Friday, January 25, 2008

Cutty Sark Hits the (Lottery) Jackpot

Good news for the Cutty Sark, the Victorian tea clipper devastated by fire last May: the Heritage Lottery Fund has increased its grant to the restoration project by £10 million.

"The Heritage Lottery Fund has been an incredible partner of the Cutty Sark Trust and we are deeply grateful for this extra support," says Richard Hamilton, chairman of the trust. "The support from the public and our other partners has also been enormously encouraging. The Trust has secured £30 million against the projected cost of £35 million to realise this exciting and innovative project at the heart of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site."

The world's last surviving sixteenth-century warship, the Mary Rose [see comments to this post], received £21m from the lottery fund, which will be used to build a museum around it in Portsmouth.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Death of a Queen

Today marks the 107th anniversary of the death of Queen Victoria.

Shown above (click to enlarge): The queen's cortège on its way from the Albert Memorial Chapel at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, to the mausoleum at Frogmore House in the castle grounds (4 February 1901). Victoria is buried there next to Prince Albert.

The procession was captured on film by Hepworth and Co. as it passed Marble Arch earlier in the day; to view the 30-second clip, visit the "Moving History" website.

Shown below: Effigies of the queen and her consort on the tomb at Frogmore.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

History Carnival # 60: Galloping into the New Year

Step right up, folks, to the 60th edition of History Carnival. The Victorian Peeper is pleased to host this month's round-up of the world's best history blogging.

Our pace will be set by the lovely (if somewhat demented-looking) Tidman horses that are part of the beautifully restored Jubilee Steam Gallopers carousel (c. 1895) operated by Carter's Famous Royal Berkshire Steam Fair, which is currently encamped at Warwick Castle as part of "A Very Victorian Christmas" (through 6 January). For more information about Victorian carnivals, visit the Fairground Heritage Trust.

The next History Carnival will be published in February by Marcin Wilkowski at Historia i Media, a Polish blog that explores the place of historical thinking in media, especially the Internet. This is the first time that the English-language Carnival will be hosted by a non-English-language blog. Submit your entries here.

Now on with the show!

The Ancient World
Three depictions of the "Ancient World through Maps" are discussed at Varnam, including a map of the world made in 1507 by Martin Waldseemüller, the last surviving print of which was recently purchased by the Library of Congress for a cool $10 million; the Tabula Peutingeriana, the only known Roman map of the road from Spain to India; and a 7,000-year-old rock painting on a cave wall at Jaora in India that may be a map of the cosmos.

At group blog The Agonist, Sean-Paul Kelley describes the challenges of researching the campaign of the Han emperor Gao Tzu against the nomadic Xiongnu in 200 BC and requests assistance with Chinese histories of the Han and T'ang eras. In "A Meditation on Central Asia" he takes issue with the standard histories of the settlement of Central Asia, noting the migratory impulse that gave rise to a lust for "the next horizon, the next pasture, the next home."

Many anthropologists believe that heating food became commonplace a few hundred thousand years ago, when Neanderthals developed earth-oven cookery to help them cope with an ice age. In "Cooking and Human Evolution," however, Greg Laden is convinced that "there is sufficient evidence in the early Paleolithic [era] of fire" and that "controlled use of fire may well date to nearly 2 million years ago." In a separate post, Laden considers "Ancient Jade Exchange in Southeast Asia," noting a new study that analyzes the practice among the prehistoric cultures of Taiwan and the Philippines and those of the early Iron Age across a large swath of the South China Sea.

The Middle Ages
In "Some Thoughts on Chaucer, History, and Englishness" at In the Middle, J J Cohen describes how the study of Chaucer has been embedded in an educational system that owes much to British colonial encounter: "The fact that [Chaucer] monsterized Jews and Muslims, that his vision of Britain (or perhaps more accurately, his complete lack of interest in attempting to envision Britain) means that he has created a world almost empty of Welsh, Scottish, and Irish content, did not disturb scholars for whom timelessness and universality were synonyms for a contemporary kind of exclusive Englishness."

Seventeenth Century

The history of America's first Thanksgiving has an interesting twist, according to Ian Welsh at The Agonist, who notes that the Puritans who were helped by the Indians resisted, to the point of excommunication, the destruction of their benefactors.

Eighteenth Century
Romeo Vitelli at Providentia tells us about the 1725 raid on the Holborn molly-house of Margaret ("Mother") Clap. Molly-houses were secret meeting places for homosexuals during a period of English history in which the punishment for those convicted of sodomy was death.

New Hampshire historian Christopher Benedetto is interviewed in a post about the 1739 hangings of Penelope Kenny and Sarah Simpson at Executed Today, a blog that provides an "arresting view of the human condition across time and circumstance from the parlous vantage of the scaffold." Kenny and Simpson were publicly hanged for “feloniously concealing the death" of their illegitimate newborn children. The post is one of a four-part series on the spectacle of public hanging in America.

The notorious female "pyrates" Anne Bonny and Mary Read, who live on as part of Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" theme park ride, are profiled by Elizabeth Kerri Mahon at Scandalous Women.

Over at Philaahzophy, Aahz tries to get to the bottom of the infamous tea tax that inspired the Boston Tea Party and helped set the American colonists on the road to revolution.

Mrs. Mecomber's curiosity about a big hunk of syenite rock at the side of a road sets her on a trail of discovery that leads to an Oneida chief who played a role in the American Revolution in "People of the Turning Stone: Skenandoah Boulder, Oneida, NY" at New York Traveler.

The Library Thing Blog
announces that Thomas Jefferson's library has been added to Library Thing, an online service that enables users to catalog their books. Now Jefferson's author cloud, tag cloud, author gallery, and stats page are available for all to see. You can also find out how many books your personal library has in common with our third president's.

Nineteenth Century
At Scandalous Women, Elizabeth Kerri Mahon relates the true story of Marie duPlessis, the woman immortalized by Alexandre Dumas fils as Marguerite Gautier, La Dame aux Camélias, and later by Verdi in La Traviata. The mistress of a series of prominent men from her adolescence, duPlessis parlayed her beauty into a life of luxury.

Lapham's Quarterly Online presents a brief biography of the American suffragist and pacifist Carrie Chapman Catt, who worked relentlessly for the recognition of women's rights at the national level and for human rights at the international level.

At Victorian History, Bruce Rosen gives us an account of the adulteration of food and drink in Victorian England and notes its ubiquity: "Among the items adulterated and the adulterants used were alum, added to flour in the production of white bread; sloe, ash, and elder leaves used to adulterate tea; peas and beans in ground coffee; alum to brighten wine; Brazil wood to colour Port; and sawdust and filbert husks to make red wine more astringent." Rosen also describes the Princess Alice steamer disaster on the Thames in 1878 that killed 600 people and the penny gaff, favored form of entertainment of the lower classes.

The Victorian Peeper describes New Year's Day charitable traditions in Victorian England, including Queen Victoria's annual gifts of meat, coal, and clothing to the poor of Windsor.

Twentieth / Twenty-First Centuries

Mark A. Rayner recovers "The Lost PowerPoint Slides (Race to the South Pole Edition)" at The Skwib ("May the explorer with the best beard win!") This post nabs the Governor's Award for Best Use of Humor in a History Blog for December 2007.

In "Real Progressives and War" at the group blog Progressive Historians: History For Our Future, badger admires the political courage of the early Progressives (e.g., Sen. Robert LaFollette of Wisconsin and Sen. George Norris of Nebraska) in opposing U.S. entry into World War I: "LaFollette and Norris chose to vote and speak their conscience rather than choosing a course of political expedience or ambition."

The rather lackadaisical manner in which the British used to protect their nuclear arsenal from the clutches of a lunatic bent on world destruction is described by David Tiley in "An Invidious Suggestion" at Barista. While American and Russian weapons were protected by tamper-proof combination locks that required the input of a code transmitted by military leaders, British bombs apparently could be armed simply by inserting a bicycle lock key into a switch and turning it 90 degrees.

The public's fear of a Dr. Strangelove scenario (and uncertainty over the mental stability of Barry Goldwater) was exploited by the Lyndon Johnson campaign in 1964 with "the most notorious 60 seconds in advertising history": the "Daisy" television spot in which a young girl picks the petals off a flower while counting out of sequence just before an adult voice-over interjects a "military" countdown which is followed by stock footage of a nuclear explosion. The group blog CONELRAD, which focuses on Cold War popular culture, examines the spot in detail in "Daisy: The Complete History of an Infamous and Iconic Ad."

A little-known aspect of mid-twentieth-century film history is illuminated in the Blue Skelton Production Blog profile of influential Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu, who made more than 50 films (33 of which survive). Many of Ozu's films dealt with subjects related to marriage and family in Japanese society.

In "Indonesia’s Economy in the 1990s: From Miracle to Crisis," Timothy Moreland offers an assessment of how Indonesia survived a financial crisis that began in 1997 and was exacerbated by severe drought. He concludes that "a corrupt and controlling overseer of the economy can lead to drastic problems," "a reliance on foreign investment and a growing foreign debt demands an economy to secure the trust of foreigners that the debt will be repaid," and that "even the most promising economies can be headed for a fall."

In "Jinnah or Saladin" at The Resurgent, Bilal Khan considers the current state of affairs in Pakistan, arguing that the country and its problems "are part and parcel of the problems that the Ummah is facing as a whole" and that "an honest investigation to find out the real cause of the War on Terror . . . would end at one problem, one issue, and one crime – one city and its capture – the city of God – Jerusalem," the site of historical and contemporary conflict between East and West.

Michael Meckler draws on the language of the founders of the American republic to respond to Washington Post op-ed writer Charles Krauthammer's assertion that presidential candidate Mitt Romney is being scrutinized for his Mormon faith in an unfair and unprecedented manner.

In "American Parallels" at The Agonist, Ian Welsh notes that the processes that created the great empires of England, Spain, Rome, and Athens hold lessons for the United States: "America, breathless with greed, is teaching others how to defeat it . . . It is this generation’s task to renew the tree of liberty and keep the American experiment going."

At CounterPunch, Peter Linebaugh asks "Can Liberty be Bought and Sold? A People's Penny for the Magna Carta." Noting that the Magna Carta was cited by name 407 times in 195 U. S. Supreme Court cases between 1790 and 2005, he considers whether the document's commodification and privatization (through, for example, the recent Sotheby's auction of a 1297 version), and the denial to Guantánamo Bay prisoners of the due process rights it contains, have compromised an essential, common sense of liberty.

In "Virtual Protest in China" at Frog in a Well, Alan Baumler reports on a digital sit-down strike undertaken by Chinese gamers, who seem to have learned a thing or two from the UAW.

Natalie Bennett reviews the Louvre exhibition "Chant du Monde, L’art de l’Iran safavide (Song of the World: The Art of Safavid Iran)" at My Paris, Your Paris. The curators note that the visual arts and the written word are closely linked in Iranian culture, where the ultimate theme is the world’s grandeur, a divine creation. Bennett describes the evolution of styles in Iranian art produced between 1501 and 1736, starting with the stunning tile mosaic “Banquet of Letters in the Garden,” which is "a picture of courtly, civilised life in a garden in which each leaf has its place" and concluding with “The Goldfinch and the Narcissus,” a work from the mid-seventeenth century inflected with the conventions of Western nature painting.

History Blogging
In "On Blogs and Frogs" at Digital History Hacks and Cliopatria, William J. Turkel wonders what bloggers can learn from the coqui, tiny Puerto Rican frogs whose mating calls are made more effective by "a special neural mechanism that follows the periodic calls made by other creatures, predicts windows of relative silence, and allows them to blast their own calls into the gaps." Imagine, he writes, "the blogger of the future, augmented by an artificial system that monitors discourse, predicts gaps and pops in your contribution when and where it's most likely to be cited. Over time, the system learns what you are capable of, and becomes more effective at getting your message out."

Cliopatria's History Blogroll seems to grow larger by the day, as does Wikipedia's "Academic Blogs in History" list and the History Blog list at BlogCatalog. Check them out if you'd like to expand your history blog-reading horizon!

Teaching History
In "Deep History?" at Revise and Consent, Alun Salt takes issue with Daniel Lord Smail's argument that history is taught as if it begins in Mesopotamia around 6,000 years ago.

EHT at History is Elementary describes a lesson plan using Arnold Friberg's painting The Prayer at Valley Forge to help students understand the concept of controversy and notes that "conflict has considerable value for educators and students when the controversy is managed constructively [by the teacher]. Controversial questions . . . can help to structure debate in the classroom and reinforce conflict resolution skills."

California high school teacher Larry Ferlazzo provides his list of the best social studies websites of the year, all of which are suitable for English-language learners, and notes a new series of humorous online animated movies inspired by historical events.

Libraries and Archives
In "Burning Books, Libraries, and Archives" at Reading Archives, Richard J. Cox reviews Mark Y. Herring’s Fool’s Gold: Why the Internet Is No Substitute for a Library (2007) and Lucien X. Polastron's Books on Fire: The Destruction of Libraries Throughout History (2007). "Just as some lamented the move from scroll to codex and others from manuscript to printed book, we have individuals lamenting the shift from print to digital information . . . Librarians, archivists, and other information professionals need to work together to ensure that the new digital forms represent enhancements to the way society can tap into its legacy of information and evidence."

Friday, January 4, 2008

Victorian Lives: John Lovell, Gypsy and Tinker of Frying Pan Alley, London

From The Times, 5 January 1843:

"Death of an Old Gypsy. – Last week John Lovell, aged 80 years, expired at his residence in Fryingpan-alley, Clerkenwell. The deceased was well known in the metropolis for the last 50 years as a Gypsy and travelling tinker; and in more recent years, being afflicted with apoplexy, he lost the use of his left side, and paraded the streets in the vicinity of Lincoln’s-inn, calling out, “Poor old man! – pots and kettles to mend.” His appearance was most deplorable, and he received sums of money from charitable persons daily, supposing him to be in great distress. After his decease a sum of money amounting to 700l. was found in various parts of his room, which he had hoarded up, amongst which were several pounds’ worth of farthings.

"On Sunday last he was respectably buried in Clerkenwell burying ground by some relatives. The deceased had a large family of children; one of his sons was executed at the age of 17 years, at the Old Bailey, with John Henley, the captain of the celebrated West-end fair gangmen, Hampstead, for desperate highway robberies at that fair; two others of his sons were transported, for robberies, for their natural lives. The deceased, some years ago, resided at Paddington, and was the associate of the Lees and Coopers, gangs notorious for horse-stealing. Lee, who was at that period termed the King of the Gypsies, being convicted of horse-stealing, suffered execution. The deceased, when a young man, was a noted prize-fighter."

Shown at top: Frying Pan Alley, which was part of a notorious East End slum district in the nineteenth century, c. 1900. It was once home to a number of braziers and ironmongers who hung frying pans outside their premises as a way of advertising their businesses . . . hence its colorful name.

Shown at bottom: Detail of Charles Booth's 1898 Poverty Map of London. Frying Pan Alley runs between Middlesex Street and Bell Lane, to the right of and slightly below the "e" in "Bishopsgate" on the map.


"An Exploration into 'Jack Ketch's Warren,'" in James Greenwood, The Wilds of London (1874) (at Lee Jackson's Victorian Dictionary website)

Charles Booth Online Archive (London School of Economics and Political Science)

Henry Mayhew, "Of the Street-Sellers of Manufactured Articles in Metal," in London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1 (1851)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

"Flashman" Creator Dies

George MacDonald Fraser -- journalist, historian, screenwriter, and creator of the dashing Victorian anti-hero Harry Flashman -- has died aged 82. If you're a regular reader of this blog and haven't read at least one of the 12 Flashman novels, hie thee to your local bookstore today.

The Guardian, 3 January 08; Guardian profile

The Independent, 3 January 08

The Times, 3 January 08

International Herald Tribune, 3 January 08

Press Association, 3 January 08

BBC, 3 January 08

The Times, "The Thinking Woman's Scoundrel," 6 January 08

Business Standard (India), "Flashman's Last Stand," 8 January 08

The Economist, 10 January 08

John Sutherland mourns "a true Brit" whose Flashman novels "articulated that mixture of cynicism, shame, and pride that contemporary Britons felt about Victorian values and Great Britain."

Andrew Klavan provides an excellent overview of the Flashman series in the Boston Review (originally published in 1995): "Flashman's adventures, by virtue of an endless and hilarious collection of mischances, include nearly every major military engagement between the British empire and its subjects, and between the American settlers and the natives they displaced and enslaved. He lives, in other words, at the heart of western imperialism at its height. And because he is amoral, because he seeks out neither justification nor blame, he is able to view the events of that enterprise without guilt or sanctimony, without sentimentality, patriotism, idealism, self-love, or shame. He witnesses both conquest and atrocity with neither pride nor remorse. For victor, for vanquished, and for the dead he bears nothing but a sort of sneering dispassion. He is, I mean to say, the perfect historian. Indeed, he is the voice of history itself."

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year’s Charity, Victorian Style

A few snippets from The Times to ring in the new year.

5 January 1842: Old Year’s Night at the Hanwell Lunatic Asylum – On Friday evening, the last in the old year, the above institution for the reception of lunatic paupers belonging to the different parishes within the county of Middlesex, exhibited an extraordinary and pleasing instance of the gratifying effect of the humane system at present pursued in that establishment, whereby coercion has been done away with, and corporal restraint no longer forms a part in the treatment of the insane. It has been the practice for the last year or two to give the female patients an evening’s entertainment at the close of the year, and to prepare for that joyous occasion the patients had been for the week previous busily engaged in decorating their wards with laurel, holly, and other evergreens, which were most tastefully and fancifully displayed on the walls of their rooms, in various devices, amongst which were the initial letters of the Queen, “V. R.,” of Prince Albert, “P. A.,” and of the illustrious infant, the future Sovereign of the united empire, “P. W.” with crowns and Prince of Wales’s feathers, &c., the whole forming an alcove of upwards of 70 feet, in which the utmost tranquility prevailed. Soon after 5 o’clock the patients had assembled, to the number of nearly 400 . . . Tea and cake were then served round to the patients by the matron, Miss Conolly …and the nurses, by whom afterwards were played on a piano-forte many cheerful and enlivening tunes, to which the patients commenced dancing, which they kept up with much spirit and glee for upwards of an hour. On their again resuming their seats, they were each presented with half an orange, after which dancing again commenced, and was continued, with music at intervals, until 8 o’clock when supper was served, and at the conclusion the patients retired to their several apartments, apparently much delighted with their evening’s entertainment. (Shown above: male patients at the Hanwell Lunatic Asylum celebrating Twelfth Night, 1848).

2 January 1843: New-Year’s Day in the City Prisons – Yesterday being New-Year’s Day, the whole of the prisoners at present in Newgate, those in Giltspur-street Compter, about 200, and the debtors in the Borough Compter, 21 in number, were regaled with 1 lb. of roast-beef, 1 lb. of bread, and a pint of porter each person, the gift of the Sheriffs of London and Middlesex, Mr. Alderman Hooper and Mr. J. Pilcher. In addition to the above allowances, those who are confined in the Borough Compter will, upon the 6th inst. (Old New Year’s Day), receive from Mr. Pritchard, the high-bailiff, 1 lb. of roast-beef, greens, potatoes, 1 lb. of plum-pudding, and a pint of beer each, thus showing that the criminals fare much better at this season of the year than the inmates of the union workhouses.

2 January 1861: New Year’s Festival – Yesterday (New Year’s Day) Miss Burdett Coutts was present at a dinner given by that lady in the schoolrooms of St. Stephen’s, Westminster, when 300 poor people partook of a well-ordered banquet, with speeches and carols, and music supplied by a portion of the Coldstream Guards band, under the leading of Mr Godfrey.

The Times also covered, in great detail, the queen's New Year's gifts to the poor of Windsor, where she and her family regularly spent the holiday season.

30 December 1843: Gifts to the Poor of Windsor – On Monday next (New Year’s Day) nearly 200 pairs of blankets, and a large quantity of meat, bread, plum-pudding, potatoes, coals, and ale will be given to the poor and needy residents of Windsor by Her Majesty and his Royal Highness Prince Albert, under the excellent arrangements which have been made by the Rev. Isaac Gosset, the vicar, the Mayor of the borough, and Mr John Clode, jun., one of the churchwardens of Windsor, by whom the objects for the exercise of the bounty of the Sovereign and the Prince have been judiciously selected. It is expected that the distribution of the blankets, meat, pudding, and bread, will take place in the New Riding-school, and that Her Majesty, his Royal Highness Prince Albert, and several members of the Royal Household will be present to be spectators of the gratifying scene.

2 January 1868: The Queen’s New Year’s Gifts – Yesterday morning, between 9 and 10 o’clock, the annual ceremony of presenting Her Majesty’s New Year’s gifts to the poor of Windsor took place in the market beneath the Guildhall. The gifts consisted of meat and coals, the latter being delivered at the homes of the families, while the beef was delivered to the recipients from the butchers’ tables in the market. On this occasion, the Mayor of Windsor, Mr. J.W. Wellman, the Rev. H.J. Ellison, the Rev. Mr. Thompson, and other clergy, were present at the distribution, during which the bells of the Chapel Royal of St. George and St. John’s Church rang merrily. The poor of Windsor entitled to the gifts included 351 families; the parish of Holy Trinity, 198; and that of Clewer, 219; giving a total of 768 persons. These families were divided into five classes, of which the first received a piece of beef weighing 7 lb.; those of the second, 6 lb.; third, 5 lb.; fourth, 4 lb.; and the fifth, 3 lb. The weight of the beef thus given by the Queen was 3,119 lb. It was of splendid quality, and was supplied by Messrs. Bedborough, Copeland, and Hughes, of Windsor. Its value was 97l. 9s. 4 ½ d. Mr. Heale, who represented Mr. Cullen, the clerk of the kitchen at Windsor Castle, was present for the Queen. Fifty-nine tons of coal, supplied by Mr. Little, Her Majesty’s coal merchant, were distributed at the homes of these families in quantities of 3 cwt., 2 ½ cwt., 2 cwt., 1 ½ cwt., and 1 cwt. The value of the coals was 73l. 9s. 4 ½ d., so that the total value of the Queen’s gifts was 170l, 18s. 9d. Her Majesty also gave 100l. to the Royal Clothing Club at Windsor.
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