A Sad Tale of Regency Gambling Woe

This is a little bombastic story I ran across.  Aside from his gambling habit, I think you will agree that the author has serious issues with women.

The following article is excerpted from Sporting Magazine: or, monthly calendar of the transactions of the turf, the chase and every other diversion interesting to the man of pleasure, enterprize, and spirit, 23, 1804. All but one of the images are from The Repository of Arts, Literature, Fashions, Manufactures, &c in the years 1818 and 1820


I WRITE from an obscure retirement where your instructive Miscellany has accidentally reached me. As my history may not be uninstructive, I proceed. Deprived, in infancy, of a father whose professional merit as a physician yielded only to the sterling virtues of the man, I was left entirely to the management of my mother, the daughter of a tradesman rather respectable than opulent, not unjustly vain of her personal charms, and most passionately fond of the cardtable. She was left in the full possession of whatever property my father and her own left behind them. With me and the world she passed for a woman of no inconsiderable opulence: and to support that appearance as well as to gratify her sovereign passion for play and parade, she lived considerably beyond her income. Under such a guide, it may be naturally supposed that I could not find my way to the shrine of prudence or rigid virtue. No, Sir. I could support my part in the circle of slander or at the cardtable, before I could regularly subtract my stake from my winnings, or my losses from the former. Yet I was admired, at least in my mother’s presence, for my cleverness.

Having but few ideas, they were the more strongly impressed on my mind, and the more quickly and precisely managed in conversation. Nothing tended to undeceive me in the delusive vanity which the flattery or my mother’s whist and supper friends, and her own loquacious partiality inspired, but the manifest superiority that the dullest of my class-fellows had over me at school. That chagrin however was but transitory, for my master was too lazy to chide me; and as I was a day-boy, I soon forgot it every evening in my conscious cleverness at the card table, where my mother would often say she indulged me merely that, like the young Duke of  B. I should know how to guard my fortune from black-legs, though, poor woman ! As it afterwards came out, she had not then above seven hundred pounds in the world. But she had every year four or five shares in the lottery, and was confident it would make her fortune at last.

Continue reading “A Sad Tale of Regency Gambling Woe”

The Funeral of Admiral Lord Nelson

The following is excerpted from “The Monthly Mirror,” 1806

Recorded honours shall gather round his monument, and thicken over it. It has a solid basis, and will support the laurels which adorn it.”

LAYING IN STATE. On Sunday, January 5th, and the Monday and Tuesday following, the remains of our illustrious hero, deposited and laid out in state, in the great hall at Greenwich hospital, were the object of veneration to multitudes. These crowded, from every quarter, and numbers went away unsatisfied. The arrangements of the solemnity were as follow:—In the funeral saloon, high above the corpse, a canopy of black velvet was suspended, richly festooned with gold, and the Festoons ornamented with the chelengk, or plume of triumph, presented to his Lordship by the Grand Seignior, after the ever-memorable victory of the Nile. It was also decorated with his Lordship’s coronet, and a view of the stern of the San Josef, the Spanish admiral’s ship, already quartered in his arms. On the back field, beneath the canopy, was emblazoned an escutcheon of his Lordship’s arms ; the helmet surmounted by a naval crown, and enriched with the trident and palm branch in saltier.—motto, “Palmam qui meruit ferat.” Also his Lordship’s shield, ornamented with silver stars, appropriately interspersed ; with the motto—”Tria juncta in uno,” and surmounting the whole, upon a gold field, embraced by a golden wreath, was inscribed, in sable characters, the word, Trafalgar, commemorative of the proudest of his great achievements.

>> Image of laying in state

PROCESSION BY WATER. At half past seven o’clock, on Wednesday, the heralds and naval officers who were to assist at the procession by water, assembled at the Admiralty, and from thence proceeded about eight to Greenwich.

>> Image of procession by water

>> Another image of procession by water

In the first barge, on their return, was the standard at the head; the Guidon was borne by Captain Durham. In the second were the officers of arms bearing the target, sword, helm, and crest of the deceased. In the third was the body. In the fourth was the

  • Chief Mourner—Admiral Sir Peter Parker, Bart.
  • Train Bearer to the Chief Mourner—The Honourable Captain Blackwood.
  • Supporters to the Chief Mourner—Admirals Lord Hood and Radstock.
  • Six Assistant Mourners—Vice Admirals Caldwell, Hamilton, Nugent, Bligh,
  • Sir Roger Curtis, and Sir C. M. Pole, Barts.
  • Four Supporters of the Pall—Vice Admiral Whitshead, Savage, Taylor, andRear Admiral E. Harvey.
  • Six Bearers of the Canopy—Rear Admirals Aylmer, Domett, T. Wells, Drury, Sir Isaac Coffin, and Sir W. H. Douglas, Barts.

They were all in mourning cloaks over their full uniform coats. The banner of emblems was borne in this barge, by Lord Nelson’s own captain, Captain T. M. Hardy.

After the four barges came his Majesty’s barge; the barge of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiraltythen the Lord Mayor, in the city state barge, and other city barges: they had all their colours half staff. As the procession moved from Greenwich, minute guns were fired—the shore was lined with thousands of spectators—every hat was off, and every countenance expressed the deepest regret felt at the loss of so great a hero. Not a vessel was suffered to disturb the procession. The decks, yards, rigging, and masts of the numerous ships on the river, were all crowded with spectators—the number of ladies was immense.

>> Image of funeral procession on the Thames

As the procession passed the Tower, the great guns were fired. It reached Whitehall stairs about half past three o’clock. During the time the body was landing, together with the several attendants in the four mourning barges, the King’s, Admiralty, Lord Mayor’s, and City barges, lay upon their oars. Minute guns were fired during the landing of the body. The procession proceeded through a line formed by the Guards to the Admiralty, where it finally closed about a quarter before four o’clock.

PROCESSION BY LAND. The procession did not begin to move from the Admiralty till eleven o’clock on Thursday. It was led by a military force far beyond what any one would think requisite to do honour to a procession, and amounting in number and character, as well as appearance, to a formidable army. There were near 8,000 regular soldiers, consisting chiefly of the regiments that had fought and conquered in Egypt. The 31st, 75th, and 92d, the 10th and 14th Light Dragoons, and the Scotch Greys, challenged particular admiration. Above 20,000 volunteers were employed in lining the streets. The military part of the procession was closed by a detachment of the flying artillery from Woolwich. The troops marched in brigades, and in order of battle, the cavalry being stationed at intervals between the infantry and the flank companies, covering the artillery. The procession may be considered as consisting of three distinct parts, the military, the private carriages, and the mourners. The private carriages were very numerous: the commoners went first, then the Peers, beginning with Burons, and closing with Dukes, next, the Princes, and last, the Prince of Wales. The Dukes of York, Kent, Sussex, and Cambridge, were in the streets very early, on horseback, with their aides de camp, seeing that every thing should be in order. The third part of the procession consisted of the hearse and mourning coaches. The seamen and marines of the Victory, and the Greenwich pensioners, who went in the first part of the procession, bore the most striking marks of deep and unfeigned sorrow; and their recent service caused them to be seen with veneration. A great number of the mourning coaches that followed the hearse, were filled with naval officers, who were all regarded with high feelings of esteem and admiration, being considered as the partners of Nelson’s victories, or participators in the other triumphs that have signalized our flag. This last part of the procession came at a considerable interval after the preceding. It was though necessary to give time to the carriages that had gone past, to set down their company. The whole procession took up above three hours and an half to pass. The military in front began to move forward at eleven, and the last of the mourning coaches passed on a little before three. The day was the most favourable that could be wished, to give glory to a spectacle in which it must delight; the solemn and religious tribute of a grateful nation, fighting for every civil and religious right, to the most illustrious of heroes, and that beneficent Being, who made that hero the instrument of the victory with which he had vouchsafed to bless our arms.

On the procession reaching Temple Ear, it was Joined by the Lord Mayor and Corporation, who fell in immediately after the Prince of Wales; and on its arrival at St. Paul’s, the regular troops who formed part of it, together with the. City Militia, Light Horse, and Infantry volunteers, were stationed to preserve the necessary order. The whole reached the cathedral shortly after three o’clock.

On the entrance into the cathedral, the heralds, &c. were followed by the great officers of stale, Peers, then Peer’s sons, Knights of the Bath, Baronets, members of the House of Commons, &c. &c. Court of Aldermen, &c. the Lord Major, preceded by the city Regalia; afterwards the Dukes of Cambridge, Sussex, Kent, Cumberland, Clarence, and York, and lastly, the Prince of Wales. Then followed the Bishop of Lincoln (the Dean) and the Bishop of Chester, Dr. Moss and Dr. Western preceded the banner of emblems, which was borne before the canopy by the captain of the Victory, T. H. Hardy, &c. &c. The body now entered the choir, close to which followed, in deep sables, the Reverend Earl Nelson, his eldest son Lord Merton, and the chaplain, the Reverend Mr. Scott. To these succeeded the chief mourner, Admiral Sir Peter Parker, supported by Admirals Lord Hood and Haddock, the flag officers, post captains, commanders, lieutenants, the rear being brought up by the mournful display of the colours of the Victory, borne by select seamen of that ship, and flanked by an equal number of Greenwich pensioner, in mourning loose coats, with a gilt armorial badge on the left arm. The coffin being placcd on a stool, covered with black, and with gold tassels, Sec. All who formed the procession having taken their places, the Prince being seated on the right of the bishop’s throne, the choir door closed, and the funeral service commenced. The psalms for the occasion were sung in the solemn chaunt of H. Purcel. The Magnificat was also sung admirably by the whole choir, and afterwards Dr. Green’s sublime anthem, “Lord let me know the end and number of my days.'” During the performance of the choir service, the body of the church was illuminated by lamps throughout, but in a most striking and beautiful manner, by a large frame covered with black, and on which were placed, in black frames, nearly five hundred lamps, the whole forming an immense octangular lanthorn, which became suspended by a rope from the centre and summit of the cupola, overhanging the spacious amphitheatre (covered also with black) as the place of interment.

The choir service ended, the procession returned in the same order to the place of interment Dr. Croft’s “Man that is born” was sung from a gallery erected on the back of the organ loft; and, after Handel’s divine anthem, “His body is buried in peace!” The Bishop of Lincoln having read the service, except the last prayer, the body was placed on a platform, and solemnly descended by balance weight, twenty feet to the vault beneath. The last prayer ended, a grand and solemn dirge was sung, composed for the occasion by Mr. Attwood; after which, the style, title, and dignities, of the deceased Peer were proclaimed by the Earl Marshal Deputy, when the wands of office were broken, and the awful ceremonial closed by the colours of the Victory being deposited with the chieftain who so gloriously fell under them!

>> Image of Lord Nelson’s coffin

Thus has died, and thus has been buried, with the tears of a nation over the bier of their benefactor—a man as truly our own, as truly formed in the characteristic mould of British virtue, as has ever dignified the most golden page of our days of glory,—a man whose courage was a principle, and not a passion,—an element which, cherished by natural honour, informed and animated his prudence; and thus, by a rare union of judgment and resolute enterprise, rendered it equal to the perils of the time :—a man whose exalted merit was only equalled by his retreating simplicity, a simplicity so without any visible promise, any external appearance of the mighty soul within, that the hero was unknown till seen in his acts, and then, by his unequalled modesty, seemed known as such to all, but unknown to himself—and if any thing be yet wanting to complete the full measure of that excellence with which the best of our poets have ever arrayed that fond image of their imagination, a perfect English hero, he had it; for, with a piety equal to his valour, considering himself, in his best successes, as an humble instrument of his God ; he imputed the whole of his success to the protecting hand of Providence, and that Providence, in return, remembering him in the day of peril, and in the hour of death, allotted him a death in victory, and an eternal name amongst the brave defenders of their country. Let us hug the bright example, the dear remembrance, to our hearts; and the fire of patriotism kindling from his funeral pile, may animate others to similar heroism.

We have nothing to say to recommend the following epitaph, but that it comes from the heart.









Account of Lord Nelson’s death by Mr. Beatty, surgeon of the Victory.—  “On his lordship being brought below, he complained of acute pain in about the sixth or seventh dorsal vertebra, of privation of sense, and motion of the body and inferior extremities; his respiration was short and difficult; his pulse weak, small, and irregular; he frequently declared that his back was shot through—that he felt every instant a gush of blood within his breast; and that he had sensations which indicated to him the approach of death. In the course of an hour his pulse became indistinct, and was gradually lost in the arm; his extremities and forehead became soon afterwards cold; he retained his wonted energy of mind and exercise of his faculties until the latest moment of his existence; and when victory, as signal as decisive, was announced to him, he expressed his pious acknowledgments thereof, and heartfelt satisfaction at the glorious event, in the most emphatic language. He then delivered his last orders with his usual precision, and in a few minutes after expired without a struggle.

Course And Site Of The Ball Ascertained Since Death.— “The ball struck the fore part of his lordship’s epaulette, and entered the left shoulder, immediately before the processus acromion scapula, which it slightly fractured; it then descended obliquely into the thorax, fracturing the second and third ribs; and after penetrating the left lobe of the lungs, and dividing in its passage a large branch of the pulmonary artery, it entered the left side of the spine between the sixth and seventh dorsal vertebra, fractured the left transverse process of the sixth vertebra, wounded the medulla spinalis, and, fracturing the right transverse process of the seventh vertebra, it made its way from the right side of the spine, directing its course through the muscles of the back, and lodged therein, about two inches below the interior angle of the right scapula.

“On removing the ball, a portion of the gold lace and pad of the epaulette, together with a small piece of his lordship’s coat, were found firmly attached to it.” W. Beatty, surgeon.

For a more detailed account of the Admiral’s funeral, please read Fairburn’s 2nd Edition of the Funeral of Admiral Lord Nelson.


In Search of Regency Era Almack’s

The other evening I was browsing through old books and periodicals when I stumbled across an article on Almack’s in “The Illustrated London News,” 1843.  The text was hopelessly blurred and had run off the edge of the scanner. I lowered my screen resolution, squinted at my monitor and tried to transcribe some of the article, putting question marks where the text was lopped off.


This was the best I could do:

The plan of the establishment [Almack’s] is briefly as follows. To the left of the entrance-hall is a spacious supper-room, with orchestra-gallery, &c; it is tastefully decorated and to give stability to the dancing salon above, are several supports, in the picturesque forms of palm-trees. From the hall, you ascend by a handsome stone staircase to the suite of rooms, four in number, an anti-room, tea-room, and the ball-room, to the right of which is a large card-room. The ball-room is one of the most spacious salons in the metropolis, its dimensions being about 100 feet in length, ? feet in width; it is chastely coloured – white and straw, relieve  ? and medallions of classic design; the draperies are blue  ? and the vast apartment, when fully illuminated (with 500 wax lights) has a most brilliant appearance.  The greatest number of persons ever present in this room upon one occasion ? at 1700.

Curiouser and curiouser. What did Almack’s really look like?


So, rather than do laundry, dishes or boring web work, I ran searches through old internet archives.  And this is what I found:

From Club Life of London, by John Timbs, 1872

Almack’s large ball-room is about one hundred feet in length, by forty feet in width; it is chastely decorated with gilt columns and pilasters, classic medallions, mirrors, etc., and is lit with gas, in cut-glass lustres. The largest number of persons ever present in this room at one ball was 1700.

From Survey of London

Architectural description

There are two sources of information about the interior, one being the view of ‘The Ball Room, Willis’s Rooms in Old and New London, and the other being Cruikshank’s lively illustration in Life in London (1821). Different as they are in spirit, the two representations are not incompatible; in fact, interpreting the first by the second, a fair idea of Mylne’s interior can be formed. The illustration in Old and New London almost certainly shows the great room after its redecoration by Kuckuck in 1860, but under the heavy Victorian overlay can be seen the elegance depicted, rather vaguely, by Cruikshank. It seems clear, therefore, that the walls were divided into bays by a Composite order, with paired pilasters between the windows or panels of the long side walls, and single columns between the five bays of each end wall. Cruikshank suggests that the unfluted shafts were marbled or of scagliola. Between the capitals the bays were decorated with a frieze of festoons and paterae, and below these were oblong panels with relief subjects. In Cruikshank’s time the windows were furnished with elegant scrolled pelmet-heads of gilt wood supporting swagged draperies, and Rococo looking glasses filled some of the wall panels. He shows the orchestra playing in a balcony with a gilt trellised railing, but in a position it can hardly have occupied, and two-tiered crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling. In the Old and New London view, these have been replaced by huge lustres of cut glass, hanging from a flat ceiling with a shallow segmental cove, the general form of which was probably original.

According to the Survey of London, Almack’s was destroyed by “enemy action” in WWII.

Cruikshank’s depiction of Almack’s from Life in London



Image of ballroom from Old and New London

From Old and New London

Close by the St. James’s Theatre are “Willis’s Rooms,” a noble suite of assembly-rooms, formerly known as “Almack’s.” The building was erected by Mylne, for one Almack, a tavern-keeper, and was opened in 1765, with a ball, at which the Duke of Cumberland, the hero of Culloden, was present.

The large ball-room is about one hundred feet in length by forty feet in width, and is chastely decorated with columns and pilasters, classic medallions, and mirrors. The rooms are let for public meetings, dramatic readings, concerts, balls, and occasionally for dinners. Right and left, at the top of the grand staircase, and on either side of the vestibule of the ball-room, are two spacious apartments, used occasionally for large suppers or dinners.

As far back as 1840 it was pretty evident that “Almack’s” was on the decline.

The amazing Nancy Mayer sent me the floor plans of Almack’s from the Beau Monde archives. This is the ground floor

Almack’s First floor

Alas, after all this armchair research (procrastination) and emailing questions to Nancy, I feel the descriptions of Almack’s are too scant and confusing and we can’t depend on the accuracy of the images. So I suggest we do what authors and readers do best: just imagine it. Make your own private Almack’s.



Leading Apes in Hell — Regency Spinsters

Recently, I was looking for Regency images in the 1816 journals of “Repository of Arts, Literature, Fashions” by Rudolph Ackermann, Frederic Shoberl. I came across a columnist who was mysteriously named “The Female Tattler.” Her moralistic writings were full of melodrama and woe.  So, I thought I would include one on my blog. In this particular article, she considers the appropriateness of calling spinsters “ape leaders.”

NOTE: The Female Tattler enjoyed poetry. However, I chose to edit out her long and copious poetic quotes.

Also, you can find descriptions of the gowns on my Pinterest page under “Regency Fashions”


No. IX.

It may be in the recollection of my readers, that, in a former number, a question was addressed to me relative to the origin of a certain mysterious proverb, very familiar to everyone, respecting the allotment of that class of females distinguished by the title of Old Maids, in a future state of existence; and it was particularly requested to illustrate the employment assigned them of leading apes in hell. 

I did not feel myself disposed, from the delicacy of the subject, to engage in an inquiry so ill suited to female disquisition; and if, in a vain or foolish moment, I had indulged.an idle inclination to pursue it, I must soon have been checked by experiencing a total disqualification for the task. I therefore waited till some ingenious correspondent, skilled in that branch of antiquarian knowledge which relates to symbols, figures, fables, and proverbs, should condescend to favour me with his opinions on the subject.

With this determination I have good reason to be satisfied, as I have at length received a letter relative to the inquiry, which, though not altogether decisive, is replete with ingenuity, fancy, and information, and throws as much light upon the object of investigation as it appears to be capable of receiving. I am not myself one of those females, who, on account of their virgin state, are so frequently, and, I shall add, so illiberally and unjustly, made a subject of jest and contumely; for I have been the wife of two husbands, who are gone to rest, and the mother of five children, three of whom, Heaven protect them, I see like olive-branches round my table: nevertheless, 1 cannot assume it as a rightful privilege to consider, much less to treat with disrespect, any of my sex who have not been subjected to the laws of Hymen, or been in a state to fulfill the duties of a mother. Even supposing, which however is by no means to be taken for granted, that the condition of an old maid is of inferior estimation, as it is not to be attributed to herself, but to those cross accidents of life which it is not in her power to command or control, it must be the height of injustice to regard it either with ridicule or disdain: nay on the contrary, I do not hesitate to declare, that some of the most amiable and excellent women I have known, have been in that I class of my sex who have borne j their virgin honours to the grave. But I am led from the object before me, and therefore shall proceed to communicate the letter, which will form the interesting part of this paper.



It has been an amusement of mine, from the early part of my life, to collect, examine, and explain the various proverbial sayings and expressions that are peculiar to different countries and languages, ancient and modern, as well as the provincial peculiarities that are found to prevail, and the idioms that are in habitual use in the different parts of the country which gave me birth. I have a large folio full of my collections, and have sometimes felt an inclination to send it to the press, as a publication that might be of no inconsiderable use to critics, commentators, and the curious in logographic inquiries. Some of these proverbial sayings, however, have not yielded, at least in a manner altogether satisfactory, to my researches. Among them is that which assigns the miserable occupation of leading apes (I will not make use of the horrid word generally annexed to it) in a future state of existence. I shall, however, give you all the information on the subject which I have been able to attain from others, with such opinions as my own curious and investigating mind has suggested to myself.

One of my ingenious friends is convinced, that this predestinating proverb was invented and propagated by the monks, to allure opulent maiden females into the cloister, by persuading them, that as they were likely to become the wives of men, they might become the spouses of God, and, by such an union on earth, be protected from the sentence, which otherwise condemns them to the most rude, disgusting, and improvident companion that can well be conceived in a future world. This notion is too whimsical, as well as trop recherche, to meet with my fastidious humour: for my part, I am rather inclined to rank an idea so injurious to the virgin character, among the dismal and irrational superstitions of the Egyptians, as I find a passage in Hermes Trismegistus, which states, that those women who die childless are, immediately after their death, tormented by demons. I must confess, however, that from the very high respect which the Egyptians entertained for the ape, the demons mentioned by Trismegistus could hardly be of that figure. Indeed, the affectionate adoration which apes have sometimes received, as we learn from the pious poet Prudentius (Venerem precaris, comprecare et simiam), has, at times, led me to conjecture, that the saying in question might have arisen in some country where it bore a very different meaning from what we annex to it at present, and where this destiny of the ancient virgin was intended not as a punishment, but as the reward of her continence.

I do not recollect to have seen the expression of leading apes in hell, in any English author before Shirley the dramatic poet, remarkable for the number of plays which he wrote, and dying, with his wife, of the fright occasioned by the fire of 1666. In his comedy called The School of Compliment, printed in 1637, there is a scene, in which, to humour the madness of Infortunio, a leading personage in the piece, the several characters on the stage pretend to be damned. Delia, among the rest, declares that she was brought into her wretched and lamentable situation as the fatal consequence of her being a stale virgin, or, in the more intelligible phrase, an old maid, and that the horrid punishment assigned her was to lead apes in hell.

But to bring the matter to something like a conclusive opinion, I shall beg leave to state how I have reconciled this expression to my understanding; or rather, what was the meaning intended to be annexed by the judicial ingenuity of the wit who first employed it.

It would be the height of injustice to consider any circumstance, unattended with moral turpitude or criminal intention, as deserving of punishment; and it is altogether improbable, if not absolutely unnatural, that any female should voluntarily and by preference select the maiden state as the condition of her life, merely as such; nor is,  presume, an example to be found of a woman who could marry with a rational prospect of happiness, and, under such circumstances, turned her back upon the altar.

Instances must have occurred to everyone, who has advanced on the journey of life, where female resolution has been seen to resist the invitations of Hymen, from motives that discretion has awakened and reason may approve. While, on the other hand, it must have been visible, how much misery is produced by matrimonial connections hurried on by passion, or formed by interest, in which neither the understanding nor the heart has been duly consulted; and, of course, the happiness that ought to result from the most important connection of life is left to accidental circumstances, in which the risk is by no means in favour of a successful issue.

I will suppose, by way of illustrating my notion on the subject, the two following situations; though I need not state them on supposition, as they were familiar to my own observation and the respective parties perfectly well known to myself. The one was a young lady of very respectable connections; but, in consequence of being one of a numerous family, her principal fortune was the beauty she had received from nature, and the accomplishments which had been afforded by a superior education. At the age of twenty she had won the regards of a young gentleman of handsome fortune; and she did not hesitate to make every return of regard and affection which he required of her. But as his father, who consulted the fortunes rather than the happiness of his son, objected to the consummation of his wishes, they could not be gratified till the old gentleman, who had long been in a very declining state of health, was removed by death from forming any further obstacles to the pleasing prospect of connubial happiness. But in this disappointing world, little dependence can be had on anything which is not actually in our possession. Every thing was settled for this promising union; and even the day was named when the ceremonial of the altar was to repay the happy pair for all their fears, doubts, and anxieties, which they had suffered. But the hand of fate interposed; the young man was suddenly seized with an illness which baffled all the efforts of medical skill: in short, he died, but gave the only proof of regard now in his power to the destined bride, by securing to her a very liberal independence. She lamented her loss with unbounded grief, and formed a resolution to wed herself to the grave of her lover, and devote herself to virgin solitude for his sake. Her fortune was sufficient to give her all the comforts of life; and, in that point of view, she was impelled by no inducement to swerve from the resolution she had decidedly formed. Five years passed, and more than one proposal had been rejected: at length, however, the hour of temptation arrived which did not meet with the wish to resist it. A baronet, who was no longer a young man, “appeared as a suitor; and as he brought a title, and all its fascinating accompaniments along with it, she forgot the tomb over which she had wept, and took possession of a splendid allotment, in which she soon forgot to smile. Harassed by the peevishness of a sick husband, suspected by his jealousy, and misruled by his tyranny, she sought for what she could attain of her former comfort by a deed of separation; and did not become a widow till, if she had even been bold enough, it was too late once more to become a wife.

The contrast to this character will demand an equal space to describe it. . .

Marianne had considerable attractions, and possessed a superior understanding, polished by education, and, which is still better, had been subsequently improved by herself. Fashionable education, unfortunately, gains more and more the ascendancy over good education; as for one young woman who is brought up to fulfill the real duties of the marriage state, as a housewife or a mother, a much greater proportion will be found who learn little more than to tickle the keys of a piano-forte, to thrum the strings of a harp, to sing, to dance, to babble a foreign language, with at most a little needlework and embroidery; in short, to make themselves dolls for a babyman to play withal. Marianne, however, had all the former, and all that was essential to the latter; but she .had formed certain notions of matrimonial happiness which were not confined to the mere having of a husband. She had observed among her female acquaintance how few of them had improved their condition by going to the altar and changing their names, without having duly considered the character, temper, and habits of the man w hose names they assumed. Her own sister had happened to dance with a gentleman at a public assembly, who was so struck with her charms, that the very next day he was a suitor for
her hand. He happened to have a good fortune, with a handsome person, and did not sue in vain. In less than a month he led her to the altar; and in the course of another month she awoke from her fancied dream of happiness, with the melancholy conviction that she should be a wretch for life. My heroine, therefore, determined to weigh the merits of any lovers she might have in the scale of her own judgment, to examine well the preferences of her heart, and not to let the irretrievable die be cast till her reason was convinced, that the chances in favour of happiness were of a decisive character.

She had several opportunities of fulfilling her resolution, and she completely fulfilled it: but the result was, that she grew into an Old Maid. As she never became a wife, she consequently never became a mother; but the maternal duties she exercised for many years with exemplary care and affection. Her sister, whose days were supposed to have been shortened by the base treatment of a profligate husband, requested, on her dying pillow, that her three female children, who were then young, might be consigned to the care of their maiden aunt. This last entreaty was complied with, and their maiden aunt employed all the years which they required to make them the ornaments of their sex and their nature. When she introduced them into the world, at the age when it is proper that they should appear there, thyy were the admiration of all who beheld them. Such a woman as this, Old MAID as she was, ought not surely to be sentenced to lead apes in hell.

What then are the characters— for proverbs, figurative as they may be, are generally founded in justice, and are the offspring of experience—what then, I say, are the characters to whose ancient virginity punishment might be justly applied? I will endeavour to tell you.

Sophia had formed a resolution never to marry, unless the ardent proposition of love was accompanied with a title; and a title never presented itself.

Leonora was convinced, that she should be disgraced if her bridegroom did not take her to church in his coach and four; and no one appeared to make her that offer but in a carriage and pair.

Henrietta had formed the determined whimsey to make it an essential in the gentleman whom she would favour with her hand, that he should be in a rank of life to render it necessary for her to be presented at court; but the courtiers proceeded no further than compliments and congees, and, in their addresses to her, not an hymeneal expression escaped them.

Litterella, my fourth and last, who piqued herself upon her epistolary writing, and had more correspondents than any young lady of her age, or perhaps any age, in the kingdom, determined never to marry a man who could not frank her letters; and neither peer nor member of parliament appeared to perform that office upon the proposed conditions.

The ladies, however, had one virtue; they maintained their respective resolutions, consequently became Old Maids for their folly, and deserve to lead apes in hell.

But why, it may be said, of all the beasts of the forest, are apes selected as the associates of this punishment? I have only to conjecture, that for the whimsical weakness, to say no more of such ancient misses as I have described, in refusing rational marriage with man, they are proverbially condemned to the society of that animal who bears the most disgusting resemblance of him.

But to console the amiable, sensible, and which may be considered as the unfortunate class of the maiden sisterhood, I shall conclude with the sentiments of a distinguished poet, who seems to have been influenced by what he felt, as a humane wish to make some amends for the insult of this injurious proverb, by assigning a place to old maids of the better description in his poetical elysium.


Bath – Gettin’ all Regency


The Baths

N took the children to Stonehenge, leaving Mom and I to wander Bath. Actually “wander” is not an accurate term as it connotes something leisurely. We had exactly six hours to see the city before being carted away to London.

This was my second visit to Bath. The first time I visited was with my awesome cousin H. I had just gotten out of graduate school after a grueling quarter of non-stop, up-all-night work. For the two miserable years I spent in graduate school, I kept “Pride and Prejudice” in the VHS player, watching it over and over like a balm to my ailing brain. When I hit England all I wanted to see was Jane Austen things. Jane Austen. Jane Austen. Jane Austen. However, H was working on her Masters in history, specializing in Medieval England. So I didn’t get to see much Jane Austen, but a whole hell of a lot of really, really old England. I nearly froze my butt off at Sarem (my butt was significantly smaller then.). Nonetheless, H kept me from totally embarrassing myself in historic places (she can name all the British monarchs…it’s pretty impressive, not like the Danes where you got a 50/50 chance that it’s Frederick or Christian) In Bath, H and I stayed in rooms that required money to keep the radiator running and a coin operated bathtub that we shared with all the other tenants. Also, I don’t really like meatballs. Yet the night H and I arrived in England, blurry–eyed and hazy from the jet lag, I ordered spaghetti with meatballs. The very next day the Mad Cow panic hit.

Ok, I’m totally digressing. But hey, it’s my blog. Like it or leave it.


Bath was a happening resort town during Georgian Era or the period when the Georges were on the throne of England. For those who remember dates, that’s 1714-1830. The architecture has remained surprisingly unaltered through time and is an excellent example of the period. I’m lousy with architectural history, but from what I understand Georgian design is obsessed with the clean lines and mathematical precision of classicism. The understated style is sandwiched between the more bombastic Baroque and Victorian.


Aqueas Sulis

There are two stories explaining the origins of Bath. In the first, King Bladud created the springs through divination. He went on to build feathered wings for himself, but sadly died flying into the Temple of Appollo in New Troy. Bummer. In the second story, Bladud became afflicted with leprosy and left the court to become a swineherder. He and his pigs, also stricken with leprosy, found the springs and were cured. Bladud returned to court, became king, and fathered King Lear. Regardless, there was an early Celtic shrine erected at the springs dedicated to the goddess Sulis. Later the Romans would appear on the scene and build “Aqueas Sulis” proper, though they identified Sulis as the goddess Minerva.

Ruins from the Roman Temple

After the Romans, things slide right into the dismal Middle Ages where everyone managed to forget that the earth was round and went around the sun, or how to make flush toilets, or build decent roads.

Nonetheless, rumor had it the springs had curative powers, and ailing people from all over England continued to come and swim or drink the waters. What you see today was built in the eighteenth century.

The museum takes you into the archeological diggings of the Roman Bath temple and chambers including the hot, cold, and warm baths. There a bunch of stone stuff to Minerva, but I’ve never “ohh-ed and ahh-ed” over Roman art. It’s the Roman drain still holding runoff from the springs that fascinates me or the stone piles that held up the floor to allow hot vapor to build up underneath. What happens when geeks travel…

Heated Roman Floor

Here is a virtual tour of the Baths

We actually began the day at the Jane Austen Museum where we listened to a great lecture on Jane’s family, which I can hardly remember as I write. That short term just can’t seem to make the haul to long term anymore. Must be mad cow kicking in.

Tea Service

Here is what I remember from the lecture:
Jane had a love, but mostly hate relationship with Bath. She was a nasty critic of its society. Her family removed to the resort city from the country. Unfortunately, the Austen family overextended themselves and had to give up their first finer home in Bath. Over time, they slipped slowly down through the cracks of society until the final blow of Mr. Austen’s death, leaving the females in the family in financial straits. Jane’s brothers came to their rescue and set up the women on a country home. Unlike the Brontes, the male Austens were generally decent people.

Though several of her novels were set in Bath, Jane did not write much while living in the town. The novels that we read today were either written or rewritten from earlier novels at Jane’s home in the country.

Here is a neat sign explaining how people lived in Jane’s time based on their income level.

From the Jane Austen center, we roamed to the Assembly rooms. As y’all know, I write stories in the Georgian era, so if this isn’t your thing, you might want to skip this section (or entire blog entry.).

The Assembly Rooms

The Assembly rooms were bombed in WWII. What you see today is a careful restoration. Up until the Prince Regent built the Royal Pavilion in Brighton in the early nineteenth Century, Bath was the most popular resort town in England. People came in from nearby Bristol, London, and the countryside to rent a house for the season. All levels of society mingled in Bath, thanks to big-man-about-town Richard Beau Nash. He laid down “rules” of behavior for Bath, which excluded all sorts of lovely pursuits such as dueling with swords, cock-fighting, or bull-baiting.

Nash’s rules are pretty humorous, so I will include them.

I. That a visit of ceremony at coming to Bath, and another at going away, is all that is expected or desired by ladies of quality and fashion – except impertinents.
II. That ladies coming to the ball appoint a time for their footmen’s coming to wait on them home, to prevent disturbances and inconveniences to themselves and others.
III. That gentlemen of fashion never appearing in a morning before the ladies in gowns and caps, shew breeding and respect.
IV. That no person take it ill that any one goes to another’s play or breakfast, and not to theirís – except captious by nature.
V. That no gentleman give his tickets for the balls to any but gentlewomen – N.B. Unless he has none of his acquaintance.
VI. That gentlemen crowding before ladies at the ball, shew ill-manners; and that none do so for the future- except such as respect nobody but themselves.
VII. That no gentlemen of lady take it ill that another dances before them – except such as have no pretence to dance at all.
VIII. That the elder ladies and children be contented with a second bench at the ball, as being past or not come to perfection.
IX. That the younger ladies take notice how many eyes observe them – N.B. This does not extend to the Have-at-Alls.
X. That all whispers of lies and scandal be taken for their authors.
XI. That all repeaters of such lies and scandal be shunned by all company – except such as have been guilty of the same crime.
N.B. Several men of no character, old women and young ones of questioned reputation, are great authors of lies in the place, being of the sect of Levellers.

In the winter months or “season,” people bought subscriptions to attend activities at the Assembly Rooms. On Monday’s there was a Dress Ball which cost a guinea for three tickets. It started at six o’clock. For the first two hours, stately minuets were danced, followed by some get-down country dances lasting until nine. Then everyone went to Tea Room for refreshments of sweet meats, jellies, wine, biscuits, cold ham, turkey, tea with arrack and lemon. Concerts were held on Wednesday. Musical guests included Joseph Haydn and Franz Liszt. Cotillion balls or country dances occurred on Thursdays. Cards could be played every day. Gambling was an addiction in that period and lots of pounds were laid down on Whist, a precursor to Bridge and Spades, and Vingt-et-Une (blackjack).

Sadly, in the early nineteenth century, society followed the Prince to Brighton and the Assembly Rooms fell into decline, becoming a cinema in the 1920s.

I couldn’t get good pictures of the room because there were portable chairs stacked about. So I would suggest the Assemble Room virtual tour.

Housed beside the Assemble Rooms, is the tres cool Bath Costume Museum. However, if you want to see some awesome costumes, you gotta go to the Victoria and Albert museum in London.

This dress is from approximately 1830 because of the slightly lowered waistline.

Victorian Dress

Victorian Dress

Victorian Dress

From the Assemble rooms, we hot-footed it over to No 1. Royal Crescent. Crescents are big thing in Georgian England. There is one across from Regent’s Park in London, as well.

Royal Crescent

No. 1 Royal Crescent is a museum of the typical Bath home in the Georgian era. Unfortunately, the museum wouldn’t indulge my photo obsession, which prompts me to mention my other fixation: guidebooks. I feel like a set designer when I visit these homes. What did it look like, what did it feel like, how would one move in the space? I get nothing from the sterile environment of museums where artifacts are kept under glass. I want contextualization, silence, and time. Once my mother let me in a house that was about to be given to the Georgia Historical Society. The place hadn’t been altered since the turn of the century. It was like a playground to me, wandering through the rooms, like the quiet human observing the ghosts.

The Bath homes were row houses that extended up five or more stories from basement. Under the entrance walkway would be the coal vault, behind it an open area that led to the kitchen. On the iron fences above would be a rigged pulley or winch that allowed supplies to be lowered to the kitchens below. The basement level contained the kitchen rooms with a large fireplace and spit, servant’s table, and an additional vault for storing wine and beer. Some feet behind that vault wall was the cesspit that accepted the drainage from the outdoor privy running above it. Liquid matter in the cesspits was supposed to seep into the ground. Cesspits were emptied by the night soil men who came around early in the morning or by the poor servants who would have to haul the waste, bucket by bucket, through the house. They may have dumped the contents into the sewer opening in the front of the house which was technically illegal. These sewage passages were made of brick and did not have a constant flow of water to push the contents along.

The first floor (Americans add one floor) opened to a central hall flanked by parlors or a dining room. The dining room could be on first or second floor. In this house, the stairway zigzagged up the back wall of the house with another circular servant’s stairway on the side of the house. In other homes, the staircase emptied into the central hall, not a few feet from the front door.

Aside from the parlor downstairs, on the second floor there could be a withdrawing or drawing room, study, male or female parlor. Bedrooms made up the three floor and the children and servants stayed on the attic floor. Every room had a chimney and corresponding chimney pot belching coal smoke and soot into the sky.

Water as supplied to a lead cistern in the kitchen. It came to the house through narrow lead pipes which feed from larger pipes made of hollowed out elm trunks. Bath had a consistent supply of water because it tapped the natural springs in the area. Water companies were private. In London, where the water supply was not always constant, a house could have water supplied by multiple companies. Typically, water was serviced only to the ground floor. Inside the house, people could use a chamber pot or if they were lucky they had a water closet which was created either by a tank or pump forcing water up in a pipe leading from the cistern in the basement.

The entrance way would include a foot scrape, iron lamp bracket for holding the torches that the city required be burned at night during the winter months, a fire insurance plaque so the private firefighters knew to put out a fire at the home, and a snuffer for extinguishing torches.

Afterwards we strolled through the lovely parks and not so lovely parking lots until we reached the unassuming row house once belonging to famed astronomers, William Herschel and his sister Caroline Herschel. William Herschel is credited for using his telescopes to find Uranus, and the moons Titania and Oberon. Caroline is famous for finding several comets, a nebulae, and for putting up with her brother.

Replica of Herschel’s Seven Foot Newtonian ReflectingTelescope. He used the original to find Uranus in 1781.

Model of Herschel’s Forty Foot Telescope

William, born in Hannover, started his professional career as a composer. Unfortunately he wasn’t so well–received. In fact, he had to publish a public apology in Bristol newspaper concerning his horrific performance of “The Messiah.”

Poor pox scarred Caroline was left behind in Hannover to be a housekeeper to her family. She joined William when he came to Bath. He taught her English and gave her music lessons. Often she assumed the role of lead singer in his choral works. (Caroline probably had more promising in a musical career than her brother, but she declined the opportunities presented to her.) William considered astronomy a mere hobby. Unfortunately he couldn’t afford a nice, new shiny, telescope, so he decided to build one. And that’s when all hell broke loose. Building telescopes became his passion. Caroline writes, “It was my sorrow that I saw almost every room in the house turned into a workshop.” Keep in mind, William used horse poo-poo to make molds for his lens.

Herschel’s Kitchen.

Music Room.

Herschel’s Tiny Workroom at the very back of the house.

It was in this garden that in 1781, Hershel discovered Uranus.

William to his sister Caroline

It was getting close to time to meet N and the children. Mom and I swung into the Sally Lunn house, reputedly the oldest house in Bath, circa 1482. It’s a restaurant, but in the basement is a tiny museum to Sally Lunn’s kitchen. Sally Lunn was a French Hugueno who came to Bath in 1680. She became famous for her buns (Bread buns, that is. I don’t want ya’ll to get confused and think I meant a bun as in Bunny rabbit. For sailors in the early nineteenth century would touch a “bun” for luck before getting on a ship.)

Sally Lunn House

Sally Lunn Kitchen Museum

And then ten minutes in the Bath Abbey.

One minute at the chocolatier and onto London. Here is my husband driving through downtown London at night in the rain. (London drivers have nothing on Welsh drivers.)