Today is Saturday, October the 9th, 1869. You are waking up a bit later than usual in London and are walking to your newsagent to get this week’s ” illustrated London News”. You open the door and mumble something like: “Can you give me the London news please?”. The shop is very dark and small. I silently hand over the newspapers to you. You give me the exact change, 10 pence, as it is a double issue. You barely notice me, and start reading on your way home. You open your entrance door, grab yourself a cup of your freshly grounded coffee prepared in your Italian coffee machine, and you start turning the pages.
Let’s start with” the foreign and colonial news”.
France is discussed first. The Brits and the French are so similar that they can’t stand each other. As usual, the French are treated with a slightly superior tone:
“Prince Napoleon received, on Friday last, a deputation of English politicians who desired to congratulate him upon the tone of his recent speech to the Senate. He expressed how much he felt complimented at their approval of his conduct; though, I dare say, at heart he, in common with most Frenchmen, thought their proceeding a slightly impertinent one. Still, your restless Englishman temporarily abroad must always mix himself up in the affair of his neighbours.”
Oh, and the legendary neutrality of Switzerland hasn’t changed.
“The Federal Government has refused to interfere in any way in the affair of the banishment of Frankfurt citizens.” Why are you not surprised?
In the “America” section: “an unprecedented fall of rain visited the Atlantic States on Sunday and Monday, and the floods which it occasioned did much damage to the Railway”.
The Brits’ analysis of the situation in Spain is an interesting one:” The prospects of the Republican party have enormously improved; and this might not be a subject of unmitigated regret (you can’t say anything more British than this) for, through we believe Spain to be monarchical at heart, there may be no reason why she should not try a republican experiment.” They know it all, don’t they?
The Queen was poorly recently, and “should her Majesty’s health permit, it is expected that the Queen will inaugurate the new Blackfriars bridge early in November”.
You must be careful because “An extraordinary number of counterfeit sixpenny pieces are in circulation in London”.
You don’t really care too much about the country news, so let’s finish with some ads.
“Nuda Veritas – this valuable Specific restores Grey Hair to its original shade; then it grows the natural colour, not grey. Hoveden & sons, 5, great marlborough St, London, W”
“Galvanism-remarkable cure of nervous debility and headache by pulvermacher’s patent improved chain bands, certified by the following testimonial “337, Oxford street, w, nov 4, 1865- Messrs. Pulvermacher and Co -Gentlemen-Some months ago I purchased one of your electric chains for my wife, who has been suffering for years from nervous debility, with extreme prostration and loss of appetite, and I am thankful to say that she is restored to health and strength, solely from continuously wearing it. I have also found it infallible in relieving headache from which I have constantly suffered ( what a couple!) -I am, gentlemen, yours, obediently, George Titlow (I am not joking). Pulvermacher, 200 regent street, W.”
Charlatans are everywhere and have always existed, I suppose…
I now have to wish you a pleasant week. I will see you next week for your week-end’s newspaper…
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London