SUNDRIES: An eighteenth century newsletter

N° 30 - May 13, 2006

LINKS: Ships, maps inter text THEATER: An actor (David Garrick) prepares

law scales THE OLD REGIME POLICE BLOTTER: More murders

inter cooking 18th CENTURY RECIPE: A meal for Marie-Antoinette - Rouen duckling with orange

fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys
LINKS: The choice of meat and the history of taste inter text Magasin Pittoresque: No 34 - 1866


LINKS: A Swedish ship; a Chinese map

Having made a few Swedish friends while I lived in Paris, I soon discovered that any that weren't from Stockholm were probably from Gothenburg - or at least went to school there. Since Stockholm had its own old ship (from the 17th century) (English site: a ghostly sight well worth seeing -, perhaps it was inevitable that "Yotaboy" (as Götheborg seems to be, roughly, pronounced) would come up with their own (from the 18th century)

Swedish 18th century sailing vessel embarks on historical journey to China

The 2nd of October 2005 marks an historical occasion. For the first time in 260 years, an East Indiaman will set sail from a Swedish harbour to embark on an expedition to China. The ship will travel along the same route as the historical trade vessels followed in the 18th century. The entire city of Gothenburg is celebrating and sending its best wishes to the wooden-built replica that has already become a Swedish national symbol for culture, trade and industry
On 12 September 1745, the East Indiaman “Götheborg" sunk with her entire cargo just outside her home port Gothenburg, Sweden, after almost two years out at sea. Eventually she was forgotten, until 240 years later when a diver rediscovered her and began a marine-archaeological excavation. The attention surrounding the find led to the slightly crazy idea of rebuilding the entire vessel - in full scale using traditional techniques and materials - and sailing it to China once again.

A number of 18th century maps of the world survive, but how many are from CHINA?

The Jingban tianwen quantu was produced in the 1780s or early 90s by a Chinese scholar named Ma Junliang, who received the prestigious jinshi civil service examination degree in 1761. He was well-known for his skill as a mapmaker.
Ma's map offers three different renderings of "the world"--one based on the model of Liang Zhou's Qiankun wanguo quantu gujin renwu shiji (Universal Map of the Myriad Countries of the World, with Traces of Human Events, Past and Present; c. 1600), another (upper right) derived from a loose rendering of Matteo Ricci's mappamundi that appears in the Ming encyclopedia Sancai tuhui ("Illustrated Compendium of the Three Powers"; c. 1607), and yet another (upper left) borrowed from a similarly structured Chinese map of the eastern hemisphere, first published by Chen Lunjiong in his Haiguo wenjian lu (Record of Things Heard and Seen in the Maritime Countries; 1730).
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THEATER: An actor (David Garrick) prepares

This is from a larger piece on Garrick in the Correspondance Litteraire:

Garrick is of modest height, rather small than big. He has agreeable and lively features, and an extraordinary vivacity in his eyes. He has much wit, great finesse and great exactitude; he is a natural mimic, and imitates anything he wants. He is always graceful. He has perfected his great talents by a profound study of nature, and by research full of subtlety and finesse. And so he is always out in the crowd, and it is there that he surprises Nature in all its simplicity and its originality. One day, returning with Preville on horseback, he told him: "I'm going to act like a drunk; do the same." They were then crossing the village of Passy, without a word, and in the blink of an eye the whole village had gathered to watch them go by. The young mocked them. The old shrugged and pitied them, or, depending on their humour, exploded in laughter. Leaving the village, Preville said to Garrick, "Did I do well, master?" "Well, very well, to be honest," Garrick told him, "But you were not drunk in the legs." This one remark shows with what finesse Garrick saw Nature. He heard one day that a man in Ireland, playing with his child, had had the misforune to let him fall from the window, and saw him smashed on the pavement before his eyes. This poor father at once was struck dumb and went crazy. He had to be locked up. Garrick wanted to see him; this was several years after his accident. I have never seen anything more horrible that this man's state. I say that because I have seen him, because Garrick 'does' him in a way that makes one tremble.
Grimm, Correspondance Litteraire 6 - July 1765 (320)
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Was the French Revolution the best way to remove the oppressions of the Old Regime and to bring democracy to France? These days few - even in France - seem to question that it was. But as in the proverbial sausage whose making should not be examined by those who eat it, close examination of the random massacres, arbitrary charges, rampant destruction, etc. that in the short term resulted in... an empire, followed by a Restoration, might leave some doubts. Especially since England's democracy seems to have been firmly established earlier, and with far less death and destruction.
All this has no doubt been the subject of much discussion and debate, academic and otherwise. The latest entry comes from a review in the New York Times this past Sunday of two new books on the Revolution:

David Andress, THE TERROR: The Merciless War for Freedom in Revolutionary France, 441 pp. Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Ruth Scurr, FATAL PURITY: Robespierre and the French Revolution. 408 pp. Metropolitan Books.

David Gilmour, the reviewer, makes his position plain from the start:

Between 1789 and 1958 France had more revolutions and changes of regime than any other nation in recent history. Its people were forced to endure two empires, three monarchies and five republics, in addition to a consulate, two directories and the ignoble government of Vichy... The revolutionary slogan — "liberty, equality, fraternity" — ... encapsulated neither a truth nor an achievement. Liberty was not accorded to anyone who criticized the revolution; fraternity was less prevalent than fratricide; and equality before the law had little meaning when no one, aristocrat, bourgeois or peasant, could hope for a fair trial. As Simon Schama wrote in Citizens,his vast and brilliant chronicle of the period, violence, not ideology, was the real motor of the Revolution.

By Gilmour's account Andress' book lays all this out in rather horrifying detail: "Nor does he shrink from the horrors of revolutionary repression, describing in detail the executions of some 50,000 people by guillotine, shooting, mass drowning and even artillery fire" and yet.... defends the Revolution:

Andress generally aligns himself with the revolutionaries. He has little sympathy for the pathetic king; he claims that the men who attacked his palace and slaughtered his Swiss Guards were patriots, not a rabble; and he exhorts us "to maintain a sense of proportion" when considering the quantity of victims of the Terror. When writing about the September Massacres, in which perhaps 1,500 people were butchered in the Parisian prisons, he reminds us that these murders were committed at a time of "grave national peril," when there was much "fear of internal subversion," excuses that apologists for Stalin, Franco and other ruthless dictators have employed to justify their crimes.

Turning to Robespierre, he sums up Scurr's position as "reminiscent of the traditional gauchiste view of the Incorruptible: he was pure, he loved the common people, he embodied the Revolution. What did it matter if a few people were wrongly sent to the guillotine?" Though he does say that "Scurr is too good and scrupulous a historian to try to absolve Robespierre of deeds like the persecution of the Dantonists and the Law of 22 Prairial, which made it possible to execute a poor seamstress for exclaiming "A fig for the nation!"
And was all this worth it? Wasn't the ultimate effect of the Revolution, not only on France but on Europe, a profound and positive one? Gilmour's verdict:

Most of the positive aspects of 1789-95 had either been secured already by the English and American revolutions or evolved from them later on. France too could in due course have enjoyed the benefits of democracy without resorting to the guillotine, the Napoleonic Wars and the uprisings of 1830, 1848 and 1871... In fact the Revolution was the fount and origin not of our world but of the totalitarian era, an inspiration to future dictators who could adopt Rousseau's theory of the General Will as an excuse to avoid democracy and who could label their opponents counterrevolutionaries as an excuse to murder them without trial.

No one, I think, will accuse Gilmour of timidity. Readers' responses in the coming week should be well worth reading as well.

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So many crimes, so little time... Though there are certainly more murders to list, these will be the last here for a while. Next week the subject will be suicides.
All these appear to have been in Paris, though the locale is not always specified.


The case of the Count of Horn is somewhat more famous than others here, largely because of the Regent's response. Note too the "pieces of wood which spanned the street to hold up the two houses", an example of why accounts of crime are often good sources of details of daily life.

The count of Horn, young Lord related to the first Houses of Europe, had... the cowardly idea of murdering a poor unfortunate, who earned his living trading the notes of various particulars. His wallet appearing full of bills, which must have amounted to a considerable figure, the count got him to go to a tavern on the rue Saint-Martin, on the pretext of buying stock from him. He had him climb to a room upstairs at the rear, which he had expressly taken, and as this unfortunate man laid out his wallet on the table, the count and his two comrades threw the tablecloth over his head, and stabbed him with knives. The noise he made while being murdered made the waiter come upstairs, but finding the door locked from the inside, he went down and called for help. While waiting, the count and his accomplices decided to escape by a window which looked out on a small street beside the tavern, and although it was on the second floor, they got down easily enough with the help of some pieces of wood which spanned the street to hold up the two houses. The count's friends tried to escape; but only one was lucky enough to get to foreign lands. The other was arrested near the market, and taken to a commissioner. The count, for his part, instead of trying to escape, went to another commissioner to claim that someone had tried to murder him. His wild face, his hands and cuffs stained with blood, made the commissioner suspect that there might be something more or less to such a complaint; he asked him to take him to the place where he claimed his life had been in danger, but since he was uncooperative, the commissioner called archers to take him there by force. The count, before leaving, wanted to be alone in the facilities, on the pretext of being disturbed by the danger he was in; but this was to throw in the commode the wallet he had stolen, as was later known. He then left with the commissioner, and it was not hard to learn the truth. The tavernkeep had had the room opened, and the sight of the corpse and bloody knives were [sic] so many witnesses against the count. He was taken to the Chatelet and in eight days his trial was done. He was condemned, with his accomplice, to be broken on the wheel on the Place de Greve, which was done on the Tuesday of Holy Week. While he was in prison, every foreign lord here worked vigorously to have him pardoned or at least beheaded. They maintained that the infamy of the execution would reflect on the entire family; but the Regent's only answer was that the count was his relative as much as theirs, and it was the crime and not the means of execution which dishonored the families; and never would pardon nor commute the sentence of the count of Horn, who died with an attitude rarely found among those who die a violent death.
Mme du Noyer, Lettres historiques et galantes, MDCCXC, 8 (129), cited in l'Intermediare des Chercheurs, October 10, 1909 (504-505)


A comedy of errors, were it not so tragic.

M. Loyseau de Mauleon, the famous Parlementary lawyer, has just delivered a Memoir for the defense of three detained soldiers, and this Memoir has been widely discussed, as much for the singularity of the case as for the manner in which the author has addressed it. Of the three soldiers, two were drunk; the third, who had joined them, was sober. The first two quarrel with civilians, also drunk; the third, prudently, grabs one of his friends and pushes him into the street, where he holds him to prevent him from fighting. During this time, the other soldier, overwhelmed by the six drunk civilians, takes out his sword to force his way out, and at the same moment one of these unfortunates throws himself on him, runs himself through, and is killed at once.

A crowd gathers, the watch is called, and only arrests the soldier whose friend had kept him from the quarrel. The witnesses complicate the matter, because they confuse the actions of different soldiers whose names they do not know. The marshal Biron, colonel of the French Guards, obtains pardons which apply to all three soldiers, but in which, by mistake, the soldier who did not commit the murder is named. When he is questioned, he is adviced to name himself as the perpetrator of the murder, because otherwise the pardon will not be valid. This chance confession makes his case worse than ever: because, since it had been deposed that this soldier had been held back by his companion, the judges infer from this that being by his own confession the one who struck the blow, he had done it with premeditation, and not in his own defense. As a result, they refuse to confirm the pardons; and here is this unfortunate about to be condemned to the scaffold for a murder he has not committed. Then his friends come forward and disclose the truth. He who struck the blow produces witnesses who testify to that. There is in this affair a mass of bizarre circumstances, with a singular mix of good faith and heroism. It is not yet known what will be the fate of these three soldiers. Their lawyer has laid out this very tangled matter with a good deal of precision and believability. The pathetic part has something of the rhetoric received at the bar, and it is a pity.
Grimm, Correspondance Litteraire, April 1766 (15-16)


It is sad to think that this worthy and unique man left a trace only by being murdered.

A scoundrel escaped from the galleys, who had committed several murders in the streets of Paris, has just paid for his crimes on the wheel. One of these unfortunates to encounter this wretch is M. Perinet de Châtelmont, who has just died of his wounds after lingering for a month; he was fifty-some years old. I knew his uncle, a lively man, who died seven or eight years ago, a farmer-general in his nineties. He had spent his youth, as was then the fashion, in the cafés of Paris, with all the fashionable wits, and is mentioned in the famous couplets by Jean-Baptiste Rousseau, which earned him a criminal trial. Old Perrinet is cited there as as devoted to the Protestant faith. When I knew him, he had long taken a neutral stance; he possessed several millions, with much simplicity of manner and great subtlety in his wit. His two granddaughters bore their wealth into distinguished families, marrying, one, a Langeron, the other a Brienne. His collateral relatives, who enjoyed very respectable fortunes, neutral like their uncle, conformed, externally, to the dominant religion, except this poor Châtelmont who has just been murdered, and who remained a fervent Protestant. His brothers enjoy their fortunes like any honest citizen. Châtelmont used his like a holy man who is only passing through as he goes to his true homeland. He did not allow himself a carriage; he only permitted himself the bare necessities, and used his whole fortune for charitable works; he had taken on an infinity of pensioners, who lose everything with his death. I mention these here because of what he said to this scoundrel when he was obliged to bear his being brought before him for the confrontation. The scoundrel blamed his crime on his misery: "Wretch!" said Châtelmont to his murderer, "if only you had come see me, I would have given you a monthly pension."
Grimm, Correspondance Litteraire, May 1776 (27-28)


This very modern-sounding tale reads like an episode of "Law and Order".

October 26, 1779. A monsieur d'Huès, famous Academy sculptor, coming in recent days to open his door to someone who was knocking, was hit by a pistol shot in the eye. The person, who is said to certainly be a woman, turned away with so much tranquility and sang-froid that neighbors who came running at the sound could not suspect nor arrest her. After clarification, this singular murder now appears even as an act of virtue and maternal courage. It is believed that this very perverse artist, abusing his rank, was in the habit of corrupting little girls, not yet pubescent; that he had used the same stratagem with the child of the woman in question, decided to avenge her violation at whatever price. It is added that the letters of pardon are already prepared, for as soon as she makes herself known. Whatever the case, one cannot attribute to an ordinary and base motive, this murder committed with no theft before or after.
Bachaumont, Memoires Secretes 14 (238)
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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-Antoinette - Rouen duckling with orange

Rouen duck is still known as the best in France, as it was in our period. A recipe from the start of the century says rather casually that roast duck can be served with orange juice. This recipe is from 1750:

Rouen duckling with orange juice

Clean a duckling and prepare it for the spit. Put in the body a little piece of butter kneaded with a little parsley, spring onion, shallots, salt, pepper, and powdered basil, a little nutmeg. When three-quarter cooked, take it off the coals, and lay it out on its dish. Score it lengthwise, and put in the scorings a little salt and crushed pepper, shallots chopped fine and the juice. Warm the sauce a little and pour it over it. Serve very hot.
Dons de Comus (I, 237)

The 'juice' put in the body of the bird is probably the bird's juices, not the orange juice. Neither this recipe nor another for snipe are specific about how to use the orange juice.

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fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys

LINKS: The choice of meat and the history of taste

La Choix des Viandes offers a history of cuts and prices of meat. This is taken from a work on the 'History of Taste' which also includes a brief but interesting overview of the increased use of fat and butter in cooking and in turn is hosted on this interesting site:Observatoire Cidil des Habitudes Alimentaires: "Un site ressource sur l'alimentation, les cultures et les comportements alimentaires en relation avec les identités, la santé et les modes de vie." For those interested in modern food and body related issues, there's also quite a bit here.

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Magasin Pittoresque: No 34 - 1866

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

Quite a bit here on our period, even if often brief - as in the trials of an entrepreneur faced with the corporations' rigidity. Interesting that Christian belief had to be defended not only before some hardened revolutionaries, but at a king's court. Several interesting statistics as well.

1 - Allegorical painting by Le Sueur (image)
2 - the first laureat of the Academie Francaise (novel)
46 - wheat acreage compared with 1789
57 - Delille's poem Parks and Gardens (image)
59 - brief note on innovator stifled by corporations
71 - making barrels
92 - agioteurs ("yellow hammers") (image)
100 - the scene of the dagger in the House of Commons (image)
104 - Hogarth's (obscene?) dinner invitation (image)
109 - 17th c. Venetian washstand (image)
161 - the magnificent bourgeois (image - 1730?)
184 - Chinese image of volcano (image)
193 - the shrimp seller (image)
199 - anecdote of a defense of Jesus in David's studio
207 - signs used by monks (vowed to silence)
215 - anecdote of a defense of Jesus before Frederick
236 - faiences of Moustier (image)
273 - Goethe on describing from nature (image)
284 - military costume under Louis XV (image)
287 - arrival of Europeans at Middelbourg (image)
358 - a Greek song on 1792 (Lambros Tsavellas)
387 - Venitians of the 18th c.
404 - medal - Louis XIV exercising musketeers (image)

14 - the Trudaines
42 - thinker John Foster
168 - James Watt image)
218 - letters on Mlle. de Claret by an old servant
220 - Henry Cavendish (image)
228 - chemist Vauquelin
329 - sculptor Francois Rude (image)

Off-topic but interesting
4 - iron signs on a Black Forest inn
39 - 8th century catalogue of the York library
63 - essay on Longfellow's poems on slavery
92 - an old house of Luther's
129 - 16th c. (Dutch?) sled in form of dragon (image)
131 - new place du Chatelet (with description of old) (image)
134 - customs and superstitions of the Vosges
308 - level of education in regions of France (1865)
331 - difference of English gentlemand and French gentilhomme

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End quote

"A legislative body, characterized by weakness from the first moments of its existence, offered at first very lively debates so long as there existed in its breast enough awareness to know the dangers and courage to predict them; upright and generous men who wanted the good of their country and dared to try to establish it, audaciously denounced under the most hateful colors and in the most contradictory fashion, were finally sacrificed by ignorance and fear to intrigue and banditry; driven from the body of which they were the elite, they left behind them only an extravagant and corrupt mob whose idiocies and crimes dug its own grave, but in completing the public ruin."

Madame Roland
Memoires, Paris, 1905 (I, 62-63)

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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