Sunday, January 14, 2018

A Word to Women

Excerpts from  
A Word to Women, 
by Mrs. C. E. Humphry, 1898 
Covering Parenting, Housekeeping, Marriage, Manners, and Deadly Dullness.

Vintage Photo. A Victorian era mother and younger daughter listen to the older daughter read.  Parenting, A Word to Women by Mrs. C. E. Humphry, 1898. marchmatron.com

PARENTING 
It does wonders for a girl to lie down for even half an hour a day. But to lie sideways or crumpled up in the extraordinary fashion beloved of girls is of no use whatever.
Vintage photo c. 1900. Four female friends, one wearing knee-high pants, pose with their bicycles in the park. Parenting, A Word to Women by Mrs. C. E. Humphry, 1898. marchmatron.com
When the bicycle craze began many mothers disapproved of the exercise for their girls. But with doctors recommending it . . . the next step was, often, to learn to ride herself and to benefit enormously thereby.
Vintage photo. Edwardian era ladies sit in the garden engaged in needlework. Parenting, A Word to Women by Mrs. C. E. Humphry, 1898. marchmatron.com
Some of the very advanced and extremely superior women of the present day are strenuously opposed to the teaching of needlework in girls’ schools and colleges. 
The clumsy woman who uses brute force in dealing with the most delicate articles, and is constantly smashing and damaging something or other is she who has never been taught to sew, or in some way had manual training. 
But there must be moderation in it. Many an intellectual life has been killed by intemperate sewing. 
Vintage Photo. A beautiful Edwardian mother holds her little girl. Parenting, A Word to Women by Mrs. C. E. Humphry, 1898. marchmatron.com
Our girls are young but once, and it is not for long. The cares of life will soon enough cloud over their brightness. 
Vintage photo. Victorian era mother sits by her son looking at him, while he looks into the camera.  Parenting, A Word to Women by Mrs. C. E. Humphry, 1898. marchmatron.com
"If a mother would only harden her boys a little, send them away to a private school at ten and afterwards to a public school, there would then be no complaints of being teased." 
Widows’ sons are only too often intolerably conceited . . . and apt to repay their mother’s tenderness by breaking her heart.

Vintage photo. Four housemaids in uniform. c.1900s. Housekeeping A Word to Women by Mrs. C. E. Humphry, 1898. marchmatron.com
HOUSEKEEPING 
Tidiness is delightful, meritorious, indispensable, admirable, estimable, praiseworthy, politic, and most precious. Untidiness is execrable, reprehensible, unseemly, and quite detestable. It is first cousin to uncleanliness, and is the mother of much domestic warfare.
Vintage photo. Two Edwardian era girls stand by the street with flowers. Housekeeping A Word to Women by Mrs. C. E. Humphry, 1898. marchmatron.com
I know people who object to flowers in the house because "they are so messy." They droop and die indeed. ’Tis a true indictment, but they are worth some trouble, are they not?

Vintage photo, 1906. A gentleman sits in a chair reading a paper. Marriage, A Word to Women by Mrs. C. E. Humphry, 1898. marchmatron.com
If husbands persist in leaving a trail of newspapers all over the house, something after the fashion of the "hare" in a paper-chase, let us calmly fold them and assuage our inner revolt as best we may.
Vintage photo. Maid in uniform uses on of the earliest vacuum to clean a large parlor. c.1900s. Housekeeping A Word to Women by Mrs. C. E. Humphry, 1898. marchmatron.com
To be too acutely tidy leads to friction and the development of that "incompatibility of temper" which seems to be quite a modern disease.
Vintage Photo. Theatrical couple flirt with each other. Edwardian era. Marriage, A Word to Women by Mrs. C. E. Humphry, 1898. marchmatron.com
MARRIAGE 
Sometimes, when a man has married beneath him, his first disillusionment, after the glamour of his love is past, is caused by the brusquerie of the uneducated and ill-trained wife.
Vintage photo hand tinted. Man with an enormous mustache and comical hair sits for a portrait. Marriage, A Word to Women by Mrs. C. E. Humphry, 1898. marchmatron.com

When a girl or woman has married beneath her own class—run away with a handsome groom or become the wife of a good-looking jockey—her domestic experiences are calculated to be her severest punishment. 
"His manners at table, my dear, are simply frightful, but they compare agreeably with his behaviour anywhere else, for he neither talks nor swears when he is eating."

Vintage photo, hand tinted. Two Edwardian Gents Drinking. Marriage, A Word to Women by Mrs. C. E. Humphry, 1898. marchmatron.com

A friend of mine, whose husband became a drunkard, told me that the most difficult thing she had ever done in her life was to remonstrate with him when he first began to drink too much. 
"And did it do any good?" I asked, and she told me that he was better for a few weeks . . . but that after a couple of months things were as bad as ever again.

Vintage photo. An Edwardian beauty with layers of jewels. Marriage, A Word to Women by Mrs. C. E. Humphry, 1898. marchmatron.com
It would be a lovely world if there were no credit system.  In [a young wife's] desire to have everything comfortable, inviting, and agreeable for him in the home in his hours of leisure, she launches out in "ordering" all that she thinks would aid her in this unquestionably excellent object. Money always promises to do a great deal more than it ever actually accomplishes. 

And is not the poor husband to be pitied? He had, no doubt, the idea that all women, after their schooldays, are apt housewives, and entrusted to his young wife the entire management of the household. 

Vintage photo. An older Victorian couple looking severe. The Gentleman sports a faux-hawk and wire rim glasses. Marriage, A Word to Women by Mrs. C. E. Humphry, 1898. marchmatron.com
Men are always telling women that it is the duty of the less-burdened sex to meet their lords and masters with cheerful faces.  Cheerfulness often has to be acquired and cultivated like any other marketable accomplishment.
Vintage Photo. Five stern looking women. c.1880s Manners, A Word to Women by Mrs. C. E. Humphry, 1898. marchmatron.com
MANNERS 
The lesson of quiet composure has to be learned soon or late, and it is generally soon in the higher classes of society. There are many "sensitive" women who are ever ready to make a molehill into a mountain. A perfectly frightful amount of talking goes on in some families.
Vintage Photo. Woman at the beach with long skirt, hat and umbrella c.1900s. Manners, A Word to Women by Mrs. C. E. Humphry, 1898. marchmatron.com
Members of our sex show a total absence of social conscience is [in] the manner in which they carry a sunshade or umbrella. When open, held down over the head of a rather short woman in a way that is certainly protective of herself and her headgear, but which is extremely inconvenient, and sometimes even dangerous, to those who share the footpath or pavement with her.
Vintage Photo. Two Edwardian Era friends meet at an outdoor event. Manners, A Word to Women by Mrs. C. E. Humphry, 1898. marchmatron.com
Of all the forms of social lack of conscience, one of the most irritating is the way some women have of making calls on the off days, other than those on which the called announces herself to be "at home."  
It is really almost insulting to call on an off day, for it means either that one’s caller hopes to find one absent or else that she intends to monopolize one’s attention after having flagrantly disregarded one’s wishes.
Vintage Photo. The girlfriends hiking their skirts above their ankles at the shoreline of the beach in Arverne, Queens, New York, 1897. Deadly Dullness, A Word to Women by Mrs. C. E. Humphry, 1898. marchmatron.com.jpg
DEADLY DULLNESS 
Ninety out of every hundred women bury their minds alive. [They] satisfy themselves, as best they can, with superficialities—dress, for instance. There are thousands of women who live for dresses. What could heaven itself offer to such a woman? She would be miserable where there were no shops, no chiffons. 
Vintage photo. Women in Mourning Dress from the Victorian Era. Deadly Dullness, A Word to Women by Mrs. C. E. Humphry, 1898. marchmatron.com
And when beauty goes, and the prime of life with its capacity for enjoyment is long over, what remains to her? Nothing but deadly dullness, the miserable apathy that seizes on the mind neglected.
Vintage photo. Early London underground. Edwardian crowd follow Way Out signs. Deadly Dullness, A Word to Women by Mrs. C. E. Humphry, 1898. marchmatron.com
We were never meant to narrow down to the circle of the home. . . . To be domestic is right and good, but to be domestic only is a sinful waste of good material. 
The more we stay at home, the less desire we have to go out and about, to freshen our thoughts, enlarge the borders of our experiences, and widen our sympathies. It is fatal. 
Vintage photo. Edwardian era lady reads a paper as she walks home. Deadly Dullness, A Word to Women by Mrs. C. E. Humphry, 1898. marchmatron.com
Fiction, to those who do not misuse it, is the most delightful recreation. . . . But there are girls and women who spend hours of every day in reading novels. 
How many of us women read the newspapers? The great world and its doings go on unheeded by us, in our absorption in matters infinitesimally small.
Vintage photo. An Edwardian woman jump ropes in the courtyard. Deadly Dullness, A Word to Women by Mrs. C. E. Humphry, 1898. marchmatron.com
Who would be content with the comfortable hearthrug-life of a . . . tame cat when she might explore the recesses of science in company with masterminds, soar to heaven’s gate in spirit, and expand in intelligence until she felt herself a part of infinity?

Who indeed?  

#Women #History #Feminism

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