cherry brandy packs a punch

Recently I read an article about Elizabeth Felix, better known as actress Mademoiselle  Rachel.

A director, gave her the stage name Rachel, which she also chose to keep in her private life. Auditioning in March 1838, she started at the Théâtre-Français at the age of 17. At this time she began a long liaison with Louis Véron, a wealthy manufacturer and a notorious libertine, and subsequently her personal life was a subject of great scandal.

Theatre Francais found here

She became the mistress of Napoleon I’s son, Alexandre Joseph Count Colonna-Walewski, and together they had a son in 1844. In England, Rachel briefly had an affair with Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, later Napoleon III, as well as with Napoléon Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte.

image found here

Rachel never married, although she had many lovers. When Walewski upbraided her for not remaining faithful to him, she retorted, “I am as I am; I prefer renters to owners.”

In 1839, poet Alfred de Musset, was invited back to the family home for dinner after watching Mademoiselle Rachel perform as Amenaide in a play by Volataire.

lithograph for de Musset’s erotic novel found here

After some trifling conversation, Rachel discovered that she had left her rings and bracelets at the theater, and she sent her servant back for them. But she had only one servant so there was no one to get the supper ready. Rachel took off some of her finery, put on a dressing sacque and night cap, and went into the kitchen. Fifteen minutes passed.

She reappeared, ” as pretty as an angel,” carrying a dish in which were three beefsteaks cooked by herself. She placed the dish in the middle of the table, and gaily said: ” Regale!”

She then went hack to the kitchen and returned with a tureen of smoking soup in one hand, and in the other a saucepan full of spinach. That was the supper. No plates, no spoons; for the servant had carried away the keys of the cupboard. Rachel opened the sideboard, found a salad dish full of salad, discovered one plate, took some salad with the wooden salad spoon, sat down and began to eat.

Later when the servant returned Rachel decided to make punch.

absinthe fountain found here

So saying, she poured some absinthe into a glass of water and drank it. The maid brought her a silver bowl, into which she put sugar and cherry brandy, after which she set fire to her punch, and made it blaze. Rachel filled the glasses and handed them about to the company. She poured the rest of the punch into a soup plate, and began to drink it with a spoon. Then she took the poet’s cane, drew the sword from it, and picked her teeth with the point.

Mademoiselle Rachel had some peculiar idiosyncrasies when it came to presents.

She did, indeed, make many presents with a lavish hand; yet, having made a present, she could not rest until she got it back. The fact was so well known that her associates took it for granted. The younger Dumas once received a ring from her. Immediately he bowed low and returned it to her finger, saying: “Permit me, mademoiselle, to present it to you in my turn so as to save you the embarrassment of asking for it.”

One evening she dined at the house of Comte Duchatel. Rachel began to admire a silver centrepiece; and the count, fascinated by her manners, said that he would be glad to present it to her. She accepted it at once, but was rather fearful lest he should change his mind. She had come to dinner in a cab, and mentioned the fact. The count offered to send her home in his carriage.

“Yes, that will do admirably,” said she. “There will be no danger of my being robbed of your present, which I had better take with me.”

“With pleasure, mademoiselle,” replied the count. “But you will send me back my carriage, won’t you?”

French carriage bonnet found here

Once in a studio she noticed a guitar hanging on the wall. She begged for it very earnestly. As it was an old and almost worthless instrument, it was given to her. A little later it was reported that the dilapidated guitar had been purchased by a well- known gentleman for a thousand francs. The explanation soon followed. Rachel had declared that it was the very guitar with which she used to earn her living as a child in the streets of Paris. As a memento its value sprang from twenty francs to a thousand.

antique guitar harps found here

Published in: on March 31, 2010 at 7:32 am  Comments (42)  
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42 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for the information, nurse. See you again Friday!

  2. She sounds like a bit of a hippy to me …….and I want that bonnet in time for Easter ……

    • Isn’t it a beauty?

  3. It is a wonder that Mademoiselle Rachel could tell one Boneaparte from the other.

    • hahahaha…. an oldie but a goodie!

  4. i wish i could have invited her to dinner at Mom’s before we started excavations – might have saved some trouble. and i can’t look at a harp guitar without missing michael hedges…

  5. Hmmm… I should create some story for my current guitar, sell it, and then buy an electric one!

  6. The lying wee feckin hoor.

    • Ah but Jimmy… she speaks so highly of you

  7. She cooked 3 beefsteaks in 15 minutes…she needs to come to my house and cook. It takes me 15 minutes to figure out what to eat.

    • I like my steak very rare – blue will do nicely

      • Blue as in freezer burnt?

  8. The caption for the de Musset litho is Man Kneeling. That’s a new euphemism on me.

    By jingo, I count my blessings that I have found your blog, Nurse Myra! It is most rare!

    • I hope you have the opportunity to drop that caption into conversation soon Charles

  9. “I prefer renters to owners”

    What exactly is she alluding to i wonder? Her heart or her cha cha?

  10. I keep meaning to ask you if you’ve read The Eight by Katherine Neville? You’d love it! Napoleon finally made me remember.

    • No I haven’t Scott. Looks like a good book to read on my upcoming holiday

  11. “I prefer renters to owners.” I like that – very, very much.
    While my life has certainly not followed the same trajectory as Mademoiselle Rachel’s, it’s something I shall keep in mind for future reference.

  12. “I prefer renters to owners.” I like that – very, very much.
    While my life has certainly not followed the same trajectory as Mademoiselle Rachel’s, it’s something I shall keep in mind for future reference.

    (this comment may have come through twice…)

  13. March 31 1991

    Danny Bonaduce arrested for assault after he fought with a transvestite prostitute. No contest, 750 hours community service.

    (merde. mauvaise.)

    March 31 1889

    Phallic symbol Eiffel Tower completed.

  14. I suppose John Ford’s adage about “When legend conflicts with fact,” holds true for musical instruments as well.

  15. “I prefer renters to owners.” I like that – very, very much.
    While my life has certainly not followed the same trajectory as Mademoiselle Rachel’s, it’s something I shall keep in mind for future reference. 😉

  16. “I prefer renters to owners.” I like that – very, very much. While my life has certainly not followed the same trajectory as Mademoiselle Rachel’s, I shall keep it in mind for future reference. 😉

  17. Jeez! I thought my comment wasn’t getting through, came back to check and try again and now I see it here FOUR TIMES!! So sorry… I’d delete if I knew how.

    • Where can you see them? They ended up in my spam for some strange reason….

  18. ANother intersting slice of life. I had not seen a guiitar harp before.

    • Me neither but apparently daisyfae knows all about them

      • michael hedges died a few years back in a car accident… he was magic. this is my favorite bit of his…

      • I can’t get any sound on that link, but I found a couple of other clips to watch. Another great loss in the music world….

  19. guitar harp, rather

  20. My g Grandfather was teaching English over in France at that time .. mmmm wondering if he was aware of the ‘oo la la’ going on?

  21. What a gal.

  22. MMMMM – Absinthe

  23. Seems as though she had more than a few eccentricities. 🙂

  24. There are some benefits to being a renter rather than an owner, but then you can’t build vagina equity.

    • You can have vagina equity with me any day RF

  25. This one made me laugh a lot xx

  26. I would be sooo afraid to cross Napoleon in any way…oh the possibilities in store for one who acted in a way that somehow tipped the scales away from contentment for him.

  27. Now there’s a family band for a great jam. Heck, if I had one of those guitars maybe I could make a living in Corvallis.

  28. i wish i could ask for some gifts back.
    but i like giving gifts, there’s joy
    when you give somebody the perfect gift.

  29. Whoa! Harp guitars! I learned to play on a model like the one on the right; it was my great grandfather’s. Puts out a lot of volume due to the extended sounding board. Here are some links:

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