OBSERVER September 7 1878
The Spider and the Fly episode – 1878
CIVILITY OF A RYDE TRADESMAN
“Come into my Parlour said the Spider to the Fly”.
Sir – When one sees a placard exhibited in a shop window stating that “Visitors are requested to enter and inspect the stock without being solicited to purchase,” one expects at the least to be received with civility. But “blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall not be disappointed.” Requiring a china vase for a particular purpose the other day, and looking out for a shop where my want could be supplied, my eye was caught by the inviting placard above quoted, hanging in the window of a large shop where glass and china are sold; and I accordingly entered, as requested, and stated my requirement to an elderly man in charge. This man was politeness itself, and not only allowed me to take a vase on approbation, but even most kindly offered to refund the money deposited if I could not suit myself at his shop. So far all was fair. But judge of my amazement, when, on returning the selected vase, as I found it unsuitable for my purpose, I was met with a torrent of extreme insolence. Such a reception, so totally unlooked for, and uncalled for, completely staggered me, and being a lady, I had no alternative but to beat a retreat, leaving for the time both vase and money in the hands of the shopkeeper. Having no redress for such treatment, I have ventured to make my grievance public, through the medium of your widely-circulated journal, in the hope that other ladies may take warning by.
St John’s Park, Ryde, Sept.4th 1878
OBSERVER September 14 1878
LADIES AND SHOPKEEPERS
Sir – I saw a letter in your last issue which reflects upon some tradesman in this town, whose name it is unnecessary to mention. The true facts of the case have come to my knowledge and I must say that the letter seems to me like a little bit of spite. I understand that the “lady” went into the shop in question, and after giving the tradesman a great deal of trouble, selected a vase, and “beat down” the tradesman 2s., he, however, promising to change the article for another if it did not suit. After all the trouble which had been given, his annoyance may be imagined when the “lady” brought back the vase and wanted her money, and the so-called insolence was only a justifiable remonstrance at this unbusiness-like behaviour. I have a shop myself, and am frequently plagued by ladies who I am confident do not want anything, but nevertheless contrive to waste a considerable portion of my time daily. Nothing I have suits, and after wasting half an hour of my assistant’s time, they will walk out with the cool information that they will call another day – and don’t. Of course I can only think that these amiable demoiselles are hipped to death – ennui , and the rest of it, for want of something to do, and imagine I am situated in a like manner and have nothing better to do than wait their capricious pleasure. I have a living to get, and thank goodness, have a tolerably even temper, but some day it is possible I shall be goaded to deliver my soul of a “torrent of extreme insolence,” ie a plain bit of my mind to some of them.
Yours truly, Trader.
Sir, – May I beg the favour of your inserting the following few words, in answer to the letter which appeared in your issue of Saturday last, signed “Victimised Fly”. I always think an anonymous, calumnious scribbler should be treated with contempt, but, in this instance, I being the tradesman so pointedly alluded to will, for the benefit of other tradesmen with whom this “lady”, in other words, this “Mrs Morse, of St John’s” may have to do, just take leave to say that the pecuniary transaction in question amounted to a 4s 6d vase. I deny that Mrs Morse received from me, or anyone in my establishment, anything like an insolent remark, although her own insolent demeanour and insulting remarks personally to me would warrant my requesting her at once to leave the shop, which, with such passionate ill-humour, of her own accord she did. I apologise for asking you to insert such a trivial matter.
I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
Ryde, September 12 1878