marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

tidbits cross time

In Versailles, the candles could not be relit after being snuffed out; royalty must be greeted with fresh, new candles. (There was a profitable sideline in reselling them.) Similarly, the dishes they ate from had to be untouched.

One Victorian duchess observed to her butler that it would really finish a scene to have sheep, and lambs gamboling about. They were there the next morning.

Proscriptions for brahmans' food included whom they could take it from. Among others who are proscribed are those in chains and under indictment, thieves, singers, carpenters, hunters -- hen-pecked husbands and cuckolds who tolerate that state -- also food that has been publicly advertised.

American gentleman, until English ones, didn't follow the temporal distinction of morning calls for formality, and evening calls for informal visits to intimate friends; work interfered too much. Ladies stuck to the time table but men always called at night. The women did not, of course, call on them; one young man was scandalized when some young ladies did, claiming to be cousins.

Artemis was the goddess of childbirth in general; dog breeders would address prayers to her when whelping time approached.

Maria Theresa of Austria gave orders that her daughters weren't to be afraid of fires, thunderstorms, ghosts, witches or any such thing, and so the servants were to refrain from stories that would frighten them.

One Georgian polite family were at pains to dissuade the heir from a house in London. They feared he would marry a woman of the quality, who were known for their expensive tastes.

Roman triumphs were chiefly funded by loot. Octavian's, after the campaign in Egypt, raised land prices and lowered interest rates, it introduced so much into the local economy.

Gypsies also tell tales about people who want to steal their children. One Gypsy told a scholar studying them -- in the late 20th century -- that he had been the sickly one of twins, and a peasant woman came to his mother and demanded the healthy twin since she had two, and the peasant woman none, and when the mother refused, she curse them, and the healthy twin died.

American sympathizers in England referred to the American Revolution as "The King's War."

The "frost fairs" held when the Thames froze over ended because old London Bridge was replaced. The current strengthened accordingly, and prevented the ice.

One way of preserving medicine liquors was high-proof alcohol. Bitter and astringent herbs preserved best in this, which is why medicine has long been regarded as bitter.

When identifying the dead from the Seine in the 1790s, the relatives would often taken the clothes, which were worth something, and leave the body for the pauper's grave.

One British argument for the law forbidding the marriage of minors without parental consent was that fathers were too lenient and did not respond to their daughters' elopements by suitable financial punishment.

Moctezuma's garden had only flowers, no fruits or vegetables. A profitable garden was fit only for peasants and merchants.

The Hindi prescription is that they must live in India -- or rather, the land where the black antelope roams -- because that is the land for sacrifices and so suitable to the twice-born, whereas outside are the lands of barbarians.

Delos, being sacred to Apollo, was one of the few places in ancient Greece where they were forbidden to hunt.

Victorian families often insisted that their maidservants wear bonnets to church to ensure they weren't take for the hat-wearing daughters of the household.

Empress Elizabeth of Russia refused her nephew's wife, the future Catherine the Great, permission to ride astride because she thought that would make her less likely to conceive.

The Georgian "Black Law" made it a crime, and indeed a capital offense, to enter a forest in disguise, or with the face blackened. It was not popular.

In America, theater hours shifted winter and summer so that they started as early as possible after dark. They couldn't start before, not for questions of law or light, but because of work, which ran until the sunlight was gone.

A Bavarian botanist who got to Japan (and brought back lilies) was passed off as a "mountain Dutchman" to explain why his Dutch was so much worse than that of the Japanese interpreters.

In Romania -- a bit after Dracula, who brought back Gypsy slaves from his wars -- a Gypsy could be stopped on the highway. If he could not name his master, he was forfeit to the Crown. High-born ladies had Gypsy families in their dowries; one implored court for some, so her daughter would not be a spinster.

Queen Victoria was treated as a goddess in India. Indeed, after a statue of her had been insulted, a plague in Bombay was attributed to her divine revenge.
Tags: historical tidbits

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