The Bandit of Paris: Cartouche

Louis Dominique Garthhausen, Better Known as Cartouche or the Bandit of Paris, Author's Collection
Louis Dominique Garthhausen, Better Known as Cartouche, Author’s Collection

Louis Dominique Garthausen, better known as Cartouche, was born in 1693 in Paris (although there are also assertions that he was born two years later in Marais). His father was a hardworking cooper who sent Cartouche to school at the Jesuit college of Clermont where at a young age Cartouche, who was described as being of “indifferent” appearance, was taught classical and theological subjects. However, Cartouche’s religious education did not sway him to lead a righteous life, and, in fact, his time at the religious school seemed to have caused the opposite result as he chose a life a crime.

Cartouche’s incorrigibleness began at the early age of 11 while he was with the Jesuits. One of his first incorrigible acts occurred when he stole and disposed of 28 nightcaps that belonged to his fellow students. The theft was discovered at bedtime. Apparently, when everyone laid down to sleep, Cartouche was the only one with a nightcap, and when confronted as to why he had one, he immediately confessed he had stolen them. He also stole outright from his fellow classmates and regularly bartered with the apple woman or the cooks for whatever he stole. Continue reading

Perpetual and Universal Peace: A Message of Thanksgiving in 1814

Thomas Belsham, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Thomas Belsham, Courtesy of Wikipedia

This week is the week of Thanksgiving, and like many others, I will be celebrating. However, before I go off to stuff myself with turkey, yams, and pumpkin pie, I wanted to leave you with a message delivered by the English Unitarian minister, Thomas Belsham at the Essex Street Chapel on July 3, 1814.

Belsham’s sermon of thanksgiving came after the Treaty of Paris was signed on May 30. This treaty put “an end to the long, extended, and bloody war in which [England had been]…engaged with France and her allies.” Belsham’s hopeful message touched on his wish that peace could be “perpetual and universal.”

Here are some applicable passages from that sermon that we may want to remember at this time of year. Continue reading

Georgian Rules to Promote Long Life

Georgian Sir John Sinclair, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Sir John Sinclair, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Sir John Sinclair, 1st Baronet, was a Scottish writer who primarily wrote about finance and agriculture but is perhaps best known for writing the 21-volume, Statistical Account of Scotland. Sinclair, like other people of Georgian times, was also interested in how to achieve a long life. This resulted in him writing a brief article in which he listed seven rules that he believed would help Georgian people achieve a long life. He classified these rules under the following headings: diet, clothing, habitation, exercise and labor, habits and customs, medicine, and disposition of mind.

Here are his seven rules in their entirety and almost verbatim:

  • Diet. The importance of wholesome food, for the preservation of health and long life, and the avoiding of excess, whether in eating or drinking, need not be dwelt upon. Some instances, indeed, are mentioned of persons who have continued to commit excesses, and, have lived long; but these are to be considered in no other light than as exceptions from a general rule; and it may reasonably be contended, that if such persons lived to a great age, notwithstanding their intemperance, they would have lived much longer had they followed a different course. Continue reading

Regency Female Prisoners at Newgate

Reading to Regency Female Prisoners at Newgate, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Reading to Inmates at Newgate, Courtesy of Wikipedia

The living standards for rural women in England and Wales appears to have become worse as the Industrial Revolution progressed. Moreover, it affected younger and younger rural women. This may have been one reason why one 1960s study shows that in 1795, the average age of a woman incarcerated was 36.94. By 1809, the average age was 25.59 and, rural women incarcerated were younger still because by 1814, their average age was 22.22. Continue reading

Robert Brothers and the First Balloon Flight of Over 100km

Robert brothers
September 1784 Flight Lifting Off From the Gardens of Tuileries, Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France

The first flight of more than 100 km (about 63 miles) took place on Sunday, 19 September 1784. It was conducted by two brothers — Anne-Jean Robert and Nicolas-Louis Robert — known collectively as Les Frères Robert (Robert brothers). Their aerostatic experiment, as it was called, launched from the royal gardens of the Tuileries Palace. It was a widely acclaimed event and attended by thousands of spectators. One report about the event was published in the Derby Mercury on 30 September 1784 and titled, “Paris Intelligence. Areostation.” The article is provided below, almost verbatim.

The third aerostatic experiment of the brothers Robert, … was attended with complete success. Mons. Vallet, to whom the brothers committed the charge of filling the Globe, began the business on Saturday afternoon. He employed new apparatus, constructed on the most ingenious and simple principles; by means of which the balloon was amply filled in three hours. The operation would not have required more than an hour and a half, if the workmen had been accustomed to the new method. Continue reading

Curing Headaches in Georgian Times

The Headache by George Cruikshank, Headaches
The Headache by George Cruikshank, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Georgian physicians claimed there were all sorts of causes for headaches. Some of the stranger causes included atmospheric changes, bile in the blood, too much iron, bowel issues, thunderstorms, and indigestion. Just as Georgian physicians believed there were many causes for headaches, physicians also offered a wide variety of solutions to headache sufferers. Some of the more popular recommendations are listed below:

ANIMAL MAGNETISM. This was an invisible force within animals based on a mysterious magnetic fluid that produced physical healing. It was discovered by a German doctor named Franz Mesmer. Mesmer provided treatments for individual patients as well as groups of patients at the same time. Single patient treatments included the patient facing him, touching knee-to-knee, while Mesmer made “passes” with his hands down the length of the patient’s body. Sometimes, he would press a patient’s hypochondrium region (just below the diaphragm) to effect a cure and his pressing could last for hours. Mesmer’s techniques came under scrutiny in 1784 when King Louis XVI established a commission to examine his work. The commission agreed Mesmer had cured patients, but they also determined there was no such thing as magnetic fluid. Because of their findings, they attributed the cures to either charlatanry or patient imagination, thereby debunking Mesmer. Continue reading

Charlotte Charke: Actress, Novelist, and Transvestite

Charlotte Charke, Public Domain
Charlotte Charke, Public Domain

Charlotte Charke seemed to have a hard time defining her career and her sex. Born as a female to actor/playwright and poet laureate Colley Cibber and his wife, musician/actress Katherine Shore, Charlotte as they named her, at one point, began to call herself Charles Brown. As a young child, she also began to imitate the males around her and once reputedly “defended the house from an attack of thieves by firing pistols and blunderbusses out of the windows.” Moreover, from an early age she was said to enjoy male activities, such as sports, shooting, and horse racing, rather than female pursuits.

Her tendency towards everything male resulted in one writer noting that her “favourite resort was the stable, and although she could not use a needle she could handle a curry-comb most dexterously.” While she might have been handy with a curry comb, she was not successful in holding down any male occupation. Her failures were epic and numerous: She attempted to be a sausage maker, pastry chef, tavern owner, valet, and farmer. Continue reading

Mad as a Hatter, An Adder, or An Oyster

Please give a warm welcome to my guest Mimi Matthews. She is an author, attorney, and animal advocate that still has time to research and write about 19th century romance, literature, and history. She is also a member of Romance Writers of America (PRO), the Beau Monde, and Savvy Authors.  She resides in Northern California with her family – which includes an Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats. With that said, here is her post: Continue reading

Clever Ruse: Surprise at the Tabor Bridge by Napoleon’s Forces

"Surprise du pont du Danube" by Guillaume Guillon-Lethière, Courtesy of Wikipedia
“Surprise du pont du Danube” by Guillaume Guillon-Lethière, Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Napoleonic Wars were a series of conflicts that begin in 1803 and lasted until 1815. The wars pitted Napoleon I against various European powers. Among one of the cleverest ruses achieved during the Napoleonic Wars was an incident that occurred near Vienna in November 1805 and involved French forces against the Austrians.

The French were under the direction of two Marshals. The first was Jean Lannes, a daring and talented general, and, the second, Joachim Murat, brother-in-law to Napoleon having married Napoleon’s youngest sister, Caroline Bonaparte in 1800. Lannes and Murat had been pursuing the retreating Austrian army, and, at the time, they and their forces were near the market  town of Spitz, located on the Danube River. Continue reading

Théodore Gardelle – Executed for Dismembering a Corpse

Painting by Théodore Gardelle of Voltaire, Courtesy of British Museum
Painting by Gardelle of Voltaire, Courtesy of British Museum

On Thursday, 19 February 1761, a maid named Anne Windsor acquired the key to the street door of her mistress’s residence. Windsor’s mistress was Mrs. Anne King, “a woman of light character.” King also let rooms to gentlemen, and one of these gentlemen boarders was Théodore Gardelle.

Gardelle was born in Geneva, Switzerland. One story about Gardelle (although likely untrue) is that Gardelle became acquainted with Voltaire in Geneva. He then painted Voltaire’s picture on a snuff-box, and Voltaire was supposedly so impressed by Gardelle, he sent him to Paris with a recommendation.

While in Paris, Gardelle was advised to seek his fortune in London, appeared there around 1760, and began boarding with King. On this particular day as Windsor was busy going about her daily chores she found Gardelle in his room busily at work wearing a “red and green nightshirt.” When Gardelle saw her, he asked Windsor to do some errands. The errands included delivering two letters and acquiring snuff, which resulted in Gardelle giving Windsor his snuff-box and a guinea so that she could obtain a penny-worth of snuff. Continue reading