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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

GOWLAND'S LOTION (IN JANE AUSTEN'S 'PERSUASION')

A point about Gowland's Lotion (which Sir Walter claims to have done such wonders for Mrs. Clay): John Gowland (1706-1776) made a fortune from the invention, even though it was positively harmful to the skin, being made from mercuric chloride added to bitter almonds and sugar. It had recently been discredited when Jane Austen made the reference to it.

Gowland's Lotion was developed by the later businessman MacDonald. It was advertised as prepared only by Macdonald, Humbert &Co. at their Royal Arcanum Warehouse, 53 Longacre. It was available in quarts for six shillings, duty included.

The advertising in 1809 went as follows:

To Gowland's Lotion now my muse has wing,
Its real intrinsic worth I mean to sing;
Long has it stood, the foremost of its race
Of cosmetics, to beautify the face:
Eruptive humours fly before its power,
Pimples and freckles die within the hour.
Dread foe to beauty, thy disgusting harms
No more shall prey upon the ladies' charms;
No more shall scrophula with horror creep,
and steal the beauty of the blooming cheek.
While Britons patronize each good invention,
This grand restorative must claim attention:
The best prepared, as chemic art can prove,
Once try'd, will every prejudice remove.
Who wants to see its true and genuine maker,
must call at Number 53, Longacre.