SUNDRIES: An eighteenth century newsletter

N° 49 - September 9, 2006

TEXT COLLECTIONS: Cornell Historical Monographs adds text search inter text ON-LINE ARTICLES: 18th century English law enforcement inter text FILM: "Perfume"

law scales THE OLD REGIME POLICE BLOTTER: Sodomy (2)

inter cooking 18th CENTURY RECIPE: A meal for 10-12 guests - oille

fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys
GOOGLE PRINT: Argot inter text Magasin Pittoresque: No 2 - 1834


TEXT COLLECTIONS: Cornell Historical Monographs adds text search

The Cornell Historical Monographs have been on-line for a while, but it turns out that sometime since I last visited them a significant addition has been made: text search! (Apparently it finally occurred to somebody that having OCR'ed thousands of documents for Making of America, they could slip these in too.)

Cornell Historical Monographs search page

Given the variety of documents available on the site - including Franklin's whole series on French private life, Jacques Brissot de Warville's memoirs, The Camden Miscellany and a book on "Naval Songs and Ballads" - this is, in a word, cool.

back to top

ON-LINE ARTICLES: 18th century English law enforcement

This article presents a useful overview of a complex subject: "Making Sense of English Law Enforcement in the 18th Century
David Friedman"

The criminal justice system of England in the 18th century presents a curious spectacle to an observer more familiar with modern institutions. The two most striking anomalies are the institutions for prosecuting offenders and the range of punishments. Prosecution of almost all criminal offenses was private, usually by the victim. Intermediate punishments for serious offenses were strikingly absent. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that, in the early years of the century, English courts imposed only two sentences on convicted felons. Either they turned them loose or they hanged them.[1]

Parts I and II of this essay describe the institutions for prosecution and the forms of punishment. In parts III, IV and V I argue that, contrary to the view of almost all modern commentators and many contemporary ones, these institutions may have made considerable sense. The shift in the early 19th century towards punishment by imprisonment and law enforcement by paid police, and the later shift to public prosecution, were driven by discontent with the performance of the existing institutions. But it is far from clear whether that discontent was justified. I will argue that both contemporary critics and modern historians have missed important elements in the logic of the system of private prosecution, elements that help explain why it lasted as long as it did and worked as well as it did.

One interesting point he makes here is that, as in France (officially at least), jail was meant as a holding measure, not as a punishment in itself:

Jails were used to confine defendants awaiting trial or convicts awaiting punishment.[19] Occasionally something went wrong with the system and convicted prisoners started to accumulate in the jail system. Towards the end of the century, there were proposals to use confinement as a punishment, and some efforts begun in that direction.

He does give a slightly misleading idea of the French position:

The puzzle here is the failure to use imprisonment as an intermediate punishment. Its advantage is and was obvious-the level of punishment can be continuously adjusted to fit what the convict is thought to deserve. Imprisonment was not a novel idea-it existed in statute, had been used to a significant degree in the past, especially by church courts, and was in regular use in France.

The last phrase is true, but must be qualified by statements from several period authorities that imprisonment was not OFFICIALLY a punishment in France: the whole point of a lettre de cachet was to have someone locked up (sometimes for their own good) without following legal forms; while confinement to the Hospital may have been de facto imprisonment, it was not regarded in the same light as a prison sentence and was often adjudged outside the standard (and very meticulous) procedure.

back to top

FILM: "Perfume"

Costume dramas are hard enough. How about a PERFUME drama?

The big objection I once heard to making a movie of Suskind's wonderful book was the difficulty of showing smell on screen. It does seem that this movie's success or failure will hinge on that challenge. Many of the posters to the IMDb seem to think the director pulled it off:

Here is one critical reaction from Der Spiegel: "Worth the wait?"

back to top

back to top


Any group forced to live in secrecy will develop an alternate language. In the case of the "sodomites" of earlier centuries, such language was augmented by not only by an imposed association with the prison system (however imperfectly acknowledged itself by officialdom), but by the use career criminals made of that group's vulnerability.

Which is to say, more briefly, that a rich argot existed around homosexuality, certainly in the nineteenth century (when such language was first catalogued), but very probably before. The master criminal/spy/police chief Vidocq was one of the first to record argot in general, in Thieves: Physiology of their morals and their language, dated 1837. Some of the terms he mentions still exist today, with at least similar meanings:

  • Tante ("aunt") - "man who has a woman's tastes, the woman of men's prisons". Today: "queen" (in the slang sense). Vidocq accompanies this item with a long discourse on homosexuality in prison, which includes the following remark about "former times":

    In the jails and the prisons, one often sees with no pain audacious thieves attach themselves to young pederasts, because then they no longer think about escaping; the directors and guards of the penitentiary have even sometimes allowed these marriages to be celebrated with a certain ceremony; these abuses no longer exist, it is true, people hide today what in other times was done openly, but the evil still exists.
  • Pédé - "pédéraste". Today: (same, if somewhat less condemning).
  • Chanteur ("singer") - blackmailer. Today: same meaning for "master singer" (maitre chanteur)

The fact that these terms have lasted almost 200 years suggests that others noted by Vidocq may already have been in use under the Old Regime. Here are some of these:

  • Rivette - Young sodomite (Also prostitute in the provinces) (65)
  • Tinteur - Young sodomite (167)

Several terms were used in jail for the same concept: Corvette (89), Frigate (179), Galine (183)

Lorédan Larchey's Dictionnaire Historique d'Argot (1888) offers a number of others, though rather prudishly groups them under the verb "to be" (Etre), explaining that one can be of the following (most of which are not defined in any corresponding entry: bicque and bouc, coquine" [which more often means cute or flirtatious today], pédéro, tapette, persilleuse, honteuse [shameful], gosselin, emproseur, émile, gousse, gougnotte, chipette, magnusse, etc.

(Some of these terms have alternate meanings in other sources.)

Vidocq also mentions this term: "Jesus - Male prostitutes also trained to steal; their speciality was to lead men into situations ripe for blackmail" (235) and provides elsewhere an explanation of the role they played, a role that undoubtedly existed in the past and certainly exists today (when I was in Beijing, a tourist manual mentioned a similar scam):

The Blackmailers [Chanteurs] have at their disposition young men endowed with a pretty physiognomy, who go circle about such and such financier, such and such noble individual, and even some magistrate who only remembers from his classics studies the odes of Anacreon to Bathylle, and the passages of the Bucolics of Virgil addressed to Alexis; if the mark [pantre] takes the bait, the Jesus takes him to a convenient place, and the crime is made plain, sometimes even when it has already begun to be executed, a police agent arrives of a respectable size and corpulence: "Ah! I've got you," he says; "follow me to the police commissioner." The Jesus cries, the sinner begs; tears and prayers are useless. The sinner offers money, the fake town sergeant is incorruptible, but the supposed commissioner of police is no implacable; everything works out, finances permitting, and the statement is thrown in the fire.

It is not always this way that the Blackmailers proceed, it is sometimes the brother of the young man who replaces the town sergeant, and his father who plays the role of the police commissioner; this last way of proceeding is even the most used.

Many people, even certain that they have to do with hustlers, have nonetheless paid; if they had protested, the Blackmailers, it is true, would have been punished, but the turpitude of the complainants would have been known; they kept their mouths shut and did well.

Vidocq's comments on gay cruising areas may also have been valid for earlier times, though the "house" he names was likely to be of more recent date (those specialized in this research may care to track this reference further):

The Couch (Canapé) is the normal meeting place of pederasts; the Queens... meet there to give these blasé libertines, who almost all belong to the eminent classes of society, the objects they desire; the quais, from the Louvre until the Pont-Royal, the rue Saint-Fiacre, the boulevard between the rue Neuve de Luxembourg and the rue Duphot, are very dangerous Couches. It is understandable, up to a point, that police surveillance of these places is imperfect; but what is incomprehensible, is that the existence of certain houses, entirely dedicated to the descendants of the Gomorrans, be tolerated; among these houses, I must indicate that named [nommé; masculine], or rather (to keep for this amphibian being the qualification he [il] or she [elle] gives itself) that named [nommée; feminine] Cottin, rue de Grenelle Saint-Honore, No 3; the police have already several times had closed this house, filthy receptacle of all that Paris holds of muck, and it always reopened.


The first mentions of this man are for disobedience to orders. It is not clear if they are related to the charge below.

Chambord, September 17, [1685?]

The King has been informed that M. de Blémonville, navy guard of the department of Toulon, has been convicted of having committed the crime of s.... with a boy of twelve to thirteen years., H. M. wants you to have the said guard arrested following the orders which you will find attached, and that you order Auzillon to carefully seek him out in Paris.
Ravaisson, Archives of the Bastille, 1675-1686 (273)


It may not be surprising that lackeys appear in this and other sodomy cases. One way for a man to spend a great deal of time alone with another man without causing talk would have been to keep him as a servant, and more than one lackey mentioned in this connection had been a personal valet.

Pontchartrain's remark that these men do not deserve "the honor of the Bastille" is a rare but clear indication of the fact that, as Paris prisons went, the Bastille's accommodations were considered superior.

Bertaut and Labrie appear to be the same person, in which case "La Brie" is probably a nickname indicating Bertaut was from the Brie region.

[entered February 21, left April 21, 1706]


February 24, 1706

I have informed the King of what you have written me concerning the sodomite men in livery. H. M. considers it proper to first put Langlois, Labrie and Aldexandre in the B., in order that you may interrogate them in depth as soon as possible and know their abominable intrigues, the company they keep and the whole mystery of iniquity of which you will send me a full account with your advice on how to proceed, because you can clearly see that such people do not deserve the honor of being in the B.


Langlois, put in Bicetre April 25, 1706
He is 24 years old, from Paris. He was brought to the B. for sodomy; he was a partner in debauchery of Bertaut, also a lackey, and they held assemblies in taverns of the Saint-Antoine quarter, where they committed the worst abominations. Langlois was nicknamed in these assemblies M. the grand master, and Bertaut the mother of the novices. This one is in the hospital, by virtue of an order of the King, limited to one year, which is only to expire the 25th of APril of next year, but it would be quite just, it seems to me, that a rascal of this sort only be set free on condition of joining the troops, where he will be in a state to serve well, if his courage matches his size. Pontchartrain's note: Enroll him and be sure of whom he is given to.

Bertaut, same. He was taken to the B. for sodomy; he was partner in debauchery with Langlois, but this one was a little less guilty. His time is to finish in January, and he has enlisted in advance with M. Rancher, captain of the Enghien regiment, to whom he could be taken now, if the King agrees. Pontchartrain's note: Free him, drive him from Paris.
1702-1710 (283-284)


This case is most interesting for the vivid deposition which starts the file. For a sodomy case, it is unusually detailed, reading almost like fiction. It would be useful to know exactly whose testimony Aulmont le Jeune recorded here, since the statement portrays all the men as being more or less willing participants, as far as things went. Some possibilities are that:

  • the priest himself (after a lengthy interrogation?) gave the full truth of each encounter
  • the other men involved added their accounts to his, being careful to avoid any mention of their own sexual activity
  • the other men told the complete truth, and had reasons other than sexual interest for seeing the priest again (free drinks?)

On the face of it, the fact that both saw him a second time hints at there being more to the story.

Aulmont, who appears in at least one other case, seems to have kept prisoners in his house, a practice that (as I recall) was being limited at this time. "Le Jeune" is the younger; his father "L'Ainé" also appears in the other case.

The word brayette (now braguette) can be understood from context, but would be easier to translate both before or after our period. Once it was a codpiece, now it is a zipper. In the eighteenth century, it seems to have been a flap of cloth in the same area. No translation for this seems more appropriate than the French word itself.

[In May 14, left July 5 1704]



April 29, 1704. Abominable priest, Gillain being Monday, April 28, 3 o'clock in the afternoon, on the parapet of the quai Neuf [later the quai Pelletier, going from the Notre Dame bridge to the place de Greve, now the Hotel de Ville], at the end by the strand [greve], and watching individuals who were playing at ninepins at the bottom of the quai, where second-hand carbon is sold, an individual with short hair, and dressed in a cassock and long coat, like a priest, leaned on the parapet, near Gillain, and struck up a conversation on the game. Then this individual asked Gillain, if he was from Paris, if he was married, and if he had children? To which he answered that he was Parisian, married for three years and with a child, the priest said, "What, only one child after so long; what aren't you doing? And flattering Gillain, and asking him if he wanted to take him to his room, that he would pay a bottle, that they could drink together; to which Gillain responded that he did not have the time. Then this priest left him, and the next day, 29, at the same time, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the priest returned and attacked [sic] Gillain, who was still on the quai Neuf with some coal dealers, and the priest having asked to drink good beer, Gillain took him to his room, where they drank a pint of beer which the priest paid 18 deniers for, and then the priest proposed to Gillain that both get in his bed, and that he f.... him from behind, and at the same time took his parts out of his brayette, and wanted to put his hand on those of Gillain, who repulsed him, and said that he saw clearly what he wanted of him, but that he did not have time, that he had to go sell wood in the boats, but that he would come back some other day, when he had more time, and they left each other after finishing their beer, and the priest promised to come see him the next day or after.

Chabert, priest of the diocese of Dié, Thursday, May 8, around 6 in the afternoon, accosted, on the quai Neuf Simonnet, saying hello. M. Simmonet was surprised, answered him: I do not know you at all. Nonetheless Simmonet who wanted to know this priest better, took as true the answer given by this priest who replied that he knew Simonnet and that he had seen him on the rue Montorgueil; the ice broken, this priest asked Simonnet where he lived, and he answered him that he lived on the rue aux Feves; this priest told him: Let's go to your room. Simonnet agreed, they went together to Simonnet's room, which is M. Aulmont's attic, where there was so far only one table. This priest told Simonnet: You amuse yourself sometimes with your friends, that, do you want is to amuse ourselves together, and at the same time he took his parts out of his brayette. At which Simonnet pretending not to know what the priest wanted, said: I don't know, M. l'abbe', what you are trying to tell me. This priest answered: What? Don't you have fun sometimes? Simonnet answered him: Ah! I understand, M. the abbe', but I don't have time today, tomorrow we will see, and said to this priest: what is your name then, M. the abbe', and where do you live? This priest told him he lived on the rue du Sepulcre [later the rue de Dragon], at the place of Delaunay, an invalid, was called Fauxbonne, and said his mass at Saint-Eustache.

The next dame, Simmonet being in his room, this priest came at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, and having come in, he said again to Simonnet,: And so, how about today? But Simonnet using the pretext that a man neighboring his room could see them, told this abbe' to come back at 6. The abbe' left and came back at 6, but finding no one, left.

He made similar propositions to several people, who are: Gillain, boot scraper, whom he knew only nder the name of Claude; a carpenter's helper living on the rue du Sepulcre, Deslandes, a wigmaker's boy, to whom he only paid compliments. He does not say mass at Saint-Eustache, as he said, but he has said it at La Charité. He does not have his letters of priesthood, he only has promises at the bottom of his certificates which are sealed; among these sealed papers, there is a rough draft of a complaint to the King against his bishop.

Versailles, May 14, 1704
Regarding the sodomite priest, Chabert de Fauxbonne, he cannot be shut up in the hospital too soon; I will send you the order for that which nonetheless you will not execute until you have interrogated him thoroughly on the facts of which you have knowledge, and to avoid the [chartre privee], you can put him in the B. for a few days, in order to submit him to interrogation at your convenience.

Sunday May 18, at 8 o'clock in the morning, M. Aulmont le jeune, took Chabert de Fauxbonne, priest, being from the town of Die', etc., having stayed under arrest eight days at AUlmont le jeune's place, is accused and convicted of sodomy, wicked priest, who has been put alone in a dungeon cell.

July 5, 1704
I am sending you an order to take from the B., Chabert de Fauxbonne, and send him to the Hospital for 6 months, from which he will not exit except to return to the diocese of Lyon, at which time I will write to M. the archbishop of Lyon to have his conduct watched...


Thursday July 10, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, to give to M. Aulmont, two prisoners for transfer: M. de Chabert de Fauxbonne, priest, and la Chesneau, wife of a soldier of the guards, and they have been taken; the priest to Bicetre, and the woman to the hospital general, which M. Aulmont took charge of.

November 15, 1704.
Chabert, he is 30 years old, native of Valence in Dauphine'; is an abominable priest who has dishonored his vows by a public profession of sodomy, and that one may nonetheless, to unburden the hospital, send to his region, on co ndition that he retire to a seminary as directed by his bishop. Pontchartrain's note: Good on these conditions and be informed of his conduct by the bishop.

Versailles, February 11, 1705
M. the bishop of Valence is not persuaded that Chabert, priest of his diocese, who was shut up in the hospital, is guilty of the crime of which he is accused; I am sending the orders to have him released and to oblige him at the same time to retire to the diocese of Valence; you may inform the bishop, who is currently in Paris.

February 11, 1705
Regarding what you have written me concerning Chabert, priest, the King agrees to his being released, on the condition nonetheless that he retires to your diocese, where it is more just that he be than in another, particularly under the eyes of a prelate as attentive as you are to the good morals of the clergy.
1702-1710 (213-216)


Buranlure's role here is not clear, and only his association with the other defendants suggests that he might have been considered a sodomite (though the reluctance to name the reason for his detention is significant as well.)

Lecomte's promises to change are not unique. Nor is the accusation of mixing impiety with sodomy.

Probably the most striking case here is that of Lamothe. The police's concern with the welfare of his creditors shows a surprising (if very pragmatic) sense of priorities.

D'Argenson to Pontchartrain

M. de Buranlure entered the 5th [of September 1714?]. M. the chancellor knows the motives of the detention of this prisoner, who complains loudly of a retention of urine and of a very painful colic. He says he has had several attacks since he has been in this castle; otherwise, he looks very well.

These last three prisoners are foul and corrupters of youth: the first, which is de la Mothe, is a merchant whom I have had the honor of suggesting to M. de Pontchartrain to send away for two or three months in the monastery of Charity of Charenton.

The other is Lecomte, who, though deacon of the diocese of Paris, has spent his time for several years in seducing young men and attracting them to disorderly behavior; he was shut away once in Saint-Lazare, and his detention was followed by his exile to the seminary of Evreux, where he claimed he was resolved to end his days; but he left almost immediately, and he has since continued his seductions and his horrors with more license than ever; thus I think no house is better suited to this Lecomte than the hospita, and that he must be shut up there for a very long time.

Regarding Roger, he is a tonsured cleric of the diocese of Angers, and so cited for his foul behavior by several people of merit and virtue, that one cannot doubt that he has mixed impiety with sodomy.

Ponchartrain to d'Argenson
August 21, 1715

Regarding Laisné, it seems that by his answers, and by what lemure said when he was confronted with him, that that there was more imprudence and facility in his conduct, and that he never took part in the foul actions of those he frequented; this has determined the King to grant him his freedom, and I am sending you the order you need for this purpose. H. M. hopes, nontheless that you will reprimand him severely for the people he frequented, and let his conduct be closely watched, so that it can be corrected if it is not absolutely regular in the future.

D'Argenson to Pontchartrain
September 25, 1715

You know that A. Roger, son of a master tapestry-weaver, was put in the B. the 11th of last month, convicted of the most foul debauchery ; but his father having submitted in writing to watch his conduct and teach him his trade, from which his past debaucheries had so long turned him away, it seems he can be freed.

You know that P. Delamothe, mercer in Paris, in the rue aux Fers, was taken to the B. after having been convicted of the most awful debauchery, but as his detention upsets his business dealings completely, and could cause the entire ruin of his family to the detriment of his creditors, of whom there are many, I think it is appropriate to free him, on the assurance he has given of being more careful in the future.

Malignac to Hérault
May 17, 1715

I have the honor of informing you that the abbé Le Comte who has been locked up several times for sodomy in the hospital, which he only left after being relegated by the King, is actually in Paris, where it is said he continues his same life, and gets drunk from morning to evening.
Ravaisson, 1711-1713 (180-183)


It is just possible that this was NOT a case of sodomy, since the "monstrous excesses" are never specified; child abuse is another possibility. But this kind of horrified tone is most often used in cases of sodomy.

Note the deference to the Church here, Cardinal Fleury being consulted first.

Whatever his crime, there is something poignant about an ailing priest in the savage society of Bicetre, pleading to be allowed to walk in the yard.

[entered March 3, left May 30, 1741]


M. the chancellor and M. the prosecutor having been informed of the monstrous excesses of Tuaniet, curé of Saint-Pierre of Saint-Denis, and the horrible conduct mixed with sacrilege which he has maintained until the present, because there was the start of an inquiry in the registry of this abbey, and judging that the scandal in question is among those that is better to hush up by means of authority than to order it punished, following the forms of justice, they have proposed that this bad priest be shut up in a prison from which he cannot communicate.

As Bicetre is not a secret enough place, it is judged that he must be shut up in the B., and in consequence, His Em. is begged to please approve that an order of the King be sent to arrest him and take there.
[Annotation: Good for the B.]


...I have just arrested the abbé Tauniet, who is in a carriage at your door. Do me the grace to send to me if you will speak to him, or have me take him to the B. I await monsieur's orders.
[Marville notes that he must first consult with Fleury and review the facts.]

May 5, 1741
The abbé having asked for this belongings, his landlady said he had only benn there amount and owed 18 pounds rent, and the cost of his food, and that his belongings did not cover a third of this. Apparently, he was taken first to the Bastille, then Bicetre...


As this priest has been held here for six years, has always behaved very quietly, and is in discomfort, I think one can allow him the freedom to use the courtyard he asks, for which I need a written order, this priest being held by order of the King, accused of horrible conduct, mixed with sacrilege.

He died on December 1750.
1737-1748 (116-117)
back to top

From CHEZ JIM Books:
and a history of the CROISSANT:

back to top

18th CENTURY RECIPE: A meal for 10-12 guests - oille

Earlier in this section, we looked at sixteen entrees - that is, one out of several courses - of a meal served to Marie-Antoinette. Many of the actual menus to be found from this period are for such royal meals, and are correspondingly grand. The following, more theoretical, menu is slightly lower on the social scale, a relatively modest upper-class meal to be served to 10-12 guests. (Alfred Franklin cites the 1714 edition of the Nouveau Cuisinier Royal in offering this; I have modified it based on the 1714 edition, and am using recipes from the 1705 edition.) It consists of three (albeit rather generous) courses:


Center piece: 1 Oille
6 entrees: 1 terrine of partridges with cabbage
1 terrine of duck filets with green puree
1 pigeon tart

2 chickens in galantine
1 larded filet of beef with cucumbers
1 grenade with blood

2 hors-d'oeuvre: fried quail
small chickens in cinders, with Ham essence on it

Center piece: 1 small quarter of veal, larded and served in its juice
4 roasts: 1 fat chicken [de coq] garnished with chickens with eggs
1 fat chicken
4 young rabbits
1 plate of young pheasants garnished with young quail

4 hors-d'ouevre: 2 salads
2 sauces

Center piece: 1 partridge pate or 1 wild boar hure
6 medium dishes: 1 Noailles omelette
1 dish of fried cream, garnished with peach beignets
1 stew of green truffles
1 dish of artichokes
1 dish of peas
1 stew of crayfish tails

2 hors-d'oeuvre: 1 dish of fried animelles [lamb or ram testicles]
1 dish of ramekins
Nouveau Cuisinier Royal (1714), cited in Alfred Franklin, La Vie Privée d'Autrefois: repas (Vol 6, 68-71)
Additional data from Le Nouveau Cuisiner Royal et Bourgeois, 1717.

The first dish here - the centerpiece of the first service - is a once-popular dish called Oille (or Oil). A rough English pronunciation of this word is.... "Oy" (thereby freeing punsters to say things like, "An oy for an oille".) Here is one recipe for what sounds like a particularly rich stew, or (witness the coriander) like a medieval brouet:

Take all sorts of good meats; that is, Beef from the haunch, veal rouelle, a piece of leg of lamb, Duck, Partridge, Pigeons, Quail, a piece of raw Ham, Sausages & a Cervelas; brown all this in butter, put it in the pot, each thing according to the time it takes to cook, & make a thickening of your browned butter [roux] which you will put together with it. After having skimmed it well, season it with salt, clove, pepper, nutmeg, coriander, ginger, all of it well grated with thyme & basil, wrapped in a cloth. Then add all sorts of herbs & roots well-blanched, as you prefer, like onions, leeks, carrots, parsnip, parsley roots, cabbage, turnips and other in bundles. You must have tubs, silver stewpots, or other appropriate basins, & your soup being well boiled down, break crumbs up into pieces & let them simmer in the same broth well-skimmed and of a good flavor. Once simmered, before serving it add lots more broth, always well-skimmed: lay out your poultry & other meats, & garnish it with roots if you only have one basin; otherwise serve it without roots, putting the serving bowl on a silver platter & a silver ladle inside with which each can take some soup when the Olle is on the table.
Massailot, Nouveau Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois (1705) (329)
back to top

fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys


For anyone who wants to find slang words in French from our period, the big catch is that dictionaries of argot didn't start appearing until the 19th century. But for anyone with a real interest in the subject, the following work should be a big help: Charles Nisard, Etude sur le Langage Populaire, 1872. The greater part of this book consists of a highly annotated bibliography of various works, most before 1800, which include popular language of one sort or another. For anyone who wants to compile their own list of Old Regime slang, this should be an invaluable starting point.

(Somewhat off-topic, it also includes a neat 'appendix' (105-119 - before the above section) with a long list of expenses from c. 1422)

Albert Barrere's Argot and Slang (1889) is not only fairly complete in its selection of terms (and useful for English speakers, since it's essentially a bilingual dictionary), but also includes a comprehensive list of sources.

Otherwise, Google Print offers several other books on argot, including the following:

  • Lucien Rigaud, Dictionnaire du Jargon Parisien, 1878
  • Lazare Sainean, L'Argot Ancien (145-1850), 1907
  • Loredan Larchey, Dictionnaire Historique d'Argot, 1888

Even where these do not offer a date for a term's first appearance, it is always possible to start with these, then seek out a given term in earlier material.

back to top

Magasin Pittoresque: No 2 - 1834

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.

Already in number two, the "This Week" feature is gone... Not that they didn't use the recovered space well.

Freed serfs needed (for the first time) last names - whale blubber is great for camels - Legendre traced spherical triangles on the surface of the earth - Old Regime law degrees were a good buy - The Dutch discovered the dodo, alas - In 1741, Henry IV's collection of medals (somewhat grown) was moved to its nineteenth century home - Ah the sweet sound of fiajuls, fistuls, buisines... - Addison and Voltaire helped promote Milton - Why is your tobacco grater smiling at you? - Homeopathy: similar suffering - Pestalozzi saw a previously unknown strength appear in his students - The last of the Stuarts opposed Louis XIV's ambition - A doctor known for his elegant style in Latin - Having destroyed numerous documents, the Revolution decided to start preserving them - The one survivor of 23 nuns was... 80 - The Gallery of Luxembourg favored contemorary painters - Nine types of armories: sovereignty, pretension, concession, community, family, alliance, succession, choice - Two - count'em, two - art exhibits under Louis XIV - Harlequin beat Punch - Lot: a coin from Gaul - 24 deniers to see the Pucelle's portrait - 19th c charlatans had forgotten the true art of chiromancy - Buffon's buddy, Daubenton - Poussin: a decent man and a superior artist - Flamsteed, first to observe at.. the observatory - Not quite an automaton, after all - A tourist from Yemen, a favorite world-wide - The Arc de Triomphe should have been at the Bastille - Who remembers Fat William, Gautier-Garguille or Turlupin? (But where are the laughs of yesteryear?) - Before dwarf-tossing: a dwarf in pastry - Before fake Knicks tickets, fake subscriptions to the MP - A family Bible for... Louis XIII, Louis XIV - Greuze to the Academy: you don't want me, I don't want YOU - Desaix to an English general: "I ask nothing but that you free me from your presence." - Voltaire: "Ah Camargo! How brilliant you are!" - Imagine seeing the smokestacks of a great factory in 1786 - Lose a few battles and your serfs' respect goes with it - Master Goguelu loved a free meal - Known for his courage and his wit; but he didn't impress Boileau - The Flemish painters lived differently than the Italians - Victor Amadeus to John Law: "I am not powerful enough to be ruined" - The carpenter of Nevers cut verse to length - "Take away from these tired cinders every sad word" - It's hard to study with a Fronde going on - A mirage on the Sicilian water - Take lots of dead enemies, a big container, some salt.... - "Exiled, blind, in his eighties, Francisco Goya died, a few years ago, in Bordeaux" - Philadelphia grew up a tree where at treaty was signed - Napoleon wanted to impress foreign ambassadors - A first hand (and anonymous) view of Napoleon - The Golden Chamber was redecorated "in the bizarre and mean style of Louis XV" - October 15, 1675, the last two quarreling women were punished with the headsman's bottle - Tipou -Saib turned to Louis XVI for help... in 1791 - The son of a Valenciennes roofer painted gallant feasts - Pothier forgot a piece of evidence and reimbursed the losing side - Plates floating downstream proved a king's magnificence

3 - origin of proper names in France
6 - whale hunting through history
22 - history of teaching law in France
29 - the history of the cabinet of medals
48 - 17th c. tobacco grater
94 - the Royal Archives
95 - The Calabria earthquake, 1785
97 - The Chamber of Peers (Luxembourg)
111 - elements of heraldryv 114 - historical note on public art exhibits
115 - history of Polichinelle
118 - The Lottery
151 - The Greenwich observatory
155 - the chess-playing automaton
158 - history of the discovery of coffee
159 - projects for the Bastille site
171 - famous dwarves
220 - Hogarth: Marriage a la Mode
231 - Old French caricatures: meal times
287 - Hogarth: cockfight
291 - May Fifth: Manzoni's ode to Napoleon
303 - 18th c descriptions of the Fata Morgana
330 - the building of the Quai d'Orsay
361 - the Great Chamber
378 - The headsman's bottle
403 - wooden plates of June 26, 1750

10 - mathematician Legendre
31 - Milton
50 - Hahnemann, founder of homeopathy
59 - educator Pestalozzi
78 - Queen Anne's century
91 - doctor Guy Patin
127 - naturalist Daubenton
137 - more on Poussin (and his death scene)
193 - Greuze
212 - Desaix, dead at Marengo
213 - Some famous dancers
227 - Le Creusot, industrialist
238 - Cyrano Bergerac
263 - Adrien Van Ostade, painter
270 - John Law, speculator
275 - Adam Billaut, artisan poet
291 - Hogarth: cockfight
307 - birth of Louis XIV
324 - Goya
329 - William Penn's treaty with the Indians
345 - different images of Napoleon
387 - Tipou-Saib, warrior/sultan
399 - Pothier jurist

OT but of interest
25 - the dodo (dronte)
31 - Guillaume de Machaut's 12th c poem listing instruments
119 - The Rattisbone portrait of Joan of Ark
123 - palmistry
163 - old French comic actors
176 - hustlers selling the MP
181 - St Louis and St. Charles' bibles (with signatures)
229 - the origin of the Jacquerie
323 - The salted Burgundians

back to top

End quote

"When this philosopher supposes that the comforts of a more advanced stage of society tend to produce effeminacy, he assumes another station from which he may easily be driven. Effeminacy may reign, nay, certainly does reign, among savage individuals, and even tribes, as the discoveries in America and in the Southern Ocean may convince every unprejudiced inquirer. It would be odious even to mention the abominable vices, and what are called unnatural crimes, which are found to prevail among savages, nay even where we would expect to find Rousseau's pure state of nature."

John Pinkerton, Recollections of Paris, in the years 1802-3-4-5, (225)

Pinkerton cites Duprats' account of the Natchez. He might also have cited the Baron de Lahontan: "These Illinois have an unfortunate taste for Sodomy." Memoires de l'Amerique septentrionale, 1794 (142)

or Benjamin Martin: "The Peruvians are some simple and very ignorant, others more ingenious, but addicted to Dissimulation and Sodomy."Bibliotheca Technologica: Or, a Philological Library of Literary Arts and Sciences. 1737

(All the above, of course, subject to the usual warnings about European observations of other cultures; whatever 18th century Peruvians did, for instance, the Incas punished sodomy rather harshly.)

FROM CHEZ JIM BOOKS Three works on eighteenth century subjects:

For some sample 18th century vegetarian recipes, click here.

copyright 2006 Jim Chevallier.
When using brief extracts from this site, please credit properly and provide a link back to this site.
(NOTE: Most translations, except where otherwise noted, are by Jim Chevallier and are copyrighted as such.)
Please do not reproduce extended pieces (recipes, translated pieces, etc.) without prior permission.


Questions? Comments? Corrections? Write:

Chez Jim

Memoirs of

the Bastille

Return to
Welcome to

the Bastille
Chez Jim