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A Victorian Scrapbook

A Scrapbook of Newspaper Articles Compiled by George Burgess (1829-1905)

Victorian Politics and History

How to Manage A Wife

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How to manage a wife

Below is a 'verbatim' transcript from original article (followed by a modern translation): -

This article was written after 1863 and before 1867 e.g. The Prince of Wales (Edward II) married Princess Alexandra in 1863 and Artemus Ward, an American satirical writer (real name Charles Farrar Browne), died in 1867.


HOW TO MANAGE A WIFE. – The following letter to the Prince of Wales is by Artemus Ward, the American showman: -

“Friend Wales,

You remember me. I saw you in Canada a few years ago. I remember you too. I seldim forgit a person. I hearn of your marriage to the Princess Alexandry, & ment ter writ you a congreetoolatory letter at the time, but I’ve bin bildin a barn this summer, & hain’t had no time to write letters to folks. Excoose me. My objeck in now addressin you is to giv you sum adwice, friend Wales, about managin your wife, a bizniss I’ve had over thirty years experience in. When I fust commenst trainin’ her I institooted a series of experiments, and them as didn’t work I abanding’d. You’d better do similer. Your wife may objeck to gettin’ up an bildin’ the fire in the mornin’, but if you commence with her at once you may be able to overkum this prejoodiss. I regret to obsarve that I didn’t commence arly enuff. It was a rather cold mornin’ when I fust proposed the idee to Betsy. It wasn’t well received, and I found myself layin’ on the floor putty suddent. I thought I’d git up and bild the fire myself. I never attempted to reorganise my wife but once, and I shall never attempt agin. I’d bin to a public dinner, and had allowed myself to be betrayed into drinking several people’s healths; and wishing to make them as robust as possible, I continuerd drinkin’ their healths until my own became affected. Consekens was, I presented myself at Betsy’s beside late at night with consid’ble licker concealed about my person. I had somwhow got perseshun of a hoss-whip on my way home, and rememberin’ sum cranky observations of Mrs. Ward’s in the mornin’, I snapt the whip putty lively, and, in a very loud woice, I said, ‘Betsy, you need reorganizin’! I have cume to reorganise you! Ha-ave you her-rayed to-nite?’

I drem’d that night that sumbody had laid a hosswhip over me several times, and when I woke up I found she had. I hain’n drunk much of any thin’ since, and if ever I have another reorganisin’ job on hand, I shall let it out. There’s varis ways of managin’ a wife, friend Wales, but the best and only safe way is to let her do jist about as she wants to. I ‘dopted that there plan sum time ago, and it works like a charm. Remember me kindly to Mrs. Wales, and good luck to you both! As years roll by and accidents begin to happen to you – among which perhaps there will be Twins – you will agree with me that family joys air the only ones a man can bet on with any certainty of winnin’. It may interest you to know that I’m prosperin’ in a pecoonery pint of view. I make ‘bout as much in the course of a year as a Cab’net offisser does, and I understan’ my bizniss a gaad deal better than some of ‘em do.

Respecks to St. George and the Dragon.

A. Ward."


Modern translation of the above article: -

HOW TO MANAGE A WIFE. – The following letter to the Prince of Wales is by Artemus Ward, the American showman: -

“Friend Wales,

You remember me. I saw you in Canada a few years ago. I remember you too. I seldom forget a person. I heard of your marriage to the Princess Alexandra, and meant to write you a congratulatory letter at the time, but I’ve been building a barn this summer, and hadn’t had the time to write letters to folks. Excuse me. My object in now addressing you is to give you some advice, friend Wales, about managing your wife, a business I’ve had over thirty years experience in. When I first commenced training her I instigated a series of experiments, and those that didn’t work I abandoned. You’d better do similar. Your wife may object to getting up and building the fire in the morning, but if you commence with her at once you may be able to overcome this prejudice. I regret to observe that I didn’t commence early enough. It was a rather cold morning when I first proposed the idea to Betsy. It wasn’t well received, and I found myself laying on the floor quite sudden. I then thought I’d get up and build the fire myself. I never attempted to reorganise my wife but once, and I shall never attempt it again. I’d been to a public dinner, and had allowed myself to be betrayed into drinking to several people’s health; and wishing to make them as robust as possible, I continued drinking to their health’s until my own became affected. Consequence was, I presented myself at Betsy’s beside late at night with considerable liquor concealed about my person. I had some how got possession of a horse-whip on my way home, and remembering some cranky observations of Mrs. Ward’s in the morning’, I snapped the whip pretty lively, and, in a very loud voice, I said, ‘Betsy, you need reorganising’! I have come to reorganise you! Have you heard me tonight (in a stutter)?’

I dreamt that night that somebody had laid a horsewhip over me several times, and when I woke up I found she had. I haven’t drunk much of any thing since, and if ever I have another reorganising job on hand, I shall forget it. There’s various ways of managing a wife, friend Wales, but the best and only safe way is to let her do just about as she wants to. I adopted that plan some time ago, and it works like a charm. Remember me kindly to Mrs. Wales, and good luck to you both! As years roll by and accidents begin to happen to you – among which perhaps there will be Twins – you will agree with me that family joys are the only ones a man can bet on with any certainty of winning’. It may interest you to know that I’m prospering in a pecuniary point of view. I make about as much in the course of a year as a Cabinet officer does, and I understand my business a good deal better than some of them do.

Respect to St. George and the Dragon.

A. Ward.