Silk is for Seduction’s release today is a good excuse to revisit Longchamp (more here and here), this time sharing Fanny Trollope’s view in 1835, the year of my story.
I DARE say you may know, my friend, though I did not, that the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of Passion-week are yearly set apart by the Parisians for a splendid promenade in carriages, on horseback, and on foot, to a part of the Bois de Boulogne called Longchamps.
. . .
From about three till six, the whole of this ample space is crowded; and I really had no idea that so many handsome, well-appointed equipages could be found collected together anywhere out of London. . . .
Nevertheless, the weather on the first of the three days was very far from favourable . . . *The next day promised something better . . . but the spectacle was really vexatious ; many of the carriages being open, and the shivering ladies attired in all the light and floating drapery of spring costume. For it is at Longchamps that all the fashions of the coming season are exhibited; and no one can tell, however fashion-wise she be, what bonnet, scarf, or shawl, or even what prevailing colour, is to be worn in Paris throughout the year, till this decisive promenade be over. Accordingly the milliners had done their duty . . . But . . . (t)he tender teinted ribands were soon dabbled in a driving sleet; while feathers, instead of wantoning . . . on the breeze, had to fight a furious battle with the gale.
It was not, therefore, till the following day . . . that Longchamps really showed the brilliant assemblage of carriages, horsemen, and pedestrians that I have described to you . . . though it was still cold for the season—(England would have been ashamed of such a 17th of April)—the sun did come forth, and smiled in such a sort as greatly to comfort the pious pilgrims.
—Fanny Trollope, Paris and the Parisians in 1835 (read the complete letter here)
*I employed artistic license, and improved the weather.
Illustration: Costume de Long-champs; walking dress, from The Lady's Magazine, Vol VI, 1835. (Description will appear on my In Other Words blog.)
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.