Macklin & Aunt Emma

June 8, 2015 at 12:19 pm (books, diaries, history, jane austen, jasna, news, people, research) (, , , , , , , )

I want to thank JASNA-Vermont for inviting me to speak at their June gathering yesterday – and for dipping with me in the waters of RESEARCH into the family of the Austens. So little time, so MUCH information! My illustrated talk entitled “The Mystery of Emma Austen’s Aunt Emma” was an “interactive” presentation – and people really spoke up, made observations, added comments, asked questions. It was GREAT! Later, one audience member even told me my “research reads like a thrilling mystery!” Heartening words, indeed. No one can ever guess the “desert” a writer *feels* to be stranded in, when the research is this intensive and taking years to produce something substantive.

pen and letters

I figure I’m closing in on a THOUSAND letters and several HUNDRED diaries – and more turns up. I just returned (after midnight, last friday…) from a research jaunt to New York City.

Very helpful staff at NYU, where I spent most of the day, every day, Monday through Friday morning. And I am just *bowled over* by the staff of the Morgan Library – from the security guide near the door, to the gentleman who brought me up to the third floor reading room; and the library people – especially the ladies in the reading room = helpful – chatty – friendly. Just an exceptionally pleasant experience. Pity I ran out of time. BUT: I saw my LONG-AWAITED letter from Humphry Repton to Papa Smith => an even BETTER read than I had hoped. Repton was thanking Papa for paying him…, but also writing in SUCH a friendly manner, and even including Mamma in his thoughts. Pure GOLD!

repton

Now if only his RED BOOK for Suttons would turn up!

Then I turned my eyes to the special editions of Walter Scott works. My memory is that they were presented — by Compton and his sister Lady Elizabeth — to LORD Northampton; but I swear at least one of the volumes said LADY Northampton! Will have to revisit the Morgan’s catalogue, and also my notes. AND revisit the Morgan – for I ran out of time before I ran out of volumes.

The Scott works were not only specially bound for the Marquess / Marchioness, they included pen and ink drawings done by Lord Compton – his fiancée and then wife Margaret Maclean Clephane / Lady Compton – and Lady Elizabeth Compton. One volume, The Lady of Lake, included a “letter” (for lack of a better description) in which Compton (I think it was his handwriting) outlined ALL the drawings – and also who they were drawn by, as well as their source (if applicable). Imagine my SURPRISE to see that THREE were listed to have as a source “William Gosling, Esq”!!!

At first, glancing at the paper, I thought it said it INCLUDED drawings by William Gosling. ARGH! that that was NOT the case. But: this helps with a mini-mystery about William (described as “the banker of Fleet Street” in the citation I unearthed) drawing STOWE in circa 1814. These volumes for the Northamptons are of a similar period, and just the fact that the Compton children included the word “esquire” in his name indicates to me that they are saying drawings of the father rather than William Ellis Gosling, the son (though William Ellis Gosling of an age with Compton & Elizabeth, he was still at College in 1814).

The especially LOVED to illustrate Lake Katrine!

Lady of Lake

In one short word: WOW! is all I can say about having another clue that William Gosling (Mary’s Papa) was an accomplished artist – for if he was mediocre, the Comptons would not have wanted to “copy” his work, surely. And their own work is…. ASTOUNDING! such meticulous strokes; interesting compositions; accurate representation of things like crumbling castles.

I should perhaps remind readers that Margaret, Lady Compton, was a ward (along with her two younger sisters – altogether often referred to as the Clephane Sisters of Torloisk) of Walter Scott. Even Edward Austen Leigh adored the works of Sir Walter.

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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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Happy 2012!!!

January 1, 2012 at 11:52 am (entertainment, research) (, , , , , , , )

Mary, Emma and I wish everyone

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

I’m looking forward, in 2012, to acquainting readers with the history of the Smiths&Goslings – they lived through SUCH an extraordinary period. I light to think of my girls (born in 1800 and 1801) as going from the horse and carriage age, through the steam age and into the train age. Plus they knew and met some extraordinary people.

Yet it is their own histories, the every-day lives they and their families and friends lived that remains most compelling.

Their stories can only be told through their own words, bolstered by media reports extant public evidence, and illustrated by their own images and artwork.

I was reading some letters from 1825 — an important year, in that Belinda Colebrooke, Lady Smith (Charles’ first wife) died in January; Emma’s diary for that year is missing — and came across one from Mamma Smith, it is simply signed; just:

ASmith

I can well imagine some letters out there, which people have little idea who wrote them, or who they were written to. Especially if a letter is mailed to Miss Smith! For one letter I recently read, had Emma apologizing to Fanny for addressing her letter as usual, to Miss Fanny Smith — when she now (thanks to Augusta’s marriage) deserved the title Miss Smith.

It is really easy to see, from the list of items at the Hampshire Record Office, how several items passed to Emma. Therefore, other items — earlier Mamma Smith diaries; later Aunt Chute diaries — must have passed to Eliza Le Marchant, to Fanny Seymour, to Maria Culme-Seymour. Perhaps even to Spencer Smith, the sole-remaining brother.

I also like to think that some of Mary’s items still exist – perhaps subject to dispersal by her sister Elizabeth Christie. Those items at the Essex Record Office I think once belonged to her daughter Augusta, Mrs Lawrence Capel Cure.

So here’s some wishes for some new items — either in Archives (but unknown to me, like the wonderful Macklin Album, brought to my attention recently by Robin Jenkins) or in dribs-and-drabs in someone’s private collection. I’ve Richard Seymour’s diaries to work on, and some diaries and drawings that are across the country to investigate more fully.

I hope readers will comment and interact! You are my lifeline, sometimes — and I appreciate the friends I have made through this blog.

As they say in Austria — for the radio plays the Vienna New Year’s Concert: Prosit Neu Jahr!!

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