Thursday, 22 March 2012

Letters To A Magazine 1862 - A homage To Household Management

MARCH 1862


Dear Sir and fellow readers,

I am writing this in reference to the letter from Mrs.M.H. of London.

The idea that the discipline of household staff should now be carried out with the use of a bamboo, or rattan cane over clothing rather than the more traditional way of on bare skin. Is both dangerous and unfair to the recipient of the said disciplinary action.
I admit that for perhaps a robust stable lad, or junior footman to receive a good caning or cropping over the seat of his britches may indeed be a salutary punishment.
For the female and hence more delicate members of one's staff, it is unfair to punish in such a way. Even the the strongest and most healthy of young country girls are still not as acclimatised and prepared for corporal punishment as a male of the same age.
So I believe strongly, that any punishment's needed by female staff members should only be delivered to the bare skin, where it much easier to gauge the effects that the cane (or which ever the chosen implement of correction should be) is having upon them. One would not want to be seriously injuring their staff, as it proves to be very counter-productive in terms of their availability for work, which is the exact opposite of the desired intention of the correction.
I know that part of Mrs.M.H. argument was that this "punishment over clothing" idea was to "save a girls blushes", surely though most girls would rather have the slight embarrassment of a little bared skin than run the risk of serious injury?

For my part upon the odd occasion when I feel the need to discipline any of my household staff, it is straightforward enough, the girl in question (I like many other households these days only employ female staff) comes to my study lifts her skirt and underskirts with her back to me, then they simply pull open the back of their drawers as they bend forward, thereby keeping their modesty for the most part, but more importantly giving me access to visually check the effect that my cane or strap is having upon them.

I hope Mrs.M.H. finds this letter to be of use to her before she embarks upon this, to my mind, foolhardy regime that she is planning to implement.

Yours T.P.Whitby


MAY 1862


Dear Sir,
firstly I do not take kindly to being referred to as foolhardy in your pages.

T.P of Whitby clearly does not understand the trails and tribulations that a young lady faces when left alone to run a house. Prior to my husband leaving to serve Her Majesty abroad, all the disciplinary side of the household was rightly attended to by him.

So I found myself in an unusual and unasked for position, and to be honest my idea of using the cane over clothing, rather than under the skirt, was as much to save my blushes as it was to save the staff's. It is in no way a pleasant duty to have to punish, but it is a duty that I have had to now take upon myself, even though I have not yet reached thirty years of age.

T.P. though for all of his rudeness does seem to have some valid points as to the possible outcome of broken skin. I have only a small staff, a cook, a scullery maid, a parlour maid and two tweenies. No stable lads or footmen, so thankfully the worry of having to discipline members of the opposite gender do not arise in my household.
As it happens, it is also very rare that many occasions that are really serious enough to warrant a caning arise, most problems are thankfully merely niggly little things that don't truly deserve the use of the rod. In fact since reading T.P.'s missive, I have had only one situation involving my parlour maid that caused recourse to the cane.

In this situation I followed T.P.'s suggestion of the partial baring of the lower back in the manner that he prescribed. I must admit that it worked incredibly well from the disciplinary aspect, a good sound - though not cruel - punishment was safely delivered.

My real problem though is the kitchen, where my cook seems convinced that she rules the roost, she has not done any one thing that truly deserves corporal punishment, more a constant undermining of my position. Also her age makes me hesitant in bringing her to book, as she is easily fourteen to fifteen years my senior.

Yours M.H. of London.


JUNE 1862


Dear Sir,
I have been reading your magazine now for a couple of years, and have always found the correspondence page both, entertaining and illuminating. I have up until now never felt the impulse to write to you myself, but a couple of letters regarding discipline in the modern day household have caught my eye.

I feel that I should put my two penneth in regards to the most effective means of keeping a well run household. I also find myself living in a household of female staff, as a bachelor in his forties I am surrounded by comparitively young staff. It seems that hardly a day goes by where some matter of discipline does not arise. Rather than letting "niggly little things" grow into something larger, I nip things straight away in the bud by the use of an old fashioned over the knee spanking for these smaller infractions, thus sparing the girls having to taste the strap.
Yes I did say strap, rather than the cane or birch, I find a stout leather strap to be less harmful than the cane, and more consistent than the birch.
I digress though, as I'm writing this to extol the virtues of flesh on flesh punishments as a method of keeping a house in strict order.

Rather than trying to save the girls blushes, I find that the baring of the soon to be punished area is in itself an intrinsic part of the punishment. All my staff wear long skirts rather than dresses, so any maid, or cook for that matter that is facing a spanking, first has to remove her skirt completely followed by her under things so that they are naked from the waist down. This would happen in which ever part of the house that the incident occurred in, regardless of any other staff or visitors being in attendance.
I can tell you that this has a very humbling effect on the soon to be spanked girl, even the loudest and most troublesome of girls are soon subdued and docile as they stand there with their lower belly and pale rump totally uncovered.
Then it is a simple good hard spanking across my lap till the paleness is replaced by a good hot rosy glow.

Another thing that M.H. brought up was the problem of disciplining older staff members.
M.H. should remember that it is one's station, and not one's age that carries the seniority. I actualy know of one young lady, who at the tender age of nineteen was face with the running of a quite large and grand house. She did not shirk from this duty, in fact she took to it with huge gusto, making sure that she was personally responsible for all staff disciplinary measures regardless of gender.
A truly admirable woman!

I hope that M.H. finds my regime ideas to be helpful in sorting out "niggly little things", and perhaps she will find herself less in the position where the cane needs to be used at all.

Yours Sincerely J.D. Bristol


AUGUST 1862


Dear Sir,
I am just writing to thank J.D. of Bristol for his recommendation of spanking as a form of domestic discipline.

I have to admit that I was initially very dubious of implementing his ideas, but after an incident of ash being dropped upon the the dining room rug for the umpteenth time, I decided to give his method a try.
Marigold the tweeny that was responsible again for the marked rug, was very taken aback as I ordered her to strip down in the dining room and go over my knee. She was in fact in tears before my hand even fell upon her, those tears were soon manifold as I reddened her behind!

Then came the moment whereupon I firmly stated my rule upon my house.

Cook had decided upon herself, that the menu that I had set for her was not to her liking, and set about changing the dinner I had planned for my sister and my brother in law. I had gotten wind of her planned changes and challenged her about it in the kitchen.
Rather than apologising to me, she actually stood there in front of the scullery maid and said that I was wrong in my choice of starters!
The look of horror upon her face as I told her to remove her skirt was truly something to behold.
I did not back down, despite first her pleas, soon to be followed by hollow threats to resign, I simply told her to either strip herself down or to leave.

Reluctantly she obeyed, then I was left with a problem. Cook is to say the least a rather large woman, and I am a little on the petite side.
So her going over my knee was not really a valid option, unperturbed I asked her to climb up onto the large oak table in the centre of the kitchen and to lie flat upon her back.
In this position it was a simple matter for me to lift her legs back towards her head with one arm, and then apply my free hand to her bare behind and upper legs.
Whilst I was about half way through her - I must say rather enthusiastic spanking from my part - the outside door opened and the butchers delivery boy walked in, rather than chasing him off, I allowed him to stay and view the remaining part of the cook's correction.
The sudden arrival of this surprise, and rather surprised spectator soon had the errant cook in floods of tears, since then she has been very compliant in all my wishes with hardly a peek out of her.
How she manages to face the butchers boy now is any ones guess, baring in mind what he has seen of her, but since word got around to the other girls the cane has not needed to be used, and only a handful of spankings have been required.
So I feel that I can confidently endorse J.D.'s methods.

Yours M.H. London