Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Love Thwarted by Greenery, 1712

Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Susan reporting:

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.
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 MosesSir 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.


Unknown said...

Oh my gosh, that letter is funny! LOL! I could just imagine a little lady fixated on a handsome baron, straining to see him past a cluster of holly and ivy. LOL!

QNPoohBear said...

Too funny! Given the names it sure seems like it's poking fun at young people who come to church to see and be seen rather than worship. Maybe too much greenery was a good thing!

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