A Wife For Sale

Before divorce became readily available in England, a common way to end an unsatisfactory marriage was to sell a wife at auction. Usually, a husband would bring his wife with a rope halter round her neck, declare his intention to sell her (although often the sale was also announced in advance in the papers), and then he would auction her off. As awful as this sounds, wives rarely objected. In some cases, they actually insisted to be sold, as it was the only way to get away from an unhappy marriage.

And in most cases, the buyer was her lover. This meant that the husband, by getting rid of his wife, didn't have to financially support her anymore, and the lover was free from the threat of a legal action for criminal conversation. The custom,. which was practiced mostly by poor people who couldn't afford the high fees required to get a divorce by Act of Parliament, originated in the 18th century and continued until the early 20th century. The 1810 Edition of La Belle Assemble reports such as sale (which featured a particular clause) that took place in Lincolnshire:

One of those scenes which are a disgrace to the police, lately took place at Spilsby. One Thomas Sowden, of Waiaflect, publicly exposed his wife for sale in Spilsby market, and sold her for five guineas, a larger sum than we have heard a wife to bring at a public sale for some time past. One of the engagements in this disgraceful bargain, was, that the husbaud should have the liberty of visiting her at what time he thought proper, with out let or molestation. After the conclusion of the sale the parties retired to a public-house, where for five days and nights they feasted upon the fruits of the bargain; but at length tired out by the powerful influence of Morpheus, like pigs, they all retired to the same style, certainly the fittest place for this unnatural trio.

Further reading:
La Belle Assemblee, Vol.1 , 1810

Classic Books: Wuthering Heights, A Midsummer's Night Dream & The House Of Mirth

Hello everyone,

today I'm sharing my impressions and opinions about three very famous classic books. If you're read them too, don't forget to let me know what you think about them in the comments section:

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Mr.Lockwood rents a house called Thrushcross Grange, and tries to become friends with his owner, the savage, menacing and dark Heathcliff, but to no avail. He wants to know more about him and the people he lives with (the son of the former master of Wuthering Heights and his daughter-in-law) and asks his housekeeper to tell him their story. And a very dark story it is. Heathcliff was never allowed by his adopted family to forget that he was never really one of them. They've always treated him coldly and with disrespect. His only friend, and later love, was Catherine, and he's crushed when she decides to marry Linton because it's more socially appropriate. So, Heathcliff just leaves and returns a few years later to exact his revenge, not just on those who have hurt him, but on their children as well. The book is very complicated, intense, dark and gloomy, with only a few happy scenes here and there. Because of this, the first time I read it (in high school), I just couldn't get into it. I thought the characters were quite crazy too. But when I reread it years later, I feel in love. It's still as intense and dark as I remembered, but that's exactly the style that is best suited to the main theme of the novel ie passionate love and hatred and how they can affect a family. The characters too are complex, well-developed and very interesting from a psychological point of you. Overall, Wuthering Heights is a compelling story that I highly recommend. And if you've read it but didn't like it, do give it another go. It'll surprise you.
Available at: amazon
Rating: 4/5

A Midnight's Summer Dream by William Shakespeare
This Shakespeare comedy has a quite complicated plot. There are in fact, four stories all intertwined together: the marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and Ippolita, Queen of the Amazons; the adventures of four young Athenian lovers; a group of amateur actors preparing to perform at the wedding; Oberon, the king of the fairies, fighting with his queen Tatiana over a changeling and interfering in the lives of the other characters. Although the language is obviously archaic, the story if fun and the characters interesting and witty. There are many things that I could say about this play, but instead I'll just recommend you go and see it. You'll love it.
Available at: amazon
Rating: 4/5

The House Of Mirth by Edith Wharton
This is one of my favourite books ever. The ill-fated Lily Bart is an impoverished girl who goes to leave with her wealthy aunt, hoping to be accepted by the good New York society of the 1880s. It's a materialistic society where people are selfish, immoral and shallow, willing to fulfil their desires and ready to sacrifice others to cover up for their infidelities and mistakes. Lily isn't financially independent and thus is always in debt. She's also very naive and innocent which will lead her to accept a loan from a rich man without realising he wants sex in return. Her fear of poverty also makes her desperate to bag a wealthy husband instead than follow her heart and settle down with the poor man she loves. In the end, Lily's rich friends betray her and she's left alone and penniless. Wharton based her novels on her own experience growing up in New York in the 1880s and skilfully portrays with irony the hypocrisy and faults of the society she describes. Her characters are also very well-developed if rarely likeable. Overall, an excellent read I highly recommend to anyone.
Available at: amazon
Rating: 5/5

Mrs Beeton's Book Of Household Management

Mrs Beeton's Book Of Household Management is a forgotten classic of domestic literature. This guide covers every aspect of running a Victorian household, such as the duties of both a mistress and a housekeeper, cookery, animal husbandry, fashion, childcare and a lot more. It was compiled and edited by Isabella Beeton, the wife of Samuel Orchart Beeton, a publisher of books and popular magazines.

Isabella often helped Samuel with his work, writing articles on household management and cooking for his publications such as a monthly supplement for The English Woman's Domestic Magazine, the first magazine devoted entirely to women and their interests. In 1861, these supplements were published in a single book, The Book Of Household Management. Four years later, Isabella died from puerperal fever.

I thought it'd be interesting to share some of Isabella's recipes and advice, which give us an insight into what managing a household in Victorian times was like. The book begins by comparing the mistress of a house with a commander of an army: "As with the commander of an army, or the leader of any enterprise, so is it with the mistress of a house. Her spirit will be seen through the whole establishment; and just in proportion as she performs her duties intelligently and thoroughly, so will her domestics follow in her path." She then went on to say that the mistress of a house should rise early, be clean, practise frugality and economy at home, be hospitable and polite, but choosy in forming friendships, and do charitable deeds.

Of the housekeeper, Mrs Beeton says: "As second in command in the house, except in large establishments, where there is a house steward, the housekeeper must consider herself as the immediate representative of her mistress, and bring, to the management of the household, all those qualities of honesty, industry, and vigilance, in the same degree as if she were at the head of her own family. Constantly on the watch to detect any wrong-doing on the part of any of the domestics, she will overlook all that goes on in the house, and will see that every department is thoroughly attended to, and that the servants are comfortable, at the same time that their various duties are properly performed. Cleanliness, punctuality, order, and method, are essentials in the character of a good housekeeper."

The next section, which takes up most of the book, is a selection of cooking recipes. Here are a few:


Ingredients: The remains of cold roast or boiled chicken, 2 lettuces, a little endive, 1 cucumber, a few slices of boiled beetroot, salad-dressing No. 506.

Mode: Trim neatly the remains of the chicken; wash, dry, and slice the lettuces, and place in the middle of a dish; put the pieces of fowl on the top, and pour the salad-dressing over them. Garnish the edge of the salad with hard-boiled eggs cut in rings, sliced cucumber, and boiled beetroot cut in slices. Instead of cutting the eggs in rings, the yolks may be rubbed through a hair sieve, and the whites chopped very finely, and arranged on the salad in small bunches, yellow and white alternately. This should not be made long before it is wanted for table.

Average cost, exclusive of the cold chicken, 8d.

Sufficient for 4 or 5 persons.

Seasonable at any time.


Ingredients: 1/2 lb. of flour, 1/2 lb. of treacle, 1/2 lb. of suet, the rind and juice of 1 lemon, a few strips of candied lemon-peel, 3 tablespoonfuls of cream, 2 eggs.

Mode: Chop the suet finely; mix with it the flour, treacle, lemon-peel minced, and candied lemon-peel; add the cream, lemon-juice, and 2 well-beaten eggs; beat the pudding well, put it into a buttered basin, tie it down with a cloth, and boil from 3–1/2 to 4 hours.

Time: 3–1/2 to 4 hours.

Average cost, 1s. 2d.

Sufficient for 5 or 6 persons.

Seasonable at any time, but more suitable for a winter pudding.

Treacle, or molasses: Treacle is the uncrystallizable part of the saccharine juice drained from the Muscovado sugar, and is either naturally so or rendered uncrystallizable through some defect in the process of boiling. As it contains a large quantity of sweet or saccharine principle and is cheap, it is of great use as an article of domestic economy. Children are especially fond of it; and it is accounted wholesome. It is also useful for making beer, rum, and the very dark syrups.


Ingredients: To every 2 lbs. of flour allow 6 oz. of moist sugar, 1/2 gill of yeast, 1/2 pint of milk, 1/2 lb. of butter, warm milk.

Mode: Put the flour into a basin, mix the sugar well with it, make a hole in the centre, and stir in the yeast and milk (which should be lukewarm), with enough of the flour to make it the thickness of cream. Cover the basin over with a cloth, and let the sponge rise in a warm place, which will be accomplished in about 1–1/2 hour. Melt the butter, but do not allow it to oil; stir it into the other ingredients, with enough warm milk to make the whole into a soft dough; then mould it into buns about the size of an egg; lay them in rows quite 3 inches apart; set them again in a warm place, until they have risen to double their size; then put them into a good brisk oven, and just before they are done, wash them over with a little milk. From 15 to 20 minutes will be required to bake them nicely. These buns may be varied by adding a few currants, candied peel, or caraway seeds to the other ingredients; and the above mixture answers for hot cross buns, by putting in a little ground allspice; and by pressing a tin mould in the form of a cross in the centre of the bun.

Time: 15 to 20 minutes.

Average cost, 1d. each.

Sufficient to make 18 buns.


Ingredients: To 4–1/2 gallons of water allow the pulp of 50 lemons, the rind of 25, 16 lbs. of loaf sugar,—1/2 oz. of isinglass, 1 bottle of brandy.

Mode: Peel and slice the lemons, but use only the rind of 25 of them, and put them into the cold water. Let it stand 8 or 9 days, squeezing the lemons well every day; then strain the water off and put it into a cask with the sugar. Let it work some time, and when it has ceased working, put in the isinglass. Stop the cask down; in about six months put in the brandy and bottle the wine off.

Seasonable: The best time to make this is in January or February, when lemons are best and cheapest.

Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management also features information on what the duties of each domestic was, how to take care of infants and cure children when they fell ill and lots more. If you're interested in the book, you can read it online for free.

Further reading:

The Execution of Thomas de Mahy, Marquis de Favras

On 19th February 1790, Thomas de Mahy, Marquis de Favras made history: he became the first nobleman to be executed without class distinction from commoners. His crime? Trying to save the royal family from the dangers of the French Revolution. Born in 1745 in a noble and ancient family, M. de Favras was a fervent royalist who served in the army with distinction. Although he at first approved the change from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional one with a Parliament, he was soon disillusioned with the French Revolution, its violence and its degradation of the royal family.

Believing that a counter-revolution was necessary, he became involved with the plans of the Comte de Provence, Louis XVI's brother, to save the royal family. Unfortunately, he was imprudent enough to take into his confidence certain officers of the National Guard, who betrayed him. A pamphlet began to circulate throughout Paris claiming that Favras had planned to rescue the royal family from the Tuileries Palace, to declare the Comte de Provence regent, to kill Jacques Necker (the Finance Minister), the Marquis de Lafayette (the commander of the National Guard) and Jean Sylvain Bailly (the mayor of Paris), and to hire a force of 30,000 soldiers to lay siege to Paris.

Favras and his wife were arrested and imprisoned in the Abbaye Prison. As for the Comte of Provence, he went straight away to the Paris Commune, where he disavowed Favras by saying: "From the day when in the Second Assembly of Notables I declared myself concerning the fundamental questions which divide men's minds, I have not ceased to believe that a great revolution is impending; that the King, by virtue of his intentions, his virtues, and his supreme rank, ought to be at the head of it, since it cannot be advantageous to the nation without being equally so to the monarch; and, finally, that royal authority should be the rampart of national liberty, and national liberty the basis of royal authority." The Prince was applauded.

Favras instead was hated. A fortnight later, he was separated from his wife and sent to the Grand Chatelet to be tried. The Chatelet had to be closely guarded for fear that the people may kill him. Throughout the trial, which lasted two months due to lack of evidence and confused witnesses' testimonies, the people were constantly shouting "To the lamp-post with him!" and Lafayette himself said: "If M. de Favras is not condemned, I will not answer for the National Guard." The main charge against him was his plan to bring troops to attack Paris, but this could never be proved. The only evidence for it was a letter from M. de Foucault, saying: "Where are your troops? From what direction will they enter Paris? I would like to serve among them." This was very vague and no trace of these troops could be found anywhere.

On 18 February 1790, despite the lack of evidence, he was found guilty and condemned to death. After he heard the sentence he said to the judges: "I pity you exceedingly if the simple testimony of two men is enough to make you condemn an innocent person." He also remarked, when he saw his order of execution: "“I see that you have made three spelling mistakes." The sentence was to be carried out the next day, at the Place de Greve. On the scaffold, he reiterated his innocence and asked the people to pray for him, before turning to the hangman and say: "Come, my friend, do your duty". The people cheered and rejoiced and some, after his death, were even heard shouting, "Encore!". With great difficult, the National Guard prevented them from tearing his body to pieces and put his head on a pike.

Madame Elisabeth, Louis XVI's sister, wrote the next day to the Marquise de Bombelles: "My head and heart are so full of yesterday that it is hardly possible for me to think of anything else. I hope that his blood may not fall back upon his judges. But nobody (except the people and that class of beings whom one cannot call men because it would lower humanity) understands for what he was condemned. He was so imprudent as to wish to serve his king. Behold his crime. I hope that this unjust execution may have the effect of persecutions, and that from his ashes men who still love their country may spring up again to avenge her on the traitors by whom she is deceived. I hope, also, that Heaven, for the sake of the courage he showed during the four hours at the Hotel de Ville before his execution, may have pardoned his sins. Pray for him, my heart; you cannot perform a better work."

In another letter to the Marquise, she added: "I was penetrated by the injustice of M. de Favras's death, by the superb way in which he ended his life, and the love he showed for his king (which was the sole cause of his death)," and that, if she has been in Paris she, "would have wondered, like all who breathe in Paris, both at the injustice of his death and the courage with which he submitted to his sentence. No; it is only God who can have given it to him. So I greatly hope he has received the recompense for it. The hearts of honest men willingly render him the homage he deserves. Even the people, the people who cried loudly for his death, said the next day, and, indeed, on returning from the execution, 'But he protested his innocence on the gallows it was very wrong then not to have taken him down."

Marie Antoinette was very sad at the Marquis de Favras' death too but was forced to hide her sorrow. She couldn't even console his family as she would have liked. When a few days later M. de la Villeurnoy brought his widow and son to a public dinner of the King and Queen, Marie Antoinette, who was sitting near Santerre, commander of a battalion of the National Guard, dared not talk to them. She later went to Madame Campan's room and cried: "I am come to weep with you. We must needs perish when we are attacked by men who unite every talent to every crime, and defended by men who are very estimable, but have no adequate idea of our position. They have compromised me with both parties by presenting the wife and son of Favras.

If I were free to, I ought to have taken the son of a man who had just sacrificed himself for us, and placed him at table, between the King and me; but, surrounded by the executioners who had just put his father to death, I did not even dare to look at him. The royalists will blame me for seeming not to have noticed the poor child, and the revolutionists will be enraged at the thought that in presenting him they expected to please me." She, however, ordered Madame Campan to send them next day several rolls of fifty louis each, with the assurance that both she and the King would always provide for them. It wasn't a promise they could keep for long. Three years later, they were both dead.

Further reading:
Marie Antoinette at the Tuileries, 1789-1791 by Imbert de Saint-Amand

Historical Reads: Henry VIII's lost crown recreated

The Guardian reports that the crown of Henry VIII, which had been destroyed by Cromwell's gorvernment, has been recreated and will be exhibited at Hampton Court Palace from 27th October. To quote:

The lost crown of Henry VIII has been recreated in minute detail, down to the last pearl and thumbnail-sized enamelled sculpture, almost 400 years after the original was melted down along with every scrap of royal regalia Cromwell's government could lay its hands on.

The crown will be exhibited at Hampton Court Palace, where Henry wore the original on great occasions of state and church. It will be displayed in the royal pew of the Chapel Royal, which reopens this month after seven years of restoration work.

The crown may have been made for Henry's father, Henry VII, and was used in the coronations of his children Edward, Mary and Elizabeth, and then of James I and Charles I. By then it was a sacred object: a portrait by Daniel Mytens in 1631 – now in the National Portrait Gallery, and crucial evidence for the historians who pored over every surviving image and account – shows Charles I standing bare-headed by a velvet-draped table, on which the crown is shown in scrupulous detail.

In 1649 Charles was beheaded in Whitehall and the crown was broken up at the Tower of London. The gold went straight to the mint for coinage, and the jewels were sold off in mixed packets like loose sweets. Of the heap of centuries-old treasures, only one 12th-century spoon escaped the melting pot.

To read the entire article, click here.


Hebe, the daughter of Zeus and his fiery wife Hera, was the Greek goddess of youth and cupbearer to the gods. During the eighteenth century, till well into the nineteenth century, it was popular for young women (and a few not so young ones, like the middle aged Duchesse de Chaulnes), to have their portraits painted as Hebe. Even Marie Antoinette was immortalized as Hebe, clutching a chalice in her hand, while Zeus' eagle, whom he used to send personal messages, stands by her side. Let's take a look at some of these beautiful portraits, shall we?

Madame De Coumartin as Hebe by Nattier, 1753
The Duchesse De Chaulnes Represented as Hebe by Nattier, 1744
Femme en Hebe by Louis Rene Vialy, 1753
Madame la Dauphine, Marie Antoinette, as Hebe by Francois Hubert Drouais, 1773
Elizabeth Harriet Warren as Hebe by George Romney, 1776
Mrs Musters as Hebe by Reynolds, 1785
Portrait of Anna Pitt as Hebe by Vigee LeBrun, 1792
A Portrait of Sarah White as Hebe by John Russell

Fashions For 1816 (Part 1)

Hello everyone,

today's fashion prints show us what fashionable women wore in 1816. I don't particularly like this style of clothes, but it's much better than the huge sleeves that will become popular in a few years' time. What do you think?



This dress is composed of white lace, and is worn over a rich soft white satin slip. The skirt is trimmed, in a style of peculiar elegance, with lace festooned at regular distances; the festoons are edged by a plain band of byas satin, and finished by pearl ornaments of a very novel and pretty shape. The body, composed also of lace, is cut byas, and is richly ornamented round the bosom with pointed lace. Plain long sleeve, very full, except towards the wrist, which is nearly tight to the arm, and elegantly finished with lace. ., The hair, which is ornamented only with a wreath of French roses, is parted in front, and simply dressed in loose curls, which fall very low on each side. The hind hair forms a tuft at the back of the head. Necklace, ear-rings, and bracelets of pearl. White satin slippers, and white kid gloves. A blush-coloured French silk scarf is thrown carelessly over the shoulders. We are indebted for this very elegant and tasteful dress to a lady of rank, by whom it has been just introduced.


Round dress, composed of cambric, and trimmed with lace. The body is let in with a profusion of lace. Plain long sleeve, very full, except at the wrist, where the fullness is confined by small plaits: the sleeve is finished by a double frill of lace. Over this dress is a pelisse of blue and white shot sarsnet, lined with white sarsnet, and trimmed with white satin. For the form of the pelisse we refer our readers to our print. The sleeve, which is very full, is finished at the wrist by a cuff and bows of ribbon. The pelisse is made half high, and finished at the neck by a triple fall of rich lace: the throat is bare. White satin hat, of a form uncommonly novel and elegant; it is turned up a little in front, which gives it an air of peculiar smartness, and ornamented with flowers, disposed in a very novel and tasteful style. White kid gloves, and blue kid shoes. Parasol to correspond. We are indebted for this tasteful dress to Mrs. Gill, of Cork-street, Burlington-Gardens.


A Striped sarsnet gown, very richly trimmed round the bottom with a flounce of deep work, finished with a heading: a second flounce is set on at some distance, which is much narrower; it is also finished with a heading. Bows of Pomona green ribbon ornament the skirt a little above the flounce. The body is cut very low; it is full. The sleeve is long, very loose, and fancifully trimmed with bows of Pomona green ribbon, to correspond with the trimming of the skirt: the sleeve is finished by a very novel and pretty cuff of pointed lace. Fichu a la Duchesse de Berri, composed of white lace, which comes very high; but though it shades the neck in the most delicate manner, it does not by any means give an idea of dishabille; on the contrary, it might be worn in full dress. Hair cropped, and dressed in very full curls in the neck, and very full on the forehead. Striped kid slippers to correspond with the dress. White kid gloves. Necklace white cornelian, with a small gold cross. Ear-rings white cornelian.

Further reading:
Repository of Arts, Literature, Fashions &c, 1816

Short Book Reviews: Parker Pyne Investigates, The Mysterious Mr Quin & The Thirteen Problems

Hello everyone,

today I'm reviewing three collections of short stories written by the greatest crime fiction writer ever, Agatha Christie. Let's get started:

Parker Pyne Investigates by Agatha Christie
This is a collection of short stories featuring Parker Pyne, a retired government employee who put an advert in a paper that says: "Are you happy? If not, consult Mr Parker Pyne". His clients have very different problems - there's the wife whose unhappy because her husband has fallen for another woman, a man who finds his life too boring and predictable and the lady who has stolen a diamond and doesn't know how to return it for instance - and very different, and suitable to each person's needs, are the solutions he proposes. However, I'm not a big fan of Parker Pyne as he often resorts to lies, subterfuges and tricks to make people happy. He succeeds indeed but would these people still be happy if they knew how they have been tricked? Most people probably would I guess, but I'm not among them. In the second part of the books, Mr Pyne travels abroad and will encounter murders and crimes he'll have to solve. Needless to say, I've found these stories much more interesting and more to my taste. The writing style is very enjoyable too and the stories well-plotted and full of twists and turns. Overall, it's a nice read I'd recommend to those interested in a "different" Christie book.
Available at: amazon.com
Rating: 3/5

The Mysterious Mr Quin by Agatha Christie
This is a collection of 12 short stories featuring Mr. Satterthwaite and Mr. Harley Quin. Mr Satterthwait, a keen observer of life and people, is the one who solves the mysteries, but he manages to do so thanks to the guidance and hints given him by Mr Quin, who always manages to mysteirusly turn up at the scene of a crime. No one really knows who Mr Quin is but, by the end of the book, it's pretty clear that he's not human. Personally speaking, I'm not a big fan of detective stories with a strong supernatural element in them, which means that Mr Quin's stories aren't my favourites. I much prefer those who solve crimes thanks to their little grey cells like Poirot. Personal tastes aside though, the stories are enjoyable, captivating and well-crafted. I'd recommend it to those who like supernatural mysteries.
Available at: Amazon.com
Rating: 3.5/5

The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie
This is one of my favourite collections of short stories from Agatha Christie. A group of people, including Miss Marple and her newphew Raymond West, meets up to solve crimes. One of them proposes to the others a crime of which they know the solution and the others have to guess whodunnit and why. It seems that at first Miss Marple will be left out, but they then decide to politely include her too and guess who's gonna solve every single problem? All the stories are very captivating. They hook you in from the start and confuse you with red herrings and unexpected twists, before revealing who the culprit is. They are not too complicated though, probably because of their short length, but still very well-written and crafted. Overall, this book is a fun way to spend a night and, if you invite some friends over, you could propose these crimes to them and see if any of them can come up with the solution!
Available at: Amazon.com
Rating: 4/5

Have you read these books? If so, did you like them?

The Devonshire Amusement

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, was the subject of many satirical prints that ridiculed not only her fashion sense but also her involvement in politics. In a time when women were supposed to stay at home taking care of their husbands and children, a woman who overstepped these boundaries was seen as threatening and out of control and was thought to be of loose morals. And Georgiana did overstep the boundaries when, in 1784, the year her first child was finally born after years of miscarriages, she became the first woman to canvass for a political leader. The candidate she supported at the Westminster elections was Charles James Fox.

Satirists and cartoonists had a field day with it. One of the most famous prints published in that year was The Devonshire Amusement, which could succinctly be described with the words of a contemporary newspaper: "while her Grace is busied in canvassing the Constituents, her domestic husband is employed in the nursery". The Duke too is ridiculed in this print for being a weak man not able to control his wife. Although I doubt he cared much about what the papers said about him... The Devonshire Amusement is divided in two parts.

On the left, the "Political Mad" Duchess. She's wearing ostrich feathers in her hair (she was often ridiculed for introducing this fashion) and a Fox favour on her bodice, while a loosen garter, with the motto "Cavendo tutus" on it, appears from under her petticoat. Cavendo tutus is the Cavendish family motto and means "safe through caution". In one hand, Georgiana's holding a staff which has on it the head of Fox (he can be easily identified by the two fox tails hanging from the staff) and a cross-piece with the word "liberty" written on it. In her other hand, she's holding a print depicting The Prince of Wales (the future George IV), who was one of the leading figures of the Whig party and a friend of Georgiana. The Duchess is saying: "A Prince should not be limited". At the feet, on the ground, there's a peace of paper that bears the words "Secret Influence", while above her head a bird is flying and saying: "No Tax on Maidenheads no Wray".

On the right is depicted Georgiana's husband William. He's sitting in a chair, which has a ducal coronet on the back, with his daughter on his lap. Next to him, clean towels are hanging on a line, which suggests the Duke is busy changing a nappy. But he's not happy about it. He's saying: "This Work does not suit my Fancy. Ah William every one must be cursed that like thee takes a Politic Mad Wife". A paper titled "Letters to Married Women" is hanging from his coat-pocket, while on the ground there's another sheet with the words "Your Votes are requested for C. J. Fox". Behind him, on the wall is hanging a portrait of him with horns, which hints at the fact he's a cuckold. The room is also furnished with a shelf with pottery on top of it, a table on which are a tea-pot and a cup, while at the Duke's feet lies the baby's cradle.

What I really like about this print is that, although at the time it was clearly intended as an insult to the Devonshire couple, now it can be seen to represent women's emancipation and their freedom to choose their own path in life. And it is also a perfect example of why I am fascinated with Georgiana. She wasn't just a pretty face setting the latest fashions, she also had a personality to boot, was involved in politics and had an influential role in the Whig party at a time when women were usually confined to their domestic duties.

The Ladies' Receipt Book, Vol.2

Have you wondered what people used to clean their clothes, porcelain or glass in the nineteenth century? And what other concoctions were made by the ladies' of the house for their every day needs? The 1829 edition of The Ladies' Pocket Magazine casts some light on the subject by sharing a few recipes:


Never wash muslins, or any kind of white cotton goods, with linen; for the latter deposits or discharges a gum and coloring matter every time it is washed, which discolors and dyes the cotton. Wash them by themselves.


Take of rectified spirits of wine half a pint, essentia1 oil of lavender two drachms, otto of roses five drops. Mix all together in a bottle, and cork it for use.


The best material for cleaning either porcelain or glass is fuller's earth; but it must be beaten into a fine powder, and carefully cleared from all rough or hard particles, which might endanger the polish of the brilliant surface.


Mix sifted stale bread crumbs with powder-blue; and rub it thoroughly all over; then shake it well, and dust it with clean soft cloths. Afterwards, where there are any gold or silver flowers, take a piece of crimson ingrain velvet, and rub the flowers with it, which will restore them to their original lustre.


A better furniture paste than most to be bought in the shops may be made as follows:—Scrape four ounces of bees'wax into a basin, and add as much oil of turpentine as will moisten it through. Then powder a quarter of an ounce of resin, and add as much Indian-red as will bring it to a deep mahogany colour. When the composition is properly stirred up, it will prove an excellent cement or paste for blemishes in mahogany, or other furniture.

Further reading:
The Ladies' Pocket Magazine

Historical Reads: A New Painting Of Queen Henrietta Maria Discovered

ArtDaily reports that a new painting of Queen Henrietta Maria, Charles I's wife, has been discovered and can now be seen, until March 2013, at Banqueting House, London. To quote:

Queen Henrietta Maria (1609 -69), as St Catherine is believed to be Sir Anthony Van Dyck’s final portrait of the Queen, lost for centuries and only recently re-discovered and the public will now be able to see Henrietta Maria as she returns to Banqueting House on Whitehall, a place that would have been very familiar to the French wife of King Charles I.

The small painting measuring only 76cm x 64cm is a half-length portrait of Henrietta Maria as St Catherine wearing the Imperial Crown. There is no early reference to this painting and up until now this image survived in a number of versions, none of them of high enough quality to be attributed with certainty to Van Dyck suggesting they were contemporary or later copies of a lost original by the artist.

He painted the King and his queen many times and the painting now on display at Banqueting House was recently discovered by Philip Mould and Bendor Grosvenor concealed within a larger painting of the queen that had been altered and over-painted in the 18th century.

To read the entire, article click here.

Marie-Therese Of France: Her Last Years And Death

When the French royal family was forced to flee France in 1829, they once again sough refuge in England. But this time, they weren't welcomed with open arms. While Charles X had been very popular when living there during the French Revolution, the English too turned on him when they heard he had tried to repel the Constitutional Charter. The Duke of Wellington managed, not without difficulty, to offer the family a refuge in England, on condition that they arrive as private citizens. Thus Marie Therese assumed the name of Comtesse de Marne and Charles X was instead known as the Comte de Ponthieu.

After a stay at Lulwirth Castle in Dorset, the family was sent to Edinburgh where they would be far away from the political scene. Charles settled down at Holyrood while Marie Therese, who disliked the palace, rented a house nearby for herself, her husband and her niece Princess Louise. Here, Marie Therese, who hoped her nephew Henry would rule France one day, set out to prepare him for the task. She supervised his education, as well as that of his sister, taught them to follow the customs of France abroad too and to help those in need.

In 1832, the family moved again. This time they asked for help to the Austrian Emperor Franz, Marie Therese's cousin, who offered them hospitality at the Hradschin Palace in Prague. Here, too, they lead quite a simple life. Marie Therese would attend Mass, write letters, invite friends over for dinner, continue her charity work and take care of her niece and nephew, whose mother, the Duchess de Berry had, in the meantime, remarried and settled in Italy. To little Henri and Louise their aunt was like a mother. In March 1835, the Emperor Franz died and his successor, Ferdinand I, decided to move into the Hradschin Palace. It was time again for Marie Therese and her family to find another place to live in.

After some peregrinations, the following year, in October, they settled in Gorinzia. But soon after their arrival, Charles fell ill. He had caught cholera, which, at the time, was ravaging the Austrian territories. Marie Therese duly nursed him till his death, on 6 November. In 1844, she lost her husband too. Now a widow, she decided to move to Schloss Frohsdorf, a baroque castle near Vienna. It was here that, on 10 November 1845, her niece Louise married Ferdinando Carlo, Hereditary Prince of Lucca. The couple, who settled in a house nearby, would go on to have four children. The following year, her nephew Henri married too. The bride was his second cousin Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria-Este. When they weren't travelling, the couple would stay at Schloss Frohsdorf castle.

In 1848, a series of revolutions swept across the continent. Louis Philippe of France lost his throne and died in exile two years later. Marie Therese believed that his downfall was a punishment from God for having betrayed his family. She was now an old woman too but she still kept active. She kept having contacts with those who wanted to see the legitimate kings of France back on their throne, she kept up her charity work and continued to promenade daily. On one of these walks, she caught a chill, which turned into pneumonia. She died on 19 October 1851 and was buried next to her husband in the crypt of the Franciscan Monastery church of Castagnavizza in Görz.

Further reading:
Marie Therese: The Fate Of Marie Antoinette's Daughter

Death of The Dauphin

Madame de Lage de Volude, one of the Princess De Lamballe's ladies-in-waiting, has left some touching accounts of the degenerative illness and death of the Dauphin Louis-Joseph, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette's eldest son.

"April 8th. This afternoon we went to see the little dauphin. It is heart-breaking. Such endurance, such consideration and patience go straight to the heart. When we arrived some one was reading to him. He had had a fancy for lying on his billiard table where they had placed his mattress. My princess and I looked at it, and it occurred to us both that it resembled the mournful state bed after death, Madame de Lamballe asked him what he was reading. 'A very interesting period of our history, Madame: the reign of Charles VII; there were many heroes then.' I took the liberty of asking if Monseigneur read connectedly or merely the most striking episodes. 'Connectedly, Madame. I have not known them long enough to choose; besides, it all interests me.' These were his very words. His beautiful dying eyes turned towards me as he spoke. He recognized me; he said in a low tone to the Due d'Harcourt that they had been told of the arrival of the princess, and that she had just come. 'It is, I think, the lady who so greatly likes my map of the world.' Then turning to me, 'This will perhaps amuse you for a moment.' He ordered a valet to turn it around, but I will confess to you that although when I saw it on New Year's Day I had been delighted with the perfection of the immense machine, to-day I was much more interested in listening to that dear and unfortunate child whom we saw hourly growing weaker."

Here's a touching account of one of Marie Antoinette's visits to her sick child:

"The poor child is so ill.... Everything the little one says is beyond belief; he breaks the queen's heart; he is wonderfully tender to her. The other day he begged her to dine with him in his room. Alas! she swallowed more tears than bread."

On 4th June 1789, the Dauphin passed away at Meudon. Madame de Lage, together with the Princess de Lamballe, was among the first to reach Meudon. Here's how she described the sad visit to her mother:

"The coffin of Monsieur le Dauphin was open. I was at Meudon with the princess, to sprinkle him with holy water. Everything was white and silver and in the room in which he lay the light was brighter than anything I had ever seen. His crown, his sword, and his orders lay on the small coffin covered with silver cloth, and two rows of monks on each side prayed continually, day and night."

The royal family wasn't given much time to mourn. The country was in turmoil and less than two months later, the French Revolution would officially start.

Further reading:
Madame De Lamballe by Georges Bertin

Vintage Books, Vol.2

Hello everyone,

today I thought I'd share with you some old books I've read in the past few months. These aren't proper reviews, but more like a heads-ups of what wonderful books have been published in the past but whose fame hasn't survived the centuries. They do deserve to be rediscovered though and I hope you will give them a read.

The Borgias (Celebrated Crimes Series) by Alexander Dumas
Part of the Celebrate Crimes series, the Borgias is one of Dumas' lesser known works. That's probably because, even though the book is well-written and engaging, it is not as good as his most famous novels. As the title suggests, it is an account of the Borgia family and the crimes they have committed during the reign of Alexander VI. However, it is sometimes difficult to separate facts from speculation, especially since Dumas himself seems to have believed all the rumours spread about this family. Despite its flaws, it's a very interesting read.
Available at: Project Gutenberg

In Jail With Charles Dickens by Alfred Trumble
Nope, Alfred Trumble didn't share a prison cell with the famous author. Instead, the book is about prison life in England at the time of Dickens. Trumble is a big fan of the novelist and, as prison life and crime feature prominently in his works, he decided to investigate and find out what things were actually like at the time. If you've ever wondered what life was like in Newgate, or how the Fleet Prison differed from the Marshalsea, then you should read this book. It's written in an archaic but engaging style, is full of quotes from Dickens' books and is very short, so it can easily be read in an afternoon.
Available at: Project Gutenberg

Stories Of Strange Lands by Sarah Lee
I've already posted an excerpt from this book here. Sarah Wallis Bowdich was married to a naturalist. She shared his love for nature and adventure and travelled around the world with him and their children. After his death, she married Mr Lee and wrote this accounts of her travels, in which she describes the places she's seen, the people she's encountered and the dangers she met (her ship even ran across pirates!). It's a short book, easy to read and very interesting, especially because it is written by a woman who travelled the world at a time when women were supposed to stay at home taking care of their husbands and children only.
Available at: archive.org

The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain
Another travel memoir, this time written by author Mark Twain. He was sent by the newspaper he worked for on a trip around Europe and the Middle East. In this book, he writes with his usual wit, irony and criticism, about all the places he's visited, the people he met and their habits, rituals and ways of life. He seems never to be pleased by anything, but instead than boring the reader, the result is very amusing. The only thing that took his breath away was Versailles although there is a good deal of irony in his description of this magnificent palace too. Overall, a very entertaining read that I highly recommend to everyone.
Available at: Project Gutenberg

A War-time Journal, Germany 1914 and German Travel Notes by Harriet Julia Campbell Stephson
I've already posted an excerpt from this book too. It is written by an Englishwoman who was in Germany when World War I broke out. Here she talks about what it is like for a person to be trapped in a country your own country is at war with and how the inhabitants, those people who until yesterday were your friends, now look at you with suspicion and turn their backs on you. It also makes you realise how hard for those people is to be able to leave the country and go back home. It's a short book which flows easily, but it also emotional and full of details and insights at what happens to normal people when a war breaks out. Highly recommended.
Available at: Project Gutenberg

Have you read these books?

Book Review: The Six Wives Of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser

Divorced, beheaded, died; Divorced, beheaded, survived. The Betrayed Wife, The Temptress, The Good Wife, The Ugly Sister, The Bad Girl and The Mother Figure. The six women who have married Henry VIII and helped shape the events of the era are known to us only by the way they died and by the stereotypes that have been attached to them throughout time. In this biography of Catherine of Aragorn, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr, historian Antonia Fraser has decided to to look at the women behind the stereotypes, bringing to life their true personalities.

And she does an excellent job at that. The political, religious and social aspects of the time remain in the background here. They're explained to make us understand in what society and environment they lived and died in, but the main focus is on these six amazing women. Although Fraser sympathizes with them (and how could you not to?), she portrays them in an honest way, pointing out their good qualities without hiding or downplaying their flaws. We also get to know what kind of clothes they liked to wear, what pets they kept, what their interests were, what they were passionate about, what made them tick and what their motives were to act the way they did..

Henry VIII obviously has a main part in the book too. Fraser tries to bring to life his true personality and the portrayal that comes out is not very flattering. The book is extremity well-written and chock full of information, yet apart from a few rare dry patches, it flows really easily and is a joy to read. It's a solid, strong book that will give you a better understanding of who these 6 women were as individuals. They were victims, but not willing victims. They lived in a time where women had no rights, yet they were intelligent, courageous and spirited women who tried to have some control over their lives and make, in the small ways open to them, their own decisions, although not all of them were wise enough to know when to stop. Overall, I would recommend it anyone interested in the Tudor era.

The Six Wives Of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser is an informative and enjoyable biography about the women who married the second Tudor monarch. Fraser goes beyond the stereotypes to bring to life the individual personality of each woman, their good qualities and flaws, their tastes and their reasons for acting the way they did.. A must read for every Tudor fan.

Available at: Amazon UK, Amazon US and Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4/5

Behavior In Public Thoroughfares

Conduct in public should be characterized by reserve. The promenade, the corridors of public buildings--post-office, railway stations, etc.--the elevators and arcades of buildings devoted to shops and offices; museums and picture-galleries, the foyer of the theatre, and the reading-rooms of public libraries may all be regarded as thorough fares, where the general public is our observant critic. Greetings between acquaintances casually meeting in such places should be quiet and conventional; friends should avoid calling each other by name, and conversation should be confined to such remarks as one does not object to have accidentally overheard. Subdued, but natural, tones of voice should be used, and the manner should be perfectly "open and above board." Cautious whispering is conspicuous, sometimes suspicious, and always ill-mannered. If confidential matters are to be discussed, the office or the parlor is the proper place for the conference.

When acquaintances meet on the promenade, recognitions are exchanged by a slight bow, with or without a spoken greeting.

On the crowded walk, if two acquaintances pass and re-pass each other several times in the course of the same promenade, it is not necessary to exchange greetings after the first meeting.

Canes and umbrellas should not be carried under the arm horizontally, endangering the eyes and ribs of other pedestrians.

A man, when bowing, lifts his hat in the following instances:
When bowing to a lady.
When, walking with a lady, he bows to another man of his acquaintance.
When bowing to an elderly man, or a superior in office.
When bowing to a man who is walking with a lady.
When, walking with a lady, he joins her in saluting any gentlemen of her acquaintance, but strangers to himself; or, when walking with gentlemen, he joins them in saluting a lady of their acquaintance, but a stranger to himself.
When offering any civility (as a seat in the street-car), to a lady, whether a stranger or an acquaintance.
When bidding good-bye to a lady after an "open-air" conference, when the hat has been worn. Punctilious etiquette requires a man to stand with head uncovered in the presence of ladies, until requested to replace the hat. But in our changeable climate, the risk of "taking cold" suggests the good sense of wearing the hat out-of-doors, and allowing the graceful lifting of the same at greeting and parting to express all the deference that the uncovered head is meant to symbolize.

The greater the crowd, the shorter the range at which greetings are exchanged. One might "halloo" to an old acquaintance forty rods distant, down a country lane; but on Broadway he bows only to the ones whom he meets point blank.

If two friends meet and pause to shake hands, they should step aside from the throng, and not blockade the sidewalk. Ladies should make these pauses very brief, and beware of entering into exhaustive interchanges of family news. Two men may linger, if they choose, and hold a few moments' conversation. But if a man meets a lady, and wishes to chat with her, he should, after greeting her, ask permission to join her, and walk with her for a short distance; he should by no means detain her standing on the sidewalk. He should not accompany her all the way to her destination, nor prolong such a casual conversation beyond a few moments. He should leave her at a corner, and lift his hat respectfully as he bids her good-bye.

If several people walking together on a sidewalk of average width meet other groups of promenaders, both parties should fall into single line as they pass, allowing each group a fair share of the walk. This is especially incumbent when on a narrow crossing. It is very rude for groups of three or more to walk abreast without heeding the people whom they meet, and often crowding the latter off the curbstone. Young girls are sometimes very thoughtless in this matter. "Turn to the right, as the law directs" is an injunction that holds good for the crowded sidewalk.

If one, walking briskly, overtakes slower walkers ahead, and the crowd allows no space to get past them, one should watch for a chance to slip through a gap in the phalanx, rather than "elbow through." If no chance seems likely to occur, and haste is imperative, a polite man has no recourse but to step outside the curb and walk rapidly ahead, returning to the sidewalk a few paces in advance. A lady similarly hurried may slip through a small space, if one offers, with an apologetic "I beg pardon." But in no case should pushing be resorted to. It is very unmannerly for a party of loiterers to string themselves thus across the width of a sidewalk, and then saunter slowly, regardless of the fact that they are impeding the progress of busier people. A policeman should call their attention to the fact.

If the sidewalk is "blocked" by an orderly crowd, as it frequently is on the occasion of parades and other public demonstrations, a man may push his way through gently, saying, "I beg pardon" to those whom he is compelled to jostle. The fine breeding of a gentleman never shows more conspicuously than in his manner of getting through a crowd. The beauty of it is, or, perhaps, I might say, the utility of it is, that courtesy in such a case is very much more effective than "bluff," for the majority in an orderly crowd are inclined to be obliging, and quickly respond to a good-humored request; whereas, if one aggressive elbow begins to push, a hundred other elbows are set rigidly akimbo, and the solid mass becomes ten-fold more unyielding than before.

If accosted by a stranger with a request for information as to streets, directions, etc., one should kindly reply, and, if not able to give the desired information, should, if possible, direct the stranger where to make further inquiries. Cheerful interest in the perplexities of a bewildered sojourner in the city costs nothing and is always highly appreciated. Only a pessimist or a snob would dismiss such a question curtly.

If a lady's dress has been torn, or trimming or braid ripped and left trailing after contact with the nails in a packing-box on the sidewalk, or from some similar accident, it is polite to call her attention to the disaster. A gentleman may do this with perfect propriety if he sees that she is not aware of it. He should preface the information with "Pardon me," and should lift his hat, as always when offering any civility.

When attending to business at banks, post-office, railroad ticket-offices, etc., one should pay no attention to other people, further than to guard against allowing one's absorbing interest in one's own affairs to make one regardless of the just rights of others in the matter of "turn" at ticket or stamp windows, or in the use of the public desk, pens, etc.--trifling tests of good manners that distinguish the well-bred, and which illustrate very pointedly the truth that selfishness is always vulgar, and that an unfailing habit of considering other people's comfort is a mark of gentle breeding.

A lady should say "Thank you" to a gentleman who gives up a seat to her in a street-car or other public conveyance, where, having paid for a seat, he has a right to it, and his voluntary relinquishment of it is a matter of personal courtesy on his part. The woman who slides into a place thus offered without acknowledging the obligation is very thoughtless, or else she has erroneous ideas of how far chivalry is bound to be the slave of selfishness. If the lady is accompanied by a gentleman, he, too, should say "Thank you," and lift his hat. He should also be thoughtful not to take the next vacated seat himself without first offering it to the polite stranger.

A young woman, strong and well, may properly give up her seat to a fragile woman, or a mother with a baby, or to an elderly man or woman.

Young ladies of leisure, who are not weary, should not be too ready to "oust" tired clerks and laboring men whose ride home at six o'clock is their first chance to sit down, for ten hours.

Men who smoke on the street should avoid the crowded promenade, where ladies "most do congregate;" since it is nearly impossible to avoid annoying some one with the smoke.

In most towns, the Board of Health ordinance forbidding spitting on floors, sidewalks, etc., is not only a hygienic safe-guard, but a much needed enforcement of good manners. Comment is superfluous.

Based upon an idea borrowed from olden days--that the right arm, the "sword arm," should be free for defense--a custom formerly prevailed for a man, walking with a lady, to place her always at his left side. Then later--also with some idea of shielding her from danger--it was the custom for a man to walk next to the curbstone, whether it happened to be left or right. This is still the rule, unless the sidewalk is crowded; in which case a man walks at the side next the opposing throng, in order to shield a lady from the elbows of the passers-by.

Authorities are divided on the subject of elevator etiquette, some denouncing in round terms the man who is so rude as to keep his hat on in an elevator where there are ladies; arguing that the elevator is a "little room," an "interior," not a thoroughfare. Others are equally emphatic in asserting that the elevator is a thoroughfare, merely; and that hats are not to be removed, except under the same conditions that would call for their removal in the street--as the greeting of acquaintances, or the exchange of civilities. The good sense of this view is apparent. A hat held in the hand in a crowded elevator is sure to be in the way, and liable to be crushed. A gentleman who wishes to compromise between stolid ignoring of the ladies who are strangers, and superfluous recognition of their presence, may lift his hat and replace it immediately, when a lady enters the elevator, or when he enters an elevator where ladies already are. Such a courtesy differs from a greeting in this: a stranger offering this elevator civility does not look at the lady, nor does he bend his head; and his lifted hat is an impersonal tribute to the sex. A lady makes no response to such a courtesy; yet there is in her general bearing a subtle something, hard to describe, but which every gentleman will readily recognize, that shows whether or not she observes and appreciates his little act of deference. The atmosphere of good manners may be as invisible as the air about us; but we know when we are breathing it.

During a promenade in the day-time, a lady does not take a man's arm unless she is feeble from age or ill-health, and needs the support. In the evening, a gentleman walking with a lady may offer her his arm. On no account should a man take a woman's arm. This is a disrespectful freedom, that might be supposed to be the specialty of the rustic beau, if it were not so frequently observed in city thoroughfares.

As crowds are distracting, and people bent on their own errands are often oblivious of their surroundings, it is quite possible for a seeming cut to have been an unconscious oversight. When an acquaintance seems not to see one, though close at baud, it is possible that something closer yet to his consciousness is absorbing all his thoughts. Only clear and unmistakable evidence of intention should lead one to infer a slight. It is not only more polite, but more self-respecting, to "take offense" slowly.

Further reading:
Etiquette by Agnes H. Morton

Historical Reads: A State Funeral for Richard III?

Following the news that Richard III's remains may have been found, author Gareth Russell wonders what kind of funeral he should be given. And why he believes "things like historical apologies, historical compensation and grand gestures of historical rehabilitation" aren't right. To quote:

However, I am very uneasy with things like historical apologies, historical compensation and grand gestures of historical rehabilitation. I think it cheapens History and feeds the arrogance of Modernity. For instance - a few years ago, there was a very well-meaning campaign, led by a decorated veteran from the Battle of Britain, to have Anne Boleyn posthumously pardoned and then removed from her grave in the Tower of London so that she could be reburied in Westminster Abbey. The campaign even attracted the attention of the Home Secretary and the Archbishop of Canterbury. But, ultimately, it failed. And it should have. Anne Boleyn still lies in the cold stone of the Tower of London's chapel and she is still, officially at least, a convicted traitor to her country and an adulteress.

There is far more reason to believe that Anne Boleyn was the victim of a truly horrifying miscarriage of justice than there is to suppose that Richard III wasn't guilty of at least some of the crimes he was accused of, but that doesn't mean that pardoning her and re-burying her would be right. If we stand up in 2012 and say "Oh, that was awful, let's make it better," then we are guilty of breathtaking arrogance in assuming that our actions can ameliorate past horrors. History should be left alone, so that it can stand and remind us of the horrors of the past - and of man's inhumanity to man. We must never assume that a couple of glib words and a few pretty ceremonies can erase that. Anne Boleyn should be left where she is, because reburying her in Westminster Abbey would only serve our emotions - not hers or anyone who knew her. It is far more poignant to stand in Saint Peter-ad-Vincula's today and to see the tiny little spot of earth where she was dumped back in 1536 and to reflect on a terrible time in our history, when women (no matter how gifted or exalted) were the property of their menfolk and could be disposed of as such. If we moved her into Westminster Abbey, we could stand there and comfort ourselves by thinking - "Isn't it nice, though, that in the end she ended up here?" And we should never, ever, try to give the past a happy ending to suit our own sentimentality. We should remember what really happened and understand that, in History, there is no retraction. There can be no mea culpa big enough to take back what has been done. If you believe Richard III was framed by the Tudors, this state funeral will amount to nothing more than an attempt to put a Disney-like gloss on his story. It would give him a happily ever after that detracts from the truth of his actual story.

To read the entire article, click here.

The Death of Sir Richard Croft

On 13 February 1818, Sir Richard Croft shot himself in the head. He died instantly. Croft, who left a wife, three sons and a daughter, had been a fashionable accoucheur and the year before had attended Princess Charlotte of Wales during her fatal confinement. After a 50-hours labour, the princess had given birth to a stillborn son, whom she had survived only for a few hours. Croft felt responsible for their deaths (he had prescribed a strict diet and frequents bloodlettings during the pregnancy, causing the princess to be quite weak when the moment to give birth arrived, and although correctly diagnosing a breech birth decided not to use forceps) and fell into a deep depression. He wasn't the only one to blame himself. The English people did too. Princess Charlotte had been very much loved and they needed someone to blame for her untimely death.

Charlotte' father, the Prince Regent, instead tried to reassure Croft, writing to him of his "entire confidence in the medical skill and ability which he displayed during the arduous and protracted labour". But that didn't seem to make Croft feel any better and eventually he committed suicide. Although some books, such as Charlotte & Leopold by James Chambers claim Croft had accidentally run across pistols at his patients house and decided to end his life straight away, the inquest report, published in The Times, makes it clear that the 57 year old physician had been planning his suicide for a day or two. For this purpose, he had been carrying around in his bag the pistols loaded with "slugs and small shot".

According to the inquest report, Croft had been called to Miss Cotton's house to attend to her sister, Mrs Thackeray, who had gone into labour. The physician attended his patient until about 11 o'clock pm. He was very tired by then and so Mrs Thackery's relatives convinced him, not without difficulty, to retire to rest, but he said he would readily get up when it was time for his patient to give birth. At about 2 o'clock, Mr Thackeray, who had gone to bed too, heard a noise, "which he thought was like the falling of a chair", but didn't think anything of it and went to sleep again. An hour later he was awakened by a servant maid who told him his wife was ready to give birth.

He rushed down the stairs to call the doctor. He found the door ajar, went in and saw Croft. He was "lying on the bed on his back; he held a pistol in each hand: the muzzles of both were at either side of his head. They had been discharged." He was dead. He hadn't given any indication of what he was about to do, only remarking to Mr Thackeray, when he mentioned that he was agitated for the birth, "What is your agitation, compared to mine?”. Mrs. Thackeray was safely delivered.

Mr. George Hollings, surgeon, of Green-street, Grosvenor-square, said at the inquest that Croft hadn't been himself lately and was often in a melancholic mood: "He used to sigh very much, and his mind was so absorbed that he would not give answers to questions that were put to him: for the last ten days the deceased had been attending a patient who was in a dangerous state; and on witness conversing with him respecting her, deceased had thrown himself on the bed, and would violently strike his forehead as if his brain was very much agitated. He noticed him particularly on Tuesday night as he was attending a lady (a patient); he was so agitated that Dr. Warren asked him if he was ill? He answered in an incoherent manner, “No.”"

Dr. Latham, a friend of the deceased, confirmed Croft had been very agitated in the months prior to his death. He seemed that, not only he felt guilty, but he had lost confidence in his abilities, exclaiming "that he would give 500 guineas it was over, rather than having to attend her”, when talking of a patient he fancied was in danger. However, she was delivered safely. He even refused cases: "On Tuesday last Sir Richard came for witness [Dr Latham], but he had left home. Sir Richard’s servant stopped him in the street, and requested, at his master’s desire, the witness would attend on another patient for him, who resided in Sloane-street. Witness repaired to Cadogan-place, Chelsea, and the family were much surprised that Sir Richard did not attend, when he had the case." At half past four on Friday morning, Dr Latham had been called by Rev Dr Thackeray to go to his house where he found Croft dead.

The Times added: "At the conclusion of the evidence, the Coroner and Jury retired to take a view of the body of the deceased, which lay in an upper apartment, and was in a dreadful condition, the head being blown to pieces, and the deceased’s bed and bed-clothes being covered with blood; each hand grasped a pistol, which had been loaded with a slug and small shot; the contents entered at the temples. On a chair by the side of the bedstead on which the deceased lay were several of Shakespeare’s plays. The room was very small, and it appeared as if the deceased had been reading.

One of the play-books lay inside the fender, and was entitled "Love’s Labour Lost."One of the jury took up the book and noticed to his brother jury-men that one of the characters used the following expressions in the page which lay open on the hearth: "Good God! where’s the Princess?" The jury remarked this as a singular coincidence, and returned to the jury-room, where the Coroner (Mr. Stirling) summed up the evidence, and the jury, after a short consultation, returned a verdict of - "Died by his own act, being at the time he committed it in a state of mental derangement.""

Further reading:
Charlotte & Leopold: The True Story of The Original People's Princess by James Chambers
Prinny's Taylor

Fashions For Winter 1832

Hello everyone,

I hope you like my fashion posts because I have more prints of pretty dresses to show you today. Enjoy!


No 1

Pelisse of arbre de Judec, gros de Indes; the corsage is made high, plain, and covered by a double cape, broad on the shoulders, each cape is edged with a band of satin, of the same colour as the dress; plaited or crimped into minute folds, and edged with cording. Another and similar band heads the hem of the skirt, which is fastened down in front, by bows of satin ribbon; hat of green velours epingle, trimmed with satin ribbons, and a plume of elegant white feathers; bottines of kid.

No 2

A dress of bleu Adelaide merino, trimmed with rouleaux, high corsage, and plain, full Amadis sleeve, collar of beautifully embroidered net or muslin; amber-coloured Cachemire shawl, with a rich double border, of a delicate pattern on a white ground. Hat of white moire, ornamented with a bunch of laburnum, and tied with white figured ribbon; a deep blonde curtain surrounds the brim, which is also trimmed inside with a blonde ruche. 

No 3

Ball dress of white mousseline de soie over satin, the corsage is cut low, plain, and square, and is completely covered by the pelerine, which is of pink satin edged with blonde. The front and back pieces are separate, and shaped en fichu, the short point reaching even below the band, while the other ends, which are much longer, cross over the sleeve, and are fastened to the strap which confines it round the arm; this pelerine is without opening behind, and is fastened on each shoulder by a noeud of six coques of ribbon; the band round the waist is of satin like the pelerine, and finishes he hind with a noeud like those on the shoulders. The skirt is trimmed with large slanting scallops, formed by three rouleaux; to each of the points, placed uppermost, is fastened a sprig of pink reine marguerite with foliage, issuing from a leaf of satin edged with blonde. The hair is dressed in Grecian plaits, with a marguerite on each side, and one rising from behind the comb; the jewellery should be gold or pink topaz. White satin gloves and shoes.

No 4

A dress of oiseau de paradis satin, the corsage is drapé across the bust, with a stomacher in front, edged with narrow blonde delicately quilled; the sleeves are short, and fall in very full bouffants over a double ruche of quilling which confines it to the arm; just above it, in the middle, is placed a bow of satin ribbon, with long ends. A blonde chemisette shades the bust. The skirt set on in deep double plaits, en colonnes, and is finished by a superb flounce of blonde, headed by a row of triangular fan like ornaments, edged with quilling. The hair is dressed plain in front, with a full spreading coque on the crown of the head, behind which is placed a plume of white feathers; one, the longest, is brought more in front, so as to fall over the right temple. Necklace, sevigne, and aigrette of pearls and emeralds. Shoes and gloves of white satin.



A dress of Pomona green Irish poplin. The corsage is extremely low, and open en pointe both before and behind. The lapels which turn down en fichu are cut gradually increasing in depth on the shoulders, and diminishing at the points, they are edged with deep blonde; a rouleau, set in scallops à jour, partly over the lapels, and partly over the blonde, gives a very elegant finish to this garniture. The hem of the skirt is low, and surmounted by a similar trimming of blonde and scallops. The corsage de dessous is of tulle, as well as the long sleeves, which are of the full amadis form. The coiffure consists of two deeply vandyked ailes of white satin, edged with blonde; a bunch of violets is placed above the curls on the right side; while on the left, where the coiffure is less high, is placed another smaller bunch, and a bow with two very long ends, one of which falls as low as the shoulder. Violet satin shoes. Sevigne, earrings, and bracelets of gold and amethyst.


A pelisse-robe of claret cachemire Francois. The corsage is close to the shape, and open in front, crossing over considerably on the left side. The opening of the skirt is concealed by the depth of the folds. The collar, which is very narrow, and has the appearance of turning over, is of black velours epingle, and is divided on the shoulders, where it forms two dents; the cuffs are of the same material, as well as the deep hem, and the epaulettes - the latter are made a l'Espagnole, in separate corded loops, and completely surround the top of the sleeve, although they rather diminish in size and depth as they reach the under part of the arm. Hat of blue moire, trimmed with gauze ribbon and one large feather tipped with blue. Bottines of kid. Light blue gloves. Sable boa tippet.


A dress of rich white satin, the skirt is very full, and is embroidered above the hem, with a wreath of small roses in their natural colours; the corsage is plain, the upper part concealed by a deep round pelerine of fluted tulle, over which falls a lapel of the same material as the dress, embroidered with leaves and rosebuds. The lapel is cut in three scallops on each shoulder. Full beret sleeve. The hair is dressed with a bow and braid, and two sprigs of roses, the one much larger than the other. Pearl jewellery. White satin gloves and shoes. Ceinture of embroidered satin.


A rich robe of amaranthe velvet, the corsage has a Sevigne drapery across the bust, and is plain behind. A ruche of tulle goes completely round the back, terminating in front of each shoulder. The sleeves are full and short, and covered by a superb double fall of blonde. The skirt has no trimming, but is set on the band in full double-fluted folds, reversed en colonne, which gives the velvet a singularly rich and splendid appearance. Diamond and ruby necklace, earrings, and Sevigne.

Further reading:
The Royal lady's magazine, and archives of the court of St. James's, 1832