La Belle Assemblée, March 1807
Ladies’ publications such as La Belle Assemblée, Ladies Monthly Museum, Lady’s Magazine, etc. were not merely fashion-oriented. Each issue had one or two fashion prints, a portrait engraving of some celebrated person (usually a woman) and perhaps other illustrations. Ackermann’s Repository, which was for ladies and gentlemen both, also had prints of furniture, homes, inventions, etc. The remainder of the publication consisted of articles.
I am not aware of any publication that consisted only of fashion prints, although people could remove the fashion prints and have them bound up together. I have one of these myself.
Correction: The Journal des Dames et des Modes was a weekly publication and thus there were around 5-6 fashion prints per MONTH.
More commonly, people would collect individual issues and have them bound together. I have quite a few of those, occasionally with an issue or two missing. (Somebody’s dog probably ate it or something.) If these were in a Regency home, however, they would be up to a year old, which is a long time in terms of fashion.
It may seem nit-picky, but I twinge when I read a story where a lady picks up Ackermann’s and pages through the latest fashions. The latest Ackermann’s would have TWO fashion prints.
Just a friendly FYI.
The Master of Ceremonies announces a great ball to be held on Valentine’s Day in the Upper Assembly Rooms of Bath. Ladies of the highest rank—and some who wish they were—scheme, prepare, and compete to make best use of the opportunity. Dukes, earls, tradesmen, and the occasional charlatan are alert to the possibilities as the event draws nigh.
But anything can happen in the magic of music and candlelight as couples dance, flirt, and open themselves to romantic possibilities. Problems and conflict may just fade away at a Valentine’s Day Ball.
25% of proceeds benefit the Malala Fund.
by Jessica Cale
He’s a liar and a fortune-hunter… and exactly what she needs.
The moment Lady Emilia sets eyes on the Chevalier d’Aubusson, she knows their fates are tied together. For good or ill, she cannot say. A mysterious aristocrat with a tragic past, the chevalier makes waves with his considerable charm.
But the chevalier is not as he seems. There are cracks in his story, and Emilia never could resist a mystery. Whether he’s a gentleman or a bounder, he might just be the man for her.
by Sherry Ewing
It began with a memory, etched in the heart.
Lady Celia Lacey is too young for a husband, especially man-about-town Lord Adrian de Courtenay. But when she meets him at a house party, she falls in love.
Adrian finds the appealing innocent impossible to forget, though she is barely out of the schoolroom and a relative by marriage.
His sister’s deceptions bring them together, but destroys their happiness. Can they reach past the hurt to the love that still burns?
by Jude Knight
In all the assemblies and parties, no-one Charis met could ever match the beast next door.
Charis Fishingham has always felt more at home at Eastwood—Beastwood, as the neighbours called it, after the flawed child who once lived there. In the Eastwood gardens, Charis can escape her mother’s expectations, her sisters’ chatter, and her own worries about her future. There, she reads and remembers her secret friend, long gone into exile to have his birthmarks removed at his family’s command.
Now the Beast has returned. Eric Lord Wayford would rather face the surgeons of Naples and Napoleon’s armies than the tongues of the ton. He joyfully greets Charis, and their future looks to be full of hope.
But someone does not wish Charis to wed the Beast of Beastwood, and will stop at nothing to keep them apart.
by Amy Quinton
A serious-minded, scientific man of learning seeks a complex and chaotic practitioner of all things superstitious who will upend his well-ordered life.
The Umbrella Strikes Again! Another Bachelor Has Fallen!
Dr. John Edward Hartwell needs assistance, though not quite the kind of help he might think. True, he is well-organized, tidy, and pathologically set in his ways—a more serious-minded man one might never find.
But in his ways, I have determined, lies misery.
Enter Miss Emma Merryweather—a woman who is as lovely as she is chaotic. She is the perfect candidate to compliment our man of numbers and logical focus, bringing sunshine and superstition to redirect him away from a future of certain wretchedness.
And now that she has been categorically convinced that they are destined to be together—the signs, you see—no one can stand in her way, for she is as tenacious and optimistic as she is beautiful.
And none can resist her smile.
If I have anything to say about matters, and I always have something to say about matters, the signs will point the way.
They already have.
Lady Harriett Ross,
Self-proclaimed Motley Meddler * Mistress of Destiny * Wielder of the Infamous Umbrella
I’m just an old woman with opinions. On everything.
by Caroline Warfield
Doug Marsh and his candles bring light to many, none more than Esther. They may light the Assembly Rooms even as his love lights her life.
Doug Marsh knew what the army expected of him. Invalided out, he struggles to run his uncle’s candle-works and look after those dependent on it. A contract with the Bath Assembly Rooms would go a long way toward succeeding at both of those things. The plight of a young woman is a distraction he doesn’t need.
Esther Hopkins, formerly ‘the Honorable’, has no time to mourn the life denied her by a single mistake. A woman alone with a new-born son to raise needs work, and she is determined to make it on her own. If only she could stop yearning for the sturdy arms and kind blue eyes of the man who rescued her from starvation and enlisted the entire Marsh Candle Works to her support. But Sergeant Marsh shows nothing but benevolent interest in her welfare. Why should he care for a fallen woman?
In the normal course of things Esther is far above Doug’s touch. Can he find the courage to court her and still take care of business at the same time?
The Bluestocking Belles (the “BellesInBlue”) are ten very different writers united by a love of history and a history of writing about love. From sweet to steamy, from light-hearted fun to dark tortured tales full of angst, from London ballrooms to country cottages to the sultan’s seraglio, one or more of us will have a tale to suit your tastes and mood.
More about Queen Charlotte on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_of_Mecklenburg-Strelitz
The mourning for our late venerated and beloved Queen is equally deep and general: no wonder indeed that the whole English nation should be eager to pay a tribute of respect to the memory made in the robe form, of a three-quarter height, are very general for morning: they are trimmed all round with a broad border of plain muslin or long lawn, with weepers to correspond; and are worn with lawn or muslin handkerchiefs, and large mourning ruffs, which in general are rounded at the ends, and do not quite meet in front of the throat.
Black bombazine is universally worn for dinner dress, and is also adopted for social evening parties. There is a good deal of variety in the form as well as the trimmings of dinner gowns. Frocks are very general; some are cut quite low and square round the bosom, with very short sleeves, which are formed of full puffings of black crape placed between bands of bombazine. The bust is trimmed with black crape, variously disposed; but ruches, though so long worn, appear to us most prevalent. The bottoms of the skirts are always very full trimmed with black crape; some have a broad band of crape formed into bias flutings, which are placed across; others are trimmed with black crape leaves, of which there are two or three rows placed one above another. Corkscrew rolls of crape, which are very narrow, and always four or five in number, are also a favourite trimming; and we have observed several gowns trimmed extremely high with black crape tucks.
The bodies of other dresses are made partially high round the back of the neck; the back is plain, and buttons up behind with small jet buttons; the front has a little fullness at each side of the shoulder-strap; the middle of the bust is plain, and sloped gradually on each side; the waist is very short, and the bust is trimmed round with a single row of crape disposed in wolves’ teeth. Plain long sleeve, ornamented at the hand to correspond with the bust, and finished at the bottom of the skirt with a similar but broader trimming.
We recommend this dress, at least the manner in which the body part is made, to those of our fair subscribers who are of the middle age; it is at once delicate and becoming. We understand that several matronly ladies of distinction have given orders for dresses made in this style, and we shall be glad to see it generally adopted.
Black crape over black sarsnet is universally adopted for full dress. The most elegant style is that given in our print. We have, however, noticed another, which we consider as very tasteful and worthy of attention: it is a frock; the body, formed of a fullness of crape, is made to fit the shape of the bust by jet beads, which form a kind of stomacher; the back is full; the shape is formed on each side by jet beads, and it is fastened behind with small jet buttons. A short full sleeve, the fullness looped in various places by little jet ornaments. The bottom of the skirt was trimmed with a deep flounce of black crape, which was looped in the drapery style with jet ornaments, and headed by a row of small crape roses.
We understand that it is expected; dresses both of bombazine and black crape, trimmed with white crape, will be worn, particularly by young ladies. We consider this very likely, because it is still very deep mourning, though less gloomy than all black: we have not yet, however, seen any of them.
Several trimmings, composed of black crape and intermixed with scarlet, are we understand in preparation for some very dashing élégantes. This mixture of black and scarlet has of late years have been tolerated even in the deepest mourning; in our opinion it is far from appropriate: we remember upon a late ever-to-be-lamented occasion it was seldom seen, and we believe it is now likely to be confined chiefly to those ladies whom the French would style merveilleuses.
Head-dresses, both for full- and half-dress, are mostly made in white crape. Toques and turban-hats are generally adopted in the former, and caps in the latter; they are always of a round shape, and the cauls low: some have narrow borders; others have no border, but have the head-piece formed in the toque style, that is to say, disposed in very full folds: these last are always ornamented with flowers.
Toques are usually made without any other ornament than the crape tastefully disposed in front. Turban-hats are either ornamented with flowers, or if black, with jet beads. Head-dresses are at present either entirely white or entirely black; and the former, as we have just observed, are most prevalent.
Very young ladies wear jet combs, sprigs, and tiaras, in full-dress; but for dishabille, belles of all ages wear simple undress caps, which are in general muslin, long lawn not being much used.
It is almost superfluous to mention, that all ornaments for the hair &c. at present are composed of jet.
Gloves and shoes are always of black chamois leather.
A black crape dress over a black sarsnet slip: the body is cut very low and square round the bust, and is tight to the shape; it is trimmed round the bosom and the back with a rouleau of crape intermixed with jet beads: this trimming does not go round the shoulders. The bottom of the waist is finished by rounded tabs. Long sleeve, made very loose, and finished at the band by a rouleau to correspond with the bosom; the fullness of the sleeve is disposed on the shoulder in puffs, which are interspersed with jet beads, some of which also confine it across the arm: this forms a new and elegant style of half-sleeve. The bottom of the skirt is cut in broad scallops, the edges of which are ornamented with narrow black fancy trimming, and an embroidery of crape roses, with branches of crape leaves disposed between each; a second row of this trimming is laid on at a little distance from the first. The front hair is much parted on the forehead, and disposed in light loose ringlets, which fall over each ear. The hind hair is braided, and brought round the crown of the head. Head-dress, a long veil placed at the back of the head, and an elegant jet ornament, consisting of a rose and aigrette, which is also placed far back. Chamois leather gloves and shoes. Ear-rings, necklace, and cross, jet.
A round dress of black bombazine; the body is made tight to the shape and up to the throat, but without a collar; long sleeves, with white crape weepers: the skirt is finished at the bottom with a broad black crape flounce, disposed in large plaits; over this is a very narrow flounce, which is also plaited to correspond; a little above this is a third flounce, which is quilled in the middle to correspond, and the whole is surmounted by a broad band of bias crape. The spencer worn with this dress is composed of black clothing; it is cut without a seam, and ornamented with a fullness of black crape, disposed in large plaits at the bottom of the waist: a high standing collar rounded in front, made to stand out from the neck, and edged with a light trimming of black crape: long loose sleeves, finished at the hands with black crape trimming, and surmounted by epaulettes draperied with black cord and ornamented with small tassels. Head-dress, a bonnet of black crape of a moderate size; the edge of the brim is finished with a row of large hollow plaits; the crown is trimmed to correspond. A white crape frill stands up round the throat. Gloves and shoes black chamois leather.
Admiral Cornelius Hardcastle met his future wife Léonie at the Siege of Toulon. Their daughter Cornelia is the heroine of The Marriage Obligation.
The fictional character of Admiral Hardcastle is based on Admiral Sir Benjamin Hallowell Carew, whose ship, the HMS Leviathan, took part in the evacuation of allied troops and royalist civilians being persuaded by the Republican army.
The Siege of Toulon (29 August – 19 December 1793) was a military operation by Republican forces against a Royalist rebellion in the southern French city of Toulon.
After a series of insurrections against the Republicans within the French cities of Lyon, Avignon, Nîmes, and Marseille, Republicans managed to recapture Marseille and punish them with severe reprisals. Upon hearing this, Toulon, which was currently in the hands of Royalist forces, called for aid from the Anglo-Spanish fleet. On 28 August, Admiral Sir Samuel Hood of the Royal Navy and Admiral Juan de Lángara of the Spanish Navy, committed a force of 13,000 British, Spanish, Neapolitan and Piedmontese troops to the French Royalists’ cause. This was a serious blow to the Republicans, since Toulon had a key naval arsenal and was the base for 26 ships (about a third of the French navy). On 1 October, Baron d’Imbert proclaimed the young Louis XVII to be king of France, and hoisted the French Royalist flag of the fleur de lys, delivering the town of Toulon to the British navy.
By 16 December, however, the Republicans (among them a young Bonaparte), managed to push past the Allied troops toward the waterfront. At that point, Lángara gave the order to destroy the French ships. While that was going on, Hood had ordered HMS Robust under Captain George Elphinstone and HMS Leviathan under Captain Benjamin Hallowell Carew to evacuate the allied troops from the waterfront. In addition to the soldiery, the British squadron and their boats took on board thousands of French Royalist refugees, who had flocked to the waterfront when it became clear that the city would fall to the Republicans. Robust, the last to leave, carried more than 3,000 civilians from the harbour and another 4,000 were recorded on board Princess Royal out in the roads. In total the British fleet rescued 14,877 Toulonnais from the city; witnesses on board the retreating ships reported scenes of panic on the waterfront as stampeding civilians were crushed or drowned in their haste to escape the advancing Republican soldiers, who fired indiscriminately into the fleeing populace.
Author’s Note: I’ve advanced Cornelia’s age five years for the purpose of this story. An author’s prerogative!
Cornelia Hardcastle has been determined never to marry since she was eighteen and discovered an ugly family secret. Now that she’s twenty-four, however, her parents want to see her settled so they can move to Canada for her father’s prestigious new government post. Not a chance!
The second son of a viscount, Preston Warrington is more than happy to leave the viscount business to his brother so he can travel the world in search of adventure. His recent stint as a spy for the British in the War with the French has come to an end, and he’s getting pressured to marry and settle down. Hell no!
How could the notorious Marriage Maker from Inverness all the way in Scotland possibly know that these two marriage-averse individuals are perfect for each other?
Note: At this point in the story, Cornelia has confessed her terrible secret to Preston, her husband-in-name-only.
He took her hand and led her back to the folly. “There, you got it out. That wasn’t so bad, was it?”
She tilted her head to look at him. “You’re not—shocked? Disgusted?”
He squeezed her hand and looked directly into her eyes. “Surprised, yes, certainly. Disgusted? I don’t quite understand your meaning, Cornelia.” His eyes widened. “Unless you are thinking—surely not—that I should be disgusted by you!”
She burst into tears. He pulled her trembling body into his arms and held her against him until her body quieted and the tears slowed, eventually turning into occasional hiccups. When she raised her head from his chest, he handed her his handkerchief. “Shall we sit down? When you are ready, you can tell me what it is that has you so distressed.”
Dabbing at her eyes, she nodded and allowed him to guide her back to the stone seat.
“I must look a mess,” she said finally, in a shaky voice.
“You look beautiful,” he said, his hand making gentle circles on the surface of her back.
She made a face. “Liar. I’ve seen my face in this condition before. Red eyes, splotchy cheeks, shiny nose. Definitely not a good look for me.”
In response, he reached over and turned her face toward his before capturing her lips with his for a tender kiss. Her sweet response tempted him to deepen it into something more passionate, but he sensed she was not ready for that and reined in his desire.
“Do you still believe I was lying, my dear?” he said as their kiss ended.
She swallowed. “Perhaps you were just being kind.”
Well, then. If she did indeed need more convincing, he would be more than pleased to deliver it.
He took her face in his hands again and kissed her again, this time with more pressure, then pulling away slightly to tease her lips with his tongue, before probing between them with his tongue. Her eyes widened with surprise, but far from protesting, she pressed closer to him, her arms floating to his shoulders. She smelled of violets and tasted like a combination of innocence and passion. His hands drifted to her hair, where his gentle caresses caught on pins and sent dark locks spilling down her back. When her eyes widened, he took her lips again, this time plunging his tongue between her teeth and coercing a timid response from hers. His hands floated down her back, lightly touching the side of her breasts before settling possessively at her waist.
Mine. My woman. This woman was made for me. She has to know it too.
When they finally pulled apart, she looked down, flushed and breathing hard.
“Well?” he said when he found himself able to talk again. “Was that a ‘just being kind’ kiss, do you think?”
She looked up at him, her eyes lit with a mischievous glow. “You’ve proved your point. There was nothing ‘kind’ about it. I must allow that you are a magnificent kisser, Preston.”
His breath quickened. “There is nothing I would like better than to kiss you like that every day. Several times, in fact. I am convinced that we could have an exemplary partnership, my dear, if we were to make our marriage a real one.”