This is a remarkable and charming little book which I was thoroughly delighted to find on the shelves of one of my favorite local used book stores. My discovery was completely serendipitous, since I had previously been quite unaware of it. Even more so, since my discovery mirrored that of the manuscript on which this book is based. Those who are interested in the Regency, the Peninsular Wars, the Battle of Waterloo or the Duke of Wellington may well want to read it, if not acquire their own copy. The fact that the manuscript on which this book is based survived into the twentieth century is just as remarkable as the story it tells.
Why Your Most Obedient Servant is so special . . .
Domestic cats have been sharing the lives of humans for centuries, and they certainly did so during the Regency. But the life of a cat during our favorite decade was rather different than that of a cat in the early twenty-first century. So was the attitude of most humans toward these often solitary and seemingly mysterious creatures during the Regency. For Regency authors who might want to allow one of their characters to keep a cat in an upcoming story, some details on cat-keeping in the early nineteenth century might be useful.
Domestic cats and their care during the Regency . . .
Not only did Dorset buttons hold a wide array of garments together, these tiny works of needle art also helped to hold together many families in Dorsetshire, right through the decade of the Regency. Though this type of button originated almost four hundred years ago, and fell mostly out of fashion early in the last century, that same button type is still made and used today. In fact, many of you may have Dorset buttons on one or more of your own garments. Perhaps the needleworkers among you may even make your own Dorset buttons.
The buttons of Dorset through the Regency . . .
Without doubt, the appearance of this "princess" clearly shows that truth can indeed be stranger than fiction. Two hundred years ago, this coming Monday, a discombobulated young woman was found wandering the streets of a rural village in southwestern England. Her explanation of who she was and how she came to be there was so outrageous it convinced many in the area that it must be true. It was not until several weeks later that facts came to light which caused her story to unravel and embarrass some of those who had believed her. And yet, it is clear the fictitious princess was not the only one who took advantage of the situation.
The first appearance of Princess Caraboo . . .
This is a very significant year for the Dandy Chargers. Not only is it their seventeenth season as an organized group of pedestrian hobby horse enthusiasts, it is also the bicentennial anniversary of the invention of that uniquely Regency vehicle.
Called a velocipede by its inventor, Baron Karl von Drais, it is one of the very first examples of mechanized transportation. The so-called "Year Without a Summer," 1816, not only wiped out many crops, it also drastically reduced the number of horses, mules and other animals who typically provided transport for people all across Europe. This circumstance was one of the motivating factors which led Baron von Drais to develop his two-wheeled, human-powered vehicle.
Known widely as the "dandy horse" or "hobby horse" in Britain, these vehicles became all the rage in the last year of the Regency. Partly due to the irresponsible riding practices of many in the dandy set, these vehicles had mostly fallen out of fashion by the time the Prince Regent became King George IV. Fortunately for us today, the Dandy Chargers maintain and ride their dandy horses, in period costume, at various venues across Britain each spring and summer.
The 2017 Riding Schedule for the Dandy Chargers . . .
". . . . . . Harriet unfolded the parcel, . . . Within abundance of silver paper was a pretty little Tunbridge-ware box, which Harriet opened: it was well lined with the softest cotton; but, excepting the cotton, Emma saw only a small piece of court-plaister. — . . . "
This is the moment in which Harriet confides to her friend, Emma, that she has long cherished the remnant of court-plaister with which the Reverend Elton had toyed after the cut on his finger was bandaged. Readers of that period would have instantly recognized how much Harriet had treasured her keepsake, since the box in which it was kept was nestled within an abundance of silver paper. But how many people who read Emma today know what "silver paper" actually was, or the purposes to which it was generally put during the Regency? Was the paper even silver in color?
A tracing of silver paper in the Regency . . .
In actual fact, this unique form of chair, which originated in England in the early eighteenth century, had any number of names, usually suggesting a possible use, for nearly a century before the Regency began. Though they had mostly fallen out of fashion by the Regency, so many corner chairs had been made during the height of their popularity, in the second half of the eighteenth century, that there were still many of them extant and in use during our favorite period. Knowing something about these curious chairs might enable a Regency author to find a special place for one in an upcoming romance.
Truth, myth and conjecture concerning the curious corner chair . . .