Mineral Springs and Watering-Places of Georgian Times

Mineral Springs and Watering-Places of Georgian Times
Unidentified Mineral Springs from the 1600s. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

From early times, mineral waters were used to remove or alleviate disease. Waters at watering-places were often ascribed to the occult and sometimes said to be miraculous in their abilities to cure disease, both chronic and acute. Some people had such belief in the mysterious agency of mineral waters they entertained exaggerated notions of their capabilities and power and used mineral waters whenever they were ill. However, other patients found that mineral waters did not alter or alleviate their sufferings, and these people tended to claim that such waters cured people because of a “mere change of air, scene, and mode of life.” Continue reading

Nine Singing Rules for 18th Century Singers

The Note A or La, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Singing was a popular activity in the 1700s. One writer noted that when there was a large group of singers, the worst singer was often the person who got the greatest pleasure from the activity. To ensure people got the most pleasure out of singing, numerous song books were published. Among them was one that maintained when a person was in society, it was the person’s duty to be “conformable and good-humoured.” To accomplish that, there were nine singing rules for 18th century singers. Continue reading

Fortune-Telling with Moles in the Georgian Era

fortune-telling
“The Fortune Teller” in the Nineteenth Century by John Opie, (c) University of Greenwich; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

One person wrote, “Ever since the world began, a laudable curiosity has excited all ranks of people in all countries, to know the events, vicissitudes, the turns of good or bad fortune.” Among those intrigued by the turns of good or bad fortunes were people living in the eighteenth century. Their fortunes were told to them by fortune tellers who used astronomy, physiognomy, palmistry, card tossing, or the reading of coffee dregs. However, one of the most unusual and interesting ways of fortune-telling was the examination of a person’s moles.

Georgian fortune tellers read moles because as one eighteenth-century writer put it, “[moles] bear a strong analogy to the events that are to happen to a person in the future.” When examining moles, fortune tellers looked at a variety of things. For instance, a mole with a few long hairs denoted the person’s undertakings would be prosperous but if the mole was hairy, misfortune was expected. Continue reading

Mr. Broughton’s Seven Boxing Rules of 1743

John "Jack" Broughton, Courtesy of Wikipedia
John “Jack” Broughton, Courtesy of Wikipedia

When boxing was in its infancy boxing rules were loosely defined and varied from fight to fight. The winner was usually determined to be either the boxer who hit the hardest or submitted to the greatest punishment. On 16 August 1743, a boxer by the name of John (Jack) Broughton formulated and printed seven rules that he framed at his amphitheatre. These seven rules became known as “Mr. Broughton’s Rules” and are provided below:

  1. That a square of a yard be chalked in the middle of the stage; and every fresh set-to after a fall, or being parted from the rails, each second is to bring his man to the square and place him opposite to the other; and till they are fairly set-to at the lines, it shall not be lawful for one to strike the other. Continue reading

Glossary of French Terms Used in the Quadrille

Quadrille Dancers, Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France
Quadrille Dancers, Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France

The Quadrille was a popular square dance that became fashionable in the late 18th century. It was first introduced at Louis XV’s court sometime around 1760 and was first performed with two couples facing each other.

In 1816, the Quadrille reached England through Sarah Sophia Child Villiers, Countess of Jersey. The Countess was an aristocrat and well-known patroness of Almack’s, and, because of her, the Quadrille became ultra-fashionable with the upper crust.

Elements of the Quadrille changed over time, and it evolved into the waltz. Additionally, other couples were added to the dance so that the Quadrille included eight persons thereby forming a square and allowing couples to take turns resting and dancing.

Because of its French origins, the terms used for the Quadrille were French, and, over time, some of the terms were done away with or changed. The following list provides the most frequent French terms used for the Quadrille by the mid 1800s, and it includes their English counterparts: Continue reading

Bluestockings and Benjamin Stillingfleet

Rowlandson's Caricature of the Bluestocking Club, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Rowlandson’s Caricature of the Bluestocking Club, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Although one of the first references to bluestockings appeared in 1638, the term bluestocking did not became common until the 1700s. The term was applied to literary ladies and conferred on a society of literary persons of both sexes. Literary societies in England had been influenced by French salons, where conversation was famous. Moreover, these societies were equivalent to the Frenchbas bleu from the 1500s that applied to French literary women.

One of the most active promoters of England’s bluestocking society was Benjamin Stillingfleet. He was a distinguished botanist, translator, and writer. He was also a tutor, and he and William Windham — Stillingfleet’s relative and pupil — set off on the Grand Tour in 1737. In 1740, while they were in Geneva, they formed a community said to be “dedicated to the pursuit of literary discussion and play-reading.” This was partly why some people have claimed that Stillingfleet was the first bluestocking. Continue reading

Kite Carriages or Charvolants

The Kite-Carriage or Charvolant
The Kite-Carriage or Charvolant

George Pocock was an English schoolteacher who became interested in kites and began experimenting with them. His interest gradually progressed to him using kites to lift small items and then light loads. By the 1820s, Pocock was experimenting with kites that could lift people. This resulted in Pocock rigging a chair in 1824 that lifted his daughter into the air, and, later that same year, his son also ascended in a chair above a cliff outside of Bristol.

Having concluded that kites were capable of lifting humans, Pocock then turned his attention to using kites to pull loads. He began attaching a small number of kites to carriages and, in 1826, patented the “Charvolant.”  The Charvolant consisted of two kites on a single line that was 1,500 to 1,800 feet long and was capable of pulling a carriage with several passengers at a fairly fast speed. Thus, the kite carriage was born. Continue reading

A Georgian Farting Club

Jonathan Swift, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Jonathan Swift, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Georgians had numerous clubs. One of the more ridiculous clubs was a club known as the “Farting Club.” One person said of it, “of all the fantastical Clubs that ever took Pains to make themselves stink in the Nostrils of the Public, [there was no other club that]…ever came up to this windy Society.” Perhaps the club started because of Jonathan Swift. Swift was a master of satire and author of Gulliver’s Travel, who in 1722 also published a pamphlet titled “The Benefit of Farting Explain’d.” In the pamphlet Swift said the fart was “a great Promoter of Mirth.” But whatever brought about the Farting Club, it met weekly “to poison the neighbouring Air with their unsavory Crepitations.” Continue reading

Regency Traveling Tips

Regency traveling tips
Mail Coach Leaving Piccadilly With Travelers by George Scarf, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Traveling in the British Isles or on the European Continent was something done regularly by Regency people. To make traveling as comfortable as possible, one Regency writer gathered a variety of tips, and, here they are in their entirety:

Tips for Traveling in the British Isles 

  • Where persons travel for pleasure, or when they are not compelled by business to travel fast, sixty miles in winter, and seventy in summer, is distance enough to go. Continue reading

Mrs. Salmon’s Waxworks

Mrs. Salmon's Waxworks, Public Domain
Mrs. Salmon’s Waxworks, Public Domain

Before the famous Madame Tussaud’s there was Mrs. Salmon’s Waxworks that was owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. Salmon. Mrs. Salmon made and sold toys — Dutch, English, and French — and was said to be highly eccentric, even sleeping in a burial shroud. Mrs. Salmon’s also had modelling skills and used them to create life-sized dolls that resembled living people. Her waxworks became an instant hit and were publicized in the Tatler of 1710 and mentioned several times in the Spectator.

Mrs. Salmon’s Waxworks’ were also distinguished by the sign of a salmon. Addison noted, “It would have been ridiculous for the ingenious Mrs. Salmon to have lived at the sign of the Trout, for which reason she erected before her house the figure of fish that is her namesake.” Mrs. Salmon, who later became Mrs. Steers, ran the business until she died in 1760, at which time a man named Clark purchased the business and when he died it went to his widow. Continue reading