"How She Managed Him"
The article “How she managed him” appeared in the Ways of Women column from
the The Ladies’ Own Supplement to the Western Mail, published in Cardiff on
August 25th 1894. The correspondence that follows the article appeared in the
same supplement over the course of the next five weeks.
HOW SHE MANAGED HIM
Quite a new idea! I was intensely amused with a letter in a recent London society journal, describing how a young lady managed her still younger husband. She was of a determined character, and had the money, and at once assumed the mastership. Brought up by a stern and fashionable aunt, she had been subjected to a severe course of tight-lacing. Rebellion was followed in her by a positive love of tight-lacing. Her slim 19in. waist was much admired by her young spouse, who begged her to keep it at the slender size. During the honeymoon she dwelt incessantly on the well-set figures of men who indulged in corsets (as many, in fact, do) until, in a moment of uxorious fondness, the husband submitted to the close clasp of the corset. Delighted as a child with a new toy, she set herself to reduce his manly girth. To every rebellion and expostulation she replied theoretically by remarking what was "sauce for the goose was sauce for the gander," and practically by the reduction of another inch. To secure herself against any stealthy slackening of the strings, she actually enclosed his waist in a steel chain and patent padlock. Having reduced his will to submission and his waist to nineteen permanent inches, one would imagine this spirited young woman would have been content. Not a bit of it. The writer goes on to say that her fertile imagination suggested a "punishment corset." For all faults of his as a husband, want of courtesy and respect, little disobediences, &c., she put him into stays rather "more than one and a half inch smaller still, of a peculiarly long waisted shape, a mass of bone and steel, with a perfectly straight, unbending bust, and rigid shoulder straps." Two days and a night[italics] in them, with safety chain attached, is sufficient to bring him to submission to the most exactly whim. Poor fellow! The daily lacing to which he is subjected does not prevent his active life, but he "cannot play tennis," and I should imagine cricket and football would equally be impossible. His friends little suspect that beneath his tweed suit there is a waist as small, and probably smaller, than of most girl visitors, and the triumphant wife is now advising her bride friends to clap corsets on their husbands while yet the glamour of first love prevails. Oh, ye brides of Penarth and Cardiff, take note of this unique receipt! I have read of and heard of wives who systematically flogged their naughty husbands, who kept dainty canes and gold-handled whips wherewith to chastise them for marital misbehaviour! But this is quite a new tip. What a mental picture one can draw of the fine, tall, manly young fellow, courteous and attentive to his pretty bride, eager to forestall her every whim and wish, the admiration of the friends who meet around his hospitable table, but who, when the guests are gone home singing his praises, retires meekly to his wife's boudoir, and submits for some little faults, possibly a look too many at some former flame, to lie across his darling's knees and be soundly flogged with a little cane, or be squeezed, strapped, and compressed into 19in. stays, and compelled to wear them for 60 hours. Truly, half the world does not know how the other half lives, if such things be.
September 1st 1894
SHOULD HUSBANDS BE PUNISHED?
Our "Ways of Women" last week and its account of putting as husband into "punishment corsets," has brought us several amusing letters, which I now give. Possibly other readers may have some views on the subject as to whether it is right (and possible) to punish husbands. "Petruchio" writes indignantly as follows :-
"Dear Editor, - I do no wonder at your quoting for the amusement of your readers that ludicrous article of a bride making her husband wear corsets, and using them as a punishment, but what man in the world, unless he were a perfect fool, would submit to such a thing? There is a little word my wife (not that she would presume to punish me) would have to spell first, that is A B L E - able. The husband! the superior! the head of the family! allowing himself to be bullied and "punished" like that! I read all that is written about the "new woman," but, upon my word, if this is to be her line of conduct, I fear she will have truly to be the "old-maid." Why, we shall hear of the thumb torture and the rack next! But no woman could put her husband into these corsets unless he suffered her to do so, and if he did he'd be such a consummate ass that I should hope any woman, keen as they are on matrimony, would scorn to marry him. You can publish this if you like; it's time we men had a look in I think. - Yours,
"A Loving Husband" takes quite another view of it : -
"Dear Editor, - I have read with much interest your article 'How She Managed Him,' and it seems to me my wife's mode of punishing is superior. It is as follows: - For rudeness, unkindness, or disobedience she used to bid me prepare for corrections, which she gave with no unsparing hand, by means of a birch or cane, according as it suited her. The consequence is we never fall our or wrangle. I love her, and obey her implicitly. I love her indeed, to distraction. She used great tact and firmness in punishing, and also no bodily harm came of it, and much spiritual good, whereas in the case of your correspondent it seems to me the punishment must cause serious bodily harm. I am sure I fear my wife's anger and "respect her most exacting whims" quite as much as he did. Will you kindly give me your views on the respective systems?
A LOVING HUSBAND."
The third letter received was from a bride : -
"Dear Editress, - I read 'How She Managed Him' and thought what a capital idea it was. I did not let John get hold of the paper, but 'for fun' persuaded him to let me put my corset on him. Then I read the article to him and reminded him that he had been very cross and surly, and rude to me about the beef being raw, and I said, 'Now , John, I'm going to make you good like this man (his name is not John, you know; really a much nicer name) and I began firmly, but slowly, to tighten the laces. The next thing I knew was John dancing about the room like a wild man, and my nice new French corsets under his feet; then he took them and cut them into bits with his knife and flung the remains across the room. 'You little silly,' he cried, 'what do you take me for? Just remember I'm your lord and master, madame.' And then I began to cry, and so it was a failure. Do please tell how it was the lady in the article managed him? He couldn't have been like John, I'm sure, and he does laugh at me so now about it and make such silly feeble puns about 'corset was a failure dear.' - Yours,
September 8th 1894
SHOULD HUSBANDS BE PUNISHED
On this subject we have received several letters, which show that it is interesting to our readers. We shall be glad of any other opinions on the question, both for and against.
"Mrs. X." (late of Girton) writes as follows : - "Dear Editress, - This opens up a new (from a modern point of view) thought for us wives, too long the abject slave of man. I have been 'looking it up,' and find the chastisement of husbands not unknown in olden days. I will quote some of the passages found. According to the Rabbins, 'Eve flogged Adam when she gave him of the tree,' &c. (Note by Editress. - Is this a bad pun? I wish Adam had 'given Eve the stick.') Hudibras relates : -
'Did not a certain lady whip
Of late her husband's own lordship?
* * * * * * * *
And after, in the Sessions Court,
Where whipping's judged, had honour for't.'
Several other examples are given in Hudibras of wives correcting their husbands. The immortal Pepys writes : - 'June 10, 1667. Down to Greenwich, where I find the stairs full of people, there being a great riding there today for a man, the constable of the town, whose wife beat him.' Malcolm ('Manners of London') quotes from the 'Protestant Mercury, about the close of the seventeenth century, that a porter's lady, who resided near Strand lane, beat her husband with so much violence that the poor man was obliged to leap out of the window to escape her fury. Another example : - 'The ladies of the New World appear to have been favoured with the power of the whip by law. Such a law prevailed among the Mozeas, one of the tribes of New Grenada, and was seen exemplified one day by the Spanish General Quesada. Happening to call in the chief of place, named Suesca, the general found him writhing under a discipline inflicted by all his nine wives, his crime being that he has got drunk the previous night with some Spaniards. His affectionate executioners had carried him to bed that he might sleep himself sober, and awoke him in the morning to receive the rigour of the law.' One more quotation - a poem written by a schoolboy in a large public school, and affirmed by the servants : -
Our master, who within his school
Bears always most tyrannic rule,
And every day, to keep us jogging
Gives four or five a sound good flogging,
Of all his manliness forsaken,
At home can scarcely 'save his bacon,'
Whilst his 'dear Molly' with 'tongue pye'
Scolds him all day confoundedly;
And oft at night with his own birch
Makes him pray louder than at church,
Until 'dear Molly's' wrath to appease
He begs her pardon on his knees.
Now, dear Editress, if these things be in the good old days, when wives 'were in subjection' and women had no rights, how about us New Women? Is it not time we spare not the rod lest we spoil the husband? What do you think?'
"Another Loving Husband" writes : - "Dear Editress, - I certainly thing both 'Petruchio' and 'Newly Wed' are right, from their point of view. No woman can punish her husband, of course, unless she can first spall A B L E, and 90 out of 100 cannot, I daresay. Nor is it fitting that she should, unless she has a very firm, unbiased will and much worldly wisdom. For instance, probably no girl of twenty would have the necessary amount of tack, judgement, or nerve. My wife has had immense experience in worldly affairs, and I know that she knows what is right and wrong. She married very young, and had been through all the worries and cares of married life before, as a widow, she married me, and is, consequently, older in experience, as she is in years. I can, at any rate, testify to the good she has done me. Before matrimony I was foolish, and giddy, and thoughtless, and a spendthrift. If I had married an ordinary woman I might have spoilt her life as well as mine. As it is, by my wife's wonderful and careful training, I, at any rate, think twice before I spend money, because I know the inevitable consequences of extravagance. There lies the secret. She knows she can punish, and I know she will. She never threatens without doing it, and it is through the love I have for her that she has as inevitable method of enforcing submission. Without love she would have no power."
"Only a Man" writes : - "Dear Editress, - I am much amused at the discussion in your able little paper on 'Should Husbands be Punished' I am a benedict of four years' standing, and, so far, it has not occurred to either of us to resort to punishment of each other. But I certainly think if I felt guilty I would prefer my wife to give me a good hard flogging with anything she like - whip or birch - than nag at me with her tongue and treat me to scenes of tears, reproaches, and recriminations. While believing 'the man that lays his hand upon a woman, save in the way of kindness, is s wretch.' I must say that if women are to be as good as men - equal, I mean, in all business, or art, or intellect - then they must remember that it is 'Beat me, I beat you,' and that if I am beaten when I am in fault, and it might possibly do me good, then I may beat my wife, when it will do her good too. 'A rod for the fool' - sex not specified, you know, so she must look out; but whatever she decides I must confess I prefer being beaten to being nagged at any day."
We will reserve our opinion until we glean a few more from our readers. But it is left to "Mrs. E. W." to describe the most drastic and alarming punishment for what we must confess hardly appears a fault, unless there were aggravating circumstances, such as smoking in bed, or when seated on a barrel of gunpowder, or in church, or in the middle of breakfast, or possibly when he had promised not to do so, thus bringing in other sins - for mere smoking it seems "a bit off" : -
"I caught my husband smoking a cigarette today, and wishing to break him of the habit, I made him come to the sink, and I washed his mouth out with a strong dose of warm soapsuds, using a piece of soft cotton cloth with which to apply the soap. Will any ill effects likely result from this treatment, and what kind of soap is the best to use in case I have to repeat the punishment? Will some reader inform me through the columns of the 'Ladies' Own Supplement'?"
September 15th 1894
SHOULD HUSBANDS BE PUNISHED?
We continue to receive some excellent letters on this subject. I am particularly struck with that of "Bachelor" and "A Happy Husband," but, woman-like, I am going to have the last word, so I still reserve my opinion until I have had an exhaustive supply from my correspondents, and then "we" will take an editorial view of the question. I hope those of our readers who feel they can add to the pros and cons will do so promptly :-
Dear Editor, - I was hoping to see your views on the two systems of punishing husbands advocated last week in the "Ways of Women," and also by a "Loving Husband" in this week's. I shall hope to see them next week. I beg to send my experiences for the "amusement of your readers," though I frankly own I feel very far from amused at them. "A Loving Husband" seems to receive his correction in what my wife would call a "proper spirit of submission" but then possibly his wife is not quite so severe as mine is, or else his epidermis is a good deal tougher. I must agree with him that I love my wife "to distraction," and never more so that when the correction is over, and I feel the justice of it. You see, I admit at once the fairness of my wife's methods, but it is human nature to rebel at the time. Now, I know full well that to-night I am going to be punished. She has told me so. I also know I deserve it for dancing six dances with that silly little waxen flirt. But the suspense and mental agony of anticipation is terrible, for I know she will probably use a little riding-whip which she keeps for "bad cases," and also a combination of straps artfully arranged which will render struggles and resistance hopeless. Now, what I want is advice as to how I can escape these terrible punishments. Naturally one would say, "Don't submit." If I tried that on, my wife would give one of her sweetest smiles, and say, "No kiss until you do," and mean it too! I might hold out for an hour, but not for ever. What am I to do? - Yours, &c.,
Dear Editress, - I have read with much interest the symposium in the columns of your excellent and useful "Ladies' Supplement." Similar discussions have taken place elsewhere, and not long ago a great American daily, the "New York World," opened its columns to letters on the subject. There was a lengthy correspondence - wives who disciplined their better halves and husbands who, not only admitted being spanked, but rather gloried in it, coming forward frankly with their various experiences. Some may be inclined to treat the matter from a flippant and jocular point of view, but I am glad to see that many of your correspondents seem to recognise the seriousness and importance of the theme, and acquit themselves accordingly. "Pertruchio" misses the point altogether; "A Loving Husband" is nearer the mark, and the two may be taken as representing very prettily the opposite poles of masculine feeling on the subject. "Mrs. X." deserves thanks for her interesting historic references: may I be allowed to ventilate yet another aspect of the question? The first thought that will strike most husbands, as it has struck, "Petruchio," is that it is unmanly to even think of being punished by one's wife. That is just where the mistake comes in. A man may justly be ashamed of having been chastised by another many, especially if the latter be the weaker of the two; but the circumstances are altogether different. A man is never ashamed that his mother spanked him, nay, he rather prides himself upon it and loves his mother - and respects her memory - all the more. Write wife instead of mother and you have my position at once. And why not? Does not every good, industrious, careful, thoughtful, loving, faithful wife stand in something of the relation of a mother to her husband? Reflect on it, "Petruchio," and others who think as you do. And now a word on the other side. "Another Loving Husband" hits the mark when he says that it is not every woman who is capable of exercising this important and wholesome function, certainly not one in every three of the girls of the present day. To such BABIES a man has to be father, nurse, and goodness knows what beside, as well husband. Heaven pity him - and them! Then again, "Mrs. E. W." is no criterion to go by. It was not punishment in her case: it was an assault, a cruel and unwomanly assault. But, perhaps, she is only funning. No woman who loved and respected her husband would fill his mouth with soapsuds. But if a man and his wife love one another, and he has offended, and knows it and is sorry for it, why should he not submit to some practical mark of compunction to serve as a memory-refresher on future occasions? Unmanly? Not a bit of it: unmanly, if you like, to naggle, scold, and grumble, as so many men do - aye, men who claim and rally believe themselves to be model husbands. The physiological aspect of the question is even more interesting than the philosophical, but I leave it for an abler pen. I would, however, suggest the formation of a committee - with our editress as president - to consider the whole question in all its bearings, and to draw up a scale of punishment and code of rules. Probably the good old way would be found the best, passing upwards through the various grades of hand, slipper, hairbrush, and cane, according to the enormity of the offence; but there must be mutual love and affection, or the scheme will be unworkable.
A HAPPY HUSBAND.
Dear Editor, - The discussion as to punishing husbands is distinctly amusing. I confess it seems to me as long as a husband is a true man to whom one can look up with respect for his opinion and his high moral tone and affection for his love and care, a wife has no right to think of punishing, but if he forgets himself and lose his manhood in drink, with all its debasing, dirty, revolting accompaniments, I think she would be a wise woman who, when he is drunk, should calmly and deliberately flog him, for reducing himself to the level of a beast he must be treated as a beast. You cannot argue with him - tears and prayers and reproaches, however, wife-like and tender, are lost upon him. Then let his coarse, sensual body, sodden with drink, feel the pain and torture it merits. I quote from a well-known writer: "Case may soon come when bodily punishment becomes indispensable in order that the body may feel what the judgment cannot comprehend." A rattling good flogging will do him no harm. Again, I quote; "Flagellation as a remedy was supposed by some physicians to re-animate the torpid condition of the capillary or cutaneous vessels, to increase muscular energy, promote absorbtion, and favour the necessary secretions of the body." I think, if a wife would flagellate with a good stinging birch her husband the first time he comes home to her drunk, and refrain next day from nagging or torment, it would do him more good than a thousand temperance lectures. - Yours truly,
A WHIPPER IN.
Dear Editress, - These may amuse you and your readers: - Spare neither the scourge nor mitigate the punishment till the proud heart shall evidently be subdued, and thy slave have become smoother than oil and softer than a pumpkin; and an old record of the Merchant Taylor's School gives a master saying: "Task ye bannes of matrimony between this boy, his buttocks on ye one side and ladye birch on the ye other side," &c., and a boy did answer, "Nay, I forbid ye bannes because ye partyes are not agreed thereto."
Dear Editress, - The other night I was suddenly surprised by feeling two or three sharp cuts on a comfortable part of my body. Turning round in a rage at the smarting pain I saw my wife with a thin little cane and a triumphant look in her eye. "I am going to punish you well," she said, "for your impertinence to me to-night," and was about to proceed when I caught the cane and promptly smashed it into small pieces. She took it more calmly than I expected, simply saying, "All right, we shall see." Nothing more has happened as yet, but whether she has been reading your paper and has thought of some method of enforcing submission I cannot tell, but I am a little uneasy, lest some time I may find myself at her mercy! However, at present I am
ONE WHO HAS RESISTED SUCCESSFULLY.
To the Editor, - Having read with feelings of abhorrence letters on the managing of husbands, I send in this letter another, and, I hope, different view of the subject, "By what right does the wife punish the man she has promised to honour and obey?" Will it increase her respect for him? Surely, no true woman would marry a man she could not respect. What would be her feelings if he should turn the tables and punish her. Should we not then hear of the "brutal wife beating?" Why cannot both bear in mind the solemn vows they have taken on their wedding day - he to love and comfort, she to love and obey. Surely, inflicting various tortures and punishments on each other will not lead to mutual love and respect, which will certainly be needed to "dwell together all the days of their life." Why should a wife try and break her husband of smoking, when before marriage she, in all probability, made not the slightest objection to any such a thing? Equally should the husband respect any little fancies of his wife's. Let both refrain from interfering with any little crochets of each other as in the days of courtship, and let the marriage service be not only a union of two persons, but also of love, respect, and above all, forbearance. It will most surely be needed. - I am &c.,
Dear Editor, - I am reading the discussion on the punishment of husbands in your clever weekly issue with much interest. I do not know whether any lady will ever do me the honour of marrying me, but if such an event should happen, I should certainly hope she would punish me rather than nag at me; and how many miserable families would now be happy if the former method were adopted in lieu of the latter. Say a husband is wilfully extravagant or rude, why should he not be punished for it? And, surely there is no better or more wholesome method than the old domestic style with a birch. The punishment is severe and telling, and ensures respect, which so many husbands seem to lack; in fact, to me it seems in every way superior to an ignominious wordy warfare. No husband need be ashamed of being punished, for do we not read of the mighty Hercules himself having to submit to the lash of a woman? If the woman happens to have the disposal of the money, of course she can, and often does, punish the poor husband very severely by cutting short his allowance. For extravagance this seems a fit and judicious punishment; but it seems to me that for all other offences the rod should be used. I cannot conceive why women, when they marry, do not exact a promise of submission, under certain circumstances, and so hold a reserve of power in case of necessity. The doting lover would promise anything; let her then, get his signature to a little document drawn up by her; then, if a wise wife, she would obey her husband in the things she knew to be right, but would use her tact (and it is this "tact" which makes women so fitted to punish), and if he did wrong she could extort submission to whatever punishment she preferred, provided he was gentleman enough to keep his word; and I think very few women would abuse their power, but by a judicious application of the rod, they would act as a kind of "Second Chamber," and much misery would be saved: - I am, &c.,
September 22nd 1894
SHOULD HUSBANDS BE PUNISHED?
Dear Editress, - I am emphatically in favour of according every wife worthy of the name the privilege of punishing her husband at discretion, since it is as highly improbable that she would abuse her authority in that respect as in the case of parent and child. She would thus be constituted, not his harsh tyrant, but benignant monitress. It would prove a boon to both parties, and cement their happiness. How keenly would every right-minded wife appreciate such a graceful concession from her husband, and what unbounded gratitude and affection would not such a signal mark of his esteem evoke! How she would strive to prove worthy of his confidence by studiously refraining from indulging in caprice, provocation, or avoidable disputation! Invested with this salutary authority, by which the maintenance of a proper respect for herself (too often denied wives) would be assured, her heart would simply overflow with loving kindness, and she would not only be less exacting, but curb her temper and bridle her tongue. The husband would feel amply rewarded for his complaisance by her devotion, and mutual happiness and harmony ensue and endure - unless he were idiotic enough to wilfully court correction.
The possession of the privilege by the wife would, in most cases, render its use unnecessary: but should the husband not be amenable to reason otherwise she would have no alternative but to reluctantly resort to its exercise.
I do not advocate punishment without cause, its infliction arbitrarily or capriciously, or to an extent disproportionate to the cause; and I certainly deprecate any wife's enforcement of the right while heated by passion lest her judgment should be warped by resentment, and she misled from correction into barbarity.
However, I feel convinced that no wife accorded this gratifying privilege would abuse it by acting from mere caprice or punishing to excess, but would use her power judiciously and with feminine tact, simply for her own and her husband's benefit. And as long as she tempered her correction with love, the husband fully recognising her good intentions, should cheerfully submit to her wholesome discipline.
Every sensible wife would indubitably regulate the punishment to the offence, solely with a view to the culprit's speedy reformation and the promotion of their mutual happiness. But, as the offender could not be a proper judge in his own case, the method, severity, and duration of the correction should always entirely rest with the aggrieved better half: and if the fault were heinous she would, decidedly, be unwise to spare him.
Surely no wife would wantonly torture a husband from love of causing physical pain or discomfort, and the lady who utilised the "punishment corset" was most probably justified in doing so. I warrant she took care not to do him serious or permanent injury. Her reason for providing against any tampering with the compression of his waist by the use of locked steel chain is obvious, since any punishment that could be suspended at the will of the sufferer would only be a farce. For this reason, every delinquent about to undergo chastisement should passively submit beforehand to be rendered absolutely powerless to terminate, suspend, modify, or in any way interfere with the infliction of such punishment, until his better half voluntarily desisted from her efforts and released him, perfectly satisfied that the pain she had induced was not only adequate to meet the requirements of the case, but to act as a future deterrent as well.
The lady who applied the soapsuds knew the facts of the case better than outsiders, and must be the best judge of the propriety of her act.
"Thin-skin" must be very intractable that his wife is obliged to use a riding whip, but his remedy is easy and in his own hands, as in the case of every other husband - avoid giving occasion for correction.
In conclusion, I unhesitatingly affirm that the privilege of punishing their husbands at discretion accorded to all worthy wives would be a distinct step towards securing universal domestic happiness.
REFINED. Sept. 17.
Madam, - I am somewhat in doubt as to whether this extraordinary question has been raised to ascertain how much "hollow bosh" may be written in a given time, or whether there really are those who foolishly think that a natural order of sexual conditions can be revolutionised with impunity; but will suppose that it is a matter worth discussing in sano sensu, and offer my humble opinion accordingly, without reference to the views of those hen-pecked individuals whose marvellous affection urges them to such an abject extremity of submission.
It goes without saying that husbands should be punished, and wives also, when they deserve it, which, beyond exception, is sure to be the case much too often in this world of temptation and trial. But we have a properly-appointed tribunal for offenses according to human law, and for the rest, those of us who believe in and revere Divine law know very well that, excepting the correction of children, which in itself requires the utmost discretion, we have no right whatever to punish one another. Modern ideas, however, of Christian ethics and Pauline philosophy seem to be at considerable variance with what has been accepted as inspired teaching for so many centuries, which may, I think, be fully accounted for by inclination. Woman has, to a great extent, I am happy to say, been emancipated from a position of degradation which was more intolerable than slavery: but it has occurred to me, in studying her evolution since up to the present century, which not a few have serious reasons for regarding as the last of all, that the sense of chivalric honour which prompted this most righteous and equitable deliverance has developed into ridiculous idolatry: and men are losing a wise discrimination between manly respect and unmanly subjection. That wives have to contend with husbands who are worse than the brutes I know; but you will pardon me for suggesting that the distinctly feminine propensity for rushing hastily into wedlock is in a great measure to blame for these miserable circumstances. Many women do not give themselves sufficient time to know the character and disposition of the men they select, or else - to quote another of their weaknesses - they have too much confidence in their own perspicacity. Again, they are foolishly glamoured by "the deceitfulness of riches," which never did and never will ensure true happiness.
In the marriage service we cannot justly ignore those words of awful import "for better or for worse" without running a serious risk of violating the most sacred oath registered in the sight of Heaven. I often wonder as I read the shocking society scandals which are getting to be so shamefully frequent whether the unhappy creatures who dare to burden their already too guilty souls with blasphemous perjury have every tried to comprehend the meaning of that oath, or if they ever as much as heard Who glorified matrimony as a symbol of the holiest union, whose bonds are love, mercy, justice, and peace. But could we have in our minds "for better or for worse," and a vindictive desire at one and the same time? - for human nature is human nature, and no one will ever persuade me that husbands and wives who want to belabour each other with sticks are actuated by any other than malicious motives. I have been married for thirteen years. My wife has travelled all over the greater part of the Eastern Hemisphere with me, and faced the near prospect of a horrible death with perfect courage. She is a woman with a will - like most of her sex. I am not a saint by any means, and we have out tiffs, yet she said only this morning, "I should scorn the man who would allow me to thrash him!" When I do wrong, which is often enough, she has a vastly different way of winning me to repentance, and, if I am not greatly mistaken, that is the one way which will ever subdue a man who has more than the spirit of a mouse, however much he may be in fault. - I am, madam, yours obediently,
Dear Editress, - I think I can solve the problem under discussion with convincing brevity. I am a husband; that is sufficient punishment. - Your truly,
Dear Editress, - I have read with much amusement the discussion as to "whether husbands should be punished or not." I say emphatically "No." If it were an acknowledged thing that a wife could punish her husband whenever she thought he required it, it would do away with all her respect for him, and in married life, unless there is mutual respect, the outlook is a poor one. If the maxim "Bear and forbear" were taken more to heart and the word "punishment" put out of the question as beneath discussion, it would bring about a better state of things. In these days woman is only too glad to seize any opportunity of getting the upper hand of man, and granted that she beats him in politics, law, medicine, or any other profession she usurps, still in his own home every man must be the acknowledged hear, to whom all must look up, his wife included. If she persists in trying to conform him to her way of thinking (which ten to one will oftenest be wrong) the example will be disastrous to the children and servants, who in their turn will treat him with disrespect, and thus warp the nature of, possibly, as fine a man as ever the world saw. Kind words do more good than all the punishment and nagging a woman can inflict. Of course, there are cases when a man outrages every rule of law and order, but this is a matter beyond my ken. All I can say in such a case is leave him alone, for nothing outside himself will alter his deformed nature. Let women make their homes as attractive as possible, their faces cheerful, and he will be a strange husband, under these circumstances, who will "play up" sufficiently to require punishment. With mutual forbearance and esteem on both sides, this vexed question will the sink back into the oblivion whence it came. - Yours truly,
A HAPPY WIFE.
Dear Editress, - It may interest your readers to have the experiences of a husband who has been systematically punished by his wife, and who has derived untold benefits from her treatment. I agree with "A Happy Husband" that there is nothing unmanly in being punished by one's wife, any more than there is anything unwomanly in the idea of a wife punishing, always providing she has sound commonsense and firmness. The latter quantity is absolutely necessary. No woman should attempt to punish her husband unless she has the requisite amount of firmness always to carry out her threat. That has been my experience, and after many hundreds of whippings, and, no doubt, more to come, I reverence, respect, and love my wife as much as I did when we married. We have no rows, no undignified nagging. The birch is found sufficient for all offences. When first we married I soon saw that my wife meant to take me in hand, and do her best to reform me, and I sadly needed it. I shall not forget the way it began. On our honeymoon, one evening I omitted to open the door for her. She quietly asked my why I had not done so? I mumbled something about its being "different now." She replied, "I wish it to be the same - come here!" She looked so much in earnest that I could only look foolish and obey. "Put your hands down!" Something in her eye warned me against refusing. She then gave me six stinging slaps on my face, and, holding out her hand to be kissed, she bade me beg her pardon. I felt what a brute I had been and instantly did so, and have never since forgotten to open the door for her. Think of it, ye nagging couples. If she had cried or reproached me, we might have been miserable for the rest of the evening, but with six judicious slaps in six seconds she brought me to my mind - and to her feet, and all was smooth as ever.
On another occasion I spoke rudely to her in her bedroom. She said, "I am sorry, dear, but I must cane you for that." I laughed at her, but soon found she meant it. Taking a thin little cane from a drawer, she bade me kneel down and bend over a chair. I refused. She took it quite calmly, saying, "Very well, you need not speak to or come near me again till you do as I tell you; if you behave like a child you must be punished like one." I felt determined not to give in and suffer what then seemed such an indignity (I have since learned to look on it as the greatest blessing), but as the night wore on, and I saw how determined she was to keep her word and what a poor time I was having, I gradually felt more and more penitent and at length went and knelt down as she had wished. She was in no hurry and meant to teach me a lesson: so for one hour I knelt in that embarrassing attitude in silence, but for an occasional sniggle from between the sheets. What could I do? I could not humiliate myself (then) sufficiently to ask her to begin, and I knew if I got up I should be no better off than before, so I knelt and ground my teeth. At last she told me to get up and bring her the cane and then kneel down again, while she leisurely proceeded to put on slippers, &c., and make her self comfortable. Then I got "what for," such a caning as I has never had even at school. I never even imagined by wife was so strong in the wrist.
That was the first caning she gave, and, needless to say, I never resisted afterwards, and even now I have a vivid recollection of that hour keeling in the cold and waiting. She has almost discarded all other instruments except the birch, which she uses in the old-fashioned way, and finds it not only stings more than anything, but produces no permanent marks, as the cane did. She has doubtless, also found out my "wholesome dread" of the stinging twigs. Occasionally she uses a small thin cane on my hands, making me put on thin kid gloves and giving three or four minutes on each. The pain is intense, but soon goes off and leaves no sign. Her strong point is her absolute coolness and endless resource and different methods of punishing. She never seems to be in a temper. Sometimes she will punish on the spot, but often she prefers to make me think of it and will say, "I shall punish you for that." Then, when I least expect it, "Go upstairs and wait for me. Put a small birch in water and get ready!" That's all. So up I go and spend a very uncomfortable half-hour's anticipation while the rod is "in pickle" until she chooses to come up. She then swiches the water out of the rod (she occasionally soaps them to keep them supple), and after a little lecture proceeds to use it until she is satisfied, and I can safely say that though I have often been in a diabolical temper when sent upstairs I have never had a trace of it after a good birching. I am proud to give you this tribute to my "Better Half's" wonderful method of training, and, thanks to her loving care, firmness, and tact, can, I hope, sign myself A REFORMED HUSBAND.
September 29th 1894
SHOULD HUSBANDS BE PUNISHED?
Dear Editress, - Of all the letter on the subject of punishing husbands, I think that from a "Happy Husband" is the most sensible. Certainly there is nothing unmanly in submitting voluntarily to correction which one feels one deserves; on the contrary, it seems to me to be most honourable and manly, only, of course, as he says, it is only a wise, firm wife who should be entrusted with such power. Certainly many husbands (as well as wives) appear to be no better than babies in matters of economy or worldly wisdom, and to such a good sound thrashing, judiciously administered, would do a world of good. In nearly every case where a widow takes to herself another and a younger husband she must be struck with his lack of experience, and if he will not listen to her advice, surely it is better that she should use a method of making him do so, rather than be perpetually qurrelling with him. The question must be looked at in its practical light. No doubt a strong-minded wife, who knows she is in the right, will in the end gain her point, but, alas! it is usually by dint of "nagging," and what husband, if he has any pluck, would not rather submit to any amount of "correction" rather than that?
This correspondence appears to have worn itself out. The letters were very amusing. The funny part is that more men than women write, and almost all the men either have been punished or approve of it. Only one or two resisted it. I have come to the conclusion:-
1st. That it is not an unknown thing for a wife to chastise an unruly husband.
2nd. That a man would catch at a little harmless corporeal punishment it only that would secure him from a nagging, railing curtain lecture. If it has elicited nothing else, it certainly has elicited man's horror of nagging. No two people can live together without a certain amount of friction, but I think it shows there is "something wrong in the affairs of Denmark" when either has to punish the other. For wives, it may be urged that men punish them in hundreds of way. They dare not hit or flog them; public opinion and men's innate chivalry of not striking a weaker vessel prevent it. But they take it out of their wives by cruel words and taunts, neglect, and selfish extravagances. I am sure many women would prefer a good box in the ears, or even a sound slapping, to these more refined, but far crueller, reprisals: and, therefore, I expect it is that "A Happy Husband," and "Loving Husband," and "Schoolmaster" submit quietly to conjugal castigations, but all the same a wife will surely respect her husband more if he does not deserve them at all. The lady of the soapsuds was a simple brute, and he was a fool to submit. I would like to see her husband box her ears well. It seems, too, that the younger men object less to a birching than the old men - possibly, they are not very far removed from the glorified schoolboy era, and use is second nature.
This correspondence must now cease. I would suggest in its place that our readers give us their ideas as to whether love is an absolutely necessary ingredient in one's life - married life. I mean; or whether marriages of esteem and calm affection are likely to prove the happier state.
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