From Charles Dickens’ letter to his sister-in-law Georgina Hogarth on the deplorable state of his friends’ mustaches.
The next thing you will be interested in hearing of, is the progress of the emulative mustaches of the two other members of the triumvirate [Dickens was traveling Italy with his friends, author Wilkie Collins and painter Augustus Egg]. They are more distressing, more comic, more sparse and meager, more straggling, wandering, wiry, stubbly, formless - more given to wandering into strange places and sprouting up noses and dribbling under chins - than anything in that nature ever produced, as I believe, since the flood. Collins has taken to wiping his…at dinner; and Eggs are not near his nose, but begin at the corners of his mouth, like those of the Witches in Macbeth. I have suffered so much from the contemplation of these terrific objects…that this morning…I seized my best razor, and, as a great example, shaved off the whole of the Newgate fringe under my chin! The mustache remains, and now looks enormous; but the beard I have sacrificed as a dread warning to competitors - which I am bound to add does not produce the least effect; they merely observing with complacency that “it looks much better so”.
Bizarre Victorian fact of the day…
Science played a large role in Victorian Christmas celebrations. Essays, poems and stories celebrating scientific discoveries were published at Christmas time, Christmas books and annuals detailed experiments which could be conducted by children and newspapers were filled with adverts for ‘scientific Christmas presents’. “Galleries of practical science” were highly popular venues for family days out. The Christmas bill of the Adelaide Gallery in London included performances of traditional festive music such as Handel’s Messiah combined with massive projections of microscopic organisms or dramatic displays of electricity.
“This is the world’s first commercial Christmas card, commissioned in 1843, the year Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol”.
“1,000 were printed, and sold for 6d each. This price that made them a luxury item, unavailable to the working class.
“This advert for the card appeared in the Athenaeum paper:
‘Just published. A Christmas Congratulation Card: or picture emblematical of Old English Festivity to Perpetuate kind recollections between Dear Friends.’“
- The British Postal Museum and Archive
Bizarre Victorian fact of the day…
In the Victorian period it was considered extremely unlucky to put up any Christmas decorations before Christmas Eve. Unlike modern superstition, which dictates that decorations must be taken down before Twelfth Night (January 5th), people in the 19th century commonly left their decorations up until Candlemas (February 2nd).
Victorian Christmas decorations took the form of evergreen plants such as holly, ivy, mistletoe, laurel, box, bay and rosemary. Several superstitions surrounded the use of these plants, particularly holly and ivy. If prickly holly was brought into the house it meant that the husband would be master for the coming year whereas if the holly was smooth it meant the power would stay with the wife. To use ivy on its own or let it be predominant was bad luck and there was sharp disagreement over whether decorations should or should not be burnt once they’d been taken down.
During the Jack the Ripper murders many letters were received by the police including people investigating the murders independently and those claiming to be Jack the Ripper. Here are two examples of people claiming to be Jack the Ripper with very different hand writing. The one on the left is dated October 1888 while the second is not dated. Both letters state that there will be another murder and that they will not be found. The question is why would multiple people write in as Jack the Ripper, and were any of them really Jack the Ripper?
Both letters from Nineteenth Century Collections Online