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The Oddment Emporium

A Cornucopia of Eclectic Delights

Posts tagged 18th Century:

Instructions on How to be King
A previously unseen letter written in 1749 from Frederick, Prince of Wales to his son, the future George III giving advice on how to be a good king has been revealed by The Royal Collection. Frederick was the estranged son of George II but takes inspiration from his grandfather, George I, for his ideas.
He encourages his son: 

The sooner you have an opportunity to lower the interest, for God’s sake, do it… if you can be without war, let not your ambition draw you into it… Flatterers, Courtiers or Ministers, are easy to be got, but a true Friend is difficult to be found… Let your steadiness retrieve the glory of the throne.

Furthermore, he urges George to reduce the country’s debt, ease the tax burden and to behave as ‘an Englishman born and bred’. 
Sounds like he would have been a good king himself, but he died prematurely and never took the throne. Eerily, he writes in the letter how '[He] shall have no regret never to have wore the Crown, if [George] do but fill it worthily'.
[Sources: Royal Collection]

Instructions on How to be King

A previously unseen letter written in 1749 from Frederick, Prince of Wales to his son, the future George III giving advice on how to be a good king has been revealed by The Royal Collection. Frederick was the estranged son of George II but takes inspiration from his grandfather, George I, for his ideas.

He encourages his son: 

The sooner you have an opportunity to lower the interest, for God’s sake, do it… if you can be without war, let not your ambition draw you into it… Flatterers, Courtiers or Ministers, are easy to be got, but a true Friend is difficult to be found… Let your steadiness retrieve the glory of the throne.

Furthermore, he urges George to reduce the country’s debt, ease the tax burden and to behave as ‘an Englishman born and bred’. 

Sounds like he would have been a good king himself, but he died prematurely and never took the throne. Eerily, he writes in the letter how '[He] shall have no regret never to have wore the Crown, if [George] do but fill it worthily'.

[Sources: Royal Collection]

Dummy Boards

Dummy boards were life-sized wooden cut outs painted to resemble various figures found in upper-class homes between the 17th and 19th centuries. They would be stood in the corner of rooms and on darkened stairways to surprise unsuspecting guests.

[Sources: Images: 1-3 and 6, 4, 5, | V&A]

Entertainment at Bedlam

you find yourself in a long and wide gallery, on either side of which are a large number of little cells where lunatics of every description are shut up, and you can get a sight of these poor creatures, little windows being let into the doors … On the second floor is a corridor [and] this is the part reserved for dangerous maniacs, most of them being chained and terrible to behold. On holidays numerous persons of both sexes … visit this hospital and amuse themselves watching these unfortunate wretches, who often give them cause for laughter. - Saussure’s account of Bethlem during his 1725 tour of London.

Bethlem Royal Hospital in London, also known as Bedlam, is Europe’s oldest institution for the treatment of the mentally ill. Currently an NHS run hospital the facility has become synonymous with ‘the worse excesses of asylums in the era of lunacy reform’, and a major contributing factor to this legacy is the hospital’s visiting policies during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Visits by friends and relatives were allowed, however Bethlem is famous for having also allowed, for a small ‘donation’, members of the public access to the wards to have a good old gawp at the patients within. Records suggest that as early as 1610 Lord Percy paid 10 shillings to have a look around, then, following the relocation of the hospital around 1681, the governors observed a noticeable increase in the ‘quantity of persons that come daily to see the said Lunatickes’. The hospital became an especially popular attraction during public holidays with ‘one hundred people at least’ visiting during one Easter week during the mid-18th century. The governors attracted the wealthy and well-bred particularly and would present the most sorry patients to them in an attempt to procure handsome donations, though it is likely that most of these donations found their way into the hands of staff.
The spectacle also provided a kind of moral instruction to visitors who could see first-hand the supposed outcome of giving in to one’s vices, as one mid-18th century commentator wrote: ‘[there is no] better lesson [to] be taught us in any part of the globe than in this school of misery. Here we may see the mighty reasoners of the earth, below even the insects that crawl upon it; and from so humbling a sight we may … to keep those passions within bounds, which if too much indulged, would drive reason from her seat’.
Ultimately, however, Bethlem served merely as entertainment similar to that of the Victorian freakshow. Alongside other popular London attractions, Bethlem became a must-see feature on the tourist trail.
[Sources: Image: William Hogarth’s ‘The Madhouse’ from A Rake’s Progress, 1733 | Bethlem Royal Hospital]

Entertainment at Bedlam

you find yourself in a long and wide gallery, on either side of which are a large number of little cells where lunatics of every description are shut up, and you can get a sight of these poor creatures, little windows being let into the doors … On the second floor is a corridor [and] this is the part reserved for dangerous maniacs, most of them being chained and terrible to behold. On holidays numerous persons of both sexes … visit this hospital and amuse themselves watching these unfortunate wretches, who often give them cause for laughter.Saussure’s account of Bethlem during his 1725 tour of London.

Bethlem Royal Hospital in London, also known as Bedlam, is Europe’s oldest institution for the treatment of the mentally ill. Currently an NHS run hospital the facility has become synonymous with ‘the worse excesses of asylums in the era of lunacy reform’, and a major contributing factor to this legacy is the hospital’s visiting policies during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Visits by friends and relatives were allowed, however Bethlem is famous for having also allowed, for a small ‘donation’, members of the public access to the wards to have a good old gawp at the patients within. Records suggest that as early as 1610 Lord Percy paid 10 shillings to have a look around, then, following the relocation of the hospital around 1681, the governors observed a noticeable increase in the ‘quantity of persons that come daily to see the said Lunatickes’. The hospital became an especially popular attraction during public holidays with ‘one hundred people at least’ visiting during one Easter week during the mid-18th century. The governors attracted the wealthy and well-bred particularly and would present the most sorry patients to them in an attempt to procure handsome donations, though it is likely that most of these donations found their way into the hands of staff.

The spectacle also provided a kind of moral instruction to visitors who could see first-hand the supposed outcome of giving in to one’s vices, as one mid-18th century commentator wrote: ‘[there is no] better lesson [to] be taught us in any part of the globe than in this school of misery. Here we may see the mighty reasoners of the earth, below even the insects that crawl upon it; and from so humbling a sight we may … to keep those passions within bounds, which if too much indulged, would drive reason from her seat’.

Ultimately, however, Bethlem served merely as entertainment similar to that of the Victorian freakshow. Alongside other popular London attractions, Bethlem became a must-see feature on the tourist trail.

[Sources: Image: William Hogarth’s ‘The Madhouse’ from A Rake’s Progress, 1733 | Bethlem Royal Hospital]

A gatepost from Marton Grange Farm, the childhood home of Captain James Cook who ‘discovered’ Australia, with ‘J Cook’ carved into it. Now in The Captain James Cook Museum in Marton, Middlesbrough.

A gatepost from Marton Grange Farm, the childhood home of Captain James Cook who ‘discovered’ Australia, with ‘J Cook’ carved into it. Now in The Captain James Cook Museum in Marton, Middlesbrough.

The London Monster
The London Monster was the supposed perpetrator of a number of alleged attacks against women in London between 1788 and 1790. Within two years there were over fifty reports of predominantly wealthy women being accosted by a large man who would first shout obscenities at them before stabbing them in the buttocks in an apparent act of piquerism. Some versions of the tale describe the man having offered the woman fake flowers to smell before stabbing them in the face with a spike concealed in the petals. In each case the attacker had fled the scene before help arrived.
Some women, upon hearing that The Monster only attacked the most beautiful women, would lie about having been attacked themselves, and some went so far as to fake wounds. Fear of The Monster lead to a number of men being falsely accused, in fact, it was deemed necessary to establish a No Monster Club, the members of which would wear a pin attached to their lapels to show that they were not The Monster. The fact that The Monster might easily have obtained one of these for himself appears to have been overlooked. Armed vigilantes began patrolling the streets and women began to wear copper plates over their petticoats to protect themselves.
A £100 reward was offered for the capture of The Monster but the false accusations continued, culminating in the arrest of Rhynwick Williams. Anne Porter, a victim of The Monster, told her admirer, John Coleman, that she had seen her attacker in the park. Coleman pursued the man, Williams, and confronted him. Williams insisted he was innocent but given the climate of panic, no one believed him. He was charged with defacing clothing - a crime which, at the time, carried a harsher punishment than assault and attempted murder. He was sentenced to six years in prison. 
Reports of attacks continued while he was there, leading some historians to believe that perhaps The Monster was merely a case of mass hysteria.
[Source: The London Monster]

The London Monster

The London Monster was the supposed perpetrator of a number of alleged attacks against women in London between 1788 and 1790. Within two years there were over fifty reports of predominantly wealthy women being accosted by a large man who would first shout obscenities at them before stabbing them in the buttocks in an apparent act of piquerism. Some versions of the tale describe the man having offered the woman fake flowers to smell before stabbing them in the face with a spike concealed in the petals. In each case the attacker had fled the scene before help arrived.

Some women, upon hearing that The Monster only attacked the most beautiful women, would lie about having been attacked themselves, and some went so far as to fake wounds. Fear of The Monster lead to a number of men being falsely accused, in fact, it was deemed necessary to establish a No Monster Club, the members of which would wear a pin attached to their lapels to show that they were not The Monster. The fact that The Monster might easily have obtained one of these for himself appears to have been overlooked. Armed vigilantes began patrolling the streets and women began to wear copper plates over their petticoats to protect themselves.

A £100 reward was offered for the capture of The Monster but the false accusations continued, culminating in the arrest of Rhynwick Williams. Anne Porter, a victim of The Monster, told her admirer, John Coleman, that she had seen her attacker in the park. Coleman pursued the man, Williams, and confronted him. Williams insisted he was innocent but given the climate of panic, no one believed him. He was charged with defacing clothing - a crime which, at the time, carried a harsher punishment than assault and attempted murder. He was sentenced to six years in prison.

Reports of attacks continued while he was there, leading some historians to believe that perhaps The Monster was merely a case of mass hysteria.

[Source: The London Monster]

Dirty Dick

Nathaniel Bentley, more commonly known as Dirty Dick, was a fairly wealthy 18th century dandy, known as the Beau of Leadenhall Street, who, following the death of his fiancée on their wedding day, refused to ever wash or change his clothes ever again, and lived out his life in squalor. 

His house and warehouse shop became so filthy over the years that he became a celebrity of dirt to the point where letters addressed merely to “The Dirty Warehouse, London”, would be delivered directly to Bentley without question.

A pub which Bentley once owned adopted his legend and recreated the look of his warehouse by using dead cats and cobwebs as decoration. As was described in 1866, Dirty Dick’s was:

A small public house … without floorboards; a low ceiling, with cobwebs festoons dangling from the black rafters; a pewter, bar battered and dirty, floating with beer, numberless gas pipes tied anyhow along the struts and posts to conduct the spirits from the barrels to the taps; sample phials and labelled bottles of wine and spirits on shelves- everything covered with virgin dust and cobwebs.

It is thought that Bentley might possibly have been the inspiration behind Charles Dicken’s Miss Havisham. 

[Sources: Wikipedia | Dirty Dick’s Pub | Spitalfields Life]

The Potsdam Giants

The Potsam Giants were a Prussian infantry regiment composed of taller than average soldiers. After Frederick William I ascended the throne of Prussia in 1713, and began channelling more money into the military, an increasing number of taller men were recruited.

The original required heights was 6’2”. One of the tallest members was James Kirkland (above left), who measured about 7 feet tall, whilst another member, Daniel Cajanus (above centre) was estimated to be between 7’8” and 10 feet tall, and made a living exhibiting himself.

With the king needing hundreds of recruits each year, and once confessing that “"The most beautiful girl or woman in the world would be a matter of indifference to me, but tall soldiers - they are my weakness," he began to take them by any means. He gave money to fathers of tall sons and landowners who would offer him their tallest farm hands. Foreign rulers would send him their tallest soldiers to encourage friendly relations and if men were not interested in joining, the king simply had them kidnapped. He even forced tall women to marry tall soldiers so they would produce tall sons.

The regiment never saw battle, and many would have been unfit for it due to the complications of their gigantism, but were made to parade in front of the king, led by their mascot, a bear, to cheer him up on his sickbed. He also enjoyed painting their portraits from memory and showing them off in an attempt to impress people. The regiment was disbanded in 1806.

[Sources: Wikipedia | Images and here]

Burying in Woollen Acts
Following a decline in the wool industry, c.1660s, the English government, in a bid to boost sales, made it law that the dead be buried in pure English woollen shrouds to the exclusion of all other textiles.
As the document above shows, an oath had to be made by a member of the deceased’s family confirming that the ‘lately deceased, was not put in, wrapt, or wound up, or buried in any shirt, shift, sheet or shroud, made or mingled with flax, hemp, silk, hair, gold or silver, or other than what is made of sheep’s wool’. The same went for the lining of the coffin.
The legislation was in force until the 1810s, however, it went mostly ignored after 1770 by people who could afford to pay the £5 fine for noncompliance.
[Sources: Burying in the Woollen Acts | Needleprint Blogspot]

Burying in Woollen Acts

Following a decline in the wool industry, c.1660s, the English government, in a bid to boost sales, made it law that the dead be buried in pure English woollen shrouds to the exclusion of all other textiles.

As the document above shows, an oath had to be made by a member of the deceased’s family confirming that the ‘lately deceased, was not put in, wrapt, or wound up, or buried in any shirt, shift, sheet or shroud, made or mingled with flax, hemp, silk, hair, gold or silver, or other than what is made of sheep’s wool’. The same went for the lining of the coffin.

The legislation was in force until the 1810s, however, it went mostly ignored after 1770 by people who could afford to pay the £5 fine for noncompliance.

[Sources: Burying in the Woollen Acts | Needleprint Blogspot]

Nocturnal Amusements of the 18th Century
No, not sex. It would seem people in the 18th century had better stuff to do. Like stabbing one another in the butt and slashing one another’s faces with knives… 
According to Francis Grose’s 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, one “diversion practiced by the bloods of the last century” was Sweating:

these gentlemen lay in wait to surprise some person late in the night, when surrouding him, they with their swords pricked him in the posteriors, which obliged him to be constantly turning round; this they continued till they thought him sufficiently sweated.

Then, “somewhat like those facetious gentlemen some time ago known in England by the title of Sweaters,” were Chalkers. In Ireland Chalkers were “Men of wit … who in the night amuse themselves with cutting inoffensive passengers across the face with a knife.”
[Sources: Hypervocal | From Old Books]

Nocturnal Amusements of the 18th Century

No, not sex. It would seem people in the 18th century had better stuff to do. Like stabbing one another in the butt and slashing one another’s faces with knives…

According to Francis Grose’s 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, one “diversion practiced by the bloods of the last century” was Sweating:

these gentlemen lay in wait to surprise some person late in the night, when surrouding him, they with their swords pricked him in the posteriors, which obliged him to be constantly turning round; this they continued till they thought him sufficiently sweated.

Then, “somewhat like those facetious gentlemen some time ago known in England by the title of Sweaters,” were Chalkers. In Ireland Chalkers were “Men of wit … who in the night amuse themselves with cutting inoffensive passengers across the face with a knife.”

[Sources: Hypervocal | From Old Books]

Guillotine Toy
Following the bloody conclusion of the French Revolution “The toy shops put on the market little guillotines with which little patriots could behead figures of aristocrats. There still survive some specimens of this pretty and diverting machine, of which one bears the date 1794 [above]. 
In December, 1793, [one man] asks his mother in Frankfurt to get him such a toy guillotine for his son … and in her reply he certainly got some home-truths. In her decisive manner she wrote to him by return post: ‘Dear Son, Anything I can do to please you is gladly done and gives me joy;—but to buy such an infamous implement of murder—that I will not do at any price. If I had authority, the maker should be put in the stocks and I would have the machine publicly burnt by the common executioner. What! Let the young play with anything so horrible,—place in their hands for their diversion murder and blood-shedding? No, that will never do!”

Guillotine Toy

Following the bloody conclusion of the French Revolution “The toy shops put on the market little guillotines with which little patriots could behead figures of aristocrats. There still survive some specimens of this pretty and diverting machine, of which one bears the date 1794 [above].

In December, 1793, [one man] asks his mother in Frankfurt to get him such a toy guillotine for his son … and in her reply he certainly got some home-truths. In her decisive manner she wrote to him by return post: ‘Dear Son, Anything I can do to please you is gladly done and gives me joy;—but to buy such an infamous implement of murder—that I will not do at any price. If I had authority, the maker should be put in the stocks and I would have the machine publicly burnt by the common executioner. What! Let the young play with anything so horrible,—place in their hands for their diversion murder and blood-shedding? No, that will never do!”

(Source: 50watts.com)

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