Friday, 31 July 2015

Miss Gaswell the Sand Witch, a 19C meme

I have previously posted on the subject of mysterious late 19C/early 20C postcard memes (see here for my attempt to work out what donkeys have to do with Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”).

Today’s nineteenth-century meme concerns the “sand witch.” What is a Sand Witch? Below are a series of postcards featuring sand witches.

After a lot of digging I think I have discovered the origin of this meme: it is a joke—first published in the Pittsburgh Chronicle-Telegraph—that did the rounds in 1902.

The Sand Witch.

“Look at Miss Gaswell as she sits on the sand in her bathing-suit,” exclaimed a Pittsburgher at Atlantic City. “She is pretty enough to eat.” “That’s what she is,” assented his hearer. “She is a regular sand witch.”

Cue postcard-caption for any bathing beauty; anyone on the sand who is “pretty enough to eat.”

So, not a witch made of, or sculpted out of, sand and animated like a Golem. Though, it seems, modern sand-sculptors are fond of sculpting hag-witches. And not an actual, or Halloween, witch practicing real or Hallowe’en witchcraft on a beach, like Fairuza Balk in The Craft (1996).

And, despite the fact that, since 1998, The Library of Congress Subject Headings has contained an entry for “Sand Witch” that glosses it as “Fictitious character,” no such fictitious character existed pre-1902.

In the above painting by C. Coles Phillips, used as the cover art for Life Magazine, 22 July 1909, “The Sand Witch” is a bathing beauty, positioned between two men. In this scenario, Miss Gaswell is literally “sandwiched” between two men.

(Phillips’s art may be taken to suggest that you could caption any postcard of a woman—on a train, in a crowd, anywhere—positioned between two men as a “Sand Witch,” since any woman who is “pretty enough to eat may be considered a “witch”—because she is bewitchingly alluring—but the “sand” in “sand witch” makes the beach a necessity for the caption to work.)

As for Miss Gaswell, she is not a real person, just a stock name used in jokes in the late 19C/early 20C, along with Mr Gaswell and Mrs Gaswell. I presume gas-well is itself a joke meaning “joke-well” or “bluff-well,” related to the slang uses of gas recorded in the OED under, v.1, 7a “To mislead (a person) by clever or persuasive talk; to tease, to bluff” (as in “she’s gassin’ you” or “I used to gas you about this”).

* * * * *

Below are fifteen Gaswell jokes recorded in newspapers from 1889 to 1908, which give some context to Miss Gaswell the Sand Witch. I have not been able to find even a passing mention of this genre of jokey anecdote, so I have included as many as I could find, with titles where they had them.

“I want the library,” said Mr. Gaswell to the architect, “to be the largest and airiest room in the house.” “I don’t see what you want with a library,” interposed Mrs. Gaswell, “you know very well you don’t smoke.” [The Brooklyn Daily Eagle [Brooklyn, NY] (7 July 1889): 8]

Nautical Blood in Her Veins. “You may sit in the stern of the boat and work the tiller, Miss Gaswell,” said the young man, as he took the oars, “if you think you can steer.” “I think that won’t be hard to do,” responded the proud young heiress. “I have heard mamma say she was a good steerer, because she crossed the ocean in the steerage.” [The Topeka State Journal [Topeka, KA] (18 March 1891): 5]

A Finished Education. “Oh, Uncle George!” exclaimed Miss Gaswell, “why didn't you come a week ago? I graduated last Wednesday.” “Ah,” replied Uncle George, who takes a great interest in his niece’s education, “what did you graduate in?” “Why, in the loveliest white India mull, made up over the sweetest white silk.” [The Wichita Daily Eagle [Wichita, Kansas] (16 August 1891): 2]

Unfortunate. Miss Gaswell “Pop, did you see the Prince o’ Wales while you was in Europe, and did you talk with him?” Pop “I saw ’im, but the crowd was so big he didn't see me.” [The Evening Visitor [Raleigh, NC] (7 April 1891): 3]

Attractive to Bicyclist. “Have you visited the Phipps’ conservatory lately, Miss Gaswell?” “No, Mr. Dukane, I haven’t” “I think you would enjoy a visit very much. You are such an enthusiastic wheelwoman.” “Pardon me, but I do not exactly see the connection between a conservatory and bicycling.” “Well, tho conservatory is full of bloomers, you see.” [Evening Sentinel [Santa Cruz, CA] (22 June 1896): 3]

Presumption Rebuked. “One of the strong points about this carpet, ma’am,” said the salesman, “is that it won’t show dirt as plainly as some others. You wouldn't have to sweep it nearly as often as.” “I shouldn’t have to sweep it at all young man,” interrupted Mrs. Gaswell, with much sharpness. “We keep a hired girl.” [The Daily Democrat [Huntington, IN] (29 April 1896): 8]

A Connoisseur. Sir Gaswell, accompanied by several members of his family was looking through the stock of the picture dealer with a view to making a purchase. “What is the name of that one” he asked pointing with his cane at a painting banging on the wall. “That is St. Cecilia” replied the dealer. “How does that strike you” said Sir Gaswell, turning to his daughter. “It wont do” answered Miss Gaswell, with much positiveness. “She wears a style of halo that's twenty-five years old.” [Chicago Daily Tribune (15 May 1897): 12]

Mr. and Mrs. Gaswell had moved only a few weeks before into a fashionable neighborhood and were preparing to issue invitations for their silver wedding. “I’m afraid,” said Mr. Gaswell, looking dubiously at the pile of costly stationery before him, “most of these will go begging.” “Why, James,” responded Mrs. Gaswell, “that's what we are sending them out for.” [Ann Arbor Argus (8 July 1898)]

Mrs Gaswell: “The Emperor of Germany took 102 trunks with him on his pilgrimage to Jerusalem.” Mr Gaswell: “I suppose his wife was with him.” Mrs Gaswell: “Yes; the Empress’ clothes were in two trunks.” [Mataura Ensign (27 April 1899): 4]

Mr. Gaswell: “I wonder why Minister Conger’s messages are all undated. Do you suppose he omits the date to save cable tolls?” Mrs. Gaswell: “No, I don’t. It’s my opinion those Chinese Boxers have stolen his calendar.” [The Sacred Heart Review, no. 11 (15 September 1900)]

Mrs Gaswell: “The Czar of Russia now has four daughters”. Mr Gaswell: “Oh, the dear little Czardines” [San Francisco Chronicle (4 August 1901): 27]

Mrs. Gaswell: “I thought you wanted to go to London for the summer. Now you're talking about Paris. What has made you change your mind?” Mr. Gaswell: “Well, in London I'd be worth only £200.000, while in Paris I’d be Worth 5,000,000 francs, and I tell you, there,s a heap of difference in the way it sounds.” [Indianapolis Journal, vol. 52, no. 184 (3 July 1902)]

Had Heard of It. Young Professor (who has taken her down to dinner): “By the way, Miss Gaswell, have you ever seen the nebula of Andromeda?” Miss Gaswell: “No; I was abroad with papa and mamma when that was played. But I’ve heard that it drew crowded houses.” [San Francisco Call, vol. 97, no. 21 (21 December 1904)]

Natural Mistake. Mrs. Gaswell (making a call): “Ah, I see you have here a volume of poems. I’m ashamed to confess it, Mrs. Highmus, but. I never could appreciate blank verse.” Mrs. Highmus: “Why—er—that’s a catalogue, Mrs. Gaswell.” [Lompoc Journal, no. 44 (21 March 1908)]

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Pope's Pen-portrait of Haywood

Alexander Pope included Haywood in his Dunciad (Book 2, ll. 149–56, 179–80; published 18 May 1728). The portrait is unflattering—which is no great surprise, Pope was a sexist pig—but it is one of the only pen-portraits we have. And for this reason, although it is a poisonous pen, it is quoted with tedious regularity in relation to Haywood. Here is the text:

  See in the circle next, Eliza plac'd,
  Two babes of love close clinging to her waste;
  Fair as before her works she stands confess'd,
  In flow'r'd brocade by bounteous Kirkall dress'd.
  Pearls on her neck, and roses in her hair,
  And her fore-buttocks to the navel bare.
  The Goddess then: "Who best can send on high
  The salient spout, fair-streaming to the sky;
  His be yon Juno of majestic size,
  With cow-like-udders, and with ox-like eyes."
  Thou [Curll] triumph'st, victor of the high-wrought day,
  And the pleas'd dame soft-smiling leads away.

152. Kirkall, the Name of a Graver. This Lady’s Works were printed in four Volumes duod. with her picture thus dressed up, before them.

The features mentioned (a low-cut brocade dress and a rose in her hair) make it clear that Pope had seen the Vertue engraving, or the Parmentier painting on which it is based, before he penned these lines. (For more about the portrait, see this post.)

* * * * *

The following poem was written as a response to The Dunciad. I think it should be quoted just as regularly in relation to Pope. The poem appeared in The Daily Journal (28 May 1728) under the title "Alexander Pope's Nosegay: or, The Dunciad Epitomiz'd" (a transcript is available online here. I have glossed the blanks, as appropriate.).

If the following Verses, at first Sight, be thought too gross for a Place in your Paper, you'll however not refuse it that Favour, when you find it to be the faithful Contents of a Piece, lately publish'd, intitled the DUNCIAD, from P. 18, to P. 34. The whole of which is certainly the most filthy and indecent Instance of the True Profund that ever defiled the English Language. If, as a great Poet says, Want of Decency is Want of Wit, I am sure nothing can be a greater Instance of Folly than the DUNCIAD, and nobody can be so fit to exhibit the intended Progress of Dulness, as the Author of it.
I am, Sir,
Yours, &c. A. B.

First Jove strains hard to give Ambrosia Vent,
And wipes the Ichor from his F—da—nt.
C—l's Vomit, and his Mistress's Discharge
By Stool and Urine, next are sung at large.
Then with her T—d our Bard embrowns C—l's Face,
   [turd, Curll
And fills with Stench the Strand's extended Space.
Eliza's Breasts, in Language most polite,
Are two Fore Buttocks, or Cows Udders hight.
Ch—d by C—l at Pissing overcome,
   [Chetwood, Curll
Crown'd with a Jordan, stalks contented home.
But who can bear the Stink from muddy Streams
Of Fleet-Ditch, rolling Carrion to the Thames?
Or the foul Images he draws from Jakes?
Or what a Dutchman plumps into the Lakes?

Thus P—e is dwindled to a Bog-house Wit,
And writes as filthy Stuff as others sh—.
Who reads P—e's Verses, or Dean Gully's Prose,
Must a strong Stomach have, or else no Nose.

The poem was reprinted in Gulliveriana; Or, A Fourth Volume of Miscellanies (1728), 315–16.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

A French Review of A Letter from Henry Goring

The following review of Lettre de H.... G....g ecuyer, un des gentilshommes de la chambre du jeune Chevalier de S. George, a French translation of Haywood’s A Letter from H---- G----g, Esq; One of the Gentlemen of the Bed-Chamber to the Young Chevalier, appears in L’Année littéraire, 7 (1756): 38–43 (here).

The review is comprised mainly of a summary of the contents of Ab.66 A Letter from H---- G----g, but it begins with an explanation that the pamphlet was sold by monsieur Prault, on the Quai de Conti (a wharf, over-looking the Seine), towards the Pont Neuf (the "new Bridge" to Sainte Chapelle and Notre-Dame Cathedral on Île de la Cité). This appears to be the same "Chez Prault l’Aîné, Quai de Conti" who later published the French translation of The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless early in 1754 (Ab.67.11 L’Etourdie).

The anonymous review concludes with a pithy assessment of the writing: "That, sir, is how far the author of this Letter led his hero. He does not tell us what he is, or what is the purpose of his journey. This pamphlet is also very poorly written."

* * * * *

Lettre sur le Prétendant.

  L'histoire des disgraces du Prince Edouard a fait autrefois, Monsieur, le sujet d'une de mes Lettres.* Les voyages de ce Prince depuis son départ d'Avignon jusqu'à son arrivée en Lithuanie font la matière d'une brochure in-12 qui se vend chez Prault, Quai de Conti, à la descente du Pont-Neuf. Elle est intitulée: Lettre de H..... G.... G.... Ecuyer, un des Gentilshommes de la Chambre du jeune Chevalier de Saint George, [et] la seule personne de sa Cour qui l'ait accompagné d'Avignon dans son voyage en Allemagne [et] autres lieux: contenant plusieurs aventures touchantes [et] remarquables qui sont arrivées à ce Prince pendant le cours de son voyagé secret: à un ami particulier; traduite de l'Anglois par M. l'Abbé ***.
  On raconte dans cette Lettre vraie ou prétendue qu'un gentilhomme, qui se faisoit appeller le Chevalier de la Luze, étant arrivé à Avignon, eut avec le Prince des conférences secrettes, [et] partit peu de jours après. Le Prince ne tarda pas à le suivre, accompagné seulement d'un gentilhomme, d'un valet de chambre [et] de deux domestiques. Pour n'être point connu, il se fit appeller le Comte d'Espoir, [et] il prit sa route par Lyon. Il descendit dans un village à deux lieues plus loin que cette ville; il s'enferma dans une chambre, passa la nuit à écrire des lettres, [et] le lendemain il renvoya tout son monde excepté son gentilhomme. L'hôte chez lequel il logeoit lui trouva d'autres domestiques. Le Prince continua sa route par Dijon [et] par Nancy, [et] il arriva à Strasbourg où le Chevalier de la Luze lui avoit fait préparer un logement. Quelques jours après le feu prit pendant la nuit dans une maison qui étoit vis à-vis de son appartement. Il fut bientôt éveillé par le bruit; il s'habilla [et] sortit pour aller au secours. Ses gens voulurent le retenir: Eh quoi, s'écria-t-il, sommes nous donc nés pour avoir soin seulement de nous mêmes? Et aussi-tôt il vole à l'endroit où le feu faisoit le plus de ravage. L'objet qui le frappe d'abord est une jeune femme qui avoit la moitié du corps passé hors de la fenêtre, [et] qui crioit au secours parce qu'elle étoit dans une chambre où le feu avoit pris de toutes parts. Le Prince lui dit de se jetter en bas, [et] qu'il la recevroit dans ses bras. Il la reçut en effet sans qu'elle se fît aucun mal; [et] comme elle étoit en chemise, dit l'auteur, il l'emporta chez lui, la mit dans son lit, l'enveloppa dans ses couvertures pour empêcher qu'elle ne s'enrhumât. La crainte du danger avoit fait perdre connoissance à cette jeune [et] aimable personne, de sorte que pendant tout ce temps elle sut totalement insensible au soin qu'il prenoit d'elle. Le Prince de son' côté, loin de profiter de l'état où elle se troavoit, ne s'occupoit qu'à la saire revenir de son évanouissement. Quand elle eut repris ses sens, il la, recommanda à la maîtresse du logis, [et] retourna au feu qui duroit toujours. Le lendemain il dîna avec la jeune Demoiselle, le Chevalier de lu Luze, [et] son gentilhomme. Le repas sut gai, la conversation tendre [et] galante; [et] la Demoiselle, pénétrée de reconnoissance [et] frappée des vertus [et] de la bonne mine de son libérateur, se troubla, quitta la table, [et] alla prendre l'air un moment à la fenêtre. Le Prince la suivit [et] lui parla; la Luze [et] son gentilhomme voulurent le laisser seul avec elle. Il les retint auprès de lui dans la crainte qu'un tête à tête ne lui fît perdre le prix de son bienfait. Il se sépara de cette charmante personne, comme Alexandre qui voyant la beauté des filles de Darius se retira sur le champ de leur présence.
  Tandis que le Prince Edouard étoit à Avignon, un Anglois, qui se disoit gentilhomme, étoit venu lui demander un emploi auprès de fa personne. Comme ìl n'y en avoit point de vacant, le Prince lui donna quelque argent, [et] lui permit de venir manger dans son palais. On le soupçonna bientôt d'être un imposteur [et] un espion. On communiqua ces soupçons au Prince: cela pourroit bien être, répondit-il; mais nous n'en sommes pas certains; nous sçavons seulement qu'il est dans le besoin; [et] j'aimerois mieux secourir cent ennemis que de refuser à un ami, sur un simple soupçon, le peu de secours que je puis lui donner. Cet homme avoit disparu quelque temps avant le départ du Prince; on sut fort étonné de le retrouver à Strasbourg dans l'hôtellerie où logeoit son Altesse Royale. Le jout même le Prince quitta Strasbourg, passa le Rhin, [et] continua sa route par Wirtzbourg. A quelque distance de cette ville, cinq hommes bien montés, masqués [et] armés, déchargèrent leurs pistolets tous à la fois [et] sans dire mot dans la chaise où étoit le Prince. Aucune des balles ne le blessa; il sauta de sa chaise, sit feu à son tour contre les assassins, en tua deux, [et] mit les autres en suite. Un des morts écoit le traître à qui son Alteste Royale avoit donné de l'argent à Avignon.
  Le Prince partit pour Léipsick, [et] le Chevalier de la Luze, après avoir exécuté sa commission en le conduisant en une certaine Cour d'Allemagne où il demeura dix jours, prit congé de lui. Edouard, accompagné seulement de son gentilhomme [et] de deux domestiques, passa dans différens Etats dont les Souverains n'étoient pas tous également disposés en sa faveur. A son arrivée en Lithuanie il reçut la visite d'une personne très-illustre qui lui est intimement attachée. Il eut avec elle plusieurs entrevues secrettes dans un château appartenant à la maison de Wizinski. Bien des gens, dit l'auteur, ont assûré que ce Prince étoit marié; mais rien n'est plus faux; il est vrai, ajoûte-t-il, qu'il aime une Princesse [et] qu'il en est aimé, [et] que, si ses affaires prennent une face plus favorable, cette union ne tardera pas à se faire; mais dans la position où il est actuellement il ne veut point se marier, pour ne pas devenir père, comme il dit lui-même, de mendians Royaux. Voilà, Monsieur, jusqu'où l'auteur de cette Lettre a conduit son héros. Il ne nous apprend ni ce qu'il devient, ni quel est le but de son voyage. Cette brochure est d'ailleurs très-mal écrite.

*Voyez l'Année Littéraire 1756, Tome II page 289.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Wall of Shame

On this page I plan on memorialising some of the negative, dismissive, outrageous and idiotic statements made about Eliza Haywood and her (actual or putative) works. (I have already discussed Haywood's reputation before the twentieth century, and collected together some of the more positive statements made about Haywood here.)

I think that it is worth collecting some of the misogyny, prejudice and ignorance of the last two centuries in one place so that the (admirable) restraint of modern scholars—who are prone to tell students that Haywood's works have been "overlooked" or "dismissed"—is more obvious.

[1731]. Jonathan Swift [letter dated 26 October 1731], in Letters to and from Henrietta, Countess of Suffolk (1824), 2.29 (here)

Mrs. Heywood I have heard of as a stupid, infamous, scribbling woman, but have not seen any of her productions.

[1815]. Sir Egerton Brydges, Censura Literaria: Containing Titles, Abstracts, and Opinions of Old English Books, 2nd ed. (1815), 10.312 fn (here):

Secret Histories, Novels, and Poems, Written by Mrs. Eliza Haywood, 1732, in 4 vols. and third edition. Unless there was some omission, or a subsequent reprint with addition, it seems doubtful which story of this disgraceful detailer of lascivious passion, rapes, adultery, and murder, is referred to.

[1823]. Anonymous reviewer of Peveril of the Peak in The Monthly Review, 2nd ser. 100 (February 1823), 188 (here):

The productions of Mrs. Heywood, or of Mrs. Behn, would be little compatible with the delicacy of modern days: but, indeed, the scale of feeling on such subjects, more especially among women, has been very much raised since that period.

[1833]. Lord Dover [annotation] in Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford, to Sir Horace Mann, edited by Lord Dover (1833), 1.325 (here):

Eliza Heywood, a voluminous writer of indifferent novels; of which the best known is one called "Betsy Thoughtless."

[1844]. Charles Whitehead, Richard Savage: A Romance of Real Life (1844), ch. 15 fn (here):

Eliza Haywood, although now nearly forgotten, attained during her life-time to an enviable celebrity. Pope, in his Dunciad, has heaped terrible infamy upon her head. Her plays I have not seen; but I have looked into her novels of which "The History of Betsy Thoughtless " and "Jenny and Jemmy Jessamy " are the most considerable. They possess no common degree of merit, but are altogether unfit for modern perusal.

[1848]. Thomas Wright, England Under the House of Hanover: Its History and Condition During the Reigns of the Three Georges (1848), 1.91 (here).

It is clear, indeed, that the national taste had become as vulgar as the national manners, and as corrupt as the principles of a large majority of the public men of that period. The works which received the greatest encouragement were scandalous memoirs, secret history surreptitiously obtained and sent forth under fictitious names, (such as the books which came the pens of Eliza Haywood, Mrs. Manley, and other equally shameless female writers, and from the press of Edmund Curll,) and ill-disguised obscenity.

[1856]. Anonymous, "Daniel De Foe," The Dublin University Magazine, vol. 48, no. 283 (July 1856): 70 (here):

Have any of the readers of these pages perused Eliza Heywood's other works? … If the ladies are ignorant of this literature, let them be advised and remain in their ignorance.

[1859]. David Masson, British Novelists and Their Styles: Being a Critical Sketch of the History of British Prose Fiction (1859), 98–99 (here); reprinted (Boston 1859), 106 (here):

Passing by these, however, and also those short novels of licentious incident by Mrs. Heywood and other followers of Aphra Behn, which are to be found bound up in old volumes, four or five together, in the neglected shelves of large libraries, we alight, in the reign of George II., on a new group of British Novelists, remembered pre-eminently under that name.

[1872]. Hippolyte A. Taine, History of English Literature, translated by H. Van Luen, 2nd ed. (1872), 2.206 (here):

In no age were hack-writers so beggarly and more vile. Poor fellows, like Richard Savage …; courtesans like Eliza Heywood, notorious by the shamelessness of their public confessions; …. These villanies, foul linen, the greasy coat six years old, musty pudding, and the rest, are in Pope as in Hogarth, with English crudity and preciseness.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Not The Only Copy

The Wellcome Library has acquired copies of the 1787 and 1788 editions of Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies. Which is great, and certainly to be celebrated. It is also, apparently, big news, since quite a few people have read Hallie Rubenhold's sensational, well-promoted and insubstantial books on the subject (which, for reasons that will become clear, I will neither name nor link to).

According to The Guardian (here) and The Independent (here) the Wellcome Library bought "the book" or "a copy" (NB singular) from a London dealer for "a low five-figure sum"—which I take to mean about twenty to thirty thousand pounds for the two editions.

Another thing that The Guardian and The Independent agree on is that the 1787 edition is unique, claiming: it is "the only surviving 1787 guide" and is "a unique surviving … copy"—a claim that is repeated in every newspaper to reprint the story, such as The Sunshine Coast Daily (here), The Mackay Daily Mercury (here) and The Toowoomba Chronicle (here).

Dr Richard Aspin, Head of Research and Scholarship at the Wellcome Library, is more cautious than The Guardian and The Independent: stating in his blog entry about the purchase (here) that the 1787 edition "appears to be the only one in existence."

Unfortunately for Aspin (and the reporters at The Guardian and The Independent), the Wellcome copy of Harris's 1787 List is not unique. A simple Google search for "Harris's List of Covent-Garden Ladies" and "1787" locates the Bavarian State Library copy immediately. It has been available online since 14 December 2011 and has appeared in my list of Eighteenth-Century Erotic Texts Online since 14 July 2013.

Although the Bavarian State Library has had their copy since the eighteenth century, have published it online, and it has appeared in major bibliographies of erotica since 1889, it is not surprising that it was overlooked. Rubenhold appears only to known of eight editions/years of Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies: 1761, 1764, 1773, 1774, 1779, 1788, 1789 and 1793. She gives the impression that these are the only survivors. Obviously, she is wrong.

During my research into eighteenth century erotica, I located seventeen editions/years of Harris's List. Some were easier to locate than others, appearing in major bibliographies and collections, and some are easier to locate now, than they were a decade ago. However, the fact that Rubenhold located only seven of at least seventeen copies, while preparing a series of books on the subject, suggests that her research was pretty shallow. Woeful, in fact.

I can't help wondering if the Wellcome Library paid a premium for the 1787 edition on the basis that it was "unknown to Rubenhold". (Since the claim that the 1787 edition is "unique," crops up in every article I can only assume that this claim is important to the Library because the did pay a premium.) If so, they probably won't be pleased to discover that they are wrong.