Quick Index Board Index Home FAQ Site Map
Written by JulieW
(3/1/2007 5:48 a.m.)
Lucy. Ha! ha! ha!—So, my dear Simplicity, let me give you a little respite.—[Altering her manner.] Let girls in my station be as fond as they please of appearing expert, and knowing in their trusts; commend me to a mask of silliness, and a pair of sharp eyes for my own interest under it!—Let me see to what account have I turned my simplicity lately.— [Looks at a paper.] For abetting Miss Lydia Languish in a design of running away with an ensign!—in money, sundry times, twelve pound twelve; gowns, five; hats, ruffles, caps, &c., &c., numberless!—From the said ensign, within this last month, six guineas and a half.—About a quarter’s pay!—Item, from Mrs. Malaprop, for betraying the young people to her—when I found matters were likely to be discovered—two guineas, and a black paduasoy.—Item, from Mr. Acres, for carrying divers letters— which I never delivered—two guineas, and a pair of buckles— Item, from Sir Lucius O’Trigger, three crowns, two gold pocket-pieces, and a silver snuff-box!—Well done, Simplicity!—Yet I was forced to make my Hibernian believe that he was corresponding, not with the aunt, but with the niece; for though not over rich, I found he had too much pride and delicacy to sacrifice the feelings of a gentleman to the necessities of his fortune.
Quite a nice haul the little madam has here!
Let’s look at it in detail.
In monetary terms I calculate that she has “earned ” £24 and eleven shillings and 6 pence. A “crown” was worth five shillings (there were 20 shillings to the pound); a guinea was worth one pound and one shilling. A very good sum of money for the time I am sure you would agree!
Her “paduasoy” is a lovely item to own. Here is a page from Barbara Johnson’s Album, which contains a scrap of the material.
And here is a close up of the detail.
Barbara Johnson collected and kept a record of her wardrobe throughout her life (which spanned ¾ of the 18th century and some of the early 19th). Her album is now in the Victoria and Albert museum.
“Paduasoy”, as you can probably see, was rich heavy silk fabric with a corded effect originally made at Padua, hence its name
The sample in Barbara Johnson’s album is a heavy rich silk tabby. There were many qualities of plain silk woven in tabby, graded by the number of warp threads, the finesse and the weight of the individual threads. Paduasoy was an expensive heavy silk material often patterned and made from the best quality silk.
No wonder Lucy is pleased with this item. She can either adapt it (sack dresses were often unpicked and re-modeled as there was ample material in them for this purpose) or sell it to a second hand dealer: there was a thriving industry in second hand clothes in the 18t century).
However ,this gift might not be entirely for Lucy's benefit, or as generous as it first seems. Recall that we have heard from Mrs Malaprop she was not exactly distressed by her husband's death: she is obviously glad to get rid of the mourning clothes and be wearing bright fashions again!
To Sir Lucius's snuff box.Snuffboxes were made by silver smiths/jewelers who specialized in creating tightly closing boxes, to keep the snuff in good condition. Most English snuffboxes were made in Birmingham. Snuff, of course, was a preparation of finely pulverized tobacco that could be drawn up into the nostrils by inhaling. It was also called smokeless tobacco. Taking snuff was a popular, widespread pastime among the upper class and middle class English of the 18th century.
Here is a picture of a gold snuff box form the Royal Collection, and a more humble silver one, to give you some idea of the kind of thing Lucy will probably now sell:
It is interesting , to me at least,to note that Sheriden give us hints as to the relative wealth of the characters in the tips they give to Lucy. Sir Lucius only gives Lucy a silver snuff box and not a gold one: for although he is a gentleman Lucy tells us he is not flush with cash. He also only gives her three Crowns (15 shillings)! The poor ensign gives her two and a half guineas-(52 shillings and 6 pence) a quarter of a years pay for an ensign! .Hmmmmm ... watch this space! Lydia , who is rich gives her enourmous and frequent gifts.
“Pocket Pieces” were lucky charms: small pieces of gold in fancy shapes, or simply old coins that were no longer currently in circulation having gone out of use. Again, no wonder that the impecunious Sir Lucius gives her these coins, which have now lost their monetary value.
Groupread is maintained by Myretta with WebBBS 3.21.