Lady's Monthly Museum, December 1802

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Lady's Monthly Museum (1802)
Thanks to Kathy Hammel for this fashion plate image.

Left: Short cloak of mazarine blue velvet, trimmed with white fur. Right: Scarlet kerseymere pelisse trimmed at the skirt and sleeves with white fur.

This issue has two color plates. This is the second one and the figures are numbered 3 and 4. Below the human figures, the plate reads "Morning Dresses." The two plates in my edition are inserted or bound between pages 420 and 422. On page 420 the original text reads as follows.

Cabinet of Fashion,




1. Lilac Italian sarsenet dress, with a lace frill. On the head, a bandeau of lace. Gloves, flesh colour; and shoes, lilac.

2. Head dress of lace, with a spring of convolvolus flowers. A plain yellow sarsenet dress, and white lace spencer. Gold bracelets. Shoes yellow.


3. A plain white muslin dress. A short cloak of mazarine blue velvet, trimmed with white fur; a bonnet of the same, with white fur, and ribbons. Pink gloves, and blue shoes.

4. The dress muslin. Scarlet kerseymere pellice, [sic] trimmed at the skirt and sleeves with white fur. The bonnet yellow sarsenet, turned up with green, with a white lace veil, and wreath of convolvolus flowers. Shoes and gloves, green.

** The most fashionable colours are purple, scarlet, yellow, green, and lilac.

This month's issue opens with an engraving labelled "Ann Bolen," whose name today is typically spelled "Anne Boleyn." The opening piece is a short biography of this ill-fated queen. We are told that Henry the VIII was a "fallacious tyrant" who:

"conceived a passion for Jane Seymour. He [Henry the VIII] then caused her [Ann] to be tried for high treason, in having been unchaste with her brother, and four other persons. She suffered decapitation with great resolution, May 19th, 1536. The Romanists [Roman Catholics] have taken every method to vilify the character of this unfortunate woman, as much out of malice against Queen Elizabeth, as the Reformation. She [Ann] was doubtless very gay and thoughtless, but the charges of incontinence never could be substantiated against her" (from page 361, the first page of text of the December issue).

I find the phrasing of this biography extremely amusing, but perhaps that is just my sense of humor. The next pages of the issue are devoted to Chapter 52 of the serial novel Old Woman, which concludes in this issue.

The next section of the issue is a letter "TO THE BEAUTIFUL AMELIA" which runs from page 367 to 369. The letter is signed "Your faithful and devoted MIRROR." The letter is basically telling women not to spend to much time in front of the mirror because vanity is unattractive, unsafe, and basically just a bad thing.

Part III of the "PUPIL" is labelled "THE ROSE-BUD: A TALE" and runs from 370 to 372. The last sentences of the tale read: "Fatal credulity! barbarous inhumanity! The loveliest of the lovely died amidst the slander and the pointed insults of little tongues. Julia died unheeded, but not forgotten." Again, I find this rather funny, but I don't think it is intended to be so at all.

Pages 373 to 381 present Chapter 6 of the serial novel, THE MAN OF INTEGRITY. The novel chapter is followed by a one-page anedote that praises the recently dead "Late Duchess of Kingston." This is followed by the final section of another serial novel, The Adventures of a Lady's Lap-Dog, (pages 385 to 392).

The next section is "An Interesting Acecdote of the Sixteenth Century," which is no doubt meant to both educate and entertain. A short segment "On Sincerity" follows on page 395, which reads as follows:

"Sincerity is an openness of heart which is rarely to be found. That which commonly personates it, is a refined dissimulation, whose end is to procure confidence. A desire to talk of ouselves, and to set our faults in whatever light we chuse, makes the main of our sincerity."

This is a lovely little passage that could still provoke some interesting discussion over the tea cups. This passage is followed by the work of "E. F." entitled,"The Conscious Rivals. A Narrative." This short story runs from pages 396 to 404 and includes two poems and two letters as part of the story.

The next work, "To the Editor of the Lady's Museum" is a six-page letter signed "Frank Fearless." This is one of the most interesting sections of the December issue. The letter is a protest against men working in the hat, stay, ribbon, dress-making, and/or artifical flower businesses. The author sees men who do this as both robbing women of needed work and of acting feminine. Yet bizarrely, the bulk of the letter is a description of a shop girl who tries to walk home alone at night and is almost abducted by a man who offers money for sex. The female worker cries, acts terrified, and finally passes out. The story is told partially to attack the manhood of the male shop workers who refused to escort home their female co-worker. Yet, paradoxically, this "attempt" to promote "women's work" seems particularly sexist and designed to terrify any woman who would need to get a job. This is clearly a more "feminist" topic than the letter about the vanity of looking too much in a mirror, but, at the same time, this piece really seems to say that women don't belong in the workplace and their virtue is in danger if they walk in public alone. What is sad to me is that many woman today would still feel unsafe walking home late at night--a woman afraid to walk alone to the parking lot at 10 p.m. isn't that much different from this early female shop worker who cries in fear at having to walk home between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. (This is a topic I have studied and written upon further. See my article "Women and Public Space in the Novel of the 1790s." In Women, Revolution, and the Novels of the 1790s. Ed. Linda Lang-Peralta. East Lansing: Michigan State UP, 1999).

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