This is sort of surreal: I recently started reading the book, "Eighty Days" a true story about an around-the-world race between two women writers in 1889. I could hardly believe the picture when I turned the page and saw a portrait of Nellie Bly -one of those two women. Compare it to the snapshot of what I see in the mirror every morning and you'll understand why I was so surprised. (Also, please remember that 1889 is pretty much my ideal year in history.) Does anyone else find this a little eerie?
One of the most popular presentations given by my husband and myself during the recent Port Townsend Victorian Festival was our discussion of Victorian bicycles. These wonderful machines are always fascinating to people when we venture out on them. Today, I thought some of you might enjoy this delightful poem from 1884 - a love song to a bicycle! It was originally published in the cycling journal, “Outing and the Wheelmen,” and I have transcribed it from my husband’s antique copy. Enjoy!
A MODERN LOVE
SUNG IN ANCIENT FASHION
By Basil Webb
Outing And The Wheelman
O AM'ROUS bards of olden time,
Alcaeus thou, and though, sublime
Anacreon, and though, sweet maid,
Whose burning songs of love once played
Sad havoc with the hearts of men
In Lesbos, Sappho, though who then
Wert called "the sweetly-smiling," lend
Me somewhat of your grace. Befriend
My feeble muse; for I would sing
My love - slender, fair-formed thing,
With ev'ry charm and beauty graced,
As Helen fair, as Dian chaste,
Of look as bright as Venus. Still
With loving looks, nor speakes she e'er
One word of love. She has no care
That I be ever constant. Cold
She is, and passionless as gold
In form of goddess wrought. Yet, strange,
She does my will, nor dreams of change,
And faithful is and true as steel
Can be. My mistress is the wheel.
It's springtime in Port Townsend, and Washington's glorious Victorian seaport recently celebrated our nineteenth-century history through our tradition of the Victorian Heritage Festival. Here are a few snapshots from the wonderful weekend.
Author: Sarah A. Chrisman
(Known around Port Townsend as "The Victorian Lady"