Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A grateful corset customer in 1807

Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Loretta reports:


“My dear Madam, to thank you, or be grateful to you, for the essential service you have been to me, would be impossible.  I feel all the gratitude that I am capable of, which is more than I can express; but not as much as you are entitled to from me.  You have almost restored me to health, after a painful and tedious suffering of ten years.  You I must consider as my preserver, with your PATENT STAYS, together with your other ingenious contrivance for Pendulous and Weak Bowels; otherwise I must necessarily have fallen a victim to my unfortunate complaint.  Now, thank God, and you, I have no fear; for while I live I shall never cease to remember you with every sentiment of gratitude.  And believe me, my dear Madam, to be,
                                    Your most grateful and obliged,
                           July 10, 1807.                                                    A.M.D. ”
N.B.  The original Letter may, for satisfaction, be seen at Mrs. Lloyd Gibbon’s, together with many others to the same effect.
La Belle Assemblée, Advertisements for October 1807

I leave readers to speculate what A.M.D.'s "unfortunate complaint" was. 

My apologies for the bizarre spacing.  Blogger decided to go mental.


Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I suppose this didn't feel humorous to the customer, but I had to smile as I read this letter. Women's clothing must have been a laborious affair in those days.

The Victorian Times said...

Thank heavens for those stays, pendulous and weak bowels can be so tedious, especially at the theater.

Karen A. Chase said...

I heard once that women were often grateful to corsets. It sounds strange to us, but in an age when women weren't exercising, and were likely to sit or languish for hours with nothing to do, their muscles and entire system were weakened. They required the stays to help keep them upright and internally keep things where they ought to be. A woman who had worn a corset for years, was unable to go without them. I wonder if that's actually true...?

Maureen - Brisbane said...

I should think that, if you had to sit for hours at the theatre or a musical evening, without allowing your spine to touch the back of the chair, a good set of stays would be invaluable. It would allow you to relax a little within the support of the whalebone.

As for Karen's comment about not being able to go without corsets if you've grown up with them - I remember my mother wore a corset everyday of her adult life and didn't feel comfortable without one. She was born in 1918.

Anne Danko said...

Maureen's mother would not be alone. Stays & Corsets are not necessarily laborious. They are a support system not a torture contraption. A properly fit corset is very comfortable when wearing period clothes. As for a complaint, well, two very simple complaints that are made better by a corset are ciatica and menstrual pain. They may also help provide extra upper body strength and support when one is tired. Most of the stay or corset wearing women of the 19th century were not women of privelege, but rather working women whether they be housewive, farmwives or otherwise. Corsets are not comfortable under modern clothes as our modern cloths are not cut to be worn with stays or corsets.

LorettaChase said...

Karen, women, even upper class women, were more active than many people realize. The working woman worked. The upper class woman rode, walked, engaged in sports (archery was popular), danced. A woman so weak she'd need her corset to hold her up would never last through a country dance, or even a waltz. Anne, that's an excellent point regarding sciatica & menstrual pain. Readers can click on the "corsets" label for much more on this subject, and lots of photos.

Diane Donald said...

I wonder if by pendulous and weak bowels she is implying some sort of prolapse or fistula as a result of childbirth, both of which are very common in places where modern medical treatment isn't available. I would imagine something like that, separated abdominal muscles, or perhaps even an umbilical hernia would all be relieved by wearing a corset (and the other garments/devices the lady writes about)

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