The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

October 25, 2016

October 25, 1800

After her father lost his living, and her mother died in 1819, Maria Jane Jewsbury (October 25, 1800 to October 4, 1833) had the care of the household and her five younger siblings. She made time to pursue her literary ambitions.  She published poetry (Lays of Leisure Hours, 1829). Her Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article mentions her work for the Athenaeum magazine, and quotes one article:

.... declaring that women's lives are so much governed by men's expectations and assumptions, that girls are cultivated 'to the highest pitch that can make them fascinating, with a careful abstinence from that which would make them wise'

Below we quote from her short piece 'The History of an Enthusiast',  about one who "achieves celebrity but comes to feel enervated, as well as distraught at failing to gain the man she loves." The ODNB suggests she felt guilt about pursuing an intellectual career, and appalled at the prospect of loneliness  as a spinster

Here is an excerpt included in The Three Histories (1830). Cecil and Julia meet again some period apart.

"And do you remember when we met first, how
you eulogised simplicity?"

"Really, one forgets one's early follies."

"And your passion for flowers and poetry"

"O no! I really could not do without either,
even now; flowers are the poetry of a fete, and
poetry is the fete of life; but come, let us converse
on your own affairs—where are you going ?—for
how long ?—what for? Can I or any of my friends
serve you? And all important things in one, will
you come to my soiree to night? I will find you
some one to converse with, as great a lover of sim-
plicity as yourself; and for auld lang syne, you
shall find fault with every one, commencing with
myself, and no one shall laugh at you—there is

"Thank you, my gay lady," replied Cecil, with
his composed smile, "but I do not want a partner,
and I do not mind being laughed at."

"Well, then, bring your partner with you—he,
she, or it, is, I doubt not, a producible person or
thing. Come, I will give you grand names, endow
you with befitting accomplishments, and you shall
be lion and lioness, or lion and lionet of the even-

"But I should not like a lioness for a wife, Miss
Osborne ; and such my partner happens to be."


"Thank heaven for that, Julia! I began to fear
that what I heard was true, that you were spoiled;
but that word, that tone, proves that you are safe in
the citadel: dear friend, don't let the world warp
such a noble creature as you were made to be.
You see I presume on our old friendship, and on
my projected departure for ever."

"No, not for ever!"

"Why, perhaps it is foolish to say for ever; but
India and forever are strangely associated in my
straight-forward, matter-of-fact mind; you and
your genius would disunite them, and picture a
bright return, and I know not what. I envy you
your mind after all, more than your distinction."

"I do entreat you, Cecil, I do entreat you very
earnestly, to forbear speaking thus of my mind—it
has worked me no good—it has been, on the con-
trary, what a belief in astrology was in the olden
times, a source of evil, and blight, and sorrow."

"Do not speak thus of a gift bestowed by the
Giver of good," said Cecil gently, "consider, too,
how much good you can effect, ....

When a clergyman, Rev. Fletcher, proposed marriage she accepted over her fathers objections. The chance of visiting a distant land, India, was perhaps one reason for accepting, Fletcher being an East India chaplain. There, within months, she died of cholera.

Her husband then refused to communicate with her family in England and would not share the writings of hers in his possession. The widower died in 1867.

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