Daguerreian Society

I count the first of April as the "DagNews" anniversary date...and 
today begins my fifth year...and still, with very few exceptions, no 
repeated postings!

For April 1 this year I will give three selections from "Life and 
Sayings of Mrs. Partington, and Others of the Family." Edited by B. P. 
Shillaber (New York: J. C. Derby / Boston: Phillips, Sampson and Co. / 
Cincinnati: H. W. Derby, 1854).  The first selection is appropriate for 
this day and the second two selections are delightful commentaries on 
the daguerreotype.  The second two extracts, along with the 
frontispiece illustration of Mrs. Partington, are now available on The 
Daguerreian Society web site at:
- - - - - - - - - -

pp. 158-159:

              THE FIRST OF APRIL.

   "I NEVER see the like!" said Mrs. Partington, as she slammed to the 
front door, with a noise and jar that set everything to dancing in the 
house, and the timid crockery stood with chattering teeth upon the 
little "buffet" in the corner.  It was wrong in her to say she had 
never seen the like, for this was the fifth time that she had been 
called to the door by a violent ringing, within half an hour, and had 
found no one there.  Hence anger -- so rarely an occupant of her mind, 
but so justifiable now -- prompted the slamming of the door and the 
remark, "I never see the like!"
   It was the first of April, and the occurrence was the more annoying 
for this reason.  she stood still by the door and watched stealthily 
for the intruder;  tapped her box easily and regaled her olfactories 
with a dusty oblation, and held still.  The peal of the bell again 
startled her by its vehemence.  She opened the door and looked out, but 
no one was to be seen.  As she turned away, a string attached to the 
bell-wire, extending from the banister, met her gaze, and, sitting 
quietly upon the stairs, with a grin on his face that had a world of 
meaning in it and a world of fun in it, sat Ike!  How the spectacles 
sparkled in the rays of her indignation!  She went for the rod, which 
had long rested on the shelf, but it had been manufactured three days 
before into an arrow by Ike, and, as the chance of finding it 
diminished, her anger cooled like hot iron in the air, and the rogue 

pp. 73-74.

   "WHAT artfulness!" said Mrs. Partington, as she held her miniature 
in her hand, done in the highest style of the daguerrean art.  The 
features were radiant with benevolence; the cap, close-fitted about her 
venerable face, bore upon it the faded black ribbon, the memento of 
ancient woe; the close-folded kerchief about her neck was pinned with 
mathematical exactness, while from beneath the cap border struggled a 
dark gray lock of hair, like a withered branch in winter waving amid 
accumulated snows.  The specs and box were represented upon the table 
by her side.  The picture was like her, and admiration marked every 
line of her countenance as she spoke.
"What artfulness here is, and how nat'rally every liniment is brought 
out!  How nicely the dress is digested!"
   She was talking to herself all the while.
   "Why, this old black lutestring, that I have worn twenty year for 
Paul, looks as good as new, only it is a little too short-waisted by a 
great deal.  O, Paul, Paul!" sighed she, as she sat back in her chair 
and gazed, with a tear in her eye, upon an old smoke-stained profile, 
cut in black, that had hung for many a year above the mantel-piece.  
"O, Paul! what a blessed thing this is, where Art helps Natur, and 
Natur helps Art, and they both help one another!  How I wish I had your 
dear old phismahogany done like this!  I'd prize it more than gold or 
   She sat still, and looked alternately at the daguerreotype and the 
profile, as if she hoped the profile would speak to her; but it still 
looked rigidly forward, thrusting out its huge outline of nose as if 
proud of it, and then with a sigh she reclasped the case and deposited 
the picture in the upper drawer of the old black bureau in the corner.  
Ike was all the while burning holes through a pine shingle with one of 
Mrs. Partington's best kitting-needles.

(pg. 250)

                TAKING PICTURES.

   "THAT is a splendid likeness, by Heaven!" exclaimed Augustus, 
rapturously, as Mrs. Partington showed him a capital daguerreotype of 
her own venerable frontispiece.
   "No, it isn't," said she, smiling; "no, it isn't by Heaven itself, 
but by its sun; isn't it beautifully done?  All the cemetery of the 
features, and cap-strings, specs, is brought out as nateral as if from 
a painter's palate.  Any young lady, now," continued, she "who would 
like to have the liniments of her pretended husband to look at when he 
is away, could be made happy by this blessed and cheap contrivance of 
making pictures out of sunshine."
   She clasped the cover of the picture, paused as if pursuing in her 
own mind the train of her admiration, and went out like an exploded 

Posted for your enjoyment.     Gary W. Ewer     

Return to: DagNews 1999

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