Daguerreian Society

I, as well as Nick and Marilyn Graver (who sent me a reminder last 
year,) would like to wish all daguerreian friends a "Happy Day" on the 
anniversary of the disclosure of the process that occurred on this day, 
August 19, 1839, in Paris.
   In honor of the day, I will post a short chapter from a book, the 
chapter being dated for August of 1857.
- - - - - - - - - - -

From Mary J. Windle, "Life in Washington, and Life Here and There." 
(Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1859) pp. 184-188.



                   GREENBRIER, AUGUST, 1857.

   TWELVE hundred persons are now said to be on the ground and around 
the "White Sulphur," waiting for admission.  Among these may be found 
gentlemen distinguished by titles so innumerable that to determine 
their, identity were as difficult as to resolve which is the true 
Farina and eau-thentic at Cologne.  We have men who are enjoying a 
respite from law, legalists fresh from the perusal of jagged and 
business-like documents--men whose lives are passed in relieving those 
who are entangled in meshes of red tape, the most fatal net perhaps 
that can entangle poor human nature.
   We have some few editors, who have flung their over-worked pens into 
the fire, and for a week or two are their own masters, eating their 
rolls and sipping their Bohea without dyspeptic haste.  We have Coelebs 
in search of well-jointured widows; and clergy-men looking as if they 
had not a thought beyond the souls intrusted to their care--men with 
all the graces of Christianity.
   We have wild, picturesque-looking men--followers of the sea, in the 
shape of handsome young navy officers, who coolly recount adventures as 
supernatural as those of Gulliver, speaking like young Nelsons of the 
savage countries they have visited.  We have male flirts--brilliant, 
but heartless--men who seem to possess no heart of their own, and fancy 
that the feelings of others, like their own, are merely assumed for 
   We have some few parents who live in a ferment of finesse for their 
children's matrimonial advancement, passing their days in devising 
schemes of hymenial speculation.  We have beautiful children--mamma's 
darlings--Cupids, minus the wings--whose carol is now audible from our 
gallery without; little sun-burnt faces, looking like ripe hazel-nuts 
in a tawny husk--dear, darling little urchins, who lack only 
tambourines and triangles to resemble the ragged Savoyards of the 
Washington streets that are occasionally relieved with sixpences.  This 
indiscreet allusion may produce a hurricane of maternal indignation, 
but were we to recount the personal feats of these little wanderers, 
the credulous age we live in would laugh us to scorn.
   We have heiresses--(a word in your ear, dear reader; the writer is, 
we think, the only portionless lady on the grounds)--with slate 
quarries, and the mountains where all the famous mutton comes from, for 
their dowry.
   We have very wealthy families, moving through life on easy chairs 
with golden castors--fortunate individuals who have only to open their 
mouth to yawn, and it is filled with manna and quails!  We have others 
with large fortunes--not fortunes lazily transmitted from sire to son, 
by hands too inert to do more than clench their hereditary havings--but 
fortunes worked for with the hands, and worked for with the head.
   We have brides and grooms, in whose countenances as much conjugal 
happiness is concentrated as ever brightened the looks of man, from the 
days when Adam was content to pick posies and to listen to nightingales 
in company with Eve; and a few "parvenus," profiting by the universal 
mle of watering-place life, to steal edgewise into society.
   And we have here a disciple of Daguerre; indeed, we have just been 
enduring, what all will admit is a trial of human patience, undergoing 
the martyrdom of full dress at three o'clock, on a thrilling day, to 
give a sitting for a friend.
   Imagine us, dear readers, actually seated in a "daguerreotype 
gallery," at the White Sulphur; our shoulders enveloped in a white web 
whose consistency might serve, on an exigency, for a table-cloth, but 
which calls itself "Chantilly lace;" in our hand a volume of one of 
Dickens's touching novels; by our side a bouquet of very drooping wood-
flowers, and behind our hapless head an invisible iron band.  Thus we 
sit to be examined by the curious eye of art, with the full glare of a 
beaming sun in our face, and our merciless friend fidgeting up and 
down, tormenting the artist with advice and ourself with comments, 
which we dare not derange our features by answering with proper spirit.  
Thus primly adjusted, they declare we look the very picture of 
voluptuous indolence.  Alas! the ease of our position is wholly 
extrinsic!  Our head appears encircled by one of the compressive 
engines of the Inquisitions and, had we swallowed a saucer of pickles, 
our feelings could not have been more acidulated against all mankind.  
We hope we shall be sympathized with as the case deserves.
   To add to our troubles, a "fancy ball" is anticipated, and we have 
been forced to listen to an eager duscussion on the comparative merits 
of a Vandyke costume--a Rembrantized pelisse--and rial vesture of 
clouds--a Medora, a Peri, a Zingari--an Albanian peasant, and a Polish 
princess, which left us doubly perplexed by the multifarious 
suggestions of each.

(With thanks to Howard R. McManus for making me aware of this text.)
Posted for your enjoyment.     Gary W. Ewer     

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