Augusta: a Pen Pal sorta Gal

February 16, 2016 at 1:55 pm (diaries, entertainment, europe, history, people, research) (, , , , )

Although I’ve had photographs of this letter for almost TWO YEARS (lots of other letters came my way in that time…) I *finally* got around to transcribing a letter by Mary-Anne Perozzi, dated 24 April 1824.

It was one out of more than a hundred letters in a private collection. The name, wholly unfamiliar. The date intriguing, and yet I didn’t pay it a LOT of attention. The handwriting is exquisite, so it wasn’t the legibility that caused the delay. Just a lack of “interest” and “other things to do”.

But, last night, in an effort to have at least all letters from this collection transcribed (the two I’ve left: nearly ALL crossed and a couple of really scribbling hands), I finally did this one.

And got a surprise!

Although addressed to Lady Elizabeth Compton, the Smith siblings’ cousin, it contained a particularly “painful” section for me to read.

Mary-Anne (as she signed herself, though her direction — included at the end of the letter, as a reminder to Lady Elizabeth to write in return — reads Marianne) has an extensive “thank you” to Lady Elizabeth for the part she played in Mary-Anne obtaining “two fine drawings, or likenesses“. Now, deciphering these words I was, of course, thinking Lady Elizabeth had sent her something she had drawn. I’ve seen her work. She’s very talented! And, being in Rome, she could have taken her sketch book around the city.

But the word “likenesses” – they tend to use that word to indicate portraits.

THEN: I read on…

likenesses, which AUGUSTA had the kindness to make me a present of.

There’s only ONE Augusta who would have been referred to by her first name alone – and that would be Emma’s eldest sister, the extremely artistic Augusta Smith, renowned in the family for her ability at taking “likenesses”.

I was in Seventh Heaven (and in a bit of pain: Could they still exist? but where??).

THEN: I read on…

and which I have found VERY MUCH ALIKE to HER

So a portrait of Augusta herself (I had presumed it had been of Mary-Anne, perhaps)!

THEN: I read the rest of the sentence:

“very much alike to her, and to her MOTHER

ARGH! Two portraits of the Two Augustas, in 1824! a precious gift indeed. And Mary-Anne then had the manners to say “and very well performed“. So, Mary-Anne not only thought the portraits “very like” (a huge compliment, indeed) but also well drawn.

Oh… the… pain… of not being able to see them. And of thinking that they could be long gone – or “unknown” in some collection or archive.

As it happens there IS a further mention, in the Smith & Gosling letters, of Mary-Anne Perozzi. An 1824 letter that pre-dates one that I own. Written by Augusta, she makes a very brief comment of writing a letter to Mary-Anne!

I opened the transcriptions of Emma’s diaries, 1823 and 1824 – hoping for some “address” of Mary-Anne. Nothing. Perhaps she was a friend of Augusta more than any of the other girls.

Mary-Anne obviously kept up a correspondence. Her address was simply “Ancona”, and, although her English was quite good, it points to a woman as Italian-sounding as her last name. (And can be said to account for the slightly odd phrase, “very much alike to her”.) I had hoped to find a bit of a footprint left behind, but so far nothing. And, although I KNOW it’s too much to hope for: some of her letters (to or from Augusta or Lady Elizabeth) would be the frosting on the cake.

Mary-Anne wrote of obtaining the portraits from Lord and Lady Compton, who were visiting Ancona. I simply had to look it up. On the map, it’s south of Ravenna-Rimini-San Marino; on the opposite coast from Rome:

ancona map

The blown-up map shows an exquisite “hook” of land. And in photographs… it looks divine:

ancona from air

I can see what would have enticed the Comptons here, in 1824. And how Augusta (the Smiths BIG trip was from summer 1822 to summer 1823; and they wintered in Rome) might have met Mademoiselle Perozzi.

Augusta DID have a wider-ranging correspondence – I’ve found letters to the Lante delle Rovere family, for one instance of her Pen Pals abroad. Must confess, trying to read her tiny hand in English isn’t super hard, but these are described as “In lingua francese e italiana“. AND, to make matters worse, the letters from 1823 are described as “scrittura di base righe di testo in verticale“. So she, as USUAL, has crossed her writing. To have them, though, is something I MUST Do.

Fnding Mary-Anne Perozzi of Ancona makes me even MORE intent on obtaining images of the Lante Letters (one also by Lady Compton in the same collection).

heyer_cover

This Georgette Heyer reprint features the Raeburn portrait of Lord Compton, done only a short time before he once again saw Mademoiselle Perozzi.

As I always ask, IF anyone has any information – about the Perozzis, Ancona, the location of (more) letters or those likenesses, do contact me!

 

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Etna Erupts: Lord Ossory’s diary for 1832

July 14, 2013 at 2:46 pm (books, diaries, europe, history, news, people, research, travel) (, , , , , , , , , )

These last few weeks I have had the pleasure of transcribing TWO diaries — thanks to Kildare and Pat. The miracle is that both came to me within days, and both cover the same 1832 trip take by Drummond Smith (Emma’s youngest brother), Lord Ossory (John Butler, later: the 2nd Marquess of Ormonde), and Edward Odell (of Carriglea).

I’ve written about this trip before, because Odell seemed to be confessing to a friend that he — and “Smith” — had determined to continue travelling, going on to Egypt, Asia Minor and Persia! DID MAMMA SMITH KNOW? was my burning question. Alas, she never got the chance to permit (or not) further travels: Drummond died in Palermo, aged only 20.

ormonde_sicily

Among the last scenery Drummond witnessed?

For a later post, will be the mystery of WHO transcribed Drummond’s 1832 journal and letters; the handwriting is not his – and seems to match none of his siblings either.

For this post, though, because I’ve been transcribing Lord Ossory’s fascinating account of being at Etna’s 1832 eruption, only days after it began (and that was on All Souls Day, November 2; Drummond died three days later, on the 5th of November), I wanted to take a look at his book account of the same.

* READ Lord Ossory’s published account, An Autumn in Sicily (1850)

I include here a handful of pages, comprising Ossory’s reaction to visiting the scene of Etna (click on the photos):
ormonde1
ormonde2ormonde3ormonde4ormonde5
*
Now, I’m not going to include everything Ossory wrote in the midst (or aftermath) of seeing Etna erupt; but I will give readers a glimpse of the immediacy of the journal, even compared to the same incident he later covered in his book. This is most of the entry for Saturday, 17 November 1832:

  Well might the place be called the Fondaco della {Nacilla?}, for I never was so tormented by fleas in all my life, or more glad to get up at ½ past 5. After eating some breakfast we got off at ¼ to 7. I walked the first part of the way. We got on very slowly on a most infernal road for four hours, up hill all the way, and to add to our pleasure we were enveloped in a thick mist, & small rain. It was extremely cold. We passed thro a Bosco of some of the only good trees I saw in Sicily. Oak. Ash & Beech. We could hear the gunning from Etna very distinctly Exactly like the previous day. Having forded the river Alcantara about ½ a dozen times, we got to Randazzo at 1 passing thro the small village of S. Domenico on the top of the hill. We went to the Fondaco  got some thing to eat and as carriages were to be got – the beasts were tired we unloaded  got into a thing drawn by three horses & rattled off to Bronte. The road was very good & we got on well. About 3 miles from Bronte we saw the lava running, & the trees on fire  The noise was very great. We performed the 12 miles in about two hours, & got there at 4. The inn had only one room about 12 feet by 9. They said they could put 4 or 5 beds into it if we wished. We only wished them good morning, & got a private house next door. the room was very clean but unfurnished the man having secured his goods in case of accidents.   We got a guide & set off to the Lava. An old stream reaches to within half a mile of Bronte. We walked over this for nearly 3 miles where the new lava was. The sight was a most extraordinary & fearful one. The stream was semicircular of about a mile in breadth, and advancing rapidly. The pace depends naturally on the lie of the ground but it is sure to get over every thing. It appeared to be about from 30 to 50 feet in depth. I do not know exactly how to describe the appearance of it. Perhaps the best idea may be formed by imagining a hill of about the height I have mentioned. The top of which is continually falling to the bottom & as constantly replaced. The lava is not liquid, but rolls down in large masses, & tho the outside is blackish, yet every stone that falls leaves a fiery trail behind for the moment. The noise of the falling lava resembled water. One block fell close to where we stood. It could not have weighed less than a ton. We lit segars from it. The stream advanced principally in two directions North & West. From the first no danger was apprehended but the second had its head straight for Bronte. We heard that several hundred people were employed at a sort of bastion to arrest it, but did not see it. I doubt if human means could resist it. The principal pattern of the whole was the idea that it gave  of irresistible force. It did not come on fast except comparatively. we went close to it & pushed out hot bits with our sticks but still on it came changing the whole face of the country. Making hills were [sic: where] valleys had been, changing the face of the country and overwhelming all the works of man, leaving all behind one black rough mass of hard & barren lava. The Borea whence it issued was not visible from the stream of Lava. Before leaving it, I took some observations as to the positions of trees to be able to judge of the process of it. As we returned to the town the appearance of the lava in the dark was beautiful. It had advanced already 10 miles from the Crater.

Oh, for Drummond’s thoughts on this same scene… I was rather of two minds about Lord Ossory, even before reading his Drummond-deathbed-account: Ossory erased Drummond Smith from his published account, making mention only of one travel companion, Edward Odell. I’d love to know if Emma or Maria, Fanny even, or Eliza — and most especially Spencer Smith, who caught up with Ossory & Odell in early December 1832 — ever came across An Autumn in Sicily.
*
special thanks
To Ann in Ireland, for first glimpse of Ossory’s diary
To Kildare, for Lord Ossory’s diary
To Pat

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Women’s History Month: Amelia Edwards

March 26, 2013 at 6:24 pm (books, europe, history, travel) (, , , , , , , , , , )

amelia edwards dolomitesYears ago (possibly as long ago as 1989!) I bought a paperback reprint of the book Untrodden Peaks and Unfrequently Valleys, by Amelia Edwards. _If_  it was as long ago as I think, reading the book would predate my own travels to Austria — though I have never visited the Dolomites, as Edwards does in this delight 1870s journey.

Her writing is a breath of fresh air, her descriptions always crisp and engaging. And who wouldn’t want to travel alongside Amelia, her companion “L.” and L’s ladies maid once Amelia describes how they made off with a couple of coveted (read: hard-to-come-by) Side Saddles!

I spotted a brief view of the Dolomites on a TV travel show, and searched my shelves for this book. Have been happily ensconced in it for a couple weeks.

As March 2013 comes to its close, I was curious enough to read up on Women’s History Month and spotted that the theme this year was “Women Inspiring Innovation through Imagination: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics”. Surely archeology and Egyptology must  relate to “science”. Amelia Edwards’ most famous book recounts her trip  A Thousand Miles up the Nile (1877). From there, her interest in Egypt never waned.

Amelia Peabody meet your real-life counterpart Amelia Edwards! You can read many of Amelia Edwards’ books at A Celebration of Women Writers (and even catch up a bit on Elizabeth Peters and her “Amelia Peabody” creation). Prefer to listen to your books, see Untrodden Peaks at LibriVox, read by Sibella Denton.

amelia edwards

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Seeking Harriet Scott

January 10, 2013 at 9:54 am (diaries, europe, history, news, people, portraits and paintings, research, travel) (, , , , , , , , )

harriet scott

This portrait, by Sir Henry Raeburn in 1795, illustrates Harriet Scott. Why am I seeking more information on her? The Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Record Service lists a handful of letters, written by her to Mary Jemima Robinson / Baroness Grantham.

In a letter dated 3 September 1827, Mrs Scott mentions Sir Walter Scott – a recent visit and some Scottish stories dedicated to his grandson, John Hugh Lockhart. An 1829 letter, written from Rome, she mentions Lord and Lady Northampton (Spencer Compton, the 2nd Marquess, and his wife, the former Margaret Maclean Clephane). I’m intrigued to know if more letters exist elsewhere from this same period. There are references to her in the Walter Scott literature. What other members of the Smith&Gosling extended family might she have met?

Harriet was the daughter of Count Hans Moritz von Brühl (in England so long he was known as John Maurice) and Alicia Maria Carpenter. She married Hugh Scott of Harden (Mertoun) in 1795, the year of her portrait.

In writing to her in 1832, Walter Scott commented, “I envied your management of the pencil when at Malta…” So Harriet was an artist in her own right!

Three years later, in 1835, Hugh Scott was confirmed as the 6th Lord Polwarth. So there may be items ID’ed as by Lady Polwarth, though it is the 1820s that interests me the most.

The letters at Beds & Luton sound fascinating, for instance this riveting tale of travel in a bygone era:

“once got a fright having 4 mules to our Coach driven by one post Boy riding the Wheel mule when the first chose to turn short down to a Mill where they usually lived and very near overturned us”

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News! News! News!

May 23, 2011 at 8:39 am (books, entertainment, people, places, portraits and paintings, research, travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Two *new* portraits join my little gallery… They were found while looking for something totally different (isn’t that always the case?!).

My first was this delightful portrait of Wilmina Maclean Clephane:

I was looking to update information on my current writing project, about Fanny( Smith) Seymour, and wanted to double check information about Torloisk (on the Isle of Mull, Scotland). This was the home of the three Maclean Clephane sisters. Don’t remember them?? I can’t blame you — there are so many names and people to remember, aren’t there?

The Clephane sisters were wards of writer Walter Scott; Margaret Douglas Maclean Clephane married Spencer, Lord Compton in 1815 — and Emma recorded the events of Margaret’s homecoming (see my article at the JASNA website equating this event to a proposed welcome for Elizabeth Bennet Darcy). Spencer and his sister Lady Elizabeth Compton were the only cousins the Smiths of Suttons had. Emma came to know the Clephane girls — the other two being Anna-Jane and Wilmina — fairly well, and even wrote of meeting Walter Scott himself!

**Read about the Clephanes’ connection to early music for the Gaelic Harp**

How wonderful to read Walter Scott’s (online) journal and see this; it’s September, 1827:

“September 6. — Went with Lady Compton to Glasgow, and had as pleasant a journey as the kindness, wit, and accomplishment of my companion could make it. Lady C. gives an admirable account of Rome, and the various strange characters she has met in foreign parts. I was much taken with some stories out of a romance… I am to get a sight of the book if it be possible. At Glasgow (Buck’s Head) we met Mrs. Maclean Clephane and her two daughters, and there was much joy. After the dinner the ladies sung, particularly Anna Jane, who has more taste and talent of every kind than half the people going with great reputations on their back.” Read more ….

Margaret was the eldest (born 1791), Wilmina the youngest (born 1803); they and Compton are extremely prevalent in the Scott correspondence. Such fun to read of Margaret, when a young bride newly brought home to Castle Ashby, entertaining her guests with Scottish Song and Music, such as Emma recorded witnessing. Margaret was a dab hand at art as well, which brings me back to Harriet Cheney.

The Cheney name is one VERY familiar from letters and diaries. And, besides, the Cheney family were related to the Carrs/Carr Ellisons and they end up in Mary Gosling’s extended family! Again: a small world.

Harriet Cheney, whose Italian sketchbooks went up for auction in 2005 at Christie’s, not only sketched places, but also those whom she came across. Wilmina was one; her sister Margaret and her family was another:

Here, Margaret is depicted with her daughter Marianne Compton (the future Lady Alford). Other images not “illustrated” at Christie’s includes other children and also Spencer Lord Compton! Such treasures.

**Read Karen E. McAulay‘s PhD thesis Our Ancient National Airs: Scottish Song Collecting, c1760-1888**

Look at all 110 lots (Wilmina is Lot 44; Margaret and Marianne are Lot 45) at Christie’s. There is even a specimen of the artistry of Wilmina herself at Lot 87.

I swear that Emma called Wilmina’s husband Baron de Normann (Christie’s cites de Norman). Was it Emma’s spelling, or how he spelled his name ?? Always tricky to tell during this time period, when spelling was somewhat fluid — even for names! Christie’s seems to have obtained the name from the signature on the art itself, but who knows…

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