Category Archives: Edwardian

Lure of the Silk Stocking: 1903

pink stockings with butterfly lace

Pink silk stockings with butterfly lace inserts, Paris, c. 1875-1910 http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/pair-of-womens-stockings-121138

Lure of the Silk Stocking,

Filled and Unfilled, It Has Manifold Attractions for Mankind

Beautiful Specimens Seen in the Stores

So sheer a thing is a silken stocking that when empty it may be passed through a finger ring, and yet when it is filled it takes a goodly circlet–sign of a king’s gallantry and a knightly order–to encompass it.

In itself, a silk stocking is something to admire merely for the delicacy of its fabric. A Frenchman once wrote a musical comedy based on the misadventure of a girl who fell out of a tree and displayed a dainty stocking, but nobody has ever written yet the tragedies–some greater, some less–of the lure of the silk stocking. For of all things that attract rather by what they reveal than what they conceal, the silk stocking takes the palm.

Much as women like them, men like them the more. A man’s first cigar, his first love, his first sunrise at sea–these are timeworn themes. But of a man’s experience when buying his first pair of silk stockings! His first experience in pawning his watch is mild excitement compared to it.

A girl at one of the counters where these things are sold can tell at glance whether a man has ever committed this crime before. After the first plunge it is never quite so difficult again, and the habit grows on a man like any other. The average man who has the silk stocking habit acquires it long before he marries, so that when he takes a wife to himself that only means more silk stockings to be bought.

A man went into hosiery shop here the other day and picked out a dozen pairs of costly and varied patterns and then ordered a dozen pairs of perfectly plain ones that were not so costly. “For heaven’s sake!” he implored the shopkeeper, “don’t mix them up. One dozen is for my wife.”

The shopkeeper, with a philosophical eye, had no difficulty in determining which dozen was for his wife.

Of course there is a type of youth who cannot at first face the ordeal; and so, when it becomes absolutely necessary for him to buy a pair of silk stockings he takes refuge behind a letter to the girl he knows best in his own set and gets her to do it for him. She should not execute this commission, but, sad to state, she always does, and usually buys much prettier ones than he would have done. And then she will take the trouble to do them up in tissue paper and colored ribbons–just like a man would! Yet it is a fair bet that if the silk stocking habit gets a grip on that same youth within a year he will examine “opera-length stockings at the most crowded counter and will indulge in pleasantries with the young woman attendant about the possibilities of her showing him how they looked by trying them on.

A boy of this type came into the dining room of a Broadway hotel one day last week while the silk stocking reporter was trying to find the cheapest thing on the bill of fare. He was accompanied by a young man and a young woman, and the trio sat down at the next table to that at which the reporter was trying to figure out how a sixty-cent dish could go into a fifty-cent piece and leave anything for a tip and carfare to the office. It was clear that the youth and the young man had been engaged in an alcoholic contest at catch weights, and that the young woman was cross. The first thing she said to the young man was: “Did you get those silk stockings?” and her voice and her question attracted the attention of every one at that end of the room. The young man declared he hadn’t, and that he had no money, at which she began to upbraid him for his neglect to obey her commands. After this had been going on for ten or fifteen minutes the youth leaned across the table, and, putting his hand on the young woman’s arm, said with drunken solemnity: “Don’t you mind him, Minnie. I bought a pair for you.”‘ And then he pulled a package out of his pocket, opened it carefully and held up to the gaze of all the persons in the room a pair of stockings that probably cost nineteen cents and were fearfully and wonderfully ringed with stripes of black and red and yellow.

The silk stocking habit is rather an expensive one, as minor habits go, for they cost anywhere from $5 to $50 pair. For $3 one may buy a pair that will easily slip through a man’s finger ring. And for $50 anyone who has the price and cares for Her that much may send Her a creation of silk and lace that no mere man can appreciate unless it, is in active use.

Of course these fine ones have the disadvantage of being rather plain compared to the cheaper grades at $7 or $8 a pair. No loud designs in. blue or red or yellow appear on the fronts of the costliest ones nor climb up the clocks. Long snakes with forked prongs, all a-glitter of green and white cut glass beads, do not twine themselves over the instep and up the leg. The highest priced ones are beautiful in a quiet way, while the cheaper ones are produced in bizarre designs, often made to order, as in the case of one dozen turned out by a local dealer, which showed a design of red flames, leaping upward, on a black ground. A dozen pairs of silk stockings at $50 is not an unusual sale in one of the department stores, while the highwater mark of a sale of this kind in one shop was $100.

The Narka [KS] News 16 January 1903: p. 5

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The author is right to reference “the tragedies–some greater, some less–of the lure of the silk stocking.” The dainty accessory is fraught with peril. Mrs Daffodil has written before about the domestic trouble that ensued when a shop-keeper inquired of the wrong lady about silk stockings in “His Little Valentine,” while a telegram about a pair of stockings to be sent to a “blonde darling” nearly caused a divorce in a Minnesota household.

And one shudders to think what mischief could be gotten up to with “Cross-Word stockings.”

cross word stockings

Cross-Word Stockings American Fad in Paris

Paris, Jan. 2. The “cross-word puzzle” stocking is the latest novelty among Paris hosiery makers.

When the first really cold days of Winter came, silk stockings of gossamer texture were gradually discarded and many women adopted fine hand-made Angora wool stockings.

This is the material of which the “cross-word puzzle” stockings are made. A shopkeeper got the idea from a puzzle design which he saw two American women working over while waiting to be served. A few days later he displayed in his windows a stocking of checker-board design with the squares in black and white, about the same size and distributed haphazard in the manner which has become familiar to lovers of cross-word puzzles.

The novelty has found good customers among American women, but French women call it hideous. The cross-word fad itself has not reached France as yet.

Trenton [NJ] Evening Times 2 January 1925: p. 2

 

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 anecdote

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.

Sitwell Spectres: The Haunted Mansion of Renishaw: 1909

sitwell family singer sargent

The Sitwell Family, John Singer-Sargent, 1900. From left: Edith Sitwell (1887–1964), Sir George Sitwell, Lady Ida, Sacheverell Sitwell (1897–1988), and Osbert Sitwell (1892–1969)

HAUNTED MANSION

Lady Ida Sitwell’s Strange Experience.

Friendly Ghost’s Visit

Chesterfield Correspondence London Chronicle.

Here at Chesterfield, of all places, Chesterfield, whose twisted spire might well serve as a sort of lightning conductor of the uncanny, there has been no little excitement over an announcement by Sir George Sitwell, Bart., that a ghost has been paying apparently perfectly friendly after dinner visits to “Renishaw,” his beautiful old Jacobean country house, some nine miles away.

The bare facts as vouched for by Sir George Sitwell and Lady Ida Sitwell, are briefly these. Soon after dinner on Saturday evening Lady Sitwell was sitting upon a sofa in an upstairs room chatting with half a dozen guests. She was tired, having been at a ball at Scarborough till 4 o’clock that morning, and traveled all day. Opposite her was an open door, giving out upon a staircase. This staircase was built by Sir George Sitwell himself. It replaced an older staircase that led down to an ancient and famous haunted room now done away with by Sir George, and merged into the hall.

Suddenly through the open door she saw a lady, apparently 50 or 60 years of age, moving past the door to the top of the stairs. The figure glided along the passage with arms outstretched. Her hair was gray and done up in a bun beneath a white cap. The dress was old-fashioned, like that of some old servant. The skirt was dark, the bodice blue. Although seemingly solid the figure cast no shadow and made no sound. As suddenly as it had come it vanished. Lady Sitwell immediately called out, “Who’s that?” No answer was given and she then rushed out upon the stairs. There was no sign of any one being or having been there until a lady of the party, a Miss R., saw beneath the archway below not 20 feet away, and in a full light, a figure exactly corresponding to Lady Ida’s description. “I do believe that’s the ghost!” she exclaimed. Then with the same silent motion as before the figure glided into the darkness near the now walled up door of the already mentioned ghost room and for the second time disappeared.

Such is the story; a very pretty ghost story as it stands. Alas, however, upon investigation the vision of “Renishaw” proves a very harmless unnecessary ghost, a ghost of shreds and patches.

Sir George Sitwell, who, as it happens, left “Renishaw” on Sunday with his family for a tour in Italy, confessed before his departure that the ghost was probably only a mental phantasm due to Lady Sitwell’s fanciful condition. But if so, what about Miss R., who was presumably in complete health and yet professed to have seen the old lady as clearly as Lady Sitwell herself? Accordingly, there is only general evidence to fall back upon. If any ancient inhabitant of “Renishaw” had really desired to communicate with the living world, no more appropriate occasion could well have been chosen than tonight when I visited the old house. It looked as lone and ghostly as could well be wished, standing deserted between the moonlight and silent trees and the distant flare of innumerable furnaces. Instead, however, of any ghostly intercourse, I found a cheery company of servants having a cosy supper, and entirely free from any supernatural qualms. With all deference to Lady Sitwell and Miss R., they ridiculed the possibility of there being anything in the way of a really public-spirited ghost at “Renishaw.” The old housekeeper, a charming old dame who looked the very image of Lady Sitwell’s phantom save of her air of melancholy, said that she had been there 23 years and had never seen so much as the ghost of a ghost.

As for the haunted lumber room, many was the time when she had known it was used as a bedroom without the remotest ill effect. She, by the way, happened to be out at the time of Lady Sitwell’s vision, so it could not have been her. As for the male domestics, one of them pronounced himself cheerily prepared to sit through a night at the top of the ghost-trod stair with only a candle and a bottle of whiskey for companions. Certainly there had been no possible sign of the ghost’s reappearance since the family left. For the rest, all that the servants knew of the ghost was by hearsay.

As for the many ghostly legends which are supposed to cluster round “Renishaw,” they are at any rate entirely unknown both to the neighbors or to Chesterfield people in general, who are, as a matter of fact, very much prepared to look upon the whole affair as a joke upon Sir George Sitwell’s part. The fact of the ghost having delayed its visit until the eve of Sir George’s Italian tour is held to add color to this theory. There only remains the testimony of Lady Sitwell and Miss R., who cannot for the moment be subpoenaed at the ghostly tribunal.

State [Columbia SC] 14 November 1909: p. 13

Having read of this latest appearance of a ghost at Renishaw, F. Gorell Barnes describes his experiences there. In 1892 he was parliamentary candidate for Northeast Derbyshire and Sir George Sitwell, who was then contesting another division, placed Renishaw Hall at Mr. Barnes’s disposal.

“My neighbors and visitors,” he writes, “told me more than one ghostly legend associated with it and more particularly with the old ghost room mentioned by Sir George in his letter.

“I recall one in particular, that when a stranger slept for the first time at the hall the ghost of a lady was supposed to appear. One visitor, whose name I do not now recollect, told me of a young lady who occupied the ghost room having been found in a state of abject terror and refused to give any account of what she had seen.

“Some weeks before the general election of 1893 my election agent came to stay with me till the election was over. On the night of his arrival we worked till about 1 A.M., lighted our candles and went up the staircase which Sir George describes as having been put in twenty years ago, close to the old ghost room. Near the top of the stairs this gentleman, an astute and clever Sheffield solicitor, stopped short, tapped me on the shoulder and whispered:

“’There’s somebody following us up stairs.’

“I went down, examined the stairs, entrance hall and the rooms, without finding anything. I ascended the stairs again, and step for step as I ascended I distinctly heard footsteps following me up to the top of the staircase.

“I returned again to the entrance hall, but I saw no figures as described by Sir George Sitwell. There were no ghosts or phantasms, no reversed impressions of something seen in the past, but distinct footsteps were heard by two over-tired, but not excited men.

The Sun [New York, NY] 3 October 1909: p. 12

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Sir George seems to have regarded his wife, Lady Ida, with both amusement and contempt. Certainly, only a few years later, when her extravagance landed her in debt and she was found to have fallen into the clutches of money-lenders and to have uttered bad checks, he refused to pay her creditors and allowed her to spend three months in jail. One suspects that the servants interviewed by the author were in such a cheery mood because Sir George had left the premises.

 

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 anecdote

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.

Book Bindings to Match Costumes: 1907

Book Bindings to Match Costumes

If prayer-books are bound to match costumes, why not other books? Here is a hint for the publishers. Your next big book—your next “Coniston” [the best-selling novel in the United States for 1906] or “Helena Richie,” or what not—why not try an experiment, and bind the first edition in several different colors, so that the “society woman” can have her fill of harmony? The word came to us from Newport recently, in the morning paper—always absolutely reliable—that on a Sunday certain “fashionable” women, names given in full, appeared at church, each carrying a prayer-book to match her costume. One was of lavender leather, corresponding with hat, dress and parasol; others were pink, or white, or black covered with heavy crape—to go with a mourning costume. Now, it is natural to assume that each woman possessed more than the one prayer-book that appeared on that particular Sunday. Otherwise, Miss So-and-So would have to wear that pink frock every time she went to church, if she had only the pink prayer-book. She must have needed to buy books of several different colors to match as many costumes—red, white and blue, not only; but black, yellow, green; purple perhaps—who knows?

Plainly, that must be profitable both to publisher and book-seller—to sell the same young woman ten or a dozen prayer-books instead of one.

Don’t you see, book-publisher? On the same principle, when you bring out that great novel, “The Fly-away and the Come-down,” she will require at least a half-dozen copies of it in different colors to harmonize with various gowns in hammock and yacht, on piazza and lawn, in drawing-room and beside the holiday fireplace.

Unless, of course, these “fashionable” society-leaders should have a secret agreement to pass around their prayer books and novels. If the young Woman can borrow a pink prayer-book to match her pink frock this Sunday, a white one for next Sunday, a green one for the Sunday after, and so on, she might not care to buy prayer-books in a bunch—or novels. either. Unthinkable. however; the generosity and large-mindedness of these leaders is against it—the same broadmindedness that appeared in arraying the prayer-book in pink and lavender. We all revere and love the humble prayer book, whatever our denominational affiliations: how much more when arrayed in gorgeous robes at the demand of great minds! ‘

With people of this progressive kind to deal with the book—publishers should feel warranted in undertaking almost any sort of a color venture. It’s yours; take the hint for whatever it is worth.

Carlos T. Chester

Book News: An Illustrated Magazine of Literature and Books, 1907: p. 100

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil has seen coloured bindings taken a step further, in illustrations of books arranged according to colour rather than content, something of which she strongly disapproves on the grounds that it gives trouble to colour-blind guests in search of something to read.

The prayer-book fad referred to above is referenced in this squib:

A Clever Woman

A lady of fine artistic taste has discovered that at church parade her prayer book, by its incongruous color, entirely ruined the effect of a carefully conceived costume. It struck a discord in an otherwise perfectly harmonious dress. This has been remedied by having a cover to her prayer book which shall be perfectly in accord with the leading tone of her garments. The prayer book cover will henceforth receive as attentive consideration as the bonnet, the gloves, and the sunshade, and no jarring note of color will be introduced by means of a volume bound in blue velvet or in scarlet morocco. London Graphic.

Goshen [IN] Democrat August 24, 1892: p. 6

There is, Mrs Daffodil is assured, a secret Cabal that meets to decide what colours will be the fashionable hues of the season; these colours then pervade dress, household goods, linens, and furnishings. While Mrs Daffodil notes that covers for the electronic book-readers are available in various colours and patterns, there seems to be no concerted effort to co-ordinate the covers with the wardrobe. With all of the wizardry available on “mobile phones” or “tablets,” Mrs Daffodil is surprised that there is not a “chameleon app” to customize the devices’ outward appearance automatically.

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.

 

Leap Year Superstitions: 1904-1908

leap year through the hoop

This is, of course, a Leap Year. Mrs Daffodil, who hastens to assure her readers that she has no intention of proposing to anyone, thought it would be pleasant to look at some of the topsy-turvey traditions of the Leap Year and its Proposals.

Here are some of the popular superstitions:

Nothing shall be built, planned, or planted in a leap-year; it does not prosper. Leap-years are unlucky because they have an even number of days in them, also because they can be divided by four, which is an unlucky number…Leap-year is a very unlucky year for babies. Those born in a leap year are hard to raise, and they are constantly subject to sickness. In some mysterious way it is said, the whole vegetable world is affected by the influences of leap-year. The peas and beans grow the wrong way in their pods and seeds are set in quite the contrary way to what they are in other years.

Go to an old deserted house at midnight on the last day of February in leap-year. Walk around the house scattering hemp seed. On the fourth round you will see your future husband or wife; but if you see a coffin, you are never to marry.

In America as well as in England leap-year is considered the one year when the maidens have the privilege to propose to young men; if a man refuses a leap-year proposal he must pay the penalty of a silk gown and a kiss. [This arises from the following legend:]

As St. Patrick was perambulating the shores of Lough N’eagh, after having driven the frogs out of the bogs and the snakes out of the grass, he was accosted by St . Bridget, who with many tears and lamentations informed him that dissension had arisen among the ladies in her nunnery over the fact that they were debarred the privilege of “popping the question…”

It will be remembered that in Bridget’s day celibacy, although approved by the Church as the proper life of a religious, and consequently made binding upon the individual by a private vow, was not enforced as a general and absolute rule for the clergy.

St. Patrick a sternly single man himself was yet so far moved that he offered to concede to the ladies the privilege of proposing one year in every seven. But at this St. Bridget demurred, and throwing her arms about his neck, exclaimed, “Arrah! Pathrick, jewel, I daurn’t go back to the gurls wid such a proposal. Mek it wan year in four.”

To which St. Patrick replied, “Biddy, acushla, squeeze me that way again, and I’ll give you leap year, the longest one of the lot.”

St. Bridget, thus encouraged, bethought herself of her own husbandless condition, and accordingly popped the question to St. Patrick herself. But he had taken the vows of celibacy; so he had to patch up the difficulty as best he could with a kiss and a silk gown.

And ever since then, “if a man refuses a leap-year proposal, he must pay the penalty of a silk gown and a kiss.”  Encyclopaedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences, edited by Cora Linn Morrison Daniels, Charles McClellan Stevens, 1903

It occurs to Mrs Daffodil that if one were careful to choose a number of truly reluctant gentlemen, one might very economically replenish one’s wardrobe….

leap year unsafe for a poor lone bachelor valentine

The notion of the ladies lying in ambush gave the gentlemen the vapours. Fortunately an Old Bachelor had some helpful suggestions:

How a Man Can Say No in Leap Year

By An Old Bachelor

Nerve-trying leap year again is here and it behooves all unmarried men to be on the alert as to where they go and what they do and say.

How to refuse the girl is a problem that has racked many a brain during leap year. Few men know the secret. The result has been that many have said yes when they meant no, simply because they did not have the nerve to say no. And disaster rampant has been the outcome.

There can be no doubt that leap year is the most trying of all years on the unmarried man. There is no task that man has to perform so very torturing to the nerves as to say no to a pretty girl when she has proposed. Therefore it behooves every man to learn how to say no or otherwise this year there will be a crop of marriages that man nor nature never intended, with all the resultant harvest of calamity and woe.

Courage and firmness are the first requisites. For the courageous man in full possession of all his faculties, it might do to hesitate and evade the question, and thus delay the matter until leap year is over. But for the timid man such a rule will never apply .he must come right out and say no without any hesitancy at all.

Don’t wait a second or your courage may fail. Don’t think at all. Just say no and then jump out of the window or by other means get away from the scene as quickly as possible and leave the town.

For the courageous man, the man who has nearly as much nerve as a woman, a different policy may be pursued. If the girl is not too persistent he may be able to avoid the marriage and at the same time not come right out and say no.

No better direction can be given to this man than to employ the tactics used by women. Say “I will be a brother,” or “this is so sudden,” or better still, tell the girl that you had intended proposing yourself, that you object to leap year proposals and ask her to wait until next year, when you will have another chance to propose.

Tell her anything. Don’t mind a little white lie; resort to any kind of scheme or device, but avoid the marriage.

Be very careful to word your utterances so as to not become involved in a breach of promise suit.

The best advice of all, however, is to keep out of the company of women during the year. Happy the man living in the wild west during the dangerous period.

For the man in the city it is almost impossible to keep away from women, especially from widows. He finds them at nearly all entertainments and in the offices and on the street galore. Therefore, the best he can do is not talk to woman during the year 1908 only when it is absolutely necessary. under no conditions should you engage in conversation with a widow. They are threatening enough during ordinary years; their presence is absolutely fatal to single blessedness during leap year.

Never answer the telephone yourself, and be careful to learn whether it is a woman or a man who wants to speak to you before you ever take the receiver in your hand.

If a man will carefully observe these rules there is a chance that he may get thru the year without anything serious happening to him. In a few weeks you will become accustomed to the way of acting and the task will be less difficult. Then you will gain nerve with your growing self-confidence.

You will not jump in nervous suspicion when your stenographer says: “Do you want me now?” or “I am ready to take your dictations.”

Stay at home as much as possible, keep your door locked, and beware of intoxicants, for when a man indulges he often rushes into dangers he would never dare when sober.

Never think of suicide until all other expedients have been resorted to. And remember, leap year is but one day longer than any other year. Fort Worth [TX] Star-Telegram 4 March 1908: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil hopes that your Leap Year Proposals, should you choose to make them, will bring you all the happiness you desire. Remember, in Leap Year, the gentleman….

leap year kissesleap year acceptleap year silk dress

This post was originally published in 2016. 

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.

Genevieve, Whose Husband was Domestic: 1909

evenings at home 1919

Genevieve Whose Husband Was Domestic.

“I have been home fully fifteen minutes, Genevieve,” growls James. “Fully fifteen minutes, and here it is after 5 o’clock and no sign of dinner. You just getting home, too! I should think the entire day to yourself, galivanting about  was enough without staying out to such an hour! Where have you been?”

“Why, James, after I got the work done, I had to go down town to get your shirts ordered and to see about the children’s underwear for winter. Then I got a pattern for Jimmy-boy’s little coat that I’m going to make out of your old one. I hurried all I could and there’s plenty of time to get dinner. I’m not—so—very–tired.”

Genevieve has been dragging about the shops all afternoon with two babies. She always does, because James is certain that a good mother and a truly domestic woman would prefer to take care of her own babies, so they never kept a maid. “Useless extravagance,” said James, and he was a well-paid man, too. So domestic was James, besides. Quite the beau ideal of all Genevieve’s friends whose husbands were so depraved as to belong to lodges and smoke cigars and commit such like atrocities.

“How on earth you women find amusement in that eternal shopping! There, there. Let it go, say no more about it! Just get dinner right away. I’m hungry.” Shopping! And she got the children’s winter flannels and ordered James’ shirts, and had to run in an itemized account of her wild expenditure! Um!

“No, no,” continued sweet James to Jimmy-boy, aged three years, “no, no. papa’s tired. Run on out into the kitchen to mamma!”

Well! Jimmy-boy had been toddling about after mamma all afternoon and he was tired, too! So was mamma.

“Wa-a-yah-ow!” remarks Jimmy-boy.

“Genevieve, take that child out into the kitchen and get his coat off. Can’t you see he’s tired to death? Some people have no consideration for children,” cooes James, the dear, domestic husband.

Genevieve was ever such a belle before her James came along and gurgled at her about the ideal married life. A happy little home and a dear little wife was his text. No scouting about town for him when he had such a sweet girl as Genevieve waiting at home for him. And Genevieve looked upon her friends’ husbands who stayed out to lodge meetings and asked her friends themselves how about it, and they all said with one voice, “Genevieve, there’s nothing so calculated to make a woman happy as a really, truly domestic husband.”

Mother said so, too. And father remarked that James was a man after his own heart. But father belonged to two lodges and the G. A. R., bless him, and Genevieve wondered a bit and sort of shied at acquiring a hubby so much superior to the beloved daddy of her childhood and the companionable, let’s-get-out-among-’em father of her later years who took her every single place she wanted to go when there was no one else interfering around.

But she thought it must be all right. And James adored her. She was not yet wise enough to see that James adoring her was not quite the same as James being adorable or their both adoring each other, and that those missing matters might become conspicuous by their absence in the strain and stress of wedded life.

Well! So Genevieve married James. And now there was a Jenny-girl, aged six, and a Jimmy-boy, aged three, and Genevieve did all the work, except the washing, and took care of the children evenings after James went to bed at 8 o’clock, and enjoyed a hilarious life in general.

“Where did you go this afternoon?” says James.

“To the l.adies’ Aid meeting, James,” murmurs Genevieve.

“Does that take all afternoon? Where else were you?”

“Why, I stopped at mother’s a few minutes on the way home,” murmurs Genevieve.

“John Handy said he saw you downtown without the children at about half-past 4?” And James gazed upon her with an inquiring frown.

“Yes, mother wanted me to do a little shopping for her and I left the children with her while I went.”

“What on earth did your mother want that she couldn’t get herself?” (Thoughtful husband!)

“Why, she could have got the things, but she thought I’d enjoy the walk by myself.”

“By yourself! Well, of all the unnatural ideas! A woman with her heart in the right place could not bear to be away from her babies like that!” sniffed James.

No, Genevieve does not throw the coffee pot at him. She has been trained by generations of domestic women and by a circle of domesticated friends to believe that a man who pays the bills and stays home nights is the ideal husband. It would be wrong to crack a perfectly good ideal with a coffee pot.

But some days when James inquires who it was bowed to her on the street at half past 3 o’clock that afternoon, and who she saw in the stores, and why she stopped to talk to that blessed preacher when she knew he was waiting for her to come and take care of the children so he could get his Sunday afternoon nap, and if she thinks anybody is going to look at her that she togs herself out in that silly style–some time, some time, something is going to happen to that dear, devoted husband, who never belonged to a naughty club in his life, never smoked, never drank, thinks games of chance are of the devil and stays at home every night of his life with his dear little wifie.

Because, dear little wifie is a natural born widow, anyway!

The Sunday Star [Washington DC] 21 November 1909, Part 4: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil has observed that the men who are most vigilant and suspicious (has James hired one of the Pinkertons to discover who bowed to Genevieve on the street at half past 3 o’clock?) are those who themselves have something to hide. Mrs Daffodil would not be surprised to find that the domestic paragon James is a good deal naughtier than he pretends, and, in fact, has installed another family in a happy little home in a nearby neighbourhood, where he is known as a hardware drummer who spends much of his time on the road.  Some time, something is going to happen, indeed….

 

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 anecdote

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.

“I have never known a Red Room yet that was not haunted.”: 1903

a visit to the haunted chamber William Frederick Yeames 1869

A Visit to the Haunted Chamber, William Frederick Yeames, 1869

Mr. Punch’s Spectral Analyses.

AN OFFICIAL MUDDLE.

It is always my custom when I go to stop at a country house to ask my host to put me in the haunted room. I like ghosts. In my earlier literary days I was often a ghost myself, and even now I occasionally do “Cheery Chatter for the Chicks” in Baby’s Own lckle Magazine for my friend Bamstead Barker when he wants a holiday. I use a spirit lamp, too, and in a great many other ways exhibit a marked partiality for the spectre world.

When, therefore, I went to stay at Strathpuffer Castle last autumn, I put my usual request, and my host sent for the butler.

“Keggs,” he said, “Mr. Wuddus wishes to sleep in a haunted room. What ghosts have we?”

“Well, your lordship,” said Keggs thoughtfully, “there’s Bad Lord ‘erbert and Dark Lord Despard and the man in armour wot moans and ‘er late ladyship as ain’t got no ‘ead and exhibits of warious gaping wounds, but all the bedrooms wot they ‘aunts is took at present. They do say, though, your lordship, as ‘ow remarkable sounds ‘ave bin ‘eard recent from the Red Room.”

“Then let the Red Room be my bedroom,” I said, dropping into poetry with all the aplomb of a Silas Wegg” I have never known a Red Room yet that was not haunted.” And to the Red Room accordingly I went.

It was past twelve when I went to bed. Scarcely had I got inside the room when a sepulchral voice on my right said “Boo!” and almost at the same instant a chain rattled on my left. I sat down on the bed, and spoke with firmness and decision.

“This won’t do at all,” I said. “No haunted room is ever allowed two ghosts. One of you must go, or I lodge a formal complaint. Which is it to be?”

“I got here first,” said a sulky voice.

“Well, you’d no business here,” said the second ghost snappishly. “I was definitely and officially appointed, and I give up my rights to no one.”

“I’ve told you a thousand times that I was appointed.”

“Nonsense. I was.”

“Meaning that I lie, Sir?”

“Come, come, come,” I interrupted impatiently. “I won’t have this unseemly wrangling. Settle it peaceably, my friends, peaceably.”

“Tell you what,” said the ghost with the chain, eagerly; “we’ll have a haunting competition, if this gentleman will be good enough to act as referee; and the loser quits.”

“But, my good Sir,” I said, “you forget that I want to go to sleep some time to-night. And besides, if you’ll forgive the criticism, a haunting competition between you two would be poor sport. You are neither of you what I should describe as fliers at the game. You lack finesse. You, Sir, remarked ‘Boo!” when I came in, and your colleague rattled a chain. Now, I ask you, what is the good of that kind of thing?”

“Ah,” said the groaning ghost, “but I can do a deal more than that. I can imitate all sorts of things. Thunderstorms and bagpipes, for instance. And I can turn myself into a hearse-and-four and drive up to the front door. And I can–”

“Well,” broke in the other, “and can’t I turn myself into a luminous boy and a hideous old woman, and a variety of jumpy and ingenious shapes? And can’t I produce raps from the furniture and fill a room with a weird, unearthly glow? And can’t I–”

“Stop,” I said, “stop. I see it all. A bright idea has struck me. You are respectively outdoor and indoor ghosts. What has happened, I take it, is this. Your muddling officials down below have made out your papers for Strathpuffer Castle and forgotten to give details. I have no doubt that, if you make enquiries, you will find that one of you has been appointed to haunt this room, the other the Castle grounds. You follow me?”

“My preserver!” gasped both spectres simultaneously, and vanished together to make enquiries at headquarters.

That my surmise proved correct was shown on the occasion of my next visit to the Castle. As the carriage passed through the grounds I heard the sound of bagpipes mingled with thunderclaps from behind an adjacent tree, and the first sight that met my eyes as I entered the Red Room was a hideous old woman who, even as I gazed, changed into a luminous boy.

Punch 2 September 1903: p. 153

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Once again, Punch unerringly hits the satirical mark in listing some of the most popular spectres of Britain:

  • The Luminous (or Radiant) Boy, found at Corby Castle and other stately homes
  • The hideous old woman, practically de rigueur in any ghost story written by Mr Elliott O’Donnell. An example not by that lurid gentleman is this chilling anecdote, either from Streatlam Castle or Glamis Castle:

My daughter-in-law has a ghost story of an old woman who appears in a haunted room at Lord Strathmore’s. His lordship’s house was so full of visitors on one occasion that the only spare bedroom was the haunted chamber, into which two of his lordship’s guests, the Misses Davidson, were ushered without being told of its ghostly reputation. After midnight one of the young ladies was wakened by some noise, and shrieked at seeing a hideous old woman in an antiquated dress leaning over her, grinning fiendishly, and bringing her loathly visage into close conformity to that of Miss D. Recovering her courage, and suspecting that the ghost was flesh and blood, the girl sprang out of bed to repulse the intruder. The phantom retreated and disappeared at a door, to the astonishment of both ladies, who still thought it might be a living human being. Next morning they related their nocturnal adventure to the company at breakfast, on which the Earl’s family exchanged significant glances, but gave no explanation.

  • The hearse-and-four, often lit by skull-lamps with flaming eyes and pulled by headless horses, is a favourite omen of death among noble families. That  peripatetic person over at Haunted Ohio has written several times about phantom coaches and hearses.
  • The phantom piper, who was sent to explore a tunnel (for example, at Keilor at Edinburgh Castle) and who never emerged, leaving behind only the sound of his pipes beneath the ground.

Hideous old women are all very well, but Mrs Daffodil wonders that the Punch satirist neglected to include those pillars of the British paranormal scene, The Grey Lady, The White Lady, The Green Lady, The Woman in Black, and The Pink Lady  It is a curious and perhaps telling omission. Mrs Daffodil would advise the legal representatives of those colourful entities to file grievances with the proper office. There is no excuse for not remembering the lady ghosts who must haunt twice as hard as the gentlemen, backwards, and in high heels.

 

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 Lightning Adaptors of Fashion: 1910

billie burke 1916

Actress Billie Burke c. 1916

On Trail of Latest Fashions.

Helene Melville

There are a large number of fashion devotees who, although unable to spend much on their attire or to be in the secret of the “couturiers,” manage to be dressed strictly according to the dictates of fashion almost as soon as those dictates have been promulgated, and before they appear in the shape of special articles and sketches or photograph in newspapers and periodicals.

Needless to say. It is among the Parisiennes that these clever and enterprising fashion hunters, fashion detectors, and fashion ” lightning adaptors,” as some one has called them, are mostly to be found.

Which are their hunting territories? Mainly the leading theaters of Paris (on first nights), the race courses near the French metropolis, and the ” afternoon teas.” “Afternoon teas” is the more vague term for the old fashioned “5 o’clock tea,” which now is partaken of in Paris from any time between 5 and 7 p.m.!

The first night at the Théâtre-Français, the Vaudeville, the Gymnase, and the Variétés are the recognised indicators of fashion. Sensational gowns are worn on those “select” stages by the  leading Parisian actresses. Some of those dresses are suggestions. They are offered to the actress by well known firms anxious to make their new “creations” known to the elite.

It were difficult to conceive keener excitement and anxiety, a readier sense of assimilation than that which permeates the minds of certain feminine spectators at those “premieres.”

They hold the best seats, the seats from which a woman can see the exact nature of a material and whether a gown closes at the back, in front, or on the side, how that “unique drapery” is arranged, and the exact details of the color scheme.

How clever those fair fashion pirates are! How subtle and rapid in their perceptions. They miss nothing and their astounding memory–for, needless to say, they make no use of paper or pencil–retains even the slightest details of the new gowns they admire end envy.

All the time her mind is at work. Her eyes take snapshots of all that is new in fashion and which passes before her. The next morning she sets to work alone or with the assistance of a little dressmaker or milliner, and, behold, the same day or the next she appears triumphantly in the drawing room of her best friend wearing the latest!

Of course she does not remember much of the play; she has hardly grasped the plot or appreciated, the acting. But what matters? A new hat surely is more important than a new play, and “her” success is a more momentous affair than that of writer’s dramatic effort.

The methods of the fashion hunters are used by them on many fields of activity. But the fashionable Paris theaters on first nights are favorites with them. Can one blame them? After all they only seek to enhance their appearance, and if vanity is at the foundation of their craving for “new” elegance and, as it were, copyright “fashionableness” let us remember that they expose themselves to much criticism and run the dreaded risk of not being absolutely fashionable in spite of their efforts, at imitation and assimilation.

Chicago [IL] Tribune 20 February 1910: p. 48

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Actresses of stage and screen reported much pressure over procuring and wearing the latest fashions. They knew very well that they were role models:  the theatrical equivalent of to-day’s cat-walk mannequins, exhibiting the most up-to-date costumes to audiences who, although they could not patronise the great couture houses, still wished to wear the newest styles.

One actress, who designed many of her own costumes, felt that the piracy of theatrical audiences had gone far enough.

COPYRIGHTED DRESSES.

Miss Billie Burke originated the scheme of copyrighting her stage dresses that so many other actresses have since adopted.

“I just had to do it,” says the actress, who comes to the Grand Theatre March 19, in “Jerry,” her latest success in which she wears an unusually large number of fetching gowns.

“I used to be proud of the fact that the dressmakers copied my clothes for their customers, but I found it made it very expensive for me. I had to be getting new frocks all the time to keep ahead of my audiences. So I have seen my lawyers in New York and they tell me It can be done and that after my dresses are copyrighted I can prosecute anyone who copies them.”

Miss Burke, it is well known, is one of the best dressed women on the American stage. She designs most of her costumes herself and so they have a distinctive touch that differentiates them from the prevailing fashions. Dressmakers In New York especially–but in other cities, too– were quick to observe this and whenever Miss Burke appeared in a new play in New York there were always a lot of the fashionable costumers of the city in the audience and it wasn’t long before a lot of Imitation Billie Burkes were to be seen on Fifth Avenue.

The Montgomery [AL] Advertiser 13 March 1915: p. 3

Miss Billie Burke had such a distinctive face, figure, and voice that one could scarcely countenance an Imitation.  In addition to designing her own clothes, she was often dressed by Lucile. Some of Mrs Daffodil’s readers will remember her in a fluffy pink frock as “Glinda, the Good Witch” in the motion picture: The Wizard of Oz. 

Mrs Daffodil has written before on early fashion piracy, and on the trials of motion-picture actresses and their fashionable gowns.

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.