SUNDRIES: An eighteenth century newsletter

N° 5 - November 12, 2005

THE WEB WORLD: Stats on boards, etc. inter text JACOBITES: Hennessy VSOP: the Jacobite cognac? inter text LINKS: Dublin history inter text FOOD HISTORY: Croissant inter text VOLTAIRE: The Bastille in verse


THE WEB WORLD: Stats on boards, etc.

Those whose lives are spent in venues such as this list may be intrigued by some date in the "2005 Consumer-Generated Media (CGM) and Engagement Study" a new study of consumer behavior by Intelliseek Inc:

The research ...finds important correlations between consumers who regularly skip over or delete television or online ads and those who create, and absorb consumer-generated media (defined as experiences, opinions and advice posted on the Internet by consumers for others to read and share). "Active ad skippers " are 25 percent more likely to create and respond to Internet message boards, forums and blogs.

With that, the study highlights a gender difference: "Men are more likely to spend time on Internet message boards, forums, and discussions, while women have a higher tendency to "forward something (they) had found on the Internet to others." "

If anyone is especially interested in the rest of this article or in this kind of marketing data in general, you can always try signing up (for free) at:

though I'm not sure what the requirements are.

Also for lovers of statistics, this from USA Today (Kevin Maney - "Critics should grasp Google projects before blasting them"):

The [book publishing] industry can't argue that its ways work, because they don't anymore. From 2003 to 2004, the number of books sold worldwide dropped by 44 million. There are still 2.3 billion books sold each year, which makes 44 million a rounding error. But the trend is clear: Books are losing out to the Web, video games, DVDs and podcasts.

Time to stream that next dissertation?

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JACOBITES: Hennessy VSOP: the Jacobite cognac?

At an event hosted by Moet-Hennessy this week, I wasn't really looking forward to being a captive audience for a lecture on cognac. But then the presenter started talking about Richard Hennessy, who founded the company after serving in Louis XV's Irish Brigade. The Dillons and the Lally's are only some of the Franco-Irish figures of our time whose families were closely associated with this brigade:

This would have made the founder of this great house... a Jacobite. Though Richard apparently had no connection with whiskey before taking on this new project, it does not seem unreasonable to speak of taking a dram of this particular cognac, and should you do so, raise it to the memory of the Pretender, without whom this particular French cognac would never have come along.

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LINKS: Dublin history

The previous item reminds me of this site, on which I first heard of the Wild Geese:

Chapters of Dublin History -

The following two items can't be bookmarked directly, but you can find them in its frames:

England in the Eighteenth Century By William Edward Hartpole Lecky, Fifth Edition, Revised, Vol II London. Longmans, Green, and Co. 1891. - [197] CHAPTER VII. IRELAND, 1700-1760.


The Sham Squire and the Informers of '98 by William J. Fitzpatrick. 1866.

The great Annesley trial, which took place at Dublin in November 1743, disclosed a most exciting episode in the romance of history. A few of its salient points are subjoined for the better illustration of our narrative, with which, as will be seen, the trial has some connexion.
A son was born to Lord and Lady Altham of Dunmaine, in the county of Wexford; but they lived unhappily together, and the lady, having been turned adrift on the world, at last died a victim to disease and poverty. James Annesley, her infant son, was intrusted by Lord Altham to the charge of a woman named Juggy Landy, who lived in a wretched hut near Dunmaine. Lord Altham. after a few years, removed with his son to Dublin, where be formed a connexion with a Miss Kennedy, whom he tried to introduce to society as his wife. This woman, who wielded considerable influence over Lord Altham, succeeded in driving James Annesley from the paternal roof. He became a houseless wanderer through the streets of Dublin, and, as we learn, procured a scanty subsistence "by running of errands and holding horses.
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One would think that the history of the croissant would be an eminently exhaustible subject. But after posting the following to the list:

An authority on French breads repeats what I've heard elsewhere, that Marie-Antoinette brought the croissant to France. He also references a tale found in the Larousse Gastronomique about Austrian bakers inventing the croissant.

I should say right off I believe both are wrong.

However, this is the kind of thing that lives or dies on very little evidence. In this case, one would think that, given the slavish imitation of everything the court did, if the queen had introduced a new, finer form of bread, there would at least have been a brief 'mode' of such foodstuffs. Otherwise, at least someone would have mentioned it either at Versailles or in higher rungs of society.

No such reference have I found and in fact there's some evidence that the croissant isn't even mentioned until mid to late 19th century. The Oxford Companion to Food places it there or later, though doesn't provide any more evidence than those it contradicts. The Magasin Pittoresque DOES note the nice smells of freshly baked croissants in 1899, so there's at least that. A book on trades though from 1878 lists brioches, chaussons aux pommes and other breads generally associated with the croissant these days, but not the beast itself.

the discoveries continue. 1868 still seems to be the earliest mention (in a dictionary) of the croissant in France. As a private correspondant pointed out, that means the word probably came into popular use in the 50's.

The first French reference to croissant 'in the wild' - that is, outside a dictionary - I've found was in the Magasin Pittoresque in 1899. But looking to the American press - Harper's Bazaar, to be precise ("In a Little French Cuisine") - I find a lament in 1893 that Americans didn't have 'French boulangeries, with... "petit pains" and "croissants"". Even earlier - 1875 -, a journalist for Littel's Living Age, traveling in Prussia, lists pastries in a bakeshop, some with German names, but among them 'croissants', in French. At the least, this shows Americans had known it as a French specialty for a while. But it also raises the nagging question: was the word the journalist's or the local people's? If the latter, if the croissant was indeed originally Viennese, why wouldn't they use a German word?

On another track, it turns out that the French Notes and Queries - L'Intermédiaire des chercheurs et curieux - from 1933 (about the time of the Larousse Gastronomique's edition claiming it was invented in 1668 by bakers who'd helped defeat the Turks tale) had a query on this very subject:Croissant (boulangerie), 295, 514, 611, 854, 886 -

[NOTE: The even pages can only be found in Gallica by subtracting 1 to get the next odd number down]

The answers again repeat the tale of bakers saving Vienna from the Turks, and even the idea that Marie-Antoinette brought the croissant to France. But this time a later respondant actually gives sources - even if those are probably themselves now hard to find (and may not give any more concrete proof.): Felix Dubois - Histoire de la Boulangerie, and then a bunch of names, if anyone wants to try and find the books: Ammann, Baratte, Barth, Bouquin, Fouassier, Fritsch, Grospierre, Leblanc.

The only name I could find on Gallica was Leblanc. No croissant tales, but some of our amateur cooks might want this one anyway: Leblanc (pâtissier)- Nouveau manuel complet du patissier ou Traité complet et simplifié de la patisserie.

But better yet, one reply dates the croissant to WAY before Vienna - back to the Greeks, who supposedly had a pastry in the shape of a whole bull: "The Pythagoreans constructed cakes in a bovine shape, which were made with flour and honey." Supposedly such cakes were used to replace bloody sacrifices of the real thing. The item (a long one) traces various incarnations of the idea which ended up reduced to a pair of horns (still in Greece, if you're following me here). "The Parisian Croissants are a survival of the Greek cakes..." The item ends with this bit of philosophy: "Our croissants, first sacred cake, are now only bourgeois bread, after the religious use, use period, then banal vulgarity, this is the constant rule in matters of human invention." (Marcel Baudoin)

By the way, Leblanc's work on pastry-making (from 1929 and part of the Encyclopedia Roret) doesn't mention croissants at all, though it has brioche and even (!) absinthe souffle. I'm also tickled to note it was published in Abbeville by the Paillard house - which currently occupies the former convent that once hosted the young Chevalier de La Barre.

UPDATE (4/09, 5/09): An answer at last!

Having forged on since uncovering the above (and now somewhat superseded, if not exactly outdated) information, I have discovered just WHO brought the croissant to Paris (August Zang), and when (1839, though some say 1838). It's quite a story, and quickly outgrew the Web page I'd planned for it - hence this new work, available HERE and also for the Kindle:

Otherwise, for more about the croissant, the kipfel and the book, visit the page for the book.

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VOLTAIRE: The Bastille in verse

I'm sure many here know Voltaire did a stint in the Bastille. Somewhat fewer may have read his poem on the subject, which is reproduced at the end of the first issue of La Harpe's Correspondance Littéraire. I've translated roughly the second half of it here, and given a link to the original on Gallica, for anyone who wants to read that - and maybe quibble (feel free) with my translation.

(Voltaire exaggerates at least one point here - the food in the Bastille was generally good, and substantial)

All these gentleman with a kind and benign air,
Obligingly take me by the hand,
"Come on son, let's walk." Had to give in,
Had to go; I was soon led
In a closed coach, to the royal nook
Which our fathers saw built near Saint Paul
By Charles V. Oh good people, my brothers,
May God spare you such a lodging.
I arrive at last in my apartment.
Some lowlife, all sweetness,
Praising the beauties of the new accomodations,
Perfections, comforts, commodes [or commodities],
Never Phoebus, he says, in his career
Shone there his too bright light.
See these walls ten feet thick;
You'll be that much cooler.
Then having me admire the enclosure,
Double the door, triple the lock,
Gratings, latches, bars on all sides.
It is, he told me, for your security.
Come noon, I get a hot broth.
The fare is neither fine nor substantial;
But, he tells me, it's for your health.
Here I am then in this place of distress,
Embastilled, tucked away tight,
Not sleeping a bit, drinking hot, eating cold,
No amusements, no friends, no mistress.
Oh Marc-René*, whom Cato the censor
Once in Rome would have taken for successor!
Oh Marc-René, whose great favor
Makes those here below murmur;
Your good counsel got me shut up;
May the Good Lord one day pay you back.

*D'argenson, the Lieutenant of Police

Correspondance littéraire, adressée à Son Altesse Impériale Mgr le grand-duc, aujourd'hui Empereur de Russie, et à M. le Cte André Schowalow,... depuis 1774 jusqu'à 1789 par Jean-François Laharpe (421-423)

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End quote

As bizarre as men's ideas may seem, in comparing one century with another, they are not always as strange as they first appear. All are founded on a principle, good or bad. Once you accept the principle, you will find the consequence fair.

Le Grand d'Aussy, 1782

FROM CHEZ JIM BOOKS Three works on eighteenth century subjects:

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

copyright 2006 Jim Chevallier.
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(NOTE: Most translations, except where otherwise noted, are by Jim Chevallier and are copyrighted as such.)
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