Category Archives: Aristocracy

Posed in Wings–and a Bit of Gauze: 1903

Bagnères-de-Luchon statue vallée du Lys Lily of the Valley statue

The Newest Fashionable Folly

POSING FOR NUDE STATUES—THE MARBLE FAD GROWING IN FAVOR AMONG REPRESENTATIVES OF FRENCH SOCIETY.

[Copyrighted, 1903, by W.R. Hearst.]

Paris, Dec. 20. The marble fad is a new fashion set by women who are beautiful, titled, cultured. Those who have assisted them to make the fashion successful are sculptors of note. They present their subjects in white marble exquisitely—a Venus rising from the sea, a lily of the valley against the green of mountains, an angel with head bent in thought.

The rounded limbs, the unhidden curves, the undraped lines of Mme. La Duchesse d’Aosta, of Mme. La Duchess d’Uzes, of Mme. La Comtesse Bela Zichy are being discussed from end to end of Paris. At first everyone gasped. What! the Duchess d’Uzes, wife of the premier Duke of France, whose family has been of uninterrupted prominence since the days of the Crusades, daughter-in-law of the famous Dowager Duchess who was born in De Mortemart, daughter of the De Luynes, a family only second in antiquity to the Uzes? What!

They blinked their eyes only to be dazzled by the marble form of the Duchess d’Aosta, formerly the Princess Helene of Orleans, a Bourbon, daughter of the Count of Paris and sister of the Duke of Orleans, chief pretender of the throne of France. She, the wife of one of the royal princes of Rome, oldest cousin of the King of Italy and his heir should Victor Emmanuel have no sons—she to pose as a Venus—A Venus rising, untrammeled by draperies, out of the sea!

They gazed in amazement next to behold the American Countess Zichy, she who was once the wife of Fernando Yznaga, a sister-in-law of the Dowager Duchess of Manchester, and before that Mabel Wright—the famously beautiful Mabel Wright, of Ward McAllister’s Four Hundred. She is now the wife of Count Bela Zichy of Hungary. She is a beauty of renown, blond as the angel for which she has posed in wings—and a bit of gauze.

She is lovely, but Paris gasps all the same at the exhibit.

Conventionality At A Discount.

One of the sculptors who have assisted in the modeling of much aristocratic loveliness was asked to explain this latest fad. He though deeply for a moment. Then he said: “It is quite comprehensible, even commendable when you consider the strict conventions of our absurd fashions. Among aristocrats, women of race and pedigree, we find the finest limbs, the most tapering extremities, the purest outlines. All praise to those among them who defy the decrees that command them to keep such charms hidden. A woman who has beautiful feet, for instance, has no opportunity to show them in their natural beauty, not even when she bathes in the ocean, for the dullard fashion has decreed that the hideous stocking should cover them. She may have such ankles as an artist dreams of—they may be her only beauty, and one may only have a glimpse of them. Ah, it is enough to drive a woman to suicide—or to marble.”

The Duchess d’Uzes, the Duchess d’Aosta, the Countess Zichy have defied conventions, as Pauline Borghese, the sister of Napoleon I, did nigh upon a century ago. She commanded the assistance of Canova, the great Italy sculptor, and you may see her today in the Borghese collection perpetuated in all her natural loveliness as a marble Venus. When she condescended to give an excuse, she said, with all the insolence for which her family was famous: “I am a Bonaparte—I may do as I please.”

Asked if she were not uncomfortable, she replied nonchalantly: “No, there was a stove in the room.”

It is the excuse that our modern duchesses and countesses may give. Nevertheless, the people gasp, and nevertheless, as people will the world over, they gaze and gaze and gaze to the full satisfaction of the aristocrats who have said “Bah” to the conventions.

The original of the statue called the “lily of the Valley” was unveiled last summer at Bagneres-de-Luchon in the Pyrenees. The Duchess d’Uzes was sojourning there, apparently with no purpose but to drink of the warm suphur springs for which the watering place is celebrated. A number of other guests, all more or less fashionable, were there, too, walking, drinking, gossiping, passing their hours as people do who are taking a cure for no very serious ill.

The event of the summer proved to be the unveiling of the “Lily of the Valley.” Cast in whitest marble, it was set before a background of green trees and dark rocks.

The Summer’s Sensation.

The effect was startling. More so was the resemblance.

“What?” “No!” “Impossible! And yet”—

The spectators declared they couldn’t believe their eyes. Day after day they studied intently the Duchess d’Uzes. Between drinks they made mental notes of her lines. During their walks they discussed the striking similarities of figure, of pose, of feature between the lovely, draped duchess and the lovely, undraped statue of the “Lily of the Valley.”
Could it be possible?

Day after day the young Duchess passed them driving, looking the picture of modesty. Day after day she cantered by on one of the horses which she rides so famously. They observed her lies and recalled her reputation for fearlessness. It was she who set the fashion of ballooning for women when the season of gayety threatened to become monotonous. She is original, enterprising, daring, and above all, beautiful—the guests at Bagneres went again and again to look at the now celebrated statue.

There it stood, classically serene, challenging comparison with the old Greek statues, whose models one may never know.

The resemblance was not to be disputed—the “lily of the Valley” was the Duchess d’Uzes. Every day during her sojourn at Bagneses she had visited the studio of the great artist who was to perpetuate her in marble. She had gone secretly and alone. Accused by one of her set of cowardice, she explained:
“To pose for an undraped statue is as yet considered unconventional; therefore, one does not announce it to the world. But if one is beautiful…”

The Duchess D’Uzes.

The Duchess’ excuse found an echo in the heart of the Duchess d’Aosta, who is of the daughters of the late Count of Paris is the loveliest. It has been said of her that even if she were not of royal blood she would be considered handsome. She might, in that event, however, be more rudely censured. As it is, she shocks society and still remains in it, a maneuver, by the way, not confined to Italy or France alone.

The Duchess is clever, restless, courageous and not in love with her husband. Only a few years ago she startled all Europe by announcing her intention to leave him. He had done nothing wrong, and was undeniably attached to his handsome wife, but she was tired of him that was all there was against him. It was enough until her ambition came to the rescue. The possibility of giving an heir to the throne of Italy persuaded her to retain her position of Duchess d’Aosta. This is history, so too are the Duchess’ love affairs, so too are. the duels that have been fought by the Duke on her account.

Vanitas Vanitatum.

And now comes the episode of the statue. This time the Duchess has shocked profoundly. Her mother, the Countess of Paris, who is a lady to her finger tips, is in despair; the King of Italy is furious; the Duke is at his wits’ end. There is no one he can challenge. He does not dare to denounce those who point to the lovely Venus as his wife’s portrait, because above the graceful figure her features are too plainly sculptured. Photographs of the statue are for sale everywhere, and the Duchess is calm in the midst of a tremendous family row. To prove this they tell the following anecdote of her:

One of her intimate friends sympathized with her deeply. “Poor woman,” she said, “with your beauty they want you to remain forever in obscurity. But tell me, was it not very uncomfortable posing—without–well, as the statue is?”

The Duchess looked at her from under her wealth of golden hair and firm but clear, steady blue eyes. “Oh, no,” she answered reminiscently of the Borghese princess, “the studio was well heated. I was most comfortable, I assure you.”

The fad to have your friends see how charming marble may make you grows. In its progress it has claimed the Countess Bela Zichy. Of her the sculptor D’Epiny [Prosper D’Epinay] says: “She is, the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.” He has done his best to prove this to the world in the statue he has made of her.”

However some dozen or more years ago, when she was Mabel Wright, a girl designing calicoes to assist her father, who was at work in a print factory, her beauty was recognized without the aid of either painters or sculptors. Without fame or fortune she made her way into the heart of Mrs. Astor’s “Four Hundred,” and there met and married Fernando Yznaga, brother of Consuelo, the present Dowager Duchess of Manchester, for whom the present Duchess of Marlborough was named.

How The Nude Craze Has Grown.

Unhappiness, divorce and all the things that lead to a second marriage followed in quick succession, and the American girl became a Hungarian Countess. Since then she has lived much in the great world abroad. Naturally she has made its fashions here.

But the end is not yet. It has Just been said that King Victor. Emmanuel is furious. He has read the riot act to his cousin’s beautiful wife, and has forcibly reminded her of the fate of that other beautiful Duchess of Aosta, Laetitia. The unconventional and dashing Laetitia, when she persisted in her flirtatious conduct with army officers and riding astride in public on a bicycle was sent to prison to do penance and was threatened if she did not cool down the King would take away her allowance and she could shift for herself.

The younger Duchess, more intrepid than her young mother-in-law, has snapped her fingers in the face of the King and has announced if he tried any such summary punishment on her she would scandalize Italy at this very ticklish point in the affairs of the country by suing for a divorce. This has made the King even more furious, and he has retaliated by saying if she did such a thing he would see to it that her position in any court of Europe would be forfeited.

And so the situation now stands. In the case of the Countess Bela-Zichy another royal rumpus has been aroused. While the Count stands by his wife and insists that the statue is an exquisite expression of purity, the court ladies of Austria, with the Emperor in sympathy with them, have made, it.is said, a secret compact to completely ostracize the lovely blonde countess if it is really proved beyond dispute that she posed as a diaphanous angel. The Austro-Hungarian court is one of the stiffest in Europe for etiquette, and if the case is decided against the Countess Bela Zichy her social position will be ruined.

The row in the D’Uzes family has become so intense over the nude posing of their young Duchess that nobody quite knows yet what the family council will decide to do.

Consequences Of This Folly.

However daring these aristocrats may be, the setting of conventionalities at defiance in statuary or paintings is not original with them. We can recall, for Instance, when Cleo de Merode, the lovely ballet dancer, posed for the sculptor Falguiere; also the sensation that followed the announcement that Mme. du Gast was the model for Gervex’s painting of “The Nude Lady With the Black Mask.” It is true that Mile, de Merode denied that she had posed for anything but the head of the statue called “The Dancer.” It is also true that Mme. du Gast sued those who had dared to say she was the original of the lady who might be just about to slip into her bath.

Henri Gervex Le modèle masqué nude model masked

The fad for being photographed, painted, hewn in marble, grows. Is it due to vanity? Apropos, here is a story told of a woman well known in the world of society. It happened at a time when she had been admired immensely, but, being very young, had been seen but little. She was strictly chaperoned everywhere by her mother, who superintended also the cut of her gowns. She was permitted to wear what might be described as a very modest décolleté to parties or dinners. On a certain occasion she was visiting at a country house without her mother. It was night. She was alone in her room, undressing. In a mirror her figure, girlish, charming, graceful, was reflected. She moved and smiled; she moved and sighed. Then she looked at herself intently and took note of her charms. It seemed to her a pity that no eyes should see them but her own. It seemed such a pity that she sallied forth to the library below, with a lighted candle In One hand and her eyes tightly closed.

She encountered her host and some of his guests–judges of beauty. They said she had walked in her sleep. She encountered her hostess, who declared her guest was wide awake. Either way, a record of her loveliness flew through society. Her defenders said she was so exquisite, endowed with such purity of line, that it would have been a shame to keep it hidden always–forever under drapery. The girl thought so, too. This was before Madame la Duchesse d’Aosta, Madame la Duchesse d’Uzes and Madame la Comtesse Zichy had set their approval upon the marble fad as the very latest artistic solace for woman’s vanity.

The Baltimore [MD] Sun 27 December 1903: p. 11

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Obviously Mr William Randolph Hurst warmed to his theme, no doubt with the aide of a stove in the room.

While we do not often see Duchesses and Countesses posing as nature made them for exquisite expressions of purity in marble or bronze, reality TV stars and athletes more than fill the void with lingerie “selfies” and ESPN’s “The Body” issue. Plus ça change…

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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Four Candles: c. 1780s

wertmuller_marie_antoinette_and_children

Marie Antoinette walking with two of her children in the park of the Trianon, Adolf Ulrik Wertmüller, 1785 Nationalmuseum Stockholm

Walking one day in the park of the Trianon, gay and exquisite, the queen came unexpectedly upon a rough-looking man, totally unknown to her. A woman of high and unbreakable courage, Queen of France and full of confidence in her charmed destiny, she was seized, nevertheless, with a sensation of inexplicable terror. The man was the brewer, Santerre. Later, at the time of her execution, he was in charge of the National Guard of the City of Paris. . . .

Madame Campan [the Queen’s friend and lady-in-waiting] related the following anecdote: “Four candles were placed upon the queen’s dressing- table; the first one went out of itself; I soon relighted it; the second, then the third also, went out. At this the queen, pressing my hand with a movement of alarm, said to me, ‘Misfortune makes one superstitious; if that fourth candle goes out, nothing can keep me from regarding it as an evil omen’; the fourth candle went out.

“Someone remarked to the queen that the four candles had probably been made in the same mould, and that a defect in the wick was naturally to be found at the same place, since they had gone out in the order in which they had been lighted. The queen would listen to nothing; and with that indefinable emotion which the bravest heart cannot always overcome in momentous hours, gave herself up to gloomy apprehensions.

La reine se couchait très-tard, ou plutôt cette infortunée princesse commençait à ne plus goûter de repos. Vers la fin de mai, un soir qu’elle était assise au milieu de la chambre, elle racontait plusieurs choses remarquables qui avaient eu lieu pendant le cours de la journée; quatre bougies étaient placées sur sa toilette; la première s’éteignit d’elle-même, je la rallumai : bientôt la seconde, puis la troisième, s’éteignirent aussi ; alors la reine, me serrant la main avec un mouvement d’effroi, me dit: “Le malheur peut rendre superstitieuse; si cette quatrième bougie s’éteint comme les autres, rien ne pourra m’empêcher de regarder cela comme un sinistre présage….” La quatrième bougie s’éteignit.

On fit observer à la reine que les quatre bougies avaient probablement été coulées dans le même moule, et qu’un défaut à la mèche s’était naturellement trouvé au même endroit, puisque les bougies s’étaient éteintes dans l’ordre où on les avait allumées.

Memoires sur la vie de Marie-Antoinette, Reine de France et de Navarre, Mme. Campan, 1886

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  On Bastille Day one’s thoughts often turn to the doomed Queen of France. Hindsight is, of course, keenly precise and there were many stories told in retrospect, of the omens presaging the fall of the Ancien Regime. We have previously read of the Queen’s terror at the mysterious prophecy of a cartomancer. One wonders a little wistfully what would have happened had the Royal family successfully made their way to safety at the fortress of Montmédy. Would the Revolution have failed or was their  rendezvous with Madame Guillotine written in the stars?

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 Independence Day Toast: early 1800s

 

lady with firecrackes

A pleasant retort was that once given by Admiral Marsden many years ago at a dinner in Malta. It was given on the Fourth of July by him to the American officers on a man-of-war, and all the English officers in the harbor were guests. They were no better bred than many Englishmen of that day, for when the regular toast, “The day we celebrate,” was read, they set down their glasses untasted. The venerable host added, gently:

“The day, gentlemen, when England celebrates the coming of age of her eldest daughter.”

Every face cleared, and the toast was drunk with hearty cheers.

The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] 1 July 1915

Mrs Daffodil wishes all residents of “England’s eldest daughter” a delightful holiday week-end and more presence of mind in the handling of pyrotechnics than the lady on the cover of Harper’s. Mrs Daffodil will be taking a brief holiday as the Family is off to The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club for a spot of tennis-viewing.

For images of vintage patriotic tableaux from Independence Day, 1918, please see Mrs Daffodil’s previous post.

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 Modest Proposal About English Wedding Presents: 1872

A representative specimen of English wedding gift horror http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/23462/lot/212/

ENGLISH WEDDINGS, AND WEDDING PRESENTS.

It is a matter of unquestionable notoriety, that all marriages are made in heaven; and it is equally certain that the beautiful descriptions of them, which we read, must be due to celestial correspondents. Such choice of words, such felicity of arrangement, such grace of epithets, could not emanate from any inferior source; and the future historian will best gather from these chronicles the condition of the English language in our day, and the manners and customs of those who spoke it. We shall not, perhaps, be accused of unnecessary repetition, if we call attention to the subject.

The sun is shining, and peculiar interest is excited. The bridegroom is accompanied by his friend, who is officiating as groomsman, and who is qualified by frequent service for the efficient discharge of the multifarious duties which are attached to the position. At precisely thirteen minutes and a half past eleven they alight at the church, saluted by the acclamations of the crowd, the excitement of the bystanders, and the symphony of bells. When the door is opened, four and twenty perpetual curates and prebendaries, deans and archdeacons, begin to assist one another. The scene increases in interest, until the climax is reached, when the bride enters, leaning on somebody’s arm, and supported by her bridesmaids, supplied with jewelry by a neighboring firm, which thus has the good fortune to secure eight advertisements of its goods.

The religious ceremony is performed with peculiar solemnity, unbroken, save by the fidgeting of the groomsman; the benediction is pronounced, and on repairing to the vestry, the formalities of registration are gone through, — a part of the ceremony which is often described in language worthy of Burke. After this, the party repair again to a mansion or residence, where a sumptuous dejeuner is prepared, and numerous covers are laid; a mysterious but interesting process. It is here that English oratory is displayed to its best advantage; and graceful tributes are paid on all sides, characterized by good taste, by brevity, and fluency. The peer forgets his pomposity, and the fact that nobody listens to him elsewhere; the groomsman feels that the lightest part of his duties has come, and all regret the close of his remarks. At precisely four minutes past two the bride and bridegroom take leave of their friends, and seek the seclusion of a country-seat.

Meantime, the “friends” separate, and the correspondent is enabled to furnish those advertisements which all read with interest, if not with excitement. The enumeration of the presents and of the names, both of their eminent manufacturers and of their donors, fills columns, and affords invaluable opportunities for fine writing. The “members of the domestic household,” called sometimes by profane and illiterate people servants, contribute something difficult to carry, and impossible to pack.

It is interesting to know that the flowers were not the production of nature, but were expressly supplied for the occasion by the floral manufacturer; nor is the name of the pastry-cook wanting, who made the indigestible compound termed a “bride-cake.” A few years more, and we shall be told the incomes of the guests, their ages, and the construction of the ladies’ petticoats. It may be that publicity is thus ostentatiously given to the names of those who contribute towards the future menage of the happy couple, in order that the standard may be raised, and that the donor of a water-bottle may shrink from appearing in the same list with the donor of a diamond bracelet. That aim, however, has not yet been realized, and the list of objects is as varied, and as free from all connection with each other, as the words which make up a page of Johnson’s Dictionary.

The company is a medley one; sugar-basins and aneroids, an antique pair of bellows, the Zoological Gardens faithfully represented in ormolu, a musical-box, a sketch mounted as a fan, fifty travelling articles to make locomotion impossible, a basket of snowdrops, and nine addresses on vellum, congratulating the bridegroom on the examples he has to imitate and on the wisdom of his choice, quite unreadable from the magnificent flourishes with which the initial letters abound, and signed by the schoolmaster and schoolmistress in behalf of the scholars.

Were the bride and bridegroom endowed with ostrich-like digestions, they might find some use for these articles. As it is, they often prove the most unmitigated nuisance, a misery alike to him who gives and to him or her who receives. It occasionally happens that the announcement of an engagement, instead of recalling the fact that two people are perfectly certain of being happy for life, that the cares of this world are over for them, and that a beautiful account of their marriage will appear in the newspapers and enrich the literature of the country, only suggests the painful thought that a present must be given, and, in order to be given, must be bought.

To explain the grounds for this impression would be impossible; a slight relationship exists between the victim and one or other of the engaged pair, and the persons about to marry are going to live in London, possibly in a large house; it may be that the intending giver received at some former period a perfectly useless and now blackened object, too dirty to make its appearance again in the world of rubbish, and that he feels bound to reciprocate the attention. “Human nature,” says a great authoress, “is so well disposed towards those who are in interesting situations, that a young person who either marries or dies is sure of being kindly spoken of.” Whatever may be the cause, the dilemma remains the same. Much mental agony is undergone, increasing as the interval before the marriage becomes shorter. Some prudent persons have a stock of objects always on hand, one of which they forward upon receipt of the intelligence; and thus they may have the good fortune to send the first of the fifteen inkstands which follow.

She who hesitates is lost; now helplessly bemoaning her condition, now peering uneasily into shop-windows, and finding that every thing costs seven pounds, when she is prepared to spend only four. Her sense of her unfortunate position daily grows in intensity, and she may next be seen sitting in a shop, with a choice selection in front of her, amongst which are a blotting-book covered with excrescences of brass like a portmanteau, a miniature helmet, two shepherdesses of modern Meissen, a silver-gilt machine for brushing away crumbs after breakfasting in bed, a gentleman in ormolu looking into a windwill about the same size as himself and of the same material, both containing cavities in their insides for matches, the discovery of which would occupy a lifetime. What a choice is here! The biggest fool of her acquaintance has just ordered the silver-gilt machine, which costs thirty pounds, so she takes the windwill with a sigh of relief, and sends it as a little object to remind her friend of the happy hours they have spent together.

Her friend sends in return a little note, assuring her that she will always value it, reflecting that it is a just requital for the ormolu porcupine stuffed with pins which she had presented on a previous occasion. But the donor and the windmill are not destined to lose sight of one another just yet.

It is bad enough to see the rubbish in the shop, but there is some excuse for the production of these costly and worthless trifles. What the dogs are in the East to the streets, the givers of modern wedding presents are to the trade, — the scavengers of refuse; what is too dirty, too useless, too ugly for other purposes, they absorb; but it is too hard to be called upon to look at it again when exposed to view in the drawing-room of the unfortunate girl whose future life is to be spent, or supposed to be spent, in its contemplation. There are entertainments of divers kinds and degrees of dullness; but the entertainment which is given for the display of the objects we have described is without an equal.

Neatly arranged upon the tables in symmetrical order lie these specimens of English taste, “several hundreds in number,” slips of paper being attached to them recording the names of the givers. Here the lady and the windmill meet once more, regretfully perhaps, for some kind friend announces that she only gave two pounds for the candlesticks opposite; another has picked up something for thirty shillings, which produces a sublime effect, and the name of the shop where similar objects can be procured is whispered in secret. There is a pleasing equality evinced in the display; her Grace and the housemaid think the same thing ” beautiful,” and probably spend the same amount of money upon the object of their admiration.

The custom of giving wedding presents, as it now exists, is a social tax which, though paid by every one, is only paid grudgingly and on compulsion. It represents neither affection nor interest, and is not productive of the smallest profit to any save the tradesmen whose wares are sold for the purpose. Its counterpart can only be found in the custom which existed a short time ago of giving leaving-books at Eton. The fashion was exactly analogous; little boys give them to big boys, to whom they always had been, and to whom they continued in after life, complete strangers, subscribing themselves their “sincere friends on their leaving Eton.” The head-master submitted to the custom at a smaller cost; wise in his generation, and being an elegant classic, he had published, or privately printed, a quarto edition of some Latin author, which, it is needless to say, nobody ever wanted, and no one ever bought. This peculiarly useless volume was exchanged for the sum of ten pounds, deposited in some corner of the room by the boy who was bidding good-by, whence it was generally supposed that the head-master ultimately took it. This pleasant mode of escaping the tax was, unfortunately, not open to those who paid for the leaving-books presented by their sons to their sincere friends, and who not unnaturally considered that the annual expenditure of fifteen or twenty pounds was hardly compensated by the possession of some scores of soiled copies bound in yellow calf.

What these books are to the library, wedding presents are to the ordinary furniture of a house. What is to be done with the windmill? Should the first opportunity be seized for getting rid of it, there is the risk that its donor will tenderly inquire after it. It cannot be given away after the lapse of six months; for its color is gone, and it looks as if it might have been present at Hilpah’s wedding to Shalum. The poor thing eventually finds a shelter and a home in some spare bedroom of a country house, where damp and dust hasten its decay. Sometimes it is destined to a harder fate. One swallow does not make a summer, and the gift of a wedding present does not insure the celebration of a marriage; the engagement may very possibly be broken off, and one of the consequences is the return of the windmill to its unhappy and original possessor, whose feelings on its re-appearance we forbear from commenting on.

If the State would include wedding presents among the assessed taxes, and fix a definite sum to be paid at the beginning of each year, great relief would be experienced; the government would, of course, realize a profit, and a large sum would still remain to be distributed as marriage portions. The present inequality would be remedied; for, as it is, those who never marry at all (and their number is daily increasing) receive no return for their original outlay; but on the institution of the tax this need no longer be the case. Single women, on attaining the age of forty-five, might, on condition of subscribing a declaration setting forth the extreme improbability of their marrying, and their aversion to that condition, receive the sum to which they would have been entitled on marriage. Widows, on the other hand, would get nothing under any circumstances, being exhorted to remain contented with the ormolu of the first marriage.

During the interval before the adoption of this plan we have but one remedy to propose. Surely the old shoes which are now so lavishly thrown away at the departure of the bride and bridegroom, are capable of conversion into some valuable substance; which cannot be predicated of wedding presents. Let, therefore, the next “groomsman ” set a bright example, and deserve well of society and the oppressed; as the carriage starts, let a shower of aneroids, barometers, bellows, candlesticks, vases, mosaics, and antiques, gracefully fall and flutter around it. Thus we feel sure that a “peculiar interest would be excited,” while the struggles of the crowd to possess objects which to their inexperienced eyes might seem capable of being exchanged for a shilling would give additional animation to the scene. The prevalence of this custom might be expected to modify to some extent the present fashion, the chief compensation for which must be found in the advantages which result from a study of the pages of the Court Journal.

Every Saturday 27 April 1872: p. 449-51

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil fears that she has nothing to add to these really excellent proposals, except to note that the shower might result in shards of broken Dresden china and glass in the streets. That would annoy the horses, but crossing-sweepers might be delighted with the added employment and tips.

It is a bore, but one may also exchange or sell the horrors.

As for the loss of wedding gifts to the ladies who remain unmarried, this “bachelor-girl’s” father and friends were thoughtful enough to make up the deficit: 

One of the great bugbears of spinsterhood has been demolished by a Minnesota woman. Though she had had many suitors, of course, she was still unwedded at thirty, and one day, as she was sending off a gift to a girl friend who was about to be married, she bewailed the fact that the bachelor-girl never got wedding-presents or a trousseau. Her father promised that she herself should not be slighted in this respect, whether she married or not, and a few weeks ago, when she accepted the offer of a business position and decided to take up her bachelor residence in Chicago, the old gentleman was as good as his word. He gave her a handsome check to buy a complete outfit of clothes, from shoes to bonnets, and many of her friends took up the idea and gave her useful and ornamental articles for her bachelor apartment. And now it is announced — whether it be through the aid of her fine feathers or not is not stated — she is to marry the president of the company that employs her.

The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] March 21, 1898

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.

 

Hints on Tiaras: 1907

It was not long ago that a woman went to a metropolis from her country home to spend a night in a hotel. She brought her jewel box with her and a clever hotel thief away with her tiara. To this day she has never got the jewels back and there are persons heartless enough to say that a woman who could not spend a night in town without her tiara deserved to lose it. They do not understand the importance that this form of jewellery has assumed. In explaining why she had come to town for twenty-four hours with such a valuable ornament, the victim of the thief called on English precedent and quoted a duchess, who said she would as soon go about now without her tiara as without her toothbrushes.

The ring of tiaras in the so-called golden horseshoe of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York bears witness to the importance that this form of headdress bears to wealth and social distinction. The outward and visible sign of a certain material condition is the tiara. In England the duchesses have had them for years, and the wealthy intruders, whether they come from Australia or South Africa, immediately concern themselves the style of their tiaras.  In the large cities the show girl or the actress who has acquired fame wants first of all a tiara.

The crown of diamonds and pearls that rests on the brow of Miss Gilman will  undoubtedly make its appearance in rivalry with other tiaras once an impending social event takes place. This tiara was by the most famous jeweller of the Avenue de l’Opera, and is classical in the purity of its outlines. It follows exactly the form of a princess’ crown and the younger women of the royal family in Germany, Russia, and England top their charms with such an adornment once they have reached an age in which the tiara is permissible.

These crowns are not for the young women of the sort of society that understands their purpose. It is the dowager who has the first call. Young girls not yet married are allowed to enjoy the tiara only in a discreet form shown. A thin band of gold and jewels–preferably not diamonds–with the mitigation of an aigrette–is the most ambitious form that any young woman with an idea as to the fitness of things would aspire to.

 

The English crown worn by Ellis Jeffreys is the fashion most popular now in London when the wearer is not going to an impressive social function. These tiaras are made with not more than three points which are sometimes in the form of stars. Mrs. Titus of New York, has a diamond tiara composed wholly of five stars. The center star, which sits over the forehead, is the largest, and the four others decline gradually in size until the two at each end are not more than two inches in diameter. The central star, however, measures three inches from point to point. These are the tiaras which are appropriate, according to the modes imported from London for dinners, for a box in the theatre, and, above all, for rather young matrons on all occasions.

 

Dowagers who have passed beyond a certain age would never be content with such a slight jewelled decoration in the hair, for when they wear a crown it is imperative that it have a certain weight and value. A well-known matron wears on state occasions a wonderful tiara of diamonds and pear-shaped pearls. The diamonds are arranged in two circles of large stones with a grilling of smaller gems forming a connecting network between them. Twelve large pear-shaped pearls rise from the top band of diamonds.

Queen Marguerita of Italy in pearls and tiara.jpg

The same treatment of the pearls is seen in the tiara of Mme. Boninsegna, which is heavier in appearance and characterises of the exotic taste of the Southern craftsmen. This tiara, which was made in Rome after one worn occasionally by the Dowager Queen Margherita, shows the Italian love of sumptuousness and impressiveness at the cost of grace and lightness. Such a headdress would, of course, be impossible except on a most formal occasion. The woman who appeared at dinner with such a structure on the top of her head would embarrass the waiters as well as the guests. The pictures of the court beauties of Italy, show many of them attired with just such massive and magnificent tiaras. It is said that Elena the present Queen, has made the most emphatic protest possible against this ornate fashion by always assuming on festal occasions a very narrow coronet, which is in form very much like that worn by Miss Jeffreys.

It seems to be an unwritten rule that tiaras should be of diamonds, although there is no stone so trying to women not in the first blush of youth. A massive crown of flashing brilliants on any woman’s head will absorb all the brightness from her own eyes, making them look dull and old in contrast. It is for that reason that Sarah Bernhardt long ago gave up diamonds for other stones.

 

Women who wear tiaras in this country do it of course with no idea of their political significance, while in Europe it is necessary in private life to avoid  the pointed crown, which indicates rank, whether it be the five points of the countess or the nine points of a princess. Such precautions are not necessary in this country, and women take any share which they can afford, or which is becoming to them. It was this freedom in selection that led a foreigner to express his astonishment at a large ball given recently in New York.

“How does it happen,” he asked, surprised at the number of nine-pointed coronets, “that there are only princesses here in the United States?”

The semi-precious stones that have recently come to be used so generally are popular for headdresses now, and a tiara of them may be bought for less than $500, whereas a diamond tiara may cost from $100,000 to three times as much. These stones afford very attractive combinations of color. Thus the coral tiara made of the pink stones which is worn by a society woman with prematurely gray hair is more appropriate than anything else she could possibly put on.

turquoise tiara

Turquoise and diamond tiara, which may also be worn as a necklace, c. 1890 http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/a-late-victorian-turquoise-and-diamond-tiara-5575584-details.aspx

In the same way, tiaras of turquoise and topaz are very becoming to women who are very blond or very brunette. These semi-precious stones are usually set in very light designs, with no effort to give the look of solidity usually sought in the diamond tiaras of the finest kind.

Another new style popular this season for the first time is the enamel tiara, made in imitation of flowers and leaves. They are for the most part low and compact, having the appearance of flowers entwined so as to make a wreath for the hair. They are usually much smaller than the size of the real flower or leaf, and are sometimes finished with diamonds and other stones. The ornamentation of the stones is slight, however, as the prevailing intent of the design is to imitate nature. These enamel tiaras sometimes reach $200 in price.

The Washington [DC] Post 20 January 1907: p. 71

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: To-day is “International Tiara Day,” a time to celebrate the charms of the tiara in all of its many incarnations.

Khedive of Egypt tiara Danish Royal collection Cartier 1904

Khedive of Egypt tiara by Cartier, 1904. From the Danish Royal collection. http://orderofsplendor.blogspot.com/2017/06/tiara-thursday-khedive-of-egypt-tiara.html

A New York millionaire’s wife is wearing a diamond tiara about which she tells an amusing anecdote. Last summer the wife was abroad, and her husband told her she could buy a tiara if the price was not exorbitant. The woman selected a beauty in Paris, and cabled a description: “Tiara with pearl tip. Price. 85,000 francs.” The husband replied: “No. Price too high.”

But the woman misread the objecting cable message.

She thought her husband’s stocks were on the advance, and that he signified his generosity by cabling “No price too high.” Instead of buying the tiara for 85,000 francs she selected a handsomer set of gems for 125,000 francs, or $25,000.

The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] 23 May 1904

May all of Mrs Daffodil’s readers celebrate International Tiara Day in so felicitous a fashion!

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.

 

Flowers for Aristocratic Tables: 1889

The-End-Of-Dinner-by-Jules-Alexandre-Grun-770x506 Edwardian dinner party.jpg

FLOWERS FOR THE TABLE.

Costly Decorations Affected by the Aristocracy.

Nell Nelson’s Chat with the Lending Floral Firms.

“You newspaper women,” said the monarch of the Elliott Floral Company, “make us a lot of trouble with your extravagant pens and superlative adjectives. You write Mrs. A.’s $50 order away up, and when Mrs. B. comes in with the article and wants us to beat it for $500 we are nonplussed, for the description calls for $1,500 worth of flowers.

“Half the trouble in this world comes from distorted facts and the other half is the result of bad cooking. The dream of Bellamy will never be realized until truth becomes chronic and the product of the kitchen digestible.

“There is no leading style in flowers or floral decorations, and no standard but that of individual taste. People pick their plants and cut flowers as they do their clothes and furniture ”

“The moneyed people like roses and orchids; the artists love palms and ferns, and many women would rather have a bunch of mignonette than a basket of voluptuous Beauty roses–those crimson, living, almost human things that intoxicate the senses. “Just now we are in a blaze of beauty, a cloud of glory, a heaven of perfume, and you have only to choose and I’ll send you anything you want.

“Here is the ‘Magna Charta,’ the rival of the American Beauty; both the same price–$15 a dozen.

“Here’s white lilac–the poet’s own flower and smell–now close your eyes! Can’t you feel Spring in your heart? My aesthetic soul, but it’s good!

“How much? Six dollars a bunch and six sprays in a bunch. Rolled up in paraffine paper and boxed in cotton batting, 1 don’t know a nicer bit of fragrance for a New Year’s offering. Do you?”

I said I didn’t.

“You see, the man or the woman who sends a flower to a friend wraps himself eternally in its perfume and wherever the breath of that blossom is caught, up he comes in face and form and voice, or the woman has no soul—that’s all.

“I once had the measles when I was in aprons,” the horticulturalist confided to me; “and while I was sick a little girl sent me an apple to smell, but not to eat.

” I can smell that rosy piece of fruit now, and I never pass a greening or a russet or a pippin that I do not see the wee maiden in fancy and bless her dear little heart. That’s the sentiment of it, but here’s the business.

“Flowers are abundant, but the demand amounts to a real tax, and prices are high as ambition.

“We never mix flowers. We don’t believe in it. There is as much individuality about blossoms as there is about belles, and so we arrange them, not in tulle and pearls, but in the very severest of vases, so as not to let the holder detract from the bouquet.

“We are daring enough, too, to put pearl roses in pearl cups, golden tulips in primrose-yellow bowls, and crimson roses in ruby forms–a privilege we have been encouraged to take with chromatics, by the audacity of Alma Tadema, Whistler and Burne Jones.

“We never build a table piece as high as the line of vision, and not even a child’s view across a dinner-table is obstructed. Orchids, roses, tightly bound hyacinths, spicy carnations, sweet-scented tulips and the dainty ma capucine buds, which are salmon-like in color, are all in demand for table decoration, and an art committee would be puzzled to tell which is choicest.

“About the biggest order we have filled this year came from the Union League Club fellows the night they entertained the Pan-American Society.

“There were flowers everywhere but under foot and in the air. We hung the little theatre with foliage tapestry, banked the stage with the glossiest and greenest of palms, and fringed the footlights with asparagus and mosses, that caressed a ridge of growing orchids.

“In the library there are six large tables niched between bookcases, and we piled the files and folios under the boards and on zinc covers planted the choicest flowers that the state afforded.

“One table was a solid bed of cut orchids, fringed with ferns, that cost us $600 to spread; another oblong had nothing but American Beauties for a cushion, and each rose was worth $1.75 that night; another was upholstered with pink, white and damask cyclamen, and roses, violets and carnations embossed the remaining boards. “The bookcases in the room are all low, and we used them for a bank of encircling palms, at the feet of which we planted wired and fantastic orchids that seemed almost human in the pale candle-light. “The supper was served in a suit of three rooms, and each board had a different flower piece. One was a massive rose cluster, the second was a rose piece with a streak of white narcissus running through it, and I can’t remember the other.

“At the Delmonico banquet, prepared for the same tourists, we put Summer on the table and festooned the balconies with her garlands and hanging plants, and pendent from the celling we hung a great globe of laurel, orange, lemon verbena and sweet-brier, with Central America picked out in true geographic position with closely stemmed cluster flowers. At this point a Van Rensselaer came in, and in a low rich contralto voice, with a pronounced English accent, asked for white violets, and I fled.

Dunder, who grows the roses that belong in the bowers of the Four Hundred, sighed when asked to name the ideal table decorations. “The best way to answer that is to show you my book. Here’s an order for to-night. The lady gives a dinner party for which she will use a solid gold service.

“There is a towering epergne to go in the centre of the table, and in it I will put orchids of delicate lavender and pure white, with the queen of ferns for relief.

“Strings of asparagus will be trailed along the cloth and carried up to the arms of the candelabra.

“Mrs. W. D. Sloane’s dinner tables are always decorated with American Beauties. That’s her favorite flower. Saturday night I sent her a flat basket, six feet in diameter, planted with those roses. The cluster was as big as a rose bush.

“Over the white cloth we scattered sprays, three feet long, with blossoms as large as cauliflowers and turned them so that the gorgeous flower threw the splendor of their color and perfume in the very faces of the guest.

“The prettiest novelty for a table was, in my mind, an order we filled for one of the white dinners for which Mrs. William Baylis is famous. With her while porcelain and satin polished silver, we used Puritan roses, the finest white flower cultivated.

“In the corners of the mahogany were small English egg-baskets of split willow, filled with lilies of the valley, and about the cloth were mats of mistletoe, heavy with their opaque berries. Those egg baskets are very fetchy. They are rude, you see, and have the appearance, when filled, of being just sent in by some friend.  “Pertinent to the season are the scarlet baskets, which we have sold by the thousand. Some we fill with English holly, some with crimson tulips, others with point sette leaves and a few with carnations and mistletoe.”

A call came over the telephone from no less a personage than Mr. Ward McAllister, and I was alone.

From a good-natured belle who has been in social circulation for several decades I learned that each leader has a flower to which she is as devoted as she is to a special perfume or grade of linen.

Mrs. W. W. Astor uses American Beauties at all her dinners. So does Mrs. Frederick Vanderbilt. Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt prefers Gloria de Paris roses; Mrs. Elliott F. Shepard considers the La France the queen of roses; Mrs. Orme Wilson cheerfully pays $2 apiece for Magna Charta roses, and has from twenty to seventy on her table at a time.

Mrs. Ex-Secretary Whitney has a weakness for white and gold, and pearls. Puritans, Nun Hoste and Gabriel Luizet alternate in her dining parlor, while Mrs. Paran Stevens delights in Spring flowers and buys tulips, narcissi, daisies, May bells and hyacinths by the hamper.

The regulation flower for the bridal board is the Amazon lily, a peerless cup-shaped blossom that seems pouring its soul out in floods of perfume.

This lily is new, and like all rare things costly. For the price of a bowlful of Amazons you might have Dickens in calf, a Persian wool bath robe or roast young goose every day for a whole week, with a peck of apple sauce besides. Nell Nelson.

The Evening World [New York NY] 30 December 1889: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Fashions in flowers were followed as avidly as the latest modes from Paris. Mrs Daffodil has written about A Violet Luncheon, Flowers a Bride Should Carry, Modern Valentine Flowers, The Black Rose, and The Wild-Flower Wedding.

This Parisienne instructed her guests to arrange DIY centrepieces for a prize–a novelty both indolent and presumptuous, one feels. One can practically hear the waspish, postprandial comments from the departing guests.

Something new in table decoration is the creation of a Paris society woman. At a dinner given recently the guests were surprised to find the centre of the table piled high with a mass of cut flowers, including many varieties of roses, lilies of the valley, chrysanthemums, carnations, violets, ferns, smilax, etc. At each plate were placed three red, white and blue vases made of bohemian glass, each in a solid colour. Upon a raised tabourette in the centre of the table was a huge cut glass rose bowl which the hostess announced was to be given to the guest arranging the flowers in his or her three vases most artistically. Philadelphia [PA] Inquirer 10 November 1899: p. 11

Mrs Daffodil has made an annual ritual of sharing Saki’s “The Occasional Garden” in advance of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, opening this coming week.

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.

Naming the Royal Baby: 1903-1937

welcome little stranger sprigged pincushion c. 1800-1899

Welcome Little Stranger layette pincushion, c. 1800-1899. Such ornamental pincushions were a popular gift to a new mother. http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/661170

Mrs Daffodil joins the entire Empire in welcoming the newest Little Stranger of the Royal family, the as-yet-unnamed son of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. There is, of course, much interest in what the new baby prince will be called.  History shows that whatever name the proud parents select, it will instantly become the nom du jour.

BOOM IN ROYAL NAMES.

Names, according to Carlyle, are the most important of all clothings. His Majesty the King may, therefore, be looked upon as Master Clothier to the rising generation, for without doubt “Albert Edward” is the most popular name of the hour (says a London paper).

A study of the baptismal registers of several famous churches reveals this interesting fact. Within the last few weeks the registers of such typical middle-class churches as St. Pancras, St. Mary, Whitechapel. St. Clement Danes, in the Strand, and the pro-cathedral at Liverpool have been scanned, and at each of these the register bristles with Albert Edwards. Fluctuations of national sentiment are reflected as in a looking-glass in the registers of the churches named. At the time of the Coronation several girl babies were christened Corona, while on the declaration of peace quite a number of little Misses Peace confronted the clergy. When Queen Victoria died many thousands of mothers christened their newly-born children after that illustrious monarch. One loyal mother called her child Victoria Alexandra. There is quite a run on Alexandra in the parish of St. Pancras…

Particular periods of our history have invariably brought forth fashions in names. Perhaps the most striking instance on record of this curious, but inevitable, influence is that of the Puritan period, when such names as Prudence; Mercy, Faith, Hope, Charity, and so on came into vogue, to say nothing of such extravagances as Love-not-the-World, Original Sin, and the notorious name of Praise-God Barebones’ son —to wit, If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned-Barebones. The register at St. Clement Danes Church shows that among the educated and professional classes simple names are favored, while the less refined indulge in far more pretentious nomenclature. “Marys and Anns and Susans are going clean out of fashion with the lower classes,” said one parish clerk, “and Irenes and Penelopes and Gladiolas are all the rage. “Only,” he added pathetically, “they will call them Irons and Penny-lopes.”

Oamaru [NZ] Mail 11 October 1902: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  “Albert Edward,” was the birth name of King Edward VII. Although Queen Victoria had wished him to be crowned as “King Albert Edward,” he declared that he did not wish to “undervalue the name of Albert” and diminish the status of his father with whom the “name should stand alone.”

British history records many unusual appellations such as the Sitwell brothers, Osbert and Sacheverell, Sir Cloudesley Shovell, artist Inigo Jones, and Sir Kenelm Digby.  And, of course, one thinks of the many “aesthetic” boy’s names so popular in late Victorian or Edwardian fiction:  Algernon, Cecil, Vyvyan, Cyril, Ernest, or Clovis.

Traditionally, royal infants are saddled with a string of names, causing difficulty at the font or the wedding altar. Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex was christened “Henry Charles Albert David;” while his father, Charles, Prince of Wales, started life as “Charles Philip Arthur George,” which a nervous Lady Diana Spencer reassembled as “Philip Charles Arthur George,” while taking her wedding vows.

ROYAL NAMES

It is unusual for a Royal baby to be christened with a single name, as Prince Harald of Norway was recently. His father, Prince Olaf, has five names, and English Royalties have generally run to about the same number. King George V had eight, but four of them—George, Andrew, Patrick, David bore a territorial significance. Queen Victoria had only two; the choice was a matter of dispute at the font, and the Prince Regent grudgingly sanctioned Victoria—”to come after the other” (Alexandrina). But in the matter of plenitude of names the Bourbon-Parma family seem to take precedence. The Empress Zita, mother of the deposed Austrian Emperor, Karl, has 10 Christian names, and her 11 brothers and sisters distributed 63 among them.

Otago [NZ] Daily Times 1 June 1937: p. 16

There is some suggestion that the new parents will choose an “unusual” or (the horror!) an American name. Political battles have often been fought over the name of an infant, who slumbers on, blissfully unaware of the controversy.

NAMING A ROYAL BABY.

London, January 4.— Reynolds newspaper says that the Royal personages at Sandringham are quarrelling over the name to be given to the latest grandson of King Edward. Those who are swayed by German influences want the new Prince called William, after the Kaiser, while another party wants him called George, and still others favour the name of Nicholas, after the Czar of Russia.

Three hundred and twenty-two British subjects have written to the Prince of Wales giving him interesting suggestions as to the naming of his baby.

New Zealand Herald 21 February 1903: p. 9

Punch, of course, had something to say on the question of what to call a newly hatched Prince:

Mr. Punch thinks that the most appropriate title for the little Prince [Albert Victor] would be “Duke of Cornwall,” seeing that he must necessarily remain so long a minor (miner.)

Cheshire [England] Observer 23 January 1864: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil supposes that the only way to satisfy everyone will be to simply string together a plethora of Royal names, perhaps in alphabetical order: Albert, Andrew, Charles, David, Edmund, Edward, Frederick, George, Henry, Patrick, Philip, William. Or possibly, in the way celebrity couples’ truncated names are joined by the media, the child will be christened “Harry-ghan.”

For other stories of Royal babies, see The Royal Baby and the Slum BabySaturday Snippets: Royal Baby Edition, Royal Children and their Toys, A Royal Nursery Contretemps, and Royal babies and their cradles. 

 

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.