The Bachelor: 1893

The Bachelor's Breakfast Table, 1885, Joseph Benwell Clark

The Bachelor’s Breakfast Table, 1885, Joseph Benwell Clark

The young bachelor who looks forward with fear to the days when he will be an old bachelor should read these reflections by a writer in the Bazar:  “The bachelor friend of the family is always sure that he will not be de trop, let him appear when he may. His advent is always greeted with smiles and vociferous words of welcome. Papa beams over his newspaper, and thaws perceptibly if he happen to have been a bit tart and out of sorts. It is good to have a comrade appear on the scene, particularly a comrade of one’s own age, who brings in a robust atmosphere of good feeling and understands one’s mood, only to dispel it, if it be not a pleasant one.

Mamma extends a cordial hand. She is relieved that dear old Ned has arrived; not that ineligible college student who is casting worshipful eyes on her bonny Marguerite; not the dreamy artist who always regards Christine as if she were a model for his next composition; not the vulgar nouveau riche. who, she hardly knows how, except by sturdy persistency and sheer pluck, has fought his way into society, as he fought it in finance. Ned is associated with the most agreeable memories of her married life. He is useful, serviceable, obliging, ready to fill a gap, always available for escort duty, a safe, delightful, and perfectly satisfactory friend.

As for the girls, the bachelor friend, especially if he be middle-aged or elderly, takes a brotherly place in their affections, with the single exception that brothers are generally less gallant, less courtly, more candid in criticism, more easily bored. Perhaps, if an old gentleman, the bachelor’s position is more nearly like that of a favorite uncle — an uncle associated in the mind with everything generous, kind, and festive. There being no occasion for authority, for caprice, for any relation which is not free from friction, the bachelor on intimate terms with the household stands in the most delightful attitude possible toward the younger members of it.

As for the bachelor himself, there is much to be said in favor of his customary environment. Having only his own bills to pay, he can never find fault with the extravagance of his family, as a married man now and then does. Having no shoes to buy for little feet, nor school accounts to settle, he can gratify to the fullest extent his taste for art, for beautiful bric-a-brac and drapery, for everything elegant and rare. Nothing in the way of music or the drama eludes the bachelor friend; he has time and opportunity for everything desirable, and so brings to the home circle the air of refinement and pleasure which belongs to the cultivated man of the world. If a traveler, used to many lands and scenes, the bachelor is apt to be a very desirable dinner companion. Who else keeps the ball of conversation rolling so briskly and so smoothly?

Alas! it happens sometimes that the bachelor falls a victim to the bright eyes of some particular girl. He marries. He becomes the especial property of one woman. He founds a household of his own. That which is the gain of the bachelor becomes presently the loss of society, which depends largely for many of its easeful pleasures on the bachelors who adorn its walks.”

The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] 9 January 1893

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil has known many fine bachelors, both confirmed and in name only. She judges them entirely on their own personal merits. Some hostesses try to press-gang bachelor acquaintances into marriage with some paragon of a girl, when all the poor bachelor wishes is to enjoy his travels and his beautiful bric-a-brac or his late-night champagne suppers with high-stepping members of the chorus. That is when the excuse comes to the fore:


Ungallant Bachelors Give Their Reasons for Refusing to Enter the Married State

At a wedding breakfast the bachelors were called upon to give their reasons for remaining so.

The following are among them:

“I am like the frog in the fable, who, though he loved the water, would not jump into the well because he could not jump out again.”

“I am too selfish and honest enough to admit it.”

“I prefer on the one hand, liberty, refreshing sleep, the opera, midnight suppers, quiet seclusion, dreams, cigars, a bank account and club to—on the other hand—disturbed rest, cold meat, baby linen, soothing sirup, rocking-horses, bread pudding and empty pockets.”

“I have a twin brother, and we have never had a secret from one another. He is married.” London Tit-Bits

Elkhart [IN] Truth 15 October 1909: p. 5

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


6 thoughts on “The Bachelor: 1893

  1. SallyCampbell & Ike Renfield

    I never realized what a cozy coterie of confirmed bachelors Ratty, Mole and Mr. Badger were in “Wind in the Willows” until I re-read it as an an adult. As I child reader, I just loved it for the cozy camaraderie. Oh dear, I must and will halt my over-use of alliteration now.


    1. chriswoodyard Post author

      They were quite the snug little den, weren’t they? One wonders if someone will make a television play of “Wind in the Willows” using the same triumvirate of actors from “Sherlock” for Ratty, Mole, and Mr Badger. The casting seems perfect.
      Mrs Daffodil, as you may note from the title of this blog, has absolutely no problems with alliteration.
      Best wishes,
      Mrs Daffodil


  2. SallyCampbell & Ike Renfield

    Indeed, I want to see this cast, Could it be worthwhile contact and pester the Beeb?
    “Mole End ” is a dear homecoming.


  3. mrbflaneur

    As a young bachelor who has often often brooded over what it might be like to be an old bachelor, I found this rather heart warming. I am not a confirmed bachelor, but, as I can’t see “Miss Right” appearing on the scene any time soon, I am now looking forward to continuing my travels and collecting more bric-a-brac.


    1. chriswoodyard Post author

      How wise you are to broaden your geographic horizons and your artistic tastes! One is certain that as soon as you are utterly set in your ways and have your bric-a-brac perfectly arranged to suit yourself, some charmer will come along to disrupt the even tenor of your days. What you do with said charmer is, of course, entirely at your discretion.
      With all best wishes for your happiness in any state of life,
      Mrs Daffodil

      Liked by 1 person


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