No one enjoys taking down holiday decorations, which is often the reason pine garlands and holly are still found lingering at Valentine's Day. But for the author of the letter below, the Christmas decorations in her local church are becoming a genuine hazard to her romantic hopes, shielding her from the amorous attentions of Sir Anthony Love!!!
Well, perhaps not so genuine. It's doubtful that Miss Jenny Simper was any more real than Sir Anthony Love, and much more likely that both are the satiric creations of The Spectator, a daily publication of witty observation published in London by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele between 1711-12. But just as I've been recently posting the 18th c-inspired holiday decorations of Colonial Williamsburg (such as these here and here), it's possible that there truly was a parish clerk who enjoyed bedecking his church for the Christmas season, and hated taking down the greenery afterwards.
January the 14th, 1712. Mr. SPECTATOR,
I am a young woman and have my fortune to make for which reason I come constantly to church to hear divine service, and make conquests: But one great hindrance in this my design, is that our clerk, who was once a gardener, has this Christmas so over-deckt the church with greens, that he has quite spoilt my prospect, insomuch that I have scarce seen the young baronet I dress at these three weeks, though we have both been very constant at our devotions, and do not sit above three pews off. The church, as it is now equipt, looks more like a green-house than a place of worship: the middle isle is a very pretty shady walk, and the pews look like so many arbours of each side of it. The pulpit itself has such clusters of ivy, holly, and rosemary about it, that a light fellow in our pew took occasion to say, that the congregation heard the word out of a bush, like Moses. Sir Anthony Love's pew in particular is so well hedged, that all my batteries have no effect. I am obliged to shoot at random among the boughs, without taking any manner of aim. Mr. SPECTATOR, unless you will give orders for removing these greens, I shall grow a very aukward creature at church, and soon have little else to do there but say my prayers.
I am in haste, Dear SIR, your most obedient servant, Jenny Simper.
Above: December, Published by Richard Sayer, London, 1767.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.