Yesterday, long after I posted about the *FINDS* now online at the National Trust Collections, the pleasing thought came:
“I now have seen a Flower painting that Mamma worked on and finished at Suttons in August 1803!”
Augmenting my jollity came the recollection: “I have Mamma’s diary for 1803!! she was expecting Fanny (born in October), she was worried about Eliza Gosling (whose illness took her in December)” – then BOOM! came the immediate realization: “The diary pages from end of April onward have been CUT OUT; there are no entries for August…”
How well I remember the day I began transcribing this diary. I never read ahead; the unfolding drama of the written words always encourages my tired little fingers to keep on flying away. Then, suddenly, an image where there was PRINTED material on the right-hand side. I didn’t think about it and went to the next image.
There is always printed material at the beginning and end of the journals they used. Typically, they were the series published yearly, THE DAILY JOURNAL, or, GENTLEMAN’S, MERCHANT’S, AND TRADESMAN’S COMPLETE ANNUAL ACCOMPT-BOOK.
Confused, I flipped back an image: April 1803.
I flipped forward an image.
Only then, flipping back again, did the jagged edges filling the gutter of the diary register: the REST of the year had been cut out; only the yearly summation existed.
There was no information about her pregnancy and the birth of Fanny Smith.
There was no information about the last illness of young Mary’s mother, Eliza Gosling.
It was just GONE!
“Why?” is the one word question I constantly ask when coming across “mutilation” of this sort. What was there that needed “destroying”? What was there that needed to be kept separately? Surely, easier to keep – or destroy – the entire diary. And then the question, “WHO did this?” Was it the diarist? was it a child? was it someone even further down the timeline?
I just don’t get it…
So, while I’m ecstatic to see a work Mamma completed in the (presumably) balmy summer days of August 1803 (she often recorded extremes of weather), its execution – if indeed she mentioned it – remains one of the unknowns; like her comments on the imminent arrival of little Fanny, and the hectic days of travelling back and forth to London to see and hear about the health of her beloved friend and Portland Place next-door-neighbor, Eliza Gosling.
“Why? – Who did this? – What happened to the missing pages?“