Women Eating Cheese

According to @HistoryNuts on Twitter:

"Sir Thomas Metcalfe, a fastidious colonial administrator in British India, considered it improper for women to eat cheese".

Why cheese? I wish I could discover his reasoning, but, alas, it eludes me.

Now, naturally there was no citation for this, so I looked into it a little bit. I found an article on The Guardian here discussing previous administrators who had "gone native" and how Metcalfe was a very different breed of man. Alluding to things his daughter had said or written:

"Metcalfe was a very different man from these white Mughals. A fastidious prude, he would have blanched at even the thought of a "native" mistress. Indeed, so refined were his feelings, according to his daughter Emily Bayley, that he could not bear to see women eat cheese. Moreover, he believed that if the fair sex insisted on eating oranges or mangoes, they should at least do so in the privacy of their own bathrooms."

I grant you that orange and mangoes can be succulent or slurpy to eat, and there was a whole conversation in the adaptation of Cranford where they talk about the proper way for a woman to eat an orange (the answer was "in the privacy of your own room where no one could her them sucking at the fruit"), but . . . cheese?

He was also a strange punisher:

"If ever one of his servants failed to perform his appointed duty, Metcalfe would call for a pair of white kid gloves. These he would pick up from a silver salver and slowly pull on over his long white fingers. Then, 'with solemn dignity", having lectured the servant on his failing, he "proceeded to pinch gently but firmly the ear of the culprit, and then let him go – a reprimand that was entirely efficacious'."

Yeah. That'll teach you.

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