Blogs, Books, & Pamphlets

August 19, 2015 at 12:05 pm (books, entertainment, europe, history, jane austen, news, people, research) (, , , , , , )

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.

uglow

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!

boswellCan 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!

* * *

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.

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Where Mamma was: August 1803

August 17, 2015 at 11:33 am (diaries, history, news, portraits and paintings, research) (, , )

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!”

cuphea_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?

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Spending Time at The Vyne

August 16, 2015 at 11:42 am (entertainment, estates, history, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , )

Why is it: the Best FINDS are found around midnight or 2 AM?

Last night I found that the National Trust has been BUSY photographing artwork and posting them on their National Trust Collections site. FINALLY! we can see some flower paintings of Eliza Chute, Augusta Smith (her sister), and their teacher Miss Meen (Margaret Meen).

Alas! isn’t there ALWAYS confusion when more than one person has similar or exactly the SAME NAME?!?

The Vyne is uncertain, for instance, who painted one “scene” picture – Eliza Chute, or the wife of William Wiggett (who later took the name Wiggett Chute in order to inherit); their daughter was also an Eliza Chute (1843-1913). Her pictures of The Vyne are simply charming.

There IS one “scene” picture that they DO attribute to Eliza Chute (Mrs. William Chute), called A Roadside Halt. Emma’s “Aunt Chute” WAS known as an adept painter, and did practice by copying “old masters”, for example in the art collection of neighbor the Duke of Wellington.

But it is the Floral Paintings that I am most excited to see, for instance this undated work inscribed (pencil) “Eliz. Smith Chute” = which, without seeing it up close, could be in Eliza’s hand, or could be a later hand (not that I doubt it was painted by her, just that she may not have signed it herself).

Eliza Chute_red flowersWatercolor on Vellum

I suspect, between the fact that the Smith Sisters of Erle Stoke Park (Maria, Eliza, Augusta, and Emma [later: Lady Northampton, Aunt Chute, Mamma, and Aunt Emma]), were busy in the 1790s, around the time of Eliza’s marriage, producing various Flower Paintings while in the company of Miss Meen, and the fact that it’s ID’ed as “Smith Chute”, that it probably dates from early in this period. It’s unusual for Eliza to use both her maiden and married names.

  • compare Eliza’s flower paintings at The Vyne with those at The Royal Horticultural Society (afraid you have to work for this one: use the SEARCH function and type in Elizabeth Chute or Elizabeth Smith).
  • See other “artwork done by” (more links), on this blog.

Some Flowers are very in the style of Miss Meen – for instance the Asclepia Giganticus Pentandria Digynia, signed “El. S. 1785”. But others seem their own sweet style – like the Amaryllis, which has to date before September 1793 [when she married William Chute] if it is signed “El. S.”

Born in 1768, Eliza was still in her teens in 1785!

There is even one, called Log and Red Berries, worked by BOTH Eliza Chute AND Margaret Meen.

Problems arise with the works of Augusta Smith — is it the daughter Augusta (whom they ID by her married name, Augusta Wilder), or is the artist Mamma?

augusta smith_pink flowersWatercolor on Vellum

This is – judged from afar (though I am NO expert on artist identifications) – said to date from 1820-1836. The cut-off is obvious: Augusta Wilder, Emma’s eldest sister, died in the summer of 1836. The back merely says “Augusta Smith” (which of course she would NOT have been after 1829, when she married! so the dating is still erroneous.)

Other Botanicals are a much easier call, and are clearly misattributed – little Augusta was not painting florals at the age of 4 or 5, and there are works identified (for instance) as “Suttons, 1803”. Even worse: “Turnera Ulmifolio Pentandria Trigynia by Augusta Smith, Mrs Henry Wilder (1799-1836). (in ink). AS 1787.” So prodigious a child was little Augusta, that she painted TWELVE YEARS before she was even born!?! Don’t think so…

Emma, by the way, began lessons with Miss Meen in February 1815, aged 13.

The images at the Royal Horticultural Society must be searched for, but all the Four Sisters of Erle Stoke Park (and their instructress, Margaret Meen) are represented. Emma Smith (“Aunt Emma”) is actually represented by an online “gallery” of work. Twenty nine images (currently) come up if you search for the term Joshua Smith — because the girls are ID’ed as his daughters! You can toggle the image display so the instructive text comes up beside each image, which is highly useful.

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For Latin, a presentation gift “by A Lady”

August 15, 2015 at 12:56 pm (books, entertainment, europe, history, jane austen, people, research) (, , , , , , )

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”.

no A Lady

How odd….

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

yes 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):

hyde house school

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”:

alpine dedication

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.

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Missed Opportunity: Clarissa Trant Diary

August 7, 2015 at 8:17 am (books, diaries, history, people) (, , , , , )

As mentioned in a couple of places, I’ve been finding some nice tidbits at the blog of the Essex Record Office (ERO). This one disheartened me a bit: in January 2015 they had an original diary written by Clarissa Trant (later, Mrs John Bramston) on display!

trant diary

I first “met” Clarissa Trant through her published journals, long before I ever knew that she was sort of affiliated with my Smiths & Goslings: John Bramston once proposed to Emma’s sister Charlotte Smith! He was a neighbor to the Smiths of Suttons, living at Skreens.

I well remember taking a few moments out of my research at Duke University to take a look at the microfilm of Clarissa’s later diaries: had she said anything about the death of Mary Lady Smith? Alas: it seemed not! There that was, after John was refused (1830), some amount of tension between him and the Smiths is evident – for mention is made of its slight abatement later. But how that extended to his new household I cannot really say: the Smiths likewise didn’t mention HER either (except when news of their engagement went around; John had written to Spencer Smith, informing him – and thereby information ALL the Smiths, as he must have known).

In honor of the 200th anniversary of Waterloo, Clarissa’s early journal, of 1815, was chosen as “Document of the Month” for January 2015. The archive had the diary on DISPLAY that month! Ah, a missed opportunity, though I’ve not visited ERO for eight years.

THIS JUST IN: ERO’s blog also had a post called “Could this be our smallest document?” It turns out to have belonged to CLARISSA TRANT!!! Click the link to see what it is, and they have to store it. I bet you 5p that you’ll be surprised!!!

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Regency Diaries of Fanny Chapman (online)

July 30, 2015 at 7:03 am (a day in the life, diaries, history, news, people, places, research, travel) (, , , , )

Charlotte Frost (author of Sir William Knighton, The Strange Career of a Regency Physician) – always with her eyes and ears open for tidbits of interest to me, emailed me about this site which is SO terrific that I simply must share it.

fanny chapman

Fanny Chapman (pictured; click pic to go to site) is the author of a set of diaries spanning the years 1807 thru 1812 and 1837 through 1840 (as of July 2015, not yet online). I’m THRILLED because I’ve found brief mentions of Lady Colebrooke, wife of Sir George Colebrooke; grandmother of Belinda Colebrooke (Charles Joshua Smith’s first wife).

The fine “introduction”, which tells about the people and the diaries, can be augmented by another at All Things Georgian.

The Chapman diaries are well illustrated, and have been lovingly transcribed by George and Amanda Rosenberg — who would LOVE to hear from anyone with further glimpses of their own Fanny Chapman and her relations & friends. _I_ only wish my own stash of letters and diaries were as forthcoming on their behalf as their research as been for me (I do live in hope of uncovering more). But, while the Colebrookes were visited in Bath by the Smiths of Erle Stoke Park, the Smiths stayed home or were found in London; they never seem to have lived a time in Bath. Still, I do have NAMES now to be on the look-out for in the future.

prince of wales

From what I’ve read, you will not per se learn about the likes of the Prince of Wales, but the daily life of a sociable woman has its own rewards. The Diaries of Fanny Chapman is HIGHLY recommended – and the Rosenbergs are commended for offering these transcriptions and elucidations to the public.

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Roehampton Grove – a brief video

July 29, 2015 at 10:35 am (estates, history, london's landscape, research) (, , )

Always on the lookout for something different, I was DE-LIGHT-ED to find a brief (1.40) video, mainly outside, but a few glimpses at the interior, of ROEHAMPTON GROVE. The Gosling estate from mid-1790s to the 1850s (it sold out of the family following Bennett Gosling’s death), Roehampton lies at the very CENTER of my research. One day I’ll visit it…

Although not quite two minutes’ long, the history of the house is nice — so if you watch, do turn on the sound!

roehampton stairs

Of course, interiorly, the house the Goslings knew – especially NOW that the building belongs to Roehampton University and is used as an “academic building” – is maybe present, maybe gone in any given room. Still, this once was Mary’s HOME!

roehampton fireplace

 

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Fanny’s Lament

July 28, 2015 at 11:52 am (diaries, estates, history, people, places) (, , )

Poor Fanny Smith — or, I should really say: Poor Fanny Seymour. For her “trouble with servants” comes AFTER her marriage, AFTER her removal to Kinwarton (Warwickshire), AFTER she has begun to set up her own household.

Fanny, of all the Smith of Suttons siblings, settled the furthest away from everyone else. And, as a girl and then woman, used to the quiet of the country at certain seasons but the BUSTLE of LONDON during “the season”, she is finding Kinwarton a little too-quiet. And, therefore, she knows what other will think

And so she informs her sister Charlotte, to whom she turns after a letter arrived asking Fanny to consider hiring a protegée of someone known to Charlotte (who, by the way, is living in London [Cavendish Square] – with husband Arthur Currie).

NB: a protegée is meant to convey the idea of recommendation: A servant (new to the market or simply seeking a different position) whom the friend or relation can recommend to the attention of someone seeking a servant.

My! what an absorbing letter to read! The gist of Fanny’s lament is not that she doesn’t think the woman will suit => Fanny believes the position would NOT at all suit the woman! The woman is too used to fine households (“white gloves” were mentioned…); and her brother is in the household of a titled family. What has the Kinwarton Vicarage to offer other than a stone-floored kitchen – no “housekeeper’s room” at all, as in all the fine house’s the woman may indeed associate with the Smiths: Suttons (in Essex), Stoke (in Wiltshire), Tring (in Hertfordshire). Fanny asks her sister to be candid, to tell the ex-Lady’s Maid — though one of Charlotte’s servants — all the letter contains about the position and the household. Tell this also to the lady who wrote to Fanny, so that she too will be under no misapprehensions.

Alas! Poor Fanny then leaves the door open, for she writes towards the end: IF the woman cares to pursue the position still, let her contact Fanny.

fanny signature

Foolish Fanny!

Now, Fanny had written Charlotte that the WORST scenario she could EVER envision was one where an unhappy servant moans and complains… Fanny may be a new-ish bride (it’s been well over a year since the wedding), but she is no “young” lady: she is in her 30s and well used to the large establishment of her mother’s household (yet, of course, always had her mother on the other side of a letter if advice was required about the said household).

Indeed, it seems, from one short sentence, that James Edward Austen (Emma’s husband) sat Fanny down and told her a few facts about life in the country’s more impecunious rectories. She knew, going into the marriage, she writes Charlotte, that she’d been heading a household where hundreds and not thousands (of pounds) would be spent in a year.

So why on earth does she simply NOT even consider taking “White Gloves” on?

For the next letter finds the woman IN KINWARTON!

Oh Fanny….

The situation is not the happiest, on both sides (as Fanny predicted!), and Fanny, pregnant and planning to move south to be with her mother for her confinement, is already planning to give the woman her dismissal: the plan is NOT to engage her further once they arrive in London. The plan, then, calls for the woman – whom we now know to be nearer 50 than 40 in age (another Lament!) to be unemployed come Christmas, for Fanny was confined in mid-January.

Ah, for MORE in order to know IF this plan was followed!  DID she arrive back in London with a handshake and a pay-off?

Richard’s diary mentions the woman just once: the fact of her travelling separately to Oxford as they break their journey south. Nothing more, as if the household does not affect him at ALL. And perhaps it didn’t! Fanny could write reams to her sisters, laments and pleadings for advice, but Richard can’t even be bothered to note the woman’s arrival or dismissal, or his wife’s unease.

MEN!

So, until more letters come to light – or, more mentions of a woman named Heck or Hook – this story too is a “torso” waiting for a conclusion.

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Jane Austen Appeal

July 13, 2015 at 12:11 pm (history, jane austen, news) (, , , )

A friend in the UK sent me a newspaper clipping. Honestly, it had me shaking my head – not up-and-down, but side-to-side.

I have always been frugal; never more so than now. But am I the only one who grows a bit disgusted at the prices some items fetch? The newest is a letter – not a new discovery, but on the market – written by Cassandra Austen, to her niece Fanny Knight, about the death of Jane Austen.

cassandra Austen silhouette

The “asking” price is £30,000!

Surely, in the UK, that must buy a CAR (and a pretty nice one, I would think); it used to buy a house.

I work with letters exactly like this. I’ve even handled a couple written by Cassandra Austen. Such exorbitant pricing means this is one letter that will NEVER turn up in a pile of letters at the Hampshire Record Office. Where does the insanity end?

The email, with the newspaper clipping, came yesterday – and I was still thinking about this today. Wouldn’t it have been nice for the owner to donate the letter?

I’m glad the museum seems on target for their goal. No one knows better than me the angst of something that you’re so close to having – and then some glitch and … zip … someone ELSE gets to call it theirs (long story). But there’s also greed – which leaves me, as I began, shaking my head.

cassandra letter

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Tory vs Whig

July 11, 2015 at 12:35 pm (british royalty, history, people, research) (, , , )

I must admit to an intense boredom over politics. For, in the end, no matter what, nothing ever really seems to change. Translate that boredom to the past and even to another country, and you will easily see that confusion over “labels” is bound to occur.

None more so than the terms TORY and WHIG. At least with Labour and Conservative one feels on surer ground…

But working in the early 19th century rather than the early 20th century, Whiggism and Toryism are two “isms” I have to get my head around. It is not helped by the fact that, while the words remained the same, their meanings did not. How highly entertaining to be told that the word Whig came into English vocabulary from the Scots Gaelic and was “applied to horse thieves and, later, to Scottish Presbyterians”. Tory had as ignominious a beginning: “an Irish term suggesting a papist outlaw”.

Of course _I_ can’t go that far back either. But must concentrate on the pull of the parties as occurred from the late 18th century into the early 19th century.

So why this “dip” into politics – which I can quite easily avoid in research that tends towards the biographical and the social?

Around the turn of the century, I have several gentlemen in the House of Commons: Joshua Smith (Emma’s grandfather), William Chute (Emma’s uncle), Charles Smith (Emma’s papa), and even the two Compton men, Charles and Spencer (Emma’s uncle and cousin, respectively). William Gosling, Mary’s father, is once caught out nearly all night, at a debate in the House.

Sooner or later I have to pay attention to politics!

But my recent question had been to remind myself the years Spencer Compton served. Some early letters describe his year forays into giving speeches, and (since he was a very young man!) give insight into his general personality. It was with great interest, therefore, that I read about his voting patterns in the short summation at the History of Parliament website.

Given that I have rather a soft spot for the ladies of Torloisk, the Clephane family into which Spencer married in summer 1815, I could not help but chuckle over an anecdote in the write-up on Spencer, Lord Compton (later the 2nd Marquess of Northampton): “He voted for the repeal of the Irish window tax, 21 Apr. 1818, opposed extension of the forgery bill, 14 May, and supported Brougham’s amendment to the aliens bill, 22 May. Sir James Mackintosh commented, ‘Lord Compton shows propensities to Whiggery which some ascribe to his lady, though it be a little singular that a Miss Maclean from the Isle of Mull should be a Whig’.

signature_margaret clephane

MargaretCompton

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