Mrs Lucian’s Seaside Flirtation: 1906


Juggling With Matrimony,

W.J. Mobray

“It’s very wrong of me,” she said, “to let you put your arm around my waist in this disgraceful manner.”

“It’s little enough,” pleaded the man.

The girl looked doubtfully at the darkening sea. She was but a girl, despite the prefix to her name.

“My waist—or the concession?” she enquired.

The man dug a vicious heel into the yielding shingle.

“The concession,” he replied savagely. “Besides, who is there to see us in this solitude? Even the dusk has merged into the darkness.”

The girl knit her pretty brows in an effort of thought. Before them towered a great grey rock. On either hand lay a broad sweep of unoccupied shingle. Darkness enveloped them, and the possibility of discovery was proportionately small. But Mrs. Lucian had her scruples. Moreover, she inwardly marveled at the man’s audacity in thus totally disregarding the laws and commandments incidental to matrimony.

** ** **

“It is not a question of discovery,” she reproved. “Wrong is not right until it is found out, Mr. Searle.”

The man laughed, but there was little mirth in the laugh.

“Well,” he said defiantly, “we’re at the seaside anyhow. That fact carries with it a certain degree of license, as every one will admit.”

The girl leaned back, but the man’s arm never moved.

“Do you think Mr. Lucian would admit such a thing—in our case?” she inquired sweetly. “Besides, are you resolving sin into a mere question of geography?”

The man opened his eyes.

“Oh, come!” he protested. “That’s much too strong a term! And if you will insist on reminding me of—of your husband, Laura—well, all I can say is that he ought to be ashamed of himself for sending you down here alone, and never helping to give you a jolly good time!”

The girl smiled.

“I could write for him?” she suggested dreamily. “It would be so nice to see you two shake hands.”
Once more the offending heel crashed into the shingle.

“You needn’t trouble,” he said, gloomily. “I’m going back to town in the morning.”

The girl sat up.

“So soon!” she exclaimed. “I thought you had another week? I hope you’ve not had bad news, Mr. Searle?”

The man was silent. He did not quite know how to answer her.

“Would you care?” he asked suddenly. “Does it matter to you whether I go or stay?”

The girl leaned back again. There was an almost imperceptible tightening of the arm about her waist. Clearly she had not noticed it, for the man was not rebuked.

“Of course it matters,” she responded, with a charming assumption of innocent surprise. “We’ve been such good friends, Mr. Searle. I’m almost ashamed to confess it, but I’ve scarcely missed my husband since you and your friend met us on the pier ten days ago. You’ve been awfully kind, you know.”

The man frowned. He was beginning to fight anew the self-same battle that had been going on for days. He had always lost, and he had now determined on retreat. Yet, with an astonishing lack of generalship, he actually intended to notify the enemy as to his plans.

“Well,” he said, doggedly, “I’m going away because I’m a fool—that’s all! I never thought twice about any woman in my life till I met you. And now I’m on the rocks, like the rest of mankind, I shall never love any other woman. And you are out of reach. That’s why I must go.”

** ** **

The girl sighed sympathetically.

“Is it really so bad as that?” she murmured.

“Yes,” he said, “It’s as bad as that. This is our last evening, Laura.”

She sighed again.

“What a silly boy,” she said, “to fall in love with a married woman!”

The man bit his moustache savagely.

“You didn’t own to being married till we’d been out for three whole days together,” he reminded her. “The mischief was done then, and it was too late.”

The girl leaned towards him till her wavy brown hair caressed his cheek, and set his pulses beating. Yet it was only her way of apologizing. Some temperaments are so sensitively sympathetic that the diffusion of sweet consolation becomes an absolute necessity. But every strain has its breaking point. With a sudden movement he bent down and kissed her squarely on the lips. She uttered a little startled cry that was not too audible, and feebly struggled to release herself. But the next instant she was again still. It seemed so cruel to be unkind on this very last night of their sweet association. Yet she owed something to herself nevertheless.

** ** **

“What do you think my husband would say to such a proceeding?” she protested, breathlessly.

The reply was not audible. He felt relieved at this, and supplemented it with another.

“That’s his look-out!” he said, bluntly. “He shouldn’t be fool enough to make such a thing possible!”

He looked down suddenly. The girl was quietly laughing! Was she making a fool of him? The possibility sent a hot flush to his brow, and he was on the point of springing to his feet and tragically bidding her a long and reproachful farewell when he saw her do a curious thing. She deliberately withdrew the plain gold band that encircled the third finger of her left hand and tossed it in the sea. The action made him gasp. But the girl only laughed.

“I bought it on the way down,” she said. “It wasn’t worth much.”

The man stared at her in blank bewilderment.

“I—I don’t understand!” he blurted out.

The girl nodded.

“You see,” she said, “girls have a good deal to put up with when they come down alone to the seaside. Every man seems to think he has a right to accost them and take all kinds of liberties with them. So Dora and I hit on a plan to avoid this annoyance. We just bought wedding rings and posed as married women. It worked all right till we met you. Then, somehow, we wanted to hide it, but couldn’t. The fellows we had dismissed gave the game away, and we had to stick to the deception.”

There was a tacit confession in the speech which the man did not fail to observe. The encircling arm tightened again. And this time there could be no mistake about the action.

** ** **

“Then there isn’t any Mr. Lucien!” he cried, beginning to laugh in his turn.

The girl shook her head regretfully. It was now the man’s duty to offer consolation.

“Never mind!” he murmured, warming to his work. “We’ll soon remedy that misfortune.”

The process of consolation lasted for half an hour and was apparently conducted on the plan of Mendelssohn’s exquisite songs. Presently the man looked up.

“I wonder where Tom is!” he said, thoughtfully.

“Listening to Dora’s confession,” she replied, with the promptness of conviction. “Is he, too, returning to town to-morrow, Mr. Searle?”

The man resumed his former occupation.

“I’ve changed my mind,” he said. “But, I say, Laura, we must remember this rock. There’s not a soul in sight!”

And this they certainly did. As the sun dipped down into the sea, they turned up with astonishing regularity throughout the ensuing week. And when, a year later, they revisited the spot and found another couple there before them, they were in no way perturbed. For, though “Mr. Lucian” still remains as elusive as the renowned Mrs. ‘Arris, or that mythical hero of a modern ballad who was so pathetically implored to “come ‘ome,” and whose recent decease has evoked such universal rejoicing, he is now ably represented in the flesh by the husband of Laura Searle. And Tom and Dora think they cannot do better than follow so excellent an example.

The Pittsburgh [PA] Press 10 January 1906: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil suggests that there is quite enough  moral turpitude in this tale to go around: Shame on Laura for essentially “honey-trapping” Mr Searle into adulterous affection; and shame to Mr Searle for being the sort of man who did not mind taking advantage of the lax moral codes of sea-side resorts. One wishes them joy, but one is not sanguine about their future. We have already seen how husbands slipped the leash while wives and children disported themselves on the boardwalks. One fears a similar outcome after the honeymoon is over.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


How to Keep Cool: 1860-1902

Figures on the Beach at Trouville, 1885

Figures on the Beach at Trouville, 1885

The weather has been so beastly hot this week that Mrs Daffodil thought her readers would appreciate some cooling suggestions.

Here are a few sensible health hints for ladies at the seashore or in the country:

Read the latest books

Bathe early and often.

Seek cool, shady nooks

Throw fancy work away.

Wear lightest, lowest shoes.

Let hats be light and bonnets airy.

Eschew kid gloves and linen collars.

Dress in cambrics, lawns, and ginghams.

Be lavish with laundresses, fruit men and fans.

Let melons precede and berries follow, the breakfast.

Remember that seeming idleness is sometimes gain.

Order freshest fish and corn cake; never mind the heavy fritters.

Do not tell your hostess how sweet the butter and cream were at your last summer’s boarding house.

Omaha [NE] World Herald 17 August 1891: p. 3

A wealth of hints may be found for home, table, or garden:

The Canton girls buy their shoes two sizes too large, utilizing the vacant space as a refrigerator for packing ice around their feet. In this way they have become successful competitors of the Chicago Belles in their world-wide reputation for having considerable in the line of feet or understanding. [Chicago women were reputed to have the largest feet in America.] This is a novel way of keeping cool, however. The Canton [SD] Advocate 7 July 1887: p. 4


Great blocks of ice may be hollowed out with a hot flat-iron, and are useful on the summer table; in these glittering ice-wells are sunk crisp leaves of lettuce and scarlet tomatoes peeled; they are served from this inviting receptacle and over them is poured luscious dressing a la mayonnaise. Strawberries, cherries, or any kind of fruit look lovely held in a block of ice. Lobster or fish in mayonnaise may be served in the same manner.

Instead of the paper-flowers in which ices are frequently served, natural ones may be substituted. The inner petals are plucked from a fragrant rose, and pistachio or strawberry cream placed in the centre, the stem must be cut off just below the calyx, and the flower made to stand securely in a small, round pasteboard box, which is not perceptible; any other suitable flower may be substituted.

Godey’s Magazine, 1896

Much has been done of late by the use of ice-wrung cloths over the windows. A yard or two of blind calico, made ice cold by wrapping it around a block of ice for five minutes, is hung up over the open windows and the blinds let down behind it, so that the warm air from the street or from the garden may be cooled insidiously as it enters. Cool rooms are also possible if a sufficiency of ice is provided. Baskets of all shapes and sizes, lined with tin, make excellent receptacles and these, placed close to the table when reading or working, or used instead of a center piece of flowers where the dinner table is concerned, will do much to freshen the air. In the hall or passage a tub, furnished with a large block of ice, will last a whole day, and possibly longer, if placed on a square of blanketing, while, to economize, all the ice left in the house by evening may be collected and wrapped in bags of thick felt.”

Evening Star [Washington, DC] 23 August 1908: p. 41

A new Parisian invention is an iron water pipe, running up the sides of those trees In public gardens which require plentiful showers In summer. In this way a fountain can be turned over them at any moment.

Religio-philosophical Journal September 1866

Some authorities recommended alcoholic stimulants for summer refreshment:


From the receipt book of a Western member of Congress.

The following is said to make a pleasant beverage: Take one pint of whiskey, stir in one spoonful of whiskey; add one pint of whiskey and beat well with a spoon.

Take one gallon of water and let a servant carry it away beyond your reach; then put two spoonfuls of water in a tumbler, immediately throw it out and fill with whiskey. Flavor with whiskey to suit your taste.

When it is to be kept long in warm climates, add sufficient spirit to prevent souring.

The Alleghenian [Ebensburg, PA] 9 August 1860: p. 1

The other day a teacher in a Boston school showed a little girl a picture of a fan and asked her what it was. The little girl didn’t appear to know.

“What does your mother do to keep cool in hot weather? Asked the teacher.

“Drink beer,” was the prompt reply of the little girl.

New York [NY] Tribune 28 February 1889: p. 9

Mrs  Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Victorian and Edwardian newspapers were chock-a-block full of suggestions for how to keep cool in the summers before central air-conditioning. However, there were some who believed that “mind over matter” would serve as well as a block of ice and a fan.


Don’t walk too fast;

Don’t fume and fret;

Don’t vow ‘twill be

Much hotter yet;

Don’t eat too much;

Don’t drink at all

Of things composed

Of alcohol.

Don’t read about

The sunstruck folks;

Don’t read the old

Hot weather jokes;

Don’t work too hard;

Don’t try to see

The rising of

The mercury.

Don’t fan yourself;

Don’t think you’re hot;

Just cool off with

“I think I’m not.”

And, more than that,

Don’t read a rule

Beneath this head—

‘How to Keep Cool.”

Baltimore American.

Mexico Missouri Message 7 August 1902: p. 8


Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

The Corpse Counted the Coins: 1892

corpse sitting up


The story is just being told of a remarkable swindle which was perpetrated recently in Hawthorn (Vic), and it goes to show the extremes to which people will sometimes go in order to carry out imposition on the charitably disposed (says a Melbourne exchange). It appears that some little while back a leading official of the Hawthorn Ladies’ Benevolent Society was waited upon by a woman who was crying bitterly, and who was apparently in deep and genuine distress. Her appearance was that of one poverty-stricken and woebegone in the extreme. She told a pitiful tale to this lady, whose character for charitable deeds is well known.

For a long time, she said, they had had scarcely anything to eat, and, worst of all, her poor husband had just died, and there was no money in her possession to give him a decent burial. The recital of this terrible tale of alleged destitution was accompanied with much sobbing, and hypocritical blessings were called down upon the charitable lady, when a promise was given that the case would be attended to. No time was lost, for with an equally kind-hearted and generous lady friend a visit was at once paid to the house where this terrible family disaster had occurred.

The two ladies entered the house. It was found to have very little furniture in it, and what there was was of the poorest description. The place was dirty and ill-kept; but this was accounted for by the “widow” by the statement that want of food had deprived her of the requisite strength to do household work. The hearts of the ladies were indeed touched at the picture of poverty presented to them. They were assured there were no food in the house, while walking through the house was another woman mourning loudly, like the mourners of old, and tearing her hair at the decease of her brother.

Filled with pity for the poor creatures the two ladies entered what they supposed was the chamber of death. What a picture was here presented. On a stretcher lay the body of a splendidly-formed man, and even now it was in the poorest burial shroud which it had been possible to procure. Evening was coming on, and the corner of the room was wrapped in gloom.

“Look, at his dear dead face,” the woman said, wringing her hands the while and lifting the sheet at the same time. The ladies were rather frightened at the spectacle which presented itself during the few seconds the sheet was lifted, for beneath it was the face of a man of less than middle age. It bore the hue of death, and hastily turning aside the ladies proceeded to be practical.

In the first place they left an ample sum behind them for the funeral expenses, and informed the mourning relatives that they would order the necessaries, and even luxuries, of life to be forwarded from a local store. Then they departed, but after being gone a few minutes one of the ladies discovered that she had left her umbrella in the house. She ran back, and went straight into the room where the body had been.

She started back in affright, for there was the corpse sitting up in bed, coolly and collectively counting over the cash which had been left for his burial. The strange and startling discovery was at once reported, but before steps could be taken to award punishment the coterie of swindlers had flown. It was amply proved afterwards, however, that the face of the “corpse” had been liberally treated with coloured whitewash to give it the appearance of a dead person, and there is every reason to suppose that he has “died” in the same way many a time before.

Ohinemuri [NZ] Gazette 16 July 1892: p. 9

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  This was a popular “old chestnut” to judge by the many variants one finds in the popular press. In some the corpse is already coffined in a borrowed casket and clinks the coins to ascertain whether they are genuine; in others, the money is snatched back from the corpse by the charitable lady. It is certainly possible that the imposture actually was perpetrated on numerous occasions, but the tone and the changing locations to suit each newspaper (Melbourne, Baltimore, &c.) suggest an “urban legend.”  There were also many stories of corpses reviving from cataleptic trances, but one doubts that the first act of those resurrected persons was to count the charity cash or to check it for counterfeit coin.

Mrs Daffodil found it interesting that the “widow” in this story claimed she was too weak from hunger to clean house. Cleanliness in the face of dire poverty was one of the marks of the “deserving poor.” The charitable ladies apparently found this excuse a plausible one.

Of course the sub-text of this story is the importance of a “decent burial,” even to the very poorest. There were also religious committees where ladies gathered to sociably sew shrouds for the poor. For example, that funereal person who wrote The Victorian Book of the Dead found notices of the meetings of the “Ladies’ Shroud Sewing Society” in Denver, Colorado in 1904-1912, where the women of the synagogue made shrouds both to sell as a fund-raiser and for burying the poor.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


The Bathing Corset: 1887-1897



New York, Aug. 21. Seashore millinery art has so far advanced that not only do bathing dresses cost as much as many a woman’s whole outfit, but special water-proof corsets are made and sold at such prices that it would take a sewing girl’s week’s wages to buy a single pair. The old loose flannel bathing dress was so awkward and hideous that no one thought of wearing of a corset with it. It was beyond beautifying. With the coming of pretty and neat bathing dresses that fitted the figure like a tailor made jacket, women began to see the need of something to make their waists and busts as shapely in the water as on shore. Modern bathing does not consist so much of actual contact with and immersion in the water as posing and fascinating on the sands. To do this well the figure must be trim and not floppy or bulgy….

It is hard to say what proportion of women wear corsets in the water—as they don’t tell, and the men who work around the bath-houses and the beaches are not exact guessers on such subjects. The average varies from Long Branch and Newport where more than half the fashionable female bathers wear some form or other of corset to preserve the figure, to Asbury Park and Coney Island, where a corset is hardly known in the water. At Asbury Park the excellent James Bradley, who runs the place, might even add one to his numerous rules posted along the beach that “ladies who are ladies will use no adventitious aids to beauty when in the water, such being in accord neither with decorum nor piety.” [Mr Bradley named his resort for the first Methodist bishop ordained in the United States and the resort was run on Temperance lines.]

It would seem as if the coming bathing corset would be made to rubber-covered wire. The next thing to form improvers for the bath will be to wear waterproof wigs and pads. A waterproof complexion has already been invented.

Kansas City [MO] Times 1 September 1887: p. 5

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: There was much debate about how to create a sea-water-proof corset: the usual steels and eyelets were quick to rust and silk and wool stretched with exposure to water and sun. Cork offered one solution:

Bathing corsets to keep fleshy figures from wobbling in the undress of a flannel suit have cork busks and buckled straps instead of steels to rust in salt water and are comfortable for other wear. Philadelphia [PA] Inquirer 19 June 1889: p. 4

Rubber offered another:

Very simple, but hygienic, are the lines of a bathing corset made of rubber sheeting. This material is not stiff but sheds water like a duck, and proved itself a comfort last season to many a plump mermaid who “did not feel comfortable without a corset.”… Oregonian [Portland, OR] 18 June 1916: p. 6

Of course, there were unexpected pros and cons to the wearing of bathing corsets at all, as we read in this anecdote.

As the story begins, two slender young women, one blonde, one brunette, have gone to a corset-maker to purchase corsets and have received some good advice from the young man at the shop:

“Now about the bathing corset,” reminded the straight-up-and-down girl. “I am the queerest looking duck in the water you ever saw. You see, we can’t fill out with fluffs and frills there, for bathing suits aren’t built that way. When I get on a bathing suit I look about three inches through.”
“I, too,” said the blonde, and the two looked at each other sympathetically.

“Now, here is the bathing corset for figures such as yours,” said the man, taking one from the case. “You see it is very, very short over the hips. In fact, it almost ends at the waist on the sides, which shows off what hip there is to the very best advantage. The bust is quite high, and has a good-sized spring in it, giving a beautiful full figure. There is nothing about the corset that water can rust.”

“But I don’t swim,” said the straight-up-and-down girl in a horrified tone, “and therefore it would be impossible for me to wear that corset in the water. It is grand for those bony, slim ladies who can swim—perfectly grand.”

“What has swimming or not swimming to do with wearing a corset which will give you a lovely figure?” asked the puzzled manufacturer.

The Brunette’s eyes began to twinkle and the dimples came and went about her mouth.

“Well, you see,” explained the complainant, with some hesitation, “when a lady can’t swim one of her gentlemen friends stays around to take care of her, and she simply could not let him when she had on one of those corsets with false hips and bust. Why, imagine her feelings when he picked her up to throw her on a breaker.”

“Imagine his,” ejaculated the blonde, with great feeling. “Hers would be mild compared to his. No, indeed, I’d advise a girl who does not swim to beware of that corset as she would of the plague. Now, as for me, I can swim like a killie fish, and I’m going to be measured for one right now.

“I half wish I had learned to swim,” mused the other. “A corset like that must make a lady look stunning. I was taking lessons, but a girl who is a fine swimmer advised me not to learn, for she said you could have ten times more fun in the water than if you could swim.

Cleveland [OH] Leader 26 July 1897: p. 5 

A shockingly candid point of view about what goes on at the sea-side. Youth now-a-days…

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


A Coronation for the Ages: 1821

George IV by Sir Thomas Lawrence

George IV by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Mrs Daffodil is delighted and honoured to welcome a distinguished guest blogger to these pages and joins the entire Empire in applauding Catherine Curzon, royal historian, author of the new book, Life in the Georgian Court, and Madame Gilflurt at A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life. Her theme to-day is the coronation of George IV.

A Coronation for the Ages

Few kings of the long 18th century are as fabulously divisive as George IV, as I discovered whilst researching Life in the Georgian Court. A spendthrift, gambler, womaniser and lifelong spoiled brat, when it came to flamboyance, nobody could beat him. His finest moment was surely his 1821 coronation, a riot of cash, ceremony and jewels!

For years the new king had been planning this moment, determined that when his day finally came, it would be the greatest Europe had ever seen. He envisioned a themed event with guests dressed in Elizabethan or Jacobean costume and true to form, there was to be no expense spared. After all, the world needed to know that nobody did good old showing off anything like as well as him. Parliament stumped up over £100,000 for the festivities, adding a further £138,000 received from France under the terms of a financial indemnity[1] and across the country, a day of celebrations was declared.

“[George wore] a black hat with a monstrous plume of ostrich feathers, out of the midst of which rose a black heron’s plume. His Majesty seemed very much oppressed with the weight of his robes. The train was of enormous length and breadth. It was of crimson velvet adorned with large golden stars, and a broad golden border.”[2]

Ever fabulous, George’s togs cost £24,000, the train stretching for twenty seven feet and requiring the attention of eight pages just to lift it. Never one to shirk on luxury, he commissioned a new crown containing over 12,000 diamonds that were on hire from Rundell, Bridge and Rundell. Unfortunately, George grew somewhat fond of his rented diamonds and did his best to hang onto them, only returning them to the jewellers once Parliament rejected his requests for the country to purchase them on his behalf[3].

At the head of the Coronation procession came Miss Fellowes, the King’s herbwoman, and her six attendants, scattering flowers and sweet-smelling herbs in a traditional ceremony to ward off plague and pestilence. The procession that followed included the Officers of State who carried the iconic orb, sceptre, crown and sword, bishops bearing chalice, bible and paten and, of course, the star of the show. George made a splendid sight in his robes, followed by the Barons of the Cinque Ports who carried the Coronation Canopy. Bringing up the considerable rear were the assembled peers of the realm and other dignitaries, with hired prizefighters playing the role of pages throughout the procession just in case trouble came calling.

The monumental procession eventually wound its way through the crowds to Westminster Abbey where George was subject to the traditional and ancient ceremony. The summer day was stifling and George wilted under the weight of his robes, appearing “distressed almost to fainting”[4]. When the crown was placed on his head, Britain could finally celebrate the coronation of George IV, with the Abbey erupting in a spontaneous huzzah that both surprised and delighted the king.

The procession then made it way back to Westminster Hall amid cheering crowds. We all know that George liked his food and the coronation banquet was testament to this, consisting as it did of well over a thousand dishes and tens of thousands of pounds of meat alone. The king thanked the assembled guests and did them “the honour of drinking their health and that of his good people”[5]. It was a night to remember as hundreds of male guests tucked into a vast array of delicacies, whilst the ladies and children were herded into viewing galleries to watch the fun!

Finally the newly-crowned George IV departed for Carlton House with the people of London joining a fête in Hyde Park, where fireworks were let off throughout the evening. The day had been a flamboyant, excessive triumph and parties went on late into the summer night as the people of the realm celebrated the crowning of the new monarch.

Life in the Georgian Court by Catherine Curzon of the famed blog: A Covent Garden Gilflurt's Guide to Life.

Life in the Georgian Court by Catherine Curzon of the famed blog: A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life.

About the Author

Catherine Curzon is a royal historian and blogs on all matters 18th century at A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life.

Her work has featured by publications including BBC History ExtraAll About History, History of Royals, Explore History and Jane Austens Regency World. She has also provided additional material for the sell-out theatrical show, An Evening with Jane Austen, will she will introduce at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, in September (tickets are available here).

Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine, she lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously steep hill.

Her book, Life in the Georgian Court, is available now from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Book Depository and all good bookshops!

About Life in the Georgian Court

As the glittering Hanoverian court gives birth to the British Georgian era, a golden age of royalty dawns in Europe. Houses rise and fall, births, marriages and scandals change the course of history and in France, Revolution stalks the land.

Peep behind the shutters of the opulent court of the doomed Bourbons, the absolutist powerhouse of Romanov Russia and the epoch-defining family whose kings gave their name to the era, the House of Hanover.

Behind the pomp and ceremony were men and women born into worlds of immense privilege, yet beneath the powdered wigs and robes of state were real people living lives of romance, tragedy, intrigue and eccentricity. Take a journey into the private lives of very public figures and learn of arranged marriages that turned to love or hate and scandals that rocked polite society.

Here the former wife of a king spends three decades in lonely captivity, Prinny makes scandalous eyes at the toast of the London stage and Marie Antoinette begins her last, terrible journey through Paris as her son sits alone in a forgotten prison cell.

Life in the Georgian Court is a privileged peek into the glamorous, tragic and iconic courts of the Georgian world, where even a king could take nothing for granted.


Anonymous. George III: His Court and Family, Vol I. London: Henry Colburn and Co, 1821.

Baker, Kenneth. George IV: A Life in Caricature. London: Thames & Hudson, 2005.

Black, Jeremy. The Hanoverians: The History of a Dynasty. London: Hambledon and London, 2007.

David, Saul. Prince of Pleasure. New York: Grove Press, 2000.

Hadlow, Janice. The Strangest Family: The Private Lives of George III, Queen Charlotte and the Hanoverians. London: William Collins, 2014.

Hetherington Fitzgerald, Percy. The Life of George the Fourth. London: Tinsley Brothers, 1881.

Huish, Robert. Memoirs of George the Fourth: Vol I. London: Thomas Kelly, 1830.

Irvine, Valerie. The Kings Wife: George IV and Mrs Fitzherbert. London: Hambledon, 2007.

Lloyd, Hannibal Evans. George IV: Memoirs of His Life and Reign, Interspersed with Numerous Personal Anecdotes. London: Treuttel and Würtz, 1830.

Smith, EA. George IV. Bury St Edmunds: St Edmundsbury Press, 1999.

Spencer, Sarah. Correspondence of Sarah Spencer Lady Lyttelton 1787-1870. London: John Murray, 1912.

[1] This is the equivalent of £9.5million in modern money.

[2] Gossip, Giles (1828). Coronation Anecdotes. London: Robert Jennings, pp.291-2.

[3] George had to make do with a gilt bronze cast of his sumptuous new crown, acquired at a cost of £38.

[4] Huish, Robert (1830). Memoirs of George the Fourth: Vol I. London: Thomas Kelly, p.216.

[5] La Belle Assemblée: Vol XXIV, 1821. London: J Green, p.45.

Many thanks, Catherine—and Mrs Daffodil’s best congratulations on your new book! Do be careful of those Furies…

Encore: Choose Your Fan and Then Your Flutter: 1919


American Girls Reviving the Fan, That Fit Symbol of Fluttering Femininity

Approach of Period of Coquetry Foreseen in New Popularity of Long Fashionable Appendage

By Esther Harney

Fans are coming back into vogue again. They never go out of fashion, of course, for they are as old as coquetry, as gallantry itself. But today they are appearing in full blaze of glory, a sure sign, we are told, that an age of coquetry and extreme femininity is approaching as a reaction from the stern period of the war.

Manufacturers will tell you this news happily. Not for years have they had so many orders for fans of every description from the hand-made lace and tortoise shell varieties of the duchess to the little inexpensive chiffon spangled fan which the high school girls “perfectly adore” to flutter at school “hops.”

Manufacturers will also tell you that there could be no stronger evidence of a general return on the part of woman to her ancient arts and wiles than this reinstatement of the fan. (They are qualified to speak—of course.) During the war there was little time for fans and for femininity. Nor in that period which preceded the war did woman fancy fans; instead she preferred a riding crop or a tennis bat. It was not the fashion then, you will recall, to be delicate and feminine.

But today with all our boys returning from overseas from harsh scenes of war and from other scenes and adventures (oh, the reputed wiles of les belles Francaises), American women are beginning to realize that they must rise to the occasion. Femininity must rule supreme. (The soldiers like womanly women, they say.) and as a symbol of lovely femininity the women have taken up the fan.

International Imagination.

Then, too, American girls are looking to France these days. (They are trying to cultivate an international imagination, you know.) And among the French, fans are popular. With them, for instance, the wedding fan is an important item of the marriage trousseau. And was it not Mme. E Stael who recognized an art in the graceful handling of the fan? “What graces,” she wrote, “are placed in woman’s power if she knows how to use  a fan. In all her wardrobe there is no ornament with which she can produce so great an effect.” Verily the revival of the fan in American can be traced to the influence of France on the American doughboy…

Descended from Palm Leaf.

All ages have contributed to the history of the fan. It has it pedigree like everything else. If a thorn was the first needle, no doubt a palm leaf was the first fan. Standards of rich plumage were present when the Queen of Sheba paid homage to Solomon. Queen Elizabeth gave the fan a place of distinction and was the cause of prosperity among the fan-makers of her day. She is said to have had as many as 30 fans for her use. During her reign ostrich feather fans were introduced in England. Charlotte Corday of French evolutionary fame is said to have used a fan expertly : She held a fan in one hand while she stabbed Marat with a dagger which she held in the other hand.

Great painters of all ages have tried their hands at fans. One famous artist spent nine years completing a fan for Mme. De Pompadour, which cost $30,000. Period fans arose to commemorate events, follies and fashions of the day. Besides an intermediary in the affairs of love a fan became a vehicle for satire, verse and epigram.  

Coronation of Napoleon fan, 1807

Coronation of Napoleon fan, 1807

In the canons of “fanology” are described “the angry flutter, the modish flutter, the timorous flutter, the confused flutter, the merry flutter, the amorous flutter.” A flutter for every type, you see.

American girls should then first choose their fan and then their flutter. Perhaps they will revive the art of miniature fan painting as a new profession for women. They should, of course, remember that they can learn much of the art of the fan from Europe (except from Germany. Can you fancy a German woman flirting with a fan?) and plan to obtain their practice on the back porch some hot July evening. That will surely amuse their soldier callers. And at least we all can afford a fan of the palm leaf variety. But if we must take up the fan, the symbol of the new age that is before us, just we also take up the spirit of the age in which it was wafted victoriously? Must we be Victorian?

Boston [MA] Herald 10 May 1919: p. 15 

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  And what, Mrs Daffodil wishes to know, is wrong with being “Victorian?” Alas, the author of this piece was entirely too sanguine about a return to femininity. Far from becoming more womanly, young persons shingled their hair, abandoned proper corsetry, smoked in public, and adopted sexually ambiguous costumes and attitudes. The queenly curves of the pre-War years gave way to a flattened feminine figure that caused many physicians to despair of the continuation of the species. Still, in one detail, the author was correct: The beaded and brilliantined females who thronged the night clubs, did carry fans—immense, vampish affairs of ostrich feathers or sequined chiffon–but recognizably fans. One might suggest that these accessories lent their name to the Girl of the Period: the Flapper.

For a school of “fan-ology,” see this post.  And for more details on how to select a fan, this post.

A vampish fan of the period.

A vampish fan of the period.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Major Ward and the Skeleton: 1852

jolly walking skeleton with dart

Mrs Daffodil once again welcomes that grim and grewsome person from Haunted Ohio to these pages. To be perfectly candid, that person rather pressed for a guest-post, insisting that children gathered around their summer camp-fires were in dire need of a ghost story.   Mrs Daffodil is reluctantly providing the forum, but assumes no liability for nightmares.


Some years ago there stood on the west side of the Findlay road, about two miles south of the Munger post office, in Liberty Township, Wood County, O., a large, old fashioned building known as the Woodbury House. This deserted mansion was located in the heart of what was then called the Black Swamp; there were no other houses near it, and the locality had acquired a weird reputation because of a murder which was supposed to have occurred in the house. The old ruin was last inhabited by a man named John Cleves, somewhere in the forties. Cleves was convicted of another crime and sent to the Ohio Penitentiary. While Cleves lived in the old Woodbury House the sudden and mysterious disappearance of a peddler named Syms caused considerable comment in the neighborhood, and, although Cleves was suspected of murdering the peddler, no proof was ever obtained of the crime. Frequently travelers asserted they had heard mysterious noises while passing by the old mansion, and some of them claimed positively to have seen a human skeleton walking its bony way over the floors of the house. For years after Cleves left the house it was uninhabited, and came to be called “the haunted house of the Black Swamp.” In 1852 Major Ward happened to be passing through the neighborhood on business, and hearing of the haunted house and its sepulchral inmate determined to investigate the matter. Falling in with John Stow, the veteran showman, Ward proposed that the two pass a night in the old Woodbury House. Stow loved an adventure, ad so the expedition was arranged. Major Ward used to tell of his night’s experience in the following thrilling narrative.

Ward and Stow were seated on the floor of the large room in the lower part of the old house as midnight approached. They had built a big fire in an old fireplace in a corner of the room, and were quietly smoking. Suddenly, without any warning, the major says, there appeared before them an animated human skeleton. The two adventurers quickly took their places in opposite corners of the room, and Ward ordered the apparition to halt and explain its mission, at the same time drawing from his pocket a revolver. The skeleton advanced to the center of the room, paused a moment and then continued to advance toward Ward. The latter raised his revolver and fired full at the breast of the ghostly object, and as it continued to approach he fired again.

Stow says that he heard the bones rattle dismally as the shots were fired. But the skeleton continued to advance until within arm’s length of Ward, when it stopped, raised one arm and motioned his attention. Then walking to the fireplace and back to the center of the room the apparition took up a position facing Ward, again raised its arm and to the horror of the two terrified mortals uttered in a deep husky voice these words:

‘Give ear to me and mark well that which I am about to reveal to you.”

In the same sepulchral voice the specter related the story of an infamous crime. It said that while on earth in the flesh he was called James Syms, the peddler. One evening in December, 1842, he put up at the Woodbury House, then kept by Cleves. Some hours after midnight he was roused from sleep by a blow on the head. Staggering to his feet he beheld Cleves with a bludgeon. Syms attempted to stay the arm of his assailant, but the bludgeon again descended upon his left temple and he fell dead on the floor.

As the specter came to this part of his story he turned his left side toward Ward and pointed with a bony finger to a large fracture in his skull.

‘”Upon the infliction of the fatal blow,” said the skeleton, “my transition from the mundane to the celestial sphere was sudden and sublime.”

“Do you mean to tell me, then,” asked Ward, “that you are dead?”

“I do not live in the sense you mean,” replied the ghost, “yet I do exist.”

Continuing the story of the crime, the specter related that the murdered, Cleves, had severed the head from the body, buried the head under the heart in the room they were then in, and cast the body into a well.

Ward, emboldened by the success of his first question, here interrupted the skeleton long enough to remark that he did not see how his head could be buried under the hearth and still on his shoulders at the same time. As he spoke the skull disappeared from the shoulders of the skeleton. The two adventurers gazed upon the headless trunk in horror. All at once a loud voice came from the depths of the earth, crying.

“Take up the bricks of the hearth and disentomb the skull of the murdered Syms!”

Impelled by a mysterious force Major Ward mechanically obeyed the command and in a few minutes had unearthed a skull. Holding the skull in his hands he gazed first at the ghastly object and then at the erect and awful figure of the headless skeleton.

Quick as a flash of light the skull passed from his hands and resumed its place on the specter. Taking up the narrative where it had left off, the apparition said that Cleves had taken the money and personal effects of the murdered man. In his pocketbook were $90 in bills on the bank of St. Clair, Mich. The peddler’s horse and wagon were taken to Indiana and sold. Ward inquired for what object the weird skeleton had related this terrible story.

“That through you the world may learn of my fate, that my remains may be decently interred and my soul relieved of its awful secret. I am the spirit of the murdered Syms, whose soul for years has been seen around this place. Long have I wandered with my dread secret up and down the earth, longing to impart the story of my fate to man. But, although many have seen me, I could not speak until first spoken to by a living man. Your courage has at last brought peace to my soul. Write to my grandnephew, Gilmore Syms, of Columbus, Ga., and acquaint him with all I have told you.”

As the specter paused in his solemn injunctions the sudden influx of cold air into the room indicated that the hour before dawn had arrived.

“The hour approaches,” said the skeleton, “when we must part.”

Taking a step toward the door the specter hesitated for a moment, then turned and with a grateful gesture extended its bony hand to Ward. Ward took the cold, hard hand in his, and as the skeleton pressed his benefactor’s hand cold chills ran over Ward’s body until he shook as with the ague.

Locked in the skeleton’s grasp Ward accompanied it to the door and several yards into the open air, the terror stricken Stow following as if in a trance.

“My hour has come!” muttered the specter. “Ward, farewell.” Then raising the long, bony forefinger of its right hand warningly, the specter fixed on Ward a look which thrilled him to the heart, and said:

“Forget not! Forget not!”

In a minute more the air was suffused with a bright, bluish light, and a noise like distant thunder was heard. As suddenly as it came the light faded, and with it all traces of the ghost of the haunted house of the Black Swamp. Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The Brooklyn [NY] Daily Eagle 21 April 1889: p. 9

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Who would a peddler be?  Not only do the unfortunates wander the roads in all sorts of weather, carrying heavy packs, and staying at dismal inns with vile food and worse beds, they seem, to judge by the number of ghost stories about them, to have been slaughtered in quantities far out of proportion to their numbers. Mrs Daffodil does not wish to be snobbish, but wonders if the skeleton was entirely candid with Major Ward; in this and in other, longer versions of the tale, the creature spoke less like a peddler and more like a character in a Gothic novel by “Monk” Lewis.

Mrs Daffodil thanks that attenuated person over at Haunted Ohio for this skeletal sketch, but fears that she will have to cover the Tweeny’s ears should the footmen get hold of it.


Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.