Stop to Smell the ROSES

March 29, 2020 at 9:35 am (jane austen, people) (, , , )

Last week I divided a bouquet – flowers at my mother’s grave; gifted to my aunt; and a couple retained for myself.

Photo Mar 22, 12 36 45 PM

The color GRABBED me when I saw them, a deep blush pink – They “called to me.”

Then I spotted their ‘name’:

Photo Mar 22, 12 36 06 PM

LOVELY LYDIA

How could someone who reads Jane Austen and researches her niece-by-marriage, Emma Austen Leigh, RESIST? Instantly, sprang to mind: “LYDIA BENNET” (Pride and Prejudice, of course).

By the time I got home, though, I found the name had morphed in my mind into:

Laughing Lydia

and that is what I call them now, whenever I glance at these roses, though the blooms in my vase have now “dried” into little dangling bells of pink blush.

I leave you that thought today, and wish you – especially those who are home, sheltering from the coronavirus – to “take a moment and smell the roses.” Enjoy what brings you pleasure, whether online or in a book (for instance). Revel in good health, or increasing health if you’ve been ill (any illness). Leave a moment, too, to remember those no longer in your life. And always: LAUGH along with Lydia.

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Women’s AUTObiographies

April 13, 2013 at 10:43 am (books, british royalty, diaries, europe, history, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Readers of TWO TEENS IN THE TIME OF AUSTEN will know my debt to the wonderful microfilm series published by Adam Mathew Publications: they had microfilmed my Mary’s diaries!

While looking for girl’s schools in Ireland in the 18th century, up came this notification of the microfilm series Women’s Autobiographies from Cambridge University. What caught my attention was the biography of Dorothea Herbert: I’ve read this book!

So, of course, I had to click and investigate the other ladies on their list.

Some are so “famous” they need no introduction: Laetitia Pilkington, Mrs Papendiek, Sydney Lady Morgan (pictured below), Elizabeth Grant (the ‘Highland Lady’), Hester Thrale Piozzi (whom I’ve discussed elsewhere). To name a few.

A couple REALLY grab my attention:

  • Hannah Robertson, The Life of Mrs Robertson, Grand-Daughter of Charles II (1791) The description of her life’s disappointments sound heart-rending!
  • Mary Anne Talbot, The Life and Surprising Adventures of Mary Anne Talbot in the name John Taylor (1809). Yes, she passed as a young man! The description places her biography among the “18th century genre of sensational memoirs”, but there are numerous histories (typically later) of women passing as men. The description also makes a good point: “Whether fictional or true Talbot’s account raises the 18th century social issue about how women, without traditional male protection, survived in a patriarchal society”.

lady morgan

I’d like to locate the following:

  • Baroness Craven, Memoirs of the Margravine of Anspach (1826), for Emma’s Great Aunt visited the Margravine when on a trip through Italy & Germany!
  • Catharine Carey, Memoirs of Miss C.E. Cary (1825). Described as a roman a clef, and based on the writer’s life with Queen Caroline, the memoir may be “‘one of the few first-hand records of the Regency era’s covert power struggles‘.”

This one I must find, simply because of its title:

  • Anna Brownell Jameson, Visits and Sketches at Home and Abroad by Mrs Jameson including Diary of an Ennuyée (1834) – but she also knew (and presumably writes about) Fanny Kemble, Elizabeth Barrett-Browning, Jane Welsh Carlyle, and Barbara Bodichon.

The Publisher’s note gives food for thought: “Women’s autobiographies provide a rich and diverse source of information for social historians, literary scholars, and students studying women and gender issues.

We may wonder what compelled women to write their life histories. ….From these first-hand accounts much information can be learned. For example, recollections of a family history can reveal differing regional cultures….private thoughts relating to marriage, spinsterhood and romance. These autobiographies also reveal women’s aspirations in life: socially what was
expected of them, and privately what they felt they should aspire to.”

la belle_1808

Autobiographies cover the stage, royalty, the workhouse, emigration (for instance, Rebecca Burland relocates to Illinois in her A True Picture of Emigration [1848]), and even evangelical transformation.

Neither Mary nor Emma left a true “autobiography”, but the threads of their lives, left behind in diaries and letters, also gives a “true picture” of their lives and times. So my ladies are among an excellent crowd.

smith-gosling_silhouette1

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Easter Sunday, in Rome

March 31, 2013 at 1:31 pm (diaries, entertainment, europe, history, people, places, research, travel) (, , , , , , , )

Reminiscing in April 1824, Augusta Smith (the daughter) writes to her cousin Lady Elizabeth Compton. Augusta was in Rome last Easter and Lady Elizabeth is resident in Italy this spring.

“9 o’clock in the evening! St. Peters is resplendent with its magnificent illuminations. Innumerable crowds are thronging all around; the Ponte St. Angelo is one mass of heads and the Tiber a sheet of waving fire reflected from the brilliant explosions of light bursting every moment from the top of that venerable castle amidst wreaths of dark blue smoke. Last year we formed a part of the multitude…”

Ah, I know only too well Augusta’s nostalgia, and slight melancholia. I, too, have memories – too distant and therefore sometimes painful to reflect upon. Augusta’s trip was a year-long adventure from summer 1822 through summer 1823. The Smith family (Mamma and her older children) had stayed the winter in Rome. As Emma wrote Aunt before the group trooped farther south,

“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, now do not my dear Aunt fancy that we are determined gadabouts but think what an event in our lives it will be to visit Rome  I really think you would be almost tempted to go there…”

Great Aunt Susannah Smith’s Roman winter certainly points up the “wild” times that were enjoyed by the inhabitants and visitors. Is it like that today? (I still await my first journey into Italy.)

From young Augusta’s wistful memories, to Great Aunt Smith’s experience of Easter, 1827:

“we went to See the Pope give the benediction to his people from the Centre window of St Peters – it is an imposing ceremony – the military were all drawn up horse & foot – the bands playing – drums beating – but as soon as his Holiness appear{ed} an awful Silence prevailed -& continued while the benediction & prayers were read – the crowd were on their knees & their hats were off – the Evening turned out so wet – that the illumination of St Peters – and the fire works at St Angelo were put off”

Viva, la Roma!

And, “Happy Easter”.

st_ peters illumined by oil lamps

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Ring around Jane Austen

July 3, 2012 at 9:09 am (fashion, history, jane austen, news) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

No doubt this thrilled readers for its Jane Austen connection. My thrill? The Caroline Austen connection!

I was visiting Sabine’s Kleidung um 1800 (you must view her newest creation) –> which brought me to Biltmore via Living with Jane –> which induced me to click on A Fashionable Frolick and there was the news, gathered from Two Nerdy History Girls:

What GRABBED my attention was this history of the ring, dated November 1863:

 “autograph note signed by Eleanor Austen {Henry Austen’s second wife}, to her niece Caroline Austen, ‘My dear Caroline. The enclosed Ring once belonged to your Aunt Jane. It was given to me by your Aunt Cassandra as soon as she knew that I was engaged to your Uncle. I bequeath it to you. God bless you! ‘ 

The provenance claims it went from Caroline to the daughter of my dear Emma Austen Leigh! (Emma died in 1876, so it makes sense that Caroline would leave the ring directly to Mary Augusta).

Caroline Austen is such a faded, background memory. One of the delights of my research has been little snippets, written by Emma about her new sister or by one of the other Smith sisters noting down their thoughts on “sweet Caroline”.

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Breaking News: Scenes from life at Suttons

June 15, 2011 at 8:11 pm (a day in the life, books, estates, news, people, places, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

**My “solution” to the Mr Darcy-Mystery Man will appear at the end of the week**

The breaking news concerns a slim little volume I’ve searched a couple YEARS for: Scenes from Life at Suttons, 1825 & 1827 — a Wiltshire seller had a copy on eBay, the auction ending about three weeks ago. Yet who but me would want this little book?! Evidently, no one: when I emailed about it the book was still available. This little prize arrived in my mailbox this past Monday — the 13th of June! YIPPEE.

So what does this little treasure offer?

There are 28 pages of text, which are short plays, in verse, written by DRUMMOND and ELIZA SMITH. The scenes take place in 1825 and 1827, as the title indicates. They are comical and charming little pieces, especially heartwarming to me because I can see and hear them, I know the “characters” so well! The first is entitled BREAKFAST AT SUTTONS, JULY 1825. The first pages includes this exchange:

Fanny: Whoever chuses coffee — speak.
Charlotte: I should like some — but very weak.
Augusta: Coffee too — if you please, for me;
                     But no — I think I’ll have some Tea.

Readers get a sense of the house, the manners and characters, as well as the staff members: we have “appearances” by Tanner (Mr Tanner he is later called); John who evidently answered the door to a ‘poor woman’ arriving to talk to Mamma; the ever-loyal Tidman, who shows up in letters. Interestingly, these people do not appear as “characters” listed at the beginning of each “play”!

The next scene, AN HOUR’S READING AT SUTTONS, 1825, features Aunt and Aunt Emma. Aunt Emma is, of course, Mamma Smith’s youngest sister (she never married); Aunt, on the other hand is erroneously ID’ed as Maria, the Marchioness of Northampton (ie, Mamma’s eldest sister).

‘Aunt’ was in fact Charles Smith’s only sister, Judith Smith of Stratford! I recall a charming little drawing of Aunt (by Augusta, the daughter) in the collection of the Hampshire Record Office (HRO). I have long meant to ask for a copy; this makes me want it even more, because, although there is no Aunt Emma, Scenes from Life at Suttons has portraits of Mamma and her sister Maria, Lady Northampton!

The last little play, EVENING AT SUTTONS, 1827, has a few lines spoken by my beloved MARY! This takes place in The Library.

The end of the book includes ELEVEN portraits, all (except her own) by Augusta Smith Wilder. So came my first look at Mary (Gosling) Smith, and even her sister Elizabeth. Most of the Smith siblings are present: Augusta, Charles, Emma, Spencer, Charlotte and Drummond. Alas! No Fanny, Eliza or Maria!! Which is QUITE the loss, though as far as Fanny goes I believe the portrait at HRO is of this set. This I have a copy of! (Sorry, you won’t find it online…). Mary’s portrait easily translates into a silhouette, so I’ll shortly post her picture, as companion to her “sister of the heart”, Emma Austen Leigh. Stay tuned for more about this unique booklet!

One thing I can NOW say: This title does indeed exist! I was beginning to think May Lamberton Becker’s imagination had conjured it up. The description, its only depiction, appeared in her book Presenting Miss Jane Austen (1952).

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Anonymous Woman

May 18, 2011 at 9:24 pm (fashion, people, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Instead of humming The Guess Who’s American Woman, I should really be channeling These Eyes

Working on an article about the “London Season” in 1816 — or, should I say the Season that Emma Smith recorded — I was looking for any image of work by Mary Ann Knight. She is the artist whom Mamma Smith sits to that spring.

Miss Knight (1776-1851) painted the well-known portrait of Joanna Baillie (see the portrait at Scotland’s National Galleries) and evidently produced works in watercolor, miniature, and sometimes even oils. This leads me to wonder if the “miniature” once said to exist at Suttons of Mrs Charles Smith might not be this painted by Miss Knight. But that is mere speculation.

The above is obviously not a woman in her 40s, but (as the title suggests) a “Girl in a White Dress“. When I found this miniature my first thought was that the nose rather looked similar to those portraits I have of Emma and her sister Fanny (the future Emma Austen Leigh and Fanny Seymour); the hair, with its ringlets curling around the face and the remaining hair swept up at the back of the head was reminiscent of the hair style worn by Fanny in a portrait her sister Emma or more probably Augusta may have drawn. Taking a short-cut I checked my “portrait wants” on this website. Alas! a mistake in typing a date lead me to wonder — to dare hope — that this Girl might be AUGUSTA SMITH (later Augusta Wilder). When I could not FIND Augusta’s sitting in 1817 (as I had typed) I went on a search of  the letters and diaries and finally located the sessions in 1822! Groan… (sloppy! the correct date was in my computer files, so it was a transcription error.)

The dating of this work is c1815; two years is one thing; but seven makes it very doubtful that this could POSSIBLY be my little Augusta.

Like SOOOO many portraits and miniatures, this one survived but is nameless: Who WAS THIS YOUNG WOMAN??? Those limpid eyes really grab me; making me wish I could give her an identity.

The artist, Miss Knight, is described as the daughter of a wealthy London merchant. She trained with Andrew Plimer — who later married her sister! “Knight’s surviving notebooks record some 696 miniatures which she painted between 1802 and 1835 and sold at two to forty guineas each.” The National Galleries think her “sketchbooks reveal an impressive range of sitters.”

Where ARE these notebooks?

More on Miss Knight’s biography in a later post.

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Sir William Knighton

January 7, 2011 at 9:11 pm (books, people) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Last night, reading through some 1830 letters, I spotted a couple that Emma tells us she and Cholmeley (her eldest child) visited in March 1830: Mr & Mrs Arbuthnot.

Arbuthnot made me think of The Journal of Mrs Arbuthnot, edited by Francis Bamford and the Duke of Wellington (1950) — the 1820-1832 diary of Harriet Fane Arbuthnot, close friend of the Duke of Wellington. Alas, different people….

And yet… Harriet and Charles Arbuthnot, moving in the circles they did, know the very person recently under discussion with author Charlotte Frost: her forthcoming book focussing on Sir William Knighton, the father of Richard Seymour’s sister-in-law Dora K. (The man was also Richard’s uncle: Lady Knighton and Lady Seymour were sisters, daughters of Capt. James Hawker.)

Anyway, looking through the index I had to see what Harriet Arbuthnot had to say about Sir William, whose moving quote about seeing his beloved Dora married (read post) really indicates to present-day readers just how much love such a man held for a daughter.

Mrs Arbuthnot is writing in September of 1822:

“The Duke sent me the King’s letters & his to the King. … The friend to whom the King alludes is Sir Wm Knighton, whose origin was being a physician’s shop boy at Plymouth; from that he became physician at Plymouth, afterwards travelled with Ld Wellesley to take care of his mistress, then became an accoucheur in London & now ends by being the King’s Privy Purse & his most confidential friend, to whom he tells everything, political & private. He is a great rogue & a blackguard, with great softness & plausibility of manner. I ought not to abuse him just now for I have been unwell & he has prescribed for me (very condescending in the Privy Purse) & has done me great good.”

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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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Drummond Erased?

October 24, 2010 at 10:45 am (news, people, places) (, , , , , , , , , )

Although, writing-wise, I’m back in the 1810s, all this vital information coming in about the 1830s has me digging deeper about this trip of Drummond, Mr Odell and Lord Ossory.

In 1850, having obtained his title upon the death of his father in 1838, the 2nd Marquess of Ormonde published a memoir of this very journey: An Autumn in Sicily. The preface makes for interesting reading:

“My fellow-traveller, Mr. Odell, and I, proposed, on our return from our tour, to publish in conjunction a volume descriptive of it, of which he undertook the compilation. From various causes [yes, like the death of Drummond Smith!] the work was laid aside by him, after some sheets had been struck off. In the course of last winter [ie, 1849], when on a visit at his residence, I saw them, and thinking it a pity that the mass of notes which he had collected should, as well as the plates…, remain useless, I obtained his permission to carry off and make use of the entire of the materials, with full power to preserve, alter, and omit, as I thought proper.”

Drummond is “omitted” alright!

Even if it would be a bit of a “downer” in such a travel memoir to mention an illness and death, why make it sound — from the start — like only two travelled? What did these men have to hide?

By 1850 Mrs Smith had died; only Aunt Emma still survived from the older generation. Charles, Charlotte, Augusta — and of course Drummond — were gone from the sibling generation.

“I must ever look back to the summer of 1832 as one of the pleasantest portions of my life,” reminisced the Marquess, still Lord Ossory in that long ago summer. “Young — in the enjoyment of robust health — with means sufficient for every reasonable want, and with a companion with whom I was, and had long been, on the most intimate and friendly terms…”

A companion; Ossory means Odell, but they travelled as a threesome. Where is Drummond in this memoir???

“[O]n a fine evening towards the end of July I found myself in the Dover mail, on my way to Calais, whither my companion, with the carriage and baggage, had gone twelve hours previously. I rejoined him…, and we started at once, taking the line through Belgium, which caused us some delay, as on the Prussian frontier we found a sanitary cordon established, in consequence of some cases of cholera having occurred, or been reported”.

Cholera? There were outbreaks everywhere in the 1830s, including England. I have to assume that whenever the threesome split, as in this mention of the Dover mail and Ossory’s “companion” going ahead with the baggage, that Drummond would have been travelling with Odell. I’m not sure how well Drummond knew Lord Ossory; he’d known Odell since their Harrow schooldays.

What did the remaining Smith siblings — Emma, Fanny, Spencer, Eliza, Maria — think about this book?

Ormonde continued his youthful journey:

“We arrived at Naples on the 20th of August, and our preparations for the voyage to Messina and subsequent journey were soon complete. The weather, however, was very unfavourable…. On the 31st the wind became fair, we were all ready, and in the evening took leave…, and got under way for Paestrum.”

Emma’s diary — some of its comments obviously written in after the fact, after the receipt of certain letters — also lays out Drummond’s travels: July 6, he goes to Town [London] with Odell. Spencer, in London, “bid good bye to dear Drummond” on the 9th. The next day he goes “abroad with Mr Odell  & Lord Ossory—”

Emma notes his crossing into Italy on July 28; and the following day her newest child, son Charles Edward, is christened; his sponsors include Drummond.

Drummond “entered Rome — this day at 1/2 past 7 P.M.”, is the diary entry for 15 August. The next day, Arthur Currie proposes to Charlotte, and is accepted. Drummond’s letter dated “ROME” arrives on 4 September 1832. Undoubtedly, this is how Emma received the news of the party’s entry into the city.

Her diary then begins to have retrospective entries of a more peculiar nature: mapping out Drummond’s illness, and the dates upon which Mr Odell wrote the letters he sent to the unsuspecting family back in England.

October 22: “Drummond left Trapani quite ill”; October 26: “Drummond reached Palermo very ill after a two days journey in a litter”; October 30: Drummond was “better but not strong & obliged to give up going up to Etna”. The next day Odell begins a letter, intended for Mrs Smith, advising her that “Drummond was dangerously ill with fever”. When he finishes the letter on November 1, All Saints Day, he can conclude that “a favorable change had taken place & Drummond thanks be to the Lord God pronounced by the Physicians quite out of danger—“.

Then, what must have been difficult for Emma to pen into her diary, but so great was the urge to record this minutiae (although she writes this in on November 4’s entry, the family did not know of his last hours until one month later): “Mr. Odell again wrote — Drummond’s strength seemed going   he had continued in nearly the same state for 3 days — Inflammation in the Chest & head had taken place & suppurations in his ear & mouth — His neck & arms had been blistered  His mind was collected — but no hopes were entertained of his recovery—”  The family receive this letter on the 27 of November, on the cusp of preparations for the wedding of Charlotte to Arthur Currie; the wedding, of course, is postponed. It was also approaching Charlotte’s birthday!

Odell’s next letter arrives two days later; Emma’s entry ends, “– Strength seemed going–”

And Lord Ormonde’s book?

There are entries dated October 17, 18, 19; he chatters on about the ruins of “Selinuntine” on the 20th.

“October 21. — The wind awoke me about midnight, and shortly after, as I lay ruminating, the door of the tent was blown in. … [T]he next moment… I found myself kneeling under heavy rain, the tent having been blown right over.”

Ormonde’s book has the party arriving in Trapani on October 23; on the 24th he notes that their “servant” was “too ill to leave his bed”. How many ill persons on this trip at this point?! Odell wasn’t well; Drummond of course. Is this “servant” in reality Drummond? why the two-day difference right here, from what Emma reported (culled from Odell’s letter) and Ormonde’s, which obviously comes from carefully-kept journals. More entries for October 25, 26, 27, as they journey to Palermo. October 28 opens a new chapter: Palermo described in historical detail.

When the next chapter opens, time has advanced to “November 11.” Six days after Drummond’s death! Why the missing days? How interesting that the last sentence of the previous chapter mentions that “servant”: “Our servant had joined us from Trapani, much pulled down by his illness, but quite fit to take to the road again, and we wound up the last evening by a general card-leaving on all our acquaintance.”

The obvious remedy for all this discussion would be a perusal of the ORIGINAL journals of John Butler, Lord Ossory, later the 2nd Marquess of Ormonde.

A little digging unearthed Ormonde papers at the National Library of Ireland. Of 27 items belonging to the 2nd Marquess is one journal, entitled “Tour in Italy, especially of Sicily”. Hurray! BUT: it’s dated July-September 1832. Where is its second half, October-December???

Why was Drummond “erased”? Was has happened to the “end” of the Ossory-Odell-Smith/Servant Sicilian tour journal?

Read Lord Ormonde’s published account yourself at Books.Google.

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Another Year Older…

September 27, 2010 at 1:37 pm (a day in the life) (, , , )

by Frenchie (Photobucket)

Another year has rolled around. It seems not that long ago that I was doing a post to wish Emma a happy birthday. Has it been a YEAR already??? But then, if you’re born in 1801, I guess you might not care all that much that time is marching on for the likes of me!

Still, it is hard to pass up this day as it once meant so much to one of my two diarists, so:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, EMMA!

To me, you don’t look a day over 21…

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