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Friday, March 30, 2012

Obituary of the Duchess of Devonshire

Georgiana by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1775-6
Huntington Art Gallery


Obituary of the Duchess of Devonshire
The Universal Magazine of April 1806

Died at Devonshire house, Piccadilly, aged 49, on the 30th of March, after a short but severe illness, her grace, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. She was eldest daughter of the late Earl Spencer, and Georgiana, his countess, daughter of Stephen Poyntz, Esq. was born June 7, 1757, and married to the present Duke of Devonshire, June 6, 1774. She was educated under the immediate inspection of her venerable mother, the present Countess Dowager Spencer, and indicated even from her infancy the most flattering promises of worth and loveliness, and on her presentation at court, like a comet above the horizon, all inquiries centered in who was to be the happy man destined to receive the fair hand of so much grace and beauty.

Gainsborough's Georgiana, on display at Chatsworth


The young Duke of Devonshire was reserved for the honour and soon after the union of this noble pair, her grace not only became the head, but actually gave, the fashion to every article of female dress, not an apron, gown, cap or bonnet but were Devonshire. So high a station did the duchess retain among the fashionable world, that when the contest with America brought our military into camps, then was her grace found dressed in the uniform of the Derby militia of which the Duke of Devonshire was colonel, and from that time every lady, young or old, became dressed a la militaire. At the first drawing room which the duchess attended after her marriage, she was accompanied by all the distinguished females of the two great families from which she was descended, and to which she was allied. It is asserted that she was literally loaded with jewels, even to produce inconvenience. In the course of the summer of 1792, the Duchess of Devonshire visited the continent, in company with her mother, the Countess Spencer, and her sister Lady Duncannon, both of whom were in declining states of health. During this excursion her grace mixed with the company of several foreign literati, among whom we may enumerate Sausure, Tissot, Lavater, Necker, and the English historian Gibbon; on this occasion public fame attributed to her a short descriptive poem, not void of taste, entitled, the Passage of the Mountain of St Gothard. During the latter part of her life the duchess did not appear in the gay world so much as she had formerly done, yet at the institution of the Pic Nic society in 1801, she stood forward as one of its principal promoters; but the formidable opposition which was organized against these theatrical dilettanti, soon became more than a match for the subscribers to this favourite dramatic project. In the cause of one of the greatest statesmen of the age, (we allude to Mr. Fox) she interested herself frequently and essentially; and in the Westminster election of 1784, her grace took so active a part in favour of that gentleman as subjected her in some degree to the censure of public opinion. The disorder which terminated the life of this distinguished personage, is said to have been an abscess of the liver, the attack of which was first perceived about four months ago, while she sat at table at the Marquis of Stafford’s, and which from that period so increased its feverish progress, as eventually resisted all the efforts of the first medical skill. Her mind was richly stored with useful as well as ornamental endowments; she was well read in history, but the Belles Lettres had principally attracted her attention. Though forced into female supremacy by that general admiration which a felicitious combination of charms had excited, she yet found leisure for the systematic exercise of a natural benevolence, which yielding irresistibly and perhaps too indiscriminately, to the supplications of distress, subjected her to embarrassments that the world erroneously imputed to causes less amiable and meritorious. Her grace has left issue, 1. Lady Georgiana Cavendish, born July 12, 1783, married March 21, 1801 to Viscount Morpeth. 2. Lady Henrietta, born August 12, 1785. 3. William George, Marquis of Hartington, born May 21, 1790.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant

Victoria here, reporting on several favorite topics all at once: the Queen, the Diamond Jubilee, watercraft, and music...based on the latest issue of BBC Music, one of the magazines I try to read each month.  In the March 2012 issue, The Full Score reports on the line-up for the Thames Pageant, the ten official musical barges which will parade downstream from Hammersmith to Greenwich on June 3, 2012.  How I wish I could be there!!  For more on the Pageant, click here.

A long-ago royal barge


In the first of the musical barges, the Royal Jubilee Bells will announce the parade, in the midst of a thousand other vessels authorized to be on the river that day.  It is reported that more than 2,000 applications to join the eclectic fleet -- from kayaks to yachts -- had to be turned down to preserve some sort of traffic flow on the river.

Barge Two will carry the musicians of the Academy of Ancient Music performing Handel's Water Music, composed in 1717 for a river procession honoring King George I.  The familiar music is a favorite of concert-goers worldwide.


                                      Handel in 1733, by Balthasar Denneer (1685–1749)


George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) was born in Germany and trained under continental masters in Germany and Italy.  He came to London in 1712 and composed dozens of pieces for orchestra, many operas and oratorios, most famously The Messiah, first performed in 1742.

Water Music CD from the AAM


Handel's Suites of Water Music were first performed on a Thames barge for the entertainment of George I and his guests.  The music was so enthusiastically received that the musicians played them over and over until well into the wee hours.  The AAM will also perform selections from the Royal Fireworks Suite by Handel, composed for George II in 1749, performed as fireworks and illuminations lit up the Thames near the Duke of Richmond's.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tom Sully, Artist Extraordinaire

On March 11, 2012, Jo Manning wrote here of her experiences associated with the current exhibition The Look of Love at the Birmingham (AL) Museum of Art, for which she wrote selections in the catalogue.  She rhapsodized about the talent and charm of Tom Sully, a contemporary artist who has painted several types of miniatures: portraits, eyes, and pets, as well as accomplishments in many other formats.  We wanted to know more about him; what follows is our interview with artist Tom Sully.



Tom Sully: Self Portrait, 2010, watercolor on ivory, 2 7/8 x 2 3/8 in.



Number One London:  You have a very famous great-great-great-grandfather, renowned portraitist Thomas Alfred Sully (1783-1872), who painted Queen Victoria and Thomas Jefferson, among others. How did it affect you having the same name as your grandfather and being an artist as well?


Thomas A. Sully (1783-1872), Lady with a Harp: Eliza Ridgely, 1818



Tom Sully:  As a young man I found Victorian art cloying.  I decided to go to art school in California where few had ever heard of Thomas Sully.  When I arrived in New York afterwards, theories of deconstruction held sway in the art world.  While all my peers were making conceptual art, I turned to illustration for my living, since you still needed to know how to draw for that.  My first portrait commission was from The New Yorker, who hired me to paint a singer performing at The Rainbow Room.  It was then that I took Sully's Hints To Young Painters down from the shelf and got to work.



Tom Sully: Garland, 2012, oil on linen, 24 x 20






NOL:  Have there been other people in the arts in your family?

TS: Sully's parents were actors and all his siblings were actors and musicians.  His children painted - the most promising, another Thomas, unfortunately died young.  I'm descended from Sully's son Alfred, an army general who painted Native American scenes while serving in the Dakotas.  The most recent artist family member of note is Thomas O. Sully, a celebrated New Orleans architect who bridged the 19th and 20th centuries.  His grandfather, the portraitist's brother, had moved to Louisiana in the early 1800s.  When he wasn't designing Queen Anne-style Garden District mansions, the architect loved to hunt and fish in the Louisiana countryside. I feel a connection to him when I go into the bayous and swamps to find subjects for landscapes.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Civil War Connection: Lord Palmerston and the Battle of Antietam

I recently visited the Antietam National Battleground in Maryland where the bloodiest day in U.S. military history took place on September 17, 1862. And it has a direct connection to our usual British topics.

Antietam National Battleground, Maryland


On a warm and sunny March day, we drove into the foothills of the Maryland mountains to visit Antietam, well run by the National Park Service.  Like many U.S. Civil War battlegrounds, this one is so quiet and peaceful today that it is difficult to envision the carnage that took place almost 150 years ago. 




The grounds are marked with many cannons and memorials to the various regiments which fought here on the side of the Union and for the Confederacy (in the south, it is known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, a nearby village).


Maryland State Monument, the only one dedicated
 to troops from that state who served on both sides



The calm beauty of the area belies it bloody past.  After viewing a film presentation on the battle and its aftermath, we purchased a CD for our car which took us on a driving  tour of the principal sites. At each one, we could park and listen to the description, then walk around the locale and talk with the very knowledgeable volunteer guides -- who  spend their weekends telling visitors about the people who fought here and what happened to many of them.  Special thanks to Jim, Marty and Dave  who told us so many facts and personal stories.




A future U.S President was among the Union troops. William McKinley (1843-1901), 25th President, was later promoted to the officer corps.  His mentor in the 23rd Ohio Infantry, Rutherford B. Hayes (1822-1893), to become the 19th U.S. President, had been recently wounded and did not fight at Antietam.


Monument to the 15th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry


Skipping ahead to the outcome of the battle, the Union troops prevailed although the losses on both sides were horrendous and crippling.  The appearance of a strategic Union victory, however, was said to have caused Lord Palmerston, British Prime Minister at the time, to abandon his inclination to support the Confederacy.  Both the British and the French governments declined to take part in mediating the conflict.  Some observers -- many as a matter of fact -- believe that Palmerston was hoping to teach the upstart United States a lesson.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

God Save the Queen(s)







In this Diamond Jubilee year, it's perhaps fitting to reflect upon the reigns of both Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Victoria, England's two longest reigning monarchs. To date, Queen Elizabeth has been on the throne for 60 years and still has a few years to go before breaking the regal record held by Queen Victoria for a reign of 63 years and 7 months (and 2 days).




Naturally, all monarchs begin their reigns upon the death of their predecessor.  



Queen Elizabeth, her grandmother, Queen Mary and her mother, Queen Elizabeth,  the Queen Mother at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth's father, King George VI in February, 1952.


However, as is well known, Queen Victoria took her mourning upon the early death of her husband, Prince Albert, to a whole new level.



 The widowed Queen Victoria



To back up a bit, Victoria and her cousin Albert were married on February 10th, 1840, at the royal chapel of St. James, in London.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dark Shadows


Anyone of a certain age will recall coming home after school in time to watch Dark Shadows on the telly, which spoke to our generation in a way our mother's soap operas could not. Many of us were Barnabas Collins fans, including Johnny Depp, who fought for years to bring the story to the big screen. "I do remember, very vividly, practically sprinting home from school in the afternoon to see Jonathan Frid play Barnabas Collins,” the actor says. “Even then, at that age, I knew — this has got to be weird.”




How appropo, as these days anything starring Johnny Depp has typically got to be a tad weird. And directed by Tim Burton, as this film is. And to co-star Helena Bonham Carter, which this film does. She plays Dr. Julia Hoffman. See below. And to feature Depp in wacky make up. Done. See above. And below, in the first photo of Depp as Tonto in the new Lone Ranger movie.



Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Earl's Court Wheel


From Discoveries and Inventions of the 19th Century (1898) by Robert Routledge

" . . . . . . amid the attractions of an International Exhibition, it was not lost upon the enterprising people of the States when the " World's Fair" at Chicago was in preparation in 1893. It was then that Mr. G. W. G. Ferris, the head of a firm of bridge constructors at Pittsburg, conceived the idea of applying his engineering skill to the erection of a huge wheel, revolving in a vertical plane, with cars for persons to sit in, constituting, in fact, an enormous "merry-go-round," as the machine once so common at country fairs was called. The novelty of the Chicago erection was, therefore, not the general idea, but the magnitude of the scale, which, for that reason, involved the application of the highest engineering skill, and the solution of hitherto unattempted practical problems. Several thousand pounds were, in fact, expended on merely preliminary plans and designs. The great wheel at Chicago was 350 feet in diameter, and to its periphery were hung thirty-six carriages, each seating forty persons. At each revolution, therefore, 1,440 people would be raised in the air to the height of 250 feet, and from that elevation afforded a splendid prospect, besides an experience of the peculiar sensation like that of being in a balloon, when the spectator has no perception of his own motion, but the objects beneath appear to have the contrary movement, that is to say, they seem to be sinking when he is rising, and viceversd.

"This curious structure was not begun until March, 1893, yet it was set in motion three months afterwards, having cost about £62,500. The Company had to hand over to the Exhibition one half of the receipts after the big wheel had paid for its construction, but even then they realised a handsome profit, and at the close of the World's Fair, they sold the machine for four-thirds of its cost, in order that it might be re-erected at Coney Island.

"No sooner had the great Ferris wheel at Chicago proved a financial success than an American gentleman, Lieutenant Graydon, secured a patent for a like machine in the Un1ted Kingdom; and as it has now become almost a matter of course that some iron or steel structure, surpassing everything before attempted, should form a part of each great exhibition, a Company was at once formed in London, under the title of "The Gigantic Wheel and Recreation Towers Co., Limited," to construct and work at the Earl's Court Oriental Exhibition of 1895, a great wheel, similar in general form to that of Chicago. But the design of the London wheel had some new features . . . and, moreover, having been planned of larger dimensions than its American prototype, presented additional engineering problems of no small complexity. After due deliberation the scheme of the work was entrusted to Mr. Walter B. Bassett, a talented young engineer, connected with the firm of Messrs. Maudslay, Sons, & Field, and already experienced in designing iron structures. Under this gentleman, with the assistance of Mr. J. J. Webster in carrying out some of the details, the work has been so successfully accomplished that the " Great Wheel"- of 1895 may be cited as one of the crowning mechanical triumphs of the nineteenth century. . . .

"The wheel at Earl's Court exceeds the Ferris wheel in diameter by 50 feet, being 300 feet across. It is supported on two towers, 175 feet high, each formed by four columns 4 feet square, built of steel plates with internal diaphragms, and surmounted by balconies that may be ascended in elevators raised by a weight of water, which, after having been discharged into a reservoir under the ground level, is again pumped up to the top of the towers. Between the balconies on each tower there is also a communication through the axle of the wheel, which, instead of being solid as at Chicago, is a tube of 7 feet diameter, and 35 feet long, made in sections, riveted together, of steel 1 inch thick, and weighing no less than 58 tons."

You can read much more about the history of Earl's Court as an entertainment venue here. Other rides included a Water Chute and showman who appeared at the grounds included none other than Buffalo Bill, show below at Earl's Court.






Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sedan Chairs

Sedan chairs, also called litters, are enclosed seats carried on poles that have been used for centuries, or at least as early as the Eyptian Empire. Sedan chairs were introduced to Britain from Spain - before leaving Madrid in 1623 to return to England, the Prince of Wales, later Charles I, was given a gift by the Prime Minister that included "three sedan chairs of curious workmanship." He later gave two of these chairs to the Duke of Buckingham, who used them in the streets of London and prompted outrage for "reducing free born Englishmen to the condition of beasts of burden."



Benjamin Franklin in his sedan chair




Sedan chair made for Queen Maria Luisa of Parma circa 1795



A late 18th century French sedan chair - click here to see the inside


By 1726 there were 400 sedan chairs registered in London. They were used in Edinburgh until the 1860's.



Above is a modern day Chinese sedan chair, traditionally used to carry a bride to her wedding. There is also a foundation in Hong Kong that raises money through their Sedan Chair Charities Fund and annual sedan chair races. Come to that, there are even sedan chair races still going on in England.



You can see examples of sedan chairs in museums throughout Great Britain:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Captain Gronow on His School Friend Shelley

Rees Howell Gronow (1794-1865) wrote his Reminiscences late in his life.  He knew many leading figures of his era.  Below are his comments on Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), one of the most famous of the Romantic Era English Poets. 


Rees Gronow


SHELLEY

Shelley, the poet, cut off at so early an age; just when his great poetical talents had been matured by study and reflection, and when he probably would have produced some great work, was my friend and associate at Eton. He was a boy of studious and meditative habits, averse to all games and sports, and a great reader of novels and romances.  He was a thin, slight lad, with remarkably lustrous eyes, fine hair, and a very peculiar shrill voice and laugh. His most intimate friend at Eton was a boy named Price, who was considered one of the best classical scholars amongst us.  At his tutor, Bethell's, where he lodged, he attempted many mechanical and scientific experiments.  By the aid of a common tinker, he contrived to make something like a steam-engine, which, unfortunately, one day suddenly exploded; to the great consternation of the neighbourhood and to the imminent danger of a severe flogging from Dr. Reate.


Percy Byssche Shelley


Soon after leaving school, and about the year 1810, he came, in a state of great distress and difficulty, to Swansea, when we had an opportunity of rendering him a service; but we never could ascertain what had brought him to Wales, though we had reason to suppose it was some mysterious affaire du coeur.

 The last time I saw Shelley was at Genoa, in 1822, sitting on the sea-shore, and, when I came upon him, making a true poet's meal of bread and fruit; He at once recognized me, jumped up, and appearing greatly delighted, exclaimed, "Here you see me at my old Eton habits; but instead of the green fields for a couch, I have here the shores of the Mediterranean. It is very grand, and very romantic.  I only wish I had some of the excellent brown bread and butter we used to get at Spiers's: but I was never very fastidious in my diet."  Then he continued, in a wild and eccentric manner: "Gronow, do you remember the beautiful Martha, the Hebe of Spiers's?  She was the loveliest girl I
ever saw, and I loved her to distraction."

 Shelley was looking careworn and ill; and, as usual, was very carelessly dressed.  He had on a large and wide straw hat, his long brown hair, already streaked with grey, flowing in large masses from under it, and presented a wild and strange appearance.


Lord Byron


During the time I sat by his side he asked many questions about myself and many of our schoolfellows; but on my questioning him in turn about himself, his way of life, and his future plans, he avoided entering into any explanation: indeed, he gave such short and evasive answers, that, thinking my inquisitiveness displeased him, I rose to take my leave.  I observed that I had not been lucky enough to see Lord Byron in any of my rambles, to which he replied, "Byron is living at his villa, surrounded by his court of sycophants; but I shall shortly see him at Leghorn." We then shook hands.  I never saw him again; for he was drowned shortly afterwards, with his friend, Captain Williams, and his body was washed ashore near Via Reggio.  Every one is familiar with the romantic scene which took place on the sea-shore when the remains of my poor friend and Captain Williams were burnt, in the presence of Byron and Trelawney, in the Roman fashion. His ashes were gathered into an urn, and buried in the Protestant cemetery at Rome.  He was but twenty-nine years of age at his death.


The Funeral of Shelley

Notes from Victoria: This painting by Louis Edouard Fournier, completed in 1889 obviously long after the event, shows Edward Trelawney and Byron at the cremation of Shelley's remains on the shore.  Also pictured are Mary Shelley, second wife of Percy, kneeling at the far left, and Leigh Hunt, though neither of them actually attended. One of several blue plaques honoring Shelley, the version below can be found at 15, Poland Street, WI, London, between Oxford Circus and Soho Square; Shelley resided here after he left Oxford.






Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Look at The Look of Love

 A guest blog by Jo Manning

Jo Manning (with Lily)


The LOOK OF LOVE exhibit has opened in Birmingham, Alabama, at the Birmingham Museum of Art.  I was fortunate enough to be there for the opening and the first couple of days of the show, which runs until the end of June.  For museum information, click here.


Dr David  and Nan Skier

Before discussing this spectacular exhibit – the first of its kind in the world – and one that, with its accompanying catalog, sets the standard for research on this unique portrait miniature-cum-jewelry that has been, up until now, so little known in either the art or jewelry worlds, some backstory…

I often tell people that one never knows, after one’s book is published and sent out into the marketplace, who will see it, who will be affected by it, and what repercussions it will generate.  My biography of Grace Dalrymple Elliott, a notorious courtesan of the late 18th-early 19th centuries, was sold in bookstores and museum gift shops. 




At one of the latter, the Bass Museum of Art’s gift shop in Miami Beach, Florida, it was seen by Dr David Skier, an eye surgeon from Birmingham, who thought his wife would enjoy it. One of the things he noticed in the book was a sidebar on Lover’s Eyes -- eye miniatures – with a photo of a ring in the “collection of the author”.



This was of great interest to Dr Skier because he and his wife Nan had quietly been collecting these beautiful objects for many years and had accumulated some 70+ of them. (They now own 100+ of these miniatures.)  Assuming that I had a collection of these objects, they wrote to my publisher Simon & Schuster, asking for my contact information.  The publisher referred them to my agent, Jenny Bent of the Bent Agency, and she contacted me.  I responded promptly with the news that, no, I owned just the one ring, and that I’d become interested in them after seeing the eye miniatures in the collection of my writing colleague Candice Hern, who owned several lovely brooches.  I was also entranced by the story of how they came about and their subsequent history.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel



Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the movie, opens in the UK and Ireland 24 February. Those in the States will have to wait until summer to see the film, although the novel will be available in stores in March.

The movie, directed by John Madden, sees a group of retirement age Brits move to India to see out their elderly years in colorful Jaipur and take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways. Dev Patel, of "Slumdog Millionaire" fame, plays the guy who entices them to take the adventure and the film also features Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton and Bill Nighy.



Deborah Moggach is the author of sixteen successful novels, including the bestselling Tulip Fever, and two collections of stories. The book on which this film is based was originally titled These Foolish Things. Her screenplays include Pride and Prejudice, which was nominated for a BAFTA. She lives in North London.

You can watch the movie trailer here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

And Now for Something Completely Different...

Victoria here, with a completely off-topic post. It’s completely shameless self promotion as a matter of fact.



My first novel, originally published in 1983, is now available as an e-book on Kindle, Nook and Smashwords. BirthRights: A Dangerous Brew is a family saga about three generations of  Milwaukee, Wisconsin, brewers – of beer, not baseball players. Starting in 1870, the novel concludes in 1920 as prohibition and the Volstead Act take over the nation, ending the era of the great breweries until 1933.


Pabst Brewing Company


Milwaukee was first settled by New Yorkers and New Englanders, known as Yankees.  They followed the explorers like Father Marquette and the French fur-traders like one of the city’s founders, Solomon Juneau.  By the 1840’s, however, the city attracted thousands of German emigrants and took on a distinctly German flavor for decades.  Many breweries filled the thirst of the new residents, with more coming on every ship that landed at the Lake Michigan waterfront.


The authors in the Pabst Brewhouse, 1983

In the early 1980’s, my co-author, Reva Shovers, and I were inspired to write a book when we when couldn’t find much that interested us on bookstore shelves.  That first attempt will never see the light of day, but we sort of taught ourselves what to do, with the help of our agent and many others. Although he probably despaired of our eventual success, Al Zuckerman suggested we write a story about the great brewing fortunes in Milwaukee. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

For Our Fellow Bibliophiles




*Thanks to Nina Dee (Davis) for bringing this to our attention and
congratulations to the producers on winning an Oscar!

By the way, there's an interactive app for this, too!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Death of Lady Jersey in 1867

The March 1867 issue of The Gentleman’s Magazine carried an obituary for Sarah Sophia Fane Child-Villiers, dowager Countess of Jersey:



January 26 At 38 Berkeley Square, suddenly by the rupture of a blood vessel, aged 81, Sarah Sophia, Dowager Countess of Jersey.

            Her ladyship was the eldest and only surviving child of John, 10th Earl of Westmorland, by Anne, only daughter and heir of Mr. Robert Child. She was born March 4, 1785 and in May 1804 she married George, Viscount Villiers, who in the following year succeeded his father the 5th Earl of Jersey, and by whom she had a family of four sons and three daughters. Her eldest son, George Augustus Frederick, died three weeks after the death of his father in 1859; and was the father of Victor, 7th Earl; Augustus John died at Rome in 1847; Frederick married to Lady Elizabeth, daughter of the 8th Earl of Athlonel (title extinct); Francis John died in May 1862; Lady Sarah, married to Prince Nicholas Esterhazy, son of his Excellency the late Prince, many years an ambassador to the Court of St. James’s, from Austria, died at Torquay in November 1853; Lady Clementia died unmarried in December 1858, and Lady Adela, wife of Lieut. Colonel Charles Ibbetson, who died suddenly in September 1860.


Osterley Park, Greater London

            The late countess, on the death of her maternal grandfather, Mr. Robert Child, the banker, by his will succeeded to his large property, both real and personal. Owing to her mother having eloped with the Earl of Westmorland, Mr. Child carried out his determination that not a shilling of his property should go to the male heirs of the earldom, and he bequeathed his large and valuable property to the county of Middlesex and his interest in the old banking house at Temple Bar to the countess. The deceased Lady Jersey was kind and charitable to the poor, but studiously avoided publicity in doing good to those beneath her. Many indigent families will regret her death, as well as an extensive circle of friends.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Naturalist's Diary for March

From the Times Telescope, an annual almanac, here is the entry for March, 1826, with a few quite optimistic pictures:

March, though the hours of promise with bright ray
May gild thy noons, yet, on wild pinion borne,
Loud winds more often rudely wake thy morn,
And harshly hymn they early-closing day.


            The cutting blasts of March, so trying to the invalid, are equally injurious to the progress of vegetation; and the ‘sweet flowers’ are compelled to await the smiles and tears of gentle April to encourage their growth, and to bring them to perfection. Some more bold than the rest, who dare to brave the warrior front of Boreas, often perish in his chilly embrace. The winds of March, however, are highly beneficial to drying up the superabundant moisture of the earth; and although they may retard the delights and beauties of Spring, these are rendered more valuable to us, because they are less fugacious.


            The russet-brown dress of the hedges is now spotted with green, preparatory to their assuming the complete vesture of Spring.—The leaves of the lilac begin to peep from beneath their winter clothing, and gooseberry and currant trees display their verdant foliage and pretty green blossoms. The yew-tree, ‘faithful in death,’ as it protects our tombs from the gaze of every passing stranger, when our more gaudy floral acquaintances have deserted us, opens its blossoms about the beginning of this month.



            The melody of birds now gradually swells upon the ear. The throstle, second only to the nightingale in song, charms us with the sweetness, and variety of its lays. The linnet and goldfinch join the general concert in this month, and the golden-crowned wren begins its song. The lark also, must not be forgotten.—While the birds delight us with their song, the bees read us a lesson of industry, for they are to be seen collecting materials for their elegant condiment of honey on every fine day throughout the year.