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Australian Colonial Intelligence

Ladies' Column: 1870


Dear Grandpa Pencil looks at early Australian development through journals, official reports and newspaper excerpts of the day. Readers should remember that these accounts are based on personal observations at the time and some have, since, been shown to be flawed.

'Ladies' Column: 1870' is drawn from an article in The Illustrated Sydney News: 6th September, 1870
Note: Whilst Dear Grandpa Pencil does not advocate, nor support, racism, sexism or religious intolerance I present this article as a valid historical view and give my assurance that I will never attempt to rewrite the past.

A Talisman
A man loved by a beautiful and virtuous woman, says George Sand, carries a talisman that renders him invulnerable; everyone feels that such a one's life has a higher value than that of others.

An imaginative writer says
"Woman is compounded of three articles - sugar, tincture of arnica, and soft-soap. Sugar because of sweetness which is apparent in most women - alas! that in some it should have aciduated into strong domestic vinegar; arnica, because in women is to be found that quality of healing and soothing after the bruises and wounds which afflict us men in the great battle of life; and soft-soap for reasons too obvious to need specification."

A doctor's wife
once attempted to move her husband by tears. "Anne", said he, "tears are useless. I have analysed them. They contain a little phosphate of lime, some chlorinate of sodium, and that's all."

Little Things
Mind the little things! A word, a look, a frown are little things, yet powerful for good and evil.
Acts deemed unimportant may be the foundation of inveterate and powerful habits.
Great things compel attention, but little matters are too easily overlooked.

Doubtful Complaint
A gentleman burying his wife, a friend asked him why he expended so much on her funeral. "Ah, sir," replied he, "She would have done as much or more for me with pleasure."

Tight Lacing
We presume that girls make fools of themselves in this way in order to convey to others the notion that they are peculiarly sylph-like and graceful.

They wish to appear in the eyes of their male admirers as light, ethereal, angelic creatures, who are scarcely subject to the vulgar necessities of hunger.

Unfortunately the impression conveyed is exactly the reverse.

The lover cannot look at his mistress' eyes for thinking about her waist, and wondering how she can smile under her tightly clasping bars of cane.

In spite of himself he becomes an anatomist. He mentally dissects her.

He cannot help but think of those plates in books of physiology showing the position of the ribs anterior and posterior to the practice of tight lacing.

While he ought to be looking at her face he is in imagination looking at her lungs.

When she sighs it is not of affection he thinks; he is considering the actions of her diaphragm.

It is impossible for the tenderest and most idealistic of lovers to discern the poetry of a mechanical waist.

Two views on the question
A Boston paper is 'in favour of women voting if they want to.' A Western paper 'would like to see the man who could make them vote if they didn't want to.'


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