A Yankee Girl’s Pluck: 1883

woman whipping man lydia thompson horsewhipping editor


She Horsewhipped a Member of the Legion of Honor in Paris.

I recently heard of an action on the part of a young American girl toward a French woman insulter which has filled my soul with admiration and delight. The young lady in question, who is a refined, modest, and high-bred young girl, is staying with some members of her family at one of the prominent hotels on the Avenue l’Opera. As her dress and manners are alike unobtrusive, she has never hesitated to go out alone whenever business or inclination impelled her to do to. One would fancy on that wide, brilliant avenue, in broad daylight, a quiet, modest young lady, in the city deemed the center of the world’s civilization, would be perfectly safe from annoyance or molestation of any kind. Such was not the case. For a few weeks past, whenever she ventured out alone, she was followed and accosted by a stylishly-dressed individual about forty-five years old, wearing the red ribbon of the Legion of Honor in his button-hole. This person would not only follow her, but would address her in language of the fulsome complimentary style, would thrust his face under her bonnet, would go a few steps in front of her, and would then look back and leer at her, and, in fact, he conducted himself in the manner that a well-bred Parisian gentleman usually considers proper to assume when he meets an unprotected young girl. This went on for some time to the infinite annoyance of the young lady. Her tormentor never made his appearance when her brother was with her, or when there was a policeman within hailing distance–on these occasions he kept discreetly out of the way.

Finally, the other day the affair came to a climax. The young lady was returning to her hotel about three o’clock in the afternoon, when her persecutor made his appearance, and began tormenting her as usual. The hunted girl, worried, wearied and exasperated, was at last wrought up to the highest pitch of indignation and nervous excitement. Chancing to pass a cab stand, by a sudden impulse she snatched one of the driver’s whips from its socket, and turning on her tormentor she cut him sharply across the face with the lash. Being taken by surprise he started back and dropped his hat. As he stooped to pick it up she followed up her advantage, raining blow after blow upon his head and shoulders, so stunning and bewildering him that he was some time in recovering his lost headgear, every moment of which she employed to the best advantage. At last, catching his rescued hat, he fled from the scene as fast as his legs could carry him, followed by the laughter and jeers of the whole line of cabmen, who heartily sympathized with the brave young heroine of the scene. And so one of the woman-insulters of Paris has at last met with his deserts, and at the hands of an American girl. I feel inclined to cry with the jolly old cabman, when he received back his useful whip: “Bravo, Mademoiselle. That was well done.”

The Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 5 May 1883: p. 12

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Well. So much for honneur… It is rather startling to see, in 1883, the notion (so frequently voiced in modern times) that it is only the young woman’s refinement, modesty, dress, and manners that protect her from persecution by women-insulters and that unprotected status, “fast” dress and demeanour invites such bounders.  The idea, of course, probably goes back millennia: “You’re not going out in >that< kalasiris, young lady!” Mrs Daffodil does not usually advocate public violence, but applauds the young woman for her decisive action.

The horse-whip seems to have been the weapon of choice for ladies dealing with mashers. Although more difficult to conceal than a derringer, it could readily be borrowed and seemed to drive home the point without involving the police.

Why She Horsewhipped Him.

The confidence of a young woman in love is something that ought to be treated with great tenderness. A wicked young man of Bethlehem, Pa., evidently didn’t understand this, or he had no concern about it, for he did the most shameful thing the other day. He borrowed a dollar of his girl, bought a couple of tickets for the show with it, and took another girl. This outrageous conduct was discovered while the entertainment was in progress, and naturally created a good deal of excitement in the mind of the young woman whose dollar had gone to furnish an evening’s diversion for another. She undertook to get even by meeting the couple after the show was over, and exerted herself as well as possible to give the young man a whipping on the sidewalk. She succeeded so well she is very confident he won’t want to borrow any more of her money to take other girls to shows. The moral of this is that impecunious young men who must take their girls out had better try and raise the essential funds at an impartial pawn-shop.

The Benton Weekly Record [Fort Benton MT] 9 April 1880: p. 1


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 anecdote

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.


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