insist upon their being got. Want to get rid of your old piano, and have a new one. If your husband keeps a carriage for you, desire a better; if be does not, and cannot afford it, complain. Whenever your desires exceed his means, look unhappy, and hint how much more advantageously you might have married. Never smile and hope for better things, but make your husband feel, as keenly as you can, the inadequacy of his means to support you.
    Practise, however, a reasonable economy. Take every opportunity of making a cheap purchase; and when asked of what use it is? reply, that it is "a bargain."
    Enjoy ill health. Be very nervous: and, in particular, subject to fits; which you are to fly into as often as your husband is unkind, that is, whenever he reasons with you. Make the most of every little ache or pain; and insist upon having a fashionable physician. There is something very elegant in illness; a prettiness in a delicate constitution - affect this attraction if you have it not - men admire it exceedingly.
    Put yourself under no restraint in your husband's presence Sit, loll, or lie, in just what way you like, looking only to the ease of the posture, not to its grace. Leave niceties of conversation and sentiment to the single; never mind how you express yourself; why should wives be particular? When your husband wishes to read or be quiet, keep chattering to him; the more frivolous and uninteresting the subject, the better. If he is disposed for conversation, be dull and silent: and whenever you see that he is interested in what he is talking about, especially if he wishes you to attend to him, keep yawning.
    There are two ways of discharging your household duties. If you are languid and listless, you may let them alone : if not able, you should be continually turning the house topsy-turvy, under pretence of setting it to rights. You can either let your servants do just as they please; or you may be continually in the kitchen, looking after them. In the latter case, scold them frequently, and in an audible voice, so as to be heard upstairs. Never think of looking to your husband's shirt buttons;  leave that to the laundress; or, if you must attend to his linen, superintend your washing  in person, and have frequent water-parties; and, especially in winter, always have the clothes dried before the parlour fire.
    If your husband has to go out to a business-dinner, or to the play, never let him have the latch-key; and should he, on any occasion, stay out late, send the servant to bed, sit up for him yourself, and make a merit of the sacrifice to "the wretch."
    Have a female confidant, who will instruct you in all the ill qualities of husbands generally, and will supply any deficiencies in the above hints. In conclusion, bear these grand principles in mind - that men must be crossed and thwarted continually, or they are sure to be tyrants; that a woman, to have her rights, must stand up for them; and that the behaviour which won a man's affections, is by no means necessary to preserve them.

Punch, 1844

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