April 26, 1852


Ragged robin

Monday April 26

1852  Was about house and to work about the

garden all the forenoon  Mr Manly brought

me a Japan Quince Syringa P Lilac Compfre

Ragged robbin Cowslip Fleur de Luce &c  charged

90 cts.  Went this afternoon to Alsons with

Augustus & wife & her sister.  Came home

quite early and set out some plants that

I got there

Edwin Manley, Easton’s resident green thumb, brought Evelina her lilac bush this morning, along with a quince tree, some comfrey, ragged robin, cowslip and “fleur de luce,” which probably was Evelina’s spelling for fleur-de-lis, also known as  iris.  For less than a dollar, she acquired flora that promised to add fragrance and color to her garden. Later in the day she got more plants – for free, most likely – from her brother Alson Gilmore.

The countryside itself was still wanting in color at this mid-spring juncture, something Evelina and her fellow passengers might have noticed on their way to and from the Gilmore farm. Henry David Thoreau wrote about the pale fields and expectant woods in his journal on this date: “The landscape wears a subdued tone, quite soothing to the feelings; no glaring colors.”* Perhaps Evelina’s rush to add more vibrant colors to her yard would have jarred his sensibility.

Even with all the gardening, the day’s housework went on as usual with dusting, sweeping, dishes and laundry. Evelina and Jane McHanna both worked at various tasks, while Thoreau – not that many miles away – responded otherwise:  “It is a dull, rain dropping and threatening afternoon, inclining to drowsiness. I feel as if I could go to sleep under a hedge.”*

The two diarists reacted differently to the awakening pulse of spring.


**Henry David Thoreau, Journal

3 thoughts on “April 26, 1852

  1. This is a response to your request for suggestions about what it might mean to “fire” a skirt. My daughter and a friend, both of whom have experienced “living” in the 1830’s as costumed interpreters at Old Sturbridge Village, concurred that “firing” a skirt didn’t make sense. They suggested that “firing” might be a misinterpretation as a result of poor handwriting; I thought it might also be a misspelling. I considered which handwritten words might look like “firing” and thought of “freeing.” I believe Evelina was writing about separating a skirt from a bodice; perhaps she expressed it as “freeing” the skirt.

    Thanks so much for your wonderful blogs. They bring a fascinating glimpse of life in 1850’s New England. They also remind me to stop complaining about our weather!

    • Thank you, Fran, for your careful consideration of Evelina’s entry for April 19, 1852. I checked it, but still believe she wrote “fired.” Wish we could figure out what she meant!

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