Oh, the Ennui

The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, a popular weekly magazine published in London between 1822 and 1847, ran the following short piece in its November 26, 1825 issue which got me giggling–I hope it will do the same to you!

The Journal of an Indolent Lady

“I know a young lady who has very pretty pretensions to idleness, but who has no objection to dancing the livelong night, and who would work at a ball-dress fifteen hours at a stretch, rather than not go to the assembly. Of this young lady’s life, the following specimen…may afford some idea, and it proves her to be a real amateur:

Rose at ten. Regretted not being able to lie an hour longer. Lamented the necessity of cleanliness. Dressing a great bore. Dogs in this respect happier than men. Watch-boxes still better.

Breakfasted till eleven. Sauntered for half an hour, and played with the cat. She scratched both my hands.

Half past eleven. Sunk in an arm-chair, with a novel, read the same page three times over, and fell asleep. Got up to walk to another chair, and was told I’d a hole in my stocking. I wonder why the maid does not mend them.

Twelve. Played half a lesson on the piano. What can Rossini mean by writing such difficult music?

One o’clock. Took up a needle and thread, and looked out of the window at the cattle feeding for three quarters of an hour. Cows lead happy lives. I wonder why man does not ruminate.

At two. Luncheon.

Three. Forced to walk out. I hate exercise. Was told my petticoat is longer than my gown; but what does that matter?

Half-past four. Very tired and hungry. Played again with the cat. Made Fidelle, the French poodle, fetch a stick three times out of the water. Fidelle tore my glove to pieces. I wish my brother had been by to take it from him.

Five. Played at scratch-cradle [cat’s cradle], and then three games of Trou-madame [an early table game that was a cross between bar billiards and pinball] till dressing time. Can’t think why mamma does not allow me a maid to dress me. Scolded for throwing my hair papers about the room. What has the housemaid to do but gather them up? It’s monstrous tiresome to be scolded.

Six. Dinner. After coffee sat still doing nothing till bed time. Thought half-past ten would never come. Went to bed very tired. Doing nothing is extremely troublesome, and I hate it exceedingly.—But then what can one do?”

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Oh, the Ennui — 4 Comments

  1. Years ago Public Broadcasting (maybe BBC) ran a show about a family who moved into an old house and proceeded to live their lives as if it were 1910, wardrobe, food, servants, transportation, etc. The one episode I watched, the mother remarked that the hardest part of her day was doing _NOTHING. No cooking, cleaning, picking up after the children, etc. The highlight of her day was dressing up in an antique bathing costume and going for a swim, for an hour at the local pool.