Friday, July 31, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
I find it terribly inconvenient that after many extra hours of sleep I felt worse today than before. It was an ill figure I made at my own party, and I felt hardly able to enjoy it at all due to my dripping nose and clouded head.
The good news is that T- has apparently come to the attention of someone who is in a position to aid him. I am unclear on the details as we barely had a moment to speak alone at the party, but it does sound promising and he is in high spirits.
I do hope this cold clears up in time for the trip, or it will be a most unpleasant journey.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I believe that just in time for my trip, I may be coming down with a cold. This will not do, and I will retire shortly to bed in hopes of halting the advance of any illness; but before I do I must write that tomorrow I am attending a going-away party held by my dear friends, the Marquis and Marquise de Ferrand. Another excellent reason for resting, I think.
I put aside my portraits and focused on a landscape today in the garden, which, before rain forced me indoors, was turning out rather to my satisfaction and surprise. If I can finish it in time I will take it with me as a reminder of my beloved Auvergne and its beauty.
Received another letter from M. Saint Mikkael today, in which he professed to understand why I could not admit him to my home, and said that he would consider it a great honor if I were to give him, in Paris, any opportunity to render himself of service. I appreciate the gallantry, and truly I bear him no malice, only a lingering mistrust. If we find ourselves in the same social circles again I should be glad to renew our aquaintance along more formal lines.
A letter arrived from Christine saying that she will travel to Paris a month after my arrival, and that her stay will be of short duration. Nevertheless I am sure we shall make arrangements to visit with each other. I will reply to her shortly and extend once more the invitation to stay with me at the Hotel de Sully.
For now, rest; tomorrow I must be at my best.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
Today I had a hairdresser come to Saint Saturnin and give a lesson to all of my maids on how to properly dress hair. He tried to suggest that I take him with me to Paris, but while I'm sure he knows his craft and can teach my ladies, I trust those already established in the city to be more fashionable. Marianne was quite taken with her new skills, and practiced pleasantly for hours afterwards. I did purchase more powder as it is probably less expensive here.
Maman writes in a kinder tone that we must visit the theatre together while we are in town, which I'm sure we shall many times. The frivolity I look forward to most is having the newest clothes made, and seeing what the most fashionable people are wearing. The shop tells me that Marianne and Pauline's clothes are on their way to me, so they are looking forward to that as I informed them of its imminent arrival this morning.
I have permitted myself the expense of commissioning a very young writer to draw up a new history of the De la Tour d'Auvergne family, with the hope that by the time he is finished it may have some new members. I am very hopeful these days.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Received a very irritating letter from maman today, which proceeded to lecture me on the lack of wisdom inherent in pursuing the reacquisition instead of making a good marriage. I need not be reminded of my age and the increased likelihood that I will be unable to bear children of my own body. Yet, she seems determined to chastise me for the very things I cannot do, or for which there are consequences I would not prefer to face. Not seeking the reacquisition will not make marriage with T- come any faster, but then it is perhaps he himself that she objects to. I would think that having endured an arranged marriage herself that she would be happy to allow me to make my own choice in my own time. That, it seems, is not the case.
It has put me in a terrible temper all day, and I have not been fit for civil society.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I took a long ride, the better to soak in the beauty I must soon depart from. Nothing is so desired but that which is impermanent. The leaves are just beginning to turn here and there. Marianne is proudly tutoring Pauline on the ways of the city, and how to cut a fine figure amongst the other ladies maids. I think Marianne may find that despite her assertions, nothing remains constant in Paris and she will have much to learn herself. As will I, no doubt.
I leave on the ninth of August, and we will stop for the night in Orlean continuing on early on the tenth to arrive hopefully before noon. Mme le S-B writes that it is the custom in Paris to pay some wages in advance, and so I seem to have no choice but to hire servants unseen and pay them before my own. I cannot arrive to an empty house, and I am bringing only two footmen, two maids, a cook, and my coachman.
As to M. Saint-Mikkael, I shall brave the icy reputation and insist that I am too busy with preparations for my own journey to entertain guests.
Monday, July 20, 2009
From the 17th-century until around the 1770s only aristocrats were entitled to have red heels on their shoes, as a status symbol. Buckles were the most common type of closure, but ribbons laced through holes in the lappets were also used. Most were constructed of fabric on a wooden sole, but in the 1770s again, kid leather became increasingly popular. Heels after the 1760s became narrower and higher, while retaining the Louis shape, which flared at top and bottom, and curved sensuously in the middle.
In the 1770s and 80s the top of the shoe began to curve upward, creating a profile that looked as if the foot were being arched up out of the shoe. As hemlines rose with the Polonaise and similar fashions, shoes were increasingly seen, and assumed more variety in materials. Towards the end of the 1780s heels began to lower, and be forced inward under the foot more. Some slipped on without the use of lappets or laces, paving the way for the low slippers of the Directoire period.
One style that shows up again and again in paintings is the mule. A backless, slip-on shoe that research suggests was only worn indoors, or in the privacy of a residential garden. They originated in France and could be either formal or informal. Impractical, due to their tendency to slip off the foot, they exemplified the frivilous nature of many eighteenth century styles. For some truly wonderful examples of mules, and eighteenth century shoes in general. I refer you to The Bata Shoe Museum website (http://eng.shoe-icons.com/museum/objects.htm?age=41&page=1).
For anyone interested in modern reproductions of eighteenth century shoes see either of the sites below.
Sarah Juniper Shoes http://www.sarahjuniper.co.uk/18c.html
Plantagenet Shoes http://www.plantagenetshoes.freeserve.co.uk/home.htm
Friday, July 17, 2009
Letters, letters, and more letters! One from maman saying now that though they will join me in Paris they will travel up separately after I have had a chance to “prepare for them”; in which case I do hope she will inform me as to what preparations they will need that I have not already allowed for. T- writes at last to say that the reacquisition is much talked of in Riom, and people are hoping for my success without much confidence in its feasibility. I shall hope to prove them wrong. Mme Le S-B writes that she can provide for the necessary servants, but would need wages up front for them before they even begin, which is problematic in that the cost of preparing for the journey alone is burdensome without having to pay people in advance for work not yet accomplished.
My order from the lingerie shop did finally arrive, and despite my initial tendency to be critical I find it very much to my satisfaction, and can hardly wait to put it to use. I have sent word to my marchande des modes and dressmaker that with the exception of my traveling outfit all order should be held and will be picked up or sent for once I reach Paris. I really must find a good wigmaker and hairdresser; that is essential.
The weather has turned stormy overnight and I doubt if I shall leave the chateau for the remainder of the day. There are more than enough letters for me to occupy myself with in the meantime. Which reminds me, I am still debating M. Saint Mikkael’s suggestion; if I invite him I also invite the potential for further expectations of intimacy, and if I do not I will establish my character as harsh and unforgiving. Prudish, even, which I dare say I am not. At this most delicate time in negotiations I can ill-afford any kind of negative reputation. Versailles may well respect me more for a whisper of scandal, than they would for glacial purity.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Other than word of our victory in Grenada, very little news for today. Still nothing from T-, though surprisingly a letter from M. Saint-Mikkael did arrive inquiring after my health. He is apparently still at Adrienne’s, but admits to his own upcoming journey to Paris, and suggests a visit in Auvergne on his way. I find his request presumptuous in light of his behavior in Briancon, but may consider in spite of that in order that I might give him the opportunity he seeks to redeem himself. He does assert that it was caused by an unfortunate misreading of my attentions towards him, so perhaps he is not entirely to blame.
Rode out for a while today, reviewed the nearest fields and took charity to a few families in need of assistance, at the suggestion of Abbe Veronde. I regret that I will be leaving Auvergne just as autumn begins, as that really is the prettiest season here. Today was very warm, but a late shower has cooled the air considerably.
The date of departure looms far too quickly and it seems increasingly impossible to adequately prepare in the time remaining. I suspect that quite a few things will have to be sent to me after I arrive.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Very weary tonight, but I will stay awake long enough to record that I sent a letter to maman today inviting she and both of my brothers to join me on my trip to Paris. I will have quite a large enough residence for the three of them, and it may aid Andre in finding a useful profession. We will, however, have to arrange for a tutor for Matthieu, who is ever in need of schooling.
I finished reading M. de la Chalotais proposal and find it very elucidating. I do not agree with him on all points, but in general his plan of study would seem to be beneficial to all classes of society from laborers to young nobles, and rather than setting them against the honorable pursuits of their fathers, help them to better understand and content themselves in the work which God has set before them.
I visited tenants today, wrote part of my petition, and sent a note regarding the servants I would be taking to Paris and those which would need to be provided. Hopefully Mme Le Sang-Boeuf will be able to aid me once more in procuring reliable help.
I also took some time to paint, but grew impatient part of the way through the composition and did not complete it. Perhaps tomorrow I will take it up again, but I would not wager much on it. It seems that less and less frequently do I desire to practice those arts of painting or music I once found so pleasant.
I miss T- and hope he will be able to return soon, but only for the best of reasons. I will close before I begin to ramble.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
A dig through the fabric collection has also yielded all of the fabric necessary for making the two pairs of stays (corsets) mentioned in a previous entry. I have not abandoned the quilted petticoat and bedgown, those projects are in the works as well, and once completed they will received their own post.
The important thing to remember is that neither one chemise nor one style of corset will suffice for all kinds of outfits. The type of chemise worn beneathe a court gown is not the same as what would be worn beneathe a polonaise, and for corsets this is particularly true as the desired shape changed according to function and style. One of the two corsets being made will go under Olympe's traveling outfit, and the other under a l'anglais.
The flowers in my bedroom are fading, and I am reminded of how fast all things must fade, including summer. My friend Anne-Marie writes to tell me that her mother has fallen ill and she is obliged to spend much of her time caring for her. It serves to remind me that I may be more charitable and take my mother with me to Paris after all, that we may enjoy the time we have together before it is past.
The lingerie shop writes that my order is complete and on its way to me shortly following the letter. Nothing from T-, whom I assume is busy caring for his own ailing parent. “How precious the days that passing are…” I have sent him a book from my own library on the life of Julius Caesar, in the hopes that he may enjoy it and think of me.
Chevalier Guillame-Blaise de Crecy visited me this afternoon, after I had spent a pleasant morning in the gardens reading. He very clearly wanted to know every detail of the reacquisition, and I believe would have written the petition himself if he could. It is hardly a secret anymore, and I have no doubt that the reason for my journey to Versailles will be well-known before I ever arrive. I only hope that it will not provide sufficient time for my opponents to prepare against me the tricks I am certain they would attempt.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Maman has brought to my attention that while at Versailles I would do well to visit my old school, Saint Cyr, and perhaps take them a present of some kind to show my gratitude. I’m sure the school could use money or books, and the girls may appreciate something a little less serious. It was a pleasant enough place, and I owe many friendships to its experience, at least as much as my education. So many years I spent there, away from my mother, though she did visit, and barely meeting my brother Andre until he was older. Perhaps that is the reason for the formality of our current relationship.
The date for my arrival in Paris has been set for Tuesday, August 10th, and I will likely stay until December at least, though I hope to return to Saint Saturnin in time for Christmas. If, however, it is expedient to remain there for the whole season then I will amend my plans.
I read and embroider and tomorrow, if the weather is fine, I may ride out to visit some tenants. Otherwise my time is occupied with preparing for this journey. I replied to Christine, and hope to receive a letter from her in response before I leave. As she will also be in Paris I have invited her to stay with me, but I know she has had other offers and may well choose a prior engagement.
I am finding M. La Chalotais proposal for national education to be of interest. Curious how the ideas put forward then are applied to education today. Now, however, I will sleep and work on the preparation of my own request tomorrow. I hope that the king will be as kindly disposed towards me as he was towards M. La Chalotais, with whom he had more reason to disagree.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Currently being read is the titular article on national education put forward by Louis-Rene de Caradeuc de la Chalotais in 1763. I have found it to be so far a fascinating read with some surprisingly modern ideas. It makes one realize just how progressive people could be in the eighteenth century. The author of the book in which it is contained makes mention of the fact that in 1843 a comparative study was made by a french official, which determined that there were actually fewer and less effective scholastic institutions (primary through university level) after the Revolution of 1789, than prior to it. Certainly those who were educated by the previous system don't necessarily seem to have been enamored of it; and one of La Chalotais chief complaints is that the proponderance of ecclesiastically-sponsored institutions were mainly concerned with the edification of the soul rather than the enlightenment of the mind, and therefore produced people with either highly-specialized or insufficient educations, who then went on to teach others, badly.
One wonders, of course, after such scathing criticism how he and others like Rousseau and Voltaire managed to become so enlightened as to critique these institutions. Then again, many of them procured their educations in various cities amongst many countries. He makes surprising mention of the differences between the educational psychology of adults and children, and also of the need for variety and the importance of an understanding of health and the benefits of physical exercise for children who will carry these habits forward with them in life.
While not actually excluding girls from his treatise, one does get the impression from the few specific mentions made of them that La Chalotais is mainly interested in the education of males, though he does state that while many of the subjects are suggested for girls as well, that they should in addition study those womanly virtues such as sewing, embroidery, and music.
Finally, the most interesting assertion so far, has been that children should be taught in ways that naturally excite their curiosity, and that education should, as far as is possible, be a hands-on experience involving movement, experimentation, models, and the lessons best learned from being wrong. The very idea that children learn as much from failure as success is, to my mind, very new, so I was pleased to see him express it. Nothing though has been more pleasant to me than to find that he believed children to form the most lasting impressions from their own experience, and that to this end they should not only study the stars and that which is far from their own daily comprehension, but also that some things, like literature and writing were best if left to them to articulate from their own lives. That writing down their own experience of a play or festival would be more beneficial than copying Plutarch's observations, is novel indeed.
For more information on the author of these statements himself I refer you to the link above which will take you to the Wikipedia article, whose statements I largely condone according to my own research.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Only a month now until I journey north to Paris. The staymaker came yesterday and fitted me for two pairs of stays, which once completed will be sent ahead so that my gowns may be fitted off of them. I have sent an inquiry to the lingerie shop as it seems to me that my most recent order ought to be completed by now. We will see what answer they give.
Thierry, sadly, had to journey home to visit his father, who remains in poor health. No word on any of the commissions he has been working towards, but we both have hope that soon one will be offered; he for pride (as no man wants to be kept by his wife, like a lover) and I so that our marriage may at last be considered.
Settled into my bed, with my desk upon my lap, flowers from my own garden perfuming the air, and a low fire dwindling drowsily, I feel the contentment that only home can provide. I lack for few things that may constitute a general happiness in life. I only hope that I may always have the meand to bring such pleasure to those within my domain.
Why do people ever wish to leave home for larger cities?
Monday, July 6, 2009
Today T- had business and has been away most of the day, whilst I have attended to my own affairs. A meeting with my steward has confirmed the feasibility of renting the Hotel de Sully for my sojourn in Paris, and that simplifying my wardrobe will help matters immensely, therefore I will not have as many new things made as originally intended.
Maman continues to press me to take she and my brothers with me to Paris, which doubtless would be good for them, but difficult for me as they would only complicate an already delicate matter.
I am in the process of choosing swatches for those garments to be made, and responding to Christine’s latest letter. No news from the war in the colonies, or of our Layfayette, whom I trust is well. I begin to dread this trip, as I am no performer and much prefer the calmer, gentler atmosphere of home to the heady intricacies of court and capital. Still, I’m sure there will be many pleasant divertissements.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
I continue to be rather weak and ill, but count on regaining my strength shortly as I am returning home to Saint Saturnin tomorrow. I have no idea if I shall return once recovered, but it may provide a very good opportunity to excuse myself for the remainder of the summer; the better to prepare for my journey next month.
A letter from Mme. Le Sang-Boeuf informs me that amongst other properties the Hotel de Sully is available and so I have written her to request details and may settle there. Located on the Place Royale, it should provide adequate access to the city while still being private enough for my pleasure. If furnished I will likely only need to purchase a few items and provide some servants.
I attended mass this morning, and took the precaution of asking the priest to hear my confession. Marianne has packed nearly all of my things, and anything else we can send for if needed. I sent a note to T- informing him of my imminent arrival, and so hopefully he will be at Saint Saturnin to visit me. I believe that his company would greatly improve my spirits as well as my health.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
I have accomplished little other than to rest in the past few days, and received letters from T-, my steward and one rather terse one from my mother. She would like me to expend my money and influence to aid my brother, Andre, to make his fortune in the world. I continue to say that not only can I not, but I would not, for he is as likely to squander it as any man I have ever met. If he showed any true inclination to apply himself to a profession I would be only too happy to assist him, but as it is, I do not trust him to know his own course.
I will answer Christine’s latest letter soon, and press Mme le Sang-Boeuf for a decent residence while I am in Paris. This must all be resolved soon. I do hope that T’s prayers for a commission are soon answered as well.
I am tired and must rest again. If fervent prayer has any effect then all will be right very soon.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Amongst fashionable society in the eighteenth century a woman might rise as late as eleven o'clock, perhaps take some hot chocolate, which was a very popular morning refreshment, and as soon as she was partially clothed she would begin to receive visitors in a sort of ritualized informality as she continued to dress.
A quote from Dangerous Liasons: Fashion and Furniture in the 18th Century describes the situation beautifully:-
Far more accounts and depictions of women's Levees survive than men's, it seems, and this is not a custom that appears to have been much practiced while visiting in someone else's home, which is why we haven't seen Olympe practice this ritual yet; and this makes sense if we conclude that the entire performance (for such it surely was) was predicated upon a concept of personal ownership, not only of the person it centered upon, but also of the objects, furniture, and atmosphere surrounding them. In short, it was a power play designed for the highly controlled domain of one's personal kingdom. People entered your home, you granted them an audience and determined its parameters, and then you dismissed them at your leisure.
It is very easy to see how this evolved from court ettiquette surrounding the daily activities of the King, and is not surprising that the aristocracy would want to mimic and in some way own such condescension.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
To follow there will be a quilted petticoat in cream satin with pink stitching and a deep pink ruffle at the hem. As well as a "Mantelet au lever de l'aurore", a dressing gown.