Monkey Life

Charlie Duckins turns to our Victorian Problem Pages for help and advice

A Lesson in Sanctimony (For Women)

April 12th, 1879

An Honourable Friend 

Sir Ephraim Merrit, Q.C. 

I am a man who has attained some degree of rigidity and composure in life and, as a causation perhaps, might be said to be in want of very little where the intricacies of the mind are concerned.

I have long since forgotten my 55th birthday and I am of the sensible opinion that I should know the way forward with my particular notion.

I have been married for nearly three decades and to my own knowledge it has been a happy cohabitation. However, just recently, or I should say, over the last six months or so I have been inclined to notice some traits or oddities within the marriage that I might even go as far to say have been peculiar.

My wife is a resolute and beguiling lady of some social substance and will often entertain ladies of gin both at our home and outside of it. Generally I do not get involved in her bourgeois sociality but I must say I am a little put out at what has come about quite recently.

Last week, and on several previous occasions, notwithstanding my own concerns, she has allowed herself to be somewhat agreeable to a small group of gentlemen all of whom I do not see eye-to-eye with, and rather I think them quite the rogues.

She has seen fit to allow this group of brutish fellows into our home whilst I am engaged at Whist with my Club and furthermore has actively encouraged their rakish behaviour that might put Bacchus to some shame.

In direct relation to this my question is thus:

Should I, as the gentleman of the House, lay down my hand with her and the aforementioned fellows by taking things to a head? Specifically, am I within my right to tell her to halt her larks where these buffoons are concerned before more serious misgivings are brought about? In her defence I am to say that I do not believe she has been in any way perfidious or fickle, but the whole affair makes upon me a sour taste. In short, I believe were I to let things go on, I am in no doubt the fellows will take some advantages with my cherubic and most delightful wife – and I in some state of abandonment.

Yours in hope of Earliest response

Charlie Duckins

Charlie Duckins is in receipt of sound advice

April 14th, 1879

My Dear fellow Charlie

I do not know what to say. Such a scandal shall be all about London town(e) if you do not put this to a stop my good man. Cathy is in some disrespect and her wanton ways will see you off I might say. You must have it out with her within the day or the whore she will surely become. It is a case that a wife shall not be about this kind of business in idleness and some want of sensibility.

I trust you will know what to do. 

In another tack do not forget our rendezvous this Friday night. The brandy is upon the table and there is a good fire. I have seen my way to St. Botolph’s and though the grime was thick and messy, I saw Agnes and Mary and they did agree to our little meeting. Agnes is particularly agreeable and will be much in the affectionate way with you, dear Charlie. (We must of course be careful as to not finish them up in the delicate situation, as I know you will understand. Mary says it is fair if we wish to use the backstairs.)    

So that is all Charlie.

Keep well and I shall see you on the Friday

Yours with affection

Sir Ephraim Merrit (Q.C.)

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