Let them learn cookerie and laundrie

Elizabethan housewife picGuaranteed to madden the sisterhood are these disdainful words by a certain Thomas Powell in his Welch Bate, Or a Looking Back Upon The Times Past (1603) which is included in Charmers and Caitiffs (1930), an anthology of prose and verse written by men about women:

Instead of songes and musicke, let them learne cookerie & laundrie; & instead of reading in Philip Sidney’s Arcadia, let them reade the Groundes of Good Huswiferie. I like not a female poetesse at any hand…’ 

Although there is no doubting the author of this advice, there is a problem with the full title of Mr Powell’s book. According to the editors of Charmers and Caitiffs , the full title of the collection is A Welch Bate, or a Looking Back Upon the Times Past. However, in the DNB entry for Thomas Powell we find that the work in question is entitled A Welch Bayte to Spare Prouender. The Internet has little or anything to say about Powell, and although both the DNB and The Dictionary of Welsh Biography (1959) sketch out a brief biography, neither is certain about the year of his birth and death.

What we can say is that he was born around 1572 in Diserth, Radnorshire, studied at Gray’s Inn for one year and served as solicitor-general in the marches of Wales, 1613 – 22. More interested in literature than in law, he published various works in poetry and prose, including the book in question, a justification of Queen Elizabeth’s treatment of papists and puritans, which was suppressed. However, he is better known for his pioneer work on the public records. His Direction in Search of Records remaining in the Chauncerie, Tower, Exchequer etc appeared in 1622, while A Repertorie of Records followed in 1631. He died around 1635.

[R.M.Healey]

Etiquette as Great Grandmother knew it

Blackour book cover 001Found in The Black-Out Book (1939) are these rules copied out in her diary by the editor’s great-grandmother.

 

Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices

 

When calling, do not enter into grave discussion. Trifling subjects are better.

 

It is rude to turn a chair so that your back will presented to anyone.

 

In company do not converse with another in a language that is not understood by the rest.

 

If it becomes necessary to break a marriage engagement, it is best to do so by letter. The reasons for your course can be given much more clearly than in a personal interview. All presents, letters, etc., received should accompany the letter announcing the termination of the engagement.

 

During a walk in the country, when ascending a hill or walking on the bank of a stream, and the lady is fatigued, and sits upon the ground, a gentleman will not seat himself by her, but remain standing until she is rested sufficiently to proceed.

 

A dispute about religion is foolish. When it is known that there are fifteen hundred millions of people on the face of the earth, speaking 3034 languages, and possessing one thousand different religious beliefs, it will be easily seen that it is a hopeless task to harmonize them all. Continue reading

Highest and lowest earners in 1888

According to 1,000 Ways to 1,000 ways to earn a living cover 001Earn a Living (1888) these were the highest and lowest earners in that year.

 

Highest. (sorted highest to lower; highest rate of remuneration quoted)

A ‘star’ equestrian rider in a circus,  £100 pw.

National newspaper editor, £2,000 per annum

Leader writer, London newspaper, £1,500 per annum

Drapery buyer, £1,000 per annum

Inspector of Mines, £1,000 per annum

Novelists, possibly £1,000 per book

 

Lowest ( sorted lowest to higher; lowest rate of remuneration quoted)

General servant in home (female), £8 per annum

Junior hospital nurse, £8 per annum

Feather-maker, 3.6d per week

Waitress, 5s per week

Barmaid, 7s per week

Lifter-up (boy)at printers, 7s 6d per week

Female library assistants, 7s 6d per week

Footman, 8s per week

Groom, 8s per week

Collar-maker, 8s 6d. per week

False teeth maker, 15s per week.

[RR]

How should an escort conduct himself?

young-lady-in-1938-ukSome advice taken from Real Life Problems and their Solution by R. Edynbry, published in 1938 by Odhams Press.

I have recently made the acquaintance of a very refined young lady who, I feel, is vastly superior to myself in many ways. I must confess, I am more than a little in love with her, and I should be awfully sorry to do anything which should lower me in her estimation. I believe, if I asked her, she would consent to walk out with me; but before taking this step I should like to know some of those little courtesies which every man is supposed to know. Not that I am entirely ignorant, but I am aware some of these things have to be learned, and that mistakes are easily made.

‘There are a few rules which should be observed when walking with a lady in a public thoroughfare. Don’t allow your companion to walk on the outside of the path next to the gutter; always take that position yourself. If you want to smoke ask her permission first, but, better still, wait until she suggests it to you. When raising your hat in a salute, remove your pipe or cigarette from your mouth, and lift your hat off your head. If you happen to meet a funeral, also raise your hat. If you take a bus or a taxi, allow the lady to get in first, but you must be ready to help her step down at the end of a journey. When meeting her by chance in the street, don’t keep her standing, but accompany her in the direction she wishes to go.

Should this young lady invite you to meet her people, don’t remain seated while a lady or elderly person is standing. If you have been asked to tea do not stay on until supper- time unless you have been specifically asked. Take off your hat in a private lift if ladies are present, but retain it you wish in a shop or office lift. Dress neatly and never wear anything gaudy or likely to attract attention. Don’t mix the colour of coat and trousers from different suits. A last tip. Don’t do all the talking yourself. By proving yourself a good listener, and by asking intelligent questions, you should easily keep your place in her esteem. ‘

 

Twelve Miles from a Lemon

img_1366-624x380Found in a bound volume of The Idler Magazine (Chatto & Windus, 1892. Volume 1, February to July. pp 231 – 232) this piece by regular contributor Robert Barr. The Idler was edited by Barr with  Jerome K Jerome. It ran from 1892-1911. This piece was found in the always interesting section ‘The Idler’s Club’, fairly heavy on the whimsy but never unamusing– see an earlier jot  where, among other things, Barry Pain proposed that ‘..amateur dramatics would be much improved if performed in total darkness and thus they would also be able to avoid paying a licence fee…’ This piece by Robert Barr has a curiously modern feel about it (if you substitute the internet for the telegram) and the idea of being 12 miles from a lemon echoes the current city dweller’s fear of being more than ‘four miles from a latte..’

Some years ago, somebody* wrote a book entitled ‘Twelve Miles from a Lemon’. I never read the the volume, and so do not know whether the writer had to tramp  twelve miles to get the seductive lemon toddy, which cheers and afterwards inebriates, or the harmless lemon squash, which neither cheers nor inebriates. I think there are times when most people would like to get twelve miles away from everything – including themselves. I tried to put a number of miles between me and a telegraph instrument, and flattered myself for a time that I had succeeded. I dived into the depths of the New Forest. The New Forest is popular in summer, deserted in winter, and beautiful at any season. I found a secluded spot in the woods, and thought I was out of reach of a telegram. I wish now I had not got so far away from the instrument. The boy came on horseback with the message. It was brief, coming well within the sixpenny range, and it stated tersely that the printer was waiting for these paragraphs. The boy said calmly that there would be fifteen shillings and sixpence to pay for the delivery of that yellow slip of paper. Continue reading

How to walk – The rule of the pavement

From Correct Conduct, or, Etiquette for Everybody (M. Woodman. London: W. Foulsham 1922) this piece about the etiquette of walking and pavements. This is the world of the early Downton series or for older viewers The Forsyte Saga. The gentleman has to know what to do in complicated situations ‘…a man who meets his parlourmaid in the street is in a quandary’ – here tipping the hat is suggested (but no nodding…)

hatsoffThe rule of the pavement used to be to walk to the right. The “Safety First” Committee is endeavouring to induce public opinion to favour walking on the left. Instinct suggests the right, common sense the left. Pedestrians should appreciate the fact that this change is being made, and act according to their own dictates. 

When walking with friends, do not proceed along the pavement more than two abreast, and then take to single file on passing other people.

Always give way to perambulators; they certainly are a nuisance, but a necessary nuisance. When a lady is walking with a gentleman, she should take the inside. This is survival of the days when all roads were muddy and passing vehicles splashed those nearest.

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Private Eye & ‘The New Satire’ 1963

IMG_1275Found in the short-lived early 1960s London cultural magazine Axle Quarterly (Spring 1963) in their column of complaints , rants and broadsides (‘Axle grindings’) this mild attack on the British satirical magazine Private Eye (still going strong with a circulation of 225,000). Axle is almost forgotten, it is occasionally seen being traded for modest sums on eBay, abebooks etc., It survived for 4 issues – contributors included Gavin Millar, Paul R. Joyce, David Benedictus, Michael Wolfers, Paul Overy, Roger Beardwood, Mark Beeson, Ray Gosling, Simon Raven, Tony Tanner, Richard Boston, Melvyn Bragg and Yvor Winters. This piece was anonymous.

Millions can’t be wrong aided by The Observer’s unerring flair for pursuing fads of its own creation, Private Eye’s achievement of a 65,000 circulation in just over a year is an interesting phenomenon. This is a figure comparable to that which, say, The Spectator has had to build up gradually over many decades. That Was The Week That Was has been even  more successful. It is estimated that it is watched by approximately 11 and a half  million people, or nearly a quarter of the population.

First of all why has Private Eye been so successful? It’s easy to read, of course, or rather, easy to skip through. Few read the extended written pieces like Mr. Logue’s boring True Stories. And what most people do read requires about as much effort as a Daily Express cartoon. It’s funnier, and cleverer, and more sophisticated, but all it demands is that one has skimmed the headlines and watched TV occasionally. It doesn’t require any mental effort to take it in (although it may stimulate it). 

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‘Good to look at, but bad to live in’— rural slums in 1934

Derelict cottages in England

          Copyright alamy.com (many thanks).

Today, most rural slums have either fallen into ruin or been gentrified by second home owners. In the thirties, however, some of the terrible privations characteristic of the urban slums described by George Orwell in The Road to Wigan Pier , were equally true of many rural slums. In an article entitled ‘Clean Up Our Country Slums’ in the April 6th 1934 issue of the news weekly Everyman, Orwell’s contemporary, the journalist Hamilton Fyfe (1869 – 1951), who was also a man of the Left, went behind the façade of a pretty country cottage inhabited   by some agricultural tenants and was shocked to find damp walls, cracked plaster, peeling wallpaper and a shared sink.

‘All their water they have to fetch in pails from a farm a couple of hundred yards away. They have no drainage, no light, no indoor sanitation ( as the house agents delicately put it); they enjoy none of the amenities that so may of us consider absolute necessities of life. And these cottage are not exceptional, They are typical of the homes in which our country folk mostly live…I could take you to a house where in two small rooms father, mother, grown-up son and four children ( thirteen to nine) sleep. I could show you rows of houses on the outskirts of little towns, where except for the fresher air, conditions are every bit as bad as in the black spots of London, Liverpool or Glasgow’

According to Fyfe, two Acts of Parliament:

‘make it possible for owners of cottages to borrow money on easy terms so that they may “ reconstruct and improve” their property, put in water supply, baths, light and more wholesome sanitary arrangements. Owners have been very slow, however, in asking for loans. The truth is that the farmer was badly stung over the purchase of his farm from the local viscount and is really not able to spend money on repairs. And he owes his bank so much that he shrinks from the idea of borrowing and more. The right solution, the only solution I can see, is that the community should take over the cottages and make them fir to live in. But most councils are as unwilling as most individuals to take advantage of the Acts of Parliament. 

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A Georgian Giles Coren 2

More extracts from an anonymous ‘Review of Taverns , Inns, Coffee Houses and Genteel Eating Houses’ published in the New London Magazine, July and August 1788. The web has done part of the work  by publishing the first part of this survey of eating places, which appeared in the June 1788 issue of The New London Magazine. Luckily, the second and third parts of this series remain offline. So here are some of the highlights of this witty and very politically incorrect survey of eateries in late Georgian London. See our earlier posting A Georgian Giles Coren for more..

Spread Eagle, Strand.

Long noted among the society of the humorous and intelligent. The rooms are here remarkably spacious. Indeed they are in stile. As to the bill of fare, it abounds with every article in the season, from a mutton chop to a bustard or John-dory. The wines are all pure and well flavoured. If there be any preferable to others, it is the sherry and the port. The master and waiters are as civil and patient at four in the morning as at eight in the evening; and the prices of the various articles are very moderate.

58791Toy, Hampton-court.


Pitch-cock eels are here in the utmost perfection. Being in the vicinity of the palace, it is ever frequented in the summer months, by the great, the dissipated and the inquisitive. The apartments are airy, the bill of fare is rich and diversified.
The wines are all excellent. If the bill appears stretched sometimes, strangers cannot much repine, as they have always the best of everything for their money, and likewise the utmost alacrity of attention. The guests would rather pay a guinea at the Toy, from experience, that fifteen shillings for the same fare any where contigious.1)

August 1788

 Windsor Castle, Richmond.

 Long has this house been in estimation. Rigby, who often formerly used to bait here, en tete a tete, used to say “ that further up you may fare worse! “ . The apartments are all spacious, and the view from behind a most luxurious landscape! Good eels, good fowls, and good venison, are found here. The various courses are all served up in style, and there is not a wine but what is of the highest flavour, and best quality. The stables too are excellent in equestrian accommodation; and that is no secondary consideration with a man of feeling, who feeds his horse himself, while the cuisineur is preparing his own feed. The charge is by no means extortionate, and there is as grateful a fair hair’d curtsey at the bar to be had for a shilling as for a guinea. In the left front parlour is a room befitting even Middleton himself. It was lined by India, at least in painting—the panels were formed for the room, and then sent out for Asiatic gilding!

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A Georgian Giles Coren

The Red Lion in the 1930s

A Georgian Giles Coren

Extracts from an anonymous ‘ Review of Taverns , Inns, Coffee Houses and Genteel Eating Houses’ published in the New London Magazine, July and August 1788.

The web has done part of my work for me by publishing the first part of this survey of eating places, which appeared in the June 1788 issue of The New London Magazine. Luckily, the second and third parts of this series remain offline. So here are some of the highlights of this witty and very politically incorrect survey of eateries in late Georgian London

July 1788

Brentford Eights, an island in the Thames off Brentford

This is rendered famous for pitch-cock eels. It is likewise celebrated for a very favourite Dutch dish called Vater Zuchee. This dish is composed of perch, parsley-roots and vinegar, served up in a deep dish, with slices of bread and butter. The visitors of the Eights, in gormandising this dish, have no occasion for any other knives and forks than what nature has given them. It is common to eat with digits only.
If any stripling of fortune, whether a coxswain of a barge, or the supercargo of a post chaise, wishes to be indulged, he may be served here with zouchee to the amount of eight shillings a head.

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A to Z of Zowie (Hippy Slang)

Found in an old Sunday Observer colour supplement from December 1967 this glossary of (then) very recent hippy and 'underground' slang, apparently known as 'Zowie.' In Britain 'Zowie' is mostly associated with David Bowie's son Zowie Bowie (born 1971) now known as Duncan Jones...For a comprehensive online dictionary of hippy slang check out Skip Stone's Hippy Glossary. Since the Summer of Love some of the words below have entered the language (groovy, happening, trip, vibrations, riff) and some like 'Zowie' itself and 'grey' have had very little currency. Slang authority Eric Partridge imported most of Peter Fryer's glossary into later editions of his Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English.
A TO Z OF 'ZOWIE' Peter Fryer offers a selective glossary of the Underground.

acid/LSD. Acid-head/one who uses LSD.
be-in/hippy meeting.
bread/money.
bust/police search, raid.
cool/unruffled, admirable (but see groovy); not carrying illegal drugs.
crazy/admirable.
dig/understand. Diggers/idealist hippies undermining capitalist economies by giving away free clothes, washing-machines to needy.
drag/bore, dissapointment.
drop-out/one who opts out of society.
flip/arouse enthusiasm. F. one's wig/lose one's head.
Flower Power/from Flower Children or Beautiful People.
Revolutionary philosophy akin to ideas of Young Liberals, e.g. Make Love Not War. Characteristic: bell.
freak/arouse or share collective enthusiasm (freak-out).
fuzz/police.
gig/single paid performance.
grey/middle-aged, conventionally dressed/minded person (orig. US Negro term for a white).
groove/make good progress, co-operate.
groovy/admirable, sexually attractive.
happening/spontaneous eruption of feeling/ display.
hippy/product of Haight-Ashbury ('Hashbury') dist. of S. Francisco. Anarchic successors to Beat generation. Essential beliefs: protest, legalised drugs, opting out. Not to be confused with plastic hippies/mostly conventional youth who like to dress up at weekend.
hung up/annoyed.
love-in/gathering associated with groovy scene.
mind-blowing/ecstasy producing.
naturals/non-hip people.
plug-in/turn or switch on.
psychedelic/mind-expanding. Psychedelia/drugs, flashing lights, sound, colour, movies, dance – usually experienced simultaneously.
riff/repeated background phrase in music.
scene/Underground, or specific part of it.
stoned/very high on cannabis.
straight/conventional person, one who does not use cannabis.
teeny-bopper/anything from 11–16–average age of record-buying public.
think-in/poetry session, discussion group.
trip/LSD experience.
turned on/(1) accustomed to cannabis. (2) aware.
UFO/(pronounced 'yoofo'). Unlimited Freak Out – a hippy club.
vibrations/atmosphere; reactions, with sexual overtones.
Zowie/a new import from San Francisco, meaning hippy language.
Edwards2CHenryletter1114

Potash for Relief

Here is a short note from the Conservative politician and former soldier Sir Henry Edwards (1812- 86) to his physician, which was found among some autographed letters.

5, (street name illegible)
28th Aug.

Dear Dr Deetz

I now send you as you wish part of the water I have made during the night & will call if agreeable to you about 10 o’clock this morning. I regret to say the pain I suffer, particularly after dinner, in walking home, even an hour after dinner, seems to me to increase & I suffer dreadfully. I have found relief from Potash & (illegible) on reaching home from dinner, but without that I don’t know how I could bear the pain—it is so excruciating. I will call on you before 10 o’clock, if convenient, at your house, or perhaps you would prefer to see me here.
Yours mostly truly, Henry Edwards
Deetz Esq, MD.

As a former soldier, Edwards was doubtless used to speaking plainly and indeed suffering pain, but to those familiar with examples of Victorian decorum on such matters, this short letter to his doctor may surprise us today. Did he pee into an old jam jar or beer bottle and ask his servant to deliver it to the physician along with the explanatory note? Perhaps his servant was used to such unusual errands and didn’t turn a hair. Obviously, we don’t know what was wrong with Edwards, but if he had suffered from similar symptoms before and suspected kidney stones, a confirmation from his doctor that stones were present in his urine would explain the errand and proposed visit. As someone who has suffered four separate bouts of kidney stones over a eight year period, I can personally testify to the agony they cause. However, the fact that the pain came on after dinner would suggest gallstones to me.

Edwards’ use of Potash for relief is interesting. Potash was the common name for potassium carbonate in Victorian times, but according to Robert Hooper’s The Physician’s Vade-Mecum (1823), potassium tartrate was the specific for gallstones. [R.M.Healey]

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Poetry and Jazz at the Festival Hall

A press-cutting for June 1961 found among the papers of Daniel (‘Dannie’) Abse, CBE, FRSL (1923 – 2014) well respected Welsh and Jewish poet who worked as a doctor much of his life. From the days of poetry and jazz, duffle coats and beards. The Tribune (a left -wing weekly) emphasises the youth of the audience, this is from a time when ‘youth’ meant under 30 – the youth movement didn’t really begin until 1963 (see Larkin’s poem Annus Mirabilis.) Another press-cutting notes the presence of the ‘irrepressible’ Spike Milligan ‘the eminent goon poet.’ Press cuttings, like Poetry and Jazz, are surely a thing of the past. Are there agencies still cutting up (and pasting) newspapers that mention their clients?

The Hampstead Poets and Jazz Group whose first recital was such a success at Hampstead Town Hall last February, greatly daring,took the Festival Hall on Sunday for another performance of their unique form of entertainment. Their optimism was well justified, as the hall was just about full; again the majority of the audience was under 30, and they were given the mixture of poetry and jazz much as before, although unavoidably, the intimate atmosphere of the first occasion was lost in the vast auditorium.

The one newcomer was Laurie Lee, himself a young poet in the thirties when the chief pre-occupation was the Spanish Civil War, as these young men, Adrian Mitchell, Dannie Abse, Jon Silkin, Pete Brown, and Jeremy Robson, the organiser, are poets of the sixties under the H-bomb’s shadow. Cecily Ben-Tovim’s drawing shows Mrs Harriet Pasternak Slater reading to the audience…her poems and her translations of her brother Boris Pasternak’s poems… created a sense of quiet lyricism and nostalgia among the young voices of protest and dissent. The jazz group, helped by Laurie Morgan and Dick Heckstall-Smith, added their own special contribution to the atmosphere.

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Stewards at the Coronation of King George VI & Queen Elizabeth 1937

Found - a mimeographed 4 page typed set of instructions for stewards at the royal ceremony. It reveals the amount of detail and planning that goes into these occasions. It was found slipped into a book on George VI and must have belonged to a former steward. The mention at the end of fatigue and strain for this voluntary job is interesting. Stewards had to be at the stands at 5 a.m. wearing (in most cases) morning dress or uniform. Some were required even earlier. Still, refreshments came from Mecca Cafes Ltd (to be paid for by guests and stewards) and there were cigarettes, chocolates and sandwiches circulated by workers bearing trays. A phone service had also been specially installed...

The Coronation of Their Majesties King George VI.
and Queen Elizabeth.
Wednesday, 12th May, 1937

Instructions to Stewards.

1. Stand Stewards.

Each stand will be under the control of a Stand Steward, whose name will be indicated on the Steward’s pass. Stewards will report to the Stand Steward on arrival, will accept orders from him without reservation and will remain on duty until permission to leave is given by him.

2. Time of Attendance.

Stewards will be required to be at their stand, the number of which is indicated on the back of the pass, not later than 5 a.m. and should make themselves conversant with the general traffic facilities in order to ensure their attendance by this time. A certain number of Stewards on each stand may be required by the Stand Steward to be present at an earlier hour.

It is anticipated that in spite of the later hour of arrival which has been prescribed by the Police for seatholders, a large number will present themselves at the stands at a very early hour, and in order that congestion by seatholders and members of the public at the entrances to stands may be avoided it is considered necessary to arrange for Stewards to be present at that time indicated.

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An 18th Century joke

Found – a scrapbook of press-cuttings mostly from the Irish newspaper the Cork Gazette. This cutting entitled Bon Mot dates from about 1789. Most cuttings are about oddities, strange wagers (can a walking man cover 20 miles faster than a walking horse?) horrible executions, daring feats, obituaries, a letter from Dean Swift, marriages of royals etc., The following is a genuine 18th Century joke. If they had stand up comedians then this would presumably have them ROTFL.

An eminent painter, conversing with a gentleman upon the subject of his profession, very judiciously observes, that the air, the character of a person, was as essential as the face to constitute a just likeness: – that a person, so situated as only to have his face discerned, might not be known, even by his intimate acquaintance, for want of the character which his air would contribute. “ For instance”, says he “a man standing in the pillory.” – “Very true,” interrupted the gentleman “a man in that situation would certainly be without character.”

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Whistler Stories

Found – Whistler Stories (Harper, New York 1913) put together by Don C Seitz. Many of the stories associated with the artist James McNeill Whistler are ironic jokes about his incredible self regard (‘…responding to an admirer who stated that there were only two great painters – Velasquez and himself. “Why drag in Velasquez.”’) or withering put downs. This exchange with Oscar Wilde is a good example of the latter:

 

Wilde asked the artist’s opinion upon a poem which he had written, presenting a copy to be read. Whistler read it and was handing it back without comment.
“Well,” queried Wilde, “do you perceive any worth?”
“It’s worth its weight in gold,” replied Whistler.
The poem was written on the very thinnest tissue-paper,
weighing practically nothing. The coolness between the two men is said to have dated from that moment.

The next story is a rare one – someone turns the tables on the great artist:

Whistler had a French poodle of which he was extravagantly fond.  This poodle was seized with an affection of the throat, and Whistler had the audacity to send for the great throat specialist, Mackenzie.  Sir Morell, when he saw that he had been called to treat a dog, didn’t like it much, it was plain.  But he said nothing.  He prescribed, pocketed a big fee, and drove away.  The next day he sent posthaste for Whistler.  And Whistler, thinking he was summoned on some matter connected with his beloved dog, dropped his work and rushed like the wind to Mackenzie’s.  On his arrival Sir Morell said, gravely:  “How do you do, Mr. Whistler?  I wanted to see you about having my front door painted.”

Lastly a tale that shows his self opinion was justified, although it took a few decades…

An American millionaire, to whom wealth had come rather quickly from Western mines, called at the Paris studio with the idea of capturing something for his gallery.  He glanced casually at the paintings on the walls, and then queried:
“How much for the lot?”
“Four millions,” said Whistler.
“What?”
“My posthumous prices!  Good morning!”

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The Library of J-P Mayer

Found among the papers of  J-P Mayer (1903 – 1992) – this appraisal of his massive library by his friend F.R. Cowell. Peter Mayer was  Professor Emeritus at Reading University and author of books on De Tocqueville, Max Weber, the sociology of films,  and French political thought. He fled to England in 1936 having been a leading figure in the anti-Nazi movement in Germany. He then worked for Britain in the Ministry of Economic Warfare.His library was acquired by us last year, many of the high price items having been taken by Bonham’s auction house. This included a presentation copy from John Stuart Mill to Alexis de Tocqueville and  signed material from Friedrich Engels which made £100,000 plus each. Oddly we (Any Amount of Books, Charing Cross Road) also bought in 2009 a large part of the library of F.R. Cowell another man with a very large and interesting book collection. Both men went on book hunts together, Paris being (then) fertile ground. Mayer also bought heavily while in America. F. R. Cowell was a historian and author of Cicero and the Roman Republic, The Athenaeum, and Leibniz Material for London and many other works on ancient history, horticulture, economics and bibliography. In the accompanying letter (shown) he invites J-P Mayer to join him for a meal at his London club – The Athenaeum (February 1962). It appears that Mayer was trying to sell his library to ‘Boulder’ -presumably the University of Colorado. Evidently the sale never happened and the books stayed in his house in Stoke Poges for another 50 years. The house was near St. Giles church where Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard is believed to have been written. It took 5 large vans to move the books. F.R. Cowell’s book collection just two…

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John Thomas Smith as Hamlet

‘The Keeper of the prints showing A.E.C. how the Balcony scene should be performed' (Pen and ink drawing by Edward Chalon)

One of the most famous Keepers of Prints at the British Museum was John Thomas Smith (1760 - 1833), who was also a gifted amateur artist, an antiquary, and a writer on art and artists, whose two most acclaimed books were the scurrilous Nollekens and his Times (1828) and the exceedingly scarce and sought after Vagabondiana (1817), which contains forty or more etchings of well known mendicants in the metropolis based on his own sketches.

But in his early days Smith had hopes of becoming an actor, and in 1787 was promised an engagement with the Royalty Theatre in London. Unfortunately, this fell through and he set up as a drawing master instead. But if the portraitist Alfred Edward Chalon (1780 – 1860) is to be believed, Smith retained an interest in performing throughout his life. Here we have a pen and ink drawing by Chalon of the Keeper as a distinctly middle aged and podgy Hamlet. It may have been sketched following the publication of the sitter’s biography of the brilliant sculptor Nollekens, which portrayed him (possibly with truth) as a miserly curmudgeon. It has been said that Smith decided to write the book--dubbed ‘the most candid biography in English literature’--after the disappointment of not receiving the generous bequest he had been led to expect from his friend.

Smith died in harness aged just 66 in 1833. A Book for a Rainy Day, which contained his largely unpublished writings appeared posthumously.

[R.M.H]

Rumfordsuppe

The most nourishing soup

A pot of Rumford’s Soup from the basic recipe: pearl barley and dried peas, water, salt, some vinegar (no potatoes). Thanks to Gestumblindi.
Found - an 'extract' from a book about food with a recipe for pearl barley soup. This piece appears in various forms throughout the 19th century but derives from work with the poor by Benjamin Thompson (Count Rumford)  when he was army minister in Bavaria in the 1790s. Rumford was an American ennobled by the courts of Europe because of his pioneer discoveries in cooking.The soup is sometimes known as Rumford's Soup. He wrote:

The difference in the apparent goodness, or the palatableness, and apparent nutritiousness of the same kinds of food, when prepared or cooked in different ways struck me very forcibly and I constantly found that the richness or quality of a soup depended more upon a proper choice of the ingredients and a proper management of the fire in the combination of those ingredients, than upon the quantity of solid nutritious matter employed ;— much more upon the art and skill of the cook, than upon the amount of the sums laid out in the market.

I found, likewise, that the nutritiousness of a soup, or its power of satisfying hunger, and affording nourishment, appeared always to be in proportion to its apparent richness or palatableness. But what surprised me not a little, was a discovery of the very small quantity of solid food, which, when properly prepared, will suffice to satisfy hunger, and support life and health ; and the very trifling expense at which the stoutest and most laborious man may, in any country, be fed.

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Penfoldpillarboxcheltenham

1846 Diary of J.W.Penfold—inventor of the octagonal pillar box

Any Jotters who in their childhood tuned into Danger Mouse, which is about to be revived, must know that his sidekick was called Penfold. It would seem that this character was named after the Victorian architect John Wornham Penfold (1828 - 1909), who is perhaps best known today as the inventor of the octagonal pillar box, several examples of which can still be found in Cheltenham.

But here we have a copy of the Punch Pocket Book for 1846 (discovered many years ago in an antique shop) that once belonged to the future architect and designer, then aged just eighteen, while he was working as a lowly assistant draughtsman in the London office of the renowned architect and illustrator Thomas Talbot Bury (1809 -1877) and his partner Charles Lee (1803 – 1880). At this time Penfold’s duties were various, and included surveying at proposed sites, researching legal documents, studying plans, often of proposed railways, and copying and preparing plans and delivering them with other related material to clients and lawyers. The Diary, also records Penfold’s churchgoing, social life, including visits of friends and relations, dining out, trips to the theatre and concerts, excursions to art galleries and museums, and visits home to his home town of Haslemere. Here  then  is a rare glimpse into the world of a trainee architect in early Victorian London at a time when  the ‘Railway Mania ‘ was raging across England and the metropolis was rapidly expanding.  Not surprisingly, most of the more interesting entries in the Diary illustrate the way in which these developments relate to Penfold’s work. Here are some examples:

January:
Wednesday 14th.Took letter to B. Williams, Waterloo Place & to Humby, Carlton Chambers. Copying Plan of Sewer under Richmond Railway on Mr Leader’s land & Beck’s Bill to W. Clay.

Monday 26th. …went with Sydney to measure across Westminster Bridge road where the south east extension is to cross by Miss Carr’s property. Inking in tracing of South Eastern Extension Ry.

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