|Wednesday, May 1st, 2013|
6:32 am - Quid Pro Quo: or, The Day of Dupes
I am happy to announce|
Celebration Edition #379:
"Quid Pro Quo: or, the Day of Dupes,
The Prize Comedy in five acts as first performed at the Theatre Royal, Hay-Market on Tuesday, June 18, 1844."
By Mrs. (Catherine Grace Frances) Gore, 1799-1861.
London: Published at the National Acting Drama Office, etc., 1844.
Catherine Grace Frances Gore [nee Moody] (1799 – January 29, 1861) was the daughter of a wine merchant at Retford, who moved to London with her family after her father's death. She married army officer Charles Arthur Gore on 15th February 1823 at St. George's, Hanover Square. The Gores lived on the continent during the 1830's, returning to England in 1840. Catherine Gore began writing novels, poetry, and short fiction in the 1820s. After her marriage, she supported her increasing family of ten children by her even-more-rapidly-increasing writings.
Gore wrote more than sixty novels, dramas, and verse, most of them published anonymously. She was one of the most notable authors of the "silver-fork novel," satirical romances depicting the gentility and etiquette of high society. Gore had experience in both London and Paris society, and paid painstaking attention to details of etiquette and fashion. King George IV said of her "Women as they are, or Manners of the Day", that it was "the best bred and most amusing novel published in his remembrance". Gore's 1861 obituary in "The Times" recognized Gore as "the best novel writer of her class and the wittiest woman of her age."
Although she wrote a number of plays, she was less successful as a dramatist. In 1894, the popular London magazine, "All the Year Round", commented on the rarity of Victorian women playwrights. "Though we can count women novelists by the score, the number of women dramatists is extremely limited, and can easily be told off on the fingers."
The stage was, in Victorian England, a highly gendered area. Women were barely tolerated onstage, and displays of female virtuosity by actresses aroused both nervousness and antagonism from male viewers. The "egoistic force" and "imperial power" displayed in women's successful performances transgressed gender codes and made men distinctly uneasy. Max Beerbohm, reviewing Eleanora Duse, wrote "In a man I should admire this tremendous egoism very much indeed. In a woman it makes me uncomfortable. I dislike it. I resent it. In the name of art, I protest against it." ["The Cambridge History of British Theatre", Joseph Donohue, ed.]
Writing for the stage was even more problematic. Dramatic writing was compared to predominantly masculine activities such as science, mathematics, and architecture, "full of the refreshment of calculation and construction." The mind of the playwright, directing characters across the stage, commanding and controlling the action of the play, must be masculine. Some women wrote anonymously or used male pseudonyms in an attempt to circumvent this bias. When women did write successful plays, as Joanna Russ notes, the response was often a denial of female agency: if she did write it, she wrote it "like a man".
In 1844, Catherine Gore's play "Quid Pro Quo, or, the Day of Dupes" was chosen by a prize committee to win a 500 pound prize. Her play won out over 96 other anonymously-submitted plays. When the identity of the author was discovered, there was consternation and acrimony. Gore did not hesitate to ascribe the critics negative response to the fact that she, an outsider and a female, had dared to compete with established, predominantly male dramatists.
"No inducement would have determined me to confront the hostility likely to attend the representation of such a play, had I not been pre-assured, by the precautions taken, that the authorship would remain anonymous. Unfortunately, my handwriting was known to a literary gentleman connected with the theatre, through whom, after the adjudgment of the prize, the secret transpired to the Committee; and the result has been most injurious to the piece, and disagreeable to myself. For the animosity on the part of the pit and the press (the dramatic critics of the newspapers being, almost without an exception, rival dramatists,) which succeeded in condemning the very superior plays of JOANNA BAILLIE, Lady DAGRE, and LADY EMMELINE WORTLEY, could scarcely fail to crush any attempt of mine."
"Quid Pro Quo, or, the Day of Dupes" shares many of the characteristics of Catherine Gore's silver-fork novels. Members of the upper class, desiring both money and political power but unwilling to work for either, rub shoulders awkwardly with the rising merchant and military classes who have what they lack. Social distinctions become increasingly confused when the Countess of Hunsdon decides to put on a private theatrical. Several of those attending are playing parts off as well as on the stage. Catherine Gore pokes fun at all her characters, but does so affectionately, with sympathy for her young lovers. Her use of a play-within-a-play, mocking private theatricals, was a characteristically clever authorial choice, intended to appeal to the competition's judging committee. Her play is an amusing confection, intelligently written: one can readily understand how it defeated 96 competitors to won the 1844 prize.
|Sunday, March 31st, 2013|
5:55 pm - Womens Speaking Justified, Proved and Allowed of by the Scriptures
It seems only fitting to announce Celebration Edition #378 at Easter, since Margaret Fell used the example of the women who came to the tomb to support her arguments in favor of women having a religious voice:|
"Womens Speaking Justified, Proved and Allowed of by the Scriptures."
by Margaret Fell, 1614-1702.
London: Printed in the Year, 1666.
The 1660's were a difficult but surprisingly productive time for Margaret Fell. The Parliament of England passed several acts intended to suppress dissenting religious views. The Quaker Act of 1662 required people to swear an Oath of Allegiance to the King. As Fell wrote in 1660, this Oath was invented "on purpose to ensnare us", because "they know we cannot swear, nor take an Oath for Conscience sake". George Fox was arrested and imprisoned in Lancaster Gaol by January 1664. Margaret Fell was arrested and imprisoned at Lancaster Castle in February.
Passage of the Conventicle Act on May 17 1664 gave the authorities additional leverage against the Quakers. The Conventicle Act forbade assemblies of more than five people over the age of 16 and not in the same family, under "pretence of any Exercise of Religion in other manner then is allowed by the Liturgy or practise of the Church of England". Both Acts were used to prosecute Margaret Fell on September 21, 1664.
"They passed the sentence of premunire upon me, which was, that I should be out of the King's protection, and forfeit all my estate, real and personal, to the King, and be imprisoned for life. But the great God of heaven and earth so supported my spirit under this severe sentence, that I was not terrified, but gave this answer to Judge Turner, who gave this sentence: 'Although I am out of the King’s protection, yet I am not out of the protection of the Almighty God.'"
The King had some sympathy for the Quakers, but lacked the power to override the Acts of Parliament. In January 1665, King Charles II granted Margaret Fell's forfeited estate to her son George Fell, who was no longer a Quaker. George lived in London, and left Swarthmoor to his sisters, who continued to hold Quaker meetings there.
Margaret Fell spent the next four years (1664-1668) imprisoned in Lancaster Gaol. George Fox was imprisoned in Lancaster as well, until 1666, as were other Quakers. Margaret did not sit idle. During this time she wrote many of her longer religious pamphlets and epistles, including "Women's Speaking Justified", a scripture-based argument for women's ministry, and one of the major texts on women's religious leadership in the 17th century.
Fell was not the only writer to argue in support of women's voice in Quaker worship. She was preceeded by Sarah Blackborow ("Just and Equall Ballance Discovered", 1660), George Fox ("Concerning Sons and Daughters", 1661), Dorothy White ("A Call from God out of Egypt", 1662) and Katherine Evans ("A Brief Discovery of God's Eternal Truth", 1663), and followed by Elizabeth Bathurst ("The Sayings of Women," 1683), Anne Docwra ("Epistle of Love," 1683), and Dorcas Dole("Once more a Warning", 1683).
Fell's pamphlet brings together various arguments in favour of women, in one comprehensive appeal. Her arguments rest on the underlying principle of Quakerism that both men and women are created by God and are spiritually open to God's "Inner Light". She reinterprets key scriptural passages, she provides examples of biblical women speakers, she draws out the egalitarian implications of the doctrine of the light, and she appeals to anti-Catholic and anti-authoritarian Quaker beliefs in refuting arguments against women's speaking.
Acts 2. 27 prefaces her appeal. "And it shall come to pass, in the last dayes, saith the Lord, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all Flesh; your Sons and Daughters shall Prophesie." Margaret Fell cries out that "Lord Jesus hath manifested himself and his Power, without respect of Persons, and so let all mouths be stopt that would limit him, whose Power and Spirit is infinite, that is pouring it upon all flesh. "
After her release in June 1668, Margaret Fell continued to write, travel, and preach. In October 1669, at Bristol, she married George Fox. In April of 1670 she was again imprisoned. Margaret Fox and George Fell spent little of their married life together, due to numerous travels and arrests. Margaret Fell outlived two husbands, and lived during the reigns of six English monarchs, finally dying on April 23, 1702.
|Thursday, March 14th, 2013|
7:19 am - "A Glance into the Future" ; A Makeover for the Celebration Landing Page
In honor of Women's History Month, the Celebration's landing page has received a makeover! Check out our new look at http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/|
Thanks to K. A. Moulton, I've another vision of the future to announce today. He let me know about a one-act utopian "play", printed in an 1879 edition of Godey's Lady's Book, which was not in the Science Fiction and Utopias list:
"A Glance into the Future; or, The World in the Twenty-Ninth Century"
by Elilzabeth T. Corbett.
Published in Godey's Lady's Book, March 1879, Vol 98, No. 585, pp. 262-.
I've put a copy online, so you can enjoy Elizabeth Corbett's vision of a future with undersea tunnels, trans-oceanic ballooning, and self-immolating bears.
Happy Women's History Month! The future is being made today...
|Friday, March 1st, 2013|
4:48 pm - Women's History Month: "Woman not Inferior to Man"
In honour of Women's History Month, I am happy to announce|
Celebration Edition # 377:
"Woman not Inferior to Man: or, a Short and Modest Vindication of the Natural Right of the Fair-Sex to a Perfect Equality of Power, Dignity and Esteem with the Men."
by 'Sophia'. [Variously attributed to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, 1689-1762, and to Lady Sophia Fermor, 1724-1745.]
London: Printed for John Hawkins, at the Falcon in St. Paul's Church-Yard, 1739.
After pointing out that both men and women are involved in the discussion of equal rights, Sophia argues that "we must be obliged to appeal to a more impartial judge, one incapable of siding with any party, and consequently unsuspected on both sides." She asserts that the only such Judge is pure reason, distinct from arguments based on prejudice or custom.
"To this Judge we leave our cause, by the decision of this we are prepar'd to stand or fall; and if, upon the evidence of truth, reason should declare us inferior to Men, we will cheerfully acquiesce to the sentence. But what if we obtain a decree in our favour, upon impartial examination? Why then all the authority, which the Men have exerted over us hitherto, will appear an unjust usurpation on their side; for which nothing can make a tolerable atonement, but their restoring us to the state of equality nature first placed us in."
Sophia makes arguments similar to those of Quaker Margaret Fell, in 1666, that on a spiritual level, men and women must be similar. "The same Creator, by the same laws, unites the souls of Women and Men to their respective bodies. The same sentiments, passions, and propensions, cement that union in both. And the soul operating in the same manner in the one and the other, is capable of the very same functions in both."
Given that the body may differ, but not the soul, differences in education and knowledge result from "education, exercise, and the impressions of ... different Circumstances."
Sophia goes on, however, to assert that women's bodies should be valued and respected. Since men and women are equally required to engender children, they should be given equal respect for doing so. Breastfeeding should be recognized as a benefit to society, and the nursing of children as an essential necessary good.
Sophia's arguments generally follow this pattern: There is no fundamental difference in the nature of man and woman that implies inability to engage in the same mental pursuits. Failings are therefore the effect of enculturation, not latent ability. If women do not achieve perfection in their pursuits, neither do men, so observable failings do not disprove ability in either case.
"We may easily conclude then, that, if our sex, as it hitherto appears, have all the talents requisite to learn and teach those sciences, which qualify Men for power and dignity; they are equally capable of applying their knowledge to practice, in exercising that power and dignity."
Recognizing the equality in nature of men and women, could lead men to allow women access to education and learning, greatly increasing the happiness of both sexes with respect to the other. But, Sophia cautions, "while they lock up from us all the avenues to knowledge, they cannot without reproach to themselves blame us for any misconduct which ignorance may be mother of: And we cannot but accuse them of the most cruel injustice in disesteeming and ill using us for faults they put out of our power to correct."
That women are treated as inferior to men, she is certain, is the result of injustice and force. "If we have been subjected to their authority, it has been by no other law than that of the stronger."
"I myself was accidentally witness to the diverting scene of a journeyman taylor's beating his wife about the ears with a neck of mutton, to make her know, as he said, her sovereign lord and master. And yet this, perhaps, is as strong an argument as the best of their sex is able to produce, tho' convey'd in a greasy light. "
The identity of 'Sophia' is uncertain. The arguments in 'Woman not inferior to man' are similar to those of the French feminist philosopher Francois Poulain de la Barre (1647-1725), suggesting that the author had access to works such as his "De l'egalite des deux sexes" (1673) or their translations.
Lady Mary Wortley Montague (1689-1762) has often been credited with the authorship of 'Woman not inferior to man'. Wortley educated herself from her father’s huge library, teaching herself Latin. She eloped with Edward Wortley Montague, and accompanied him to the Ottoman Empire (present-day Turkey) when he became English ambassador there. Sophia's writing is similar in theme and tone to Montagu's essays in "The Nonsense of Common-sense" (Dec. 16, 1737-Mar. 14, 1738). This does not mean that 'Sophia' is Mary: it may simply indicate that 'Sophia' had contact with Mary or her works.
Another strong candidate for 'Sophia' is Lady Sophia Fermor (1724-1745). As the daughter of Henrietta Louisa, Countess of Pomfret, a friend and correspondent of Mary Wortley Montague, Lady Sophia had the education and connections to write 'Woman not inferior to man'. Lady Sophia became the second wife of John Carteret, 2nd Earl Granville in April 1744 and died on 7 October 1745, just a few weeks after the birth of her own daughter Sophia on 26 Aug 1745. Her early death may explain why so little is known about her.
|Friday, February 1st, 2013|
2:26 pm - Newbery award books; The Jumping-off Place
In 2008, I went through the list of Newbery award books, looking for books written by women, whose copyrights had not been renewed. I found a dozen titles which had entered the public domain, none of which were available online. A few were still in print, but most could only be found in occasional libraries or second-hand bookstores. It seemed a shame that so many works had fallen into obscurity. [See http://merrigold.livejournal.com/2008/01/19/ ]|
I'm happy to announce that all of the out-of-copyright Newbery winners and honor books written by women are now available online, at the Celebration of Women Writers. I am republishing the last of these Newberys online as Celebration Edition # 376:
"The Jumping-off Place"
by Marian Hurd McNeely (1877-1930).
Illustrated by William Siegel.
London; New York; Toronto: Longmans, Green and Co., 1930, c1929. Copyright not renewed. A Newbery Honor Book, 1930.
"The Jumping-off Place" predates last month's title ("New Land", a 1934 Newbery Honor book) by several years. Both books deal with the trials and tribulations of a family of youngsters who are trying to settle in the west in the early 1920s or 30s. The Linvilles are ready to go out to South Dakota with their guardian Uncle Jim, but he becomes severely ill. Realising that he is dying, Uncle Jim records a calendar of instructions for Becky and her younger brother Dick, describing the things they must do for the next fourteen months to prove up on his homestead claim. The two teenagers are determined to support themselves and their younger siblings by following Uncle Jim's instructions.
In leaving the "kids" such detailed instructions, Marion Hurd McNeely deals with the first problem facing homesteaders: lack of knowledge. The Linvilles arrive with a blueprint mapped out for them by an older, knowledgeable mentor. This still somewhat underestimates the unpredictable and variable conditions of prairie weather, but it's more than many settlers had to guide themselves.
By contrasting the Linvilles with their neighbours, McNeely makes it clear that the second thing that homesteaders need is "ee-nergy". Becky and her brother face back-breaking, unrelenting, hard physical labour, under often difficult conditions, just to do the minimum amount of work needed to prove up on their claim. They must establish a home; they must plant a garden to support themselves. This is absolutely necessary to meet their physical needs for food and shelter. It is also necessary to ensure that they hold title to the land.
Becky and Dick's initial goal is to meet the minimum requirement of living on the homestead for 14 months, to prove up on the claim. As they feel the appeal of the prairie, it seems likely that they will stay even longer, becoming "real homesteaders".
Adapting to prairie life, they begin to realize that "You could not carry the standards of Platteville on to the prairies." They learn to distinguish between the superficial amenities they were used to in Platteville and the essentials, both physical and mental. "Funny how little you care for the unnecessaries out here. In fact, I never knew what the necessaries were until I tried homesteading."
Even more than knowledge and hard work, the most "necessary" quality for a settler, in McNeely's portrayal, is the ability to be a good neighbour. Nor is goodness passive. If malice is active, then goodness must necessarily be active too. McNeely's message is clearly demonstrated when the Linvilles first set foot in their new home and find its windows broken. Mr. Cleaver, who has driven them out to the claim, is outraged at the vandalism and determined to do what he can to fix it. Good neighbours do more than sit at home attending to their own concerns. It is our engagement with our neighbours, and our willingness to respond to and support them, that repays our welcome and well-being in a community.
Becky is the most detailed character in the book. Through her experiences, she learns that "The prairie was her prairie, and the people her people, all held together by the strange bond of needing each other."
Marion Hurd McNeely and her husband homesteaded for two years on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in Tripp County, Wyoming, the setting for "The Jumping-off Place". Sadly, she died the year after it was published, accidentally killed by a car while crossing a street.
If you enjoy McNeely's book, you can buy a printed copy from the South Dakota State Historical Society Press, which has republished it in an excellent quality paperback edition. They are doing a wonderful job publishing both old and new titles, including a Prairie fairy tales series and a new biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder. See http://www.sdshspress.com/
You can see all the titles in the Newbery Special Collection at:
|Tuesday, January 1st, 2013|
11:31 am - New Land
I am happy to announce|
Celebration Edition # 375:
by Sarah Lindsay Schmidt.
Illustrated by Frank Dobias.
New York: Robert M. McBride & Company, 1933. Copyright not renewed.
A Newbery Honor Book, 1934.
1934 was an impressive year for women in the Newbery Awards. The Newbery Medal winner for that year, "Invincible Louisa" by Cornelia Meigs, is still popular. Of the accompanying Honor books, seven out of eight were written by women. Sarah Schmidt shared the Newbery Honor with authors Wanda Gag, Caroline Snedeker, Agnes Hewes, Elsie Singmaster, Anne Kyle, and "Erick Berry" (Allena Champlin Best). Padraic Colum was the only male author to make the list.
Sarah Schmidt's "New Land" is set in Wyoming in the 1930's. The Morgan family arrive at the "Parsons' eighty" homestead intending to take it over and prove up on it. Dad Morgan, seventeen-year-old twins Charley and Sayre, and their little sister Hitty, have spent all they have and borrowed more in hopes of making a new start on the prairies. Almost instantly, it seems they are doomed to failure. They discover on their arrival that they have no legal right to the claim they have been "sold" by the slick-talking Sam Parsons.
"Dad could not file on Parsons' eighty ... He could not file on new land anywhere because he had no money, no equipment, no supplies. He had never farmed before; he did not know how to farm. He had never, really, been a success at anything. The Government did not want – would not have – men like that as homesteaders. And Sam Parsons must have known all these things when he had let them come."
The Morgans have the disadvantages of poverty and inexperience. But Sayre is determined that her family will salvage all they can from their situation. They do not own the Parsons' eighty, but they have permission to live on it and farm the land, if they can learn how to do so. When Sayre hears that the local school has vocational agriculture courses, she sees her way forward. Both she and her brother will learn to farm!
Sarah Schmidt's husband, Gustavus Adolphus Schmidt, was Associate Professor in charge of Agricultural Education at Colorado State University, where Sarah taught English. Vocational agriculture training is the warp on which Schmidt's story is woven. Its woof is her characters, whose strengths, weaknesses, and personal, political, and economic motives drive the plot and the action.
A major theme of the book is resilience. Sayre vows that she will not yield to discouragement like her father. "Something stubborn and defiant" inside fuels her determination to not give up. Her brother Charley is smart, strong, and personable, but Sayre fears that he lacks the determination and "firmness" to carry through plans. Faced with setbacks and challenges, both twins must learn to regroup, rethink, and attack problems repeatedly. They must ask whether their choices will bring them nearer to their goals.
At the same time, Sarah Schmidt makes it clear that integrity is essential. Dad Morgan, who has "never been a success at anything," is, nonetheless, a kind and honest man. His children have learned those values from him. People who value prestige and money more than honesty come into conflict with the Morgans.
The Morgans find mentors among the surrounding farmers, and in the vocational agriculture teacher, Mr. Kitchell. He agrees to let Sayre join the part-time vocational agriculture class -- the first girl to do so -- and is a source of support and counsel to both Sayre and Charley.
In portraying Sayre, a girl, as a prospective farmer, Schmidt was describing a trend in western settlement. Increasing numbers of women were proving up on homestead claims. Some registered claims adjacent to parents, brothers, or husbands to expand a family's settled area. Others independently speculated in land, or raised cattle, sheep, horses, or fowl. Like Sayre, real-life women donned pants and climbed up to nail shingles on roofs. They carried lambs to shelter in the midst of snowstorms, and drove wagons of hay and grain to the railhead to be sold. Those women gained economic independence and changed social norms about what women could and should do. Schmidt is recognizing and encouraging the development of the "New Woman" in "New Land".
The determination, resilience, and respect for working men and women that Sarah Schmidt promotes are still relevant today.
Because Sarah Schmidt did not renew its copyright, "New Land" is in the public domain in the United States. So are several of her other books: "Ranching on Eagle Eye" (1936), "Secret of Silver Peak" (1938), "Shadow Over Winding Ranch" (1940), and "The Hurricane Mystery" (1943). The copyright for "This is my heritage" (1953) was renewed, according to Stanford's copyright renewal database.
I am delighted to celebrate the New Year by releasing this online edition of the 1934 Newbery Honor book "New Land".
Best wishes to all in 2013!
|Sunday, December 2nd, 2012|
10:00 pm - The Dream Coach
Advent has officially begun! December always seems like a great time to release a children's book. I am happy to announce Celebration Edition #374:|
"The Dream Coach"
by Anne Parrish, 1888-1957 and Dillwyn Parrish, 1894-1941.
New York: The Macmillan company, 1924. Copyright not renewed.
A Newbery Honor Book, 1925.
Anne Parrish (November 12, 1888 - September 5, 1957) was an American novelist and children's author. She and her brother Dillwyn were part of a well-off artistic family. The artist Maxfield Parrish was their cousin. Her parents, Thomas Clarkson Parrish and Anne Lodge Parrish, were painters. Her mother, Anne Lodge Parrish, studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and was a respected portraitist. As a young woman, Anne Parrish trained at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women and studied under Thomas Eakins. Her younger brother Dillwyn Parrish was also a writer and illustrator, and they collaborated on some early works.
Though often thought of as a novelist, Anne Parrish is notable as a three-time winner of the Newbery Honor award. Her three Honor Books are:
"The Dream Coach" (c. 1923, 1924 Newbery Honor) (with Dillwyn Parrish)
"Floating Island" (c. 1929, 1930 Newbery Honor)
"The Story of Appleby Capple" (c. 1949, 1950 Newbery Honor)
Of the three, only "The Dream Coach" is in the public domain. The copyrights for the other two books were renewed, and still apply.
"The Dream Coach" is a lavishly illustrated collection of somewhat moralistic fairy tales. A lonely princess is befriended by a little angel who brings her happy dreams of the natural world. A Norwegian boy, left alone on the mountain, invites playing cards, goats, and a snowman to share his hearth. The Emperor of China must learn compassion for a captive songbird. A little French boy is whisked away on an amazing journey when he goes to visit his relations. Throughout the book, the illustrations are a delight to the eye and an amusing complement to the text.
"Floating Island" is an unexpected tale of shipwrecked survivors. The family who are shipwrecked are not humans, but a set of dolls in a little yellow dollhouse. Packed up to be sent as a gift to a little girl in the tropics, they become separated when they are cast ashore. They must survive the depredations of seagulls and other creatures and find each other to become reunited. Parrish supports her imaginative account of cast-away dolls with scientific information about the flora and fauna of a tropical island.
"The Story of Appleby Capple" is a complex, clever alphabet book. Each chapter is devoted to a different letter: for B, "Aunt Bella's bulb is blooming and her bird in his bird cage bursts into song." The main character is five-year-old Appleby Capple. He is on his way to his Aunt Bella's, to celebrate the 99th birthday of his uncle Clement. Appleby wants to find a rare Zebra butterfly to show his uncle. The adventures of Appleby, who is trying to find the butterfly, and his relatives, who are trying to find Appleby, are comical and convoluted.
Few people today have read any of Parrish's works. The social relationships between her characters may seem stilted, but her strong, elaborate illustrations and absurdist humour are still enjoyable.
|Monday, November 19th, 2012|
1:10 pm - The Citie of London Reproved for its Abominations
And, just because I couldn't resist the title, here's Celebration Edition #373:
The Citie of London Reproved for its Abominations, which Doth Concern All the Inhabitants Thereof that are Guilty.
by Margaret Fell, 1614-1702.
London: Printed for Robert Wilson, 1660.
I was looking for more of Margaret Fell's writings, and couldn't resist this one.
It's interesting for what it shows about both Quaker theology and 1660's politics!
And in it's basic message, oddly similar to the sermon I heard on Sunday...
|Friday, November 16th, 2012|
4:26 pm - A Declaration, a Demonstration, and a Letter: 3 Quaker Pamphlets by Margaret Fell
I am happy to announce|
Celebration Editions #370, #371 and #372,
Three pamphlets by the Quaker writer Margaret Fell, 1614-1702:
"A Declaration and an Information from us the People of God Called Quakers, to the present Governors, the King, and Both Houses of Parliament, And all whom it may Concern"
London: Printed for Thomas Simmons, at the Sign of the Bull and Mouth near Aldersgate. 1660.
"An Evident Demonstration to Gods Elect"
London: Printed for Thomas Simmons, at the Sign of the Bull and Mouth near Aldersgate, 1660.
"This Was Given to Major General Harrison and the Rest"
London: Printed for Thomas Simmons, at the Bull and Mouth neare Aldersgate, 1660.
Margaret Fell was born at Marsh Grange in the Parish of Dalton, Lancashire, England, in 1614. Her first husband, Thomas Fell, was a barrister, who inherited the the estate of Hawkswell and Swarthmoor Hall from his father. The Fells were very well off, and at first Thomas held influential government positions, including representing Lancashire in Parliament.
Around them, throughout the 1640's and 1650's, England was in turmoil. The English civil war, ending in the execution of King Charles I. in 1649, and the Cromwellian interregnum which followed, were times of tremendous political and religious change. With the fall of state-mandated religion, religious diversity exploded, only to face new suppression by Cromwell's Puritans.
The Fells were deeply concerned with religion, and visiting ministers were welcomed at their home. One such visitor was the Quaker minister George Fox, in 1652. Margaret Fell's response to the Quaker idea that God should be felt personally and internally ("What thou speakest, is it inwardly from God?") was deep and heartfelt: "This opened me so, that it cut me to the heart, and then I saw clearly we were all wrong. So I sat down in my pew again and cried bitterly: and I cried in my spirit to the Lord, 'We are all thieves; we have taken the Scripture in words, and know nothing of them in ourselves.'" (The Journal of George Fox, 1694)
Margaret made Swarthmore a meeting place and a haven for Friends, raised money to help those in prison, and began to write on Quaker concerns. Margaret's husband, Judge Fell, was sympathetic to the Quaker cause and helped to protect them until his death in 1658.
Throughout her life, Margaret wrote at least sixteen books and twenty-seven pamphlets. The three pamphlets reproduced here are written during 1660. Her letter to "Major Generall Harrison and the Rest" appeals to the reader to convert to Quakerism. Her letter to "Gods Elect" encourages those who have converted to remain strong and steadfast in difficult times.
In May 1660, two weeks after the restoration of Charles II to the English throne, George Fox was arrested at Swarthmoor on charges of treason, and imprisoned in Lancaster Castle dungeon. In June 1660, Margaret Fell and Anne Curtis went to London to lobby the King for Fox's release.
In "A Declaration and an Information from us the People of God Called Quakers, to the present Governors, the King, and Both Houses of Parliament" Margaret appeals to the King for protection from persecution and freedom of worship for all the Quakers. She asks Charles II for support in ensuring that "we may not be made a prey upon by the prophane envious People and Priests which we have born our Testimony against their corruptions, who thirst not onely after our Estates & Liberties, but our blood also, who have already begun to search our Houses and to apprehend our Members, & cast them into Prison". Margaret emphasizes the importance of conscience for the Quakers, explaining their refusal to take oaths, but assures the king that the Quakers are peaceful, "a People that follow after those things that make for Peace, Love and Unity".
The women eventually were able to arrange Fox's removal from jail to London to answer charges. Fox's full liberty was then ordered by the King. George Fox was not the only Quaker to benefit by Margaret's efforts at court. In 1661, Margaret Fell returned home to Swarthmoor, after an absence of 15 months, with a proclamation of freedom to Quakers from the King and Council. Though not a final victory, it was a significant one for the Quakers.
|Tuesday, October 30th, 2012|
8:58 pm - Tod of the Fens
I am happy to announce|
Celebration Edition #369:
"Tod of the Fens"
by Elinor Whitney Field, 1889-1980,
illustrated by Warwick Goble, 1862-1943.
New York: The Macmillan Company, 1928. Copyright not renewed.
A Newbery Honor Book, 1929.
Henry V, King of England, 1387-1422, was the son of King Henry IV by Mary de Bohun. He was born at Monmouth, in August 1387. By the time he was 13, the administration of Wales was conducted in his name. By the time he was 16, he was in command of English forces fighting against the Percies at Shrewsbury and quelling the threat of revolt from Wales. By 1410, due to his father's ill-health, young Henry was active in government. He differed from many of his father's policies in both domestic and foreign matters. Henry succeeded his father as King of England on the 20th of March 1413.
In her juvenile novel "Tod of the Fens", Elinor Whitney Field follows Shakespeare and others in portraying Harry as a riotous youth, ready for any gayety and jest. While she uses him as a catalyst for events in her novel, he is not the hero of her tale. The true center of her tale, both physically and emotionally, is Boston (St. Botolph's Town), England. Field does an excellent job of portraying the everyday folk of the town and the nearby fens going about their business. The book is filled with vivid portraits, from Simon Gough who keeps the gate, to the Sir Frederick Tilney and his daughter Johanna, who envision a new future via sea trade. Prince Hal's sense of humour sets the townsfolk on their ears, but it is they who must find a way out of the twisted and confusing events that he sets in motion. Luckily, the title character, Tod of the fens, has a wit and humour to match the prince's own.
Fifteenth-century England, as Elinor Whitney Field portrays it, is a land of savor and color, of broad humour, and rough justice. Her novel was a Newbery Honor book in 1929. It seems only fitting that her tale of tricks and tricksters should appear online in time for Halloween.
|Monday, October 1st, 2012|
2:36 pm - The Autobiography of Mother Jones
I am happy to announce|
Celebration Edition #368:
"The Autobiography of Mother Jones"
by Mother Jones, 1837-1930,
Edited by Mary Field Parton, 1878-1969, Introduction by Clarence Darrow, 1857-1938.
Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Company, 1925. Copyright not renewed.
According to a West Virginia District Attorney named Reese Blizzard, Mother Jones was "the most dangerous woman in America". According to Clarence Darrow, she was "one of the most forceful and picturesque figures of the American labor movement". She knew how to speak truth to power.
Mary Harris emigrated to Toronto, Canada as a child, trained to be a teacher at Toronto Normal School from 1858-1859, and worked briefly as a teacher and as a dressmaker. In 1861, she married George Jones, an iron molder and union organizer, in Memphis, Tennessee. The couple had four children. Tragically, Mary's husband and all four children died in the yellow fever epidemic of 1867. Mary returned to Chicago, where she worked as a dressmaker until her shop was destroyed in the Chicago fire of 1871.
Her life from then on traces the history of the labour movement in the United States. She lived out of a carpet bag, owning no more than she could carry, traveling from place to place. A brief sampling of her activities includes the rail strike of 1877 in Pittsburgh and elsewhere; organizing the coal fields of Pennsylvania in 1899; attending the founding convention of the IWW in 1905; visiting rebel Mexico in 1911; being arrested at Homestead in 1919; and working with dressmakers in Chicago in 1924.
In her work as a union organizer and orator, "Mother Jones" made history. Partly written and partly dictated, in a natural, colloquial style, "The Autobiography of Mother Jones" clearly conveys the power of her voice and her convictions. The immediacy with which she writes makes it one of my favorite autobiographies. She paints a forceful picture of the working conditions and people of the mining camps, railroad towns, and textile industry that she worked with. Her concern for the women and children of the miners, and her ability to involve them creatively in union struggles, are of particular interest.
At Drip Mouth, Mother Jones selected a "picturesque" Irish woman to lead a group, feeling confident that she "could raise a rumpus."
'Up the mountain side, yelling and hollering, she led the women, and when the mules came up with the scabs and the coal, she began beating on the dishpan and hollering and all the army joined in with her. The sheriff tapped her on the shoulder.
"My dear lady," said he, "remember the mules. Don't frighten them."
She took the old tin pan and she hit him with it and she hollered, "To hell with you and the mules!"
He fell over and dropped into the creek. Then the mules began to rebel against scabbing. They bucked and kicked the scab drivers and started off for the barn. The scabs started running down hill, followed by the army of women with their mops and pails and brooms.'
Some of Mother Jones' most poignant writing describes the conditions of child labourers, as she travelled around the country to mills and miles. She describes the lives of spindle girls in the mills and breaker boys in the mines.
"Little girls and boys, barefooted, walked up and down between the endless rows of spindles, reaching thin little hands into the machinery to repair snapped threads. They crawled under machinery to oil it. They replaced spindles all day long, all day long; night through, night through. Tiny babies of six years old with faces of sixty did an eight-hour shift for ten cents a day. ... Often their hands were crushed. A finger was snapped off." One day her landlady's daughter was brought home dead: "Her hair had caught in the machinery and torn her scalp off."
As well as the horrors of day-to-day working and living conditions, Mother Jones describes the abuses suffered by strikers. They were harassed, beaten, even killed. Mother Jones describes families living in tents through the harsh winters, and dying in the massacre at Ludlow, where the miners' tent city was fired upon and then burned. She herself was often threatened.
"The Autobiography of Mother Jones" reminds us that civil liberties are not retained without effort. The right to speak; the right to protest; the right to lawful arrest and a fair trial; all of these can be abused. Mother Jones encouraged people to sit up and take notice, to make alliances and work together to protect those who were endangered. We must remember this as much today as one hundred years ago.
|Monday, September 3rd, 2012|
10:10 pm - Munster Village
I am happy to announce Celebration Edition #367, a new online Utopia first published in 1778!|
by Lady Mary Hamilton, 1739-1816
London: Printed for Robson and Co. New Bond Street; Walter, Charing Cross; and Robinson, Paternoster Row, 1778.
The plot of Munster Village has many twists and turns, as Lady Mary Hamilton recounts the fortunes and romantic misfortunes of the Munster family. I recommend keeping a scorecard at hand to track the entanglements of the various Lord Munsters!
At first it seems like a digression that Lady Hamilton devotes considerable detail to describing the establishment of a utopian community by Lady Frances Munster. Munster Village includes homes for tradesmen and artificers, a public hospital, and a public university with libraries, museums, and classes in both arts and sciences for men and women of talent.
However, a central theme of the book is the interaction between education and inclination. Lady Hamilton sees education as being at least as important as inclination when forming a strong and lasting romantic attachment. The educational theories and practices that shape her characters are described in detail, to show how their characters, morals, and behavior have been formed. Their choices are a result of early training as much as they are of immediate emotion.
"In an age where men of letters seem so regardless of morals – in an age where they have endeavoured to persuade mankind, with but too much success, that the virtues of the mind and of the heart are incompatible – let them cast their eyes on the character of Mr. Burt – When they find so many virtues united in a man, whose understanding was both sublime and just – when they find a man of his penetration to have been a strictly moral man – they will then, perhaps, be convinced that vice is the natural effect of an imperfect understanding."
Lady Hamilton hopes, in depicting Lady Frances' utopian Munster Village, to map out a possible future in which women (and men) engage in broad and liberal philanthropic work for the benefit of all.
"She considered society is manifestly maintained by a circulation of kindness: we are all of us, in some way or other, wanting assistance, and in like manner qualified to give it."
That Lady Frances becomes a great benefactress is not accidental. She has great resources, but more importantly she has been well educated, and her experience has given her sympathy for those who have endured hardships. She is intended to be a model for real people to emulate. It is also important to Lady Hamilton that a woman is being shown to have agency. For the utopia that Lady Mary Hamilton describes is based on merit, and she is explicit that merit can be found in both men and women.
Lady Frances' university admits 200 young men and 20 women at any given time. Students are chosen on the basis of talent, regardless of class or gender, and given full financial support. The goal of educating both men and women is to help them "to discover wherein their genius consists" and educate them in those pursuits, so that they may be self-supporting.
"These young ladies are not instructed to declaim with grace, or sing with taste; but if they are less amusing, they are infinitely more useful and interesting companions to those they afterwards associate with, whether in the character of wives or friends."
An emphasis on usefulness, and the ability of women to support themselves, recurs throughout Lady Hamilton's account of the various Munsters. Several of her female characters find themselves in difficult straits, lacking the support of family or friends. One character, Lady Eliza, informs her lover that she will not give up her country and her friends to marry him, for "from all her observations in life, no love ever lasted long enough to make it worth while to sacrifice every thing else to it".
One of Lady Hamilton's most positively drawn male characters is attracted to one woman, after having promised himself to another. Inclinations of both males and females are likely to lead them astray, unless their characters have been well formed through education. One of her female characters chooses not to marry until she has discharged other responsibilities, fearing that marriage would cause her to neglect them.
Lady Hamilton's utopian vision is a very egalitarian one, based on merit, and explicitly disavowing assumptions of value based on race, class, and gender. It is not a future in which the wealthy give up their advantages, but rather one in which they put them to good use. It is notable that the various threads of the romantic plot are untangled at a celebratory ball held in honour of Lady Frances, the benefactress of Munster Village. Guests arrive in the guise of famous historical and mythological figures, and acclaim Lady Frances for her virtues and noble deeds. Those who have failed to show respect for women are not admitted!
The themes of Lady Mary Hamilton's novel are also the themes of her life: education, enlightenment, and romance. Lady Mary Leslie was the youngest daughter of Alexander Leslie, fifth earl of Leven and Melville, by his second wife Elizabeth, daughter of David Monypenny. Lady Mary married Dr. James Walker of Innerdovat on 5 Jan. 1762, and had several children. Their education was a major concern of Lady Mary's. Lady Mary left Walker in the early 1790s and moved to Lille, France, with British merchant George Robinson Hamilton. Styling herself "Lady Mary Hamilton", she was accompanied by two of her daughters, Isabella and Elizabeth (Betzy) Walker. The girls married French officers, Étienne de Jouy, and Paul Dieudonné. After Hamilton's death in 1797, Lady Mary may have been involved romantically with Sir Herbert Croft.
|Sunday, July 1st, 2012|
9:12 am - Mary, Lady Chudleigh, 1656-1710: The Ladies Defence & Poems on Several Occasions
For the summer months, I am happy to announce two books by Mary, Lady Chudleigh (1656-1710), Celebration Editions #365 and #366. |
"The ladies defence: or, the bride-woman's counsellor answer'd: a poem. In a dialogue between Sir John Brute, Sir William Loveall, Melissa, and a parson. Written by a lady."
London: Printed for John Deeve at Bernard's-Inn-Gate in Holborn, 1701.
"Poems on several occasions. Together with the Song of the three children paraphras'd. By the Lady Chudleigh."
London: Printed by W. B. for Bernard Lintott at the Middle Temple Gate in Fleetstreet, 1703.
"If the Ladies, for whom they are chiefly design'd, and to whose Service they are intirely devoted, happen to meet with any thing in them that is entertaining, I have all I am at. They were the Employment of my leisure Hours, the innocent Amusement of a solitary Life : In them they'll find a Picture of my Mind, my Sentiments all laid open to their View."
Mary Chudleigh's writings do indeed open her mind to our view, but at the same time, she is extremely reticent about much of her personal life. The feminist stance of her writings on marriage, and her frequently expressed sadness, have led some readers to infer that she herself was unhappily married. Others see her freedom to write and publish as evidence that her husband was at least somewhat supportive of her. We cannot know whether, in her own words, he was a "John Brute" or "a kind, and faithful Friend" who "a beauteous Mind does prize".
And what a mind! Chudleigh's parents were members of well-off, well-educated families, who encouraged their daughter's education, not only in history, poetry and classics, but also in philosophy and science. Writing of the universe and the "glorious Orbs" above us, she speculates:
"'Tis highly probable that as many of them are Suns, so others are habitable Worlds, and fill'd with Beings infinitely superior to us; such as may have greater Perfections both of Soul and Body, and be by the Excellency of their Nature, fitted for much more rational and sublime Employments."
In "The Song of the Three Children Paraphras'd", Chudleigh tells her own version of the Biblical history of the world from creation onwards, frequently casting it in scientific terms; and exhorting all members of the universe, from "little busie Atoms" to humans, to praise the beauty of God. How can she, and we, gain knowledge of the universe?
"'Tis Thought alone the Distance must explore;
Nothing but That to such a Height can soar,
Nothing but That can thither wing its Way,
And there with boundless Freedom stray,
And at one View Ten thousand sparkling Orbs survey,
Innumerable Worlds and dazling Springs of Light."
Throughout her writings, Mary Chudleigh tells us that only knowledge and virtue offer some stability in an unstable world. Health and beauty cannot be relied on, just as wealth and worldly honours may be snatched away by "inconstant Fortune".
I disdain to have my Bliss confin'd
To things which Fortune can bestow, or take,
To things so foreign to the Mind,
And which no part of solid Pleasure make:
Those Joys of which I am possest,
Are safely lodg'd within my Breast,
Where like deep Waters, undisturb'd they flow,
And as they pass, a glassy smoothness show:
Unmov'd by Storms, or by th' Attacks of Fate,
I envy none, nor wish a happier State.
For all her efforts to achieve a calm reflective inner life and govern her "Head-strong Passions", events brought Mary Chudleigh inescapable sorrow. Perhaps the most moving of Mary's poems are about the deaths of her mother and daughter. "On the Death of my Honoured Mother Mrs. Lee" ends with Mary's assertion that she will continue to model herself on the virtues of her mother, and employ "my Pen, my Tongue, my Thought" to express her love for her. In contrast, "On the Death of my dear Daughter" is a near-suicidal lament. Although she eventually vows to be led by Reason in attempting to gain victory over the emotions that she cannot cease to feel, Chudleigh is clear, both here and in the opening poem dedicated to Queen Anne on the death of her young son, that Grief can seem endless.
Margaret Ezell, editor of "The Poems and Prose of Mary, Lady Chudleigh" (1993) has done valuable genealogical work that fills in details of Mary Chudleigh's life. Baptismal records show the births of Mary's children, beginning in 1676, and also reveal that she gave birth about every two years between 1683 and 1693. In spite of repeated pregnancies, only two of her children, both boys, survived to adulthood.
In addition to the losses of her children, her mother, and her brother, Mary suffered from years of crippling rheumatism, which eventually killed her. When she writes "Life is a long continu'd Pain, a lingring slow Disease" she is all too familiar with the reality of such pain. It is hardly surprising that she turns from the life of the body to the life of the mind, and from the uncertainty of the world to an enduring God.
"We should study to be really good, as well as to appear so; and be more concern'd to approve our selves to God, and our own Consciences, than to the World."
|Friday, June 1st, 2012|
11:56 pm - Some Reflections Upon Marriage
I am happy to announce Celebration Edition # 364: |
"Some Reflections Upon Marriage, Occasioned by the Duke and Dutchess of Mazarine's Case; Which is Also Considered."
by Mary Astell, 1668-1731.
London: Printed for John Nutt, near Stationers-Hall, 1700 [First Edition]
"He who does not make Friendship the chief inducement to his Choice, and prefer it before any other consideration, does not deserve a good Wife, and therefore should not complain if he goes without one."
This quotation comes from Mary Astell's book, "Some Reflections Upon Marriage", but it could just as well have been written by Jane Austen to reprove Elizabeth Bennett's father for marrying the first pretty girl to attract him.
As I proofread the 1700 first edition of Mary Astell's "Some Reflections Upon Marriage", I kept imagining four women sitting down to tea -- Mary Astell, Jane Austen, Caroline Norton, and Gurinder Chadha.
Mary Astell (1666-1731) wittily critiques the philosophical underpinnings of the institution of marriage in 1700's England. Jane Austen (1775-1817) brilliantly describes the marriage mart of 1800's English gentry in "Pride and Prejudice" (1813). The beautiful and spirited Caroline Norton (1808-1877) made exactly the sort of marriage that Astell and Austen advised against. Norton's "English Laws for Women" (1854) describes her marriage and passionately argues for changes in marriage and divorce laws. Gurinder Chadha (1960-) follows the spirit of Austen's novel while adapting it to modern India in her sparkling film, "Bride and Prejudice" (2004).
Over three hundred years span these four women's lives, but they have similar concerns. How can a woman marry happily? What legal and social pressures affect her when she makes this life-changing choice? What snares and traps may be laid for her; what should she avoid, and what should she seek out?
It all begins with Mary Astell's "Some Reflections Upon Marriage". Astell points out that given the social mores of the time, "A Woman indeed can't properly be said to Choose, all that is allow'd her, is to Refuse or Accept what is offer'd." It is unacceptable for her to initiate a relationship, unwise to show too much interest for fear of offending: she can openly indicate a preference only after a suitor presents himself, if at all.
Furthermore, a wealthy, well-born woman is likely to find that many suitors have ulterior motives. Lands, goods, and social status have an attraction quite apart from any personal merits of their owner. Physical attractiveness may appeal to a seducer or to a virtuous man. Someone who is attracted to wealth, status or beauty may have little concern for intelligence or character. It is essential to learn to distinguish between appearances and underlying character if one is to have any hope of a happy marriage.
Hard-won experience may teach a woman to distinguish between Truth and Appearances, so that she "can discern who are the Flatterers of her Fortune, and who the Admirers and Encouragers of her Vertue; accounting it no little blessing to be rid of those Leeches, who only hung upon her for their own Advantage."
No matter how pleasing he may appear, it is to a prospective husband's advantage -- and to a prospective seducer's -- to please and conciliate a woman during his courtship. Sadly, as Astell warns, and as Caroline Norton found, a man has no need to do either once a woman has committed herself to him. When Astell wrote, a woman was not considered legally separate from her husband. All that a woman owned became the property of her husband upon their marriage. Her goods, her children, her very self, were under his control. When Astell recounts the dangers of choosing a man who is himself ungoverned, she predicts the evils of Caroline Norton's marriage 150 years later.
"He who has Sovereign Power ... will make himself obey'd; but Patience and Submission are the only Comforts that are left to a poor People, who groan under Tyranny."
"The Wife finds too late what was the Idol the Man adored, which her Vanity perhaps, or it may be the Commands and Importunities of Relations, wou'd not let her see before; and now he has got that into his possession, she must make court to him for a little sorry Alimony out of her own Estate."
Astell suggests that it may be to an unhappily-married woman's benefit to adopt the forms of obedience and defer to a controlling husband. However, she indicates that there is one boundary she still upholds: "tho' the Order of the World requires an Outward Respect and Obedience from some to others, yet the Mind is free, nothing but Reason can oblige it, 'tis out of the reach of the most absolute Tyrant."
Given the dangers surrounding her, faced with the complications of marriage, property, and class, who should a woman marry?
"Let the Soul be principally consider'd, and regard had in the first Place to a good Understanding, a Vertuous Mind, and in all other respects let there be as much equality as may be."
Astell particularly prizes equality because she sees that disparity, whether it be of mind, character or fortune, all too often leads to abuse and misery. But beyond this, she advises her reader to seek after intelligence and character.
"A Woman will value him the more who is so Wise and Good, when she discerns how much he excels the rest of his noble Sex; the less he requires, the more will he Merit that Esteem and Deference, which those who are so forward to exact, seem conscious they don't deserve."
Mary Astell wrote that sentence, but Jane Austen could have used it to describe the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy.
I've also put up a short article about Mary Astell:
"Mary Astell." by George Ballard (1706-1755). In "Memoirs of several ladies of Great Britain, who have been celebrated for their writings or skill in the learned languages, arts, and sciences." Oxford: Printed by W. Jackson, for the author, 1752. pp. 445-460.
|Tuesday, May 1st, 2012|
11:33 am - Recollections of Tartar steppes and their inhabitants
I am happy to announce Celebration Edition #363:|
Recollections of Tartar steppes and their inhabitants
by Mrs. Lucy Atkinson, 1820-1863?.
London: J. Murray, 1863.
"We looked like a band of wandering spirits clothed in pure white, riding on horses with black legs." So wrote Lucy Atkinson of her family and their party as they travelling through the deep Russian snows. Given the harsh conditions through which they travelled, and the extremes of both heat and cold which they faced in the Russian steppes, it is remarkable that they were not "wandering spirits" in truth, long before the end of their journey.
Lucy, a new bride, was the first woman to travel on parts of their route. In several places local women tried to persuade her not to go further. Their objections are even more understandable when one discovers that Lucy was pregnant during the journey. She was delivered of a healthy baby, about two months earlier than expected, soon after a waterless ride of nearly 100 miles under bitter conditions. Having expected to return to more civilized areas before his birth, she had no baby clothes prepared.
"When asked what he was to be wrapped in, I, after a moment's thought, bid them take his father's shirt. My friends here laugh, and say I could not have done a better or a wiser thing, as it is one of their superstitions, that if a child is enveloped in its father's shirt it is sure to be lucky; and, I having done so accidentally, he will be most fortunate, and rise to great riches!"
Amazingly, both she and her child continued to thrive -- something which she attributed in part to frequent washing, bathing two or three times a day when possible.
During the rest of their trip, their baby son Alatau (named for the mountain range near which he was delivered) was a great source of interest, and was given many rich gifts. Indeed, he was considered to be far more important than his mother, who noted that girls were considered "most insignificant articles of barter." At one point a local chief noticed Lucy's industrious sewing, and offered to buy her from her husband. The lives of Khirgis women were hard, and Lucy Atkinson was very aware of the disparity between men and women in steppe culture, and in her own.
In addition to travelling the steppes, the Atkinsons stayed in several of the principal towns, including Irkutsk. They were welcomed by many Siberian exiles, including prominent Decembrists Prince Volkonskoi and his wife (Maria Volkonskaia) and Princess Troubitskoy (Yekaterina Trubetskaya). In December of 1825 a group of officers had headed a revolt in Saint Petersburg, refusing to swear allegiance to the new tsar, Nicholas I. Their goals included the abolition of serfdom and redistribution of land. Over 3,000 soldiers were arrested, five were hanged, and more than 120 were sent into exile.
The wives of the Decembrist nobles had the choice of accepting an official decree declaring them widows and retaining their titles and possessions, or accompanying their husbands into exile with restricted rights of travel, correspondence and property ownership, leaving their children behind. Many chose to go into exile. While their husbands worked in the labor camps, the women were able to create a supportive community, petition the emperor for improved conditions, and initiate social and cultural reforms. By the time of the Atkinson's visit to Irkutsk in 1851, Princess Volkonskoi had bought a good house for herself and her children: her husband was allowed to live in 'an apartment in a small building in the court-yard.' Writers and poets were inspired by their example, and the expression 'Decembrist wife' became symbolic in Russia of the devotion of a wife to her husband.
Lucy Atkinson and the Decembrist wives were well-matched in their determination and courage. The words that Lucy writes in her letters of accompanying her husband on his travels might as easily speak for any of the Decembrist wives, setting out to follow her husband into exile:
"They were convinced I should die ere I reached the place. I laughed at their fears, and assured them that it would cause me much anxiety to be left behind, and, even though they told me that death would be my lot if I went, still I was firm to my purpose. You know I am not easily intimidated when once I have made up my mind. I started on this journey, with the intention of accompanying my husband wherever he went, and no idle fears shall turn me; if he is able to accomplish it, so shall I be. I give in to no one for endurance."
|Sunday, April 1st, 2012|
1:45 pm - The Girl Next Door
Happy April Fool's Day! I am announcing Celebration Edition #362:|
"The Girl Next Door"
by Augusta Huiell Seaman (1879-1950)
illustrated by C. M. Relyea
New York: The Century Co., 1917.
The dedication to Augusta Huiell Seaman's young adult mystery,
"The Girl Next Door", is itself a small mystery. It reads:
(Margaret Gillespie Fagg)
AND TO THE MEMORY OF
(John Gerardus Fagg, D.D.)
THIS BOOK IS
I have no idea how Rev. John Gerardus and Margaret Gillespie Fagg knew Augusta Seaman. One of the themes of the book is girlhood friendship, so I like to imagine Augusta and Margaret meeting as girls on the New Jersey beaches. Or perhaps they were introduced as adults at an afternoon tea or a public lecture. However they met, Augusta cared enough about the Faggs to dedicate her book to them after John's death in 1917. Surely they must have been in her mind often while she wrote this particular book, since the work of Chinese missionaries is significant in the solution of her mystery.
I was able to find out a few details about the real missionaries of her dedication, but I would love to know more.
"The Reverend J. G. Fagg of the Amoy Mission was married at Tokohama, Japan, on September 25, to Miss Margaret W. Gillespie, formerly of Jersey City, N. J. Miss Gillespie left New York early in August. Those who have seen and heard her at missionary meetings in this neighborhood, will follow her with deep interest and anticipate for her a life of great usefulness. Mr. and Mrs. Fagg will make their home at Chiang-Chiu." The Mission Field of the Reformed Church in America, New York, January 1889.
Margaret Gillespie Fagg served as a "missionary assistant" in China with her husband, the Reverend John Gerardus Fagg, from 1889 to 1894. After their return from China, John Fagg became pastor of the reformed church in New Paltz, New York for a year, and then in 1895 became pastor of the Middle Collegiate Church, New York City. From 1910 to 1915, Margaret Fagg served as chairman of the Missionary Candidate committee. Her husband died at age 57 on May 3, 1917. Margaret continued to work with the Women's Board of Foreign Missions in various capacities until her death on July 1, 1955.
"The Girl Next Door" is not one of Seaman's strongest works, but it is still enjoyable. The portrayal of the young girls in the book is sympathetic: curiosity about their mysterious neighbors is balanced by concern that they may be intrusive, and a desire to to the right thing. They long to find and solve a mystery, but they do not want to spy. Happily luck favors them!
One warning: There is some anti-Asian sentiment in the book. That one girl (who is blond and blue-eyed) might be the granddaughter of a Chinese mandarin is a source of distress for other characters: "I somehow dislike to think of little Cecily as a mixture of Chinese and English. In fact, it 's almost impossible to think of her as such." Although it was tempting to edit what I was proofing, I've left Augusta Seaman's work as originally published, to stand or fall on its own merits.
Read and Enjoy,
Mary Mark Ockerbloom
|Thursday, March 8th, 2012|
12:05 am - Alicia Blackwood nurses in the Crimea; Mary Wade Griscom in Persia
To celebrate International Women's Day, I'm happy to announce a book and a short article by two intrepid women who traveled to different areas of the world to do medical work.|
Celebration Edition #361:
"A narrative of personal experiences & impressions during a residence on the Bosphorus throughout the Crimean War"
by Lady Alicia Blackwood (1818-1913)
London: Hatchard, Piccadilly, 1881.
Lady Alicia Blackwood née Lambart, (1818 – 30 July 1913) was the daughter of George Frederick Augustus Lambart, Viscount Kilcoursie (1789-1828) and Sarah Coppin. A painter and nurse, Lady Alicia married the Rev. James Stevenson Blackwood (-1882) and with him traveled far from polite society and the upper-class English world.
Lady Alicia Blackwood and her husband "were deeply moved to go out" after hearing of "the battle of Inkerman, that terribly hard-fought struggle". Dr. Blackwood obtained a chaplaincy to the forces; Lady Alicia and two young women friends accompanied him, determined to find some way to help. Lady Alicia applied to Florence Nightingale at Scutari in December 1854. Nightingale's opinion of ladies who came out to assist the hospitals was generally low, as is shown in their first conversation. Lady Alicia relates:
I applied to Miss Nightingale to know where I could be most usefully employed. Possibly at this long distance of time she may forget that particular interview, but I do not; for the reply she gave me, or rather the question she put to me in reply, after a few seconds of silence, with a peculiar expression of countenance, made an indelible impression.
"Do you mean what you say?"
I own I was rather surprised.
"Yes, certainly; why do you ask me that?" I said.
"Oh, because," she responded, "I have had several such applications before, and when I have suggested work, I found it could not be done, or some excuse was made; it was not exactly the sort of thing that was intended, it required special suitability, &c."
"Well," I replied, "I am in earnest; we came out here with no other wish than to help where we could, and to be useful if possible."
"Very well, then," said Miss Nightingale, "if this is so, you really can help me if you will; in this Barrack are now located some two hundred poor women in the most abject misery. They are the wives of the soldiers who were allowed to accompany their husbands; a great number have been sent down from Varna; they are in rags, and covered with vermin. My heart bleeds for them, and they are at our doors daily clamouring for everything; but it is impossible for me to attend to them, my work is with the soldiers, not with their wives. Now, will you undertake to look after these poor women and relieve me from their importunity? there are funds to help, and bales of free gifts sent out; but we are so occupied, it is not possible for us to administer them. If you will take the women as your charge, I will send an orderly who will show you their haunts."
Of course I assented at once.
In this way Lady Alicia Blackwood was delegated by Florence Nightingale to create and manage an unofficial hospital for the wives, widows and children of soldiers in Scutari. In a letter of March 18 1855, Nightingale disparagingly calls these women and children "Allobroges", the shrieking camp followers of the ancient Gauls. In her account, Lady Alicia describes the horrific conditions under which she found them, "as much sinned against as sinning", and discusses the changes she was able to make for their relief. Blackwood's respect for Nightingale is evident throughout her book, which is both vivid and enjoyable to read.
A Celebration Article:
Mary Wade Griscom (1866- )
"A Medical Motor Trip Through Persia"
in "Asia, The American Magazine on the Orient"
by the American Asiatic Association.
Vol. 21 (March), pp. 233-240, 1921.
Sixty years later, in World War I, the professionalization of nursing that Florence Nightingale had begun was well-established. Many women trained as nurses and doctors. Mary Wade Griscom graduated from the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1891 and is listed in the Medical Register for Pennsylvania as of 1895. The Philadelphia Medical Journal, Volume 11, 1903, records her appointment as chief of the obstetrical staff at the Women's Hospital of Philadelphia. Her skills as a doctor were a passport that opened doors for her in China and Persia. By 1915, she was traveling between Philadelphia and China. But her travels did not stop there.
A short article in Asia magazine in 1921 outlines some of Dr. Griscom's adventures. In 1918, she was teaching in the Medical School for Women in Canton when she learned that a Medical School for Women was to be opened in Vellore, India, to address the shortage of doctors due to the war. She boarded a boat and set off, but the armistice derailed her plans.
"At Bombay the flags were flying gaily from all masts in the harbor; everybody was holidaying with parades and firecrackers. The Armistice had just been signed, and there was no reason for me to go to south India. So I went instead to Allahabad to visit friends and wait for the next thing. There is always a next thing in the Orient for a physician, foot-loose and carrying hand-baggage. Almost immediately came a telegram from one of the American-Persian Relief Commission: 'Can you go at once to Teheran? Woman doctor needed.'
"I had from five that afternoon until eleven the next morning to get ready. I had no idea what I should meet in the way of climate or emergencies in Persia, and the opinion of Allahabad was divided on these important questions. In order to be prepared for anything I packed into my light suitcase a few thin clothes, a jersey suit, a heavier suit and a coat. My bedding consisted of two steamer-rugs and four sheets wrapped in Chinese oilcloth to keep off vermin. Of course I did not forget my typewriter and plenty of ribbons." She also took food and medical supplies.
In Teheran, Dr. Griscom started a dispensary, and worked in the women's hospital with Dr. Mary J. Smith, who had kept it open throughout the war. Persian women could not, of course, see a male physician. Poor Armenians, street beggars, members of Persian ministers' families and the grandmother of the Shah all rubbed elbows in Doctor Griscom's waiting-room. However, Mary Griscom regretted that she had arrived too late to be involved in war-related medical relief work. Consultations and regular hospital work were rather tame in comparison. After a few months she set off again in search of more exciting opportunities.
Many doctors and nurses today share the courageous spirit of Lady Alicia Blackwood and Mary Wade Griscom, traveling and working world-wide with organizations like Doctors Without Borders.
|Monday, January 30th, 2012|
9:29 am - Algerian memories; a bicycle tour over the Atlas to the Sahara
I've been thinking a lot about happiness lately, perhaps because I picked up "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin over the Christmas holidays. Now, with Valentine's Day approaching, I'm rereading "Lucky in Love: Secrets of Happy Couples and How Their Marriages Survive" by Catherine Johnson. |
The main take-away of Johnson's research is this: The happiest couples are often those who share a dream and work together to achieve it. The nature of a shared dream can be idiosyncratic, not to mention downright eccentric, as long as both partners buy in and wholeheartedly support it.
Fanny Bullock Workman and her husband William Hunter Workman were clearly such a couple.
I'm delighted to release their first book as Celebration Edition #360:
"Algerian memories; a bicycle tour over the Atlas to the Sahara"
by Fanny Bullock Workman (1859-1925) and William Hunter Workman (1847-1937).
London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1895.
Fanny Bullock Workman (January 8, 1859 - January 22, 1925) was an American geographer, cartographer, explorer, and mountaineer. She and her husband, Dr. William Hunter Workman, travelled extensively in the late 1800s and early 1900s. One of Fanny's favorite ways to travel was by bicycle, though she soon became passionate about climbing mountains as well. The two adventurers certainly did not have an easy time of it! Here Fanny discusses the conditions of Algerian roads:
"A large number of roads built of limestone are hard and excellent when dry, but soften and become slippery when wet. The roads from Oran towards Tlemcen are of this character. Others, having a superficial covering of ordinary clay soil, are fair when dry, but when wet become utterly unridable with the bicycle, on account of the tenacious, glue-like quality of the mud, which adheres to and clogs the wheels. In the desert the roads degenerate into camel and mule tracks, in places quite ridable, and in places rough. After rains the large feet of the camels, sinking into the soil a foot or more, leave the surface in an impassable condition."
The Workmans clearly shared their work, often switching tasks from year to year, including general trip organization, photography, and taking of scientific observations. Most of their publications were co-authored, and Fanny was often first author. A strong proponent of woman suffrage and women's rights, Fanny frequently discusses the conditions under which women lived in the areas in which she travelled. In her "Algerian Memoirs" Fanny devotes an entire chapter to the situation of Kabyle women.
"Writers, guide-books and the French tell us that the women of the Kabylie occupy a high position, and one much more favoured than that of Arab women; but those who have seen them in their homes do not all agree with this opinion. ... One must look deeper than this and see how man regards woman, and how woman regards herself in Kabylie land."
Despite the drawbacks of Algeria roads and sexual politics, the Workmans recommended travelling there. "When one has become blasé with years of European travel, let him turn to Algeria and he will find there what will give him new emotions, fresh impressions, enlarge the horizon of his conceptions, and supplement the experiences that have been elsewhere acquired."
The Workmans' dream was to travel together, sharing new emotions and fresh impressions, meeting challenges, and overcoming obstacles. Throughout their lives together, they continued to look for and explore new horizons.
|Sunday, January 1st, 2012|
10:24 pm - Letters from India
I am happy to announce Celebration Edition #359:|
"Letters from India"
by The Hon. Emily Eden (1797-1869)
With additional letters by Frances Eden (1801-1849);
Edited by Eleanor Eden.
London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1872. (2 volumes)
"I write and write, because I am determined to believe that you are you, that London is London, that England is England, and that the whole Western world is not a clever and finished fancy of my own imagination. The latest written sign of its existence was dated July 28, and now it only wants a week to Christmas." Fanny Eden, Christmas, 1836.
"I am determined to write one line, dearest, on Christmas-day, to wish you and yours many, many happy returns of the day, and that some of them may find us together again; and in the meanwhile I was thinking at church to-day what an unspeakable comfort the communion of Christians is; how the feeling that we were all commemorating the birth of the same Saviour, with the same rites, and on the same day, brought us all together, even at the distance of half the globe." Emily Eden, Christmas, 1836.
Emily Eden and her younger sister Fanny accompanied their brother George Eden, 2nd Baron Auckland, when he was sent to India as Governor-General. George held the post from 4 March 1836 to 28 February 1842 and was awarded the title of 1st Earl of Auckland in 1839. A nephew, William Osborne, went out with them as military secretary, along with half a dozen servants, a pack of greyhounds, and Emily's spaniel, Chance.
Emily and Fanny Eden were accomplished hostesses who had lived with their unmarried brother and helped him to entertain for some years. In their thirties, unmarried, they were part of an affectionate extended family, and deeply involved in the "charmed circle" of upper class Whig political society.
To leave all this and undertake a physically demanding trip lasting many months to India, and then to withstand its challenging tropical climate for years, was daunting. Emily was deeply attached to her brother: "I keep thinking that if I had come down to see George off, and not to go with him, how very much worse it would have been. In short, that would have been out of the question, and there certainly is nothing that he has not deserved from us."
George was determined to make a success of his appointment, and spent hours learning Hindustani. He approached his work with energy and diligence. To Fanny, life in India sometimes seemed dreamlike and unreal, but she determined early on that she would make the best of it. Fanny was a good traveller, and the more adventurous of the sisters, willing to ride elephants and go tiger hunting. Emily was wretchedly seasick when travelling, and felt the heat severely. Both were lonely. Fanny and Emily, though cordial and affectionate, were not ideal companions for one another. George was too busy to spend much time with them, and Emily in particular greatly missed his conversation.
As hostesses for the Governor General, Emily and Fanny met many of the important people of the day, both Indian and English. They attended brilliant spectacles, military reviews, dinners, dances and parties. The Edens recorded their experiences in letters, drawings and paintings. The original drawings and paintings for Emily's "Portraits of the People and Princes of India" (1844) are in the Victoria Memorial Museum in Calcutta. "Letters from India" (1872) details the Edens' voyage out, their life in Barrackpore and Calcutta, and their last days in India before returning to England. "Up The Country" (1867) describes an extensive and spectacular 18 month tour through Patna, Benaras and Allahabad, begun October 21, 1837.
Emily's keen wit and dry humour make her letters enjoyable to read. Had she been less attached to her family in England, she might have written less about India and enjoyed being there more. A constant theme throughout the letters is homesickness. Overland or by sea, letters took months to travel between England and India. However deeply the mail was longed for and anticipated, its arrival was also a source of anxiety. Eagerly anticipated communications from those you cared about or had written to only yesterday, might inform you that loved ones had sickened or died months before. "Write to me about every little thing: nothing can be too little.... I cannot get used to not knowing where you all are, and what you are all doing."
The climate took a severe toll, both on the those who became ill or died, and on families who chose to separate, sending children and wives away in hopes of preserving their health. Heat and disease were debilitating, and humidity and insects were constantly destructive. "There is something ingenious in the manner in which the climate and the insects contrive to divide the work. One cracks the bindings of the books, the other eats up the inside; the damp turns the satin gown itself yellow, and the cockroaches eat up the net that trims it; the heat splits the ivory of a miniature, and the white maggots eat the paint; and so they go on helping each other and never missing anything."
Each of the Edens had their own personal entourage of servants, who attended them everywhere. Even Chance the dog had his own servant. They joked about their "tails" of followers, but Fanny and Emily found the constant presence of servants stressful. Each servant had their own job, and could not be expected to do anything else. Emily was lucky to have a kitmutgar who spoke English, to help her navigate the complexities of the household.
While English ladies might complain of the debilitating effects of the heat, servants were expected to perform demanding physical work under the same conditions. The cost of a decent night's sleep in hot weather might be that a servant sat up all night working a punkah (a sort of fan). Emily notes wryly: "At six in the evening, when the sun went down, Fanny and I went out airing in hopes of a breeze, which generally comes up the river after sunset, but it lost its way to-day, and it was very much like driving through hothouses. Our postilions appeared in their new liveries... I never shall be used to seeing those men running by the side of the horses..."
Under the sometimes frivolous surface of her letters, the descriptions of elephants, peacock feathers, and golden trappings, there are occasional glimpses of a darker, more frightening India. "My poor tailor went away from his work quite well at five o'clock yesterday, and was dead before morning with cholera." Her sense of humour invariably reasserts itself, though she may be whistling in the dark. "There is a mosque and a ghaut at the end of our park, where they were burning a body to-night; and there were bats, as big as crows, flying over our heads... If I die in India, I should rather like my body burnt; it is much the best way of disposing of it, and insects are so troublesome here in life, that I should like to trick them out of a feast afterwards."
Politically, Emily was generally discreet, saying little in her letters about official maneuverings or her own opinions. But Afghanistan was a tinderbox ready to explode, in spite of the reassuring cheerful reports sent to George by Sir William Macnaghten. Once news of the Cabul uprising became known, it was in everyone's thoughts. Distracted between the desperate situation of General and Lady Sale, and preparations for the Edens' departure, Fanny wrote: "I must send this to-day, though there is no direct communication from Cabul; there are more cheering reports, and I begin to hope they may hold out till the winter is over, when reinforcements can be sent them. If you could see my passage; thirteen large packing-cases, each large enough to hold our house at Knightsbridge, and London written on them."
Neither the calamity in Cabul, nor the prospect of another four months of seasickness, could suppress Fanny and Emily's joy at going home.
|Monday, December 19th, 2011|
8:54 pm - Jane Anger Her Protection for Women
I am happy to announce Celebration Edition # 358:|
"Jane Anger her Protection for Women. To defend them against the scandalous reportes of a late Surfeiting Lover, and all other like Venerians that complaine so to bee overcloyed with womens kindnesse."
by Jane Anger, fl. 1589.
London: Printed by Richard Jones, and Thomas Orwin. 1589.
One of the first emails I received from Pat Cross, in September 1998, announced that she had created online editions of Jane Anger's "Protection for Women" and Bathsua Makin's "Essay to Revive the Antient Education of Gentlewomen" at her website, "Sunshine for Women". Over the next few years, I was happy to receive many emails from "Sunny". Sadly, her website is no longer online. I wasn't willing to see the books that Pat put online disappear, so I've created my own online editions of Makin and Anger's books, as well as listing replacements for other Sunshine titles.
Regarding Jane Anger:
All we know about Jane Anger as a person is that she was an educated English woman. Whether she wrote under her real name or a pseudonym is unknown. Only one original copy exists of "Protection for Women", a pamphlet published in London in 1589. Its full title is "Jane Anger her protection for women, to defend them against the scandalous reportes of a late surfeiting lover, and all other like venerians that complaine so to bee overcloyed with women's kindnesse." It was written as a direct response to Thomas Orwin's "Boke His Surfeit in Love, with a farwel to the folies of his own hantasie" (1588), which no longer exists anywhere, so far as is known.
Both books were part of an active debate about the nature of women, and more generally of people, involving academics and religious writers in late sixteenth century England. Jane Anger may be the first woman to publicly enter this "debate about women" or "querelle des femmes". Jane Anger writes on behalf of all women, promising that by sharing her knowledge of the nature and failings of men, she will help and protect others of her sex. She criticizes male domination of art and culture as self-centered and self-serving. She argues that men only see women as objects of sexual desire, and that once that desire is satisfied, men abandon women. Further, she argues that women fill a valuable role as providers of the necessities of life, and creators of the extras that make life comfortable, while men squander the fruits of women's labor.
"Protection", presenting its arguments from a woman's point of view, is a landmark text in the history of women's writing. It prepared the way for other women writers to enter the debate upon women's nature and take up the pen in women's defence.