A Song For October
By Eleanor W.F. Bates
Good Housekeeping. October 13, 1888, pp. 265—266.
Here's a song for gay October!
She's a lassie far from sober,
Lover of the woody vine
Wreathed with foliage fair and fine.
Grapes of amethystine cluster
With a rare and burnished lustre
Fall within her eager grasp
As a jewel might unclasp.
All the fruitage of the year
Meets its consumation here.
Apples, rosy, russet, yellow,
Come within this season mellow;
Corn and wheat are stored away
Safe against a later day
O the sunrise and the dew!
O the noon's enchanted blue!
But the golden afternoon
Softens into shadows soon.
There's a mist upon the hills,
There's a vapor on the rills,
There's a whisper in the woods--
(Solemn sylvan solitudes)
Say they all with portent sober,
"Say good-by to sweet October!"
What she brings she takes away;
Soon November will hold sway.
Kneel upon the verdant sod,
Pluck the nodding golden-rod,
Fill your arms with brilliant leaves,
Praise the tints the frost-elf weaves,
Then with saddened looks and sober,
Bid farewell to bright October.
October 1, 1847: Maria Mitchell, the first female astronomer in the U.S., discovers a comet.
October 2, 1866: Cyclist George M. Hendee born. In 1883 a Washington D.C. newspaper would report, "George M. Hendee, of Springfield, Mass., is the most remarkable bicyclist in America when speed and stamina are concerned. He is champion of America at all recognized distances, and holds best on records at almost every distance between a quarter of a mile and twenty miles. George is the pride of Springfield, and in September, when the club of which he is a member gave a three days' meet at Hampden Park, he received only one defeat. Then the people of the city felt sad, and ladies promenading the streets were seen wearing his picture with black margins. During the meet, those of the stores that were open for business sold Hendee clothing, Hendee hats, Hendee shoes, and even Hendee corsets for ladies were for sale. The celebrated Kentuckian, Charles Jenkins, of Louisville, raced against Hendee one day, but was beaten. Hendee also beat "Doodle Robinson and Charles D. Vesey, the English bicyclists, with consummate ease." --Evening Star, December 26, 1883, p. 6.
October 6: Happy birthday, Jenny Lind! Born October 6, 1820, Jennie Lind was a Victorian singing sensation, and beyond that she was an incredibly kind and generous human being. Lauded as "The Swedish Nightingale," her magnificent voice was admired around the world, and her concerts (in halls which seated thousands) constantly sold out. She gave innumerable concerts to benefit charities, as well as doing personal kindnesses whenever she saw people in need. Just one of her concerts yielded $4,000 for charity in the 1850s! Once, when a poor working girl bought a $3 ticket to one of Miss Lind's concerts, the girl told the ticket seller, "There goes half a month's wages, but I'm determined to hear Jennie Lind!" When the ticket seller reported the story to Miss Lind, she gave him a twenty-dollar gold piece and ordered him to find the girl in the audience and give it to her.
P.T. Barnum, who organized Miss Lind's concerts in America, wrote, "With all her excellent and even extraordinarily good qualities... Jenny Lind was human, though the reputation she bore in Europe for her many charitable acts led me to believe... that she was nearly perfect. I think now that her natural impulses were more simple, childlike, pure and generous than those of almost any other person I ever met." (Quoted from P.T. Barnum's biography, p. 341.)
Miss Lind was a celebrity of incredible renown and people were eager for details of her life. Cookbooks even printed recipes for her favorite foods, one of which is referenced in my historical novel, Delivery Delayed:
"At the other end of the table Addie asked everyone to pass down their bowls, then handed them back full of sago soup.
"Now, my cookbook said this is Jenny Lind's favorite soup," Addie told everyone. She giggled and added, "So you can blame the soup if people start breaking out into song!"
Laughter broke out around the table and Ken started humming the "Jenny Lind Polka."
Lizzie started explaining to Isaac, "Jenny Lind is a very famous soprano—"
He smiled and held up a hand. "I know Jenny Lind, of course. The Swedish Nightingale."
"That's right!" Lizzie smiled, then settled into eating her soup with a very comfortable expression…"
—Excerpted from Delivery Delayed.
A 19th-century recipe for this soup appears in the book's appendix!
October 8, 1871: Great Fire of Chicago
October 8, 1872: Happy birthday to the bacteriologist and chemist Mary Engle Pennington!
October 9, 1888: Washington Monument opened to the public.
October 11, 1884: Ida Lewis given a gold medal by an act of the U.S. Congress, in recognition of her lifesaving accomplishments. The Society of the American Cross of Honor called Ida "The Bravest Woman in America".
A poem had been written about Ida the previous year:
The Fisher Maid: A True Tale
"The signal gun!" Exclaim the fisher-wives:
"No men at home to run and save the lives.
The night is dark —the wind and waves are high:
Too far the lifeboat sailors for the cry!"
"I go!" A maiden says, and speeds away,
While "Come back!" echoes through the blinding spray.
Bravely she dashes to the wave-washed shore;
Safety behind, danger or death before.
The lifeboat house is three good miles from home,
Still she wades knee-deep through the seething foam;
With steadfast courage and accustomed feet
Treads the rough pebbles —breasts the biting sleet.
No slackening pace or heart-subduing fears,
Even when the dangerous sea-morass she nears:
"Help me, dear Saviour," her unuttered cry,
"To save the perishing; to do or die!"
And so, God-watched, through perilous swamp she goes,
To where the cliff-path lies, mid falling snows.
Onward and upward hies the fishermaid,
Too near her goal to pause or be afraid;
Passes the rock-bridge on the topmost height,
Scarce notes the creaky railings in the night;
Yet sees, with faith's far-reaching luminous eyes,
Below, the village where the lifeboat lies.
She nears it —gains it— hatless, breathless, wild
"Wake up! Arouse ye!" Shouts the woman-child.
The men are up, the lifeboat manned, and she
Points through the darkness of the towering sea
To where the ship, scarce half an hour before,
Battled for dear life near yon rock-bound shore.
The boat is launched and mounts the raging sea;
A signal-light is seen, and onward she
Labours until the sinking ship she nears.
Back to the maid a freight the lifeboat bears:
Of rescued souls, whose grateful blessings reach
Her who still watches by the lonely beach.
A Crown of Flowers, 1883, p. 133.
Get "The Fisher Maid" poem on a card
October 12, 1895: Port Townsend's football team defeats Vashon College. Read the account of the game:
The Old Gold and Black Victorious http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/the-old-gold-and-black-victorious.html
Dan Bracken, who is mentioned prominently in this article as an important player on the Port Townsend team, was living in our house at the time this game took place! He was a teamster by trade, and lived here with his siblings. Their father was the son of Irish immigrants and their mother was a native Klallam. (Researching Dan's sister Mathilda —whose old room is now my writing den— gave me the idea for the character of Mary Breagan in my Tales of Chetzemoka series. The names Bracken and Breagan both come from the same Irish root meaning "freckles".) The story of the Bracken family is told in chapter eight of my non-fiction book, This Victorian Life. When Gabriel and I talk about the Brackens and Dan's football picture comes up I like to tease my husband that he's lucky it's been over a hundred years since Dan lived in our house —because wow, he was good looking! Gabriel just laughs and tells me he's not jealous.
October 13, 1885: The Georgia Legislature passes funding for a technical school; the next year Atlanta would be chosen as the location of the Georgia School of Technology, now known as Georgia Tech.
October 14, 1884: George Kodak receives a patent for photographic film that uses coated paper and rollers rather than the old technique of glass dry plates. This is an important step in his development of the easy-to-use box camera which was patented four years later.
October 15, 1839: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are engaged to be married. A later biography of the queen reported, "He had been visiting her at Windsor Castle, and the love of their youthful days ripened into this alliance, which was heartily approved by all concerned." Source: Living Leaders of the World, 1889.
October 16, 1846: Physician William T.G. Morton demonstrates the use of anaesthesia in surgery.
October 18, 1867: Russia officially transfers possession of Alaska to the United States. The territory's fur, mining and fishing industries were major assets. "The transfer was made… amidst as much splendor as was possible in that faraway land. Captain Peterschoff acted for the Russian Government and General Rousseau for the United States, and at 3:30 P.M. the Russian flag was lowered, never to be officially raised again on Alaskan territory." --Lewis & Dryden's Marine History of the Pacific Northwest, 1895, p. 155.
October 20, 1889: The first giraffe born in captivity comes into the world in Cincinatti. It measures five feet high at birth. Source: Thompson, W.C. On the Road With A Circus, New York: New Amsterdam Book Company, 1905. p. 105
October 21, 1833: Happy birthday, Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite and creator of the Nobel Prize!
October 24, 1861: First transcontinental telegram in America sent.
October 26, 1847: Sir Charles Edmund Isham marries Emily Vaughn. Sir Charles was an avid gardener; the year of his marriage he made a trip to Nuremburg, Germany and acquired a number of hand-modeled gnomes which he brought back to England and placed around the grounds of his large estate. These are credited with being the first garden gnomes in Britain.
October 26, 1881: Shootout at the Okay Corral.
October 28, 1886: Statue of Liberty dedicated
October 29, 1868: Monsieur Jules Leotard, French aerialist and inventor of the garment named after him, makes his American debut. A description of Leotard: <https://tinyurl.com/y7bcunhj>
Special days in October:
October 4th: Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Patron Saint of Animals
19th-century animal images: http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/animals.html
19th-century animal articles:
A Plea for Pussy and Her Possibilities as a Pet (1889) : http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/a-plea-for-pussy-and-her-possibilities-as-a-pet.html
Our American Birds (1889) http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/our-american-birds-1889.html
Purrings (Poem—1888) http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/purrings-poemmdash1888.html
Was it an Angel's Song? (Poem—1883) http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/was-it-an-angels-song-poem-1883.html
What Three Little Kittens Did: A Fact (Poem—1889) : http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/what-three-little-kittens-did-a-fact-poem.html
October 11, 2018: World Sight Day.
One of my favorite books by Victorian author Wilkie Collins is Poor Miss Finch , the story of a blind lady's perceptions of the world. A free digital version is available here: Poor Miss Finch and a free audiobook version is available here: Librivox (free audiobook) version.
October 13th is the Feast Day for the patron saint of cyclists, La Madonna del Ghisallo.
19th-century cycling articles:
A Burglar, A Bicycle, and A Storm (Fiction—1896)
A Cycle of the Seasons: A Bicycle Romance in Four Meets (Fiction—1883)
A Cycle Show in Little (1896)
A Song of the Wheel (Poem—1883)
A Header (?) (Poem—1883)
A Midwinter-Night's Dream (1883)
A Modern Love Sung in Ancient Fashion (Poem—1884)
Bicycle Riding In The United States (1881)
Bicycler's Song (1882)
Bicycling and Tricycling (1884)
Bikes on Trains (1883)
Cycling's Value As An Exercise (1879)
Cycling for Women (1888)
Is Bicycling Harmful? (1896)
An Early Morning Ride (Poem—1883)
The Evolution of a Sport (1896)
Foreign [Bicycling News] (1884)
My Wheel (Poem —1883)
'Neath the Magnolias (Poem—1883)
On Wings of Love (Poem—1884)
Rosalind A Wheel (Fiction—1896)
Snakes in his Wheel (1895)
Wheelman's Song (Poem—1883)
The Wheelman's Joy (Poem—1883)
The Work of Wheelmen for Better Roads (1896)
Woman's Cycle (1896)
October 17th, 2018 is National Fossil Day
"Nothing in this world is hidden forever. The gold which has lain for centuries unsuspected in the ground, reveals itself one day on the surface. Sand turns traitor, and betrays the footstep that has passed over it; water gives back to the tell-tale surface the body that has been drowned. Fire itself leaves the confession, in ashes, of the substance that consumed it. Hate breaks its prison-secrecy in the thoughts, through the doorway of the eyes; and Love finds the Judas who betrays it by a kiss. Look where we will, the inevitable law of revelation is one of the laws of nature; the lasting preservation of a secret is a miracle which the world has not yet seen."—Wilkie Collins. No Name.  New York: Peter Fenelon Collier, Publisher, p. 48. (chapter 4)
Get this quote on a National Fossil Day card!
An 1869 article about fossil hunter Mary Anning:
October 31st: Hallowe'en
Victorian Hallowe'en merchandise, including sturdy canvas bags (for all your candy-collecting needs) printed with 19th-century images from our private archive!
Articles of interest for Hallowe'en:
All Hallow's Eve ((A history of the holiday, written for young girls, 1895) http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/all-hallow-eve-1895.html
A Supernatural Swindle (Hilarious story of a ghost with a toothach! 1896) http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/a-supernatural-swindle-fictionmdash1896.html
The Children of Arachne: European Spiders (1889)
Great Grandma's Hallowe'en (A sweet poem from 1887) http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/great-grandmas-halloween-poemmdash1887.html
First ladies and spiritualism: http://www.firstladies.org/blog/first-ladies-the-occult-seances-and-spiritualists-part-1/
I always enjoy handing out candy at Hallowe'en (one for me, one for the kids, one for me…), but I also hand out coloring pages as well. It's fun to see that some young folks are more excited about the coloring pages than the sweets! Drag these coloring pages onto your desktop, print, and enjoy!
PROVISIONS IN SEASON IN OCTOBER
From Isabella Beeton's The Book of Household Management, 1893 edition.
Vegetables. - Artichokes, beets, cabbages, cauliflowers, carrots, celery, lettuces, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, sprouts, tomatoes, turnips, vegetable marrows - various herbs.
Fruit. - Apples, black and white bull aces, damsons, figs, filberts, grapes, pears, quinces, walnuts.
The end of October is a traditional time for remembering the dead in a number of different cultures. It therefore seems an appropriate time to offer some links related to Victorian mourning customs:
Mourning and Mourners (Article from 1888) http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/mourning-and-mourners-1888.html
"All is Vanity": Image from 1892, with modern commentary
"An Anniversary": Artwork from 1893
"A Retrospective Widow": Cartoon from 1892
"The Evening": Artwork by Charles Dana Gibson, 1899, republished in 1906
"Etiquette of Mourning" article from Collier's, 1882
(Google Books link)
1861 Mourning attire
1870 Mourning dress and bonnets from The Peterson Magazine
1871 Mourning attire from Harper's Bazaar
1873 Half-mourning from The Peterson Magazine
1883 Mourning attire from The Peterson Magazine
1883 Mourning dresses from The Queen
1883 Mourning dress from The Queen
1883 Plastron for mourning from The Peterson Magazine
1885 Mourning dress
1886 Mourning dress from The Peterson Magazine
1889 Deep mourning outfit from The Peterson Magazine
1890 mourning dresses, for ladies and children
1891 mourning attire from Harper's Bazaar
If you are interested in Victorian mourning customs that are still practiced, check out WISP Adornments. Angela Kirkpatrick is a modern jewelry artist who makes mourning jewelry in the Victorian style, and is one of my oldest friends:
WISP Adornments on Facebook:
WISP Adornments on Etsy:
When the delivery of a mysterious letter to Silas Hayes' mansion is followed by the arrival of a beautiful young woman who claims she can communicate with the dead, Nurse McCoy sniffs trouble in the wind. It's obvious to her that the newcomer is after Silas' fortune, but he is helplessly in awe of the medium's eerily intimate knowledge of his past and her seemingly supernatural abilities. Meanwhile, Kitty Brown's yearning to reach out to the departed spirit of her first love is making her push away her new husband, just when she needs him the most. The whole situation is a dreadful mess, and McCoy's got to straighten it all out before Silas' nephew and his bride come back from their honeymoon. Honestly, she doesn't know how any of the fools in this world would get along without her…
I write out my manuscripts by hand before transcribing them. There have been some really interesting studies done into the effects of writing vs. typing in memory as well as production; for more on this see the links on this page: http://www.thisvictorianlife.com/writing-tools.html