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.

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