Regency-Era CPR

“The trouble with writing history comes from suspending knowledge in what we know now, to what was known then.”

— an author of historical fiction

The understanding between absolute and apparent death was just beginning in the Georgian period. In his remarkable volume, Observations on Apparent Death (1815), Dr. James Curry informs the reader that though the victim appears lifeless, there is still a chance she may be saved.

All persons should know how to properly resuscitate a victim of drowning, he declares, deploring the general state of ignorance in this regard:

“..the practice of holding up the bodies of drowned persons by the heels. or rolling them over a cask (!) … is highly dangerous; as the violence attending it may even burst some of the Vessels which are already overcharged with blood, and thus convert what was only Suspended Animation, into Absolute and Permanent Death.”

“Thus it appears a pond of Water may prove an instrument of Slaughter.” –Thomas Rowlandson

In the case of suffocation, stimulating the lungs through artificial means was already a known procedure. In 1732, a collier was recovered from a coal pit not breathing. He had been overcome by fumes but was eventually revived by inflating his lungs. Various instruments could be used for this, but, as Dr. Curry complains, these are only in the possession of ‘medical men’ who know how to use them.

Instead, he urges readers to use whatever may be at hand about the house to artificially inflate the lungs–horns, air-filled bladders, even bellows. He advises the body be kept warm, the temples of the head rubbed with hartshorn, stomach stimulated by negus (awful stuff) and such efforts must be made for an extended period of time, if necessary.

He relates the heroism of Mrs. Page of Hornsey in this regard. With the assistance of her servants and an instructional card distributed by the Royal Humane Society,  she resuscitated a girl that had drowned in the New River.

Tipton’s Mrs. Caddick also managed to do the same, reviving a boy who drowned in a nearby pond. In this case, it took nearly two and a half hours to coax life back into the child’s lifeless body.

 

A receiving house for the purpose of rendering aid to drowned or injured persons in Hyde Park – erected by the Royal Humane Society. Image via WellcomeImages.org

Today’s post is yet another example of the advantages afforded by rising literacy during the Regency. Mrs. Page’s card highlights such a benefit–the Royal Humane Society is one of several institutions founded for the betterment of society, disseminating information to the masses on ways to revive victims of accidents, particularly drownings.

Dr. Curry dedicates his volume to George III, widely credited for sponsoring such endeavors:

“..(his) benevolence of heart, uniformly displayed throughout a long reign, has not only secured the lasting veneration of the wise and good..but the rare and enviable appellation of–A Patriot Sovereign, the Father of His People.”

 


George III: What of the colonies, Mr. Pitt?
Pitt: America is now a nation, sir.
George III: Is it? Well. We must try and get used to it. I have known stranger things. I once saw a sheep with five legs…

 

Advertisements

Regency’s “Sable Garb of Woe”

From the November, 1818 issue of La Belle Assemblée or, Bell’s Court and Fashionable Magazine Addressed Particularly to the Ladies, the following notice appears:

Our Cabinet of Taste is unavoidably closed at present: every European court will, no doubt, adopt the ‘sable garb of woe’ for Britain’s virtuous queen.

It was said by contemporaries that this Lawrence portrait of George III's Consort bore a remarkable likeness to her.

And with that, Adelaide’s adventures come to an end–or, at least, they are no longer reported. Presumably her frivolous ways were considered an affront to the Readership’s sensibilities in this time of mourning following Queen Charlotte’s death.

Instead, anecdotes of the Queen’s final moments were shared. Sir Henry Halford, physician to the Regency, was in attendance during her last illness. It was he who sent to Carlton House, summoning the Prince Regent in:

..a statement so alarming, that the Prince sent instantly for the Duke of York to accompany him to Kew.

The queen was reportedly lucid throughout the duration of her last day on earth, November 17th. She sat in her chair, surrounded by her children, the Prince Regent holding her hand. In keeping with the Magazine’s determined tone of solemnity and discretion, further illustration of the deathbed scene was limited:

The expiring scene–the heart-rending feelings of the Regent, and all present, it will be equally impossible and unbecoming to attempt to describe.

Inevitably, bombazine is the dress material of mourning. This illustration of a carriage dress suitable for mourning, from the Magazine's November issue, is liberally trimmed in black velvet, from spencer to hem.

Inevitably, bombazine is the dress material of mourning. This illustration of a carriage dress suitable for mourning, from the Magazine’s November issue, is liberally trimmed in black velvet, from spencer to hem.

Queen Charlotte served as Consort for fifty-seven years and seventy days.

Just this past week we’ve been reminded of another Consort’s lengthy service.

Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh - 1954

Elizabeth II and Prince Philip–is it him or the uniform that draws the admiring glance? I can’t decide.

 

 

 

 

Francis Chantrey – Sculptor to the Regency

In 1813, a newly made widow was journeying to Bath, accompanied by her young daughter. Ellen-Jane, for she was named after her mother, was perhaps unused to travelling. It may have even been the unfamiliar surroundings. One night, as she was preparing for bed, the little girl’s nightdress suddenly caught fire. She soon died of the burns she received. Distraught, the widow returned home to seek comfort in the company of her last remaining daughter, Marianne. Alas, a wretched illness overtook the child while they were in London. The widow had lost her entire family in the space of a few years.

Chantrey's Sleeping Children - photo licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)

Chantrey’s Sleeping Children – photo licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)

Look at those sleeping children; softly tread, Lest thou do mar their dream, and come not nigh
Till their fond mother, with a kiss, shall cry,  ‘Tis morn, awake! awake! Ah! they are dead!

William Lisle Bowles, chaplain to the Prince Regent

Untimely death was so very common in those days. However, this widow was determined her children would not be forgotten. She commissioned their likeness so their memory may live on. In death, their sculpture took the  ton by storm. By the time the Sleeping Children had been moved to the cathedral in Lichfield, the creator had become the new sculptor to the Regency:  Sir Francis Chantrey (1781 – 1841)

“Chantrey was designed by his father for the law; accident made him a carver in wood, poverty a painter, and his own genius a sculptor.” — The Eclectic Museum of Foreign Literature, Science and Art (vol. II, 1843)

His genius was clearly apparent in the tender simplicity expressed in his work. It is almost as if Chantrey was driven to create an unforgettable impression. Perhaps he had been moved by the widow’s fear her little girls would be forgotten, having been on this earth for such a short time. Indeed, it seems Chantrey was driven all his life to set portraits in stone before death destroyed the sitter’s flesh–and time his memory.

Chantrey’s sculptures of the Georgian era’s greatest figures still remain, even if their legacies are less certain: George III and his son, the Prince Regent. William Pitt the Younger and George Canning. They are also so numerous one can scarcely travel through England without encountering a roundabout circling “a Chantrey.”

The sculptor had a reputation for being blunt, which was somewhat surprising in a man who carved with such delicacy. That candor is perhaps a clue into his genius–a sign that Chantrey himself was suffering from an inordinate fear of being forgotten. It seems he felt that the ones who should remember him won’t. That the ones who he hoped loved him best will forsake his memory all too soon.

The acts of women in this regard seemed to have vexed him most particularly.

Grave of Marie Louise of Austria - Kaisergruft, Vienna

Grave of Marie Louise of Austria – Kaisergruft, Vienna

On several occasions he expressed extreme displeasure when any widow cast off her black weeds. His own mother had remarried after his father died, an act which he never forgave her for. Throughout the rest of her life he called her by her first married name–Mrs. Chantrey–and made certain all his letters to her were addressed in the same way. After he had become famous, his opinion on Napoleon’s widow remarrying made the rounds in Mayfair. His ideal was the famous Duchess of Marlborough, who swore never to remarry. Although her own architect (in a fit of temper) wished a Scottish ensign to have her, Sir Chantrey quite approved of the example she set.

When his own death approached, the sculptor took no chances. He drew up a will cutting off Lady Chantrey’s income if she should remarry. He had less success with the plans for his elaborate tomb. A close friend thought he was mad, not understanding how one should desire to be sealed up “like a toad in a stone for some future geologist to discover.”

But no marble tomb or bust encrusted with pigeon droppings can compare to the legacy Chantrey’s will created. Dutiful to the last, his widow left behind his fortune for the benefit of others. This bequest created and maintained England’s marvelous Tate Museum, an effort which continues to this day.

Thanks for the memories.

There’s a Tory in Lansdowne House

“Ah, Lord Grenville,” said Lady Portarles, as following a discreet knock, the clever, interesting head of the Secretary of State appeared in the doorway of the box, “you could not arrive more a propos. Here is Madame la Comtesse de Tournay positively dying to hear the latest news from France.”

The distinguished diplomat had come forward and was shaking hands with the ladies.

“Alas!” he said sadly, “it is of the very worst. The massacres continue; Paris literally reeks with blood; and the guillotine claims a hundred victims a day.”

The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Orczy                                           File:1st Baron Grenville.jpg

The year was 1792 and Lord William Wyndham Grenville (1759 – 1834), First Baron Grenville, was Foreign Secretary.  He was a member of the Tory cabinet formed by Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger and was tasked with managing the blood bath and upheaval that was occurring on the Continent.  To complicate matters, there was conflict among the ministers.  Lord Grenville was positive that greater success against the French in the War of the First Coalition could be had with military action on the continent, as opposed to skirmishes at sea and jousting with the colonies as proxies.

He was up against Pitt’s great friend, Henry Dundas, First Viscount Melville and the kingdom’s Secretary of War:  “a man so profoundly ignorant of war that he was not even conscious of his own ignorance.”  Dundas was a wealthy man, purely by virtue of his first wife.  He divorced her over adultery, and ensured she would never see her children again.  This was a sentence imposed for the rest of her life.  She lived another sixty-nine years.

Pitt could not be persuaded to abandon Dundas, even when the man became instrumental in stopping all efforts to abolish the slave trade.  It is almost certain that at this time Grenville began to rethink his Tory connections.  Then came the King’s refusal to consider the question of Catholic emancipation and the Pitt government resigned.

A quiet interlude followed while Grenville was out of office.  A time for reflection and for preparation of his greatest life’s work that still lay ahead.  He had heard of the ideas being discussed in a Palladian home in Berkeley Square.  He did not have to visit there for long before he found himself surrounded by a circle of Whig supporters.

Grenville’s chance came in 1806 when Pitt died, leaving a vacuum of power.  Enter his lordship with the backing of Lansdowne House and he was elevated to the position of Prime Minister.  It was an extraordinary moment as he became head of a coalition government known as the “Ministry of All Talents.”  And none too soon.  War with France had reached a fever pitch and national unity was vital.  Grenville’s charm united politicians from almost every persuasion.  He even managed to placate His Majesty to accept such persons to whom he had been previously hostile.

It was then one of the most important goals cherished in Lansdowne House was achieved–the abolition of the slave trade.

In 1823 Grenville retired.  He and his wife withdrew, childless, to a country home he had built, Dropmore House, near Windsor Castle.  He established one of the largest stands of conifer trees in Britain at his pineturn there.

Sadly, Dropmore was badly damaged by a fire that took four days to put out in 1990. Another in 1997 left the house uninhabitable.  The property has since been restored by a developer interested in turning the mansion into luxury apartments.  It is a pity the firm in charge of this endeavor has gone into liquidation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4y5fybV7vW4 at 52.51 is a lovely clip from the 1934 movie production of the Scarlet Pimpernel.  It is the ballroom scene in which his lordship plays a slight role.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvctyYcUIaE at 6:03 is also a clip from the Dr. Who series showing the exterior of Dropmore before it was destroyed by fire.

Is There a Doctor in Lansdowne House?

Sir James Mackintosh was a doctor in Lansdowne House.  But you may remember from an earlier post that his presence was required for something other than practicing medicine.  He was called to exercise his great conversational power.

Dr. Francis Willis – physician to George III
copyright Richard Croft http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/903770

He might have needed a doctor.  He died from a chicken bone lodged in his throat.

Jane Austen’s World has a lovely article on physicians during the Regency.  I particularly enjoyed the discussion on a doctor’s place in society.

The Beau Monde’s collection of articles is another favorite source of mine.  Alicia Rasley contributed a very comprehensive outline on the subject here.

Actually, this post was inspired by a recent article in a major newspaper http://on.wsj.com/IKwNny.  Click on the link to test your knowledge of old medical terms.  See if you can match them with the modern ones.

If someone were to become ill at Lansdowne House, they might be suffering from the following:

Stopping (constipation)

Humid tetter (exzema)

Ship fever (typhus)

Morphew (scurvy blisters)

Podagra (gout)

Catarrh (inflammation of the sinuses)

Brain fever (could mean meningitis, encephalitis or malaria

Grippe (influenza)

I thought these terms were interesting.  I hope you did, too.

This clip from Monty Python’s Holy Grail on the matter is amusing:  http://bit.ly/JTg8f at 3:00.

“They’re doctors?”