Mrs. Caudle’s Curtain Lectures

One of the things that
we seem to enjoy around
here at the Muscleheaded
Blog is to present our
modern readers with the
perceptions and perspectives
of our Victorian, Edwardian,
and Roaring Twenties

We don’t look at
all their publications
and artifacts
with critical or
motives usually –

– we know that generations
aren’t born into existential
or social vacuums, and that
the times people live in
are a large determining
factor in how they
themselves think
and act.

Sure —

cultures and peoples
do evolve …
– slowly –
and once you recognize
all that, it’s kinda fun
to contemplate that
process in action –

… and postcards are a
terrific gateway for us
to do that.

Today we look at a
phenomenon that has
been, I hope, sleeping
the big sleep since
about a century after
the industrial revolution.

Most of us know that in
most western households
during that period,
the ‘man of the house’
would spend long hours
working to support his
family, while the
‘lady of the house’
would stay home and
cook, clean, and care
for the children:

And this meant that wives
and husbands had very
little quality time to
spend with each other

One part of the day,
however, was an
exception: Bed Time.

A women’s magazine
around 1910 explained
the importance of this
time of day for
married couples,
young and old, by
stating it could
” … make or break
the delicate, amatory
bond ” between them.

And, over the years,
some wives had come to
believe that it seemed
a perfect time to air
their grievances and
just generally nag –
– the husband was
‘a captive audience ‘
as it were.

This practice of reserving
wifely complaints until
bed-time became known
as “Curtain Lectures”,
and was responsible for
ruining, not only many
thousand of nights sleep,
but a multiplicity of
marriages as well.

Several series
of postcards
in the period
between 1880
and 1920 were
issued mocking
the custom,
inspired in part
by a popular satirical book,
published in 1845, called:
“Mrs. Caudle’s
Curtain Lectures”
by Douglas William Jerrold,
as well as subsequent
illustrations in “Punch”

The book elucidated
37 ‘lectures’
that the fictional Mrs. Caudle
delivered to her long-suffering
and sleep-deprived husband –

making proverbial mountains
out of minor incidents and
his personal flaws in character.

A couple of the ’causes’
and the wild spin she would
put on them might be worth

On one occasion, Mr. Caudle
had ill-advisedly told his
wife that he had lent his
umbrella to a friend –

– and Mrs. Caudle spun her
nightly bedtime discourse
into an absurd diatribe
involving a conspiracy on
the part of the husband to
make his wife ill (due to
the lack of the umbrella
in question), causing the
children to miss school,
and the eventual break-down
of the relationship of the
wife with his mother.

All the while, Mr. Caudle
suffers away-
– feigning sleep –
but there is no rest
to found for the
‘wicked’, and Mrs.
Caudle makes sure of that.

On another occasion, she
complains bitterly about
Caudle stopping at the Pub
after work – she brings
down all the hellfire
and brimstone one might
find in a Pilgrim’s sermon –
– telling him that he’s
inevitably bound for prison,
and the poor-house.

Still another sees her
attempting to convince
Caudle to allow his
difficult mother-in-law
to come move in with
them– for his own good,
of course.

Mr. Caudle has
no real defense –
– he punches his pillow,
groans in pain, and
prays aloud –

but in the end,
Mrs. Caudle
will have the last word-
even if it takes all night.

A period piece?

One would certainly
like to hope so —

but I’m not sure
I don’t know a
couple Mister and
Missus Caudles.

How about you?


!!! HOY !!!






Charlotte Eaton says:


It is necessary to me that your heart beats,
And that you inhale with conscious pleasure the soft spring air,
That you love light, color, action, and are ambitious,
That you love the beauty of the human face and form,
And portray them both with mastery;
That you grasp that which is not grasped by all,
And know that which is not knowable to all;
That you have eyes—for a purpose,
A heart—for a purpose,
And an inquisitive soul—for a purpose.