THE OLD REGIME POLICE BLOTTER: Prostitution (2)
Mercier's Tableau de Paris includes a long section on common prostitutes (followed by one on courtesans and one on kept women). Mercier repeats much of what was quoted last week from a judicial point of view, but in a tone closer to that of passages in Thackeray or Dickens:
They show themselves after all as they are; they are less at least one vice, hypocrisy: they cannot cause the ravages that a libertine and prudish woman often occasions under false appearances of modesty and love. Unfortunate victims of the indigence or of the abandon of their parents, rarely driven by an ardent temperament, they are offended by neither outrage nor contempt, they are degraded in their own eyes... ..The number of common prostitutes favors only too much the disorder of passions, has given young men a free tone, which they use with the most decent women; so that in this century, so polite, people are crude in love... But the scandal of prostitutes goes too far in the capital. The contempt for decent behavior should not be so visible, so publicly displayed... In Paris are counted thirty thousand common prostitutes; that is, vulgivagues [meaning, who goes with the 'vulgar', the common man], and about ten thousand, less indecent, who are kept, and who change hands from one year to another. Common prostitutes are not in the least in love; and if they are given over to lust, those who frequent them are that much more so. The police seeks spies in this disgraceful body. Its agents put these unfortunate women to work... They show themselves in the end sometimes more horribly corrupted than the most vile prostitute; because the latter earns the right to treat them with contempt, so much do they gain from base behavior. Yes there are beings below these women of ill repute; and these beings are certain police operatives. A police statute forbids merchants to rent to these women, for the price of silver, by the week or by the day, dresses, pelisses, mantlets, and other adornments; which proves on one hand the extreme misery, and on the other the terrible usury which these merchants do not blush to practice on these creatures, who have neither furniture nor clothes, and who feel the need to dress up, in order to be paid a higher price; because a pelisse allows one to ask more than a common jacket. Every week nightly raids are made with a facility which, overdone, would not fail to displease the political speculators, despite the contempt inspired by the species so tr eated.... They are taken to the prison on the rue St. Martin, and the last Friday of the month they pass to the police; that is, they hear on their knees the sentence which condemns them to be locked up in the salpétrière. They have no representation, no lawyers, no defenders; they are judged quite arbitrarily. The next day they are put in a long wagon, which is not covered. They are all standing and crowded together. One cries, another moans; this one hides her face; the boldest bear the look of the populace who harangues them; they respond indecently and brave the jeers which arise as they pass... The most up-scale and the madams, with a little money, obtain permission to ride in a covered wagon. Arrived at the hospital, they are examined, those who are infected are separated, to be sent to Bicêtre, there to find the cure or death... One can estimate at fifty million a year the money spent on prostitutes, in counting them all under this heading. Public charity only amounts to three million; a disproportion which is something to think about. This money goes to dressmakers, jewelers, carriage operators, caterers, inn-keepers, furnished lodgings, etc. And what is terrifying to think about, is that if this prostitution suddenly stopped, twenty thousand girls would perish miserably, the labors of this unhappy sex not sufficing here either to their upkeep or their food. Thus this excess is as if inseparable from a populous city; and an infinity of trades only survives by the rapid circulation of cash which supports libertinage.
Mercier, Tableau de Paris, Chapter 238
-- ROUSSEAU'S NEIGHBOR
It turns out that Rousseau and I had two things in common: we both lived, in Paris, on the fourth floor (fifth floor in American terms, the ground floor not being counted) and we both had prostitutes as neighbors. In my case, they stood outside my building (on the rue des Lombards); in his, one lived right downstairs (on the former rue Platrière, now the rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, first on the right coming from the rue Coquillière, above a shoemaker's). Though not a legal account, this gives a glimpse of how intertwined with daily life prostitution could be. NOTE: This is part of a much longer discussion of exactly what floor Rousseau occupied; I assume anyone whose interest extends that far can read the original French. The building appears on the Turgot map, and was illustrated in the Monde Illustré of February 1889 (Tome 64, 64).
In May 1774, Eymar, of Marseille, the future deputy of Fourcalquier...tells in a letter that...in the said month of May, using the pretext then in fashion, he went, for the first time, to the philosopher's residence, in order to bring him music to copy. And it was... to the fourth floor that he went to knock. This floor was so certainly the fourth that an incident, which he passes over lightly, drew his attention to the floor below, the third. In climbing the stairs, he passed and greeted a woman of the town who, when he came back down, offered him a hospitality which, quite troubled by philosophical enthusiasm, he felt obliged to refuse. He came back, fifteen days later, the 17th, to pick up the music (which he paid ten sols a page)...
Intermédiaire des Chercheurs, 1912 (112-116)
-- THE COURTESAN AND THE CRITIC
Grimm presumably had solid grounds for making the frank (and public) characterization he does here. If so, this shows that a known courtisan could achieve social - if not, in this case, literary - respectability.
JULY 1765 - 'The Philosopher by love, or letters of two passionate and virtuous lovers', two volumes in-12, this is the title of a new novel said to be by Mlle Mazarelli, today Mme the marquise of Saint-Chamond: because in this century of decency, there are people whose birth does not prevent them from marrying in legitimate nuptials courtesans whose charms have long been public merchandise, exposed and abandoned everyday to the highest bidder. This trade is more lucrative than that of bad novels...
Grimm, Correspondance Littéraire, T6, 1764-1766 (313-314)
-- THE JEWELER AND THE WOMAN OF THE WORLD
Under the Old Regime, the words "actress" and "dancer" were not quite synonomous with "prostitute", but the words were often associated. While most mentions of such performers "moonlighting" refer to courtisans or kept women, it is not surprising to find some at the lower end of the hierarchy. In this case, the woman was treated by the police as any common prostitute. It is not clear from context if her being "wrong" to insult a merchant was because she was a prostitute, or simply because of the circumstances. Adélaide Dusseault was in the famous troupe of Nicolet, who founded the Theatre de la Gaité. Compardon's main entry for her says that she was driven from the troupe for her "bad conduct".
The French term translated here and in one item above as "woman of the town" is fille du monde ("woman" - literally girl - "of the world"). By the nineteenth century, this had a far more respectable meaning, as will be discussed next week.
Saturday, March 11, 1775, two in the afternoon Laurent Bourbon, jewelry merchant, living in Paris, rue Bourg-l'Abbé, and Adélaide Dusseault, dancer at Nicolet's, living in the rue Boucherat, brought by Louis-François Fernet, corporal of the Paris guard, of the Enfans-Rouges post, for having mutually insulted each other in a cabaret, at the corner of the rue Charlot and having fought. Given that the said Dusseault seems to be a woman of the town and that she was very much in the wrong to insult the said Bourbon, we have sent her to Saint Martin for the police.
Compardon, Spectacles de la Foire (I, 1
-- NOT SO PENITENT
It is not clear how this note ended up in the Bastille archives, but it gives one glimpse at the system of sending women to convents for "penitents". Prévost is never quite described as a prostitute, but her being sent to such a convent argues for her having been considered as one, or the near equivalent.
Pontchartrain to the Superior of the Penitents of Anger
October 25, 1695
The King sends to your house the Prévost, woman of ill repute, to be kept like the others you already have; her pension will be paid to you on the basis of 140 francs a year. December 8, 1695 The king is willing to pay 200 francs for the pension of the Prévost; when the year is up you have only to let me know, I will have you paid.
The same to M. de Mirosmesnil
February 17, 1695
Some time ago the King had transferred to the convent of the Penitents of Anger, a very pernicious woman, named Prévost, who had lived in licentiousness with members of the clergy who had gone so far as to oblige her to accuse of the crime of lèze-majesté M. Vigier, lawyer, who was found completely innocent, she wrote a short while back that she had something of importance to say regarding the King's service, and which had nothing to do with Vigier, and she notes that having on her conscience what she wanted to say before leaving, she asked the opinion of the confessor at the house of the Penitents, who told her she was obliged to declare it, she asks that some trusted person from Angers be instructed to listen to her and assures that she will tell it simply. Upon which the King ordered me to write you to go hear this woman and tell me what she has to say. March 8, 1696 The Prévost, who is at the Penitents of Angers, is a very pernicious woman who cannot have anything to say worth hearing. There are two other women in the same house, of the same character; thus there is nothing more to ask her, and I am writing to the Superior to separate her from the two others, to prevent, as much as possible, her causing trouble. The same to the Superior of the Penitents of Angers September 15, 1697 The King does not at all want the Prévost to change quarters, your house was established to hold women of this sort, you must put her in such a state as to fall no more into the violence she has done, by punishing her and locking her up in a safe place.
Ravaisson, Archives de la Bastille (Tome 10, 1693-1702, 49-50)
A later note (from 1704) says she has escaped.
From CHEZ JIM Books:|
An EIGHTEENTH CENTURY VEGETARIAN COOKBOOK:
APRES MOI LE DESSERT - VOLUME II
and a history of the CROISSANT:
AUGUST ZANG AND THE FRENCH CROISSANT
18th CENTURY RECIPE: Cooked salad
Recipes for salads are fairly rare in 18th century cookbooks, perhaps because they seem so simple. They also seem to have been considered part of pantry ("office") preparations, rather than cooking proper. This recipe is an example of an 18th century preparation that in many ways is like a modern one (a salad with hard-boiled eggs, grated cheese, etc.), but would have a distinctive look if prepared as directed (here in the Cannameliste):
Cooked SALAD, is a composition of everything that is cooked or marinated, or preserved in vinegar, such as onions [AUTHOR'S NOTE: Onions must always be cooked in the oven, or under the bell, because they have more taste], celery, beets, pickles, capers, Turkish wheat, leafy cabbage, sea fennel, anchovies, lamprey, tuna, &tc. To make it, first begin by making toasts which you will imbibe with fine oil; you will then mince the beets, & put them in your salad plate with your toast; you garnish them with the type of things that I listed above, if you have them; you will form with these thing compartments, to differentiate their color, & will do what you can to work as neatly as you can. One can also put in these types of salad hard-boiled eggs, grated Parmesan cheese, minced white meat of fowl; with all these sorts of things one can make cooked salads with different appearances, & of different tastes.
The book also gives a definition for toast (rotie- literally, "roasted"):
TOAST: This name is give to bread that is cut into slices, & that are grilled on a grill over a moderate fire, just enough to give it a golden color, & so keep the inside of the bread soft. They are used to take chocolate, or to eat with fresh butter: they are put in cooked salads.
FOR READERS OF FRENCH
LINKS: The "French language" site
This site is dedicated to the subject of the French language. I confess I find a bit arbitrary in its selections, but it may interest some: http://www.languefrancaise.net/welcome/index.php?accueil=1
Magasin Pittoresque: No 48 - 1880
REMINDER: The Magasin Pittoresque was a nineteenth century French magazine. Issues can be found on Gallica. Also, most articles are accompanied by at least one image, and so some may interest even those who do not read French.
Madame de Sevigne: born 1627, in Burgundy, or 1626, in Paris? - Boats, towers and bulls, on the attack - "He was as calm, while giving orders, as if he was in his own house" - "Since the first objects which strike children are in a house... one only has to follow their natural curiousity" - Innocent III said that the Church, as judge of sin, had a right to judge... everything - "To appreciate Goya, one has to go to Spain" - "Everyone who comes into the library will close the door"; "As much as possible, silence should reign in the library, as in a sacred and august place" - In ancient Greece, paintings were sold by the price per character - A Danish Moliere? - "Marie-Therese lived without obtaining the affection to which she linked her happiness, and died without leaving regrets" - Egypt gave us beer (and we're not giving it back...) - Perrault, "the celebrated author of the colonnade" - Even curls, with no powder, were all the rage (for both sexes) in 1792 - "Mortality was terrible in Poitou in the eighteenth century" - The French can thank Francois I for all the paperwork around all their life milestones - Burned witches: "It is difficult for people who insist on prefering the past to the present to not recognize that on this order of things, human reason is rather progressive" - "Faust was often chased by the law, but he always found credulous people to give him refuge" - After "Don Quixote", mocking unrealistic Spaniards became popular - Football "is a violent exercise, which consists in launching a leather ball" - "One must not forget that for a long time painters were the auxiliaries of embroiderers" - Did Edison's "pen" (a duplication device) ever catch on? - Only one female student indicated she wanted to be an author, but "I know very well I am too ambitious" - The Bretons and Mme de Sevigne loved the Duke de Chaulnes - A horse runs the three minute league - Louis XV's gondola had wheels - What does a drawing have to do with Richelieu's diary? - Are we all children, climbing a pole towards our dreams? - A hero so loved they stole his head - "Yesterday it was hats a la Pamela; today hats English-style" - The trip from Athens to Egypt cost 1 franc, 83 centimes (in 300 b.c.) - Racine, Moliere and la Fontaine hung out at the Horn, Place Maubert - The Research and the Hope found eucalyptus - Break a tube and... fire! - The Gauls SHAVED? - "To spend a thousand crowns in Autun, I would have had to throw 25 louis out the window" - In 1759, there was no wine, no nuts, no cocoons, and little grain - La Fontaine never thought an act of loyalty (to Fouquet) could be called an act of courage; his handwriting (reproduced) was very beautiful - "fashion has its hieroglyphs" - "There were playing cards of all sorts, of ivory, of mother of pearl" - "Interesting details abound in Pasquier" - "I confide in you the most precious thing in the world to me, my glory" - "Born for every talent, he made... an opera" - The decorative arts were never more flourishing than in 1750 - In the 14th century, the hood gave way to the hat - an Arab legend said the wandering Jew as cursed by Moses - the Grand Dauphin did not live long enough to succeed his father nor well enough to honor his tutor - Pork was so important it had THREE kinds of inspectors - "In Chile, the death of a child is celebrated by the parents as a joyous party" - Why the house only has three statues - "If a manuscript is entirely in capital letters, it is before the 8th c." - Roof carpenters in a town had to help others just passing through - Once a ball fell in New York every day - No Child Left Behind, 19th century French style - When it was, literally, a dark day in the Northeast
28 - Abbe Fleury's "lessons of things"
38 - ecclesiastic jurisdiction
60 - Little dictionary of trades: brewer
67 - fashions of 1792
70 - mortality in the eighteenth century
78 - registry offices before 1789
91 - burned sorcerers in Germany
105 - the dreaming Spaniard
127 - Little dictionary of trades: embroiderers
151 - extraordinary speed of a horse in 1738
152 - a gondola under Louis XV
174 - A mysterious drawing
177 - Goya's "Mast of Cocaigne"
194 - fashion in 1795- 1796
201 - Little dictionary of trades: tavern keep (cabaret owner)
204 - 1792: eucalyptus discovered
215 - chemical matches
228 - invasion of luxury in Autun in 1763
230 - the frost of 1758
239 - fashion 1797-1798
243 - Little dictionary of trades: card-makers
260 - the foundation of the Academy of Sciences and the Observatory
266 - the opera Bellerophon
270 - Little dictionary of trades: money-changers
303 - Little dictionary of trades: hatters
327 - Little dictionary of trades: pork butchers
330 - Middelbourg legend of the House of Statues
358 - Little dictionary of trades: roof carpenters
407 - the dark day of May 19, 1780
10 - Madame de Sevigne
20 - Dutch admiral Martin Tromp
41 - Goya's Water Carriers (and bio)
52 - Danish poet Holberg
56 - Marie-Therese, Louis XIV's wife
63 - unpublished sketches of Claude Perrault
94 - the real Faust
144 - medal of the Duke de Chaulnes
185 - Major Davel, Vaudois hero
230 - La Fontaine's voyage to Limoges
244 - Adrian Pasquier, shoemaker biographer
270 - decorative artists in the middle of the 18th c
323 - sayings of the Cardinal de Richelieu ("Speak little, and only of what you know")
324 - the baptism of the Great Dauphin 1668
Off-topic, but interesting
11- 14 and 15 c war machines
22- names for inhabitants of different regions
46 - rules for a 15th c library
47 - Ancient Greek prices for paintings
121 - the game of foot-ball
136 - Edison's pen
138 - professions preferred by young women in school (1877)
200 - cost of living in Demosthenes' time
224 - Gallic razors
244 - the origin of playing cards
296 - old Arab proverbs ("If the tongue was imprisoned, the heart would suffer less")
317 - the legend of the wandering Jew
329 - Le Vilario: party for the death of a child
358 - working out the age of old writing
384 - The Time-Ball of New York
394 - How to measure the results of elementary education?
"Who could enumerate all the terms of the nouvelle cuisine; it is a completely new idiom."
Mercier, Tableau de Paris, Chapter 383