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Thursday, 10 December 2015

A Regency Kissing Game!

If you attended a private party in Jane Austen's England, the fun was not necessarily confined to dancing, wining and dining. You might take your chances at whist, or enjoy a 'nice comfortable noisy game of lottery tickets' (as at Mrs Philips' home in Pride & Prejudice), or play some parlour games. If you lost when playing a game, you would be asked to pay a forfeit.
A lady might be asked to 'kiss a candlestick' held up high by a gentleman; when she tried to kiss it, the gentleman could steal the kiss for himself. 'Le Baiser a la Capucine' (kiss of the monkey) was more complicated. The gentleman and lady knelt on the floor, back to back, and had to try and kiss each other. Somehow one can't imagine the stately Mr Darcy performing Le Baiser.
If a lady was asked to 'kiss the person you love best without any one else knowing it', she would be kissed by several gentlemen in the room - a real penance if one of them was Mr Collins!

Le Baiser a la Capucine, engraving by Schenker, Le Bon Genre, c.1814. Author's collection.

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