Boswell’s Presumptuous Task

September 4, 2018 at 9:12 pm (books, history, people) (, , , )

Being a three-day weekend, I took the opportunity to visit my favorite used bookstore, in Henniker, New Hampshire: Old Number 6 Book Depot. Check out this blog (Home Maid Simple) for TONS of photos of the shop – and you’ll see why I find it worth a three-hour drive.

I picked up a copy of Roger Pilkington’s Small Boat on the Meuse; I have many of his “Small Boat” books. This one dates to 1967, and the early volumes are the most entertaining.

Boswell_Sisman

But my “find” – which I am currently enjoying – is Boswell’s Presumptuous Task, by Adam Sisman. This is a “take” on the writer without spitting out Boswell’s words verbatim from the journals. Reading it has even made me take down my old paperback copy of the Hebrides tour by Samuel Johnson and (later) that published by Boswell himself. I especially welcome the narrow focus, pin-pointing Boswell and Johnson as well as Boswell writing about Johnson.

Readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen can add to their knowledge of James Boswell by looking up my article, “Boswell’s ‘my Miss Cunliffe’: Augmenting James Boswell’s Missing Chester Journal.” This is available free on Academia.edu – where you can see other articles in the series:

  • “Uncovering the Face of Hester Wheeler”
  • “Margaret Meen: A Life in Four Letters”

For other links to useful Boswell items, see my earlier blog post.

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Boswell’s ‘my Miss Cunliffe’

August 28, 2017 at 7:05 pm (books, people, research, spotlight on) (, , , )

James Boswell actually has a few connections to people in the Smith & Gosling families. I’ve already written about the GREGG family – my diarist Mary Gosling‘s Aunt Gregg (sister of Mary’s father, William Gosling) married into this family. Aunt Gregg’s husband was Henry Gregg. Henry and his sister Miss Gregg (the future Caroline Carr) can be found in diary entries by Boswell.

But my earliest Boswell *find* concerned Lady Cunliffe – Mary’s maternal grandmother – and her two daughters Mary and Eliza. Lady Cunliffe came from Chester, England and maintained ties there. It was in my second post to THIS blog, on 7 June 2008, that I first mentioned the “tie” between my Cunliffe ladies and James Boswell. And YES! 2018 will celebrate the tenth anniversary of Two Teens in the Time of Austen.

Boswell wrote A LOT – letters, diaries, memos to self even. He and his later heirs saved a LOT. But one item that slipped through, and evidently was lost BY Boswell in his lifetime, is his “Chester Journal“. I cannot say how WONDERFUL it would have been to read his words about my trio of ladies! Alas…

Based on a few letters from circa 1780, my article on Academia.edu, “Boswell’s ‘my Miss Cunliffe’: Augmenting James Boswell’s missing Chester Journal,” rectifies the misidentification of the two sisters in the original Boswell literature. They appear in the volume, The Correspondence of James Boswell with Certain members of the Club (1976); and also letters between Boswell and Margaret Stuart (née Cuninghame) in Catalogue of the Papers of James Boswell at Yale University (1993).

This article is the only place to read so much information about Lady Cunliffe (below, in a portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds) and her daughters Mrs. Drummond Smith (Mary) and Mrs. William Gosling (Eliza).

Read: Boswell’s ‘my Miss Cunliffe’ (also linked in the sidebar)

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More “Fashionable World,” 1801

October 20, 2013 at 10:56 pm (books, diaries, entertainment, fashion, history, people, research) (, , , , , , , , )

1801 turns out to be an unusually RICH year for finding the Smiths & Goslings in the newspapers.

The “London Season” was in full-swing!

And my ladies – Eliza Gosling (Mary’s mother, the former Eliza Cunliffe), Mary Smith (Mary’s Aunt and Emma’s great-aunt; the former Mary Cunliffe, now Mrs Drummond Smith), were giving balls and routs; my gentlemen – William Gosling (Mary’s father), Drummond Smith (Emma’s great-uncle), were giving dinners.

fashionable world1

Quick IDs to some others:

  • Alexander Davison had married William Gosling’s sister, Harriet.
  • The Francis Goslings lived in Bloomsbury Square.
  • Lady Cunliffe was the widowed mother of Eliza Gosling and Mary Smith.
  • Lord Walsingham was a de Grey relation of the future (2nd wife) Mrs William Gosling.
  • Mrs Thomas Smith (later of Bersted Lodge) was Emma’s great-aunt, the former Susannah Mackworth Praed.
  • Mrs Gregg of Bedford Square was Mary’s “Aunt Gregg,” sister of William Gosling.
  • Lady Frances Compton was the unmarried sister of Lord Northampton, called “Aunt Frances” by the Smiths of Suttons siblings.

* * *

{newspaper} The Morning Post & Gazetteer, 6 Feb 1801

Mrs. Drummond Smith’s parties, during the fashionable season, will be given in the same stile they were last year.

Mrs. Gosling had a large party of fashionable visitants at her house a few days ago in Portland-place.

*

The Morning Post & Gazetteer, 14 Feb 1801

Mr. and Mrs. Davison have returned to town for the residue of the winter. Mrs. Davison’s fashionable parties are expected to commence in the course of a fortnight.

*

The Morning Post & Gazetteer, 18 Feb 1801

among the attendees at the Marchioness of Salisbury’s Rout, among Mistresses: Drummond Smith

*

The Morning Post & Gazetteer, 24 Feb 1801

Mrs. Drummond Smith’s parties commence early in next month, at her magnificent house in Piccadilly.”

*

The Morning Post & Gazetteer, 27 Feb 1801

among “near five hundred personages of distinction”: Messrs. – Drummond Smith…Mistresses – Drummond Smith

… “Mrs. Gosling’s Rout on Monday night, in Bloomsbury-square, was very respectably attended.

*

The Morning Post & Gazetteer, 2 Mar 1801

FASHIONABLE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE WEEK.

Friday.

Mrs. Drummond Smith’s Rout, Piccadilly

*

The Morning Post & Gazetteer, 4 Mar 1801

at Mrs. Vaughan’s Rout (Monday evening, Manchester-square) “attended by upwards of three hundred personages of distinction”: both Drummond and Mrs Drummond Smith

*

The Morning Post & Gazetteer, 6 Mar 1801

Mrs. Drummond Smith will entertain a small party of friends, this evening, at her elegant house in Piccadilly.

*

The Morning Post & Gazetteer, 14 Mar 1801

at the Countess of Mansfield’s Rout (her “first assembly since her marriage”) {the house a “noble and spacious family mansion, in the centre of Portland-place; the house having previously undergone improvements in the first style of elegance”} “near 500” attend: among them Lady Cunliffe, Lord Walsingham; also Lady Wingfield, Lady Sey and Sele [sic], Mistress Drummond Smith, Mistress Fremantle.

same issue: “Mrs. Drummond Smith’s rout, last night, was attended by a very numerous party of distinguished friends.

*

The Morning Post & Gazetteer, 25 Mar 1801

notice is given of Mrs Methuen’s rout; among the “upwards of three hundred personnages of fashion” was Mrs William Gosling and Mrs Drummond Smith. Mr C. Smith may be Charles (“Papa”). Among the “Ladies” are Lady Cunliffe and Lady Frances Compton. At the top of the guest list: The Prince of Orange.

*

The Morning Post & Gazetteer, 1 April 1801

Mrs. Davison had a private ball on Friday evening in St. James’s-square, which commenced at ten o’clock, and broke up at one.

*

The Morning Post & Gazetteer, 6 April 1801

FASHIONABLE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE WEEK

Friday

Mr Gosling’s Grand Dinner, Portland Place

*

The Morning Post & Gazetteer, 13 Apr 1801

FASHIONABLE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE WEEK.

Tuesday.

Mr. Gosling’s grand Dinner, Portland-place

Mrs. Gosling’s Rout, Portland-place

Thursday.

Mr. Cure’s grand Dinner, Great George-street.

Mr. Drummond Smith’s Dinner, Piccadilly.

Friday.

Mrs. Thomas Smith’s Rout, New Norfolk-street.

Saturday.

Mrs. Gosling’s Rout.

*

 The Morning Post & Gazetteer, 20 Apr 1801

FASHIONABLE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE WEEK.

This evening.

Mrs. Thomas Smith’s Rout, New Norfolk-street

Thursday.

Mrs. Gosling’s Rout, Portland-place

Saturday.

Mr. Davidson’s Grand Dinner, St. James’s-square

*

The Morning Post & Gazetteer, 27 Apr 1801

FASHIONABLE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE WEEK.

This evening.

[note Lady Syke’s Rout, Audley-sq]

Mrs. Gosling’s Rout, Bloomsbury-square

Tuesday – Mrs. Gregg’s Rout, Bedford-square

*

The Morning Post & Gazetteer, 5 May 1801

among the LONG list of attendees at the Duchess of Chandos’ Ball: Mrs W. Gosling, Mrs Drummond Smith

* * *

Read about The Beau Monde, in the book
by Hannah Greig

beau monde

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Need Help: Susannah Smith, nee Mackworth Praed

May 1, 2012 at 2:02 pm (diaries, history, news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I have been thinking of letters and diaries these last couple of weeks. Some diaries are in the 1810s; others propel me forward to the 1840s; and the letters have been as early as the 1790s!

Today I want to make a special appeal to anyone who might have knowledge of letters written by or to Susannah Smith, the wife of Thomas Smith of Bersted Lodge.

Susannah and Thomas married in 1800; Thomas was a brother of Joshua Smith of Erle Stoke Park, so he was Augusta (Mamma) Smith’s Uncle and therefore a great-uncle to my Emma.

This close-up is from a miniature that recently sold at auction. How can you resist this face?!?

Susannah had a twin-sister: Arabella, Countess of Mayo. She became a lady-in-waiting.

Knowing well that LETTERS were the bread-and-butter of life then, I suspect Susannah’s letters, at the very least to and from her sister, but probably also to others in the Smith’s extended family, must exist. Mrs Thomas Smith was of the generation who visited Tring Park to stay with Mr and Mrs Drummond Smith – and also visit Roehampton, where resided Eliza Gosling (Mrs William Gosling), sister to Mary, Mrs Drummond Smith. How wonderful it would be to read comments – even slightly negative ones! – about my Smiths & Goslings.

Even hints to possible whereabouts of some correspondence would be welcome! Published sources as much as manuscript sources.

* * *

UPDATE: it was stupid of me not to include more information on Susannah’s sister and brother-in-law. The Earl of Mayo had the familial name of BOURKE. Some places associated with the family include Naas and Palmerstown. The Praed family were also related to the Shore family, which produced the delightful publication The Journal of Emily Shore.

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Pedigrees — Who’s Who in Smith & Gosling

January 9, 2012 at 6:54 am (history, introduction, news, people, places, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , )

Although I don’t have the software to have nice genealogical charts (and these are pretty complicated families in oh so many ways), I’ve added some “Pedigrees” to the bottom of the “Portraits” page {see link at right}.

You’ve long had information on “Who was Mary’s Father and Mother?” or “How many Smith siblings? and who did everyone marry?” Now, you can see — I hope! — how the “inter-relations” were already there. For instance, Mrs Eliza Chute was (1) best friend to Eliza Cunliffe before and after her marriage to William Gosling, but (2) Eliza Gosling’s sister was also “Aunt” to Eliza Chute — having married Drummond Smith of Tring Park (brother to Joshua Smith of Erle Stoke Park).

There’s a pedigree for the Seymour of Blendworth family — which can be confusing: there are TWO Sir Michael’s to content with, for instance. A trio of Doras too, though Richard Seymour called his sister Dora and his cousin (and eventual sister-in-law) Dora K (for Dora Knighton, her maiden name). Richard’s wife Fanny had to contend with a sister-in-law Frances. Who would believe that soon after Fanny Smith became Fanny Seymour, Frances Seymour became Frances Smith?! Whew! {they are pedigree 9}.

More pedigrees will be coming, of course — some fitting in children or parents. I’ve not always fitted in titles and military affiliations, in the hope of keeping things a bit “clean”. Apologies for that. And family historians are welcome to let me know if I’ve missed out on people or gotten someone wrong. Or ask for further information!

As always, I welcome hearing about letters and diaries that can help build up the Smith&Gosling story. So many people, so much material.

It makes for a long page, but rather nice I think to scroll past all the portraits — including the list of “Where are these?” — to get to the pedigrees. But it does make for a LOT of scrolling….

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Recent writings…

June 7, 2008 at 11:21 am (introduction) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

This week I have been immersed, not in the Regency period of Emma and Mary’s girlhood years, but in the 1830s.

June has turned into a ‘big’ month for me: the publication (finally!) of Persuasions, the Journal of the Jane Austen Society of North America, which contains my article on Emma Austen; and the release (June 12th), in England, of Local Past, the Journal of the Alcester and District (Warwickshire) Historical Society. This contains my article on Emma’s sister Fanny, who married the Rev. Richard Seymour and settled in Kinwarton (about ten miles from Stratford on Avon) for the rest of her long life. This last has spurred me on to finish an article I hope the editor will accept for the December issue, which continues Fanny’s story with the birth of her first son in October 1835.

Unfortunate for Fanny, the child – which was described by Emma as ‘very fine’, died after little more than a day.

What affected me most was reading months earlier a later letter, written by Fanny in 1837. In this letter she relates a little story that shows just how much Richard enjoyed his baby daughter’s company, enjoyed making her laugh, enjoyed puzzling out whom she looked like. Oh, he sounded such a wonderful father! Only upon further investigation into their lives, did I realize that this little girl was not their first child, but their second. How heart-breaking to have gone through pregnancy and birth only to see your child begin strong and then die!

The time-period is one of the interesting parts of this research. Taken together, the lives of these people span the early years of the nineteenth-century (of this generation, Edward Austen, born in 1798, is one of the elder members), and, for the longer-lived, extend into the middle and later years of Victoria’s reign. From George III to Victoria; from horse to the ‘iron horse’; from war abroad to strife at home; from the Age of Austen to the Age of Dickens.

However, in looking at the children one can never forget the parents, and even grandparents. And this moves us back to the 1760s and the birth of the parent-generation.

I began writing an article about the Goslings recently, which just has to start off with two ladies: Mrs Eliza Gosling née Cunliffe and Mrs Eliza Chute née Smith. I like to think of them as The Two Elizas. Funny thing is, they both married men named William! (Very confusing for the casual reader, no?)

One Eliza, Mrs Gosling, was mother to Mary Gosling; the other Eliza, who had no children of her own, was aunt to Emma Smith. Therefore, for two generations these two families had what they themselves described as relationships between ‘sisters-of-the-heart’. Friendships so close that the two women involved felt like sisters. Eliza Chute had three sisters; Eliza Gosling alas had only one. Emma Smith had five sisters, while Mary Gosling had two, but one to which she had a close-close bond.

I cannot prove that either Mrs Gosling, or the two girls, Emma and Mary, ever met Jane Austen (until there comes a new diary, or an as-yet-unread letter…). But Eliza Chute knew her, entertained her even.

In recent years, researchers have begun to look into the diaries of Eliza Chute of The Vyne. This estate, which can be visited as it belongs now to the National Trust, is located in the parish of Sherborne St John (some few miles from Basingstoke). The man who ministered to the congregation on Sundays was none other than the Rev. James Austen, Jane’s eldest brother. Even a cursory review of Deirdre Le Faye’s wonderful Chronology of Jane Austen and Her Family (2006) shows how many Sundays James returned to The Vyne for a repast. In later years he would be accompanied by his son, James-Edward (known as Edward in the family). This little boy grew up to write A Memoir of Jane Austen under the name he took in 1837: James Edward Austen-Leigh.

I’m still digging into the short life of Eliza Gosling and the early life of Eliza Chute – and am actively seeking any information on the Two Elizas, in the form of letters, diaries, even mentions in published books. For instance, Eliza Gosling, when a girl and still Eliza Cunliffe, met James Boswell. She and her sister (‘Miss Cunliff’) are mentioned in Boswell’s letters! Sometimes it is a very small world. I have cause to say that over and again.

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