The Baroness’ Jewel Box: 1870s

 

jewel casket hermann bohm

THE BARONESS’ JEWEL BOX

A Story from the German

The Baroness Rukavina Eltz was the most splendid and dashing personage in the Er Valley. Her castle near Somlyo was the finest specimen of a great residence in all that shadow of the Er Mellek [Érmellék], and she, a Roumanian by birth and a Hungarian by marriage, seemed to unite  all the brilliant characteristics of both these picturesque races.

She was a widow to begin with, and since the animal man has speculated upon the varieties of the angel woman, a widow has been pronounced the most amiable variety of the species. She was very beautiful, tall, svelte, blue eyed, black-haired , piquant, red and white, with the most scornful little mouth and the most delicate profile; her hand and foot were models, although the latter was frequently stamped when she was not pleased. She was–in the third and last place, as preachers say– very rich, and had fallen heiress to two collections of jewels which were almost fabulously valuable. A brilliant creature, the Baroness. She owned villages and vineyards and made a large income every year from her sale of Ruster, a grand wine of a pale golden hue, which had as full and peculiar a flavor as she had herself. The Baroness sent her wine to Vienna, where it was considered equal to Tokay.

Of course, she had suitors, the beautiful, sharp Baroness. They came from Transylvania and Russia, from Roumania and all Hungary, from Austria and all the German Principalities; and for the unlucky wretches about Pus Poki and the Behar Settlement, and the country gentleman of Erdioszegh, they knelt and worshipped in vain as she dashed past them on her fleet thoroughbred, for she was Diana as a huntress and the queen of the Amazons also. Her black horse Tetenyer was said to emit fire from his nostrils when he stopped to breathe.

This grand lady was afraid of nobody, loved nobody, had no friends, save the nuns at the foot of the Rez Gebirge and one old priest who seemed to be deeply in her confidence. Every year she made a grand visit somewhere–Vienna, Paris, Rome, London or St. Petersburg. She spent money like water, made everybody talk, wonder and admire, and where her splendid jewels were the envy of all the Court ladies.

Yes, she was afraid of one man, and that was her steward, Neusiedler, he who for years had managed her vast estates, her vineyards and her wheatfields, her fields and fisheries.

Neusiedler was a crouching, cross eyed, mean-looking German, married to a bold, black eyed woman, who was twice his size, and who lived in the village, near the castle, and who spent her time envying and hating the Baroness. Madame Pasteur, the French companion, and Matilde, the French maid, who never left the Baroness, thought that Neusiedler, and his wife had the evil eye and that they would some day wilt the Baroness. But Rukavina Eltz laughed at this fear, and kept on her course exultant. Still when the yearly pay day came round, and she had to look over accounts with Neusiedler, she did show what she had never shown before–fear.

Among her jewels was a splendid rope of pearl-colored pearls, the rarest thing in the whole world, neither black nor white, but pearl color, with three great emerald pendants, each as large as a small pear. The Emperor always noticed this jewel with a smile and a compliment when the Baroness Rukavina-Eltz went to a court ball at Vienna. He told her that the Empress had nothing half as handsome, and it is to be feared that the Emperor spoke also of the white, firm neck on which the necklace rested, for Rukavina-Eltz was apt to blush and look magnificently well at such moments. Then she had great chains of sapphires as blue as her eyes and some big rubies which the baron had given her (the old Baron, twice her age, who went down into Roumania for her when she was 15.) and she had diamonds, of course—every rich lady has diamonds– and a great box full of engraved amethysts and antique gems, some that Cardinal Antonelli gave her in Rome, for he, too, had admired the wild Baroness.

Indeed, if the Baroness Rukavina Eltz had ever written her memoirs, what a story she could have told! But the end of every woman’s history is that she finally falls in love, and such was the beginning of the end of the story of Rukavina-Eltz. She went to England one summer, and there was a young Lord Ronald Somerset, or a Lord George Levenson Montague, or a young Lord Howard Plantagenet (they mix them up so, these English words, they are not half so individual as our Hungarian names.) who could ride better than she could. This was a terrible blow to the Baroness and she wished herself dead.

But when at dinner the soft-voiced, handsome, tall young Englishman, Sir Lyster Howard Lyster (that was his name after all) sat next to her and talked so well and so complimentary to her seat, ‘cross country, and noticed the pearl-colored pearls, and the emeralds, with his lips, and the neck underneath with his eyes, Rukavina Eltz forgave him, and he began to talk of her home near Somlyo, and it ended in a large English party coming to the Er Valley, under the shadow of the Er Mellek, for a long summer visit. And how they raved about everything—the wine, the horses the scenery, the wild, barbaric splendor of the Baroness’ housekeeping, and how they all hated Neusiedler and his big, black-browed wife, who were invited up to the balls.

There was an English lady, one with very long teeth, and a very long noise, and very high eyebrows, and they called her Lady Louisa. She was very grand and lofty, and Madame Pasteur heard her say one day—“Do you know, dear Baroness, I think you are so very careless—don’t you know? –about those beautiful jewels of yours—do you know?”

“But who could steal them?” said the Baroness, laughing. “There are none like them in all Hungary, and no one would dare wear them, they are so rare!”

‘Ah! But some of these wild people of yours! They might swallow your emeralds, those fierce Croats, the Roumanians; and then you keep them in such open closets and boxes.” Madame Pasteur nodded her meek head, too. She had trembled for the jewels always.

But the Baroness and Sir Lyster began to think of other things and jewels; and there were moonlight rides and walks, and there were long talks and many reveries. Lady Louisa went home, they all went, but Sir Lyster came back.

And then, one evening, Madame Pasteur said afterwards that she saw Neusiedler come in and bully the baroness and she heard him hiss out the words—“Remember if you marry, you lose all. Remember the Baron’s will!”

And Rukavina-Eltz turned pale and said, “Bully, traitor, fiend,” between her shut teeth. She went off to Paris on one of her long visits, and Neusiedler squeezed the tenants and made every one miserable. The castle was shut up and black Tetenyer grew thin in his stable.

When she came back she looked older and more sedate. She went often to see the nuns at the foot of Rez Gebirge. She saw the priest also very often, and Madame Pasteur thougth she was growing devote. But she dressed in her usual dashing colors (for she was a very Roumanian at heart) and she wore one of those scarlet quilted petticoats that the English ladies wore so much; and very pretty it looked, with her dark habit and her dark dresses looped up over it. This, with a scarlet feather in her hat, looked as if the Baroness was thinking of England.

It was a miserable day, that, when Madame Pasteur and Matilda came screaming down the long corridor.

“The jewels are gone! Gone! Gone!’

The Baroness had the great bell of the castle run, and Neusiedler was sent for at once. She was very pale for she loved those pearls and emeralds.

Neusiedler was composed, every look was made to say, “I told you so;” he had always warned her about the jewels.

“What can be done?” asked the Baroness.

“Search, whip, imprison, all who attempt to leave the province,” said Neusiedler, calmly.

“Except women—I will have no women whipped,” said the Baroness.

“I am glad to hear that, “said Neusiedler, laughing his malicious laugh, “for Madame Neusiedler goes to Vienna tomorrow.”

“Ah!” said the Baroness, “you know I could not mean, at any rate, that Madame Neusiedler should be disturbed; send her in my little carriage with the three ponies to Erdiosegh.”

“Your excellency is very condescending,” said Neusiedler, bowing to the ground.

The local police sought everywhere for the lost jewels, but no traces of them could be found. The Baroness sat in a sort of stupor and looked out of the window.

“I will go to England,” said she hastily one day. “Neusiedler, some money, and arrange for me to be gone three months.”

“It is well, Madame,” said the steward.

It was a very roundabout route that the Baroness took for England. When Matilda and Madame Pasteur reached the station at Erdiosegh, they were astonished to see the Baroness dash into the ticket-office and buy tickets for Vienna, and when they arrived, all of them, at her fine hotel at Vienna, who should step out to meet them but Sir Lyster Howard Lyster.

Nothing but the well-known eccentricity of the Baroness apologized to Madame Pasteur for what followed. She commanded two dresses to be made, and that Madame Pasteur should go with her to a public masked ball at the Opera House in Vienna.

“Sir Lyster Howard Lyster will go with us!” said she, as a shade passed over the pale face of her companion.

Oh! That the lady of sixteen quarterings should be seen in such a low place! No; she was not seen! She was masked; but that she should even go! What a sacrifice of pride and of decency, Madame Pasteur thought it, as she saw the Baroness take the arm of one masked man after the other, and then go into the supper room with a party who followed a tall mask in a black domino.

A voice stuck on Madame Pasteur’s ear—was it that of Madame Neusiedler? Was it—could it be?

Yes! And as she threw back mask and hood there sparkled on her neck the pearl-colored pearls and the emerald pendants of the lost jewels. O Heaven!

“The necklace of the Baroness,” shouted the impulsive, the imprudent Madame Pasteur.

It nearly spoiled the plot, for Madame Neusiedler was among the friends and confederates. However, the tall Englishman stepped forward, and the two Viennese policemen arrested the woman.

She behaved with extraordinary coolness, and explained—“It is indeed the necklace of the Baroness, given by her to my husband for moneys which he had advanced to her. Let her deny it if she dare. I have her written acknowledgment of the money, and I have come to Vienna to sell the necklace, where it is well known.”

All gathered around the wonderful necklace, which the Chief of Police put in his breast pocket, removing the woman Neusiedler.

The Baroness went back to her hotel and allowed Madame Pasteur to pass a wretched night. She would explain nothing.

All Vienna was alive when the great case came on, and not a few ladies were glad to hear that the Rukavina-Eltz jewels were in pawn—that envied necklace.

Neusiedler came to his wife’s rescue, and told the story over again. The evidence against the Baroness was damning. She had, according to his story, lived far, far beyond her income, and he had supplied her with money. She had fabricated the story of the lost necklace, to try and cheat him, but here were her signatures,  and here was the Baron’s will, which she was about to try to disregard—his will saying that she should never marry, or, if she did, that she lost all her vast estates.

“Baroness Rukavina Eltz, what have you to say to this? What is your defense?” said the prosecuting counsel.

“Only this!” said the Baroness, holding up in her hand the pearl colored pearls and the emerald drops, the real necklace! On the Judge’s desk lay a facsimile of the famous necklace. The two ornaments looked exactly alike.

“Let an expert be brought and say which is the real necklace and which the imitation one, made in Paris, and used by me to lure this wretched and dishonest thief of a steward on to his destruction!” said the Baroness, with a flash of Roumanian fire in her eyes.

It was true! Neusiedler had been foiled; he had stolen a false necklace, which the Baroness had had made in the Rue de la Paix.

“He has been stealing from me for years; he has doubtless forged a false will of the Baron, for I have found the true one!” said Rukavina Eltz. “I could not unravel the net that he has thrown over me but for this happy thought of tempting him to steal some false jewels. Had he got the real ones, his story would have been plausible. Now, I trust justice is convinced that it is a lie!”

A dreadful noise followed this speech of the spirited Baroness; Neusiedler had fallen down in a fit. Never more would he drink the yellow tinted Ruster; never more would he return to the joys of crushing the peasantry of Somlyo—of cheating the Baroness. The Baroness had cheated him at last. Sold! Sold! Sold! With false pearls and emeralds!

It was a very grand wedding, that of the Baroness to Sir Lyster Howard Lyster, who though only an English country gentleman, proved to be richer than she and who made her a loving and a hunting husband.

The Emperor gave her away, and she wore the pearl-colored pearl with the emerald drops, now become historical.

“Ah! Madame, dear Baroness, please tell me where you have kept the real jewels all these months?” said the pious Madame Pasteur, almost kissing the hem of her mistress’ robes.

The Baroness was dressed for travelling, as her faithful adherent knelt and asked this question. She had on the quilted satin red petticoat; the scarlet of old England.

“Was it in the double locked closet of the north tower?”

“Ah, no! faithful Pasteur, thou knowest Neusiedler had the key to that!”

“Was it in the jewel case of thy great ancestress, the Roumanian Princess?”

“No. Guess again!”

“Was it in the convent of the nuns of Rez Gebirge?”

“No, Pasteur, I never gave them anything to keep but my sins.”

“Was it in the Baron’s strong box in the cellar?”

“No, my dear Pasteur, no. You have the hiding place under your finger. They were quilted into the lining of this red satin petticoat. I owe the idea to that good Lady Louisa. “See here!” and gently raising the edge of her travelling skirt, right over her left foot, the Baroness showed Madame Pasteur a neat little series of pockets, where the jewels had been safely hidden in a scarlet prison.

The Columbian [Bloomsburg PA] 19 August 1881: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  A happy ending, and all due to an undergarment that proved functional as well as decorative.  Never let it be said that fashionable scarlet petticoats are good for nothing but seduction.

The Baroness must, indeed, have been magnificent to turn the head of the Emperor, married to the exquisitely beautiful and equally wild horsewoman, the Empress Elisabeth.

 

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.

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Dinnerware of the Dead: 1900

skull mug

Mrs Daffodil has been persuaded (well, “badgered” might be the mot juste) to offer a guest post by that Relentlessly Informative person over at Haunted Ohio, who has found what she feels is an interesting tit-bit about an unusual mourning custom from the United States. Without further ado, Mrs Daffodil introduces Chris Woodyard, author of The Victorian Book of the Dead. 

While working on a monograph on shrouds, I ran across this piece on memorializing the dead at the dinner table. It comes from Pennsylvania, a state particularly rich in interesting folklore and funereal practices. The resourceful Mrs Daffodil uncovered articles about that state’s “death drawer” custom, which also was reported in 1900.

What can we say about a custom that cherishes the tableware of the deceased as domestic relics and a family’s belief in an ongoing presence of the beloved dead?  Is it an expression of “complicated grief,” where the bereaved cannot let go of their sorrow, or a literal way to continue a connection with those lost?

IN MEMORY OF THEIR DEAD

“Oh, yes, I always keep our dead mother’s plate at her place at the table,” said the daughter of a rich eastern Pennsylvania farmer. “We will also keep her knife, fork, spoon, cup and saucer, and her napkin. I don’t know why we do it, only that it is the custom hereabouts among the large landowners. Whenever any grown person dies in the family, especially an unmarried daughter or the mother, her plate at the table is never taken away, save once a month, when it is washed. No one ever sits at that place no matter what the crowd is, no one uses anything belonging to mother. We hold the place sacred.

“Down at the farm of one of our neighbors they never remove the plate of their eldest daughter, who died 20 yrs. Ago. All the table article she used to use, are still there. An no one has ever occupied her narrow bed in her room. Her things are just as she left them, even to the chinaware on her bureau. Her dresses are faded and moth-eaten, and considerable had to be taken away, but a good many of her things are still as she left them.

“There is not so much regard shown for the boys. But when the head of the house dies his vacant chair at the table is never occupied. No one would dare to take that seat. At one large farm they kept his picture in a frame on his chair until one day the glass cracked and the frame split from some unknown cause. To this day they have an idea that the old farmer’s spirit came back and gave that picture a crack, because he didn’t like to see it there. Next they looked for the plate to be knocked off the table, but as that didn’t happen they take it for granted that the farmer thinks that’s all right. Over on another farm, where their oldest son died ten years ago, his room is closed forever, and kept just as he left it, with his gun, boots, clothes, and fishing rods in the corner. They still call it John’s room, and it will so continue until the farm passes into new hands. Not long ago the sale of a farm was nearly blocked when the owner wanted to stipulate in the deed that a certain room was not to be occupied until after the death of the seller.

“We know an aged lady who still pays for two seats in their church. Her husband died 11 years ago. She pays for his seat, and she occupies hers, never his, and no one else ever sits in that seat. Where a child over seven years of age dies, the plate is kept at the table a short time only. Where the child is 15, the plate is kept longer. Where the son or daughter dies, aged 21 or more, then the plate is never removed. I know one place where three grown daughters died within a year of diphtheria. Their plates in a row, are never removed, but fresh flowers are frequently placed near them. Their parents and brothers and sisters have long since ceased their weeping, and the table is no more sad, but everything is merry and happy, and they frequently chat with the dead people just as if they were present. It does no harm, even if it is foolish, as some people say.

“Three years ago an old farmer died five miles from here. He left seven grown children, two sons, and five daughters, all unmarried, and living at home. There is a rule in the family, and it has been so ever since the old gentleman died, that once a week each child shall spend a half hour in the old man’s big rocking chair, and think of him, commune with him, pray for him, ask his advice as to the farm management. They believe that he wants it to be thoroughly understood that he is still the master of that big farm. I guess he is, too, for the children are running the place on the co-operative plan, and they are getting along all right, apparently.

“People have to be very careful of the plates, cups and saucers of the dead. It is considered very bad luck if any piece is broken.”

Boston [MA] Daily Advertiser 13 July 1900: p. 5

This is very reminiscent of the ancient custom of equipping the dead with grave goods, brought to such perfection by the Egyptians, the Vikings, and the nomads of the Siberian steppes.  It also reminds me of the French family who stipulated that the bedroom of their son, killed in the Great War, should be kept as a shrine by the house’s owners “for 500 years” or the stories that Queen Victoria kept Prince Albert’s room as a shrine, commanding that hot water for shaving be brought daily and that the dead man’s clothes should be laid out for him. I haven’t been able to find any contemporary reports that the Queen really did issue orders to this effect, but she was acutely aware of the power of domestic relics, collecting locks of hair, casts of beloved relatives’ hands, and jewellery made from baby teeth. She also directed that a large number of sentimental objects be placed in her own coffin such as a dressing gown of Prince Albert’s and John Brown’s mother’s wedding ring.

In the article on “death drawers,” found by Mrs Daffodil, we find the following passage about a lady who also wanted to take it with her, although on a much more modest scale:

One most unusual request was that a plate, cup and saucer, knife, fork and spoon should be placed in an old woman’s coffin. She had used them for 70 years, and did not wish anyone else to use them when she was gone.

The Sun [New York, NY] 18 February 1900: p. 27

It appears that the custom of setting a place for the dead was not uncommon even outside Pennsylvania.

There is a woman in Atchison who sets a place at the table every day for her husband, who died over a year ago. In his plate she never fails to place a little bouquet of flowers. She believes the dead know what is going on on earth.

The St. Joseph [MO] Herald 19 January 1891: p. 4

At this historical distance, it is hard to know if some diners with the dead were merely trying to cope with their grief or had been driven mad by misfortune.

Sets Table for Dead Wife;

Police Take Him Away

Frank J. Nagle, forty-seven years old, a plate printer, of 457 I street southwest, is in Washington Asylum Hospital today for observation as to his mental condition. The police say he had his table spread for his wife, several months dead, and his two little children, who are in St. Joseph’s Orphan Asylum. Nagle recently lost his job at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and this, with his other misfortunes, is believed by his friends to have resulted in temporary mental derangement.

The Washington [DC] Times 16 February 1914: p. 12

This gentleman seemed to have a more balanced attitude, perhaps as a result of his Spiritualist faith. Or perhaps his wealth kept him from being sent to the asylum “for observation.”

SET TABLE FOR THE DEAD.

Menasha Man Had Places for Deceased Members of Family.

Menasha, Wis., Dec. 28. After a final consultation with the spirits death closed the life of Joseph A. Sanford, a wealthy retired lumber dealer of this city. Mr. Sanford was 84 years of age, and had been a resident of Menasha for more than sixty years. He was connected with the Menasha Wooden Ware Company, now the largest plant of its kind in the world, during its infancy; and later attained extensive lumber interests. During the last ten years Mr. Sanford had not partaken of a meal or retired at night without first having the table set for the deceased members of his family. At the retiring hour a fresh baked cake was placed on the table for the spirit members and these were consulted in all matters of importance concerning Mr. Sanford’s life before any action was decided upon.

The Indianapolis [IN] Star 29 December 1907: p. 11

I wish I knew the ending of this story of an unfortunate mother trying to cling to hope.

SHE AWAITS MISSING SON.

Winsted, Conn, December 12. Mrs. Martin Doyle, Sr., of Harwinton, has set a place at the table each meal time for her absent son, Michael, ever since he disappeared on April 3, 1904. After having partaken of supper that evening he walked out and has not since been heard of, although everything possible has been done by his relatives to find him.

In the interval Mrs. Doyle has lost her husband, her home has been destroyed by fire, and her other son, Martin, has become insane and is now in an asylum, leaving her alone.

The Montgomery [AL] Times 12 December 1907: p. 6

In 1883 Engineer John M. Miller, of Ohio, died in a train wreck. Articles commemorating his life mentioned that he believed that the ghosts of a fellow trainman and of his little daughter came aboard his engine to keep him company. Poignantly, he had a place set at his table for the child.

A few years ago Miller lost by death a bright little girl, to whom he was greatly attached, and ever afterward she, too, would nightly and daily get on his engine at a certain place on the road, and ride and talk with him until his train neared Dayton, and then disappear. As in the former case, her seat was kept for her in the cab, and no one allowed to occupy it.

At his home a chair was always set up to the table, the crib in which the child had been rocked drawn near, and a plate and food placed on the table, just as when the little girl lived and prattled. It is even said that the father would look at the chair and talk to its supposed occupant just as he used to do during its lifetime, and what seems strange now is that the wife and mother, an intelligent and highly respected lady, entertained and does now, the same superstitious views in regard to the child, and had the utmost faith in all that her husband ever told her about the ghostly visitations on the road.

Cincinnati [OH] Commercial Tribune 12 February 1883: p. 3

In The Ghost Wore Black, I wrote about the young woman who “married” the ghost of her dead fiancé. She, too, would set the table and chat over dinner with the shade of the dear departed. Is such a thing morbid or “foolish;” does it do harm to the grieving?

There is something both sad and yet convivial about dining with the dead. Many cultures practice it; the Hungry Ghost festival, and Dia de los Muertos, for example, bring the living and the dead together once more through food. And we eat together after funerals, reminding ourselves over the funeral baked casseroles that life goes on, that we still live and hunger, until we too can join the Buffet Invisible.

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil can only imagine what Cook would say to such a proceeding…  The custom gives an entirely new meaning to the phrase “coffin plate.”

 

Chris Woodyard is the author of The Victorian Book of the Dead, The Ghost Wore Black, The Headless Horror, The Face in the Window, and the 7-volume Haunted Ohio series. She is also the chronicler of the adventures of that amiable murderess Mrs Daffodil in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales. The books are available in paperback and for Kindle. Indexes and fact sheets for all of these books may be found by searching hauntedohiobooks.com. Join her on FB at Haunted Ohio by Chris Woodyard or The Victorian Book of the Dead.

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.

Dandy Dogs: 1896

Dandy Dogs.

William G. FitzGerald

When you hear a man say he has “led the life of a dog,” it is pretty safe to assume he has not been dandled in the lap of luxury for some time anterior to his plaint. But surely, after the publication of this article, the popular significance of the metaphor will lose its force—if, indeed, the meaning be not completely reversed, so that inclusion in Dandy Dog-dom will represent the Alpha and Omega of epicurean splendour. . The fact is, mere ordinary folk have not the remotest notion of the extravagant extent to which canine pets are pampered nowadays by their highly-placed mistresses; and so utterly astounding and fantastic are the details, that I propose giving chapter and verse, so to speak, for every statement made.

reception room Dogs' Toilet Club Strand

 

The first photograph reproduced shows the reception-room of the Dogs Toilet Club, in New Bond Street—an institution certainly beyond the wildest dreams of the Battersea pariahs It was started by an enterprising and cultured lady, who had noticed the righteous wrath of the average domestic on being asked to give a pampered pet its daily bath. Everything about this club is of the daintiest; the very prospectus is in blue and gold, with a delicate bow of green ribbon at one corner. The reception-room—as one may judge from the illustration—is quite a sumptuous apartment; and the ordinary man on entering it may stumble over a costly occasional table, or occasional dog, as the case may be. For many ladies leave their pets here while shopping; others bring the little creatures to be shampooed, brushed, combed, clipped, and attended to by a professional chiropodist. Expensive sweetmeats are provided as a temporary solatium for the absence of the mistresses. The pictorial art of this handsome apartment is distinctly canine; so, too, are the contents of the glass-topped table seen on the left. This contains an interesting—not to say surprising—collection of requisites for fashionable dogs. There are morning, afternoon, and evening coats; mourning outfits, travelling costumes, and bridal dresses—for woe unto the canine aristocrat that hath not on a wedding garment when occasion demands. But more of this hereafter. The lady on the right has taken up the very latest sweet thing in dogs’ driving coats—the “Lonsdale”—made to measure, in fawn cloth, lined with dark red silk; it has a cape of the same that falls upon the pet’s shoulders, and a frill round the neck. This ornate garment is finished off with two gold bells; and the full collar is edged with fur to match that on the dress of the mistress.

Where did all this originate? In Paris, the city of eccentric, extravagant modes. Perhaps I cannot do better than reproduce the business card of Madame Ledouble, whose sumptuous establishment in the Palais Royal (Galerie d’Orléans) may be described as the Eldorado of Dandy Dog-dom. Not only does madame make dogs’ coats and fripperies generally, but she also publishes a canine fashion-book, of which an excellent notion may be gathered from the illustrations on this and the next page. These animals are stuffed specimens; all the others portrayed in this article are “from life.”

madame Ledouble dog couturiere Strand

But let us consider for a moment these chic canine fashions—which, by the way, were photographed in Paris specially for THE STRAND MAGAZINE, thanks to the courtesy of M. Henri Durand, the agent for “Spratt’s Patent” in the French capital, and I must number the “models” in order that each may be briefly described.

wedding costume for dog Strand

No. 1 is a splendid wedding toilet of white broche silk, trimmed with satin ribbons and orange blossom.

winter visiting dress

 

No. 2 shows an imposing winter visiting costume with a Medici collar of chinchilla. Other furs can be had, such as sable and ermine.

theatre costume for dog Strand

A gorgeous theatre dress is No. 3; it is made in rich broché velvet, with a collar trimmed with sable.

lingerie handkerchief and boots for dogs Strand

Next comes the array of dainty lingerie (No. 4). The dog on the left, with the “mutton-chop whisker” appearance–(reminding one of the club waiter), is clothed in a dressing gown of thick silk, which protects him from the matutinal draughts; and his fellow-dandy is seen in a spotless chemise de nuit, which leaves uncovered the paws and tail. In the same group are seen a few other assorted night-shirts in silk, gauze, and flannel, together with dogs’ handkerchiefs suitable for various occasions, and india-rubber boots, laced and buttoned.

dog mourning toilette strand

An appropriately lugubrious mourning toilet is depicted in No. 5. This is made in black cloth, velvet, or mousseline de soie, with a nice full collar. Of course, the handkerchief is en suite. 

yachting costume for dog Strand

No. 6 shows a lovely yachting “gown” of navy blue cloth, with an anchor embroidered in white, red, or blue silk, matching the uniform of the crew. The name of the yacht always figures on these coats.

visiting and traveling dresses for dogs Strand

No. 7 is a distinctly striking group. The dog behind on the left is wearing a visiting costume of green cloth trimmed with fine astrakhan. Next is seen a white flannel coat with hood, for travelling in Switzerland; then come the two dogs on the right, one of which is clad in a spring coat of light cloth, and the other in a bright red and white garment, from whose pocket peeps a silken mouchoir.

tweed traveling coat for dog Strand

No. 8 is a substantial travelling costume in Scotch tweed, with a pull-over collar, and pocket for railway-ticket, which latter is also shown.

Of course there are also bathing-dresses for Brighton, Dieppe, and Trouville, And it is not necessary for Madame Ledouble to measure the dog herself. You just write for patterns and fashion plates, and on choosing the outfit you receive careful instructions as to the measurement of your own pet, which instructions are carried out with surprising alacrity and splendour….

dog tailoress at work Strand

In the next photograph is seen an expert lady tailoress at work upon some stylish dog-coats. She is putting the finishing touches to the “Warwick.” This is a promenade costume in fine brown cloth, shot with pink, lined with rose-colored silk, fastened with a 15-carat gold clasp, and further ornamented with a double ruching at the neck like a lady’s cape. The coat on the machine is in dull red velvet, lined with white moiré. Observe the large scent-bottles near the seamstress ; for these dainty garments must be perfumed, otherwise the captious canines might (and do) evince a sudden dislike to the expensive garment selected.

But the aristocratic dog’s wardrobe also contains outfits for special occasions. I have seen a yellow satin coat trimmed with Honiton, and priced at ten guineas. An old favourite, seventeen years of age, was shown to me, and on being requested to examine his coat (of fine cloth lined with costly sable) I found a small electro-magnetic appliance sewn between the cloth and the fur lining. This dog was a bit of a hypochondriac—always fancying he was ill; he did, however, occasionally suffer from pneumonia and backache.

It is absurd to suppose that all kinds of dogs wear these garments; for example, no one would think of putting a coat on a Chow-Chow. On the other hand, dachshunds are sometimes provided with warm coats, and sealskin waistcoats alsomainly because they are apt to run through pretty long grass, and in this way, being short-legged, get their precious little stomachs wet, thus inducing various parlous canine ills. Wedding garments are always attractive; and of course, on such festive occasions, her ladyship’s pet is very much en suite. The little animal’s interest in the function may be infinitesimal—he may even regard the whole business with fierce loathing; still, he is dressed. The Maison Ledouble turns out wedding coats in white, – yellow, and crimson satins trimmed with orange blossom at the neck, and with white satin leaders; these coats cost about £5 each.

Should the newly-made bride wish to take her darling with her on the honeymoon trip, the dog-maid (no sinecure, this) swiftly changes Fido’s garments, replacing the gorgeous wedding outfit with a neat travelling suit of box-cloth, complete with hood and pockets for handkerchief, railway ticket, and biscuit—the latter by way of refreshment en route. If you think the toy dog is hustled into the guard’s van, you are grievously mistaken. He is carefully placed in a travelling kennel, such as is seen in the photograph.

travelling dog kennel Strand

This is really a beautiful hand-bag of cow-hide or crocodile, silver-mounted, and costing from four to ten guineas. It is well ventilated, and supplied with lambs’ wool mats. The wire grating is heavily gilt, or plated; and there is a leather flap which may be let down at the dog’s bed-time, or when the sun is too powerful for his eyes. Now, consider for a moment the group of costly canine trifles seen in the accompanying illustration.

some Paris novelties for dandy dogs Strand

I will describe each briefly, commencing with the top left-hand corner: (1) dress collar of pure white ivory, in imitation of that affected by the human genus dude, it has a neat, black tie; (2) collar of different shape, with tie, gold bell, and white silk leader; (3) dainty lace-bordered dog’s handkerchief of soft white silk; (4) three gold collars; (5) packet of 24 tiny hairpins, specially made for the toilet of lady poodles; (6) neat gold bracelet or bangle; (7) gold collar; (8) ditto; (9) collar of golden rings, price £15; (10) dress bracelet for lady poodle, consisting of purple satin bow with diamond buckle, valued at £45; lastly, we have a fine cambric handkerchief, and a silver collar.

These were photographed by our own artist at Barrett’s, in Piccadilly—a gorgeous establishment, whose proprietors make a special feature of catering for dandy dogs. It takes a lot to surprise Mr. Henry Barrett —to whom I am indebted for several photographs.

Dogs’ coats range in price from one to three guineas; collars from a sovereign to £60, some being of 18-carat gold fastened with a diamond brooch. Dogs with small heads and fat necks wear “harness.” This is an elaborate arrangement of straps with gold and silver mounts, whereby the pet is led from a ring on its back. Messrs. Barrett recently carried out an order for a certain noble lady, who wanted a gold-mounted tandem and four-in-hand harness—technically perfect—so that she might “drive her (canine) team afield” down Bond Street and in the park.

The mistress does not carry her pet’s handkerchief ; this would be an unpardonable breach of canine etiquette. The perfumed cambric or silken square is coquettishly stuck in Fido’s own coat pocket, so that it may be available for use on wet days, when those low omnibuses, carts, and cabs splash so horribly.

Maltese dandy dog Strand

The little Maltese here shown is called “Dandy”—appropriately enough ; and he is dressed quietly and neatly, but in the best of taste—as these things go. His coat— colour photography is still a thing of the future—is of crimson velvet lined with white silk; and he has a nice curb-chain bracelet, worth five guineas, on his left paw. In winter Dandy wears a fur coat; and I may say that these garments are usually lined with seal and sable, their cost ranging up to ten or fifteen guineas.

Dogs’ bracelets or bangles cost, in gold, from two to ten guineas each; and in silver from 15s. to 3os. In Paris, these ornaments are frequently seen studded with precious stones, rendering the pet a most desirable piece of portable property. And the gems used vary according to the breed of dog.

Why, the very combs and brushes used on canine toilet-tables are as costly as choice of materials can make them. The hair-brushes are specially designed so that the hairs stand at a certain angle, thus facilitating the treatment of tangled (natural) coats. Three or four large brushes are first used ; then come the finer kinds, and lastly the combs, which are made in steel, silver, buffalo-horn, and tortoise-shell. The brushes cost from 5s. to 10s. 6d. each (dog’s name in gold or silver extra, of course); and the cheaper kind of combs are sold at Barrett’s for 3s.6d. and 5s. 6d.

silver collars for big dogs Strand

Fastidious folk sometimes design collars in silver or gold for their own dogs; and big dogs often have solid silver collars made for them; notice two of these in the next picture.

The fact is, money is literally no object where aristocratic pet dogs are concerned.

gold and silver dog couples and bracelets Strand

Mr. Barrett tells me he has often made muzzles in gold and silver—as though such would be more tolerable than the “regulation patter” ; also leaders consisting of long chains of fine gold, and golden couples for promenading with pairs of dogs. A number of gold and silver couples and pretty bracelets are shown in the above illustration; it will be seen that the last-named ornaments lock on the dogs’ paws, thus obviating to certain extent the annoyance of periodical loss of valuable jewellery. By the way, anyone who has seen a lady trying to lead two playful pet dogs in the West-end will at once appreciate the use of the couples.

drawing room basket for dog Strand

In the accompanying photograph is depicted a dog-basket or drawing-room lounge. It is lined with seal-skin and trimmed with bright red satin to match the decorations of the apartment. These baskets are also made by Barrett’s, lined with satin, plush, and brocade. Baskets are now being ordered which can be attached to cycles, so that the mistress can take her own daily exercise and give her beloved pet an airing at one and the same time.

The well-being of these toy dogs is studied to a truly amazing degree. What could possibly be more comical than the fully-equipped canine dandy here shown? This black-and-tan terrier is dressed for a morning call with his mistress, who will leave her pet’s card as well as her own, this extraordinary custom being considered necessary if there happens to be a toy dog at the house about to be visited.

a morning call dog with collar and calling cards Strand

Look at the little animal’s quaint tie and collar; and his card-case, sticking out of the front of his coat. The fair Parisienne, on hearing of ordinary sober English customs, is contemptuously amused, and probably exclaims: “Mais c’est drôle.” But the leaving of her dog’s card on a fellow-pet during the morning drive—this she considers in no wise funny.

And yet this fashion is now fairly with us; and, absurd as it is, there are still more outrageous canine modes to follow.

Here you have a good view of wet weather dogs’ boots: pretty little rubber goloshes, with black studs or buttons. Our artist photographed the set at Messrs. Atloff and Norman’s, in Bond Street. The boot for big occasions, however, is that shown in the next illustration; you may see the original for yourself at Barrett’s, in Piccadilly. This boot is of soft brown Russia, with a nice silk lace to match; the set of four is made to measure for two guineas. The rubber goloshes are sometimes worn by rheumatic dogs; others wear them because, while in London, they suffer from a foot complaint caused by the metallic grit on the roads.

The Strand Magazine 1896

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil can hardly think what to add to this exhaustive catalogue of luxury for dandy dogs, except that she has previously written about dog calling cards.

 

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.

 

Martha Washington’s Preserved Pears: 1912

What is perhaps the most valuable jar of preserved pears in the world is in the possession of J. W. Mossburg, and is on exhibition at his restaurant on Pennsylvania avenue.

It Is a bushel jar. and was preserved, it is said, in 1760 by Martha Washington. Mr. Mossburg purchased the pears five years ago for 50 cents, and was not aware at the time that they had such a famous history.

He has recently learned from several men who attended the Philadelphia exposition in 1873 that they were on exhibition there, and from that fact he has traced their history back to the days of Martha Washington. They were preserved, it is believed, in 1760 in an earthen jar, and were never unsealed until they were transferred from the earthen jar to the glass one which now holds them, for the purpose of showing them at the  Philadelphia exposition.

Tracing Pear’s History.

According to John M. Boulter, of Philadelphia, who remembers seeing the pears at the exposition, they were removed to Philadelphia by Ali Benson, an old slave of the Washington’s immediately after the burning of the White House. It is said that when the slave was driving his load, he was held up by some British soldiers and forced to give up several Jars of the pears and some rare old wine. It was several days before he got the rest of his load to Philadelphia, and gave them to John C. Mailer, a friend of the Washington family, who was to keep them until the war was over.

When, at the close of the war, most of the pears were brought back to Washington, several Jars were left as a present to Mr. Mailer. At the time of the Philadelphia Centennial they were brought to light by Mrs. Eilen C. Haller, a descendant of John Haller, who showed them at the exposition.

martha washington's pears

Sold to Woman.

After the exposition was over the pears were sold to Mrs. John J. Keenan, of Baltimore. The price is said to have been $2,000. After the death of Mrs. Keenan’s husband, the pears were sold by the executors of the estate to Charles Sensencsy, of Washington, and their value seems to have been forgotten.

Mr. Mossburg considers the pears almost invaluable, and says he has refused an offer of $300 for them, and several offers of less amounts. The pears are perfectly solid, and so carefully were they preserved that even those touching the sides of the jar do not appear to have been at all flattened.

Society Wants Them.

Judge Charles S. Bundy. a prominent member of the Oldest Inhabitants Association of the District of Columbia, will Introduce a resolution at the next meeting of that organization, requesting that it take some action toward securing the jar of pears. Judge Bundy believes that such a valuable relic should not be owned privately, but should either be brought back to Mt. Vernon or put into the hands of some patriotic organization.

“These pears, preserved by Martha Washington In 1760, are In my opinion, one of the most valuable relics in the country,” declared Judge Bundy yesterday, “imagine having in our possession, in these modern days, a sample of the cookery of Martha Washington nearly 152 years old! Every precaution should be taken to safeguard the relic, and I for one am strongly In favor of having the pears taken over by some patriotic organization or cared for by the Government.”

Mr. Mossberg recognizes the propriety of having the fruit in possession of some patriotic organization, but at the same time felt that it was not an impropriety for him to retain possession of them as long as he allowed the public to view It freely.

Mossburg’s Position.

“You can readily appreciate my position In this matter,” he said yesterday. “The pears are, so far as I know, the only surviving examples of the cookery of Mrs., Washington. For that reason I am not over willing for them to leave my possession. Of course, if some responsible public organization would take them over, and guarantee that they would not get Into private ownership again, it is possible that 1 would part with them, if they are to remain in private ownership, I, above all people am entitled to keep them.”

A letter has been received from the regents of Mt. Vernon, asking that they be allowed to Investigate the authenticity of the history of the pears. Mr. Mossburg answered the letter, stating that he was exerting every effort to procure all documents necessary to establish beyond a shadow of a doubt the verity of his relic. The pears are of the Bartlett variety, and were grown. it is believed, in the orchards of Mt. Vernon.

While the recipe used by Mrs. Washington for preserving this particular jar of pears is not positively known, there seems to be no reason for supposing it was not the same as that now In the possession of Mrs. Arvllla McDonough, of 1401 Massachusetts avenue. This recipe, in the language in which it was originally written. is as follows:

“Ye pears shoulde be very freshe. Washe and put yhem into bollng lye for on minute. Remove and put yhem Into cold water. Nexte put ye fruit into a prepared sirupe of sugar and water. Use an half pound of sugar for everie pound of ye fruit; water to dissolve. Now cook for on quarter of an hour. Remove and put on plates to cool. Boyle sirupe down to one-half  its original quantitie. Put sirupe and pears into jars and add brandy. Seal while hote.”

“If Martha Washington were alive today and attempted to use her recipe for preserving pears, she would get in trouble with the pure food experts,” said Dr. Harvey W. Wiley when discussing the recipe supposed to have belonged to Mrs. Washington, now in the possession of Mrs. Arvllla McDonough, of 1401 Massachusetts avenue northwest.

“The recipe would have been all right,” continued the expert. “It would have been excellent if she had left out the part about boiling them in lye. That is plainly in violation of the pure food laws and there was a possibility of the poison getting into the pears if the skins were not promptly removed after immersion.

“The pears now in the possession of Mr. Mossburg are, I should say, not dangerous, even if Mr. Mossburg cared to eat them, which I understand he does not. The immersion in brandy for so many years has probably purified them even if they did originally become poisoned.”

The Washington [DC] Times 11 September 1912: p. 8

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Happily, in time for those of Mrs Daffodil’s readers in the States who celebrate Presidents Day, there has been quite a stir about the newly discovered Washington pears, said to have been “put up,” by Martha Washington herself.

From the time of the United States Centennial in 1876, the public was fascinated with the Revolutionary period and with relics of the early days of the United States. Martha Washington, in particular, was an object of reverence, as the Mother of Her Country. Exhibitions and reports on garments, weapons, locks of hair, and jewellery worn or owned by the Washington family filled the newspapers. There was also something of a “colonial revival” in dress, which had the disastrous result that many genuine 18th-century garments were altered for fancy dress, pageants, or “Lady Washington teas.”  (Mrs Daffodil has previously written of a disastrous attempt to organise such an entertainment, as well as a young lady who deceived the Concord Ball with a “genuine” 18th-century gown aged with the assistance of coffee and camphor.)

As for the “verity” of the Washington pears, Mrs Daffodil cannot find any independent evidence that the famous pears were any more than a canny marketing device on the part of Mr. Mossburg, the owner of the Cafe Florentine.

Mrs Daffodil has just been quietly taken aside by a kindly friend who points out that the recent thrilling discovery was actually of General Washington’s hairsfound by Archivist John Meyers in an ancient book at Union College in Schenectady, New York. Mrs Daffodil, who, distinctly heard “pears,” regrets the error.

Here is Susan Holloway Scott, author of I, Eliza Hamilton, on the fascinating “back story” of the Washington hair.

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.

What To Name Your Dog: 1875

 

laddie boy collar harding dog

Dog collar given by the citizens of Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1923, to “Laddie Boy,” President Warren G. Harding’s Airedale terrier.

DOG’ S NAMES.

It seems as if nine-tenths of the dogs in the world were named ‘Sport,’ ‘Jack,’ or ‘Maje,’ but there is really about as much variety in dogs’ names as in the names of persons, as any dog-license book would show. Of the first hundred and fifty dogs licensed this year in a New England town, which is a pretty good sample of the common run of dogs every where, ‘Jack’ and ‘Prince,’ or “Prinny,’ were the names that come oftenest; next in number were the ‘Majors;’ fourth, ‘Pink’ or ‘Pinky’ (the idea of a pink dog!) fifth, ‘Fanny;’ sixth, ‘Spot;’ seventh, ‘Tiger’ or Tige; eighth, ‘Rover.’ If you want to find an original or uncommon name for a dog, don’t select either of these. There was a sprinkling of Skip, Ned, Victor, Grip, Beauty, Carlo, Watch, Spring, Hero, Fido, Sport, Billy, and Dick, which are rather common dog names.  The dog that led off the book was named John Thomas and the next was Jim Thomas. some of the odd names are Muff, Sailor, Vivat, Richard the III., Spider, Satan, Aebah, Toix, Ned, Berty, Delphi, Fooley, Ruff, Lee, Robin, Commodore, Beno, Crib, Tigertown, Dandy, Smoke, Benjamin, Pussy, Victory-Joe, Chess, Crill, and Ventor. It don’t seem to be very hard to find names enough for a dog

The Christian Recorder [Philadelphia PA] 14 October 1875

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  It is, Mrs Daffodil is given to understand, the beginning of the Chinese “Year of the Dog.” It behooves us to give our canine friends names both dignified and reflective of the animal’s character.  But just as there are trends in baby names, fads in dog names come and go.

NAMING THE DOG.

It is fairly easy to find a name for a baby. But ingenuity, judging by results, often fails hopelessly before the task of finding a name for the new pup.

What a rush there will be in the Dog Star when the roll is called, and Spot hears that it is time to wag his tail. There are a dozen Spots in every street, and the funny things is, half of them are not Spot at all. I know a black Spot, and a snow-white one. Jacks are legion. I think many dogs are born Jack; good, honest, clumsy fellows who never resent a whacking or turn away from a bone. There are Rovers who wouldn’t dream of roving. Rover is usually a large, patient, obedient person. Scamps and Rascals are hard, scrabbling little scraps. Tinker is always a fighter. Nell is—well. Nell is Nell; not much at morals, but a good one for a rabbit. The really correct way to name your dog, of course, is to make a portmanteau word or a pun out of his parents’ names. Thus the son of Luffin and Sarah might called Sally Lunn, but many poor dogs have worse names than these.

Hound names go by initials. All the litters from one dam keep to their own letter. It is almost an impertinence to choose traditional hound-names for the house dog, though Dexter, Bluebell, Farmer, Bugler, and the rest are tempting to borrow. But it is better to call the dog Spot and be done with it than to let yourself in for the ignominy of yelling some absurd freak of originality in public thoroughfares. Would any self-respecting dog be seen to come to heel to the mortifying call of ‘Fatty-boy, good dog!” or “Bunty-Boodles!” or “Baldwin! —which I actually heard the other day, whether in compliment to a statesman or an apple I can’t decide. Whichever it was Baldwin took not the slightest notice.—Daily Chronicle.

Otago Daily Times 7 May 1926: p. 15

Baldwin, Mrs Daffodil notes, was Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. Heroes were often the inspiration for dog names, such as “Balto,” “Dewey” and “Togo.”

There are certain English names for dogs that have meanings that might be given when appropriate. Alan means a hound; Ashur, black; Blanco, white; Crispin, curly; Duncan, brown; Julius, soft haired; Leonard, lionlike; Linus, flaxen haired; Rufus, red; Vivian, lively; Clara, bright; Constance, loyal; Joyce, sportive. Such names as Scud, Rover, Dart and Patter are suggestive in themselves. Two classic names suitable for dogs are Biteou and Lixus.

St Albans [VT] Daily Messenger 23 February 1907: p. 6

Of course, there will always be owners who insist on unusual or “joke” names. President James A. Garfield, of the United States, for instance, had a Newfoundland dog named “Veto” in honour of an 1879 veto by President Hayes of which Mr. Garfield had approved.

“Fishing?” inquired a man as he passed.

“Yes,” answered the boy.

“Nice dog you’ve got; what’s his name?”

“Fish,” replied the boy.

“Fish? That’s a queer name for a dog. What do you call him that for?”

“’Cause he won’t bite.”

Evening Star 31 December 1910: p. 6

 

Yet, sometimes one hits just the right note:

“What is the name of your dog?”

“Macbeth.”

“That’s a curious name for a dog.”

“He howls a great deal at night. Got the idea from that quotation, ‘Macbeth doth murder sleep.’”

The Greensboro [SC] Daily News 16 July 1916: p. 15

 

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 Dress-Maker’s Lover: 1879

The Dress-Maker’s Lover.

Cupid is at work again in our community, and this time he has rammed an arrow right through the swain, but it seems has only tickled the gay young dress-maker a little with the feathered end of his dart. The following poem written by the victim tells the whole story:

Only this one dear boon I ask,

That you will give me your a dress,

That in your smiles I yet may basque,

And gain new life at each caress.

 

The blushes mantle on your cheeks;

Deny me not, it’s dread foulard;

I’ve pressed my suit for days and weeks,

And sent you letters by the yard

 

Oft at your feet I’ve knelt and braid,

But you have cut me short and square;

It lace with you, but I’m a frayed

You will not make up to me fair.

 

It’s sashy pale has grown my face,

Though all things look most navy blue;

I’ll collar mine, or I will face

Whatever evils may ecru.

The State Rights Democrat [Albany, OR] 19 September 1879: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  A Valentine’s effusion of the most cutting pattern…. It is obvious that the speaker considers himself incom-pleat without his be-stitching companion. Mrs Daffodil feels that he is waist-ing his time. A man who took such liberties with the language would be ill-suited to matrimony and without stay-ing power. He might wish to so-lace himself with Mr Hugh Rowley’s jokes:

Why is love like Irish poplin?

Because it’s half stuff.

Why is a deceptive woman like a seamstress?

Because she is not what she seams!

Puniana, Hugh Rowley, 1867: p. 213-4

Mrs Daffodil wishes her readers the happiness of loving and being loved on this Valentine’s Day.

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.

Dr Graham’s Whirl-wind Courtship: 1850s

Abraham_Solomon_-_First_Class_-_The_Meeting___And_at_first_meeting_loved___-_Google_Art_Project

First Class, The Meeting–And At First Meeting, Loved, Abraham Solomon, 1855

A Very Short Courtship

Dr. Graham having passed a very creditable examination before the Army Medical Board, was commissioned an assistant surgeon in the United States army in 18__, and ordered to report for duty to the commanding officer at Fort M’Kavett, Texas.

There were no railroads In the western country at that time and the usual way of getting to Texas was by the Mississippi river to New Orleans, and then crossing the Gulf to stage It up through the State.

Dr. Graham was very desirous of examining the western country mineralogically, so applied and received permission from the War Department to go by way of Arkansas and the Indian Territory to his post.

On his arrival at St. Louis he shipped the greater part of his baggage by way of the river, and taking only what he could carry on horseback, started on his journey.

While in St. Louis, at the Planter’s Hotel, he formed the acquaintance of a gentleman, who, learning where he was going, gave him a letter of introduction to his brother, who was a farmer living on his route to Arkansas.

It is not necessary for us to follow him on his road, or tell what discoveries he made in the interest of science; sufficient it is that one day, toward dusk, he reached the house of the gentleman to whom he had the letter, and dismounted, knocked at the door and presented his letter to the judge (even in those days every one was a judge in Arkansas), who would not have needed it to have accorded him an open-handed welcome; for travelers were a God-send and news was as much sought after then as now.

After a short visit, he proposed to go on to the next town, about four miles off, where he intended to put up for the night. The judge would not listen to his leaving, and was so cordial in his desire for him to stay that he would have been rude not to have done so.

The judge, after directing one of the servants to attend to his horse, invited him into the dining room, where he was introduced to the wife and daughter of his host, and also to a substantial western supper, to which he did ample justice.

After supper they adjourned to the parlor, and he entertained his new-made friends with the latest news from the outside world. The judge brewed some stiff whisky punch, which Graham, socially inclined, imbibed quite freely. The old couple retired, and left their daughter to entertain him; and whether it was the punch, or what, at all events he made hot love to her, and finally asked her to be his wife and go to Texas with him, to which she consented. She being very unsophisticated and innocent, took everything he said in downright earnest, and with her it was a case of “love at first sight.”

But I am anticipating. During the night our friend, the doctor, woke up, and remembered what he had said, and it worried him; but he said to himself, after emptying his water pitcher:

“Never mind, I’ll make it all right in the morning. I must have made a fool of myself. She’s lovely, but what must  she not think of me!” and rolled over and went to sleep again.

Morning came, and upon his going to the parlor, he found the young lady alone, for which he blessed his lucky stars, and was just about to make an apology, when she said:

“I told mamma, and she said it was all right,” at the same time giving him a kiss which nearly took his breath away. “Papa is going to town this morning, dear, and you ride in with him and talk it over; but he won’t object, I know.”

“But, my dear miss, I was very foolish, and—“

“No, indeed; you were all right.”

“Well, I will go to my post, and return for you, for I must go on at once.’

“No, I can go with you.”

“You won’t have the time.”

“Oh, yes, I will. Papa will fix that. It would be such an expense for you to come back all the way here.”

“But I have no way of taking you.”

“I have thought of that; that does not make any difference. Father will give us a team.”

With nearly tears in his eyes he went in to breakfast, to which at that moment both were summoned; but, alas! appetite he had none. It was not that she was not pretty and nice; but he thought what a confounded fool she must be not to see that he wanted to get out of it. But it was no use. When the judge started for town, Dr. Graham was sitting beside him. The judge saved him the trouble of broaching the subject by starting it himself:

“I always, young man, give Nell her own way; so it is all right; you need not say a word.”

“But I’ve got to go on to-day.”

The old judge turned his eyes toward him. He had an Arkansas bowie in each, and one of those double-barrel shot-gun looks as he said:

“You ain’t trying to get out of it, are you?”

The doctor, taking in the situation, said, promptly, all hope being gone:

“No, sir.”

“That’s right. I will fix everything for you; give you that black team of mine, and a light wagon to carry your wife’s things.” (here the doctor shuddered) “and a thousand as a starter. You can be married to-night, and leave early in the morning. That will suit, won’t it?”

“Yes, sir,” answered Graham, faintly. But on the judge turning toward him, he said, “yes, sir, certainly.”

“After you get fixed at your post I’ll come down and pay you a visit. I have been thinking about selling out and moving to Texas for some time; it’s getting crowded here, and things are a-moving as slow as ‘lasses in wintertime.”

Things were arranged as the old judge said. The marriage took place, and the army received an addition to its ladies in the person of the Arkansas judge’s daughter, and Dr. Graham has never regretted the obduracy of his father-in-law, or the amiable simplicity of his wife.

Marin [CA] Journal 27 March 1879: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Perhaps Mrs Daffodil wrongs young Mrs Graham, but “unsophisticated” and “amiable simplicity” are not the adjectives she would have selected.  A young lady whose Papa always gave her her own way was unlikely to have been satisfied with life on a molasses-slow Arkansas farm. She must have dreamed of the day that a dashing, sun-bronzed Army officer would come to call and partake of her father’s fatal punch. The notion of a carefully reared young lady being left to entertain a gentleman on her own also suggests a certain familial calculation.  Mrs Daffodil, for one horrified moment, thought she was witnessing the opening lines of a risque “farmer’s daughter” anecdote….  But the “hot love” was, we are assured by the context and the fact that the Marin Journal was a family newspaper, probably no more than an innocent spot of waist-encircling or tiny-hand-pressing. It is rather a relief to learn that it all worked out so well. Young ladies who are used to their own way often do not take kindly to martial or marital discipline. But one suspects that Nell was far from being a “confounded fool.”

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.