SUNDRIES: An eighteenth century newsletter

N° 35 - June 17, 2006

LINKS: Eyewitness accounts; Bouillon inter textFILM: Ken Russell's "Moll Flanders" inter textON-LINE TEXT: Hanover Historical Texts

law scales THE OLD REGIME POLICE BLOTTER: Suicides from the Virginia Gazette

inter cooking 18th CENTURY RECIPE: A la Sainte-Menehout

fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys

Magasin Pittoresque: No 39-1871


LINKS: Eyewitness accounts; Bouillon

This site offers links to several firsthand accounts, many of well-known events, a few of them surprises: Eyewitness to History: 18th century

This is a bit of local history that includes a long stretch of 18th century material: The Duchy of Bouillon: "The small town of Bouillon is in Belgium, province of Luxembourg, close to the French border. Its population was 5,577 in 1994."

back to top

FILM: Ken Russell's "Moll Flanders"

Ken Russell is FINALLY to shoot "Moll Flanders", in Croatia. "Harry Alan Towers produces new adaptation to star Lucinda Rhodes-Flaherty, Barry Humphries and Steven Berkoff." ( - subscription site). "The $10m production will start shooting in Croatia on August 7.....Russell also wrote the screenplay."

I have not followed this history, but apparently he has been trying to do this for a while. In fact, he himself has been a subject of a documentary about his struggles to do so: "Your Honour, I Object! (Channel 4, tx. 27/11/1987), about his legal battle over an aborted film of Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders".

Originally, it seems, he was to do this with Bob Guccione, whose most memorable mark on the film world has been "Caligula":

Bob Gucciones second attempt at movie production (After Catherine the Great in 1981) was said to have been Moll Flanders, with Ken Russell directing. The two investigated the idea about 1982, but in the end neither man had anything to do with the movie.... It's a great story, Moll Flanders is a self proclaimed murderess, whore and thief. Apparently Bob tried to sue Ken Russell over the films failure to get made by the two, but he was unsuccessful. Ken devotes a whole chapter to the Moll Flanders project in his autobiography. The UK and MGM versions of Moll Flanders came out in 1996.

Hmmm... I wonder if Gore Vidal would like to help with this one? (IMDb has nothing on this yet, by the way.)

back to top

ON-LINE TEXT: Hanover Historical Texts

Need an English version of Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary?

This is one of several texts offered by the Hanover Historical Texts Project: "In 1995, the History Department and Hanover students initiated the Hanover Historical Texts Project. The Project's principal aim is to make primary texts readily available to students and faculty for use in history and humanities courses."

back to top

back to top

THE OLD REGIME POLICE BLOTTER: Suicides from the Virginia Gazette

Suicides in France which made their way to the 'international' - that is, English - press were likely to be remarkable in some way. Here are a few reported by English papers, repeated in the English colony of Virginia, in the Virginia Gazette.


This item is probably emblematic of a number of similar cases of ruined Englishmen abroad. Boulogne, one of the first stops for English people arriving in France, was a natural stopping place for such figures. Nineteenth century English literature showed such characters as Becky Sharp (Vanity Fair) and the Lammles (Our Mutual Friend) treating the Continent as their last resort.

Extract of a Letter from Amsterdam, April 23....

It is said that a very amiable young Gentleman, whose youthful Extravagance had driven him to Boulogne, the Asylum of English Refugees, having sold the last Hundred a Year of a large paternal Estate, in a fit of Desperation put a Period to his Life by Poison, to the great Distress of a disconsolate Widow, and all who had the Pleasure of his Friendship or Acquaintance."
July 14, 1774 (bottom 1st column, top second)


This Romeo and Juliet like scene has an eerie poetry. It is worth noting, though, that under Old Regime law, the young man here would probably have been considered guilty of rape, whether or not the "marriage" was consummated.

June 19

We have an account from Lyons of a very tragical affair that lately happened in that city. A young couple having conceived a violent passion for each other, and not being able to obtain their parents consent to marry, formed the extravagant resolution of constituting a kind of chapel, and dressing up an altar, before which they were reciprocally to swear eternal fidelity to each other, and then to blow out their brains, all which they executed. It is added they carried their romantick notions so far as to purchase a dagger to accomplish their purpose, if the pistols had failed. The lad was the son of a fencing master, and the girl the daughter of a wealthy innkeeper.
September 13, 1770 (middle column)


Though suicides after financial ruin were common enough, few were carried out with such aplomb.

The banker who lately shot himself at Paris, after cramming the note brought for payment into a loaded pistol, it is said ordered the clerk who brought the note to be called in, and telling him this is the way, Sir, persons who have no money pay bills that are due, instantly clapped the pistol to his ear, and shot himself through the head.
Virginia Gazette, March 8, 1770 (page 2, column 2)


Aside from the number here, the striking thing here is that (if the note is precise) all these people hanged themselves. Outside of prisons, pistols and knives seemed the most popular methods for those who had a choice.

London, January, 21.....

From Paris we learn that twelve Persons, all of them in affluent Circumstances, have adopted the English Fashion of Suicide, and have hanged themselves within these three weeks.
April 16, 1772 (page 2, column 2)


This is the second item (the other was under MURDERS) to show a murderous husband killing himself soon after the fact.

London, May 21....

They write from Paris that a French gentleman of fortune in that city lately strangled his wife, to whom he had been married but a few weeks; and afterwards being struck, either with remorse, or dread of punishment, cut his own throat.
August 18, 1774
back to top


In Paris today, it is not unusual to encounter a gleaming horsehead affixed to a red background. This indicates a "boucherie chevaline" - a horse butcher's.

And yet, having looked at a broad range of 18th century cookbooks over the last few months, I suddenly realized that one item does not appear in them: horsemeat. Even medieval cookbooks, which have no qualms about listing peacock or heron, for example, do not offer recipes for horse.

The first - and possibly accurate - response is to think that the French did not formerly eat horsemeat at all. It seems in fact that there is a long tradition in France, as in other Western nations, against eating this meat (which is prized in some other cultures). Still, the (not always dependable) Larousse Gastronomique claims, "The people of Paris have always eaten horsemeat, in spite of numerous eighteenth century police ordinances forbidding its sale in the hope of 'presenting those diseases which the consumption of such meat cannot fail to produce'." (1961 English edition)

Though more specific here than on, say, croissants, the Larousse does not cite any sources. La Mare's Traite de la Police (Vol. I; 1714) lists the meats sold by butchers, but neither includes horsemeat nor specifies that it should not be sold. The Encyclopedie's article on "Horse" mentions horse milk and a number of products made from horses, but not meat. (The article on "Meat", which is not available to me, may have more to say.)

Still, it may be that horsemeat was eaten then, as later under the Siege of Paris, by Parisians who could not obtain other meats, much like cat, which rumor has more recently traced to certain fast food fryers. But if so, its consumption did not leave an extensive historical trace.

Later, says the Larousse, the meat was outlawed in 1803 and again in 1811. In 1866, a writer in the Intermediaire des Chercheurs asked, with some shock, "Is it true that a special butcher exists in Vienna (Austria) selling only horsemeat?" (April 10, 1866 (203)). Several answers follow, including one that mentions the "hippophagic banquets" which were held at just that time in an (apparently successful) effort to promote the consumption of horsemeat. One respondent cites such butcheries in Lausanne, Hamburg, Berlin and Brussels. Another claims French sausage makers were then using the meat; "this was long eaten in France; to say when and why it is no longer would be to go beyond the limits of the question." (May 10, 1866 (313)).

A long article in the American magazine The Galaxy gives an overview of the situation in 1867:

Some accounts state that horseflesh is regularly on sale in the markets of Denmark and Sweden, and a good while ago Duchatelet asserted that a great deal of it was eaten in Paris. He also added that the families of the knackers, or horse butchers, who live on this meat, 'have a remarkably robust and healthy appearance'.....
..A tourist in France (this was about twenty years ago) printed a gloomy caution to his readers to avoid the cheap restaurants. 'Horseflesh,' he says, 'and cat's flesh are reported to be employed as substitutes for beef; and rabbit's or hare's flesh, and not long ago the police took the liberty of prying into these doubtful points. The result of their inquisition has had the sad effect of shaking the faith of the Parisians in the identity of the dishes with those described in the cartes; a faith which a seizure of 2,000 kilogrammes of horseflesh by the octroi officers at the Barriere du Combat last week will not, I fear, tend to reestablish. This cargo of carrion was on its road to one of the great dining houses.'
..But the chief object of this paper is, to refer briefly to the recent effort by a society (called, I believe, Societe Hippophage-the Horse-Eating Society) composed of a number of eminent and strong-stomached gentlemen of Paris, to introduce the regular use of horse-flesh among all classes of French and European society. Occasionally, in the army, when an accident rendered useless a young and fat horse, soldiers are known to have cooked and eaten the best parts; such as the tenderloin and rump. Lately some butchers in Prussia have sold horseflesh, but sell less and less every day.
There is no country where so many hippophagous banquets have been given as in France; but in spite of all these banquets, and the speeches made at them and about them, people do not buy horseflesh. Whatever use of it may be made dishonestly, it cannot, so far, be forced into avowed use. We hear, now and then, of a restaurant in Paris that cooks nothing but horseflesh, or some such story; but there is more horseflesh on the brain of the author of the story than in the kitchen of that restaurant. The writer of these lines has been present at many of these banquets, but has never heard of a single pound being bought, either by private parties or by restaurateurs. There was, some years ago, a restaurant in the neighborhood of Alfort, which tried to sell horseflesh, given free of charge by the Alfort Veterinary School, but gave it up for want of customers.
The object of all the eminent men who give hippophagous banquets in France, is to try to induce the working classes to buy horseflesh, not because it is better than beef; but because they think it could be furnished cheaper. It is very well known that the majority of the working classes in France do not consume enough animal food for health, their wages being too low to enable them to buy beef.
Pierre Blot, "Horseflesh as food", "The Galaxy", Volume 3, Issue 3, February 1, 1867

In fact, the Horse-Eating Society's banquets - which included the apparently tasty horse consomme - are generally credited with having established the meat as a French staple. Though the Siege of Paris (September 19, 1870-January 28, 1871) may have played its part:

We would to all appearance have been deprived of fresh meat as of the beginning of December, if necessity had not overcome the prejudices which until lately were the despair of the hippophages. The eating of horse has been bravely tackled; the leisured classes set the example, and little by little the popular repugnance for this unfamiliar food has been surmounted. Some domestic servants of good houses still refuse to touch the remnants of the filet or rib steak which was the piece de resistance of their masters' dinner; but the number of these recalcitrants declines day by day, and the convinced hippophages are not far from believing that the introduction of horsemeat into the public alimentation may well compensate to some extent for the evils of the siege and the disasters of invasion. We have no wish to trouble their joy; but it is clear that the experiment will not be decisive until after the return of beef and mutton. In the meantime, hippophagy has placed at the disposal of the Parisian population a nearly inexhaustible mine of meat which had not been reckoned with, and which is presently in full exploitation. Only for the sake of an accurate record shall we mention the dog, the cat, and even the rat, who also contribute their share to our alimentary resources.
Gustave de Molinari, "The Feeding of Paris During the Siege" Translator, Roderick T. Long

When Victor Hugo invited a friend to a horse dinner at this time, and she cancelled, he sent her the following quatrain:

Si vous etiez venue, o belle que j'admire,
Je vous aurais offert un repas sans rival:
J'aurais tue Pegase et je l'aurais fait cuire
Afin de vous servir une aile de cheval.

If you had come, o beauty that I admire,
I would have given you an unrivalled meal:
I would have killed Pegasus and I would have had him cooked
In order to serve you a horse's wing.
Intermediare des Chercheurs, 1905 (615)
back to top

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

back to top

18th CENTURY RECIPE: A la Sainte-Menehout

Has any reader ever had, in France, a dish "à la Sainte Menehout"? I had never heard of it (though it apparently endures as a regional specialty), but began to notice that such dishes appear frequently in eighteenth century cookbooks. Prospect Book's A GLOSSARY OF COOKERY AND OTHER TERMS includes two entries on it, one for each spelling:

SAINT MENEHOUT: The nomenclature indicated, as it still does in French cookery, something egg-and-breadcrumbed and then fried or broiled. A good number of Nott’s receipts, all of French derivation, call for this treatment. Sainte-Menehould is a small town in the Champagne district. Whether the method of cookery is called after the town or the saint herself is not recorded. (John Nott, 1726)

SAINTE MENEHOUD. Sainte-Menehould is a district in the Marne famous for its charcuterie, especially pigs’ trotters. Alexandre Dumas (1873, here quoted in the abridged English edition, 1978) draws on Le Viandier by Taillevent for the origin of dishes ‘a la Sainte Menehould’. It will be seen that Hannah Glasse’s recipes, 25 and 37, include the same elements but change the sequence of operations. One evening, following a great battle against the English, King Charles Vll . . . came to lodge for the night in the little town of Sainte-Menehould, in which only five or six houses survived, the town having been burned. The king and his suite were dying of hunger. The ruined and ravaged countryside was lacking in everything. Finally, they managed to get hold of four pig’s feet and three chickens. The king had with him no cook, male or female; so the wife of a poor edge-tool maker was charged with cooking the chickens. As for the pig’s feet, there was nothing to do but put them on the grill. The good woman roasted the chickens, dipped them in beaten egg, rolled them in breadcrumbs with fines herbes, and then, after moistening them with a mustard sauce, served them to the king and his companions, who devoured the pig’s feet entire and left only the bones of the chickens.(Glasse, 1747)

(I should warn readers unfamiliar with culinary anecdotes that these are more often fables than documented history. Nor have I ever seen this recipe mentioned by Taillevent.) The town's own site is here.

Just as "Chicken Mayonnaise" seems to be the model for other dishes served in that fashion, pig's trotters (pigs' feet, if you prefer) seem to set the standard for dishes prepared "à la Sainte-Menehout". For an essentially simple preparation, however, it seems to have been made in a number of very different ways.

The Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois offers a recipe that sounds tasty - except for one ingredient (I have never before seen mercury included in any recipe, eighteenth century or modern). It is not, however, simple, nor quick to make:

Pig's trotters à la Sainte-Menehout

Take the feet, which must be just so and cut in two, and tie each together. Take a pot; lay out in it strips of lard, a row of feet and of fines herbes, and a row of feet, and strips of lard, until you have put in all your feet. Put in a good phial of wine spirit, a little anise, a little coriander, laurel, a pint of white wine and a little mercury [!!! Hopefully modern readers know NOT to add this]. Cover all this with strips of lard and line the edges of the pot with strong paper; the cover must close tightly, and put them so on the coals to cook which takes ten or twelve hours, more or less. The fire must not be rushed, so that your feet have time to cook, and it is necessary to watch them carefully. When they are cooked and cooled, bread them neatly and grill them, to serve them warm as an Entremets. Theey can also be prepared for less cost, with white wine mixed together, season them well, and putting in the Pig's leaf fat ['panne']; as is also done in this other style. Pigeons, Chicken sor other Fowl are called pieces à la Sainte-Menehout, that some call à la Mazarine. See what this is in the article on Chickens, and how to prepare them in this way.

This recipe, from the same work, takes less time to prepare and is probably more typical of this preparation:

Entree of grilled or fried Pigeons, à la Sainte-Menehout

Take large Pigeons; tie them well, cut them in two and put them on the coals, being careful that they do not come apart. If you want to fry them, before breading them, dip them in beaten eggs and bread them after, so that the bread holds better. One way or the other, they can serve you as a garnish. If you serve them as a dish, you must put a remoulade under them, composed of anchovies, parsley, chopped capers, a little spring onion, and good gravy, all well-seasoned, with a trickle of vinegar; and serve hot.

You can do the same with any Poultry you like. If desired, the Pigeons can be larded with thick lard with ham, so that they have a better taste. Some call this style, pieces à la Sainte-Menehout.

In listing ways to prepare sturgeon for fast days, the work even suggests this style:

à la Sainte Menehout, in large slices. For this one uses milk, white wine, a laurel leaf, all well seasoned, with a little melted lard. Cook the slices of Sturgeon slowly in this, and then bread and grill them, and put a sauce under it, as for Mutton tails. Serve hot.

An English cookbook from 1806, The Universal Cook: And City and Country Housekeeper by Francis Collingwood and John Woollams, strangely does not include the recipe for pork, but for pullets:

Pullets à la St. Menehout.

Truss the legs in the body, slit them all along the back, and spread them open on a table. Take out the thigh-bones, and beat them with a rolling-pin. Then season them with pepper, salt, mace, nutmeg, and sweet herbs. Take a pound, and a half of veal cut into thin slices, and put it into a stew-pot of a convenient size, to stew the pullets in. Cover and set it over a stove or slow fire, and when it begins to stick to the pan, stir in a little flour, and shake the pan about till it be a little brown. Then pour in as much broth as will stew the pullets, stir it together, put in a little whole pepper, an onion and a little piece of bacon or ham. Put in your pullets, cover them close and let them stew half an hour. Then take them off, lay them on the gridiron to brown on the inside, strew them over with the yolk of an egg, some bread crumbs and baste them with a little butter. Let them be a fine brown, and boil the gravy till there is about enough for sauce; strain it, put in a few mushrooms and a small piece of butter rolled in flour. Lay the pullets in the dish, pour in the sauce, garnish with lemon, and send them to table.
back to top

AbeBooks - Signed Books

fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys

back to top

Magasin Pittoresque: No 39-1871

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.

1871 must have been one hell of a time to produce a magazine in Paris.

Somehow the Commune goes unremarked here (I'm sure there is a story behind that.) But for dix-huitiemistes, there is enough to keep us busy: more about small trades, the Bastille, some background on those Capitouls who condemned Calas, a look at the popularity of the bilboquet (under Louis XIV - but de Maupassant shows idle journalists playing with it in the nineteenth century in Bel Ami), even a glimpse of the Bushmen.

47 - seal of the English republic (1649)
67 - aeroliths (rocks from the sky), staring with 18th c attitudes
72 - the Bastille and its models
123 - small trades: the birdseller and the pot seller
133 - old houses in Valenciennes
135 - the Capitouls of Toulouse
140 - the sparrow on trial
231 - rain of toads (one in 1794)
276 - fad for bilboquet
327 - Paris police 1644
375 - the Boschimen (Bushmen) in the 18th
390 - students' trip in coach

Individuals of note:
19 - actor and playwright Auguste-Guillaume Iffland
21 - Louis XIV's childhood words
33 - lawyer Lord Erskine
115 - saying of Samuel Johnson (in French)
118 - truth about the poet Gilbert
137 - Richard Sheridan
165 - English family anecdotes (Lady Ogilvy)
194 - the innocent prisoner (1784)
195 - letter from Washington refusing friend's request
234 - Irish healer Greatracks
298 - Ermonenville's voyage in Mexico for cochineal (scale) insects
299 - Girardet family of artists
310 - Doctor Dedu
338 - stone carver Daniel Grumb
364 - portrait of Pascal

Off-topic but interesting:
75 - Fenians
108 - arts and sciences in the US
129 - list of books for a popular library
160 - Chinese carriages
161 - Jews in Algeria
167 - court jesters
160 - Lamartine
200 - 1866 statistics for France
263 - list of items for a meal from 1412
303 - American schools
321 - William Tell
336 - Chinese signaling systems
344 - satirical engraving of the five All's (Kay)
389 - theatre decorators' studio

back to top

End quotes

"'I never saw such a rude creature!,' exclaimed Miss La Creevy. 'You told me to try,' said Nicholas.
'Well, but I was speaking ironically," rejoined Miss La Creevy.
'Oh! that's another thing,' said Nicholas, 'you should have told me that, too.'"

Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby

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