The book Perambulations in London and its Environs; Comprehending an Historical Sketch of the Ancient State, and Progress, of the British Metropolis, a Concise Description of its Present State, Notices of Eminent Persons, and a Short Account of the Surrounding Villages. In Letters, Designed for Young Persons was first published in 1809.

In this book Mrs Middleton fulfils her plan of taking the family on a tour of London. In the scenario the plan had been delayed a number of times because of Arthurs numerous absences. On this occasion he as in Scotland with his friend Henry Franklin and Mrs Middleton decides to proceed without him.

This is an interesting choice. The Middleton family first appear in A Family Tour published in 1804. Arthur Middleton goes on his Excursions in North America in 1806. In Perambulations Arthur is omitted from the family tour of London but will become Priscilla’s main adventurer in two further books.

Priscilla includes a new group of characters, Monsieur Charles de Vitry and his nephews Eugenius and Philip.  Monsieur de Vitry was a Swiss gentleman who had escaped that country and settled in Richmond near the Middleton’s.

Published in: on June 27, 2010 at 11:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Priscilla and the botanical woman

There is no doubt that Priscilla’s 1796 book An Introduction to Botany in a Series of Familiar Letters, with Illustrative Engravings was a landmark publication in the history of botanical literature and particularly in its promotion of botany as a feminine pursuit.

Sam George, a lecturer in English Literature at the University of Hertfordshire, has written a number of papers that have highlighted the importance of Priscilla’s contribution to botanical literature.

Information about Sam George, links to her papers on eighteenth-century botany and other work is available here

Published in: on June 6, 2010 at 4:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Declining health

The year 1810 marks a turning point in Priscilla’s health. Approaching the age of sixty she wrote:

‘My health is in a very enfeebled state but with thankfulness I add that as far as I can judge my intellectual powers are unimpaired. I have published Instinct Displayed and begun Travels in Africa. The employment of writing is profitable, not only with a view to what it yields but also an amusement, affording considerable relief from the cares of life.’ Journal 1810.

Published in: on June 5, 2010 at 5:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Grandmother’s concerns

Priscilla spent long periods of time looking after the older children of her son Edward and daughter-in-law Susan. The eldest Catherine (sometimes called Kitty) seems to have been a relatively easy child unlike her brother Edward Gibbon who would cause Priscilla to write:

‘My dear little Edward still a disgrace. My heart years to forgive him: he has some fine qualities, but he is a character that requires delicate handling.’ Journal February 14 1807.

Latter that year;

‘Edward Gibbon left Tottenham, and my protection, for the dangers and temptations of Westminster School’. Journal 12 December 1807.

As Priscilla had predicted the education of Edward Gibbon would be a fraught and difficult affair.

Published in: on June 5, 2010 at 5:13 am  Leave a Comment