Tag Archives: Victorian humor

A Disappointed Lunchist: 1871

fly-trap

Fly Trap

A Disappointed Lunchist.

Every city that has been fortunate enough to attain the metropolitan proportions of Dubuque, has a species of the genus homo who subsist on the free lunches set out on the counters of the various saloons. Among saloon keepers they are known as the lunch fiends. They gravitate from one point to another, picking a bone here and a crust of bread there, and are generally disposed to hang around until some customer, taking pity on their woebegone appearance, invites them up to drink. And this brings us to tell how nicely one of these gentry got fooled the other day.

Heeb, the brewer, being much annoyed by flies, invested in one of Capt. Jack Parker’s patent fly catchers and placed the same up on the counter of his bar. The trap is of wire, the flies entering from the bottom and proceeding to the top, where they find themselves prisoners. In order to coax the flies into the concern the trap is placed over a plate, which is filled with a conglomeration of musty crackers, Limburger cheese, orange peel, stale beer and other delicacies, forming a dose not altogether palatable, but which appears to be well-suited to the stomach of the flies.

The other day a lunch fiend entered Heeb’s establishment, and beholding the fly trap for the first time, and the plate under it, he naturally concluded that the same was set out for a free lunch, and that the wire arrangement had merely been placed over it to protect it from the flies. The lunch fiend concluded that this was his opportunity for breaking a somewhat prolonged fast. He waited patiently until the bar keeper’s back was turned, and then he pounced upon that plate as eager as a greedy hound, and had half the fly bait down his gullet before he discovered his mistake. We have only to add that the savory morsel came up again as quickly as it went down, and the last seen of the lunch fiend he was taking a bee line for Dunleith. He don’t hanker after any more of that kind of food.

Dubuque [IA] Daily Times 1 July 1871: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: One really can find nothing to add….

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.

 

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The Ladies’ University (As it Should Be): 1875

THE LADIES’ UNIVERSITY.

(AS IT SHOULD BE.)

SceneThe Examination Room of the University.

Professor Punch seated at table, writing. Enter Candidate for Matriculation.

Professor. My dear young Lady, pray take a chair. First let me saу that I am glad to see you have adopted a very proper costume in which to present yourself before the Authorities. A plain stuff gown, a neat cap, and a brown Holland apron. Nothing could be better.

Candidate (seating herself). I am delighted to have gained your approbation, Professor. My choice was regulated by the reflection that I intend to work and not to play.

Professor. Well said! And now, are you desirous of becoming a Member of this University?

Candidate. I am. I covet the honour.

Professor. It is necessary to ask you a few questions. What do you consider to be the “Rights of Woman”?

Candidate. She has but one right, which involves many duties— the right to be the Sweetness and Light, the Grace and Queen of home.

Professor. Very good. You would not wish to sit in Parliament?

Candidate. When my household duties were over, I should not object to an occasional seat in the Ladies’ Gallery—that is, supposing my husband were a Member of the House fond of addressing the Speaker.

Professor. A very proper reply. You do not wish to be a doctor or a lawyer?

Candidate (laughing). Certainly not. My ambition would be quite satisfied were I a good nurse and an efficient accountant.

Professor. An efficient accountant?

Candidate. Yes—that I might be able to check the butcher’s book.

Professor. Very good, indeed! Now do you know the chief object of this University?

Candidate. I believe so. It is to elevate the art of Cooking into a Christian duty. As Mr. Buckmaster said the other day at York,

“Our health, morality, social life, and powers of endurance depend very much on our food, and if it be a Christian duty to cultivate the earth, and make it bring forth food both for man and beast, it is equally a Christian duty to make that food enjoyable and wholesome by good cooking.”

Professor. You are quite right. I too will quote from Mr. Buckmaster’s very excellent speech. He said—

“So long as people prefer dirt to cleanliness and drink to food, and who know nothing, and don’t care to know anything, of those processes and conditions or laws which God has ordered as the condition of health, and without health there can be no happiness, so long as this ignorance and the prejudices which flow from it exist, all efforts except teaching will be comparatively useless. No law can prevent people from eating improper and unwholesome food, or accumulating heaps of filth in the dark corners of rooms, or compel them to open their windows or wash their bodies. Nothing but knowledge or a better education in common things will ever bring about these desirable results. It is for these and many other reasons that I am most anxious about the education of girls. The future of this country depends on their education. Every girls’ school should have a kitchen, with such appliances as they would be likely to have in their own homes, and every young lady should bе able to prepare, from first to last, a nice little dinner.”

Do you agree with Mr. Buckmaster?

Candidate. Most cordially. I think Mr. Buckmaster deserves the thanks of every man, woman, and child in the United Kingdom.

Professor. And so do I. What classes do you wish to join?

Candidate. The Cooking Class, the Dress and Bonnet Class, the Furniture-Judging Class, and the Domestic Economy Class. After I have passed through these, I should very much like to finish my University career by undergoing a final course of Music, Painting, and Modern Languages.

Professor (signing certificate). I have much pleasure in informing you that you are now a Member of the Ladies’ University. You have passed your preliminary examination most creditably.

Candidate. A thousand thanks, Professor.

[Rises, curtsies, and exit to join the Cookery Class.]

Professor. A sensible girl that!

[As the Scene closes in, Professor Punch smilingly returns to his work.]

Punch 20 March 1875: p. 123

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  As Mrs Daffodil’s readers will ascertain from the citation, this is cutting satire for 1875, when university education for women had scarcely begun to be bruited in public discussion and when Mr Patmore’s poem, “The Angel in the House,” was the pattern for feminine behavior. To be Relentlessly Informative, Mr J.C. Buckmaster, a chemist and  associate of a number of scientific societies and the Royal Polytechnic Institute, was the author of Buckmaster’s Cookery, Buckmaster’s Domestic Economy and Cooking. He lectured on cookery at the Great Exhibition.

Punch seemed fond of using culinary references in their barbs directed at women’s education. In 1894, under the heading “The Girton Girl, B.A.” it was announced that a female student at Girton, Miss E.H. Cooke, was on the list of Wranglers for Cambridge University. (This means that she placed in the first class in the very difficult Mathematics Tripos, even though, at this time, women were still not yet allowed to officially take the Tripos.) Punch commented:

Bravissima Miss E.H. Cooke. No difficulty in securing a first rate-place for so excellent a chef. Of course, so admirable a Cooke will at once receive the cordon bleu!

Punch 23 June 1894: p. 297

Really, it is enough to make one slip a little undetectable poison into that “nice little dinner.”

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.

 

Women in 1900: A letter from the future: 1853

The New Woman

Letter Written in 1900.

Mr. Editor: How the following letter came into my possession, I leave you and your readers to conjecture. It may have come through a “medium” from the Spirit of Prophecy, but this I only throw out as a suggestion. Meanwhile, rest assured, Mr. Editor, that should I be favored with any more communications from the same source, they shall be transmitted to you without fail.

Your friend and correspondent,

Annie Elton.

Washington City, Jan. 1, 1900.

My Dear Friend: Writing to you, as I now do at the commencement of the twentieth century I am naturally led to speak of the wonderful changes which have taken place within the last half of the century just past. I remember very well when men were considered the lords of creation, when all the offices of honor and profit were in their hands. Women were at that time held in subjection by their haughty oppressors, and women’s rights were almost unknown. Now, thank Heaven! All this is reversed. Instead of lords we have ladies of creation.

Our navies do not now consist of men of war—they are all women of war. Now, happily, a woman occupies our presidential chair, while our halls of Congress are filled with a body of intelligent females, from all parts of the country. Formerly we had professional men—now we have professional women.

But, without further preface, let me give you a little sketch of Washington, which I am at present visiting. Everybody is praising the administration of Hon. Mrs. Betsey Jones, who has just assumed the reins of government. She has filled her Cabinet with some of the most distinguished stateswomen in the country. Where, for instance, could she have found a better Secretary of War than Gen. Abigail Chase, of Massachusetts, who covered herself with glory in our late war with the Sandwich Islands?

I went to the President’s levee, a few evenings since. Among the crowd who were present, I noticed Hon. Mrs. Jenkins, the distinguished Senator from the new State of Patagonia. The Russian Minister, Mrs. Orloff, had on a splendid fur cape, which attracted the attention of all the ladies present. I was sorry not to have seen the Secretary of State—but she sent word that her baby was sick, and she couldn’t come.

I called to see the Attorney General the other day, and found her husband setting the table for tea, and taking care of the children. He said his wife was so much occupied with the cares of office, that she had but little leisure for her family.

This morning arrived the steamer America, Capt. Betty Martin, commander—bringing the latest news from Europe. It seems that the Queen of Austria has just issued a womandate, ordering all the men in her dominions to have off their whiskers. In consequence of this very reasonable edict, an insurrection took place among the men, which, however, was soon quelled by the efforts of Gen. Polly Kosciusko.

I heard last Sunday an eloquent sermon, from the Rev. Sally Sprague, minister of the first Church in this city. I understand that it is to be published.

I see by the papers, that a man out west attempted to lecture on men’s rights recently, in which he foolishly insisted that men had a right to vote. I was glad to hear that he was pelted from the stage by a volley of stones from the females (dear creatures) whose rights he had assailed. Poor man! He quite forgot that, in the words of the poetess—

“Times aint now as they used to was been,

Things aint now as they used to was then.

Paulina Pry.

The Fremont [OH] Weekly Journal 5 February 1853: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  It is, Mrs Daffodil is given to understand, International Women’s Day. The article above is what passed for wit about women’s rights in the newspapers of 1853. It took 67 years after this article for women to receive the right to vote in the United States. In Switzerland, it took until 1971. There was one ingenious critic who said that the right to vote was unnecessary; that women around the world already wielded unlimited political power and that American women ought to seize that power:

Much as we may admire the conservatism that governs, or that should govern, the influence of women in the White House, we may wonder if the higher politics of America, what may be called the diplomatic politics, is not neglecting a potent weapon. It is not a little strange that women should be least powerful in republics and democracies and most powerful in monarchies. When one of the great Indian princesses was recently in America some of our prominent society women sought to interest her in the feminist movement and to stimulate the ambition of Indian women to a share in the government of the Indian provinces. The Maharanee was much amused. She said that the women of India might live in seclusion, but it was actually they who governed the country. Their husbands sat upon the thrones and filled the offices, but only to carry out the advice that came from behind the purdah curtains. The women of India, said the princess, were much more influential in politics than their sisters in America, no matter how many votes they might have.

Much the same is true in England, where women have no votes, but where they have a political power that our women have hardly dreamed of. It does not matter very much who is the wife of an American President or cabinet officer, provided always that she is a lady and is willing to be inconspicuous. But the English statesman is well-nigh a lost soul without his wife. She is expected to be minutely familiar with domestic, imperial, and international politics and to take a practical view of advancing the various causes with which her husband is identified. A ball by the wife of the prime minister may easily have wider reaching results than a meeting of the cabinet. Here it is that the most delicate webs of diplomacy are spun, and spun very largely by women, who have unsurpassed opportunities for exercising the clairvoyance of their sex. Some of the most remarkable political revelations that have ever been made are to be found in the published diaries of women….

The fault, if fault there be. is not with the American government, but with the American woman. If the American woman were capable of exercising a political influence she would exercise it. and nothing could prevent her.

Vanity Fair 1 July 1916

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.

 

The Family Budget: 1875

THE FAMILY BUDGET.

A Meeting was held in the library of the mansion belonging to John Smith. Esq., on Tuesday last, to consider the annual financial statement of Mrs. Smith. Mr. Smith occupied his usual chair, and Mrs. Smith was accommodated with a seat on the sofa. Amongst those present were the Misses Smith (4), John Smith, Esq., Jun., and Masters Tommy and Harry Smith. Charles Dashleigh, Esq. (nephew of Mrs. Smith), was also in attendance.

Mrs. Smith opened the proceedings by explaining that the holding of the Meeting had been strongly opposed by the Chairman (Mr. J. Smith).’ She regretted to say that she had been compelled to resort to force to gain admittance. (” Shame!”) But skill had overcome power. (“Hear, hear!”) The library fire had been purposely allowed to expire; and when the Chairman rang for fresh fuel, an entrance had been secured under cover of the coal-scuttle. ( Cheers.) However, there they were; and they were well satisfied to let matters rest. She would explain as briefly as possible the position of affairs. This year the grant for Millinery would have to be materially increased, as trains were growing longer and longer day by day. Moreover, full evening dress was beginning to be worn again at the Opera. Meat was never dearer, and, in spite of the “Stores,” grocery of all kinds was excessively expensive. The Meeting would remember that twelve months since an additional grant had to be made to pay for the brougham; but this sum would not be saved this year, as it had already been expended in purchasing a box at Covent Garden. (“O! O!”’ from the Chairman.) There was also a great increase in the item, “&c.” Last year “&c.” amounted to £874 5s. 6d. ; this year “&c.” had increased to £1,202 4s. 7 1/2d.

The Chairman said he would like to have a list of the items included in the term ” &c.”

Mrs. Smith had no doubt but what he would. (Laughter.) She could only say that ” &c.” meant lots of things. (“Hear, hear!”) For instance, the children’s schooling, bouquets, subscriptions to the Circulating Library, and, in fact, a lot of other things she could not remember at the moment. It saved a great deal of time and trouble to put the things down in a round sum. (“Hear, hear.'”) To meet this expenditure, she looked, as usual, to the cheque-book and banking account of Mr. Smith—the gentleman now occupying the Chair. (Cheers.)

Miss Smith complained of the small grant allowed for pin-money. False curls had greatly increased in value during the past year, and really the sum she received scarcely sufficed to pay the bill of the hair-dresser. She must have some more money, to avoid appearing in the character of  “a perfect fright.”

(“Hear, hear.”)

The Misses Angelina and Laura Smith corroborated the statement of their elder sister.

Mr. Smith Junior said he must have an additional fifty pounds a year allowed to him, as flowers in the button-hole were coming into fashion again.

Mr. Charles Dashleigh said he had looked in on the chance of his uncle being able, or, rather willing, to do something for him.

The Chairman was understood to say that he was neither able nor willing to do anything for his nephew—an announcement that was received with much cheering.

Mr. Charles Dashleigh observed that, after that statement, he need not stay any longer. (“Hear, hear!”) He would merely add that he had always managed to live at the rate of £2000 a year on an income something under £200. How he managed to do this was as great a mystery to himself as it was to the rest of the civilised world. The speaker then withdrew.

Mrs. Smith said, that the business of the Meeting being over, she merely had to ask the Chairman for a cheque. (Cheers.)

The Chairman, after observing “What must be must,” (a remark which caused some merriment,) retired from the Library, avowedly to get his cheque-book, which he said had been left in the Dining-room.

After waiting patiently for half an hour for the return of the Chairman, the Meeting ascertained that that gentleman had treacherously left his home for his Club.

Upon this discovery being made, the Meeting passed a vote of want of confidence in the absent Chairman, and separated angrily.

When our parcel was made up, Mr. John Smith was still dining.

Punch 24 April 1875: p. 180

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  It has often been said that if the government would find itself in a solvent condition, it would do well to adopt the budgetary methods of the prudent and thrifty housewife.  This popular idea may have been overstated as it does not allow for the naturally improvident or the purchase of false curls and boxes at Covent Garden.

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.

 

Mr Hoofnackle Tells the Truth: 1897

Yankee home-spun philosopher, 1911

Yankee home-spun philosopher, 1911

The Hoofnackle Letters.

Translated from the St. Louis (German) “Laterne,” for ” Texas Siftings,” by Alex. E. Sweet.

Mr. Editor,—l read very often that lying in every-day life is getting to be more common every day, that even the children are instructed in lying, &c.

This thing has got to stop. “Jackson,” said I to myself, “you must make an effort to see if in this free country you can’t get along without lying. You must set a good example. Try to live one day, anyhow, without telling a single lie. Be perfectly candid and truthful, no matter what the consequences may be.”

Having thus made up my mind, I determined to make a beginning with Sarah. I began to regret this as soon as we sat down to breakfast, as she was very amiable, something quite unusual with her. I verily believe I would have spared her feelings if she hadn’t asked me if I wanted another cup of coffee. Of course, I couldn’t back down, so I said:

“As far as I know, Missus Hoofnackle, I have not had any coffee yet, unless you call this dishwater coffee. This hogwash is so weak, I don’t see how it manages to crawl out of the pot.” Whew! Talk of cyclones. However, it subsided, because she really thought I had lost the use of my mental faculties, and she had pity on my mental condition.

“What is the matter with you, Jackson, anyhow? Are you not feeling well?”

“No; I’ve got a headache.”

“How do you come to have a headache?” she asked anxiously.

Remembering my vow to tell the truth under all circumstances, I answered boldly:

“My headache is caused by intemperance. I am more or less drunk every night Last night I drank fourteen glasses of beer, seven glasses of wine, four more classes of beer, two schnapps, and three cocktails that I know of. I expect I’ll have delirium tremens before long.”

“Merciful heavens!” cried Sarah. “Is that the kind of a slop-barrel I’ve got for a husband?” After she had called me a tank, &c., she put on her new hat and sailed out of the house.

“This thing starts out fine,” I remarked to myself confidentially. When I got out on the street the first man I met was my landlord. l am owing him several months’ rent, but he has always treated me with consideration. I was sorry to meet him, but Hoofnackle never backs down. During the brief conversation we had I called him a Shylock, and he told me that I never expected to pay him a cent for back rent. He struck a dog-trot for a lawyer’s office and I passed on, happy in the thought that thus far I had told nothing but the truth.

As luck would have it, I met Mrs. Shroud, wife of Undertaker Shroud. She had a market-basket on her arm. She admires me very much, and always takes my part when Sarah abuses me in the coffee klatsch.

“Good morning, Mister Hoofnackle,” says she, smiling pleasantly. “You are looking younger than ever.”

“That’s a blamed sight more than I can say for you, Mrs. Shroud. Your face is all shrivelled up, and if you don’t buy a new set of false teeth you’ll lose those you’ve got in your month. Judging by your looks, you’ll be the next subject that drunken bum of a husband of yours will have to attend to.”

“O, you brute,” she shrieked; and dropping her market basket she turned up her mug and howled like a dog that has been tied up without anything to eat or drink for three days and nights. Then she started on a keen run for her husband’s place of business.

“I’m getting along finely,” I remarked to myself.

The next man that I met was a broker named Grabber. He has always treated me very politely, and I hated to insult him; but I made up my mind not to yield, so when he asked me why I refused to drink with him, I replied candidly.

“I am very sorry, Mr. Grabber, but I do not wish to help you squander the money you have gouged out of the widow and the orphan, you rascally old cheat. You ought to be run in.”

Grabber went off, swearing like a trooper, and then I had the difficulty with Shroud.

When I came to I was at home. There was a note from Sarah, informing me that she had brought suit for divorce, I being a common drunkard. All communications to be addressed to her lawyers, Gougem and Cheatem. She had gone to her mother.

There was another official document in regard to the rent, and still another from Grabber, who wrote that if I did not pay up there would be a personal in that morning’s papers that would make my eyes bulge out when I saw it.

That was glory enough for one day. My advice is, not to be reckless telling the truth. The best way is to keep on lying the same as usual. That is much the healthiest plan. Of course, Mr. Editor, you do not need any such advice, for with you lying has long since become second nature—Your old friend,

JACKSON P. HOOFNACKLE.

Pelorus Guardian and Miners’ Advocate 24 September 1897

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mr Hoofnackle follows in a long line of whimsically vernacular characters from the American press. They comment on politics and the topics of the day and are alleged to be specimens of genuine home-spun American humour. Some rely heavily on poor orthography and painfully-transcribed regional dialects. Others include “Mr Dooley,” an Irish publican from Chicago; “Petroleum V[esuvius] Nasby,” a “Copperhead” exponent of slavery; and shrewd Yankee “Josh Billings.”  A sampling of Mr Billings’s wit and wisdom:

Luv iz like the meazels, we kant alwus tell when we ketched it and ain’t ap tew hav it severe but onst, and then it ain’t kounted mutch unless it strikes inly. [This is frequently rephrased to suggest that love is like the measles: best caught when young or the consequences are dire.]

I often hear affekshunate husbands kall their wifes “Mi Duck,” I wunder if this ain’t a sli delusion tew their big bills?

If yu don’t beleaf in “total depravity,” buy a quart ov gin and studdy it.

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.

 

Henry Goes Shopping for His Sweetheart: 1906

Mrs Henry Spencer Lucy in mourning. Oil painting on canvas,Christina Cameron Campbell, Mrs Henry Spencer Lucy (d. 1919) [?1826 - 1898] by Giuseppe da Pozzo (Conegliano 1844 - Rome 1919), signed G da Pozzo Roma. A full-length portrait of the wife of Henry Spencer Lucy, who died 1890, and eldest daughter of Alexander Campbell of Monzie.In 1890 she assumed the name Cameron-Lucy in her widowhood. She is seen dressed in black with a white cap and veil, drawn back, sitting on a throne onsmall raised platform with a footstool n the carpet at her feetnext to carpeted table with a framed photgraph, small urn, ?chalice/monstrance and various other effects, holding a pice of paper in her hand.

Mrs Henry Spencer Lucy in mourning.  by Giuseppe da Pozzo  Note the widow’s cap.

A Shopping Incident.

The young man screwed his courage to the sticking point and dashed into the large drapery establishment. lnside were many customers, all ladies, and many attendants, all ladies, too, and all dressed in black, and looking very tall and dignified. Henry was sorry for himself; he regretted having ventured. All his courage had oozed out at his finger tips he felt very small and limp.

“Are you being attended to?” asked one tall young lady, severely.

“Yes that is, nun-no,” answered Henry.

“What is it you would like?”

“Well, I don’t quite know. It isn’t what I like, but— the fact is, it’s for a lady.”

“Yes. What article?”

“I really can’t tell, but I thought 1 would give her something.”

“Your mother?” asked the attendant with something like a smile.

“No, no, not quite my mother. What are those things there?”

“Those are the new silk stockings.”

“Oh, I beg pardon I really didn’t know. No, I don’t care to look at them; I don’t think they’d do.” Poor Henry was perspiring freely now and his knees were weak and trembling. “Something more like that, I think.” He pointed desperately at a bundle.

The young lady endeavoured to ignore his request, and a faint tinge of colour showed in her cheeks. “Wouldn’t you like to look at some hats?” she said hastily.

“No.” said Henry, feebly, “she has a hat. I really think those—“

“Those are petticoats,” said the attendant, desperately. “Shall I show you a few?”

Henry had almost collapsed. “Pup. pup-petticoats?” he gasped. “No, don’t show them, please. Gimme one of those.” He pointed to some articles displayed on a stand.

“Are you quite sure they will suit?” asked the young lady.

“Oh, yes, positive,” faltered Henry “Just the thing, I’m sure.” Henry would have bought a thousand-gallon boiler, or a ship’s anchor anything to get away from the terrible shop, where all the women were staring so, and most of them were laughing.

The parcel was made up. Henry paid and fled, and that evening he presented the dear eighteen -year-old girl he was courting with an elegant widow’s cap.

Observer, 23 June 1906: p. 23

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: There were many different styles of widow’s caps for every degree of age and mourning, from coquettish confections for the “merry widow,” to the lappeted or “Marie Stuart” cap made popular by Queen Victoria, to the severe black crape for the inconsolable or the professionally grim. Caps could be made at home, but ladies were counseled that the results were rarely satisfactory. It was far better to purchase from a maison de deuil or a milliner.

A widow's cap for an elderly lady, c. 1891 New York Digital Collection

A widow’s cap for an elderly lady, c. 1891 New York Digital Collection

We have few records of gentlemen purchasing mourning for ladies; possibly Henry’s cautionary tale explains why.

You may read more about the popular and material culture of Victorian mourning in The Victorian Book of the Dead.

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.

 

A Few Errata: 1888

 A Few Errata.

  A number of errors crept into the story on the first page of last week’s issue, writes A. W. Bellew, in The Yankee Blade, the printer being intoxicated and the editor being off, that is to say, off on a hunting expedition:

For “she fell into a river,” read “reverie.”

For “he wore red headed hair,” read “he was an hereditary heir.”

For “in front of the mansion he had the bull pup,” read “to pull up.”

For “darling, this is your nasal morn,” read “natal.”

For “I never was awfully hungry in my life,” read “angry.”

For “you say she ate me with a smile,” read “satiate.”

For “she did not for a moment cease her violent trombone,” read “trembling.”

For “he gently threw her played out shawl around her,“ read “plaid.”

For “some said it was the spinage meningitis,” read “spinal”

For “Herbert, I know you rascal,” etc., read “risk all.”

For “she saw his lip grip ale,” read “grow pale.”

For “is it possible! And me owe for board, with nothing to sustain me,” read “overboard”.

For “he threw both arms around her ancient maiden aunt,” etc.; period after “her.”

For “but my age must be renumbered,” read “remembered.”

For “her heart was filled with et ceteras,” read “ecstasies.”

For “You are my last darling,” read “lost.”

For “I am thin, I am wholly thin,” read “thine.”

Newark [OH] Daily Advocate  28 November 1888: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil really has nothing to add, except that she is grateful to a lady of her acquaintance who has a horror of semi-colons and always gently admonishes Mrs Daffodil when she puts a comma wrong, which is rarely. Mr A.W. Bellew was a comic writer of rare gifts, (see “Assisting the Spirits” in this post.)  but Mrs Daffodil cannot, alas, locate any biographical information.

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.