Leave YOUR Mark: at Memoirture

March 16, 2014 at 1:08 pm (europe, history, news) (, , , , , )

The site where I have been s-l-o-w-l-y posting about my Jane Austen Summer (2007) (further posts can be accessed here), Memoirture, is hosting a Kickstarter campaign for a TIME CAPSULE, to be opened at the next millennium. Yep: a 1,000 years from now.

As readers of TWO TEENS IN THE TIME OF AUSTEN know, my research is predicated upon finding primary materials: letters, diaries, portraits, biographies &c. I’ve been lucky, in that the Smith & Gosling families not only retained items, they wrote them in the first place!

Will your blogs and tweets last 1,000 years? I’m not even sure my paper diaries will withstand that test of time. Memoirture’s ambitious project will preserve both written words as well as sound. Join me in supporting this unique project by checking out the Unified Time Capsule Kickstarter Project Page.

Prof Harris

Professor Ruth Harris, University of Oxford

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You’re Invited: Fashion in 1811 Project

January 25, 2014 at 1:02 pm (europe, fashion, history, news) (, , , , , , , , )

Serendipitous Stitchery recently announced a year-long project:

journaljourney

Four costume historians will update monthly the news of fashions in 1811 from:

  • Journal des Luxus und der Moden
  • Journal des Dames et des Modes
  • La Belle Assemblee
  • Ackermanns Repository

JANUARY 1811 is up! Click on the picture for more information on the project, as well as to see and read about London / Paris / Weimar Fashions from January 1811.

Fabulous Project!

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Free Book Download

January 15, 2014 at 9:14 pm (books, estates, europe, history, places, research) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Charlotte Frost, author of Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician (who was an uncle of Fanny’s husband, Richard Seymour), has mention a book that caught her eye:

Slavery-British-Country-House

Slavery and the British Country House is offered on the English Heritage website. Anyone with interest in “the English Country House” (Downton Abbey anyone?) will find something worth reading here. A lavishly-illustrated hardcover has been produced, but dip in to the *free* PDF of the text.

NB: I had to copy the full PDF address, go away from the site, and pop it in the address line. Try it, if you have problems downloading.

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Sarah Beeny’s “Great British Christmas”

December 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm (entertainment, europe, history, jane austen) (, , , , , )

It was with great anticipation, after hearing this show was to be broadcast this past Monday, that I searched online for “A Great British Christmas, with Sarah Beeny” (originally broadcast on UK’s Channel 4). I don’t know why, but I really believed this was a multi-part series, with the first “hour” dedicated to a Georgian Christmas. I so hankered for knowledge of what exactly “Georgian” Christmas rites and festivities were!

(I kept seeing “Series 1 – Episode 1,” which does make it sound like a lengthy “series”….)

My mistake; the 46-minute, single episode rushes through the Georgians to firmly trot onto the Victorian’s well-trod ground of family, children, toys, and trees. I’m afraid I stopped there, and by the time I got back to watching this particular link had disappeared…. So I missed out on the rest of the Victorian era (if much more remained), as well as all the “war-time” era and whatever of “today” was shown.

[NB: If you see any "video" at the end of my posts, those are WordPress Ads... I'll try to make a concerted effort to have text and not a photo at the end]

great british xmas1

The show starts off with a lengthy introduction: the rehab project by Beeny and her husband at their Yorkshire property, Rise Hall. Channel 4 “advertises” that a show exists on this rehab project, so, given the length (and the focus) of this Christmas special, less would have been more (dare I use the word “padding”?): however, I’d LOVE to find Rise Hall’s “Restoration Nightmare” online… Will have to look.

great british xmas2

A useful segment on the Kissing Ball — still not sure if this was called a Kissing Bowl or Kissing Bough instead (rather like “Rise” Hall, I would have turned on closed-captioning if I’d been watching this on TV). Was it really only hung “downstairs”? LOVED that when you kissed you plucked off a Mistletoe Berry. And who knew that in churches (only in Britain?) Mistletoe is verboten – except at York Minster!

This is a pretty display; it rather looks, with its candles, very Advent Wreath-like to me (ah, those Germans… already!?)

great british xmas3

This makes me think of my childhood; not because _we_ had a fireplace, but because WPIX in New York City went off-air (can you imagine such a thing nowadays!) and the only picture on the TV was a burning Yule Log.

There was something about your Yule log lasting till Twelfth Night – but as my link isn’t working, I can’t go back and listen to this section of the show. HUGE log hauled in here; LOVE the fruit and cinnamon sticks!! What a scent they must have sent into the air.

It was here however that I rather wondered: who wrote Beeny’s script? Was there a researcher who plucked out of letters, diaries, whathaveyou the very “rites” of the Festive Season I was craving to learn about? Or, was there some secondary book on, say, Regency Christmases, that — right or wrong — was followed.

There is a book out there (which I confess I’ve never seen in the flesh) that may serve as the basis for an online LIST of GIFTS received by my Emma, used to conclude that large gift-exchanges occurred at this date. Trouble is, I’ve seen mention of items from this list: I suspect it’s Emma’s list of BIRTHDAY gifts (HRO did call them both; but I’m not sure); and one year it’s gifts bought by Charles Joshua Smith (her eldest brother) while on his Grand Tour.

I made one brief note at this point, and can’t relisten: there was talk of attending Church twice. This given as “proof” of the Georgian era’s “piety.” Trouble is, they ALWAYS (horrid weather permitting) went to Church twice on Sundays!

great british xmas4

On to food then – with this woman, whose name I did not note at the time. Now, _I_ (fussy eater that I am, and not a great lover of meat either) wouldn’t want to eat much of what was on offer either, but “been there before” with the turned-up noses and snide comments. Amanda Vickery’s Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice  “Netherfield” Ball special also had a culinary historian chief; that was, as I recall, quite informative. Pity that route wasn’t taken here.

But then, we were pressed for time, weren’t we…

great british xmas5

One “game” was discussed: that of plucking out raisins (were they?) from a flaming bowl. But my attention was caught instead by the Christmas Cake, and the short discussion of King / Queen for the Day. There is a delightful segment in the Letters of Abigail Adams (yes, Mrs John Adams, later President of the United States), when the couple was resident in Paris. Talk of “No Bean – No Queen,” which I remember to this day. John, alas, does not come off well in his wife’s tale!

I’ll see if I can hunt up an online version of this letter (one of my favorites!); written to her sister, it is not at the major site of Adams correspondence.

great british xmas6

Must confess to being rather disappointed. Of course the link I used to watch half thursday night was down by yesterday. A few comments of the “rude” Georgians and their kissing ball (bowl? bough? not sure what she said!), few more about their “crude” food and “rude” adult games (those flaming bowls). Then it was on to toys and kiddies, trees and “traditional” Xmas.

I will try to post about the “Christmas” I have found via the Smith-Gosling family – but, like many things, what they took for granted they did not always expressly comment about.

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Three Births: December 1791

September 28, 2013 at 11:24 pm (europe, history, people, research)

3births

The Scots Magazine for December 1791 had three birth notices that caught my eye. I found it through a search for Maclean Clephane.

Look! Margaret Douglas Maclean Clephane was born a week before her future sister-in-law Lady Elizabeth Compton.

Lady Compton (née Maria Smith of Stoke Park; the future Lady Northampton) had lain in at the home of her parents, Sarah and Joshua Smith. Frances Elizabeth was her fourth child. Poor Maria! only her second and fourth children survived. Spencer Joshua Alwyne Compton was born in January 1790.

Mrs Douglas Maclean Clephane would have a total of three girls. Anna Jane was born in 1793 – but Mrs Maclean Clephane lost her husband while expecting her last daughter, Wilmina, in 1803.

What is the third birth, you ask?

Empress Maria Teresa of Austria…

Ah, when I first read this, I thought notice of Maria Luisa‘s birth called Maria Teresa the “comfort” of her husband! Tonight I see my mistake: that ‘s’. It of course reads that she is the ‘consort’ of her husband. This babe, too, in the end will concern us: she married, as his second wife, Emperor Napoleon.

Compton_Margaret and Marianne_Harriet Cheney

check out other
marriage-birth-death notices

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Mona Lisa Mystery

August 9, 2013 at 10:46 pm (europe, history, portraits and paintings) (, , , )

Imagine… delving into portraits this week, and Today’s news surfaces about “THE” quintissential portrait: Mona Lisa. The hunt is on to solve of the mystery of her real-life identity. Watch and Read:

mona lisa

 

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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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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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