Thursday, June 07, 2007

Interesting book

This is a copy of my recent blog at Word Wenches, but I recommend going there to read it because the formatting and pictures didn't translate and I don't have time to fiddle just now. Book coming out, you know.
Whoa, that cover came out big, but I don't have time to fix that either. Sorry!
Er, Word Wenches.


It's very like Egan's LIFE IN LONDON but travels farther affield and contains many anecdotes of real people and has great coloured pictures. Like Egan, the style can be hard reading, but what bits I paused on were fascinating. Here are some bits. Unfortunately, it often moves into verse. Whence came the passion for writing long books in verse? I confess I find it most peverse. But in descrbing a venture into London -- strange to have it called Cockney Land -- we get this.

'Twas morn, the genial sun of MayO'er nature spread a cheerful ray,When Cockney Land, clothed in her best,We saw, approaching from the west,And 'mid her steeples straight and tallEspied the dome of famed St. Paul,Surrounded with a cloud of smokeFrom many a kitchen chimney broke;A nuisance since consumed belowBy bill of Michael Angelo.{1}' 1 M. A. Taylor's act for compelling all large factories, which have steam and other apparatus, to consume their own smoke.

Now isn't that interesting? That effort must have failed, or most of Northern England wouldn't have been black when I was growing up there. In fact, I think we're still working on emmisions today. Then what about this description of a woman in Hyde Park? Very interesting for the rest of the fashionable round. Mrs. S———, a most voluptuous lady, the discarded chère amie of the late Lord F-1-d, said to be the best carriage woman in the park: she lies in the Earl of H———- —'s cabriolet most delightfully stretched out at full length, and in this elegant posture is driven through the park. Then we have this variation on the famous Brummell story. I'd not heard the Big Ben reference. (The A is for Alvanley.) Lord A———y, the babe of honour—once the gayest of the gay, where fashion holds her bright enchanting court; now wrinkled and depressed, and plucked of every feather, by merciless Greek banditti. Such is the infatuation of play,that he still continues to linger round the fatal table, and finds a pleasure in recounting his enormous losses. A—-y, who is certainly one of the most polished men in the world, was the leader of the dandy club, or the unique four, composed of Beau Brummell, Sir Henry Mildmay, and Henry Pierrepoint, the Ambassador, as he is generally termed. When the celebrated dandy ball was given to his Majesty (then Prince of Wales), on that occasion the prince seemed disposed to cut Brummell, who, in revenge, coolly observed to A———y, when he was gone,—"Big Ben was vulgar as usual." This was reported at Carlton House, and led to the disgrace of the exquisite. Shortly afterwards he met the Prince and A———y in public, arm in arm, when the former, desirous of avoiding him, quitted the baron: Brummell, who observed his motive, said loud enough to be heard by the prince,—"Who is that fat friend of yours?" This expression sealed his doom; he was never afterwards permitted the honour of meeting the parties at the palace. The story of "George, ring the bell," and the reported conduct of the prince, who is said to have obeyed the request and ordered Mr. Brummell's carriage, is, we have strong reasons for thinking, altogether a fiction: Brummell knew the dignity of his host too well to have dared such an insult. The king since generously sent him 300L. when he heard of his distress at Calais. Brummell was the son of a tavern-keeper in St. James's, and is still living at Calais. I'm curious as to the meaning of the Big Ben reference. The bell, Big Ben, wasn't in exisltence then, and I can see no connection between Ben and the Prince Regent. Does anyone have any ideas? Then, after our naked blog, where we debated swimming and bathing, I couldn't resist this. And we are about to present the reader with a right merry scene, one, too, if he has any fun in his composition, or loves a good joke, must warm the cockles of his heart. Who would ever have thought, in these moralizing times, when the puritans are raising conventicles in every town and village, and the cant of vice societies has spread itself over the land, that in one of our most celebrated places of fashionable resort, there should be found baths where the young and the old, the beauteous female and the gay spark, are all indiscriminately permitted to enjoy the luxurious pleasure together. That such is the case in Bath no one who has recently participated in the pleasures of immersion will dispute, and in order to perpetuate that gratification, Bob Transit has here faithfully delineated the scene which occurred upon our entering the King's Bath, through the opening from the Queen's, where, to our great amusement and delight, we found ourselves surrounded by many a sportive nymph, whose beauteous form was partially hidden by the loose flannel gown, it is true; but now and then the action of the water, produced by the continued movements of a number of persons all bathing at the same time, discovered charms, the which to have caught a glimpse of in any other situation might have proved of dangerous consequences to the fair possessors. The baths, it must be admitted, are delightful, both from their great extent and their peculiar properties, as, on entering from the Queen's Bath you may enjoy the water at from 90 to 96 degrees, or requiring more heat have only to walk forward, through the archway, to obtain a temperature of 116. The first appearance of old Blackstrap's visage floating along the surface of the water, like the grog-blossomed trunk of the ancient Bardolph, bound up in a Welsh wig, was truly ludicrous, and produced such an unexpected burst of laughter from my merry companions, that I feared some of the fair Naiads would have fainted in the waters from fright, and then Heaven help them, for decency would have prevented our rushing to their assistance. The notices to prevent gentlemen from swimming in the baths are, in my opinion, so many inducements or suggestions for every young visitor to attempt it. Among our mad wags, Horace Eglantine was more than once remonstrated with by the old bathing women for indulging in this pleasure, to the great alarm of the ladies, who, crowding together in one corner with their aged attendants, appeared to be in a high state of apprehension lest the loose flannel covering that guards frail mortality upon these occasions should be drawn aside, and discover nature in all her pristine purity—an accident that had very nearly happened to myself, when, in endeavouring to turn round quickly, I found the water had disencumbered my frame of the yellow bathing robe, which floated on the surface behind If you go to explore the book for yourself, bring back a choice sample for us. But here's a question. It's clear to me from this, Egan, and other writers, that the early decades of the 19th century could be very different from Jane Austen's world. In the manly circles, they were often rough and even crude, and I've certainly come across writing to indicate that even worthy souls plunged into roistering wildness with ease. (Which could still be true.) What do you think about that? And would you want it shown in historical novels?

And yes, Lady Beware is in stores now.-- Out now. *LADY BEWARE* "...delightful, vintage Beverley... a fast-paced, unforgettable, wickedly sensual romance." Romantic Times

No comments: