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men to make less noise.™™ They think they™ll ˜˜take a little™™ after their
exertions, and proceed to ˜˜imbibe™™ punch made in an apparatus
resembling a cha¬ng dish.·⁸ In their drunken state, they accidentally set
the place on ¬re and they are shown running out the door: ˜˜Exit Messrs.
Briggs, Bangs, and Brown. The ˜Good Time™ is postponed.™™·⁹
The alcohol-fueled, sports-oriented carousing of these bachelors in
their rented digs “ culminating in a con¬‚agration metonymically linked
to the bachelors™ en¬‚amed appetite for pleasure “ is a far cry from the
studious and ultimately depressive isolation of the bachelor lodger in ˜˜A
±
Bachelors and bourgeois domesticity
Bachelor™s Christmas.™™ In that story, it is the bachelor who is disturbed
by the landlady™s audible merrymaking, whereas here it is the landlady
who complains about the bachelors™ noise. In the ¬rst story, the bach-
elor seeks true domesticity with a wife, whereas here the bachelors seek
only to escape the dangerous e¬ects of their riotous behavior, with no
promise, implicit or explicit, of domestic reform. Yet both pieces are
cautionary tales. Baching it proves dangerous to the well-being of these
bachelors, the di¬erences in the outcome of their stories notwithstand-
ing. The need for the domestic reform of bachelors is evident to the
reader of both pieces, if not necessarily to the bachelor characters
portrayed in them.
Other writers envisioned bachelors not as the source of domestic
disorder, but as domestic reformers. Oliver Bell Bunce™s ±± Bachelor
Blu¬: His Opinions, Sentiments, and Disputations opens with a challenge to
the conventional wisdom ˜˜that domestic bliss is something which bach-
elors neither understand nor appreciate.™™⁸° Bunce™s Bachelor Blu¬ goes
on to argue that:
re¬ned and perfect domestic comfort is understood by men only . . . Women are
not personally sel¬sh enough to be fastidious in these things . . . They are neat
because they constitutionally hate dust, not because neatness is important to
their own sel¬sh comfort. Women are rarely epicureans. They have no keen
enjoyment of eating and drinking, in dreams and laziness; they do not under-
stand intellectual repose. (pp. ±“°)

Bunce™s bachelor does not despair of women, but rather hopes to enlist
them to his cause:
What I hope to do is to convince ˜˜lovely woman™™ that, if we are to continue to
marry her, she must endeavor to work up to our ideals of domestic felicity. She
must try and ¬nd an outlet for her energies, so that at home she can fall into our
luxuriousness, our love of repose, our enjoyment of supreme ease. (p. µ)

In the ±°s, the most plausible outlet for middle-class women™s virtuous
energies was not the paid work force, but the volunteer charitable work
which was increasingly being performed by ˜˜public mothers.™™⁸¹ Bach-
elor Bluªs suggestion that women leave the home to reform the world is
ultimately less radical, however, than his argument that men must
reform the home. It takes a man™s ˜˜active ideas at work™™ (p. ),
strangely enough, to ˜˜create a paradise of indolence, to ¬ll the mind
with an ecstasy of repose, to render home a heaven of the senses “
women are usually too virtuous to do this. Daintiness in man takes an
 Bachelors, manhood, and the novel
artistic form; in woman it assumes a formidable order, a fearful cleanli-
ness, a precision of arrangements that freeze us™™ (p. ·). If women are
needed as public mothers, then men must be private fathers. Only the
artistic daintiness of men can create a paradise on earth, a home which
is a ˜˜heaven of the senses™™ (p. ·).
Men in general and bachelors in particular assume a guiding role in
Bunce™s vignettes, reversing the traditionally gendered order of the
mid-century domestic empire of the mother. Bunce™s ˜˜heaven of the
senses™™ appropriates some of the features of the spiritual heaven of the
home, but he inverts their meanings. Traditional virtues including
cleanliness, industriousness, sel¬‚essness and virtuousness itself, are re-
imagined here as obstacles to achieved domesticity. For Bunce, aesthetic
re¬nement and material comfort, leisure and repose, are not antithetical
to virtue, but sources of value in themselves, the very heart and soul of
domesticity. While re¬nement and comfort had a place in more tradi-
tional domestic ideologies and practices, here they assume a di¬erent
ontological status. They become the ends as well as the means of
domesticity. This modi¬cation can be understood in terms of a syn-
chronic di¬erence between bachelor domesticity and more conven-
tional marital domesticity. It can also be understood in terms of a
diachronic shift from domesticity-as-virtue to domesticity-as-pleasure, a
shift which might be said to culminate with the House Beautiful aes-
theticism of Charles Eastlake, Clarence Cook, Oscar Wilde and
others.⁸²
In propounding his aesthetic domestic reform, Bunce™s bachelor was
part of a much larger cultural chorus registering dissatisfaction with
various aspects of traditional domesticity. Not surprisingly, one of the
foremost objects of criticism for nineteenth-century domestic reformers
was the tradition of single-family housing.⁸³ When envisioning a viable
alternative to the single-family home, the writer of an ± Temple Bar
article, ˜˜Why We Men Do Not Marry, By One of Us,™™ turned to the
residential system of British colleges:

I can imagine a number of families living together in a building constructed and
managed on the principle of a college . . . There should be a common dining-
hall, a common recreation-room, a common garden, a common billiard-room.
On each staircase, around the quadrangle, should live a family . . . There would
be vastly more comfort and vastly less cost. In all the great dead [sic] expenses,
co-operative principles would e¬ect the usual reduction.
Build me then no more ¬‚ats; though these are good in their way. But build
me a college quadrangle; and perhaps I will marry and live therein.⁸⁴

Bachelors and bourgeois domesticity
Although this writer recommends the college quadrangle as a model for
married living, the enhancements of unmarried life represented by these
residential halls were not far to seek. Other alternatives to traditional
married domesticity were evident in the settlement house movement in
the latter part of the century and in utopian experiments in communal
living throughout the century.
Urban men™s clubs, while far from self-consciously reformist, also
helped to remodel domestic possibilities for men both married and
single. Like the utopian community and the settlement house, the men™s
club reimagined the traditional division of space into public and private
spheres by moving a range of social and solitary activities out of the
home and into the club. The concepts of private and public hardly
disappeared later in the century “ indeed, one might argue that the
distinction between them was heightened “ but the boundaries demar-
cating them were not stable. When the lines shifted, what properly
belonged to each sphere was rede¬ned. In this respect, the club was a
particularly charged institution, since it was understood as both private
and public, as both home and world. An example of this kind of
ambiguity can be found in John Seymour Wood™s ±± ˜˜The Story of an
Old Beau,™™ published in Scribner™s Magazine. The bachelor protagonist of
the story treasures his club as ˜˜my only home,™™ but the authorial
narrator challenges the domestic potential of this realm: ˜˜This is the
way in clubs, where men have no business to be pitiful, and no desire to
be merciful. The club is after all but a miniature of the world.™™⁸µ These
con¬‚icting assessments of the club as both home and world are left
unresolved, with the protagonist ultimately rejecting the unsympathetic
familial home of his sister and niece, forfeiting the luxurious but equally
unforgiving home of his club, and rebuilding his fortune in California.
In this story, being a ˜˜real man™™ means never being at home.
The last third of the nineteenth century was the heyday of the men™s
club in the principal cities of both America and England. It has been
estimated that ˜˜[a]t the turn of the century there were more than °°
clubs in London, half of which had been founded within the previous °
years,™™ and that ˜˜by ±· there were nearly one hundred clubs in New
York, giving it the largest number of any city in the world except
London.™™⁸⁶ While there were some clubs speci¬cally for bachelors, most
clubs had a mix of married and unmarried members.⁸· Married club-
men, moreover, were in the majority at most clubs in America and
probably in England as well.⁸⁸ There was, however, a widely perceived
linkage between bachelors and these all-male social institutions. Thus a
 Bachelors, manhood, and the novel
±±± history of London clubs observes with satisfaction that ˜˜[t]he
growth of the club system undoubtedly e¬ected a great revolution in the
domestic life of men generally, and especially in that of the younger
ones . . . It was, however, in the life of the bachelor that the introduction
of this state of a¬airs caused the greatest change.™™⁸⁹
Clubs o¬ered to bachelors, as they did to married men, an all-male
arena for activities, interactions, and emotions that had been formerly,
and still were ideally, associated with the conjugal and familial home:
rest and recreation, solitude and sociability, privacy and companion-
ship. In her recent study of American clubs, Anne Henry suggests that
comfort was the crucial o¬ering of British and American men™s clubs,
including such amenities as leather armchairs, blazing hearths, great
windows, libraries full of books, morning papers, good food, and good
wine. Both British and American clubs provided men with the oppor-
tunity for playing at cards and billiards, smoking and drinking, reading
and conversation; for good dining in an attractive setting, and for
lounging and viewing (a window with a prime view of the street was
particularly valued). While the physical amenities o¬ered by British and
American clubs were comparable, Henry notes that ˜˜[p]art of an
English club™s comfort derived from its members™ privacy, while for
Americans, comfort was equally found in society.™™⁹° The contrast be-
tween American sociability and British solitariness is highlighted in an
±± Scribner™s article comparing London clubs to those in America:
˜˜Much has been said in the course of this paper about sociability; that is,
indeed, the characteristic di¬erence between English and American
clubs.™™⁹¹ The unsociable character of the English club is deliciously
spoofed, for example, in Sherlock Holmes™s description of ˜˜the queerest
club in London™™:
There are many men in London, you know, who, some from shyness, some
from misanthropy, have no wish for the company of their fellows. Yet they are
not averse to comfortable chairs and the latest periodicals. It is for the conveni-
ence of these that the Diogenes Club was started, and it now contains the most
unsociable and unclubbable men in town. No member is permitted to take the
least notice of any other one. Save in the Stranger™s Room, no talking is, under
any circumstances, allowed, and three o¬ences, if brought to the notice of the
committee, render the talker liable to expulsion.⁹²
Overall, popular representations of the period stereotyped British club-
men as unsociable or antisocial, while American clubmen tended to be
stereotyped as overly gregarious or hypersocial.
Such stereotyping, whether venomous or a¬ectionate, ful¬lls an ideo-
µ
Bachelors and bourgeois domesticity
logical function extending beyond the enforcement of national di¬eren-
ces. American gregariousness and British taciturnity are both represen-
ted as excessive because the need for companionship and privacy were
understood to be ideally ful¬lled within the conjugal home. French
feminist and socialist Flora Tristan, who visited several London clubs in
±° while disguised as a man, claimed that these clubs ˜˜make men
more self-centered and egotistical . . . [I]f they [the clubs] did not exist,
men would frequent society more and stay with their families.™™⁹³ Men
could better ¬nd the privacy they crave within the home, she suggests,
while also learning there to be more sociable. An American bachelor
quoted in the ±±° Good Housekeeping survey, ˜˜Bachelors “ Why?™™, also
compared the camaraderie of clubs unfavorably with the truer compan-
ionship of home: ˜˜the club is all right so far as food and comfort of body
go, but that is as far as it is of any use. A home is a place that gives these
comforts, and love and sympathy as well. The club can never do this.
The man of deep feelings, therefore, had better avoid the club. It is ¬t
only for vapid tri¬‚ers.™™⁹⁴ Clubs, like the bachelors with whom they are
metonymically linked, are perceived as both antisocial and hypersocial.
The excessive sociability and excessive withdrawal fostered by clubs is
not just a problem of degree, but crucially one of kind. Clubmen, like
bachelors, expend their limited fund of male energies on the ˜˜wrong
people,™™ that is, on other men or women whom they have no intention
of marrying, and toward the ˜˜wrong ends,™™ that is, the extramarital and
nonprocreative.
While some writers argued that the rise of the club system was causing
the rejection of matrimony, others defended clubs against such charges,
a¬rming that clubs constituted a ˜˜preparation and not a substitute for
domestic life.™™⁹µ Yet the availability of residential accommodations in
clubs clearly made them potential alternatives, as well as supplements,
to married domesticity. Although lodging, both temporary and perma-
nent, was available only on a limited scale in American clubs, these clubs
were nonetheless widely understood as providing homes for bachelors,
as Henry Nelson suggested in ±° when he described New York™s
Union Club as ˜˜not only the ¬rst club in the city . . . [but] the ¬rst club
intended to be a home for bachelors and to furnish the creature
comforts found by clubless men in taverns.™™⁹⁶ By the ±°s, two other
housing institutions that were changing the face of urban domesticity
joined the club as refuges for middle- and upper-class American bach-
elors: the apartment hotel and the bachelor-¬‚at building.
The term ˜˜apartment hotel™™ originated as a neologism that enabled
 Bachelors, manhood, and the novel
developers to take advantage of a loophole in an ±°s law restricting
the height of apartment buildings, but not of hotels. Although the law
was changed in ±°± to allow taller apartment buildings, the ˜˜apartment
hotel™™ designation was retained to distinguish this type of residence
from family apartment buildings, which did not provide all the services
of hotels, and also from hotels, which did not o¬er as much privacy for
dining and entertainment of guests. In addition to cleaning and other
services, apartment hotels featured communal kitchens which furnished
either private meals or a bill of fare in the house restaurant, thereby
eliminating the individual kitchen or supplementing it with alternative
dining options. According to Cromley, the most successful apartment
hotels were those designed speci¬cally for bachelors. By the turn of the
century, these accommodations were supplemented by suites set aside
for unmarried men in many smaller buildings like The Chelsea and also
in such massive apartment houses as the Ansonia and the Dakota; by
bachelor apartments on the upper ¬‚oors of midtown buildings with
street-level stores or deluxe restaurants such as Delmonico™s and
Sherry™s; and by apartment buildings designed speci¬cally for bach-
elors, including the Percival, the Century, the Carlyle Chambers, and
the Benedict.⁹·
The pleasures and dangers of the New York bachelor apartment
building are evident in Edith Wharton™s The House of Mirth when Lily
Bart impulsively accompanies Lawrence Selden home for tea. This
impromptu visit precipitates Lily™s inexorable tumble down the socio-
economic ladder and ultimately results in her death:
He ushered her into a slip of a hall hung with old prints. She noticed the
letters and notes heaped on the table among his gloves and sticks; then she
found herself in a small library, dark but cheerful, with its walls of books, a
pleasantly faded Turkey rug, a littered desk, and, as he had foretold, a tea-tray
on a low table near the window. A breeze had sprung up, swaying inward the
muslin curtains, and bringing a fresh scent of mignonette and petunias from the
¬‚ower-box on the balcony.
Lily sank with a sigh into one the shabby leather chairs.
˜˜How delicious to have a place like this all to one™s self! What a miserable
thing it is to be a woman.™™ She leaned back in a luxury of discontent.⁹⁸
Lily enviously indulges herself in ˜˜a luxury of discontent,™™ but a single
woman without a fortune cannot a¬ord even this small luxury, at least
not in the upper reaches of New York society. Selden can a¬ord greater
luxuries than Lily, not despite his bachelor status, but because of it. After
all, Selden lives in The Benedick, Wharton™s barely disguised name for
·
Bachelors and bourgeois domesticity
the luxury bachelor apartment building on Washington Square design-
ed by the architectural ¬rm of McKim, Mead, and White and the
residence of the architect and notorious bachelor, Stanford White. In
historical fact as well as in Wharton™s ¬ction, being a bachelor meant
that one could enjoy the freedoms of privacy and have a comfortable
home of one™s own.⁹⁹
The self-styled ˜˜bachelor home-maker™™ of Frank Cha¬ee™s ±
collection of sketches, Bachelor Buttons, enjoys comparable pleasures in
his own New York bachelor apartment:

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