On Tobias Smollett’s grave(s)… Reality or poetic licence? Thursday, Mar 29 2012 

Tobias Smollett’s grave in the Old English Cemetery of Livorno has always sparked people’s interest: numerous visitors were attracted to the English Cemetery just to see the tomb of the great Scottish writer and historian. Some of them even took pieces of marble off as souvenirs, or left messages inscribed on the monument. Many travellers left short accounts on their visit to the cemetery and to Smollett’s tomb. Later on, the apparent mystery of its wrong inscription led to a written confrontation between Consul Montgomery Carmichael and Col. Buchan Telfer on the pages of The Times. More recently, after WWII, some concerned readers wrote to the Editor of The Times to denounce the state of neglect of the cemetery and of Smollett’s grave. The newspaper even published two pictures of the burial ground, of which one portrayed the writer’s monument at that time (1953).

The following picture shows (more…)

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Anonymous writer identified: a new source about Tuscan life in the 1840s Thursday, Mar 8 2012 

Few days ago I stumbled upon a curious and intriguing citation on the “Church of England Magazine” issue for October 31st, 1857, p.287:

“NOTICE OF BOOKS:

AMONG the books which have lately reached us are the following: 

The Bow in the Cloud a Memoir of MEH. By her Sister, London: Hatchard, 1857. This is the account of a young lady who lived, for the most part of her life, and ultimately died, abroad. The pity we feel for those, whose lot it is to dwell far from their fatherland, augments the interest with which we peruse such records. The disadvantages, social, political, and religious, of the continent, are obstacles and stumbling-blocks which to many have proved of ruinous effect. And yet, in spite of them, God has often been pleased to cherish the spiritual life of his people, and render such sojourners the means of usefulness to those around them. Thus it seems to have been with the subject of this memoir. An accident in early life destroyed the sight of one eye; and subsequent ill-health was a continued chastening from the Father of her spirit. She was brought into believing union with the Saviour; and the copious extracts from her journal depict very touchingly the working of her inner life. Her last hours were peace; for Christ sustained her; and she sleeps (having died in her 27th year, a few weeks after her father, and a few months before her mother) with her parents in the British cemetery at Leghorn, in sure and certain hope of joyful resurrection. We cheerfully give our testimony to the value of this little volume; and we think it likely to be acceptable and useful, especially to young persons.

I was not yet sure whether this information on the author and her family was true or invented and I went (more…)

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