SUNDRIES: An eighteenth century newsletter

N° 16 - February 4, 2006

GALLICA: actors in costume inter text LINKS: Revolutions at the University of Colorado inter text THE FRENCH REVOLUTION: A French Swift?

inter cooking 18th CENTURY RECIPE: Fried Cream

fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys
JOURNAL DES SAVANTS: French 18th C. weather; the hidden hermaphrodite; Siamese twins; abortion inter text Magasin Pittoresque: No 20-1852


GALLICA: actors in costume

I'm not sure how long this has been up, but lovers of costume or theatrical history will want to work their way through the images in La Galerie Martinet-Hautecoeur by clicking on the entry on the first page: Découvrez le nouveau fonds de Gallica : les Galeries théâtrales.

Lots and lots of rich images, though I found it a bit flakey to navigate.

back to top

LINKS: Revolutions at the University of Colorado

Though the main site here is about United States history, this rather handsome page has some interesting links on the French Revolution:

United States History: From the American Revolution to the French Revolution

To whit:

  • Historiography of the French Revolution
  • Historiography Title Page
  • Historiography Bibliography
  • The Condition of Women During the French Revolution
  • Condition of Women Title Page
  • Condition of Women Bibliography
  • Lafayette in Two Worlds
  • Lafayette in Two Worlds Title Page
  • Lafayette in Two Worlds Bibliography
  • Lafayette
  • Robespierre
  • Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Alexis de Tocqueville

Those whose main interest is American History might want to start with this Site Map (for only part of the site?).

back to top


I think Morellet is being ironic here. But then with the French Revolution, one can never be sure; in 1794:

"The combination of food shortages and mass executions even prompted the Abbe Morellet, a member of the French Academy, to suggest eating the guillotine's victims as 'a new means for the Nation's sustenance'. Terror victims should be sold in a 'national butcher's shop', and to encourage the squeamish there should be 'a law which would oblige citizens to shop there once a week'. Enemies of the state would be served at 'every Patriotic fete' and the dish would become a 'Jacobin eucharist'.
Mike Jay, The Air Loom Gang: The Strange and True Story of James Tilly Matthews and His Visionary Madness (137)
back to top

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

back to top

18th CENTURY RECIPE: Fried Cream

I believe it was the recipe for fried cream in the Viandier which one commentator footnoted as 'a joke'. But medieval cookbooks aren't generally known for their chuckles, and not only has fried cream been made for centuries, it is still a specialty in places as different as Venice and Tennesee:

For a few recipes across the centuries, see:

Otherwise, here's one from the Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois (1705) (219-220):

Take about a pint of milk, boil it on the fire, and mix in four egg yolks with a little flour. Once it is well mixed, stir it all together on the stove until the cream is formed: put in a little salt, a little butter and some chopped lemon peel. Once it is cooked, flour your table and pour your Cream, so that it spreads out by itself: once it has cooled, it should look like a cooked omelette. Cut it into pieces, depending on the size you want, and fry them in good hot lard, being careful not to ruin them in the pan. Once it is browned, take it off; put powdered sugar and orange flower water on it. Lay it out in its dish, and having glazed it, if you wish, with a heated oven peel, serve it hot. You can also, when this sort of cream is spread out on the table, have hot butter in your frying pan, and fry it like an omelette. When it is browned on one side, pour it into its dish, and move it gently around in the pan, to brown it on all sides. Sugar it, glaze it and serve it hot once again, all as an Entremets.
back to top

fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys

JOURNAL DES SAVANTS: French 18th C. weather; the hidden hermaphrodite; Siamese twins; abortion

Ever wonder what the weather was like the month the Bastille was stormed (July 1789)? Unfortunately, weather reports seem to be something of a late development in Old Regime France. It turns out, however, that the Journal des Savants did offer approximations of them at irregular intervals, the last being from about 1770 on into the Revolution. Not for all of France (largely for Laon, north of Paris, in many cases), and often appearing well after the month when the figures were recorded. The figures for July 1789, for instance, appeared in January 1790 (apparently the month overall was cold and wet).

According to the index for the first part of the collection (1757, entries MEA-PFL, 105-106) other figures appear for 1701-1742 from different locales. Not perfect or complete, certainly, but more than I've seen elsewhere.

The Journal des Savants is, for the last part of the Old Regime, largely a collection of publication announcements, sometimes with extensive reviews, sometimes with minimal mentions. It began in 1665, however, and the early 18th century issues are more like complete magazines and less like book catalogues. These also have true indexes, whereas the later editions list the works mentioned by topic, with asterisks to indicate full articles. The subject matter is often scientific, but also literary, theological, etc. If you know of a major work that was published in any European country in a particular year, it's probably mentioned in the Journal for that year or just after.

The earlier volumes also show a sneering contempt for anyone who deviates from Catholic orthodoxy, nicely typified by an index entry on abbesses (1703) who ont voulu se mesler de confesser - literally, "wanted to get mixed up with confession" or "wanted to involve themselves with confession", but with a strong nuance of "stick their noses into" confession. The article itself - a review of a larger work (661) - tells of abbesses who either asked to confess their own nuns and were refused or simply went ahead and did it and even appeared in the pulpit, "but Pope Innocent III found this feminine zeal quite ridiculous" and ordered his bishops to stop it.

Here are a few items (besides the weather) that caught my eye:

  • Imagine if you were half the opposite sex and never knew it? The Journal des Savants of 1724 (453-454) tells of an autopsy done on a man that revealed he had a womb and "all the system of generation, as it exists in a woman", and tiny organs that might either have been undescended testicles or ovaries. This led the writer to wonder if the same was true of another man who peed blood once a month, leading one writer to comment: "There must be at least as many interior there are exterior."
  • In the volume for 1701 (376) there is a detailed description of conjoined twins born on June 21 of that year in Beauvais. The rather clinical description nonetheless is tinged with tenderness: "the two children each had a head with all the parts beautifully formed and with great resemblance" before going on to describe the autopsy and then preservation of their body (with a shared oversized liver)- so it could be sent to Paris for public viewing.

Finally, there's this unusual mention of disagreement (within a Catholic society) as to when a fetus first comes alive:

The Author of this Digest divides this useful work into four Books, of which the first concerns the vigilance of Cures and of all Ecclesiastics towards pregnant women, and of the means of preventing abortions, volontary and involontary. Different sentiments of Authors on the time of animation of the fetus are presented here; and how it is proved by several facts that it is animated much earlier than some have thought; wise advice is given on discovering, in case of abortion, if the embryo is formed and living, in order to administer Baptism, at least conditionally.
1762 (862), review of Abrege de l'Embryologie Sacree ("Digest of Sacred Embryology")

[NOTE: 'Abortion' here clearly means any interruption of a pregnancy, including miscarriage.]

Magasin Pittoresque: No 20-1852

It might be useful at this point to remind my readers that the many volumes of the Magasin Pittoresque are available on Gallica ( Also, for reasons of my own, I began digging into the later volumes first, so at some point - if all this continues for any length of time - I'll have to backtrack to the first volumes.
I've just had time to note the subjects here, but certainly would like to look more closely at the items on Parisian booksellers and the Paris bird market (still a colorful spot to visit). The (off-topic) images of Pegasus yoked (symbolizing harnessed inspiration?) are somewhat quirky, but often lovely as well.

556 - 17th c booksellers and printers in Paris
356 - tale of a musketeer
291 - charlatan
259 - "modern" pneumatic machines (17th c on)
256 - varnished cardboard tobacco holders
239 - English clearinghouse
231 - national institution for the Young-Blind
225 - servants of former times
203 - historical house signs (Strasbourg)
177 - books on foreign coins by Barreme
153 - image and analysis of frontispiece to Leviathan
106 - Salon of 1787 (with engravings)
100 - Thomas Coram's hospital for children
99 - Paris bird market in the 18th
83 - Guizot quote on the 18th
68 - image by Coypel of Don Quixote
25 - chateau of Chastellux
11 - Guadalajara in the 18th
4 - engraving of Darius family (Lebrun/Edelinck)

Notable individuals:

564 - Joshua Reynolds
344 - Chevalier Dessausau (French "poet" in London)
335 - scientist Savigny
308 - astronomer Jean-George Palitzch
251 - architect Francois Blondel
250 - architect Soufflot
227 - artist Richard Wilson
225 - artisans and peasants, astronomers
200 - Condorcet
176 - Bernardin de Saint Pierre
114 - Dutch philospher Francois Hemsterhuys
39 - playwright Henri Zschokke
15 - doctor Guy Patin

Off-topic, but of interest:

597 - subterranean Paris (catacombs) (with image)
550 - Bimbeloterie Parisienne (industrial figures on amusements/toys)
291 - anecdote on Joan of Arc
195 - Mexican antiquities in the Louvre
182 - introduction of coffee and tobacco to Constantinople
142 - insects in amber
96 - Emerson's Self Reliance in French
41, 84 - various engravings of Pegasus yoked (!)
73 - Audubon

back to top

End quote

"Having missed my dinner, I crossed over to the Palais Royal, to a dining saloon, and can assure you that a better dinner may be had there for five francs, than can be got in New York for twice the sum, and especially if the person who wants the dinner is a coloured man. I found no prejudice against my complexion in the Palais Royal."

W. Wells Brown, Three Years in Europe (1852)

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.


Questions? Comments? Corrections? Write:

Chez Jim

Memoirs of

the Bastille

Return to
Welcome to

the Bastille
Chez Jim