Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January 28th, 1782

It is late, but I must pause a moment to record the events of the last few days. As promised, I was introduced to LaFayette at Elizabeth's party, and I told him that as a fellow Auvergnat he must allow me to host a dinner in his honor now that he was returned. He told me to name the date, so in my joy I recklessly asked if he was engaged for the evening of the 28th. Why I left myself so little time I cannot help but wonder!

Tonight he came and there was fine food, wine, cards, dancing, and he regaled us with stories of his adventures in America. The guestlist was quite full as nobody wanted to miss an opportunity to meet with him; but though it was a wonderful evening this is not even the best news. Close to the end of the evening LaFayette mentioned that he had heard I was selling one of my estates in Auvergne. When I confirmed that this was true he said he might be interested, as he was hoping to acquire more property there himself. I felt compelled to inform him that Lespinasse Castle was in some disrepair and that Opme currently has tenants, but he said that he would likely wish to make many rennovations in any case so that if it had but a sound roof over it, the castle might do very well.

Tomorrow I send a note to my estate agent to ensure that Lespinasse's roof is indeed sound. Finally, fortune smiles on me!

Olympe, Comtesse

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The First Woman to Circumnavigate the Globe

I came across a really interesting article today! Did you know that the first woman to travel around the world did it in 1774...while pretending to be a man. For more information you can read the article here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

January 23rd, 1782

Lafayette has returned, and in time for the official celebrations for the Dauphin. I am invited to Elizabeth's lying-in party where I am assured he will be a guest. I have so looked forward to this opportunity, and I am sure I can face even the cold winds of January for Auvergne's hero. My present for Elizabeth is to be nursery linens, as her elder children have occasioned every other luxury I could think of.

Other than that I'm afraid there's not much to report. The weather continues to be cold and gray and I find myself dreaming of the summer, when perhaps I may join my husband in Venice for a time. There is no progress in his case as of yet and I am out of new ideas.

Olympe, Comtesse

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Favourite- Pet-en-l'air and petticoat (KCI)

Pet-e-l'air and embroidered petticoat from the Kyoto Costume Institute

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Paul Revere...the Dentist

You never know when a connection to the 18th century will spring up. I have an amateur interest in forensics, and have for about twenty years; but just recently I came across an interesting fact. We think of Paul Revere as being, amongst other things, a patriotic messenger during the American Revolution. It turns out that he may have been the first forensic odontologist as well.

On top of being a silversmith and engraver, Revere was also a dentist, and in 1776 he was able to identify the body of none other than Dr. Joseph Warren, (the man who sent him on his now-famous ride) by the wiring and hippo tusk partial he had made for him. Since Dr. Warren and many others had been buried for months since the battle of Bunker Hill, forensic dentistry was one of the only ways in which the bodies could be positively identified.

Neat, huh?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Blog Post on Gaming Counters (chips)

Possessions of a Lady has posted a fascinating entry on gaming counters, the process of ordering them, and the designs they featured. I think all of you would enjoy it. Now, if you will excuse me, I must hunt e-bay for further examples.

January 13th, 1782

Such a note as this I must rouse myself to record. Word has come that the war in the colonies is over, and that the British have surrendered! This will only add to the celebrations still being held for the birth of the dauphin. Elizabeth is in confinement and expects to be delivered soon, while the Duke and Duchess de Polignac have a new daughter, Camille. Perhaps my friend too will have her dearly wished for girl.

Mlle de Rodez' presentation has been approved, so I must prepare for that soon, but I lack the will to make any effort. I know I should convince myself to try, I'm just unsure to what end my work will lead. Without Thierry, or even the hope of his return, I feel myself devoid of interest in the world around me. I wish only to return to Auvergne, and to shut myself away against all society. Food has no taste, music no pleasure. It is as if life were a painting which is only rendered in gray and black; some shadows deeper than others, but shadows all the same.

I wonder at the purpose of all my life. Would it have been better to have married in my youth some well-weighted Comte or Marquis, or even a Duke? To grant unto him all of my estates, all of my worth in the world, and to hope that he would treat me with kindness. Allow me my transgressions, my follies, my thoughts? Would he have granted that I may be my own person with my own mind and will and plans? Thierry does, and I know of no other like him. Perhaps I am naive, but at one-and-thirty I should think not. I have moved in society long enough to know that men like him are rare and precious. More precious than gold and titles to a woman who may be bought and shackled as soon as the documents are signed. Young girls wedded and sent away to convents, while their supposed husbands gamble and whore their way through their own dowries. I have seen it, and I did not wish that to be my fate. Oh God, was that so much to ask?

I should have been the happiest of women. I had the prospect of a husband who loved me, who asked for none of my inheritance, but only the pleasure of my company and conversation. A man of kindness, charity, wit, and, yes, wisdom even. Rare in so many ways. These other men who sought me; fickle, usurous, dismissive, even deadly on occasion, they are as like to him as a candle is like the sun, and yet they would seek to extinguish him. They are powerful and I know not how I may thwart them. I would wish to believe that innocence will prevail, but I am no child to trust in fairy stories.

I want my husband back, I want him here with me, and if I cannot accomplish that, then I must find a way to be where he is. I will not see all of the years of waiting, wasted. Life is brief.

Olympe, Comtesse

Sunday, January 8, 2012

In Their Words...

“Fantasy, abandoned by reason, produces impossible monsters; united with it, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels.”- Goya

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January 2nd, 1782

The salon was a fruitless effort. I was introduced to Msr and Mme Lavoisier, but found that after the initial pleasantries there was no way for me to begin a conversation that could help Thierry. I tried to talk with Mme L- several times, but in the end I was merely trailing after her and making myself ridiculous. I have nothing to offer them in exchange for their assistance, no way to work upon them. I share none of their interest in science, and can make very little conversation on the subject; though I tried to evince interest, I suspect it sounded more like ignorance, profound ignorance. Nor can I offer them money for their work, because they have no need of it.

A party to celebrate the New Year made me feel even more low. It was like being behind glass the whole time. I tried to interact with everyone, but genuinely felt none of their good cheer. I knew few people there, and even those I did know I somehow felt I had so little in common with as to be strangers. I moved amongst them, but did not seem to be present, and few people spoke to me. In very little time I was exhausted from the effort of trying to be charming, and I left before two in the morning.

Although I try to convince myself that there is still much to do, I am much more inclined simply to remain in bed. I have canceled my Lever for the last two days, and am considering giving out that I am sick with some minor discomfort. The Dowager Comtesse de R- has declined my latest invitation. All of my plans fall to pieces, and I have no will to pick them up again.

I am like a candle sputtering into darkness. It would be so easy just to let the flame go out.

Olympe, Comtesse