On This Day …

Thursday, 26th March, 1908

ats5tr1l14c48hWell, I was going to write about something else — about the declaration of Witches Falls as a National Park in Queensland on the 28th of March, 1908, the third oldest National Park in the world — because this coincides with my hubby’s birthday, although he’s NOT the third oldest man in the world (Happy Birthday babe!).

But then I cam across this article in the Queensland Figaro, dated 26th March, 1908, and it fascinated me. I think much of it was tongue in cheek, but I wanted to share a few snippets with you.

Yes ; the World moves. If you, good reader, had lived in the 13th century you would have had no sugar; at the beginning of the 15th you would have had no butter; in the 16th neither potatoes nor (the male reader) tobacco; in the 17th no tea, no coffee, no soap. Bishop Welldow fears — probably justly— that: our ancestors were all dirty. At the beginning of the 18th century there were no lamps and no umbrellas; and the beginning of the 19th century no trains, no watches, no gas, no telegrams, ho chloroform, no ether.

Sir James Y. Simpson, when he introduced the use of chloroform, had to argue with religious opponents, who insisted that to mitigate pain was to fight against the decree of Providence. It is said that in the fight he reminded his opponents that in the record of the earliest (surgical) operation in human history, when God was said to have taken a rib out of Adam’s body, He first cast the man into a deep sleep.

I had never considered that there would be religious argument AGAINST pain relief. What food for thought! My eyes have been opened. But I do love Sir James’ point about God putting Adam into a deep sleep.

And then there was this about ladies’ hats:

It never enters a man’s dull head when he reviles a confection that interferes with his view of the stage that an enormous amount of care and skill—even genius—has been expended, not only in the creation and manufacture of the hat, but also on the correct poising and fastening of it on the fair owner’s head. 

Have you ever, dull male, seen a lady put on her hat? Have you ever waited minute after minute, quarter after quarter, hour after hour, while a lady side-stepped anxiously in front of a big mirror, taking every point of view, giving this side a tilt and that side a tilt, elevating the back and depressing the front, loosening a knot of hair in the south-east, and bringing reinforcements of curls to support a flying column of plumes in the north-west, inserting a giant pin with extreme care on this side, and another with equal deliberation on that side, leaving her dressing room tranquil to become dissatisfied in the hall, and returning to go through the same evolutions all over again? And then to be expected by a brute of a man to take it off. Why, it requires the self-sacrifice of a martyr.

That is the reason I always admire a lady when she does take her hat off. It is an act of abnegation for the comfort of others, which the mere masculine animal cannot appreciate. He would only begin to realise it if he were forced in the full glare of a theatre to undo the intricate convolutions of a self-made tie.

Yes, what a great defense for the trouble women used to put themselves through (and for those who still do), to look their best for their gentlemen companions. And a great laugh, to boot.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these passages. Are you one of the above said ‘martyrs’? Please leave a comment!

Published in: on 29th March, 2013 at 10:20 am  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi Amanda,
    You’re right, those are interesting articles. It’s hard to comprehend the mindset that used to think that being in pain was the decree of Providence.
    Those grand old hats looked wonderful but the work that went into them sounds immense. I’ve never been someone who can carry off accessories and headgear very well, so that’s another reason I’m glad to be living in the 21st century after all (not to mention the pain relief)

    • I know Paula. I was intrigued by that decree of Providence, too! And I couldn’t be bothered wasting that much time in front of a mirror – especially just for a hat!

  2. I have a few of those ‘giant pins’ as decorations in my bedroom. Thankfully, I don’t have to spend, ‘quarter after quarter’ fastening them to my head.

    Fun post. I laughed at the writer calling his reader, ‘dull male.’

    • I know Dots. I thought it was hilarious. I’ll have to check out those pins next time I’m over at Crabapple House. 🙂

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