Saturday, September 10, 2022

Announcements and the rest of "The Months" poem by Samuel Collings

 As an Anglophile and a Canadian (Canada is a nation with the monarchy of Great Britain as its head of state), I am deeply saddened by the death of Queen Elizabeth II. There are no words but...

Long Live the King

And as always, life goes on.


I am pleased to announce that my website, has undergone a complete refurbishment and renewal. I hope you will visit and enjoy its fresh, new look. 

There you will also discover the cover reveal of my thirteenth novel, The Tower's Peculiar Visitor. This book will be released on November 15, 2022 by Uncial Press. I love this cover, and I hope you will also!

I thought you might enjoy reading the rest of Samuel Collings' poem, The Months, as it appeared in The Repository of Arts, in August of 1812. It is laboured, and hackneyed, but it gives us a view of what our Regency forebears considered worth reading. The stanza 'August' contains repellent sentiments on the part of the squire, and 'September' is decidedly odd, but it is all interesting nonetheless

THE MONTHS by Samuel Collings, continued from my last post:


    See the reapers, gleaners dining, 
    Seated on the shady grass; 
    O'er the gate the squire reclining, 
    Wanton eyes each ruddy lass.
    Hark--a sound like distant thunder!
    Murd'rer, may thy malice fail!
    Torn from all they love asunder,
    Widow'd birds around us wail. 


    Now Pomona pours her treasure,
    Leaves autumnal strew the ground;
    Plenty crowns the market measure,
    While the mill runs briskly round.

    Now the giddy rites of Comus
    Crown the hunter's dear delight;
    Ah! the year is fleeting from us,
    Bleak the day and drear the night.


    Bring more wood and set the glasses;
    Join, my friends, our Christmas cheer:
    Come, a catch, and kiss the lasses,
    Christmas comes but once a year.
I hope your autumn (or spring!) is unfolding as it should, and all is well with you.
Until next time,

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

"Conversations on the Arts" and news from my Regency world

 It is so long since I have posted here, I cannot quite believe it. We have had illness in our family (on the way to resolution) and I am on a surgeon's list for knee replacement, so things have not been static. 

Also, during the seven months since my last blog, I have been writing another book. "The Tower's Peculiar Visitor", the third book in my Red Tower series, will be released in November of this year. Watch this space for further details soon.

And just a notice that my website is undergoing an overhaul soon, and will probably be unavailable for a month or two. The address will remain the same, but it will have a bright new look. I have been transferring a great deal of the information from the website to my Pinterest boards so for Regency information, do consult there.

Now for a Regency moment--

In Ackermann's Repository of the Arts of August 1812, in the 'Conversations on the Arts' column, the work of one Samuel Collings is discussed. He is described as a poet, "residing opposite to the Asylum, near Lambeth-Marsh Gate". It is said "...his compositions are under several of Bartolozzi's prints; also under prints from Reynolds." In fact, there was a Samuel Collings  who was an artist and caricaturist, a friend of Rowlandson, who was active in the 1780's and '90's. He dabbled in poetry, but his art is much better than his verse.

 THE MONTHS by Samuel Collings circa 1790


Lo, my fair, the morning hazy
Peeps abroad from yonder hill;
Phoeus rises red and hazy,
Frost has stopp'd the village mill. 


All around looks sad and dreary,
Fast the flaky snow descends;
Yet the red-breast chirrups cheery,
While the mitten'd lass attends.


Rise the winds and rocks the cottage,
Thaws the roof and wets the path;
Dorcas cooks the sav'ry pottage,
Smokes the cake upon the hearth.


Sunshine intermits with ardour,
Shades fly swiftly o'er the fields,
Show'rs revive the drooping verdue,
Sweets the sunny upland yields.

Pearly beams the eye of morning; 
Child! forbear the deed unblest;
Hawthorn ev'ry hedge adorning,
Pluck the flow'rs, but spare the nest.
Schoolboys in the brook disporting,
Spend the sultry hours of play;
While the nymphs and swaints are courting,
Seated on the new-made hay.
Maids, with each a guardian lover,
While the vivid lightning flies,
Hast'ning to the nearest cover,
Clasp their hands before their eyes.
Personally I think Mr. Collings should have restricted himself to art; his poetry was trite and pedestrian. His art however was very good and, overshadowed by the great talents of his era, he did not get the credit he deserved.

A good place to look at his art is the Google Art Project.
Perhaps I will print the rest of his poem in my next post. I will certainly tell you more about my new book, and reveal the beautiful cover. 

'Til next time,


Monday, January 3, 2022

The Pedantic and the Silly -- books for educating children circa 1805

 In 1826, there was a book written "by an experienced teacher" titled "The Complete Governess; a Course of Mental Instruction for Ladies, with a notice of the Principal Female Accomplishments".

from The Governess, or The Little Female Academy 1820

In its Introduction, "The Complete Governess" castigates the books published to educate children.
"The existing books may be divided into two classes; the pedantic and the silly; the former being handed down, with only slight changes in the form, from the days of the schoolmen [a teacher in a university in medieval Europe or a scholastic theologian]; and the latter, chiefly the produce of ignorant persons..."

The author of this book who, it can be assumed, is female goes on to say "Whoever takes the trouble to examine the grammars, and epitomes, and catechisms, of the different arts and sciences that are introduced...must at once see how ill they are adapted for communicating anything like valuable information."

Confirmation of this opinion comes when one considers the book published in 1806, titled 

"A Museum for Young Gentlemen and Ladies
or, a Private Tutor for Little Masters and Misses
containing a variety of useful subjects...
with Letters, Tales, and Fables, for Amusement and Instruction"

The 1806 publication was its 17th edition, placing the original publication date probably in the 1780s. It uses a typeface of that era, with the replacement of some s by f. The few woodcuts are archaic:

 One of the sections of the book is titled "An Account of the Solar System, Adapted to the Capacities of Children" and includes an up-to-date, at least in the 1780s, reference to Georgium Sidus (the original name of the planet Uranus). 

Then there is "The Instructive Remembrancer: being an Abstract of the various
Rites and Ceremonies of the Four Quarters of the Globe for the use of schools"
by Sarah Wilkinson
This may be the most appalling collection of  erroneous, insensitive and inaccurate information ever presented to children. Even the frontispiece is offensive:

The 'facts' presented in this book are too awful even to be reproduced here.

The reading book "A Spelling Book with Easy Reading Lessons, beginning with
Words of Three Letters and proceeding gradually to those of as many syllables" presented in 
1805 by the author of several other instruction manuals, which were advertised in the back of the book. 

The author's name is never declared, and I can see why. The maxims that are used as examples for reading toward the end of the book, are cloying, and presented in oblique formality:

Finally there is a book I have mentioned in another blog "A Book explaining the Ranks and Dignities of British Society intended chiefly for the instruction of Young Persons"
Dedicated (by permission) to Her Royal Highness the Princess Elizabeth

Published in 1809 this little book is, unlike its counterparts, useful and mostly accurate. But even it was prey to oddity. At its very end, after lists and descriptions of the orders of nobility and church, precedence, and court dress, there is a small strange section titled "A Scotch Highlander". The highlander is described mainly in favourable terms but the book also states, "they do not appear to have possessed that degree of refinement in sentiment and manners that is ascribed to them by some writers..."  

I cannot imagine why this small section was even included in an otherwise sensible and well-organized book!

The author of "The Complete Governess" declares that "to the uninstructed all subjects are equally difficult". It is fortunate that she pointed out the inadequacy of the educational books available at the time. Perhaps some parents took note, and did not send their children into the world primed with inaccurate and flawed learning from a number of these books.

Happy New Year!

'Til next time,