jump to navigation
  • Victorian Urban Legends: Wrong Trousers January 21, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback


    The rarest form of Victorian urban legend is the sexual one: it is not the Victorians did not tell racy stories, it is that generally speaking no one dared to publish them. Here is one that somehow slipped through the net. Beach’s favourite detail are the stripes.

    In a suburb of Dundee a golden discovery was recently made by a husband, who had hitherto manifested the most unqualified confidence in the fidelity of his wife. It seems that he had been from home one day recently, and had returned rather unexpectedly late at night. On arriving, he found that his wife, who had not previously evinced any symptoms of illness, complained of having been suddenly seized with spasms. The danger was no more serious, however, than that the wife thought a little whisky would remove it, and there being none in the house she earnestly urged her spouse to procure the same. The good man had undressed for the night, but was not proof against her entreaties, and having hastily put on what he supposed to be his trousers, proceeded to a public house in the neighbourhood. The keeper, on hearing his complaint, gave him a gill of whisky, for which he laid a coin on the counter. The publican asked if the man hadn’t a shilling, and [the man] said he had given him one. The keeper, however, told him it was sovereign, and [the man] expressed his astonishment, he was not aware that he had any gold in his possession. Again putting his hand into his pocket he pulled out a number of gold pieces, and third time he plunged with a similar result, having taken out all about twenty sovereigns. He was perfectly dumbfoundered [sic] by this auriferous discovery, and astonishment was greatly increased when on looking he ascertained that his trousers were further adorned with what appeared to be gold stripes down the side of each leg. Imagining that some kind fairy had been at work and bewitched his trousers, he took a closer inspection of them, but a terrible thought crossed his mind when he found the stripes were like those worn by defenders of our country. The affectionate husband immediately rushed from the shop and made the best of his way home in the hope that would yet be in time to find the owner of the pantaloons. The bird, had flown, and the melancholy spouse, determined to make the best of the matter could, drowned his sorrow at the expense of his rival.

    It could be from Boccaccio or Chaucer. In fact, perhaps it is… Can anyone find a version earlier than March 1870 when this story is published: drbeachcombing AT gmail DOT com

    Bruce T, 29 Jan 2018: I’ve heard a couple of American version’s from the early 1900s where the the wife and her lover are on the second or third floor of a townhouse and hear the husband key in the lock of the downstairs door. The lover flings his clothes out the window and heads for the fire escape to beat it. Two bums in the alley get hit with the clothes and the fat wallet and take off, with the shouting naked man flying down the fire escape to catch them. The husband who saw the bums go running by, goes around the side of the house to see what all the racket is and finds the lover on the fire escape of the house, with wife wisely shouting “Rape! Rape!” when she see’s what’s going on. The bums go on a glorious drunk, the lover to jail after a beating, the wife’s honor is preserved, and nine months later the couple has bouncing baby boy who the wife swore was the spitting image of her late Uncle. I wish I could recall it as it was told, but I haven’t heard since I was about 13. It was part of a cycle of “Bum” jokes that made the rounds of my junior high. The one’s I remember clearly are much too offensive for the modern P.C. crowd.