Thursday, October 27, 2016

London in October in 1826

Thursday, October 27, 2016
Loretta reports:

I discovered Peter George Patmore’s Mirror of the Months through Hone’s Every-day Book, which quoted from the excerpt below. Rather more readable than many writers of the time, Patmore vividly describes the sights and sounds of England, town and country, during each month of the year. He offers some insights into society—with lower case as well as capital S—as well as painting some charming domestic scenes, like this one. Anybody who’s been in London in the autumn will relate, I’m sure.
“But has London no one positive merit in October, then? Yes; one it has, which half redeems all its delinquencies. In October, Fires have fairly gained possession of their places, and even greet us on coming down to breakfast in the morning. Of all the discomforts of that most comfortless period of the London year which is neither winter nor summer, the most unequivocal is that of its being too cold to be without a fire, and not cold enough to have one. At a season of this kind, to enter an English sitting-room, the very ideal of snugness and comfort in all other respects, but with a great gaping hiatus in one side of it, which makes it look like a pleasant face deprived of its best feature, is not to be thought of without feeling chilly. And as to filling up the deficiency by a set of polished fireirons, standing sentry beside a pile of dead coals imprisoned behind a row of glittering bars,—this, instead of mending the matter, makes it worse; inasmuch as it is better to look into an empty coffin, than to see the dead face of a friend in it. At the season in question, especially in the evening, one feels in a perpetual perplexity, whether to go out or stay at home; sit down or walk about; read, write, cast accounts, or call for the candle and go to bed. But let the fire be lighted, and all uncertainty is at an end, and we (or even one) may do any or all of these with equal satisfaction. In short, light but the fire, and you bring the Winter in at once; and what are twenty Summers, with all their sunshine (when they are gone), to one Winter, with its indoor sunshine of a sea-coal fire?”
Images from Ackermann's Repository.
Clicking on the image will enlarge it.  


Yve said...

Hee hee and within a few decades all those Sea Coal fires lead to the famous London "Pea Soup" and countless deaths from chimney fires, and sulphur dioxide inhalation. They knew lots about keeping warm and not so much about ventilation ;)

Anonymous said...

Oh wow I love this!

Liz said...

So true! Sitting here in my 1842-built limestone house, there is nothing to keep me downstairs in the living room during the evening until October when, suddenly, the room is aglow with logs (not coal, thank goodness) burning in the fireplace. Unfortunately, our Rumford fireplace tends to suck heat up the chimney more than it heats the room, but it definitely cheers the gloom of the early dark at this time of the year. And we have a furnace to deal with the heat (or lack thereof).

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