SUNDRIES: An eighteenth century newsletter

N° 8 - December 10, 2005

LINKS: The Wheelchair inter text TEXT COLLECTIONS: Law in Popular Culture inter text JUSTICE: Debtor's prisons in Ham

inter cooking 18th CENTURY RECIPE: Darioles

fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys
GRIVOISERIE: The Art of Farting inter text MAGASIN PITTORESQUE: Boulevards. debtors, Jacobites, etc

LINKS: The Wheelchair

This week's query on a wheel for invalids led me to two sites (I'm sure there are more) on the history of the wheelchair (which may go back to the Egyptians).

Here's some information from around our period:

The wheelchair has only been around for about four centuries. The first serious wheelchair to enter history (called an invalids chair) was made for Phillip II of Spain. A portrait of one of his wives, Mary Tudor, painted at the time of their marriage in 1554 had been the first image of an English monarch seated in an upholstered chair.
A drawing in Henry Howard's Dictionaire de l'Ameublement(Paris 1887-90, 4 vols. P. 196). of Phillip II, before his death in 1598, displayed him seated in a chair with a quilted back, hinged arms and ratchets to adjust the angle of its back and legs.
Not all the designs were for the priviledged, though. In 1655, a paraplegic watchmaker, made himself a chair propelled by metal cogwheels turned on cranks. These cogwheels were also a feature of the "sleeping chairs" acquired for Ham House between 1677 and 1679. Such chairs might have leg supports, castors, and reading desks. The wings of a wing-backed chair originate from these chairs where they were a precaution against the patient falling sideways – and perhaps to guard against drafts. Where the chairs had castors, they were operated by either turning shank near the hand of the occupant, or pushed by an attendant.

Pictures of some of these can be seen on this site:

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TEXT COLLECTIONS: Law in Popular Culture

The following site has mostly current material:

Law in Popular Culture Collection

However it includes at least the following two items from our era:

The Complete Newgate Calendar, London, Navarre Society Ltd., 1926 -

(on the Web in several forms - this one is in HTML and includes illustrations) and


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JUSTICE: Debtor's prisons in Ham

Every now and then, we have queries on debtor's prisons in France. The following mention is brief, but informative: "At Ham, the prisoners for debt are quite separated from the state prisoners; the latter are in the castle, the former in the tower." Philip Thicknesse - A Year's Journey Through France and Part of Spain (II, 103)

Note that Ham was not an ordinary prison, since, like the Bastille, it held state prisoners. This is in fact the first mention I've seen of such a prison also holding debtors. (Against their will, that is - just before the Bastille fell, one man actually asked to stay there in order to avoid his creditors.)

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18th CENTURY RECIPE: Darioles

Darioles are a kind of custard, or custard filled pastry, that have been around for hundreds of years. If you'd like to see how the recipe has evolved over the centuries, I've added a page to my book site that shows a number of ways these have been made:

This one is from the French Cook (Le Cuisinier Francois), 1680) by the famous cook La Varenne:

Put in a basin or a pan for example the fourth of a litron [1 litron=1.7608 British pint] of fine flour, and the white and yolk of 2 eggs: knead these things together well with a spatula or a spoon, adding a bit of milk little by little, and salt as desired; because not much is needed; soak this flour or mixture well as if it was to make gruel; and when the mixture is well kneaded, add a pint of milk which must be well mixed with the above... and if you do not have cow's milk or that of any other animal, one can use almond milk in which case one must add a bit more flour.
The mixture being ready put a crust in a pie pan and the pie pan being in the oven, fill it sufficiently, with the said mixture; cook this in the oven, and when it is cooked and removed from the oven, slit a cross in it, without touching the crust, then put in the slit in the dariole a piece of good unsalted butter about the size of a walnut; a good eighth of a pint of powdered sugar with a little rose water then put your dariole back in the oven, so that the butter and the sugar melt, and flavor this pastry, which happens quickly, then take it out of the oven; ...
It takes about half an hour to cook a dariole or pie of a pint of milk.
When this dariole is done, you can add butter, sugar and rose water, as said above, otherwise you can simply sprinkle it with sugar and a little rose water.

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fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys

GRIVOISERIE: The Art of Farting

Those concerned that films like 'Dumb and Dumber' and 'American Pie' indicate that modern culture is tumbling headlong into an abyss of male adolescent humor might consider this quote from the Correspondance Litteraire (T2-1750-32):

A brochure of 108 pages has appeared, called l'Art de peter. One sees there what a fart is, how many kinds of farts there are, how the fart is formed, its effects, its inconveniences and advantages, and this rag, in which by the way there is neither charm nor wit, is a proof of how the presses are abused. For each book of philosophy or manners printed in this country, one sees a hundred brochures contrary to good sense and decent behavior.

(A later editor's note to the above says that the work was frequently reissued.)

It turns out that Richard Burton mentions this work (or one very much like it) in the following note to "1001 Nights":

[FN#124] Arab. "Zirtah" the coarsest of terms for what the French nuns prettily termed un sonnet; I find ung sonnet also in Nov. ii. of the Cent nouvelles Nouvelles. Captain Lockett (p. 32) quotes Strepsiades in The Clouds... "because he cannot express the bathos of the original (in the Tale of Ja'afar and the old Badawi) without descending to the oracular language of Giacoma Rodogina, the engastrymythian prophetess." But Sterne was by no means so squeamish. The literature of this subject is extensive, beginning with "Peteriana, ou l'art de peter," which distinguishes 62 different tones. After dining with a late friend en garcon we went into his sitting-room and found on the table 13 books and booklets upon the Crepitus Ventris, and there was some astonishment as not a few of the party had never seen one.

{Those who have never perused Burton's notes may be surprised at how much pungent erudition they contain.)

(Burton might also have cited the Divine Comedy, as it becomes sublimely comic:

ed elli avea del cul fatto trombetta.
And he had made a trumpet of his ass.

Canto 21, 139)

Ever on the case, Gallica has the work:

Auteur(s) : Hurtaut, Pierre-Thomas-Nicolas (1719-1791). Auteur du texte. Traducteur
Titre(s) : L'art de peter, essay théori-physique et méthodique. [Texte imprimé]
Publication : En Westphalie, chez Florent-Q., rue Pet-en-Gueule, au Soufflet. M. DCC. LI. [i. e. Paris, Jean-Baptiste Langlois]
Editeur : Langlois, Jean-Baptiste (1692-1771)
Florent-Q (17..-17.. ; imprimeur-libraire imaginaire)
Description matérielle : 108 p., front. ; in-12
Note(s) : Par Pierre-Thomas-Nicolas Hurtaut, d'après Barbier. - Fausse adresse : publié à Paris par Jean-Baptiste Langlois, d'après la permission tacite accordée entre le 24 décembre 1750 et le 5 février 1751 (BnF, ms. fr. 21994, n° 34 ; ms. fr. 21982) ; impr. à Paris, d'après le matériel typogr. et le papier (Auvergne). - Front. gr. s. c. ; bandeaux, lettrines et culs-de-lampe gr. s. b. - Contient : trad. libre du "De peditu ejusque speciebus" publié p. 355-359 de l' "Amphitheatrum sapientiae socraticae joco-seriae" de Kaspar Dornau (Hannover, 1619), suivie de l' "Histoire du prince Pet-en-l'Air et de la reine des Amazones" (p. 88-97), et enfin de la conclusion CG, LXXV, 106; Barbier; Weller

It is also mentioned in this account of an 18th century society, from the curious assortment of documents put on line by the library of Lisieux:

Une société caennaise du XVIIIe et les écrits qu'elle a inspirés

One author refers to this society as the 'Zephyr-Artillery': "Zéphyr-Artillerie ou la Société des Francs-Péteurs. M.D.CC.XLIII, in-8 de X et 34 pages."

Finally, for lovers of riddles, the document includes this devinette, whose answer I confess I would not have guessed out of context:

Je suis un invisible corps,
Qui de bas lieu tire mon être,
Et je n'ose faire connaître,
Ni qui je suis, ni d'où je sors.
Quand on m'ôte la liberté,
Pour m'échapper j'use d'adresse,
Et deviens femelle traîtresse
De mâle que j'aurais été.

I am an invisible body,
Come to be in a low place,
And I do not dare to make known
Either who I am, nor from where I exit,
To escape, I use skill
And change to a traitorous female
From the male I would have been.

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MAGASIN PITTORESQUE: Boulevards, debtors, Jacobites, etc.

The 74 volumes of the Magasin Pittoresque include numerous items on (or around) our period, but it would take more browsing than most want to do to find them. As I'm going through them now (starting in about the middle of the series), I thought I'd point to some of what's there.

- Volume 11, 1843 - A piece (with an engraving) on the Paris boulevards at the end of the 18th century (231-232 )

- Volume 13, 1845 - A look at whether the French climate has changed, followed by an article on Jacobites (158-159); tales of the risks of gambling (with an engraving) (200); an image (little known at the time) of Mozart as a child (349)

- Volume 14, 1846 - An article on Rameau (95)

- Volume 15, 1847 - A long article on a 17th century satirical print showing 'On', "Mais' and 'Si', with the note that Frederic the Great referred to 'On' as 'le gazetier des sots'. (25-26); an image of a parachute from 1617 (200)

- Volume 16, 1848 - A 17th century visit to a French prison (153)

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End quote

"The first step towards philosophy is incredulity."

(trans., Nancy Amphoux)

The last words his daughter heard him speak. Not however his last words, which were to his wife, as he reached for an apricot: "What earthly harm can it do me?"

FROM CHEZ JIM BOOKS Three works on eighteenth century subjects:

For some sample 18th century vegetarian recipes, click here.

copyright 2006 Jim Chevallier.
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(NOTE: Most translations, except where otherwise noted, are by Jim Chevallier and are copyrighted as such.)
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