Charlotte Corday by Paul Jacques Aime Baudry (1860)

Today is the anniversary of the birth, in 1768, of Marie-Anne Charlotte de Corday d’Armont, the idealistic young provincial aristocrat who went to Paris and assassinated that Jacobin dog Jean-Paul Marat in his bath during the French Revolution, going to the guillotine herself for committing the murder.

In one of his Bertie & Jeeves short stories entitled “Comrade Bingo”, P.G. Wodehouse has young Bingo Little fall madly in love with a woman named Charlotte Corday Rowbotham, the daughter of a Communist agitator.  Bingo goes so far as to don a fake beard, haranguing the workers and scaring the devil out of his rich uncle in order to impress the gel.  (Jeeves, of course, is able to break up Bingo’s ridiculous infatuation and save the day with his usual deft skill.)

I must confess that I have never understood what ol’ Plum had in mind naming the gel after Corday.  If her father is such a leftist, why would he honor the assassin of another one?  Perhaps I just don’t get the joke.  Perhaps Plum’s own historickal memory was a bit sketchy on the point.  In any event, I can’t help thinking of his story whenever I see a reference to the original Charlotte Corday.