Robert Adam, Architect: Portland Place London

April 30, 2013 at 6:21 am (carriages & transport, diaries, entertainment, estates, history, london's landscape, news, places, research) (, , , , , , )

exterior Portland Place

This is No. 5 – renumbered No. 28 – Portland Place, London as it appears today. There is an extra “attic” story that the Goslings would not quite recognize; a traffic island filed with trees and statues parade the avenue; and there’s the Royal Society for Public Health occupying their premises!

I’ve written a couple of previous posts about Portland Place

But today am writing to say that I’ve posted interior pictures — but to keep these public venues a bit ‘private’, invite Two Teens in the Time of Austen readers to go to Memoirture, a new website specifically for memoirs, memories, connections and comments in order to view them. [UPDATE (April 2015): Memoirture has been taken down; I’ll see if I can refind all the interior shots – but I’m making no promises.]

{NOTE: visitors seem to be able to see the Memoirture write-up and the thumbnails for No. 5 Portland Place, but to view the full-sized photos – or any of the “public” memoirs on the site – you’ll have to log-in; creating an account is FREE and easy.}

A fascinating discussion (now that I know the current numbering!) can be found in David King’s Complete Works of Robert and James Adam: Built and Unbuilt. “Portland Place is a street which the Adams formed and lined with houses. They left the street closed at its northern end by Marylebone Fields — now Regent’s Park — and closed at its southern end, just south of Duchess Street, by the grounds of a large house, Foley House; so the only access to the Place was through side streets.” Langham Place has replaced Foley House, and it was in “New Church, Langham Place,” in 1826, that Mary Gosling married Emma’s brother, Sir Charles Joshua Smith.

all souls_langham place

King notes that “Unfortunately, the facades of the surviving houses have all been altered. For example, all have been extended upwards with an extra floor. … Another important change occurred in the last century, when all the houses were given a rusticated finish for their ground floors — except, of course, for 37 and 46-48 which had such treatment originally. Further, the original paned-glass windows in almost all the houses have ben replaced with something more modern, and most of the houses now have continuous iron balconies at first floor level whereas they originally had separate iron balconettes for each first floor window.” As my book opens in the mews of No. 5 (Mary Gosling’s earliest journal records a journey to Oxford in 1814), describing the surroundings from which Mary emerges, it’s great to see King touch on the mews: “Virtually all the houses were given stables behind. It is possible that many of these stables were given attractive facades to face the back windows of the houses to which they belonged. Unfortunately, while most of the stables survive, almost all have been altered so that atheir original house-facing facades have been lost.” Hmmm…, King uses phrases of unfortunately often, doesn’t he?

King mentions No. 28 (ie, No. 5 Portland Place, the Gosling’s London home), specifically: “There are rather less characteristic [Adam brothers] ceilings in the (larger) front and back rooms on the first floor of 28 and in the two drawing rooms of 42; and much less characteristic ones in the ground floor back room of 28, a small first floor room at the back of 36 and the ground floor front room of 58.” In short, you will see what No. 5 looks like today, but — use imagination! — think of Mary and her sisters, running down the stairs to meet that coach coming around the corner of Cavendish Street.

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Letter to Mamma

April 28, 2013 at 2:37 pm (entertainment, history, news, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , )

Last week I bid on this little snippet from the Smith & Gosling past:

mrs smith free front 1838

I suspect it once contained a letter written to Mamma by Eliza (and/or her husband Denis Le Marchant). The “frank” is described as the signature of Mr. Labouchere; it’s a REAL guess, because the Smiths obtained franks from so many quarters. Given the date and Denis’ position in the late 1830s, it’s a guess that makes me salivate for the letter it once contained!

My father rather scoffed when he saw the tiny scrap. I must admit to my own disappointment – but I simply had to have it. Something once addressed to Mamma Smith! It was the shock, genuine shock, of seeing MAPLEDURHAM as I looked through tons of letters online. Pity this one contained no actual letter… What might have been written in 1838 to Mamma?? Is the letter somewhere, waiting to be ‘reunited’ with its (partial) envelope?

I held the paper up to the window and spotted a fabulous watermark: a large fleur de lys and below this, J & M, written in script. The cartouche around the fleur de lys has been cropped — for this is only a Free Front: what you see in the image (above) is what I got.

It’s early days; my information on watermarks comes from a book (quite wonderful; called Mozart: Studies of the Autograph Scores) that out of necessity does not comment on English writing paper. IF anyone can ID the paper for me, I’d love to hear from you. In the meantime, have a look at this terrific set of watermarks from England and Continental papers.

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Prinny’s Tailor

April 22, 2013 at 11:59 pm (books, british royalty, fashion, history, news, people) (, , , , , , )

Charlotte Frost (you will find fascinating items via her Twitter feed!) mentioned to me a wonderful WordPress blog on Louis Bazalgette (1750-1830), tailor to George The Prince of Wales.

additional items to peruse on the same subject:

Author Charles Bazalgette has been researching his ancestor for over fifteen years – turning up (among other items) original bank records — alas: with Coutts, rather than Goslings & Sharpe.

prinnys_taylor

as a P.S., you can read Charles Bazalgette’s review of Charlotte Frost’s biography of Sir William Knighton — who was uncle to Smith&Gosling in-laws Richard Seymour (husband to Fanny Smith) and Frances Seymour (wife to Spencer Smith).

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Boston Marathon: Express Yourself at Memoirture

April 17, 2013 at 1:39 pm (history, news) (, , , , )

memoir

I invite all readers of TWO TEENS IN THE TIME OF AUSTEN to visit a new website called MEMOIRTURE. Several people have been posting about the recent explosions in Boston at Monday’s marathon; I added my two-cents. The gist of the site is to give people a place, and an opportunity, to post their private thoughts (I have a ‘me-only’ diary for my research), as well as weigh in and interact with others who “share your experiences”. Registration is free (and very easy to do).

You can find the Marathon thread by searching the site (once you’re logged in) for BOSTON. Take look around, click on some of the countries listed, or do alternate searches. Our ‘today’ is history in the making.

More later!

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Women’s AUTObiographies

April 13, 2013 at 10:43 am (books, british royalty, diaries, europe, history, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Readers of TWO TEENS IN THE TIME OF AUSTEN will know my debt to the wonderful microfilm series published by Adam Mathew Publications: they had microfilmed my Mary’s diaries!

While looking for girl’s schools in Ireland in the 18th century, up came this notification of the microfilm series Women’s Autobiographies from Cambridge University. What caught my attention was the biography of Dorothea Herbert: I’ve read this book!

So, of course, I had to click and investigate the other ladies on their list.

Some are so “famous” they need no introduction: Laetitia Pilkington, Mrs Papendiek, Sydney Lady Morgan (pictured below), Elizabeth Grant (the ‘Highland Lady’), Hester Thrale Piozzi (whom I’ve discussed elsewhere). To name a few.

A couple REALLY grab my attention:

  • Hannah Robertson, The Life of Mrs Robertson, Grand-Daughter of Charles II (1791) The description of her life’s disappointments sound heart-rending!
  • Mary Anne Talbot, The Life and Surprising Adventures of Mary Anne Talbot in the name John Taylor (1809). Yes, she passed as a young man! The description places her biography among the “18th century genre of sensational memoirs”, but there are numerous histories (typically later) of women passing as men. The description also makes a good point: “Whether fictional or true Talbot’s account raises the 18th century social issue about how women, without traditional male protection, survived in a patriarchal society”.

lady morgan

I’d like to locate the following:

  • Baroness Craven, Memoirs of the Margravine of Anspach (1826), for Emma’s Great Aunt visited the Margravine when on a trip through Italy & Germany!
  • Catharine Carey, Memoirs of Miss C.E. Cary (1825). Described as a roman a clef, and based on the writer’s life with Queen Caroline, the memoir may be “‘one of the few first-hand records of the Regency era’s covert power struggles‘.”

This one I must find, simply because of its title:

  • Anna Brownell Jameson, Visits and Sketches at Home and Abroad by Mrs Jameson including Diary of an Ennuyée (1834) – but she also knew (and presumably writes about) Fanny Kemble, Elizabeth Barrett-Browning, Jane Welsh Carlyle, and Barbara Bodichon.

The Publisher’s note gives food for thought: “Women’s autobiographies provide a rich and diverse source of information for social historians, literary scholars, and students studying women and gender issues.

We may wonder what compelled women to write their life histories. ….From these first-hand accounts much information can be learned. For example, recollections of a family history can reveal differing regional cultures….private thoughts relating to marriage, spinsterhood and romance. These autobiographies also reveal women’s aspirations in life: socially what was
expected of them, and privately what they felt they should aspire to.”

la belle_1808

Autobiographies cover the stage, royalty, the workhouse, emigration (for instance, Rebecca Burland relocates to Illinois in her A True Picture of Emigration [1848]), and even evangelical transformation.

Neither Mary nor Emma left a true “autobiography”, but the threads of their lives, left behind in diaries and letters, also gives a “true picture” of their lives and times. So my ladies are among an excellent crowd.

smith-gosling_silhouette1

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eBay: Free Fronts

April 7, 2013 at 1:28 pm (diaries, europe, history, jane austen, people, research) (, , , , , , , , )

My! just when you think that searching eBay for ‘entire letters’ is hard, comes the realization that there is a thing called Free Front. Namely, these are the remains (no other name for it) of a letter. The “letter” (as in ‘entire’) is not extant; the “cover” – a free-standing sheet of paper used to wrap the pre-stamp era letter (and may by what the free front represents; keep reading*) has been cut so that the address panel alone exists.

*NB: the address panel could be that of a folded letter – would depend: if writing is present on the backside then the address was most likely applied to a section left blank for that purpose, and the paper folded and sealed so that the address showed. This Jane Austen letter shows what I mean:

austen envelope

You can see the writing on the other side of the paper; the red seal still exists and this view shows the part of the lower page has been taken for more of the letter (typically, there will be two other ‘letter continuations’ to the left and right of the address). You can see more Austen Letters at the Morgan Library’s website. Want Austen facsimiles to keep? Find a copy of Jo Modert’s book!

I digress…

In short, for my purposes I’d kill to find another (my “only” letter was purchased thanks to Craig in Australia alerting me!) Autograph Letter Signed, or ALS, also known as ‘entire’ letter. A cover is nice – but at the same time: no letter (boo…). So who knew such ‘trimmed’ specimens existed too.

NB: I am grateful to ALL who contact me,
whether you have a cover or entire letter
just happy to transcribe contents or addresses

The hard part is, I’m not looking for postal marks, I don’t collect certain counties or places; I want INFORMATION! I want chatty letters. EBay does not make this easy. Few listings comment on the sender / recipient. And I do not have the patience to open and look and try to decipher EVERY friggin address.

Which brings me to today’s post.

Gosh! some of these people have HORRIBLE handwriting!

I’m talking the address, NOT the ‘autograph’. Ah, which reminds me to tell you what a Free Front is.

A FRANK you are probably familiar with; members of parliament could send mail — franked (ie, they made out the envelope and “signed” it) — free of charge to the recipient. This was supposedly used ONLY for parliamentary business. Even Jane Austen writes Cassandra Austen about her ability (or inability) to secure a Frank. So the letters could very well BE those chatty ones I’m dying to find more of! (So you see my dilemma… where are the letters?? pitched or just somewhere else — with a big hole!)

To quote: “Free franks were avidly sought during the first three decades of the nineteenth century for autograph collections. This was accomplished by cutting out the front panels of the envelope which carried the inscriptions which were required under the use of this privilege. These panels are referred to by collectors as free fronts.”

Must say, when there are ‘entire’ letters listed on eBay, so many prove to be letters of business: to merchants of wine or books; or the family solicitor. But even those are not Smith&Gosling letters of business. That’s why I’m so grateful to people like Antony in Essex – he contacted me and sent scans of his Eliza Chute letters, which left me wanting more.

BTW, Jane Austen’s brother Frank Austen gifted collectors interested in the autograph of his sister with a signature trimmed out of a letter from her to him. Ohhhh…. (read that as a big GROAN!). Why not the entire letter?! I have a feeling ome of those snipped-out pieces may be all that has come down to us of some letters.

I am reminded that I had thoughts to pass along to reader of TWO TEENS IN THE TIME OF AUSTEN regarding the letter-writing notations noticed in the 1830s diaries of Mamma Smith, which I’ve been proofing and reading this weekend; so hope to follow up with a part II, but I leave you with two images found on eBay today.

free front1

free front2

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Finding a Voice: Diane Jacobs on ‘Abigail Adams and her Sisters’

April 4, 2013 at 12:59 pm (books, diaries, europe, history, jasna, people, research) (, , , , , , )

Looking for information about the Leon Levy Center for Biography (CUNY), I came across notice of this past lecture by Diane Jacobs:

adams_jacobs

What leapt off the screen was the idea that Jacobs solved the problem of “finding a voice for each of her protagonists”. TWO TEENS IN THE TIME OF AUSTEN, while focused on Emma Smith and Mary Gosling, has the proverbial cast of thousands: Emma had 8 siblings; Mary, 6; in-laws for all those siblings who married add significantly to the count; parents and grandparents, especially ‘Mamma’ – Augusta Smith, and papa William Gosling; and all the relatives, friends, and neighbors who populate the letters and diaries.

Whew! rather like the chorus of a Gilbert & Sullivan extravaganza: “his sisters and his cousins, whom he reckons up by dozens, and his aunts“.

Jacobs also discussed “finding a way to distribute her attention between the one famous and the two unknown sisters” (for the record, Abigail’s sisters were Mary Smith Cranch and Elizabeth Smith Shaw Peabody). I have the problem of a super-well-represented sister (Emma Austen Leigh), several under-represented siblings, and a dying-for-more protagonist (Lady Smith). I believe there are primary materials out there, as yet “un(re)discovered”: more diaries and certainly more letters.

At least I don’t have to deal with “John Adams, who is not a main character, and yet so profoundly affects everyone else”! Although, I must ‘insinuate’ the historical since the “times” my ladies lived through are so eventful.

Wish I could have been in the audience at one of the several similar lectures Diane Jacobs gave last fall. And wish her book was already completed and out! I’d dearly love to read it. My own brush with Abigail Adams comes from her delightful letters sent home (to those sisters) from England and France. I even used her letters in a Jane Austen-related JASNA lecture.

I’ve a couple blog posts on Abigail Adams:

Check out the new material at the Massachusetts Historical Society’s digital edition of The Adam Papers, or read Abigail’s letters to her sisters!

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La Belle Miss Linwood

April 2, 2013 at 5:06 am (books, diaries, history, people, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , )

La Belle Assemblée for November, 1821 featured this “biographical sketch” of Mary Linwood.

miss linwood_la belle 1821

For an alternate post on Miss Linwood – and why she figures in the Smith & Gosling story.

“In the ranks of female talent and merit, we deem ourselves called upon to present the portrait of Miss Linwood, a lady who stands deservedly high among the female artists of this country, and who accomplishments and character place her in that galaxy of merit, which honours the sex, and distinguishes our country. Of female worth and abilities, it has ever been our ambition to present a faithful chronicle; and we consider the correct likeness of this lady will not fail to maintain the interest of our Biographical page.

“Miss Linwood is a native ow Warwickshire, and her family of high respectability: from her early years, Miss Linwood’s chief place of residence has been Leicester.

“A trifling circumstance appears to have given birth to her first essay in an art, in which she has since so eminently distinguished herself. About the year 1782, a friend sent her a large collection of prints in various styles of engraving, as mezzotinto, &c. &c.: the present elicited the taste of Miss Linwood’s mind. However, it appears they were presented with no other view than that of affording a few days amusement. But she inspected them with the eye of genius, and seems to have conceived that the force of a line-engraving might be united with the softness of a mezzotinto: but, unacquainted with the use of aquafortis in etching, a stranger to the mode of scraping a mezzotinto, and, indeed, ignorant, in a manner, of the whole art of engraving, she had, therefore, no instrument but her needle to make the experiment she had conceived: she resolved, therefore, to embody her first idea, by copying those prints she most admired, in black and puce-coloured silk upon white sarcenet; and her success was so great, that the needle promised to become a new and formidable rival to the pencil.

“Encouraged by the applause bestowed on her first essays, she made copies on a larger scale; and as Catharine II. of Russia was then the munificent protector of genius, Miss Linwood was advised to present a specimen of her works to the empress. She accordingly sent a large picture to St. Petersburgh, which, in October 1783, was presented to her Imperial Majesty by the then chief favourite, General Landskoy. The empress expressed the highest admiration of the performance, and declared it, in that branch of art, the finest, in her opinion, the world could have produced, and, at the same time, ordered Landskoy to make such a present to the artist, as should be worthy of the work, and of herself. But death countermanded the munificent command, for the general’s demise took place a few weeks afterwards, and no one in the Court of Petersburgh durst afterwards to mention his name, or any matter which had relation to him, so deeply afflicted was the imperial Catharine at his death. The picture, however, was highly distinguished, and always occupied a favoured situation in the late emperor’s palace, and still retains its honours in that of the present emperor Alexander.

“Miss Linwood’s first attempt to imitate paintings in oil, was in 1785, in which she was so successful, that she submitted to the Society for encouraging the Arts, &c. her St. Peter, from Guido; the head of King Lear, from Sir Joshua Reynolds; and a Hare, from the Houghton Collection. She was voted, for this, by the Society, a medal, on which was engraven, between two branches of laurel,

‘EXCELLENT IMITATIONS OF PICTURES IN NEEDLEWORK.’

“Between that period and 1789, she made great additions to her collection, and in that year she made the exquisite and highly celebrated copy of the Salvator Mundi, form a painting by Guido, in the Earl of Exeter’s collection, for which copy she was once offered the sum of three thousand guineas!

“We mention it as an extraordinary incident, highly resounding to the honour of the fair artist, that she wrought the first banner offered to any military association; and, in the year 1794, she presented it to the united corps of cavalry and yeomanry of Leicestershire. The design was original and extremely appropriate, and the whole finished with a neatness seldom united with such strength and force of design.

“It is yet more extraordinary in the genius of this admirable woman, that she was never regularly instructed in drawing; yet she was uncommon merit in painting, both in crayons, distemper, and colours; and her drawings are distinguished by their accuracy, taste, and spirit.

“The first idea of making an exhibition of her own works, originated in some pictures having been sent by her to the Royal Academy, which were refused admittance, the Academy being open only to paintings, drawings, and sculpture: but from every president of the Royal Academy, from the celebrated Sir Joshua Reynolds to the present, and from the most eminent artists, her works have received the most generous and unqualified praise.

“To enumerate the merits of Miss Linwood’s exhibition is scarcely requisite. Miss Linwood has produced a collection, which, considering its extent and intrinsic merit, will be deemed a monument of superior genius, and of an industry and perseverance unknown in the annals of female patience and exemplary skill.

“The most valuable picture ever produced by this lady, which exhibits the genius and the skill of the artist in the finest light, and affords the best specimen of the wonderful capabilities of this most curious art, we consider to be the Salvator Mundi. The beauties of the original picture were evidently not only carefully studied by Miss Linwood, but well understood, and the mechanical dexterity with which the truth of the finest pictural effects are produced, is most extraordinary.

“The Farmer’s Stable, after Morland, is as fine a copy of the original pictures as can be conceived, perhaps, in any branch of art; but, considered as a piece of needlework, its truth and effect in drawing and colouring, and the clear making out of the minute detail, is a rare curiosity.

“Jephthah’s Vow, a large picture, after Opie, is a fine specimen. Lady Jane Gray, form a painting by Northcote, has great beauty and merit. Hubert and Arthur, also from Northcote; Eloisa, from Opie; and the celebrated Woodman, after Barker, would alone confer on the fair artists a lasting distinction.

“We may conclude with the words of an eminent biographical writer, the works of Miss Linwood ‘exhibit an honourable history of her life.'”

{copied without correction, from the original}

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