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  The research archive of Gary W. Ewer regarding the history of the daguerreotype

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: http://www.daguerre.org/resource/texts/partington.html - - - - - - - - - - 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 escaped. pp. 73-74. DAGUERREOTYPES. ____ "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 silver." 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 rocket. -------------------------------------------------------------- 04-01-99

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