SUNDRIES: An eighteenth century newsletter

N° 34 - June 10, 2006

LINKS: Foremothers; 18th century English bibliography; blog inter textON-LINE TEXTS: Supreme Court on suicide; Scottish culture; Pope; Lisbon; dyes inter textGRIMM: Two non-suicides

inter cooking 18th CENTURY RECIPE: Meat jelly

fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys

Magasin Pittoresque: No 38-1870


LINKS: Foremothers; 18th century English bibliography; blog

I don't know that there will be many surprises on the 18th century portion of this timeline, but it does have links to some articles and source material: Women's History Month 1999 - Feminist Foremothers 1400 to 1800.

This was an accidental find; I'm sure there are other useful bibliographies out there: Bibliography of Primary and Secondary Texts pertaining to the Study of English in Eighteenth-Century Great Britain.

I had thought this blog would have popped up in our archives, but apparently not:"Age of Enlightenment"

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ON-LINE TEXTS: Supreme Court on suicide; Scottish culture; Pope; Lisbon; dyes

This excerpt from a Supreme Court decision includes some 18th century information on suicide: History of Assisted Suicide from the United States Supreme Court ruling in the 1997 Washington v. Glucksberg (opinion written by Chief Justice Rehnquist).

ART AND CULTURE IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY SCOTLAND - "A study of the emergence of a particular kind of Scottish cultural consciousness in the years after the Union of 1707."

This seems to be a paper redone as a site: Pope's Agency in the Feminization of Literature


This paper is offered as a PDF: Seismic Waves in Intellectual Currents: The use of the Lisbon earthquake in 18th century thought by Russell R. Dynes.


This is from an Elizabethan book on dyes, but I suspect much of the information still applied in our time. Plus, you never know: one of these tricks just MIGHT get that stain out:

A Profitable Booke, declaring diuers approoued Remedies, to take out spots and staines in Silkes, Veluets, Linnen and Woollen Clothes: With diuers Colours how to die Veluets and Silkes, Linnenn and Woollen, Fustian and Thread: Also to dresse Leather, and to colour Felles. How to guild, graue, sowder, and Vernish. And to harden and make soft Yron and Steele. Verie necessarie for all men, specially for those which haue or shall haue any doing therein: with a perfect Table hereunto, to finde all things readie, not the like reuealed in English heretofore. Taken out of Dutch, and Englished by L. M. Imprinted at London by Thomas Purfoot, dwelling within the Rents, in S. Nicholas Shambles. 1605
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AbeBooks - Signed Books

GRIMM: Two non-suicides

The following tale reads so much like a parable that it might seem dubious. Grimm however reports it (secondhand) as a fact, and even says after, that its very interest lies in its truth and that such stories "cease to be interesting as soon as one doubts their reality." (Word to James Frye.)

January 15, 1771

One can cite an adventure reported a few years ago in the English papers. Two men, weary of living, decided to drown themselves. Luck had it that, without knowing each other, they chose the same spot and the same moment to carry out their plan; they met nose to nose on Westminster Bridge, from which they were to throw themselves into the Thames. Very different motives had led them to this extremity. One, born to a great fortune, finding no more strength in his soul, decided to end a painful and uncomfortable existence. The other, with nothing, had applied himself to business indefatigably, and after several years of unceasing work, he was suddenly ruined entirely by a series of misfortunes and losses. Despair drove one; and disgust, boredom with life, drove the other. Both, still young, were struck by their arriving at the same place, for the same purpose, by two such different routes. The despairing man said to the other, "There is no cure for my ill, there is one for yours. I am rich, I can end all your sorrows in giving you a part of my wealth; I will at least have done a good deed before drowning myself, and you will no longer have any reason to kill yourself." The desperate man found the bored man’s project to his liking; but the bored man had no sooner saved the life of the desperate man than he no longer had any desire to end his own; his good deed made him savor life. From this meeting came a very close bond between the two candidates for the Thames: one gave his daughter to the other in marriage, and both are today as attached to life as they were in a hurry, at the moment of their meeting, to leave it.
Grimm, Correspondance Litteraire 79, 1770 (231-232)

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The subject of suicide in our century, it turns out, has been the object of some study. Those with access to on-line scholarly databases can find a number of papers on the subject. It seemed to be initially considered an English problem: "Not only was the climate blamed for the English Malady, but the inactivity and sedentary occupation of the 'better sort' and the humour of living in great populous and unhealthy towns. So prevalent was suicide in the 18th century that it was considered as a problem constituting a national emergency." David Aldridge,"Suicidal behavior - a continuing cause for concern" 2002-03-18

But evidence keeps appearing of its frequency in France:

Notwithstanding the frequent deplorable instances of suicide in this island, it appears that the crime is very predominant among our lively neighbors the French, who have often asserted it was almost peculiar to the English, as from authentic lists, just published at Paris, we find that no fewer than one hundred and eight persons put an end to their own lives in that metropolis last year, and in the year 1769 the number of self murders there amounted to one hundred and forty seven!
Virginia Gazette, Thursday October 8, 1772 (1)

Madame Deffand comments on it more than once: "There's a man who killed himself four days ago in St. Eustache, on the tomb of his mistress; isn't that something? Not a week goes by without hearing of a suicide; bankruptcies cause more than love." (to Horace Walpole, March 20, 1772); "Here is a fashion we are said to have from your country; this and your carriages seem hateful to me." (May 3, 1779)


This tale sounds painfully modern, but ended less tragically than many similar news items today. One does wonder though how the clerk managed to hide an 18th century pistol until the last moment.

Every day there is a new suicide here. A notary's clerk, married for six months, and separated from his wife for two, finding her at the Luxembourg, between his own uncle and brother, and asked if she wanted to live with him again; she having said no, he shot her with a pistol, not killing her, but wounding her lightly in the breast; he fled, and was chased; being trapped, he struck himself eight to ten times with a knife, and died on the spot
Deffand to Walpole - May 3, 1779


This is one of the rare items to comment on the pain caused by talk that follows suicides.

February 25, 1782. M. Duvigau, after having commanded merchant vessels for over ten years, had distinguished himself by his intelligence and his activity, had shared with M. Dion, deputy from the states of Artois, all the cares of building the frigate bearing their name, and from this received the gift of a box of gold, with an honorable letter. He was second lieutenant on this frigate commanded by Fabre; and after combat, in a fit of fever, he shot himself in the head, from which results the false rumor, that by his insubordination he had been the cause of the crew's revolt, and the taking of the States of Artois; which prompted him to kill himself out of despair. His father reacts today against this calumny which has appeared in several public papers, & proves the falsity of the accusation with an attestation from the very same Monsieur Fabre. This tale, like a thousand others, proves that we only pass on fables, and the most truthful historians are often, without meaning to be, the instruments of lies and imposture.
Bachaumont 17, 1771 (79)


Not all suicides were created equal. The Memoires Secretes here gives extensive coverage to Mairobert's death, but discreetly ignores his claim to be Bachaumont's son, though it does mention that he continued the journal after Bachaumont's death.

It would be interesting to know how many other suicides - or violent deaths - occurred in public baths. Dickens sets one suicide there (Little Dorrit), and then there's that memorable scene in "Enfants du Paradis".

April 2, 1779. The great trial regarding the creditors of M. de Brunoi ended Monday. The notary Arnoux, after having been subject to an ignominious treatment that seemed to mark him as very guilty, has been cleared and has come out white as snow. The whole court took his part, & the corps of notaries has moved heaven and earth in order to spare a colleague a punishment which would have reflected on others. Not all the creditors have come out as well as Monsieur Arnoux & one of them above all having been criticized, was so affected by this insult, that at nightfall he went to Poitevin’s to request a bath, got into it, opened his veins with a razor; & and fearing lest this death not be sure, finished himself off with a pistol. People came running at the noise; he had kept his carriage, which luckily indicated who he was.

April 2, 1779 [sic]. The individual who killed himself out of despair, from the decision in the Brunoi affair, is M. Pidansat de Mairobert, king’s secretary, secretary of the commandments of M. the duke of Charters & royal censor. A too great facility to lend himself to the prodigal views of this madman, decided him to accept a note for a considerable sum which he signed without having received the corresponding amount, & excited by the hope of being paid for such a debt, he refused to make the proper declaration required by the law.

Whatever the case, this event has caused a tremendous stir because of the person in question who had successively the confidence of M. de Malesherbes, when he was in charge of the booksellers, then the ear of M. de Sartines, of M. Albert, of M. le Noir, and finally M. le Camus de Neville. This seemed to put him in another class than that of the hangers-on, low-lifes, petty thieves & crooks of every sort with which M. de Brunoi was surrounded.

April 5, 1779. Talk continues about M. de Mairobert. The priest of Saint Eustache, in the parish in which he dwelt, having resisted burying him, given the public nature of his catastrophe, the duke of Chartres had to obtain an order from the king, ordering that he be granted a Christian burial, but as quietly as possible.

One of the deceased’s friends composed the following epitaph for him, which beautifully captures both the personage and his sinister end.

Here lies one who, faithful partisan of honor,
Drunkenly abandoned its narrow paths,
But who seeking death to punish his weakness;
Recovered more of it than he had lost.

M. de Mairobert was a man of letters, author of several little works, but above all a great amateur; he never missed the first performance of any play, & was surrounded in the foyers; he also had all the newest works, and his library was in its style one of the most curious of Paris. …. He wanted to be talked of; he did not know the wise maxim of the philosopher "to be happy, hide your life." He found his happiness in being noticed and talked of, and unfortunately he did so until death and beyond.
Bachaumont 14 (9-12)

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

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18th CENTURY RECIPE: Meat jelly

Last week I mentioned that the earliest mayonnaise was made with jelly rather than eggs. Meat jelly appeared in various guises in Old Regime France. It was a food for the sick, but also could be colored and flavored to serve as a treat during a normal meal. Numerous recipes existed for meat and fish jelly, without even considering fruit jellies, also popular, but a separate subject.

La Varenne's (from Le Cuisinier Francois, 1680), is one of the longer ones (and not the only one in his book), and gives some idea how serious an undertaking this could be:

Meat jelly

To make a whole jelly take a capon or other very fresh fowl ready for the pot, also take a veal shank, or another two or two and a half pounds of a rouelle [thick slice across the leg] or a shoulder of veal, to make the jelly clear; one can also add a piece of mutton, for example, three quarter pounds of neck or a bloody end or some leg, or from some other lean part; & even when one has no veal, one must put mutton instead of veal.

Note that one can make jelly with all sorts of meat, and the fresher the better: remove the fat from the meat and wash it in cool water, remove the blood if there is any, and anything that is in the belly of poultry, the lungs and the liver: then put the meat in nearly boiling water, with salt about the weight of one or two gold crowns [i.e., large coins] and when they have soaked a while, in order to take on a salty taste, one can boil it a little, then take it out of the water and put it in a large earthen pot, glazed, very clean. Add six or seven pints of water, and put the pot on the fire.

If the meat has not been scalded by the salted water, one must put in the pot the weight of a gold crown or only half a crown of salt, and skim the bouillon well: sometimes one does not salt jelly at all.

To make a very strong jelly, add a veal foot with the meat, or the bone of a shoulder of veal or mutton, or two ounces of elk horn, grated and enclosed in a cloth. Put lit coal all around the pot, skin it very carefully, then cover it and not before, let the meat cook, until it easily comes off the bones, put in a little hot water a bit after it has been skimmed, and do not wait longer.

When the bouillon is half consumed, and only about three pints remain, let a little cool in a ladle and if it stays as thick as syrup, or hardens in the spoon it will be time to pour into the pot a chopine [465.7 milliliters)] or only four pints of white wine or verjuice, or the two together by half, then bring the pot to a boil for about a quarter of an hour: and if in cooling it begins to gel, it will be time to strain it through a white napkin without pressing the meat, then let it cool by half, or until the grease comes to the top, and becomes like a skin, and then it will be necessary to strain through a clean napkin to degrease it completely: when one is in a hurry to make jelly, one can pour the bouillon through a moistened towel, while it is still warm.

The bouillon being well-skimmed, put it back in the well-cleaned pot, then beat in a dish the white and shells of six fresh eggs, and when these have been reduced to a foam, pour them into the jelly when it starts to boil, then add sugar broken into lumps, a quarter pound by pint of bouillon is enough. But one can put in a little less if one puts no wine in the jelly, because it is milder than that in which there is some, also put in the pot a sixteenth of an ounce of cinnamon, more or less according to the taste of the sick person, and add the juice of a lemon, or a little verjuice, or some drops of vinegar.

When all these things are together, one must mix and stir them while the egg whites are cooked, add a little broth in a spoon, and if it looks done, that is, clear, and as if there was filth in it, take the pot off the fire, and strain it hot through a white napkin, or through a stocking of felt or another white, very clear cloth. If what flows out at first seems suspect, strain it again, strain it near the fire, keeping the pot on the hot coals, so that the jelly flows more easily, .. and stir the jelly in pots or bowls of earthenware or other matter, then put them in a cool place, so that the jelly 'takes' more easily. When it is necesary to add a few other things to a jelly, for example lemon juice, put them in at the same time as the wine, but you will notice that the jelly does not stay at its best for more than two days if there is lemon juice, or anything else sour.

If you do not need a whole jelly, you an make a half or even a quarter of jelly, only put in meat in proportion to what you want to make of jelly.
La Varenne (26-30)
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fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys

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Magasin Pittoresque: No 38-1870

REMINDER: The Magasin Pittoresque was a nineteenth century French magazine. Issues can be found on Gallica. Also, most articles are accompanied by at least one image, and so some may interest even those who do not read French.

Some colorful glimpses at trades again, and some obscure but colorful characters. I'm really not sure why the surly Peter (probably Piet) Timmerman was linked to Peter the Great, but there it is. The image of Defoe in the stocks is worth a look even for non-French readers. Inigo Jones' Elizabethan sketches have a modern, improvisatory energy. I have no idea if Kerouec the laborer existed, but his name is striking for someone who knows that Kerouac's first language was an obscure dialect of French. Finally, for lovers of Grand Guignol, some background.

57 - 17th century table setting (utensils)
100 - floating island (1718)
125 - an 18th century studio
159 - one schoolmaster's pay in the 18th century
160 - charlatans in London in 1665
363 - two trades of former times
406 - anecdote on artist from 1714
407 - a famous 17th century dog

59 - Thomas-Ignace Vaniere and his study plan
63 - Peter Timmerman/Peter the Great
66 - writer Mme d'Aulnoy
139 - prison escapee John Sheppard (1724)
151 - thief loyal to the Pretender
182 - letter on animals from Seignelay (Colbert's son)
188 - sketches by Phillipe le Bas
191 - the death of experimenter Professor Richman
225 - Mirabeau
279 - astronomer Legentil
305 - Defoe in the stocks
327 - John Locke takes notes
363 - the pauper of St. Giles graveyard
377 - a fantasy of Reynolds

Off-topic but interesting
16 - patois in the North of France
19 - Shakespearean costume
56 - letter seal from the 15th century
122 - Kerouec the laborer
149 - front and rear of a shop
162 - a Negro school in the US
180 - solar cooking
202 - output of Birmingham workers in a week
205 - new pulpit in Notre Dame
208 - Russian measures
216 - signatures of Henri VII and Cromwell
247 - the first English theaters
268 - map of education in France
276 - life jacket
319 - sketches of court Masques by Inigo Jones (Elizabethan)
345 - Guignol and his theater
366 - Jewish proverbs ("Be persecuted rather than persecute" (!))
388 - oil wells in the US

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End quotes

"I doubt that suicide is in itself interesting in theater. In reality, it is neither moral nor touching."

Grimm,Correspondance Litteraire, Tome 8 1768

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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