SUNDRIES: An eighteenth century newsletter

N° 18 - February 18, 2006

LINKS: Medical classics and links inter text ON-LINE BOOKS: Superstitions and Customs; West Midlands writers inter text ON-PAPER BOOKS: Two from Food Books inter text MEDICAL HISTORY: Smoke gets in your....

inter cooking 18th CENTURY RECIPE: Grimod de la Reyniere, his soup

fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys
LIVRES: Mme du Barry's library; the Gifts of Comus inter text JOURNAL DES SAVANTS: Proofreaders, indexes, libraries; America, petroleum and witnessing inter text MAGASIN PITTORESQUE: No 21-1853


LINKS: Medical classics and links

Twenty Medical Classics of the Jefferson Era - "The superstition and wild speculation that Jefferson condemned were giving way to clinical concepts and careful experimentation. This exhibit features twenty medical classics that were part of this transition in medical practice. All were published during the years of Jefferson's life, 1743-1826." No works, unfortunately, but an interesting (and handsome) overview.

This very rich set of links to various 18th century resources on medical topics comes from Medhist: Top>Historical Period>Modern>18th century

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ON-LINE BOOKS: Superstitions and Customs; West Midlands writers

I chanced upon this work (from 1910) while researching Valentine's Day: T. Sharper Knowlson - The Origins of Superstitions and Customs. Handy for those intrigued by such subjects.

This site offers a text collection with a focus: Literary Heritage West Midlands. The e-texts here all appear to be by local authors.

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ON-PAPER BOOKS: Two from Food Books

Food Books lists numerous cookbooks, including (at least) these two from the 18th century:

  • The Backcountry Housewife: A Study of Eighteenth-Century Foods. By Kay Moss and Kathryn Hoffman. "More than a cookbook, this volume is chock full of history, folklore, and 18th century gossip!" ISBN: 0-9712913-1-4.Paper. 146 pp. 2001 Stock # BH001 $14.95.
  • Receipts of Pastry and Cookery For the Use of His Scholars. By Edward Kidder. Ed. by David E. Schoonover. "Edward Kidder (1665?-1739), a renowned pastry chef in 18th-C London, was also a very successful teacher of the culinary arts." This is both a facsimile and a typeset edition of one of his students' notebooks of his recipes. University of Iowa Press. 192 pp. 1993. $22.95
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MEDICAL HISTORY: Smoke gets in your...

A print of a horse smoking a pipe - what would YOU think it meant?

A writer in the Intermediare des Chercheurs (Nov 1898-2 (724)) describes a brochure from 1781 that starts with such an image above a declaration by the Provost of Merchants and Echevins (aldermen) of Paris "concerning drowned people who appear dead." The document forbids some previous "abuses": "Refrain from hanging the drowned person by the feet... Rolling in a smashed barrel is equally pernicious" and then goes on to describe the preferred method: "One will introduce into his posterior tobacco smoke, using a Smoke Machine" which is to be found in a kit in every port's guardhouse. If however there is little time, one can replace the machine "by using two pipes, one of which will be carefully introduced into the posterior of the person taken from the water, the two bowls placed one against the other, and someone else blowing tobacco smoke through the stem of the second pipe."

A response to this query cites a passage in German from 1733 that recommends the same method, then adds "at the front of the books is an engraving representing an individual practicing the same operation on himself."

The last response involves, not this 18th century medical technique, but a very modern concern. The writer references the original image in describing a dog who would not take a pipe in his mouth, even unlit. "I am not a smoker," says the writer, "and don't like to breath tobacco smoke." He then cites a verse in the patois of Arras:

Essa' d'en donner a tin kien
Tu verras s'il en voudrau bien

That is,

Try to give some to your dog.
You'll see how HE likes it.

Which was apparently, in this time when smoking was a given, nonetheless a popular saying. (IC 1898-2 (778, 816)

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

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18th CENTURY RECIPE: Grimod de la Reyniere, his soup

Many tales are told of the gourmet and gastronomic critic Grimod de la Reyniere; for instance that his aristocratic father was the son of a pork butcher (Desnoiresterres says this is a myth) or (per that his deformed hands led his parents to abandon him at birth. Au contraire, it seems that it was his father who had artificial hands made for him. Grimod nonetheless was known for an embittered attitude towards his parents, despite the wit and originality of his behavior in general.

The painter Vigee-Lebrun, who seemed a bit bemused by the whole family, tells a tale of Grimod at the opera, where his oversized hairdo blocked the view of a small man behind him. The man ended up making a hole in Grimod's hair through which he watched the show. Grimod bore all this with patience, but when the show was done, he stopped the departing man with one hand, pulled a comb from his pocket and said, "Monsieur, I have let you do as you wished... to help you watch the ballet at your ease; but I must dine in town, and you can well understand that it is impossible for me to appear in the state in which you have put my hairdo, will have the goodness to fix it, or tomorrow we will cut each others' throats." The man wisely did as he was asked, and "they parted the best of friends".

This is hardly the most colorful story told of Grimod; his mortuary dinner is too long to relate here.

The Oxford Companion to Food says that he is commonly understood to be the first food critic in the modern sense of the term. Among other things, he organized a jury which would deliver public verdicts on select dishes.

A number of recipes under his name appear in cookbooks of the time, but with no indication if the recipes were named in his honor or invented by him. This one, for a soup with his name, is from Viard's Le Cuisine Imperial (1806) (34):

In a medium sized pot, put a well-tied capon... two pigeons, a three pound piece of slice [sic - probably a slice of beef], all well fastened so that your meats look nice; fill this pot with good bouillon, skim it; then garnish it with carrots, turnips, onions, celery, leeks, two cloves. When serving put your capon and the two pigeons in a hollow dish with whole heads of lettuce around the dish, small onions, carrots cut into large cubes, turnips the same; a great quantity of these three sorts of vegetables and cooked as for the Hamlet soup [that recipe says "...Cook in a bouillon not from your pot, add in your carrots, turnips, onions, and at each cooking a little lump of sugar to destroy the bitterness." ]. When your vegetables are cooked, set them on your capons so that they form a bush; strain the bouillon from your pot through a fine napkin or a silk strainer; serve next to your dish a pot full of bouillon, good and hot, and well-salted.
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fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys

LIVRES: Mme du Barry's library; the Gifts of Comus

Starting on page 356, J. A. Le Roi's Curiosités historiques sur Louis XIII, Louis XIV, Louis XV, Mme de Maintenon, Mme de Pompadour, Mme du Barry, etc (on Gallica) includes an overview and then list of the books from Mme du Barry's library (which at the time - 1864 - were in the town library at Versailles). Most bear her arms and the ambivalent motto (for a famous courtesan): "Charge forward" or "Push forward hard" (Boutez en avant). If she had any 'forbidden' works, they don't appear here: the list ranges from classics like Corneille to "Vegetal Red for the Use of the Ladies" (1760).

Though a classic, the Dons de Comus, a French cookbook of our period, is not on-line at the same sites that offer other lesser-known books. I finally found it at the University of Barcelona's site: Dons de Comus. Not readily downloadable, however.

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JOURNAL DES SAVANTS: Proofreaders, indexes, libraries; America, petroleum and witnessing

First, a personal note. When my late mother found herself alone with two small boys (my sister was with my grandparents) to care for, her (and our) main means of subsistence was proofreading. I knew the word well before I understood what it meant. So I took a private delight in discovering an item in the Journal of 1721 (252) lamenting the lack of respect given this occupation:

It often happens that good Books, ..which have been printed on good paper with fine characters, are filled with printing errors which disfigure them. This defect comes... from the fact that printers and booksellers are more attentive to their private profit than to the public interest, not at all wanting to pay an honest remuneration to people skilled in reviewing proofs.

Plus ca change....

My mother also did indexing, as it happens, which was where I first learned the alphabet. I suspect she would have paled at the idea of a project like that begun around mid-century, to index all the volumes of the Journal des Savants from its start in 1665 to 1750.

The second volume of this effort - 1753-Tables 1665-1750 - T. 2 - BA-CE - includes several pages of references to libraries (bibliotheques), most private in this case. These references can prove frustrating, since they sometimes do no more than cite the appearance of a catalogue, but also quite rich, as in the (non-index) volume of 1753 which, starting on page 763, describes the books owned by M. de Boze, a contributor to the Journal itself.

A similar situation exists with mentions of the "Cabinets of Curiosities" which were effectively private museums. The 1718 edition (319) lists the contents of a Monsieur Mercati's collection, and the 1744 edition (716) those of another.

Regrettably, no index was created for the volumes from mid-century to the Revolution. The next index appeared in 1860 and started in 1816, when publication resumed (after 19 years). Both that and the 1816 edition include overviews of the nature of the journal and its history.

Though thin, the 1816 edition includes a review (228 ff) of a book on Benedict Arnold's plot. The review offers a summary of the events in question, after some reflections on what was still a very young country, including this:

In explaining the effects of the liberty of the press in the United States, [the author] shows that it is the government that reaps its greatest advantages, and that there the clash of opinions, noisy as it may be, never ends but by submitting them to the sacred rule of law."

Further on, among the country's disadvantages, the author (or the reviewer) lists "the fatal or dangerous slavery of blacks, which continues in the southern States."

In both 1719 (529) and 1752 (496), the subject of petroleum oil must have seemed less central than it does now. Like another modern energy source, electricity, it was then of most interest for its medical applications.

Finally, you may have read recently that a man in Italy tried to sue a priest for fraud for claiming that Christ once existed (he lost, and the judge suggested he be sued for slander). As it happens, the idea of subjecting religious matters to secular legal standards dates back not only to "Ally MacBeal" (which once, poignantly, showed a dying boy trying to sue God), but to at least 1753, when the Journal reviewed a book (originally in English) entitled: Witnesses to Christ's Resurrection Examined According to the Rules of the Bar.

Clarence Darrow would have loved that one.

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Magasin Pittoresque: Volume 21-1853

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

Some very colorful things here (cheats and beggars, promenades), less focus on individuals. The image of an aerostat on page 233 looks like something out of Jules Verne.

38 - Effects of thunder in 1676
40 - 1769 list of founding dates of universities
55 - the Three Fates in 18th c. dress
142 - a 17th century trial
147 - a 17th century watch
148 - promenade on the boulevards of Paris (with image)
151 - Richelieu and the ventriloquist; old Harry, English beggar (died 1710) (with image)
166 - siege of Genoa 1799-1800
168 - 18th century drawings on vases
183 - Jefferson's ten rules
233 - invention of hard porcelain in Saxony; history of aerotstats, with 1709 image
244 - etching of Watteau painting - the Knife Sharpener
330 - Paris 125 Years Ago (under Louis XV and Fleury)
335 - Maitrise of a Cuisinier Charcutier
385 - 1688 in England

27 - painter Jean-Jacques Boissieu
177 - Oliver Goldsmith (with image of Johnson reading his work)
220 - mathematician Poisson
257 - writer Xavier de Maistre
340 - painter Pierre Subleyras
Off-topic, but interesting:
9 - House of Lords,with engraving
19 - frauds by buyers
42 - the oldest act of royal authority in France
66 - a glossary of religious symbols
210 - missionary de Las Casas
247 - Social precedence in England
296 - Italian proverbs ("The leg does what the knee wants")
274 - painting in France until the 16th century
290 - Shakespeare's view of Joan of Arc
327 - origin of sayings ("It's raining cats and dogs", etc.)
347 - different between English and French etiquette

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End quote

"At the moment of our parting, on the road, during the journey, and since then, at every hour I have felt deeply all that the course of years, a close union, and your merit have inspired in me, of affection, respect, and attachment for you. As our carriages drew apart, I often asked myself if I had seen you for the last time."

(He had.) George Washington to Lafayette, December 8, 1784

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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