Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Barkshire: Someone is said to be standing as candidate for Barkshire if he is troubled with a bad cough, vulgarly known as barking. (“Mr. Jermyn’s cold was so bad that it sounded as though he was standing as candidate for Barkshire at the opera last night; only Papa’s snoring was louder.”)
Leaky: Apt to blab; one who cannot keep a secret is said to be leaky. (“If you are planning on running away to Gretna Green, on no account tell my sister Sally, who is leaky as a sieve.”)
Nose: to give evidence, to inform. (“Cynthia might have made it to Gretna Green with her very handsome but very poor suitor if Sally hadn’t nosed about it to Lady Biggpurse at Almack’s last night.”)
Bounce: To tell an improbable story; also, bouncer, a great lie. (“Cousin Agnes’s bouncer about the number of proposals she’s received is exceeded only by the one she told about the number of young men she danced with at her ball.”)
King’s Bad Bargain: A malingerer or soldier who shirks his duty. (“I’m glad Georgie decided not to take that commission in the Hussars—he raises such a fuss over a hangnail that I’m sure his colonel would have considered him one of the worst of the King’s bad bargains.”)
Slubberdegullion: A dirty, nasty fellow. (“Isn’t it amazing how charming and elegant a fellow Harry has turned out to be, after being such a slubberdegullion when he was at school?”)
Corporation: A very large belly. (“Lord Pudgeton’s corporation is so very prominent, I have to wonder how many years it’s been since he caught sight of his feet.”)
To flash one’s ivory: To laugh and show one’s teeth. (“Arabella will insist upon flashing her ivory every time Lord Dimkeeping makes one of his feeble jokes...of course, as he’s worth twenty thousand a year, perhaps it isn’t to be wondered at.”)
Friday, October 25, 2013
An abrupt change in the direction and force of the wind mid-afternoon on October 25, 1859, heralded the arrival of the storm. It was soon howling along the coasts of Devon and Cornwall, with structures taking heavy hits before the storm rode north into Wales and finally Scotland. At their peak, the winds reached more than 100 mph. The storm sunk 133 ships and left 90 crippled. Many people were killed by falling rocks or stones from buildings.
Nearly half the deaths, however, came from one source, the source from which the storm took its name. The SS Royal Charter was a huge iron-clad steamship also capable of traveling under full sail. She'd gained fame by carrying passengers to the Australian gold rush and had indeed traveled home from there around the Cape of Good Hope and up the coast of Africa. When she reached England on that fateful day, she was carrying more than 400 passengers--men, women, and children--and over half a million pounds of gold bullion.
As the storm freshened, Captain Taylor ordered the sails up, the engines shuttered, and the two anchors dropped off the north coast of Anglesey, Wales. It is thought that he felt the chances of survival were greater riding out the storm there than continuing to the harbor in Liverpool. Unfortunately, he was wrong.
The storm broke both anchors free and drove the Royal Charter onto rocks only fifty yards from shore, breaking her into two pieces. The villagers of nearby Moelfre awoke to find a sinking ship the morning of October 26. Some of the passengers tried to swim for it but refused to leave their gold behind and sank to the bottom to drown. One of the sailors managed to reach shore with a rope around his waist, then used it to help 39 men reach shore. The villagers were also able to rescue about a dozen passengers before the Royal Charter was lost beneath the waves.
The nation went into mourning, with reports in every newspaper for months. One of those chronicling the sinking was Charles Dickens. But the Royal Charter Storm had one benefit. After seeing the devastating results, the British Meteorological Office developed the first gale warning service, which debuted in June 1860, to give people time to prepare and respond to such events, saving countless lives in the decades to follow.
Now there's a tale to tell as we approach Halloween.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
When other young ladies and gentlemen doze on the sofa or stare admiringly at their reflections in the looking-glass, young bluestockings gather together with like-minded souls and have merry debates about novels, ideas, and that delightful (yet futuristic) invention, the cinema.
So please join us here next month (November 19) for our next "Young Bluestockings Attend the Cinema" virtual outing, which will be...
The 1995 film of PERSUASION, starring Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds!
Ah, yes. Jane Austen!
Young bluestockings do love Jane Austen, with her wit, her wisdom, and her romances.
This version of Persuasion is a gorgeous, atmospheric movie, and if you haven't ever seen it, you're in for a treat!
But don't let me influence you -- what we're asking for are your honest opinions on the movie. (What did you like, or dislike? What would you have done differently? Which home would you most like to live in? Which actors or actresses are the most swoon-worthy? Did you spot the person who later played a relative of Harry Potter?)
So please stop by here on Tuesday, November 19, and join our lively discussion! We promise to brew you a fresh pot of virtual tea when you arrive...
Please join us!
Friday, October 18, 2013
Take of black-heart cherries 24 pounds; black cherries, 4 pounds; raspberries and strawberries of each 3 pounds.
Any liquid that includes three pounds of raspberries is okay in my book.
Pick these fruits from their stalks, and bruise them, in which condition let them continue 12 hours; press out the juice, and, to every pint of it, add a quarter of a pound of sugar.
A quarter of a pound of sugar per pint? Now we're talking.
When the sugar is dissolved, run the whole through the filtrating bag, and add to it three quarts of clean proof spirits.
Tradition has it that ratafia was made with brandy, but I consulted a chef I know and she said that "clean proof spirits" might have been a clearer alcohol like gin. Either way, it's still a relatively small amount compared to the amount of juice from all that fruit.
Then take of cinnamon, four ounces; of mace, an ounce; and of cloves, two drams. Bruise these spices, put them into an alembic, with a gallon of clean proof spirits, and two quarts of water, and draw off a gallon with a brisk fire.
Now, there's the first mention of water, which in my mind is what would have made the ratafia as insipid as it is usually described. But notice that those two quarts of water are going against a gallon of alcohol, plus it's being boiled away over a fire. I understand this is considered a distillation. According to my friendly chef, today's alcohol might be distilled several times along the way, making it more potent.
Add as much of this spicy spirit to your ratafia as will render it agreeable to your palate; about one fourth is the usual proportion.
So, we're adding spiced liqueur to fruit juice and sugar in alcohol. It is possible compared to other alcoholic drinks at the time that this would be considered a weak drink, but it would still have packed plenty of punch (pardon the pun).
I wondered too whether ratafia might have evolved over the years. Perhaps what was a strong drink in 1764 had weakened considerably by the middle of the nineteenth century. However, I found nearly identical recipes in a popular British encyclopedia from 1797 until at least 1823.
And now I have a whole new respect for those frilly little ladies sipping their ratafia!
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Friday, October 11, 2013
When art instructor Hannah Alexander agrees to accompany four of her students on a country house visit before Easter, she never dreams of entering into a dalliance with the owner David Tenant, the handsome new Earl of Brentfield. But one moment in his company and she's in danger of losing her heart. There are secrets aplenty at Brentfield, enough to challenge any lady's sensibilities, even those of Hannah's protégé, Lady Emily Southwell. As events unfold at Brentfield, Hannah quickly learns that loving David comes at a price, to her future plans of being a portrait painter, to her position as a teacher, and to her very life.
Lady Emily originally came into her own in my 2008 young adult novel, La Petite Four. But I was never entirely happy with that book. (Terrible thing for an author to admit!) So, I have been working on rewriting it. I am happy to report that it is currently in copyediting and should be out later this month as Art and Artifice.
Finally, I offer you a sneak peek of the cover for my December release from Love Inspired Historical, The Wife Campaign. The second book in my Master Matchmaker series is set at a fishing lodge, and the river plays a big part in the story, so I was glad to see the artists capture both the mood and the setting.
Whitfield Calder, Earl of Danning, would much rather spend a fortnight fishing than entertaining three eligible young ladies. But when his valet insists that marriage is an earl's duty, Whit agrees to a house party. He has no intention of actually proposing to anyone . . . until flame-haired Ruby Hollingsford declares she'd never accept him anyway. Ruby might have been tricked into attending this charade, but she certainly won't compete for the earl's affections. Yet Whit isn't the selfish aristocrat she envisioned. And with a little trust, two weeks might be ample time for an unlikely couple to fall headlong in love.
Those of you who have been following the blog for some time know that I usually pick an actress/actor or model to help me visualize my hero and heroine, and I share this information with the talented artists at Love Inspired. The young lady this time got an easy A for her acting abilities, even when she hung out with a squad of gangsters. Once upon a time, the gentleman played a charming TV character who is more likely to be found wielding a sword than the fishing rod my hero favors.
Anyone want to guess who I had in mind for my heroine and hero, Ruby Hollingsford and Whitfield Calder, Earl of Danning?
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Friday, October 4, 2013
A Stanhope consists of microphotographs covered with a special lens modified from one originally invented by the Earl of Stanhope. Developed by French photographer René Dagron in 1857 and debuting at the International Fair in Paris in 1859, the little device soon became all the rage across Europe, England, and even America. Though Dagron called them microscopic photo-jewelry, that name never stuck (you can guess why), and the devices are still called Stanhopes to this day.
Stanhopes were generally made for promotional purposes. They might include pictures from a town to encourage tourism or as a souvenir of a visit. The picture might feature a particular building, a company, or an event like the World's Fair for similar reasons. Portraits of famous people like kings and queens were also popular, and there were a few more titillating pictures as well. The pictures and viewers were inserted in a wide variety of useful and not so useful items, such as button hooks, canes, pins, pendants, bookmarks, letter openers, and rosaries.
The one at the top belongs to Marissa. It's a bone or ivory propelling pencil, about 3 1/4 inches long. The viewer in the end shows the history of the Isle of Wight with about six tiny images. More than one image wasn't uncommon. Dagron made history by creating one that held the portraits of 450 people!
Stanhopes are still being developed today, although with a slightly different technology. My apologies for not having more pictures, but all the ones I found were copyrighted. Instead, I'll give you places where you can learn more. Here's one site that will create one for you. You can also find a wide variety on eBay. For more information, you might try this site by expert Jean Scott (no relation).
Maybe I should be reaching for one of Marissa's spectacles to get a better view.