In the age of Queen Victoria of England or the Victorian Age, one of the features of society was attitudes toward sex. When people meet there are some who people find attractive too, it has been that way likely ever since the first humans. In Victorian Age – monogamy was important in the upper income classes as opposed to France where mistresses were expected. In the theater world, particularly ballet and opera, the ladies were often shown great affection while their career was on stage. In France, it was not unusual for wealthy patrons to have a mistress from the theater, For it those days, dresses were long, but at the ballet seeing legs are important and ballet shows off the wonderful legs of the ladies.
From the book The Beauty of her Age by Jenifer Roberts published by Amberley Publishing, Gloucestershire, England, 2016 focuses on one of the beautiful ballet dancers of the early 1800’s. Yolande Duvernay danced for the Paris Opera/Ballet in the 1830’s and she was beautiful in person and sexy in some of her roles which made the men droll. Many patrons sent her flowers, but one fell in love.
Stephen Lyne Stephens inherited a vast fortune to make him the richest commoner in England from his father and grandfather. The Stephens worked as a merchant in Lisbon, Portugal in the glass business. For reasons of their own, english merchants in Portugal were laden with privileges. Under several treaties, they were exempt from domestic taxes, from the jurisdiction of Portuguese courts, and most commercial regulations. Portugal was dependent on trade for basis goods – imports of textiles, wheat, fish and other foodstuffs which it paid in gold and diamonds from its colony Brazil. British merchants handled much of this trade.
The Stephens had been given ownership of the royal glass factory. He also received privileges – exemption from all domestic taxes, a monopoly of glass supply in Portugal and its colonies; freedom to set his own prices; free use of fuel from the royal pine forest or raw materials for the heat required in glass making. This resulted in the Stephens amassing an enormous fortune.
In addition to the fortune, the Stephens made money on Wellington campaign in the Peninsular War, the government bought gold. The Stephens through their connections to the Brazilian gold, supplied it to the government for a healthy fee.
The book is about Stephen viewing Yolande at the ballet, taking her as a wife, she had to retire from the stage and as he was older than she, he died after 20 years of marriage. He was 58, she was in her 40’s. She was the wealthiest widow in England, she was also Catholic – the largest church in Cambridge – Our Lady and the English Martyrs was funded by her. (Protestant England was not happy). She did not marry but had a permanent love affair with a man who was married with 6 children.
Linking to dividend paying stocks, the royal glass factory was a license to print money. If you see an opportunity like it, buy shares and let the rewards flow to your bank account. You may not know why the situation is what it is, but the history books show the Stephens were a good employer.
There are more questions than answers, till the next time – to raising questions.