Good morning! Today I’m going to talk about some of the research I did for JANE AND THE DAMNED which released a few days ago and I’m going to give away two copies of the book. I’ll announce the names of the winners on Monday, so please feel free to comment on yesterday’s post about BESPELLING JANE AUSTEN too.
So who were the Damned in Georgian England? They were the fashionable vampires who were regarded with awe and envy and lust by the ton, and were the favored companions of the Prince of Wales who later became the Prince Regent. Because being fed upon–the euphemism for the Damned’s feeding was dining–was intensely pleasurable for mortals, and because dining was inevitably accompanied by skillful sexual activity (they had had centuries of practice) without any risk of pregnancy and disease, their parties were legendary.
Naturally, etiquette books regarding correct behavior with the Damned became best sellers and I was fortunate enough to acquire a copy of this guide from 1795:
The Gentlewoman’s Guide to
being a guide to the Manners, Habits, and Pleasures of the Fashionable Immortals; including a full Set of Instructions for those who are invited to Dine; and Useful Instructions on Matters of Dress and Deportment and Methods of Revival the Morning After
It’s an extraordinary record of social behavior, with some information I found very useful. For instance:
It is advised that a Lady’s gown should display the neck and shoulders in as revealing a way as possible without actually resorting to Vulgarity, which the Damned abhor, for those areas of the person are naturally of greatest interest to them.
It is unwise to speculate upon the true age of one of the Damned. Generally one should converse on the weather, fashion, and politics.
It appears the Damned did actually provide food for their human guests, as both courtesy and as a matter of practicality to keep up the strength of those who would later provide them with their dinner:
For a guest to remark upon the lack of appetite displayed by the Fashionable Immortal Host is considered Impolite; moreover, a guest is supposed to dine heartily, for the menu will have been prepared with the utmost consideration, as providing the most pleasure for the Damned themselves.
This advice was given for the actual dining experience:
While in the Transport of Sensual Delight which accompanies the Host’s Dining, a lady should remove her necklace, for the teeth of the Damned enjoy Remarkable Sensitivity at such a time. She may also, if she wishes, remove her gloves.
As for the morning after, when the fashionable lady might feel a little wobbly from blood loss, the guide advises that
…although many consider a glass of wine with a drop of Immortal blood dissolved in it to be infinitely superior to any Apothecary’s Brew, the blood will most probably be provided by a fledgling, a lesser member of the society of the Damned. It is most uncivil to refuse on the grounds of the fledgling’s rank, and consider that even a drop of fledgling blood will bring Improvement to the Complexion and Brightness to the Eyes.
What recommendations would you have for an etiquette guide to those consorting with Regency-era vampires?
I’m first! (I’m also up ungodly early on a Sunday, although how God feels about that)….
thanks for the morning giggle. Going to have to go and search for your books…. didn’t see them at Mysterious Galaxy oddly…
Speaking of being up ungodly early, I would suppose morning calls are *not* the right way to express appreciation for a vampire’s hospitality.
I suppose mentioning you hadn’t seen them at Church lately would be a faux pas.
I’m of two minds on this question. Would commenting on the *length* and *thickness* of their fangs be considered vulgar–or a compliment? I await your advice, as I don’t want to commit a faux pas if I’m ever invited to dine with the Damned.
Your faithful servant,
Hi persons, I too have been up and about early, a definite no-no for the Damned. I rather think they started the legend that daylight would destroy them to add to their mystique because staying up all night to party just doesn’t have the same cachet.
Out for several hours, but I will return when it’s dark, if you know what I mean and I think you do.
Sharon, definitely a compliment in all situations.
That was a fun post. I would say that one rule would be that phrases such as “To hell with you” and “You’re damned funny” should be avoided.
While dining, avoid such phrases as “I have eaten so much, I will sleep like the dead!”
When one converses about the weather, confine oneself to discussion of the presence or absence of rain, the present phase of the moon, but, under no condition, mention the brightness of the day or the heat of the sun.
(Yippee! Jane and the Damned is here at last!)
This is beyond priceless! Wonderfully helpful guide for those of us who have “dining with the damned” on our bucket list.
Hmm. Might not do to mention kicking the bucket or sticking one’s spoon in the wall when in the presence of the damned.
I would assume that wearing jewelry or carrying books of a religious nature is to be avoided when entertaining vampires or when attending vampire entertainments.
Having relatives who are members of the clergy in attendance at your house party might not be a good idea if you include vampires on your guest list.
And definitely refrain from seating your vampire guests next to anyone named VanHelsing.
Thank you, Janet, for giving me a laugh this morning. Your humor and creativity is bloody outstanding!
I suggest mortal guests refrain from asking, “Please pass the garlic?”
And I assume that Jane does not plague the Bennett girls with Mr. Collins – a man of the cloth – in her revised manuscripts!
What a great idea. I’m not usually into vampires, but I did enjoy this post. This is my first visit to your blog and I found it very interesting.
Loved this post. I will need to read Jane and the Damned. The 1795 guide was quite enjoyable.
Very funny! I loved it =)
Might one remark on the trying nature of daylight for the complexion?