Reading in Progress: Ladies of the Grand Tour, a Quote, and Chamber Pots When Least Expected...

Ladies of the Grand Tour: British Women in Pursuit of Enlightenment and Adventure in Eighteenth-Century Europe - Brian Dolan

First a quote, which really sums up what the entire chapter Fashionable Society & Foreign Affairs is about:


"Lady Shadwell saw Lady Mary Wortley Montagu at Venice where she now resides, and asked her what made her leave England; she told them the reason was people had grown so stupid she could not endure their company; all England was infected with dullness; by the bye, what she means by insupportable dullness is her husband, for it seems she never intends to come back while he lives."

--Elizabeth Robinson, in a letter to a friend, 22 July 1740


That's on the title page for the chapter, and with a footnote so that you can look up the source, if you're that interested. And count me in as one who is, especially about some of the gossipy anecdotes in this chapter, some of which are sad attempts (with some successes) to escape very unhappy marriages (there was no such thing as a good divorce in this time, or definitely not for a woman anyway).


And now the other part of this post's title - in the chapter Sea Breezes & Sanity, we are given a long list of things* to take abroad especially when caring for an invalid by Mariana Starke, which includes (p 129):


"A travelling chaise-percee, made to fit the well of a carriage"


I had no idea what this actually meant, but then I googled and all became clear. The best link of the crop is this one - a blog entry - because it has lots of great photos of period pieces and replicas:


Chaise Percee - If Only You Knew The Whole Story!


In particular it shows photos of the china Bourdaloue (not at the top of the page, scroll down) - a chamber pot for ladies - which I'd seen last year on a great documentary (link later when I find it**) which immediately made me think that there must be more than one person out there who has one of those in a collection of old dishes, assuming that it's a gravy boat. Because we know that someone must exist, right? Anyway, the author of that blog post is in agreement about that! Also I love that it's named after a priest (Louis Bourdaloue) whose sermons were so long women had their servants bring one of these along to church. Because, necessity. (Those being the days of "no, you can't just get up and leave" services. Or this was perhaps a joke of the time. Hard to say from my limited searching.)


Anyway, more on the Bourdaloue, because I can't be the only one fascinated by having to use such a thing with the ridiculous amount of skirts that women wore at the time.


Regency Hygiene: The Bourdaloue - contains many more photos and a lot more text on its history. And I recommend that website - Jane Austen's World - full of fascinating historical info and all sorts of other pop cultural writing (Downton Abbey is one of many topics).


Randomly Tarte Bourdaloue has nothing to do with chamber pots at all and only is vaguely related to the priest Bourdaloue. In case you were to google this and wonder.




*Among other odd things on the list is also this one:


"A knife for spreading blisters"


But I haven't been brave enough to google that. Yet.


**Ah ha! It's from back in November: Hoop Skirt Question Answered!

And I had no idea how to spell the French word Lucy Worsley was pronouncing - that I now know is Bourdaloue - so it's definitely time for a laugh at myself over that. (We'll ignore the multiple years of French I've taken, some even in grad school. I never was good at the spoken word part. Sigh.)