Jane Bigelow Diary, 1858-1859


Jane Bigelow Diary, 1858-1859


The diaries of John Bigelow's wife, Jane Tunis Poultney Bigelow, make up the majority of the Diaries and Journals series. Just as respected and loved as her husband, Jane was an important figure in the New York literary and social scene. Her diaries detail their life and travels.

Exhibition dates

December 8, 1858
July 5, 1859


[Front cover] Mrs John Bigelow. Mrs Moores Receipt for Cough
Syrup of 1 oz
“ “ Lemon 6 drams
Antivomial liquor & laurel
water of each one dram
Batleys Sedative water liquor 20 drops
Mix one teaspoonful to be taken occas-
ionally when the cough is troublesome [Blank] Paris- No 6 Papaye de la Madelaine [sic]- Dec 8th 1858-
Monday early a long visit from the Cooley’s-drove 6 miles
to Miss Demler’s school-saw her & Miss Henderson Thayer
& Loppen - took them each letters & kindles from home;
the evening Mr & Mrs Lansing spent with us-Yesterday
we took another bonne on trial; but kept Adele for a
few days serving- Nina Cooley & I had a merry morning
of it-shopping in the Palais Royale & Rue Rivoli. Went to
the Cirque Impériale to see Les Pilules du Diable
in the evening. A sort of R[ane]l performance only still more
magical-the dancers were more nude than I have
ever seen & only with a handsome form or decided
grace-the audience was intensely B[ouer]y- the parquette
full of countless workmen & women in their caps &
shop apparel- the odor of orange skins saluted
our olfactories incepantly [sic] & the style of things generally
was entirely democratic. To day I drove with the children
& left them at the Champs Elysées- stopped for Mrs Lansing
who introduced me at Mrs Burtons where I bought a new
beautiful shawl for $90 & a pretty little Chantilly veil for
$6- She furnished the laces for the trousseau of the Princess of
Wales; & is supposed to have admirable taste in such matters.
Mr Lacher has been in this evening & says my shawl
is decidedly a bargain.
I have found the centre not real. Thursday Dec 9th. This has not been a very eventful
day- had a carriage for [illegible] hours, looking at India
shawls with Mrs Lansing & Burton. Late in the
afternoon I took a long walk with Grace-it was
very crowded on the [illegible] but only once face I had
ever seen before- & that was the horrible long jawed
Burgh-whom I avoided. Grace said to day-
“Mama, I would rather have a sister & take care of
my sister’s baby, like Madame D’Angelis & not have a
husband for then [illegible] suppose I’d have to have three
children-you have three children, so I’d rather
just have a baby & not be married & have a sister.”
Friday 10th-Some calls, but we were out-doors for a couple
of hours & walked home-Tucker was here this
morning & after he left we took a carriage & made
two visits–people out. I am homesick-
Tuesday 12th- Yesterday bought black lace to trim
my [velvet] cloak- in the afternoon had quite a long
visit from [D]S Provost-at 8 o’clock (the 2nd time only
in my life) had a man to dress my hair-only
2 francs- at 9 1/2 drove to the Charity Ball- at the
grand opera house- the most beautifully
decorated place I had ever seen-quantities
of natural flowers on each side of the stair- way & ended everywhere that they could be crowded.
No one we knew but [Luches] Mr & Mrs [Loules]
Dickinson, Eyp[ee]s Brooks & Schwek- I was
amused with the great society of ugly faces &
[illegible] every description-I did not see one
handsome man or women- and only two or three
of them [illegible] with fine figures. [illegible]
pupils called in the morning- were were just going
out & I could not even offer to go up stairs with
them again lest they should accept. I was
always lazy about mounting steps; & now that
I have some e[xp]ense for it, [illegible] myself of it
upon all occasions. Servants here I have found
as ill trained as suit us- a lady is at home [if]
you are told; & then after sealing 4 great [illegible]
of [stoirs]; you find she has just gone out or
something of the kind. [Have] been to the
Madelaine [sic] this morning with Grace-Splended [sic]
church & singing- Here we [have] a man cham-
ber maid- makes the beds to [sic]- I think it is
disgusting- but what is one to do? I [have] just [illegible]
Poult to sleep - he does not seem quite well. Mrs
B enjoys going about her- [illegible]- of an
had upbeat and cheerful weather perhaps I should
feel differently-but really as yet I am ashamed of
the want of interest in feel in depth seeing- This afternoon drove with Mrs Paine to the Bois du Boulogne
Crowds walking & driving- from this dreary day it
was an enchanting spot; & I can imagine [illegible]
to [illegible] it in spring or summer. ducks & swans
swimming in the lake- little pleasure boats
filled with people-deer tamely feeding from
the hands of the pasers-by [sic]–the little [kind] will-
the ivy covered rocks-the Cascade- the grotto-
the [illegible] “natural bridge” in rock- the
petite theatres & restaurants scattered about-
the great society of [illegible] & peoples from
the little emperors & his [illegible] & body
guard- the carriages allowed to pass him
to the [illegible]- all made up an
effect very delightful-{illegible] for the [illegible],
Alboni was walking along-very stout but
very handsome-her husband now; an [illegible]
Count [Ropsi] I think; on horseback-[Nasir]
[illegible] ditto; & Grisi walking; followed by her
footman-the carriage ahead filled
with children- Of whom I hear she is very
[illegible]. Her husband-an English noble-
man is still living; she & Mario each have
a professional income of $20.000 a year, & she pays the deserted husband a certain portion.
Tuesday-14th. Rain yesterday & today- yesterday
drove about with the children two hours; then
took a long walk alone- I enjoy lounging
along; amusing myself with shop windows &
foot [papengers]- knowing nobody & nobody
knowing me-I should suppose the French to be
a most constipated nation; judging from
the great display of self acting injection pipes.
one sees in so many windows-In New York
we are shocked at corsets; bustle; but I have
never there seen more than one as two of the above
mentioned articles exhibited at one time.
Phalon & his daughter came early to invite us for
dinner Thursday-an uncalled for attention
that quite surprised me. In the evening we
went to the Vaudeville & saw “Le Roman d’un
jeune homme pauvre”; which has had a great
run here & interested me extremely. The scenery
on the stage is very superior to day thing we
have-the acting ditto. To day we drove to the
Louvre; came home as usual, well tired out.
Found Mrs Dudley Selden’s card & five others. A
letter from Annie; the first news from home
since we left- dated Nov 24th. All well. Thursday 16th. The Lansings called Tuesday evening & last
night we went with them to the Buffon Parisienne-
it seemed a little in the morning & all day was very
wet & dirty- I was out several hours alone- doing
of small errands-Mr L. I think a very common
sort of man, I can scarcely tolerate him from his
want of refinement.
Friday- The first sunshine I have seen in Paris-
Brooks & all the Huttons called yesterday when I
was out with nurse & children taking a im-
mense walk for their amusement. Dr Prevost
& [Buir] came in the afternoon while I was
with the hairdresser but I was ready & saw
them sometime before going to Phalo[w]s- We had
a superb dinner & met the Paines, Centres,
Clerelauds-Huntington, May, Left- artists-
Mr Richards & another of the house of [munroe] &
Cp. I have heard a good deal of this Mrs C-
& find I used to know her a little in New York-
A friend of Sue Lanes- very long necked large
mouthed, up headed young lady who wound up
a career of not [belleship] by marrying a
half millionaire & partner of her father’s.
He looks like Gen’ Morris only worse, the same course features & made up look with his profusion
of dyed bushy wool all over his face- The diamonds
& lace are all very nice, but the husband- oh
Saturday-McRay, Prevost & his Mexican boys came before
noon-Mrs B to fit my dress also-called for Mrs DeLille
& went to Greenough’s studio- a very gentlemanly refined
person himself & surrounded by some beautiful
works of art- the walk home by way of the Champs
Elysees was pleasant- had a play with the children
hurried through dinner & drove to the [illegible]
had seats with the Dr. [illegible]
quite interesting; but like all French pieces filled
with lies & intrigue. You never find here at
a table de hote or cafe a salt spoon or butter
knife-in our country at the commonest
country taverns we have these comforts I may
call them- nor here have I seen a complete
toilette set in any furnished apartments- I
have not observed how it is in private houses;
but no [illegible] stand or soap dish; only a little
sort of doll basin in which you throw your
soap- & nothing into which you can empty
your basin unless you call for it & [illegible]
upon having it. & spent a half hour there very pleasantly. It was the loveliest moonlight[sic] night and the drive home was delightful. Today rainy. I took the children & nurse with me & shopped for two hours.Gloves were my most expensive purchase. And as usual walked a mile along the Boulevards entertaining myself with shop windows. Mr & Mrs Cleveland called just as I returned then came the hairdresser who arranged my head to my entire satisfaction & we went at 6 to dine at [illegible] only the family & Mrs [illegible words] The former married Miss [illegible], homeliest of created beings, excepting her brother. [illegible] is a fright himself; conceited & [illegible] generally. Bought a trunk as large as my old one, but not so well made for $5.60 Christmas trees for sale all around the [illegible] . [illegible words] like ours last year only very much smaller. I thought of the one I was so happy & busy decorating last winter & how long after the holidays I kept it, how green & beautiful it was until almost spring. How fresh & green is my remembrance of it still Christmas Day - Wednesday Mrs Tish came for
me & also invited the children to ride with us -
we took Grace & looked at India shawls.
Dined at Mrs [illegible] - & took Grace who
behaved very nicely - Thursday rode with
Mrs [illegible] . & yesterday again we were out four
hours together. Grace took a walk with her
children & the boys went with their father
& nurse - I had partly intended going with
Mrs [illegible] out to [illegible][illegible] in the evening;
She came for me but I was too tired - eyes
& legs - body & [illegible] - Ms had been in the only
crazy store & [illegible] along the [illegible] as is -
& I had bought a quantity of cheap trash
to fill the children's stockings - McDowell
called about six - we went out & dined
together - after we had seen the children
hang up their stockings & had a little play
with them - We went to the theatre Frank [illegible words] half of [illegible] - very stupid indeed; I felt faint & sick most of the time & [illegible] at myself for going. Walked home & bought more things for the children. Filled their stockings [illegible] before going to bed & very early this morning they were made happy enjoying the contents.
Plenty of cheap toys along the streets yesterday but candies & cakes all very high & not com-
parable to ours. No [illegible words] to eat less than [illegible words]; very delicious [illegible] but nothing for less money. Thursday night such a pleasant dream. I feel so grateful for it & it has made me happier than any thing else since I left home. That evening we drove out to [illegible]. Nobody there but a Mrs Crouch. Old maidish, scraggy; full of pretension & affectation of all sorts. a regular [illegible] this [illegible]. Mrs G is really very sweet & agreeable. Fearfully scraggy & tall like all Boston women.
Mr & Mrs & Miss [illegible] came Wednesday afternoon to see us; Miss D & Josey Henderson; in a great excitement regarding [illegible words] about her [illegible] circulated by [illegible words] & her spiritual adviser Mrs Lawson; she knew these rumors had reached us & wanted to contradict them. Sunday 26th enjoyed strolling in the Boulevards with nurse & children from breakfasttime till nearly 3 o'clock. When I came home to keep an appointment with Mr B_ but he did not get back until just in time to dress for Paine's dinner. We left [illegible] very happy with a new toy & took Grace & [illegible]. They had a little tree lighted for the occasion [illegible] a long [illegible] tedious dinner. He drank to absent friends & lost friends, far or near. He gave no names; but they were written in the hearts of each & were none the less remembered [illegible deletion] though unspoken.
Mr & Mrs B_ Mr & Mrs P & Mr & Mrs C_ each with their three children excepting Mrs B's youngest. Mrs P sent him some beautiful confectionary; & the others also had their pockets full. I played for them to dance & we came home at ten. Mrs B staid up very late as usual, I retired after reading again Mother's letter received that afternoon - my only Christmas gift. Today we breakfasted at a place where they make delicious breakfast cakes, these [illegible] to hear old Coquerel preach. I was particularly impressed by his oratory but understood but little of the language.The immense building was crowded in every part & the audience more absorbed in the exercises than I have ever seen before. Tis only two o'clock now. Mrs B has gone off elsewhere ; & I shall have a rainy dark afternoon to brighten for my little ones. I am so tired of this cheerless weather & long for a few consecutive days of sun shine, hot or cold. Yesterday morning was perfectly lovely, but it rained afternoon & evening. Mr Kage has called & I must stop writing.
Monday, 27th Left caller at 10 1/2 last night to me he is a bore he has a wretched cough for which I prepared him some medicine & hope it will be beneficial. There is a certain familiarity in his manner upon very slight acquaintance that is disagreeable to me always. Another delightful buckwheat breakfast. I went and returned alone, in the rain & without an umbrella, but with my old hat & cloak, did not mind it. Did not At 12 took a carriage & called with Mr B on Mrs Robert Walsh & her mother - a wonderful old lady over 90. She was sitting with her daughter when we entered the parlor & occupied knitting a garter. Mrs W I thought a truly elegant woman without ever having been a beauty. So agreeable & unpretending. They both remembered Mother parfectly & Mrs W said she loved her very dearly. She expressed great pleasure at seeing me &c. Made a parting call on the Cooley's & found Mrs & Miss Greenough with them, on a visit, I imagine. Mrs G- at one time was famed as a medium.She has fine black eyes & ought to be handsome, but a dark well-defined moustache & lowering brow lend a kind of negro expression to the face that repels me.
I sat with Mrs DeLille some time before coming home, while Mr B- went somewhere to dine & got home just as I did. I have just washed & put the children to bed. [illegible] sleeps with me for a few nights & is delighted. New Year's Eve at Chamberry Savoy,in [illegible]. At the Hotel de [illegible] Paris - up two flights of stone steps in a great large barn like room - two beds neatly curtained with white dimity - bare floor, excepting a tiny strip by the beds - the stiffest old fashioned hard bottomed chairs - no sort of rest to the weary to be found on their unyielding seats or backs - a large fire. Mrs & Miss B & [illegible] seated almost on the hearth at a table on which his [illegible] are struggling to aid our respective employments. The three darlings have just fallen to pleasant dreaming. At 8 Wednesday morning we left Paris for Lyons - which place we reached about 10 o'clock at night. We enjoyed the journey & found very comfortable accommodations at the Hotel Collett - had a letter from Mr Ludlow to the American Council Mr J White who with his wife (his sister Miss Pearce & niece Miss [illegible]) makes it his home. At breakfast next morning they commenced their attentions, which were painfully pressing. I may say during the time we stayed there. We took a carriage & [illegible] Mr W & Miss [illegible] & did the city as well as we could from 12 to 4 1/2 - visited one of the largest silk manufactories in which I was much interested - & old church; the museum of Egyptian antiquities - for which I don't care a pea - having none of [illegible words] or tastes - a gallery of paintings; somewhat in the style of our own Art Union = but in which we saw some very pretty things - one I should have liked very much - a beautiful face with mirthful black eyes & coral lips smiling - almost laughing - one candle burning on a table by her - wonderfully well painted I thought - the whole picture a little gem in its way that I quite coveted. At dinner we had to sit with the Whites - a great bore though they did give us very good champagne in the . In the evening we took a walk to buy some refreshments & some [illegible] & on our return again had to [illegible] to the [illegible] & say goodbye. The great [illegible] of [illegible] came in while we were there - very old & feeble looking in [illegible] military costume as is usual here - officers always wearing full uniforms - his breast covered with honors - which I have no [Blank]

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