Has it been staring me in the face…???
This transcription, from A Chronology of Jane Austen and her Family, 1700-2000, by Deirdre Le Faye, copies out Eliza Chute’s diary entries for 1794. Born in 1768 and therefore only in her mid-20s, and still a fairly new bride, too, Eliza was in seventh heaven with her parents and sisters at The Vyne for a visit (January 14th), and was up for a bit of dancing.
First, some identifications:
- “Ld. C. from Weymouth” was Eliza’s brother-in-law, Lord Compton (the future Lord Northampton).
- “Ly. Compton” is of course his wife, and Eliza’s eldest sister Maria (the future Lady Northampton).
- “Papa Mama” are Joshua Smith and Sarah (née Gilbert) Smith, of Erle Stoke Park, Wiltshire – the “Stoke” from where they all arrive. (Lord Compton’s involvement with the Militia was his reason for being in Weymouth.)
- “Augusta Emma” in this early instance are the two sisters “Mamma” and “Aunt Emma”.
I’ve read this passage over and again – but only yesterday saw an image of the actual entry. And I wondered: If Henry Austen was at the Basingstoke Ball, were other members of the family?
Would this be the moment… even if neither Augusta nor Emma nor Eliza left specific word… that I could point to and say “The sisters met Jane Austen!”
Claire Tomalin, in her biography Jane Austen: A Life puts Jane elsewhere; but her sister Cassandra Austen at Steventon:
“First then, the couple from the Vine…” William and Eliza Chute. No mention of the two young ladies they had brought with them: 22-year-old Augusta Smith and 19-year-old Emma Smith. (Long before they were “Mamma” and “Aunt Emma”!). Augusta would have celebrated her birthday only a couple weeks before (January 4th).
There are, I will take a moment to say, other Smith relations present! Sir Colebrook and even that kill-joy “Squire Le Fevre” of Heckfield. (click the link, above, for the entire poem)
Not having seen the original poem, I can only give, for your consideration, Deborah Kaplan – the author of Jane Austen Among Women – although she uses it to illustrate the people Jane Austen would have known and encountered on a fairly regular basis. Kaplan ID’s the author as “Mrs Austen”; the date as “1794”; and places TWO Austens in company with each other: Henry and Cassandra.
David Selwyn merely ascribes the poem to “another occasion” of dancing, without saying when or who was there; he intimates the poem was written for both daughters. Jane Austen: A Family Record cites a Basingstoke Ball of 7 November 1799 as the source (Anna Austen Lefroy as the copyist).
Sometimes a writer can just be wrong; as in Tomalin’s assertion:
“I danced six dances with Mr. H. Austin” – giving ALL the dances Eliza Chute mentioned to one partner, and attributing that excess to “Henry’s charm working as usual”. Le Faye’s transcription reinstates the additional two partners, Misters Wallop and Terry.
And, while I agree that Eliza often spelled Austen Austin, she seems not to have dotted an ‘i’ here (compare to ‘i’ in Basingstoke):
But secondary interpretations are all I have to go on – That Henry was there, is a given; that Cassandra was probably there. Any chance that Jane Austen attended this particular Basingstoke Ball, 16 January 1794? Happy to hear from those in the know.
Le Faye’s Chronology uses the phrase “It is probably this month” – meaning December 1793 – “that JA and CEA go to Southampton to stay with the Butler-Harrison family, and while there dance in the Southampton Assembly…”; the entry is cited as Letters 62. That letter, written in December 1808 tosses out the comment “It [ie, a dance] was in the same room in which we danced 15 years ago!” Tomalin puts Jane Austen’s visit to the family from December 1793 up to the christening of their daughter, Austen’s godchild – which took place in Southampton on 18 January 1794. Lengthy stay versus return for the church service versus being represented by proxy? All a matter of interpreting slim source material.
The list of breakout speakers for the 2015 Annual General Meeting of the JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA is up. Under the banner title of “LIVING IN JANE AUSTEN’S WORLD”, breakout speaker topics are diverse, and fascinating.
In the appropriately-named novel Emma, Jane Austen wrote of a marriage – that of Miss Taylor (Emma Woodhouse’s governess and dear friend) to Mr Weston, that resulted in the birth of a child! and a woman’s lying-in or “confinement” is the topic of my breakout talk, taking place in the Saturday, October 10th “D” session.
As before, that means _I_ miss some great speaker, such as: Sheryl Craig (whom I know) on “William Wickham”; Kristen Miller Zohn (whose AGM talk on miniatures I so enjoyed) on “silhouettes”; and Sue Forge on “London High Society” – which readers of this blog will know, I consider my Smiths & Goslings to be, if not “movers and shakers” in society, at least “prevalent” among the party-goers. And here’s why:
- see, 1816 Fashions, At Mrs Gosling’s Ball
- experience, Emma’s “London Season,” 1816
- and be part of the ‘crush’ in What if you threw a PARTY – and everyone came?!
- At the BookRat, go Behind the Facade
Of course, as an AMG participant, I must also pick speakers to hear. Too many to choose among!
Do I hear about Jane Austen’s ideas on being “Past the Bloom” (Stephanie Eddleman) or “A Quack or Dr. House” (Sharon Latham)?? When, equally, I’d dearly love to learn about Embroidery (which I used to enjoy) (Julie Buck)… or Estate Tenants (Linda Slothouber)… or Austen family cookbooks (Julienne Gehrer)… or Village Life (Sara Bowen)… or the treatment of poor George Austen, Jane Austen’s sometimes-forgotten brother (Bridget McAdam).
And that’s only the FIRST session! Good thing there are several months to think over the possibilities.
I’ll say more, at a later date, about my topic — “Who could be more prepared than she was”? True Tales of Life, Death, and Confinement: Childbirth in early 19th Century England — at a later date, but will take the time to say that many of the letters & diaries excerpts come from the copious examples of this Smith & Gosling research. From the “bantling” born in 1790 — the future 2nd Marquess of Northampton (Emma’s cousin “Lord Compton”), to the Confinements of Emma Austen herself.
And, no, I won’t forget Mrs Weston!
Caught Allison Janney on THE TALK, and could not believe my ears when I heard her say that she had a role – against Hugh Grant (Edward Farrars, Sense and Sensibility) – playing a professor whose main interest is JANE AUSTEN!
Or, as the Boston Herald calls her in a review of the film, “a prissy, uptight and emasculating Jane Austen scholar” (Hmmm….; Janney herself uses the pleasanter phrase Austen aficionado), meeting up with Grant who’s come to teach in UPSTATE New York (ie, not far from me).
- “You don’t LIKE Jane Austen?”
- “Teaching is an absurd profession…”
- Janney on THE TALK (13 Feb 2015) [approx 2:35 into the interview]
- Official (UK) Trailer “The Rewrite”
I wanted to alert readers, since links can be somewhat “unhandy” to locate, of a FABULOUS online resource pertaining to a myriad of topics all pertaining to BATH, ENGLAND. Bath History is a journal, now up to volume 13, published in 2013 (not yet digitized).
Two useful links to the articles are,
- Volume indexes, via the Bath History website – most of the articles are linked.
- PDF articles – Bath Spa University; the downside is the lack of article names. Either now where to look, or love a surprise. HELPFUL TIDBIT: vol. 10 has an index to vols 1 thru 10.
There are so many interesting articles, that here I will only name a few:
Anne Buchanan – Charles Dickens and the Guild of Literature and Art Ticket, 1851 [vol 11; not yet digitized)
Angus R. Buchanan – Brunel in Bath [vol. 10]
Stephen Marks – The Journals of Mrs Philip Lybbe Powys (1738-1817), A Half Century of Visits to Bath [vol. 9]
Jean Manco – Saxon Bath: The Legacy of Rome and the Saxon Rebirth [vol. 7]
Nicholas von Behr – The Cloth Industry of Twerton from the 1780s to the 1820s [vol. 6]
I will make special mention of three articles:
- Deirdre Le Faye has a Jane Austen-related article, entitled ‘A Persecuted Relation': Mrs Lillingstone’s Funeral and Jane Austen’s Legacy.
- another “Bath Widow” tale is brought to our attention by Hilary Arnold in Mrs Margaret Graves and her Letters from Bath, 1793-1807.
- and a particular favorite diarist, Katherine Plymley – who shows up in the Ladies of Llangollen blog! – gets a nod from Ellen Wilson in A Shropshire Lady in Bath, 1794-1807. Plymley was a subject in Liz Pitman’s book Pigsties and Paradise: Lady Diarists and the Tour of Wales.
While searching for the article links I stumbled upon THIS surprise: images of two Margaret Graves letters! Chosen a “Gem from the Archive” by Who Do You Think You Are? magazine in 2013. A little more ‘sleuthing’ and a few more really neat tidbits popped up too:
- Gem from the Archive – two Margaret Grave letters (show in full)
- Devon Heritage Services Newsletter (2012) – more about Margaret Graves & her letters at the archive, part of the Simcoe Family Archive
- Devon Archives online catalogue
- John Graves Simcoe’s biography of course mentions Margaret Graves, but it’s the biography of Elizabeth Postuma Simcoe, 1762-1850 which has piqued my interest; author Mary Beacock Fryer has also published on Francis Simcoe (Our Young Soldier)
William in Hampshire sent this link to the National Archives blog, asking if this Mary Smith could be in any way connected to the Smiths of Suttons. As you might imagine: LOADS of Marys and LOTS of Smiths in the world!
But the story, about a poor woman in the lunatic asylum, is fascinating if only for the wealth of items she brought with her in a small wooden box. What I found MOST intriguing were the miniatures. Surely, they represented her family – several adults and even a baby. Of course today no one has a clue as to the identity of the sitters – nor does the repository have much information on this particular Mary Smith.
Still somewhat perplexed about The Wybault Connection (see earlier post “The Mystery of Miss Macklin“), I’ve been searching this slightly unusual name. At least I hope it’s a bit unusual! Certainly the two I seem to come across are Patrick Robert Wybault and his brother, often referred to as General Wybault, Joseph William Wybault. The pair even both lived on Landsdowne-crescent in Chichester, later in life.
But the period I’m interested in is the decade from approximately 1818 to 1829. In 1821, P.R. Wybault married A. A. Macklin (Amelia Anne being the bride’s Christian names). So what has recently been unearthed is of GREAT interest IF it is the correct Wybault:
A biography of Alexander Buchanan – who ultimately has ties to Montreal – went as a young man on a tour to England and France. Somehow he came to be in the company of “his friend Wybault”. However, without either the original journal – or a fuller transcription, I will never know IF this travel companion is given a first name, or a fuller description! Here’s what I have:
- “On Sunday the 26th March, 1820, he [Alexander Buchanan] set out from London in a mail coach, with his friend Wybault, for Dover, where they arrived on Monday at 7 a.m. At 9.30 a.m. they embarked on board a small sloop of about 30 tons, crowded to excess with about sixty passengers. The passage to Calais was performed in three hours and ten minutes. On landing they visited the Hotel de Depin [sic: Hotel de Dessin], celebrated for the residence of Sterne.” (opening chapter V)
- “‘I accompanied two French ladies, a Mrs. Strachen and her sister, and Wybault, to the Luxembourg. We took a walk in the gardens and a view of the exterior of the Palace, and afterwards went to the Gallery of Painting’….” (April 1820 entry)
- “‘This morning Wybault, myself, Mrs. Strachan, her sister, Mrs. Storey, a Portugese lady and Mrs. Drake, set off in an open carriage to visit some of the Royal Palaces.'”
I’m unsure if “Mrs Storey” is the sister of Mrs. Strachan. There is mention that this sister won “a gold medal from Buonoparte” for her artistic accomplishments, so I will see if I can find her – which may lead to “them” which might lead to “him”. For I’d dearly love to know if Buchanan’s friend was the same P.R. Wybault. They do have Versailles in common; for that is where the Macklin/Wybault marriage took place.
The author of the biography, A.W. Patrick Buchanan, K.C., writing about a hundred years ago, DID say, in the opening pages of chapter III, that the comments on this trip were found in “the very valuable Journal which he kept”.
So I wonder: Does this “valuable Journal” still exist?
Although centered on teaching history to school children, I highly recommend looking over the materials at Peopling the Georgian House. A useful look inside a Bristol residence, picking apart the rooms in the townhouse, as well as its people. Surprising to me was information about the Pinney family:
- domestic staff included two ‘slaves’ – Pero Jones (gentleman’s valet); and Fanny Coker (lady’s maid), who becomes manumitted.
- poet Robert Southey was a visitor.
- a Pinney connection to Horatio Nelson.
- the residence used SPEAKING TUBES in order to communicate upstairs to downstairs! Find out why we use the phrase “to bend one’s ear”…
- and FABULOUS to see the house (illustration left) broken down floor by floor – from attics to 2nd, 1st and ground floor, until down in the cellars, two levels below ground!
After READING about the house, how about a TOUR through it: The Georgian House Museum has a brief online presence – including “Life below Stairs”, and tells who used the “plunge pool” located in the basement. Alas, an actual walk through the property must wait until after April 3rd (closed for winter).
Julian Fellowes, stop reading over my shoulder!!
Last night Downton Abbey was ablaze - thanks to a cinder setting Lady Edith’s room on fire.
Emma Austen wrote about a very similar night: in October 1834, on the eve of sister Fanny’s marriage to the Rev. Richard Seymour!
The Smiths had recently moved into Mapledurham House (the wedding was the first “event” after the move); Emma, Edward and the children arrived in the morning hearing the news of the fire. In a letter she wrote, it “thank God did no personal harm – tho’ it has caused great alarm & confusion”.
Unlike Downton, Mapledurham’s cinder smouldered — an ‘insufferable smoke’ woke Mary (Lady Smith), who roused the household. “It was got under by the perseverance of the servants &c in about an hour”.
“The servants were very active & by means of wet blankets extinguished the fire — Engines came from Reading but it was out.”
In the aftermath, Emma’s diary tells us, “The floor of the room & a picture were burnt & the wall & ceiling smoked the house a good deal injured by fire”.
Only next week will tell viewers if Downtown Abbey survived the conflagration with as little damage.
On the heels of The Invisible Cast (a post about servants, in Jane Austen novels), I would like to toss out a conundrum for which I have no ‘answer’.
The “mystery” of Miss Macklin derives from several mentions of her, but mysterious and even contradictory information. I will mention here that Wiltshire Heritage Museum has a series of drawings they call the Macklin Album, so named because of an inscription. This album certainly has something to do with the Smiths — for a large portion was done at Stoke Park, Joshua Smith’s estate (he being papa to my Emma’s Mamma).
The first time I EVER heard the name ‘Macklin’ was in an April 1824 letter. Augusta (Emma’s eldest sister) writing to Lady Elizabeth Compton (cousin) about their Aunt Emma (Mamma’s youngest sister):
“I do allow it is very material to her [Aunt Emma] that Macklin’s origin should remain concealed, but is it not far more probable that her old servants have handed the story on to her new ones as any story of the kind would be so much talked of in that class.”
My mind RACED, trying to think WHO Macklin could be? Woman? Man? Child? I mean, yes, I even had the WILD idea of out-of-wedlock child. It was the word ORIGIN in the sentence that really made my thoughts spin.
Of course, after reading a few days ago about the all-seeing-eyes of servants in Austen novels, my mind’s eye immediately called up the above quote. For nothing could be more true: both as to servant knowledge as well as servant gossip (though Augusta could have been more P.C. by NOT adding the phrase ‘in that class‘ but I cannot apologize for someone writing nearly 200 years ago).
Since that initial letter, I’ve been on the lookout for any mention of MACKLIN – and now have a few, including puzzling mentions that only make her sound a bit juicier!
A curiosity I will mention here: Amelia Macklin married in 1821 (to Mr Patrick Robert Wybault) – and yet please note the date on the above letter: April 1824. Note also the person is simply referred to as MACKLIN. Not Miss Macklin nor Mr Macklin; nor an indication of a first name.
I think the next time I spotted Macklin was in a diary, written by Mamma in 1821. Two notations. One, within the diary, on 8 September: “Macklin was married to Mr. Wybault.” In the back of the book, as Mamma is summing up her year, she writes: “My sister Emma went to France in February & did not return this year; her Friend Miss Macklin was married to Mr. Wybault.”
Two things stand out here: that Macklin could be described as Aunt Emma’s friend and that Mamma actually called her Miss Macklin in the end whereas she did not give her a title in the diary proper.
This fall (2014), and an influx of letters; including some from the period surrounding Joshua Smith’s last illness and death (1819). And there she turns up again! And the plot THICKENS. One thing to keep in mind, at this point in time Aunt Emma had been residing with her father at Stoke Park (Wiltshire).
10 February 1819; Mamma is writing from Stoke Park, having visited her ill father: “Macklin is civil to us all, & we are civil to her.” And a PS in the same letter: “I hope your Chilblains will soon be well; how are Eliza’s Macklin is civil to us. & we are very civil to her to keep peace.”
What on earth has been going on??
The next letter dates to c23 February 1820, in the period of packing up Stoke Park for its eventual sale (Joshua died the prior year): “We have heard nothing of Macklin except that Coulthard [a servant] says she is not in the house… Zeus … [has] gone to town so perhaps M— is with her at any rate she is better out of the way.”
Remember, in just another year, Mamma will refer to her as her sister Emma’s friend.
Two days later (25 Feb 1820), her whereabouts are confirmed: “Macklin is gone to London“.
At the time I wondered if perhaps there could be two Macklins – one a servant and the other a daughter. Still, that discounts Mamma’s use of MACKLIN and MISS MACKLIN in the same journal.
In a letter from 17 June 1821, News is being passed once again to Lady Elizabeth Compton, this time by Emma’s sister Fanny: “We saw last night at Mrs Gosling’s the Davisons [Gosling relatives] who are just returned from Paris they had seen Aunt Emma there…: they did not mention a word of Macklin to us, but the Goslings told us they had to them (probably not the least knowing who she was) and that they liked her very much, and said that she and Aunt Emma were so handsomely drest.”
Words packing a wallop: “did not mention Macklin to us…” “not in the least knowing who she was…”
By 1825 the couple are referred to by their married name, “Aunt Emma has taken a house on Pear tree green at Southampton & the Wybaults have also got one some where in the neighborhood“.
At the end of the same year (December, 1825), a most puzzling statement: “Aunt Emma gets every day more thoroughly at her ease & more confidence in the society that surrounds her, that is to say …. she has lived in a constant struggle of mind, doubtful of every body, because she knew they had reason to doubt of her, & really sensitive of many slights which were very naturally put upon her for the sake of her companions. …now I trust she is entering upon a new career & that disengaged from these inconvenient appendages she will regain her former ideas, & the consideration of the world, & as long as the Wybaults live the other side of the Southampton river with the prospect of going over to Ireland, I am satisfied because they have too much in their power to make a sudden & entire rupture desirable, & we know Macklin’s mauvaise langue of old.”
I hate to say it, but the mystery only deepened with more information!
ONE mention is made of Mr Wybault; the date is 1842, nearly twenty years later. The youngest Smith sister, Maria, is writing. Combined with all the rest, it lends this tale a rather cryptic (and up-in-the-air) end: “Aunt Emma continue[s] here at present. … she hopes Mr Wybault has just accepted our offer for the sale of Rook Cliff – he appears to be quite miserable at his wife’s death.” Amelia Wybault died at Rookcliff (Hampshire) in 1842; no Smith purchase of this place ever happened. Maria married in 1844; and Mamma died still living at Mapledurham House in 1845.
Only one snippet, from 1829, bridges the gap. When I was told about the Macklin Album, the same person mentioned seeing a letter, from Rookcliff (so either Amelia herself or perhaps her husband), to W.W. Salmon in Devizes (near which was located Stoke Park, though no Smiths lived there by this time). “We have heard from our friend Miss Smith [ie, Aunt Emma] who had a long passage to France of 20 hours…“. My correspondent went on to say, “I’m afraid I couldn’t decipher the rest!” (Groan!!)
It’s a REAL long-shot, but if any Two Teens readers have ever come across Amelia Macklin, Patrick Robert Wybault, Rookcliff (or Rook Cliff), Hampshire – do let me know. Even a GUESS would be welcome. VERY curious about her, her relationship to the Smiths, and why family members other than Aunt Emma seemed to tip toe around her in 1819-1820.
Being the anniversary of Jane Austen’s birth (16 Dec 1775) — as well, I must mention, of the marriage of Emma Smith and James Edward Austen (16 Dec 1828) — JASNA publishes Persuasions On-line. The first article which GRABBED my attention was Natalie Walshe’s “The Importance of Servants in Jane Austen’s Novels.”
The servants who come-go-serve the Smith & Gosling households are, as in Jane Austen’s novels, there. One must, however, tease them out! Sometimes they appear as a surname only. Or, when a first name, you wonder if when a first AND last name comes up IF the two are the same person — or different people. I’ve a few names posted online – but, gosh, there are TONS more. (I have been VERY remiss getting more names online.)
And how welcome an opportunity when someone points out a more subtle WHY behind the “half-smile” of such as Baddeley! (Mansfield Park) So many small points go over our heads (for, I don’t know about YOU, but I’ve never employed a servant…)
Consider Persuasions On-line as an early Christmas present: much to be enjoyed!
* * *
- Servants: The True Story of Life Below Stairs (BBC)
- The Complete Servant  (books.google)
- Mrs Woolf and the Servants
“A servant should neither blow his nose or spit in his master’s presence;
and, if possible, neither sneeze nor cough.”
— Dr. Trusler, Domestic Management (1819)