The Flat Files, Part 1: Princess Diamantine
A recent upgrade in furnishings threw off my schedule the last few weeks, and caused disorganization in our house the likes of which I've avoided for months. But it did lead to the emptying of drawers and clearing of boxes and tabletops, and in the process I discovered things I'd forgotten for years.
In a hidden folio I discovered a group of scraps I picked up while living in Rome, which I bought because they were so strange and out of place; they appeared to be American, and I was missing home something fierce. Pages of newspaper clippings from the second half of the 19th century, text relating humor that is in no way humorous (ex: the comedic trials of a minister named Cleveland living in the city of Cleveland), with one dazzling exception:
"A BLAZE OF DIAMONDS --At a ball recently given in the
Fauxborg St. Germain, at Paris, the diamonds outshone every
specimen of Parisian splendor which has yet been beheld.
One lady, who stood for a moment motionless in a doorway,
forced thither from the crowd, forming the focus upon which
were directed the rays of the waxlights in the chandelier op-
posite--literally produced an exclamation of surprise from the
whole company from the absolute blaze of light which she
seemed to project from head to foot. This lady is the wife of
a Brazilian gentleman, the owner of the most productive dia--
mond mines in the world, and, for many years, it has been his
custom to bestow opon his wife the whole produce withdrawn
from the mine during the whole month of the year in which
they were married. The number and value of the ladies jewels
have thus gone on increasing until the collection she owns at the
present moment is said to throw that of many crowned heads
completely in the shade. To give an idea of that quantity of
diamonds which decorated her person we can only say that the
whole stomacher of the dress, and the quilles on each side of
the skirt, were formed of a net-work pattern of diamonds ;
while the corsage was surmounted with a row of larger size,
and the headdress composed of resille of the same, from
which, of either side, and down the back of the neck, hung
tassels, entirely of diamonds. The lady has received, ever since
the display, the sobriquet of the Princess Diamantine."
The absurd thing is that I briefly dated the son of a Brazilian gem magnate, and can't help but wonder if I could have been Prince Diamantino. But more importantly, I love Princess Diamantine's confidence in the credo "more is more," and the hoarded-splendor of her person makes me worry less about the absurd accumulation of things in our apartment.