[Burr has dinner with a family.]

The daughters very fine; the two elder, jolie, belle — la jeune, genie.

[Bixby: The two older ones pretty, beautiful — the young one a genius.]

[Rachel: I wonder if this, or this sort of thing, is where the line “My mother was a genius” came from in “Wait For It.” Burr always mentions when women are pretty. (He occasionally mentions when men are handsome – there’s a bit where he teases Theodosia by describing a man in similar terms without using pronouns, only to say, “Don’t get your hopes up, he’s a guy.”) But he also very frequently calls them intelligent, mentions their accomplishments, etc. Other than being more interested in their looks (and sometimes— often, actually— having sex with them, Burr talks about women the exact same way he talks about men.

The historic Burr not only personally viewed women as equals, but also held that as a political belief. This was left out of Hamilton because it doesn’t square with his characterization as a man who does not take strong stands, let alone strong stands on the radical fringe. Burr was an abolitionist, too, just like Hamilton. They had quite a lot in common, but maybe it was one of those cases where people hate each other because they’re more alike than different— they see what they most dislike in themselves embodied in the other, as in a dark mirror. (So was Hamilton too secretly a giant dork? You'd think if he was, he'd have written about it.)

Anyway, back to the diary. Which, once again, is a lot less dignified than reading any given bio of Burr would lead one to expect. After Burr meets the two pretty and one genius sisters, he proceeds on to a slew of entries beginning “hungover.” “Hungover again.” “SO hungover.” “So done with being hungover, not going to drink today.” Next morning: “Failed saving throw against getting drunk; hungover again.” “Took some laudanum; felt terrible the next morning. Took more laudanum to fix that.” I’m copying some of these, but there’s actually lots more. This may be the point where his overall situation finally starts to sink in.]

11. Having eat and drunk too much yesterday, was obliged to sit up till 5. Rose at 12.

13. Rose at 2 p. in very bad order, having been up three or four hours with the bu?

[Bixby: Drinking. Literally, with (having) drunk. On this day Burr wrote a letter to Jeremy Bentham in London in which he said: " I lead a life of the utmost dissipation. Driving out every day and at some party almost every night. Wasting time and doing many silly things."]

Took de ere. tar. punch. [Bixby: Took cream tartar punch — a favorite cure of Burr's when he was " in bad order" in the morning.] Finished letter to Koe. Began one of apology to J. B.

21. Rose at 12. Up all night with crem. ta. pun.

22. Couche at 2. Rose at 8. Read an hour in Ashe's "Travels," and did nothing till 12, when Captain M'Dowell came in and we walked to Holyrood Palace; a grand structure far above St. James's. To the Horse Guard's barracks, a very handsome establishment. […] Walked an hour seul in quest of adventure; got home without any, but with mischievous intentions.

[Rachel: I find it oddly endearing how often Burr confesses to doing nothing for hours. Nowadays it would be “played Candy Crush till 12.” Also love the “mischievous intentions.”]

25. After dinner taken up stairs by Augusta ; sent for soon by Baron Norton. Dinner and wines excellent. Madeira, champagne, hermitage, Frontignan, malmsey, claret, port, sherry.

[Rachel: No wonder he was in such need of cream of tartar punch!]

26. 26. Went to bed last night at 2; lay sleepless till 5; rose at 7.

29. Went to bed at 1 in bad order. Was waked at 8; a most infernal sore throat and too drowsy to rise; lay till 2 p. John M'Donald came in at least twenty times.

30. Had been intemperate. By way of cure drank excessively of cr. tar. punch; kept going till 5; very little sleep ; rose at 9. Bad order; very bad, but sore throat gone.

31. Drank hot whisky toddy to balance the oysters.

[Rachel: Dear God!]

[Now Burr is on the road again, with predictable results.]

1. The usual time of arrival is 1 P. M., but the coachman and the guard both got a little boozy, and each had a girl. Stopped every few minutes to drink. The coachman extremely insolent. With great difficulty got a very dirty bed, in a room with another, and, after an hour's perseverance, got a little fire and a glass of hot lemonade.

[Burr realizes he’s in danger of getting arrested for debt and decides to hide out.]

10. Out to look for obscure lodgings.

[Then there’s a long sequence in which he goes around visiting people and writes multiple notes of apology. Not sure if it was for the debts, for being drunk, for being Aaron Burr, or what.]

14. Slept one sound nap from 12 to 9! What has happened to make me such a sluggard? It must be the air of this country.

[Rachel: Yep. The air. That’s got to be it!]

18. Cre. tar. punch, which kept me up till 5. Madame P. sat with me till 3 and
nursed me with great tenderness.

[Rachel: Aww. Finally, he gets some comfort! At this point I feel like he’s earned it.]

19. K. called at 10. I was still abed. Rose at 2 p.

[Then there’s a long period where he’s legally prevented from leaving the country, his books and papers get confiscated (and he freaks out over the thought of everyone reading all about his hangovers), he’s threatened with arrest, and actually gets detained for a while. Cream of tartar punch appears in virtually every entry during this period. Then he finally is allowed to leave the country, to his great relief. But needless to say…]

28. Wind N. E. and rose to a gale. Beating all Friday and Saturday. On Friday no one at dinner but captain, mate, and myself. Friday evening (28th) I was taken seasick. Kept bed all Saturday and Sunday, eating nothing.

[Rachel: Burr arrives in Sweden, but of course things go wrong the instant he steps off the boat.]

Our baggage all passed without any troublesome search. Trunks merely opened for form. My sack, the article about which I was most apprehensive of trouble, on account of the books it contained, passed without opening. But my large trunk, containing all my clothes, is missing. I sent by the captain M'Donnaugh's letter to Malm et fih z, with a note requesting them to provide me a lodging. While at the custom-house, a brother-in-law of Malm came from him to show me my lodgings. Smith, the British consul, hearing that I had a letter for him from Colonel Mosheim, came also to tender his services. Mr. Oppenheim, of Memel, merchant, fellow passenger, very civil. Offered me a room at his quarters, which, fool-like, I did not accept. Alas! my trunk, my trunk!

[Rachel: This is at least the third time Burr has lost his luggage. The next day…]

Dressed as well as could be without my trunk, and breakfasted. Not in good order. Met here the captain and mate of the Diana. Both swear the trunk is not on board! The mate agreed to meet me at 7 at Todd's, at the landing. Walked there with the Lieutenant, one and a half miles. The mate not there. Took punch and pipe, and walked on a mile and a half further. Met the captain on return. Still insists that the trunk was put into the custom- house boat. The steward says the same. Engaged Smith and Malm to aid in search.

As the packet will sail tomorrow for Harwich, and the mail closes this evening at 5, wrote a postscript to my letters to T.B.A. and a letter to W. Graves about my trunk, enclosing to him the two letters for T. B. A. and a letter to Bellington, the agent of aliens at Harwich — a civil-looking animal — also about the trunk. Not only all my clothes, but my four letter-books, gone, gone! Went to Smith and Malm to urge them to search; but it is probable that my trunk never left Harwich. At 5 went to Smith's to give my letters, and lo, his young Swede had found my trunk on board the Diana! Huzza!
movingfinger: (Default)

From: [personal profile] movingfinger

It is important to keep in mind that Burr grew up during the Enlightenment, in an environment of education and inquiry, and his attitudes toward women were fundamentally shaped by that experience and social/intellectual context. I write this without knowing specifics of his case, however.
sovay: (Psholtii: in a bad mood)

From: [personal profile] sovay

Madeira, champagne, hermitage, Frontignan, malmsey, claret, port, sherry.

sovay: (Psholtii: in a bad mood)

From: [personal profile] sovay

Let's seat him across from Nick Charles at the dinner party.

And hope nobody at the table smokes!
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

From: [personal profile] davidgillon


This really is a very different picture of the Burr who was determined to have his satisfaction. The amazing thing seems to be that he got to the duel without setting the boat afire, and then managed to shoot Hamilton and not himself.

twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)

From: [personal profile] twistedchick

Cream of tartar punch would be used as an antacid, I think.
dhampyresa: (Default)

From: [personal profile] dhampyresa

writes multiple notes of apology. Not sure if it was for the debts, for being drunk, for being Aaron Burr, or what.

ALL OF THE ABOVE, clearly.
sovay: (Morell: quizzical)

From: [personal profile] sovay

I am reminded of the time Wittgenstein went round the campus of Cambridge University apologizing to his friends for basically everything, including not having previously disclosed that he was three grandparents Jewish (the Anschluss had just occurred, making the racial status of the Wittgenstein siblings suddenly relevant at home), to which the response was almost universally "Er . . . okay, Ludwig. Thanks?"
hederahelix: Mature General Organa and "A woman's place is leading the resistance." (Default)

From: [personal profile] hederahelix

Reading any autobiographical writing from the 18th century makes me fear for the bodily safety of anyone trying to walk down or cross a street anywhere at the time. Near as I can tell, at minimum, half of the population was soused at all times.

I know that germ theory not yet being a thing, and chamber pots being emptied into streets, and means of conveyances being literal horsepower (and horses not known for being the sort to evacuate their innards in private), the water available to drink was often of questionable cleanliness, but the bit in Ben Franklin's autobiography when he recounts how much beer his fellow workers at the publishing house in London drank in the course of the day always makes me utterly surprised that any publication ever rolled off the press full of anything other than drunkenly sketched caricatures of the workers stumbling about.

I have no idea what cream of tartar punch is, but I sure understand why he might need something like it.
movingfinger: (Default)

From: [personal profile] movingfinger

Even if you had one glass of each with the appropriate course at dinner, and dinner was leisurely, that's still... quite a load.
rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)

From: [personal profile] rymenhild

I wonder what size the glasses were, though. Could people be drinking less at a time? Could the wines be lower in alcohol than our wines?
muccamukk: Pepper skips off with a glass of champaigne. (Avengers: Drink in My Hand)

From: [personal profile] muccamukk

I feel like there was a Regency Supersizers and Giles and Sue were so, so smashed for the duration. And Sue might have gotten Tansy poisoning.
movingfinger: (Default)

From: [personal profile] movingfinger

You can still see and even purchase 19c and 18c glassware; surviving pieces come in a range of sizes, from rather generous römer down to what we'd use for sherry (or shots, called drams). The wines were not on average less alcoholic, as far as I know. I think he's drinking a lot.

Here are some typical looking period glasses; here are some others... They do not look large compared to modern wineglasses (which seem to run in the 8 to 10 fl. oz. range nowadays!) but they do the job.
Edited Date: 2016-03-10 04:49 am (UTC)
movingfinger: (Default)

From: [personal profile] movingfinger

All my historical cookery books are in storage, but a bit of poking at the web turned up this:
"An illustration of the bibulous habits of the Regency is afforded by a tavern bill paid by a Bristolian in August, 1817, to the landlord of the Montagu hotel (communicated to the Times and Mirror, May 24, 1873). The dinner, which was for twelve guests, and included venison and turtle, was charged 14 guineas; dessert, 2 guineas. The giver of the feast supplied twelve bottles from his private cellar. Beside this, the guests drank claret costing £7; Madeira, £1 18s; two bottles of hock, £1 8s; two bottles of champagne, £1 14s; and two bottles of port, 12s. Altogether the party must have swallowed about three bottles of liquor per head. The hotel bill amounted to £31 7s, exclusive of the wine privately supplied."
I do think this is something of a blowout, and the guests all male, but on the other hand Burr is moving in "good society" and he is likely to be well entertained.

[Possibly utterly tangent, yet utterly fascinating, is this blog post on Regency biscuits, a vital part of any balanced dinner. (Burr would have been served loads of these! Therefore, on topic!)]

ETA: The book is a scan. The Annals of Bristol in the Nineteenth Century, Vol 1., John Latimer.
Edited (ref added) Date: 2016-03-10 07:56 am (UTC)
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)

From: [personal profile] rmc28

I was amused to get asked to accept cookies on the biscuits blog page :-)
brigdh: (Default)

From: [personal profile] brigdh

I know historical beers were a lot less alcoholic than modern beers, but I don't know if that's true of wines and hard alcohol as well. They might also have been watering down the drinks, but my vague impression from historical fiction is that watering your wine would be considered childish/feminine.

Whatever the case, clearly he was at least drinking enough to feel poorly the next day!
merrily: Mac (Default)

From: [personal profile] merrily

Oh man. Cream of Tartar punch sounds _terrible_. (I googled for it! but was unsuccessful, which is JUST AS WELL.)
wordweaverlynn: (Default)

From: [personal profile] wordweaverlynn

Cream of tartar was used as a laxative. I am trying very hard not to imagine what it was like to be hungover Aaron Burr.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)

From: [personal profile] rmc28

http://genius.com/7844380/Lin-manuel-miranda-wait-for-it/My-mother-was-a-genius has some information about Burr's mother, indicating that she really was very clever and had a reputation as such.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com

Burr could have meant that, or be using it wrong, or the editor could be wrong. Who knows. He does often praise women's intelligence in English.

From: [identity profile] sartorias.livejournal.com

That was the right word, but I was pretty sure that in period, it meant spirited. For people of genius (and it was nearly always confined to men) I pretty much see only Latin.

From: [identity profile] neery.livejournal.com

Does Burr come across as an actual alcoholic if you read the entire book, or is that just an impression created by you picking hilarious hangover excerpts for our amusement? I have to say, both "Aaron Burr, human desaster" and "Aaron Burr, actual alcoholic" make more sense of that desaster of a duel than Miranda's, Vidal's, or Chernow's characterizations of him.
Edited Date: 2016-03-09 07:58 pm (UTC)

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com

It's hard to tell because people in his social circles also seemed to also drink a lot, so it may be more cultural. There's points where he seems to be drowning his sorrows, but he has extremely good reasons to be sorry.

From: [identity profile] badnoodles.livejournal.com

Because of all your recent nattering about Burr/Hamilton, I used them to frame a question about gunshot residue for my latest exam. :)

From: [identity profile] badnoodles.livejournal.com

During a famous duel, Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton from a distance of 40-50'. Assuming they were using modern weapons, which of the following would we expect to see on Hamilton's body & clothing? (select all correct)
a. Seared or burnt flesh
b. Gas fouling
c. Powder stippling
d. A open penetration wound

(The answer, by the way is just "d".)

From: [identity profile] pameladean.livejournal.com

This is superb. It's a pity you can't publish an edition with your commentary.


From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com

I probably could. It must be in the public domain by now.

Most Popular Tags

Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags