Alles Waltzer

September 19, 2017 at 3:10 pm (entertainment, people, history) (, , )

With classical music sometimes hard to come by (or really boring stations playing the SAME s**t), I sometimes tune in to KDFC, in San Francisco. Graceful hosts; fine music; nice listening. Find them online at kdfc.com

waltz

And when you first “plug in” you can read through offerings like the blog post I want to mention today.

“BEWARE THE WALTZ”

Screamed the headline title.

You _know_ I had to take a look!

Even in the 1810s, my Smiths & Goslings were discussing this dance “craze”. So how wonderful to find someone delving into the history of the dance that we tend to think of as “Viennese” and from a period far later than the Regency.

“Beware the Waltz” (by Alan Chapman) of course speaks to the contact between the dancers, but also the “speed with which the dancers moved around the room” (who knew?!). A couple of useful links are embedded within the article, including the comments of LORD BYRON.

The site CAPERING & KICKERY has more on the subject of dancing, dances, and the depiction of both in drawings and illustrations.

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New Matrimonial Ladder (c1853)

September 10, 2017 at 9:32 pm (books, entertainment, history) (, , , )

In search of images by artist Thomas Onwhyn (c1814-1886), also known as Samuel Weller (under which name he did “illegitimate” illustrations of works by Charles Dickens), I came across a wonderful blog post at BOOKTRYST. Onwhyn illustrated his own version of a book I fell in love with when first coming across The Matrimonial Ladder (1825).

new matrimonial ladder_possession

Onwhyn’s version – called (surprise) A New Matrimonial Ladder – of the “tale” has charm, and you see above his deft handing of scenery (many of his drawings were published by Rock & Co., London), with the cliffs in the background. It is a hard choice – like choosing between the prettiness of Brock or the allure of Hugh Thomson when discussing illustrations of Jane Austen novels.

Declaration

The drawings of “M.E.” (above) have much in common with such delightful books as Mrs. Hurst Dancing (drawings of Diana Sperling) or A Picture History of the Grenville Family of Rosedale House (drawings of Mary Yelloly).

I think you will enjoy BOTH (online) “books”.

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An Extraordinary Ordinary Woman (review)

August 27, 2017 at 1:36 pm (books, diaries, entertainment, history) (, , , )

James Boswell sums up in one sentence his idea of good biography:

I cannot conceive a more perfect mode of writing any man’s life than not only relating all the most important events of it in their order, but interweaving what he privately wrote, and said, and thought.”

Susan M. Ouellette, who presents the entire extant diary of Phebe Orvis Eastman, first provides an adroit clarification of the diary, in a set of essays. The diarist, of course, never wrote with the intention of publication. Her thoughts are personal and private – and, at times, (well-labeled by the editor) cryptic. This layout, of essays then diary, guides the reader to pick up on the crumb-like indicators within the diary. Ouellette has uncovered a good deal of the life of Phebe Orvis Eastman — before, during, and after the diary, which makes for a rounded biographical profile. She also informs the reader about the era in which Phebe lived.

Extraordinary Ordinary Woman

An Extraordinary Ordinary Woman: The Journal of Phebe Orvis, 1820-1830 tells of life on the American “frontier,” first in Vermont and then in the vicinity of Canton, New York. A young nation, the United States was still at war with England during Phebe’s childhood (she lived from 1801 to 1868). The geography of her diary is not the cosmopolitan perspective of Philadelphia, New York, or Washington; nor even from some great plantation. Thereby supplementing those perspectives, it enlarges our knowledge of young women in post-Revolutionary War America.

Phebe’s immediate family had staked claims and worked to clear the land and worked to create their community. (Vermont joined the Union as the Fourteenth State in 1791.) Phebe’s picture of rural Vermont, in the decades beyond that first settlement, offers readers first-hand experience of a growing, interconnected community. And through her move to a less congenial, even “wilder” frontier, Phebe’s own words involve us as witnesses to her personal pain and turmoil.

Phebe Orvis lived a somewhat carefree life as a young woman in Bristol, Vermont. Ouellette’s earliest chapter covers the tragedy of Phebe’s early life: Her mother died when Phebe was just a toddler. The baby’s age and gender (she was the fourth child, but the only daughter) resulted in her living not with her father and siblings, but with her aging maternal grandparents.

Readers of The Midwife’s Tale, featuring Maine’s Martha Ballard, will find a similarity here in the craft-skills taught to young women. Phebe Orvis is a weaver, spinner, and sewer; for instance, when Phebe writes of “Finished my web”, she is telling readers that she has yet again begun a weaving project. Such projects probably helped to fund the classes she took at the Middlebury Female Seminary.

Phebe Orvis is a serious student – and among the early cohort of women attending Willard’s establishment (though Willard herself had moved on by this time). Phebe’s “formal education” is unfortunately cut short, and readers feel her disappointment, and her reticence in doing what is requested of her: She moves to Parishville, New York, to help at her aunt and uncle’s Tavern. This transition led her to marry a man who was not her first choice for a life-partner. Ouellette uncovered in the diary the subtle “ceremony” of gifts exchanged (and ultimately returned), which points out a certain young man as Phebe’s prior attachment.

The Eastmans married in 1823; it is the marriage, the arrival of children, and the constant scratching for a living in New York, which concerns the remainder of the diary, which ends in October 1830. The blank pages that follow serve as silent testament that life went on, even if the woman writing could see no reason to spare the time to record more of that life. Phebe Orvis Eastman retained her diary, and even placed a few later inserts inside it. The diary meant enough to her, at the very least as evidence of early concerns and feelings, to have preserved it.

And others preserved it after Phebe’s death.

Special mention should be made of the late Mary Smallman, who encountered the diary after it surfaced again in Plattsburgh, NY. She transcribed the diary and dug about for information about the mystery diarist. Safe in her hands at a time when few put value on such manuscripts, Smallman ultimately deposited the diary and support materials with the Saint Lawrence County Historical Association (NY).

As with any primary source, records helped to fill out details, but aspects remain that can never truly be known. This book, with the diary in its entirety, ably supported by informative essays, is a window into early 19th century America. That its roots begin in Vermont makes it special to me, a native Vermonter, like Phebe. The physical world she knew nearly two hundred years ago can still be discerned.

Maps provide visuals for those needing to conceptualize the placement of Bristol, Middlebury, and Vergennes, Vermont; also, Saint Lawrence County, New York. An index is included. The size of the book – being both taller and wider than the average hardcover – somehow makes it a bit unwieldy; being produced in hardcover rather than paperback might have minimized that sensation. A tighter layout of the diary entries might have allowed for slightly larger type without increasing page count. Generous spacing between lines tries to compensate for the font and font size. Notes and a bibliography bring the book to 380 pages (Excelsior Editions, SUNY Press; $29.95).

Diaries, in general, are filled with the insignificant, and Ouellette has done the hard work of teasing out the significance behind the diarist’s little clues of life-events. This single volume diary indeed covers (as Boswell prescribed) “all the most important events” in the life of this Vermont girl, from her days as a single woman seeking education at the Middlebury establishment founded by Emma Willard; to her employment in New York, which brought her into the company of Samuel Eastman, whom she eventually married. The diary tells her story; the essays and finely-tuned editing makes Phebe’s history accessible to all readers.

*

Susan Ouellette, a history professor from Saint Michael’s College (VT), has written on Phebe Orvis Eastman over the decade that researches into the diary have taken. One of the more accessible (it’s ONLINE) is her article “Religion and Piety in the Journal of Phebe Orvis“, in the Vermont History magazine. The book An Extraordinary Ordinary Woman: The Journal of Phebe Orvis, 1820-1830 is the richer for this lengthy gestation.

See also:

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The Matrimonial Ladder (1825)

August 20, 2017 at 9:35 pm (books, entertainment, history) (, , , )

Catherine Kullmann has posted the most delightful “graphic novel” – from the year 1825.

Declaration

With pages headed by words like Admiration, FlirtationApprobation, and Declaration (above), the reader enters into the romance of “Henry” and “Maria” via witty poetry and drawings. Given that the title is The Matrimonial Ladder, you know that things will not always go smoothly for the two lovers…

It is a true *find* – and readers are lucky that Ms. Kullmann has shared her ‘gift’ with the rest of us!

Click on the photo, then scroll to the bottom to get to the beginning of Henry & Maria’s story.

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Garden Rescue: Westbury Court

July 28, 2017 at 12:57 pm (estates, history, places) (, , )

This morning I was “waxing nostalgic”: I had pulled out some original Smith & Gosling documents. One *find* was “the last letter” Mrs. Eliza Colchester wrote to Aunt (Judith Smith of The Grove, Stratford, Essex). It is a precious letter, written in 1826, filled with Mrs. Colchester’s delight at hearing the marriage of Charles Joshua Smith and Mary Gosling had taken place. Eliza Colchester died, and both Aunt and one of her nieces wrote on the cover of the letter “why” it had to be saved: it was the last letter received from Aunt’s very dear friend.

How I’d LOVE to unearth more letters between the ladies (even though Aunt has execrable handwriting!)

Mrs. Colchester wrote from The Wilderness, an estate near Mitcheldean. It was while looking (once again) for information on the family and/or the estate that I came across this delightful blog post about the rescue and resuscitation of the garden at another Colchester (also called Colchester-Wemyss) estate, Westbury Court (Gloucestershire).

“Typically rectangular in shape, classical Dutch style gardens relied on a strong use of symmetry and geometrical form…. But the Dutch style had a short life in Britain. The gardens were incredibly expensive and labour intensive to maintain.”

Gardening specialist James Todman‘s post then goes on to describe the “history” of Westbury Court garden – and the several times it was almost lost. The lack of finances for the Colchesters may indeed have been, in the long run, its saving grace.

After a sale to developers in the 1960s, in 1967 the National Trust purchased “the ruined garden”. Thanks to some historical records, a “restoration” was not only possible, it took place! And you can see the results, to this day. (Visit the National Trust webpage for Westbury Court.) The National Trust claims Westbury Court gardens the FIRST “garden renovation project of its kind”. The garden now displays “how it would have appeared … in 1720”. Although well before the time of “my” Eliza Colchester, I think she’d be pleased! They all so loved a good garden.

You must read James’ original blog post to appreciate the yews, canals, topiary, flowers (click on the 2nd photo, below).

Westbury garden canalWestbury Court gardens: canal

Westbury garden parterreWestbury Court gardens: parterre

 

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Jane Austen’s Transatlantic Sister

July 17, 2017 at 11:05 pm (books, history, jane austen, jasna) (, , , , )

I just ordered a book I’ve waited several months for its publication (see what it is), and tonight I find another that “I can’t wait to read!”

Fanny Palmer Austen

We all will have to wait until OCTOBER – by which time it will be JASNA AGM time for those going to Huntington Beach, CA.

Jane Austen’s Transatlantic Sister: The Life and Letters of Fanny Palmer Austen, by Sheila Johnson Kindred is EXACTLY what I love to read – Fanny, the wife of Charles Austen (Jane’s youngest brother), was a “naval wife”. Letters exist which give voice to Fanny’s experiences in Bermuda, Nova Scotia, and (of course) England.

“Fanny’s articulate and informative letters – transcribed in full for the first time and situated in their meticulously researched historical context – disclose her quest for personal identity and autonomy, her maturation as a wife and mother, and the domestic, cultural, and social milieu she inhabited.”

“Enhanced by rarely seen illustrations, Fanny’s life story is a rich new source for Jane Austen scholars and fans of her fiction, as well as for those interested in biography, women’s letters, and history of the family.”

Hazel Jones (Jane Austen & Marriage) calls Fanny Palmer Austen an “unsung heroine” and she finds Jane Austen’s Transatlantic Sister “the first extensive study to focus on a man’s naval career from a woman’s perspective.”

To whet your appetite, sample some of Fanny’s letters in Deborah Kaplan’s book Jane Austen Among Women.

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Eton Schoolboy writes home

July 4, 2017 at 11:40 am (goslings and sharpe, history, people, research) (, , , )

Today may be the 4th of July, 2017 – but I have spent time at ETON in the early 1800s, reading letters home to Mamma. The writer is young RICHARD GOSLING, a cousin to my diarist Mary Gosling (aka Lady Smith). He was the younger son of Francis Gosling, the son of Sir Francis Gosling, knight.

One of the most puzzling things about this group of letters is a postscript written by Richard’s mother, Barbara Gosling née Baker.

Truthfully, I thought the archive must have mis-identified the writer. The hand is so “unformed”, so “elderly”. I thought for sure it must be Grandmamma!

BUT: Mary’s grandmother, who lived until 1809, wasn’t Richard’s grandmother…. And Richard’s granmother died in 1806.

Why “puzzling”, you might ask.

Because other ladies of this generation had the loveliest penmanship! Mary’s mother, for instance, had a flowing, easily-read hand. In comparison, Barbara’s hand looks “unschooled”. Reminded me a LOT of the penmanship of Sarah Smith, Emma Austen’s maternal grandmother.

And therein lies the puzzle. To know more of Barbara’s background and education, to assess how she and Francis came to know one another and marry may be something I never learn. Gosling items are thinner on the ground than Smith items.

Francis and Barbara Gosling married MUCH earlier than William and Eliza Gosling (my Mary’s parents). Francis and Barbara in 1777; William and Eliza nearly twenty years later in 1793.

baker-gosling marriage 1777 GM3 March 1777, Gentleman’s Magazine

So Barbara has a London address; Francis’ lists not his abode so much as the banking firm’s address – Fleet Street. But the family is often identified as “of Fleet Street” bcause of the family firm.

I sometimes refer to Richard’s father Francis (though being a ‘knight’ Sir Francis’ title did not devolve to his son) as Francis II. Richard’s brother therefore becomes Francis III. Thank Goodness for a name like Richard – instead of the trail of Francises and Roberts in this portion of the Gosling family tree. No guesswork required, in deciphering who was the letter recipient.

Richard was far enough down the chain of children to be of an age with the Gosling sons:

Gosling, Richard, s. Francis, of Twickenham, Middlesex, arm. Christ Church, matric. 27 Oct., 1814, aged 19; B.A. 1818, M.A. 1822, of Ashford Place, Middlesex, and of London, banker. See Etott School Lists. [10]

Mary’s brother William Ellis Gosling arrived, aged 17, at Brasenose College, Oxford in 1812. Her brother Robert, aged 18, arrived at Christ Church in January 1814. Richard, aged 19, arrived in November 1814. Bennett, aged 18, followed in March 1815. These last two were also at Christ Church, like Robert. The family visited William and Robert in college in the summer of 1814. Mary left a diary of this trip.

To get back to Barbara for a moment, with several “Mrs Goslings” listed among the output of certain painters, I long ago hunted down a photograph of a Mrs Gosling that is believed to be Barbara; the portrait is by Reynolds:

Gosling_Mrs by Reynolds

I thinkI went on the hunt for this portrait in order to clear up how a sitter’s ARMS are described – to an onlooker, Barbara’s arm could be described as the left arm; but a portrait would be discussed as if the viewer WERE the sitter: “right arm across the body“. Most do not give a first name, or ID the woman as “wife of …. Gosling”.

As you might guess, there are multiple “Mrs Goslings” done by the regarded portraitists of the day.

* * *

A bit of housekeeping: WordPress has obviously had an upgrade, which interrupted the “facebook” connection – and it won’t reconnect. After the run-around I went thru with AirBnB over the weekend – I am in NO MOOD. Will just say: why don’t websites TEST before they launch. And it’s not just websites – have had problems with Windows 10 AND with Office 365 for the iPad. Am utterly TIRED of being told they’re “ironing out bugs”. Do it BEFORE it impacts your customers!
(Rant over.)

 

 

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Goslings’ Bank Ledgers

June 22, 2017 at 8:13 pm (books, goslings and sharpe, history, jane austen, news) (, , )

Notice of a mid-May blog post by Barclays, the bank which (after an 1896 amalgamation with Goslings & Sharpe and several other banks) today is still doing business at the Fleet Street, London, premises of the family banking firm GOSLINGS & SHARPE. In Mary Gosling’s lifetime the partners included her brothers and father.

I’ve long known of the firm’s archives – quite intact after more than 200 years; Linda Slothouber, in researching her book Jane Austen, Edward Knight & Chawton: Commerce and Community, found that the Goslings’ ledgers included Edward Austen Knight‘s accounts.

JA-EAK-Chawton

It was QUITE heartwarming to learn, since I’ve never visited the bank’s archives myself, that my suggestion to Linda resulted in a good exchange after she contacted Barclays. Their archives is one of the places on my “little list” that I’ll get to some day. But, as the bank isn’t my main concern, books like Linda’s help fill in some blanks.

It’s also WONDERFUL to find a history like this dissertation by Gareth David Turner, “English Banking in the 18th Century: Bankers, Merchants and the Creation of the English Financial System.”

I’ll remind readers of a couple of old “finds” :

TODAY’s “find” is an on-going project, concerning the ledgers of Goslings & Sharpe: LEGENDS IN THE LEDGERS is Barclays’ blog post about their project. The post also has the best representation of the old business sign “the 3 Squirrels”:

sign_threesquirrels

Which THIS is not – click to their blog to see a full-color close-up.

The emblem exists even on firm checks.

The family diaries and letters seldom mention the firm – although Emma’s great aunt Mrs Thomas Smith had several meetings with William Ellis Gosling (Mary’s eldest brother) over her finances. Banking back then wasn’t just standing behind the counter, greeting customers!

One of the stories mentioned in the Barclays blog is the Great Beer Flood of 1814 (yes, you read that right…). “Millions of pints of beer” flooded the area around the brewery of Meux & Co. Goslings had a “voluntary account” that raised funds for victims of the catastrophe.

The ledgers of Goslings & Sharpe (though there were other partners, in earlier days, I will use the name most associated with the firm) come in at a whopping 654 ledgers! It is said, in a family letter, that Mr. Gosling was very reluctant to give his blessing for his eldest daughter’s marriage to Langham Christie because discussion of Elizabeth’s dowery came at the same time that the bank was paying out its dividends…

So I’m always keeping my eyes and ears open about the family banking concerns.

 

 

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Mrs. Leigh Perrot’s Scarlets for Sale

June 18, 2017 at 9:59 pm (history, jane austen, places) (, , )

You, too, could inhabit the world of Jane Austen: her aunt’s house is For Sale:

Scarlets for sale

This is how the house looks on SAVILLS’ website.  Note that the property includes:

  • 4 reception rooms
  • master bedroom suite
  • 5 further bedrooms
  • 2 family bathrooms
  • 2 reception rooms to second floor
  • kitchen/breakfast room
  • cellar with bar/games room & wine store
  • detached double garage and office
  • gardens of about 1.25 acres

Oddly, the property seems to have acquired an extra ‘t’ – Scarletts – over the years. From the website’s “history”:

Scarletts is the major portion of a magnificent Grade II listed Georgian property built, in the 1760s for Mr & Mrs James Leigh Perrot, the maternal uncle and aunt of Jane Austen. They are reported to have formed part of an inner circle of relatives with whom the Austens regularly exchanged letters and visits. …. The house has a wealth of period features including high ceilings, original fireplaces, deep skirtings and ornate cornicing. It is elegant and beautifully presented throughout.

The front door, with fanlight over, opens to a handsome panelled entrance hall, which has a limestone floor and underfloor heating. The oak panelling is dated 1610 and is decorated with coats of arms of cathedral cities. This opens to a magnificent reception hall with an original oak parquet floor and sweeping staircase with oak balustrade, ornate spindles and risers. The main reception rooms are a delight and are light and airy with large sash windows and working shutters, original fireplaces with gas log effect fires, built-in shelves and cupboards, wood flooring, ornate plaster cornices, wall panels and ceiling roses. Double doors from the drawing room open to an orangery which was added in 2007 and has underfloor heating and doors opening to a wide stone terrace and ornamental pond.

The so-called guide price is £3.5 million, for over 7,000 square feet of space.

Scarlets_Austen Leigh

My interest, though, comes in the 1830s, when Edward and Emma Austen, newly named “Austen Leigh” moved in after Edward’s inheritance from his great-aunt Leigh Perrot. “Talk” of Edward’s inheritance became serious once Mrs. Leigh Perrot met his intended bride, falling in love with dear Emma and the Smiths – perhaps especially her Aunt Northampton (the Marchioness of Northampton).

Emma Austen, nee Smith

 

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Enjoyable Reads: Journal of a Georgian Gentleman

May 21, 2017 at 12:38 pm (books, diaries, history) (, , )

This won’t be a book review, per se, but a “CROW” about a book I recently enjoyed reading. (I’ll hope to ADD to this “Enjoyable Reads” category in the future.)

I bought The Journal of a Georgian Gentleman back in 2012; it was fairly new to the market at the time. I certainly _remember_ reading it, but feel that this recent read brought a new respect for Mike Rendell’s laying out of his ancestor’s life. Little asides, detailing “facts” of Georgian life, were speedily and deftly presented. They felt part of the story, so that taken as a whole, the book not only presents the life of Richard Hall, but presents English LIFE, as lived then.

hall-cover

Profusely illustrated. Mike is lucky to have a wealth of materials from Richard Hall; we readers are lucky that he shared.

Does not so much present the diary of the man, but the every-day experiences of Richard Hall and his family. Be it travel, finances, business, marriage – there is a lot that readers will learn about – and enjoy while reading – when picking up a copy of The Journal of a Georgian Gentleman: The Life and Times of Richard Hall, 1729-1801 by Mike Rendell.

 

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