Category Archives: Animals

Mourning the Dandy Dog: 1896

 

a stone in the dog cemetery 1905

We have previously read of the luxuries lavished on the “dandy dogs” by their masters and mistresses. Yet, in spite of the finest food and drink and the best medical care, these beloved pets, like all of us, “must come to dust.” As we come to the end of “National Pet Week,” we continue the dandy dog narrative as found in The Strand.

 

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And yet, with all this, dandy dogs die like their humbler brethren – probably much sooner. Then comes the funeral, with its flowers, carriages, and marble monuments. I am not jesting. An illustrated article has already appeared in THE STRAND MAGAZINE on the Dogs’ Cemetery, situated, appropriately, in Hyde Park. Mr. Rotherham, the canine specialist, has an extensive burying-ground of the same kind on his property at Neasden.

Mr. Kenyon, the gentle, sympathetic undertaker of Edgware Road, tells me he was sent for in hot haste one Saturday afternoon. He was out at the time, but he called on the Sunday – thinking, of course, that he was required to take an order for the burial of an ordinary Christian. It was not so. The deceased was a pet dog that had met with a tragic death in the street beneath a coal cart. The lady tearfully explained that she wanted the body embalmed, and then placed in a glass coffin, so that she could have poor dear “Friskie” with her all days—even to the consummation of her own; the two would then be interred together. Mr. Kenyon thought this might be magnificent, but it was not business; so he declined the commission.

Mr. Rotherham knows of dozens of cases in which toy dogs have had costly funerals. Pets that die in town are usually buried at the country seat of the family. In this surgeon’s canine cemetery lies one dog that was brought from France. But here is a poetic funeral card that speaks for itself; note that it contains hopeful hints of a canine hereafter – “another place,” as they say in Parliament.

But listen to Mr. Rotherham’s record case. “A year or two ago I was called to the Grosvenor Hotel to see a dog. When I entered the room I saw a young man stretched on the hearth-rug. I thought I had been called to see him ; but I found I was mistaken. The dog was dead, the circumstances being these: The gentleman had occasion to go out, so he shut his dog in the sitting-room. The dog pro tested strongly in his absence – mainly by disfiguring the door, and driving several other visitors nearly crazy with continuous howls. When the master returned, the hotel people complained, whereupon the young gentleman proceeded to chastise his demonstrative pet – which chastisement took the form of a running kick that ended the dog’s days.

“The remorseful man’s reparation resolved itself into a gorgeous funeral. There was a purple velvet pall, two broughams (one for the coffin and one for the mourners), and three guineas’ worth of flowers—chiefly lilies of the valley. A leaden shell was made and inclosed in a polished mahogany coffin, with silver fittings and name-plate. A touch of romance was given to this unique function when, just as the leaden shell was about to be sealed up, the impetuous young fellow was seen to put in with the dog’s remains a packet of letters and a gold locket containing hair. I imagine the dog must have belonged to the chief mourner’s deceased lady-love.”

This funeral, Mr. Rotherham assures me, cost £30 or £40; and the funniest thing about it was that the surgeon himself was requested to “follow.” He consented to do this, and was forthwith provided with a white silk sash and a satin rosette. Another very interesting dog’s funeral was one carried out by a London undertaker, although the remains were to be interred in the tomb of the sorrowing master’s ancestors in Sicily. The dog’s body was, of course, embalmed ; and the headstone was sent with it.

dog's funeral card strand

A typical dog’s funeral-card is reproduced here. “Monkey” was a quaint little Yorkshire; and his mistress — an enormously rich woman, and a great believer in Sir Henry Thompson – had his remains cremated. “Monkey’s” cinerary urn, shown in the accompanying photograph, probably represents the very highest pinnacle of (deceased) Dandy Dog-dom. It cost six hundred guineas, being in the form of a solid tortoise-shell sedan chair, enameled all over the front and sides in the most costly manner, and inlaid with brilliants, rubies, emeralds, and pearls; the extremities of the handles are simply incrusted with jewels.

dog's Monkey cinerary urn, cost 600 Guineas

Inside is a gold-mounted crystal jar, with a monogram in diamonds; this contains the ashes. It is surmounted by a skull. The name of the departed pet is perpetuated by the monkey seen on top of the casket; and in his paw he holds a fine pearl. This casket was made by Messrs. A. Barrett and Sons, of 63 and 64, Piccadilly; of course, it was an exceptional order, but Mr. H. Barrett tells me that the firm ordinarily make cinerary urns, ranging in price from £10 to £250, for holding the ashes of cremated pet dogs.

In conclusion it may be said that pet dogs are treated by their mistresses almost precisely as though they were human members of the family; the only discrepancy in the analogy being that it is horribly bad form for a lady to drive in the park with her baby by her side, while the presence of a pompous pug or a toy terrier is irreproachably correct.

The Strand Magazine 1896

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Despite the sorrowful sentiments expressed, Mrs Daffodil finds “Monkey’s” cinerary urn arrangement to be both absurdly costly and macabre. Expensive funerals for beloved pets were frequently featured in the press. Dogs were thus honoured.

Fine Funeral of a Pet Pug.

Paris is laughing over the extravagant funeral of the pet dog of an American family residing in the gay capital. The body was placed in two caskets, one of oak, the other leaden, conveyed in a hearse covered with flowers to Vaucresson, and there buried. A number of mourners in carriages followed the hearse to the cemetery, and a monument costing $300 was erected over the grave, the total expenditure for the funeral amounting to over $500.  Edgefield [SC] Advertiser 20 February 1895: p. 1

So were cats.

Funeral for Cat

With more pomp and ceremony, perhaps, than ever marked the obsequies of any animal buried in New Haven, Conn., the pet cat of Mrs. William Gay, a wealthy woman, was recently interred. Laid out in a pink silk-lined coffin, with catnip spread around the remains, a big pink silk bow at his throat and fastened to the collar with silver bells, Sonny was buried I a grave dug in the garden by the janitor of the apartment house. Mr. and Mrs. Gay, who believe their pet was poisoned by some one  in the neighborhood, attended the ceremony.

In life Sonny was cared for like a baby, being given the best of food and sleeping in a little bed, snugly tucked in between specially made sheets, with blankest of the same size and with downy pillows for his head. Given a bath and combed every evening by Mrs. Gay, his shiny fur was soft as down. The Silver Messenger [Challis ID] 20 January 1903: p. 6

girl with dead canary Greuze

Girl with Dead Canary, Greuze

And even canaries:

Shoddy made a pretty good exhibition of itself in Philadelphia this week at the funeral of a pet canary. The coffin was of walnut, mounted with silver handles, and screw-heads, and upon it was a cross of white flowers with the inscription in rose-letters, “We mourn thee.” The little boy who was to read the funeral service broke down at the moment he was encouraging his hearers to bear their loss with fortitude, and the other children joined in his sobs. Even older people, who had drawn to the scene by curiosity, were affected. Next Sunday they will put up marble grave-stones with an appropriate inscription, over the resting place. The coffin cost $10, the flowers $6, and the gravestones cannot be had short of $10. The Buffalo [NY] Commercial 4 May 1878: p. 2

Mimi Matthews, the author of The Pug That Bit Napoleon has written this excellent piece on dog funerals in the late Victorian era.

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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Fashions in Horse-flesh: 1864

Bristow, Edmund, 1787-1876; Lady Katherine Molyneux's Pony Carriage

Lady Katherine Molyneux’s Pony Carriage, Edmund Bristow, 1840s

FASHIONS IN HORSE FLESH.

(FROM THE LONDON REVIEW.)

The latest fashion of the day is the pony mania. No lady of ton is now complete without her park phaeton and her couple of high stepping ponies. The country has been ransacked for perfect animals of this class for the London market. High action is chiefly sought after and perfection of match. For a pair of park ponies, 300gs. is a price readily obtained. When “Anonyma” first started this fashion the dealers little estimated their value; indeed, the Chancellor of the Exchequer having withdrawn their exemption from the horse tax, their diminutive size, instead of enhancing their value, rather detracted from it, and the breed would possibly have died out. This new whim, however, was a perfect godsend to them. The reader will not be a little astonished to hear that our leading fashionables have started a Ladies’ Pony Club, and just as the four- in-hands jingle along the procession to the Star and Garter, so the lady whips, with their high -stepping ponies, their parasols mounted on their whips, fancy gauntlets and white ribbons, trot down to the same locality in a bright hue to eat “maids of honour.”

The grey ponies in the royal stud are also another testimony to the growing taste for the small compact animals. As we shall show in a future article, these ponies are one of the leading features of the royal stables. The Highland rambles of the young princes and princesses first necessitated this addition to the Queen’s stables, and now it would appear to be continued from choice, as the Prince of Wales invariably when driving himself employs these sturdy grey cobs, whose superb action must be well known to those accustomed to see him drive down the Kew road, on his way to Frogmore.

Weight-carrying cobs have long been favourite animals in this country, but of late the demand for them has been so much on the increase that they can scarcely be got for love or money. Country gentleman rising fourteen stone, and wanting something quiet, will give any money for them. We see now and then one of these fast-walking cobs, making his way over the tan in Rotten Row at a spanking pace, with an old gentleman on his back whose size is enough to make the looker-on perspire. Yet the little cob, with his splendid deep shoulder and strong legs, is as firm under him as a castle. There is a very strong dash of the Suffolk punch in all of these well-bred cobs. Two hundred and fifty guineas is often obtained by the London dealers for a sound specimen of this much sought for class of animal.

The little Shetland pony as shaggy as a bear, and not much bigger than a Newfoundland dog, is fast disappearing from the ride. We used to see him often with his double panniers filled with rosy children swaying about, but of late years not so frequently. The fact is this diminutive race is dying out fast, and even in the Shetland Islands he is now a comparatively rare animal.

The Exmoor pony is more than taking its place. This, the last remnant of the indigenous British horse, is now becoming a famous breed. Some forty years ago this hardy little animal was crossed with Arab breed, and by rigidly adhering to the selection of fine animals for breeding stock, some rare ponies are now finding their way to the market. These animals from the time of being foaled run absolutely wild over the hills and dales of Exmoor, or at least that portion of it which, has been surrounded by forty miles of wall by the late Mr Knight, of Simons Bath; consequently, they are splendid in wind and limb, and when caught and sold by auction are absolutely free from those weaknesses which are inseparable from horses reared and confined in hot stables. The size of these animals has been much increased by the Arab blood, and they average twelve hands with small well-made heads and limbs— spirited little fellows, just suited for boy’s riding or in the pony phaeton in which they are now so often found.

Taranaki [NZ] Herald 22 October 1864: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil has heard much from the stable-men about ponies and their tempers and pets. One went so far as to express the opinion that “Ponies are evil.”

Still, they have their uses:

Ostrich feathers are a positive craze this season and they appear in strange and wonderful guises. One of the feather manufacturers in New York has advertised his wares in odd and attractive fashion by having two tiny ponies decked with bells and plumes (three Prince of Wales feathers fastened to the head of each wee horse) harnessed to a miniature carriage in the form of a huge milliner’s box. A black boy in livery sits behind the box and a girl attired in a long, light driving coat and wearing a different feather-trimmed hat every day sits in front and rives the spirited pair. The livery of the boy and the feathers in the hat of the driver and on the heads of the little horses always match perfectly, for the object of the advertisers is as much to prove their skill at dyeing as to display the different kinds of feathers that they sell. Arkansas Gazette [Little Rock AR] 28 May 1911: p. 41

“Anonyma” referenced above, was Catherine Walters, courtesan de luxe and “pretty horse-breaker,” also known as “Skittles.” She and her fellow equestriannes set the fashions in sporting costumes and carriages. This snippet from The Times, 3 July 1862, pg. 12 describes something of the sensation she caused:

Early in the season of 1861, a young lady…made her appearance in Hyde Park. She was a charming creature, beautifully dressed, and she drove with ease and spirit two of the handsomest brown ponies eye ever beheld. Nobody in society had seen her before; nobody in society knew her name, or to whom she belonged; but there she was, prettier, better dressed, and sitting more gracefully in her carriage than any of the fine ladies who envied her looks, her skill, or her equipage….

The fashionable world eagerly migrated in search of her from the Ladies’ Mile to the Kensington Road. The highest ladies in the land enlisted themselves as her disciples. Driving became the rage. Three, four, five, six hundred guineas were freely given for pairs of ponies, on the simple condition that they should be as handsome as Anonyma’s, that they should show as much breeding as Anonyma’s, that they should step as high as Anonyma’s. If she wore a pork-pie hat, they wore pork-pie hats; if her paletot was made by Poole, their paletots were made by Poole; if she reverted to more feminine attire, they reverted to it also. Where she drove they followed; and I must confess that, as yet, Anonyma has fairly distanced her fair competitors. They can none of them sit, dress, drive, or look as well as she does; nor can any of them procure for money such ponies as Anonyma contrives to get—for love…

The Caledonian Mercury [Edinburgh Scotland] 5 July 1862: p. 5

Previously we have looked at the fine points of hearse horses and seen what comes of a burning desire to keep a carriage.

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.

An Up-to-Date Dog: 1897

A DAY IN  THE LIFE OF AN UP-TO-DATE DOG.

Dreadful dream this morning! Thought I was sitting at a cold, draughty street corner, with nothing on but a leather collar, and a tin mug in my mouth, collecting coppers for a  common, vulgar blind person. Most degrading! Intensely relieved, on waking, to find myself in my own comfortable padded basket. Had kicked the quilt off, and somehow managed to wriggle out of my nightgown. Talking of my nightgowns, whomever embroidered my monogram on them might have done it in two colours instead of only one. So much more chic.

After breakfast, to Toilet Club with Robert. Curling-tongs not warm enough. Obliged to complain sharply of carelessness of new assistant, who snipped nearly half the tuft off one of my haunches! Sprayed with a new scent, which, personally, I don’t care about. Dog shaved just before me wearing rather a smart overcoat, trimmed with fur, and having side-pockets for handkerchief, brush, &c. Asked him who his tailor was. Said he forgot the name—only fellow in town who really knew how to cut an overcoat. Just like my Old Woman, not to have heard of him! Catch her standing me a fur overcoat! Some dogs have all the luck!

Looked in at jeweller’s on way home. Bangle done, at last. Not bad; looks rather well on left front paw, though I don’t see why I shouldn’t have one on each leg while I’m about it. At all events she might have made it gold! However, I suppose a silver bracelet is considered good enough for me.

Tried on tan shoes at bootmaker’s. Well enough for country wear, but hardly the thing for town. Mr. Ferdie Frivell’s principal poodle told me himself that he wouldn’t be seen in Piccadilly in anything but patent leathers. And though Zulu may be rather an ass in some ways, I will say this for him—there aren’t many poodles as well turned out, or who can tell you what’s right and what isn’t right (if you know what I mean) better than old Zulu can. Brown shoes to walk about town with. That’s just one of those distinctions women don’t seem able to grasp!

Tete-a-tete lunch with the Old Woman. Wore my navy-blue lounge-coat, and cerise bow in my top-knot. O.W. boring, as usual. Wouldn’t let me have second helping of stewed chicken. Told Robert – in my presence—that I was “getting much too stout.” So is she—but she had some more chicken! I do not wish to break with her unless I’m absolutely compelled, but I cannot live happily under a roof where I don’t feel that my merits are properly appreciated. And really, to have personal remarks made upon one’s figure, to a menial–! She thought she could make it up afterwards by calling me a “Diddy-iddy-duckums”—but that was entirely beside the point, and she need not have spilt some coffee on my best morning jacket.

Drive with the O.W. Called on Lady Ida Downey, who was not at home. Robert was told to leave one of my visiting-cards on her Japanese spaniel, Mousme, a conceited, pampered little black and white beast, whom I have rather gone out of my way to snub. Much annoyed, because this sort of thing puts a poodle in such a thoroughly false position; but of course my Old Woman doesn’t consider that!

Stopped at confectioner’s for sweets. It’s a very curious thing, considering how long she’s known me, but the Old Lady never can get it into her head that I infinitely prefer fondants to chocolate creams! Is this native stupidity on her part, or merely want of observation?

My fawn-coloured driving-coat, with braided facings, seems to attract a good deal of notice; it certainly does suit me. How so many dogs can bring themselves to go about as they do in a state of Nature I simply can’t understand. If I was in their place, I should die of shame, I really believe. I should certainly catch a severe cold.

In the evening, as it seems to-day is my birthday, I entertain a few intimate friends at tea. Not a very successful party, somehow. Frisette put her foot into my saucer, and wolfed up all the apricot sandwiches—which got on my nerves. Goggles and I had a little difference about the last macaroon. As his host I suppose it would have been in better taste not to make my teeth meet in the curl of his tail; but no one knows how provoking a pug can be, till he’s tried!

One stuck-up little terrier tried to show off by sitting up and nursing a rag doll between his forepaws, which was really more than I could stand.

The party broke up rather prematurely, in a general row, after which I discovered that my black satin dress-coat with the rose-coloured lining was torn all down the back. I shall never be able to wear it again!

To bed, heavy and depressed, feeling tired of life and much troubled at night by biliousness, which is all the Old Lady’s fault for not keeping a French cook. The sort of slops Mrs. Harricoe sends up are enough to ruin any dog’s constitution!

Ah, well, some day—when they have lost me—they’ll be sorry they didn’t study me a little more.

Punch’s Almanack for 1897

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  It is the beginning of something called “National Pet Week,” in the States. We have previously read of the excesses of the pampered “Dandy Dogs” of the metropolis. The dandy dog of the account above, unnamed, save for the revolting “Diddy-iddy-duckums,” sounds an unpleasantly conceited, thoroughly spoilt canine.  Should his mistress learn of his complete contempt for her (“Old Lady,” indeed!) Mrs Daffodil would wager he would find himself on that cold street-corner, begging a crust, before he could say “morning coat.”

 

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 Velvet Coat: 1883

oscar wilde velvet coat

The Velvet Period

A Notable Season in the life of Every Young Man.

A couple of old fellows were standing in front of the Plankington House, smoking five cent cigars, one evening, when a young fellow passed along with a velvet coat on, and before he had got out of sight, an old fellow about sixty years old passed the same place, and he had on a velvet coat. One of the two old fellows knocked the ashes off his cigar, and said: “It catches them all, sooner or later.’ ‘

“What do you mean?” asked the other, as he borrowed his friend’s cigar to light his own.

“Why, the velvet coat period,” said the first man, as he took his cigar back, and puffed on it to keep it going. “Every man, some time in his life, either as boy or man, sees a time when he thinks the world will cease to revolve on its axis if he does not have a velvet coat, and he is bound to have one if he has to steal the money to buy it. It is bad enough for a boy to have the period come on, but it is infinitely worse to escape it in youth and have it attack a man in middle life, but it always hits them, some time. Now, you wouldn’t think, to look at me that I ever had the velvet coat fever, but I had it once in its most violent form.

“About twenty years ago, at the time of the oil excitement, I made a little money in oil, and I got to thinking how I could show how I was no ordinary son of man, and all at once it struck me that a velvet coat could do it for me, and 1 had a surveyor measure me, and had a velvet coat made. I was anxious to have it done so I could put it on and go around among the boys, but when it was done and had been brought home, I all at once lost my grip, and could hardly get up courage to put it on. I let it lay for a week, until my people got to making fun of me about being afraid to wear it, and finally I put it on and wore it down town after dark. Only a few people saw it, and I went home feeling satisfied that the worst was over. What I wanted was to have the community get accustomed to it gradually.  After a while I wore it to my office on days that I was to be busy, so I knew I wouldn’t have to go around town. After the boys in the office got so they could witness my coat without going behind a partition to laugh at me, I concluded to wear it on the street.

“Well, there was an organ grinder with a monkey, out on the sidewalk, when I went out, and the beastly Italian had on an old velvet coat, like mine, only soiled. The monkey was jumping around, picking up pennies, and all at once he saw me. I shall never forget the expression on that monkey’s face. He seemed to take me for his master, and clearly realized that his master had procured a new coat without asking the consent of his little brother. There was a look of pain, as though the monkey felt hurt that such duplicity had been practiced on him, and then the monkey would look at the clothes in which he was dressed up with contempt, and then he would look at my coat with envy. I never felt so sorry for a monkey in all my life. I could stand it to hear strangers say, as I passed by, ‘What fool is that?’ but to see that poor monkey grieve over the style I was putting on was too much, and I resolved if I ever got that coat home I would put it where it could never be seen again. The organ-grinder became alarmed at the actions of the monkey, and jerked on the chain, causing the monkey to tum a back summersault, and the poor animal came up standing in front of his master. He looked at him, and seemed to be at once reassured, and to feel that the apparition was only a horrid dream, and then he looked over his shoulder toward where I had stood, to make sure, and there I was in all my glory. Then the monkey was mad and began to make up faces at me, and I got out of there and went home, with shouts of the monkey’s audience sounding in my ears, and I took off that coat and gave it to the man that took care of my horse, and I never see a velvet coat, either on a boy or man, but I think of what a confounded fool I made of myself in my Oscar Wilde days. If you have a boy, teach him to go through the velvet coat period young, and he will thank his stars.’–Peck’s Sun.

The True Southron [Sumter, SC] 6 November 1883: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: “Oscar Wilde days,” indeed. Mrs Daffodil has known two gentlemen who went through a velvet coat period: one was an elegant professor of French, whose students all sighed for him; the other was a fair young man with the pale tresses and long nose of a borzoi. The garments are undoubtedly becoming to their owners, and young ladies seem desirous of petting them, but too often a velvet coat brands a young man as “artistic,” with all the opprobrium so frequently directed at that species by doting Papas. Still, many gentlemen remember their velvet coats fondly. Mrs Daffodil appends a poem of nostalgia for such a garment:

My Old Coat

Mortimer Collins

This old velvet coat has grown queer, I admit,
And changed is the colour and loose is the fit;
Though to beauty it certainly cannot aspire,
’Tis a cosy old coat for a seat by the fire.

II.

When I first put it on, it was awfully swell,
I went to a pic-nic, met Lucy Lepel;
Made a hole in the heart of that sweet little girl,
And disjointed the nose of her lover, the earl.

III.

We rambled away o’er moorland together,
My coat was bright purple, and so was the heather;
And so was the sunset that blazed in the west,
As Lucy’s fair tresses were laid on my breast.

IV.

We plighted our troth ’neath that sunset aflame,
But Lucy returned to her earl all the same;
She’s a grandmamma now and is going downhill,
But my old velvet coat is a friend to me still.

V.

It was built by -a tailor of mighty renown,
Whose art is no longer the talk of the town;
A magical picture my memory weaves
When I thrust my tired arms through its easy old sleeves.

VI.

I see in the fire, through the smoke of my pipe,
Sweet maidens of old that are long over ripe;
And a troop of old cronies, right gay cavaliers,
Whose guineas paid well for champagne at Watier’s.

VII.

A strong generation, who drank, fought, and kissed,
Whose hands never trembled, whose shots never missed;
Who lived a quick life, for their pulses beat high,
We remember them well, sir, my old coat and I.

VIII.

Ah, gone is the age of wild doings at Court,
Rotten boroughs, knee-breeches, hair-triggers, and port;
Still I’ve got a magnum to moisten my throat,
And I’ll drink to the past in my old tattered coat.

Modern Merry Men: Authors in the Lighter Vein in the Victorian Era, William Andrews 1904

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.

Happy Easter from Mrs Daffodil

Mrs Daffodil wishes all of her readers the happiest of holidays accompanied by spring-tide flowers, chocolate eggs, a fetching head-dress, and fluffy animal companions.

 

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 Mechanical Puppy: 1911

 

new fad mechanical puppy

The New Mechanical Puppy

A toy dog that literally walks when one gently tugs on its leash is the fashionable fad among American maids and matrons just now. Several of these fascinating little bow-wows have made their appearance at Atlantic City and other seaside resorts, where they may be seen toddling by the side of their mistresses in absurdly amusing fashion.

The fad is of European origin, and has caught on as amazingly in the Continent as it promises to do here.

Some male critics are likely to aver that the mechanical puppy is an improvement over that of flesh and blood for a whole lot of reasons. The question now is, whether the axiom, “Love me, love my dog,” stands as good with the wheels and springs canine as it did with the one of bone and muscle.

Lexington [KY] Herald 8 July 1911: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: It is again one of those whimsical holidays when Staff does not get the day off:  “Puppy Day.”  One does indeed feel that it would be far easier to “Love me, love my dog,” with a clockwork creature that did not soil the carpets, jump upon the  furniture, or howl in the night.

An earlier canine automaton had not the soft fur and big, puppy eyes of the 1911 model, but was designed for more utilitarian purposes:

THE MECHANICAL DOG.

A Meriden (Connecticut) man has invented a mechanical watchdog for the protection of buildings. A small lamp illuminates the eyes, and, by a simple arrangement, the tail pumps a quantity of compressed air into a cylinder, which is concealed in the body of the animal. This air escapes slowly through the dog’s vicious-looking teeth in such a manner that when the animal is placed on the front porch and duly “touched off,” it growls all night in a most alarming manner.

A boarding-house keeper in Meriden experimented with the inventor’s working model, and “set” the automatic guardian inside her front gate at the hour “when churchyards yawn,” The next day it was discovered that out of eighteen of her boarders who had latchkeys sixteen slept at a hotel that night, except one inebriated sixth floorer, who indignantly smashed the model with a brick at about 3.30 a.m.

Otago Witness 10 July 1880: p. 27

 

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 Grateful Little Owl: 1880s


the little owl 1508

The Little Owl, Albrecht Durer, 1508, Albertina, Vienna

A Grateful Little Owl.

“The dining-room opened on a little courtyard under the Trinta dei Monti steps, transformed by me into a sort of infirmary and convalescent home for my various animals. Among them was a darling little owl, a direct descendant from the owl of Minerva. I had found it in the Campagna with a broken wing half dead of hunger. Its wing healed, I had twice taken it back where I had found it and set it free, twice it had flown back to my carriage to perch on my shoulder, it would not hear of our parting. Since then the little owl was sitting on her perch in the corner of the dining-room, looking lovingly at me with her golden eyes. She had even given up sleeping in the day in order not to lose sight of me. When I used to stroke her soft little person she would half close her eyes with delight and nibble gently at my lips with her tiny, sharp beak, as near to a kiss as an owl can get, Among the patients admitted to the dining-room was a very excitable young Russian lady, who was giving me lots of trouble. Would you believe it, this lady got so jealous of the owl, she used to glare at the little bird so savagely, that I had to give strict orders to Anna never to leave these two alone in the room. One day on coming in for luncheon, Anna told me that the Russian lady had just called with a dead mouse wrapped in paper. She had caught it in her room, she felt sure the owl would like it for breakfast. The owl knew better after having bitten off its head, owl fashion, she refused to eat it. I took it to the English chemist; it contained enough arsenic to kill a cat.”

The Story of San Michele, Axel Munthe, 1929: pp. 431-432

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  It is, Mrs Daffodil is reliably informed, one of the days of the “International Festival of Owls.” Mrs Daffodil is fond of the night-flying creatures despite (or perhaps because of) their folkloric reputation as an Omen of Death. And, like Mrs Daffodil, they are so helpful in keeping down vermin.

Axel Munthe, while he was an admirable doctor, is perhaps best known for his skill as a raconteur and for being a passionate advocate of animal rights. His passions also ran to the ladies; he seems to have fascinated a largish swath of the English aristocracy as well as at least one of the crowned heads of Europe. Plus a Russian lady and a little owl.

Mrs Daffodil has previously written of a pair of pet owls. You will find the first section of the two-part story here.

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.