BAD ADVICE TO YOUNG WIVES.
BY PROFESSOR BENTHARO.
My object in the following papers will
be to instruct the married women
generally, but more particularly the
young, in the management of her vic-
tim after he is secured. Of the best
mode of catching a husband I will not
treat, partly for the reason that the
subject has been already frequently
and ably handled, but chiefly because
I can arrive at the desired result in a
much shorter way, namely, by simply
instructing the maiden to adopt a
course of conduct diametrically op-
posite to that which I prescribe for
The first three years of married life,
more of less, according to the temper
of the parties, is devoted to securing a compromise
each, of course, striving to make the best terms
for him or herself; the wife, of course, straining
every nerve to secure the greatest amount of
privileges and money, as the price of her forbear-
ance, and the husband for the lowest figure at
which his partner will let him alone. It is to aid
the lady in the most effective mode of conducting
this campaign that I do now devote myself.
I have seen so many blunders made by unwise
women, that it struck me with surprise and pity.
I have known clumsy wives drive their husbands
to divorce in two years; others who so awkwardly
managed affairs as to ruin their stock in trade, by
goading it to intemperance, with its inevitable con-
sequence, business disaster and financial smash;
others again who were so indiscreet as to cause
their stock in trade to commit suicide, than which nothing is more
injudicious. Now, none of these results are at all necessary, and
any object may be carefully gained by carefully attending to the
few rules I shall proceed to lay down.
In the first place, should the wife which occasionally happens
have any slight tendency to consistency, she must get rid of it im-
mediately. Inconsistency is the primary rule of matrimonial cam-
paigning. Never by any chance do what might be reasonably
expected of you; and when you have once created the feeling of
complete insecurity, the battle is half gained.
The golden rule which I would give to women the rule which
she should carry about in her heart of hearts to the alter, to the
bridal chamber, to the grave is this: My sex absolves me from all
obligations. The very fact of your being a woman is a standing
receipt in full for all claims against you through life. There is a
bankruptcy law for your special benefit, whereby you can fail every
day in the week if you choose, and not pay half a smile on the
Remember that society has clothed you in an armor more invul-
nerable than the iron plates of our gunboats. Your person is
sacred; no man dare lay a finger on you. And when the body is
free, a very small soul can accomplish much. If you need aid, you
have but to go into the market-place and wail, when an army will
come to your assistance. This particularly if you have personal
Some sentimental persons imagine, or pretend to imagine, the
object of marriage to be mutual aid, support, encouragement.
They fancy it to be a partnership, the weak and tender woman un-
dertaking to soothe and cheer the strong, brave man through the
battle of life; provided he will shield her with his body, toil for her
with limbs and brain through the burning heat of summer and the
bitter cold of winter, wresting from the greedy world food and
shelter for them both. They paint a pretty picture of the joys of
wed-lock, these visionaries. Behold, they say, the weary warrior
returning to his home, wounded and sore, smeared with blood and
sand, thirsty, half-famished and heavy of heart, but bearing on his
back the fruits of his day s toil meat, and fruit, and wine, and rare
nicknacks for his love! As he approaches his own door, it is
thrown wide open and a cheery voice bids him welcome, white
arms entwine themselves about his neck and tender eyes distill
sweet tears over his wounds. His sores are bathed, the softest
couch receives his weary limbs, and the daintiest fare the house af-
fords refreshes and restores him. Kind words cheer him, and in
indescribable bliss the hours pass away.
Oh, my eye! how jolly green! quote the words of our
amiable friend, the Artful Dodger. I will teach you better princi-
ples than those, young lady. The idea of your making a drudge of
yourself to economise, just to save your husband a little toil! The
idea of your receiving him cheerfully when he returns home! What
stuff! Why, you want him to cheer you! You have been moping
in the house all day, with nothing but a few miserable novels and a
piano to amuse you! therefore it is you that needs to be cheered;
or if you have been out shopping, or calling, why, you have surely
gone through the same fatigue as he has, and being the weaker of
the two, you deserve the most consideration. Consequently, under
any circumstances, you are the one to be entertained, amused, en-
couraged. Your husband may be weary he may have met with
disappointments and heard cruel words he may have listened to
the first whispers of impending ruin he may be exhausted with
hard work. Well, that is his own affair! Your object in marrying
him was to enjoy Le Sport. You were not, perhaps, aware of it,
but such is the fact.
The first, chief, grand object of marriage is Le Sport. Some
stupid people fancy wealth or position to be the main attraction.
Another class of fools, to whom I recently referred, have some silly
notions about love, which are really too absurd to dwell upon.
Le Sport after marriage supplies that excitement that love did
before. Love, as a passion, is a very fine thing in its place; neither
you not I are disposed to sneer at it. It is very exciting, very
amusing, &c., but it must be in its proper place; it must not be al-
loyed with any weaker sentiment, such as affection or tenderness.
However, as I said, Le Sport is the object of marriage; and
although it may never have recognized it before, now that I have
drawn your attention to the fact, you, as a shrewd women, will
readily admit the truth of my position.
The immense amount of fun that may be got out of a very small
amount of husband is something almost incredible. Talk of hunting
niggers, of bull-baiting, rat-catching, or killing flies! Why, these
are mere tame games, fit for old maids over their tea and toast,
compared to the glorious excitement of chasing a husband! I do
not, of course, refer to the material husband the outward and
visible man but to the soul of the husband, that you pursue as it
flies trembling from one hope to another, panting, gasping from
fear to fear, from torment to torment, till, quivering, it falls ex-
hausted. Then you tempt it back with kindness, back into fancied
security; and as the poor victim basks in the sun, you suck a cruel
word into him. On! it is rare fun! See how the poor wretch
writhes, scarcely believing in the new wound! How he twists and
squirms! Slash him with a sneer, bruise him with a slander he s
off again bleeding and terrified! After him hurrah! This is the
fun to make the pulses bound! This is the sport above high,
high above all others hunting the soul of a man!
The old-fashioned shrew was a very clumsy tactician, and even
the modern Mrs. Caudle is a mere blunderer. Scolding, loud talking,
slamming of doors, &c., &c, are at best but a little irritating, be-
sides being calculated to attract the attention of outsiders; and the
wise wife will never allow it to be supposed by any save one that
she is aught but the most amiable of beings. The well-instructed
woman will soon learn to look upon the note of interrogation as her
most valuable ally; for, firstly, it relieves you from the necessity of
making direct charges, which, you will soon perceive, are much less
galling than insinuations; secondly, it necessitates an answer, which
will prove exhausting to the enemy. A husband, after a time, may
become so accustomed to any amount of mere scolding, as to read,
write or even sleep under the infliction, just as the miller learns to
forget the clatter of his own mill.
It will be obvious to the discreet wife how soon the mere scold
must run out of material for her purpose; whereas the shrew, with
a note of interrogation, keeps providing herself with fuel as she
goes along. I will give an example of both styles. Charles has
come home late for dinner:
Shrew Well, so you have come home at last, after keeping
every one waiting, and the dinner as cold as ice, and burned to a
cinder to keep it warm, and the children all crying, poor little dar-
lings! Really, this is too bad! But this is always the way! And I
suppose you ll tell me it s business that has detained you? I don t
know what you men would do without business. I wonder why
we women cannot manage to have some business, to give us an ex-
cuse for doing just as we like! I do really think if gentlemen can-
not come home at the proper time, they ought not to have any
dinner at all. Dear! dear! Well, I don t care. Tra la la la la tro
le lo lo The heart bowed down with the weight of woe. Well! Are you
going down to dinner? Anna, stop that, and come here directly!
Do you hear me? Stop that yelling, or I ll whip you this minute!
There, stop crying and give me a kiss. Poor little thing! it s
enough it s too bad, haven t had anything to eat since morning!
Never mind, darling; par doesn t care for us; he d rather spend
his time down town with his friends, &c., &c.
During all this time Charles has said nothing, and is perfectly
fresh for an emergency, besides being ready for his dinner. Now
observe the operation of the inquisitional plan. Charles comes
home late for dinner:
You Good gracious, Charles! is anything the matter?
Charles Matter! No. Why?
You Why, what makes you so late?
C I was detained down town by business.
You What kind of business?
C Business at the store.
You Charles, I want to ask you a question. Suppose one of
your friends was to come to see you at the store, and you knew I
was anxiously waiting for you at home, which do you think it would
be your duty to do to stay down town with them or come home
By this question you place the enemy at once in a false position;
for he must either give an elaborate and qualified answer which,
to a hungry and weary man will be irksome (we may here remark
that it is a great point to put such questions as will require long
answers; to this you should devote your attention) or else give a
short answer, which will put him in your power; for if he says the
husband ought to stay down town, then you will have a grievance,
and can attack him for preferring his friends to you; if he says he
ought to come up, then you can attack him with inconsistency and
want of feeling for not practising his principles. But we will sup-
pose, for the sake of argument, that the poor fool adopts the first
Well, that depends upon circumstances. If he comes to see me
on business, or if he is an old friend who has been a long time
away, or if he is in distress and needs my aid, well, then, I think I
ought to attend to him. If he has merely dropped in to have a
chat, why, then I ought not to detain you on his account.
Now, Charles, tell me do you think business more important
than anything else in the world?
No. (Charles being hungry, is anxious to end the conver-
Well, tell me what you value above business?
What I value above business? Oh, I don t know great many
things. But let us go down to dinner.
|Title:||Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Nineteen: page nine|
|Description:||Newspaper clipping written by Frank Bellew giving ''bad advice'' to young wives.|
|Subject:||Bellew, Frank; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Marriage; Women|
|Title:||Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Nineteen|
|Description:||Includes Gunn's descriptions of his experiences as a war correspondent for ""The New York Tribune"" in Virginia while traveling with the Army of the Potomac during the Peninsular Campaign; the Siege of Yorktown; the Battle of Williamsburg; his departure from Alexandria on the steamer Kent; the ruins of Hampton, Virginia, after it was burnt by John B. Magruder; touring the gunboat Monitor; the death of Fitz James O'Brien from a gunshot wound; Jim Parton's temporary separation from Fanny Fern; and seeing Robert E. Lee's house in Virginia.|
|Subject:||Civil War; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Journalism; Marches (U.S. Army); Marriage; Medical care (U.S. Army); Military; Military camp life; Peninsular Campaign (Va.); Prisoners of war (Confederate); Siege of Yorktown (Va.); Slavery; Slaves; Travel; Women|
|Coverage (City/State):||New York, New York; Washington, District of Columbia; Alexandria, Virginia; Hampton, Virginia; Yorktown, Virginia; Williamsburg, Virginia|
|Note:||Thomas Butler Gunn was born February 15, 1826, in Banbury, England, and came to New York in 1849. During the Civil War he worked as a correspondent for the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Post. He returned to England in 1863, and died in Birmingham in April 1903. The collection includes twenty-one volumes of his diaries, including newspaper clippings, letters, photographs, sketches, and various other items inserted by Gunn. Diary entries date from July 7, 1849, to April 7, 1863, and include his experiences with the New York publishing and literary world, his descriptions of boarding houses, his travels throughout the United States, and his experiences traveling with the Federal army as a Civil War correspondent.|
|Publisher:||Missouri History Museum|
|Rights:||Copyright 2010 Missouri History Museum.|
|Source:||Page images, transcriptions, and metadata of the Thomas Butler Gunn diaries have been provided by the Missouri History Museum.|