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Friday, 29 January 2016

Victorian Showerers

Apart from her fondness for sea-bathing (with the help of her wonderful bathing machine!), I believe that, unlike many of her predecessors, Queen Victoria took regular baths and regular showers, and according to one of her granddaughters, she was usually scented with orange blossom. Her granddaughter, Grand Duchess Elizabeth, had her bath water scented with rose petals. Prince Albert, too, took regular baths and showers, and so I was much amused when I came across a book published in 1866 which was aimed at guiding people into the best time to take - or to avoid - showers:


"It is not upon creeping out of bed in the morning, that a chlorotic young lady, or a feeble youth, should be advised (as they so often are) to place themselves under the streaming tortures of cold affusion. The shock at such a time to delicate constitutions can hardly be overstated, or its power to do serious mischief. But after a romping game in the nurserybefore dinner, or a goal at football, or a ride in Rotten Row,when the quick pulses of young life are throbbing through every vessel, the shower-bath is of inestimable service."

So, avoid cold morning showers!


Queen Victoria's Bathing-Machine as it appears today at Osborne House
 

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Happy Birthday, Kaiser Wilhelm II

Happy Birthday to the much-maligned and misrepresented Kaiser Wilhelm II - a man, in my opinion, 'more sinned against than sinning.' I sincerely hope that one day he will be seen very differently, as the 'Apostle of Peace', as he was described by an American commentator in 1913.

His son, with whom he did not always see eye-to-eye, wrote this of him:

 
With my father it has often seemed to me as though 
speech had been bestowed upon him that he might 
open to his hearer every nook and bypath of his rich 
and sparkling inner world. He has always allowed his thoughts
and convictions to gush forth instantaneously and immediately without prelude and without prologue,
an incautious and noble spendthrift of an ever-fertile intellect which draws its sustenance from 
comprehensive knowledge and a fancy whose only 
fault is its exuberance. Moreover, he is by nature and 
by ethico-religious training free from all guile ; he 
would regard secrecy, dissimulation or insincerity as 
despicable and far beneath his dignity. The idea that 
the Kaiser could ever have wished to gain his ends 
by false pretences or to pursue them by tortuous 
routes is for me quite unimaginable....
In the depths of his nature my father is a thoroughly 
kind-hearted man striving to make people happy and 
to create joyousness around him...
The Kaiser, too, in those years of self-repression 
and of weakness, just as in his days of unbroken self- 
confidence, desired to do his best, and he regarded 
as the best the peace of the realm. Nothing should 
destroy that ; with every means at his command he 
would secure that to the empire. The terrible tragedy 
of his life and of his life's work lay in the fact that 
everything he undertook to this end turned to the 
reverse and became a countercheck to his aims, so 
that finally a situation arose in which we were beset 
by enemy upon enemy.