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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Milwaukee Symphony Goes British


Imagine my delight when I looked at the program for the MSO's weekend of May 26 -- Music from the British Isles with conductor Christopher Warren-Green.

Just returned from a widely-praised concert in NYC's Carnegie Hall, the MSO performed works by William Walton, Max Bruch (though German by birth, he was the conductor of the Liverpool Symphony) and Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Here is the link to an audio version of the MSO's performance in New York, via WQXR.




For the series of concerts of British music, the guest conductor was Christopher Warren-Green, who is the music director of the Charlotte, NC Symphony and the director of the London Chamber Orchestra, among many other celebrated duties, including for royal events, particularly at the royal wedding in 2011.



The Recessional piece was the first on the program of the MSO concert, the Crown Imperial Coronation March by William Walton.  Here is a link to the PBS television excerpt of the wedding processional featuring the Walton Coronation march played by the London Chamber Orchestra conducted by Christopher Warren-Green, about a minute, 20 seconds in, and continuing until the couple left Westminster Abbey.    (You can download the entire Royal Wedding Music CD from iTunes.)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Period Properties For Sale




Guide Price Of £350,000 - The Boatswain's House, also known as Dockyard Cottage, is an elegant late Georgian style house, circa 1826, which is now in need of restoration. It is part of an exciting project to give new life to an historic group of buildings which fall within an area of World Monument Fund Watch List Status and in a rapidly improving Conservation Area. The property lies within the historic Royal Dockyard and is Listed Grade II.

Restoration is already well underway on many of of the historic houses which formed the officers' accommodation in the early 19th century Royal Dockyard. The rebuilding of the naval base between 1813 and 1826 brought together some of the country's most eminent engineers and architets of the time, Edward Holls and George Ledwell Taylor, architects, and John Rennie the Elder and Sir John Rennie the Younger, engineers. The entire scheme was built in one phase. It remained an important strategic naval base until the Royal Navy withdrew in 1960. After years of undercertainty, the historic residential quarters are to be preserved, following a campaign fought by the Spitalfields Historic Building Trust. With the support and enthusiasm of a number of private investors work is well underway and their poineering spirit and determination are already transforming the area.

The Boatswain's House is an elegant symmetrical double fronted house with walled garden to the rear. The interior is a double-depth plan with a central hall and fine staircse. The decorative detail in the principal rooms is not elaborate but was designed to relfect the status and importance of its original occupant. The accommodation is arranged on lower ground, ground and two upper floors, the rooms, which include a double reception room, are well proportioned and although the restoration will require a future owner to plan a kitchen and bathrooms the house offers considerable scope with a total of about 3,016 sq.ft. Once the renovation is complete the property would potentially provide a hall, double reception room, dining room, study, 4 or 5 bedrooms, 2 or 3 bathrooms, large kitchen, 2 cloakrooms and 3 lower ground floor rooms. For further details, contact Jackson-Stops and Staff.




Offers in Excess of £400,000 - FIRST TIME TO THE MARKET FOR 400 YEARS. A one off opportunity acquire a charming thatched cottage in need of updating and offered with no forward chain. Ashley Lodge, a former Gate House to Somerley House, is a delightful thatched cottage located on the edge of Ringwood with access and views of the Ringwood Forest.

Although the late owner of the cottage believed it to date back to 1482, whilst writing this we have only been able to access public records dating back to the early 1800’s. A map of the Somerley Estate dated 1810, headed as in possession of Henry Baring, has what looks to be a small building on the edge of the estate. Sale particulars dated 23rd May 1811 include “Two handsome Entrance Lodgers from the Ringwood and Harbridge Roads”. Documents show Henry Bearing selling the Somerley Estate to the Normanton’s in the 1820’s when “The Lodge” and “Somerley Lodge” appear upon documents and is assumed to be Ashley Lodge.

Census records show a Charles Shave aged 3 living at “Somerley Lodge” in 1841with parents William and Martha Brown and William and Caroline Shave during 1881. The Cottage is known to some locals as “Shave’s Lodge” which is believed to originate from the name of these residents.

Numerous postcards illustrating the circular iconic lodge in the early 1900’s were produced by a local printing company who were located within the shop currently occupied by W H Smith. Heavy snow during April 1908 gave the printers an excellent opportunity of creating further picturesque postcards.

The late owner, Brian Spence inherited Ashley Lodge from his parents, Mr and Mrs Batstone, who are believed to have bought the lodge from Lord Normanton in 1962. Mr Batstone, an architect and army officer, extended the one bedroom cottage which is believed to have housed a lady with eight children who may have worked for the Somerley Estate. The property is now being sold, for the first time in 50 years on the open market by the family of the late Mr Brian Spence. No doubt further information relating to Ashley Lodge and its previous tenants will unfold. For further info, click here.



 
The Pavilion, Hampton Court Palace - £8,950,000 - Situated on the historic Barge Walk between The Thames and Hampton Court Palace, the property enjoys views of the adjoining 560 acres of the Palace Home Park and river. The Pavilion is offered in superb condition and is now being sold with planning permission and listed building consent (March 2011) to erect a second Pavilion and two summer houses within the wonderful 2 acres of gardens and to reinstate the original vista from The Palace to the site. Further details and a number of computer generated images are shown in the comprehensive brochure as well as being available upon request. The Pavilion is the one remaining of four originally built on the site under the guidance of Sir Christopher Wren and was completed in 1702 for William III surrounding the largest formal garden, including a bowling green at the time. This is a very special property of both architectural and historic interest.                        

Friday, May 25, 2012

Miss Benn Dines with Jane Austen

The Jane Austen House Museum, Chawton

On May 25, 1811, Miss Mary Benn dined at Chawton Cottage with Jane Austen, and -- one assumes -- her mother Mrs. Cassandra Austen and their co-resident, Martha Lloyd. 



We learn this in Jane Austen's letter of Wednesday, 29 May 1811, to her sister Cassandra who was staying at Godmersham, the Kent home of their brother Edward Austen and his children.  This letter is filled with rambling accounts of family and friends -- from seedlings to disinheritances. 



Syringa (Lilac)

Jane tells her sister that the Pinks and Sweet Williams are blooming and the Syringas coming out.  She relates family news, upcoming journeys  and that very day a second encounter with Miss Benn  over their tea table.

Miss Benn is a poor spinster who lives in reduced circumstances in Chawton; though we know little about her, she is mentioned in Jane Austen's letters more than a dozen times in the few years between the Austen's arrival in Chawton and Miss Benn's death at age 46 in early January, 1816.  Some biographers have speculated that her extreme poverty caused the Austens to invite her for meals frequently.  In her 1997 biography Jane Austen: A Life, Claire Tomalin  writes, "'Poor Miss Benn' appears very much oftener in Jane's letters than their few better-off neighbours; she was not very interesting, but then nor were they" (p.210)





In January 1813, Jane Austen reported from Chawton to her sister in Steventon that "I have got my own darling Child from London..." meaning a copy of the three-volume first edition of Pride and Prejudice, Austen's second published novel.  In the letter of Friday, 29 January 1813, Jane tells Cassandra that she had read half of the first volume to Miss Benn, who was "amused, poor soul." Miss Benn "seemed to admire Elizabeth."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

200 Years Ago: Spring and Summer Fashions

Here are a few fashions from 200 years ago, from Victoria's print collection.  You might see something similar at Jane Austen Society meetings, Regency Dance groups, or Writer's conventions, but few us us would probably want to cope with these outfits every day. Or want to change gowns several times a day.

At the end is a greatcoat for a gentleman to wear in the cool weather.

   Thanks to Sue Forgue at the Regency Encyclopedia for some of the descriptions I was missing.




Ladies Monthly Museum, April 1812



The Full Dress (left), for this month, is made of white satin, ornamented round the bottom with a rich Grecian border, over which is worn a tunic of yellow Italian gauze, trimmed with deep white lace, and fastened up the front with cord of blue silk. Head dress à la Diana, ornamented with wreathes of artificial flowers in dead gold, with a crescent in front of the forehead, composed of pearls and sapphire; the necklace and ear rings to correspond; kid gloves and shoes of pale pink.


The Walking Dress (right) is a white Indian robe of Muslin, made high in the neck; with a richly worked collar to turn over that of the pelisse, which is of blue silk, trimmed with white lace; over which is worn a white,or coloured shawl; the bonnet to be of the same materials as the shawl, and is ornamented with a white feather;--laced half boots of regency brown.



 


Ackermann's Repository Morning Dress April 1812

A superfine Scotch or French cambric, over a cambric slip, with full long sleeves, and ruff à la Mary Queen of Scots. A neck-chain and sight set in gold; bracelets and necklace of white or red cornelian. A Flora cap, composed of white satin and lace. A capuchin or French cloak of blossom satin or Pomona green, trimmed with thread lace. Slippers of pale pink or green kid; and gloves of tan or Limerick kid.




Ackermann's Repository, Ball Gown, April, 1812

A round ciracassian robe of pink crape, or gossamer net, over a white satin slip, fringed full at the feet; a peasant's bodice, of pink satin or velvet, laced in front with silver, and decorated with the same ornament. Spanish slash sleeve, embellished with white crape foldings, and furnished at its terminations with bands of silver. A Spartan or Calypso helmet cap, of pink frosted crape, with silver bandeaus, and embellished with tassels, and rosets to correspond. A rich neck-chain and ear-rings of Oriental gold. Fan of carved ivory. Slippers of pink kid, with correspondent clasps; and gloves of white kid: an occasional square veil of Mechlin lace

Monday, May 21, 2012

Apsley House and it's Environs



From Walks in London by Augustus Hare (1894)

At the entrance of Belgravia, opposite Hyde Park Corner, is St. George's Hospital (above, now the Lanesborough Hotel), occupying the site of Lord Lanesborough's house, which bore the couplet—
'It is my delight to be
Both in town and country.'
John Hunter died in the board-room of the Hospital, Oct. 16, 1793. Close by was the original site of 'Tattersall's,' now built over, formerly well known as 'The Corner,' and much frequented on Sunday afternoons, when horses and dogs were exhibited on 'The Green.' It was here that Lord Hatherton's hounds, sent up for sale, took advantage of the wicket being left open one Sunday, disappeared, and were all found safe back at Teddesley in Staffordshire next day.

Hyde Park Gate with Apsley House to the right

Close to Hyde Park Corner rises the pillared front of Apsley House (Duke of Wellington), over which, on fine afternoons, the sun long threw a spirit-like shadow from the statue of the great Duke upon the opposite gateway. The house was built in 1784 for Henry Bathurst, Lord Apsley, from designs by the brothers Adam: it was originally red brick; the stone front and portico were added in 1828. It will always excite interest from its associations as the residence of Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, who died Sept. 14, 1852. At its gates, for many years, people used to watch for the appearance of the silver-haired veteran in his well-known blue coat and white waistcoat and trousers.
'The peculiar characteristic of this great man, and which, though far less dazzling than his exalted genius and his marvellous fortune, is incomparably more useful for the contemplation of the statesman, as well as the moralist, is that constant abnegation of all selfish feelings, that habitual sacrifice of every personal, every party consideration, to the single object of strict duty—duty rigorously performed in what station soever he might be called on to act.'—Lord Brougham, 'Statesmen of George III.'

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Longest Reigning Monarchs




In this year celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II's reign, we can look back on those majestic beings who top the longevity lists for English monarchs.

Still number one is Her Imperial Majesty Victoria Regina (1819-1901) with sixty-three years, 216 days  on the throne, from 1837 to 1901.



Victoria's Coronation portrait by artist George Hayter, 1837


Perfectly indicative of the incredible changes in the world during her long reign is the fact that she was portrayed at the beginning by an artist in oils and near the end by a photographer.


Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Portrait, 1897

She celebrated the only Royal Diamond Jubilee until this year.  Below is one of the many souvenirs created for the event.  Festivities took place all over the empire, as they will throughout the Commonwealth for Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee this year.




Elizabeth II was born in 1926 to the second son of King George V, the future King George VI (1895-1952) and his wife, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, later best known as the Queen Mother (1900-2002). The present Queen succeeded her father upon his death in 1952 and was formally crowned in 1953.  Now in second place for longevity of reign, Elizabeth  II might  surpass Victoria's record in another four year or so.
 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Stroll Down Piccadilly


From Walks in London by Augustus Hare (1894)

Turning eastwards (out of St. James's Street and onto Piccadilly), we find, on the right, St. James's Church, built by Wren, 1684. Hideous to ordinary eyes, this church is still admirable in the construction of its roof, which causes the interior to be considered as one of the architect's greatest successes—probably his best interior, except St. Stephen's, Walbrook.


The marble font is an admirable work of Gibbons: the stem represents the Tree of Knowledge, round which the Serpent twines, offering the apple to Eve, who stands with Adam beneath. The organ was ordered by James II. for his Catholic chapel at Whitehall, and was given to this church by his daughter Marj'. The carving here was greatly admired by Evelyn.

'Dec. 10, 1684.—I went to see the new church at St. James's, elegantly built . The altar was especially adorned, the white marble inclosure curiously and richly carved, the flowers and garlands about the walls by Mr. Gibbons, in wood: a pelican, with ber young at her breast, just over the altar in the carv'd compartment and border invironing the purple velvet fringed with richly embroidered, and most noble plate, were given by Sir R. Geare, to the value (as is said) of £200. There was no altar anywhere in England, nor has there been any abroad, more richly adorned.'—Diary.


The Princess Anne of Denmark was in the habit of attending service in this (then newly built) church, and it was one of the petty insults which William and Mary offered to the Princess (after her refusal to give up Lady Marlborough) to forbid Dr. Birch, the rector, to place the text upon the cushion in her pew, an order with which the rector, an especial partisan of the Princess, refused to comply.
Among the illustrious persons who have been buried here are Charles Cotton, the friend of Izaak Walton, 1687; the two painters Vandevelde, 1693 and 1707 ; Dr. Arbuthnot, the friend of Pope and Gay, the slouching satirist, of whom Swift said that he could 'do everything but walk,' 1735; Mark Akenside, the harsh doctor who wrote the 'Pleasures of Imagination,' 1770; Michael Dahl, the portrait-painter, 1743; Robert Dodsley, footman, poet, and bookseller, 1 764; the beautiful and brilliant Mary Granville, Mrs. Delany, the beloved and honoured friend of George III. and Queen Charlotte, 1788; William, the eccentric Duke of Queensberry, known as' Old Q.,' 1810; James Gillray, the caricaturist, 1815; and Sir John Malcolm, Governor of Bombay, 1833.i In the vestry are portraits of most of the rectors of St. James's, including Tenison, Wake, and Seeker, who were afterwards Archbishops of Canterbury.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

In The English Garden



Gardeners the world over seek to re-create their own patch of Englishness by way of a garden. No matter where in the world one lives, it is possible to obtain such quintessentially English plants as lavender, hollyhocks and roses. One can even go so far as to install hedgerows, herbaceous borders and a ha-ha in the garden. But it occurred to me that what really sets an English garden apart are the things one finds in the garden, decoration-wise. A few urns or a lichen covered bit of crumbling statuary are both fine and dandy, but nothing says "English garden" quite like a dovecote or, say, a hen house. In fact, you could do worse than to take a page from the Duchess of Devonshire's book and get yourself an entire flock of fowl.  To that end, we've taken a stroll around the internet and rounded up a host of unique - and beautiful -  garden decorations on offer for feathered friends.

The Dorset based company Flytes of Fancy offer Gypsy hen houses in such themes as the Willow, below





The Gypsy Daydream, above, is offered at £3900.00, depending on any additional bespoke requirements and your delivery preferences. Each henhouse is hand-painted by the resident artist and can be further customized to your specifications.


The Branscombe model dovecote, above, available from http://www.dovecotes.co.uk/, offers four storeys of living space for 20 to 24 pair of doves. No doves? No problem . . . . whilst called "dovecotes" these houses have always been used to more commonly house pigeons.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Day with JASNA-GCR


On May 5, in the Crystal Ballroom of Chicago's Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel, JASNA-GCR (Jane Austen Society of North America, Greater Chicago Chapter) held its Spring Gala, Chawton Comes to Chicago, a day of excellent presentations, good food, shopping, meeting and greeting old friends and new.




Jeff Nigro, JASNA-GCR's regional coordinator, welcomed everyone and enumerated the events of the day.

Elizabeth Garvie, long a favorite of Janeites as the "real" Elizabeth Bennett for her role in the 1980 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, gave a charming performance of selections from Jane Austen's life and works, "Jane Austen Delights."





I particularly enjoyed her reading from Lesley Castle (from the Juvenilia), in which the writer of a letter pleads with her correspondent for pity over her disappointment at having prepared a wedding feast which could not now be eaten as intended because the groom had been stuck down, completely ignoring the real tragedy. She thinks only of her own wasted expense and effort -- and how they will ever consume the victuals she has prepared.  The ironic humor of the passage has never before struck me with such vivid force.



Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul as Lizzy and Darcy


Clearly the audience's favorite part of the performance was Ms. Garvie's portrayal of Emma's Miss Bates. Every nuance of the lady's overwrought arrival at the ball (Ch. 38) was perfectly articulated and left us all laughing and applauding.  We could have listened all day!  Despite the fact that Ms. Garvie has played innumerable characters by a wide variety of authors since her turn as Lizzy Bennet, we were all convinced of her special affinity for the works of Jane Austen.



Elizabeth Garvie


Author Lindsay Ashford told the story of how she moved to Chawton and became immersed in the life and times of Jane Austen.  As she learned more and more about the writer, reading in the very rooms in which Jane herself might have read, eating where she would have frequently dined, Ashford was more and more obsessed with Austen and her early death at a mere age 41.


Victoria Hinshaw and Lindsay Ashford


When she learned arsenic had been detected in an analysis of a lock of Jane's golden hair, her imagination took flight.  Could the author -- - also beloved daughter, sister and aunt -- have been murdered with arsenic?  And by whom?  Now Ashford has published The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen, a novel in which this is exactly what happens.  Written from the point of view of Jane's dear friend Miss Anne Sharp, once the governess to Edward Austen's children, the novel has enjoyed considerable attention around the world.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Ashton on the Assassination of P.M. Perceval, May 11, 1812

Spencer Perceval (1762-1812) had been Prime Minister for three years when he was shot in the lobby of the House of Commons, May 11, 1812. He is the only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated.

Excerpt from John Ashton's Social England Under the Regency, chapter  6:

Perceval by George Francis Joseph, NPG


One of the principal social events of the year was the Murder of the Right Hon. Spencer Perceval, Chancellor of the Exchequer, First Lord of the Treasury, and Prime Minister of England, who was shot by the hand of an assassin, John Bellingham, on the 11th of May, whilst passing through the lobby of the House of Commons. He was born November 1, 1762, so that, when he fell, he was in the prime of life. He was of very good family, being the second son of John, Earl of Egmont, in Ireland, and Baron Lovel and Holland in England.  His family was one of the very few that really came over with the Conqueror, for Robert, the second son of Eudes, sovereign Duke of Brittany, settled in Normandy, and there became possessed of the lordships of Brewehal and Ivery. As stated, he came over in the Norman filibuster's suite, and in the course of two or three generations the name of Brewehal, became changed into Perceval-and ever afterwards so remained.

            Spencer Perceval, studied for, and practiced at, the Bar, being made King's Counsel in 1796. In the same year, his first cousin, Lord Compton, who was a member for Northampton, succeeded to his father's title of Earl of Northampton; and Perceval, offering himself for the vacant seat, was elected without opposition. His rise was rapid, and in 1801, being then in his 39th year, he joined Lord Addington's Government as Solicitor-General. In 1802 he was made Attorney-General. When Pitt resumed the government, he retained his appointment, but resigned it at Pitt's death.

            In Lord Portland's Ministry of 1807, he undertook the duties of Chancellor and Under Treasurer of the Exchequer, and also Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. In October, 1809, he was First Lord of the Treasury, and Prime Minister, and so continued until his sad end.

recreation of the assassination scene

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Walking St. James's, Part Two

Victoria here, continuing my walk through parts of St. James's...I reached Marlborough House, once the residence of Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), and his wife Alexandra of Denmark.





Since it was not only the day of Trooping the Colour but also part of the Open Squares weekend, the gardens of Marlborough House  were open to the public.  It is now the home of the Commonwealth Secretariat and Conference Center. The tents shown above not only dispensed hot tea, a necessity on this chilly day, but also displayed brochures and booklets on the 54 member nations of the Commonwealth.  Anyone for a vacation in Tasmania?




Marlborough House was built for Sarah Churchill, first Duchess of Marlborough by Sir Christopher Wren, closely bordering the grounds of St. James's Palace.  Eventually the house was taken up by the crown and used by various members of the royal family.  For many years, as the residence of Edward and Alexandra, it was the home of the Marlborough Set, a late Victorian social circle around the Prince of Wales.





My favorite feature of these gardens was most definitely the Pet Cemetery where Alexandra's dear little dogs are buried in a corner.  





I walked to the opposite corner of the gardens and watched the troops escorting the Queen back to Buckingham Palace. I stood on a mound inside the wall that gave an excellent views, only partially blocked by the police and mounted officers along the route.






A memorial to Queen Alexandria is built into the garden wall of Marlborough House, just opposite St. James's Palace.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Thomas Crapper Is Alive And Well


No, not the racehorse named Thomas Crapper, above. Though he's doing well, too - even has his own website and is owned by a syndicate that includes - you guessed it - Thomas Crapper and Co., which is the Crapper I was talking about. I recently discovered that they're still in business and offer a select range of bathroom fittings manufactured along the same Victorian and Edwardian designs first used by the firm.



As everyone is aware, Thomas Crapper invented the W.C. as we know it today. According to the Company's website: "By the 1880's, Crapper and Co.'s reputation was such that they were invited to supply the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) at Sandringham. Subsequently, Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey all benefited from Crapper goods and services. Crapper and Co. remained by Royal Appointment to Edward when he became king and was also warranted by George V, as Prince of Wales and once again as king.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Day With JASNA-WI




The Spring Gala of the Wisconsin Region of the Jane Austen Society of North America was held on April 28 at the Wisconsin Club, historic home of Alexander Mitchell (1817-1887), a Scottish-born business leader in Milwaukee. More about the Mitchell Family below.




The program began with Sheryl Craig, a JASNA traveling scholar and editor of JASNA News. Dr. Craig presented her AGM talk on the economic background of Sense and Sensibility: "Wealth Has Much to Do With It.."  Jane Austen was a keen observer of economic and social conditions in the year 1795 when she was writing the first draft of the novel, then known as Elinor and Marianne.



Dr. Craig illustrated her points by summarizing the character and attitude of the three "Johns" in Sense and Sensibility, who represented three common if differing positions among the English gentry of the period.  The miserly Mr. John Dashwood leaves his step-mother and half-sisters nearly destitute as he tends to his so-called improvements of Norland Park, including the enclosure of common lands, thus depriving the poor and working class of their former rights.  John Willoughby is a selfish, money-grubbing rake who ruins Eliza and breaks Marianne's heart while he seeks a wealthy wife.



Gillray Cartoon showing P. M. Pitt offering a cut of beef to a man unable to afford a loaf of bread

Sir John Middleton represents the honest landowners who care for their property, tenants and neighborhoods, generous and accommodating to friends, acquaintances and family alike.  Dr. Craig's discussion of the parliamentary debates on reform of the Poor Laws in that period prompted many in the audience to draw parallels between the times of Prime Minister Pitt and today's news from London and Washington.


Presenters Victoria Hinshaw, Dr. Sheryl Craig, and JASNA-WI Regional Coordinator Elizabeth Cooper


"The Sensible Regency Wedding" was the topic of Victoria Hinshaw.  She spoke about the modest and quiet nature of most regency weddings, including those of Jane Austen's niece as recounted by Caroline Austen and the quiet nuptials of Lord Byron and Annabella Millbanke as reported by John Cam Hobhouse.


Lady Byron's Wedding Pelisse, Museum of Costume, Bath

Thursday, May 3, 2012

from The Naturalists' Diary, May 1826

The Naturalists’ Diary, May 1826
From The Time’s Telescope





            There is something revivifying in this season of the year—a gaiety and mirthfulness of which all God’s creatures more or less partake. A thousand joyous feelings are associated with the smell of hawthorn, and the sight of the bright green trees, and the sound of the notes of the sweet singing birds; and the daisies and cowslips spangle the surface of the grassy fields, and the playful butterflies wanton in the glittering sunbeams.


Daisies




To wander at will, in the earliest hours of spring (as it is beautifully observed by Mr. Wiffen, in his Preface to the ‘Aonian Hours’) is one of the sweetest and most refined enjoyments. The face of things and the mind’s feelings have then a fresher aspect and a dearer sensation than at any other period of the year.



Cowslips





 It is only at the first starting of Nature from the repose of winter, that these emotions are forcibly excited; for, after we have been accustomed but for a few weeks to the prospect of buds, and flowers, and the gladness of all things, the mind recedes into its habitual temper and tone of feeling. When these sensations are connected with other associations,--with the spot of our boyhood or our birth, or with the pleasures of maturer life, the charm becomes still stronger and sweeter; and we may truly say, as the Arabian prophet exclaimed of Damascus, “This is almost too delicious!”



Hawthorne