Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Do they mean us?

Alas, the image doesn't have a lot to do with my post, unless we count father's sending daughter's to the right school, but in our quest to find portraits of real Regency men, here is the artist with his daughter. Isn't he fine?

My post takes me back to my favorite place, Ackermann's Repository of Arts, Literature and Fashions. In this case, September 1823. I finally got the opportunity to bid on a complete Ackermanns' magazine and I have it in front of me. It's very tatty but has all the prints and the text which usually gets thrown away. On the cover is a hand-written signature which is hard to decipher but it starts with Rev-which I assume means a clerical gentleman once owned this fine piece of literature.

Reading through the variety of articles and advertisements I was struck with how many of them were relevant to today. Adverts for insurance, hair products, soap, discussions about boys being boys, deliveries of Irish lace, miraculous potions to make your hair grown again and a great deal of humor.

My favorite article will definitely appeal to the crumpet strumpets. It's entitled: "Prospectus of a New Institution for the Formation of Wives" When I started to read it I thought it was a fabulous example of how feminism had changed our lives-and then I read on and realized it was definitely 'tongue in cheek' Basically it suggests that women were getting too educated and too uppity and that a new school headed by Madames Sober and Steady were resolved to turn out perfect wives. Here's a snippet.

"It cannot be denied that many women have distinguished themselves in the field of literature: still it must be admitted that this is not their proper scene of action...A learned wife may be considered about as useless a member of society as a learned pig. Indeed, the latter may be looked upon as the less injurious of the two; for all the loss the bluestocking grunter occasions to society...But the hapless progeny of a learned human mother must pine in ignorance and neglect while mama is preparing pap for babies of a larger growth or in reading for her evenings exhibition before a select circle of savans."

Ouch. Are they talking about us?

It suggests a school where young ladies fill their heads with more useful wifely tasks. I love this bit:
"Those fingers that once handled the goose-quill only, will then be permitted to explore the inmost recesses of the noble biped which furnished it."

And of course, we must all agree with this:
"Obedience to the lawful authority of man is among the first principles implanted in the minds of the young ladies intrusted to Mesdames S. and S. and they are accordingly brought up in the utmost reverence for the lords of creation, whom they are taught to consider as beings of a higher order"

Are they talking about Men?
Excuse me while I burn some feathers under my nose to revise me from my swooning fit of excessive laughter.

Finally, here's the fees list-complete with additions:
Board and Education 40 G's (guineas)
Lectures in domestic economy 10 G's
Higher branches of cookery 10 G's
Writing ,arithmetic and family accounts 6 G's
Roast beef and Plumb pudding master 6 G's
Butcher's lessons 4 G's
Drill-serjeant 4 G's
Ornamental needlework 4 G's
Lessons in washing and getting up fine things 4 G's
Curry powder by private lessons*
Entrance to the house 2 guineas, to the kitchen 1 guinea, to the larder 1 guinea and to each of the masters 2 G's.
N.B In addition to the articles usually brought by young ladies to school, it is expected that they be provided with, three pair of pockets, three large high aprons, a well stored housewife, a pin cushion, a clasp-knife and a nutmeg grater.
*This will be found extremely serviceable to young ladies intended for the Indian market."

Oh please...can I send my sons there?


Jane Lockwood said...

Exactly what did entrance to the masters entail? Quite a, uh, progressive sort of school!

This reminds me of Lewis Carroll's description of a boarding school where French and Laundry were taught, because in prospectuses those were generally listed as extras.

Kalen Hughes said...

I'm green with envy. I love this kind of original source to draw from. You lucky, lucky girl.

Kate Pearce said...

Well Kalen, you live close enough to come and take a peek whenever you want!

Jane George said...

Oh yeah, my progeny are pining in neglect...

It's spring break and due to concurrent writing and painting demands I haven't done any laundry, so the kids decide they will. My daughter leaves the economy size all-color bleach uncapped near the edge of the washer, where it remains until the spin cycle.

Oh yeah.

Kate Pearce said...


Send 'em to school, Jane!