Mrs Delany writes Letters

August 14, 2012 at 12:04 am (books, goslings and sharpe, history, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Ah, August… when the summer sessions at the university END, so ends the evening hours at the library. Booo!

Today, if they had been open past five, I would have gone to have a look at their collection of Mary Delany books. A new biography published last year had caught my eye, but there were other books I had looked at over the years but never taken out. I really want to see them, but must wait for noontime Saturday when the library’s open 12-5.

This silhouette comes, however, from a book published in 1821!  While I’ve long known about the more recent books, I had no idea anything was published as long ago as that. Might Emma and Mary have read Letters from Mrs Delany? Might Emma mention it in her diary and I just hadn’t been paying attention enough to make note of it?

Today Mrs Delany is remembered because of her Flower Mosaics. Yet a quick perusal of the index in vol. 6 of her letters shows how valuable her published letters could prove to the Smith & Gosling project. Why? Among other things, she evidently banked with Goslings and Sharpe!

For instance,

March 1780, from Mrs Delany: “I hope my last letter and draft on Gosling for L:y Clanbrassil’s christning {sic} money has arrived safe.”

September 1770, to Mrs Delany: “…he has vowed that he will be punctual to a day to the hands of your banker, Mr. Gosling.”

December 1758, from Mrs Delany: “I have indeed set my heart much upon your going to town, and you have a draught on Gosling, etc., which I designed should pay for the Birmingham boxes…”

She therefore, goes back to the very beginnings of the banking firm!

So who in 1756 might “Mrs Gosling” have been — she wouldn’t have been William Gosling’s mother (i.e., Mary’s paternal grandmother), as William’s parents only married in 1763. William’s father, Robert Gosling, though would have been with the firm — having joined in 1754, according to The History of Barclays Bank. At this time the firm was called Gosling, Bennett, and Gosling — for the partners (Sir) Francis Gosling, Samuel Bennett, Robert Gosling.

Could this describe Elizabeth Douce, William’s paternal grandmother? Elizabeth Midwinter, prior to Francis Gosling’s knighthood? (According to The Alderman of the City of London, Francis was knighted on 28 October 1760.)

It’s a curious comment, and a faintly unflattering one:

March 1756, from Mrs Delany: “Wednesday, I spent with Mrs. Donnellan instead of going to Israel in Egypt; and how provoking! she had Mrs. Montagu, Mrs. Gosling, and two or three fiddle faddles, so that I might as well have been at the oratorio.”

Mrs Delany was a Handel fan.

The Gosling circle tightens when one finds the Correspondence of Samuel Richardson contains (in vol. 4) letters to Dr and Mrs Delany, Mrs Donnellan, Mrs Dewes (sister to Mrs Delany). Samuel Richardson was the guardian of Miss Midwinter — who became Lady Gosling, wife to Sir Francis.

Oh, my….

It’s eleven at night and I find myself *WISHING* I had all the hours in the day to devote to research – there’s so much here. And how was it that I found Mrs Delany this evening: looking up information on BIO – Biographers International Organization. I’d love to hear from anyone belonging to BIO; I’m thinking of applying.

As midnight looms, I wrap up this post with a listing of the online books relating to Mrs Delany:

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Richardson reads Pamela

October 17, 2008 at 10:56 pm (people) (, , , , )

Author Samuel Richardson has a Smith-and-Gosling connection: his ward was none other than Elizabeth Midwinter, who married (Sir) Francis Gosling – the brother of Robert Gosling, Mary’s paternal grandfather. She is shown in Francis Hayman’s family portrait as the woman in blue, on the right. According to the Bulletin of the New York Public Library (1897) “Richardson was a trustee for Miss Midwinter’s marriage settlement, and both he and Mrs Richardson left Lady Gosling mourning rings in their wills”. Robert Gosling, father of Francis and Robert Gosling, was a bookseller. A publishing firm within the family was Rivington: John Rivington married Elizabeth Miller Gosling, a sister of Sir Francis. (And in this book you can find an enchanting pencil portrait of a young William Gosling!)

Like Jane Austen who read her novels aloud to family, Richardson – according to several biographies – did the same when he was writing Pamela; and Miss Midwinter was there at the fireside, listening! Abstracts of English Studies (1963) had this to say: “[I]t is now quite obvious that the first audience of Pamela consisted of Mrs. Richardson and Miss Elizabeth Midwinter (later to become Lady Gosling).”

In Bastards and Foundlings (2005), Lisa Zunshine writes, “…the younger Grandisons could meet the same fate as did the nieces and nephews of Lord Mansfield or, indeed, the author’s own friend Elizabeth Midwinter, whose father managed to disinherit her altogether, leaving the family property to the illegitimate son he had with his servant.” Obviously, there is MUCH to be told about the life of poor young Miss Midwinter…

This painting was purchased by the Tate Gallery two years ago, and there is an article on the transaction and the work.

Ohhhhh, to have a description of her, or comments about her! Although I’ve searched through the online books of his correspondence, I find nothing about Francis, Elizabeth or her father – a friend of Richardson, which is why she became the author’s ward. Alas, the search is still on. . .

But for those with an interest in Richardson, I include here those volumes of his correspondence that I was able to track down on vol I; vol II; vol III; vol IV; vol V; vol VI.

And should you want to sit back with a cuppa and enjoy Pamela: or Virtue Rewarded in a series of familiar letters from a Beautiful Young Damsel to her Parents, here is an online version from 1845. If you have the eyesight for reading it, there is also a 1786 edition (in four volumes): vol I; vol II; vol III; vol IV. An 1832 edition of The Life of Thomas Gent, Printer, of York may have references to the mother (in particular) of Elizabeth, but I have to take a closer look at the book, and also investigate her parents more fully (Elizabeth’s father was Edward Midwinter, bookseller). This next book gives Midwinter-White-Gosling as well as Maryland and Pennsylvania connections!

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