Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Age of Foundlings

On a recent trip to England, Your Humble Narrator managed a visit to the Foundling Museum, recommended to him several years ago by veteran travelers Theda Perdue and Michael Green. The museum stands on the site of London's first home for orphaned and fostered children, which philanthropist Thomas Coram founded in 1739, and which over the next two centuries housed over 25,000 boys and girls. Its exhibits include a history of the Foundling Hospital, with displays of inmates' clothing and beds and photos of foundlings who “graduated” in the twentieth century. One case contained a unique selection of artifacts: “tokens” left by children's parents to identify them if they wanted to redeem their offspring. These consisted of commemorative medals, passes to locales like Vauxhall Gardens, coins (sometimes clipped or punched), padlocks, penknife handles, and scraps of cloth. All silently symbolized the ragged and reduced circumstances that had obliged mothers and fathers to abandon their children.

Other galleries tend toward opulence, rather than pathos. A sitting room, decorated in rococo style, pays tribute to the institution's wealthier patrons. A display room celebrates the life and work of composer George Handel, who helped finance the Foundling Hospital. A selection of paintings and prints by William Hogarth (another patron), including the original version of “March of the Guards to Finchley,” adorns another hall. Taken as a whole, the museum offers a cross-sectional view of London society in the eighteenth century: the refinement available to the wealthy, the satirical worldliness of a professional middle-class artist like Hogarth, and the wretchedness of the impoverished majority, for whom even a spartan life in a charity hospital seemed an improvement.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Voyagers to the East: An Index

From 2006 to 2009 I wrote a series of posts on this blog about Native Americans who, voluntarily or otherwise (usually involuntarily, often as slaves), traveled from the Americas to Europe. The travelers included Greenland Inuit, Miq'maqs, Carolina Algonquians, Tainos, and Tupi-Guarani; their years of travel ranged from 1493 to the mid-seventeenth century; their destinations included at least seven modern western European countries. I have just completed an index to this series, which appears below, and hope to restart my research into these voyagers and their lives in the not-too-distant future.   

Part I: Columbus and the Taino Emissaries

Part II: Columbus the Slaver

Part III: Where Labrador ("Laborer") Gets Its Name

Part IV: The First Indians in England and France

Part V: Francisco de Chicora and Verrazzano's Boy

Part VI: Gomes's Abortive Slave Sale and Cartier's Abductees

Part VII: Brazilian Kings and Elusive Inuit

Part VIII: Une Joyeuse Entree (or, Sometimes a Guarani is Just a Frenchman)

Part IX: Captured from Meta Incognita

A Preliminary Census: The First Six Hundred

Part IX Redux: The First Inuit in Europe

Part X: Luis de Velasco Takes His Revenge

Part XI: Wally Raleigh and His Algonquian Interlocutors

Part XII: Cayowaraco Leaves Guiana Behind

Part XIII: Vespucci's Unpleasantness

Part XIV: Red Gold: the Early Brazilian Slave Trade

Part XV: The Donatories' Slave Trade, or Lack Thereof

Part XVI: Binot de Gonneville and the Queen's Godchildren

An Updated Census: How Many Is a Brazilian? or, Then There Were Two Thousand

Part XVII: Cortes and Pizarro's Companions

Part XVIII: Messamoet's Journey, from Acadia to France and Back Again

Part XIX: Assacomoet and Company in the Land of the Mistigoches

Part XX: Inuit Captives in Denmark

Part XXI: Indians and Unicorns

Part XXII: Native Americans in France, 1505-1613: An Overview