2013: Two Poems @ Bonhams

poem Lady Eleanor

A mystery ‘CH’ affirms that the poem was written by Lady Eleanor Butler of Llangollen. This, one of two poems (the other showing Sarah Ponsonby’s handwriting, though not of her composition), was sold at auction in 2013.

Here’s the catalogue description:

TWO AUTOGRAPH POEMS, one by Eleanor Charlotte Butler (1739-1829), the other written but apparently not composed by Sarah Ponsonby (1755-1832), both identified as being in their respective handwritings by ‘CH’, both being on very small, delicate and neat hands; Lady Butler’s poem ‘On the New Year’, 12 lines, beginning ‘Thus oft, when Youth has fled, when health decays…’, 1 page, small folio; Sarah Ponsonby’s poem, addressed to Diana, 36 lines in five stanzas, beginning ‘Since thou and the stars, my dear Goddess desire…’, inscribed ‘Written but no[t] composed by Miss Ponsonby of Llangollen’, 2 pages, small folio, the paper from the same stock, formerly pinned together

If anyone has information about what happened to these after the sale, or who “CH” turned out to be – do say!


An interesting, more recent, auction concerned articles in the library of Elizabeth Greenly (1771-1839) [see page 83 of the PDF]. She kept DIARIES from 1784  until before her death – though evidently “edited” them during her lifetime. Two volumes once owned by her came from the library of SARAH and ELEANOR!

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Harvard: Sarah Ponsonby’s Album

Liz emailed me today about the Ladies of Llangollen holdings at Harvard University.

plas newydd_douglas album

The above is a “rear view” (detail) of Plas Newydd. Sarah’s album contents are ONLINE! Click on the photo, to visit HOLLIS (Harvard’s library database). The library also has a cover letter to Lady Douglas.

The album is described as “A books created by Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler… containing 2 watercolors of their cottage in Wales, a plan of the first floor, and an original poem in French.”

I LOVE the note that the album is “bound in quilted white and pink silk cover and enclosed in a quilted white and pink satin case with two pouches and embroidered in green and gold thread. Includes a netted silver thread purse with silver tassels.” A photo of the album itself (or the purse) seems not to be present.

Pity…

ALSO of great interest is a listing called SOUVENIRS OF Mme. DE SÉVIGNÉ, described as “10 drawings – pen and watercolor; bound volume containing views and plans of houses associated with Mme. de Sévigné”. By Sarah Ponsonby. W-O-W!

“Walked this morning to Plas Newydd…”

kimbrough picIn the 1950s Emily Kimborough wrote about her travels to Wales in the book And A Right Good Crew. Emily & Co. were in good company, for the Ladies of Llangollen had many, many visitors at their home Plas Newydd.

The main impetus for establishing this web presence for the ladies was to winnow out fact from fiction, and how better to do that than present actual words from people who met them…

I’m still building back the site since the old website was turned into this blog, so it’s with great applause that I welcome Michael and Liz as contributors! A new, ongoing “series” of comments will be making their appearance. Tonight I unveil the 1780s and half of the 1790s — the earliest comments about Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler. Some are from published sources, others have been transcribed from manuscript sources. Further additions are always welcome!

More Visitors to Plas Newydd!

Michael in Aberystwyth has been combing archives for mentions of the Ladies of Llangollen; he recently wrote me the following:

I’ve been busy gathering more references to visitors to Plas Newydd.

I’m surprised how few published references there were to them while they were still alive. There are lots of descriptions of the grounds, the house and the Ladies in manuscripts, (often by women) but perhaps many of the men who published accounts of their tours didn’t think it appropriate to publicise a private residence.

The more I read about them, the more I think they might have wanted to live in a quiet place, but didn’t want to be wholly isolated from the world (as one of their visitors perceptively suggests) and the fact that they renamed the cottage Plas Newydd (the New Hall), even though it was originally a 4 roomed cottage, and added a library and decorated it with historic items as well as welcoming the nobility and gentry suggest that they were really living the life of those who lived in mansions and who allowed visitors to view their rooms (on certain terms), as well as acting as hosts to those of equal status or education, or talented artists of poets who had letters of introduction.

More to come from Michael. And do contact me should you should have information that might be of use to Michael. He’s interested in 18th and 19th century travellers to Wales, with a special desire to unearth more on Welsh National Costume.

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