Saturday, September 27, 2008

Don't Give Your New Bride The Vapours!

Ah! The Victorian Age. A time when the the goal of the young Victorian woman was to be a useful, engaging and ornamental member of society through the acquirement of the arts and graces. And to marry! Attracting a man by a dainty habit, perhaps, or a roguish eye charmed by a graceful form and carriage. My heart be still. Until now she has contented herself and enjoyed the blessed privileges of a girl in the domicile of her mother but now she is ready to venture into an experience to which she is totally uninformed and blissfully ignorant. Mother dear certainly didn't tell her. She may have hinted at an exalted bonding, an intimacy of two natures perhaps. But that's it. The rest is a complete surprise.

So she spends her long engagement filling her hope chest with linens, nightgowns, intimate underthings, handkerchiefs and then finally the big day arrives.
A blushing and virginal Elvira Cathreena Winsome Findley is wed to Mr. Thurston Edward Alphonse Beauregard IV and is swept away for a three month honeymoon abroad. But the ship doesn't sail until tomorrow and at the Quintessimal Hotel Missus Elvira Findley Beauregard is carried into the bridal suite. Her husband whispers in her ear and she replies: You're going to do WHAT with WHAT?
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This is where a copy of "Maidenhood And Motherhood"by John D. West, M.D. (Copyright 1886) comes in very handy. Not for the new missus though. Although the subject of the wedding night is alluded to in the book on several occasions it completely ignores the part about "You're going to do What with What?" So, the bride should bring along her copy, sit the new Mister down at the tea table and read him the chapter on Physical and Moral Effects of Excess. Zero in on the paragraph that reads:
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"Sometimes the young husband inflicts upon the newly made wife, whom he has so recently pledged himself to cherish and protect, very grave physical injuries from which long years of skillful treatment may not entirely free her. A case in point may not be amiss: It is that of a young woman, apparently blessed with all the charms of youth, beauty and health. She was wooed won and eventually married to a young man who had lost a former wife in death. Immediately subsequent to the marriage, the pair started on the conventional wedding tour, which in this instance, lasted only a fortnight. At the end of this time they returned home, but alas, the young wife was a hopeless imbecile, a dithering idiot - a victim to her husband's unrestrained impetuosity."
Lordy! The pour innocent girl - like a lamb to the slaughter. Returned to her doting mother just a figment of the robust, ill advised, uninformed person who left the household 14 days beforehand.
A lesson to you mother's out there: if you cannot, due to your own delicate nature explain the stork and the cabbage patch to your daughters, at least make sure that Sirilla the upstairs maid is instructed to let her know a thing or two! Just say to Sirella: And, if you don't, missy, I shall see to it that randy Tommy Perkins in the milk house is moved to the farm up at Glinsburry. I know what you've been up to, now don't I???
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Before we leave this lovely nostalgic chit-chat, let me clarify that Victorian ailment "The Vapors"
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The English version is The Vapours" Just like color and colour. Cool.
The vapors is not a case of flatulence. No, it's not. Is not! Iiiiiiisssssssss NOT! Lalalalalala I can't heeeere youuuuu!
It is used to describe a hysterical or nervous condition of a woman, sometimes caused by a exhalation of vapors within a organ which will affect the mental or physical being of a woman. Men don't get vapors. It is a woman thing. Probably associated with PMS, postpartum depression, having to listen to Tom Cruise say that a woman should just get over it.
For your convenience I have included a picture that describes what may happen in extreme cases of the vapors when, for example, the husband has a case of morbid flatulence and won't leave the room forthwith.

34 comments:

Karla @ Ramblin' Roads said...

Just priceless! Where can I get a copy of this book? I'm pretty sure I NEED one!

Janeen said...

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

This is so good! I love it!

MuseSwings said...

I found mine about 20 years ago in a thrift shop. It is in the process of disintigrating, being 121 years old - so if you find one please find 2. Thank you!

MuseSwings said...

Janeen - it's you! Always a pleasure to make you laugh.

steviewren said...

Muse, you're a card! (another something my mother might say)

Guffaws and chortles aside, what do you think those innocent young women thought when the rude truth was revealed to them. Maybe John D. West, M.D. should have advised that an ample amount of smelling salts should have been packed along with the innocent's trousseau.

Lavinia said...

LOL!!!! TOO FUNNY!!!!!!

Cynthia I must say, that your post could have descended to the very depths of vulgarity and indiscretion, but in the masterful hands of such a skilled wordsmith as yourself, you summoned all your powers of discretion, delicacy, tact and euphemisms to deliver a post that explains the Victorian era birds and bees without any of the messy feathery or polleny bits whatsoever. Well done!

You know, I really think I know one or two women who may actually be in the grip of the vapours, yes, even in this day and age!!! No, they weren't at the picnic. Their sensibilities would have been shocked to their foundations at the goings-on at that now-infamous party...

marianne said...

hahaha, I like the last picture!
beware.....


Hi Cynthia, could it be larkspur, the blue flowers, or is that just a silly translation from my trannnslator............

Mim said...

Oh yes...very delicately done.

What in HEAVENS name could that second husband have done to make the girl go gaga in 14 days. The mind just spins!

willow said...

Sniff-sniff...what exactly is that scent over here today?

MuseSwings said...

Stevie - smelling salts would probably saved her from dithering!

Lavinia, thank you for notitcing the artful delicacy in which I broached the subject of You're Goint to do what with what! One must at all times consider the delicate sensibilities of the reader, mustn't one. You're right - I saw absolutely no victorians at the picnic!

Marianne, You are right! The leaves were not correct for grape hyacinth - larkspur it is!

Mim, I must say this quietly so Lavinia is not distressed by the discussion: I believe the Husband, having had experience in the goings on of the marriage bed, did not take into consideration the fact that his 2nd bride wasn't even sure why they were going to stay in the same hotel room together. He commenced with his usual preparations for the bed chamber, the likes of which the bride had never imagined, and when he started to loosen his tie her delicate constitution began to fall apart.

Willow, If you would just open a window please and hand me my ostrich fan we shall freshen the air a bit.

Karla @ Ramblin' Roads said...

I have presented you with a blog award at Another Road to Ramble. Stop by any time to pick it up!

MuseSwings said...

Karla - thank you so much! I'll be right over.

soulbrush said...

i felt like i was reading catherine cookson.....

soulbrush said...

i felt like i was reading catherine cookson.....

Lavinia said...

Cynthia, really, I'm shocked to my foundation. You didn't say it 'quietly' enough to Mim, and I couldn't help but overhear. Whereupon I was seized by the most grievous, shall we say "overwrought nervous condition" which compelled me to lie down in a darkened room immediately in a desperate attempt to block out the overwhelming, shall we say, reality! But never fear, I am much better now, and my sensibilities have been restored.

MuseSwings said...

Lavinia, I tried so very hard to protect your delicate ears and constitution. I shall make you a cup of tea with lemon in it! I am just so relieved that you are feeling better!

Shellmo said...

I love how you take us back in time - very good for a chuckle today! That last photo was priceless!

Blicky Kitty said...

Mao find new awesome blog mao.

Unfortunately we could not read your post as it might lead me to run afoul. Furthermore my corset has lodged into my kidneys and while it lends a very handsome aspect, I am more prone to phlegmatic swoons.

MuseSwings said...

Shelly, good of you to stop by! Glad you enjoyed it - that last picture cracked me up too, Could be me 'n the Mister on a bad day.

Blicky Kitty! Thank you so much for stopping by. Sorry about the corset in the kidneys thing that's goin' on!

Cynthia

Kalianne@BygoneBeauty said...

Oh for more unrestrained impetuosity :-0) You've got to love the good old, bad old Victorian days!

Lavinia said...

Cynthia, hadn't you better hold the lemon and add a wee drop of...er...brandy to that tea? PURELY FOR MEDICINAL PURPOSES!!!!

MuseSwings said...

Yes, Kalianne, at a time when it was considered rude not to cover piano legs - I mean limbs - I'm sure there was a lot more going on than meets the eye!

Well, yes, Lavinia - the brandy goes without saying. When I said I'd make you tea, that was a code word for 4 ounces of straight brandy with some lemon in it. Bet that warmed you up! Think I'll toddle off and have a wee cup of tea myself.

Lavinia said...

Got it. The code, yes, one must always adhere to the 'code'. tea = brandy. IT's been burned in my brain. IT will never leave. Pass the teapot and let the good times roll.

Poetikat said...

Oh dear! I fear I'm having one of my "spells". I fear the indelicacy of such conversation is all too much for my sweet self to bear!
(did somebody sit on a duck?)I do beg your pardon, Ladies!

I must say, Sibilla needs a bit of reprimand for her reprehensible behaviour! Hmmph!

Still, I do believe her advice may be put to use if the occasion should (shall we say) arise?

Kat

(Brilliant, Cynthia! A real treat.)

MuseSwings said...

Yes Lavinia, pass me your tea cup! One lump or two?

Poeticat, I'm sorry to have waffled your delecate sensibilities! Plenty of smelling salts for all. I buy them by the gross now. Did you just say occasion should a-r-i-s-e. Oh, I am feeling a bit faint myself.

Have some of this lovely tea that I have been sharing with Lavinia. We should all be back in good order after a few sips. Lavinia, pass the ah "sugar" please!

Lavinia said...

We shall dispense with the 'sugar', Miss Cynthia. We're not in high school anymore, now we are grown up ladies and we'll take our "tea" straight up, like John Wayne always did. Good old Duke!

Lavinia said...

Oh heck,in all honesty I have no idea how the Duke took his tea!

MuseSwings said...

The Duke - oh, he took it on the rocks. See - we have titled gentry in the US too!

Sparky ♥ ∞ said...

Gosh, this is priceless!

Hey, that has to be a picture of me chasing Tom Cruise after he muttered that stupid phrase and me yelling "Oh, yeah, buster! YOU get over it!" [lol] ♥ ∞

MuseSwings said...

Sparky: LOL! Good work!

Debby said...

Bwahahahahaha! I've been rolling here. You really must be related to my friend Dixie. I'm sending her a link.

Blicky kitty? Phlegmatic swoons? No. Hairballs, methinks.

MuseSwings said...

Me thinks hairballs as well, Debby. Two minds plus your friend Dixie. Thanks for laughing - chuckles are always appreciated!

Lani said...

I kind of feel out of place right now because I don't have that vocab in my toolbox:) But happy SITS Day and thanks for making me laugh nonetheless:)

Lisa M said...

LMAO!