The Comte and Comtesse X: 1912

The Woman of Fashion, James Tissot

The Woman of Fashion, James Tissot

[The narrator writes from Paris.]

Amongst the upper classes it is not an unknown thing for Madame to have un ami, and, as for Monsieur, he very frequently has his chere amie.

This is not considered scandalous in Paris, and I am bound to mention it — to ignore it would be to ignore actuality. The fact of having a lover does not make the Parisienne neglect her home or children or husband, and Monsieur’s petite affaire de coeur does not make his treatment of his wife any less charming. Sometimes the whole world knows of these “friends,” and the virtuous Anglo-Saxon shrivels up with horror when they are casually mentioned. Apropos of this common acceptance of the state of things, I must tell here a story that set tout Paris chattering last year.

The Comte and Comtesse X were excellent friends, well-known Society leaders, and very delightful people. The Comtesse’s “friend” was a man of their set, tres smart, tres distingue. One day Madame was very sad, and her husband noticed it — she and her “friend” had quarrelled. The next day the X’s were at the horse show. As they sat in their places, laughing and chattering with their friends, something happened which had the effect of a bomb thrown in their midst — Monsieur A, Madame’s friend, walked slowly by chattering with a notorious demi-mondaine. There was a concerned and embarrassed silence, then the Comte rose, walked up to Monsieur A and boxed his ears — for had he not insulted his wife! The resulting duel created an enormous amount of interest.

My Parisian Year, Maude Annesley, 1912

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Although dueling had been outlawed by King Louis XIII, the authorities, sympathetic to outraged honour, generally looked the other way. Mrs Daffodil can only imagine what the harvest might have been if such a thing had happened in England: the husband would have sued his unhappy wife for divorce, then plunged into a life of reckless dissipation, probably ending with a bullet to the head in a sordid hotel room on the Continent, while the wife, who bitterly regretted her indiscretion and wished herself dead, was barred from decent society and Court Drawing-rooms. While Mrs Daffodil cannot altogether approve of their taste for snails or the Impressionists, the French really do manage their domestic affairs more efficiently.

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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4 thoughts on “The Comte and Comtesse X: 1912

  1. Iva P.

    Victorian Paris is sad that Mrs Daffodil disapproves of impressionists, but her dislike for snails is fully understood by the same.

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    1. chriswoodyard Post author

      Mrs Daffodil concedes that there are a few art-works by that artistic school, particularly some studies of water-lilies, that are quite tolerable. One often fears that some of the others were painted by the proverbial “starving artist in a garret”–so poor as to be quite unable to afford the necessary attentions of an oculist. How tragic to believe that that one is accurately depicting a park, a haystack or a cathedral while the public whispers behind its hands about how their child could do better with its crayons.
      Best wishes,
      Mrs Daffodil

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      1. chriswoodyard Post author

        It is, Mrs Daffodil fully recognises, not a popular view, but Mrs Daffodil has never flinched from the Truth, no matter how seditious, except, of course, at those times where it might be necessary to tactfully divert the police from a particularly line of inquiry.

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