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You may recall that a few years ago I posted an article here about the White Hart Inn in Bath. This was a place Jane Austen knew, she mentioned it in her letters, and she even included it as a location in one of her novels: it was where the Musgrove party stayed while in Bath in Persuasion. Here we have Charles and Mary Musgrove arriving in Bath, visiting Sir Walter and Elizabeth who are nastily relieved once they realise they are not expecting to stay at Camden Place with them:
Surprise was the strongest emotion raised by their appearance; but Anne was really glad to see them; and the others were not so sorry but that they could put on a decent air of welcome; and as soon as it became clear that these, their nearest relations, were not arrived with any views of accommodation in that house, Sir Walter and Elizabeth were able to rise in cordiality, and do the honours of it very well. They were come to Bath for a few days with Mrs. Musgrove, and were at the White Hart. So much was pretty soon understood; but till Sir Walter and Elizabeth were walking Mary into the other drawing-room, and regaling themselves with her admiration, Anne could not draw upon Charles’s brain for a regular history of their coming, or an explanation of some smiling hints of particular business, which had been ostentatiously dropped by Mary, as well as of some apparent confusion as to whom their party consisted of.
Persuasion Chapter 22
As you can see, it was a busy, bustling place and it had an envious reputation for luxury, comfort and customer service. Sadly it no longer exists, for it was demolished in 1867.
The White Hart was distinguished by a large figure of a white hart standing proudly over the entrance to the hotel. You can clearly see it in this picture of the inn above .One of my correspondents has very kindly informed me that the original statue is now in situ on another inn of the same name. The White Hart Inn, Widcombe Hill, just on the outskirts of Bath,
During the summer, someone stole the hart’s antlers. As you can see, he is pictured sadly antler-less, and the Inn asked for whoever stole them to return them to them via their Twitter account.
Nicola M very kindly sent me this image of the hart recently and it would appear that the antlers have now been returned or replaced.
In any event it is good to know that a relict of the White Hart Inn that Jane Austen knew still exists, evening if it is in a slightly different place. I must remember to visit it next time I’m in Bath.
The Christmas Market is attracting some very interesting auction lots…ones that we ought to be interested in, certainly. As we have seen, there are some wonderful Jane Austen offerings to be had this year, but the one that I really covet is Anne Sharp’s first edition set of “Emma”, published by John Murray, which was presented to her by her friend, the authoress, Jane Austen. This set first came to my attention in 2008, when Christiaan Jonkers of Jonkers Rare Books bought the set for £180,000. *gulp* Then two years later, the BBC reported that it had sold for £325,000.*double gulp*
Now Sothebys are offering the same set for sale in their auction of English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations to be held in London on the 12th December 2012.
Here is the condition report of Lot 86 from the online catalogue:
12mo, three volumes, first edition, presentation copy inscribed “From the author”in a clerk’s hand within volume one together with ownership signature of Anne Sharp in each volume, half-titles, contemporary half-calf with marbled boards, marbled endpapers, collector’s red morocco box, some light spotting, corners occasionally creased, bindings worn at extremities, some minor loss to calf, some splitting and loss to joints, slight loss to ends of spines, leaves trimmed.
The Catalogue notes record its history..up to a point…
One of twelve presentation copies recorded in the publisher’s archives and presented to Jane Austen’s “excellent kind friend”: the only presentation copy given to a personal friend of the author.
In a letter to the publisher John Murray dated 11 December 1815, Austen noted that she would “subjoin a list of those persons, to whom I must trouble you to forward a Set each, when the Work is out; – all unbound, with From the Authoress, in the first page”. Most of these copies were for members of Austen’s family. David Gilson in his bibliography of Austen lists these presentation copies, based on information in John Murray’s records, as follows:
two to Hans Place, London (presumably for Jane Austen and Henry Austen)
Countess of Morley
Rev. J.S. Clarke (the Prince Regent’s librarian)
J. Leigh Perrot (the author’s uncle)
two for Mrs Austen
Captain Austen (presumed to be Charles Austen)
Rev. J. Austen
H.F. Austen (presumed to be Francis)
Miss Knight (the author’s favourite niece Fanny Knight)
Miss Sharpe [sic]
Anne Sharp (1776-1853) was Fanny-Catherine Knight’s governess at Godmersham in Kent from 1804 to 1806. She resigned due to ill-health and then held a number of subsequent positions as governess and lady’s companion. Deirdre Le Faye notes that by 1823 she was running her own boarding-school for girls in Liverpool (see Jane Austen’s Letters, third edition, 1995, p. 572). She retired in 1841 and died in 1853.
In 1809 Austen wrote to her sister Cassandra Austen that “Miss Sharpe… is born, poor thing! to struggle with Evil…” Four years later Jane wrote to Cassandra that “…I have more of such sweet flattery from Miss Sharp! – She is an excellent kind friend” (which may refer to Anne Sharp’s opinion of Pride and Prejudice). It is known that Anne Sharp thought Mansfield Park “excellent” but she preferred Pride and Prejudice and rated Emma “between the two” (see Jane Austen’s Letters, third edition, 1995, p. 573).
There is one known extant letter from Jane Austen to Anne Sharp, dated 22 May 1817. She is addressed as “my dearest Anne”. After Jane Austen’s death, Cassandra Austen wrote to Anne Sharp on 28 July 1817 sending a “lock of hair you wish for, and I add a pair of clasps which she sometimes wore and a small bodkin which she had had in constant use for more than twenty years”.
“In Miss Sharp she found a truly compatible spirit… Jane took to her at once, and formed a lasting relationship with her… [she occupied] a unique position as the necessary, intelligent friend” (Claire Tomalin, Jane Austen A Life, 2000).
Anne Sharp is known to have visited Chawton on at least two occasions: in June 1815 and in August-September 1820. Deirdre Le Faye notes that James-Edward Austen-Leigh described her as “horridly affected but rather amusing” (see Jane Austen’s Letters, third edition, 1995, p.573)
However, what is interesting to me is the current auction estimate ….which is £150,000-£200,000…and which even I with my rudimentary grasp of maths can deduce means that someone may be anticipating they might be taking a hit on this set. Or not….it all remains to be seen. I will be watching this one….and reporting back, you can be assured.
Also for sale in the same sale is Lot 87, a first edition set of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion by Jane Austen, published by John Murray. This also has another interesting connection to Jane Austen. The set is inscribed F C Fowle, and would appear to have been owned by Fulwar-Craven Fowle, the brother of Tom Fowle, who was engaged to Cassandra Austen but he sadly died in the West Indies before they could marry.
The catalogue notes:
It appears that this set was the property of the Revd Fulwar-Craven Fowle (1764-1840). He was a pupil of Rev. George Austen at Steventon between 1778 and 1781. He is occasionally mentioned in Austen’s letters; it appears he participated in a game of vingt-un in 1801 and sent a brace of pheasants in 1815. Fulwar-Craven Fowle’s brother, Thomas (1765-1797) had been engaged to Cassandra Austen in 1792.
Deirdre Le Faye notes that he had “an impatient and rather irascible nature” and “did not bother to read anything of Emma except the first and last chapters, because he had heard it was not interesting” (see Jane Austen’s Letters, 1995, p. 525).
This has a sale estimate of £4000-6000, which is more affordable than Lot 86(well, everything is relative!) but I know which set I would prefer to own. I’ll report back.
On Saturday, at their premises in Dublin, Whyte’s auctioneers will be auctioning a complete set of Richard Bentley’s 1833 edition of Jane Austen’s novels in five volumes: four single volumes each containing one novel, that is, of Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Emma, and one volume containing the full text of both Persuasion and Northanger Abbey.
These books were the first edition of Jane Austen’s works to appear in the format of one volume per novel and to be illustrated. According to the publishing history of these books given in David Gilson’s Bibliography of Jane Austen, the publication of the novels was overseen by Jane Austen’s sister, Cassandra and her brother, Henry. Jane Austen had, of course, died in 1817 and did not live to see these editions. In a letter dated 20th May 1831 written to John Murray, who was Jane Austen’s publisher at her death, Cassandra Austen
…makes it clear that she was then thinking of reissuing JA’s novels. Cassandra says that she does not wish to sell the copyrights, but asks about the size of the proposed edition, the number of volumes, price per set and date of publication; she also asks if Murray has approached the executors of Thomas Edgerton for PP. Since we hear no more of this, we must assume that Cassandra and John Murray could not come to terms( perhaps the latter insisted on buying the copyrights) Richard Bentley, a year later was more fortunate.
( Page xxxiv)
David Gilson also gives us the fascinating tale of the copyright of these novels:
No English reissue of JA’s novels is known after 1818 until in 1832. Richard Bentley decided to include them in his series of Standard Novels. …a letter to Bentley from Henry Austen dated 24th July 1832, accepting on behalf of his sister, Cassandra and himself Bentley’s offer of £250 for the copyrights of SS, MP,E and NA&P ( plus two copies of “the work”) but pointing out that for the copyright of PP Bentley should apply to the executors of Thomas Egerton. The private printed List of Bentley publications for the year 1833 give the payment to Henry and Cassandra ( for the copyrights-jfw) as £210, made on 20th September 1832… Mr. Francis Pinkney, Egerton’s executor was paid as late as 17 October 1833 a total of £40 for the remainder of the copyright of PP; Bentley presumably reduced the sum paid to Henry and Cassandra Austen by that amount. The Bentley list also states that the copyrights of SS, PP, and MP were for 28 years, expiring in 1839, 1841 and 1842 respectively, while those of E and NA&P, expiring in 1857 and 1860.
(Gilson, as above, page 211)
Here is the auctioneer’s description of Lot 531:
AUSTEN ( Jane ). Sense and Sensibility [with :] Emma. [and :] Mansfield Park. [and :] Northanger Abbey [and, Persuasion] [and :] Pride and Prejudice. Richard Bentley … (Bentley’s Standard Novels 23, 25, 27, 28 and 30), 1833FIRST ILLUSTRATED AND FIRST ONE-VOLUME EDITIONS, each volume with additional engraved title-page, engraved frontispiece and printed series title-page, 5 vols, small 8vo, contemporary deep olive green morocco, gilt, fully gilt and lettered spines, top edges gilt : light endpaper foxing and just a little elsewhere, the bindings just lightly rubbed but still attractive, and otherwise a very good set, rarely found complete. Complete sets of the five Jane Austen vols in this series have become notably rare.
They give an estimate of € 1500-1800….*sighs longingly* I should like to thank my good friend, Katherine Cahill of Mrs Delany’s Menus Medicine and Manners fame for sharing this tempting information with me. She will be attending the auction, has offered to act as my agent( Temptress!) and I’m sure she will be able to let us know the result of the sale.
Today BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour again considered what books you might read on holiday in their Summer Reading series. Today’s topic was Romantic Fiction. Alice Peterson, whose novel has beaten Fifty Shades of Grey from the Kindle Top Ten list, tells us her preferences, as does journalist, Tanya Grey. Classic romantic stories are discussed as well as modern.
Mr. Darcy, and Captain Wentworth appear in the conversation(as does Mr Rochester).
And the erotic nature of Persuasion is discussed…. tempted? Of course you are…Go here to listen to the very short- eight minutes long- feature.
For a woman and novelist of such obvious( to me at least) religiously based moral authority, it might surprise you to realise that Jane Austen makes direct mention of the Book of Common Prayer (and, indeed, to the Kings James Bible) only very occasionally.
As we noted in the last post, Jane Austen would have been very familiar with the Book of Common Prayer, the liturgy of the Church of England, of which she was a member, and of which her father and, eventually, two of her brothers were priests. I think we ought to consider how often Jane Austen would have read the Prayer Book, for then it may become clear how its phrases became part of her, and how this was reflected in her works. Do note that Jane Austen wrote three prayers, date of composition unknown. I will not be discussing them in detail here, as we shall concentrate on the influence of the Prayer Book in her novels.
The Book of Common Prayer provides Anglicans with all the basic texts they need for all their devotions, throughout their lives, in church and at home. The services include those for Sundays, Morning and Evening Prayers, the litanies, daily offices( that is, daily church services) and also for the special services that would have been performed throughout an Anglican’s life: that is, for baptisms, confirmations, weddings, death-bed communions and funerals. Each Prayer Book also contains a Psalter, which contains all the Psalms as translated by Miles Coverdale. They are included because the Psalms are- one or more of them- an integral part of the services.
The Prayer Book also contains the Collects. The Collects are short prayers which are used not only in sequence though out the liturgical year, but also are used in private devotions. The Lectoinary is also included: this is made up of the readings-the Lessons- from the Old and New Testaments which were designated to be read on particular days, on a three-year cycle which was devised by Thomas Cranmer. He intended, therefore , that the Prayer Book would not only be used in Church but at home in daily services held by the family, and also in private devotions. The Austens at Steventon, Southampton and Chawton seem to have kept the habit of morning and evening prayers . In her letter to her sister, Cassandra dated the 24th October 1808, written when she was looking after her nephews Edward and George Knight, who were staying with her at Southampton after the death of their mother, Elizabeth Knight who had died unexpectedly after giving birth, Jane Austen makes mention of their habit of evening prayers:
In the evening we had the Psalms and Lessons, and a sermon at home, to which they were very attentive; but you will not expect to hear that they did not return to conundrums the moment it was over.
The habit of saying daily morning and evening prayers, as well as regular sunday attendances at church though out her life meant that Jane Austen would have been wholly family with the text of the Prayer Book, I’m sure you will agree. And in that case, it might surprise you how few direct references there are to the contents of the Prayer Book in her works.
The first and most obvious reference, is to the rubrick to the Solemnization of Matrimony service. The rubric is the instruction to the clergy and the laity as to how the service is to be conducted. This reference appears in Emma, in Chapter 53, where Emma is coyly referring to her future marriage to Mr. Knightley:
“Impossible! I never can call you any thing but ‘Mr. Knightley.’ I will not promise even to equal the elegant terseness of Mrs. Elton, by calling you Mr. K. But I will promise,” she added presently, laughing and blushing, “I will promise to call you once by your Christian name. I do not say when, but perhaps you may guess where; — in the building in which N. takes M. for better, for worse.”
Here you can see the service for the Solmnization of Matrimony from John Baskerville’s Prayer Book of 1761, printed after the accession to the throne of George III( and do note you can enlarge all these pictures by clicking on them):
As you can clearly see, the two parties to be married are referred to throughout the service as N and M:
A more puzzling reference to one of the Psalms, Psalm 16, is made by Miss Bates, again in Emma, Chapter 21
“Oh! my dear sir, as my mother says, our friends are only too good to us. If ever there were people who, without having great wealth themselves, had every thing they could wish for, I am sure it is us. We may well say that “”our lot is cast in a goodly heritage.””
Here Jane Austen has made Miss Bates, the impoverished daughter of the former vicar of Highbury, misquote the Psalm:
You can see that Verse 7 clearly states:
The Lot is fallen unto me in a fair ground: yea, I have a goodly heritage.
Margaret Anne Doody in her essay Jane Austen’s Reading, which is contained in the Jane Austen Handbook, (1986) edited by J. David Grey, explains this mistake as follows:
Miss Bates’s simple use of it point sot a misapprehension; she has no heritage-that is her problem. She is referring to charity, the only heritage the minister’s daughter may expect. Austen’s own relation to this truth may have tempted her in this instance to forsake her own custom ( of not referring directly or too closely to religious texts- JFW)
Other instances of indirect references to the Prayer Book can be found in her characters speech and in their letters. For they, like most of us and their creator, would have used phrases from the Prayer Book almost without knowing. Here are just three examples: there are more. The first is taken from chapter 57 of Pride and Prejudice: Mr Bennet relates the contents of Mr. Collins’ letter to Elizabeth and informs her that Charlotte is now pregnant;
The rest of his letter is only about his dear Charlotte’s situation, and his expectation of a young olive-branch.
This is a reference to Psalm 128, verse 4
Thy children like the olive-branches round about thy table.
In Sense and Sensibility, Colonel Brandon obliquely refers to the Communion of the Sick, wherein the sacrament would be administered to a dying person:
Life could do nothing for her, beyond giving time for a better preparation for death; and that was given. I saw her placed in comfortable lodgings, and under proper attendants; I visited her every day during the rest of her short life; I was with her in her last moments.”
The phrase preparation for death is clearly a reference to this service – the last rites if you like- where poor Eliza could ready and prepare herself for death. Colonel Brandon could do nothing more for her than to enable her to meet her end with dignity and in accordance with her faith;
The final example in this post comes from Chapter 23 of Persuasion, after Captain Wentworth is reconciled with Anne Elliot, and is considering her defence of her own conduct and of Lady Russell’s part in persuading Anne to reject his first offer of marriage:
He looked at her, looked at Lady Russell, and looking again at her, replied, as if in cool deliberation -
“Not yet, but there are hopes of her being forgiven in time. I trust to being in charity with her soon.
This is again a reference to the Communion service:
Ye that do truly and earnestly repent you of your signs and are in love and charity with your neighbours..Draw near with faith and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort
So…why didn’t Jane Austen make more open references to this book, with which she was wholly familiar? Perhaps the answer comes from her friend, Mrs Barrett of Alton, who had this to say about Jane Austen’s faith as expressed in her novels:
Miss Austen…had on all the subjects of enduring religious feeling the deepest and strongest convictions but a contact with loud and noisy exponents of the then popular religious phase made her reticent almost to a fault. She had to suffer something in the way of reproach from those who believed she might have used her genius to greater effect. But her old friend used to say, “I think I see her now defending what she thought was the real province of a delineator of life and manners and declaring her belief that example and not “direct preaching” was all that a novelist could properly afford to exhibit…
It has been a pleasure to visit country houses this Diamond Jubilee Year, for most I have visited have celebrated the Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by creating displays of their own Coronation memorabilia. I visited Chatsworth some weeks ago for my annual treat, and yes, as expected, their displays were the best I saw this season. Chatsworth is, as you are no doubt aware, the Derbyshire home of the Duke of Devonshire, whose family name is Cavendish. And of course, Chatsworth is one of the places Elizabeth Bennet visited with the Gardiners in Pride and Prejudice, and some would contend that it was the model for “Pemberley ( not me,however!) and so it holds a special interest for Janeites .
The West and South façades of the house have now been stunningly restored, and it was simply breathtaking to see it glinting- with all the newly re-gilded windows and stone ornaments on the roof- in the summer sunshine, and to enjoy the refreshing (and very welcome!) spray from the fountains.
In addition to having a display of the clothes worn by the 10th Duchess, the 11th Duke and Duchess and their son,who is now the 12th Duke, at the 1953 Coronation, Chatsworth also put on show the carriage that the 11th Duke his Duchess and their heir used to travel to Westminster Abbey. Their State Chariot, plus liveried footmen, coachman and a phantom horse were on display, to great effect, in the wonderfully large Painted Hall. You might remember this room from the “Pemberley ” scenes in Joe Wright’s production of Pride and Prejudice of 2005, which I discussed some time ago, here.
This is the view of the Chariot display from the top of the stairs seen in the phonograph, above. It is testament to its great size that having a carriage and “horse” set out in the Hall did not make it feel at all crowded.
As, quite unexpectedly, we seem to have been covering the theme of Jane Austen, Livery and Heraldry this year, I thought you might like to see photographs of this display, as they help to reinforce and explain various points that we have discussed before.
Though this Chariot may have been made slightly later than our period, (it came into the Cavendish family upon the marriage of the 8th Duke to the Duchess of Manchester in 1892) you can see, by comparing it to William Felton’s engraving of a Neat Town Chariot, below
and his engraving of an Elegant Chariot
that this version would have been very familiar to Jane Austen. The Devonshire State Chariot is, as we have now come to expect, decorated with many details which would make the identity of its owners easy for those “in the know” to recognise.
The door and side panels are decorated with the Cavendish coat of arms
and with emblems associated with the family…
You can compare the painted example, above, to the example of the newly restored and painted stone version of the Cavendish Arms on the West Front of the House, below:
The side panels of the Chariot were decorated with the Ducal coronet, with its strawberry leaves, and with the Order of the Garter (and its chain), the highest order of chivalry that can be awarded by the monarch in England and Wales. All the Dukes of Devonshire, with the exception of the current Duke, have been recipients of this very important Order .
Around the roof of the Chariot, silver versions of the Cavendish emblem, the coiled snake, can be seen…
The Hammercloth, which you can see below, and which covers the coachman’s seat, is a very extravagant affair and is made up in the colours to be found in the Devonshire family’s coat of arms, that is, their heraldic colours. I must admit that I prefer these to Sir Walter Elliot’s colour scheme:
”He is rear admiral of the white. He was in the Trafalgar action, and has been in the East Indies since; he has been stationed there, I believe, several years.”
”Then I take it for granted,” observed Sir Walter, “that his face is about as orange as the cuffs and capes of my livery.”
Persuasion, Chapter 3
Here is William Felton’s plate showing the different styles of Hammercloths from his Treatise on Carriages,etc (1797)
As you can see, the Devonshire Hammercloth was also adorned with the Ducal coronet and with a version of the Cavendish arms, in silver:
The family’s heraldic colours were also used in the sumptuous interior decoration of the Chariot.
You can clearly see that the status of the family is reinforced at every point: the representations of their arms, emblems and heraldic colours advertise to the world exactly who are its exalted and rich owners:
The heraldic theme is even continued on the horse’s harness and reigns. Only one example was on show- on a ” horse” armature which reminded me of the animated horses in the National Theatre’s production of War Horse!
Made of leather, the harness set is embellished with silver mounts, some which depict the Cavendish arms…
and some the Ducal Coronet:
You will recall that if a family were possessed of the right to bear arms, their servants- the footmen and coachmen-, could, in Jane Austen’ era, wear uniforms made of colours dictated by the heraldic colours used in the family’s coat of arms:
A gentleman may wear garments of any colour his fancy may dictate, but he is not permitted such license with regard to the uniforms of his servants: the colours of these depend entirely on the tinctures upon his Escutcheon. In both, the dominant colour should be the same: the subsidiary colour of the livery ( or, as a tailor would call it, the trimmings- that is, the collar, cuffs lining and buttons) should be the colour of the principal Charge.
(The Handbook of Heraldry etc., (1869, John Cussans, Page 314.)
Do note however, that these liveries were made, IMHO, at a later date than the mid 19th century, as the colour yellow- to represent gold( or more correctly, Or) was used, and that was not thought strictly correct at that time. The colour of the Coachman’s uniform of great-coat and tricorn hat, was derived from the Cavendish family’s heraldic colours: the black hat decorated with silver thread, and his coat made to match the blue of the hammercloth
The footmen’s livery again complied with the rules we have previously learnt: their bicorn hats were decorated with silver thread as were their jackets and waistcoats:
The livery jackets were yellow, but the cuffs, waistcoats and breeches were blue, again to comply with the rules regarding the use of heraldic colours . The silver buttons on the livery were also embossed with the Cavendish arms,not the crest:
Buttons should always be of the dominant metal in the Arms and charged with the master’s Badge- not his crest. The latter belongs exclusively to the bearers of the Arms; servants have no right whatever to them.
(Cussans, as above, page 316)
You might care to note that, because he had admired them on visit to Chatsworth, the 11th Duchess sent a set of these 18th century silver livery buttons to President John F. Kennedy as his inauguration gift .
This rear view shows the step where the footmen stood while they travelled with the family, and also gives a good view of the detail of the back of their liveries. Here is a slightly closer view:
This is, I hope you will agree, a wonderful example of the use of coaches and liveries to make a statement, according to the heraldic rules and regulations.
If you would like to see the clothes worn by the 11th Duke and Duchess ( and their son) at the Coronation, then do go here to my Pinterest Page on the Coronation of Elizabeth II. I won’t continue it here because it has precious little to do with Jane Austen, but you might like to know that the robe worn at the Coronation by Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire was thought originally to have been a set worn by Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, and they are quite breath-taking and very beautiful.
I shall be writing more about Chatsworth next year…in my celebration of the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Pride and Prejudice and I do hope you will join me.
at Sotheby’s this afternoon for £ 126,000 (plus buyers premium of 20%, making a total purchase piece of £152,450) to a bidder, identity currently unknown, who was bidding by telephone.
An announcement was made prior to the sale to the effect that tests have revealed that the stone in the ring is in fact a natural turquoise, and not odontolite as previously thought.
The first edition of Pride and Prejudice sold for £ 18,000:
The first edition of Mansfield Park sold for £4,200
The first edition of Emma was unsold, and bids up to £7,500 were received for it.
The first edition of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion sold for £3,200
The Trafalgar Sea Chest sold for £15,000.
Some other lots were unsold, notably a collection of letters written by William IV.Hmm…..
Post Script: Some of you have wondered if I was there, and the answer is no, I simply watched the auction online. Some of the comments made by the auctioneer were priceless. He seemed to be fascinated by internet bids, informing internet bidders that it is “against you, Mightly Internet” or “Internet , it is between you and your mouse”. One of the Jane Austen first editions had “some gatherings proud”, and he thought this was an entirely poetic way to describe a Jane Austen novel. Priceless. I can highly recommend watching these auctions online via Sotheby’s website.
All three episodes of BBC Radio’s adaptation of Persuasion have been broadcast this week on Radio 4 Extra. It was originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in February 2009.
It has been a treat to listen to them. Juliet Stevenson is a fabulous Anne, and Soracha Cusack -who plays the narrator, Jane Austen- has always been a favourite of mine since I saw her play Jane Eyre in 1974. this adaptation was written by Micheline Wandor and directed by Vanessa Whitburn.
If you have missed the broadcasts of any of the three episodes, you can Listen Again: Episode One is available for another 5 days, here; Episode 2 is available for 6 days, here, and finally, Episode 3 is available for another week, here.
A real treat, it even includes one of my favourite incidents, which is normally excluded from adaptations of this beautiful novel; Anne worrying Lady Russell has spotted Captain Wentworth walking in Bath when in reality she is only studying the designs of window treatments. I often think radio adaptations are my favourites: they can convey the internal workings of characters’ minds much better than films in many instances. And, while I might want to alter the editing a little, at least there are no visual anachronisms to make me grind my poor teeth (Oh, think of my poor teeth and their suffering over the years!) Do enjoy it!-and I understand this is currently available to all be you in the UK or not ;)
Andrea Galer the costume designer has, in conjunction with the Jane Austen Centre of Bath’s Online shop decided to auction some of her costumes from the 2007 ITV production of Persuasion, and from the BBC’s Miss Austen Regrets, the dramatised biography of Jane Austen’s life as seen from the perspective of the last few months of her life.
Here you can see two of the costumes that are going to be auctioned on E-Bay (UK). First, the violet dress worn by Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot in Persuasion:
and , below, the nightdress worn by the divine Olivia Williams as Jane Austen in Miss Austen Regrets:
If you go here to Andrea Galer’s own site, you can see that the princes these costumes can command are quite high. The auctions all begin at 99 pence and so are very tempting, I’m sure, for all you costume-lovers out there. The auction also includes items worn by Matthew McFaddeyn in the BBC production of The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope, and items from the BBC’s acclaimed production of Charles Dickens Bleak House.
The auction for all these items ends on Sunday 25th march, so good luck to any potential bidders out there!
A dear friend of mine, who loves the story of Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot in Persuasion , cherishes the notion that, after they are married, they took one of the lovely villas overlooking Lyme, set in the hills leading back from the sea front overlooking the Cobb, and live happily ever after there in sight of the sea and at the place where Wentworth’s admiration for all Anne’s admirable qualities (and not a little jealousy) was first revived. One such house is the subject of a restoration project and I thought you all might be interested to hear of it, and may even want to help out by giving donations.
Belmont, shown above, is a fascinating house on the hills that surround Lyme, overlooking the Cobb, where Louisa Musgrove took her unfortunate tumble.
It has intriguing historic and literary connections and the Landmark Trust , who now own the building, are trying to raise £2.1 million to restore it so that it can be used by the public as a rather special holiday let, and the adjoining stable block can be used as an exhibition space with full public access. The Landmark Trust is one of my favourite organisations. It saves and restores threatened historic buildings and gives them a new life and purpose. I’ve stayed in two of their lets: The East Banqueting House in Chipping Camden in the Cotswolds and Auchinleck House in Scotland.
The house was, until very recently, the home of the author, John Fowles , shown above, who loved Lyme with a passion, and who was also the curator of the Philpott Museum. He wanted the house to be saved for public use, and this wife has generously allowed the Landmark Trust to take on the building so that it can be renovated and re-opened. However it was the home a very famous woman of teh late 18th century, Eleanor Coade, who is famous for her “secret” formula used for creating a form of artificial stone which was more durable than natural stone and which took her name, Coade Stone.
The Coades were a West Country family, and Eleanor’s uncle built the house sometime before 1784 which was the date when it was transferred into her ownership. She embellished the house with her stone ornaments. Her business,based in Kings Arms Stairs, Narrow Walk, Lambeth, produced some of the most accurate and detailed stone ornaments and they were famed for their strength and durability,and of course, for their cheapness in comparison with stone which had been individually quarried and sculpted.
The ornaments,- made from moulds, were used by many of the most famous architects of the 18th and early 19th centuries. They included Robert Adam, James and Samuel Wyatt, Sir William Chambers, John Nash, and John Soane. Some of her most famous and quirky designs are to be found on the entrance to Twinnings tea shop and museum in The Strand in London.
(©Victor Grigas via Wilkepdia Commons)
©Robert Freidus via The Victorian Web,
The Chinese figures atop the pediment are made from Eleanor’s stone. Jane Austen know this place for she obtained tea from this long-established firm of tea merchants here and wrote to her sister, Cassandra of it in her letter, written from her brother Henry’s house in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, which is just a little further along the Strand:
I am sorry to hear that there has been a rise in tea. I do not mean to pay Twining till later in the day, when we may order a fresh supply.
(See letter dated March 5th 1814)
In her next letter to Cassandra of the 9th March she is annoyed with her mother for forgetting to reimburse her this extra cost:
I suppose my mother recollects that she gave me no money for paying Brecknell and Twining, and my funds will not supply enough.
Back to Belmont…Eleanor was a talented modeller in her own right and she exhibited at the Society of Artists between 1773 and 1780. As her mother’s name was the same as her own, it has for a long time been mistakenly assumed that Mrs Coade, her mother, ran the factory until her death in 1796, but , in fact,‘Mrs’ was a courtesy title given to any unmarried woman in business at that time, recent research by Alison Kelly ,who has written Mrs Coades biography, into bills in the firm’s archive show that Eleanor Coade , and not her mother, was in charge of the firm from 1771. Her “stone” has recently been analyzed and has been shown to be a ceramic material,which is why it has been more durable than stone, even though it has the appearance of it.
Belmont boasts many examples of her stoneware, and as her works are no longer in existence, it would seem that this house, where she lived, could be one of the main monuments to her taste, art and skill. These include the rusticated ornament around the entrance, below…
The swagged frieze around the parapet…
and the masks on the key stones around the building…
including this very appropriately nautical example which depicts Neptune, the god of the sea, which is to be found on the main entrance to the house:
The house was in existence when Jane Austen visited Lyme, in 1804, so it is very probable that she saw it when walking about the lower part of the town, on looking up towards the surrounding hills, and she may even has passed by it on one of her walks around the area.
The Landmark Trust’s plans for the house can be seen here, below, in a video of their house and its history. If you can help with any donations I am sure they will all be gratefully received.
“There! you see!” cried Mary, in an ecstacy; “just as I said! Heir to Sir Walter Elliot! I was sure that would come out, if it was so. Depend upon it, that is a circumstance which his servants take care to publish, wherever he goes. But, Anne, only conceive how extraordinary! I wish I had looked at him more. I wish we had been aware in time who it was, that he might have been introduced to us. What a pity that we should not have been introduced to each other! Do you think he had the Elliot countenance? I hardly looked at him, I was looking at the horses; but I think he had something of the Elliot countenance. I wonder the arms did not strike me! Oh! the great-coat was hanging over the pannel, and hid the arms, so it did; otherwise, I am sure, I should have observed them, and the livery too; if the servant had not been in mourning, one should have known him by the livery.”
Persuasion, Chapter 12.
Last week I bored you all silly by my explanations of livery, the significance of livery colours and how they were worn in Jane Austen’s era by certain servants of the rich. Today I’d like to consider livery and coaches, for it is an integral part of the livery story and we ought to discuss it for the sake of completeness.
The passage from Persuasion quoted above is so gloriously funny-I love the way this glimpse of William Walter sets Mary Musgrove on to long descriptions of the Elliot Countenance -( shade of Mrs Austen and the Austen nose, perhaps?) – but it draws our attention to how livery was used, and how significant it was. Because Mr Elliot’s servant is in mourning for Mr Elliot’s dead wife, -he is wearing black, not the usual livery of a coachman- Mary Musgrove is unable to recognise the orange cuffs and capes of the Elliot livery. She was also frustrated in making a positive identification of her father’s errant heir by the fact that his Arms, painted onto the side panel of his curricle, are hidden from view by a great-coat.
If you were wealthy enough to afford a carriage and all its attendant expenses, and, of course, you were possessed of Arms, then you could have these painted on your coach to announce to the world just who was the owner of the vehicle. Jane Austen’s father, George Austen, at one point owned a carriage when they lived at Steventon, and this was decorated with teh Austen crest. In Jane Austen : A Family Record by Deirdre le Faye, we find these comments:
It seems that by now Mr Austen’s income was reasonably good, because entries in his bank account suggest that in the summer of 1784 he brought a chariot- a small carriage drawn by two horses and carrying three passengers- for the benefit of his wife and daughters.
Anna Austen, the daughter of Jane’s eldest brother, James Austen, wrote about local rumours that spread about the carriage -which was either new or newly repainted-at the time of her uncle, Henry Austen’s marriage to Eliza de Feuillide in December 1797, and this is also quoted in Le Faye’s book:
About the time of Mr Henry Austen’s marriage with his first Wife his father set up a carriage which not unnaturally, joe on its panels( pic) the family crest; namely a Stag on a Crown Mural. The latter circumstance was accounted for, in his own way, by a neighbouring Squire, who reported that “Mr Austen had put a coronet on his carriage because of his son’s being married to a French Countess”.
THis is one of George Austen’s bookplates, and it is decorated with the Austen crest, quite as Anna Austen described it. This would have appeared on his coach, on the side door panel. The squire mentioned by Anna Austen- a Digweed?- obvious was not aware that Mr Austen was entitle to bear his own arms and crest. The glory of the Austen’s coach was short lived: in 1798 it was put away in storage for new taxes imposed on carriage owners made it far too expensive for George Austen to continue to maintain.
If we look at some images of carriage from the time, it will become clear as to where the Arms would have been on show. These images are all taken from my copy of William Felton’s Treaties on Carriages: comprehending coaches, chariots, phaetons, curricles, whiskeys, &c. : together with their proper harness (1794). Fenton was a London coachmaker and his book, in two volumes, gives us a mass of intricate detail as to how carriages in the late 18th century were made, complete with all their fittings.
The first we shall consider is a chariot, in this case a neat town chariot.
You can see, and do remember you can enlarge all these images by clicking on them, in order to examine the details, that the coat of arms of the owner and his crest are placed centrally on the door and side panel of the coach. You can appreciate that the arms and crest of the owner are clearly visible and would be very noticeable to any passer-by.
And here, below, is an image of an elegant Chariot, very elaborately decorated, but again with the arms of the owner clearly visible on the door panel.
Mr Elliot is riding from Lyme to Bath in a curricle, that smart gentleman-about-town’s vehicle so beloved of Charles Musgrove, who was eager to compare it with his own,
They had nearly done breakfast, when the sound of a carriage (almost the first they had heard since entering Lyme) drew half the party to the window. It was a gentleman’s carriage, a curricle, but only coming round from the stable-yard to the front door — somebody must be going away. It was driven by a servant in mourning.
Here is Felton’s impression of a Proper Curricle:
Here is Felton’s page illustrating the different ways in which Arms could be used to decorate a coach:
They range from the simple to the hideous in my very humble opinion.Here is his price list for adding such ornament to a vehicle :
So, that is why Mary Musgrove’s attempts to identify the owner of the curricle were stymied: in this case neither the arms nor the livery of the servant could help her because neither were on show.
I ought to tell you, however that, had Mr Elliot been in a larger coach, and had he and his servant not been in mourning for his unlamented wife, there was another way to discern the identity of the owner. Hammer clothes, which covered the coachman’s seat and which could be very decorative items, were also another way to identify the family’s livery, as they were often made in livery colours and could be embroidered with representations of the family’s coat of arms. Here is Felton’s description of them:
Hammer-cloths are among the principal ornaments in a carriage; they are a cloth covering to the coachman’s seat, made to various patterns agreeable to the occupier’s fancy. The fullness of the plaiting of the cloth , its depth and the quality of the trimmings thereon proportions the expense (sic-jfw) to almost any amount…
And here are some very elaborate examples:
John Cussans , in The Handbook of Heraldry, tells us that
The Colours of Hammercloths are regulated by the same laws as liveries.
Now, I have no reference for this but I doubt that a colourful hammer cloth covered in gold or silver lace and made in the heraldic colours of a family’s livery would be on show at a time of full mourning. If the servant who normally would have worn livery was dressed in black due to the custom of mourning, then I feel sure that a hammer cloth would also be subdued in hue. So if one had been on display it would still not have helped Mary Musgrove locate the owners identity in the inn- yard at Lyme. But as Mr Elliot was in a curricle and not a larger coach, no hammer cloth was to be seen. Poor Mary, therefore could only rely on her interpretation of The Elliot Countenance, and the information supplied to them by the waiter.
Yesterday we talked about coats of arms, heraldic colours and how important they were for determining the colours of liveries. Today, let’s look at the practical application of all we learnt. We know that the colours on a family’s coat of arms (or, more simply, Arms) were to be used as the colours of their livery uniforms, for…
A gentleman may wear garments of any colour his fancy may dictate but he is not permitted such license with regard to the uniforms of his servants: the colours of these depend entirely upon the tinctures upon his Escutcheon.
(J. Cussans, The Handbook of Heraldry (1869) page 314.)
But how did this work? Cussans tell us…
In both ( the Escutcheon and the livery-jfw) the dominant colour should be the same: the subsidiary colour of the livery ( or as a tailor would call it, the trimmings – that is, the collar, cuffs, lining and buttons) should be the colour of the principal charge.
So, Cussans now gives us some examples:
For example, a gentleman bears arms Azure( Blue-jfw) a Fess Or ( Gold-jfw); in this case the coats of the servants should be blue faced with yellow. But, supposing the tinctures were reversed and that the Field were “or” and the Fess “azure”, how then? Would the coat be yellow and the facings blue? No, custom has decided that we must not dress our servants in golden coats. Instead of yellow we should employ drab.
So, in George Austen’s case, had he ever possessed the resources to dress a footman in livery, we can see, from the Austen family coat of arms below,
his livery would have taken the form of a drab coat with red facings. This is because,,on his coat of arms the field( the principal part) is coloured Or (gold) and as we must not dress our servants in golden coats, the coat would be made in a coat of drab coloured cloth. Note that Drab was not just a single color, but rather a range of colors in the grey-brown family. It is originally thought to refer to the natural color of linen cloth. The Chevron on the arms is gules(red) and so the facings of the Austen livery coat- the collar, cuffs etc would be red, for that is not the dominant but the secondary colour.
Cussans give us some more examples:
Argent ; a Lion rampant azure. Coat light drab; Facings, blue.
Gules; an Eagle displayed or, within a Bourdure argent Coat, claret or chocolate; Facings, yellow; buttons and Hat-band, silver.
Or; a Fess cheque argent and azure, bewteen a Mullet in chief gules, and a Crescent of the the third in base. Coat, dark drab; Facings, blue; Buttons and Hat -band, silver; and to represent the Mullet, the edges of the coat might be bound with red, or the rim of the hat looped up with red cord.
(Cussans, as above, page 315)
To get back to one of Jane Austen’s characters, we know that Sir Walter Elliot has orange cuffs on his livery:
”Then I take it for granted,” observed Sir Walter, “that his face is about as orange as the cuffs and capes of my livery.”
Persuasion, Chapter 3
Therefore, applying the rules we now know, this would indicate that the stain ( colour), Tenné ,which is similar to the untutored eye to the colour orange, was included in a secondary way on the Elliot coat of arms. Patric Baty tell us here that this Heraldic colour or tincture had a specific attribute; ambition. I suppose this is very fitting for the socially ambitious Sir Walter, as evidenced by his desperate attempts to be received by Lady Dalrymple in Bath. I’m sure Jane Austen would be aware of what she was insinuating when she gave his livery orange cuffs and capes.
The details of the livery were also decided by heraldic rules.
Buttons should always be of the dominant metal in the Arms and charged with the master’s Badge- not his crest. The latter belongs exclusively to the bearers of the Arms; servants have no right whatever to them.
(Cussans, as above, page 316)
Therefore, George Austen’s servants would wear gold coloured buttons and not silver. Here are some examples of Livery Buttons, from the early to mid 19th century:
It might interest you to note that there were special rules for widow’s servants liveries:
The uniform Livery of widows is white with black facings.
(Cussans, as above, page 315)
Im sure that Lady Russell’s liveried servants at Kellynch lodge would have worn this livery.
There are also special rules regarding the wearing of cockades by servants in their hats:
It is usually held that the privilege ( of a wearing cockades-jfw) is confined to the servants of officers in the Soverign’s service, or those who by courtesy may be regarded as such; the theory being that the servant is a private soldier, who, when not wearing his uniform retains this badge as a mark of his profession. Doctors’ servants, though frequently to be seen wearing Cockades, have no right to them whatsoever, unless their master’s names are to be found in the Army or Navy List.
The Cockade worn by the servants of military officers is composed of black leather, arranged in the form of a corrugated cone and surmounted by a cresting like a fan half opened ( fig 327, above). The servants of naval officers, deputy-lieutenants and gentlemen holding distinct offices under the Soverign bear a plain Cockade as at fig.328. In both cases the ribbon in the centre may be either black or of the Livery colours.
Epaulettes could also be part of the livery uniform: but they were only worn by servants of gentlemen who were entitled to have their servants wear Cockades.
The male servant in the double portrait above, one Daniel Taylor, wears a livery coat of blue with yellow facings, silver buttons and epaulettes of gold. That would indicate that his master was a gentleman, in military service, whose arms had the dominant colour of Azure,(blue) with a secondary colour or Or ( gold) and with some use of Argent ( silver),and this would accord with the fact that his master was John Frederick Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset (24 March 1745–19 July 1799), a rather dissolute character, but who never the less served teh Crown as an ambassador and was as Lord Lieutenant of Kent.
This is a fascinating portrait for it shows Daniel and another female servant, Elinor Low. She does not wear a specific uniform, note. It was painted in 1783 by Arnold Almond and is included in John Styles book, The Dress of the People.
Next, in this series, why servants dressed in liveries were seriously expensive status symbols ;)
“He is rear admiral of the white. He was in the Trafalgar action, and has been in the East Indies since; he has been stationed there, I believe, several years.”
“Then I take it for granted,” observed Sir Walter, “that his face is about as orange as the cuffs and capes of my livery.”
Persuasion, Chapter 3
My mention of liveried servants in yesterday’s review of the book, Vauxhall Gardens: A History has prompted quite a number of you to contact me to enquire about liveries.There seems to be some confusion out there- some thinking the these were merely fancy costumes, picked out on a whim by employers-others not knowing what they looked like at all, so I’ve decided to write about them in the next few posts. I do hope you won’t be bored.
Liveries are mentioned by Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice and in Persuasion. What exactly were they ? For this answer we have to undertake a little history lesson. My authority for most of today’s content is The Handbook of Heraldry (1869) by John E. Cussans, and I’m using this mid-19th century book because it refers to the 18th century use of liveries, and also because changes in the world of Heraldry, like the mills of the Gods, grind exceeding slow:
This is a fascinating book; a well written, plain explanation of this rather complex subject. Today we will look at what it has to say about the history of livery uniforms.
The custom of distributing clothes -or what in the present day would be styled uniforms- amongst the servants of the Crown- such as Judges, Ministers ,Stewards etc- date from a period nearly coeval with the Conquest.( circa 1066A.D.-jfw) This distribution was termed a “Livreé”: hence the more recent expression, “Livery”.
…the great feudal barons subsequently distributed liveries amongst their dependants and retainers. It must not be considered that the wearing of liveries was confined exclusively to the menial servants of the household, as at present, or was considered in any way more degrading than an officer of the Crown regards his distinctive uniform. The son of a duke would wear the livery of the prince under whom he served; and an earl’s soon might don the livery of a duke, without derogating from his dignity.
The practice of allowing some servants to wear liveries eventually became the only example of such marks of distinction being worn:
The primary purpose Liveries were intended to serve has long since been forgotten amongst us, and our coachmen and footmen alone remain as representatives of the splendour which once marked the households of the feudal nobility.
It ought to be remembered that during the late 18th century/early 19th century most household servants did not wear a distinctive uniform, such as we are used to seeing in adaptations of fictional Edwardian households such as in Downtown Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs. Female servants wore what was practical, and often wore cast-offs from their mistresses, though moralists detested this practise. Sophie von La Roche wrote, during her travels in London in 1786 of the serving girls she saw in the streets of London:
…the maids, women of middle class and the children. The former almost all wear black taminy petticoats and heavily stitched, and over these long English Calico or linen frocks, though not so long and close-fitting to the body as our tailors and taste cut and point them. Further they mostly wear white aprons; though the servants and working women often appear in striped linen aprons
Never did a landlord seem so beloved, or indeed deserve to be so, for he is a most worthy man, and in however high a stile( sic-jfw) a man lives in in town, which he certainly does, real benevolence is more distinguishable in a family at their country -seat, and none do more good than where we now are. Then everything here is regularity itself , but the master’s method is, I take it, now become the method of the servants by use as well as choice.
Nothing but death make a servant leave them. The old housekeeper has now been there one-and-fifty years; the butler two or three-and-thirty……I was surprised to see them all ,except on Sundays, in green stuff gowns, and on my inquiring of Miss Jackson how they all happened to fix so on one particular colour, she told me a green camblet for a gown used for many years to be an annual present of her mothers to those servants who behaved well, and had been so many years in her family, and that now indeed, as they all behaved well, and had lived there much longer than the limited term, this was constantly their master’s New Year gift.
I thought this in Mr Jackson a pretty compliment to his lady’s memory, as well as testimony of the domestics still deserving of his good opinion.
See page 4, Passages from the Diaries of Mrs Philip Lybbe Powys of Hardwick House, OXON(1756-1808) edited by Emily Climenson (1899)
Some people,Daniel Defoe amongst them, thought that female servants should all adopt a modest uniform, as quoted in Anne Buck’s magnificent book , Dress in Eighteenth-Century England. Female servants very often received fine dresses as perks of the job. And many employers didn’t seem to object to those dresses being worn by the said female servants. As Anne Buck concludes:
Contact with well dressed women developed the eye and taste of many serving maids and helped them to dress with understanding of the fashion they followed. The absence of any uniform, on or off duty, left them free to follow fashions according to their own taste and means.
If they dressed too finely for their station they might be censured, but the readiness of women to pass on their own clothes to their servants shows there was no sharp division of dress, nor even a social convention against servants occasionally buying the same garment at the same time as their mistress :
“Nancy bought of Bagshaw this mornings…a very genteel Shawl at 10 shillings. Both my maids brought 2 Shawls the same as Nancy.”
Parson Woodeford records this as a fact without any judgement or comment.
For some male servants, however as we have note, the situation was different and a uniform was provided by the employer. Footmen and coachmen wore liveries, if they were entitled to by the social rank of their employer. In our next post, we shall look at these uniforms and their colours in more detail.
I was very kindly invited to an evening at the Lyme Regis Museum recently, to celebrate a very important gift ( or, more correctly, a series of gifts) that have been made to the Museum’s collection by Diana Shervington.
©The Philpott Museum Lyme Regis
Diana, pictured at the evening, above, is, as you know, descended doubly from Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Knight,( booth her grandmothers were his grand-daughters) and she has given many a talk at the museum using Austen family relics to illustrate them. She has now decided to donate these items to the museum permanently, and they will be on show there as part of the permanent collection.
©The Philpott Museum Lyme Regis
The items she so generously donated include those in the photograph above: spectacles and their case which both belonged to Mrs Austen, Jane Austen’s mother; a set of “spilkins” a game at which Jane Austen excelled according to The Memoir of her written by her nephew, James Edward Austen Leigh;
Jane Austen was successful in everything that she attempted with her fingers. None of us could throw spilikins in so perfect a circle, or take them off with so steady a hand.
A set of bone counters inscribed with the alphabet rather like the ones mentioned in the word game section of Chapter 41 of Emma,and some gaming fish.
She also donated some bone counters and a box for the game of “Merelles”; a kerchief with lace edging and a very lovely and fine lace cap worn by ladies indoors during Jane Austen’s era. Go here to see all the items and read about the evening which I sadly could not attend due to previous commitments.
So…this very generous donation now gives us all another excuse to visit that lovely town in Dorset, with its remarkable situation:
… the principal street almost hurrying into the water, the walk to the Cobb, skirting round the pleasant little bay, which in the season is animated with bathing-machines and company; the Cobb itself, its old wonders and new improvements, with the very beautiful line of cliffs stretching out to the east of the town, are what the stranger’s eye will seek; and a very strange stranger it must be, who does not see charms in the immediate environs of Lyme, to make him wish to know it better. The scenes in its neighbourhood, Charmouth, with its high grounds and extensive sweeps of country, and still more its sweet, retired bay, backed by dark cliffs, where fragments of low rock among the sands make it the happiest spot for watching the flow of the tide, for sitting in unwearied contemplation; the woody varieties of the cheerful village of Up Lyme; and, above all, Pinny, with its green chasms between romantic rocks, where the scattered forest-trees and orchards of luxuriant growth declare that many a generation must have passed away since the first partial falling of the cliff prepared the ground for such a state, where a scene so wonderful and so lovely is exhibited, as may more than equal any of the resembling scenes of the far-famed Isle of Wight: these places must be visited, and visited again to make the worth of Lyme understood.
Persuasion, Chapter 11.
and it is, of course, where Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth’s love began to revive, and where Jane Austen herself appeared to have been so happy attending balls at the Assembly Rooms and renting Mr Pynes house.
I should like to thank the Museum for permission to use their lovely images in this post.
Yesterday an exhibition devoted to examining the life and works of the 18th century painter, Johan Zoffany, opened at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut. Johan Zoffany R.A: Society Observed will run there until the 12th February 2012, and then it will transfer to London to the Royal Academy, where it will be on show from the 10th March until the 10th June 2012.
Mary Webster, who has made a very special study of the life and works of Zoffany has written an amazing book to accompany the exhibit, and this has also been published by Yale.
I can’t review the exhibit yet, but I can write about the book, as I’ve been reading it for the past couple of months. Zoffany was born in 1733 near Frankfurt am Maim. His family was associated with the local court and then moved to Regensburg. Zoffany received his art education in Rome, which he visited on two occasions and then became court painter to the elector of Trier. Below, is his self portrait:
After his marriage in 1760 he moved to London to try his luck as an artist. He set up a studio in Covent Garden, where he came to the notice of the leading actor of the day, David Garrick. Other actors flocked to his studios to be immortalised in oils.The patronage of Garrick brought him to the attention of the powerful and the great, most notably The Earl of Bute who gave him many family commissions. The Earl was the young George III’s prime minister, and so it was probably through this link that Zoffany began to receive court commissions. It also helped that he spoke German as a first language,and he received many commissions and help from Queen Charlotte, George III’s wife, who was, of course, German.
His paintings of the royal family are very familiar- and so I will not comment on them here. What I found interesting, on reading the book, were his portraits of lesser known individuals, as below in his portrait of Charles Francois Dumergue, then London’s most fashionable dentist. Mr Dumergue, who was born in France , was Dentist to the Royal Family. The painting dates from 1780-81:
His official title was Court Operator of the Teeth. He was also dentist to the Prince of Wales from 1785 until 1814. He was a great friend of Zoffany and their friendship lasted all their lives. He was also great friend with Matthew Boulton and James Watt the inventors and engineers, and also with Sir Walter Scott. This portrait by Zoffany, below, of Sophia Dunmergue , Mr Dumergue’s daughter, dates from the same period:
Zoffany’s great conversation pieces, painted in London, are also well-known and my favourite is of the Sharpe family:
Here they all are, on a musical water party sailing on the Thames near Fulham. The family is shown as the sort of people you would love to meet: talented, musical, interesting, fun. The family included Granville Sharp ,the lawyer : he is shown holding a sheet of music for his sister,Elizabeth Prowse, who is playing the fortepiano. You can see them in the centre of the picture. Granville Sharp was of course,the principal agent in fighting the very famous case of James Somersett, the black slave, wihc was heard before Lord Mansfield, and as Mary Webster remarks:
It was in this case that Mansfield in 1772 pronounced his famous verdict that Somersett must go free since no English law sanctioned slavery. Sharp consequently founded the Society for the Abolition of Slavery…
This is all very well, I hear you say, but is there any more to Zoffany to make him an object of interest to we Janeites? The answer is, yes. Empahtically, yes. For, in 1783 he travelled to India to paint there. Professional disappointments and a lack of commissions forced him to look elsewhere than England for work. And he looked to the world of Warren Hastings, the Governor General of Bengal, shown below, in a portrait with his second wife, Marian, and her Indian servant:
Warren Hastings gave Zoffany his enthusiastic patronage. And this is the interesting link, for Hastings had many associations with Jane Austen’s family. He had known Jane’s mother’s family, the Leighs of Adlestrop since childhood. He entrusted the care of his son from his first marriage to Mr and Mrs Austen, when they were first married and living at Deane in Hampshire. Seven year old George Hastings was the Reverend Austen’s first pupil, sent back to England from India to be educated. Sadly, he died while in their care, in 1764 of a “putrid throat”.His death affected Mrs Austen dreadfully. Mrs Austen had become so much attached to him that she always
declared that his death had been as great a grief to her as if he had been a child of her own
(Quoted in Jane Austen: A Family Record by Deirdre Le Faye, page 18)
Mr Austen’s sister, Philadelphia also knew Hastings. A poor but genteel woman, she travelled to India to find a husband in 1752 and married the elderly Tysoe Hancock in 1753. Both she and her elderly husband were close friends with him. He was godfather to their only daughter, Eliza, known to us all as the glamourous Countess de Feuillide, and then wife of Jane Austen’s brother, Henry . Sadly, hurtful gossip surrounded this group of friends:
The close friendship between Hastings and the Hancock’s coupled with the fact that the latter had been childless for so long before Betsey’s birth, gave scope for spiteful gossip to suggest that she was not Hancock’s daughter. The rumour was spread by the malicious Mrs Strachey, whose husband was secretary to Lord Clive and her slander was successful in so far as Clive wrote to his wife in the late summer of 1765: “In no circumstances whatever keep company with Mrs Hancock for it is beyond a doubt that she abandoned herself with Mr Hastings, indeed I would rather you had no acquaintance with the ladies who have been in India, they stand in such little esteem in England that their company cannot be of credit to Lady Clive”
(Le Faye, as above, page 30)
Whatever the case regarding the parentage of Eliza, Zoffany’s works painted while he lived in India give us a rare glimpse into the strange world that Philadelphia Austen moved to in order to survive : and the world the the Crofts in Persuasion inhabited:
“What a great traveller you must have been, ma’am!” said Mrs. Musgrove to Mrs. Croft.
“Pretty well, ma’am, in the fifteen years of my marriage; though many women have done more. I have crossed the Atlantic four times, and have been once to the East Indies and back again, and only once; besides being in different places about home: Cork, and Lisbon, and Gibraltar. But I never went beyond the Streights, and never was in the West Indies. We do not call Bermuda or Bahama, you know, the West Indies.”
Persuasion, Chapter 8
and the place where Colonel Brandon saw active service;
But can we wonder that with such a husband to provoke inconstancy, and without a friend to advise or restrain her, (for my father lived only a few months after their marriage, and I was with my regiment in the East Indies), she should fall? Had I remained in England, perhaps — but I meant to promote the happiness of both by removing from her for years, and for that purpose had procured my exchange.
This is a fascinating portrait by Zoffany of the Blair family , painted in 1786-7. Colonel William Blair was originally of Balthayock in Perthshire, but ,when painted with his family, was then Colonel of the Bengal Army and commandant of the garrison of Chunar 20 miles above Benares.
This is another conversation piece of the Impey family dating from 17883. Sir Elijah Impey was a lawyer and judge. Note the Indian band in the background, and just how exhausted poor Mrs Impey looks in the heat.
The chapters dealing with Zoffany’s life and work in India are fascinating.Mary Webster’s exquisite research into the lives of the sitter and the servants provides us with a wonderful and detailed view of word of the English and servants of the East India company in India. I am throughly enjoying savouring this very new topic, espaillaly as it is something that seems to have held a stung hold on the young Jane Austen’s imagination: she wrote about life in India in both her juvenilia and her adult works.
This book is worth having for the joy of reading these Indian chapters, but , as you can see from this cursory review, there is much, much more to be enjoyed. Mary Wester’s prose is very readable and informative. She gives fascinating details of late 18th century life to answer the questions that natually arise when studying Zoffany’s works in detail. It’s a heavy tome, and very expensive at £75, but I can truly recommend it to you
Today, the 21st October, is the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. This decisive sea battle between the French (and their allies the Spanish) and English fleets took place in 1805. Jane Austen lived through this perilous period, and makes one direct reference to this battle in Persuasion. It is in Chapter 3 when Anne Elliot, while helping Mr Shepherd explain who is destined to be Sir Walter Elliot’s tenant, also reveals to us her keen interest in the fortunes of all the members of her beloved Frederick Wentworth’s family:
“And who is Admiral Croft?” was Sir Walter’s cold suspicious inquiry.
Mr. Shepherd answered for his being of a gentleman’s family, and mentioned a place; and Anne, after the little pause which followed, added –
“He is rear admiral of the white. He was in the Trafalgar action, and has been in the East Indies since; he has been stationed there, I believe, several years.”
Jane Austen, of course, was vitally interested in the fortunes of Nelson’s navy, not only as a patriotic Englishwoman, but because her brothers Frank and Charles were naval officers. Frank, below, served directly under Nelson as one of his captains. Indeed, Nelson wrote admiringly of him:
I hope to see [Captain Austen] alongside a French 80-gun ship, and he cannot be better placed than in the ‘Canopus’, which was once a French Admiral’s ship, and stuck to me. Captain Austen I knew a little of before; he is an excellent young man.
(quoted in Jane Austen: A Family Record by DeirdreLe Faye, page 151)
For most of 1805 Frank was involved in chasing the French fleet and its commander, Admiral Villeneuve, across the Atlantic to the West Indies and then back again to the entrance of the Mediterranean near the Straits of Gibraltar. Below is a scan of my copy of Kelly’s map of Spain and Portugal dating from 1816, which you can enlarge to see the detail:
This is a section of it showing the position of Cadiz and the Straits of Gibraltar:
Villeneuve and his fleet were kept blockaded in Cadiz by the British during the whole month of September. Nelson arrived on The Victory on September 28th and then Frank was ordered to Gibraltar to “complete supplies”, and then on to Cartagena to help protect a convoy which was en route to Malta, further into the Mediterranean to the east. As a result, he missed the action at Trafalgar, a circumstance he had feared might occur, as is revealed in this later to the woman who was his fiancée and future wife , Mary Gibson. Note this letter was actually written on the day of the battle:
Our situation is peculiarly unpleasant and distressing, for if they escape Lord Nelson’s vigilance and get into the Mediterranean, which is not very likely, we shall be obliged, with our small force, to keep out of their way; and on the other hand, should an action take place, it must be decided long before we could possibly get down even were the wind fair, which at present it is not. As I have no doubt but the event would be highly honourable to our arms, and be at the same time productive of some good prizes, I shall have to lament our absence on such an occasion on a double account, the loss of pecuniary advantage as well as of professional credit. And after having been so many months in a state of constant and unremitting fag, to be at last cut out by a parcel of folk just come from their homes, where some of them were sitting at their ease the greater part of last war, and the whole of this, till just now, is particularly hard and annoying.
“You, perhaps, may not feel this so forcibly as I do, and in your satisfaction at my having avoided the danger of battle may not much regret my losing the credit of having contributed to gain a victory; not so myself!
“I do not profess to like fighting for its own sake, but if there have been an action with the combined fleets I shall ever consider the day on which I sailed from the squadron as the most inauspicious one of my life.
And so it was: Frank missed the action, the decisive sea battle victory over the French, and regretted it bitterly, as he told Mary in his next letter to her , dated 27th October, a letter which was first published in Jane Austen’s Sailor Brothers by J.H. and E .C. Hubback:
Alas! my dearest Mary, all my fears are but too fully justified. The fleets have met, and, after a very severe contest, a most decisive victory has been gained by the English twenty-seven over the enemy’s thirty-three. Seventeen of the ships are taken and one is burnt; but I am truly sorry to add that this splendid affair has cost us many lives, and amongst them the most invaluable one to the nation, that of our gallant, and ever-to-be-regreted, Commander-in-Chief, Lord Nelson, who was mortally wounded by a musket shot, and only lived long enough to know his fleet successful.
And that was the rub, the bitter in so much sweet. Nelson died as a result of injuries sustained in the battle. Frank Austen paid tribute to him in the same letter:
In a public point of view, I consider his loss as the greatest which could have occurred; nor do I hesitate to say there is not an Admiral on the list so eminently calculated for the command of a fleet as he was. I never heard of his equal, nor do I expect again to see such a man. To the soundest judgment he united prompt decision and speedy execution of his plans; and he possessed in a superior degree the happy talent of making every class of persons pleased with their situation and eager to exert themselves in forwarding the public service. As a national benefit I cannot but rejoice that our arms have been once again successful, but at the same time I cannot help feeling how very unfortunate we have been to be away at such a moment, and, by a fatal combination of unfortunate though unavoidable events, to lose all share in the glory of a day which surpasses all which ever went before, is what I cannot think of with any degree of patience; but, as I cannot write upon that subject without complaining, I will drop it for the present, till time and reflection reconcile me a little more to what I know is now inevitable.
Nelson’s body was returned to England, and lay in state at Greenwich. He was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral, with all the pomp of a state funeral. This is a picture of his tomb in the crypt :
Today in Britain, Trafalgar Day is not celebrated as a public holiday as it was during the mid 19th century, though recently politicians have tried to revive the idea that the Monday nearest the date be reinstated as a bank holiday. But the Sea Cadets do celebrate it on theSunday nearest the 21st October. Members of the Sea Cadets all over the country parade in towns to celebrate the great sea victory still .In London 500 sea cadets parade in Trafalgar Square under the beady eye of Nelson’s statue on his column in the square. This square, and its commemorative column did not, of course, exist in Jane Austen’s day. But I daresay her sentiments regarding the battle, especially knowing that Frank escaped injury, may have been similar to how she expressed her feelings on hearing of deaths in battles in the Peninsular War
How horrible it is to have so many people killed! And what a blessing that one cares for none of them!
(Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 31st May 1811)
Only very recently a rather beautiful exhibit closed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. A friend visited it and was able to confirm that this small exhibit ( not one of their blockbusters, you understand, but one of the many small exhibitions they run, year on year) was tiny but very sumptuous. Sadly ( Oh! How sadly!)I couldn’t make it to New York to see it myself, but was pleased to note that the Museum, in association with Yale Publishing have produced a small but beautiful book/catalogue of the exhibit, and that is what I am reviewing here.
Pastel portraits are wonderful things. I have for a long time loved this portrait in pastels of George III as a young man commissioned from jean Etienne Liotard by George’s mother, the Dowager Princess of Wales. This is still in the Royal Collection, and is simply a breathtaking piece of work:
And this sumptuous portrait of Horace Walpole by Rosalba Carriera, below, executed while he was on his Grand Tour was a highlight for me of the recent Walpole exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
During the 18th century, technological advances ment that for a short time, fashionable Europe became enamoured of these portraits. As Marjorie Shelly writes in the book:
The innovations that spurred the rising popularity of pastel were products of the Enlightenment, an era that held great respect for the manufacturing trades and crafts and had faith in the practical application of science and the arts to advance commerce and industry…In the spirit of fostering progress and the commercial advantages resulting from it, makers of crayons, paper and fixatives experimented with increasingly softer pastels, more tenacious supports and invisible nondarkening coatings…Practical infomration poured forth as well from encyclopaedias, dictionaries, journals and manuals on the artisanal aspects of pastel..the appeal of pastel was also one of economics and convenience. For artists crayon portraiture was a lucrative business that could compete in the same market place as oil painting. George Vertue, the engraver whose notebooks were the basis for Horace Walpole’s”Anecdotes of Panting in England”observed, for most practitioners pastels were “much easier in the execution than Oil colours” as the costs were lower and the handling more rapid.
And of course one of the most appealing aspects of pastel portraiture, as I do hope you can see by close examination of the portraits reproduced here ( if you click on them they will enlarge for you), was that these paintings in dry colour were able, better than any other medium, to portray their subjects skin and its texture. They could convey an idea of its bloom, that most desirable aspect of a person and especially a woman’s beauty, which defined her appeal to the 18th century eye.
As we know from Persuasion and the story of Anne Elliot and the early loss of her bloom, losing that sheen of youth from her skin had a devastating effect on her appeal and reflected her extreme depression:
A few months had seen the beginning and the end of their acquaintance; but, not with a few months ended Anne’s share of suffering from it. Her attachment and regrets had, for a long time, clouded every enjoyment of youth; and an early loss of bloom and spirits had been their lasting effect.
That devastating moment when she realised Wentworth thought her altered beyond recognition, is hard to bear, for both Anne and we readers:
“Altered beyond his knowledge!” Anne fully submitted, in silent, deep mortification. Doubtless it was so, and she could take no revenge, for he was not altered, or not for the worse. She had already acknowledged it to herself, and she could not think differently, let him think of her as he would. No: the years which had destroyed her youth and bloom had only given him a more glowing, manly, open look, in no respect lessening his personal advantages. She had seen the same Frederick Wentworth.
Luckily, happiness, the sea air at Lyme and escaping the confines of Kellynch brings back her bloom ( and not, do note is any of this due to the effects of applying Gowlands Lotion!) and with it, Wentworth’s admiration:
When they came to the steps leading upwards from the beach, a gentleman, at the same moment preparing to come down, politely drew back, and stopped to give them way. They ascended and passed him; and as they passed, Anne’s face caught his eye, and he looked at her with a degree of earnest admiration which she could not be insensible of. She was looking remarkably well; her very regular, very pretty features, having the bloom and freshness of youth restored by the fine wind which had been blowing on her complexion, and by the animations of eye which it had also produced. It was evident that the gentleman (completely a gentleman in manner) admired her exceedingly. Captain Wentworth looked round at her instantly in a way which shewed his noticing of it. He gave her a momentary glance, a glance of brightness, which seemed to say, “That man is struck with you, and even I, at this moment, see something like Anne Elliot again.”
The portraits produced did have some important drawbacks. They could not be permanently displayed, for constant exposure to light ruined them, and they had to be protected from the elements, dust and enquiring fingers by a sheet of glass. They could not be moved much either as vibration caused the pastel particles to detach from the paper surface, thus ruining the whole effect. These drawbacks meant that the fashion for pastel portraits began to wane during the 1770s.
By the late 1790s watercolour and conte crayon were being promoted by the art and philosophical societies and pastel had become “a style now quite unfashionable” Not until the 1870s would the medium be reintroduced in its full glory by the Impressionists.
However, some unfashionable souls still commissioned pastel portraits, and the catalogue includes quite a few from the dates 1790-1810. This portrait of the sculptor Antonio Canova ( 1790) by Hugh Douglas Hamilton is a fine example,
And this delightful work by John Russell of Mrs Robert Shurlock and her daughter Ann, dating from 1801, reminds me forcibly of Isabella Knightley and Little Bella.
This fascinating but small book is illustrated with 50 full colour pictures of the pastels in the exhibition, and among the artists whose work is inluded are not only Liotard and Carriera but also such luminaries as John Singleton Copley, Chardin, and Elizabeth Louise Vigee le Brun. The text provides a very full description of the manufacturing process of pastels, the history of teh craze for these crayons , how the crayons were used and applied. Each illustration has catalogue notes of some detail(enough even to satisfy me) The book is available at a very reasonable price(see here from the publisher’s website). I can throughly recommend it, and hope you will enjoy it as much as I have.
We have investigated the links between Maria Edgeworth and Jane Austen before on this site, and so when I heard today’s Woman’s Hour programme, which contained a discussion of the two, I though you might like the opportunity to share it.
The programme was a discussion of the merits of the two authors, and included a comparison of their respective fame during their own lifetimes
In the early 19th century Jane Austen was certainly less famous,and less well-connected to the Romantic literary world than The Great Maria, but now that position has changed totally , with Maria Edgeworth being relatively unknown.
A new edition of Maris Edgeworth’s book Patronage, edited by Professor John Mullan was published on the 4th July and the discussion marked that event. John Mullan is a Professor of English at University College London,and we have heard him take part in Amanda Vickery’s Voices from the Old Bailey programmes last year. He hosts the Guardian Book Club, and contributes regularly to the Newsnight Review, LRB and the New Statesman. Patronage is a novel that is of interest to Janeites as it is considered that it may have influenced Jane Austen when she was writing Persuasion.
If you go here you can listen again to the programme -the piece on Jane Austen and Maria Edgeworth began approximately 30 minutes into the broadcast. Scroll almost to the bottom of the page to see the details. You can download a podcast of the programme, or simply “listen again” to it if you go here; it will be available from tomorrow for seven days, I think, and will of course be dated the 7th July.
Do enjoy it, as I think you will find it interesting.
If you would like to read about the walk around Lyme Regis as Jane Austen knew it, in the company of Admiral Croft ( a.k.a. Fred Humphrey, shown below on the Cobb in front of the steps known as “Granny’s Teeth” )…
…then do click here to go to a report of the talk on the Lyme Regis Museum’s blog.
It sounds to have been a fascinating time and though I like Lyme best in the winter, I do wish I’d been there to join in this particular piece of fun!
Andy English, my Twitter friend, fellow Fenlander and fabulous illustrator of Philip Pullman and Susan Hill’s books, amongst others, alerted me to this item last week and I thought I ought to share it with you.
The Bowler Press of North Vancouver Canada have produced Captain Wentworth’s letter, THE Letter, for fans of Persuasion. It was first made available to purchase on the 14th February, hence the reference to St Valentine’s Day in the header. It has been beautifully printed as if it had been written on stationary that could have been found and used by visitors to the White Hart Inn in Bath which is where the Musgroves were staying in the novel. Complete with appropriate logo….
This is a fun idea. It comes compete with a snazzy envelope and is produced in a limited edition of 200.
Each set is priced at $25 Canadian dollars. Go here to order it. My only quibble is that the White Hart was really a great coaching inn, and was not known as a “hotel” in Jane Austen’s time…but you would expect me quibble, wouldn’t you ;)
Running with this Austen theme, the Bowler Press is now in the process of producing a similar copy of Fitzwilliam Darcy’s letter to Elizabeth Bennet, written after his marriage proposal was rejected and while he was staying at Rosings. This should soon be available to buy, again for $25 Canadian Dollars. I’ll keep you informed of developments.
And, for the Austen theme does not end there, the Press are hoping to produce a three volume set of Pride and Prejudice…I will be intrigued to see what it looks like…
I do wish someone would attempt to reproduce a letter written by Charles Bingley , complete with ink blots and crossings out ;) But for now I am going to place some orders of these for myself;)