"A Little Tea and Gossip" 1859, by Robert Payton Reid, Cider House Galleries
“A Little Tea and Gossip” 1859, by Robert Payton Reid, Cider House Galleries

Montreal Standard, 1 July 1911, page 14

Women as Scandal Mongers

A cynical old bachelor, upon being asked what he thought women liked best, replied, “Afternoon tea and scandal, Least ways” corrected he, “I ought to have said afternoon scandal and tea.” A woman, he contended, would do without the tea altogether, but without the scandal, never- it is to her as the very spice of life.
And as the nectar flows from the teapot, so flows the breath of scandal from the fair tea-drinkers, whose conversation waxes more confidential as cup after cup of the fragrant beverage is drained. To the masculine mind, it is incomprehensible that a bevy of refined, daintily clad, cultured women, who would not hurt a fly, can sit down and calmly destroy the reputations of those whom they count among their friends.
Deprive a woman of her companion scandal-mongers, and you deprive her of the very cream of joy.
Generally, every little social clique has its champion scandal-monger, and she it is who heads every meeting whereas the sayings, doings, and beings of others are discussed. No teapot meeting is complete unless graced or shall I say disgraced? – by her presence. Here she is queen, as she sits confidently wagging her head sagely, now this way, now that, as she informs her listeners in a mysterious whisper that she knows Mrs So-and-so is this, and Mrs So-and-so is that, until one really wonders that she has a friend in the world left to slander.
Now, the next worst thing is being an actually scandal-mongers is listening to scandal. It is no business of ours as to what people may or may not be as long as their conduct is within the bounds of propriety, and so long as they are not insistent in the matter of forcing their society where it is not required.
The scandal-monger is very provoking too, in that she invariably chooses to consider herself an example of real perfection. If only she would just pause and ask herself a few direct questions, she would soon learn how thoroughly bad and horrible her conduct is. For instance, what right has she to conclude that because Mrs Newly-Wed’s eyes were red with weeping she and her husband do not hit it, and that their marriage is a failure?
What right has she to criticize people because they do not choose to detail their whole life history for the benefit of the curious? What right has she to take it for a fact that others are wrong, simply because they have not take the trouble to vindicate themselves? Probably they had a reason for maintaining silence.
No, the scandal-monger has no right to presume these things, and if she minded her own business she would have quite enough to do without taxing her brains with any such imaginary details. There is only one right absolutely our won and that is to mind our own business.

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