Emma Meets the Austens

September 14, 2010 at 8:58 pm (people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

In summer 1829, Emma Austen met her Austen relations. Two letters from this period exist, one written to ‘Aunt’ (Judith Smith, the only remaining sister of Emma’s father); the other to her own sister, Fanny.

The Edward Austens had visited Ben and Anna Lefroy, Edward’s brother-in-law and half-sister. Emma met ‘Mr Knight’, ‘who changed his name from Austen to Knight for a fortune.’ She describes to Aunt my favorite of them all: ‘Mrs Cassandra Austen’, whom she calls ‘a very pleasing lady like person’.

Emma goes on to describe the visit: ‘We staid at Ashe till Friday — Mr William Knight has the living of Steventon & his father has built him a capital parsonage house with every convenience & luxury about it’. This convenience, of course, is why the Steventon parsonage that was Jane Austen’s birthplace no longer exists. Progress…

But rather than write about Emma’s impressions of the family, I want to touch on the fact that after her discussion of Steventon the rest of the letter is physically missing! More than half of the page is just gone. So much information, then a SNIP and some precious other bit is torn away.

It’s rather like Emma’s diaries. One queer thing about them is that whenever she gave birth to one of her children pages have been removed and a notation made as to which child was born when. Why??? Souvenir? hiding intimate thoughts? Were the Pieces destroyed? Were the Pieces kept? I’ve just no clue.

More about these letters, and Emma’s impression, in some later post.

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Eine kleine “Antient Music”

January 20, 2009 at 5:50 pm (entertainment) (, , , , , , )

In Emma Smith’s diaries, which begin (as far as what is extant) in 1815, she time and again mentions a series of concerts which came under the general heading The Antient Music. Her sister Augusta was an especial fan. So imagine my surprise to see two volumes – one for 1829 and an earlier one from 1791 – dedicated to the programs and participants of these Antient Music concerts!!

Some very familiar names, thanks to the Smiths and Goslings seeing these artists perform — or hiring them for their own soirees:

* Mr W. Knyvett
* Mrs W. Knyvett
* Mr Vaughan
* Miss Stephens

Then there are the very well known, such as “Madame Malibran”!

These concerts were given under the “patronage of His Majesty,” and, in 1829, performed at the New Rooms, Hanover Square. Lists, such as these of performers and subscribers, as always most welcome; for what other printed matter can allow the researcher to look into a world two hundred years in the past? And maybe, just maybe, you find a correct spelling for a name, or a first name for someone’s last name.

For 1829, the year of Mary’s (Lady Smith) earliest diary and the year Emma’s little Cholmeley was born, we see the following familiar names among the subscribers:

* Mr. Gosling
* Miss Charlotte Gosling
* Mrs F. Gregg
* Miss Emily Gregg
* Miss Jessy Gregg
* Miss Harriet Gregg
* Mr. Richard Gosling
* Mrs. Richard Gosling
* Miss Smith

* Miss Jelfe
* Hon. Thomas Kenyon
* Hon. Mrs. Thomas Kenyon
* Miss Charlotte Kenyon
* Miss Kinnaird
* Rev. James Brownlow
* Sir Astley Cooper, Bt.
* Lady Astley Cooper
* Mr. William Courtenay
* Mr. W. Reginald Courtenay
* Mr. T.P. Courtenay
* Miss E. Courtenay
* Mr Capel
* Mrs Capel
* Miss Capel
* Lord Bishop of London
* Miss Neave
* Lord Nepean
* Dowager Countess Poulett
* Sir Lucas Pepys, Bart.
* Lady Pepys
* Mr Pepys
* Mrs Pepys
* Lady Sykes

See the whole list for yourself here; and don’t forget to take a look at the concerts being given that year! For instance, the concert which opened the season (Thursday, 5 March 1829)  under the “direction of His Grace The Archbishop of York, for His Royal Highness The Duke of Cumberland”. It featured music of Handel, Mozart, Graun, Handel, Geminiani, more Mozart, and a lot more Handel. Included with the words are detailed listings of who sang. It is possible that those programs which generated this book were among those seen in Augusta Smith’s sole sketchbook; Augusta used them as scrap paper! If so, the originals were a heavier card stock. She either used them because of a lack of anything else when the mood to draw struck her, or else she saved them in order to have some scrap. What a wonderful souvenir to unearth online!

As to the 1791 edition, again we see some of the family in attendance; these concerts were performed at the “New Rooms, Tottenham-street”:

* Mr Smith Burges
* Mr. R. Gosling
* Mr. W. Gosling
* Mrs. Gosling
* Mr. F. Gosling
* Mrs. F. Gosling
* Mr D. Smith
* Lady Sykes
* Miss Smith
* Bishop of Winchester

* Mr Houghton
* Mrs Houghton
* Mr. Bramstone
* Mrs. Bramstone
* Mr. Bosanquet
* Mrs Bosanquet
* Lord Brownlow
* Lord Bulkeley
* Lady Hotham
* Miss Hotham
* Sir Lucas Pepys
* The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire

An absolute THRILL is to see listed among the performers a certain “Miss Storace” and “Mr. Kelly” — they can only be Nancy Storace and Michael Kelly — two performers who premiered (1784) Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro!!! Madame Mara gets a mention or two in the letters of Mrs Lefroy (Jane Austen’s friend) and Mr Knyvett (presumably the father, Charles Knyvett senior) was among the soloists that year too.

NB: Poor Mozart would of course not see the end of 1791…

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