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. W. M. Thackeray created the decorative initial for Vanity Fair.

Explanatory Notes

This column is a useful summary of dominant Victorian views of gender.

'A broth of a boy' (in the caption to the second illustration) is from Byron, Don Juan Canto viii. 185. Presumably most people using it were only aware of the phrase and its immediate context, and were not endorsing Byron's vision of life as put forward in the poem in its entirety.

But Juan was quite 'a broth of a boy,'
A thing of impulse and a child of song;
Now swimming in the sentiment of joy,
Or the sensation (if that phrase seem wrong),
And afterward, if he must needs destroy,
In such good company as always throng
To battles, sieges, and that kind of pleasure,

No less delighted to employ his leisure;
But always without malice: if he warr'd
Or loved, it was with what we call 'the best
Intentions,' which form all mankind's trump card,
To be produced when brought up to the test.
The statesman, hero, harlot, lawyer—ward
Off each attack, when people are in quest
Of their designs, by saying they meant well;
'T is pity 'that such meaning should pave hell.'

The phrase and its immediate context were well-known, but most people using it were probably not familiar with its extended context. For Victorian reading and awareness of the Romantics see the following discussion of Victorian anthologies.

The Girton girl and the Newnham student: Girton College and Newnham College were founded in University of Cambridge in 1869 and 1872 respectively, but women were not made full members of the University and allowed to graduate, until 1947.

To my muttons: moving on to my subject.

'all sorts and conditions': there are prayers in the Church of England for 'all sorts and conditions of men'. (Book of Common Prayer, 1662, Morning or Evening Prayer) —— David Skilton

Decorated initial B

oys will be boys,' says the old adage, and I suppose that so long as things go on as they are doing, they will be, for I see no reasonable likelihood of their ever becoming girls.

Which, from the boys’ point of view, seems to me to be a state of affairs to be devoutly thankful for. Yet I doubt not that the girls, would be of the opinion that the boys were to be pitied. But 'twas ever thus. One-half [sic] the world sighs for what the other half possesses, and when by chance some of the half get a bit of the other half's experience, they not unfrequently wish they had been content with their own lot.

But to my muttons, which is another way of saying that it is high time I began to go into further particulars as to the peculiarities associated with all sorts and conditions of boys and girls.

A Milksop

When a man becomes the possessor of his first offspring and it chances to be a girl, I have noticed more than once that he expresses a wish that it should have been a boy, whereas the leanings of a mother generally go in the opposite direction, though as their children advance in life it frequently, if not invariably, occurs that the girls are the pets of their fathers, while the boys seem instinctively to cling to their mothers.

There are no more objectionable creatures in the whole run of humanity than effeminate boys, usually known to their friends and acquaintances as 'milksops.'

These young inanities are the butt of their companions, the regret of their parents, and the contempt of any girl they may come in contact with.

A Broth of a Boy

A good English lad is a thing to be proud of. He is full of pluck and spirit, and if he has a bit of the demon in him he will be none the worse for it when he comes to fight life's battles.

It is this bit of the demon that has pulled many a battle out of the fire, and has helped a man to overcome difficulties that on the surface appeared to be insuperable.

It is seldom, outside the milksop brigade, that boys are inclined to be priggish, and such as are can generally trace the tendency to injudicious home training. But when they get away from home and come to mix with their fellow-boys, it quickly gets rubbed off, and unless they are innately bad they return to their homes with all the nonsense knocked out of them, and prepared to take part in all and any of the amusements and pleasures of other boys of their own age.

If more attention were paid to the athletic training of boys and less to cramming, there would be fewer cases of death from over-pressure, and the English race would be improved all round.

A boy's girl

Girls are a very different sort of material, and want treating and coaching for life's battle on entirely different lines.

Young girls are, with scarcely any exception, highly sensitive; and if boys would only consider this for a moment when they are inclined to tease them, they would often refrain from inflicting unintentional pain upon them.

Even in their young days girls are apt to develop the little arts of coquetry that have long been held to be the exclusive possession of their sex, and no girl is happier than when she has a heap of boy sweethearts hanging about her. This feature of the female sex is inherent, and cannot be eradicated; train as you will it comes out at times, and the Girton girl and the Newnham student are equally susceptible to the attention and flattery of the sex they affect to despise, and whom they propose to put in their proper place at the earliest convenient opportunity.

A blue stocking

Bless the girls; they pretend to despise and hate the lords of creation, but in their heart of hearts they love us all. And why shouldn't they? They can't get along without us, and are never so happy as when they have snared one of us, and thus enabled us to do our duty and supply them with those comforts of home that they one and all yearn for even in the midst of the most vigorous campaign in the interests of woman's rights.

Let boys and girls all foster true and honest love, and they will grow up good and useful men and women.

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Last modified 2 May 2022