How to Dress Becomingly in Mourning in 1885

The following appeared in Arthur’s Home Magazine published in 1885 in Philadelphia

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HOW TO DRESS BECOMINGLY IN MOURNING

By Ella Rodman Church.

BLACK has been so generally worn for a long time past that it is not always easy to distinguish between those who are in mourning and those who are not. It is an economical dress, and imparts an air of refinement where it would otherwise be lacking. A lady who was dependent on her own exertions for support, and who felt painfully conscious of a lack of taste in dress, as well as of scanty means, once said that she had seriously thought of going gradually into a suit of mourning, because it was such a lady-like dress and such a safe retreat for those who hadn’t much to spend.

It seems hard and worldly enough that fashion should prescribe the cut and style of garments supposed to be worn as an expression of grief; but mourning habiliments are of themselves a blind obedience to fashion, and are sometimes worn only “because people will talk” if no change is made. To the real mourner they are a protection, because they shield her from much that would otherwise be very trying; and for this reason alone the custom is likely to endure.

Parisian regulations on the subject of mourning are as follows:

The deepest mourning is that worn by a widow for her husband; it is worn for two years, sometimes longer. It consists, for the first year, of solid black woolen goods—collar and cuffs of folded untrimmed crape—a simple crape bonnet and a long black crape veil. The second year, silk trimmed with crape—black lace collars and cuff’s and a shorter veil may be worn; and in the last six months, gray, violet, and white are permitted.

The mourning for a father or mother is worn for one year. The first six months, the proper dress is of solid black woolen goods, trimmed with crape, black crape .bonnet, black crape veil, collar and cuff’s of black crape; three months, of black silk with crape trimming—white or black lace collar and cuff;—veil of tulle, and white bonnet facings ; and the last three months, in gray, purple, and violet.

Mourning worn for a child is the same as that worn for a parent.

Mourning for a grandparent is worn for six months; three months, black woolen goods—white collar and cuffs—short crape veil, and bonnet of crape trimmed with black silk or ribbon; six weeks in black silk trimmed with crape, lace collar and cuffs, short tulle veil, and six weeks in gray, purple, and violet.

Mourning for a brother or sister is worn six months; two months in solid black trimmed with crape—white linen collar and cuffs—bonnet of black crape, with white facing and black strings; two months, in black silk, with white lace collar and cuff’s, and two months in gray, purple, white, and violet.

Mourning for an uncle or aunt is worn for three months, and is the second mourning named above—tulle, white linen, and white bonnet facings being worn at once.

All this, with more to the same purpose, is extremely French, and the gradual shading off of the “light mourning” does not prevail much here—black and gray especially being so much in general use that they are no longer regarded in the light of mourning. There is something very unnatural in the idea of shading off’ into degrees of grief according to the rules set and ordered, and yet a sudden transition from deep mourning to colors is both startling and unseemly. Thus, a lady who suddenly appeared at a boardinghouse table in a head dress with bright blue ribbons, surmounting a dress of bombazine trimmed with crape, produced a very disagreeable impression, and became the subject of most unflattering remarks.

Handsome mourning is always a stylish dress, that is becoming to all except the very dark and sallow. Persons of this complexion should never wear black collars, nor let black come into immediate contact with the face. A narrow edge of crepe lisse, or fine tarlatan, is allowable even in deep mourning, and this finish gives a clearer, brighter look to heavy folds of sombre black.

Crape is an expensive trimming; costly sit the first, if of good quality—and a poor one is not worth buying—and easily spoilt by dust and damp; many, therefore, who put on mourning do not feel that they can afford it, except in the shape of bonnet and veil. There is no other fabric, however, that belongs so exclusively to mourning, and the handsomest and most suitable of such dresses is one of fine woolen goods—it may be bombazine, Henrietta cloth, or serge— covered three-quarters of the way up the skirt with crape laid on perfectly plain; the plain waist, or basque, almost if not quite covered, and the sleeves with very deep crape cuffs. Such a dress costs as much as a handsome silk; but with care it will last for some time, and there is an appearance of quiet elegance about it that gives an air of distinction to the wearer.

A severe plainness, that is utterly antagonistic to the wearing of superfluous trimming and all kinds of shining and dangling things, should characterize deep mourning; and straight lines and long folds are more suitable than puffed drapery. Smooth bias folds or tucks take the place of flounces and plaitings, simplicity and a perfect fit, as every wrinkle shows in such a dress, being the effect aimed at.

Complimentary or slight mourning can be made extremely becoming, especially in summer dresses; and almost any one looks well in white organdy or India muslin, trimmed with rosettes of crape or loops of narrow gros-grain ribbon. China crape, plain, brocaded, or embroidered, is a handsome, dressy material; and so is black grenadine trimmed with black lace. A plain black dress is brightened up by turning it in at the neck over a chemisette of pulled or gathered black tulle or white net.

When expense is not much considered, a surprising variety of pretty costumes may be devised under the head of half-mourning; all the dressy black toilets worn by people in colors are pressed into service, and just enough of the true character is retained to make the wearer ” interesting.” As I a lady once remarked of a fashionable young wife I at a watering-place, “She had no idea that any one could dress so much in mourning.”

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Inventory of an American Apothecary, Book, and Variety Store in 1854

Today I’m posting the catalog from Dominicus Hanson’s Apothecary, Book and Variety store in New Hampshire from 1854. The catalogue is in public domain and was digitized by Google.

I thought it would be easier to use images instead of text for this blog post. I was crazy. However, I listened to several music podcasts and found some great musicians, so I guess the time was well spent.

 

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The Victorian Gentleman’s Guide To Dressing For Less

Wow. My blog life has gotten much easier since I began collecting all my historical material on Pinterest. Organization is a good thing in both my real and cyber worlds. Today I’m excerpting from  The Gentleman’s Art of Dressing with Economy, by a Lounger at the Clubs, published in 1876. The images can be found in The Gentleman’s Magazine of Fashion from 1870. 

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Well, it is not my province to recommend any particular tailor or tailors; you pay your money and take your choice; but without mentioning names, there are hundreds of excellent economical tailors in London who turn out clothes equal in style and cut to the above eminent firm at prices from 35 to 40 per cent, lower, so cannot afford to give credit for longer than three months. To this class I should go. They may be found in quiet streets off the most fashionable resorts, and invariably have been cutters or foremen to the dii majores of the sartorial art. As a rule, they make no show, nor exhibit anything in their windows. A brass plate on door, or blind in front, tells their trade. Inside you find a private work-room, hung with brown paper patterns, and perhaps but little stock of cloth. This is what I like. A tailor of this stamp has always, in addition to his own stock, the latest pattern-book from the leading London wholesale houses, from which you may select; and if you prefer seeing other materials in the piece, as many do, then he will direct you to some of the well-stocked cloth-shops, not a hundred miles from the Albany, where you may wander through groves of newest designs until your fancy “feels the fulness of satiety.” On giving him the number of the piece, he will get it and make it. Thus he can have no object in foisting on you last season’s patterns, nor obsolete cloth he may have in stock. Another great advantage is, a tailor of this class is his own cutter, and will attend to any little peculiarity of cut you may desire. In large establishments the man who takes your measure may not perhaps cut nor see the garment ordered.

Avoid “stripping pegs,” as the phrase is, or buying ready-made clothes. A skilful attendant at any such depot has a knack of pulling down, smoothing, and humouring whatever garment he may set his great mind on selling you; so that before the cheval glass, you look as if you had been born therein, and you and it both grew on together. Ah, dear delusion! You pay for it, and pass out. After a little wear you find the smooth gracefully-fitting robe becoming restive. It kicks up its heels, and plunges at the collar to displace your hat; it puckers, wrinkles, and makes you its bitter enemy so long as you continue to wear it….Go to a skilled tailor; order your clothes; fit them on; and you will thank your stars for taking my advice.

I am not writing exclusively for Londoners; but as every one nowadays comes up to London on the slightest provocation—making it an excuse to have one’s hair cut—and as all wish to appear to best advantage when in town, I advise those who visit modern Babylon to have their clothes made there. I say this by no means to the disparagement of provincial tailors—many of whom buy the best cloth and employ the best workmen that can be got. Nevertheless, I am free to confess and contend, as learned counsel say, that clothes made out of London are redolent of country tailoring, and have not the timbre which belongs to style and fashion. There is aje-ne-sais-quoi about a West-end London cut unmistakeable; and I advise my readers, if they must needs patronize the local rural snip, to employ him on shooting coat, fishing garb, or costume intended for country wear exclusively.

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N.B.—If you can afford the time, do not allow your coats to be sent home without calling at your tailor’s for a final try-on.

Now, if you do not keep a valet (and if you wish to dress with economy, you had better not) you must either be your own valet, or get some one to do the work. No CLOTHES, HOWEVER NEW, WILL LOOK WELL UNLESS KEPT IN SHAPE. This is done by folding them carefully up the moment you take them off. Next morning or the day after will not do. The reason is, while the cloth has the warmth of the body in it, it is more plastic and impressionable than when cold. I have seen many persons throw their clothes down in a heap, to put them on next morning all in wrinkles. Of course, if you chuck your things in a stack to stagnate into creases, and put them on “with a pitchfork,” there is no hope of your ever looking well dressed.

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I said above, clothes must be folded carefully. There is a right and a wrong way in this as in everything. Each garment must be pulled into shape before folding. The coat-sleeves should be gently but firmly stretched to full length, and then doubled up with the crease at elbows. The skirts are then turned over, and, without disturbing the collar, the whole is doubled down the back, and left at full length when put by in wardrobe.

This mode differs from folding for packing. In this case the collar is turned up, arms doubled, skirts brought up to collar—cloth to cloth; the process then goes on as above. Trousers should be pulled down each seam, and particularly stretched from fork or crutch to boot; then fold them flat, knee to knee—not as tailors do, with crease down the centre; then turn over into three, taking care this crease is below the knee.

To keep trousers in shape, you should occasionally damp them with a sponge well wrung out. When folded, envelop them in brown paper, and put away under a heavy trunk or other weight. How do soldiers, with their limited stock of trousers, manage to turn out so well? Simply by following these directions: they damp their overalls, roll them up, and place them often under their bed or pillow.

In this little book I have not attempted to lay down any fixed rule as to how much yearly one should spend on clothes. So much depends on the wearer, in the first place; secondly, on the stock of things one has in hand to start with; and thirdly, on the judicious selection of new material. I append, however, four tables of prices of clothes, of all descriptions required of tailors under ordinary circumstances; and the reader may elect to make what choice he likes. No. I shows top price charged by West-end tailors to West-end swells on the credit system. No. 2 shows same quality on the ready money system, or, much the same thing, three months’ credit. No. 3 gives second quality, and second-rate work, for cash; and No. 4 is slop-shop price, ready made and ticketed in window.

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Tales of Feminine Travelers from 1906

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Summer vacation is coming, ladies! Have you wired ahead to the hotels where you’ll be staying?  Do you know how to pack your hats properly?  What are you going to wear in the sleeper car?  How will you handle unwanted male attention on a train?

Are you as clueless on these matters as I am?

Thank goodness for the exceedingly well-mannered and somewhat snobbish Isabel Curtis. She has all the answers in her article “Tales of Feminine Travelers Who Have Learned to Journey Safely and Happily Without Male Escort”, published in the June 1906 volume of Good Housekeeping.  I’ve excerpt the most relevant passages below.

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For two hours, one night. I listened while the Travelers talked. The Travelers were a group of ladies’ maids: intelligent, well-bred, young women gathered together in Miranda’s pleasant room, at a big hotel in New York. A lady’s maid is of the class one meets so seldom—except in a novel or the stage—that I was glad to know them in real life. Miranda was responsible, I suppose, for an all-evening theme by telling what a queer reception Lady Chesterton had in New York.

“My lady.” said Miranda, “came across on a line which lands in Boston. Her luggage was labeled ‘Miss Chesterton‘. She hates the fuss that is made over anybody who brings a title to America. Before going to visit some old friends she wanted to rest, so after a few hours in Boston we took the train for New York. We arrived here late at night and drove to a hotel, which some English friends had recommended to my lady. The clerk said there was not an empty room. We got the same answer at the next hotel. It was nearly midnight when we made our third stop, here. Again there was no room. While we stood by the desk in perplexity, a lady and gentleman passed us, called for a room and got one. My lady turned back for a talk with the clerk who became perfectly honest with her. He told her there were rooms enough, but women arriving in the evening without an escort could not be given accommodations. The same rule exists, so he told us, in every reputable hotel.”

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“Lady Chesterton did not feel that way about it.” continued Miranda. “She approved of the idea, but it was midnight and where were we to go? She told the clerk of her quandary and gave her name, though she did not wish to register under it. After a brief glance at my lady’s letters to her banker we were accommodated and provided with every comfort. One thing the clerk told us about traveling in America my lady will put into practice before our journey to San Francisco; she will write ahead and secure rooms at hotels wherever we are to stop.”

“Talk of traveling with no man along.” sighed Felice, a chatty French maid. “That an episode my lady and I had last night! 1 went with her to the theater—ah, what a stupid play!” The girl threw out her hands tragically. “‘Felice.’ said my lady, ‘let us have something to eat and forget it. There is the rathskeller where my husband and I go after the play. Such good things to eat and such music! It was a heavenly place, but what a crowd! We walked to the end of the room before we found a table. ‘We will have lobster a la Newberg began my lady, ‘with some little—‘ ‘Pardon, madame,’ I interrupted, ‘but for what do they take us?’

wt7“One waiter had beckoned to another, they stood staring at us, then hurried away for the head waiter. Oh, he was polite. ‘When does your escort arrive?’ he asked with his beautiful smile. ‘Escort?’ repeated my lady. ‘Your father, husband, brother?’ ‘We have no gentleman coming to join us.’ He grew more polite, more smiling. ‘I am sorry, indeed, but this table is engaged.’ ‘Of course it is engaged,’ said my lady haughtily; ‘please send a waiter at once to take my order.’ But she did not have her little supper at the rathskeller. That head waiter told us very confidential—we could not eat there unless a gentleman was with us. So, all down that long room we had to walk, everybody watching us and wondering, I suppose, ‘Who are these terrible people, -—thieves or what?’”

“Such experiences,” said Martha, a plain-looking New England girl, “are valuable lessons for the women who travel. My mistress has had difficulties; she did not resent them, however. She feels that any house which opens its doors to the public has to guard itself against queer people, even if it sometimes turns down respectable ones. So she wires ahead to a number of hotels, wherever she is to stop—any hotel in your own town will give you a list of them. She learns about prices, accommodations, the distance from a railroad station, so she knows whether she has to take a carriage or not. She asks for menus, if the place is run on European style, then she has a fair idea of what living there will cost.”

“Are you girls on the go all the time?” I asked curiously.

“I am, for at least eight months of the year,” said Emily, a dainty little creature who was busily mending a lace flounce. “My mistress is Miss Marlitt, the actress. Travel with her is not the weariness it is in some positions because she has reduced packing to a science. Every bit of baggage she owns either for the hotel or the theater is a thing of such neatness and convenience that ‘living in a trunk,’ as we say, is as easy as if one were at home. I cannot afford many of the small contrivances Miss Marlitt owns, but I have adopted some of them to make travel easier for myself.”

“Tell us of them,” begged Miranda.

“Well, there is my little scheme for carrying hats. I punch two holes, an inch apart, in the lid of the top tray of my trunk and run in a yard of tape. Over this I lay my hat, top up, filled with any light-weight articles. I stick a long hat pin through it, as if I were putting it on my head, then over and over the hat pin I wind the tape, which ties securely on the other side of the lid. This draws the hat brim down tight. Around the crown and trimmings, I tuck other light articles, or tissue paper, which we use by the ream.”

“What do you do with so much tissue paper?” queried Annette.

“I crumple sheet after sheet of it and stuff the puffy sleeves of nice gowns, I wind it in twists about flowers and ribbons on hats and build little fences around perky bows or dress trimmings which do not stand crushing. Then my plan for carrying liquids defies the most violent baggage-smasher. When every bottle is corked securely, I set it in a square tin box, fill in between with clean, sawdust and lock it. All that is necessary when repacking is to empty the sawdust on a paper and pour it again around the bottles. When I go from the sleeping car to the dressing room I carry a linen affair which looks like a strapped music roll. Inside are numerous little pockets, one row lined with silk rubber holds a washrag. Tooth brush, sponge, and nail brush. In the others are tooth powder, a buttonhook, pins, brush and comb, my belt and collar, any small bits of jewelry, hairpins, a housewife with needles, thread, scissors, a thimble, hooks and eyes, and tape. A loop at the top hangs it up and as every pocket is labeled, dressing is a quick job.”

“I wish I might have my turn at the dressing room after you,” said Felice. “Ah, women are so mean, so slow, so don’t-care! One morning when we were getting into Chicago, we waited half an hour for a—person to let us have our turn. A line of other women were waiting; some of them rapped at the door, some of them said things. At last somebody went for the conductor. He made the person open the door. Her hair was dressed as if she were going to a party, she was rouged, powdered, manicured, perfumed, hatted and veiled and she smiled so triumphant! I had to brush my lady’s hair while she sat in her berth, and our faces, we could not wash them till we got to our hotel.”

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 “Another thing.” continued Emily, “that women ought to know is that it is a conductor’s duty to hear the appeal of any woman who has the un— welcome attentions of a man thrust upon her. ‘I have in mind,’ said my brother. ‘one man who boards my train three times a week. He is rich, well dressed, good-looking and holds a fine position in his own town. He walks past seats occupied by a homely woman or in which a man is lounging till he finds a pretty girl. Then politely enough he takes his place beside her. A refined woman is so afraid of making a scene she would rather endure any unpleasantness than call the conductor. Women ought to complain in such cases. It can be done so quietly that even the passenger in the next seat need not know what is happening. It means not only protection for one woman but for others. One experience of that sort would make such a man wary in the future. I keep an eye on young girls who are traveling alone. More than once in the midst of a flirtation with some man who is not fit to speak to her, I have escorted a pretty child to the Pullman and given her a bit of fatherly advice. But I would say to mothers if it is necessary, send your ten year-old daughter across the continent in the care of conductors and a kindly public—she is safe; but when she is eighteen. pretty, a bit headstrong, perhaps, and innocently fond of admiration and attention, don‘t send her on a hundred mile journey alone.’

“There is not a doubt of it,” cried Martha, heartily. “Dear me! how some women do dress when they travel! They fairly outrage every law of good breeding. I wish you could have seen a vision that flounced through our car the other morning. Her blonde hair was in a wild frowzle, she wore a billowy wrapper of baby blue silk fluttering with frills, ribbons and laces, while she fairly blazed with diamonds. I’m glad Miranda was not there, she would have classified her as a wild American.”

Miranda’s handsome face flushed. “I am guilty already of thinking that some American women do dress queerly when they travel, although,” she added hastily, “you would see plenty of such display in England and the Continent. You can always pick out the real aristocrat there by the plainness of her clothes when she travels. She wears, as Lady Chesterton does, a simple walking suit with a dark silk waist which sheds dust, a long traveling coat and a plain hat with very little trimming on it. A wrapper of soft black silk and black bed slippers are all that is necessary for the sleeping car. Jewels and filmy negligees she reserves for home wear, her elaborate gowns for carriage drives and garden parties.

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“’You know dogs are forbidden on this road,’ he [the conductor] said sternly. “It goes in the baggage car and you pay half fare for it.’

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“Do tell me then how to care for children when traveling,” cried Annette.

“Get acquainted with them before they start and discover what they like to do,” said Martha. “I once brought five motherless little ones from Oklahoma to Maine, and there never was a fretful, uncomfortable half-hour. We secured the end of the Pullman and in my grip I had stowed away hooks, paper dollies and doll house furniture, games, a scrapbook with pictures ready to cut out and paste, beads to string and for the elder girls dolls’ clothes ready to sew. When we got on the cars I took off the children’s traveling clothes and put each one in a soft, thin play frock with round neck and short sleeves. I had a roll of old linen cut in squares and a pint bottle filled with suds from good toilet soap. A few drops of this added to a cup of cold water cleansed smutty faces or grimy hands, then the soiled washrag was tossed from the window. The children had their dining car meals at the same hours they would have eaten at home and they had the wholesome food to which they were accustomed. There was no candy or cookies between meals, only an occasional drink of cool milk or filtered water from the dining car, for I have a horror of the beverage served from a railroad ice water tank. At 3 o’clock, the three little ones were laid on a rug on the floor with comfortable pillows under their heads and the shades down to shut out the sun. While they napped I read a story to the elder ones. Before 8 they were all in bed and at once dropped off to sleep without the least trouble.

When the conductor assured us we had ten minutes to spare, I took the youngsters for a breath of fresh air and to stretch their legs, whether it was on the platform of a busy depot or on the green prairie by a water tank.”

“Did you have a plentiful supply of eyestones along?” asked Emily.

“Better than that,” said Martha, “I had a tiny camel’s hair brush, which will remove a railroad cinder in a second. Ah, I must not forget the aid I had from the children‘s aunt. She dropped a bundle in my grip just before we started. It held a bunch of envelopes, one was to be given each child at a certain hour every day. Sometimes the envelope held some nonsense rhymes that we all laughed over, or a Japanese butterfly which was wound up until its wings were in tatters, a paper ball. a tiny mirror to flash reflections, puzzles or conundrums with their answers in the next envelope, funny pictures, pencils and paper, stories out from magazines or postals of scenery we had to pass.”

A little advertising…

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A Celebration of Waterloo: Apsley House, Number One London – By Susana Ellis

I’m thrilled to have the wonderful Susana Ellis visiting my blog today! She is sharing a little information about the Duke of Wellington’s home and her fabulous story Lost and Found Lady found in Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles, an anthology of Waterloo-themed stories.

Thank you so much, Susana, for sharing this wonderful post and beautiful excerpt from your story.

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Wellington’s London townhouse, located on the corner of Hyde Park, is open to the public as a museum and art gallery.

Number One London. The origin of the name came from the fact that this is the first house visitors from the countryside would pass upon entering through the toll gates at Knightsbridge.

Apsley House. The name comes from the first owner, Lord Apsley, the Lord Chancellor, who contracted Robert Adam to build it between 1771 and 1778. In 1807, it was purchased by Richard Wellesley, the 1st Marquess Wellesley, who in 1817 sold it to his younger brother, the Duke of Wellington.  Some of Adam’s interiors still survive: the circular staircase, the drawing room with its semi-circular end, and the Portico Room.

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In 1819 Wellington added a three-story extension, housing a State Dining Room, bedrooms, and dressing rooms. In 1828 when his political career blossomed, included a new staircase and the Waterloo Gallery. The original red brick exterior was covered in Bath stone and a pedimented portico added.

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Over the years, the house has been essentially maintained in the original style and décor of the 1st Duke of Wellington.

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The Duke of Wellington received many gifts from the grateful heads of state of Europe following the Allied victory over Napoleon:

  • A pair of large candelabra of Siberian porphyry, ormolu & Malachite centre and two side tables, presented by Nicholas I of Russia
  • A pair of Swedish porphyry urns, from King Charles XIV John of Sweden
  • A dinner service of Berlin porcelain, from Frederick William III of Prussia.
  • The Egyptian revival decorative arts dinner service of Sèvres porcelain, from Louis XVIII of France
  • The silver and silver-gilt Portuguese service of over a thousand pieces, from the Portuguese Council of Regency
  • The Saxon Service of Meissen porcelain, from Frederick Augustus I of Saxony.
  • Seven marshal’s batons from various European continental rulers (and another three from the British). Nine of them are on display at Apsley House (the Russian baton was stolen in the 1960s)

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Included in the collection of 200 paintings are 83 paintings that were part of a collection of 300 that were discovered in Joseph Bonaparte’s baggage in the aftermath of the Battle of Vitoria in 1813. The duke decided to return the paintings after the war, and a grateful King Ferdinand VII returned 83 of them. These include four paintings by Diego Velásquez, one by Francisco Goya, three by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, and three by Jusepe de Ribera.

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2014 Post on Susana’s Parlour (before I knew I would be writing my own Waterloo-themed romance): https://susanaellisauthor.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/apsley-house-celebrates-the-199th-anniversary-of-the-victory-of-waterloo/

Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles

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A Celebration of Waterloo

June 18, 1815 was the day Napoleon Bonaparte’s Grande Armée was definitively routed by the ragtag band of soldiers from the Duke of Wellington’s Allied Army in a little Belgian town called Waterloo. The cost in men’s lives was high—22,000 dead or wounded for the Allied Army and 24,000 for the French. But the war with Napoleon that had dragged on for a dozen years was over for good, and the British people once more felt secure on their island shores.

The bicentenary of the famous battle seemed like an excellent opportunity to use that setting for a story, and before I knew it, I had eight other authors eager to join me, and to make a long story short, on April 1, 2015 our Waterloo-themed anthology was released to the world. 

You are all invited to

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1 Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles mug

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Our Stories

 

Jillian Chantal: Jeremiah’s Charge

Emmaline Rothesay has her eye on Jeremiah Denby as a potential suitor. When Captain Denby experiences a life-altering incident during the course of events surrounding the Battle of Waterloo, it throws a damper on Emmaline’s plans.

Téa Cooper: The Caper Merchant

The moon in Gemini is a fertile field of dreams, ideas and adventure and Pandora Wellingham is more than ready to spread her wings. When Monsieur Cagneaux, caper merchant to the rich and famous, introduces her to the handsome dragoon she believes her stars have aligned.

Susana Ellis: Lost and Found Lady

Catalina and Rupert fell in love in Spain in the aftermath of a battle, only to be separated by circumstances. Years later, they find each other again, just as another battle is brewing, but is it too late?

Aileen Fish: Captain Lumley’s Angel

Charged with the duty of keeping his friend’s widow safe, Captain Sam Lumley watches over Ellen Staverton as she recovers from her loss, growing fonder of her as each month passes. When Ellen takes a position as a companion, Sam must confront his feelings before she’s completely gone from his life.

Victoria Hinshaw: Folie Bleue

On the night of the 30th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, Aimée, Lady Prescott, reminisces about meeting her husband in Bruxelles on the eve of the fighting. She had avoided the dashing scarlet-clad British officers, but she could not resist the tempting smile and spellbinding charm of Captain Robert Prescott of the 16th Light Dragoons who— dangerously to Aimée— wore blue.

Heather King: Copenhagen’s Last Charge

When Meg Lacy finds herself riding through the streets of Brussels only hours after the Battle of Waterloo, romance is the last thing on her mind, especially with surly Lieutenant James Cooper. However, their bickering uncovers a strange empathy – until, that is, the lieutenant makes a grave error of judgment that jeopardizes their budding friendship…

Christa Paige: One Last Kiss

The moment Colin held Beatrice in his arms he wanted one last kiss to take with him into battle and an uncertain future. Despite the threat of a soldier’s death, he must survive, for he promises to return to her because one kiss from Beatrice would never be enough.

Sophia Strathmore: A Soldier Lay Dying

Amelia and Anne Evans find themselves orphaned when their father, General Evans, dies. With no other options available, Amelia accepts the deathbed proposal of Oliver Brighton, Earl of Montford, a long time family friend. When Lord Montford recovers from his battle wounds, can the two find lasting love?

David W. Wilkin: Not a Close Run Thing at All

Years, a decade. And now, Robert had come back into her life. Shortly before battle was to bring together more than three hundred thousand soldiers. They had but moments after all those years, and now, would they have any more after?

About Lost and Found Lady

On April 24, 1794, a girl child was born to an unknown Frenchwoman in a convent in Salamanca, Spain. Alas, her mother died in childbirth, and the little girl—Catalina—was given to a childless couple to raise.

Eighteen years later…the Peninsular War between the British and the French wages on, now perilously near Catalina’s home. After an afternoon yearning for adventure in her life, Catalina comes across a wounded British soldier in need of rescue. Voilà! An adventure! The sparks between them ignite, and before he returns to his post, Rupert promises to return for her.

But will he? Catalina’s grandmother warns her that some men make promises easily, but fail to carry them out. Catalina doesn’t believe Rupert is that sort, but what does she know? All she can do is wait…and pray.

But Fate has a few surprises in store for both Catalina and Rupert. When they meet again, it will be in another place where another battle is brewing, and their circumstances have been considerably altered. Will their love stand the test of time? And how will their lives be affected by the outcome of the conflict between the Iron Duke and the Emperor of the French?

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Excerpt

September 14, 1793

A beach near Dieppe, France

“I don’t like the look of those clouds, monsieur,” Tobias McIntosh said in fluent French to the gray-bearded old man in a sailor hat waiting impatiently near the rowboat that was beginning to bob more sharply with each swell of the waves. “Are you sure your vessel can make it safely all the way to Newhaven in these choppy seas?”

The old man waved a hand over the horizon. “La tempête, it is not a threat, if we leave immédiatement. Plus tard…” He shrugged. “Je ne sais pas.”

“Please, mon amour,” pleaded the small woman wrapped in a hooded gray cloak standing at his side. “Allow me to stay with you. I don’t want to go to England. I promise I will be prudent.”

A strong gust of wind caught her hood and forced it down, revealing her mop of shiny dark locks. Tobias felt like seizing her hand and pulling her away from the ominous waves to a place of safety where she and their unborn child could stay until the senseless Terreur was over.

“Justine, ma chère, we have discussed this endlessly. There is no place in France safe enough for you if your identity as the daughter of the Comte d’Audet is discovered.” He shivered. “I could not bear it if you were to suffer the same fate at the hands of the revolutionaries as your parents did when I failed to save them.

She threw her arms around him, the top of her head barely reaching his chin. “Non, mon amour, it was not your fault. You could not have saved them. It was miraculeux that you saved me. I should have died with them.”

She looked up to catch his gaze, her face ashen. “Instead, we met and have had three merveilleux months together. If it is my time to die, I wish to die at your side.”

Tobias felt like his heart was going to break. His very soul demanded that the two of them remain together and yet… there was a price on both their heads, and the family of the Vicomte Lefebre was waiting for him in Amiens, the revolutionaries expected to reach them before midday. It was a dangerous work he was involved in—rescuing imperiled French nobility from bloodthirsty, vengeful mobs—but he had pledged himself to the cause and honor demanded that he carry on. And besides, there was now someone else to consider.

“The child,” he said with more firmness than he felt. “We have our child to consider, now, Justine ma chère. The next Earl of Dumfries. He must live to grow up and make his way in the world.”

Not to mention the fact that Tobias was human enough to wish to leave a child to mark his legacy in the world—his and Justine’s. He felt a heaviness in his heart that he might not live long enough to know this child he and Justine had created together. He could not allow his personal wishes to undermine his conviction. Justine and the child must survive.

Justine’s blue eyes filled with tears. “But I cannot! I will die without you, mon cher mari. You cannot ask it of me!”

“Justine,” he said, pushing away from her to clasp her shoulders and look her directly in the eye. “You are a brave woman, the strongest I have ever known. You have survived many hardships and you can survive this. Take this letter to my brother in London, and he will see to your safety until the time comes that I can join you. My comrades in Newhaven will see that you are properly escorted.”

He handed over a letter and a bag of coins. “This should be enough to get you to London.”

After she had reluctantly accepted and pocketed the items beneath her cloak, he squeezed her hands.

“Be sure to eat well, ma chère. You are so thin and my son must be born healthy.”

She gave him a feigned smile. “Our daughter is the one responsible for my sickness in the mornings… I do not believe she wishes me to even look at food.”

She looked apprehensively at the increasingly angry waves as they tossed the small boat moored rather loosely to a rock on the shore and her hands impulsively went to her stomach.

“Make haste, monsieur,” the old sailor called as he peered anxiously at the darkening clouds. “We must depart now if we are to escape the storm. Bid your chère-amie adieu maintenant or wait for another day. I must return to the bateau.”

“Tobias,” she said, her voice shaking.

He wondered if he would ever again hear her say his name with that adorable French inflection that had drawn him from their first meeting.

“Go, Justine. Go to my family and keep our child safe. I promise I will join you soon.”

He scooped her up in his arms and carried her toward the dinghy, trying to ignore her tears. The old sailor held the boat as still as he could while Tobias placed her on the seat and kissed her hard before striding back to the shore, each footstep heavier than the last.

He studied the darkening sky as the sailor climbed in the boat. “You are sure it is safe?”

“La Chasseresse, she is très robuste. A few waves will not topple her, monsieur.”

“Je t’aime, mon amour,” she said to him plaintively, her chin trembling.

“Au revoir, ma chère,” he said, trying to smile, although his vision was blurring from tears.

Will I ever see her again?

He stood watching as the dinghy made its way slowly through the choppy sea to the larger ship anchored in the distance, grief-stricken and unable to concentrate on anything but his pain. When the ship finally sailed off into the horizon, he fell to his knees and prayed as he had never done before for the safety of his beloved. He remained in that position until drops of rain on his face reminded him of the Lefebre family waiting for him in Amiens.

With a deep breath, he rose and made his way to the nearby forest, where his horse waited, tied to a tree.

“Come, my friend. We have a long, wet journey ahead of us.”

Setting foot in the stirrup, he swung his leg over the saddle and urged the horse to a gallop, feeling his heart rip into pieces with every step away from his beloved.

About the Author

Susana has always had stories in her head waiting to come out, especially when she learned to read and her imagination began to soar. Voracious reading led to a passion for writing, and her fascination with romance and people of the past landed her firmly in the field of historical romance.

A teacher in her former life, Susana lives in Toledo, Ohio in the summer and central Florida in the winter. She is a member of the Central Florida Romance Writers and the Beau Monde chapters of RWA and Maumee Valley Romance Inc.

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