“poor John H, B. Gosling’s friend”

November 21, 2015 at 4:42 pm (estates, history, news, people, research) (, , , )

It was a cryptic sentence, written by Emma’s brother Spencer Smith:

“… the latter have been in town all the Autumn on account of poor John H, B. Gosling’s friend, who is I believe in almost a hopeless state from repeated epileptic fits.”

Trouble was, with Spencer’s scrawling, sprawling handwriting I wasn’t sure what the “H” stood for.

b gosling

 

Initially, I guessed Heraby? – fairly certain of the capital “H” (since it appeared also after the word John) and the ending “-by”. The lumps of the letters in between were rather up for grabs.

b gosling2

BECAUSE there is so little information on Bennett Gosling, the third (and youngest) of Mary’s elder brothers, his friend John H. grabbed out at me: IDENTIFY ME, and maybe find some letters – at the very least some momentary companions. Though Spencer’s letter was dated January 2, 1841. This, therefore, could indicate a LIFE LONG friend.

I toyed with various letters of the alphabet.

Heraby?  Heneby?

Hanby? Hornby?

Either of the last two seemed more probable for a last name – yet some British names can be complicated – like the one directly preceding this one: Cholmedeley. Don’t know about you, but not a name _I_ run across every day…

The man, if really so ill, probably died in 1841. And that was how I FOUND him: looking for a will among probate records. Working on the theory that the man could have been a Gosling neighbor, a London postal directory lead me to think that John HORNBY was more probable than John HANBY; but I tried both. When John Hunter Hornby, of Portland Place, Middlesex came up – and he had died in September 1841 – the tripartite name gave up more clues.

John Hunter Hornby was the second son of John Hornby of The Hook, Hampshire. Spencer’s letter, written from Brooklands (an estate new to him and Frances; read more about Brooklands here), discussed neighbors who were resident at the New Year. The Hook and Brooklands DID neighbor each other!

Knowing the family seat helped secure several siblings, for instance John Hunter Hornby’s sisters Elizabeth, Caroline, and Jane. This last was especially interesting: her married name (mentioned in the father’s will) was JANE PERCEVAL. An unmistakable spelling… Surely, somehow related to the Prime Minister Spencer Perceval, who was assassinated in the House of Commons in May 1812.

I already had TWO Jane Percevals – the widow of the P.M. and her eldest daughter had both been named ‘Jane’; though the mother had remarried within a few years. Lady Elizabeth Compton (aka, Lady Elizabeth Dickins), Emma’s cousin, had both women as correspondents.

Jane Hornby, Mrs. Perceval, turned out to be the daughter-in-law of Spencer Perceval’s brother, Lord Arden; her husband, George James Perceval, becoming the 6th Earl of Egmont.

George Perceval and Jane Hornby married in 1819. And it was during that period (if not even earlier) that Bennett Gosling can be connected to John Hunter Hornby. Both were graduates of Christ Church, Oxford. Both were admitted to Lincoln’s Inn – Bennett in October 1817; John in February 1818. Bennett was the elder by two years.

On the hunt for “The Hook”, images turned up – including this hand-colored lithograph currently (November 2015) going for £115:

the hook_hornby

Ah, isn’t it a lovely looking place? Alas, it was a victim to FIRE in 1913. The grounds are still talked about, though the Hampshire Gardens Trust research skips over the Hornbys from this period. Sense of Place South East has a photograph (circa 1900) and news about the fire, calling it Hook House.

warsash ferry

Another missed opportunity, when I was last in Warsash at the behest of my host & hostess and we crossed the Hamble on the ferry. How near I was, not only to Spencer and Frances – but now also to John H. and B. Gosling!

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Could have Danced All Night (1794)

February 27, 2015 at 4:21 pm (diaries, entertainment, jane austen) (, , , , )

Has it been staring me in the face…???

austen 1794

This transcription, from A Chronology of Jane Austen and her Family, 1700-2000, by Deirdre Le Faye, copies out Eliza Chute’s diary entries for 1794. Born in 1768 and therefore only in her mid-20s, and still a fairly new bride, too, Eliza was in seventh heaven with her parents and sisters at The Vyne for a visit (January 14th), and was up for a bit of dancing.

First, some identifications:

  • Ld. C. from Weymouth” was Eliza’s brother-in-law, Lord Compton (the future Lord Northampton).
  • Ly. Compton” is of course his wife, and Eliza’s eldest sister Maria (the future Lady Northampton).
  • Papa Mama” are Joshua Smith and Sarah (née Gilbert) Smith, of Erle Stoke Park, Wiltshire – the “Stoke” from where they all arrive. (Lord Compton’s involvement with the Militia was his reason for being in Weymouth.)
  • Augusta Emma” in this early instance are the two sisters “Mamma” and “Aunt Emma”.

I’ve read this passage over and again – but only yesterday saw an image of the actual entry. And I wondered: If Henry Austen was at the Basingstoke Ball, were other members of the family?

Would this be the moment… even if neither Augusta nor Emma nor Eliza left specific word… that I could point to and say “The sisters met Jane Austen!

Perhaps not…

Claire Tomalin, in her biography Jane Austen: A Life puts Jane elsewhere; but her sister Cassandra Austen at Steventon:

austen2 1794

First then, the couple from the Vine…William and Eliza Chute. No mention of the two young ladies they had brought with them: 22-year-old Augusta Smith and 19-year-old Emma Smith. (Long before they were “Mamma” and “Aunt Emma”!). Augusta would have celebrated her birthday only a couple weeks before (January 4th).

There are, I will take a moment to say, other Smith relations present! Sir Colebrook and even that kill-joy “Squire Le Fevre” of Heckfield. (click the link, above, for the entire poem)

Not having seen the original poem, I can only give, for your consideration, Deborah Kaplan – the author of Jane Austen Among Women – although she uses it to illustrate the people Jane Austen would have known and encountered on a fairly regular basis. Kaplan ID’s the author as “Mrs Austen”; the date as “1794”; and places TWO Austens in company with each other: Henry and Cassandra.

David Selwyn merely ascribes the poem to “another occasion” of dancing, without saying when or who was there; he intimates the poem was written for both daughters. Jane Austen: A Family Record cites a Basingstoke Ball of 7 November 1799 as the source (Anna Austen Lefroy as the copyist).

Sometimes a writer can just be wrong; as in Tomalin’s assertion:

austen3 1794

“I danced six dances with Mr. H. Austin” – giving ALL the dances Eliza Chute mentioned to one partner, and attributing that excess to “Henry’s charm working as usual”. Le Faye’s transcription reinstates the additional two partners, Misters Wallop and Terry.

And, while I agree that Eliza often spelled Austen Austin, she seems not to have dotted an ‘i’ here (compare to ‘i’ in Basingstoke):

austen4 1794

But secondary interpretations are all I have to go on – That Henry was there, is a given; that Cassandra was probably there. Any chance that Jane Austen attended this particular Basingstoke Ball, 16 January 1794? Happy to hear from those in the know.

Le Faye’s Chronology uses the phrase “It is probably this month” – meaning December 1793 – “that JA and CEA go to Southampton to stay with the Butler-Harrison family, and while there dance in the Southampton Assembly…”; the entry is cited as Letters 62. That letter, written in December 1808 tosses out the comment “It [ie, a dance] was in the same room in which we danced 15 years ago!” Tomalin puts Jane Austen’s visit to the family from December 1793 up to the christening of their daughter, Austen’s godchild – which took place in Southampton on 18 January 1794. Lengthy stay versus return for the church service versus being represented by proxy? All a matter of interpreting slim source material.

ball19

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The Mystery of Miss Macklin

December 18, 2014 at 2:17 pm (diaries, history, people) (, , , , )

On the heels of The Invisible Cast (a post about servants, in Jane Austen novels), I would like to toss out a conundrum for which I have no ‘answer’.

The “mystery” of Miss Macklin derives from several mentions of her, but mysterious and even contradictory information. I will mention here that Wiltshire Heritage Museum has a series of drawings they call the Macklin Album, so named because of an inscription. This album certainly has something to do with the Smiths — for a large portion was done at Stoke Park, Joshua Smith’s estate (he being papa to my Emma’s Mamma).

Austen_Emma

Emma Smith, early 1820s

The first time I EVER heard the name ‘Macklin’ was in an April 1824 letter. Augusta (Emma’s eldest sister) writing to Lady Elizabeth Compton (cousin) about their Aunt Emma (Mamma’s youngest sister):

“I do allow it is very material to her [Aunt Emma] that Macklin’s origin should remain concealed, but is it not far more probable that her old servants have handed the story on to her new ones as any story of the kind would be so much talked of in that class.”

My mind RACED, trying to think WHO Macklin could be? Woman? Man? Child? I mean, yes, I even had the WILD idea of out-of-wedlock child. It was the word ORIGIN in the sentence that really made my thoughts spin.

Of course, after reading a few days ago about the all-seeing-eyes of servants in Austen novels, my mind’s eye immediately called up the above quote. For nothing could be more true: both as to servant knowledge as well as servant gossip (though Augusta could have been more P.C. by NOT adding the phrase ‘in that class‘ but I cannot apologize for someone writing nearly 200 years ago).

Since that initial letter, I’ve been on the lookout for any mention of MACKLIN – and now have a few, including puzzling mentions that only make her sound a bit juicier!

A curiosity I will mention here: Amelia Macklin married in 1821 (to Mr Patrick Robert Wybault) – and yet please note the date on the above letter: April 1824. Note also the person is simply referred to as MACKLIN. Not Miss Macklin nor Mr Macklin; nor an indication of a first name.

I think the next time I spotted Macklin was in a diary, written by Mamma in 1821. Two notations. One, within the diary, on 8 September: “Macklin was married to Mr. Wybault.” In the back of the book, as Mamma is summing up her year, she writes: “My sister Emma went to France in February & did not return this year; her Friend Miss Macklin was married to Mr. Wybault.”

Two things stand out here: that Macklin could be described as Aunt Emma’s friend and that Mamma actually called her Miss Macklin in the end whereas she did not give her a title in the diary proper.

wm taylor-diary

This fall (2014), and an influx of letters; including some from the period surrounding Joshua Smith’s last illness and death (1819). And there she turns up again! And the plot THICKENS. One thing to keep in mind, at this point in time Aunt Emma had been residing with her father at Stoke Park (Wiltshire).

Eliza-Chute-letters10 February 1819; Mamma is writing from Stoke Park, having visited her ill father: “Macklin is civil to us all, & we are civil to her.” And a PS in the same letter: “I hope your Chilblains will soon be well; how are Eliza’s  Macklin is civil to us. & we are very civil to her to keep peace.”

What on earth has been going on??

The next letter dates to c23 February 1820, in the period of packing up Stoke Park for its eventual sale (Joshua died the prior year): “We have heard nothing of Macklin except that Coulthard [a servantsays she is not in the house… Zeus … [has] gone to town so perhaps M— is with her at any rate she is better out of the way.”

Remember, in just another year, Mamma will refer to her as her sister Emma’s friend.

Two days later (25 Feb 1820), her whereabouts are confirmed: “Macklin is gone to London“.

At the time I wondered if perhaps there could be two Macklins – one a servant and the other a daughter. Still, that discounts Mamma’s use of MACKLIN and MISS MACKLIN in the same journal.

In a letter from 17 June 1821, News is being passed once again to Lady Elizabeth Compton, this time by Emma’s sister Fanny: “We saw last night at Mrs Gosling’s the Davisons [Gosling relatives] who are just returned from Paris  they had seen Aunt Emma there…: they did not mention a word of Macklin to us, but the Goslings told us they had to them (probably not the least knowing who she was) and that they liked her very much, and said that she and Aunt Emma were so handsomely drest.”

Words packing a wallop: “did not mention Macklin to us…” “not in the least knowing who she was…”

By 1825 the couple are referred to by their married name, “Aunt Emma has taken a house on Pear tree green at Southampton & the Wybaults have also got one some where in the neighborhood“.

At the end of the same year (December, 1825), a most puzzling statement: “Aunt Emma gets every day more thoroughly at her ease & more confidence in the society that surrounds her, that is to say …. she has lived in a constant struggle of mind, doubtful of every body, because she knew they had reason to doubt of her, & really sensitive of many slights which were very naturally put upon her for the sake of her companions. …now I trust she is entering upon a new career & that disengaged from these inconvenient appendages she will regain her former ideas, & the consideration of the world, & as long as the Wybaults live the other side of the Southampton river with the prospect of going over to Ireland, I am satisfied because they have too much in their power to make a sudden & entire rupture desirable, & we know Macklin’s mauvaise langue of old.

I hate to say it, but the mystery only deepened with more information!

ONE mention is made of Mr Wybault; the date is 1842, nearly twenty years later. The youngest Smith sister, Maria, is writing. Combined with all the rest, it lends this tale a rather cryptic (and up-in-the-air) end: “Aunt Emma continue[s] here at present. … she hopes Mr Wybault has just accepted our offer for the sale of Rook Cliff – he appears to be quite miserable at his wife’s death.” Amelia Wybault died at Rookcliff (Hampshire) in 1842; no Smith purchase of this place ever happened. Maria married in 1844; and Mamma died still living at Mapledurham House in 1845.

Only one snippet, from 1829, bridges the gap. When I was told about the Macklin Album, the same person mentioned seeing a letter, from Rookcliff (so either Amelia herself or perhaps her husband), to W.W. Salmon in Devizes (near which was located Stoke Park, though no Smiths lived there by this time). “We have heard from our friend Miss Smith [ie, Aunt Emma] who had a long passage to France of 20 hours…“. My correspondent went on to say, “I’m afraid I couldn’t decipher the rest!” (Groan!!)

It’s a REAL long-shot, but if any Two Teens readers have ever come across Amelia Macklin, Patrick Robert Wybault, Rookcliff (or Rook Cliff), Hampshire – do let me know. Even a GUESS would be welcome. VERY curious about her, her relationship to the Smiths, and why family members other than Aunt Emma seemed to tip toe around her in 1819-1820.

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The Vyne: Meet Eliza Chute

July 22, 2014 at 8:54 pm (books, chutes of the vyne, estates, jane austen, travel) (, , , , , , , , )

Want to walk in the FOOTSTEPS of Mary and Emma? A visit to The Vyne is one of the few “open to the public” homes which they used to inhabit, both women visited “Aunt Chute” and her home. Emma, being Eliza Chute’s niece from birth, visited more often – and came away with the ultimate prize: her husband Edward Austen!

Can’t get to the countryside outside of Basingstoke (Hampshire, England)? A ‘next best thing’ comes via this photo-laden blogspot, LoveIsSpeed. VERY rare are the interior shots.

vyne botanicals

Botanicals grace the walls of this little bedroom – and includes work by Margaret Meen, Augusta Smith (“mamma” to my Emma Austen), Lady Northampton, Emma Smith (my Emma’s “Aunt Emma”), and – of course! – Eliza Chute herself. Recent letters have tipped me off to how much Eliza Chute was addicted to painting.

The Botanicals are often painted upon Vellum; the few I’ve seen in the flesh are genuinely “etherial”.

LoveIsSpeed has some fantastic shots of the grounds, exterior, and some items of a recent special installation. I invite you to visit Aunt Chute yourself!

Should you wish to READ more about Eliza, Jane Austen, and The Vyne the best book out there is Rupert Willoughby’s Sherborne St. John and The Vyne in the Time of Jane Austen. This is a fascinating look at a period in the estate’s history that isn’t always heavily considered by the National Trust — ie, the VERY period of Eliza and William Chute.

sherborne st john_willoughby

Rupert Willoughby, who was very kind in offering up suggestions for getting a handful of Chute letters, has published several books on local Hampshire history. Among his books is Chawton: Jane Austen’s Village and Selborne: Gilbert White’s Village.

Reading is ALSO the ‘next best thing to being there. Jane Austen obviously agrees:

janeaustenvyne

 

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A Country Gentleman

July 6, 2014 at 3:21 pm (books, diaries, estates, jane austen, research) (, , , , , )

Elizabeth Bennet made a decided coup de grace when she uttered the words, “He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman’s daughter; so far we are equal.”

In looking up the books.google link, Arthur Aspinall gives a great indication of what it was to be “a Country Gentleman”, while admitting, “It is impossible to define a country gentleman in a phrase.”

The title of the book I’ve found – about Sir William Heathcote, a firm friend of Edward Austen (later, Austen Leigh) – claims just that impossible-to-define title for this biography. You’ll find several mentions of my dear Edward in it!

william heathcote_aged6

The portrait is a close-up of one included in the book, showing William at the age of 6. William’s mother was Elizabeth Bigg, who returned after her husband’s death to her father’s home. The household at MANYDOWN, the estate of Lovelace Bigg Wither, gets many mentions in the correspondence of Jane Austen. Edward Austen mentions this lifelong friend with great love.

sir william heathcote

Sir William Heathcote, 1873

 

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Spencer Smith’s Brooklands

June 15, 2014 at 4:22 am (estates, history, jane austen, news, people, places, research) (, , , , , , , , )

After much searching – for any information about the Hampshire estate called BROOKLANDS, I finally FOUND information, and a photo!

brooklands_20thcentury

So, here, is a c1915 photo of Brooklands – which is located very near the River Hamble in Sarisbury, Hampshire. Try searching merely for “brooklands” and you find a totally different place in a totally different county of England! The secret is to attach it to “hamble” or “sarisbury” or even “bursledon”.

buoyed by the photos I then uncovered, I began to look in the newspapers. I was never certain if Spencer Smith purchased the estate, or rented; never certain either quite when he and Frances relocated to Brooklands – even though he is known as “Spencer Smith of Brooklands“.

What turned up was this advertisement in the Hampshire AdvertiserNovember 1838:

BROOKLANDS
House and Gardens, with or without the Farm.

TO BE LET, by the year, or for a term of years, this handsome and elegantly furnished RESIDENCE, situate[d] at Sarisbury, midway between Southampton and Fareham, and bounded on one side by the Hamble River.
A Neat Chapel has been recently erected near the entrance to the park.
For terms apply (if by letter, free of postage) to Messrs. Barney and Moberly, Solicitors, or Mr. Perkins, Auctioneer, Southampton.

The house was up for sale a bit ago (asking price: £5.3 million), and the advertisement gave it a JANE AUSTEN connection. Though: Be skeptical; her letters mention the man and the place – but don’t really serve to indicate that a “JANE AUSTEN SLEPT HERE” plaque is deserving.

Although Jane Cooper’s husband was building Brooklands, Jane Cooper – who was Jane Austen’s close friend, as well as relation – died young.  [see Austen’s letters] I’ll let you look up references to Sir Thomas Williams, RN on your own, and decide for yourself whether Jane was a frequent visitor to Brooklands.

Still, no denying that the estate has a connection. And more, once Spencer settled in, in the 1830s, a connection to his Aunt Emma Smith – who lived at Sydney (another place I’m trying to track down! I must ask Charlotte Frost, who tipped me off about righting my lack of luck in locating Brooklands), and has left sketches of Bitterne and the surrounding area. [See the Macklin Album at the Wiltshire Museum.]

A family by the name of SHEDDEN are found at Brooklands after Sir Thomas Williams – I turn up both a Robert Shedden and a George Shedden. Messrs. Gils & Son advertised, three years before the TO LET notice, an auction of furnishings — though the sale ultimately did not take place. There’s a story – the Sheddens of Brooklands – waiting to be told.

As to Spencer Smith — at some point he took as a complete surname his entire name “Spencer Smith” – so that his children came to be differentiated from those offspring of Charles Joshua Smith of Suttons. The Spencer Smiths are still around today, if no longer at Brooklands.

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The “Original” Jane Austen Book Club

September 27, 2012 at 8:46 pm (books, entertainment, history, jane austen) (, , , , , , , , , )

In reading about Jane Austen and the Plumptres of Fredville, I took down my copy of Jane Austen’s Letters to see for myself her mentions of the Plumptres.

I’ll blame it on the early morning, and the fact that my tea was still steeping; I turned to a letter that in the index was cited for its mention of the Papillons. Right letter of the alphabet, wrong family.

But I was sucked into this letter in an instant!

Jane is writing to Cassandra from Chawton, and mentions the reading she has been doing:

My Mother is very well & finds great amusement in the glove-knitting; when this pair is finished, she means to knit another, & at present wants no other work. — We quite run over with Books. She has got Sir John Carr’s Travels in Spain from Miss B.  & I am reading a Society-Octavo… by Capt. Pasley of the Engineers, a book which I protested against at first, but which upon trial I find delightfully written & highly entertaining.”

Le Faye’s endnote explains that Jane Austen was part of “the Chawton Book Society, or reading club.”

Time and again the Smiths mention the purchase of books from the reading club, or attending club dinners. My assumption is that various members clubbed together, the purchased books made the rounds, and afterwards were up for sale – and purchased (or not) by the club members.

NB: I’d love to hear from anyone with specific news on how these reading clubs worked.

Jane later writes, “Yesterday moreover brought us Mrs Grant’s Letters, with Mr White’s Comp:ts,– but I have disposed of them, Comp:ts & all, for the first fortnight to Miss Papillon — & among so many readers or retainers of Books as we have here in Chawton, I dare say there will be no difficulty in getting rid of them for another fortnight if necessary.” [letter 78; 24 Jan 1813]

CAN YOU IMAGINE?! a place as small and intimate as Chawton, with all these readers?! Gosh, I would be in heaven to be among so many booklovers!! By the way, I found myself laughing at loud at so many of Austen’s turns of phrase. Just DELIGHTFUL!

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On Cloud 9

September 2, 2012 at 12:05 pm (british royalty, chutes of the vyne, entertainment, history, news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Last Sunday I was crowing to myself about all the *FINDS*. Just think: THREE different “items” turned up in one week, after some searching and much fortuitous clicking. On the last I have some extra news as of last night. I *LOVE* it when items rise to the surface, clambering to be noticed.

(1) Margaret Clephane / Lady Compton

My first find was stumbling once again upon ARCHIVES HUB. This time with a true piece of my research at the other end!

Archives Hub enables searches at “nearly 200 institutions in England, Scotland and Wales.” At first I could see the “hit” concerned letters written by Margaret, Lady Compton — but the site (or my connection?) was having problems. It took a lot of searching to realize the letters were housed at The John Rylands University Library, University of Manchester. I have fond memories of the name of this library: The French Diaries of Mrs Thrale and Dr Johnson was based on JRUL holdings! It is a favorite book, my used copy in quite decent shape.

So what was found, I hear you ask: 39 letters, penned by Margaret, plus 2 sets of verse. The citation is rather confusing. At first it sounds like the letters were written from October 1828 up to September 1829 — but further into the record I read that all the letters, addressed to Henry Edward Fox (later 4th and last Baron Holland), mainly written from ROME (check: the Comptons resided long in Italy), “are addressed to Fox in France (mostly, February-March 1826), Italy and London. All are dated within a period of nine months (October 1825-June 1826), except for four which are dated July and August 1829”

So: October 1825 to June 1826…. or, October 1828 to September 1829???

Time will tell – for this set of letters must for now remain on the back burner. Like the letters at the National Library of Scotland, penned in that case to Walter Scott. Scott’s own letters to the Clephanes and Comptons have been published. Luckily, my university’s library has the set and I long ago began culling family news.

The description says: “The letters are primarily personal, but have social and literary value“. Yeah!

(2)  Letter from Aunt Emma / Emma Smith

I’ll jump to the last “find”, for it is the least visual. I had come across internet comments by Dr. Kevin Linch (Leeds University) a while ago. I knew he had seen a letter of Aunt Emma’s (ie, Emma Smith, the youngest sister of Maria, Eliza, and Augusta – the four Smith Girls of Erle Stoke Park, Wiltshire), dating to 1794. Dr Linch was interested in Emma’s description of the exercises of the yeomanry. The picture painted rather makes me think of a war-era drawing by Diana Sperling.

Of course, Dr Linch pushed to one side the very bits I wanted most from this letter I hadn’t yet transcribed (the original is at the Hampshire Record Office): the family chit-chat. So imagine my surprise when I found online Dr. Linch’s full transcription (nice…) AND the ENTIRE “original” letter (far better*).

[*by the bye: I much prefer to do my own transcribing; one transcription was given to me as “Dear Ivy” – who the hell was Ivy??! I wondered. The letter’s content indicated Lady Elizabeth Compton, cousin to the Smiths of Suttons (Maria Smith’s only daughter; sister-in-law to Margaret Clephane / Lady Compton); I had never heard her called “Ivy” though. Another letter soon surfaced and this time I read the salutation – and knew the mistake. The three-letter word ended not in a “Y” but in a “Z” — and the name was Liz! Which made complete sense.
Another source for a letter indicated the writer was someone I did not know at all. Still, I asked that a scan be sent, as the letter was well within my time period. Imagine my surprise when the writer turned from a complete unknown into the MOTHER of Mr Odell, school friend and fellow-traveller with Drummond Smith! Her letter I wanted to read – and thrilling reading it was, too.]

Here, looking at it myself, was Aunt Emma’s comments in Aunt Emma’s own loopy writing.

Emma even anticipates the arrival of Miss Meen. Margaret Meen, who surfaces in the diaries and letters, was an artist who gave lessons (I discount The Vyne’s theory that she was governess to the Erle Stoke girls), not only to the four Smiths sisters, but also to Queen Charlotte and her princesses. Little did I know, when I read this letter by Emma, that I had already put my finger on many of Margaret Meen’s watercolors!

(3) Royal Horticultural Society: Miss Meen and the four daughters of Joshua Smith

Smack in the middle of all these letter discoveries came the Botanical “watercolours on vellum” housed at the Royal Horticultural Society. Trouble is, depending on which website used, you find less or more drawings, less or more images. FRUSTRATING! and yet last night I uncovered at 48 images (one you REALLY have to search for) by this quintet!!! May rival the holdings at The Vyne – none of which are currently pictured online.

You have the choice of the following:

I naturally began with the CATALOGUE. I mean when you want to know the extent of holdings where else would you go?

Looking up keywords margaret and meen I found four hits – and one image, which belonged to the citation for her 1790 book Exotic Plants from the Royal Garden at Kew. Searching for smith and elizabeth — which I knew should bring up drawings, for those were what I had found for purchase — drew a blank. smith and augusta brought up two citations for drawings from 1787, but their artist was described as Augusta Smith (17–) => Was this Mamma?!?

Maria was nowhere to be seen – and those of Emma, which like Eliza, had been found “for purchase” were best found at another site too. What’s a girl to do? She sends an email.

And keeps on searching…

Why all the hullaballoo? Because I had found a watercolor of Eliza (Chute) Smith’s for sale through Amazon (of all places…) and the description said: “Smith was one of four daughters of Joshua Smith the MP for Devizes in Wiltshire. The Smith sisters were instructed in painting by the botanical artist Margaret Meen (fl.-). The RHS Lindley Library collection holds works on vellum by Meen and all of the Smith Sisters.” My stunned reaction: REALLY??!?!

I had to find out how many, by which artist.

Facebook had another image. Mediastorehouse.com had more – and only $15.99 for an 8×10 print. Reasonable… I now realize, though, that Mediastorehouse is NOT RHS – and searching their print “store” you can find TWELVE Miss Meen botanicals. Be advised, THIS set is the only image and info for Solandra grandiflora (LIB0036980), c1780s.

[NB: again frustration: two works are dated 1789 in the “images” but 1785 in the “prints / shop”]

In the “images” one unearths ALL when searching for Margaret Meen (she turns up in their descriptions): without knowing (until I hear back from RHS) whether ALL their Smith/Meen holdings are digitized, and barring the “can’t find this drawing here, but it is listed somewhere else”, I now see:

  • numbers: LIB0002763 – LIB0002770 –> eight Botanicals by Emma Smith
  • numbers: LIB0002761 – LIB0002762 –> two Botanicals by the elusive Maria Smith
  • numbers: LIB0002749 – LIB0002755 –> seven Botanicals by Augusta Smith (here rather described as marrying her father-in-law; Charles Smith of Suttons, not Stratford Langthorne…)
  • numbers: LIB0002737 – LIB0002748 –> twelve Botanicals by Eliza Smith
  • numbers: LIB0036963 – LIB0036981 –> eighteen (out of 19) Botanicals by Margaret Meen

And on the “images” site you are treated to a GALLERY by Miss Emma Smith:

I could hardly believe my eyes — and they will be a treat for your eyes.

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UK Literary Tour

August 6, 2012 at 7:32 pm (books, jane austen, travel) (, , , , , , , )

Found this on Pinterest – and then hunted up a place to get it. Check out The Literary Gift Company – £12. Jane Austen seems to reside in Gloucestershire more than Hampshire. Oh, well; can you find her? Who on the “map” is your favorite writer? Who is missing?? It’s claimed there’s 188 writers here… Happy Hunting — and reading!

 

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Upper East Side: ‘at home’ with Elective Affinities

December 21, 2011 at 9:48 pm (entertainment, news) (, , , , , , )

The second I saw this in The New York Times, I was intrigued; a FASCINATING idea!

Chopin melodies enchant; tea and finger sandwiches sustain; and Alice Hauptmann (actress Zoe Caldwell) entertains a select 30 guests each evening. The play, Elective Affinities, is taking place not in a theater, but in a real Upper East Side residence:

WHY has this so captured my imagination?? Imagine a Smith&Gosling evening … in a place like Roehampton Grove:

Or The Vyne:

The guests arrive, have tea, eat their finger sandwiches, then the Butler escorts them into, say, the Star Parlour, where Emma and Mary await to talk about life in c1819 England. Great fun!

* * *

an aside: Ah, reading about Zoe Caldwell transports me back to a NY City trip during which I attended a performance of  Master Class, where she played Maria Callas. My first time seeing Audra McDonald (a great voice), too. Life was good once…

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