“The Model Husband Contest” from Punch
SCENE THE FIRST—At the GALAHAD-GREENS’.
Mrs. G.-G. GALAHAD!
Mr. G.-G. (meekly). My love?
Mrs. G.-G. I see that the proprietors of All Sorts are going to follow the American example, and offer a prize of £20 to the wife who makes out the best case for her husband as a Model. It’s just as well, perhaps, that you should know that I’ve made up my mind to enter you!
Mr. G.-G. (gratified). My dear CORNELIA! really, I’d no idea you had such a—
Mrs. G.-G. Nonsense! The drawing-room carpet is a perfect disgrace, and, as you can’t, or won’t, provide the money in any other way, why—Would you like to hear what I’ve said about you?
Mr. G.-G. Well, if you’re sure it wouldn’t he troubling you too much, I should, my dear.
Mrs. G.-G. Then sit where I can see you, and listen. (She reads.) “Irreproachable in all that pertains to morality”—(and it would be a bad day indeed for you, GALAHAD, if I ever had cause to think otherwise.’)—”morality; scrupulously dainty and neat in his person”—(ah, you may well blush, GALAHAD, but, fortunately, they won’t want me to produce you!)—”he imports into our happy home the delicate refinement of a preux chevalier of the olden time.” (Will you kindly take your dirty boots off the steel fender!) “We rule our little kingdom with a joint and equal sway, to which jealousy and friction are alike unknown; he, considerate and indulgent to my womanly weakness,”—(You need not stare at me in that perfectly idiotic fashion!)—”I, looking to him for the wise and tender support which has never yet been denied. The close and daily scrutiny of many years has discovered”—(What are you shaking like that for?)—”discovered no single weakness; no taint or flaw of character; no irritating trick of speech or habit.” (How often have I told you that I will not have the handle of that paper-knife sucked? Put it down; do!) “His conversation—sparkling but ever spiritual—renders our modest meals veritable feasts of fancy and flows of soul … Well, GALAHAD?
Mr. G.-G. Nothing, my dear; nothing. It struck me as well,—a trifle flowery, that last passage, that’s all!
Mrs. G.-G. (severely). If I cannot expect to win the prize without descending to floweriness, whose fault is that, I should like to know? If you can’t make sensible observations, you had better not speak at all. (Continuing,) “Over and over again, gathering me in his strong loving arms, and pressing fervent kisses upon my forehead, he has cried, ‘Why am I not a Monarch that so I could place a diadem upon that brow? With such a Consort, am I not doubly crowned?'” Have you anything to say to that, GALAHAD?
Mr. G.-G. Only, my love, that I—I don’t seem to remember having made that particular remark.
Mrs. G.-G. Then make it now. I’m sure I wish to be as accurate as I can. [Mr. G.-G. makes the remark—but without fervour.
SCENE THE SECOND—At the MONARCH-JONES’.
Mr. M.-J. Twenty quid would come in precious handy just now, after all I’ve dropped lately, and I mean to pouch that prize if I can—so just you sit down, GRIZZLE, and write out what I tell you; do you hear?
Mrs. M.-J. (timidly). But, MONARCH, dear, would that be quite fair? No, don’t be angry, I didn’t mean that—I’ll write whatever you please!
Mr. M.-J. You’d better, that’s all! Are you ready? I must screw myself up another peg before I begin. (He screws.) Now, then. (Stands over her and dictates.) “To the polished urbanity of a perfect gentleman, he unites the kindly charity of a true Christian.” (Why the devil don’t you learn to write decently, eh?) “Liberal, and even lavish, in all his dealings, he is yet a stern foe to every kind of excess”—(Hold on a bit, I must have another nip after that)—”every kind of excess. Our married life is one long dream of blissful contentment, in which each contends with the other in loving self-sacrifice.” (Haven’t you corked all that down yet!) “Such cares and anxieties as he has, he conceals from me with scrupulous consideration as long as possible”—(Gad, I should be a fool if I didn’t!)—”while I am ever sure of finding in him a patient and sympathetic listener to all my trifling worries and difficulties.”—(Two f’s in difficulties, you little fool—can’t you even spell?) “Many a time, falling on his knees at my feet, he has rapturously exclaimed, his accents broken by manly emotion, ‘Oh, that I were more worthy of such a pearl among women! With such a helpmate, I am indeed to be envied!'” That ought to do the trick. If I don’t romp in after that!—(Observing that Mrs. M.-J.’s shoulders are convulsed.) What the dooce are you giggling at now?
Mrs. M.-J. I—I wasn’t giggling, MONARCH dear, only—
Mr. M.-J. Only what?
Mrs. M.-J. Only crying!
“The Judges appointed by the spirited proprietors of All Sorts to decide the ‘Model Husband Contest’—which was established on lines similar to one recently inaugurated by one of our New York contemporaries—have now issued their award. Two competitors have sent in certificates which have been found equally deserving of the prize; viz., Mrs. CORNELIA GALAHAD-GREEN, Graemair Villa, Peckham, and Mrs. GRISELDA MONARCH-JONES, Aspen Lodge, Lordship Lane. The sum of Twenty Pounds will consequently be divided between these two ladies, to whom, with their respective spouses, we beg to tender our cordial felicitations.”—(Extract from Daily Paper, some six months hence.)
Punch, or “The London Charivari,” was a British humor (sorry, ‘humour’) magazine that ran from 1841 until 2002. It still has a Web site and cartoon library.
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