Wit, Women, and Wine...

One of the things a woman had to have to be educated was to be highly born or have money - well, both, in fact. And rich married women were, for the most part, hostesses, which means they entertained people in their houses, providing them with all sorts of amusements. And one of those amusements was witty conversations.

A woman, was she a wife or mistress, entertained for several reasons, one of them being to entertain, in the case of a wife, people that could in a way help her husband in his career, and, in the case of a mistress, the lover or possible lovers. It was a kind of common knowledge that a good wife had to, 1: bear a heir; 2: keep house; and 3: entertain guests.

But not many women entertained for the pleasure of witty conversation. In the eighteenth century, it seems there was less prejudice against a woman with brains than in a later period, such as the Regency. Let's not forget that the eighteenth century was indeed the century of enlightment, and that the clever, highly educated and witty women were not few; women that held salons with writers, philosophers, artists of all sorts, such as Madame Geoffrin. Wit was also visible in letters, that were at first a manly ocupation, but as time went by, gradually transformed into a feminine one, in which ladies could demonstrate all their wit!

If the 18th century was known to be a period of enlightment and witty and inteligent conversation, the Regency was known as the Age of Scandal. Certain behaviours that were considered normal in the society of this period would be absolutely scandalous and unnaceptable in the 18th century. A little more prejudice against women with education and inteligence apperead, and people were more devoted to flirting and dancing all the night long than anything else. More improper and scandalous settings provided guests with games of all sorts, including one game of "guessing the kiss". Wow...

Still, there was a quality that was required if you wanted to be perfect, or at least interesting: you had to be able to make witty conversation and entertain people with it. You could be considered vulgar and uninteresting if you didn't know how to converse in an inteligent manner. And one of the most popular games was charades. Some of them were particularly difficult, and required clever people to solve them.

And to all those men who thought they were the only ones capable of witty conversation, an intelligent brain, and whatever else, I dedicate this. Lord Westmorland, a dandy, said this as an answer to a remark made to him by Louis XVIII: "Je wouldrai si je couldrai, mais je ne cannais pas".

1 comentário:

  1. Ainda estou às voltas com o "je cannais pas". É só a mim que isto soa, sei lá, um bocado comprometedor?