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Mr. Caudle dines at Home. "Cold Mutton!" for the 1866 edition of Douglas Jerrold's hugely popular Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures — Charles Keene. Wood-engraving for "The Seventh Lecture" — "Mr. Caudle has ventured a remonstrance on his day's dinner: cold mutton, and no pudding. Mrs. Caudle defends the cold shoulder." 8.9 cm high x 9.6 cm wide, vignetted, page 31. Although the children seem happy enough with cold (that is, left-over) mutton, Mr. Caudle has dared to assert that, since she hasn't taken the trouble to "hash" the joint, he would rather take his dinner at a nearby tavern. At least he would have a hot meal and pudding, which Mrs. Caudle asserts they cannot possibly afford to have with every meal. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

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 in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

Passage Complemented

"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 daresay; 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 sha'n'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 sinner. ["Seventh Lecture." — "Mr. Caudle has ventured a remonstrance on his day's dinner: cold mutton, and no pudding. Mrs. Caudle defends the cold shoulder," p. 30]

Commentary

Keene complements Jerrold's misogynistic portrait of Mrs. Caudle by showing a relatively tranquil dinner scene. The acrimony, as usual, erupts at bedtime, as Mrs. Caudle recalls her husband's response to cold mutton for dinner: he pushes the plate away as he points, presumably emphasizing his point about the pudding as he threatens to eat at a nearby public-house. The threat comes back to haunt him.

Keene's small table and limited dinner-service are manifestly cheats as he has to squeeze in the entire family, with the focus of the pater familias mildly complaining about a cold roast for dinner. Only the letterpress conveys the seriousness of Mr. Caudle's complaint; indeed, the picture without the text is somewhat misleading in its suggestion of domestic amity.

Bibliography

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 12 November 2017