This article has been transcribed from a copy of the Cardiff Times in the online collection of scanned Welsh newspapers 1804-1919 in the National Library of Wales, with grateful recognition of the free access accorded to all readers. Paragraph breaks have been introduced for easier reading.
The setting for this anti-feminist rant is the fact that '[m]en do not in these days (as statistics amply show) marry young'. Mentions of clubs must be read in this context, as an escape from the domestic setting. The cultural landscape is marked out on the one hand by >Coventry Patmore's Angel in the House , who 'must be a dreadfully uncomfortable person to live with', and on the other by Nora in Ibsen's A Doll's House, which received its first London performances five months earlier. Though not named, Ibsen’s play must be known to Samuel, who often insists that he is a man of the theatre. At one point in this article he dramatises a scene involving a 'black[-]visaged semi-sentimentalist' with the lighting cue, 'lights down'. His animus against women oversteps the bounds of social acceptability even in his misogynistic age, for example in his proposal to write a 'scarifying book' to be entitled 'My Friends' Wives'. He seems to imagine that he can soften his prejudice against women by stating that a reasonable man 'will gladly have a joyous and and innocent flirtation with a nice girl'. He ends with a shy at 'all the infinitely disagreeable young people whose only merit is that they are women'. He attempts to excuse his hatred of women by means of the well-known rhyme 'I do not love thee Doctor Fell', attributed to Tom Brown (c. 1680), about the dean of his Oxford college, Dr John Fell (1625-86):
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
The reason why – I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.
Theese lines are reputably Brown's extempore imitation of the thirty-second epigram of the Roman poet Martial:
Non amo te, Sabidi, nec possum dicere quare.
Hoc tantum possum dicere: non amo te.
Samuel fails in his attempt. A rhyme about relations between men in an all-male establishment, expressed in a language largely restricted to well-off men, cannot be made to excuse Samuel's misogyny. —David Skilton
Now is this angelic – let me ' ax' you candidly? –the young woman gifted with ‘fatal beauty?’
HERE are some women, sir, whom I cordially detest; I do, and that's a fact. I am not one of those good little boys who have been taught 'never to hate anybody.' I am a very good and sound and consistent hater, and I generally contrive, if possible, to make it very sultry and uncomfortable for those I hate. I never can chime in with the idiotic toast of 'The women, God bless 'em, ' that some sentimental ass gives at an exuberant party, for as a body I don't 'bless -em' by any manner of means, and I'm bold enough to say so. I was always a little bit too happy in my love affairs, worse luck and that's perhaps why I do not attach such purely angelic qualities to the whole sex — as a sex. I wish I'd been rejected early in life -- I should have been a lot happier and more prosperous now. I really don't know why we should in any circumstances attach angelic qualities to any woman. There is no record, Scriptural or otherwise, that I know of, of a female angel – though there are many cases, on the other side, of men angels. But even granting that a woman is an 'angel, ' in the conventional sense of the term, I should think that she must be a dreadfully uncomfortable person to live with, and I feel sure that I could cordially detest her in about a week, and in a fortnight use language which would drive her to an interview with her angelic mother at the domicile of the latter. But I was talking about women I detest. Well, there are a precious lot o'em, too. When I hear of the surplus spinster population, I do not so much wonder that so many women are left as that so many are snapped up, for I am bound to say that some men marry about the most unattractive specimens of female humanity that were ever launched upon a suffering world. I don't mean outwardly unattractive. I mean unattractive even in the qualities of mind and heart. I know handsome men and clever men who have not the faintest spark of real affection for the females to whom they are allied, and yet these, out of pure loyalty, regard for custom and habit, choose to bear the burden of an infinitude of dull companionship, and to act a lie in the way of polite attention and stereotyped terms of endearment that must, one would think, stick in their throats as they utter them. One of the biggest vixens I know, a regular tearing, raging virago of most unattractive exterior and a set of very very blue false teeth, is wont to refer to her small partner as ‘hubby’ – and the man, a person of presumed intelligence, actually survive[s] and has his being. No doubt a bonny and a good woman is a joy forever (who but a lunatic would deny it?), but some men must indeed suffer a lifelong martyrdom in the hands of worrying, selfish, flattering, and yet, no doubt, highly respectable and laudable women. If I wanted to write a good ‘slating,’ scarifying book I would entitle it ‘My Friends' Wives.’ There is the woman who would never think of going to rest till her husband got home[.] The black[-]visaged semi-sentimentalist who sits trimly in an armchair (‘lights down’ stage direction) till her husband gets home and then sheds simpering tears or else prophesies for him lifelong misfortune. All this is only another form of bullying; the woman would, if she was really unselfish, get her supper and a novel and go to bed. But she selfishly wants to discount her husband's mild dissipation by showing him what a dreadful sinner he is for stopping out till the small hours. The very solicitude of some women must pall dreadfully upon a man, and make him wonder that he could have suffered from such a degree of mental aberration as to tie himself to such a being for life. I don't (although I am no pessimist) think too well of men, and I know full well that about eight out of ten of the married ones will gladly have a joyous and an innocent flirtation with a nice girl when they get the chance – and, i' faith, I don't wonder at it. Truly, love must be a species of madness, for it allies for all time some of the most diverse specimens of humanity. Talk about wives suffering, of course they do – and do not husbands suffer? Scores of them are tied to women who are wholly out of sympathy – selfish sordid creatures who spend their lives in bullying the servants and cherishing a rooted antipathy to everything that their husband happens to like. Men do not in these days (as statistics amply show) marry young, and their wisdom in this regard is apparent.
A nice object to meet after a festive night at the club.
A disagreeable woman is always far more mean and disagreeable than ever man could possibly be. Take the pious fraud (a very common specimen) for instance, the woman who pretends to have been brought up on very rigid lines – the woman who objects to your singing comic songs and dancing an impromptu breakdown (in the exuberance of your heart) on a Sunday, the woman who, if you happen to say a few frivolous words – not addressed to her – reads you a long-homily upon 'swear not at all' lines. A dreadful humbug is this young woman, and one who will soon be the 'boss' of the show unless you watch her. I can as cordially detest her as I can the economical fraud – the young woman who wrangles with tradespeople and others about half-pennies, and whose soul is always affected about ounces of butter that have or have not disappeared.
Oh, so humble when his wife is about. Daren’t say 'no' to a shrew.
Then there is the dissatisfied young woman who is, as the old saying goes, neither contentful nor fasting – the young person who won't go out for a walk and will grumble if she is allowed to stop at home. What a lot there are of this sort. Times and oft have I seen them exercise a sway and a thrall that a really good and kind little body would never have attempted to wield. Of a truth I firmly believe that nine women out of ten (these of the shrewish kind), and all examples to the contrary notwithstanding, make their own unhappiness, if they have any. Gentleness, consideration, and tact always tell their tale even with an unworthy object, and that's the truth of it, and many a man who would be irrevocably lost were bullying tactics tried on with him is wholly redeemed by kindly consideration and faith that may not be utterly blind, but that is allowed to seem so. I don't believe that any man who ever breathed rightly reckoned up woman, but yet all men have their instincts in the way of knowing those they could like and those they could not like under any circumstances – the 'I-do-not- love-thee Doctor-Fell' idea remains – and were I to go on cataloguing all the infinitely disagreeable young people whose only merit is that they are women, this pay would be too small for the record.
Last modified 15 March 2022