Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Historic Publications’ Category

Reverend George Austen

As many Jane Austen fans know, Rev. George Austen ran a boarding school out of his parsonage house in Steventon to augment his £230 pr year income. In1793 he began to teach the sons of local gentlemen in his home to prepare them for university. His library was extensive for a man of modest means, from 300- 500 volumes, depending on the source, an amazing collection, for books were frightfully expensive. Rev. Austen encouraged Cassandra and Jane to read from his library and supported budding author Jane in her writing. At some point, the Austens sent the girls to boarding school in Reading, for which he paid £35 per term, per girl, a not inconsiderable sum. He received around the same amount of money per boarder, and it is conjectured that the Austens hoped to replace their two daughters with many more pupils, which made economic sense. (See Linda Robinson Walker’s link below.) Mrs. Austen was not an indifferent bystander. She cooked, cleaned, sewed, and clucked over the boys like a mother hen, and was involved in their maintenance in a hands-on and caring way, acting as a surrogate mother.

In his Travels Through England in 1782, German traveler Karl Phillip Moritz describes learning academies, head masters, and boarding schools. From his observations, one gains a sense of what life must have been like for the Austens and their pupils:

A few words more respecting pedantry.  I have seen the regulation of one seminary of learning, here called an academy.  Of these places of education, there is a prodigious number in London, though, notwithstanding their pompous names, they are in reality nothing more than small schools set up by private persons, for children and young people.

One of the Englishmen who were my travelling companions, made me acquainted with a Dr. G– who lives near P–, and keeps an academy for the education of twelve young people, which number is here, as well as at our Mr. Kumpe’s, never exceeded, and the same plan has been adopted and followed by many others, both here and elsewhere.

18th Century school room. One imagines a less formal setting for Rev. Austen’s school.

At the entrance I perceived over the door of the house a large board, and written on it, Dr. G–’s Academy.  Dr. G– received me with great courtesy as a foreigner, and shewed me his school-room, which was furnished just in the same manner as the classes in our public schools are, with benches and a professor’s chair or pulpit.

The usher at Dr. G–’s is a young clergyman, who, seated also in a chair or desk, instructs the boys in the Greek and Latin grammars.

Such an under-teacher is called an usher, and by what I can learn, is commonly a tormented being, exactly answering the exquisite description given of him in the “Vicar of Wakefield.”  We went in during the hours of attendance, and he was just hearing the boys decline their Latin, which he did in the old jog-trot way; and I own it had an odd sound to my ears, when instead of pronouncing, for example viri veeree I heard them say viri, of the man,exactly according to the English pronunciation, and viro, to the man.  The case was just the same afterwards with the Greek.

Mr. G– invited us to dinner, when I became acquainted with his wife, a very genteel young woman, whose behaviour to the children was such that she might be said to contribute more to their education than any one else.  The children drank nothing but water.  For every boarder Dr. G– receives yearly no more than thirty pounds sterling, which however, he complained of as being too little.  From forty to fifty pounds is the most that is generally paid in these academies.

I told him of our improvements in the manner of education, and also spoke to him of the apparent great worth of character of his usher.  He listened very attentively, but seemed to have thought little himself on this subject.  Before and after dinner the Lord’s Prayer was repeated in French, which is done in several places, as if they were eager not to waste without some improvement, even this opportunity also, to practise the French, and thus at once accomplish two points.  I afterwards told him my opinion of this species of prayer, which however, he did not take amiss.

After dinner the boys had leave to play in a very small yard, which in most schools or academies, in the city of London, is the ne plus ultra of their playground in their hours of recreation.  But Mr. G– has another garden at the end of the town, where he sometimes takes them to walk.

After dinner Mr. G– himself instructed the children in writing, arithmetic, and French, all which seemed to be well taught here, especially writing, in which the young people in England far surpass, I believe, all others.  This may perhaps be owing to their having occasion to learn only one sort of letters.  As the midsummer holidays were now approaching (at which time the children in all the academies go home for four weeks), everyone was obliged with the utmost care to copy a written model, in order to show it to their parents, because this article is most particularly examined, as everybody can tell what is or is not good writing.  The boys knew all the rules of syntax by heart.

Reading Abbey, where Jane and Cassandra Austen were sent to boarding school

All these academies are in general called boarding-schools.  Some few retain the old name of schools only, though it is possible that in real merit they may excel the so much-boasted of academies.

It is in general the clergy, who have small incomes, who set up these schools both in town and country, and grown up people who are foreigners, are also admitted here to learn the English language.  Mr. G– charged for board, lodging, and instruction in the English, two guineas a-week.  He however, who is desirous of perfecting himself in the English, will do better to go some distance into the country, and board himself with any clergyman who takes scholars, where he will hear nothing but English spoken, and may at every opportunity be taught both by young and old.

Source: Moritz, Karl Philipp, 1757-1793. Travels in England in 1782 by Karl Philipp Moritz (Kindle Locations 645-656). Mobipocket (an Amazon.com company).

Read Full Post »

Inquiring readers, One of the benefits of overseeing a long-lasting blog is the number of Jane Austen aficionados one meets via email and online. Ronald Dunning, a descendant of Jane Austen’s brother, Francis, recently emailed me to discuss his new genealogy site and Jane Austen family website. After I visited the sites and read Deb Barnum’s excellent post on the topic at Jane Austen in Vermont, I invited Mr. Dunning to explain how he managed to fill in so many members on his family tree. When all was said and done, what excited me most was when I saw the resemblance between Mr. Dunning and his illustrious ancestor. The Austens do indeed live on. Enjoy!

Sir Francis William Austen, Admiral of the Fleet, and descendant Ronald Dunning

Hi Vic! I’m a 4th-great-grandson of Frank Austen, and a committed genealogist. I’ve been working for quite a few years on an extended and inclusive genealogy of the Austen family, which can be seen at RootsWeb: http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~janeausten. It’s an ongoing project, subject to addition and revision, but has reached an advanced state of maturity. Various writers on the Austen family in England and the US have used it, and I’ve even found it cited as a reference source for biographies at Wikipedia.

Joan Corder

I’ve just posted a new website dedicated to Jane Austen’s Family, which was announced to the public at last week’s JAS AGM. The address is www.janeaustensfamily.co.uk. The first content is Joan Corder’s “Akin to Jane” – a 1953 manuscript listing as many descendants of George and Cassandra Austen as the author could find. Joan recorded something like 320 descendants of George and Cassandra Austen, which is very good going for 1953. The biographical detail in the manuscript makes it invaluable. She could never find a publisher and the book exists only in a couple of manuscript copies, one of which is at the Jane Austen’s House Museum at Chawton. When I first began working on the site, I wasn’t sure whether it would interest anyone – I was simply driven on by my obsession with family history – but it’s been well received, to my delight. The Museum is pleased that they can now retire Joan Corder’s fragile original.

Joan’s page on Jane Austen in Akin to Jane Austen. The fragile original has been replaced with interactive online pages.

With the benefit of modern genealogical facilities, I’ve increased the tally from 320 to over 1200 – all of whom are to be found on my RootsWeb site. I have to admit that I have included very little anecdotal information, it is mainly genealogy; and all details except the surname are withheld for anyone born after 1915, though I have them on my computer database.

Austen (l) and Austen-Leigh (r) family coat of arms.

You asked for an anecdotal example for Jane Austen’s World readers that would flesh out the details of my research. I immediately thought of James Brydges, 8th Baron Chandos of Sudeley and Elizabeth Barnard – Cassandra Leigh’s great-grandparents. Cassandra was of course Jane Austen’s mother.

Hearing Miss Barnard was engaged to a party with a fashionable conjuror, who showed the ladies their future husbands in a glass, he by a proper application to the cunning man beforehand, and by a proper position at the time, was exhibited in the glass to Miss Barnard: clapping her hands she cried, ‘Then Mr. Bridges is my destination, and such he shall be.’”

This lovely anecdote was recorded in a footnote, in The Complete Peerage,under the entry for James Brydges, the 8th Lord Chandos of Sudeley. The lady in question, Elizabeth Barnard, did become his wife. Elizabeth’s father Sir Henry Barnard was a “Turkey merchant,” a trader whose business interest was in importing from Constantinople. Her husband James Brydges was himself the Ambassador of the “Turkey Company” (properly the Levant Company) in Constantinople from 1680 to 1686.

Sir James Brydges (1642–1714), 8th Baron Chandos, Turkey Company Ambassador to Constantinople

Elizabeth gave birth to twenty-two children. We are familiar with the mortal threat to women’s lives from childrearing – three of Jane Austens’ sisters-in-law suffered that fate. Elizabeth survived her twenty-two deliveries and lived to the age of 77. Not all of her children fared so well – only fifteen were baptized, and of those, three sons and five daughters survived infancy. This was far from unusual – Antonia Fraser, in her study of 17th-century woman, The Weaker Sex, stated that it was normal for only a third of children born to a large family to survive. Their eldest child, Mary Bridges, was one of the survivors. The link to Jane Austen can now be traced within a few generations. Mary married Theophilus Leigh; they were Cassandra Leigh’s paternal grandparents and the parents of Theophilus Leigh, who served as Master of Balliol College in Oxford from 1726 until his death in 1785. Theophilus Jr.’s brother Thomas Leigh married Jane Walker, and they were Cassandra Leigh’s parents. Cassandra, who married George Austen, gave birth to eight children, including Jane Austen in 1775. (And she too survived to a ripe old age, outliving her daughter Jane by 10 years.)

Click on image for details. Image @A Reading Affair

I hope you enjoyed this small sampling of the information that my sites offer about Jane Austen’s family. Deb Barnum from Jane Austen in Vermont has interviewed me, and written a very thorough review and detailed explanation of how to find information on the sites.

More on the topic:

Read Full Post »

“there seem to be very few, in the style of a Novel, that you can read with safety, and yet fewer that you can read with advantage.”- Sermons to Young Women, James Fordyce, 1766

It’s no secret that Jane Austen’s family were novel readers during an age when such books were considered frivolous and not worthy of reading. (Writing a novel was considered an even worse offense!) Enter Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice. In her delightful book, Jane created a satiric scene in which Mr. Collins confirmed Mr. Bennet’s opinion of his young cousin’s foolishness. After he enjoyed the younger man’s inanity for a while, Mr. Bennet proposed that Mr. Collins read to the group. The girls chose a novel, of which Mr. Collins disapproved:

John Opie, "A Moral Homily"

John Opie, “A Moral Homily”

Mr. Bennet’s expectations [regarding Mr. Collins] were fully answered. His cousin was as absurd as he had hoped, and he listened to him with the keenest enjoyment, maintaining at the same time the most resolute composure of countenance, and, except in an occasional glance at Elizabeth, requiring no partner in his pleasure.

By tea-time, however, the dose had been enough, and Mr. Bennet was glad to take his guest into the drawingroom again, and, when tea was over, glad to invite him to read aloud to the ladies. Mr. Collins readily assented, and a book was produced; but on beholding it (for everything announced it to be from a circulating library), he started back, and begging pardon, protested that he never read novels. Kitty stared at him, and Lydia exclaimed.—Other books were produced, and after some deliberation he chose Fordyce’s Sermons. Lydia gaped as he opened the volume, and before he had, with very monotonous solemnity, read three pages, she interrupted him with—

“Do you know, mamma, that my uncle Philips talks of turning away Richard; and if he does, Colonel Forster will hire him. My aunt told me so herself on Saturday. I shall walk to Meryton to-morrow to hear more about it, and to ask when Mr. Denny comes back from town.”

Lydia was bid by her two eldest sisters to hold her tongue; but Mr. Collins, much offended, laid aside his book, and said—

“I have often observed how little young ladies are interested by books of a serious stamp, though written solely for their benefit. It amazes me, I confess;—for, certainly, there can be nothing so advantageous to them as instruction. But I will no longer importune my young cousin.”

John Opie, “A Tale of Romance”

One cannot but help enjoy the irony of the situation. During his lifetime, Dr Fordyce was considered an excellent orator and his sermons were much appreciated, but by the time Jane Austen began to write her novels his luster had dimmed and novel reading was becoming more acceptable. These wonderful paintings by John Opie represent both sides of the sermon/novel story. In the first painting the governess is reading boring homilies to her charges in the hope of educating them. She is completely unaware of their expressions. One girl yawns, another can barely keep her eyes open, and a third looks pensively at the viewer as if to say, “Can you believe this?” Two of the youngest children entertain each other by playing cat’s cradle, and the girl sitting nearest the reader is about to fall asleep. What a wonderful tableau! One can imagine that the Bennets must have looked much like this ensemble before Lydia blurted out her question.

The second painting depicts the delight that the ensemble takes in listening to a tale of romance. They are all engaged and smiling and hanging onto every word from the reader. A kitten is left to play with a wool ball by itself.

Jane Austen employed words to create an ironic tone; John Opie used images. Both used their respective mediums to make a memorable point. Today, Dr. Fordyce’s sermons are largely forgotten. The following excerpt from Sermon VIII, Volume 2 demonstrates why he was considered dull and stodgy even 200 years ago:

Sermons to Young Women, Volume 2, James Fordyce, 1767. You can download the volume as an ebook at this link.

Read Full Post »

Vintage book cover. The book had been purchased in the shop at Dove Cottage. Image @Grey Pony

Inquiring readers, frequent contributor, Tony Grant,  has done it again and brought the 19th century alive through his discussion of poetry. One can walk the paths along Grasmere in the Lake District with him and William Wordsworth, inhaling the clean crisp air and regarding the sad cautionary tale of Martha Ray, the woman in the scarlet cloak. Visit Tony’s blog at London Calling.

Saturday August 23rd 1798.

“ A very fine morning. Wm was composing all the morning. I shelled peas, gathered beans and worked in the garden till half past twelve. Then walked with William in the wood. The gleams of the sunshine, and the stirring trees, and gleaming boughs, cheerful lake, most delightful. After dinner we walked to Ambleside…”

Thus Dorothy Wordsworth describes the division of labour in the Wordsworth house hold at Dove Cottage, Grasmere in Cumbria. She did the labour and William her brother did the,” Romanticising.” But it shows the division of experience wasn’t as clear cut as might appear at first. Dorothy shows her emotional response to the world she inhabits too, as much as her esteemed brother does in his poetry.

Dorothy

Romanticism was a way of seeing and experiencing the world and which Wordsworth promoted in his poetry. It wasn’t necessarily about being romantic however. It was about an emotional response to the world that balanced a logical factual approach. It promoted the importance of feelings, myth, symbolism and intuition as well as taking into account the facts of a situation.

William Wordsworth by Henry Eldridge, 1807

”The Thorn,” written by William Wordsworth in 1789 is very melodramatic and tells the story of a solitary, rejected woman, Martha Ray, who’s baby has died and the mythology that builds around her.

Dove Cottage.

Wordsworth, in the opening stanzas introduces us immediately to the thorn describing it as , “so old and grey,” “stands erect,” “A wretched thing forlorn.” And takes the personification to a higher degree saying it is,” Not higher than a two year’s child.”

He is setting us up to respond to natural things in an emotional way.

Footpath around the lake. Image @A Year In the Lakes

He then balances this emotional approach with factual evidence as he gives us the thorns location ,”high on a mountains highest ridge,” and the minutest detail, telling us that three yards from the thorn is, “a muddy pond,” and close beside the thorn is,

“A beauteous heap, a hill of moss.
Just half a foot in height.”

A mixture of fact and emotion balanced.
Three things are described in close proximity and we wonder how they relate to each other.

Colour is very important. The mound of earth near the thorn has, “vermilion dye,” “lovely tints,” “olive green, “scarlet bright,” “green red and pearly white.” Vivid in our minds eye.

Then, “A woman in a scarlet cloak,” Martha Ray, is introduced into this setting and we are asked,

“Now wherefore, thus, by day and night,
In rain, in tempest, and in snow,
Thus to the dreary mountain top
Does this poor woman go?”

The question all the local villagers ponder too. Observation, and imagination create a myth. Many believe she has killed her baby and buried it next to the thorn but they don’t actually know that. Wordsworth keeps pulling us back to reality, tempering our emotional response, “I cannot tell; I wish I could; for the true reason no one knows.”

Cattle watering at Grasmere, near Ambleside, Cumbria, by John Glover.

Wordsworth also begins to use the personal pronoun. It is an egotistical device but we are with him. It is us as well as Wordsworth asking the same questions. He has got involved in this apparent tragedy and so have we.

Wordsworth relates to us the story of Martha Ray and what makes her mad.

“Full twenty years are past and gone
Since she (her name is Martha Ray)
Gave with a maidens true good will
Her company to Stephen Hill”

Stephen Hill, we are told, gets Martha pregnant but leaves her and marries somebody else. As result she has the baby but it is never seen by other people.

Then imagination intervenes again,

“For many a time and often were heard
Cries coming from the mountains head
Some plainly living voices were:
And other, I’ve heard many swear,
Were voices of the dead:
I cannot think, whate’er they say,
They had to do with Martha Ray.”

Wordsworth then draws us back to a cool scientific approach,

“But what’s the Thorn? And what the pond?
And what the hill of moss to her?”
And what the creeping breeze that comes
The little pond to stir?”

You can almost imagine Wordsworth and us being explorers into this mystery using investigative questions.
However, finally, myth is triumphant

“…but some will say
She hanged her baby on the tree
Some say she drowned it in the pond
Which is a little step beyond
But all and each one agree
The little babe was buried there
Beneath the hill of moss so fair.”

Fact, imagination, emotion, have combined to create a myth.

What use would this mythologizing be to those people in the hills and mountains of the Lake District? Would it help them make moral decisions? They wanted to bring Martha Ray to public justice based on what they thought and felt. Would it help them to create their own response to Martha’s predicament without having to experience it themselves? Is that the purpose of mythologizing? The purpose of fairy tales and myths have always been important to childhood and early emotional development and moral growth. Wordsworth has created an adult myth. So does the need for myths go beyond childhood and remain important to all?

……………………………………………………………………………………….

In a few weeks, a good friend of mine, Clive, is coming over from Canada for a reunion of old school friends. Some of us are reaching 60 this year and we are getting together for a celebration in Liverpool. Clive and I are going on further north into the Lake District for a couple of days. We will be staying in Ambleside, not far from Grasmere and Wordswoth’s Dove Cottage. We will visit Dove Cottage and I promise we will listen out for the cry of Martha Ray caught in the winds blowing about the peaks surrounding Grasmere and we will too be able to say,

“That I have heard her cry,
“Oh misery! Oh misery!
Oh woe is me! Oh misery!”

More on the topic:

Read Full Post »

Last week I featured the book, The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes, a moralizing children’s book that Jane Austen kept all through her lifetime. As she was growing up, she was probably familiar with the Cinderella fairytale. Hundreds of versions of the folk tale from a variety of European sources exist, but the myth goes as far back as ancient Greece and China.  The story of the cinder maid and the glass slipper was popularized in 1697 by Charles Perrault in Histoires, ou Contes du Temps Passè.  

Written for the aristocratic Salons of C17th French society, Perrault’s ‘Cendrillon’ is stripped of all violent, bawdy or socially moralizing material and is instead focused primarily on entertaining. – The Origins of the Cinderella Story

The images in this post show the paper dolls based on Perrault’s tale that were popular during Jane Austen’s time.

1814, Cinderella or the Glass Slipper. Image @Theriault's.

The images shown above and below are for sale at Theriault’s: The Doll Masters

Lot: 17. An 1814 English Paper Doll and Book “Cinderella” by S&J Fuller
A paper bound miniature book,5″ x 4″,recounts in “beautifully versified” form the favored fairy tale,and was designed to be read while playing with the paper dolls,vignettes and accessories that illustrate the tale,comprising six costume scenes including the wedding,and Cinderella’s coach and horses (in two sections). An inscription inside the front cover reads “To my dear little niece Constance Foley”. S&J Fuller,Temple of Fancy,Rathbone Place,London,1814. Structure and lovely delicate colors of paper dolls and scenes well preserved,coachman’s head missing,one hand missing,stain on book cover. England,1814.

Image @Theriault's.

Around 1810, the London firm of  S. & J. Fuller published books with paper dolls. The 1814 book (or Book of Instruction, as printed on the cover) relates the Cinderella story in verse and is illustrated with cut out figures.

It is interesting to note that Cinderella’s head is removable and can be placed on various paper cut bodies. You see her in the image below walking through a town scape and churning butter. Children could arrange the characters in the paper sets, or drama sheets, and reenact the story.

While these scenic play books became increasingly popular, I imagine that they must have been very expensive and affordable only by the well-to-do.

Image @Theriault's.

The image below contains fancy gowns and the marriage ceremony in which Cinderella marries her prince. Cinderella’s high-waisted costumes have a decided Renaissance influence, and the prince could have doubled for Romeo.

Image @Theriault's.

Cinderella’s head becomes much more refined once she hooks up with the prince, as you can see below. She is given a fashionable hat and a jeweled tiara with feathers. The head can also be placed on the figure in the carriage, when the Cinderella story has come full circle.

Image @Theriault's.

The beautiful versified edition of Cinderella below was donated in 1991 by Ms. Julia P. Wightman to the  The Morgan Library in New York.  Printed in 1819, the paper cut dolls seem more refined than in the 1817 version, especially Cinderella’s head, which has blond hair. Click on the open book images to read portions of the verse.

Image @Morgan Library.

Image @Morgan Library.

Image @Morgan Library.

Image @Morgan Library.

Image @Morgan Library.

The image below is from Picturing Childhood: The evolution of the illustrated children’s book.  Therieaults the Doll Master, Cinderella Paper Dolls, 1814, Published by S. and J. Fuller, London, 5 3/4 in. (14.6 cm) (approx.) Note that Cinderella’s elegant head is placed in the wedding scene. In this instance her hair is dark again..

Image @Picturing Childhood

Below is a more traditional children’s book version of Cinderella. It was published in 1827 and illustrated with hand–colored woodcuts. By the mid-19th century, lithography and printing were being used routinely in book illustrations, but such drawings were still rare when this book came out.

Cinderella, John Harris, London. 1827

In 1812, the Brothers Grimm wrote the Cinderella story that seems more familiar to readers today. By the end of the 19th century, over 300 versions of the Cinderella story existed in Europe. In those years:

The Fairy–Godmother seems more frightening than her later benevolent renderings, such as in Disney’s film version of the story. – Past Times: Cinderella :18th and 19th century Cinderella books.

More on the Topic:

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: