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.

'[D]welling place of peace' is not a biblical quotation, but an echo of the wording of verses such as Isiah 32:18. Two further examples are mildly problematic: 'despisery' is a humorous coinage, presumably meaning 'despite'(n.) or 'contempt.' The second, 'tyranyises', maybe a compositor's error, or a humorous inflation of 'tyrannises', to act out the attitude described. —— David Skilton

The ancient nurse tyrant. An awful bugbear.

EFORE all other tyrants the common or domestic baby is, of course, (no denying that, sir), the biggest tyrant in fact, if the least in person. But I am not going to dwell at length on this tyrant; indeed, there is very little length about it to dwell upon. I have had a very large and varied experience of babies, their manners (if they ever have any) and customs (to be candid I've cust e'm [sic] many a time), and I have previously in these columns harrowed up my own soul and hurled many a painful reminder at my readers by detailing the woes engendered by having any partnership in them. All my readers know well enough that the baby is the tyrant of a homestead, which would otherwise be a haven of rest and the dwelling place of peace and contentment. When a man, who finds all the pieces to carry on with, cannot in his own house whistle or sing or cough or sneeze, just because a fat and wholly objectionable object in long clothes chooses not to like it; when such a man has to tramp about in the weary night-time (and his night-shirt) in order to appease the unjust wrath of a wholly impracticable being; when he has to consent to be called 'a nasty, bad-tempered thing, so there,' because he mayhap request the disturber of his peace to 'shut up,' it is time that man went and lived by himself where of babies there are none, and where the husband is at rest. I’ve been shockingly bullied by babies, and I don't forget it; I've been pinched and scratched and sat upon, and when I have in the mildest terms resented such affronts I have been what is called 'talked at.' The miserable woman who is pleased to regard the podgy tyrant as a divinity has addressed it and said 'Were dey cross with it, ickie sing; bless it's gums; did a nasty big brute' (presumably myself) 'say it was a howling nuisance.' Thank goodness that my own youngest baby will soon be taking to cigarettes, gaiters, and a young woman to walk out with on Sundays.

You have been out late; where have you been?

I think, perhaps, that the second biggest domestic tyrant is the domestic servant, though I will quite concede that she is run very hard by a good many mothers-in-Jaw. But the latter are a bit played out as domestic tyrants; this is a progressive age, and because a young man of today has been lunatic enough to engage to keep another man's daughter, he apparently does not quite see why he should stand any sort of nonsense from the latter's mother. More often than not he begins at the beginning to treat his mother-in-law with something like firmness, not to say 'despisery,' and to put matters on a right footing, as the phrase goes, at once. But the domestic — oh, she is animal altogether. I have not yet quite made up my mind whether the 'old servant' (who lived with your wife's mother, and is charged with a host of painful stories in re your wife's infancy) or the young domestic is the worse of the two in the way of tyranny. The old one always knows, according to her own account, what to do on every emergency, even against your own strongly-expressed opinion, and she generally gets her own way with your wife. She gently insinuates, too, that although you – the husband — may be 'very well in your way' (whatever that may mean) you are not by any means the man your wife's father used to be — a man you remember as a groggy, self-opinionated old ass with a very fat waistcoat and a remarkably fat head. She also talks at you in a nasty, sneaking sort of way, somewhat after this fashion, 'Some folks never knows what's good for 'em; they sits up late at nights, gets up cantankerous and won't listen to them as knows.' As for the young domestic with her eternal face-ache (I never yet knew a domestic that did not so suffer – or allege that she did), her assertion of her 'rights' as to going out and coming in on her afternoon and evening 'out'; her determination expressed to your wife in the 'kitching,' not to 'stand no sort of nonsense from anybody;' her perpetual shining of your boots with blacklead instead of blacking; her tears ('folks think they can [‘put on['] a poor lonely gall') when you remonstrate with her; and her complaints generally, she is indeed a domestic tyrant, and one whose rule can only be exchanged for that of a perhaps worse variety of the same species.

The nice young man who is bullied by his wife who wants to ride th[e] high horse.

I have spoken disparagingly of the baby tyrant, but how shall I speak of that by no means uncommon variety of man which crushes all sense of comfort in everybody in the house immediately he enters. Generally he is a bad-tempered brute; but occasionally he is one of those misguided beings who are actuated by what they term a 'sense of duty,' which may be defined as the excuse of a tyrannous right to have your own way whether anybody likes it or not. Of both these varieties we all know scores. When they enter the house childish voices are hushed; their children grow up to tremble at the paternal footsteps; their wives become mere slaves and nonentities, forever fearing an explosion when the Great Mogul, the Grand Autocrat shall reach home. If a child is slightly ill, it has been over-eating itself, give it the most nauseous medicine in the pharmacopoeia and if that child shall break anything or tear its clothes or commit any of the thousand-and-one delinquencies peculiar to juveniles, let it be whacked in order that it may remember in the future; make the child into a little machine and cram its head with matters it cannot hope to understand at stated periods, be its condition or the state of the weather what they may, teach it to speak in whispers and to go through life like a cowed criminal; let it sleep in a cold room and have as little of real comfort and luxury as possible in order to 'harden it.' Blasé and over-indulged as many of the young people of this age are, it were better a thousand times that it should be so than they should have parents of the rule of iron kind, who were so much more common a few years ago than they are now.

The supercilious gentleman who tyran[y]ises over everyone who contradicts him.

Of female domestic tyrants who render the lives of the males connected with them a burden there are many varieties. There is the 'woman with nerves' sort, for instance — the person who affects (in nine cases out of 10 it is pure affectation) dramatic starts, cannot bear a snatch of song, 'would die with fear' did she do something you expressly wish her to, whose head aches when you smoke, and whose wailings are frantic if you happen to want to turn up the gas and read for awhile, when you me restless and anxious about business. My advice to all young men under such circumstances at these is as follows:— If you happen to marry one of these miserable women, be perfectly kind to her in every way, pet her, use her gently, make a fuss of her when you ought to, but smoke when you like (in bed if you want) and when you like; and ditto if you want a drink, get one, and as many more as may seem best to you; if you want to sit up and read, do so; if the 'waste of gas' is complained of, turn all the gases in the house up – you’ll have to pay for them — do precisely what seemeth best to you.

Among other domestic tyrants there is the contradictory man, who insists on having his own way in trivial arguments, though he may know himself to be wrong all the time, the greedy man (or woman), whose whole soul is wrapped up in the husbanding of candle-ends and lumps at sugar, and who makes every bite you put into your mouth disagree with him. Then the dreadful woman afflicted with the tidying-up, cleaning-down mania, who disturbs the peace of the whole household, makes her husband ill and permeates the house with soft soap, turpentine, and white-wash. I have other specimens in my own mind, but space forbids me to detail them.

Last modified 1 April 2022