SUNDRIES: An eighteenth century newsletter

N° 24 - April 6, 2006

LINKS: Derby Gaol inter text TEXT COLLECTIONS:Wellcome Library - Robert Willan inter text MAKING OF AMERICA: Laurence Sterne inter text BRISSOT: A Sterne anecdote

inter cooking 18th CENTURY RECIPE: A meal for Marie-Antoinette - Fried turkey à la ravigote

fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys
LINKS: Military archives; Pasteur, executioner; gastronomic history inter text Magasin Pittoresque: No 27 - 1859


LINKS: Derby Gaol

This handsome, if slightly commercial, site for an 18th century jail provides a "List of Executed Prisoners of Derby Gaol" for 1756-1825:

Derby Gaol is a working museum which is open to the public. Having been through many incarnations (including a nightclub) since it's construction, it was eventually bought in 1997 by paranormal investigator, and dedicated historian Richard Felix. It was then restored after much hard work, to it's current condition, mirroring as closely as possible, its original state
Currently the Gaol has two cells: The Condemned Cell and the Debtor's Cell. Each one features the original doors which have been rehung, complete with the prisoners' original 'graffiti'... names, dates, and day markers, etched into the wood, marking down how many days the prisoner had until execution.
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TEXT COLLECTIONS: Wellcome Library - Robert Willan

The Wellcome Library has been mentioned on this list before, but not, I think, its tiny (three works) on-line text collection, which includes On Cutaneous Diseases - by Robert Willan:

Robert Willan is regarded as the founder of dermatology as a specialty in Britain. His On cutaneous diseases is a landmark in the history of the subject and in medical illustration....His book On cutaneous diseases was published in parts from 1798 to 1808 and is notable for its coloured plates prepared under Willan’s close supervision. The book contains graphic descriptions of the various diseases and many detailed case histories. Only the first volume was completed, because of Willan’s early death from tuberculosis in 1812, but his work set the pattern for the development of the specialty.

(Requires Shockwave.)

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MAKING OF AMERICA: Laurence Sterne

The Michigan version of Making of America includes various references to Sterne, including this 19th century article, which is really a brief biography: The North American review. / Volume 107, Issue 220. Publisher: University of Northern Iowa ; Publication Date: July 1868 City: Cedar Falls, Iowa, etc. Laurence Sterne, by Adams Sherman Hill: pp. 1-38 Conveniently, this volume is indexed:

Sterne, Laurence, article on, 1 —37
— portraits of himself and wife, 1, 2
— his parents and their family, 2, 8
— his indifference to his mother, 3—6
— his experiences in ten years’ marching with his father’s regiment, 6
— at Cambridge, 7
— enters the ministry, 7, 8
— character of his sermons, 9 — 12
— origin of Tristram Shandy, 13
— its immediate success, 14, 15
— popularity of Yarick’s sermons and A Sentimental Journey, 16, 16
— Goldsmith’s ill opinion of Sterne as an author, 16
—discontent at Sutton, 17
— sick, goes to France and is cordially welcomed, 17, 18
— his description of his manner of journeying, 18
— death

I don't know how many surprises Sterne scholars will find here, but it might make a good introduction for others. Personally, I was struck by this tidbit:

A collection at the York races more than enabled Mrs. Sterne to pay her husband's debts, and the sale of the sweepings of his study added a little to her scanty means. She died in France, where her daughter, who had married a Frenchman named Medalle or Medaille, was guillotined (if an un-authenticated rumor may be credited) during the Revolution.

Lydia Sterne De Medalle's portrait can be viewed here.

Though I've found another mention of this rumor, John Bayley seems to imply that she died, like two children, of tuberculosis (John Bayley, Power of Delight: A Lifetime in Literature: Essays 1962-2002 (10-11)). (He also suggests that her husband married her so that *his* father could get hold of her father's manuscripts.) Another article, "LAURENCE STERNE. HIS GENIUS, HIS HUMOR, AND HIS CHARACTER" (417-421,) is reprinted from Sharpe's London Magazine: The Ladies' repository: a monthly periodical, devoted to literature, arts, and religion. Cincinnati: Methodist Episcopal Church [etc.] Volume 14, Issue: 9, Sept 1854 It begins with this extraordinary opening:

To us, who live in an age which, allowing for all its follies and failings, is so much more substantially virtuous, as well as more externally decorous, than "the good old times" of our grandsires, it is not easy to realize mentally the depth, the degree, the intensity of that moral corruption which prevailed among a large proportion of the "higher" classes during the first eight decades of the eighteenth century, and which received a serious admonition and check from the astounding convulsions of the French Revolution. It would be a puzzling task to inquire into the initiative causes of the degeneracy that existed in our own country-whether it were ascribable to a slothful reaction consequent on the cessation of the political discord and internecine warfare that had occupied the previous century, or whether it arose from the increasing fashionable intercourse with the atheistical male and female philosophes of France. Be the cause what it might have been, the fact was there, in sad and deplorable reality. When we hear of primates reproved by a juvenile monarch for the levity and luxury of their lives, of chaplains fighting duels with the officers of their regiments, killing or being killed in the unchristian conflict-of clergymen, now followed by all the town on the score of their "exciting" sermons against particular vices, and hanged, within a few weeks, for villainies perpetrated with the object of procuring the means of indulging in those very vices; when we hear of a man like Sterne, neglecting and violating all the duties of his sacred function, in order to run riot in London dissipation, and promulgate the pruriencies of "Tristam Shandy;" and when, in fine, we hear of bishops now patting the faithless pastor on the back in the hope of securing praise and support, and incontinently, in their disappointment, pronouncing him an "irrecoverable rascal," we shrug our shoulders in wonder, and ask ourselves, could such things have been in an age so very near to our own?

The relentless condemnation in the article - reminiscent in tone of French Restoration writings on Voltaire, et al - does lead to one interesting anecdote:

Sterne's sermons, some of which are models of verbal grace and polish, were popular in their day. For the copy-right of these he received large sums. They are not much read now-haply, because our modern taste has quarreled with the craven hypocrisy, which could lead such a man to preach and print compositions of the kind. In keeping with this hypocrisy is the warmth wherewith he denounces one of his own peculiar sins-that of matrimonial delinquency and cruelty; and equally consistent his protestation to Garrick, that "a man who ill used his wife ought to expect his very house to fall in and crush him;" to which the English Roscius wittily rejoined, "Then, Sterne, you must be the most courageous man in the world, or you never would venture to enter your own door."

Strangely, this writer seems to ADMIRE Sterne (albeit in a remarkably roundabout way):

His protest against plagiarism is itself a brazen plagiarism, but it is introduced in a style which nothing but genius could attempt or execute, and which makes the reader, who has, perhaps, often before perused it in another shape, forgive the theft in admiration of its dexterity.

Oh, and who does he blame for all this decadence?

The "Sentimental Journey" signed the death-warrant of the turgid absurdities which, since the commencement of the age of bad taste in England, on the introduction of Dutch influences into places of power and patronage, had gone by the name of "sentiment."

That's right. The Dutch. Known, apparently, for their dissolute, dissipated behavior. FINALLY something we can blame them for! If you like this kind of thing, the same periodical (Volume 16, Issue: 3, Mar 1856) offers "Incongruity Between Principle and Character" (167-168) by a Marion Morglay, who takes swipes at both Sterne and Rousseau. This item from an article on a private library: Southern literary messenger; devoted to every department of literature and the fine arts. Richmond, Virginia: T.W. White [etc.] Volume 17, Issue: 10, Nov 1851 is almost as condemnatory, but provides some hard facts as well:

An original MS. of Laurence Sterne, the author of the "Sentimental Journey," " Tristram Shandy," &c., next demands attention. It is an entire autograph of his "Fragment, in the manner of Rabelais," one of the most singular, of his singular works. The manuscript varies materially from the copy. published by his daughter, Mrs. Medall, in 1775, as it contains expressions too coarse for publication. The autograph of this celebrated and eccentric writer is of great rarity. His published works, however, are numerous, but of a very unequal character; mingling with charity and assize sermons, "Yorick's Meditations" on noses and "hobby horses;" on quacks, and "the man in the moon." His life and writings were totally at variance with the profession he espoused, and the sacred things in which he ministered. In 1822, the wig of Sterne was sold in London, at public auction for two hundred guineas, nearly a thousand dollars!"

A work on Laurence Hutton includes descriptions of various death masks he'd collected, often with interesting anecdotes on the subject: Talks in a library with Laurence Hutton, recorded by Isabel Moore. Hutton, Laurence, 1843-1904.Moore, Isabel Kellogg, Mrs., 1872- New York, London: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1905. Here he is on his 'Sterne' mask:

I had so little faith in the so-called mask of Laurence Sterne that I did not put it into my book. No contemporary record of it exists, and I did not see in the peculiarly distressing and unusual circumstances of Sterne's death, how it could possibly have been made. He died in poverty and almost alone. His body-servant, nearly the only friend he had, subsequently told the harrowing story to the world with all its painful details and he mentioned no taking of a mask. The subsequent proceedings were the most gruesome of all. According to tradition, a friend of his, a medical student, going from some festive party to a secret dissecting clinic, found to his horror upon the work-table what was left of Laurence Sterne. He saved the fragments, gathered them up, and buried them in St. George's Cemetery, Bayswater Road, London. Under these conditions it seems hardly possible that then or earlier a mask could have been made. Nevertheless the face is very like that of the Nolleken's bust, the portraits by Reynolds and Gainsborough, and particularly like the full-length water-colour drawing at Chantilly. But I cannot vouch for it. The world is not so apt to associate Sterne particularly with York Minster, but he was for many years a prebendary of that Cathedral; learning there, no doubt, that the universe was wide enough to hold both him and the poor fly and that God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, although he could have had there but little actual knowledge as to how terribly our armies swore in Flanders."

(Hutton also had Burr's death mask, authenticated by a man who claimed to have taken it.) The site also has Thackeray's look at Sterne in the "Roundabout Papers", collected in: Miscellanies, by William M. Thackeray. New York: Harper, [187- for those who prefer the page images. For straight text, Gutenberg might be simpler. Hawthorne's praise of Sterne's sermons is only part of the interest of this passage from Yesterdays with authors, By James T. Fields. Boston: J. R. Osgood and company, 1872.:

Hawthorne was a hearty devourer of books, and in certain moods of mind it made very little difference what the volume before him happened to be. An old play or an old newspaper sometimes gave him wondrous great content, and he would ponder the sleepy, uninteresting sentences as if they contained immortal mental aliment. He once told me he found such delight in old advertisements in the newspaper files at the Boston Athenaeum, that he had passed delicious hours among them. At other times he was very fastidious, and threw aside book after book until he found the right one. De Quincey was a special favorite with him, and the Sermons of Laurence Sterne he once commended to me as the best sermons ever written. In his library was an early copy of Sir Philip Sidney's "Arcadia," which had floated down to him from a remote ancestry, and which he had read so industriously for forty years that it was nearly worn out of its thick leathern cover. Hearing him say once that the old English State Trials were enchanting reading, and knowing that he did not possess a copy of those heavy folios, I picked up a set one day in a bookshop and sent them to him."

I'm sure Hawthorne's "delight in old advertisements" and state trials will touch a chord with some here. Finally, for a very hearty chuckle, you might see this image of Sterne next to one of 'an Indian chief', used to illustrate the trait (or lack thereof) of mirthfulness - as defined by phrenology. (New illustrated self-instructor in phrenology and physiology; with over one hundred engravings; By O. S. and L. N. Fowler. (137)

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BRISSOT: A Sterne anecdote

This anecdote might readily be questioned, since Brissot's version depends on a very French pun (pêcher = "to sin" and "to fish"), and try as I might, I can neither imagine nor find an English equivalent:

Miss Capper's mother had been Sterne's friend, and she was at his wedding in 1741. The parishioners of the burlesque author of 'Tristram Shandy', informed of this event, an dknowing that he as to preach the next day to his parish, went en masse to see the new bride, who entered the church behind her husband, and was subject to all the remarks people make in such circumstances. At the moment that Sterne mounted the pulpit, all eyes turned to him, and each, curious to know the text he would choose for his sermon, paid careful attention. Sterne began with this words: "We have fished/sinned all night without catching a fish...' [Nous avons pêché toute la nuit sans attraper de poisson]. The audience could not contain themselves: some took their handkerchiefs to stifle their laughs, while the old people struggled to keep a severe countenance while listening to the facetious preacher. Undisturbed, he continued his sermon... [which]... was one of the best he ever gave; some admired it, others snorted with laughter; and only Madame Sterne seemed really scandalized."
Brissot, Memoires (386-387)

Which would seem to have been in character. Hill (cited above) says: "There was likewise a portrait of Sterne's wife, looking so haughty and unamiable, that the wonder is, not that he ultimately left her, but how he ever contrived to live a week with such an awful woman" and later: "she appears an uninteresting woman, devoid of sympathy with a man who lived by sympathy, incapable of appreciating his best qualities, incapable of influencing a heart peculiarly susceptible to feminine influence, curious, jealous, suspicious, narrow, prosaic, provincial, without tact, without enterprise, without decision."

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From CHEZ JIM Books:
and a history of the CROISSANT:

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18th CENTURY RECIPE: A meal for Marie-Antioinette - Fried turkey à la ravigote

I confess that I am slightly dismayed - despite the wondrous culinary advances made, with the help of deep fryers, in our own time - to see that anyone ever served fried turkey to Marie-Antoinette. Add to this the fact that 'ravigoter' means to 'perk up' and that the sauce of that name is correspondingly lively, and this seems more like a meal to be found as the Blue Plate Special at a truckstop than on a menu for a queen. La Varenne (in Le Cuisinier François) gives several ways to fry meat, including these two:

Several ways to fry meat

Take, for example, a breast of veal, and put it in the pot with other meats, and when it is cooked, take it out quickly, when it is time to dine, split it in two, that is, separate the top half from the bottom, so that the frying penetrates everywhere, then put the pieces one on top of the other, glazed on top and bottom, and not inside, with two egg yolks, then sprinkle it well with bread crumbs and fine salt mixed together, then put it in the frying pan with refined lard, or butter, very hot, and keep the fleshy part underneath, moving the frying pan about to avoid burning the meat, and when it has taken on enough color to be browned, turn it over, and then when it is browned enough take it out quickly with a skimming spoon, and drain it, then put it in a hollow dish, and parsley on it that has been fried in the pain, but be careful that it is not burned.

Another fried meat

Take slices of raw meat, thin and interlarded, or mutton cutlets, pound them well, then sprinkle them with bread crumbs and salt, cook them in a frying pan with half-browned butter, and when they are cooked on one side, turn them over and add a little verjuice [lemon juice and vinegar are common substitutes] in the pan, and having given them a turn in the pan, put them in a dish, and sprinkle them with a little salt, and nutmeg.

Ravigote sauce is still made today:

A classic sauce in French cuisine that may be prepared either hot or cold. The hot sauce is based upon velouté and the cold is a vinaigrette. Both sauces are highly seasoned with herbs. It is generally served with mild flavored proteins or those that have been boiled or poached, such as fish, fowl, eggs and calf brains.
A vinegar sauce seasoned with minced onion, capers, and herbs, used with boiled meats or fish.

ETYMOLOGY: French, from ravigoter, to add new vigor, alteration of obsolete ravigorer, from Old French : re-, re- + a-, to (from Latin ad-; see ad–) + vigeur, vigor; see vigor.

Beauvillier (L'Art du Cuisinier (51-52)) gives these recipes for the eighteenth century version:

White ravigote sauce

Take nutty watercress, chervil, salad burnett, tarragon, chive, a few leaves of celery and two balm leaves; peel and wash all this; put it in a jar; pour a quarter of a pint of boiling water over it; cover it and let it soak for three quarters of an hour; then strain this infusion, put it in a pot of three skimming spoons full of velouté; reduce this to the consistency of a sauce; put in a teaspoon of white vinegar, a lump of butter half the size of an egg; strain and stir this sauce well, and serve it. Cold raw ravigote sauce Take the same ravigote as described above, chop it up fine [sic - presumably this refers to the initial ingredients]; add a spoonful of capers, chopped the same way, one or two anchovies pounded flat, a little fine pepper and the right amount of salt; put all this in a marble or stone mortar, pound it until no ingredient can be distinguished; add a raw egg yolk; crush, sprinkle with a little oil and from time to time a little white vinegar to keep it from turning, and this until it all has the consistency of sauce (if you want your ravigote very strong, add a little mustard); then remove it from the mortar and serve it.

Cooked ravigote sauce

Take the same ravigote as described above; wash it; blanch it as you would spinach; cool it once it is cooked; let it drain in a strainer; crush it well; this done, strain it, vigorously, through a normal strainer; dilute it with oil and vinegar; put in salt and pepper, as you would for a remoulade [a sauce of capers, anchovies, spring onion, etc., not the celery in mayonaisse mixture known in France today]; when it has a good taste, serve it.
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fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys

LINKS: Military archives; Pasteur, executioner; gastronomic history

This site, for the Historical Service of the French Ministry of Defense, primarily provides indexes to what's available in the archives, but in some cases, as in the long list of maps available below, this can be interesting in itself. Here, for readers of French, is how the site describes itself:

Réunis dès le XVIIe siècle par la création des dépôts de la Guerre et de la Marine, les fonds conservés par le SHD reflètent trois siècles d’histoire militaire, à travers les grands documents qui jalonnent l’histoire de France, comme à travers l’ensemble des rapports, notes, courriers, dossiers relatifs au quotidien des hommes sous les drapeaux, comme à l’évolution des forces armées. Ces archives sont organisées par fonds, lesquels fonds sont classés par séries, en fonction de l’organisme qui a produit ou reçu les documents que les séries contiennent. Constitués du tableau récapitulatif des séries et sous-séries, les cadres de classement de chaque département constituent le préalable indispensable à toute recherche.

This inventory of country and city maps (cartes et plans) is just one of the sections on the site.

Strangely, this site on executioners is part of an enormous site dedicated to the Pasteur family: The Pasteur Galaxy. It turns out that several generations of this name were executioners in Switzerland:

Du début du XVIIème jusqu'au milieu du XIXème siècle, 7 générations de Pasteur ont servi comme exécuteurs de haute justice en Suisse. Qui étaient-ils? Comment vivaient-ils? From the beginning of the 17th century to the middle of the 19th century, 7 generations of Pasteur served as public executioners in Switzerland. Who were they? How did they live?

This gastronomic site draws on the very large personal collection of the site owner, some of which is not available in other major collections: HISTOIRE DE LA GASTRONOMIE FRANÇAISE: HISTOIRE de la TABLE

Les pages présentées ici, textes et notes agrémentées de ma plume, sont enrichies de textes provenant de ma collection personnelle qui compte plus d'un millier d'ouvrages anciens, dont certains, très rares, qui ne sont ni à la Bibliothèque Nationale, ni au Fond patrimonial gastronomique français qui est de mes clients (press-book ).

It includes two 18th century recipes: recipes for Canard en Grenadin and Bisque de Gascogne ou potage de garbure And this bibliography on food in the century: Bibliographie : Alimentation et XVIIIème siècle Sandrine Sénéchal.

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REMINDER: The Magasin Pittoresque was a nineteenth century French magazine. Issues can be found on Gallica.

The article on Rousseau's ivy goes nicely with recent discussions on plants surviving from previous eras. Having lived directly across from Notre Dame for several years - and hearing more than I wanted to from my architect friends about Violet Le Duc's 'improvements', I was intrigued to see his florid steeple had a predecessor. And if you'd like to know how it felt to wake to hot curling irons (and a host of other amenities) every morning, Mme. de Choiseul was kind enough to tell a friend, in sometimes excrutiating detail.

16 - 1606 'map' of poetry
92 - old (pre-Le Duc) steeple on Notre Dame (demolished c. 1793)
167 - 18 c. writing for the blind
202 - savings bank in Berne c. 1787
232 - 18th c. giants
297 - show of Baretti's watercolors of the Campaign in Italy
314 - the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner (in French)
329 - Rousseau's ivy (at Feuillancourt)
363 - morning of a great lady (Mme de Choiseul) under Louis XV

1 - painter Pierre Mignard (image)
27 - architect Charles-Nicolas Ledoux
39 - Houdon's busts of Montgolfier brothers (image)
210 - Alexander Humboldt
277 - philosopher/activist de Sellon
241 - article on correspondance between Goethe and Schiller
321 - engraver Robert Nanteuil
345 - Robert Burns

off-topic, but interesting
30 - the stereoscope
143 - ancient American (Mexican, Brazilian, etc.) dances
153 - Fabulist painters
172 - Mormon temples
179 - the (then-new) Bois de Boulogne
308 - story of the raft of the Medusa
387 - Turkish proverbs ("Death is a black camel which kneels before every door")

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End quote

"Have you read "Tristam Shandy"? This is a very unaccountable book, and an original one; they run mad about it in England."

Voltaire (in English), 1760

FROM CHEZ JIM BOOKS Three works on eighteenth century subjects:

For some sample 18th century vegetarian recipes, click here.

copyright 2006 Jim Chevallier.
When using brief extracts from this site, please credit properly and provide a link back to this site.
(NOTE: Most translations, except where otherwise noted, are by Jim Chevallier and are copyrighted as such.)
Please do not reproduce extended pieces (recipes, translated pieces, etc.) without prior permission.


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