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Posts Tagged ‘travel literature’

Here’s a fragment from Hodgson Burnett’s Little Lord Fauntleroy, in which you can see a little bit of the customs regarding compliments in the later half of the nineteenth century:

“Come here, Lord Fauntleroy,” she said, smiling; “and tell me why you look at me so.”
“I was thinking how beautiful you are,” his young lordship replied. Then all the gentlemen laughed outright, and the young lady laughed a
little too, and the rose color in her cheeks brightened.
“Ah, Fauntleroy,” said one of the gentlemen who had laughed most heartily, “make the most of your time! When you are older you will not
have the courage to say that.”
“But nobody could help saying it,” said Fauntleroy sweetly. “Could you help it? Don’t YOU think she is pretty, too?”
“We are not allowed to say what we think,” said the gentleman, while the rest laughed more than ever.


So there you have it. The name Hodgson Burnett might sound familiar: she was the writer of A Little Princess (1905) and The Secret Garden (1911). Little Lord Fauntleroy was a much earlier work: it was published in 1886. I found the book to be an unexpectedly good read; it was very enjoyable, funny at times, and with a great and amusing use of language. It was so engaging even that I finished it in less than a day. You can read it online here.

An interesting fact is that this book, just like Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, influenced fashion. Little Lord Fauntleroy’s velvet suit with a white collar and his soft curls are mentioned often in the book, and apparently started a fashion (mostly with mothers of young boys) for little suits and pincurls for boys!

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Last week I told about the book I read, in which Prince Pückler-Muskau tells about his travels abroad. Here are some more bits from the book.

Prince Pückler attends a breakfast at the Duke of Devonshire’s at Chiswick. It begins at three, and last until past midnight. The brother in law of Napoleon was there. There was a big chaos of coaches driving up, a cabriolet was crushed and many coaches were damaged, because everyone wanted to get as close to the house as possible. The Duke brags that the dessert alone had cost him a hundred pounds. At two o’clock he leaves for the Duke of Northumberland’s, where a small party of about a 1000 people will take place.

Description of a concert: “The rooms were choke-full, and several young men lay on the carpet at the feet of their ladies, with their heads against cushions of sofas on which their fair ones were seated. This Turkish fashion is really very delightful: and I wonder extremely that C— did not introduce it in Berlin.” [C--- is the English ambassador in Berlin]

He is surpised at the press freedom: the “Great Captain” who wants to re-enter parliament is called ‘a spoiled child of fortune’ in the newspaper. In Germany, censorship was introduced in the 1820s by Klemens von Metternich.
He receives 5 to 6 invitations a day for social gatherings, and goes out quite a lot.
When he is going horsebackriding with some ladies in the countryside, air balloons are seen. I didn’t know air balloons were used (except by scientists and adventurers) that early!

Prince Pückler also shares with us some information on the dandy. “An elegant [a dandy] requires per week: 20 shirts, 24 pocket handkerchiefs, 9-10 pairs of summer trowsers, 30 neckhandkerchiefs (unless he wears black ones). 12 waistcoats, stockings à discretion.
He dresses 3 to 4 times a day: a breakfast toilette: a chintz dressing gown and Turkish slippers. A morning riding dress: frock coat, boots and spurs. A dinner dress: dress coat and shoes. Then a ball dress: ‘pumps,’ which means shoes as thin as paper.”

I hope you enjoyed Prince Pücklers adventures in England! I’ll go back soon and write down some more.

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Recently I have been reading the book Tour in Germany, Holland and England in the years 1826, 1827 & 1828, with remarks on the manners and customs of the inhabitants, and anecdotes of distinguished public characters. In a series of letters / By a German prince by Hermann Ludwig Heinrich von Pückler-Muskau, in a translation by Sarah Austin, London, 1832.
The book is a collection of letters by Pückler-Muskau (1785-1871), written to his love Julia. I wasn’t allowed to take the book from the libary, or make copies, so I transcribed some parts of it, because it’s quite amazing.

“This evening, a splendid fête at Lord H—-‘s closed the Easter festivities. Most fashionable people now make another short stay in the country, and in a fortnight hence the season proper begins. I am going bach to Brighton for a few days, but shall wait for the Lord Mayor’s dinner.

[april 16th] This took place today in Guildhall; and now that I have recovered from the fatique, I am extremely glad I went. It lasted full six hours, and six hundred people were present.” There were two bands of music, tabled in parallel setting, and toasts of a national character (which he dissaproved of, being German). The ladies were “frightfully dressed and with a tournure to match.” At 12 the ball began, but the Prince was too tired from dining for six hours in uniform, that he drove home in a hurry and went to bed.

I have some more fragments from the book, which I will post next week!

If you’re interested in Prince Pückler’s work, you can read an interesting article on his influence on American landscape gardening, in this PDF.

If you’re interested in travel literature (it was quite a fad!) you can find a list here.

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