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Bonnets

Reminiscences of Bonnets (1857)

By Florence Fashionhunter

“In my young days bonnets were bonnets, and not little dress-caps, quivering in a very precarious situation, pinned to the twist of the hair. They are not pinned? Oh, you needn’t tell me! There is nothing but pinning that can induce them to remain in place. When I was a girl, things were different; then the bonnets rested on a secure foundation. Fashion?

Figure 1

Figure 1

Well, suppose little bonnets are the fashion; is that any reason why a large red face, round as a full moon, should be ‘set out’ by a tiny gauze bonnet about the proper size for Titania. Oh, don’t talk to me! If you really want to see what I think is a respectable proper bonnet for a lady, hand me that yellow bandbox at the end of my closet-shelf. There, that bonnet (Fig. 1) was made from the highest fashionable authority, Godey’s Lady’s Book for January, 1834! Looks faded? Of course, it does; you would, too, if you had been shut up in a bandbox for more than twenty years. What do I keep it for? Because I like to have some proof that women were not always the foo–. Well, I don’t want to be uncharitable. But, I do wonder Mr. Godey will encourage them in their nonsensical ways; of course, they’ll wear little bonnets as long as they have pages of pretty ones to choose from.

Figure 2

Figure 2

If I was his Fashion Editor, I would show the folly of their ways, and try to correct their tastes. Do I consider my bonnet tasty? Of course I do! You think the plume looks like an enraged chanticleer’s tail, and the whole bonnet has rather a fierce look? Let me tell you that plume cost $25, and is not to be laughed at. Just look on the shelf of my bookcase and bring me Godey, Vol. VIII, and I will enlighten you on the subject of fashions as they were in my day. Am I in an antiquarian mood? Never mind my mood; bring me the book. Turn to page 60, and there you will see what I call a handsome substantial bonnet (Fig. 2). You think the bows look as if they were made of a tablecloth each, and the shape looks as if the pattern was taken from the head-piece of a French bedstead!”

And finishing her long indignant speech with a sigh over my want of taste, my dear Aunt Peggy left me to look over her Godey. I did look! I have seen the Crystal Palace, and most of the things therein! I have seen Tom Thumb, the Bearded Lady, Kossuth, the Aztec Children, President Pierce, Parkinson’s Gardens, the Ravels, and various fashion -plates; but I never—never did see such a figure as the lady in a riding-habit I found in this wonderful book (Fig. 3).

Figure 3

Figure 3

Such a collar! I believe they called them by the very appropriate name of ‘chokers;’ such a belt, and such a perfect dinner-plate of a buckle; such sleeves, swelling out from under a minute cap, with a defiant puff, like a—Ahem! garment on a clothes-line in a high wind; or, to speak more poetically, a rose bursting from the green the bud inclosed it with; such a whip for a lady; oh, I pity her poor horse if she is as independent and high-tempered as she looks. Such a hat and veil; of what fabric can that veil be composed to float in such an eccentric sweep? Such an air and attitude; such, in short, such a tout ensemble! Don’t she look ‘peart,’ with her head thrown back, and her feet in a polka position, as if she meant to “dance up to that man with the goose’s on his buttons there,” and ask him to please to place her on her horse. To judge from appearances, Lady Gay Spanker must have been quite a mild, unassuming person compared with this fair equestrian.

“Look on this picture and on this” (Fig. 4).

Figure 4

Figure 4

From our defiant rider to this lovely ball-room belle. Mark the modest arrangement of the hair, and the bows blushingly putting forward their claims to notice. (Beaux are such modest arrangements.) Mark the necklace, composed apparently of small spikes, which can, I suppose, be converted into deadly weapons on occasions. Mark the breadth of shoulders, the cape of black lace, the full sleeves, and the bows. Did ladies widen their doorways in 1833 (I have Aunt Peggy’s Godey for 1833 now) for their guests to pass in without diminishing their “breadth of effect?” Look at the languishing air of our “’33” belle, and compare her with the “’34” equestrian.

But, how I am wandering off from my bonnets! The fact is, fashions are so entirely different from what they were some twenty or thirty years ago, that I sit with the Book before me, in blank amazement, and wonder what we shall wear next.

(To the tune of  “Little Bo-peep.)

I take the book
To have a good look,
And turn the pages in haste, oh!
And try to think,
As I scan each one,
That they were in very good taste, oh!

If it e’er befall
That, at Fashion’ s call,
We wear the same again, oh!
We shall probably think,
As we tie the string,
That they are just the thing, oh!

Godey’s Lady’s Book— Louis Antoine Godey began publishing Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1830. He designed his monthly magazine specifically to attract the growing audience of literate American women. The magazine was intended to entertain, inform, and educate the women of America.

Source: Godey’s Lady’s Book – August 1857


CW-POW

What Shall be Done with the Yankee Prisoners? [1862]

This letter to the Editor of the Charleston Mercury, published under the pseudonym “Philanthropos,” ran on July 12, 1862.

To the Editor of the (Charleston) Mercury:

The possession of an immense number of Yankee prisoners, captured during the flight of the grand army of Gen. McClellan from the lines before Richmond, makes it an important matter to decide how the said captives can be used to most advantage. It is suggested:

  1. To exchange for Confederate prisoners held by the enemy.
  2. To give the foreigners (composing the larger part, probably of the late United States troops now held as our captives) for the first class to be exchanged.
  3. To hold the native Yankee prisoners in our custody, and put them to manual labor in factories, to make brooms, leather, shoes, buckets, thread, cloth, clocks, etc., until they shall be exchanged for the negros stolen from the plantations.
  4. That for each negro who has been sold or worked to death by the Yankees (exchange being impossible) a ransom of $800 be substituted
  5. That the Yankee prisoners held for this purpose shall be subject to the negro law of the State in which they are imprisoned, or until exchanged or ransomed. The object of this is to recover the negros stolen, and to prevent future loss and injury to southern masters and servants.
  6. That the negros be returned to their owners and the money distributed among those whose negros shall not be recovered.

I am, sir, &c.,

PHILANTHROPOS.

Part I of our Civil War collection, A Newspaper Perspective, contains articles gleaned from over 2,500 issues of The New York Herald, The Charleston Mercury and the Richmond Enquirer, published between November 1, 1860 and April 15, 1865.

gal_Petersburg_bnr

The South’s Colored Troops Problem [1864]

This article was reproduced in The Liberator on September 9, 1864. The report from Richmond sheds light on the feelings of many Southern supporters of the Confederacy to how to handle black combatants and prisoners of war.

Richmond Dispatch, Aug. 5th, 1864:

Among the eleven hundred prisoners taken by our forces last Saturday, before Petersburg, two hundred were negroes, many of them, perhaps all of them, stolen or runaway slaves. If any advertisement has yet been published in the papers, calling upon persons who have lost slaves to come forward and identify their property and take it away, we have not observed such advertisement.

Lately, there were many negroes recovered from the raiding party of Kautz and Wilson;, their names were very properly published, and their owners informed where they could come and take them. The two hundred black rascals taken alive in the Petersburg trenches, (most improperly taken alive, as they proclaimed “No quarter,”) now that they are in our hands, are worth half a million. It may be hoped that, strict examination will be made among them, and due notice given to such as have lately, been robbed of such property, with a view of making restitution of such of them as are slaves.

The right of the Yankee Government is undoubted to enlist, or to draft , or to procure how they can, free negroes whose residence is at the North.

They would have a perfect right to make war upon us with elephants, or to stampede us with wild cattle, or to set dogs upon us—and our men an equal right to kill them; a perfect right, therefore, to employ negroes as soldiers.  (more…)


Charleston_sc_1865

Charleston under Fire

As many Southern port cities had been closed off by the Union blockade, Charleston became an important center for blockade running. Repeated attempts by the Union Navy to take Charleston proved fruitless. The city resisted military occupation for the majority of the war’s four years.

With the development of newer, longer-range artillery, and as Union forces were able to place batteries even closer to the city. The bombardment that began in late 1863 continued on and off for 587 days.

This bombardment would destroy much of the city. The defenders were finally beaten back and the Union was able to capture the city, only a month and a half before the war ended.

Charleston under Fire

From the Columbia Carolinian:

We take the liberty of presenting to our readers the following extract of a private letter just received. Its genial description of the present aspect of the city and bay of Charleston will repay perusal. The brief sentences which allude to General Ripley assert nothing more of that bold, ardent and able soldier than we know he deserves. We hope, with all heart, that the hour of his long merited promotion has arrived at last:

Can you come and see us? The city is very safe and interesting now. A visit to the ‘district excites the most varied and strangest emotions. The dreariness of winter has passed away, and the vivifying touch of spring has brought out the green glories of our trees and crowded our gardens with flowers of all hues. They were never more beautiful. The silent air is rich with perfume. But the solitude seems in strange contrast with this lavish infusion of beauty. The rose especially seems to solicit the presence of the man, and crave a witness for its charms. Other flowers may properly grace the solitudes of the wilderness and decorate the pathless prairie, but the rose, the ‘rose, asks for human companionship, and when blooming unseen, suggests the idea of utter desolation and abandonment. Our gardens are sad in their solitude, and in the absence of those more graceful and beautiful flowers, their proper companions, which gave them life and cheerfulness, and all their value, their bloom and perfume is wasted. What is the rose, what the japonica, without the maidens to add to their beauty and sweetness, and to give and take beauty from the fellowship.

Part I of our Civil War collection, A Newspaper Perspective, contains articles gleaned from over 2,500 issues of The New York Herald, The Charleston Mercury and the Richmond Enquirer, published between November 1, 1860 and April 15, 1865.
(more…)


Germany countryside, rural marriage, XIX century engraving

Newlywed Advice: A Whisper to the Husband on Expenditure

This advice to newly married men on the management of household expenses appeared in Godey’s Lady’s Book in the December 1860 issue.

In pecuniary matters, do not be penurious, or too particular. Your wife has an equal right with yourself to all your worldly possessions. “With all my worldly goods I thee endow,” was one of the most solemn vows that ever escaped your lips; and if she be a woman of prudence, she will in all her expenses be reasonable and economical; what more can you desire? Besides, really, a woman has innumerable trifling demands on her purse, innumerable little wants, which it is not necessary for a man to be informed of, and which, if he even went to the trouble of investigating, he would hardly understand.

You give your wife a certain sum of money. If she be a woman of prudence, if your table be comfortably kept, and your household managed with economy and regularity, I really cannot see the necessity of obliging her to account to you for the exact manner in which she has laid it out. Pray, do allow her the power of buying a yard of muslin, or a few pennyworth of pins, without consulting the august tribunal of your judgment whether they shall be quaker-pins or minikins.

I have often with wonder remarked the indifference with which some men regard the amiable and superior qualities of their wives! I by no means intend to say that every wife possesses those qualities; I only speak of a description of females who are, in truth, an ornament to their sex— women who would go the world over with the husband they love, and endure, without shrinking, every hardship that world could inflict.

Godey’s Lady’s Book— Louis Antoine Godey began publishing Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1830. He designed his monthly magazine specifically to attract the growing audience of literate American women. The magazine was intended to entertain, inform, and educate the women of America.

(more…)