Book Review: Intervista Sul Fascismo By Renzo De Felice

Renzo De Felice firmly believed that historians should "reconstruct" and write history as it really happened, based on the documents and testimonials left by the people who made it, and not how they may wish it had happened. Because of this, his work on fascism and Mussolini has been highly and unjustly criticized in Italy. De Felice responded to the critics, among which was his alleged justification of fascism, in many interviews and books. Intervista Sul Fascismo (Interview On Fascism) is one of such books.

Intervista Sul Fascismo is written in an interview format: American journalist Michael Arthur Ledeen asks the questions and De Felice answers them. The result is a short book that effectively but succinctly sums up De Felice's ideas and theories on fascism. The book starts by pointing out the difference between fascism as a movement and fascism as a dictatorship. The former was conservative, while the latter has modernistic tendencies. It then goes on to explain the history of both, how fascism was influenced by the French Revolution, and how it managed to gain popularity among the people.

De Felice also explains how the politicians of the time underestimated the dangers of fascism, believing that, once the party was in power, it would lose its revolutionary tendencies. Intervista Sul Fascismo is a little book that anyone interested in the topic should read. Although a basic knowledge of the topic would be preferable, the notes at the end of the book make the interview easy to follow even for those who are approaching it for the first time.

Intervista Sul Fascismo by Renzo De Felice is a short book that effectively but succinctly sums up De Felice's ideas and theories on fascism. Written in an interview format, it is extensively noted and easy-to-follow for both academic and casual readers.

Available at: Amazon IT

Rating: 4/5

Marie Antoinette Becomes Officially French

Marie Antoinette hadn't even set her dainty little foot in France yet, and already she had a taste of the minute, stringent, sometimes absurd, rules of etiquette that would govern her life at Versailles. Before the official ceremony of handover, which was to take place in the isle of Kehl, in the middle of the Rhine and on the border between Austria and France, the Count of Noailles, the husband of the Countess of Noailles, whom Marie Antoinette would nickname Madame L'Etiquette for her zeal in making sure everything was done according to its rules, insisted on changing a few words of the document of the handover at the last minute.

According to the Count, the phrase "Their Imperial Majesties having wanted [the marriage]" was offensive to the French King, and wanted it altered to "Their Imperial Majesties having been willing to accede to the King’s wish". There had to be no doubt that it was Austria that had given in to the wish of the French, and not the other way around. In the end, there were to be two documents. In one, France signed before Austria, while in the other, the order of the signature was reversed.

Meanwhile, on the isle of Kehl, a makeshift building was to be hastily erected for the ceremony. Antonia Fraser tells us that "wealthy citizens of Strasbourg were pressed into service to lend furniture and tapestries while the Lutheran University provided a suitable dais. Some of these hastily assembled tapestries struck an odd note; no official seems to have noticed that one series depicted the story of Jason and Medea, the rejected mother who slew her own children. But a young man named Goethe, then studying law at Strasbourg, was deeply shocked: 'What! At the moment when the young princess is about to step on the soil of her future husband’s country, there is placed before her eyes a picture of the most horrible marriage that can be imagined!'"

Madame Campan recalls that this "superb pavillion... consisted of a vast salon, connected with two apartments, one of which was assigned to the lords and ladies of the Court of Vienna, and the other to the suite of the Dauphiness, composed of the Comtesse de Noailles, her lady of honour; the Duchesse de Cosse, her dame d'atours; four ladies of the palace; the Comte de Saulx-Tavannes, chevalier d'honneur; the Comte de Tesse, first equerry; the Bishop of Chartres, first almoner; the officers of the Body Guard, and the equerries."

Then, Marie Antoinette was stripped of all her luxurious Austrian clothes, and made to don French garments. Now that she was Dauphine of France, she could retain nothing that belonged to a foreign court, not even the one that had been her home up until her wedding. Her Austrian clothes, however, didn't go to waste. They were seized by the Dames du Palais, Marie Antoinette's senior attendants, as perquisites of office. Parting from her clothes, however beautiful they may have been, was easy. Saying goodbye to her Austrian attendants, including her beloved pug Mops (although the Austrian ambassador would later negotiate for the arrival of the pet in France), was much harder. The young Dauphine cried at the separation and gave her attendants messages for the family she had left behind at Vienna.

The ceremony itself went smoothly. Antonia Fraser describes it thus: "There were two entrances to the hastily erected building, and two exactly matching rooms, one for the Austrians, one for the French. Marie Antoinette was led from the Austrian room into the salon of the handover by Prince Starhemberg. Here a table covered in red velvet represented the boundary between the two countries. On the other side of it she found the Comte de Noailles, with two aides, awaiting her. A human touch was provided by his son, the eighteen-year-old Prince de Poix, who could not resist peeking through the keyhole from the French side to try to get an advance view of his future Queen. Speeches were made and the deed was done.

It was time for the Dauphine to meet her French attendants. Here there was a slight hiccup which involved, once again, etiquette and the Noailles family. The Comte de Noailles was anxious that his wife should be handed into the main salon by a gentleman-in-waiting, which he maintained was her right, as opposed to merely walking into it. In order to achieve this, it was arranged that the salon door on the French side should be left slightly ajar, so that it could be nudged open by her heavy flowing skirts at the appropriate moment. Unfortunately this resulted in the door opening too soon. . .

Once dignity was recovered, an elaborate quadrille of presentations took place. First of all, the Comte presented the Comtesse to her new mistress. In an impulsive gesture that would turn out to be characteristic of her approach to her new French 'family,' Marie Antoinette flung herself into the Comtesse’s arms. This, however, was not the way of Versailles. The Comtesse was quick to establish the right of her husband to a ceremonial embrace. This was based on his additional rank as a Grandee of Spain, rather than as a French count. (As Grandees of Spain, people managed to climb up higher on the ladder of etiquette than otherwise entitled, which was the aim of more or less every courtier at Versailles.) So having just been presented by her husband, the Comtesse now re-presented him back again, for his due embrace."

Marie Antoinette was now officially French.

Further reading:
Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser
Memoirs Of The Court Of Marie Antoinette by Madame Campan

Fashions For June 1810

What would the fashionable Englishwoman have worn in June 1810? Let's take a look:

The evening dress is really beautiful, isn't it? Instead, I find the walking dress only so-so. I love the yellow colour of the scarf and parasol, but that hat isn't very flattering, isn't it?

What do you think of these outfits?

Further reading:
La Belle Assemblée, Volume 1

Historical Reads: Frances, Countess Of Jersey

Heather Carroll has written an interesting post on Lady Jersey, the mistress of the Duke of Devonshire and the Prince Regent, the future King George IV. To quote:

Her most famous affair was, of course, with the Prince of Wales. From 1794 to 1798 she was his main squeeze. In fact, it was she who broke up the prince's relationship with Mrs. Fitzherbert. The satirical cartoonists had a field day depicting the chubby prince canoodling with a haggish grandmother (Frances was over 40 when the affair began). Frances turned out to be more than just an outlet for the prince's carnal desires. Like Camilla with Prince Charles, she convinced Prince George to marry Caroline of Brunswick because she didn't think her to be a threat. She even became Caroline's Lady of the Bedchamber, much to Caroline's dislike. Frances continued her habit of torturing wives. The Prince took two pearl bracelets from Caroline's wedding jewels on the wedding day and gave them to Frances who made sure to always wear them in Caroline's presence. From day one, Frances was involved in the marriage and therefore a huge reason for it's ill-success.

To read the entire article, click here.

The New Duchess Of Devonshire Is Presented At Court

In her book, Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire, Amanda Foreman discusses the newly married duchess' presentation at court:

He [The Duke] provoked more gossip when he turned up four hours late for his presentation at court with Georgiana. All newly married couples were required to present themselves to the Queen at one of her twice-weekly public audiences at St James's Palace, known as "Drawing Rooms". The Drawing-room was fuller than ever I saw it, " a witness recorded, "excepting that of a birthday [of the King or Queen], owing, as I suppose, to the curiosity to see the Duchess of Devonshire." Georgiana was wearing her wedding dress and "look'd very pretty... happiness was never more marked in a countenance than hers. She was properly fine for the time of year, and her diamonds are very magnificent." The formidable Lady Mary Coke wondered why the Duke ambled in on his own several hours after Georgiana. He "had very near been too late; it was nearly four o'clock when he came into the Drawing Room." She watched him for some time and noticed that he showed no emotion. "His Grace is as happy as his Duchess," she decided charitably, "but his countenance does not mark it so strongly." Lady Mary's opinion might have been different had she known about Lady Spencer's* frantic messages to the Duke, imploring him not to be late.

*Georgiana's mother

Further reading:
Georgiana, Duchess Of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman

I Am Very Sorry, But I Mean To Be Just As Naughty Next Time

Princess Victoria, the eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, was a willful and stubborn child who often got in trouble for doing what she shouldn't. Her parents punished her, but to little effect. Hannah Pakula, in her biography of the Princess Royal, An Uncommon Woman, shows us for what and how Vicky was punished:

Vicky also told what Lady Lyttelton termed "slight falsehoods." On one occasion, the governess noted that "the Princess Royal told an untruth, asserting that I had desired she should walk out after supper in her pink bonnet, which I had not done, nor even mentioned the subject. She was imprisoned with tied hands, & very seriously admonished; and I trust was aware of her faults in the right way."

Imprisonment was Vicky's usual punishment, and she was matter-of-fact about the stubbornness that got her into trouble. Lady Lyttelton, who approached her after one particular bout of misbehavior, was told, "I am very sorry, Laddle, but I mean to be just as naughty next time." When their father engaged a new physician, the children were admonished not to call him Brown, as their father did, but Dr. Brown. All complied except Vicky, who was told she would be sent to bed if she repeated the impertinence. The next day she greeted the doctor loudly, "Good morning, Brown," and then, catching her mother's eye, got up, curtsied, and continued, "Good night, Brown, for I am going to bed."

Further reading:
An Uncommon Woman: The Empress Frederick: Daughter of Queen Victoria, Wife of the Crown Prince of Prussia, Mother of Kaiser Wilhelm by Hannah Pakula

Book Review: Rosso E Nero By Renzo De Felice And Pasquale Chessa

Renzo De Felice is an Italian historian who spent most of his life researching fascism and writing a biography, published in several volumes, on Mussolini. De Felice approached his work like any good historian should: he consulted primary sources (he even managed to get access to documents that had never been seen by anyone else before) and interviewed people who lived and made that era, and then used his findings to paint an accurate picture of what fascism, and Mussolini, was and did. Unfortunately, fascism is still a very touchy topic for most Italians, so it's not surprising that when published, his work attracted a great deal of criticism.

De Felice was accused of justifying fascism. Of course, the fact that his work was used by supporters of fascism (yes, unfortunately those people still exist) didn't help his cause either. But De Felice never justified fascism. He just wasn't particularly interested in condemning it in his work either, which, for some people, is enough to discredit it. What De Felice did was simply put his personal feelings on the matter aside, and instead concentrate on setting the right straight on the many myths about fascism, and to try and explain how fascism originated, why it become popular, how it ruled Italy, how and why it fell... De Felice simply tells it like it is and most people don't like it. Believing that Mussolini (and fascism) was the devil is easier than facing inconvenient truths.

Because of this, De Felice spent a big chunk of his time explaining his theories in interviews and books. Rosso E Nero (Red and Black) is one of such books. It is the result of an interview De Felice gave to Pasquale Chessa, a journalist who worked for Panorama. The format of an interview, with questions and answers, was kept, but still Rosso E Nero could very well be, for the themes discussed and the sources used, an essay. The historian, in this book, tries to explain why, 50 years after the end of fascism, Italy hasn't managed, hasn't even tried, to understand, and come to terms, with such an important, albeit obscure, part of its history.

In particular, the book focuses on the history of the Resistance movement, whose importance, according to De Felice, has been greatly exaggerated by the opponents of fascism. That doesn't mean that the Resistance wasn't an important phenomenon (of course it was), but only that its history has been often twisted by politicians who used it for their own ends. This created a series of stereotypes that are still influencing Italian politics and culture. De Felice explains how in the two last years of the war, national morality was badly damaged, and if we don't understand how that happened, we cannot fix it.

Overall, this is a short, but fascinating read, that's easy to understand for both historians and casual readers interested in the history of fascism and why the Italians are the way they are. Of course some knowledge of De Felice's work and Italian history is required, by the notes at the end of the book are very helpful to put the events mentioned in their proper context, allowing the reader to follow the topic without too many problems.

Rosso E Nero by Renzo De Felice and Pasquale Chessa is a short read that tries to set the record straight on the history of fascism, and in particularly on the last two years of the war, and the Resistance movement, in order to allow the reader to understand how these events have shaped Italian history and are still influencing Italians' behaviour. The book is written in an interview format and, although some basic knowledge of the era (and De Felice's work) is required, it is easy-to-follow and accessible for everyone.

Available at: Amazon IT

Rating: 4/5

Jane Austen Inspired Goodies

Jane Austen's works have not only inspired countless movies, Tv adaptations and books, but every sort of item you can think of. Mugs, t-shirts, table games and jewelry are just some of the goodies that feature either the image of the famous novelist, pictures of her characters or quotes from her works. If she were alive today she would be stinking rich from the royalties!

Here are a few of my favourite Austen inspired goodies:

Jane Austen's Pride And Prejudice Trivia Game

Is Pride and Prejudice one of your favourite books? Have you read it dozens of times and think you know everything there is to know about it? Then put your knowledge to the test with this Jane Austen's Pride And Prejudice Trivia Game ($14.99 on Amazon). It contains 300 trivia cards, including 8 bonus Jane Austen trivia questions, a dice, score cards and instructions. It's a great way for any Janeites to spend an afternoon.

Jane Austen Bandages

Did you hurt yourself? Then protect your wounds, and cheer up your mood, with these cute Jane Austen plasters. Each box contains 15 bandages featuring an image of Jane Austen (ok, it doesn't look much like her, but it's still a pretty picture, isn't it?) or quotes from her books. They measure 7.6 cm x 2.5 cm and are available at Amazon for $6.50.

Pride & Prejudice Mug

Start the day with a sip of your favourite novel. This Pride & Prejudice Mug, which measures  3.75" tall and 3" diameter, features an image of Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet sitting under a tree, and a quote from the novel. You can purchase it at Cafepress for $12.99.

Lizzy And Darcy Tote Bag

How adorable is this Elizabeth & Darcy Tote Bag? Made of 100% cotton, it has plenty of room to carry everything you need when you are on the go. Plus, it features a quote from the novel on the back side. It is available at Cafepress and costs $14.99.

Pride & Prejudice Baby Characters T-shirt
I adore this cute T-shirt which features images of the main Pride & Prejudice characters as children. Made of 100% cotton, it is available in Light Pink, Light Yellow and Light Blue. You can buy it at Cafepress for $13.99.

The Bennet Sisters Body Suit
An adorable body suit for an adorable little Janeite. This 100% cotton jersey knit Infant Creeper is comfortable, allows babies to move freely and its three-snap bottom helps ease those nasty diaper changes. It is available in Cloud White, Kiwi, Petal Pink and Sky Blue. It retails at $18.00 at Cafepress.

Plastic iPhone Case
This cute pink plastic iPhone case featuring the famous opening line from Pride & Prejudice makes me want to buy an iPhone. Just so that I'd have an excuse to buy the case too. If pink ain't your thing, the case is also available in Mint Green and Gray. It retails at $28.00 and is sold by This Girl Gabbie on Etsy.

Scrabble Pendant Jewelry Pride and Prejudice I'd Rather be at Pemberley

Don't you often wish you were at Pemberley too? Now you can let everyone else know it too by wearing this cute "I'd rather be at Pemberley" pendant. Available in Black or White, it is sold by Andrea on Etsy and retails at $7.95.

Jane Austen Soap Series

NESoaps has created a series of soaps inspired by Jane Austen and her novels. Emma Woodhouse is scented with citrusy tart yuzu and sweet orange. Elinor has a fresh, mild, clean scent that evokes herbs and mint. Marianne's Passion is scented with black raspberry vanilla. Sweet Jane (Bennet) smells of lemon verbena. Finally, Mrs Darcy has a floral plumeria scent. You can buy all the soaps together for $22.00 or separately for $5.00 each.

Emma Book Clutch

Don't fret book lovers. This adorable and feminine clutch is not made with a real book. The cover is made of cotton fabric, binded, as a normal book would be, and finished with silver metal corners to embellish and protect the clutch. It's original, smart chic and the perfect gift for anyone who loves books. It is sold at psBesitos and costs $79.27.

Author Journal Notebook Sketch Book Diary - Keep Calm and Read Jane Austen

This handcrafted journal features the words "Keep calm and read Jane Austen" on the cover, which is printed on ivory cardstock made from ecofriendly recycled paper, and 60 sheets (120 pages) of white, unlined paper. It is bound with a sturdy double coil wire, a convenient feature which allows the inside pages to lie flat when you open the book. Convenient and ecofriendly, it can be purchased at Steven James Keathley's shop on Etsy and costs $8.95.

Jane Austen Cioccolato Letterario

If you love chocolate (and who doesn't?), you won't be able to resist this set of six chocolate boxes inspired by Jane Austen's novels. Each cute box features a quote from the book it is inspired by. The chocolate is available in the following flavours: coffee beans enveloped in dark chocolate; almonds enveloped in white chocolate; strawberry enveloped in dark chocolate; peach enveloped in dark chocolate, orange enveloped in dark chocolate; and blueberry and pomegranate enveloped in dark chocolate. The set is available at PemberleyPond and retails at $33.03, but most flavours can be purchased singly for $7.93.

What do you think of these goodies? And if you've found any other Jane Austen related items, please share them with us!

A Petition To Time In Favor Of The Duchess Of Devonshire

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, was considered one of the beauties of her time. But it wasn't so much her looks, as her personality and manners, that charmed people. Here's how her contemporary Wraxall described her:

"The personal charms of the Duchess of Devonshire constituted her smallest pretensions to universal admiration; nor did her beauty consist, like that of the Gunnings, in regularity of features, and faultless formation of limbs and shape; it lay in the amenity and graces of her deportment, in her irresistible manners, and the seduction of her society. Her hair was not without a tinge of red; and her face, though pleasing, yet, had it not been illuminated by her mind, might have been considered an ordinary countenance."

This made her beauty and likeness difficult to capture on canvas. It is rumoured that, even the famous painter Gainsborough, while painting a portrait of the Duchess "drew his wet pencil across a mouth all thought exquisitely lovely, saying, 'Her Grace is too hard for me.'"

However, as the years passed, her beauty, like Walpole remarked, started to fade: "The Duchess of Devonshire, the empress of fashion, is no beauty at all. She was a very fine woman, with all the freshness of youth and health, but verges fast to a coarseness.". This despite a petition to time not to make Georgiana's beauty fade, made by a certain "Peter Pindar" (Dr. Wolcot):

"Hurt not the form that all admire.
Oh, never with white hairs her temple sprinkle!
Oh, sacred be her cheek, her lip, her bloom!
And do not, in a lovely dimple's room,
Place a hard mortifying wrinkle.

"Know shouldst thou bid the beauteous duchess fade,
Thou, therefore, must thy own delights invade;
And know, 't will be a long, long while
Before thou givest her equal to our isle.
Then do not with this sweet chef-d'oeuvre part,
But keep to show the triumph of thy art."

Further reading:
Some Old Time Beauties by Thomson Willing

Historical Reads: Cromwell's "Gay Attire"

How did people dress at the court of Oliver Cromwell? History Today investigates. To quote:

The details may elude us, but there is every reason for believing that, while Cromwell occasionally adopted a sober manner, at court he followed more opulent fashions. Indeed, it would have been most odd especially in the eyes of foreign dignitaries - if he had not dressed splendidly in the state rooms of Whitehall or Hampton Court. Of course, there may be an element of calculation here. Cromwell may have dressed according to his audience, understanding that understatement was often more impressive. In this context, James Welwood's later description of Cromwell dressing to suit the occasion seems to ring true: 'He affected for the most part a plainness in his clothes; but in them, as well as in his guards and attendance, he appeared with magnificence upon publick occasions. It is interesting that the image that stuck in the minds of critics such as Colonel Alured, appalled by what they saw as Cromwell's betrayal of the godly cause, was that of the Protector wearing 'rich clothing ... being embroidered with gold and silver".

The notion that the court of Protector Oliver was not peopled by drab Puritans but by fashionable courtiers, and that Cromwell himself was also dressing modishly, fits well with the new view of the protectoral court which has emerged in recent years. Under Protector Oliver normal service had resumed, and this extended to the fads and fashions of the courtiers as well as to the buildings, ceremonies and trappings of the court. There is no doubt some truth in the notion that such opulence was driven by the dictates of international politics. As Britain became a major player in the world, there was a need to entertain foreign ambassadors, to keep up with the richest courts on the continent. Foreign influences were not the preserve of Charles II's threadbare court in exile.

To read the entire article, click here.

Armand de Gontaut, Duc de Lauzun and Biron

Anyone familiar with the court of Louis XVI will have heard of Armand de Gontaut, Duc de Lauzun and Biron. But it was only after reading Mistress of The Revolution by Catherine Delors (it's one of my favourite historical novels) that I became really curious about him. In the book, the Duc de Lauzun is a libertine who's fighting with the Count de Villers for the favours of the beautiful, but impoverished, noblewoman, Gabrielle de Montserrat. Then, the revolution broke. Although Lauzun supported the revolutionaries, he still lost his head. Gabrielle was there, watching him make his way to the scaffold. But who was the real Duc De Lauzun?

Born on April 13, 1747, Armand was the son of the Duc de Gontaut and his wife Antoinette-Eustachie de Crozat, who died in giving birth to him. Armand was a handsome and charming boy adored by all who knew him, including Queen Marie Antoinette. The Duc loved women, and they loved him. He had many affairs and soon acquired the reputation of a libertine. As a teenager, he fell in love with the Comtesse de Stainville, the sister-in-law of his aunt, the Duchesse de Choisel, who strongly disapproved of the liaison.

When he wasn't busy romancing and bedding women, Lauzun fought in the army. A brave soldier, he had attracted attention by an essay on the military defenses of Great Britain and her colonial empire. Armand took part in the American War of Independence. He was there at the Siege of Yorktown and, when the Americans, with the support of the French, won the war, he returned home, hailed as a hero. In 1763, his father thought it was now time for Lauzun to settle down and arranged his marriage with the 12 year old Amélie de Boufflers. Lauzun, however, was still in love with the Comtesse de Stainville and so asked his father to delay the marriage. He succeeded for two years, but finally, in 1766, he was forced to marry his betrothed. The wedding took place on February 4, in the chapel of the Hôtel de Luxembourg, before most of the court.

The marriage was doomed from the start. Armand wasn't in love with his pretty but very shy wife, and she didn't seem to be too happy about their union either. They had no children together. Armand kept playing the field. Among his conquests, there was Aimée de Coigny, Duchesse de Fleury who went to school with the daughters of the Comtesse de Stainville, his former mistress! His carefree existence was, however, soon to end. In 1789, the French Revolution broke out. Like other liberal noblemen, he was at first excited about and supported the revolution, believing it would bring freedom to the country.

In 1791, the National Assembly appointed him commander of the army of Flanders, and the following year, he was promoted to commander of the army of the Rhine. In 1793, he was sent, with his army, to squash the uprising of the Vendee. Despite his successes, which included the capture of Saumur and the victory of Parthenay, he was accused of "inertia" and incivisme ("lack of civic virtue", which was considered treason at the time). Realizing his position had become untenable, he resigned. Lauzun was then arrested and imprisoned first in the Abbaye prison in Paris, and then in Sainte-Pélagie. Here, he had an affair with an actress of the Comédie Française called Mademoiselle Raucourt.

Finally, Lauzun was transferred to the Counciergerie, tried, found guilty of "having left his armies in idleness" and sentenced to death. His last letter was addressed to a certain Citizeness Laurent:

"In a few hours my fate will be sealed, my poor, hapless friend, you are the more to be pitied, for your sufferings will not end so soon and you will weep for me for a long time to come. If I could glimpse some happiness for you in the future, that hope would much migrate the harshness of my fate. I have every reason to believe that my sex and the only friend that still remains to me in the world will take good care of you. I recommend you to the care of your brother and even of your lady companion. She will carry out that trust so necessary to my tranquillity.
Farewell, farewell, I embrace you again and for the last time."

Lauzun was guillotined on December 31, 1793. His wife followed him on the scaffold the following year, on June 27.

Further reading:
Memoirs of the Duc de Lauzun

Ah, Madame, you must be such a good swimmer

In pre-revolutionary France, conversation was an art. Word games, making up poems or conundrums, jokes and debates were all favourite pastimes that stimulated conversation and kept the brain sharp. Madame de Stael was fond of them too:

Germaine de Stael's favourite game was called the Boat, in which everyone present was asked who they would save from a sinking ship. She asked her first lover, Talleyrand, who he would rescue, her or his other mistress Adele de Flauhaut. He replied that she was so talented she could extricate herself from any predicament; gentility would oblige him to save the resourceless Adele. Another version of this story has Germaine and Talleyrand actually in a boat, talking about devotion and courage. To her question as to what he would do if she fell in, he reportedly replied, "Ah, Madame, you must be such a good swimmer."

Further reading:
Liberty: The Lives And Times Of Six Women In Revolutionary France by Lucy Moore

Book Review: An Uncommon Woman by Hannah Pakula

I bought An Uncommon Woman by Hannah Pakula because, after years of studying the life of Queen Victoria, I had became interested in her children as well. And what better way to start my research on them than a biography of her eldest child, Victoria? But this book turned out to be so much more than just a biography of Vicky, as she's called in the book to distinguish her from her mother. An uncommon woman is also the biography of her husband Frederick, her son Wilhelm and German statesman Otto Von Bismark, as well as the history of the unification of Germany!

As you can imagine, this is a most interesting read, but by no means a light and easy one. It is very well-researched and extremely detailed (it is 600+ pages long!), packed with a plethora information about both the daily lives of its protagonists and the political influence they exercised. Vicky was only 17 when she married Frederick, the Crown Prince of Prussia, and had to leave her loving home to live in a hostile country. Although the couple was very much in love, the Prussian government was very autocratic and feared the liberal and democratic ideas the new Crown Princess shared with her husband. Because of this, Bismark did all he could to isolate the couple.

He would prevent Frederick from exercising any influence in the government of the country, deny him recognition for the fundamental part he played in the unification of Germany, and poison the minds of his father, Kaiser Wilhelm, and of his son and heir, the future Emperor Wilhelm II, against him. Frederick and Vicky patiently put up with this painful situation, believing they would readdress and put an end to all the problems of the country when they would ascend to the throne. Sadly for them, for their country and the rest of Europe, Frederick was terminally ill with cancer when he became Kaiser. He would rule for only 99 days.

His heir, Wilhelm was a spoiled and selfish brat. And not as pliable as Bismark has thought. Wilhelm had supported the statesman against his own parents because it was convenient for him to do so. But once in power, he wouldn't hesitate to get rid of the chancellor if the latter refused to obey his wishes, even when these wishes had disastrous consequences for the country. After her husband's death, Vicky lived her life in retirement, away from politics. This was very difficult for her. She was a very gifted woman who could see clearly what the militaristic and autocratic policies of the government would lead to, and yet could do nothing to stop them.

The book also emphasizes how many of the horrors of the first half of the 20th century had their origin in this period. Germany had become an united nation, not through democracy and liberality, but through war, lies and subterfuges; the country was ruled by autocrats; the climate was one of militarism and suspicion; and anti-antisemitism, often used as a political weapon, was spreading fast. This helped me better understand the environment and climate in which Nazism was born in and flourished years later. How very different history would have been if Frederick and Vicky had had a long reign!

Throughout all her woes and difficulties, Vicky maintained a close correspondence with her mother. She also kept loving her home country more than Germany. This is not surprising considering the way she was treated by the Prussians and Germans from the very first day of her arrival in her new country. Sadly, it is also not surprising that this love for Britain was often used by the government to put her in a bad light. Vicky, however, loved Germany and wanted the best for the country. She wanted Germany to adopt the same political system of the United Kingdom and for the two countries to be close, rightly believing this would benefit the nation she was briefly called to rule upon.

An Uncommon Woman is a very informative, but also overwhelming read. There is just so much information and chronological order isn't always followed, so it is easy for the reader to get lots sometimes. The author draws extensively from Vicky's letters and other primary sources of the time, never indulging in speculation, which was quite refreshing. So many authors these days make wild claims without having the evidence to back them up. Not here.

The writing style is also mostly engaging, but it can, at times, get a little dry. All in all, though, the book flows easily and is a page turner. I'd definitely recommend it to those who are both interested in the life of this fascinating woman (I doubt you'd find a more complete biography of Vicky) and the political time she lived in. If, however, you want a light read and are only curious to know more about Vicky, and not the history of Germany too (although the latter is a fundamental part of her story), then this is not the book for you.

An Uncommon Woman by Hannah Pakula is a through biography of Vicky, the eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, of her husband, Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia, her son, the future Emperor Wilhelm II, of statesman Otto von Bismark, and a detailed history of the unification of Germany. The book is extremely detailed, very well-researched and highly informative, but can, because of the magnitude of the subject, get a little dry and confusing at times.

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

Rating: 4.5/5

Elizabeth Lamb, Viscountess Melbourne

Elizabeth Milbanke, the only daughter of Yorkshire landowner and politician Sir Ralph Milbanke, was baptized on 15 October 1751. Elizabeth grew up to be a beautiful, clever and good-humoured young lady. In 1769, when she was only 17, she married the wealthy Whig politician Sir Peniston Lamb. In 1770, he was made an Irish peer (Lord Melbourne, Baron of Kilmore) and, in 1815, a peer of the United Kingdom, Baron Melbourne of Melbourne. Elizabeth duly gave her husband an heir, but also helped him further his political career. She oversaw the construction of their home, Melbourne House in Piccadilly and, once completed threw numerous parties and entertainments in it.

Elizabeth was a brilliant conversationalist who also knew how to make her guests feel comfortable. In her salon, people could speak freely about anything and many made her their confidant. The most prominent and popular Whig figures of the day frequented her house, including Charles James Fox, Granville Leveson-Gower, Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire. Soon, Lady Melbourne became the leading Whig hostess of the time, a position threatened by the newly married Gergiana. Elizabeth quickly recognized this and, rather than fight with her over it, decided to become friends with her and make herself indispensable to her. It worked. Although the two women were very different, Georgiana often confessed her problems to Elizabeth.

The Three Witches from Shakespeares Macbeth by Daniel Gardner, 1775. It depicts Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and Elizabeth Lamb.

But Lady Melbourne was also cold and cynical, and her morals were loose. Not only she didn't care about her husband's affairs, but she cheated on him too, albeit discreetly. Of her six children - Peniston, William, Frederick, George, Emily, and Harriet (who died in infancy) - only the heir, Peniston was definitely her husband's. William was very likely the son of Lord Egremont, who was rumoured to have bought Elizabeth from her lover Lord Coleraine for £13,000! His relationship with Elizabeth lasted several years (although neither was faithful to the other), and he probably also fathered Frederick and Emily. George's father, instead, was believed to be the Prince of Wales. Thanks to her relationship with the Prince, Elizabeth managed to secure the position of Gentleman of the Bedchamber for her husband.

Although not a faithful wife, Elizabeth was a devoted and loving mother who enjoyed spending time with her children in their country home Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire. She would play with them, but also helped them study. Once her boys had grown, she often visited them at Eton, where they studied, as well. William was the most gifted of her sons, and soon Elizabeth concentrated all her ambitions on him. After his eldest brother's death, William embarked on a political carrier. He also married Lady Caroline Ponsonby, daughter of Georgiana's sister Henrietta. Elizabeth disliked Caro, whom she considered too emotional and quick-tempered, and feared she, and her family, had too much influence on her son.

Elizabeth was disgusted when her daughter-in-law had a very public affair with Lord Byron. Eager to see their relationship end, she suggested to Lord Byron that he should find a wife, proposing as a bride her own niece, Annabella Milbanke. The couple was later married. William, too, disappointed her. He may have been clever, but he was also lazy and more loyal to people than policies. As a result, his political career never advanced as much as his mother had hoped, at least not during her lifetime. William would become Prime Minister only after her death. Her daughter Emily also married another prime minister, Lord Palmerston. Apparently, Elizabeth, on her deathbed, had told her daughter to be faithful to him even though she was married to someone else at the time! After suffering a painful illness for four months, Elizabeth died at Melbourne House, Whitehall (she had exchanged her Piccadilly house with that of the Duke of York), on 6 April 1818.

Further reading:
Byron's "Corbeau Blanc": The Life and Letters of Lady Melbourne, 1751-1818 by Jonathan David Gross

Fashions For 1810

Hello everyone,

today we're gonna take a look at the style of clothes worn in 1810. Dresses were still in the empire fashion and those ridiculously huge sleeve still hadn't made an appearance:


A jacket of pale buff Merino cloth, with antique stomacher, richly embroidered in green chenille, finished with silk tassels; a fine India muslin petticoat and train, embroidered round the bottom with a trimming to correspond, and worn over a white satin slip. A Spanish cap of cloth and green satin, of the came colour as the dress, ornamented with a long green drooping ostrich feather, border similar to the dress. A French shawl of ruby coloured silk. Emerald necklace and earrings. Green kid sleepers with silver roses. Limerick gloves. The hair on the forehead in short ringlets, with a long Theresa curl flowing gracefully over the left shoulder.


A pelisse of black Merino cloth or velvet, buttoned from the throat to the feet, made to fit tight to the shape with a band and crape, ornamented with a double row of gold braiding, or an oriental embossed silk trimming, worn over a chemisette of French lawn. A Spanish hat and flat drooping ostrich feather tipped with orange. Half boots of black or orange coloured Morocco, Angola muff lined with yellow; the hair lightly curled on the left side with a thick braid crossing the face. Earrings of gold or amber. Gloves of York tan.


A white satin round dress, with half yard train, laced up the back and seams with gold twist, ornamented round the neck with a full twill of frosted satin or white crape, and down the front and at the wrist with gold braiding, and small drop buttons. It is made to sit high on the neck; cut to a point in the centre of the bosom and back; a gold band encircles the waist. A white satin Emsdorf helmet trimmed with gold, ornamented with two white craped ostrich feathers. White satin shoes embroidered with gold; white kid gloves; gold necklace and ear rings; cornelian brooch. The hair dressed in ringlets on each side of the face, with a long Theresa curl falling over the left shoulder.


An India muslin train over a white satin petticoat. A boddice of green velvet, ornamented at the scams with gold braiding, and trimmed round the neck with a twill of green crape or velvet. A Spanish cap, with green craped ostrich feathers. 


A robe of amaranthus figured sarsnet, made to sit high in the neck, with a full cuff of lace; long sleeves with short loose tops trimmed with swansdown. A turban of amaranthus crape and velvet. Gold brooch and earrings. Swansdown muff. White kid gloves and shoes. Hair in light ringlet curls.


A round dress of white muslin made high over the bosom, with short sleeves trimmed with lace, and ornamented round the bottom with three rows of small tucks. A spotted ermine tippet. A cap composed of fluted satin and lace, bound in tight to the head, and ornamented with a full bunch of apple blossom. Earrings and brooch of gold. Gloves and shoes of white kid. Hair in light round curls.

I find these dresses lovely, especially the first one. I love the details of the dress and the feather in the hat. What about you? Do you like these outfits?

Further reading:
La Belle Assemble, Vol.1

Historical Reads: Did Elizabeth I Really Hate Other Women?

Did Queen Elizabeth I really hate other women? Over at English Historical Fiction Authors, Sandra Byrd debunks the myth. To quote:

There is no doubt that from time to time Elizabeth expressed, sometimes forcefully, her preference that her ladies not marry. Anne Somerset, in her biography, Elizabeth I, states, “The Queen's opposition to her ladies marrying stemmed from more than mere jealousy that they should attain contentment of a sort that she would never know. Although she occasionally lamented her spinsterhood, simultaneously she entertained an altogether contradictory conviction that matrimony was an undesirable condition for women, a view not altogether surprising when one recalls that her father had executed her mother and stepmother, and the marriage of her sister had been a fiasco. It may well have been her early experience that instilled in her that instinctive aversion to the married state.”

While the Queen clearly enjoyed her power, she perhaps also keenly felt the loss of the kind of social and emotional intimacy that all people, and especially women, desire in a family. And yet she had no mother or father, no siblings, no husband, no children and her (Tudor) cousins all had claim to her throne.

Historian and author Antonia Fraser said, “Her [Elizabeth’s] household resembled a large family, often on the move between residences, and as a family it had its feuds when factions formed around strong personalities. It was not out of malice that Elizabeth opposed her maids of honors’ plans to marry, but because marriages broke up her own family circle.

The queen did, sometimes, help them to marry and marry well. Somerset says, “She (Elizabeth) could point out in the course of her reign no less than 13 of her maids of honor contracted prestigious marriages within the peerage, and this might seem to justify her claim that it was only unsuitable matches of which she disapproved.”

To read the entire post, click here.

Glove Stretchers

What's that weird-looking object pictured above? Is it a rudimentary pair of scissors? Chop sticks? Some kind of hair clip? Nope, it's a glove stretcher. A glove stretcher was a must have for any nineteenth century lady. During the period, kid leather gloves became very popular, despite the fact they weren't easy to put on. They were very snug, especially after they were washed. So, after every wash, a glove stretcher, which was shaped more or less like a pair of scissors and tapered to a point to recreate the form of fingers, were used to enlarge the fingers of the gloves.

How did they work? Well, you simply had to squeeze the handles together, and voilà. You were then able to put the gloves on easily. Glove stretchers were about 8 inches long and usually made of bone, wood or ivory, with a spring hinge made of metal. Some were plain, like the one shown above, while others, usually pricer and reserved for a richer clientèle, were elaborately carved and decorated. Glove stretchers remained popular until the beginning of the twentieth century, when more and more women stopped wearing gloves, thus making this once so handy tool unnecessary.

Had you ever seen a glove stretcher before? And do you know of any other object that was once very common but has now been forgotten?

The Invasion; Or, France And England

English artist William Hogarth was a patriotic man who deeply disliked France. He showed his feelings about the two rival countries in two prints entitled "The Invasion; Or, France And England". Let's take a close look at them, shall we? Oh, and don't forget to click on the pictures to enlarge them.


With lantern jaws and croaking gut,
See how the half-star'd Frenchmen strut,
And call us English dogs:
But soon we'll teach these bragging foes
That beef and beer give heavier blows
Than soup and roasted frogs.

The priests, inflam'd with righteous hopes,
Prepare their axes, wheels, and ropes,
To bend the stiff-neck'd sinner;
But should they sink in coming over,
Old Nick may fish 'twixt France and Dover,
And catch a glorious dinner.

This print shows a bunch of French soldiers embarking to conquer England. The soldiers look very thin and gaunt. The lack of food for the army is inferred by the bare bones of beef hung up in the window and the inscription on the alehouse sign, "Soup maigre au Sabot Royal". Because of this, a soldier, to eat, is forced to roast four frogs impaled upon his sword. To encourage their spirits to action, the motto on the standard says "Vengeance, avec la bonne Bière, et bon bœuf d'Angleterre." The Church, represented by the friar, isn't sharing in the hardships of the army. The friar, who is examining an axe with which to kill the protestant English, is portly and in good health.

On a sledge, in front of him, are laid several instruments of torture, which were used by the church to estirpate heresy and spread the Catholic religion, a religion that preaches mercy, charity, meekness and forbearance. Also on the sledge there are a plan for the construction of a monastery at Black Friars and a statue of St.Anthony, the patron of animals, with a pig. In the background, we see a group of soldiers who are so averse to this expedition, that they have to be forced to board the ship by their sergeant. Finally, two women are ploughing a sterile field, a job they are forced to do because every man in the country has been called to war, making agriculture, and thus the economy, suffer.


See John the Soldier, Jack the Tar,
With sword and pistol arm'd for war,
Should Mounseer dare come here;
The hungry slaves have smelt our food,
They long to taste our flesh and blood,
Old England's beef and beer.

Britons to arms! and let 'em come,
Be you but Britons still, strike home,
And, lion-like, attack 'em,
No power can stand the deadly stroke
That's given from hands and hearts of oak,
With Liberty to back 'em.

If the French are hungry and forlorn, the English are well-fed and in good spirits, busy making preparations to defend their country from the upcoming invasion. On the right, we see a farmer who's so desirous to enlist that he stands on his tiptoes to reach the stick the halberd is holding. Anyone shorter than the indicated height will, in fact, be rejected. In the meantime, an artist is making a caricature of the French monarch, the most Christian King. Holding a sword in one hand and a gibbet in the other, the King is saying:"You take a my fine ships; you be de pirate; you be de teef: me send my grand armies, and hang you all."

The crowd around the artist approves and loves his work. In the left hand corner, a fifer is playing the patriotic tune, "God Save The King". In the background, we see a sergeant teaching manual exercise to a company of recruits. This military meeting is held at the sign of the Gallant Duke of Cumberland, who is riding a horse. The sign also says "Roast and Boiled every day," which creates a starking contrast with the meager food given to the French troops. The English are also given liquor, as it is indicated by the image on the wall of the building.

Further reading:
The Works of William Hogarth by John Trusler

Classic Books: Pinocchio, The Master Of Ballantrae & The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

Hello everyone,

it's been a while since I last shared with you some classic books I really like. So, let's get started:

Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
I had an abridged version of Pinocchio when I was little and enjoyed it only so-so, so when I had the chance to read the whole book, I wasn't sure I would like it. But I loved it. One day, toymaker Geppetto creates a living puppet named Pinocchio. Like all children, Pinocchio isn't born with a precise set of morals. Because of this, he often behaves selfishly, foolishly and uncaringly. He knows that he has to behave and be good if he wants to become a real child, but even so he finds it very hard to resist temptation whenever he encounters it. And he encounters it often. Yet, all his bad experiences and adventures teach him important lessons that will turn him into a better person. Overall, this is a great read that I highly recommend to both children and adult alike. It will teach you some valuable life lessons, but without lecturing you.
Available at:
Rating: 4/5

The Master Of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson
A tale of sibling rivalry: James, the black sheep of the family, charming and his father's favourite; and Henry, the good brother, a righteous man who always does his duty but isn't as attractive. The brothers are divided when James goes to fight for Bonnie Prince Charlie, which, as we all know, didn't end well. What follows is an adventurous tale, with a gothic atmosphere, full of love, drama, pirates, intrigue and travel. The story, however, isn't told as well as some of his most famous ones, such as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, are. The prose here is quite weighty, which is why I'm glad I read it now that I'm an adult. Had I started it in high school, I probably would have quit and missed out on a wonderful tale. Recommended.
Available at: Project Gutenberg
Rating: 3.5/5

The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
This classic of American literature focuses on Huck and his relationship with Jim, a runway slave. Huck too had run away from home and was hiding on an island when he met Jim. Along the way, Huck and Jim will have several adventures, come close to being caught and encounter two con men, King and Duke, they can't seem to get away from. The book deals with several important themes such as freedom, racism, friendship and war. Yet, despite his profound message, it is in a way lighthearted and humorous. It has that mixture of serious and fun so typical of Twain. The only problem I had was with the writing style. The Italian translation I read was full of dialectic expressions and words I didn't know and, from what I'm told, the original American version isn't that much easier to read. But don't let that put you off from enjoying this great book. It's a must read.
Available at: Project Gutenberg
Rating: 3.5/5

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

The Birth Of Henry, Duke Of Cornwall

On 1 January 1511, in the very first hours of the morning, Catherine Of Aragon, wife of King Henry VIII, gave birth to a baby boy. Finally, England had an heir! His parents were overjoyed. The baby was called Henry, like his father and grandfather, and duly baptized four days later at the Chapel of the Observant Friars at Richmond. King Louis XII of France, who sent a golden cup and salt as gifts for the royal baby, and William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, were chosen to be his godfathers; his godmother was Margaret of Austria. The baby, known as The New Year’s Boy”, was also soon made Duke Of Cornwall.

The prince's birth was celebrated with a tournament in his mother's honour held at Westminster. The Queen was present, enjoying the spectacle with her ladies-in-waiting. The King and his knights jousted. The King had the words “Cure loial” (loyal heart), embroidered on his shirt, a profession of love and devotion to the Queen; his cousin Edward Neville was Valiant Desire; William, Count of Devonshire was Bon Voloire (good will); while Thomas Knyvet was Joyeux Penser (happy thoughts). Henry ran 25 courses and won a lot of fights, but it was Valiant Desire, aka Edward Neville, who won the tournament. The tournament was followed by a banquet, held in the White Hall of Westminster Palace, which got out of hand. The crowd got rowdy and even attempted to strip the King. Luckily, Henry was in a very good mood and just laughed it off.

Unfortunately, tragedy soon struck. On 22 February, little Henry suddenly died. He had lived for only 52 days. The cause of his death is unknown.  His parents were distraught, although Henry tried to be strong and comfort Catherine. Hall, in his Chronicle, says: "The kyng lyke a wyse prynce, toke this dolorous chaunce wonderous wysely, and lore to comfort the Quene, he dissimuled the matter, and made no great mourning outwardely: but the Queue lyke a naturall woman, made much lamentacion, how be it, by the kynges good persuasion and behauiour, her sorowe was mytigated, but not shortlye."

After his death, Catherine tried to give Henry a healthy son, but all her pregnancies ended either in childbirth or miscarriage. She was, however, able to give birth to a healthy daughter, Mary I. But a girl wasn't good enough for Henry. He would later move heaven and earth to divorce Catherine so that he could remarry and have a son. How differently things would have turned out if only "little Prince Hal" had lived!

Further reading:
Hall's Chronicle
The Wives Of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser

Mrs Muttlebury, Wet Nurse To Charlotte, Princess Royal

In 1766, Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III, gave birth to her first daughter, Charlotte. At the time, custom forbade royal and noble women from breastfeeding their children themselves, and so the royal couple had to look for a wet-nurse for the Princess Royal. The choice fell upon a certain Frances Muttlebury. In her book Princesses: The Six Daughters of George III, Flora Fraser explains how the wet-nurse was chosen, and what her job entailed:

Shortly after birth the Princess Royal had been whisked upstairs to somewhat different surroundings - the attic story, far from frescoed staircases and damask chambers - to forge an intimate relationship with a mother of two named Mrs Muttlebury, who had been selected as her wet-nurse.

Mrs Muttlebury had been carefully vetted as a milk-cow in August 1766 - not only by Lady Charlotte Finch*, a mother of four herself, but also by Dr Hunter and even by Mr Caesar Hawkins, the King's Serjeant-Surgeon, and by his brother Mr Pennell Hawkins, Surgeon of the Queen - in preparation for her important task. First she had had to bring for her critics' inspection the child she was then suckling, then she was asked to show her elder child too, to see if it thrived. Only then, in return for a formidable salary of 200 pounds, and a hundred, after her employment ceased, for life - with the interest of the royal family permenently engaged for her own children - was Mrs Muttlebury trained to devote herself for six months unconditionally to breastfeeding the royal baby. (A limner's or painter's wife was put on warning as a substitute wet-nurse should Mrs Muttlebury's milk fail before the royal infant appeared.)

But Mrs. Muttlebury remained somewhat bewildered by the honour done her. "She told Mama she had not the least notion of anything she was to do," recorded Lady Charlotte's daughter Sophia, "and begged her to tell her..." She was surprised to hear she must provide a maid - "I suppose from a notion of having people do everything for her," commented Miss Sophia. "Mama told her of several other expenses, viz providing her own washing, always wearing silk gowns morning and evening..." The royal baby should come into contact only with superior materials - tussore and brocade and Mechlin lace for ruffles, as supplied by Lady Charlotte.

It was a world unto itself, that of the Princess Royal and Mrs Muttlebury. The wet-nurse was allowed no visitors, not even her own children, to divert her from her duty.

Mrs Muttlebury stopped breastfeeding her charge after six months, but continued working as a nanny for the royal family until 1770, for £200 a year. The Queen also paid school expenses for one of her sons.

* she was the royal governess.

Further reading:
Princesses: The Six Daughters Of George III by Flora Fraser

Historical Reads: Macaronis And Dandies

Over at The Duchess of Devonshire's Gossip Guide To The 18th Century, Heather Carrol explains who the macaronis and the dandies, " two very different breeds of flamboyant males", were. To quote:

The macaronis "traveled in groups; wear extremely tight, feminine clothing; are extremely egocentric, and basically annoyed everyone else with their flamboyant presence. They rivaled the ladies with their tall wigs and were even known to powder it different colors like blue, pink, purple, etc. The hung out in gentlemen's clubs such as The Macaroni club and gambled, womanized, sodomized, gossiped, and wasted countless pounds of frivolous things".

The dandy's "always wearing something unique but very fashionable, never says anything to make himself seem weak, is always calm and collected, and never appears to falter. The Dandy makes you fall in love with him although he is untouchable and impenetrable to love".

To read the entire post, click here.

A Tomboy Princess

In June 1811, Lady Albinia Campbell met the 15 year old Princess Charlotte of Wales, heir to the British throne, at Windsor. Here's what she thought of the young girl:

Princess Charlotte is here. She is grown and improved in looks, but I do not think her manner dignified, as a Princess' ought to be, or indeed as I should wish a daughter of mine to behave. She hates her 'Granny' as she calls her [Queen Charlotte] loves nobody here except Princess Mary and Sophia, goes swaggering about, and she twangs hands with all the men, is in awe of no one, and glories in her independent way of thinking. Her passion is Horses that and mathematics are the only amusements she has. Her riding is beautiful - no fear of course-gallops and leaps over every ditch like a schoolboy - gave her groom a cut with her whip about the back to-day and told him he was always in the way. This was in good humour though, but it is not acting en Princesse. Frederick FitzClarence* is on a visit to Mrs. [Feilding?] She [Princess Charlotte] is very fond of him, and makes him ride with her every day, to the great annoyance of her Aunts as if the Granny knew it she would be much displeased, and I believe that is her chief reason for wishing it. Her Governess Lady de Clifford, she has not the smallest degree of respect for. I think her clever and she has a great deal of royal wit.

*He was the son of Charlotte's uncle, the future William IV, and his mistress Mrs Jordan.

Further reading:
The romance of Princess Amelia, daughter of George III by William S. Childe-Pemberton