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Mrs. Caudle has a 'Short Wash'; vignette for "The Seventeenth Lecture" in Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures, first published in the Punch; or, The London Charivari number for 31 May 1845 instalment, "Caudle in the course of the day has ventured to question the economy of 'washing at home'," p. 83. Wood-engraving 6.3 x 5.1 cm, framed; thirty-third illustration in the third edition.

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.]

Passage Complemented

"Don't tell me about putting the washing out. I say it isn't so cheap — I don't care whether you wash by the dozen or not — it isn't so cheap; I've reduced everything, and I save at least a shilling a week. What do you say? A trumpery shilling? Ha! I only hope to goodness you'll not come to want, talking of shillings in the way you do. Now, don't begin about your comfort: don't go on aggravating me, and asking me if your comfort's not worth a shilling a week? That's nothing at all to do with it — nothing: but that's your way — when I talk of one thing, you talk of another; that's so like you men, and you know it. Allow me to tell you, Mr. Caudle, that a shilling a week is two pound twelve a year; and take two pound twelve a year for, let us say, thirty years, and — well, you needn't groan, Mr. Caudle — I don’t suppose it will be so long; oh, no! you'll have somebody else to look after your washing long before that — and if it wasn't for my dear children's sake I shouldn’t care how soon. You know my mind — and so, good-night, Mr. Caudle." ["The Seventeenth Lecture. — Caudle in the course of the day has ventured to question the economy of 'washing at home'," pp. 87-88]

Commentary

The couple conduct their argument about wash-day on two entirely different grounds. Margaret Caudle argues that washing at home saves money, and that her husband is being a hypocrite when, criticizing the practice, he complains about a shortage of clean linen. Job Caudle, on the other hand, complains about the chaos into which wash day throws the house. Despite the fact that the Caudles are solidly middle-class and can afford domestic servants and a laundress, Mrs. Caudle persists in the domestic virtue of doing her own laundry. Keene implies that she is hanging the wash on a windy day in her back garden, an image which may not be consistent with the location of the home. She asserts that his real complaint on these wash-days once a fortnight is that she is so busy that the dinner must be cold mutton rather than a hot dish as washing leaves her insufficient time for meal preparation. Clearly Job Caudle would rather send the washing out to a laundress, and spare the house the chaos of a wash-day that affects one week out of each month.

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 3 December 2017