New Letters, New Revelations

November 3, 2013 at 9:38 am (diaries, history, news, people, research, smiths of stratford) (, , , , , , , )

Special thanks to Mike who photographed some letters for me at the Hampshire Record Office. Being 3000 miles from this enormous source of Smith&Gosling info is one of the hardest situations to be in. I’m very grateful to Mike, and to anyone who is able to allow me to continue my research from afar (you all know who you are…).

I spent yesterday morning and evening (until 2 am! – though with the time change, I gained an hour) in the 1790s – with Emma Smith (my Emma’s “Aunt Emma”), youngest sister to Augusta (AKA Mamma); also with their Father Joshua Smith and Mother Sarah Smith. There’s even a letter from Judith Smith (née Lefevre), Emma’s great-grandmother, but I’ve not touched that one yet. The Smiths senior (Emma, Joshua, Sarah) write a LOT about aches, pains, accidents. A HARROWING letter from Sarah Smith to daughter Eliza Chute sets out the near-fatal accident of young Emma (“Aunt Emma”)! O-M-G-!

  • click link “near-fatal accident” to LISTEN to this segment of Sarah Smith’s September 1799 letter

The letters of my Emma Smith (AKA Emma Austen Leigh) come from the period 1811 / 1814. Emma was just nine-years-old in August 1811. HUGE handwriting — but cursive handwriting:

DSCF0160

This is page 3 — and LOOK at the treat that was in store for me: an early mention of my Mary Gosling, an 11-year-old! Only eleven and nine, and the girls were already corresponding…

The 1814 letters are poignant, dealing in the time period of Papa Charles Smith’s last illness. The bright spot in one letter? Mentions of “the little ones”. I swear Emma writes, “When we came to Stratford [the home of “Aunt”, Judith Smith – Charles’ only living sister; she was obviously keeping the children away from the scene of sickness] we found the little ones very well & hungry…” Emma goes on to mention little Drummond – a toddler at this point; and Charlotte, about five-years-old – who was outpacing her elder sister Eliza in learning her religion and also in reading.

Knowing what life had in store for all these people – (for example: marriage, children, early death) – it touches me to glimpse these moments of them as innocent, buoyant children. Thankfully, so much material has been preserved – in so many different places. Each letter shades their portraits in such subtle ways. A valuable gift, as we move into the festive season of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and on to a New Year.

* * *

NB: IS Mrs Thrale in the recorded letter of Sarah Smith who I think she is?

Hester Thrale Piozzi did know the Cunliffes; letters mention the deaths of Lady Cunliffe’s daughters, Eliza Gosling (1803) and Mary Smith (1804). Trouble is: Dr Johnson’s Mrs Thrale had, by 1799, long ago become Mrs Piozzi. The name could be read as “Thrall”… But it’s possible Sarah Smith had a slip of the pen, or didn’t hear (or didn’t remember hearing) of Mrs Thrale’s remarriage. Must dig a bit further.

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the Shades of Pemberley…

June 8, 2013 at 11:37 am (books, entertainment, fashion, history, news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Among the preeminent cutters of silhouettes stands Auguste Edouart; and it was while searching for something completely different that I came across this wonderful little book from 1921, Ancestors in Silhouette, cut by August [sic] Edouart. Illustrative Notes and Biographical Sketches by Mrs F. Nevill Jackson. Mrs F. Nevill Jackson, as you can see, being ID’ed as Emily Jackson.

Mrs Jackson had her hands on the “duplicate” books of Edouart; it seems that when he cut a silhouette, he kept a duplicate, and ID’ed it in his sitters’ books! I was *THRILLED* to find the New York Historical Society’s “finding guide” for the Emily Jackson Photograph Collection of Édouart’s American Silhouette Portraits… until I mentally-backed-up and re-read the title: AMERICAN silhouette portraits. Oh, dear… So what has happened to her collection of Edouart’s ENGLISH Silhouette Portraits?

Why, you might ask, do I care?

While I am still combing through the list at the back of the book (I’m up to “N”), look at what I’ve uncovered:

Silhouettes by Auguste Edouart (arranged by date):

Rev. Henry Wilder, Purley Hall, Reading (London, 21 Mar 1829)

Mrs Austen, 6, Portland Place (London, 3 Apr 1829)
Rev. J.E Austen, 6, Portland Place (London, 3 Apr 1829)

Sir Charles Smith, 6, Portland Place (London, 4 Apr 1829)
Lady Smith (London, 4 Apr 1829)
Baby Miss Smith (London, 4 Apr 1829)
Miss Smith, Portland Place (London, 4 Apr 1829)
Langham Christie, Esq. No. 2, Cumberland St, Portman Sq (London, 4 Apr 1829)
Chas. Dickins, Esq. (London, 4 Apr 1829)
Lady Eliz. Dickins (London, 4 Apr 1829)

Chas. Cunliffe Smith (London, 9 Apr 1829)
Drummond Smith, Esq. (London, 9 Apr 1829)

Spencer Smith, Esq. (London, 10 Apr 1829)
Miss Gosling, 6, Portland Place (London, 10 Apr 1829) [sic: 5, Portland Place]

Chas. Wm. Christie, Esq., No. 2 Cumberland St, Portman Sq (London, 20 May 1829)

Rev. Sir John Seymour, Bart., St Peter’s Cathedral (2 ports.) (Gloucester, 1 Nov 1836)
Lady John Seymour (Gloucester, 1 Nov 1836)
Master Michael Seymour (Gloucester, 1 Nov 1836)

Henry Wilder, soon to be wed to Augusta Smith (“Miss Smith” of Portland place who sits on the 4th; they married on April 8, 1829), leads the pack, visiting Edouart in March. Mrs Austen and the Rev. J.E. Austen (id’ed incorrectly by Jackson, or else a printer’s error, as I.E. Austen), then appeared — and Emma actually notes this visit!

Just look how many visited Edouart on the following day: Charles and Mary, their baby Mimi — little Charles (“Chas. Cunliffe”) visits a few days later with his uncle Drummond; Augusta, Langham Christie, and the Dickins, another newly-married couple (February, 1829).

Charles, of all people, mentions this visit; Mary is silent about it, commenting only on the health of “baby” (Mimi) — and the acceptance of her sister Elizabeth Gosling of Langham Christie’s proposal of marriage! Yes, Langham visited Edouart on the very day he proposed! That may be why she then visits Edouart – in company with Spencer Smith, six days later.

Then, pulling up the rear, is Langham’s brother, Charles Christie.

A big gap of time, and a little activity that I simply must mention, in 1836: the family of the Rev. Sir John Seymour, bart: husband, wife and young son.

  • But WHERE are these silhouettes — I’d even settle for (if such ever existed) Emily Jackson’s photographic supplements! So a brief plea here; anyone with ANY knowledge of a stash of Edouart silhouettes, please let me know. Keeping fingers crossed that I can track these images down.

What might these Edouart Silhouettes look like? _I_ presumed the typical “head”-shot…. I’ve found a few online examples:

Edouart produced silhouettes as simple as this full figure:

edouart_boy

And yet note the elaborate background of these two solitary figures:

 edouart_garden  edouart_library

and silhouette groupings, such as this one:

edouart_couple

Or, this well-populated room:

edouart_family

WHAT might the Smiths & Goslings and their intendeds and new husbands
have picked for their silhouettes???

I’m dying to know!

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Born on this day

January 4, 2011 at 9:55 am (a day in the life, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

by Frenchie (Photobucket)

January 4, 1772 – Miss Augusta Smith, third daughter of Joshua Smith of Erle Stoke Park (Wiltshire) and his wife Sarah Gilbert, daughter of Nathaniel Gilbert of Antigua.

Miss Smith married, in 1798, Mr Charles Smith (no relation) of Suttons in Essex.

The couple had nine children – including (2nd daughter, 3rd child) Emma — who, in 1828, married the only son of the Rev. James Austen of Deane and Steventon and his wife Martha Lloyd.

Thanks to Mark Woodford, of Networked Robotics, Miss Smith’s 1798 diary has surfaced! In this blog, she is often referred to as Mamma Smith — there are just so many ‘Augustas’, and it’s confusing that she was a Smith before marriage and remained a Smith after marriage… 

So, Happy Birthday Mamma Smith!

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How does YOUR Garden grow?

November 27, 2010 at 11:56 am (books, estates, places, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

For quite some time now I’ve known of the existence of a letter from Humphry Repton to Charles Smith (the father) of Suttons. Yes, the “great” Repton had been consulted about the Smith Estate! The date of the letter is January 1808.

What was the Smith family like in 1808? Emma was just six years old, and would turn seven in September. Eliza (later Lady Le Marchant) was a mere babe in arms — born just 2 and 1/2 months ago. Augusta (Mamma) Smith’s letters written around this time are just a delight to read because, when written to the older children — Augusta, Emma — she talks so charmingly of the other children, her own parents, their Papa.

Anyway, yesterday I was looking up the online Austen ‘exhibit’ at the Morgan Library in NYC; and took a look at their online ‘exhibit’ for Humphry Repton. Now, Repton is a name known to me, but beyond the faint knowledge that he was hired at Suttons, I’ve not really (yet) delved into his side of the ‘business’. The Morgan changed all that!

Earlier this year they had two of Repton’s “Red Books” on display. These books are what cyber-viewers can now take a look at. I simply cannot imagine being wealthy enough to hire a man who produces such items in the hopes of gaining my business! But then I’m not from a “landed” family in 19th-century England. The above is taken from Repton’s Observations on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, published in 1803 — you find Sutton’s mentioned on page 16. (The University of Florida has an online copy of this invaluable document.)

Hmmm…, Jane Austen has her Mr Rushworth, in vol. 1 of Mansfield Park discuss the improvements made to a “Mr Smith’s” property:

“‘I wish you could see Compton,’ said he, ‘it is the most complete thing! I never saw a place so altered in my life. I told Smith I did not know where I was. The approach now is one of the finest things in the country. You see the house in the most surprising manner. I declare when I got back to Sotherton yesterday, it looked like a prison — quite a dismal old prison.’

…’Your best friend upon such an occasion,’ said Miss Bertram, calmly, ‘would be Mr. Repton, I imagine.’

‘That is what I was thinking of. As he has done so well by Smith, I think I had better have him at once. His terms are five guineas a day…. Smith’s place is the admiration of all the country; and it was a mere nothing before Repton took it in hand.'”

[read Austen’s Repton mentions: Mansfield Park, 1814 edition; a ‘by the way’: Compton, the name Austen gives Smith’s estate is a familial name belonging to the Smiths of Suttons… Coincidence?? or had she been remembering conversations with Mrs Chute of The Vyne?]

These “Red Books” are amazing! The drawings, the overlays that foretold what the proposed ‘improvements’ would look like. The prose, which lay out his thoughts and evaluations of your property.

Well, take a look for yourself: Repton at the Morgan.

Oh! I want just such a book about SUTTONS!!!!

Searching for more of these little red books, I find that the “Red Book” made in 1791 for Claybury (then owned by the Hatch family) still exists. The Smiths often visited the Abdys, who inherited, at Claybury. What a treasure Repton has left behind, never mind what pride he must have taken in presenting his work in this manner.

Needless to say, if anyone’s attic or closet turns up a little “Red Book” about Suttons, Essex, Seat of Charles Smith, esq — come find me!!

further readings:
See Repton at Dagnam (another estate the Smiths often visited).
Read about Repton and these “Red Books”; listed are several well-known properties, including Stoneleigh Abbey.
Sheringham Park has its “Red Book” on display (National Trust). It was published in facsimile in 1976 by Basilisk Press.
Oulton Hall’s Red Book is mentioned here as being in the West Yorkshire Archive, as well as some published in Country Life (1987).
A 24-page PDF of Hampshire’s Historic Parks & Gardens.

In the end I could not help but include this tidbit from the Hatchlands’ Red Book, for it so makes me think of Pride & Prejudice:

“In the situation of a house, its aspect ought to be the first consideration, and not the views it may command: a good aspect is a perpetual source of comfort to the inhabitant; while a fine view is rather a transitory subject of admiration to the stranger.”

Though I will say, even an ‘inhabitant’ enjoys the transitory admiration of a view every once in a while, I just think of Darcy and Elizabeth: a stranger perhaps when she views the park from the windows, but soon to become mistress of all she surveys! Little things sometimes explain volumes about a small, short passage in Austen’s novels.

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The Mystery of Augusta

July 5, 2010 at 11:07 pm (research) (, , , , , , , )

Talk about a History’s Mystery!

If you didn’t spot the not-so-faint you’d never notice the others. I’m talking about the Accounts Augusta Smith put down in 1798 on the right-hand page (ruled for monies received and monies lent/paid out). It might also help that I’ve seen her sister’s diaries, where (if I remember correctly) the accounts were in INK. Here, Augusta has written the narrative of her diary in ink (thank GOODNESS!), but these accounts are in PENCIL. Have they faded to the point of non-existence, or were they erased? They are in her hand (which points to faded), but sometimes she has obviously written her narrative OVER the accounts — needed the room and just didn’t care? If she (or someone?) erased them, why? I had originally thought that maybe a later owner wanted to reuse the diary and never did; but then why write narrative over the accounts? Someone posited that Augusta hadn’t wanted Charles to see (and indeed there are card debts recorded… but as they married in March and the accounts continue on, it’s QUITE unlikely Charles really cared; I mean, just DON’T record your debts if you didn’t want your husband to see!).

Eliza’s diaries have entries to To Cards (seen in Augusta’s; she certainly seems luckier in Love than Cards, for there evidently are fewer By Cards [her wins] entries…), To Play, To Poor Man/Woman, To Pew Opener, etc etc.

I must admit, in two months, having little time, I did not give Eliza’s accounts a lot of notice. My thoughts at the time, while still at HRO was ‘I’ll see about getting the diaries on microfilm’, or (yeah, right!) return to Winchester… So, for the most part they are a known-but-unanalyzed quantity of her diaries — but they can sometimes help in guesses for words (not sums) in Augusta’s diary.

It’s definitely a SUMMER project: the light has to be just right, not too bright (then you see NOTHING), not too dark — and it even has to hit the page at the proper ANGLE. One second you see not much, the next second the word(s) as clear as day, the following moment all is GONE.

One example: I thought this could read To Poker Book — highly unlikely, but, hey! you never know. Also thought, maybe, Joker? Then, in the flash of the page being held JUST right: Pocket! It’s early in the year (January 16th) and she could be referring to this same diary (which were termed ‘pocket books’ because of their size and ‘carriability’), but could she also mean (since mid-January would mean two weeks-plus of entries that she had to then write in…) what we think of as a pocketbook, ie, a purse? I just don’t know. Just like I don’t know WHY these entries — and an entire page at the front of the book, were written in pencil and cannot be read.

It’s a thrill when you can read words like To White Gloves (a lady used LOTS of those) or To Powder.

After two hundred years it’s just ‘Fade to white…’ rather than black.

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Happy Father’s Day

June 20, 2010 at 11:10 am (news, people, places) (, , , , , , , , )

Mark Woodford’s father, Charles, owned Augusta Smith’s 1798 diary; he died in February, 2009.

My own father is exceptionally supportive of my writing, this research project, and all I have accomplished and hope to accomplish with it.

Here’s here a not-so-short, and perhaps convoluted, tribute to some fathers:

I mention Mark because, reading through a diary in which the writer (Augusta Smith) marries (Charles Smith, of Suttons), he has been digging to find information on so much more than I have had a mind to do. For instance, he has uncovered a very useful set of books on Parliament, MPs and their voting records — thereby fleshing out both Joshua Smith (Augusta’s father) and Charles Smith (Augusta’s husband).

[I will remind readers here that Augusta was a ‘Smith’ and married a ‘Smith’ = but they were not related.]

This set, in four volumes, is The House of Commons, 1790-1820, a History of Parliament by R.G. Thorne. Middlebury College’s library has it; but wouldn’t you know: ONE volume is OUT! I’ll keep an eye on the online catalogue and take a ride down when all four are back on the shelf…

Why, you may ask, wouldn’t I be totally interested and have unearthed this set of books myself? A couple reasons; first I love history — but not politics. True, the two are inexplicably linked in oh so many ways. Yet, it can often be entirely overlooked: Austen set her novels in a slightly apolitical world, didn’t she?

But, more importantly, my earliest diary — belonging to Mary Gosling — dates from 1814. She is en route to Oxford. Sure she visits her brothers, who are in residence there, but Oxford is also en fête: the “false peace” of 1814 has been declared and guess who seats herself on the thrones not long before occupied by the likes of the Emperor of Prussia and the Tsar of Russia: Mary!

So I’ve always seen 1814 as the kick-off — summer, 1814 even. Poor Charles Smith, Emma’s father, has already died, though just a few months before. Emma’s own earliest diary begins New Year’s Day 1815. Thus, my two girls really are “teenagers” by the time I begin to write (and think) about them. Actually, another point in Jane Austen’s favor: they are sentient beings with wills and characters all their own, and ready to get on with life.

This line of thinking has never meant, however, that research into the parent, even grandparent generation hasn’t taken place, or needs to take place. It just means it rather lives simmering, always on the back-burner.

Which is where the enthusiasm of someone like Mark comes in handy. For him, the girls are not the focus: AUGUSTA is a  focus point, her father, her grandfather.

Joshua long has been Emma‘s grandfather, the older man, still in good health, a widower who entertains his children and grandchildren when they stay with him at Erle Stoke over New Year’s 1816/1817. Emma’s 1817 diary opens with, “Grandpapa was in good health at the age of 84. Stoke.” written across the top of the page, between a note about “Winter” and a “pair of galashes” and her first entry describing the people who had come to Stoke: Lord and Lady Northampton (aunt and uncle), their daughter Lady Elizabeth, Mr and Mrs Chute and Caroline (aunt and uncle and their “adopted” daughter), and a certain Mrs Langham — who just has to be a relation of Langham Christie (the future husband to Mary’s sister Elizabeth).

I think I’ve mentioned this entry before, because it is so evocative of a time past, as well as the “monied crowd” of England during this period:

“The new year was ushered in by a band of music playing round the house… band of music came in the evening & we danced a little”.

Mark Woodford, having an early interest in the Antiguan roots of the paternal family of Sarah (Gilbert) Smith, has found some invaluable information on Nathaniel Gilbert; and, as mentioned, the political careers of Charles Smith and Joshua Smith. Prior to this, Nathaniel was a bit of a name — great-grandfather, only; now he takes on a bit more flesh.

Charles was always Papa, but he dies so early in Emma’s life that being required to think of him as LIVING and LOVING the mind begins to think of him as he once was, before illness took him from Augusta.

And Joshua Smith, still so vibrant — I treasure letters from the early years when he misses his Eliza (Mrs Chute) so terribly; but my overriding image has long been of the loving grandfather whose end is also too well known from the letters — for Augusta writes passionately of rushing to his bedside, although he is often incoherent and doesn’t even recognize her.

We all have fathers, grandfathers, great-great-great-great grandfathers, etc. etc. If only we all had the mementoes the Smiths (especially) and Goslings left behind.

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The Year of the French, 1798

May 24, 2010 at 8:37 pm (a day in the life, books, news, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I have spent the last three days in England 1798 — literally the Year of the French, due to all the rumors flying around about imminent invasion.

The “tour” has been courtesy of Illinois resident Mark Woodford, whose company website, Networked Robotics, is worth a look. Mark’s father recently bequeathed him a diary which had passed the last ten to fifteen years in Charles Woodford’s household as “1798 Diary of a High-Born Lady”. The high-born lady turns out to be none other than AUGUSTA SMITH (née Smith), Emma Austen-Leigh’s mother; and 1798, the year of her courtship and marriage to Charles Smith of Suttons. A true find, indeed. And I owe Mark more than one heartfelt “thank you” — firstly, for contacting me after he identified Augusta as the diarist; and, secondly, for loaning me the diary in order for a transcription to be taken.

Augusta arrived last Thursday, and we’ve spent hours together ever since.

How did the diary come to be among the Woodford possessions? With the death of Charles Woodford, it may be impossible to narrow down: a second-hand antiquarian bookshop? Christie’s or Sotheby’s? Or…?? Where it came from would be a mystery well-solved, yet it points up what I’ve long suspected: There are individual diaries out there (potentially of MANY family members), on random shelves, merely described by their dates of composition because their diarists never ascribed names to their scribblings. (Only in ONE diary — belonging to Charles Joshua Smith — have I encountered an owner’s inscription; although, of course, Mary Gosling penned her name on the “title page” of her earliest travel diary, dated 1814. That simple act of possession unravelled this entire historical puzzle.)

May this diary of Augusta’s be the first of many such “discoverings”!

Although I have now completed a preliminary transcription (proofing to come!), a year in someone’s life can be overwhelming to describe in a few paragraphs, never mind a few words. And a few words will right now have to suffice.

The year begins with young Augusta at home, at Erle Stoke Park, Wiltshire — home of Joshua and Sarah (née Gilbert) Smith. Her father was a Member of Parliament (for Devizes); her soon-to-be fiancé also sits in the House of Commons. Between the two men as sources for political bulletins, Augusta punctuates her diary with news of Buonaparte, French troop movements, taxation laws, and Nelson Naval Victories. One interesting item: she writes of visiting Mrs Davison — this would be Harriot Davison, née Gosling: sister to William Gosling (father to my diarist Mary Gosling) and wife of Nelson’s confidant, Alexander Davison of Swarland.

Mrs Davison is a shadowy figure; she had already died by the time Mary’s diaries begin (1829). Charles, whose diaries begin the year he and Mary married (1826), mentions her just once: when they hear of her death (28 October 1826).

From Augusta Smith’s entry on January 2nd — where she makes notation of a rumor: that the French were building a RAFT (700 feet long by 350 feet wide) “for an Invasion on England” (on the opposite page, written down who-knows-when, is the bold negation: “N.B. this report proved false.”) — to her comments surrounding news of Nelson’s Nile Victory towards the end of the year, we now get a spine-chilling glimpse at how unsettled life for the English living near the coast could be.

More later!

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Dobro Prozhalovat!

May 12, 2010 at 8:06 pm (a day in the life, people, places) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Were those the words that Emma read when she first received a letter from brother Charles postmarked: ST PETERSBURG??

The year is 1820. Emma designates this letter No. 19 and notes its receipt on 21 November.

Charles’ last (No. 18), received on the 1st, had been headed “Stockholm” — what could have induced him to spend the winter months in such cold countries?!?

Unless the letters are found, we may never know…

It is interesting, after Drummond’s death (1832) the sisters collected together his letters. I have a copy of just one such collection. Instead of actual letters, however, someone collected all his correspondence to his sisters and rewrote everything. I suspect the pen to have been wielded by Fanny (see the post below), yet without more handwriting samples I cannot be sure. It is possible that several of these “letterbooks” existed.

Why do I wonder about that? There are several letters missing — inevitably those written by Drummond to Fanny (his “little Mother”) [for an article devoted to Fanny Smith Seymour, see the author, on the menu at right]. — as well, his travel diary from 1830 remains unfinished. YET: in both cases the requisite number of blank pages remain. That could mean several things: Fanny wasn’t coming across quickly with her letters and the room needed was guessed at; the writer got tired of the trip entries (oh! such a loss!!) and moved on — or, there was a “master copy” from which this letterbook was being written and the writer felt at ease to skip around, skipping the required number of pages.

My point is: These people kept letters — we know that;. And after the death of a relative these letters (and diaries) became precious relics to be read and reread.

I was thinking about all this today because of one of my favorite phrases in all the letters I’ve transcribed. The year is 1822. It is September, and Emma is writing to Aunt (Mrs Judith Smith, of Stratford; only sister to Charles Smith, Sr.). Mamma has taken her eldest five children abroad. They had departed from England in June. Emma’s letter originates in Geneva and she amusingly lays out what must come to Aunt herself as a bit of a surprise: they now plan to cross into Italy:

“…you can hardly imagine my dear Aunty that we could be so near to Rome without visiting it, which Charles wishes, to the full as much as we do & Mamma for our sakes has kindly consented to so do, & in order to accomplish it we must spend the winter months there”

I just LOVE the idea that they MUST spend the winter months there; no short visit of a few days! Plus there is just something endearing about the phrase that Mamma “has kindly consented”.

Emma continues:

“now do not my dear Aunt fancy that we are determined gadabouts… I really think you would be almost tempted to go there; you know Mamma is not a very uncertain person & she wishes me to tell you she intends being at home during next June… Mamma wishes you not to tell this to the poor children unless you think that by very gentle degrees & hints, it would be adviseable to let them know we might spend the winter abroad…”

Note the use of the “might” here, as contrasted to the word “must” only a few sentences before!

There are a couple letters extant, from young Charlotte — one of the “children” left at home: Spencer, Charlotte, Drummond, and Maria — in which she tears your heart out as she writes of missing her mother, missing her eldest brother, her four eldest sisters. When the party returns the following June, Emma hardly recognizes young Spencer — he had grown so tall!

So, while it is thrilling to think of those gababouts, and the places they visited, thought must also be spared to those left behind…

But, to turn back to Charles. Imagine going abroad — and very lengthy trips! — twice in as many years. The amazing thing is how far north and east he got during this first trip, 1820-21. I’ve made a list of letters, and either Emma got tired of noting them — or I did! I see notations about the receipt of 43 letters, the last (in August 1821) from Paris. Obviously, therefore, there should have followed a few more, even if he travelled quickly towards the Channel.

Emma begins well: letters reach her from Brussels and The Hague. Then, without spending any evident time in that bastion of European travel (France), Charles is next in Frankfurt. He works his way — quickly — through Saxe-Gotha, Leipzig, Dresden, Berlin and Hamburg. At some point, while in Hamburg, he dispatches gifts — for Emma notes their receipt on 26 November.

Charles then moves through Copenhagen and is next in Gothenburg and Stockholm — his first letter received on 25 September, but his last on 1 November. By that time he is reaching St. Petersburgh, as Emma calls it. She is still receiving post from there in mid-January 1821! By February he has travelled on to Warsaw. At the end of  February, Emma and the family receive more gifts: these posted from Vienna. Oh! how I envy Charles visiting pre-Ringstrasse Vienna! He is still there (letter received) at the end of May; but he has moved into Italy — lovely Venice — come June. By August Emma is receiving mail from Paris.

Charles had left the family on 3 June, 1820 and returned to them on 15 August 1821 — when he hands out more gifts. Imagine the things he might have bought… and then imagine me wondering where those items might be today.

To finish my thought about the next trip: the family left 24 June 1822 – Emma keeps up her diary only until the 28th: the family are just arrived at Ghent. And then the rest of her diary for the year is BLANK! 1823’s diary begins upon their return: 21 July 1823.

So lucky Charles sees the north for more than a year, then travels south – for this time they work through Switzerland and into Italy — staying the winter with the Comptons (Spencer and his wife Margaret), as we’ve seen from Emma’s letter to Aunt.

“You know  Mamma is not a very uncertain person…” –No, indeed! No wonder her children loved her so.

What made me post on such a subject? Firstly, the generous offer of Mark in Illinois, who is the owner of young Augusta’s diary for the year 1798, the year she married Charles, Sr. This one sentence is more telling of the kind of person Mamma became than any I have ever run across.

The second is the hope that if a single diary can turn up why not a group of letters?? The Smiths, collectively — for it’s possible that Emma noted only those letters addressed specifically to her — would surely have held on to such a precious bundle as Charles’ letters from Abroad. Emma herself intimates that her diary, so tiresome to keep while away from home, was superseded by letters, sent to her siblings, to her aunts — especially “Aunt”. So this may be seen as a plea: Anyone owning even ONE letter with a bunch of fancy postmarks, addressed to No. 6 Portland Place or Suttons in Essex, drop me a line!

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Diaries, Missing or Lost?

April 12, 2009 at 9:52 am (books) (, , , )

cover_1822-daily-journalAfter writing the previous post, it dawned that I should have mentioned: There are a definite lack of details about Drummond in 1825 because his sister Emma’s diary for that year is missing. There is a near-complete set of diaries – little pocket diaries the size to fit in one’s hand (approx 3.5 x 7 inches), similar to that pictured at left (Emma’s had clasps which close the books) – at the Hampshire Record Office. What happened to 1825?? Kept in the family? Lost, like Boswell’s Holland Journal? Given to someone, who then never returned it? Hidden in some attic somewhere? In some collection, like Mary’s Duke University travel journal, unconnected with the rest of the family archives?? The answer may come — or never come.

Charles, too, might have kept diaries before the five (beginning in 1826) that the Essex Records Office owns. Why would he begin a diary in the middle of the year (July)? A couple possibilities come to mind: Either, like Mary and his sister Emma, he decided to begin keeping a diary; or else, figuring on beginning a new life, his old diaries were set aside and this new journal begun: for the first entry (though the casual reader would NEVER know it!) is notice of his bringing Mary, his bride, home to Suttons on their wedding day! 1825 was a difficult year for the Smiths: in January Belinda, Charles’ first wife, gave birth (according to one source to a daughter; if born alive, the baby did not live long);  Belinda soon slipped away as well. Hers was the first death this family of nine siblings had endured in some years (father in 1814; maternal grandfather in 1819). When I first contacted the Essex Record office to obtain microfilm copies of Charles’ diaries, I was under the impression that they were from January through December. No wonder the cost was less than anticipated; no wonder the online description suddenly read that they covered July through December: the preceding six months are blank! There went any indication of why Charles chose to marry Mary Gosling. I had pinned my hopes on his diary confessions. Of course I hadn’t “known” Charles well then… He is rather silent on many matters, just like his wife Mary.

There are several possibilities for the ‘holes’ in a collection – and only time will tell if some of these holes get puttied over. I am convinced there are more materials (letters and diaries) to be discovered.

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