Ever wondered how to make your Empire-waisted dress work for you? Or needed some of Lady Henrietta’s Advice for the Lovelorn?
Below the fold, you can drool over the (watercolor) centerfold and take the 18th Century Cosmo Quiz as you learn how to entice your rake and freshen up quickly at a ball.
As always, I’m blown away by the talent of the Pink community.
As you read through, just list your favorite three articles in the Comments section, below. I’ll tally up the votes and announce winners next Thursday, April 26. (Prizes to be determined.)
One person who comments will be chosen at random to receive a signed copy of The Masque of the Black Tulip.
Without any further ado… enjoy your 18th Century Cosmo!
1. Brisk Beauty Tricks for the Ballroom
Ever caught a glimpse of yourself post-country dance and shuddered? Don’t fret dearest. There are simple steps to perform in, and on the way to the ladies power room.
For luscious and luminous lips, slide by the refreshments table and take a cube of ice or a chilled glass of lemonade. Press the cube (or glass) to your lips for a few seconds until it starts to feel slightly warmer. When you remove the cube or glass, your lips will look redder, moist, and kissable.
To tame your tresses, take that same glass of lemonade in the ladies room and with ungloved fingers lightly dip them in the lemonade and then sweep your stands back in place. The sugar will keep your hair in place and the lemon will make it glow.
If seeing your hopefully-intended flirting with a strumpet has left your face pallid, take your curled forefingers and thumbs to pinch your cheek bones in light, swift motions to add a natural and uniquely you rouge.
Lively steps on the dance floor could leave you more than appropriately glistened. A napkin, or handkerchief will suffice in place of other cloth: delicately press the material to your moistened skin to absorb. If there is no place to discard the used material, you’ll find a convenient place in your bodice that will not only stow it away, but will also help … amplify your assets. Just be sure that it looks smooth under your dress.
And once you’ve made yourself presentable, try to sense if you are wafting a smell of female or of wild beast. If the latter, take a fresh flower, roses will be sufficient, and between two fingers, roll the petals until they begin to wilt. Unfurl the petal and gently pat it under the outermost points of your jaw, inner writs and elbows and the nape of your neck below the hair line.
With these tips, voila! you will be as ravishing as though you just stepped through the grand entrance.
— Cassie L.
2. 5 Ways to Spot a Rake
You already know men will do anything to postpone marriage, but some will also do anything to engage in marital activities in the meantime (Don’t worry! You’ll find out all about THAT side of marriage soon enough!). For gently bred ladies such as yourselves, it is important that you guard your virtue at all times lest you wind up like that trollop Penelope Reid nee Deveraux! To help you keep your reputation as snowy white as the day you were born, we’ve compiled this list of telltale signs to look for so you can see behind that seductive smile to the black-hearted cad beneath.
1. When you catch the gentleman observing you across a crowded ballroom, are you struck by the uncomfortable feeling that he is trying to figure out what you look like in your chemise? You cannot run far enough away from this man! He has nothing but bad intentions. Seek the protection of your nearest male relative and/or the Dowager Duchess of Dovedale. Either person will serve quite nicely to put such ungentlemanly thoughts out of his head.
2. When kissing your glove in greeting, does the man linger over your hand a bit too long? That is a clear sign that the man is trying to tempt you to the nearest balcony. Resist the temptation at all costs! We recommend snatching your hand away and snapping your fan open in as irritated a manner as possible, while still maintaining your ladylike smile and posture, of course!
3. This brings us to our next sign that a man does not have good intentions: if when you linger near a balcony in an effort to escape the crush of a ball and frequently find the same man at your elbow, you must do everything in your power to put him off. Balconies are to rakes what East London is to highwaymen and common thieves; it’s where they commit all their dastardly crimes! You wouldn’t follow a thief out of Mayfair would you? We didn’t think so.
4. You must never EVER allow yourself to be alone with a man who is not a relative or your husband. Men know how improper it is for a delicate lady to be alone in their company so if he tries to bring about that situation, then he is NOT a gentleman!
5. Finally, you will always know that a gentleman does not have good intentions toward you by the manner in which he attempts to court you. Does he try to arrange private meetings in Hyde Park? Does he leave secret notes for you that have improper contents? Does he ask you to dance more than two times at a single ball or party? These men have improper designs and should be avoided. A proper gentleman will follow all the dictates of society when courting you in order to show his respect. He will call on you the morning after a ball in a properly chaperoned environment, he may leave flowers, and he would never dishonor you by demanding your hand for three dances in one night!
So there you have it, ladies! 5 failsafe ways to tell if a man is after your hand in marriage, or if he has more nefarious plans in mind. If you keep on the lookout for these signs, then there is no reason why you should not make a respectable marriage with a proper young gentleman!
— Stephanie R.
3. What is His Cravat Telling You?
First, consider the color of the gentleman’s cravat. One should not be fooled by a simple white cravat! The most seductive of colors is not found in blushing of reds, nor in the deep intensity of blues, but in simple, but ever so deceptive, blanc d’innocence virginale.
Next, both the height and regularity of his cravat must be taken into account. Remember ladies, the higher the cravat, the more potent the man – in life, love, and in prosperity! And the intensity of the cravat’s starch and style gives credence to his valet – one whom must surely be well paid!
And ladies, beware! If, in the evening, you spy a man in the same cravat as he wore in the morning, do not bother with him, for a man of style cannot be a man of substance; he is unfashionable, flat, and stale.
Finally, do pay heed to the style of the gentleman’s cravat. While the ever expounding intricacies of necktie stylings may often seem to out dandy the most dandy of gentlemen, the falls and creases, and yes, stiffness, of the gentleman’s cravat will tell much of his character. Does he wear the “American,” which is pretty, but easily formed? Or is it the “Napoleon,” which lends a certain amorous air: the cravat wrapped around the gentleman, as if holding him scandalously close? Or perhaps he has donned the “Oriental Knot,” which is so deucedly excruciating in both execution and wear that the gentleman must have an intensely talented valet, complete confidence in self, and a strong, masculine potency. But, ladies, again I must insist caution! Seek out the protection of the most terrifying Dowagers if any gentleman clomping around the ballroom wearing the rather vulgar “Horse Collar” comes near!
— Sara M.
4. Lady Cosmopolitania’s Sage Words of Advice for Fashionable Ladies
1. Dear Lady Cosmo,
I am in quick the pickle! Last night at a ball, I was dancing with a lovely unknown young gentleman. We had a wonderful time and finished off the dance with a glass of punch. Later, my brother overheard the neighborhood scoundrel talking about how I was too quick with my Viennese Waltz and challenged him to a duel to defend my honor! I am quite worried as my brother is a terrible shot and his second is the town drunk (no one else was interested). Whatever shall I do?
You do what any lady would do in this situation: put your hand up to your brow, say “oh heavens, me,” ask for some smelling salts, then swoon. Hopefully a lovely gentleman will be there to catch you.
2. Dear Lady Cosmo,
I am the lady of a large estate and I suspect that my maid has been stealing. She acts suspiciously, as though she knows I am watching her. I have to count the silver after she cleans it every day and inventory my jewelry after she has been in my chamber. I am getting quite frustrated. She is a good maid but several items have disappeared recently. Whatever shall I do?
You do what any lady would do in this situation: put your hand up to your brow, say “oh heavens, me,” ask for some smelling salts, then swoon. Hopefully a lovely gentleman will be there to catch you.
3. Dear Lady Cosmo,
I am a maid in a large estate and I think my lady suspects me of stealing. I catch her watching me all the time and it makes me nervous. She counts the silver after I clean it and I’m pretty sure she also inventories her jewelry after I’ve been in her chamber. It’s been quite frustrating as the lady has been going mad slowly over the past few weeks. She walks around mumbling about theft and has started to bring in stray cats. I know a few items have disappeared but it’s the cats that have been doing it. Whatever shall I do?
Dear Maid to Cat Lady,
You do what any maid would do in this situation: put your hand up to your brow, say “oh heavens, me,” ask for some smelling salts, then swoon. Hopefully a lovely footman will be there to catch you.
— Christine M.
5. Mrs. Loveney’s Academy for Reforming Rakes.
— Chloe F.
6. The Widow’s Guide to Ensnaring an Admirer: Ten Secrets to Forming a Temporary (Lasting?) Attachment
My dear ladies, you know that you have always done the right thing, listened to your Mama and Papa and maintained your unexceptionable reputation. You’ve done the marriage mart, married the dead bore elderly Lord picked out expressly for you by your loving parents and are now widowed at a tender age, thank God. If you are lucky, the old goat left you with at least twenty thousand a year, a house in Grosvenor Square, your father is dead and your mother has moved to Bath. You are now trying to figure out what to do with your widowhood and the rest of your life. You wonder what it would be like to entertain a gentleman of nearer own age who could actually perform “The Act.” His wife is a horse faced gal, intended to breed heirs but he longs for companionship as well. You are no blushing maid and need not play the part. If you long for the company of a handsome gentleman who can enliven your dull existence then read on! The following are tips to bring him to his knees:
1. Abandon your widow’s weeds. Really who besides your departed husband’s Mama cares if you mourn him? She is probably already dead herself so what are you waiting for? A bit of black can be quite becoming but head to toe is quite de trope. If you have observed the mourning period, wear the color that becomes you best but a little black can be quite enticing. Perhaps just a little black lace above a low cut bodice?
2. Admit to no accomplishments. What gentleman can tolerate a woman playing the harp let alone consider it to be desired? Only matchmaking Mamas think it important that you can paint a watercolor or play an instrument rather badly. Unless you sing (and dress) like an opera singer, suggest that your talents lie elsewhere……
3. Compliment other fast women. You do not want him to think that you are prudish or prone to jealously. The gentleman looking for female companionship may not wish to grant you exclusive privileges to his affection. He should understand from the outset that you are perfectly willing to share him with other females. And, he should understand that he must share you……
4. Suggest that you have a perfectly discreet staff. You are a philanthropist participating in the betterment of society. Your dear maid and footman were rescued from a brothel and perhaps they have taught you a trick or two. Since they owe you their very existence, they are most discreet. No gentlemen need worry about whispers of late night visits.
5. Gild your toenails. Select a particularly demure pair of sandals that reveal just the hint of a set of gilded nails. It will leave him wondering what other secrets lay beneath that silk gown.
6. Suggest to him that silk under clothing is best. Linens and woolens do chafe for heaven’s sake. The finest Parisian silks though, are perfectly comfortable and who knows how enticing they may be? Let him consider how filmy and seductive they are under that perfectly acceptable midnight blue silk gown.
7. Do not appear to be too interested. You are certain that he has cultivated the appearance of the bored gentleman who has seen and done it all. Society is tedious but must be endured. You too are bored but are perhaps willing to give a gentleman of his stripe a chance to entertain you, privately.
8. Learn cant. We know gentle reader that you could not care less about sporting ventures but if you are fortunate enough to have a Corinthian ready to be ensnared in your web, let him know you share his interests. Vulgarity can have its own charm.
9. You ride. You are a fine horsewoman but are terribly encumbered by feminine clothing. Suggest that you long to ride astride, in breeches. Really they do reveal those appealing thighs of yours and the dressing as a gentleman does present endless possibilities. You could leave it to him to decide if you mean man or beast…..
10. Leave yourself open to love. Who knows? In the process of ensnaring a lover, he may actually fall in love with you. Would it be so bad? All of those fine gentlemen may not be married. It simplifies the equation if they are but if the gentleman in question happens to be seeking a bride, so much the better.
— Michele P.
7. Flirting with your figure: how I learned to make my empire gown work for me. And how you can, too!
The Lesson: I had spent a fortnight in the country visiting my dear sister who’d recently married. Whilst at the inn awaiting the coach for my return to London, I was feeling utterly despondent over my own maidenly status. I watched a lovely-looking gentleman leaving in his own chaise and four – no female companions!- and wondered if I would ever learn to catch the eye of my own lord of the manor. A sudden gust of wind plastered my skirts to my legs for a brief moment…but long enough for me to observe the gleam that was sparked in my mystery man’s countenance. The outline of my muslin-clad limbs was enough to make him drop the reins he’d held and curse at his horse! Fortunately, the angry stallion – beast, not man – refused to move for one quarter of an hour. That was enough time: we soon stole off to Gretna Green!
The Take-away: Blustery days are a prime time for pursuing a man. And, remember, stand against the wind….
— Aniko N.
8. 10 ways to fill your Dance Card
1) Don’t sit in the corner! A gentleman won’t notice you if you’re behind a potted plant or the punch bowl!
2) Make sure your outfit stands out! Styles and fashions should always be followed but think of one thing you can do to bring your outfit from Hello to May I have this dance? Perhaps you can put diamonds on your head piece? Lace on the top of your bodice, it’s less gaudy and inappropriate than a brooch and doesn’t call for the rakes to eye your decllotage.
3) Make your fan sparkle. Nothing catches a gentleman’s eye more than diamonds reflecting in the candlelight!
4) Take a second glance at the gentlemen. Gossip has shown that gentleman think one glance could be a mistake or a cursory glance across the room but a second glance? That is a invitation to be asked to dance.
5) Don’t stand in large groups. Nothing frightens potential partners (and suitors!) off more than a group of giggly girls who all want a partner. Stand with one or two friends at most and try not to giggle (too much)!
6) Have your chaperone stand away from you but in eyesight. Gentlemen won’t want to ask you to dance if your chaperone is right next to you because they are afraid they will be ensnared into a marriage plot the minute they greet your mother. However, you don’t want to the gentleman to think you’re the one to be led outside in the gardens…
7) Ask your chaperone to ask the hostess to introduce you to new gentleman. The hostess will know everyone at her party and she will be able to introduce you to a wide variety of appropriate gentlemen.
8. Don’t hold your lemonade glass in front of you. It seems like you are blocking yourself off from potential partners, Hold it with one hand or place it on a table.
9) Do not be afraid to ask your male family members for help! They know you want your card slots filled and they have friends! They will also be able to introduce you to new acquaintances and steer you away from those less desirable ones…
10) Even though one of the first lessons you learned from your governess “Be nice to everyone” is true be sure to not be too sweet. You are an intelligent woman and if a gentlemen only wants a vapid dense women then you should consider yourself lucky to have passed him by (even if he is a Duke!)
Try these tips out at the next ball and watch your dance card fill right up!
— Katherine N.
9. Dear Lady Henrietta: Advice for the Lovelorn
Dear Lady Henrietta,
I am in desperate need of help! I am three-quarters of the way through my fourth season and have yet to get a proposal. Unfortunately, I have few virtues to recommend me. My father and brother gambled away the family fortune, so there is no dowry. As regards my beauty, I am certainly no diamond of the first water, but not quite an antidote, either. Compounding my problem is that it is a well known fact that I’m a bluestocking. I confess that I do love books, and intellectual conversation. Father says I shall have to either marry an old or ugly vicar or become a governess if I don‘t catch a husband before the season ends. He refuses to support me any longer. Is there any hope for me?
–Nearly an apeleader
Your situation does appear to be rather dire, but I do think there is hope for you! Have you tried to enhance your appearance? Try a flattering hairstyle, or a bit of rouge. Wear colours that are most becoming to you. I have found that a little décolletage (or a lot) does wonders in attracting male attention. If you have a good figure, you may want to dampen your skirts or wear fewer petticoats to draw attention to your assets.
Use your book-learning to say witty things to prospective husbands when you are dancing or in conversation. But don’t overdo it—and don’t look like you are trying too hard. Men like the thrill of the hunt. Nothing makes a man want a woman more than when he thinks she doesn’t want him.
If all else fails, try to get yourself compromised by a suitable man! But make sure he is the honourable type who will propose out of duty, or you’ll just find yourself ruined instead of married (unless you have a dowager duchess on your side who has a cane and knows how to wield it).
Dear Lady Henrietta,
I am miserable, and I don’t know what to do. I’m madly in love with an army captain who declares he is also madly in love with me. We are desperate to marry, but my darling captain has only his officer’s pay to support us. I have ten thousand pounds that my mother left to me, but father refuses to consent to the marriage, and I won’t be of age for three more years. My father insists I marry a rich, ugly, old marquess who has offered for me. He says he will cut me off without a penny of his money if I elope with my captain (whose family is deep in debt, so there’s no hope for extra income from that source).
Should we make a dash for Gretna Green anyway? Father would chase me all the way to the border if we did, but I can’t bear the thought of marrying the marquess. I would rather be the poor wife of my dearest captain than the rich wife of the horrid marquess!
At point non-plus
It is so much easier when one can marry for love and money. Unfortunately, fate hasn’t dealt you such a provident hand. I see a few options from which you will have to choose. First of all, are you certain that your officer has noble intentions and isn’t a fortune hunter? Before you agree to elope with him, make sure that he knows there won’t be any dowry or money from your father—just the inheritance from your mother. And would you be willing to be purse-pinched until you come of age? On an officer’s pay, you will have to live under the strictest economy.
Is the marquess really so horrible? I am not a proponent of loveless marriages of convenience. But, if he is kind, it might not be so bad to be a marchioness. You can always close your eyes and think of your officer while performing your wifely duties. And if he’s as old as you say, he may not live long. As the marquess’s widow, you would be free and wealthy enough to marry whomever you pleased after the mourning period—including your captain.
You could always wait three years and then marry your captain. Certainly with your inheritance in hand then, you could contrive to live comfortably—as long as you weren’t extravagant. If he really loves you, then he will be willing to wait. And perhaps your father will have warmed up to the idea of your marriage by then. Or perhaps you will find after three years that your captain was not all you thought. You may wish to marry someone else by then—someone whom your father approves.
Personally, I think you should wait. You are young. There is no need to rush into marriage. As the saying goes, marry in haste, repent at leisure.
— Kimberly B.
10. Play His Heart Like A Harp
Gently, my dears, gently. Both practicality and the modesty which, we trust, you as ladies make one of your foremost concerns, forbid us to attempt to seize his heartstrings. We will speak here of both potential spouses, and of our fathers and brothers, for those also have their say.
It might be that your papa has forbidden the excursion to Vauxhall Gardens, and you must convince him otherwise. This is the time for a deft hand on the strings. Challenge not, but let him see the sorrow that he causes. Then, gently, pluck a descending trill of resignation on the strings. I promise you that the prospect of spending many days with such a sorrowful daughter will change his tune. Once at Vaukhall, who knows how you may fare?
Just as your harp must be in tune to be well played, so must your man’s heart. It is quite hopeless to attempt to reach his heart when his nerves are jangled. Therefore, choose your moment carefully. If he has only just received bad news of some debacle upon The Exchange, your most flirtatious fan will waft in vain. This is the time for grave sympathy. Never think that you must actually understand the Exchange! ‘Tis easily enough done if you wish, but that is a subject for another day.
One’s clothing always matters. Consider what is the key in which your performance is written. Is it a sad piece in a minor key? Perhaps the ostrich feather headdress should await another fete. However, a demure fichu might, in the stress of your emotion, slip a trifle lower than is strictly proper. Men do love to see more than they believe you intended.
If your planned performance is at an evening event, and involves lively raillery in some major key, then bring on those ostrich feathers, especially if you are a petite lady! French heels can’t do it all by themselves.
Never hesitate to play variations upon a well-known tune. The familiarity of it lulls him, then the changes startle him. He will wonder that he never before noticed how divine you look in blue. How is he to know that it’s a narrow ribbon of ashes-of-roses in the trim that has made the difference? Even talk of politics, which we are often told to avoid, may serve to raise your harp’s sound above the sad crush of a ballroom.
Have you erred? Never fear; a wrong note may work to your advantage, for most men love not perfection. Perhaps you would play better if he turned the pages for you?
Nor must you make him feel that your whole dependence is upon him. Nonsense, my dears! We are not such foolish creatures, and besides, gentlemen are easily frightened by such excessive clinging.
In short, in music and love, a pleasing balance rules all. Arpeggios are delightful, but let us have some quiet passages to show them off. Somber passages confer dignity, but let us not feel ourselves drooping into the grave! As Mr, Haydn knew, a little surprise is good for a piece and an audience.
— Jane B.
11. Dearest Mme Cosmo….
Dearest Mme Cosmo,
While I know that there are many…practices of gentlemen of which we ladies are well-advised to pretend ignorance, I can no longer do so in this case. My husband has taken up with a London actress, which annoyance I could well enough endure, save that he has prisoned me in the country! Mme Cosmo, I yearn for London, for its shops, its musicales, its elegant parks (so unlike the untutored hills covered with sheep which meet my gaze as I sit by my window penning this missive) and even its theaters. All but one of its theaters.
May I not inform my husband, when next he condescends to visit me, that indeed I will make no difficulties about his inamorata? My dearest friend is of the opinion that this would sink me beneath reproach.
Yr obed’t servant,
You must be desperate indeed to consider such steps! That is entirely understandable if you have had nothing but sheep for entertainment, but there is a more subtle way.
No, my dear, merely obtain the all the London scandal papers that you may persuade your friends to send to you. In time, and most likely very little time, there will be a story of some foolish wife causing a public contretemps over her husband’s attentions to another.
This you must take care to read when your husband is next with you. Would it be possible to get the steward to send him word of some foot trouble among the sheep? I believe they are often made ill thus. Such rumors might bring him to your side more quickly than any pleas or threats.
Once having drawn his attention to the on-dit with an exclamation of disdain, you may then comment on what a fool Lady X must be to cause such a fuss when her husband allows her all the delights of London, and treats her well when in company. Trust me, your husband will take the point.
Yr obed’t servant,
— Jane B.
12. For Heaven’s sake, is he a rake?
Have you ever wondered what time of man you fancy? Is he a scoundrel or marriage material? If you have this is precisely the quiz for you, my dear.
1. You see him walking with another woman; he looks at you and…
a) Gives you a roguish smile turning to a woman and whispers in her ear.
b) Stops, walks over to you and introduces his sister.
c) Turns to avoid eye contact, is walking very close to the woman in question who is clearly not a family member.
2. When dancing together you find he often:
a) Dance together? No he avoids the social scene like the plague!
b) Looks you in the eyes, smiles, is charming even if he’s not the best dancer.
c) As he’s leading you, you cannot help but notice he’s watching other woman and his hand is placed a little too low for comfort.
3. When you first met he
a) Was blasé and rather cold
b) Friendly and polite with lovely manners
c) Kept eye contact… for far too long. Teased you and may have even whispered in your ear
4. He treats woman with
c) Contempt or possibly too much interest
5. When he is upset he
a) Curses, stomps his feet, throws a fit
b) Gets red in the face, may leave the room- after asked if he may be excused
c) Has a flash of temper, may heavily drink, or come onto you rather suddenly
If you have mostly A’s this man is not ready for proper friendship let alone a relationship. He is either a rake in the making or child in mans clothes. Beware of this type of man child.
If you have mostly B’s hold onto this man and simply don’t let him go. He is marriageable material and in high demand.
For those of you with mostly C’s you can do better! Also there are many different types of rakes from the lower class sulky meet you in the garden, to the foppish rakes that have a different diamond to go on each cravat but would give you a paste engagement ring.
We hope this enlightens you to know what to expect because our readers deserve simply the best.
13. The Cosmo Centerfold: Burton Kemble
14. The Secret to Successful Swooning
Faint with a Flair and Pass Out with Purpose!
It is a well-known fact that gentleman thrive on moments of chivalry and often find themselves entranced in the glowing aftermath of a convenient rescue, whether it be replacing a sticky, empty ratafia glass with a fresh one, or neatly felling a leering lout!
But what quicker way to induce this state of chivalrous pride in a young man (a Viscount perhaps, or an Earl!) than by suddenly filling his arms with your feminine curves and silky flounces (inadvertently, of course, so as to maintain propriety!) as you collapse becomingly in a dead faint! Not only will this fill said gentleman with a satisfying sense of having done his duty as a man of honor, but may just draw his mind in the suggestive direction of your most intimate article of clothing, the laces of which are most surely drawn too tight!
Of course it is not enough to simply swoon near a gentleman; one must be sensible first of one’s target and second of one’s aim. It would not at all do to find oneself crumpled in a heap at the embarrassed gentleman’s boots! (And as previously stated, not just any gentleman will do in the case of most young ladies, although if one is in one’s third or fourth season, she ought disregard this advice.) The only positive feeling that then may be hoped to be induced in the man is an appreciation of his valet’s having polished those boots to a good shine!
As in all rules of enticing to ensnare, be shrewd and vigilant. Happy swooning!
— Angela F.
15. Letter of Wisdom: A Cautionary Tale
I have a very strong point to make on the virtue of using TWO hat pins, and no less! You may think me very severe upon the subject dearest, but please hear my wisdom. My opinion on the matter has been reinforced upon my turn in Hyde Park this afternoon, as you shall hear, and I find myself in the congratulatory position of having always been sensible enough to increase the fortitude of the fixture of my chapeau upon my own elegant coif with the addition of one extra hat pin.
I found myself in a most fortuitous location for the observation of the less sensible as I was taking a turn with Mrs.Chester Leighton today. No sooner had we rounded Rotten Row to see who had taken their animals out for a jaunt, than a gust of wind plucked Mrs.Chester Leighton’s befeathered concoction from her head and carried it sailing in the direction of the Serpentine River. A moment’s panicked confusion crossed dear Mrs.Leighton’s face, for you see, we were accompanied by no gentlemen! I shall not uncover the particulars of the poor lady’s humiliation as she took off in fluttering, awkward chase (I daresay you shall even read about it in the columns! There were enough bystanders, heaven knows!), but shall simply extract the lesson that my dear friends would be wise to remember from this poor lady’s humiliation.
One cannot always, or in some poor ladies’ cases, ever, be certain of the company of a gentleman, upon whose chivalry she may certainly rely, when walking out of doors. And WHO indeed, as my dear Mrs.Chester Leighton discovered today, wishes to admit to being the flailing mistress of an improprietous hat? Would it be better to flag down a gentleman not of one’s own party, or heaven forbid, to appear hatless? One cannot exactly carry extras as one shrewdly does with gloves. Where would a lady stow such a cumbersome forethought?
No indeed, as there is no way to save one’s feminine image in the case of a hat gone rogue, I must impress upon you with severity that the ONLY course of action is precautionary…and that is in the employment of no fewer than two hat pins!
— Angela F.
16. Most True and Faithful Confessions.
Mesmerize him in four steps! Or, how I used the new science to engage my future husband.
This is a most faithful and true confession of how I won my husband, a man of noble character with a title and fortune to match. A man of such esteem was, of course, much sought after. Any local assembly would find him buried five deep in young ladies and their match-making mamas. To my disadvantage, I come of good, but not noble, birth and an impoverished circumstance. Without silks and feathers and rare jewels, how could I compare to the exotic birds who flocked around him?
Can you imagine my disappointment? Whenever our eyes would meet across the dance figure, his passed over me without the slightest hint of recognition. Perhaps it was foolishness to settle my affections on such an unattainable man. Indeed, I had almost given up hope until I overheard him speaking about his con-tempt for the empty-headed misses that smothered him. Such women, he said, thought of nothing but gowns and ornamentation, the latest bit of gossip and their own entertainment. Where were all the young women of wit and conversation, who could speak of astronomy or natural history?
Dear reader, I could not have named a single star in the sky, but at that moment I resolved to learn. And who better to act as my tutor than the man of my affection?
1. Catch His Eye by Catching Butterflies:
Ladies, I could not meet my future husband in the ball room, so I re-solved to meet him in the meadow. I carried with me an old fishing net for the purpose of catching butterflies. A few days of meandering, and I realized that I had to narrow my hunting ground. He was not traversing my meadow, so I decid-ed to journey into his.
But with my net, I had a sound excuse for trespassing upon his proper-ty. Initially surprised at my appearance, he was quickly entranced by a flash of ankle as I leapt for a butter-fly and soon learned of my budding interest in natural history and my lack of proper optical equipment.
“How can you catch butterflies and not view their delicate wings under a microscope?” He ques-tioned. “How indeed?” I answered. And just that easily, I secured my first invitation to his home.
2. Conversations in the Closet:
When he realized my interest in scientific pursuits, he invited me to exam-ine his instruments more closely. I commented favorably on the size of his li-brary. Conventional wisdom tells us that it is the fairer sex who is given to vanity. The male of the species, however, is not inured to this failing. I let him teach me about natural history, sitting side by side, viewing butterfly wings and bands of mites.
A warning to the discerning reader. If you attempt my measures beware the gentlemen offering you a closer perusal of his etchings. He is no gentleman.
3. Transit of Venus:
The use of a microscope naturally leads to a discussion of other instruments, par-ticularly the telescope. Having successfully piqued his interest he invited me to an evening alone in the garden. I had heard that if his designs were of an amorous nature he would show me the planet of Venus as it traversed the night sky. However, if he showed me the planet Mercury, it might mean that his affec-tions were engaged elsewhere. Alas, he showed me both!
4. Sparks in the Dark:
I’m ashamed to admit the lengths to which I went, but the affection I felt for my gentleman had only grown upon closer acquaintance. When I received his invitation for a private viewing of his new electrical machine, still unaware of his true feelings for me, I resolved to perform my first scientific experiment. The neighborhood had been talking about the new electrical machine, and everyone was trying to obtain invitations to one of the viewing demonstrations. But I had overheard whispers of a scandalous variation, simply referred to as the “French Demonstration.” Its attempt could lead me to connubial bliss or disastrous ruin.
I needn’t tell you, reader, that he was shocked at such a forward suggestion…but not, I think, displeased. Would you like to hear what entailed this demonstration, ladies? In the darkened seclusion of his library, I placed my hand upon his electrical machine. He stepped towards me, leaning closer and closer until an elec-trical spark arched between our lips. “My electric Venus,” he whispered, and removing my hand from the device he touched his lips to mine. Reader, between us, my gentleman and I were engaged before we left the library.
Thus ends my story. May it inspire you to your own natural pursuits. Finally, lest you think poorly of my scheming ways, let me assure you that I have both an abiding love for my gentleman husband and also for the pleasures of natural philosophy.
— Chelsea & Kat
There you have it… 18th Century Cosmo! The articles are so excellent and varied that, if I can, I’ll pull them together in pseudo magazine form and save them for posterity on the Diversions Page.
In the meantime, place your votes! Winners will be announced on Thursday.