SUNDRIES: An eighteenth century newsletter

N° 25 - April 8, 2006

GOVERNMENT: The parable of the painter inter text PRINTED BOOKS: Virginia court cases and women of property inter text MAKING OF AMERICA: autographs of Pope, Swift, Hogarth, Mozart, etc. inter text EVENTS: Vellum

inter cooking 18th CENTURY RECIPE: A meal for Marie-Antoinette - Sweetbreads en papillote

fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys
LINKS: Arisitum inter text Magasin Pittoresque: No 29 - 1861


GOVERNMENT: The parable of the painter

He who proposes a law always regards himself as above it, and tacitly excepts himself; this is something everyone knows. The Abb? Galiani, who liked to speak in parables like Jesus Christ, said that the legislator is like that painter whom the police brought in to prevent the filth that the Welsh always leave at the end of the culs-de-sac in their capital, "impasses" in French. They ordered him to paint in large characters "Forbidden to leave any waste here on pain of a fine or corporal punishment"; this is the elegant inscription to be found on all the out of the way places of Paris. The painter gets to work. In the middle of the job he has a need; he comes down the ladder, takes down his pants and, while relieving himself contrary to the spirit of the law, ...admires the beauty of his work. In this parable, the nobility of the image is not less worthy of attention than the profound meaning of the moral.
Grimm, Correspondance Litteraire, December 1764; Tome 6 (151-152)
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PRINTED BOOKS: Virginia court cases and women of property

I've only seen a passing reference to this book and it's probably hard to find, but its existence may be of interest: Loose Papers and Sundry Court Cases 1732-1744/5 Northhampton County, Virginia Volume II (Volume 2) (Paperback) by Jean M. Mihalyka (Editor):

Abstracts from court suits filed by individuals on his/her behalf or as executors or administrators of a deceased person's estate. The Court also heard presentments of the Grand Jury and cases filed by a Commissioner of the Court upon the information of an informer. Those filing suits were the ordinary citizen both white, Free Black and Indian, merchants, professional people, mariners, indentured servants and orphans.

Its editor is credited by Linda Sturtz, author of Within Her Power: Propertied Women in Colonial Virginia. The table of contents for the latter work can be found here.

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MAKING OF AMERICA: autographs of Pope, Swift, Hogarth, Mozart, etc.

The Cornell version of MOA includes an article by William Young on a collection of "autograph epistles" belonging to a person identified as "John Old". This pseudonym is said to be transparent, but the only detail given on this collector is that he then lived in a house by Sir John Vanbrugh. The article - "A Morning Among Autographs" - is published across several issues of Putnam's monthly magazine of American literature, science and art: Volume 11, Issue 6, June 1868 and Volume 12, Issue 8, Aug 1868. Young only copied out some letters, and then sometimes only fragments. Among those whose letters he did NOT copy were:

John Evelyn, Jeremy Taylor, Abraham Cowley, Edmond Wailer, Lady Dorothy Sunderland, known as Waller's "Sacharissa", John Dryden, John Locke, Sir Isaac Newton, Matthew Prior, Joseph Addison, Sir Richard Steele, Henry Fielding, Lawrence Sterne, Samuel Johnson, James Bosweil, Oliver Goldsmith, Sir Joshua Reynolds, David Hume, Edward Gibbon, Thomas Gray, William Cowper, William Wordsworth, [and] Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

If, as frequently happens, this collection was sold off individually, it may be that these or some he did copy are now lost or buried in private collections. Others may be well known to scholars of the individuals concerned. I've mainly included the transcribed letters here, though sometimes Young's notes are of interest, as when he says of a letter from Fox in 1800, "Envelopes had not then come into use".
Here is the end of a letter from Alexander Pope to Dr. Oliver, dated 28th August, 1743, the year before his death:

Pray make my compliments to Dr. Hartley, as I shall yours to Dr. Mead. I have had such obligations to the best of your Faculty during my whole life, that I wish all others, both my Friends and my Enemies, were their Patients, in which I show that I wish well to my Friends, and not ill to my Enemies. That every Physical and moral Evil may be far from you is the Philosophical prayer of; Dear Sir, Your very obliged and very affectionate servant, A. Pope"
(Volume 12, Issue 8 (227)

How about a letter of recommendation for Jonathan Swift? This, dated March 29, 1690, is from Sir William Temple to Sir Robert Southwell:

Hee has lived in my house, read to me, writt for me, and kept all accounts, as far as my small occasions required. Hee has Latine and Greek, writes a very good and current hand, is very honest and diligent, and has good friends, though they have for the present lost their fortune in Ireland; and his whole family having been long known to me, obliged mee thus farr to take care of him. If you please to accept him into your service, either as a Gentleman to wait on you, or as Clerk to write under you; and either to use him so, if you like his service, or upon any Establishment of the Colledge to recommend him to a Fellow ship there, which he has a just pretence to, I shall acknowledge it as a great obligation.
(Volume 12, Issue 8 (227) )

Hogarth's satirical "The No Dedication:" was undated, but said to be in his handwriting:

Not dedicated to any Prince in Christendom, for fear it should be thought an idle piece of arrogance. Not dedicated to any man of quality, for fear it might be thought too assuming. Not dedicated to any learned body of men, as either of the Universities, or the Royal Society, for fear it might be thought an uncommon piece of vanity. Not dedicated to any one particular friend, for fear of offending another. Therefore dedicated to Nobody. But if; for once, we may suppose Nobody to be Everybody, as Everybody is often said to be Nobody, then is this work dedicated to everybody, by their most humble and devoted.
(Volume 12, Issue 8 (227) )

Young presents the following as proof of the reality of the mysterious patron said to have commissioned Mozart's Requiem:

Most honored Sir, I would follow your advice, but know not how. My head is troubled, and I can scarcely compose; yet I cannot rid my sight of the figure of this unknown person. I see him perpetually; he requests, solicits, importunes me for the work. I continue, because composing fatigues me less than repose. Besides, I have no longer any thingto fear. I know by my own feelings that the hour approaches, and that I must shortly breathe my last. I have finished before I have enjoyed the fruits of my talent. Yet life has been so sweet, and my career opened before me under such fortunate auspices. But we cannot change our destiny. No one measures his own days; we must therefore be resigned. Whatever Providence ordains wilt be accomplished, and now I conclude; this is my funeral dirge, I ought not to leave it unfinished. Vienna 7bre 1791 MOZART
(Volume 12, Issue 8 (280) )

This (very long) letter from Horatio Nelson (Vol. 11, 690) - then captain of the Agamemnon in the Mediterranean - was addressed to his maternal uncle, "Commissioner Suckling, Custom House, London", and is notable for its resentful tone:

Agamemnon St: Fiorenzo feby 7th 1795

My dear Sir

This day Twelve Months saw the British Troops land at this place for the purpose of turning the French out of the Island and the more I see of its produce & convenient ports for our Fleets the more I am satisfied of Lord Hood's great Wisdom in getting possession of it, for had his Lordship not come forward with a bold plan all our trade & Political consequence would have been lost in Italy for after the evacuation of Toulon to what place where We to look for Shelter for our fleet & the numerous attendants of Victuallers Storeships & Transports. Genoa was inimical to us & by treaty only five Sail of the Line could enter their Ports at the same time-if we look at Tuscany She was little better forced to declare for us, and ever since wishing to get her Neutrality again, even the French Consul although not officially receiv'd has not left Leghorn. All our trade and of our allies to Italy must all pass close to Corsica, the Enemy would have had the Ports of this Island full of Row Gallies & from the great Calms near the land our Ships of War could not have protected the Trade, they can always be taken under your Eye, therefore from this sect: only, every Man of Common Sense must see the necessity of our possessing this Island. - The Spanish Ports & Neapolitan are so improper (& except Minorca which is now only a fishing town with a few Slips for Ship buildin,, every thing being destroy'd) & the distance from the Scene of War so distant, that they could not have been used even would the Dons have made us welcome which I much doubt. The loss to the French has been great indeed - all the ships built at Toulon have their sides, Beams, decks & Strait Timber from this Island, the Pine of this Island is of the finest texture I ever saw, and the Tar Pitch & hemp although I believe the former not equal to Norway yet was very much used in the Yard at Toulon - so much for the benefit of it to us during the War, and in Peace I see no reason but it may be as beneficial to England as any other part of the King's dominions every article of this Island was suppress'd, as it interfered with the produce of the So: of France. The Large woods of olives must produce great quantities of fine oil & the Wine is much preferable to the Wines of Italy - our Naval Yards will be supplied with excellent wood & I daresay the expense of keeping the Island will be very trifling, & its importance to us very great-other powers will certainly envy us, & the Inhabitants will grow rich & I hope happy under our mild Government, the difference is already visible, before every Corsican carried his gun for every district was at enmity with the other, many parts at War with the French & none friendly with them. No Single French Man could travel in this Island his death was certain - Now not one Man in fifty carries Arms - their Swords are really turn'd into Plough Shares, & We travel every where with only a Stick - this day I have walk'd over 300 acres of fine wheat which last year only served to feed a few Goats, & if these great alterations are to be seen in the least fertile part of the Island, what must be the change in the more fruitful - and when I reflect that I was the cause of reattacking Bastia, after our Wise Generals gave it over from not knowing the force, fancying it 2000 Men, that it was I who landing joining the Corsicans with only my Ships party of Marines drove the French under the walls of Bastia, that it was I who knowing the force in Bastia to be upwards of 4000 Men, as I have now only ventur'd to tell Lord Hood landed with only 1200 Men & kept the Secret 'till within a Week past - what I must have felt during the whole Seige may be easily conceived. Yet I am scarcely mention'd. I freely forgive but cannot forget - this and much more ought to have been mentioned - it is known that for two months I blockaded Bastia with a Squadron; only 50 Sacks of flour got into the Town - at Fioreuzo & Calvi for two months before nothing got in & 4 French frigates could not get out & are now ours.Yet my diligence is not mentioned - & others for keeping succours out of Calvi for a few summer months are handsomely mentioned - such things are. I am got in a subject near my heart which is full when I think of the treatment I have receiv'd every Man who had any considerable share in the Reduction has got some place or other - I only I, am without reward the taking of Corsica like the taking St: Juans, has cost me money St: Juans cost near 500 [pounds] Corsica has cost mc 300 [pounds], an eye & Cut across my back and my money I find cannot be repaid me, nothing but my anxious endeavour to serve my Country makes me bear up against it, but I sometimes am ready to give all up. We are just going to Sea & I hope to God we shall meet the French fleet which may give us all Gold chains who knows. Remember me most kindly to Mrs Suckling & Miss Suckling and Believe in every situation I feel myself Your much oblig'd & affectionate Horatio Nelson Best Respects to Mr: Rumsey & family & to Mr: Wrents. forgive this letter I have said a great deal too much of myself but in deed it is all too true.

Here, says Young, are "two ... letters from Sheridan to Mr. Charles Ward, the Treasurer of Drury Lane Theatre. They are addressed to him at the Secretary's office of that establishment, and are post-marked "Biggleswade . . . 1814." The former of the two has the signature "R B Sheridan," in the usual corner, outside.... 'Southill Friday Dr Ward Beg borrow steal forge 10 [pounds] for me & send by return of Post then I am with you Yours truly JIBS What do you think of Kean I am glad He is to play Richard & not of Post. How is Brinsley?' The word "Post,' in the above postscript, is probably a slip of the pen for "Poet," meaning that Kean was not to play Shakspeare's Richard, but Garrick's. The main subject is amusingly renewed in this second communication:

Private Southill Thursday Dr Ward, Thou art a trusty man, & when I write to you I get an answer & the thing done if it can be and you don' write or want to receive long Lettcrs - which are my horror. I have been very ill with a violent attack of bile - kept my bed three days - but don't say this to a soul it always does harm in my situation. I am now quite well, & the better for it, pray let two or three Theatre chaps or their connexions put up a little scaffolding in my Hall that may serve to wash the walls & whitewash the ceiling as soon as you receive this. I will explain my motives when I arrive on Sunday as I suppose I have replaced the last 10 [pounds] you stole for me, I trust you may reputably renew the Theft when I arrive should it be again wanted as I greatly fear it will I have had a very civil Letter from Hudson, from whom I have great resource coming. There are political events (home) brewing. - One letter more will catch me here Ever yours R. B. S.'
(Vol. 11, 692)

Speaking of David Garrick, here is what appears to be an excerpt from a letter to his brother, George Garrick, on April 12, 1776: "Last night I played Drugger for the last time. The Morning Post will tell you the whole of that night. I thought the audience were mad, and they almost turned my brain." (Volume 12, Issue 8 (227) ).

Finally, three items relative to Napoleon. The first is only a mention:

From and after the time when Napoleon Buonaparte became First Consul, infinite pains were taken, in all departments of the state and through many agencies, to destroy or obliterate every document that bore the great man's name, spelled as it is here printed. The u was obnoxious, because it testified to his Italian origin, of which it was considered desirable to leave no record. Mr. Old, however, showed me a letter from Napoleon to the citizen Berlier, dated "Antibes, Prairial, l'an 2," with the extremely rare signature Buonaparte.

He then offers, as proof that Josephine actively courted her future husband, this letter from the 'Widow Beauharnais' to 'General Bonaparte' dated 1st Ventose (year not specified; original in French):

You no longer come to see a friend who loves you. You have completely dropped her. You are very wrong, because she is tenderly attached to you. Come tomorrow seven to breakfast with me, I need to see you, and to chat with you about your interests. Good evening, my friend, I kiss you.
WIDOW BEAUHARNAIS to General Bonaparte.
Volume 12, Issue 8 (279-280) )

And, last, this admiring evaluation from a surprising quarter: "Fox's admiration of the First Consul," says Young, "was indeed notorious; but his manner of expressing it herein is remarkable for its comprehensiveness no less than for its fervor. The letter is addressed to Dennis O'Bryen, Esq., Craven street, Strand; is franked by Fox, from "Chertsey July sixteen 1800;" and post-marked "Free" "Staines." Envelopes had not then come into use

Dear O'Bryen, I am much obliged to you for your letter I think exactly as you seem to do of Bonaparte, and though I never could like his manner of sacrificing Venice &c and still less his entry into the Council of 500 at St. Cloud (by the way I am not sure I am right about the Place) I have entirely forgiven him and am willing to think him one of the best as I am sure he is the greatest of Men; and as to what you say about myself, his reputation is not only so much above what I could in any case look to, but of so different a genus that there is no merit in not being envious of him. He certainly has surpassed, in my judgment, Alexander & Caesar, not to mention the great advantage he has over them in the cause he fights in - Caesar's military exploits in Gaul are those upon which his reputation chiefly rests, his conquest of Italy was nothing Saguntum is certainly not the place you mean for I do not think there was a place of that name in Italy, I think both Cerfinium & Brundusium were defended, but I am not sure, & not Tarentum. I quite agree with you about Pitt's Silence upon Sheridan's Panegyrick, and like Windham's far better as I do the Man. We have had one or two very pleasant water jaunts. I go to Woburn Saturday for about a week. Mrs. A. desires to be kindly remembered to you - yours affly, C. J. Fox St. Anne's Hill Wednesday'
(Vol. 11, 692)

EVENTS: Vellum

Friday the Los Angeles galleries along La Brea and Wilshire had an Art Walk, with a double-decker bus to cart visitors around. Seeing that section of the city from a double-decker bus was itself an experience. But towards the end of the evening, I went into a store, catering to designers, that mainly had old and generally large furniture or other objects for sale, and spotted a few large volumes on a table. Seeing that one was in eighteenth century type and in French, I explored a bit further back in the next room, where I saw, behind a glass partition, rows and rows of off-white volumes, some large, most the size of a paperback. "My associate has those," the owner said, "She's got six hundred volumes of some magazine from the 1700's, with articles and music, that came out every month." This turned out to be the Mercure de France, with volumes from the earlier third of the century. The Flemish woman who had that part of the store said she'd already sold off two hundred and expected the rest to go to either a library or (chills....) a designer who just liked the look.
For look there was. I don't know how many people who study our century have ever seen rows and rows of vellum-covered books, but the effect of that off-white calfskin, looking remarkably fresh and even modern, is quite striking. She explained to me that the Mercure was in 'half vellum' - thin vellum on cardboard - whereas some of the larger volumes (inventories and bibliographies, mostly) were in 'full vellum', and somewhat lighter. One of the latter was embossed on the front. Seeing the emblem, distinct but subtle against the white leather, I could see why designers were attracted to the look of these old volumes. Even as I fervently hoped some library got them first....

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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 - Sweetbreads en papillote

Though sweetbreads seem to be a specialty in some regions of the States, I suspect more Americans have eaten them under the French name of "ris-de-veau" than as a native specialty. (For English speakers, one advantage of French is that it disguises doubtful dishes - such as offal - under elegant names.) I haven't seen and don't expect to see a recipe for sweetbreads cooked "en papillote", a method that is more often used for cuts that include a bone (such as chops). Nor does the title of the dish really tell us how the meat itself was prepared, though presumably a lot of sauce wasn't involved. The Cuisinier Royale et Bourgeois provides one ornate recipe for sweetbreads (439-440), followed by several general ideas for other methods:

Stuffed sweetbreads ? la Dauphine

You must have good sweetbreads, blanch them a little and lard with a little cooked ham. Make a fine stuffing, a little thick; and with the point of the knife, make a hole in your Sweetbreads on the side which does not go through; stuff them here neatly, and them on a low coal fire. Once cooked, make a good stew, composed of mushrooms, truffles, artichokes and mousserons [a variety of mushroom]. Once all this has been strained, put cock crests stuffed with the same stuffing, and a little chicken coulis, so that the sauce is not at all black. Skim your Sweetbreads, having taken them out; and then put them in the stew, where you will let them cook a little more. Lay all this out in its dish; squeeze a little lemon juice ove it and serve hot. Other ways [to prepare it] are, to lard the Sweetbreads with thin strips of lard; and once cooked on the spit, serve them with a stew or sauce on top; or else fry them, having marinated them, cut them into slices and flour them, to serve them with fried parsley and lemon juice; or finally to make different stews of them, either white or with mushrooms and morel mushrooms or with truffles, all served as Entremets.

Descriptions of preparing dishes "en papillote" (literally, in a curling paper, though the French term is used in English) are always specific to one dish. In a recipe for "Veal cutlets en papillote" (L'Art Du Cuisinier (173-174)), having described how to cook the cutlets and let them cool, Beauvilliers goes on to say:

Cut your paper in the form of a small kite, oil it in the spot where your [meat] will lay; put on the paper small, very fine lardoons; put a half teaspoon of fines herbes on the lard; put your [meat] on top, and cover it with fines herbes and a small lardoon, close your papillote, empty it; [tie one end] with a string; oil your papillotes outside; grill them and be careful that the paper does not burn; remove the string; be sure that your meat is nicely browned, and serve.

This is one of the more ornate ways of preparing meat en papillote. Reduce it to oiling the paper and browning the meat inside the paper, and it will probably do. Add to this the different ways to prepare sweetbread, and the menu entry leaves a lot of leeway.

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fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys

LINKS: Arisitum

This site includes a very random assortment of documents from our period, among many others:

Ces chroniques regroupent des textes originaux relatifs ? l'Histoire de France (pour une p?riode s'?talant depuis le Moyen Age jusqu'? 1914). Il peut s'agir de documents d'archives, d'extraits d'ouvrages anciens, etc. Ces textes ont un int?r?t d'ordre g?n?ral (r?cit, rapport, m?moire, livre de raison...) ou bien traitent d'un fait ou d'un th?me particulier (peste, guerre, justice...).

Just to pick one of many subjects covered, these three pieces discuss life on the galleys, especially for Protestant prisoners:


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Magasin Pittoresque: No 29 - 1861

(NOTE: No. 28 for 1860 would normally follow here, but is not available on Gallica)

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

If you were a charlatan and were called before Frederick the Great to explain how you made people see spirits, would you lie, or would you give the real skinny? The latter, wiser option was the one taken, resulting in an interesting record for the rest of us. Ever wanted to print your own money? Once, being of the proper class, you could at least have struck it. Finally, did you know Red Square was called that before the Communist Revolution? (I didn't.)

72 - expiatory chapel (for Louis XVI and others) at Rue des Arcades
78 - a formula for making spirits appear (explained to Frederick the Great)
116 - private coinage 148 - Caserta (built 1752-1759)
161 - origins of the American "uprising"
179 - stables in France (second part has lots of 18 c)
187 - Jean-Jacques Rousseau's wilderness
195 - society of theophilanthropists
200 - obelisk of Port-Vendres (hommage to Louis XVI)
320 - Polichinelle's family (image)
331 - Swift's resolutions for old age, from 1699 (in French)
402 - Johnson's story of a serving girl, from the Idler (in French)
403 - Hoffman's drawings (1 image)

40 - Gluck
70 - William Ellery Channing
128 - statue of Franklin in Boston
143 - chemist Louis-Jacques Thenard
157 - Greuze
188 - Greek patriot and songwriter Rhigas
280 - Wolfe and Montcalm
315 - painter Canova (image)
407 - Joan of Arc's hat (in 1789)

off-topic but interesting
12 - Hand shadows (lots of pictures)
18 - 3 Finnish proverbs ("Better to hear of the king than to see him")
27 - workers' housing in Mulhouse (with prices)
102 - Armenian women
135 - Pocahontas
163 - vegetarian Guayaros
167 - menu for an exotic dinner
182 - difference between states of North and South in USA
219 - Russian cabarets
244 - picture of camels
302 - antediluvian antiquities
306 - history of Red Square
324 - the (then new) Fountain St. Michel

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End quote

"That fellow [Garrick] wants me to make Mahomet mad, that he may have an opportunity of tossing his hands, and kicking his heels."

Samuel Johnson
quoted in Specimens of the British Poets: With Biographical and Critical Notices, and An Essay on English...
Thomas Campbell (5)

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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