A busy weekend; have one article in the proof stage and another that needed some revision (and got a bit expanded — all to its benefit, if I say so myself). Last night I was so wide awake that I pulled out the newest book to land in my mailbox: A Life in the Country (British Library, 2008). This may have Jane Austen quotes, but I wanted it for the silhouettes done by James-Edward Austen-Leigh! So what a couple superb bonuses… an intriguing painting of Edward in the days near his marriage to Emma. The cleft chin is depicted but why does his hair seem a bit thinning? (As an older man he had quite the full head of hair, as one photograph attests.) For the first time I see a portrait of Emma and Edward’s daughter, Mary Augusta – who authored the memoir of JEAL that comes in handy to anyone looking into the lives of the Smith sisters; and a lovely silhouette of a young Caroline Austen, Edward’s sister.
But it is ELIZA and WILLIAM CHUTE which interested me, and, as I discuss Eliza quite a bit (and have so much more to say about her) I include here this lovely silhouette.
I will have more to say about the book (the British Library was kind enough to send a review copy), though probably on Jane Austen in Vermont’s blog. I will just say that it is wonderful to see it in a so-called trade edition, for I could never had afforded the limited edition copy. But JASNA-News ran a nice review of that when it first came out in 2005.
BTW, poor Edward deserves a bit more of the credit, don’t you think?? Yet it’s JANE AUSTEN’s name that sells a book nowadays… Hope we can change that. For the Austen-Leighs are fascinating, as are the Smiths and Goslings and all the in-laws — as can be seen from the comment on the Le Marchants! They all lead such ordinarily extraordinary lives.
Thank God people saw fit to save their portraits, letters, diaries and ephemera!
Author Samuel Richardson has a Smith-and-Gosling connection: his ward was none other than Elizabeth Midwinter, who married (Sir) Francis Gosling – the brother of Robert Gosling, Mary’s paternal grandfather. She is shown in Francis Hayman’s family portrait as the woman in blue, on the right. According to the Bulletin of the New York Public Library (1897) “Richardson was a trustee for Miss Midwinter’s marriage settlement, and both he and Mrs Richardson left Lady Gosling mourning rings in their wills”. Robert Gosling, father of Francis and Robert Gosling, was a bookseller. A publishing firm within the family was Rivington: John Rivington married Elizabeth Miller Gosling, a sister of Sir Francis. (And in this book you can find an enchanting pencil portrait of a young William Gosling!)
Like Jane Austen who read her novels aloud to family, Richardson – according to several biographies – did the same when he was writing Pamela; and Miss Midwinter was there at the fireside, listening! Abstracts of English Studies (1963) had this to say: “[I]t is now quite obvious that the first audience of Pamela consisted of Mrs. Richardson and Miss Elizabeth Midwinter (later to become Lady Gosling).”
In Bastards and Foundlings (2005), Lisa Zunshine writes, “…the younger Grandisons could meet the same fate as did the nieces and nephews of Lord Mansfield or, indeed, the author’s own friend Elizabeth Midwinter, whose father managed to disinherit her altogether, leaving the family property to the illegitimate son he had with his servant.” Obviously, there is MUCH to be told about the life of poor young Miss Midwinter…
This painting was purchased by the Tate Gallery two years ago, and there is an article on the transaction and the work.
Ohhhhh, to have a description of her, or comments about her! Although I’ve searched through the online books of his correspondence, I find nothing about Francis, Elizabeth or her father – a friend of Richardson, which is why she became the author’s ward. Alas, the search is still on. . .
And should you want to sit back with a cuppa and enjoy Pamela: or Virtue Rewarded in a series of familiar letters from a Beautiful Young Damsel to her Parents, here is an online version from 1845. If you have the eyesight for reading it, there is also a 1786 edition (in four volumes): vol I; vol II; vol III; vol IV. An 1832 edition of The Life of Thomas Gent, Printer, of York may have references to the mother (in particular) of Elizabeth, but I have to take a closer look at the book, and also investigate her parents more fully (Elizabeth’s father was Edward Midwinter, bookseller). This next book gives Midwinter-White-Gosling as well as Maryland and Pennsylvania connections!
A quick note about some late-night surfing…
On the look-out for information about Goslings bank, I happened upon the British Banking History Society website and this mention of Twinings: from 1766 until 1826 the tea merchants banked at Goslings! Extra reason to enjoy that cuppa tomorrow morning.
George Engleheart (1752-1829), an English miniaturist, turns up as the artist in this ‘snippet’ view of a SOTHEBY’S AUCTION CATALOGUE (date: 16 Oct 1980) from books.google.com. Here is the image from p. 161:
It reads: “George Engleheart, 1782 [lot] 135 Lady Cunliffe, wife of Sir Ellis Cunliffe, her powdered hair piled high and adorned with a lemon and blue scarf, wearing a matching lemon and blue jacket over a white dress, cloud and sky background set on the lid of a hinged navette-shaped ivory patch-box, the gold mounts bright-cut and the interior fitted with a mirror, the miniature oval 4.2cm…” It seems to have A PHOTOGRAPH above the description BUT I CAN’T VIEW IT! Nor can the remainder of the description be read.
I would appreciate if someone with access to this sales catalogue could copy me this page — especially if it contains an image of Lady Cunliffe’s miniature which sits atop this ‘hinged navette-shaped ivory patch-box’!
With hopes of finding more information on this piece (and also its current whereabouts), I came across the following miniature which is exceptionally intriguing for two reasons:
It belongs to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and is described as Lord Northampton, c1795. Could this be the Lord Northampton who was brother-in-law to Augusta Smith (Emma Austen-Leigh’s mother); or is it his father? Charles, the ninth Earl of Northampton became the first Marquess of Northampton in 1812. He was born in 1760, succeeded his father in 1796, and died in 1828, when the Smiths’ cousin Spencer Joshua Alwyne Compton succeeded to the title. The museum has this to say about the piece: ‘Pearls and the twisted lock of a hair, probably from a loved one of Lord Northampton, surround this portrait.’
If this represents the first Marquess in his younger days, then the hair might very well have belonged to his wife – Maria Smith, sister to Emma Smith, Eliza Chute and Augusta Smith. Was Emma Austen-Leigh’s mother a blonde?? Maria married Lord Compton (his title before his father’s death) in 1787. The couple eventually settled in Castle Ashby, an estate well-known and often visited by Emma Austen-Leigh.
Ohhh!!! I certainly know one place I will be visiting should my paper be accepted for JASNA’s AGM next October – the AGM to be held in Philadelphia! In the meantime, if anyone has more information on this piece, please contact me.
Today is 2 October 2008, but wouldn’t it be nice to see what Mary Gosling was up to on one other Second of October?? In her 1821 travel diary, she was on the road and had this to say about activities on that day:
‘At twelve on Tuesday [October 2] we set out accompanied by Mrs Mainwaring, Susan and Miss Townshend to see Eaton Lord Grosvenor’s seat about three miles from Chester. The exterior of it which is of Gothic architecture is the most beautiful building I ever saw, they are now adding two wings to it, the interior is magnificent and consists of dining room, billiard room, music room, anti drawingroom, and saloon, the carving of the ceiling is peculiarly beautiful as well as the furniture. The kitchen garden and hot houses are good, but the rest of the garden is not striking. We then went to Trevallyn, Mr Townshend’s place two miles from Eaton, where we lunched and proceeded through a very neat village called Marford belonging to Mr Buscawen to Gresford vale a most lovely spot, in which Mr and Mrs George Cunliffe have a very pretty small cottage close to the church and village of Gresford. We returned to dinner at half past seven.’
A busy day! The Goslings – papa William, mamma Charlotte, Mary and her sister Elizabeth – were en route through Chester, across North Wales (where they visit the Ladies of Llangollen), and would cross to Ireland. In Dublin, William brings his daughter to see money being made at the Bank of Ireland! Talk of a busman’s holiday; undoubtedly, a perk of being a London banker.
By the way, to read more about the Grosvenor family seek out a copy of Gervas Huxley’s biography Lady Elizabeth and the Grosvenors: Life in a Whig Family, 1822-1839.