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´╗┐Title: Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



With Illustrations by John Leech



[Illustration: 002]




"You ought to be very rich, Mr. Caudle. I wonder who'd lend you five
pounds? But so it is: a wife may work and may slave! Ha, dear! the many
things that might have been done with five pounds! As if people picked
up money in the street! But you always were a fool, Mr. Caudle! I 've
wanted a black satin gown these three years, and that five pounds would
have pretty well bought it. But it's no matter how I go,--not at all.
Every body says I don't dress as becomes your wife--and I don't: but
what's that to you, Mr. Caudle? Nothing. Oh no! you can have fine
feelings for everybody but those belonging to you. I wish people knew
you, as I do--that's all. You like to be called liberal--and your poor
family pays for it.

"All the girls want bonnets, and when they're to get 'em I can't tell.
Half five pounds would have bought 'em--but now they must go without. Of
course, _they_ belong to you; and anybody but your own flesh and blood,
Mr. Caudle.

"The man called for the water-rate, to-day; but I should like to know
how people are to pay taxes, who throw away five pounds to every fellow
that asks them.

"Perhaps you don't know that Jack, this morning, knocked his
shuttle-cock through his bed-room window. I was going to send for the
glazier to mend it; but after you lent that five pounds I was sure we
couldn't afford it. Oh, no! the window must go as it is; and pretty
weather for a dear child to sleep with a broken window. He's got a
cold already on his lungs, and I shouldn't at all wonder if that broken
window settled him--if the dear boy dies, his death will be upon his
father's head; for I'm sure we can't now pay to mend windows. We might
though, and do a good many more things, if people didn't throw away
their five pounds.

"Next Tuesday the fire-insurance is due. I should like to know how it's
to be paid! Why, it can't be paid at all. That five pounds would have
just done it--and now, insurance is out of the question. And there never
were so many fires as there are now. I shall never close my eyes all
night,--but what's that to you, so people can call you liberal Mr.
Caudle '? Your wife and children may all be burnt alive in their
beds--as all of us to a certainty shall be, for the insurance _must_
drop. And after we've insured for so many years! But how, I should like
to know, are people to insure who make ducks and drakes of their five

"I did think we might go to Margate this summer. There's poor little
Caroline, I'm sure she wants the sea. But no, dear creature! she must
stop at home--all of us must stop at home--she'll go into a consumption,
there's no doubt of that; yes--sweet little angel!--I've made up my mind
to lose her, _now_. The child might have been saved; but people can't
save their children and throw away their five pounds too.

"I wonder where poor little Cherub is! While you were lending that five
pounds, the dog ran out of the shop. You know, I never let it go into
the street, for fear it should be bit by some mad dog, and come home and
bite all the children. It wouldn't now at all astonish me if the animal
was to come back with the hydrophobia and give it to all the family.
However, what's your family to you, so you can play the liberal creature
with five pounds?

"Do you hear that shutter, how it's banging to and fro? Yes,--I know
what it wants as well as you, it wants a new fastening. I was going to
send for the blacksmith to-day. But now it's out of the question: _now_
it must bang of nights, since you've thrown away five pounds.

"Well, things are come to a pretty pass! This is the first night I ever
made my supper off roast beef without pickles. But who is to afford
pickles when folks are always lending five pounds?

"Ha! there's the soot falling down the chimney. If I hate the smell
of anything, it's the smell of soot. And you know it; but what are my
feelings to you? Sweep the chimney! Yes, it's all very fine to say,
sweep the chimney--but how are chimneys to be swept--how are they to be
paid for by people who don't take care of their five pounds?

"Do you hear the mice running about the room? _I_ hear them. If they
were only to drag you out of bed, it would be no matter. Set a trap
for them! Yes, it's easy enough to say--set a trap for 'em. But how are
people to afford the cheese, when every day they lose five pounds?

"Hark! I'm sure there's a noise down stairs. It wouldn't at all surprise
me if there were thieves in the house. Well, it _may_ be the cat; but
thieves are pretty sure to come in some night. There's a wretched
fastening to the back-door; but these are not times to afford bolts and
bars, when fools wont take care of their five pounds.

"Mary Anne ought to have gone to the dentist's to-morrow. She wants
three teeth taken out. Now, it can't be done. Three teeth that quite
disfigure the child's mouth. But there they must stop, and spoil the
sweetest face that was ever made. Otherwise, she'd have been a wife for
a lord. Now, when she grows up, who'll have her? Nobody. We shall die,
and leave her alone and unprotected in the world. But what do you care
for that? Nothing; so you can squander away five pounds.

"And now, see, Mr. Caudle, what a misery you've brought upon your
wretched family! I can't have a satin gown--the girls can't have new
bonnets--the water-rate must stand over--Jack must get his death through
a broken window--our fire-insurance can't be paid, so we shall all fall
victims to the devouring element--we can't go to Margate, and Caroline
will go to an early grave--the dog will come home and bite us all
mad--that shutter will go banging for ever--the soot will always
fall--the mice never let us have a wink of sleep--thieves be always
breaking in the house--and our dear Mary Anne be for ever left an
unprotected maid,--and all, all, Mr. Caudle, because _YOU WILL GO ON


[Illustration: 013]

OOR me! Ha! I 'm sure I don't know who'd be a poor woman! I don't know
who'd tie themselves up to a man, if they knew only half they'd have
to bear. A wife must stay at home, and be a drudge, whilst a man can go
anywhere. It's enough for a wife to sit like Cinderella by the ashes,
whilst her husband can go drinking and singing at a tavern. You never
sing! How do I know you never sing? It's very well for you to say so;
but if I could hear you, I dare say you're among the worst of 'em.

"And now, I suppose, it will be the tavern every night. If you think I'm
going to sit up for you, Mr. Caudle, you 're very much mistaken. No: and
I'm not going to get out of my warm bed to let you in, either. No: nor
Susan shan't sit up for you. No: nor you shan't have a latch-key. I'm
not going to sleep with the door upon the latch, to be murdered before
the morning.

"Faugh! Pah! Whewgh! That filthy tobacco smoke! It's enough to kill any
decent woman. You know I hate tobacco, and yet you will do it. You don't
smoke yourself! What of that? If you go among people who _do_ smoke,
you 're just as bad, or worse. You might as well smoke--indeed, better.
Better smoke yourself than come home with other people's smoke in your

"I never knew any good come to a man who went to a tavern. Nice
companions he picks up there! Yes; people who make it a boast to treat
their wives like slaves, and ruin their families. There's that wretch,
Prettyman. See what he's come to. He doesn't now get home till two in
the morning; and then in what a state! He begins quarrelling with the
door-mat, that his poor wife may be afraid to speak to him. A mean
wretch! But don't you think I'll be like Mrs. Prettyman. No: I wouldn't
put up with it from the best man that ever trod. You 'll not make me
afraid to speak to you, however you may swear at the door-mat. No, Mr.
Caudle, that you won't.

"You don't intend to stay out till two in the morning! How do you know
what you 'll do when you get among such people? Men can't answer for
themselves when they get boozing one with another. They never think of
their poor wives, who are grieving and wearing themselves out at home.
A nice headache you 'll have tomorrow morning--or rather _this_ morning;
for it must be past twelve. You won't have a headache! It 's very well
for you to say so, but I know you will; and then you may nurse yourself
for me. Ha! that filthy tobacco again! No: I shall not go to sleep like
a good soul! How's people to go to sleep when they 're suffocated?

"Yes, Mr. Caudle, you'll be nice and ill in the morning! But don't
you think I'm going to let you have your breakfast in bed, like Mrs.
Pretty-man. I'll not be such a fool. No: nor I won't have discredit
brought upon the house by sending for soda-water early, for all the
neighbourhood to say, 'Caudle was drunk last night!' No: I've some
regard for the dear children, if you havn't. No: nor you shan't have
broth for dinner. Not a neck of mutton crosses my threshold, I can tell

"You won't want soda, and you won't want broth! All the better. You
wouldn't get 'em if you did, I can assure you.------ Dear, dear, dear!
That filthy tobacco! I'm sure it's enough to make me as bad as you
are. Talking about getting divorced,--I'm sure tobacco ought to be good
grounds. How little does a woman think when she marries, that she gives
herself up to be poisoned! You men contrive to have it all of your
own side, you do. Now if I was to go and leave you and the children, a
pretty noise there'd be! You, however, can go and smoke no end of
pipes------ You didn't smoke! It's all the same, Mr. Caudle, if you go
among smoking people. Folks are known by their company. You'd better
smoke yourself, than bring me home the pipes of all the world.

"Yes, I see how it will be. Now you 've once gone to a tavern, you 'll
always be going. You 'll be coming home tipsy every night; and tumbling
down and breaking your leg, and putting out your shoulder; and bringing
all sorts of disgrace and expense upon us. And then you 'll be getting
into a street fight--oh! I know your temper too well to doubt it, Mr.
Caudle--and be knocking down some of the police. And then I know what
will follow. It _must_ follow. Yes, you 'll be sent for a month or six
weeks to the treadmill. Pretty thing that, for a respectable tradesman,
Mr. Caudle, to be put upon the treadmill with all sorts of thieves and
vagabonds, and--there, again, that horrible tobacco!--and riff-raff of
every kind. I should like to know how your children are to hold up their
heads, after their father has been upon the treadmill?---- No: I _won't_
go to sleep. And I'm not talking of what's impossible. I know it will
all happen--every bit of it. If it wasn't for the dear children, you
might be ruined and I wouldn't so much as speak about it, but--oh, dear,
dear! at least you might go where they smoke _good_ tobacco--but I
can't forget that I'm their mother. At least, they shall have _one_

"Taverns! Never did a man go to a tavern who didn't die a beggar. And
how your pot-companions will laugh at you when they see your name in the
_Gazette!_ For it _must_ happen. Your business is sure to fall off; for
what respectable people will buy toys for their children of a drunkard?
You 're not a drunkard! No: but you will be--it's all the same.

"You've begun by staying out till midnight. By-and-by 't will be all
night. But don't you think, Mr. Caudle, you shall ever have a key. I
know you. Yes; you'd do exactly like that Prettyman, and what did he do,
only last Wednesday? Why, he let himself in about four in the morning,
and brought home with him his pot-companion. His dear wife woke at six,
and saw Prettyman's dirty boots at her bed-side. And where was the
wretch, her husband? Why, he was drinking down stairs--swilling. Yes;
worse than a midnight robber, he'd taken the keys out of his dear wife's
pockets--ha! what that poor creature has to bear!--and had got at the
brandy. A pretty thing for a wife to wake at six in the morning, and
instead of her husband to see his dirty boots!

"But I 'll not be made your victim, Mr. Caudle, not I. You shall never
get at my keys, for they shall lie under my pillow--under my own head,
Mr. Caudle.

"You'll be ruined, but if I can help it, you shall ruin nobody but

"Oh! that hor--hor--hor--i--ble tob--ac--co!"


"I'm sure a poor woman had better be in her grave than married! That
is, if she can't be married to a decent man! No: I don't care if you are
tired, I _shan't_, let you go to sleep. No, and I won't say what I have
to say in the morning; I'll say it now. It's all very well for you to
come home at what time you like--it's now half-past twelve--and expect
I'm to hold my tongue, and let you go to sleep. What next, I wonder? A
woman had better be sold for a slave at once.

"And so you've gone and joined a club! The Skylarks, indeed! A pretty
skylark you 'll make of yourself! But I won't stay and be ruined by you.
No: I'm determined of that. I 'll go and take the dear children, and you
may get who you like to keep your house. That is, as long as you have a
house to keep--and that won't be long, know.

"How any decent man can go and spend his nights in a tavern!--oh, yes,
Mr. Caudle; I dare say you _do_ go for rational conversation. I should
like to know how many of you would care for what you call rational
conversation, if you had it without your filthy brandy-and-water; yes,
and your more filthy tobacco-smoke. I'm sure the last time you came
home, I had the head-ache for a week. But I know who it is who's taking
you to destruction. It's that brute, Prettyman. He has broken his own
poor wife's heart, and now he wants to--but don't you think it, Mr.
Caudle; I'll not have my peace of mind destroyed by the best man that
ever trod. Oh, yes! I know you don't care so long as you can appear well
to all the world,--but the world little thinks how you behave to me. It
shall know it, though--that I'm determined.

"How any man can leave his own happy fireside to go and sit, and smoke,
and drink, and talk with people who wouldn't one of 'em lift a finger to
save him from hanging--how any man can leave his wife--and a good
wife, too, though I say it--for a parcel of pot-companions--oh, it's
disgraceful, Mr. Caudle: it's unfeeling. No man who had the least love
for his wife could do it.

"And I suppose this is to be the case every Saturday? But I know what
I 'll do. I know--it's no use, Mr. Caudle, your calling me a good
creature: I'm not such a fool as to be coaxed in that way. No: if you
want to go to sleep, you should come home in Christian time, not at
halfpast twelve. There was a time, when you were as regular at your
fireside as the kettle. That was when you were a decent man, and didn't
go amongst, Heaven knows who, drinking and smoking, and making what you
think your jokes. I never heard any good come to a man who cared about
jokes. No respectable tradesman does. But I know what I'll do: I'll
scare away your Skylarks. The house serves liquor after twelve of a
Saturday; and if I don't write to the magistrates, and have the license
taken away, I'm not lying in this bed this night. Yes, you may call me a
foolish woman; but no, Mr. Caudle, no; it's you who are the foolish man:
or worse than a foolish man; you 're--a wicked one. If you were to die
to-morrow--and people who go to public-houses do all they can to shorten
their lives--I should like to know who would write upon your tombstone,
'A tender husband and an affectionate father.' I--I'd have no such
falsehoods told of you, I can assure you.

"Going and spending your money, and--nonsense! don't tell me--no, if
you were to ten times swear it, I wouldn't believe that you only spent
eighteen-pence on a Saturday. You can't be all those hours, and only
spend eighteen-pence. I know better. I'm not quite a fool, Mr. Caudle.
A great deal you could have for eighteen-pence! And all the Club married
men and fathers of families. The more shame for 'em! Skylarks, indeed!
They should call themselves Vultures; for they can only do as they do by
robbing their innocent wives and children. Eighteen-pence a week! And if
it was only that,--do you know what fifty-two eighteen-pences come to in
a year? Do you ever think of that, and see the gowns I wear? I'm sure
I can't, out of the house-money, buy myself a pincushion; though I've
wanted one these six months. No--not so much as a ball of cotton." But
what do you care, so you can get your brandy-and-water? There's the
girls, top--the things they want! They are never dressed like other
people's children. But it's all the same to their father. Oh, yes! So
he can go with his Skylarks, they may wear sackcloth for pinafores, and
packthread for garters.

"You'd better not let that Mr. Prettyman come here, that's all; or,
rather, you'd better bring him once. Yes, I should like to see him.
He wouldn't forget it. A man who, I may say, lives and moves only in
a spittoon. A man who has a pipe in his mouth as constant as his front
teeth. A sort of tavern king, with a lot of fools, like you, to laugh at
what lie thinks his jokes, and give him consequence. No, Mr. Caudle, no;
it's no use your telling me to go to sleep, for I won't. Go to sleep,
indeed! I'm sure it's almost time to get up. I hardly know what's the
use of coming to bed at all now.

"The Skylarks, indeed! I suppose you 'll be buying a 'Little Warbler,'
and at your time of life, be trying to sing. The peacocks will sing
next. A pretty name you 'll get in the neighbourhood; and, in a very
little time, a nice face you 'll have. Your nose is getting redder
already: and you've just one of the noses that liquor always flies to.
You don't see it's red? No--I dare say not--but I see it; I see a great
many things-you don't. And so you 'll go on. In a little time, with your
brandy-and-water--don't tell me that you only take two small glasses;
I know what men's two small glasses are; in a little time you'll have a
face all over as if it was made of red currant jam. And I should like
to know who's to endure you then? I won't, and so don't think it. Don't
come to me.

"Nice habits men learn at clubs! There's Joskins: he was a decent
creature once, and now I'm told he has more than once boxed his wife's
ears. He's a Skylark, too. And I suppose, some day, you 'll be trying
to box _my_ ears? Don't attempt it, Mr. Caudle; I say, don't attempt it.
Yes--it's all very well for you to say you don't mean it,--but I only
say again, don't attempt it. You'd rue it till the day of your death,
Mr. Caudle.

"Going and sitting for four hours at a tavern! What men, unless they had
their wives with them, can find to talk about, I can't think. No good,
of course.

"Eighteen-pence a week--and drinking brandy-and-water, enough to swim
a boat! And smoking like the funnel of a steam-ship! And I can't
afford myself so much as a piece of tape! It's brutal, Mr. Caudle. It's
ve-ve-ve--ry bru--tal."

And, says a note in the MS. by Mr. Caudle--"Here, thank heaven! yawning,
she fell asleep."



IE, Mr. Caudle, I knew it would come to this. I said it would, when you
joined those precious Skylarks. People being called out of their beds at
all hours of the night to bail a set of fellows who are never so happy
as when they 're leading sober men to destruction. I should like to
know what the neighbours will think of you, with people from the police
knocking at the door at two in the morning. Don't tell me that the man
has been ill-used: he's not the man to be ill-used. And you must go and
bail him. I know the end of that: he 'll run away, and you 'll have to
pay the money. I should like to know what's the use of my working
and slaving to save a farthing, when you throw away pounds upon your
precious Skylarks. A pretty cold you 'll have to-morrow morning, being
called out of your warm bed this weather; but don't you think I'll nurse
you--not I; not a drop of gruel do you get from me.

"I'm sure you've plenty of ways of spending your money--not throwing it
away upon a set of dissolute peace-breakers. It's all very well for
you to say you haven't thrown away your money, but you will. He 'll be
certain to run off; it isn't likely he 'll go upon his trial, and
you 'll be fixed with the bail. Don't tell me there's no trial in
the matter, because I know there is; it's for something more than
quarrelling with the policeman that he was locked up. People ain't locked
up for that. No, it's for robbery, or something worse, perhaps.

"And as you've bailed him, people will think you are as bad as he is.
Don't tell me you couldn't help bailing him; you should have shown
yourself a respectable man, and have let him been sent to prison.

"Now people know you 're the friend of drunken and other disorderly
persons, you 'll never have a night's sleep in your bed. Not that
it would matter what fell upon you, if it wasn't your poor wife who
suffered. Of course all the business will be in the newspapers, and your
name with it. I shouldn't wonder, too, if they give your picture as they
do the other folks of the Old Bailey. A pretty thing that, to go down
to your children. I'm sure it will be enough to make them change their
name. No, I shall not go to sleep; it's all very well for you to say, go
to sleep, after such a disturbance. I shall not go------"

But here, says Mr. Caudle's manuscript, happily she slumbered; for Mr.
Caudle had, considering the theme she had to talk upon, a remarkably
short lecture.


[Illustration: 024]

pretty time of night to come to bed, Mr. Caudle. Ugh! As cold, too, as
any ice. Enough to give any woman her death, I'm sure. What! I shouldn't
have locked up the coals, indeed? If I hadn't, I've no doubt the fellow
would have staid all night. It's all very well for you, Mr. Caudle, to
bring people home,--but I wish you'd think first what's for supper.
That beautiful leg of pork would have served for our dinner
to-morrow,--and now it's gone. _I_ can't keep the house upon the money,
and I won't pretend to do it, if you bring a mob of people every night
to clear the cupboard.

"I wonder who'll be so ready to give you a supper when you want one; for
want one you will, unless you change your plans. Don't tell me! I know
I'm right. You'll first be eaten up, and then you 'll be laughed at. I
know the world. No, indeed, Mr. Caudle, I don't think ill of everybody;
don't say that. But I can't see a leg of pork eaten up in that way,
without asking myself what it's all to end in if such things go on? And
then he must have pickles, too! Couldn't be content with my cabbage--no,
Mr. Caudle, I won't let you go to sleep. It's very well for you to say
let you go to sleep, after you've kept me awake till this time. _Why_
did I keep awake? How do you suppose I could go to sleep, when I knew
that man was below drinking up your substance in brandy-and-water? for
he couldn't be content upon decent, wholesome gin. Upon my word, you
ought to be a rich man, Mr. Caudle. You have such very fine friends. I
wonder who gives you brandy when you go out!

"No, indeed, he couldn't be content with my pickled cabbage--and I
should like to know who makes better--but he must have walnuts. And you,
too, like a fool--now, don't you think to stop me, Mr. Caudle; a poor
woman may be trampled to death, and never say a word--you, too, like a
fool--I wonder who'd do it for you--to insist upon the girl going out
for pickled walnuts. And in such a night too! With snow upon the ground.
Yes; you're a man of fine feelings, you are, Mr. Caudle! but the world
doesn't know you as I know you--fine feelings, indeed! to send the poor
girl out, when I told you and told your friend too--a pretty brute he
is, I'm sure--that the poor girl had got a cold and chilblains on her
toes But I know what will be the end of that; she 'll be laid up, and we
shall have a nice doctor's bill And you 'll pay it, I can tell you--for
_I_ wont.

"Wish you were out of the world? Oh! yes, that's all very easy, I'm sure
_I_ might wish it.

"Don't swear in that dreadful way! Ain't you afraid that the bed will
open and swallow you? And don't swing about in that way. _That_ will do
no good. _That_ won't bring back the leg of pork,--and the brandy you've
poured down both of your throats. Oh, I know it! I'm sure of it.
I only recollected it when I'd got into bed,--and if it hadn't been
so cold, you'd have seen me down stairs again, I can tell you--I
recollected it, and a pretty two hours I've passed, that I left the key
in the cupboard,--and I knew it--I could see by the manner of you, when
you came into the room--I know you've got the other bottle. However,
there's one comfort: you told me to send for the best brandy--the very
best--for your other friend, who called last Wednesday. Ha! ha! It was
British--the cheapest British--and nice and ill I hope the pair of you
will be tomorrow.

"There's only the bare bone of the leg of pork: but you'll get nothing
else for dinner, I can tell you. It's a dreadful thing that the poor
children should go without,--but, if they have such a father, they, poor
things, must suffer for it.

"Nearly a whole leg of pork and a pint of brandy! A pint of brandy and a
leg of pork. A leg of--leg--leg-pint--"

And mumbling the syllables, says Mr. Caudle's MS., she went to sleep


"Bah! That's the third umbrella gone since Christmas. What were you to
do! Why let him go home in the rain, to be sure. I'm very certain there
was nothing about _him_ that could spoil. Take cold, indeed! He doesn't
look like one of the sort to take cold. Besides he'd have better taken
cold than take our only umbrella. Do you hear the rain, Mr. Caudle? I
say, do you hear the rain? And as I'm alive, if it isn't Saint Swithin's
day! Do you hear it against the windows? Nonsense; you don't impose upon
me. You can't be asleep with such a shower as that! Do you hear it, I
say? Oh you _do_ hear it! Well, that's a pretty flood, I think, to last
for six weeks; and no stirring all the time out of the house. Pooh!
Don't think me a fool, Mr. Caudle. Don't insult me. _He_ return the
umbrella! Any body would think you were born yesterday. As if anybody
ever _did_ return an umbrella! There--do you hear it? Worse and worse!
Cats and dogs, and for six weeks--always six weeks. And no umbrella!

"I should like to know how the children are to get to school to-morrow.
They shan't go through such weather, I'm determined. No: they shall stop
at home and never learn anything--the blessed creatures!--sooner than go
and get wet. And when they grow up, I wonder who they 'll have to thank
for knowing nothing--who, indeed, but their father? People who can't
feel for their own children ought never to be fathers.

"But I know why you lent the umbrella. Oh, yes; I know very well. I was
going out to tea at dear mother's to-morrow,--you knew that; and you did
it on purpose. Don't tell me; you hate me to go there, and take every
mean advantage to hinder me. But don't you think it, Mr. Caudle. No,
sir; if it comes down in buckets-full, I 'll go all the more. No: and
I won't have a cab! Where do you think the money's to come from? You've
got nice high notions at that club of yours! A cab, indeed! Cost me
sixteenpence at least--sixteenpence!--two-and-eightpence, for there's
back again! Cabs, indeed! I should like to know who's to pay for 'em?
_I_ can't pay for 'em; and I'm sure _you_ can't, if you go on as you
do; throwing away your property, and beggaring your children--buying

"Do you hear the rain, Mr. Caudle? I say do you hear it? But I don't
care--I 'll go to mother's to-morrow: I will; and what's more, I 'll
walk every step of the way,--and you know that will give me my death.
Don't call me a foolish woman--it's you that's the foolish man. You
know can't wear clogs; and with no umbrella, that's sure to give me a
cold--it always does. But what do you care for that? Nothing at all. I
may be laid up for what you care, as I dare say I shall--and a pretty
doctor's bill there 'll be. I hope there will! It will teach you to lend
your umbrellas again I shouldn't wonder if I caught my death; yes: and
that's what you lent the umbrella for. Of course.

"Nice clothes, I shall get too, traipsing through weather like this. My
gown and bonnet will be spoilt quite. Needn't I wear 'em then? Indeed,
Mr. Caudle, I _shall_ wear 'em. No, sir, I'm not going out a dowdy to
please you or anybody else. Gracious knows! it isn't often that I step
over the threshold; indeed, I might as well be a slave at once,--better,
I should say. But when I do go out, Mr. Caudle, I choose to go as a
lady. Oh! that rain--if it isn't enough to break in the windows.

"Ugh! I do look forward with dread for tomorrow. How I am to go to
mother's I'm sure I can't tell. But if I die, I 'll do it. No, sir;
I won't borrow an umbrella. No; and you shan't buy one. (_With great
emphasis._) Mr. Caudle, if you bring home another umbrella, I 'll throw
it in the street. I 'll have my own umbrella or none at all.

"Ha! and it was only last week I had a new nozzle put to that umbrella.
I'm sure if I'd have known as much as I do now, it might have gone
without one for me. Paying for new nozzles, for other people to laugh
at you. Oh, it's all very well for you--you can go to sleep. You've no
thought of your poor patient wife, and your own dear children. You think
of nothing but lending umbrellas!

"Men, indeed!--Call themselves lords of the creation!--pretty lords when
they can't take care of an umbrella!

"I know that walk to-morrow will be the death of me. But that's what you
want--then you may go to your club, and do as you like--and then, nicely
my poor dear children will be used--but then, sir, then you 'll be
happy. Oh, don't tell me! I know you will. Else you'd never have lent
the umbrella!

"You have to go on Thursday about that summons; and, of course, you
can't go. No, indeed, you _don't_ go without the umbrella. You may
lose the debt for what I care--it won't be so much as spoiling
your clothes--better lose it: people deserve to lose debts who lend

"And I should like to know how I'm to go to mother's without the
umbrella? Oh, don't tell me that I said I _would_ go--that's nothing to
do with it; nothing at all. She 'll think I'm neglecting her, and the
little money we were to have, we shan't have at all--because we've no

"The children, too! Dear things! They 'll be sopping wet: for they
shan't stop at home----they shan't lose their learning; it's all their
father will leave 'em, I'm sure. But they _shall_ go to school. Don't
tell me I said they shouldn't: you are so aggravating, Caudle; you'd
spoil the temper of an angel. They _shall_ go to school; mark that. And
if they get their deaths of cold, it's not my fault--_I_ didn't lend the

"Here," says Caudle in his MS, "I fell asleep; and dreamt that the sky
was turned into green calico, with whalebone ribs; that, in fact, the
whole world revolved under a tremendous umbrella!"


[Illustration: 031]

I wonder what it will be next! There's nothing proper, now--nothing at
all. Better get somebody else to keep the house I think. I can't do it
now, it seems; I'm only in the way here: I'd better take the children,
and go.

"What am I grumbling about now? It's very well for you to ask that! I'm
sure I'd better be out of the world than--there now, Mr. Caudle; there
you are again! I _shall_ speak, sir. It isn't often I open my mouth,
heaven knows! But you like to hear nobody talk but yourself. You ought
to have married a negro slave, and not any respectable woman.

"You 're to go about the house looking like thunder all the day, and I'm
not to say a word. Where do you think pudding's to come from every-day?
You show a nice example to your children, you do; complaining, and
turning your nose up at a sweet piece of cold mutton, because there's
no pudding! You go a nice way to make 'em extravagant--teach 'em nice
lessons to begin the world with. Do you know what puddings cost; or do
you think they fly in at the window?

"You hate cold mutton. The more shame for you, Mr. Caudle. I'm sure
you've the stomach of a lord, you have. No, sir; I didn't choose to hash
the mutton. It's very easy for you to say hash it; but _I_ know what
a joint loses in hashing: it's a day's dinner the less, if it's a bit.
Yes, I dare say; other people may have puddings with cold mutton. No
doubt of it; and other people become bankrupts. But if ever you get into
the Gazette, it shan't be _my_ fault--no; I'll do my duty as a wife
to you, Mr. Caudle; you shall never have it to say that it was _my_
housekeeping that brought you to beggary. No; you may sulk at the cold
meat--ha! I hope you 'll never live to want such a piece of cold mutton
as we had to-day! And you may threaten to go to a tavern to dine; but
with our present means, not a crumb of pudding do you get from me.
You shall have nothing but the cold joint--nothing as I'm a Christian

"Yes; there you are, throwing those fowls in my face again! I know you
once brought home a pair of fowls; I know it; and wern't you mean enough
to want to stop 'em out of my week's money? Oh, the selfishness--the
shabbiness of men! They can go out and throw away pounds upon pounds
with a pack of people who laugh at 'em afterwards; but if it's anything
wanted for their own homes, their poor wives may hunt for it. I wonder
you don't blush to name those fowls again! I wouldn't be so little for
the world, Mr. Caudle!

"What are you going to do? Going to get up? Don't make yourself
ridiculous, Mr. Caudle; I can't say a word to you like any other wife,
but you must threaten to get up. _Do_ be ashamed of yourself.

"Puddings, indeed! Do you think I'm made of puddings? Didn't you have
some boiled rice three weeks ago? Besides, is this the time of the year
for puddings? It's all very well if I had money enough allowed me
like any other wife to keep the house with; then, indeed, I might
have preserves, like any other woman; now, it's impossible; and it's
cruel--yes, Mr. Caudle, cruel--of you to expect it.

"Apples arn't so dear, arn't they? I know what apples are, Mr. Caudle,
without your telling me. But I suppose you want something more than
apples for dumplings? I suppose sugar costs something, doesn't it? And
that's how it is. That's how one expense brings on another, and that's
how people go to ruin.

"Pancakes! What's the use of your lying muttering there about pancakes?
Don't you always have 'em once a-year--every Shrove Tuesday? And what
would any moderate, decent man want more?

"Pancakes, indeed! Pray, Mr. Caudle,--no, it's no use your saying fine
words to me to let you go to sleep; I shan't!--pray do you know the
price of eggs just now? There's not an egg you can trust to under seven
and eight a shilling; well, you've only just to reckon up how many
eggs--don't lie swearing there at the eggs, in that manner, Mr. Caudle;
unless you expect the bed to open under you. You call yourself a
respectable tradesman, I suppose! Ha! I only wish people knew you as
well as I do! Swearing at eggs, indeed! But I'm tired of this usage, Mr.
Caudle; quite tired of it; and I don't care how soon it's ended!

"I'm sure I do nothing but work and labour, and think how to make the
most of everything; and this is how I'm rewarded. I should like to see
anybody whose joints go further than mine. But if I was to throw away
your money into the street, or lay it out in fine feathers on myself, I
should be better thought of. The woman who studies her husband and her
family is always made a drudge of. It's your fine fal-lal wives who've
the best time of it.

"What's the use of your lying groaning there in that manner? That won't
make me hold my tongue, I can tell you. You think to have it all your
own way--but you won't, Mr. Caudle! You can insult my dinner; look
like a demon, I may say, at a wholesome piece of cold mutton--ha! the
thousands of far better creatures than you are who'd been thankful for
that mutton!--and I'm never to speak! But you 're mistaken--I will! Your
usage of me, Mr. Caudle, is infamous--unworthy of a man. I only wish
people knew you for what you are; but they shall, some day.

"Puddings! And now I suppose I shall hear of nothing but puddings!
Yes, and I know what it would end in. First, you'd have a pudding every
day;--oh, I know your extravagance--then you'd go for fish--then I
shouldn't wonder if you'd have soup; turtle, no doubt: then you'd go for
a dessert; and--oh! I see it all as plain as the quilt before me--but
no! not while I live! What your second wife may do, I don't know;
perhaps she'll be a fine lady; but you shan't be ruined by me, Mr.
Caudle; that I'm determined. Puddings, indeed! Pu-dding-s! Pudd--"

"Exhausted nature," says Caudle, "could hold no longer. Here my wife
went to sleep."


"Now, Mr. Caudle--Mr. Caudle, I say: oh! you can't be asleep already, I
know--Now, what I mean to say is this; there's no use, none at all, in
our having any disturbance about the matter; but, at last my mind's made
up, Mr. Caudle; I shall leave you. Either I know all you've been doing
to-night, or to-morrow morning I quit the house. No, no; there's an end
of the marriage-state, I think--an end of all confidence between man and
wife--if a husband's to have secrets and keep 'em all to himself. Pretty
secrets they must be, when his own wife can't know 'em. Not fit for any
decent person to know, I'm sure, if that's the case. Now, Caudle, don't
let us quarrel; there's a good soul, tell me what's it all about? A pack
of nonsense, I dare say; still--not that I care much about it--still,
I _should_ like to know. There's a dear: Eh? Oh, don't tell me there's
nothing in it; I know better. I'm not a fool, Mr. Caudle; I know there's
a good deal in it. Now, Caudle, just tell me a little bit of it. I'm
sure I'd tell you anything. You know I would. Well?

"Caudle, you're enough to vex a saint! Now, don't you think you're going
to sleep; because you 're not. Do you suppose I'd ever suffered you to
go and be made a mason, if I didn't suppose I was to know the secret,
too? Not that it's anything to know, I dare say; and that s why I'm
determined to know it.

"But I know what it is; oh yes, there can be no doubt. The secret is,
to ill-use poor women; to tyrannize over 'em; to make 'em your slaves;
especially your wives. It must be something of the sort, or you wouldn't
be ashamed to have it known. What's right and proper never need be done
in secret. It's an insult to a woman for a man to be a free-mason, and
let his wife know nothing of it. But, poor soul! she's sure to know it
somehow--for nice husbands they all make. Yes, yes; a part of the secret
is to think better of all the world than their own wives and families.
I'm sure men have quite enough to care for--that is, if they act
properly--to care for them they have at home. They can't have much care
to spare for the world besides.

"And I suppose they call you _Brother_ Caudle? A pretty brother, indeed!
Going and dressing yourself up in an apron, like a turnpike man--for
that's what you look like. And I should like to know what the apron's
for? There must be something in it not very respectable, I'm sure.
Well, I only wish I was Queen for a day or two. I'd put an end to
free-masonry, and all such trumpery, I know.

"Now, come, Caudle, don't let's quarrel. Eh! You 're not in pain, dear?
What's it all about? What are you lying laughing there at? But I'm a
fool to trouble my head about you.

"And you're not going to let me know the secret, eh? You mean to
say,--you're not? Now, Caudle, you know it's a hard matter to put me in
a passion--not that I care about the secret itself: no, I wouldn't
give a button to know it, for it's all nonsense, I'm sure. It isn't
the secret I care about: it's the slight, Mr. Caudle; it's the studied
insult that a man pays to his wife, when he thinks of going through the
world keeping something to himself which he won't let her know. Man and
wife one, indeed! I should like to know how that can be when a man's a
mason--when he keeps a secret that sets him and his wife apart? Ha, you
men make the laws, and so you take good care to have all the best of 'em
to yourselves; otherwise a woman ought to be allowed a divorce when
a man becomes a mason. When he's got a sort of corner-cupboard in his
heart--a secret place in his mind--that his poor wife isn't allowed to

"Caudle, you shan't close your eyes for a week--no, you shan't--unless
you tell me some, of it. Come, there's a good creature; there's a love.
I'm sure, Caudle, I wouldn't refuse you anything--and you know it,
or ought to know it by this time. I only wish I had a secret! To whom
should I think of confiding it, but to my dear husband? I should be
miserable to keep it to myself, and you know it. Now, Caudle!

"Was there ever such a man? A man, indeed! A brute!--yes, Mr. Caudle, an
unfeeling, brutal creature, when you might oblige me, and you won't. I'm
sure I don't object to your being a mason; not at all, Caudle; I dare
say it's a very good thing; I dare say it is--it's only your making a
secret of it that vexes me. But you 'll tell me--you 'll tell your own
Margaret? You won't! You 're a wretch, Mr. Caudle.

"But I know why: oh, yes, I can tell. The fact is, you're ashamed to let
me know what a fool they've been making of you. That's it. You, at your
time of life--the father of a family. I should be ashamed of myself,

"And I suppose you'll be going to what you call your Lodge every night,
now. Lodge, indeed! Pretty place it must be, where they don't admit
women. Nice goings on, I dare say. Then you call one another brethren.
Brethren! I'm sure you'd relations enough; you didn't want any more.

"But I know what all this masonry's about. It's only an excuse to
get away from your wives and families, that you may feast and drink
together, that's all. That's the secret. And to abuse women,--as if they
were inferior animals, and not to be trusted. That's the secret; and
nothing else.

"Now, Caudle, don't let us quarrel. Yes, I know you 're in pain. Still,
Caudle, my love; Caudle! Dearest, I say! Caudle! Caud--"

"I recollect nothing more," says Caudle, "for here, thank Providence! I
fell asleep."


[Illustration: 039]

EM!--So, Mr. Caudle: I hope you enjoyed yourself at Greenwich. How do I
know you've been at Greenwich? I know it very well, sir: know all about
it: know more than you think I know. I thought there was something in
the wind. Yes; I was sure of it, when you went out of the house, to-day.
I knew it by the looks of you, though I didn't say anything. Upon my
word! And you call yourself a respectable man, and the father of a
family! Going to a fair amongst all sorts of people,--at your time of
life. Yes; and never think of taking your wife with you. Oh, no! you can
go and enjoy yourself out, with, _I_ don't know who: go out, and make
yourself very pleasant, I dare say. Don't tell me; I hear what a nice
companion Mr. Caudle is: what a good-tempered person. Ha! I only wish
people could see you at home, that's all. But so it is with men. They
can keep all their good temper for out-of-doors--their wives never see
any of it. Oh, dear! I'm sure I don't know who'd be a poor woman!

"Now, Caudle, I'm not in an ill temper: not at all. I know I used to be
a fool when we were first married: I used to worry and fret myself to
death, when you went out; but I've got over that. I wouldn't put myself
out of the way now for the best man that ever trod. For what thanks does
a poor woman get? None at all. No: it's those who don't care for their
families, who are the best thought of. I only wish I could bring myself
not to care for mine.

"And why couldn't you say, like a man, you were going to Greenwich Fair,
when you went out? It's no use your saying that, Mr. Caudle: don't tell
me that you didn't think of going; you 'd made your mind up to it, and
you know it. Pretty games you've had, no doubt! I should like to have
been behind you, that's all. A man at your time of life!

"And I, of course, I never want to go out. Oh, no! I may stay at home
with the cat. You couldn't think of taking your wife and children, like
any other decent man, to a fair. Oh, no; you never care to be seen with
us. I'm sure, many people don't know you 're married: how can they? Your
wife's never seen with you. Oh, no; anybody but those belonging to you!

"Greenwich Fair, indeed! Yes,--and of course you went up and down the
hill, running and racing with nobody knows who. Don't tell me; I know
what you are when you're out. You don't suppose, Mr. Caudle, I've
forgotten that pink bonnet, do you? No: I won't hold my tongue, and I'm
not a foolish woman. It's no matter, sir, if the pink bonnet was fifty
years ago--it's all the same for that. No: and if I live for fifty years
to come, I never will leave off talking of it. You ought to be ashamed
of yourself, Mr. Caudle. Ha! few wives would have been what I've been to
you. I only wish my time was to come over again, that's all; I wouldn't
be the fool I have been.

"Going to a fair! and I suppose you had your fortune told by the
gypsies? You needn't have wasted your money. I'm sure I can tell you
your fortune if you go on as you do. Yes, the gaol will be your fortune,
Mr. Caudle. And it would be no matter--none at all--if your wife and
children didn't suffer with you.

"And then you must go riding upon donkeys--you didn't go riding upon
donkeys? Yes; it's very well for you to say so; but I dare say you did.
I tell you, Caudle, I know what you are when you 're out. I wouldn't
trust any of you--you, especially, Caudle.

"Then you must go in the thick of the fair, and have the girls
scratching your coat with rattles! You couldn't help it, if they did
scratch your coat? Don't tell me; people don't scratch coats unless they
're encouraged to do it. And you must go in a swing, too. You didn't
go in a swing? And I'm a foolish woman to think so, am I? Well, if you
didn't, it was no fault of yours: you wished to go, I've no doubt.

"And then you must go into the shows? There,--you don't deny that. You
_did_ go into a show. What of it, Mr. Caudle? A good deal of it, sir.
Nice crowding and squeezing in those shows, I know. Pretty places!
And you a married man and the father of a family. No: I won't hold my
tongue. It's very well for you to threaten to get up. You're to go to
Greenwich Fair, and race up and down the hill, and play at kiss in the
ring. Pah! it's disgusting, Mr. Caudle. Oh, I dare say you _did_ play
at it; if you didn't, you'd have liked, and that's just as bad;--and you
can go into swings, and shows, and roundabouts. If I was you, I should
hide my head under the clothes, and be ashamed of myself.

"And what is most selfish--most mean of you, Caudle--you can go and
enjoy yourself, and never so much as bring home for the poor children a
gingerbread-nut. Don't tell me that your pocket was picked of a pound of
nuts! Nice company you must have been in to have your pocket picked.

"But I dare say I shall hear all about it tomorrow. I've no doubt, sir,
you were dancing at the Crown-and-Anchor. I should like to have seen
you. No: I'm not making myself ridiculous. It's you that's making
yourself ridiculous; and everybody that knows you says so. Everybody
knows what I have to put up with from you.

"Going to a fair, indeed! At your time----"

"Here," says Caudle, "I dozed off, hearing confusedly the
words--hill--gypsies--rattles--roundabout--swings--pink bonnet--nuts."


There, Mr. Caudle, I hope you 're in a little better temper than you
were this morning? There--you needn't begin to whistle: people don't
come to bed to whistle. But it's like you. I can't speak, that you
don't try to insult me. Once, I used to say, you were the best creature
living: now, you get quite a fiend. _Do_ let you rest? No: I won't let
you rest. It's the only time I have to talk to you, and you _shall_ hear
me. I'm put upon all day long: it's very hard if I can't speak a word at
night; and it isn't often I open my mouth, goodness knows!

"Because _once_ in your lifetime your shirt wanted a button, you must
almost swear the roof off the house! You _didn't_ swear? Ha, Mr. Caudle!
you don't know what you do when you 're in a passion. You were not in a
passion, wer'n't you? Well, then, I don't know what a passion is--and I
think I ought by this time. I've lived long enough with you, Mr. Caudle,
to know that.

"It's a pity you havn't something worse to complain of than a button off
your shirt. If you'd _some_ wives, you would, I know. I'm sure I'm never
without a needle-and-thread in my hand. What with you and the children,
I'm made a perfect slave of. And what's my thanks? Why if once in your
life a button's off your shirt--what do you cry '_oh_' at? I say once,
Mr. Cau dle; or twice, or three times, at most. I'm sure, Caudle, no
man's buttons in the world are better looked after than your's. I only
wish I'd kept the shirts you had when you were first married! I should
like to know where were your buttons then?

"Yes, it _is_ worth talking of! But that's how you always try to put me
down. You fly into a rage, and then if I only try to speak, you won't
hear me. That's how you men always will have all the talk to yourselves:
a poor woman isn't allowed to get a word in.

"A nice notion you have of a wife, to suppose she's nothing to think
of but her husband's buttons. A pretty notion, indeed, you have of
marriage. Ha! if poor women only knew what they had to go through! What
with buttons, and one thing and another! They'd never tie themselves up
to the best man in the world, I'm sure. What would they do, Mr. Caudle?
Why, do much better without you, I'm certain.

"And it's my belief, after all, that the button wasn't off the shirt:
it's my belief that you pulled it off, that you might have something to
talk about. Oh, you 're aggravating enough, when you like, for anything!
All I know is, it's very odd that the button should be off the shirt;
for I'm sure no woman's a greater slave to her husband's buttons than I
am. I only say, it's very odd.

"However, there's one comfort; it can't last long. I'm worn to death
with your temper, and sha'n't trouble you a great while. Ha, you may
laugh! And I dare say you would laugh! I've no doubt of it! That's your
love--that's your feeling! I know that I'm sinking, every day, though
I say nothing about it. And when I'm gone, we shall see how your second
wife will look after your buttons! You 'll find out the difference,
then. Yes, Caudle, you 'll think of me, then: for then, I hope, you 'll
never have a blessed button to your back.

"No, I'm not a vindictive woman, Mr. Caudle, nobody ever called me
that, but you. What do you say? Nobody ever knew so much of me? That's
nothing; at all to do with it. Ha! I wouldn't have your aggravating
temper, Caudle, for mines of gold. It's a good thing I'm not as worrying
as you are--or a nice house there'd be between us. I only wish you'd
had a wife that _would_ have talked to you! then you 'd have known the
difference. But you impose upon me, because, like a poor fool, I say
nothing. I should be ashamed of myself, Caudle.

"And a pretty example you set as a father; You 'll make your boys as bad
as yourself. Talking as you did all breakfast-time about your but tons!
And of a Sunday morning too! And you call yourself a Christian! I should
like to know what your boys will say of you when they grow up? And all
about a paltry button off one of your wristbands: a decent man wouldn't
have mentioned it. Why won't I hold my tongue? Because I _won't_ hold my
tongue. I'm to have my peace of mind destroyed--I'm to be worried into
my grave for a miserable shirt-button, and I'm to hold my tongue! Oh!
but that's just like you men!

"But I know what I 'll do for the future. Every button you have may drop
off, and I won't so much as put a thread to 'em. And I should like to
know what you 'll do then? Oh, you must get somebody else to sew 'em,
must you? That's a pretty threat for a husband to hold out to a wife!
And to such a wife as I've been, too: such a negro-slave to your
buttons, as I may say! Somebody else to sew 'em, eh? No, Caudle, no: not
while I'm alive! When I'm dead--and with what I have to bear there's no
knowing how soon that may be--when I'm dead, I say--oh! what a brute you
must be to snore so!

"You're not snoring? Ha! that's what you always say; but that's nothing
to do with it. You must get somebody else to sew 'em, must you? Ha! I
shouldn't wonder. Oh, no! I should be surprised at nothing, now! Nothing
at all! It's what people have always told me it would come to,--and now,
the buttons have opened my eyes! But the whole world shall know of your
cruelty, Mr. Caudle. After the wife I 've been to you. Somebody else,
indeed, to sew your buttons! I'm no longer to be mistress in my own
house! Ha, Caudle! I wouldn't have upon my conscience what you have, for
the world! I wouldn't treat anybody as you treat--no, I'm not mad! It's
you, Mr. Caudle, who are mad, or bad--and that's worse! I can't even
so much as, speak of a shirt-button, but that I'm threatened to be made
nobody of in my own house! Caudle, you've a heart like a hearth-stone,
you have! To threaten me, and only because a button--a button----"

"I was conscious of no more than this," says Caudle, in his MS., "for
here nature relieved me with a sweet, deep sleep."


[Illustration: 047]

"Is your cold better tonight, Caudle? Yes, I thought it was. 'Twill be
quite well to-morrow, I dare say. There's a love! You don't take care
enough of yourself, Caudle, you don't. And you ought, I'm sure; if only
for my sake. For whatever I should do, if any thing was to happen to
you--but I won't think of it; no, I can't bear to think of _that_.
Still, you ought to take care of yourself; for you know you're not
strong, Caudle; you know you're not.

"Wasn't dear mother so happy with us, tonight? Now, you needn't go to
sleep, so suddenly. I say, wasn't she so happy! _You don't know?_ How
can you say you don't know? You must have seen it. But she always is
happier here than anywhere else. Ha! what a temper that dear soul has!
I call it a temper of satin; it is so smooth, so easy, and so soft.
Nothing puts her out of the way. And then, if you only knew how she
takes your part, Caudle! I'm sure, if you'd been her own son ten times
over, she couldn't be fonder of you. Don't you think so, Caudle? Eh,
love? Now, do answer. _How can you tell?_ Nonsense, Caudle; you must
have seen it. I'm sure, nothing delights the dear soul so much as when
she's thinking how to please you.

"Don't you remember Thursday night, the stewed oysters, when you came
home? That was all dear mother's doings! 'Margaret,' says she to me,
'it's a cold night; and don't you think dear Mr. Caudle would like
something nice before he goes to bed? And that, Caudle, is how the
oysters came about. Now, don't sleep, Caudle: do listen to me, for five
minutes; 'tisn't often I speak, goodness knows.

"And then, what a fuss she makes when you 're out, if your slippers
arn't put to the fire for you. _She's very good?_ Yes--I know she is,
Caudle. And hasn't she been six months--though I promised her not to
tell you--six months, working a watch-pocket for you! And with _her_
eyes, dear soul--and at _her_ time of life!

"And then what a cook she is? I'm sure, the dishes she'll make out of
next to nothing! I try hard enough to follow her: but I'm not ashamed
to own it, Caudle, she quite beats me. Ha! the many nice little things
she'd simmer up for you--and I can't do it; the children, you know
it, Caudle, take so much of my time. I can't do it, love: and I often
reproach myself that I can't. Now, you shan't go to sleep, Caudle; at
least; not for five minutes. You must hear me.

"I've been thinking, dearest--ha! that nasty cough, love!--I've been
thinking, darling, if we could only persuade dear mother to come and
live with us. Now, Caudle, you can't be asleep; it's impossible--you
were coughing only this minute--yes, to live with us. What a treasure
we should have in her! Then, Caudle, you never need go to bed without
something nice and hot. And you want it, Caudle. _You don't want it?_
Nonsense, you do; for you're not strong, Caudle; you know you're not.

"I'm sure, the money she'd save us in housekeeping. Ha! what an eye
she has for a joint! The butcher doesn't walk that could deceive dear
mother. And then, again, for poultry! What a finger and thumb she has
for a chicken! I never could market like her; it's a gift--quite a gift.

"And then you recollect her marrow-puddings? _You don't recollect 'em?_
Oh, fie! Caudle, how often have you flung her marrow-puddings in my
face, wanting to know why I couldn't make 'em? And I wouldn't pretend
to do it after dear mother. I should think it presumption. Now, love,
if she was only living with us--come, you 're not asleep, Caudle--if she
was only living with us, you could have marrow-puddings every day. Now,
don't fling yourself about and begin to swear at marrow-puddings; you
know you like 'em, dear.

"What a hand, too, dear mother has for a piecrust? But it's born with
some people. What do you say? _Why wasn't it born with me?_ Now, Caudle,
that's cruel--unfeeling of you; I wouldn't have uttered such a reproach
to you for the whole world. People can't be born as they like.

"How often, too, have you wanted to brew at home! And I never could
learn any thing about brewing. But, ha! what ale dear mother makes! _You
never tasted it!_ No, I know that. But I recollect the ale we used to
have at home: father never would drink wine after it. The best sherry
was nothing like it. _You dare say not?_ No; it wasn't, indeed, Caudle.
Then, if dear mother was only with us, what money we should save
in beer! And then you might always have your own nice, pure, good,
wholesome ale, Caudle: and what good it would do you! For you're not
strong, Caudle.

"And then dear mother's jams and preserves, love! I own it, Caudle; it
has often gone to my heart that with cold meat you hav'n't always had
a pudding. Now, if mother was with us, in the matter of fruit-puddings,
she'd make it summer all the year round. But I never could preserve--now
mother does it, and for next to no money whatever. What
nice dogs-in-a-blanket she'd make for the children! _What's
dogs-in-a-blanket?_ Oh, they 're delicious--as dear mother makes 'em.

"Now, you _have_ tasted her Irish stew, Caudle? You remember that? Come,
you 're not asleep--you remember that? And how fond you are of it! And
I never can have it made to please you! Now what a relief to me it would
be if dear mother was always at hand that you might have a stew when you
liked. What a load it would be off my mind!

"Again, for pickles! Not at all like anybody else's pickles. Her red
cabbage--why, it's as crisp as biscuit! And then her walnuts--and
her all-sorts? Eh, Caudle? You know how you love pickles; and how we
sometimes tiff about 'em? Now, if dear mother was here, a word would
never pass between us. And I'm sure nothing would make me happier,
for--you 're not asleep, Caudle!--for I can't bear to quarrel, can I,

"The children, too, are so fond of her! And she'd be such a help to me
with 'em! I'm sure with dear mother in the house, I shouldn't care a
fig for measles, or any thing of the sort. As a nurse, she's such a

"And at her time of life, what a needlewoman! And the darning and
mending for the children, it really gets quite beyond me now, Caudle.
Now with mother at my hand, there wouldn't be a stitch wanted in the

"And then when you're out late, Caudle--for I know you must be out late,
sometimes; I can't expect you, of course, to be always at home--why then
dear mother could sit up for you, and nothing would delight the dear
soul half so much.

"And so, Caudle, love, I think dear mother had better come, don't you?
Eh, Caudle? Now, you 're not asleep, darling: don't you think she'd
better come? You say _No?_ You say _No_, again? _You won't have her_,
you say; _You won't, that's flat?_ Caudle--Cau-Cau-dle--Cau--die--"

"Here Mrs. Caudle," says Mr. C., in his MS., "suddenly went into tears;
and I went to sleep."


On my word, Mr. Caudle, I think it a waste of time to come to bed at all
now! The cocks will be crowing in a minute. Keeping people up till past
twelve. Oh, yes! you 're thought a man of very fine feelings out of
doors, I dare say! It's a pity you haven't a little feeling for those
belonging to you at home. A nice hour to keep people out of their beds!
_Why did I sit up, then?_ Because I chose to sit up--but that's my
thanks. No, it's no use your talking, Caudle; I never _will_ let the
girl sit up for you, and there's an end. What do you say? _Why does
she sit up with me, then?_ That's quite a different matter: you don't
suppose I'm going to sit up alone, do you? What do you say? _What's the
use of two sitting up?_ That's my business. No, Caudle, it's no such
thing. I _don't_ sit up because I may have the pleasure of talking about
it; and you're an ungrateful, unfeeling creature, to say so. I sit up
because I choose it; and if you don't come home all the night long--and
't will soon come to that, I've no doubt--still, I'll never go to bed,
so don't think it.

"Oh, yes! the time runs away very pleasantly with you men at your
clubs--selfish creatures! You can laugh and sing, and tell stories, and
never think of the clock; never think there's such a person as a wife
belonging to you. It's nothing to you that a poor woman's sitting up,
and telling the minutes, and seeing all sorts of things in the fire--and
sometimes thinking that something dreadful has happened to you--more
fool she to care a straw about you!--This is all nothing. Oh, no! when a
woman's once married she's a slave--worse than a slave--and must bear it

"And what you men can find to talk about, I can't think! Instead of a
man sitting every night at home with his wife, and going to bed at a
Christian hour,--going to a club, to meet a set of people who don't care
a button for him, it 's monstrous! What do you say? _You only go once a
week?_ That's nothing at all to do with it: you might as well go every
night; and I dare say you will soon. But if you do, you may get in as
you can: _I_ won't sit up for you, I can tell you.

"My health's being destroyed night after night-and--oh, don't say it's
only once a week; I tell you, that's nothing to do with it--if you had
any eyes, you would see how ill I am; but you've no eyes for anybody
belonging to you: oh, no! your eyes are for people out of doors. It's
very well for you to call me a foolish, aggravating woman! I should like
to see the woman who'd sit up for you as I do. _You didn't want me to
sit up?_ Yes, yes; that's your thanks--that's your gratitude: I'm to
ruin my health, and to be abused for it. Nice principles you've got at
that club, Mr. Caudle!

"But there's one comfort--one great comfort; it can't last long: I'm
sinking--I feel it, though I never say anything about it--but I know my
own feelings, and I say it can't last long. And then I should like to
know who 'll sit up for you! Then I should like to know how your
second wife--what do you say? _You'll never be troubled with another?_
Troubled, indeed! I never troubled you, Caudle. No; it's you've troubled
me; and you know it; though like a foolish woman I've borne it all, and
never said a word about it. But it _can't_ last--that's one blessing!

"Oh, if a woman could only know what she'd have to suffer, before she
was married--Don't tell me you want to go to sleep! if you want to go to
sleep, you should come at proper hours! It's time to get up, for what
I know, now. Shouldn't wonder if you hear the milk in five
minutes--there's the sparrows up already; yes, I say the sparrows; and,
Caudle, you ought to blush to hear 'em. _You don't hear 'em?_ Ha! you
won't hear 'em, you mean, _I_ hear 'em. No, Mr. Caudle; it _isn't_ the
wind whistling in the key-hole; I'm not quite foolish, though you may
think so. I hope I know wind from a sparrow!

"Ha! when I think what a man you were before we were married! But you
're now another person--quite an-altered creature. But I suppose you 're
all alike--I dare say, every poor woman's troubled and put upon, though
I should hope not so much as I am. Indeed, I should hope not! Going and
staying out, and--What! _You 'll have a dead-latch key?_ Will you? Not
while I'm alive, Mr. Caudle. I'm not going to bed with the door upon the
latch for you or the best man breathing. _You won't have a latch--you'll
have a Chubb's lock?_ Will you? I'll have no Chubb here, I can tell you.
What do you say? _You'll have the lock put on to-morrow?_ Well, try it;
that's all I say, Caudle, try it. I won't let you put me in a passion;
but all I say is,--try it.

"A respectable thing, that, for a married man to carry about with
him,--a dead-latch key! That tells a tale, I think. A nice thing for
the father of a family! A key! What, to let yourself in and out when you
please! To come in, like a thief in the middle of the night, instead of
knocking at the door like a decent person! Oh, don't tell me that you
only want to prevent me sitting up,--if I choose to sit up, what's that
to you? Some wives, indeed, would make a noise about sitting up, but
_you've_ no reason to complain, goodness knows!

"Well, upon my word, I've lived to hear something. Carry the
dead-latch key about with you! I've heard of such things with young
good-for-nothing bachelors, with nobody to care what became of 'em; but
for a married man to leave his wife and children in the house with the
door upon the latch--don't talk to me about Chubb, it's all the same--a
great deal you must care for us. Yes, it's very well for you to say,
that you only want the key for peace and quietness--what's it to you, if
I like to sit up? You've no business to complain; it can't distress you.
Now, it's no use your talking; all I say is this, Caudle: if you send
a man to put on any lock here, I'll call in a policeman; as I'm your
married wife, I will!

"No, I think when a man comes to have the dead-latch key, the sooner he
turns bachelor again the better. I'm sure, Caudle, I don't want to be
any clog upon you. Now, its no use your telling me to hold my tongue,
for I--What? I give you the head-ache, do I? No, I don't, Caudle: it's
your club that gives you the head-ache: it's your smoke, and your--well!
if ever I knew such a man in all my life! there's no saying a word to
you! You go out, and treat yourself like an emperor--and come home at
twelve at night, or any hour, for what I know,--and then you threaten to
have a key, and--and--and----"

"I _did_ get to sleep at last," says Caudle, "amidst the
falling sentences of 'take children into a lodging'--'separate
maintenance'--'won't be made a slave of'--and so forth."


[Illustration: 057]

"It _is_ hard, I think, Mr. Caudle, that I can't leave home for a day or
two, but the house must be turned into a tavern: a tavern?--a pothouse!
Yes, I thought you were very anxious that I should go; I thought you
wanted to get rid of me for something, or you would not have insisted on
my staying at dear mother's all night. You were afraid I should get
cold coming home, were you? Oh yes, you can be very tender, you can, Mr.
Caudle, when it suits your own purpose. Yes! and the world thinks what
a good husband you are! I only wish the world knew you as well as I do,
that's all; but it shall, some day, I'm determined.

"I 'm sure the house will not be sweet for a month. All the curtains are
poisoned with smoke; and, what's more, with the filthiest smoke I ever
knew. _Take 'em down, then?_ Yes, it's all very well for you to say,
take 'em down; but they were only cleaned and put up a month ago; but
a careful wife's lost upon you, Mr. Caudle. You ought to have married
somebody who'd have let your house go to wreck and ruin, as I will for
the future. People who don't care for their families are better thought
of than those who do; I've long found out _that_.

"And what a condition the carpet's in! They've taken five pounds out
of it, if a farthing, with their filthy boots, and I don't know what
besides. And then the smoke in the hearth-rug, and a large cinder-hole
burnt in it! I never saw such a house in _my_ life! If you wanted to
have a few friends, why couldn't you invite 'em when your wife's at
home, like any other man? not have 'em sneaking in, like a set of
housebreakers, directly a woman turns her back. They must be pretty
gentlemen, they must; mean fellows, that are afraid to face a woman!
Ha! and you all call yourselves the lords of the creation! I should
only like to see what would become of the creation, if you were left to
yourselves! A pretty pickle creation would be in very soon!

"You must all have been in a nice condition! What do you say? _You took
nothing?_ Took nothing, didn't you? I'm sure there's such a regiment of
empty bottles, I haven't had the heart to count 'em. And punch, too!
you must have punch! There's a hundred half-lemons in the kitchen, if
there's one: for Susan, like a good girl, kept 'em to show 'em me. No,
sir; Susan _shan't leave the house!_ What do you say? _She has no right
to tell tales, and you will be master in your own house?_ Will you? If
you don't alter, Mr. Caudle, you 'll soon have no house to be master of.
A whole loaf of sugar did I leave in the cupboard, and now there isn't
as much as would fill a tea-cup. Do you suppose I'm to find sugar for
punch for fifty men? What do you say? _There wasn't fifty?_ That's no
matter; the more shame for 'em, sir. I'm sure they drank enough for
fifty. Do you suppose I'm to find sugar for punch for all the world out
of my housekeeping money? _You don't ask me?_ Don't you ask me? You do;
you know you do: for if I only want a shilling extra, the house is in a
blaze. And yet a whole loaf of sugar can you throw away upon---- No, I
_won't_ be still; and I _won't_ let you go to sleep. If you'd got to bed
at a proper hour last night, you wouldn't have been so sleepy now. You
can sit up half the night with a pack of people who don't care for you,
and your poor wife can't get in a word!

"And there's that China image that I had when I was married--I wouldn't
have taken any sum of money for it, and you know it--and how do I find
it? With its precious head knocked off! And what was more mean, more
contemptible than all besides, it was put on again, as if nothing had
happened. _You knew nothing about it?_ Now, how can you lie there, in
your Christian bed, Caudle, and say that? You know that that fellow,
Prettyman, knocked off the head with the poker! You know that he did.
And you hadn't the feeling?--yes, I will say it,--you hadn't the feeling
to protect what you knew was precious to me. Oh no, if the truth was
known, you were very glad to see it broken for that very reason.

"Every way, I've been insulted. I should like to know who it was who
corked whiskers on my dear aunt's picture! Oh! you're laughing, are you?
_You 're not laughing?_ Don't tell me that. I should like to know what
shakes the bed, then, if you 're not laughing? Yes, corked whiskers on
her dear face,--and she was a good soul to you, Caudle, and you ought to
be ashamed of yourself to see her ill-used. Oh, you may laugh! It's very
easy to laugh! I only wish you'd a little feeling, like other people,
that's all.

"Then there's my china mug--the mug I had before I was married--when I
was a happy creature. I should like to know who knocked the spout off
that mug? Don't tell me it was cracked before--it's no such thing,
Caudle; there wasn't a flaw in it--and now, I could have cried when I
saw it. Don't tell me it wasn't worth twopence. How do you know? You
never buy mugs. But that's like men; they think nothing in a house costs

"There's four glasses broke, and nine cracked. At least, that's all I've
found out at present; but I dare say I shall discover a dozen to-morrow.

"And I should like to know where the cotton umbrella's gone to--and I
should like to know who broke the bell-pull--and perhaps you don't know
there's a leg off a chair,--and perhaps--"

"Here," says Caudle, "Morpheus came to my aid, and I slept; nay, I think
I snored."

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures" ***

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