Happy Easter

Happy Easter everyone!

Historical Reads: The Economic Causes Of The French Revolution

Author Gareth Russell discusses the causes of the French Revolution. To quote:

In his 1943 book The Queen's Necklace, the late, great Hungarian writer, Antal Szerb, eloquently questioned whether the traditional links between economics and the French Revolution are accurate. Rather than a case of grinding national poverty, Szerb believed that Louis XVI's France had actually been accustomed to fairly high living standards under the monarchy, only for that to be eroded in the recession of the late 1780s. It was government over-spending, not widespread hardship, that led to the breakdown of royal authority in 1789.

To read the entire article click here.

Princess Charlotte Of Wales Imitates Her Uncle

In his memoirs, Fifty Years Of My Life, George Thomas Keppel, 6th Earl of Albemarle, and a childhood friend of Princess Charlotte of Wales, recalls how the young girl used to imitate her maternal uncle, the German Duke Of Brunswick:

It was not long after his return that I met the Duke at Warwick House a sad and somewhat stern-looking man with sunken eyes and bushy eyebrows, and, what was then seldom seen in England, a pair of mustaches. The demeanour of the uncle and niece were the very opposites. His, sedate and silent; hers, impulsive and voluble. He seemed well satisfied to be a listener, and to be much interested in the Princess's lively and careless prattle. On her part she almost worshipped him. Once, after a visit from the Duke, she improvised a mustache, swaggered up and down the room, then making a sudden stop, with arms akimbo, she uttered some German expletives which would probably have hardly borne a translation, and thus sought to give you her conception of
a " Black Bruiiswicker!"

Further reading:
Fifty years of my life by George Thomas, Earl Of Albermarle

Fashions For August 1829

Hello everyone,

today we're gonna take a look at what fashions were popular in the summer of 1829. There's even an image of a wedding dress. Enjoy!



A Round dress of Brussels lace over a slip of white gros de Tours; the body of the slip is cut low and square; the corsage of the dress is made up to the throat and fastens behind, it sets close to the shape round the upper part of the bust, but has a little fulness at the bottom of the waist. Long sleeve a l'Imbecille over the manche à la beret of the slip. A biais of white lace, finished at the upper edge by a white satin rouleau, goes round the skirt, and is surmounted by an embroidery of uncommon depth and beauty. A Turkish pelisse of white satin is worn over the lace dress; it is open in front, and the corsage open before and behind falls over the bust in a deep fold, which is divided on the shoulder; a satin rouleau edges the front and corsage of the pelisse; the bottom of which has no other trimming than an ourlet of uncommon breadth. The hair is arranged in front in the Madona style, and disposed in full bows on the crown of the head. Head-dress, a garland of flowers (orange) and a Brussels lace veil; pearl necklace, from which is suspended a diamond cross; diamond earrings; gold bracelets, à la Grecque, with diamond clasps; white satin slippers laced in the sandal style; white kid gloves.


A round dress composed of lemon colour gros d'eté, corsage carrée, cut very low and made to set close to the shape. Sleeve extremely short and full, confined to the arm by a narrow rouleau, and puffed out very much on the shoulder. The skirt is finished by two very deep biais folds, each surmounted by a wreath of mingled roses and wild flowers, embroidered in coloured silks. Canezou of white gaze d'Ispahan; the corsage is made to the throat, but without a collar; it is of an easy fulness. The sleeves are l'Imbecille; they are the same width as last month, but the wristbands are rather narrower. Head-dress, a crape hat of a colour just introduced, called Malvina; the brim is deeper than the hats of last month, but not so wide; the crown something higher; a rouleau of pale blue satin edges the brim, the inside of which is ornamented with coques of broad blue and rose colour gauze riband; the crown is trimmed with nœuds of riband intermingled with short plumes à Vinca, and a long white ostrich feather, which issues from one of the nœuds, and falls over the brim on the left side; the brides flow loose. Gold ear-rings of the pear form; necklace à L'Espagnole of wrought silk, fastened at the throat by a gold and ruby clasp, a ruby heart confines it at the centre of the bosom, and a massive gold cross is suspended from it in the ceinture; bracelets of wrought silk with massive gold clasps; white gros de Naples slippers; white kid gloves.


A white gros de Naples dress. Corsage en chemisette, cut low and to fall much off the shoulder; it is finished round the bust with a light embroidery in white floize silk. Short sleeves en bouillon, divided by a rouleau, and terminated by a row of Vandykes. Ceinture à pointe edged with rose-colour gros de Naples, having a bouquet of flowers painted in the centre. The skirt is finished by a biais of the usual breadth, terminating in scollops, which are just seen above the rouleau that borders the biais: this is surmounted by a painted wreath of fancy flowers. The front hair is dressed very low, and in loose curls: the hind hair is twisted up in an Apollo's knot, which is placed very far back. A band of pearls goes round the head, and is brought low on the forehead; a wreath of fancy flowers goes round the back of the head, and is arranged in the diadem style in front, and partly entwined in the knot of Apollo. Pearl necklace, in the centre of which is an Egyptian brooch, also of pearl; pearl ear-rings, similar in form to the brooch; white gros de Naples slippers en sandales; white kid gloves; carved ivory fan.


A pink crape gown over a gros de Naples slip to correspond in colour. Corsage cut square and low, the back and the lower part of the front tight to the shape, but drape on the bosom. The drapery confined in the centre by a rouleau, which descends to the bottom of the waist. A falling tucker à l'enfant of blond lace, particularly full on the shoulders. Long sleeve of blond gauze, confined a little above the elbow by a white satin rouleau, and terminated by a cuff a la Marie Stuart of pink crape; the upper part cut in points, which are edged with narrow blond lace, the lower part confined to the arm by a band and gold buckle. Ceinture a la Marie Stuart. The bottom of the skirt is finished by a large rouleau of pink gros de Naples, and that is surmounted by a trimming arranged partly in dents de Scie, and partly in dents de Imp. The dents are corded with gros de Naples, and the trimming, which is disposed in a very novel style, reaches considerably above the knee. Head-dress a hat of jaune vapeur crape. The inside of the brim is trimmed on one side with an intermixture of blond lace and white gauze riband. A row of blond lace, to which is attached a rouleau of crape to correspond with the hat, is arranged round the upper part of the crown, so as to give uncommon height to the chapeau. Four white curled ostrich feathers, placed on the right side, mingle with this trimming, which is terminated on the left side by a noeud of white gauze riband brought from under the brim. Diamond necklace, white kid gloves, white gros de Naples slippers, carved cedar fan.


A gown of rose-colour cot-pali, corsage carrée cut very low round the bust, and to fasten behind. Short and very full sleeve. The skirt is finished by a hem that reaches to the knee, and is surmounted by two rouleaux of gros de Naples, a shade darker than the dress. Fichu of white lace, fastened behind, and embroidered in detached sprigs of foliage at regular distances round the bust. Collarette composed of four rows of white lace, arranged in dents de loup. The canezou worn with this dress is of plain India muslin; it is made very low on the shoulders, crosses in front in the fichu style, and ties behind in the centre of the waist, in short bows and ends. Sleeve à l'Imbecille of the usual fulness, finished at the wrist by a single bouillon, and a narrow cuff; and on the shoulder by a winged epaulette consisting of two falls, which, as well as the wrists and the fronts, are bordered by narrow pointed Mechlin lace of extreme fineness. Head-dress, a bonnet of rice straw; the brim is as deep but not so wide as last month: a full fluting of rose-colour gauze riband is arranged on the inside of it, next the face; the fluting is terminated by strings which are left loose. Noeuds of rose-colour gauze riband, intermingled with exotics, decorate the front of the crown. Yellow gloves; bottines of green gros des hides; green parasol of a large size.


A gown of sea-green gros d'ete; the corsage made up to the throat, and ornamented en coeur with folds which turn over en schall; they are edged with narrow scolloped trimming. These folds are arranged on the back and front, so as to form a complete heart; and being open on the shoulder, they form an epaulette. Long sleeve, extremely full, but not falling over the hand, terminated by a very novel and original cuff, called a la Dauphine. We must refer our fair readers to our print for the shape of this cuff. The fulness of the skirt is more than usually thrown behind; the plaits at the sides being shallow, and not coming so forward as usual. The trimming consists of a Grecian border, formed by a rouleau of satin edged with a scolloped volant: this is surmounted by two rouleaux laid close together. Collarette, a double quilling of blond lace, put on so as partially to display the throat. Bonnet-cap of the demi-cornette shape, the border is of blond lace and very full. Chapeau demi-capote of Leghorn, ornamented under the brim on each side, with noeuds of lilac and white striped riband, intermingled with blond lace. The crown is trimmed with noeuds of gauze riband and white ostrich feathers, the latter falling in different directions. Gold ear-rings, and massive gold necklace, to which is suspended a gold enamelled flacon of the antique form; lemon-coloured kid gloves, embroidered in coloured silks: bottines of jaune vapeur gros des Indes.

What do you think of these dresses? Do you like them?

Further reading:
R. Ackermann's Repository of fashions 1829

Book Review: Il Mercante Di Lana By Valeria Montaldi

Il Mercante Di Lana (The Wool Merchant) is the first of a series of historical novels, set in the Middle Ages, that narrates the adventures of Father Matthew, an English monk who was kicked out of his monastery for helping to hide a woman accused of witchcraft. During his peregrinations, Father Matthew has a vision. God wants him to turn his steps to Felik, a small village in the Alps, to save its inhabitants, most of which are rich merchants. Money and success have gone to their heads and hardened their hearts, and if they won't repent and change their ways, God will punish them.

Matthew, armed with the best intentions and scared of being denounced as a heretic if he claims he had a vision, starts his very long journey to Felix, a journey that it is made even longer by the many adventurous he encounters on his way: he becomes friends with Otto, another merchant who is heading roughly in the same direction and to whom Matthew confides his worries; he is asked to save a man, unjustly condemned, from prison; and is robbed along the way, to name but a few. In the meantime, the inhabitants of Felix are busy with their little squabbles and intrigues, while the rich Hermann is also adamant to prevent his only son and heir from marrying his lovely and hardworking, but poor, beloved.

It is Matthew's adventurous and the daily life at Felix that makes up most of the book. The monk arrives at Felix only towards the end of the novel, and the inhabitants have very little time to decide whether to listen to his words or not. Maybe this is the reason why I couldn't really get into this book. To me, more than a historical novel, The Wool Merchant sounds like an essay written in a novel form, a way for the author to showcase her knowledge of every aspect of daily life in the Middle Ages and of the walser people (the inhabitants of Felix belong to the walser community). As interesting as all these detailed information is, the book is not a page turner.

There are too many characters, and most of them interact only with the monk, so when he proceeds on his journey leaving them behind, they just disappear from the narration. Their only reason for being is that the author seemed intent on including every type of person that you could have encountered in the Middle Ages, from a rich vassal to a poor robber, from a prostitute to a servant. Once their roles and duties are explained to the reader, they aren't needed anymore.

Another thing that put me off is the dialogues, although I should probably say monologues. All the characters, from the poorest and most ignorant servant to the richest and best-educated vassal, make very long speeches. You ask them a question, they will tell you their whole life stories, which just isn't believable. No one talks like that in real life, not now, not centuries ago. Even less believable is that all these monologues are uttered in perfect Italian (or whatever other language you're reading the book in; I have the Italian edition obviously). Grammar is always perfect, long and refined words are used, and the tone is almost always formal. Even the poorest characters never use contractions or dialectal expressions.

Still, as a first effort, The Wool Merchant isn't bad. The author needs to learn that there is no need to include a pletora of facts that have nothing to do with the main storyline, and that subplots must have a point that's not simply that of showcasing her historical knowledge of the period and the walser people (although if she wrote an essay about that, I'd buy it in a heartbeat as Montaldi obviously knows what she's talking about). Character development needs to be improved too, but overall, the story is nice and well-researched, it raises interesting questions and it will also teach some moral lessons.

The Wool Merchant is a historical novel set in the Alps in the Middle Ages. Father Matthew needs to go to Felix to warn the inhabitants that something bad will happen to them if they don't stop being so selfish and proud. Along the way, he has lots of adventures and encounters lots of different people. Although the story is well-researched, it seems its only purpose is to showcase the author's knowledge of this era and of the walser community, an aim that would have been better achieved by writing an essay. In addition, the long, formal and proper way in which all the characters talk is not believable. Still, I recommend it to those who want to know more about the Middle Ages and the walser people.

Available at: amazon.it

Rating: 3.5/5

Marie Antoinette Becomes A Glamorous French Princess

Marie Antoinette was one of the, if not the, most glamorous and stylish women of her time. She dictated fashions, and, although she preferred simpler styles, she was famous for her extravagant tastes, her opulent gowns and her crazy hairdos. All heads turned to look at the graceful Queen wherever she went, with women taking note of what she was wearing, so that they could rush to their dressmakers and order gowns and accessories in the same, exact styles.

But Marie Antoinette wasn't always a fashion icon. When, at the tender age of 13, she had been betrothed to the Dauphin, she hadn't been deemed neither pretty nor glamorous enough to be a suitable French Queen. Ouch! Fashion was very important at the glittering court of Versailles, but the young archduchess wasn't really interested in it at the time, preferring to play around one of the imperial palaces, and as a result, she often looked unkempt. Something needed to be done to transform this lively caterpillar into a graceful butterfly.

To start with, Marie Antoinette needed a whole new wardrobe, and her mother, the empress Maria Theresa, ordered one for her from Parisian dressmakers. This meant that the young girl had to spend hours with dressmakers, milliners and shoemakers, who took her measures, and showed her their new designs and swatches of cloth in every possible fabric, colour, and pattern, so that she could choose those she liked and suited her colouring better. If this could have been fun, at least for someone into fashion, wearing a stiff and restrictive whalebone corset wasn't.

That wasn't the only torture she had to endure to become a beautiful butterfly. Marie Antoinette's teeth were crooked, so Pierre Laveran, a French dentist, was summoned to Vienna to fix them. He told the young girl that, for the next three months, she would have to wear the "pelican", a type of braces made of metal, usually gold, and silk thread, which had been invented by another French dentist, Pierre Fauchard.

Marie Antoinette also had a high forehead and an uneven hairline. French hairdresser Larsenneur was called to the rescue. He carefully arranged her thick, strawberry blonde curls in a powdered hairdo that managed to hide both these flaws. Once all these French experts had done with her, Marie Antoinette would have probably stared in awe at the mirror, hardly recognizing the beautiful, elegant and graceful girl staring back at her. Of course, her education and etiquette knowledge needed to be improved too, but that's a topic for another post.

Further reading:
Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser

Lady Fanshawe's Ship Attacked

Lady Fanshawe was travelling to Spain with her husband, English poet and politician Sir Richard Fanshawe, when their ship was about to be attacked by a Turkish galley. Here's her account of this experience:

"When we had just passed the straits, we saw coming towards us, with full sails, a Turkish galley well manned, and we believed we should be all carried away slaves, for this man had so laden his ship with goods from Spain, that his guns were useless, though the ship carried sixty guns; he called for brandy, and after he had well drunken, and all his men, which were near two hundred, he called for arms, and cleared the deck as well as he could, resolving to fight rather than lose his ship, which was worth thirty thousand pounds; this was sad for us passengers, but my husband bid us be sure to keep in the cabin, and not appear--the women--which would make the Turks think we were a man-of-war, but if they saw women they would take us for merchants and board us. He went upon the deck, and took a gun and bandoliers, and sword, and, with the rest of the ship's company, stood upon deck, expecting the arrival of the Turkish man-of-war.

This beast, the captain, had locked me up in the cabin; I knocked and called long to no purpose, until at length the cabin-boy came and opened the door; I, all in tears, desired him to be so good as to give me his blue thrum cap he wore, and his tarred coat, which he did, and I gave him half-a-crown, and putting them on, and flinging away my night-clothes, I crept up softly, and stood upon the deck by my husband's side, as free from sickness and fear, as, I confess, from discretion; but it was the effect of that passion which I could never master.

By this time the two vessels were engaged in parley, and so well satisfied with speech and sight of each other's forces, that the Turks' man-of-war tacked about, and we continued our course. But when your father saw it convenient to retreat, looking upon me, he blessed himself, and snatched me up in his arms, saying, 'Good God, that love can make this change!' and though he seemingly chid me, he would laugh at it as often as he remembered that voyage."

Further reading:
The Town by Leigh Hunt

Historical Reads: Matters of Fact in Jane Austen, by Janine Barchas

Jane Austen's World reviews a new book about Jane Austen. To quote:

Janine Barchas, author of Matters of Fact in Jane Austen, points out that in addition to Jane’s wit, intelligence , humor, and creativity in penning her novels, she associated her fictional characters with famous British families. For the contemporary Regency reader, the Woodhouses, Fitzwilliams, Wentworths, and Dashwoods were the celebrities of their day. In choosing famous names, Jane Austen ramped up her readers’ interest in her fictional characters by associating them with notable names, places, and events.

In her book, Barchas examines genealogy, history, and geography and comes up with some fascinating information that has recently surfaced via online documents and texts. I had always assumed that Jane pulled names out of a hat, or picked them for how well they fit the character. (Mr. Wickham for the charming villain, Mr. Knightley, who is kind and good and a bit of a knight in shining armor.) According to Barchas, that is not necessarily the case. Take Northanger Abbey, for instance. Among Bath’s wealthiest residents n the 18th century were the Allens from Prior Park, a grand and beautiful Palladian mansion that was visible from #4 Sydney Place, the house in which the Austens resided before Rev. Austen’s death.

To read the entire article, click here.

An Uncaring Fiancé

When Georgiana Spencer agreed to marry William, Duke of Devonshire, she erroneously believed he had the same character as her father: distant, cold and awkward in public, but warm and affectionate in private. Unfortunately, she was wrong. Her fiancé was just distant and cold. An incident that happened when they were in Bath, and that was recorded by Mary Granville in her autobiography, should have made her realize the truth. Sadly, it didn't.

Spencer's, &c, still at Bath. One night, at a ball, Lady G. S.* overcome with heat, fainted away, which of course made a little bustle. His (philosophical) Grace was at the other end of the room and ask'd " What's that?" they told him, and he replied with his usual demureness (alias dulness), "I thought the noise —was—among—the women."

The Duke didn't even try to go over to Georgiana to see how she was. He just carried on as if nothing had happened. Poor Georgiana!

*Georgiana Spencer

Further reading:
The autobiography and correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs. Delany

Mortality Of Infants

I was browsing the 1829 edition of The Ladies' Pocket Magazine, when I came across this article about the mortality of infants at the time and its causes. The article was republished from another magazine, "The Companion to the Almanack", which The Ladies' Pocket Magazine described as "one of the most useful publications of the day". Here it is:


Before the introduction of vaccine inoculation, more than a fourth of the children who were born in London, died, before they had attained their second year. The proportion for 1827 was between a fourth and fifth, the numbers christened being 29,925, and those dying thus prematurely 6,580. This, we regret to observe, is an increase upon the returns of seven years earlier, 1820, by which it appears that a fifth so perished. The numbers fluctuate; and the cause may, perhaps, be attributed to the prevalence of fevers and other contagious diseases at particular seasons. Upon an average of years, it would appear that about a fifth of the children, born in the metropolis, die before two years of age.

It is certainly not intended by nature, that so large a proportion of the young of the human race should be thus cut off from life. The infancy of man is, indeed, a tender and helpless period, and one which requires the exercise of the most watchful care on the part of the mother. But the evils which naturally belong to it are infinitely aggravated by injudicious management—by unnatural methods of feeding and clothing —by the neglect of a due attention to cleanliness and exercise. From the moment that a child is born, a system of mismanagement begins, which, fortunately, it is now the earnest endeavour of medical men to reprove; but which still exists in almost all cases where the mother is either herself weak and ignorant, or surrenders her judgment to weak and ignorant nurses. We shall point out the chief of these evils, and offer, as we go along, a few hints for the adoption of a more reasonable course.

The first process which nurses were accustomed to pursue with a new-born child, (and which many still continue,) was to wash it, even in winter, with cold water. Spirits have been sometimes mixed with the water, or rubbed over afterwards, by which the violently painful sensation of cold is increased, by the increase of evaporation; and strong soap has been used, by which the skin is inflamed, and is rendered exquisitely painful to the touch for several days. It is necessary to wash the infant, but that should be done with warm water and a soft cloth, and the gentlest friction only should be employed.

The operation of dressing was formerly conducted with the same disregard to the feelings of the infant, as that of washing. A long roller was bound several times round the chest, and was usually so tightly applied, as to press upon and confine the ribs, and prevent that fair play of the lungs so necessary to the newly-established function of respiration. This bandage, in the use of which many nurses and mothers still persist, is a great cause of the flat sides and contracted chests which we see in after life; for the bones of infants are so soft, that they yield and take a form from very slight pressure. To prevent a new-born infant suffering from cold, it requires to be clothed with all convenient speed; but its clothes should be made to fit on loosely, so as not to produce the smallest degree of pressure on any part of its limbs or body. The roller that is commonly applied to confine the clothes round the chest should on no account be used. The greater part of the infant's dress should consist of flannel, particularly the garment next the skin. A flannel cap is generally put upon the head; but this is an error, for the head should be kept as cool as possible, and the flannel cap, and perhaps all caps, should be discontinued.

The practice of giving new-born infants gruel, sugar and butter, or medicine, is in all respects absurd and injurious. Some mothers and nurses even give the infant gin, which is absolute poison. Nature has provided both food and medicine in the sustenance which the mother affords. Some mothers and nurses had a ridiculous notion that two or three days ought to elapse, before the infant should receive the food which nature has destined for it; and, till that time arrived, it was drenched with pap, which filled its bowels with acidity, and produced flatulency and pain. Even this absurdity is not altogether exploded. Disease is the certain consequence of every attempt to substitute any food whatever for the sustenance of the mother. It is very rarely that the mother has not sufficient for the support of her infant, even within a few hours of its birth; the substitution, therefore, is as unnecessary, as it is cruel.

But the great evil which the unhappy infant has to endure, in many cases, is when mothers, after they have perfectly recovered, persuade themselves, or are persuaded, that the child requires feeding;—that they have not adequate means for its support; and that it may be supported by any other food than that which nature has provided. Indolence, and a love of pleasure, sometimes suggest this fatal delusion to the rich; ignorance, and a wish to be freed from a constant interruption to labor, lead the poor to a similar course. The result for the infant is, almost invariably, death, or diseases through life, which are worse than death. From the moment that the pap-spoon is constantly, and even occasionally, in the mouth of a child, and he is obliged to swallow all sorts of indigestible messes, as substitutes for the thin, light, easily digestible fluid that nature destined for him, sickness must necessarily follow. There is no escaping it; and, one by one, the unhappy victims swell the list of burials in every parish. The stages which lead to the grave are these :—

The bowels, which were before regular, become confined or loose; flatulence, gripes, and acidities, are continually present; the child loses its rest, and is always crying; its belly enlarges; its skin becomes flabby, and wrinkled; and its limbs have more the appearance belonging to age than to infancy; a sure sign that it is not nourished by the large quantities of food that it is continually taking, and ever craving for. Its limbs grow weak, and, at the time it may be expected to walk, it is found unable to use its legs at all. The evil effects of an unnatural diet are generally increased by the injudicious attempts to remedy them by medicine. With the poor, 'Dalby's Carminative,' or 'Godfrey's Cordial,' are at hand to procure a little rest for the sufferer, or quiet for the nurse; if these are wanting, porter or gin is added to its victuals for the same purpose. Others undertake to cure his gripes by purging, and for that purpose he is poisoned with calomel, an active preparation of mercury, which is given as though it was as harmless as so much chalk. A deprivation of air and exercise is generally added to the evils enumerated. It greatly aggravates the injury inflicted on the health by ill-judged feeding, and neglect; and often causes, and always tends to confirm, the derangement of the functions of the stomach and bowels, from which most of the disorders proceed that originate in childhood, and which so often shorten and embitter life.

The great point to impress upon every mother is, that a child requires no other food than her milk, till it has four teeth. If, by a chance, which rarely happens, except amongst women who live luxuriously, the supply of the mother should not be adequate, or be deficient in quality of nourishment, assistance must be obtained. The milk of another woman, whose child is about the same age, should, if possible, be procured, as the best substitute for the mother's milk. If this cannot be obtained, asses' milk should be preferred to anything else; but, if neither of these are at hand, the food should consist of two parts of thin barley water or gruel, or arrow root made with water, and one part of cows' milk, sweetened with a little white sugar: this mixture, if properly made, is very thin. Whether asses' milk, or this food be used, the child should be made to suck it from a proper sucking bottle, the action of sucking being as necessary to the infant as chewing is to the adult. When the child has four teeth, it may be furnished with more substantial food than can be procured from the mother; and upon the appearance of the canine or eye teeth, it may be allowed animal food. But the stomach is best satisfied with the simplest viands; and any changes of diet, or provocatives to appetite, are perfectly unnecessary, and altogether injurious. Of salt, (which, in some respects, is a provocation to appetite,) children should be allowed to partake freely. It is almost universally the practice, with those who have the care of children, to deny them salt, under the mistaken idea that it makes them thirsty. To this mistake is to be attributed the prevalence of worms in the intestines of children. Salt is a preventive in this disease, and a grateful stimulant to the digestive organs.

Some children outlive the worst nursing; and others, who may have been nursed upon rational principles, have their constitutions ruined at a later stage, by the false indulgence of their parents, who allow them fermented liquors, of wine and beer, under the mistaken notion of supporting their strength. Others, again, are allowed to eat to excess, the moment they can eat at all. The only secure direction for feeding infants is, that they should be kept slightly craving. When children have all their teeth, the necessity for this restraint in a great measure ceases.

The directions given for dressing the infant, in the first instance, contain the principles that should be kept in view as it grows older. Its clothes should be so formed as to protect it from cold, and not to restrain the motion of its limbs, or to produce the effects of pressure on any part of the body. Great attention is necessary to be paid to keeping the body of an infant clean, which can only be done by regular washing, morning and evening. The napkins of infants, for an obvious reason, cannot be changed too frequently. We would lay great stress on the necessity of washing them twice a day. The great heat of their bodies, and the very tender and irritable state of their skin, render this absolutely necessary. When neglected, it is not surprising that the child should spend the night in crying; a complaint frequently made by those mothers and nurses who are careless on this subject.

Exercise is essential to well-being in every period of life; and in none more so than in the helpless state of infancy. No bounds can be assigned, to which the exercising infants should be carried. If it be but of a nature proportioned to their strength, there is greater fear of their having too little than too much. As soon as a child is able to crawl, the restless activity with which nature has endowed it, will secure its enjoyment of all the advantages exercise can give it. It may be necessary, however, to observe, that during the winter it is hazardous to carry infants, unable to walk, into the open air.

We sum up these remarks, by repeating their principal practical directions:—The food of the infant should be adapted to its age and growth; while it is without teeth, it should live upon its mother's milk ; when it has four teeth, it may be weaned, and fed on milk, with a little bread; as the number of its teeth increases, the solid part of its food should be increased; and when it has all its teeth, it may be allowed animal food, and not before; the quantity of its food should be attended to as much as the quality; children require no change of food to stimulate their appetites; air and exercise cannot be secured to them too liberally; cleanliness, and frequent washing, are essential to their comfort; they should be clothed in flannel; and their clothes should fit them so loosely as not to produce the slightest effect of pressure.

Further reading:
The Ladies' Pocket Magazine, 1829

Book Review: Rose Bertin, The Creator Of Fashion At The Court Of Marie Antoinette by Emile Langlade

Rose Bertin, dressmaker to Queen Marie Antoinette, is one of the most famous couturiers in history. Born in a small village in a family of small means, the ambitious Rose soon decided to go to Paris to try her luck. She became apprenticed to a milliner, Mademoiselle Pagelle, and later, became her partner. Talented, determined and with a sharp business sense, Rose soon attracted important clients, such as Princesse de Conti, the Duchesse de Chartres and the Princesse de Lamballe, and, through them, met Marie Antoinette. In 1770, she opened her own shop, Le Grand Mogol, who was frequented by the richest and noblest ladies at the court of Versailles.

Rose Bertin's business was almost ruined by the outbreak of the French Revolution. Suddenly, even the smallest luxury was considered a crime against the state. Women started dressing very simply and only went to clothing shops for small and inexpensive orders of ribbons and alterations. Most of Bertin's colleagues had to close their shops, but she managed to keep her business going by moving it to London. Even more amazingly, she managed to keep her head on her shoulders despite being so closely connected with the much maligned Queen and being declared an emigree. Rose may have been proud and stubborn, but she also was resourceful and with a strong sense of survival, which managed to see her through the many difficulties she encountered in her life.

Unfortunately, there's not much information about Rose Bertin, so this biography will tell you her story, but not in a very detailed way. However, this book is only partly about Rose's life. Half of the book is dedicated to the French fashions of the ancient regime, many of which Rose created herself and helped make them popular. If you're into fashion history, then you have to read this book. It focuses mainly on hairstyles, but other fashions are mentioned too and there are even several pictures to illustrate hairdos and trends. It's incredible at what quick rate one fashion followed the other, and how women didn't hesitate to wear ridiculous and uncomfortable trends just to be fashionable.

However, the book is not without faults. The first is the writing style, which, due to the period in which it was written (1906), is old-fashioned and convoluted, which can be quite boring for us modern readers. The second is the author's habit of often citing anecdotes from the memoir of Leonard Antier, Marie Antoinette's hairdresser, always stressing how unreliable a source it is. I'm not sure what the point is in sharing things the author clearly believes to be false. I've found this quite annoying, but overall, this book is a very enjoyable read that all lovers of Marie Antoinette and/or fashion should read.

Rose Bertin, The Creator Of Fashion At The Court Of Marie Antoinette by Emile Langlade is part biography and part fashion history. The author discusses, not in very much detail which is probably due to a lack of primary sources, the life and career of Queen Marie Antoinette's dressmaker, and how her designs and creativity shaped the fashions of the ancient regime. However, the writing style is old-fashioned and the author quotes too much from a memoir he believes to be unreliable. Overall, though, this is a very enjoyable read that I recommend to all lovers of Marie Antoinette and/or fashion history.

Available at: archive.org

Rating: 4/5

Jane Austen's Pelisse Coat?

Very popular from the late 18th to the early 19th century, the pelisse was a coat dress, or overdress, that was worn over a dress. Depending on the materials with which it was made, and the season, it could have been worn in and outside the house. The one shown above, "of good quality silk in a twill weave, woven with a small repeat pattern of oak leaves in a golden straw colour on a warm brown ground", is said to have been worn by Jane Austen.

It is described thus: "The pelisse has long sleeves gathered at the head but close fitting below the elbow, a high standing collar, and is open at centre front with no fastenings. The front is edged on both sides with bright yellow cord which also appears at the wrists. The gown over which it would have been worn would have shown several inches below the pelisse hem, as well as at centre front and at the cuffs. It is lined throughout with white silk and is, of course, entirely hand made." The shape and the size of the sleeves suggest that it was made between 1813 and 1815. Another reason that points to that period, during which England was at war with France, is the oak leaf motive, which symbolized both the strength of the Navy and of the nation.

But how is it supposed to be connected to Jane? Although there is no definite proof the pelisse was worn by Jane, it belonged to her family. The coat was presumably given by Cassandra to her brother Edward. His daughter Marianne gave it to a family friend, Miss Eleanor Glubbe, later Mrs Steele. Years later, she returned the pelisse to Mrs Winifred Jenkyns, a great granddaughter of James Austen, Jane’s eldest brother, with a note that reads “I missed the little coat for a long time but lately it turned up. I cannot remember if it was 'Jane's' but it seems probable".

To find out more about this pelisse, click here.

Etiquette Of Gifts

Wedding presents should be chosen with due reference to the circumstances of the bride. For the daughter of wealthy parents, who weds a husband of large means--and to whom all desirable useful things are assured--articles of virtu, and bewildering creations in the way of costly "fancy articles," are suitable wedding gifts. For a quiet little bride who is going to housekeeping on a moderate income, articles that are useful as well as beautiful are appropriate and acceptable. A handsome substantial chair, a cabinet for china, pretty china to put in it, some standard books, a set of fine table linen,--almost anything within the range of dainty house-furnishing shows the good taste of the giver.

Presents that owe their creation to the ingenuity and labor of one's friends--as hand-painted screens or china, embroidered work, or, if one is artistic, a painting or etching--are peculiarly complimentary wedding gifts.

In general, the exchange of gifts is desirable only between friends who care enough for each other not only to give, but to be willing to accept--the latter being a severer test of friendship. Between two women, or between two men, these matters adjust themselves.

A man should not offer valuable gifts to any lady outside of his own family, unless she is very much his senior, and a friend of long standing. Similarly, a lady should not accept valuable gifts from a gentleman unless his relationship to her warrants it. Trifling tokens of friendship or gallantry--a book, a bouquet, or a basket of bon-bons--are not amiss; but a lady should not be under obligation to a man for presents that plainly represent a considerable money value.

When a gift is accepted, the recipient should not make too obvious haste to return the compliment, lest he or she seem unwilling to rest under obligation. It is polite to allow a generous friend some space of time in which to enjoy the "blessedness of giving."

"Independence" is an excellent thing; but it becomes peculiarly rude when it takes the form of refusing all trifling favors. It is often the greatest wisdom as well as kindness, to allow some one to do us a favor. Enemies have been transformed into friends by this tactful process; for, as one always hates one whom he has injured, so, on the reverse, he cannot help feeling an increased glow of kindliness toward one whom he has benefited.

When some unsophisticated person innocently offers a gift that strict conventionality would forbid one to accept, it is sometimes better to suspend the rules and accept the token, than by refusal to hurt the feelings of one who has perhaps offended the letter, but not the spirit, of the law.

Gifts of flowers to the convalescent--tokens that the busy outside world has not forgotten him--are among the most graceful expressions of courteous interest. Any one--even a total stranger--may send these, if "the spirit moves," and the circumstances are such that the act could bear no possible misinterpretation.

Further reading:
Etiquette by Agnes H. Morton

Historical Reads: The Morning Toilette

The Fashion Historian discusses the ceremony of the toilette, which was an important part of fashionable society in the 18th century. To quote:

The toilette is often called a ritual, bringing a religious connotation to the event and subsequently showing the importance of fashion in society. The very act of dressing itself is not just a simple daily task, but an important, ‘religious’ experience, showing the status clothing took in eighteenth century society. Clothing was not merely something to cover the body, but to express position and quality. By ritualizing the activity of dressing, each layer takes on an importance, not simply the outermost layer, showing that fashion was not only what was seen but what was unseen. Furthermore, ritualizing the act of dressing makes fashion a performance. A morning dressing ritual shows the elegance and wealth in each layer, not just the ones that will be seen, an important consideration for a culture obsessed with showing off wealth and power. While the toilette started with the French monarchy, in becoming a ritual for the rest of society, the non-royals could emulate the power and style of the monarchy.

A perhaps unintended consequence of turning dressing into a performance is dressing then becomes playing a part. Just as a theater performance is false reality, a woman dressing is emulating a false reality of herself. On the one hand, this performance she is beginning could be an act of submission. As viewers watch her body on display, with each layer she becomes the woman society wants her to be— beautiful, accomplished in the arts, and most importantly a dutiful daughter, wife, and mother. On the other hand, this performance could be an act of rebellion. While society wants to mold the woman into one ideal, with each layer she makes herself into who she wants to be and takes control of herself. The Petit Dictionnaire de la Cour wrote in 1788 that "a charming woman uses more subtlety and politics in her dressing than there are in all the governments of Europe."

To read the entire article, click here.

Rosalie Lubomirska

Rosalie Lubomirska, nee Chodkiewizc, was a Polish princess guillotined during the Terror. Born on 16 December 1768 at Chernobyl, then in Poland, Rosalie, who was described as "beautiful as a painting of Venus", married Prince Alexander Lubormirski at an early age. The young princess loved music, literature and travelling. She visited London, Vienna and Nice and was in Paris when the French Revolution broke out. Like many aristocrats, Rosalie warmly welcomed these new events that were supposed to bring happiness and liberty.

Revolutionary fever spread throughout Europe. The "Polish Patriots" were trying to bring about a revolution in their country as well and, in 1791, Rosalie decided to return to Warsaw to support them. But their efforts failed. Russia and Prussia ruthless squashed the revolt, deporting many revolutionaries to Siberia. Others, including Rosalie, managed to escape. She went first to Vienna, then to Lausanne and, in early 1793, she made the unfortunate choice of going back to Paris, where she resided, with her daughter Alexandrine, her lover, the Prince of Salm-Kyrburg, and his sister, Princess Amelia of Hohenzollern, at the beautiful Hôtel de Salm.

Although she had initially supported the revolution, Rosalie embraced the royalist cause after the execution of Louis XVI. After a row with her lover, Rosalie moved with her daughter in a house of her own, where she entertained Polish and English guests, some of whom were spies of the English government, and the Prince de Talmont, a leader of the counter revolutionary Vendéan army (his younger brother, the Abbé de la Trémoille, would become her lover). This obviously attracted the attention of the Committee of Public Safety and, on 9 November 1793, Rosalie was arrested.

She was first taken to the Petit Force and, in January, was moved to the maison de santé La Chapelle, a much more comfortable prison. Accused of corresponding with Madame Du Barry and of being an emigree, on 30 Germinal she was condemned to death by the Revolutionary Tribunal. Terrified, Rosalie, to prolong her life, falsely claimed to be pregnant. Pregnant women were then held at the Maison de l’Évêché until they had given birth. It seems that Rosalie and her lover Tremoille were caught together in the prison bathroom, where they were trying to conceive a baby. He was arrested and guillotined a few days later.

Her last hope gone, the revolutionaries soon realised that Rosalie wasn't pregnant after all and, on 12 Messidor, they transferred her the Conciergerie, the antechamber to the guillotine. She was executed that same day. Her remains were thrown into a common grave at Picpus.

Further reading:
Madame Guillottine

Fashions For 1829 (Part 3)

Hello everyone,

here we are again with more prints of morning, evening and fancy dresses from the year 1829. What do you think of them? Do you like the styles that were popular back then?



Dress of cotta pali, oiseau de Paradis colour. The corsage is disposed in plaits, diagonally placed across the bust, and fastened on the shoulders by a narrow band. The waist is confined by a broad band of the same material as the dress. The skirt set full all round, simply ornamented by a deep hem. Sleeves a l'eveque, set in a broad band, tight to the wrist. A lace ruche round the neck.
Cap a la fiancee. The crown, which is fastened to a rouleau of lilac satin, is made to set close to the head. Three rouleaux of lilac satin arched over the crown. Between the rouleaux and round the crown is placed a blonde trimming, interspersed with artificial flowers. The rouleaux meet in a bow on the sides of the head, from which long strings of lilac gauze riband extend to the waist.
Hair a la Madonna. Black tissue bracelets, with gold clasps; lilac kid gloves; black satin shoes and sandals.



A dress of crepe Aerienne, of a delicate lilac colour, over an under dress of rich lilac satin. The corsage is cut square and exceedingly low; it is tight to the shape, and finished round the top of the bust with a trimming of pearls; there are three rows disposed in festoons by butterflies of gold fillagree work, from each of which an ornament of the shape of a pear is pendant. Short sleeves of the usual fulness, confined to the arm by satin rouleaux, and terminated by a row of narrow blonde lace. The mancheron is composed of a double fall of blonde; ceinture of lilac satin: the trimming of the skirt consists of a very deep hem, reaching nearly to the knee, richly embroidered in white floize silk in a Chinese pattern; the trimming is not quite the depth of the hem. The hair is much parted on the forehead, and dressed in a profusion of heavy curls, which fall very low on each side: the hind hair is disposed in bands brought round the head, the rest is arranged in short full,bows on the crown of the head: a bird of Paradise plume is placed on the left side, and a bandeau of richly wrought gold is worn round the head, secured by bows of lilac satin behind. Shoes of lilac satin, with rosettes of white; in the centre of each is a lozenge of gold fillagree work. White kid gloves.


Au Indian muslin gown, corsage uni, cut low, and finished round the bust with a double fall of rich Mechlin lace, and a trimming of beads similar to the one we have already described; the back of the dress is narrower between the shoulders than we have recently seen them; short full sleeve. The skirt is set on in deep plaits at the sides, and the fulness immediately in the centre of the back is disposed in large gathers. Ceinture of white satin, richly embroidered, and fastening behind in bows without ends: the trimming of the skirt is a very deep biais of white satin, very richly embroidered in silk. Coiffure similar to that already described, except that a bandeau of gold, embroidered with small pearls, goes round the head, and is so arranged as to form the letter V on the forehead : three pendants fall from the point, similar to those which ornament the dress: a bird of Paradise plume is placed at the left side, rather far back. White satin sandals; white kid gloves.


The figure in front represents the costume of a lady of distinction at the court of Henry the Seventh: the dress is composed of a rich purple damask, brocaded with flowers of a shade darker than the ground: the skirt is made with a train, and very full; finished round the hem with a broad border of ermine. The boddice is cut square, and very tight to the figure ; the back narrow and high. The sleeves, which fit as close as possible to the arm, are terminated at the wrist. Unfortunately, the rest of the descriptions of these gowns is missing, but I thought they were to pretty not to included in this post.


Dress of Aurora colour crepe aerophone over a satin slip of the same colour; the corsage made close to the shape, displaying to advantage the fine formed bust; it is made extremely low on the shoulders, and adorned in the centre and sides with pinnatifid columns of satin; the sleeve short and very full; the skirt is ornamented by tucks half a quarter wide, extending half way up the dress: pinnatifid columns extend perpendicularly, and give a grace and finish to this noyel kind of dress.
The head-dress is composed of an Aurora coloured hat, profusely decorated with large plumes d'Autriche and large bows of striped gauze riband; under the brim of the hat, on the left side, is placed a rosette, composed of blonde and riband, like that which decorates the crown. Pearl necklace; white satin shoes and sandals; white kid gloves.



A full petticoat of rich amber taffeta, embroidered in a pattern of trellis-work, worked in gold: at each crossing of the pattern is placed a single large pearl; the border is composed of white satin, worked to correspond with the dress; the fulness of the skirt is disposed in large plaits on the hips, and continued in smaller folds in front; over this is worn a train ofpale blush-coloured lutestring, which is fastened behind in loose folds from the shoulders in the form of a sacque; it is secured at the sides in plaits from the boddice, which is composed of crimson velvet; it is cut close to the figure and is rather low; the waist is long and forms a stomacher, which is richly decorated with pearls and different coloured gems; in the centre of the waist is placed a large brooch of an antique form, consisting of a single ruby surrounded with pearls. The sleeves are in the Spanish style, and are perfectly tight to the arm, ornamented by bands of silver, a row of which surrounds the top of the sleeve, and confines the full puffs of velvet forming the epaulettes. Under the boddice is worn an open vest of cerulean blue satin, embroidered with pearls: it is left quite open in front, to display the throat; a full ruff of rich lace stands up at the back of the neck, and a narrow row of rich Vandykes shade the bust. The coiffure consists of the hair drawn very much off the forehead, and disposed in long ringlets, which fall on the neck; a long veil of rich lace descends nearly to the feet and completes the dress. Necklace of rubies set in wrought gold; shoes of white lutestring.


A train petticoat of bright rose-coloured damask, over which is worn a tunic of dark purple velvet, reaching a little below the knee, where it is bordered by a rich gold fringe. The waist is very long, and forms a peak in front. The edge of the tunic is ornamented by a deep border of an elegant pattern, embroidered in silver, which is continued in a narrow band up the front of the robe. The sleeves are very remarkable, and consist of a drapery of rich emerald satin, striped with silver: they are left open in front, and are cut square and very full, and hang down nearly to the knees: they are lined with white satin, and finished round the edge by a narrow gold cord. Under these draperies are worn tight sleeves of white satin, ornamented with gold, which fit quite tight to the arm: they are finished at the wrist by full double cuffs of point lace; in addition to these, and over the falling sleeves, are placed epaulettes of velvet, banded with silver, full at the top of the shoulder and continued narrower under the arm, in the manner represented in the engraving. A full ruff of rich pointed lace is worn round the throat, secured by a jewelled clasp in front. Round the bust is carelessly thrown a small scarf of bright blue silk. The hair is much divided in front, and is dressed in full curls on each side. The headdress is composed of green satin, profusely ornamented with jewels, a band of which is placed round the edge of the cap and forms a point at the forehead. At the back of the head is placed a superb plume of white ostrich feathers, intermingled with full bows of rose coloured satin and jewels. Bracelets of gold, with large antique clasps, set with rubies; girdle of Oriental pearls; gloves of white kid, embroidered with gold; shoes of white damask.



A gown of Cotpali of a new pattern in azure and white. Corsage uni, made up to the throat, and to fasten behind; the front is cut biais, and very low on the shoulders, so as to display the shape of the bust to very great advantage. Mameluke sleeve of the usual width. White ceinture embroidered in azure, in a Grecian pattern, fastened in front with a buckle of gold fillagree work. The skirt is cut without gores; it is sufficiently full to hang in graceful folds,'but is not quite so wide as they have been recently worn. A trimming to correspond with the gown reaches in the ourlet style nearly to the knee, and terminates in dents de Scie. A rich silk fringe of intermingled bronze and azure is placed immediately below the dents. Head-dress a bonnet of rice straw of the demi capote form, and of a large size; the inside of the brim is ornamented with a trimming in foliage of rose coloured gauze riband; the strings which correspond in colour, pass through the edge of the brim, and fasten at the side. A rouleau to correspond, ornaments the edge of the brim, and the crown is profusely trimmed with roses of various colours. Parasol of bronze-coloured gros de Naples, lined with deep blue, and trimmed with bronze coloured fringe. Bottines of black kid and grey gros des Indes. Lemon coloured gloves. Canezou en fichu of white lace.

Further reading:
R. Ackermann's Repository of fashions, 1829

Short Books Reviews: The Ground She Walks Upon, So Worthy My Love & The Nightingale Legacy

Hello everyone,

it's been a while since I last posted some short reviews of historical romances, so here are three for you. Enjoy!

The Ground She Walks Upon by Meagan McKinney
Ireland, 19th century. According to a Celtic legend, Lord Niall Trevallyan is destined to marry the woman signaled by a magical cross or his people will suffer. The cross indicates Ravenna (whom is called Corvina in the Italian translation I've read, by the way), who is just a baby. An illegitimate baby whose beautiful mother has just died and is now taken care of by her grandmother. Travellyan doesn't believe in the geis and, to show it, he marries another woman, with disastrous consequences. Ravenna grows up into a beautiful and headstrong woman who dreams of writing fairytales for children and Trevallian falls for her, but obstacle after obstacle arise before the two can be together. And Trevallyan trying to fight the geis, still refusing to believe in it, only makes everything worse. The hero treats Ravenna really badly for most of the novel, making it really hard for the reader to understand why she puts up with it and finds herself attracted to him, but at least he redeems himself in the end. But my favourite part of the book must be the Irish lore. The book is filled with it, which I loved. I wish the story had been shorter cos, although enjoyable, it seems to go on forever. Overall, I believe it is a nice story that will appeal to those who love historical novels with a supernatural element, and Celtic lore.
Available at: Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Rating: 4/5

So Worthy My Love by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
Young Elise is mistakenly kidnapped by her uncle's enemy, Maxim. When he realizes his error, she's already in a drafty and decayed German castle, and, due to the inclement and harsh winter weather, he can't take her back. The two are stuck together for a few months, during which they'll bicker all the time and, obviously, fall in love. While the plot sounds intriguing, there is unfortunately very little that's worthy in So Worthy My Love. First all, the book is, like most Woodiwiss' works, way too long. The first one hundred pages pretty much cover only Elise's abduction and her attempts to escape and while entertaining at first, after a while, it just gets boring. You just can't wait for the hero to appear and do something. The book flows really slowly and half of it could easily have been cut without spoiling the story. On the contrary, it would only have improved it. The same can be said for Maxim and Elise' rows. They make you chuckle at first, but then you soon tire of them too. The only thing I've enjoyed about the book was Maxim's accomplices. They are very funny and keep messing up all the time. Overall, the story is nice, but unfortunately the author simply doesn't know when to stop writing, thus making the book unnecessarily wordy and way too long.
Available at: Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Rating: 2/5

The Nightingale Legacy by Catherine Coulter
Caroline Derwent-Jones, about to turn 19, manages to escape from the clutches of his guardian Roland Ffalkes, who's trying to get his hands on her inheritance. She thus ends up in the company of Frederick North Nightingale, Lord Chilton. The two are drawn to each other and end up getting married, much to the horror of Lord Chilton's servants. No woman has set foot in the hero's house for years and the misogynist servants are determined to keep that way. They fear that, with a mistress, the house will now be filled with women servants and female friends. The horror! I didn't really know what to make of this. At times, it was funny, at others not so much. But overall, although the characters are all quite nice, there are just too many things going on in the book (some of which involve murders and the search for a treasure), and yet, none of the subplots are really strong enough. Although not Coulter's best work, this is very enjoyable nonetheless.
Available at: Amazon
Rating: 3/5

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

Mary Eleanor Bowes

Born at Streatlam Castle in Streatlam and Stainton, County Durham, on 24 February 1749, Mary Eleanor Bowes was the daughter of George Bowes, a wealthy coal magnate. He died when Mary was only 11, leaving her a fortune estimated at between £600,000 and £1,040,000. Overnight, the young girl became one of the richest, if not the richest, heiresses in England. Possessing such a fortune could easily have gone to her head but instead, Mary, an intelligent and intellectual girl unafraid to speak her mind, decided to invest her money in botany, for which she had a huge passion. For instance, she built experimental hothouses where she could cultivate exotic plants.

Being wealthy and beautiful, it's not surprising that Mary attracted many suitors to her hand. She seems to have encouraged the attentions of John Stuart, the eldest son of Lord Bute, then Prime Minister, and of Campbell Scott, the younger brother of the Duke of Buccleuch, but in the end she didn't choose either of them. Instead, she became engaged, aged only 16, to John Lyon, the 9th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne. The couple got married on 24 February 1767, Mary's 18th birthday. Upon the marriage, the earl assumed his wife's family name, as stipulated by her father's will. Some of their children, would, however, choose the surname Bowes-Lyon.

Mary gave birth to five children in six years: Maria Jane, John, 10th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, Anna Maria, George and Thomas, 11th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne. Mary's husband used her money to restore his family seat, Glamis Castle. In the meantime Mary was busy with her botany projects, financing the explorer William Paterson's expedition to the Cape in 1777 where he collected plants for her, and in 1769, also self-published The Siege Of Jerusalem, a poetical drama. A few years after their marriage, the Earl contracted tuberculosis. As his health weakened, Mary started taking lovers. She became a widow on 7 March 1776, when the Earl died at sea on his way to Portugal.

At the time, Mary was expecting a child by her lover, George Gray. Although she was now free to marry him, she was reluctant to do so. Not only she would lose her high rank (Grey belonged to an inferior social class), but he had also squandered away his own fortune. It seems that Mary had an abortion that time, but when she got pregnant again, she finally consented to marry Grey. The marriage, however, never took place. Mary met the charming Andrew Robinson Stoney, an Anglo-Irish adventurer. Andrew had already been married to a wealthy woman before and it was rumored that her death was hastened by the cruel treatment she received from him. But of course, he was careful to conceal this from Mary.

Attracted by her fortune, Andrew staged a duel with Revd. Henry Bate, the editor of The Morning Post, a newspaper which often published seedy and scurrilous articles about Mary, which were actually written by Andrew himself! Stoney pretended to be mortally wounded and begged Mary to grant his dying wish: to marry him. Mary, believing the man was really dying to defend her honour, agreed. Carried on a stretcher down the aisle, Stoney married Mary at St James' Church on 17 January 1777. Shortly afterwards, the groom miraculously recovered. And started showing his true colours.

After taking his wife's name, he tried to take control of her fortune too, as was customary at the time. But the clever Mary had made a secret prenuptial agreement to safeguard the profits of her estate for her own use. However, Stoney forced her to sign a revocation handing control to him. He then abused Mary, both physically and mentally. He beat her, cheated on her with a string of women (it was rumoured that he invited prostitutes at their home and raped their maids), controlled everything she did, opened her mail and sold some of her hothouses to pay off his gambling debts. Like this weren't enough, poor Mary was forced to write a memoir in which she had to hide about her past life so her husband could have something to blackmail her with if he so pleased! In the meantime, she had given birth to two children, Mary, who was probably Grey's daughter, and William.

In 1785, Mary, with the help of her maids, finally managed to escape from Stoney's clutches and filed for divorce. This wasn't enough to stop Stoney, though. Like many violent and possessive men, he became more and more obsessed with his victim and started stalking her and hired people to watch her every move when he couldn't. He even commissioned seedy and malicious prints to damage her reputation. Then, one day, Stoney assaulted and kidnapped Mary in her own coach. For eleven days, while they were travelling all over the country, Stoney repeatedly beat and tortured Mary. News of the abduction spread rapidly and eventually Stoney was captured and Mary rescued.

The divorce case, with the additional legal battles regarding these incidents, were sensational. Although the public initially felt sorry for Mary, they soon turned on her when news of her affairs became known. Of course, Stoney added fuel to the fire, making a series of seedy claims about Mary, even purchasing shares in a newspaper so he could print the memoir he had forced her to write! The public also didn't like the fact that Mary had tried to prevent her husband from gaining access to her fortune. Mary was physically safe, but her reputation never recovered. She moved to Stourfield House, an isolated mansion, where she led a quiet life, with her daughters Anna Maria and Mary. She shied away from people, preferring instead to spend time with her dogs. She loved them so much that she even had hot dinners cooked daily for them!

Stoney and his accomplices were sentenced to three years in prison for Mary's abduction. The divorce case, however, was still pending when Mary died on April 28 1800. She was buried in Westminster Abbey. Stoney was then released from prison and tried to have Mary's will invalidated so that he could get his hands on her fortune, but lost the case.

Further reading:
The Duchess Of Devonshire's Gossip Guide To The 18th century

Bleaching Of Old Books

Book pages can become yellow with age or when exposed to smoke. Ink-spots can contribute to ruining them too. To bring them back to their original splendor, our nineteenth century ancestors used this trick:


The process now practised for bleaching these articles is as follows:—Take off the binding of the book, unsew the book and separate the leaves, place them in a shallow leaden pan, with slips of common window-glass interposed between them, so that the leaves lie horizontally without touching each other. 

Or a still better method is the following :—Make a wooden frame of about the size of the leaves to be bleached, and having placed upon it the slips of glass, let the leaves be placed upon the glass perpendicularly, about a line distant from each other. This being done, pour into the vessel the bleaching liquid, which is made by dissolving one part by weight of oxymurate of lime in four parts of warm water, and suffer the articles to be immersed in it for twenty-four hours: it may then be rinsed in soft water. 

By this process the paper will acquire a whiteness superior to what it originally possessed. All ink-spots, if any were present, will be removed; but oil and grease spots are not effaced by it. — Copper-plate prints bleach more easily than letter-press.

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

Image source:

Historical Reads: Masquerade Dresses

Isis' Wardrobe has posted a series of prints depicting 18th century masquerade dresses. Here are a couple:

Aren't they beautiful? To see the rest of the costumes, click here.

How They Spoke: The Regency Era (Part 2)

One of the first posts I've written for this blog was about words commonly used in the Regency era that have now been forgotten, but can still appear in old books and classics, confounding modern readers. I thought I'd be nice to continue this series, so here are 10 more words typical of the Regency period, enjoy!

Batman: an orderly assigned to a military officer.

Bluestocking: an academic female.

Cry rope on someone: give them away, tell secrets.

Drive unicorn: to drive a vehicle with three horses, one in front and the other 2 behind.

Flying one's colors: blushing.

Fudge: a false rumor.

Jarvey: driver of a hackney coach.

Lush some slop: to drink some tea.

Nonpareil: a leader of fashion. Also called nonesuch.

Pinkest of the Pinks: a very fashionable man.

Reticule: a woman's handbag closed with a draw string.

Town Tabby: an aristocratic dowager.

Do you know any more Regency words? If so, let me know in the comments!

The Distressed Poet And The Enraged Musician

The Enraged Musician and The Distressed Poet are two prints by English painter, satirist and cartoonist William Hogarth. The Enraged Musician is actually the older of the two. It was completed in 1740 and the following year, its companion piece, The Distressed Poet was finished too. The two prints were issued together that year, in November. There was also supposed to be a third image on the subject of painting, but Hogarth never completed it. Let's take a look at the finished plates, shall we? As always, click on the pictures to enlarge them.


"Studious he sate, with all his books around,
Sinking from thought to thought, a vast profound:
Plunged for his sense, but found no bottom there;
Then wrote and flounder'd on, in mere despair."
The Dunciad by Alexander Pope

Life for a poet without a patron wasn't easy, as this print shows us. The poet, who is wearing an old nightgown and no shirt, is seated on his bed, scratching his head to look for inspiration for the poem he is writing about riches. A subject he doesn't seem to know much about, considering the poor life he leads. He lives in a poorly furnished, not well-kept garret. The floor is uneven, one of the windows is broken, the plastic is coming off the walls and the cupboard is empty.

On the table lies a copy of Edward Bysshe's The Art of English Poetry, a guide to composition published in 1702, while a copy of Popes's satirical Grub Street Journal is abandoned on the floor. Next to him, his wife is sitting down in a chair, mending her husband's clothes. Suddenly, an angry milkwoman bursts into the room, demanding in a loud voice, to be paid. The noise awakens the baby, who was sleeping peacefully in the bed. While no one's looking, a dog steals what's left of the mutton carelessly left upon a chair.

While his wife is paying attention to the milkwoman, the poet is still absorbed by his poem, a fact that underlines how he prefers to follow his dreams of glory than getting a proper job so that he can provide for his family. This idea is farther emphasized by the map of the gold mines of Peru that hangs over his head, which replaced the image of Pope that appeared in the earlier sketches of the print. While he doesn't seem to be bothered about his wife and kid going hungry, the poet still finds the money to enjoy his pleasures: a pipe and tobacco are on the window sill, a mug of beer is sitting on a chair, his wing and sword lay at his feet, while his lace cuffs are drying by the fire.


"With thundering noise the azure vault they tear,
And rend, with savage roar, the echoing air:
The sounds terrific he with horror hears;
His fiddle throws aside,—and stops his ears."

Unlike the poet, the musician doesn't have money worries. His talents have attracted the patronage of nobles. The scene takes place in the chamber of one of these nobles. The musician, wearing a rich and sumptuous coat, is about to start a music lesson when some noises distract him. He opens the windows to see what's happening but the noise is now so deafening that he has to stop his ears. Street musicians are playing in the street, a milkmaid is shouting to attract customers, an infant is crying, a pedestrian cutler is grinding his butcher's cleaver, and even a parrot and two cats are adding their voices to the mayhem!

The plate, which well-describes the cacophony of sounds heard all over London was inspired by Mr John Festin, a music teacher very popular in London. "At nine o'clock in the morning," said he, "I once waited upon my lord Spencer, but his lordship being out of town, from him I went to Mr. V——n. It was so early that he was not arisen. I went into his chamber, and, opening a shutter, sat down in the window-seat. Before the rails was a fellow playing upon the hautboy. A man with a barrow full of onions offered the piper an onion if he would play him a tune. That ended, he offered a second onion for a second tune; the same for a third, and was going on: but this was too much; I could not bear it; it angered my very soul—'Zounds!' said I, 'stop here! This fellow is ridiculing my profession; he is playing on the hautboy for onions!'"