A darker, but entertaining, glimpse into the past...

Monday, July 21, 2014 0 comments


While I commend this work to you, I also caution you that one must laugh loudly at it in polite "mixed" company if one wishes such polite company to continue its genial course cool

Note that we of this enlightened age do NOT hold such views and are thankful that you have been able to join us in advancing all of humanity along its future path together with us, as equal partners in its successes and failures. It is a good read if only to put such old views into perspective and to support the great enduring cry of...

You've come a long way baby!

Keep your sight glass full and your furnace trimmed.

Revolted Women
Past, Present and To Come

Charles G. harper

Elkin Mathews
Vigo Street


PDF File
Revolted Woman 1894

Woman is altogether different from and inferior
to man: narrow-chested, wide -hipped, ill-propor-
tioned, and endowed with a lesser quantity of brains
than the male sex. She will, when sufficiently open
to conviction, allow that, mentally, she is not so well
equipped as man, but gives herself away altogether
in insisting upon the ' instinct ' that takes the place
of reason in her sex ; thereby tacitly placing herself
on a level with other creatures—like the dog or
cat—who act upon ' instinct ' rather than upon
reasoning powers. ' A woman's reason ' is a no-
toriously inadequate mental process ; and, having
once arrived at a conviction or a determination on
any subject, it is of no use attempting to argue
her out of it. That is widely acknowledged by the
popular saying that ' it is useless to argue with a
woman '

' If she will, she will, and there's an end on't :
If she won't, she won't, depend on't.'


MODERN dress-reform crusades have ever
been allied with womanly revolts against
man's authority. They proceeded originally from
that fount of vulgarity, that never-failing source of
offence—America. In the United States, that in-
effable land of wooden nutmegs and timber hams, of
strange religions, of jerrymandering and unscrupu-
lous log-rollery, the Prophet Bloomer first arose,
and, discarding the feminine skirt, stood forth, un-
ashamed and blatant, in trousers ! The wrath of
the Bloomers (as the followers of the Prophet were
termed) was calculated to disestablish at once and
for ever the skirts and frocks, the gowns and
miscellaneous feminine fripperies, that had obtained
throughout the centuries ; and they conceived that
with the abolishment of skirts the long-sustained
supremacy of man was also to disappear, even as
the walls of Jericho fell before the trumpet-sound
of the Lord's own people. For these enthusiasts
were no cooing doves, but rather shrieking cats,
and they were both abusive and overweening.
No more should 'tempestuous petticoats' inspire
a Herrick to dainty verse, but the woman of the
immediate future should move majestically through
the wondering continents of the Old World and the
New with mannish strides in place of the feminine
mincing gait induced by clinging draperies.
It is not often, however, that women writers
present us with philosophical treatises in the guise
of novels. Their high-water mark of workmanship
is the Family Herald type of story-telling, even as
crystoleum-painting and macram6-work exhaust the
energies and imagination of the majority of women
' art ' workers. What, also, is to say of the lady-
novelists' heroes, of god-like grace and the mental
attributes of the complete prig ? What but that if
we collate the masculine characters of even the
better-known, and presumably less foolish, feminine
novels, we shall find woman's ideal in man to be
the sybaritic Guardsman, the loathly, languorous
Apollos who recline on ' divans,' smoke impossibly
fragrant cigarettes, gossip about their affaires du
cosur, and wave 'jewelled fingers'—repellent com-
binations of braggart, prig, and knight-errant, with
the thews and sinews of a Samson and the morals
of a mudlark.


Two Years Ago Today...


What a ride!

It was two years ago that I started this blog, as a place to share interesting Steampunk finds and as a place to archive my Steampunk musings.  With 294 posts and counting I hope to continue to find useful and entertaining info.

Thanks to everyone for your support, comments and suggestions!

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

Mayhew's London 1861

Thursday, July 10, 2014 0 comments

Eye Witness

A fascinating eye witness description of the teeming multitudes that inhabited London in the Mid 19th C.
It was written, as a three volume work originally entitled London Labour and London Poor in 1851, the last edition was published in 1861, by Henry Mayhew a journalist, writer and social researcher.

My copy is one volume distillation of the 1861edition edited by Peter Quennell and first published in 1951. It is a hefty volume of 592 pages.

This book is a wonderful look at how London actually worked, that is to say how Londoner's worked. London in the mid 19thC was a city of several million people, many of whom had no fixed abode. To feed, clothe and entertain such a multitude required enormous labour and ingenuity.

Illustrated with black and white drawings that capture the gritty essence of life beneath the glitter and power of the chief city of the empire, this book is a wealth of information on a vanished way of life.

From Wikipedia

Mayhew went into deep, almost pedantic detail concerning the trades, habits, religion and domestic arrangements of the thousands of people working the streets of the city. Much of the material comprises detailed interviews in which people candidly describe their lives and work: for instance, Jack Black talks about his job as "rat and mole destroyer to Her Majesty", remaining in good humour despite his experience of a succession of near-fatal infections from bites.[1]

Beyond this anecdotal material, Mayhew's articles are particularly notable for attempting to justify numerical estimates with other information, such as census data and police statistics. Thus if the assertion is made that 8,000 of a particular type of trader operate in the streets, Mayhew compares this to the total number of miles of street in the city, with an estimate of how many traders operate per mile.
The original three volume work entitled London Labour and the London Poor is available online here:
Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced

Mayhew's London

Henry Mayhew

Edited by
Peter Quennell


Bracken Books

0 946495 03 3

Happy Canada Day!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 0 comments

To all you Steampunk Canucks!

I hope everyone get's to enjoy a fine day with good company and good times!

Canada is a land that was tied together by steam even as it was being born. A land where innovation, creativity, and inventiveness must be matched by hard work, endurance, and an appreciation for the beauty and magnificence of a sometimes hostile environment.

For 147 years we have struggled to carve out our home and native land from rocks, deserts, forests, rocky coastlines, vast prairies and soaring mountains. We have used every technological tool available at the time to do so.

 Steam made it possible, in trains, paddle steamers, power plants, mine hoists, ocean ships, factories and even the lowly, but all important, domestic heat needed for 9 months of every year!

As Steampunks we celebrate the inventiveness and creativity of the exotic and the "might have been". What better place to do it than in a country for which such activity is not a luxury but a necessity.

Happy Birthday Canada!

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced!

H/T to The Steampunk Scholar for the image!

Steampunk Explained

Thursday, June 5, 2014 0 comments

A wonderful documentary.

I found this linked on Steampunk Canada.
Enjoy this look into the Steampunk world.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed, and your water iced.

The Infamous Hungarian Imperial Rules Part 2

Friday, May 30, 2014 0 comments

Dispatch from the Austrian Court

Here is the second part of Jayne Barnard's wonderful post concerning a duel according to the infamous Hungarian Imperial Parasol Duelling Rules, popular in the Astro-Hungarian Empire.
An account of intrigue and death, by parasol duel, in the court of the Empress of Austria Hungary!
Part one is here.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

Ed: Warning to those of a sensitive nature that this document contains descriptions of possibly disturbing violence.

The Duel Begins

To begin, it was as punctilious as any meeting of two Prussian Cavalry officers, the ladies’ grave demeanor a stark contrast to the oddity of their apparel. The Doctor took his stance at center, the duelists opposite each other with parasols aslant across their breasts and their leather-cased feet square across the line of the circle. A chime sounded, at which all the assembly fell silent. I turned to my neighbour to whisper a question – what it was, I now forget – and she hushed me with an imperative gesture. The chime repeated. All were still in that vast room, with only a bluebottle buzzing on a window to disturb the silence.

A Hungarian Imperial Rules
Parasol Duellist *

On the third chime, the duelists paced forward to meet before the Doctor, who spoke firmly of their obligation to act with honour and to abide by the Code. He released them, they turned on their heels and retreated to their previous positions on the line. The Doctor retreated still further, a good six feet beyond the line, and raised his arm high. As he brought it down, the chime sounded again and the duelists stepped warily into the circle.

Ah! My fickle mind returns the question: was this to be a timed bout, as exhibitions were, and as I had seen the novices do? But no, my answer must wait upon events, for no word was uttered in all that vast, echoing room, so silent that the slip and pad of the leather-clad feet was clearly audible. The combatants moved around their perimeter, perhaps ten feet apart, parasols shifting in their hands, gliding through rudimentary Twirls or resting a fraction in a Plant. The first minute passed. I expected a chime, and a pause, but neither arrived. The silence, and the circling, continued, with a gradual decrease in the distance between the two. The tension was immense. I confess I would have daubed my brow with my handkerchief had I not feared to disturb the mesmerizing ritual.

By my estimate two and a quarter minutes had passed before the first contact was made. Fraulein F_’s parasol whipped neatly into an incipient Snub by Madame S_H_, leaving a two-inch slit in the fabric. Madame gave no ground, but followed up speedily with an attempted Ankling, which caused Fraulein to hop backward. More circling ensued, but faster, and with feints and parries almost a blur. My breath held for long moments, awaiting a decisive thrust, but still they continued. A Cut down Fraulein’s left sleeve exposed her sturdy forearm, and was returned to Madame’s thigh, leaving several inches of pale skin in view. (The woman has freckles there, Aubrey! What decent woman would expose that part of her anatomy to the sun?). Madame repaid that slash with one that drew blood – the Cut Direct – through the leather and into the skin of Fraulein’s meaty buttock. They fell back, circling.

When they closed again, Fraulein thrust out a truncated Snub.  Madame Twirled into it, body and parasol both, and caught Fraulein a hefty smack on the cheek with the lead collar. Whether she was intent on a Cut Direct down the cheek, I cannot be sure, but by no change in demeanor did she betray either satisfaction or disappointment. Fraulein rubbed a hand over her cheek but briefly, before attacking once more, stabbing downward in a vicious Plant. Madame slid that foot neatly out of the way and, in a lunge that would have done credit to an Oxford fencing don, put the Coup into Fraulein’s upper left arm, to the full depth of the tip. Fraulein stepped unsteadily backward, clapping her right hand to the wound, bright red blood staining her fingers. The Doctor stepped forward.

I was more than ready to see it end there, for Fraulein was bleeding now in two places and her face was flushed, even sweating. This is no sport for ladies, dear fellow, and for a moment I seriously considered withdrawing from the hall. But the wounded Fraulein waved off the Doctor and saluted Madame across the circle, and the duel was on again. It was so fast I did not fully follow the events, a mere flurry of parasols before Fraulein fell to one knee with blood streaming from a second Coup, this to her right thigh. The Doctor rushed forward to examine her, but before he could reach Fraulein, she waved him off again.

The Infamous Hungarian Imperial Rules Part 1

Tuesday, May 27, 2014 0 comments

A Dispatch from the Austrian Court

One of the questions I am often asked is for more details about the infamous Hungarian Imperial Parasol Duelling Rules.  They have taken on quite an aura of exotic mystery if only because they are considered barbarous and violent, in contrast to the stately and more elegant forms of the Brandenburg Variations.

Jayne Barnard has written this delightful post to shed some light on these other rules.  Couched in the congenial, yet precise, form of a letter from an English Diplomat in the Imperial Court of Austria to an old friend and compatriot in the Diplomatic Service back in England.

Keep your sightglass full your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

Ed: Holographic letter (undated) discovered among the private papers of Sir Aubrey Barrett-Burrows (deceased). The author of this letter, signed only ‘Charles’, is suggested to be the Honourable Charles Burrows, Aubrey’s cousin, who entered the Diplomatic Corps under Aubrey’s aegis and traveled extensively within the Austro-Hungarian Empire on both pleasure and official duties for the last decades of the 19th century. 

Warning to those of a sensitive nature that this document contains descriptions of possibly disturbing violence.

Dear Aubrey,

You were correct in warning me that this Court, so stifled with protocol on the outer shell, has within it arenas of private wildness. Not that the Crown Prince R’s wildness is at all private. The man’s a byword for excesses across the Continent.

The Empress of Austria Hungary
In your ear alone, I dare wonder if he inherited it from his mother. His father’s misbehaviour follows established lines involving the fairer sex, but his mother! The Empress travels extensively, is absent for months at a time from her husband and children, remains obsessed with her beauty, and herself exercises daily to exhaustion to maintain her legendary slimness. A stunner indeed, but cold with it, I believe, despite persistent rumours of her amorous entanglements. Whether there is fire behind the rumour I know not, but it is highly suggestive that a young woman within the Court died abruptly soon after daring to mention before the Archduke’s revered mother the Empress’s predilection for the company of a certain Hungarian count. You will know which count, for you were in Buda-Pest when the Hungarians were brought into the Austrian fold.

You may also remember the Empress spent that entire year on the newly designated royal estates in Hungary, with that nameless count in close attendance. As I have since been informed, the usual gymnasium facilities she required were lacking at that estate, and the weather being often too inclement for her to be out riding and walking sufficient to ease her restlessness, the Empress caused the formerly demure practice of parasol duelling to take on aspects of martial combat, to make it more challenging physically and mentally. This resulted in the Hungarian Imperial Code of Parasol Duel, through exhibitions of which we all in the Diplomatic Corps since your day have sat marvelling at the speed and acrobatic capability of the duellists, or at their indecently form-fitting duelling costumes, as our preference took us.

The real duels, those held over matters of honour and repute, of which you have doubtless heard, are conducted mostly in private, overseen by ‘seconds’ and the requisite Doctor, with a staff of assistants and nurses at hand, for injuries are all but inevitable. This form of parasol duel is indeed much wilder than the drawing-room pacing and posing permitted under HRM in British dominions. Young women make no effort to conceal scarred faces but show them proudly, just as the men do their duelling scars.

I venture to describe to you in some detail the recent, bloody and violent duel overseen by the Empress herself, in the gymnasium built for her in the Hofburg gardens. That a fatal duel between women could take place in the very heart of Vienna without a public outcry is testament to how thoroughly established the Hungarian Imperial Code is amongst the Austrians. Not a month hence, as the Empress exercised with her ladies, throwing heavy leather balls back and forth, leaping over padded hurdles and performing a variety of acrobatic routines that anyone who has seen a duelling exhibition would recognize as rehearsal of movements for those, a most spurious-sounding quarrel was forced on a Lady of the Bedchamber, one Fraulein F_, by a cousin of the Empress, a Madame S_H_, whom you may have encountered on some embassy posting or other. She moves much in court circles around the Continent, although a mere daughter to some minor Bavarian noble house and the widow of an obscure French professor of philosophical botany. She styles herself a professor of applied botany, whatever that may mean, and it has been speculated that she applied some unwholesome botanical decoction to her elderly husband to speed her bereavement.

She has the favour of the Empress, that much is certain, for her egregious insult to the talkative young Fraulein was both overheard and approved by that sovereign, leaving the younger woman no face-saving way to avoid a duel. I, with a few other men from various embassies who had been invited to converse with the Empress in the intervals of her exercise, was invited to stay or leave as I saw fit, but warned that I must on no account make a disruption to the proceedings if remaining.

You may well imagine I stayed, for this private glimpse under the skirts (as it were) of the stiff Austrian court was not to be lightly bypassed.

My fellows departed, having, they said (but quietly), no stomach for watching women pretend to defend their honour, that quality being, in their minds, reserved only for the male sex. Had they stayed to see the duellists replace their ankle-length divided skirts with leg-hugging leather trousers – well, not to say I saw them do so, either, but they each departed to a separate anteroom with their seconds and returned so garbed – had they stayed, the unabashed display of nether limbs might have entranced or horrified them, such never being seen in England or indeed most European courts. Their hair, tight-braided and pinned to their heads for their earlier exertions, was further confined in heavy hairnets, well secured, that did naught to advance the beauty of either the Fraulein’s brown tresses or Madame’s deep burgundy locks.

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