Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures, first published in the Punch; or, The London Charivari number for5 July 1845 instalment, "Caudle comes home in the evening, as Mrs. Caudle has 'Just stepped out, shopping.' On her return, at ten, Caudle remonstrates," p. 109. Wood-engraving 6.2 x 5.1 cm, framed; thirty-sixth illustration in the third edition.Mrs. Caudle and her friend, Mrs. Wiittles, apparently like to shop by candlelight in the evening, a scene which suggests that London shopkeepers put in long hours.— initial-letter vignette for "The Twenty-Second Lecture" in
Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL.]
"Don't tell me! What are shops for, if they're not to be open late and early too? And what are shopmen, if they're not always to attend upon their customers? People pay for what they have, I suppose, and aren't to be told when they shall come and lay their money out, and when they sha'n't? Thank goodness! if one shop shuts, another keeps open; and I always think it a duty I owe to myself to go to the shop that's open last: it's the only way to punish the shopkeepers that are idle, and give themselves airs about early hours.
"Besides, there's some things I like to buy best at candle-light. Oh, don't talk to me about humanity! Humanity, indeed, for a pack of tall, strapping young fellows — some of 'em big enough to be shown for giants! And what have they to do? Why nothing, but to stand behind a counter, and talk civility. Yes, I know your notions; you say that everybody works too much: I know that. You'd have all the world do nothing half its time but twiddle its thumbs, or walk in the parks, or go to picture-galleries, and museums, and such nonsense. Very fine, indeed; but, thank goodness! the world isn't come to that pass yet.
"What do you say I am, Mr. Caudle? A foolish woman, that can't look beyond my own fireside? Oh yes, I can; quite as far as you, and a great deal farther. But I can't go out shopping a little with my dear friend Mrs. Wittles — what do you laugh at? Oh, don't they? Don't women know what friendship is? [Lecture XXII. "Caudle comes home in the evening, as Mrs. Caudle has 'Just stepped out, shopping.' On her return, at ten, Caudle remonstrates," page 112]
In an era when respectable, middle-class women had their dresses sewn by hand rather than bought ready-made clothing (and prior to the advent of dry-cleaning, or the use of non-water-based solvents to remove soil and stains from clothes, in the late 1850s), the wives of prosperous merchants such as toy-manufacturer Job Caudle must have been frequent customers at drapers' shops in the United Kingdom. Compare Keene's illustration of the handsome, bewhiskered, nattily-dressed draper's assistant to the Cruikshank illustration for "Horatio Sparkins," a satirical character study in Dickens's Sketches by Boz, originally published in February 1834. Although Keene is working in a much smaller scale and in a medium not conducive to the detailing of the background of a scene, Keene has provided a number of details about the sop, including the many bolts of cloth behind the salesperson.
George Cruikshank's Complementary Steel-engraving of a London Draper's Shop (1839)
Above: Cruikshank's realisation of the dandyish impostor Horatio in his actual persona, that of a young draper's assistant, in Horatio Sparkins (1839). [Click on image to enlarge it.]
Jerrold, Douglas. Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures, as Suffered by the late Job Caudle.Edited from the Original MSS. by Douglas Jerrold. With a frontispiece by Leech, and as motto on the title-page, "Then, Pistol, lay thy head in Fury's lap. — Shakespeare." London: Punch Office; Bradbury and Evans, 1846.
Jerrold, Douglas. Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures. Illustrated by John Leach and Richard Doyle. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1856.
Jerrold, Douglas. Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures. Illustrated by Charles Keene. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1866.
Last modified 9 December 2017