In yesterday’s mail the terrific-looking new book by Jenny Uglow (I have her humongous biography of Gaskell), “In These Times”: Living in Britain through Napoleon’s Wars, 1793-1815.
Nothing can be more up my alley! It’s about the Napoleonic era without being all about battles, and strategies, and War-War-War (to quote Scarlett O’Hara). I need information of the 1790s through 1810s, but I want to learn from it, not be BORED by it. (Yeah, war bores me. Though when I worked at a local college [uni-aged students for those of you in the UK], the POPULAR courses in history were Black Death and World War II. Still, I am what I am: more interested in social history and women’s history.)
I recognize a few names – for Uglow uses personal accounts to paint a full picture. There’s the Heber family (I adore the book Dear Miss Heber…); Lady Lyttleton (née Sarah Spencer); Jane Austen’s “sailor brothers”, Frank (Sir Francis Austen later in life) and Charles Austen; Betsey Fremantle (I’m still waiting from more from her current biographer, Elaine Chalus; though I have the complete set of three volumes published in the 1940s); Mary Hardy, the Norfolk diaristabout whom I have blogged before, at RegencyReads.
Can’t tell you much about the book, as I’m only in chapter 1 – but I’m enjoying it so far! Just the right amount of detail, and well-written. It opens with an idea VERY dear to my heart – for my own book (tentatively entitled The Brilliant Vortex, about my Two Teens during the Regency era, and all those London seasons, from 1814 to 1821.) discusses the same thing: the dissemination of news. Uglow, of course, looks at newspapers. I know, for instance, that Richard Seymour, in the 1830s, borrowed newspapers. So I already knew that some people had subscriptions, some people got papers passed on to them. And I LOVE Uglow’s descriptions of particular coffee houses:
“Visiting Glasgow in 1802, Dorothy Wordsworth found ‘the largest coffee room I ever saw’, in the piazza of the Exchange. ‘Perhaps there might be thirty gentlemen sitting on the circular bench of the window, reach reading a newspaper’ …. The linen-mill owner John Marshall also admired the room, brilliantly lit with candles, and rarely with fewer than a hundred people in it. ‘There are 1100 Subscribers to the Coffee Room at 28/- a year’.”
I remember back in the 1980s & 90s when VIDEO stores started out with yearly membership SUBSCRIPTIONS. Of course, the next store would open, offering LOWER rates – until ultimately the “membership” was free.
(And now every GROCERY store sports a RedBox!)
But I-M-A-G-I-N-E: 1100 subscribers at 28 shillings a year each! Sounds like it was a little goldmine! Marshall went on (and Uglow follows suit) with what the coffee house carried: “‘They take London & Edinburgh papers & journals, country papers & 9 copies of the Sun, Star & Courier & all the monthly publications.'”
Dissemination, of course, comes from MANY sources – including correspondence (my diarists’ chief avenue), and we all have heard of the dreaded PAMPHLET and the satirical CARTOON. No one reading about the French Revolution can get away from the ideas of salacious pamphlets against Queen Marie Antoinette; and no one reading about the Regency can escape the cartoons of Rowlandson (for just one example) skewering the Prince Regent.
I have a friend whose research has turned up a COUPLE different narratives. The conundrum: WHICH pamphlet is more truthful than the other?? That made me think of this conundrum from the writer’s point of view – and that made me think of James Boswell. For he put quite a lot into print (anonymous as well as with his name) during his lifetime. I’ve blogged a LOT about Boswell’s diaries and books about the Boswell Papers.
Then it HIT ME:
Pamphlets, in the 18th & 19th century, were to the likes of Boswell what BLOGS are to the likes of me TODAY! Those with a point-of-view, or even just “something to say”, stick it out there for anyone and everyone to see. Only, today, I don’t have to locate a printer and a bookseller – I just needed to stumble upon WordPress and have an internet connection!
Can you IMAGINE: Boswell as Blogger?!?
(I sure can…)
My point to my friend was: Veracity wasn’t always on the minds of the pamphlet writer; so I find it wholly understandable that two versions of the same incident could exist. It’s like Twitter today: how many times do we hear about someone apologizing for BLASTING on social media, only to regret it later. Hard to do with a penny publication: not like you can go back and find everyone who bought your pamphlet – though a retraction, or even another pamphlet pointing out the errors (and thought to be by a DIFFERENT writer!) are not impossibilities to contemplate.
It’s that old adage back again: “Plus ςa change, plus c’est la même chose.” The more things change, the more they STAY THE SAME!
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Since I’m talking BOOKS here, I’ll make brief mention: Readers interested in obtaining a FREE copy of Hazel Jones’s Jane Austen’s Journeys – please take a look at the giveway I’m running on RegencyReads. I’m taking names for a lengthy period: till the end of this month (August 2015). I had an extra copy, so it IS a book I’m keeping on my own shelves.
I have been quite enjoying a book purchased many many years ago: Grand Tours and Cook’s Tours by Lynne Withey. A few days ago, the chapter in hand discussed the mid-19th travels of English (and others) to “the playground” of Europe, Switzerland.
Now, Switzerland has a heavy presence in the Smith & Gosling world: Lord Northampton’s father and step-mother lived there in the 1780s/90s. And the 1st Marquess’ sister, Lady Frances Compton, made several lengthy trips back to a country which quite obviously tugged at her heart-strings (though she was in England more than the 6th Marquess, who wrote The History of the Comptons of Compton Wynyates, thought…). She died in Vevey, in February 1832.
So, when I found Withey mention a WOMAN author, who wrote about Switzerland in the years 1859-1860, I was intent on finding out MORE.
Withey had claimed the book published in 1861 was by “A Lady”. A very familiar appellation, for Jane Austen was initially published under the same “soubriquet”.
I found the book, online, at Archive. BUT: Looking thru the “flip book” version I didn’t even see an AUTHOR never mind the designation “A Lady”.
I have a tendency to save books as PDFs – and yet I HATE reading them on the computer – so have a tendency NOT to read them in the end. Still: I HAVE them! And that’s what counts. Like the Withey book, some day I will pick it up.
So I clicked on PDF and was intrigued: up came a book-plate! That, too, was not shown on the flip-book.
And that SO intrigued me! But I’ll come back to that thought…
To finish my first thought: the PDF had the same title page (it’s the same book, from Lausanne), but it showed a beautiful little graphic; and curled up within the circle of leaves was the designation I had been missing: BY A LADY
In typical Library fashion, someone has penciled in a name for “A Lady”: Mrs. Henry Freshfield.
I swear, though, that this book is often ascribed to plain HENRY Freshfield. (Her first name was JANE.)
But what happened to this little graphic (compare image 1 and image 2 – same book!)??
And – (I’m long-winded today) – here comes the original idea for this post: I had thought the book had NO author designated at all. I had chuckled to myself for surmising a story, based on spotting the first book plate (there are two):
This copy of Alpine Byways, or Leaves Gathered in 1859 and 1860 had been presented to a “Mr Thomas” at Hyde House School, Winchester – for LATIN!
The joke which _I_ laughed over was: Bet young Mr Thomas didn’t realize the book was written by A WOMAN! Of course that cannot be the case (joke on ME!).
Still, what an unusual presentation gift.
Could I learn more about Hyde House School – surely in Winchester, England. It does receive, though scant, notice in an 1878 Gazetteer of the County of Hampshire as “a highly respectable private boarding school”.
Even though the “joke” cannot be sustained, this small snippet from lives lived so long ago – Mrs Freshfield, fresh from her sojourn; young Mr Thomas, whose Latin scholarship was cause for a prize – is really heartwarming.
Also missing in the flip-book is this lovely dedication page — which looks quite at home in a book authored by A Lady, and quite apropos for one with a subtitle about gathered “leaves”:
In short, though, I have never thought about pages or images not showing up. Who knew I was missing so much! For I typically judge a book at “Archive” in it’s flip-book persona.
* * *
An unrelated “Aside”
In the same Hampshire Gazetteer cited above is listed a school whose name JUMPS OUT because it’s all in caps and a bit of an oddity to a 21st century woman: The ASYLUM for FEMALE CHILDREN. It is described as,
“The ASYLUM for FEMALE CHILDREN, in St. Thomas Street, was established in 1816, for boarding, clothing, and educating 30 poor girls, after leaving the Central School, till they are fit for domestic service; but during their stay from 4s. to 5s. per week has to be paid for each of them from other charitable funds. They are generally required to be orphans, either fatherless or motherless.”
In 1815 Eliza Chute paid for Hester Wheeler‘s schooling somewhere in Winchester, which had a view “down College Street” and Kingsgate Street – and Hester sometimes spotted Caroline Wiggett’s brothers who were attending Winchester College.
Although the years do not overlap – 1815 versus 1816 – it’s hard not to wonder if this “asylum” wasn’t the school that Hester Wheeler simply could not, after a while, abide – so much so that she ran away. Eliza Chute specifies giving the girl a weekly allowance of 3 shillings and mentions that a “Miss Young” arrived to tell her that Hester had absconded (she was promptly sent back). If Hester had been enrolled in a school that expected to turn out domestics, this indeed could point up one reason why she sought to leave, despite being a highly clever girl. I recommend to readers my Academia-uploaded paper: “Uncovering the Face of Hester Wheeler“, which discusses also Colonel Brandon’s “two Elizas” in Sense and Sensibility.
In 1796, my Smith & Gosling girls were mere shadows in their mothers’ eyes, but that January saw the birth of a prospective Monarch of England – a baby girl ultimately known as Princess Charlotte of Wales. Her end, in childbed, WAS cause for comment in the diaries & letters of the Smith & Gosling family. But it’s the little Princess’ birth I focus on today – on the heels of the announcement from Buckingham Palace of a Princess for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Am getting some good feedback about the Thames Panorama post! It is an exquisite “find” isn’t it?!?
While working on looking for a FRENCH Marriage in 1821, I came across another site, quite “glossy”, which I also invite Two Teens readers to dip into:
Searching for “wedding” and “versailles”, as you can see, brought up the Wedding of the Dauphin Louis and Marie-Antoinette. Bit more regal a wedding than the plebeian one _I_ was searching about. Always of interest, though, because of my love of Austria – homeland (should I say Heimat) of Maria Antonia, daughter of Maria Theresia, the Empress under whom Mozart lived (though she was “not a fan” of his…).
Although it’s no longer summer 2014, I can’t help but come across items relating to Oxford — which is what opens my book (in the year 1814). And this past weekend uncovered a few nice *finds*.
I invite readers to Take a Tour of Oxford via OXFORD HISTORY. It’s been years since I clicked photos of places I’ve visited — so I have nothing of my own to share.
Oxford had the dubious distinction of being a bit of a “lay-over” spot. I had taken the bus from Aylesbury into Oxford in order to take the train a few stops south – in order to meet a private collector with whom I’d been corresponding. She had family letters!
Long story short: I went for a walk; got lost. BUT: I stood on the very spot — under “the Great Bell called Tom“ — that little Mary Gosling, aged 14 stood upon 200 years before me. A proper tour through the city awaits another trip.
Looking for information on Oxford back in 1814, in particular on the old city walls, is how I came across this delightful website. There IS a “Oxford City Walls” tour – and it’s presented online, with some really nice photographs of the sites.
If you explore the Walls circuit, you will cover some of the same ground I did: How well I remember the Castle Mound and Castle Street — and (having gotten “lost”) it’s a pity I never ended up at the appropriately-named Turn Again Lane!
Mary and family had come to Oxford to visit William Ellis and Robert Gosling, her two eldest brothers. _I_ was in Oxford on the trail of Mary…
OxfordHistory.org also dedicates a page to the old Star Inn, where the Goslings overnighted (alas, no longer in existence).
In searching, I also stumbled upon the Oxford University magazine Oxford Today, with an article on the very event the Goslings came in the wake of: the visit to Oxford by the Allied Sovereigns. Imagine my delight with this cartoon:
Mary Gosling, aged 14:
“…they shewed us the chairs … [of] the emperor and king of Prussia
they were of velvet and handsomely mounted in gold,
and I had the honour to sit in both of them.”
The Emperor (tsar) of Russia – and his sister (shown in the full cartoon) – sits on the right hand side of the Prince of Wales; the King of Prussia on his left.
10p to the person who first spots a quite egregious error in the article… [What a difference one letter of the alphabet makes.]
Years ago I visited Dartmouth College library several times a month – I had a quarter-year pass to borrow books. A hectic summer, but a productive one.
Surely it was during that summer that I spotted, on the shelf in the darkened bowels of the library where books of English history & biography are stored, the three-volumes that make up The Wynne Diaries. Although the published diaries include entries by three Wynne sisters, it is Betsey Wynne — the future Lady Fremantle, wife of Admiral Thomas Fremantle (one of Nelson’s “band of brothers”), who makes headlines.
- 2010 story of the ‘rediscovery’ of the original diaries (The Independent)
Both the newspaper article and the talk cited below list the impetus for Elaine Chalus’ interest in her project: Her finding a worn, old Penguin paperback, a one-volume reprint of the original Oxford set. I never knew such existed, but even if I had – the lover of “complete” editions in me would had brought about the same search for the full three volumes (1935-1937-1940). I found them, online, pricey but far less so than the current offers. And my trio had their dust jackets!
- Giustiniana Wynne (aunt) figures in the biography A Venetian Affair, by Andrea di Robilant
Needless to say, I’ve been eagerly awaiting Chalus’ biography, The Admiral’s Wife, so this recent 75-minute talk was a nice find, although I do wish Betsey were less “seen through the eyes of her husband”, but given its title, ” ‘My dearest Tussy’: Family, Navy and Nation in the Fremantle Papers, 1801-1814″, the talk should be forgiven for being a bit Thomas-Fremantle-centric. Being women’s history, its firm association with Nelson will undoubtedly help sales once the biography finally hits the shelves.
While listening, I took down two short notes, relevant to my own project:
- “this is a face-to-face world, where knowing people matters, using your networks matters”;
- “building community networks… entertaining the community; paying the visits, and the reciprocal visiting, and offering dinners and going out to dinners, and having balls… This is very much the Jane Austen world, in that sense; people are forever popping in and visiting, and having a cup of tea, and then going out and inviting somebody else to dine.”
What a FABULOUS *FIND*!!
The ‘miracle’ took place in the middle of the night, a couple of nights ago when I unearthed a RECENT exhibition of sketches done by Spencer, Lord Compton c1823. His sketchbook, in the hands of the Fondazione Sicilia, has been “conserved” and “preserved” and the drawings exhibited in Fall 2013 and Spring 2014:
The exhibition spawned a book and two informative (especially if you speak Italian) YouTube videos – including one showing the sketch book in its entirety (which has no soundtrack at all).
The second video (en Italiano) gives glimpses of the condition of the original sketch book, sketches, and their subsequent exhibition.
- “Viaggio in Sicilia” video presentation of the entire Lord Compton’s Sketch book
- “Viaggio in Sicilia” a 3-minute “short” on the sketch book and its exhibition (in Italian)
- Viaggio in Sicilia: il taccuino di Spencer Joshua Alwyne Compton (catalogue @ amazon)
Spencer Compton, cousin to Emma and brother to Lady Elizabeth Compton (later Lady Elizabeth Dickins) spent many years in Italy with his wife, the former Margaret Douglas Maclean Clephane. Spencer became the second Marquess of Northampton, following his father’s death in 1828.
- the delightful article “The Accomplished Ladies of Torloisk” by Karen Mc Auley
- Plays & Poems by Margaret Compton’s sister Anna Jane Douglas Maclean Clephane (1864)
- present-day Torloisk House, on the Isle of Mull
A “romantic figure” in this Raeburn portrait (painted in the era of his sketch book), Spencer Lord Compton graced the cover of this Georgette Heyer reprint recently.
partial legend from one sketch, in Spencer’s hand-writing
UPDATE (APRIL 2015) = Memoirture has been taken down.
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.
Serendipitous Stitchery recently announced a year-long project:
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.
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 mentioned a book that caught her eye:
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.