Maria Culme Seymour, miniature by Ross

July 28, 2013 at 12:50 pm (diaries, fashion, history, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , )

I’ve written before about finding this darling miniature of Maria Smith AKA Lady Culme Seymour; but last night I took the opportunity to RELOOK at Bonhams auction site, because a letter I’ve given scant attention to actually mentions THIS VERY image!

It is the end of November, 1844; Maria and John Culme Seymour have been married since February; the visitor is Mamma Smith, and she is writing, jointly, to daughters Emma and Eliza:

“Maria sang too; she … played her part [ie, of hostess] very well; conversed with animation, was polite to all, & looked happy: she looked young & pretty, with Curls; looked quite like Ross’s picture.”

That comment alone tells me that Mamma thought the portrait a fair likeness of her youngest daughter!

As you can see, when you go to Bonhams, they have a “similar items” area in the lower right corner; in this case, other portraits done by Sir William Charles Ross, RA.

Among them is this portrait, simply described as “of a Lady”. As you know, such terminology kills me.

Ross_a Lady-closeup

A sweet, yet slightly melancholy face, wouldn’t you say. The description is short: “A Lady, standing in a landscape and wearing black dress and white underslip, a pink rose at her corsage [sic?], jeweled belt, olive green shawl draped about her shoulders, her hair upswept into a knot, the front centrally parted and curled in ringlets framing her face, holding periwinkles in her right hand. Gilt-mounted within brown leather travelling case lined with velvet.” She sold for £2000 in a May 2013 auction (and was earlier sold through Christie’s, in 1979).

Who could she be??

_I_ am looking for a “missing” Ross portrait: of Fanny Seymour. Richard Seymour (who also sat to the artist in April 1836), wrote in his diary of Ross’s visit to Kinwarton on the 22nd to paint Fanny in September 1836; and on the 28th, he says:

“Mr. Ross has finished a miniature of dearest Fanny – w:h quite satisfies me – and I have just paid him £30. viz: £26..5 for the Min: and £3..15 for the frame & case, yet to come. X Giving him a £5 note and checque on Curries for £25. This piece of self indulgence will I hope be pardoned in me –“

Now compare the above to Maria, which Mamma seems to agree is a good likeness:

Maria Culme-Seymour2

Not the same person, but could they be sisters? And yet compare to their Sister-in-law Frances (Seymour) Smith (Spencer Smith’s wife), another miniature by Ross dating to the mid-1830s (this a later “copy”):

Smith_FrancesSeymour-MagdalenaRoss_1836-1911copy

While not as engaging as this slyly-smiling Frances Smith, one almost wonders a bit: Could it be her?

Ah, I mourn that the sitter of the Bonhams Ross miniature may go through life forever more as “A Lady”. If only Richard had written something about what Fanny wore, or how she  was posed.

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Jane Austen: Coming to Your Wallet Soon?

July 25, 2013 at 7:50 am (books, jane austen) (, )

austen_tenpounds

Bank of England: Jane Austen to be on next Ten Pound note.

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Georgette Heyer’s BATH TANGLE

July 24, 2013 at 9:54 am (books, british royalty, diaries, history, news) (, , , , , , , )

Now, I was rather pleased to see the portrait of Spencer Compton (Emma’s cousin; later the 2nd Marquess of Northampton) gracing the cover of a recent edition of a Georgette Heyer novel. Even so, it was a bit of a curious find when, searching for Lady Smith-Burgess, I stumbled upon this serialization of Miss Heyer’s Bath Tangle in THE AUSTRALIAN WOMEN’S WEEKLY, 3rd installment of 6 in the issue dated 13 April 1955. Heyer mentions the rumor of the marriage of Lady Smith-Burgess to Lord Poulett!

heyer_smith burgess

Lady Smith-Burgess was the widow of Emma’s great uncle Sir John (brother to Emma’s maternal grandfather, Joshua Smith of Erle Stoke Park). Indeed the couple married in the summer of 1816, the time period for this novel.

But why on earth would Heyer chose this couple?

You can see through my new Smith&Gosling Timeline what was happening in the Smith family c1816.

Susannah Praed Smith also made note of the upcoming events in her diary:

Thurs:y 18th Mr Smith was obliged to go to Town on business – and we received a letter from Lady Smith Burges to tell us the day was fixed for her Marriage with Lord Poulett and to desire us all to be present at the ceremony = on account of its taking Place the 23d – we thought we had better go to London the day before – &

Mond:y 22d we left Bersted very early – got to Norfolk St before five OClock – found Mr Smith at home expecting us –

Tues:y 23d The Duke of Clarence dined with us – and in the Evening H: R H: went with us to Picadilly – as he was to give her Lady Burges away….

Ah, ha! The Duke of Clarence, of course, was the future King William IV; undoubtedly, their marriage was BIG news in 1816, and Heyer used it to advantage.

heyer_bath tangle

You can read the entire serialization at TROVE:

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Prince of Cambridge

July 23, 2013 at 8:31 pm (british royalty, news, people) (, , , )

royals

All the “royal baby” watch and news has made me recall the loving thoughts “Mamma Smith” (Augusta Smith) penned into the year’s summary in her diary for 1798:

“I pray God that I may not be spoiled by this prosperity, & that I may bear a reverse with resignation & patience. Now, love & fortune smile upon me, & I find myself near becoming a Mother, an event which will give pleasure to many of those nearly connected with me.”

If written at the true “end” of the year, Mamma was little more than a month away from giving birth to her eldest child, a girl to be named Augusta after her mother. Either she, or her baby, or both, could very well have not come through the ordeal of “confinement”.

Two Teens in the Time of Austen sends congratulations to the new parents on their “little bundle of joy”.

 

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Edward Odell’s Writing Box

July 21, 2013 at 12:20 pm (books, diaries, europe, history, people, research, travel) (, , , , , , )

As I neared the end of Lord Ossory’s diary — he has reached home (Kilkenny, Ireland) and returned to the bosom of his family, but now writes some thoughts about his impressions of the trip, especially the well-explored Island of Sicily (which he will later publish about) — I came across this rather shocking passage:

We left London at night on Tuesday

for Wednesdays packet. At Maidenhead we

had the pleasure of finding that some [brute?]

youth had put his hand into the hind

seat of the carriage, & bagged our two writing boxes.

We had unfortunately left Benelli {Odell’s servant} behind,

instead of taking him down to Bristol.

Odell lost a good many things of value in his.

I luckily had not left any thing very precious

in mine, but it was provoking

losing it after it had travelled so far

without damage. It was full of letters.

I have a great recollection of Odell meeting with Mamma Smith (more than once?), after his return to England in January 1833, and went to re-look up those winter events. In Emma’s journal, there is this entry for 8 February 1833:

Read Mr Odell’s journal of Drummond’s illness

Of course even at the time of transcribing that particular passage my heart skipped a beat: Odell had kept a journal!

That makes sense, though: Drummond had kept a journal; Ossory had kept a journal; Odell had hoped to publish about the trip – so why wouldn’t he have kept a journal.

Having now TWO of the three journals at my disposal, thoughts turned to, ‘Wonder where Odell’s journal might be? with family? in an Irish archive? lost to posterity?’

So last night I turned to the letters, so see what else was written around this time period — and began my reading with Drummond’s own letters written in the spring of 1832. Mamma, displeased that he had said nothing about wanting to go abroad with Odell, had quite evidently shown her displeasure. What exists (in copy) are two letters Drummond wrote, in response, confessing to a long-standing (since their Harrow days!) desire to travel together; that he would never think to ask anyone for money for such a trip but Mamma; that he never concealed a trip from her, only never had anything concrete to ask her consent about.

Poor Mamma! how she must have been beating herself over ever giving this permission.

And yet, Drummond was such a favorite – and he made a good case, by saying that he had been at Cambridge for three years (his eldest brother Charles had only done two years, and then took a lengthy trip abroad — though Drummond recognized that as eldest son, Charles had more money!) and was about to take his examinations. How could Mamma have ever hardened her heart and made him stay home.

Only 20 years old, Drummond was the youngest of the three travellers. Mamma – from what you read in Ossory’s diary of Drummond’s illness – would not have left him to fend so much for himself, and probably would have had him treated quite differently, and by different medical men. I think she would have removed him from Sicily far in advance of his lowest days, and I do wonder how much had the (in)actions of Ossory and Odell contributed to Drummond’s death.

Ossory’s diary rather exposes an indifference; what would Odell — a close friend to Drummond — have written in his journal at the time everything was unfolding?

Now, a “brute hand” may indeed have removed the evidence! If Odell’s journal was in his writing box.

At the same time, would the Smiths have been satisfied with merely reading Odell’s journal; or would one of the industrious sisters have copied it out?! Time will tell if more (letters and/or diaries) turn up regarding Sicily – November 1832 – Drummond Smith – Edward Odell of Carriglea – Lord Ossory of Kilkenny.

regency writing box

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Etna Erupts: Lord Ossory’s diary for 1832

July 14, 2013 at 2:46 pm (books, diaries, europe, history, news, people, research, travel) (, , , , , , , , , )

These last few weeks I have had the pleasure of transcribing TWO diaries — thanks to Kildare and Pat. The miracle is that both came to me within days, and both cover the same 1832 trip take by Drummond Smith (Emma’s youngest brother), Lord Ossory (John Butler, later: the 2nd Marquess of Ormonde), and Edward Odell (of Carriglea).

I’ve written about this trip before, because Odell seemed to be confessing to a friend that he — and “Smith” — had determined to continue travelling, going on to Egypt, Asia Minor and Persia! DID MAMMA SMITH KNOW? was my burning question. Alas, she never got the chance to permit (or not) further travels: Drummond died in Palermo, aged only 20.

ormonde_sicily

Among the last scenery Drummond witnessed?

For a later post, will be the mystery of WHO transcribed Drummond’s 1832 journal and letters; the handwriting is not his – and seems to match none of his siblings either.

For this post, though, because I’ve been transcribing Lord Ossory’s fascinating account of being at Etna’s 1832 eruption, only days after it began (and that was on All Souls Day, November 2; Drummond died three days later, on the 5th of November), I wanted to take a look at his book account of the same.

* READ Lord Ossory’s published account, An Autumn in Sicily (1850)

I include here a handful of pages, comprising Ossory’s reaction to visiting the scene of Etna (click on the photos):
ormonde1
ormonde2ormonde3ormonde4ormonde5
*
Now, I’m not going to include everything Ossory wrote in the midst (or aftermath) of seeing Etna erupt; but I will give readers a glimpse of the immediacy of the journal, even compared to the same incident he later covered in his book. This is most of the entry for Saturday, 17 November 1832:

  Well might the place be called the Fondaco della {Nacilla?}, for I never was so tormented by fleas in all my life, or more glad to get up at ½ past 5. After eating some breakfast we got off at ¼ to 7. I walked the first part of the way. We got on very slowly on a most infernal road for four hours, up hill all the way, and to add to our pleasure we were enveloped in a thick mist, & small rain. It was extremely cold. We passed thro a Bosco of some of the only good trees I saw in Sicily. Oak. Ash & Beech. We could hear the gunning from Etna very distinctly Exactly like the previous day. Having forded the river Alcantara about ½ a dozen times, we got to Randazzo at 1 passing thro the small village of S. Domenico on the top of the hill. We went to the Fondaco  got some thing to eat and as carriages were to be got – the beasts were tired we unloaded  got into a thing drawn by three horses & rattled off to Bronte. The road was very good & we got on well. About 3 miles from Bronte we saw the lava running, & the trees on fire  The noise was very great. We performed the 12 miles in about two hours, & got there at 4. The inn had only one room about 12 feet by 9. They said they could put 4 or 5 beds into it if we wished. We only wished them good morning, & got a private house next door. the room was very clean but unfurnished the man having secured his goods in case of accidents.   We got a guide & set off to the Lava. An old stream reaches to within half a mile of Bronte. We walked over this for nearly 3 miles where the new lava was. The sight was a most extraordinary & fearful one. The stream was semicircular of about a mile in breadth, and advancing rapidly. The pace depends naturally on the lie of the ground but it is sure to get over every thing. It appeared to be about from 30 to 50 feet in depth. I do not know exactly how to describe the appearance of it. Perhaps the best idea may be formed by imagining a hill of about the height I have mentioned. The top of which is continually falling to the bottom & as constantly replaced. The lava is not liquid, but rolls down in large masses, & tho the outside is blackish, yet every stone that falls leaves a fiery trail behind for the moment. The noise of the falling lava resembled water. One block fell close to where we stood. It could not have weighed less than a ton. We lit segars from it. The stream advanced principally in two directions North & West. From the first no danger was apprehended but the second had its head straight for Bronte. We heard that several hundred people were employed at a sort of bastion to arrest it, but did not see it. I doubt if human means could resist it. The principal pattern of the whole was the idea that it gave  of irresistible force. It did not come on fast except comparatively. we went close to it & pushed out hot bits with our sticks but still on it came changing the whole face of the country. Making hills were [sic: where] valleys had been, changing the face of the country and overwhelming all the works of man, leaving all behind one black rough mass of hard & barren lava. The Borea whence it issued was not visible from the stream of Lava. Before leaving it, I took some observations as to the positions of trees to be able to judge of the process of it. As we returned to the town the appearance of the lava in the dark was beautiful. It had advanced already 10 miles from the Crater.

Oh, for Drummond’s thoughts on this same scene… I was rather of two minds about Lord Ossory, even before reading his Drummond-deathbed-account: Ossory erased Drummond Smith from his published account, making mention only of one travel companion, Edward Odell. I’d love to know if Emma or Maria, Fanny even, or Eliza — and most especially Spencer Smith, who caught up with Ossory & Odell in early December 1832 — ever came across An Autumn in Sicily.
*
special thanks
To Ann in Ireland, for first glimpse of Ossory’s diary
To Kildare, for Lord Ossory’s diary
To Pat

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New Portraits!

July 11, 2013 at 9:43 pm (news, people, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , )

While looking at the BBC “Your Paintings” website, I’ve unearthed a couple of new images, including this one of the Smiths’ cousin Spencer, Marquess of Northampton, by Thomas Phillips.

Phillips is of interest because he reportedly painted a portrait of Mrs Drummond Smith (the former Mary Cunliffe); and “the circle of Thomas Phillips” is credited with the portrait of Joshua Smith of Erle Stoke Park, which is also found on the BBC site.

Spencer’s portrait was presented to the Royal Society c1849, and was painted c1845. Other images of Spencer Compton is presented in the “portraits” page.

The other portrait find is of Thomas Gardiner Bramston, of Skreens, the father of John Bramston – who evidently proposed to Charlotte Smith, but ultimately married Clarissa Trant.

Emma’s 1831 diary mentions the death of Mr Bramston of Skreens – but offers up no details; maybe she didn’t know them. If you read the above link, you’ll learn about Mr Bramston’s parliamentary career as well as some details of his death.

*NEW* and a little more digging at the BBC unearthed four portraits — two hitherto unseen! — of Spencer Compton’s daughter, Lady Marian Alford. My favorite has been added to the “portraits” page.

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Firth’s Darcy Hits Hyde Park

July 9, 2013 at 9:35 pm (entertainment, jane austen, london's landscape, news) (, , , )

darcy

Kooky? Hideous? HUGE!

Colin Firth’s “wet shirt Mr Darcy” advertises a new (free!) UK digital Channel, “DRAMA”. Read the drama behind the story:

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McCullough on 60 Minutes

July 1, 2013 at 8:55 am (books, history, travel) (, , , , , , , )

Spend a half-hour with historian David McCullough (and Morley Safer!). I love the segment filmed in Paris… Makes me want to BE THERE. And a bonus: Olivia de Havilland!

mccullough

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