Friday, December 11, 2015


Docta Puella

Montagu Pennington, Memoirs of the Life of Mrs. Elizabeth Carter, with a New Edition of her Poems, 3rd ed., Vol. I (London: F.C. and J. Rivington, 1816), p. 22:
[S]he was never idle. She rose very early, generally between four and five o'clock; and this custom she continued through life; her latest time of rising, when in tolerable health, being between six and seven o'clock, even to the very close of life. When young, she also sat up very late, so that her father, in one of his letters commends her for having formed a resolution of going to bed not later than twelve o'clock, and desired her to adhere to it. Hence she was accustomed to use various means to keep herself awake*, to the great injury of her health, for she was always very much inclined to sleep, slept soon, and very soundly even in her chair.

* Besides the taking snuff, she owned that she used to bind a wet towel round her head, put a wet cloth to the pit of her stomach, and chew green tea and coffee. To oblige her father, she endeavoured to conquer the habit of taking snuff, and would not resume it without his consent. This he at length reluctantly gave, finding how much she suffered from the want of it.
Id., p. 140:
Before this time indeed, when she was acquiring the immense stock of learning which she possessed, she studied very hard, and for many hours together. But great study was not required to keep what she had gained; and indeed her frequent head-achs, and other complaints, did not admit of it. Her general rule, when in health, was to read before breakfast two chapters in the Bible, a sermon, (among which she gave the preference to Clarke's, Secker's, some of Sherlock's, and all those of the late Bishop of London) some Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. After breakfast she read some part of every language with which she was acquainted, so that she never allowed herself to forget what she had once known. These occupations were of course varied according to circumstances; and when her health and the weather permitted her to take long walks before breakfast, some part of this course of reading was obliged to be deferred till later in the day.
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.

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