I'm sharing here some snippets of life in the 1760s from contemporary publications. I collected these bits at a library.
As is often the case when we look into the real past, there are some questions.
Richmond Gardens became part of the famous Kew Gardens, seen left back then, but what exactly was a Pleasure Bath? Did they go swimming there?
I'm constantly trying to understand coach travel in the 18th century, so this story intrigues me. Alas, I have no idea what scam the lady was working, though it presumably made sense to her contemporaries.
My only thought is that a chaise was paid for at the end of the journey, not the beginning, so by going for a walk, she put off payment, presumably because the payment would include her dinner. It seems odd, however, as there could be any number of ways a passenger could slip away without paying.
"A few days since, a Courtezan, being discharged by a gentleman of fortune in the County of Hants, took Chaise at Winton (with her maid and child) for Andover; and at the Star and Garter ordered a fowl to be roasted and Horses got ready, while she took a Walk, then went to the White Hart in the same Town, took Chaise and went on; and in the same manner bilked the whole Road, except the last Stage in Piccadilly, when the boy secured a mundle for payment."
They were alarmingly frequent, and I think they're under used in fiction. Of course there's a coach accident in An Unlikely Countess, but it's contrived. Given the state of the roads and the frequency of breakdowns and crashes, however, it could have happened by chance.
"On Sunday last a Phaeton was overturned in Piccadilly, by which means a Gentleman in it broke his Arm, and a Lady, his companion, had the misfortune to break both her legs. The latter, it is reported, has since died."
That reminds us how easily broken bones could be fatal back then.
Or what about this one? A headline incident!
"A carriage containing His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales was returning from airing in Hyde Park, one of the wheel-horses took fright and got his leg over the pole of the coach; which set the horse a plunging, so as greatly to endanger the overturning of the carriage; but luckily Captain Smythe of the Horse Grenadier Guards just at that time passing by, and seeing the imminent danger the Prince was in, immediately run up to the coach, and received His Highness from one of the Ladies therein, to prevent the consequences that might have ensued."
I assume Captain Smythe was handsomely rewarded for rescuing the future Prince Regent. (The officer pictured is a dragood, not a member of the Guards.)
And lastly, a vignette which showed the considerable restrictions women still lived with in the mid 18th century.
"Among the many places where the Diversion of Skating at this Season prevails, the Lake House, belonging to Lord Tilney, on Epping Forest, is one of the most frequented, by Means of a Concourse of neighbouring gentry, who have daily assembled there for this Week past. Many of these Skaters dress in Masquerade, which adds much to the pleasing Effect which this Amusement has on the Spectators; With the rest, an agreeable young female Form has struck the Admiration of the Crowd pretty constantly, a Circumstance uncommon in this Country, but which may introduce, it is imagined by some, this Dutch Custom among the English ladies.
An honest Farmer, in the Zeal of his Heart against the Times, accosted our Fair-one t'other Day, it must be owned, a little roughly. : "What a B___h! (says he) where will all this end; when Women have the Impudence thus publickly to skate among men!"
But he was soon reconciled to the Enormity, by the incident of a grave Gentleman (to whom she was at the same Time making a profound Curtesy) lifting up gently her Petticoats something higher than Delicacy, or perhaps Decenty would have permitted, and discovering the Lady to by neither more nor less than his own son disguised in Women's Clothes."
I can't help wondering exactly what was revealed by the raised skirts, but ut would seem that this mid-18th century picture is not likely to be a skater, as sometimes claimed.
I hope you enjoyed this glimpses into the past. What, if anything, surprised you? And what plots for romances did you come up with?