Last weekend we hopped into the car, and put the coats in too, since it looked like a very dreary day in Dunedin. We travelled north a little, up to Oamaru for the Victorian Fete and Steampunk Exhibition. In Oamaru the sun was shinning.
What a great day! We ended up spending from 11 am till 5.30 pm wandering around all the things to see and do there. I am going to let the pictures do most of the talking here. But I do want to give you a little history too. Oamaru has been celebrating it’s Victorian heritage for the last 20 years. Each year they seem to get more and more elaborate.
The Steampunk exhibition this year was a new addition, they had the most amazing Rayguns made by Weta Workshop, a time machine, a giant Steampunk chopper (as in motorbike), a Theremin, and even a steam powered coffee cup. I took so many pictures, but it’s impossible to share them all. Guess what, you can buy the Rayguns! If only I was a wealthy millionaire with nothing to spend my money on. Just like a real raygun, these little beauties are expensive!
Oamaru has some beautiful buildings made from the local Oamaru Whitestone.
It’s easy to believe you have stepped back into another age here. In the old part of town you will find many buildings like this, some restored completely and others in the process of restoration.
Penny farthings were winding their ways through the street, the Cycling instructor Kit got a lesson from said there were about 26 Penny farthing riders in Oamaru. Pretty impressive. This is Kit having his Penny Farthing riding lesson, he has a certificate to prove it! Isaac and Adrian watch with great interest. I think they were hoping he was going to fall off.
There were a lot of people in costume, I am definately going to dress up next year, but I am going to go the steampunk way I think. These gracious ladies posed with Isaac for a photo.
This was one of my favourite exhibits - check this guy out! The chopper had it’s engine running and he was cracking the whip in a pretty darn impressive way. The kids were scared.. I was scared….
Good thing that Victorian Guy came to talk to Steampunk guy!
Well, that told him!
Awesome Steampunk tractor, you would not want to be in front of this if it was going.
I’ll have a flat white and a light beer thanks! This is a steam powered coffee cup and behind it a steam powered tankard.
Want to turn some heads? I’m pretty sure this would do it.
It’s about this time we stopped for a bite to eat at a cafe, Isaac was quite taken with the small rooster on the table that was holding the sugar. He’s ready for lunch and a little tired. The next instalment of the Victorian Fete and Steampunk Exhibition will be up a little later in the week.
“Let your heartiest shouts resound,
Freemen! While ye rally round
Sibthorp, who will stand his ground,
True to Liberty!
Freemen stand, or Freemen fa’,
Popedom quakes at ev’ry blow,
Slav’ry trembles as ye go,
Sibthorp wi’ to meet the foe!
Far above a bribe or fee,
Friend of Freedom, and the Free;
He your wrongs will righted see,
‘Mid contending rage:
And when social joys recal,
From cares of state to Canwick Hall,
Firm your friend, ye one and all,
Sibthorp sure will always find!
Come then, Freemen, let us sing,
‘God save, Sibthorp, Church, & King!’
Bacchus sure will mirthfu’ fling,
Round us wreathes of jollity:
In a bumper three times three,
‘To the Mem’ry of the Free!’
While the Gods in cheerful glee,
Echo back to earth, ‘Amen!’”—Undated broadsheet “Sibthorpe for Ever”
“‘That miserable Crystal Palace, the wretched place, where every species of fraud and immorality will be practised. Let the Britisher beware, they will have their food robbed, there will be assassinations, there will be stabbings in the dark. The dearest wish of my heart is that the confounded building called the Crystal Palace should be dashed to pieces.’”—Colonel Sibthorp on The Crystal Palace
Colonel Charles de Laet Waldo Sibthorp MP was a man of uncompromising principles who confounded a Queen, opposed all progress and took xenophobia to new heights. He was a most unconventional conventionalist. In an age before mass communication, he fought to preserve one corner of Empire against the most surprising of foes.
The Rough And Tumble Of Politics
Born in 1777 into an ancient and wealthy family of landowners, Sibthorp never really became known to the wider public until 1826, when he stood as a candidate in the Parliamentary elections for the constituency of Lincoln. Although a well-known figure locally, no-one had ever heard him offer an opinion on politics. At the first hustings, a large crowd were drawn to hear exactly what this flamboyant character had to say.
Unfortunately when his turn to speak came, Sibthorp was busy being unconscious, having been felled by a missile thrown from the crowd as he stood from his chair.
An Opponent Of Change
It was left to the press to ascertain his political leanings and a few days later he gave an interview. Asked how he intended to represent Lincoln and his views on Parliamentary reform, Sibthorp replied ‘On no account would I sanction any attempts to subvert that glorious fabric, our matchless Constitution, by any new-fangled schemes which interested or deluded parties might bring forward, and those who expect advantages from such notions will find their visions go like a vapour and vanish into nothing.’
A Conservative then. Obviously this appealed to the electorate as he was duly elected and served as MP for Lincoln until his death in 1855.
The first half of the 19th Century was a time of dizzying technological and social change and Sibthorp was singularly ill-equipped to deal with it. He persisted in dressing in the Regency style, with antique quizzing glasses and top-boots. Whenever anything he disapproved of was brought up in the House of Commons, typically being anything he deemed new or foreign, his loud calls of ‘Humbug’ brought chuckles from the assembled members.
The British Love A Character
Although somewhat gruff, the British people always displayed a fondness for Sibthorp, perhaps enjoying his eccentricities or possibly because he gave a voice to opinions which they secretly shared. He despised all foreigners and never missed an opportunity to denounce anyone he considered not British.
Standing Against A Queen
On the eve of Queen Victoria’s marriage to Prince Albert, a motion to grant the Prince Consort an annual allowance of £50,000 was being debated in the Commons. Sibthorp opposed it, on the grounds that £30,000 was quite enough for a foreign Prince. Normally, this would be ignored and his cries of ‘Humbug’ would ensue but Sir Robert Peel, seeing a chance to defeat the Government, supported Sibthorp and the motion was unexpectedly carried. Queen Victoria was infuriated and swore never to visit Lincoln while Sibthorp remained MP. She was true to her word.
Nefarious Plots And The Crystal Palace
Prince Albert of course was the prime supporter of the Great Exhibition held at the purpose built Crystal Palace in 1851. It was the ‘Millennium Dome’ of its era and it was almost inevitable that Sibthorp opposed the Exhibition for the stated reason that it was a ploy by Prince Albert to ‘bring even more of his hypocritical foreigners into the country.’ Sibthorp publicly prayed to God to destroy the Crystal Palace with hail or lightning. God’s response wasn’t recorded at the time, although ‘Humbug’ might well have been apt. In any event, the Crystal Palace was not destroyed before the Exhibition. Indeed, it survived the Exhibition, a relocation and decades of use until 1936 when it was destroyed by fire. The cause of the fire is unknown, but it would be unwise to discount the possibility that Sibthorp continued to badger God long after his death.
Throughout the building of the Crystal Palace, Sibthorp continued to rail against what he perceived as the iniquities of the forecasted foreign visitors. ‘Take care of your wives and daughters, take care of your property and your lives!,’ he warned the nation. He bemoaned the huge numbers of trees cut down to make way for the building, which he called ‘that palace of tomfoolery’ and the ‘unwholesome castle of glass.’ He saw the exhibition as a forerunner of national catastrophe arising from: the corruption of morals by hypocritical foreigners; the desecration of the Sabbath; political disunion; an increase in poverty; and national bankruptcy.
Of course, Sibthorp never visited the Exhibition himself but his fury grew at reports of poor country folk being inveigled into travelling to London to see it, pawning their clothes for the fare, and ending up naked, destitute and demoralised. He went so far as to declare in the House of Commons that Prince Albert was the instigator of a plot to overthrow the Empire. His words largely fell on deaf ears as the Exhibition was a great success, attracting people from every corner of Britain. Unlike the Millennium Dome.
A Prudent Fiscal Man
National bankruptcy became a particular obsession for Sibthorp and he opposed any unnecessary expense that Parliament put forward. He proposed that all British diplomats should work for no salary and that over-running projects such as the National Gallery be pulled down to spare further expense.
The Evils Of Steam
Another bone of contention for Sibthorp was the railway. Beginning with the announcement that he had no intention of ever riding in ‘the Steam Humbug’, he opposed all railway bills in principle and details. This ‘degrading form of transport’ would bring disasters from moral ruin to wholesale slaughter upon travellers. He was convinced that only one in ten railway accidents were publicised and he accused the railway companies of ‘private frauds and public robberies.’ He maintained until his death that railways were a mere flash in the pan, and that he was ‘of the decided opinion that these nefarious schemes would ere long appear before the public in their true light - that all the railway companies would be bankrupted and that the old and happy mode of travelling the turnpike roads, in chases, carriages and stages, would be restored.’
Sibthorp died in his London home in 1855, but was succeeded by his son Gervaise as MP for Lincoln.
Sibthorp is believed by many to be the inspiration for the character Lebedev in the classic Dostoyevsky work The Idiot. As the man himself may have remarked, ‘Humbug’.
Charles de Laet Waldo Sibthorp (February 14, 1783–December 14, 1855), popularly known as Colonel Sibthorp, was a widely caricatured British Tory politician in the early 19th century. He sat as a Member of Parliament for Lincoln from 1826 to 1855 (with one brief break).
Sibthorp was born into a Lincoln gentry family, and was commissioned into the Scots Greys in 1803. He was promoted Lieutenant in 1806 and later transferred to the 4th Dragoon Guards, in which he reached the rank of Captain. He fought in the Napoleonic Wars, and continued in the service until 1822, when he succeeded to the family estates and also succeeded his brother as Lieutenant-Colonel of the Royal South Lincolnshire Militia. He married Maria Tottenham in 1812; they had four children.
During Sibthorp’s three decades in Parliament, he became renowned, along with Sir Robert Inglis, as one of its most reactionary members. He stoutly opposed Catholic Emancipation, Jewish Emancipation, the repeal of the Corn Laws, the Reform Act of 1832, and the 1851 Great Exhibition. He was convinced that any changes from the Britain of his youth (in the late 18th century) were signs of degeneracy, that Britain was about to go bankrupt, and that railways were a passing fad which would soon give way to a return to stagecoaches. He was opposed to all foreign influences, and offended Queen Victoria with his public suspicions of Albert, the prince consort. His political views, his bluntness in expressing them, and his eccentricities made him the target of outrage in The Economist and witticisms in Punch.
Sibthorp died at his home in London, and was succeeded as MP by his son, Gervaise.
SIBTHORP, CHARLES DE LAET WALDO (1783-1855), colonel of militia and politician, second son of Colonel Humphry Waldo Sibthorp (1744-1 815), of an old family long connected with Lincoln, by Susannah, daughter of Richard Ellison of Thome in Yorkshire, and Sudbrooke Holme in Lincolnshire, was born on 14 Feb. 1783. Dr. Humphry Sibthorp (1718-1797) was his grandfather [see under Sibthorp, John], and Richard Waldo Sibthorp [q. v.] was his brother.
Charles entered the army at an early age, was a captain, first in the Scots Greys, and then in the 4th dragoon guards, and served with the latter regiment in the Peninsular war. On the death of his eldest brother, Coningsby, in 1822, he succeeded to the family estates, and was elected, in 1826, member of parliament for Lincoln, a borough which had been represented before him successively by his brother, his father, his great-uncle, and the latter’s father. He was colonel of the South Lincoln militia, as his father and great-uncle had been before him, and was a deputy-lieutenant and a magistrate for the county. Except for a brief interval in 1833 and 1834, when Sir Edward Bulwer ousted him by a small majority. Colonel Sibthorp continued until his death to be re-elected for Lincoln, on personal rather than on political grounds, and often without opposition.
In parliament he belonged to the ultra-tory and ultra-protestant party, and was the embodiment of old-fashioned prejudice. Partly by his uncompromising opinions, partly by his blunt expressions, and partly by an eccentricity that did less than justice to his real abilities, he made himself for many years rather a notorious than a respected figure in political life. His appearance was extraordinary and was frequently caricatured, and his dress attracted attention. His delivery was rambling and uncouth (Fitzpatrick, Correspondence of O’Connell, ii. 180). His speeches were frequently witty and polished, though he had received little regular education, but they were too often personal and violent [see Russell, John first Earl Russell]. He made furious attacks on Peel’s change of front on corn-law question (e.g. Hansard, lxxxiii. 310). He opposed in all their stages the Catholic Emancipation Bill and the Reform Bill, and was one of the last opponents of free trade. The ‘Chandos’ clause of the Reform Bill, which gave the vote to 50l. occupiers in counties, really originated with him, and his annoyance was great when it was actually moved by Lord Chandos instead of by himself. The provision (§ 36) in the act to make better provision for the residence of the clergy (1 and 2 Vict. c. 100), hich enabled widows of deceased incumbents to retain possession of the parsonage-house for two months after the incumbent’s death, also was strongly supported by him. He opposed the ministerial proposal for a grant of 60,000l. per annum to Prince Albert on 27 Jan. 1840, largely from dislike of foreign influences, and it was his amendment for its reduction to 30,000l. which, with the support of Peel, was eventually carried. He denounced the exhibition of 1851 for the same reason, and was unwearied in his opposition to the expansion of the Roman catholic church in England. His feelings on this subject were intensified by the conversion of his brother Richard Waldo to the church of Rome in 1841.
Sibthorp died at his house in Eaton Square, London, on 14 Dec. 1855, and was buried at Canwick, near Lincoln. He married, in 1812, Maria, daughter and coheiress of Ponsonby Tottenham of Clifton and of county Wexford, long M.P. for Fethard in the Irish parliament, by whom he had four sons; the eldest, Gervaise Tottenham Waldo Sibthorp (1815-1861), was M.P. for Lincoln.
[Gent. Mag. 1856, i. 84: Martin’s Life of the Prince Cousort, i. 69; Memoirs of an Ex-Minister. Lord Malmesbury, i. III, 258; Times, 17 Dec. 1855; McCarthy’s History of Our Own Times, ii. 109; Fraser’s Mag. xxxvi. 462.]
“Like most writers, I seem to be smarter in print than in person. In fact, I am smarter when I’m writing. I don’t claim this merely because there is usually no one around to observe the false starts and groan-inducing sentences that make a mockery of my presumed intelligence, but because when the work is going well, I’m expressing opinions that I’ve never uttered in conversation and that otherwise might never occur to me.”—Essay - Why Good Writers Can Be Bad Conversationalists - NYTimes.com (via eyecircles)
“My father showed me his library, which was very large, and told me to read whatever I wanted, but that if something bored me, I should immediately put it down.”—Borges via Commonplace Book (via eyecircles)
Mr. Joshi is correct about the cosmic level of meaning in Lovecraft’s stories, but he largely neglects another, social level of meaning. On that level, Lovecraft’s stories are dramas of modernity in which the forces of tradition and order in society and in the universe are confronted by modernity itself—in the form of the shapeless beings known (ironically) as the “Old Ones.” In fact, they are the “New Ones.” Their appearance to earthly beings is often attended by allusions to “Einsteinian physics,” “Freudian psychology,” “non-Euclidean algebra” (a meaningless but suggestive term), modern art, and the writing of T.S. Eliot and James Joyce. The conflicts in the stories are typically between some representative of traditional order (the New England old stock protagonist) on the one hand, and the “hordes” of Mongoloids, Levantines, Negroes, Caribbeans, and Asians that gibber and prance in worship of the Old Ones and invoke their dark, destructive, and invincible powers.
What Lovecraft does in his stories, then, is not only to develop the logic of his “cosmicism” by exposing the futility of human conventions, but to document the triumph of a formless and monstrous modernity against the civilization to which Lovecraft himself—if almost no one else in his time—was faithful. In the course of his brief existence, he saw the traditions of his class and his people vanishing before his eyes, and with them the civilization they had created, and no one seemed to care or even grasp the nature of the forces that were destroying it. The measures conventionally invoked to preserve it—traditional Christianity, traditional art forms, conventional ethics and political theory—were useless against the ineluctable cosmic sweep of the Old Ones and the new anarchic powers they symbolized.
Lovecraft believed that his order could not be saved, and that in the long run it didn’t matter anyway, so be jogged placidly and cynically on, one of America’s last free men, living his life as he wanted to live it and as he believed a New England gentleman should live it: thinking what he wanted to think, and writing what he wanted to write, without concern for conventional opinions, worldly success, or immortality. And yet, despite the indifference he affected, Howard Phillips Lovecraft has in the end attained a kind of immortality, for the classic tales of horror he created will be read as long as that genre of literature is read at all. And since man’s horror of the alien cosmos into which he has been thrown is perhaps the oldest theme of art, that may be for a very long time to come.
At the Heart of Darkness
by Samuel Francis
H.P. Lovecraft: A Biography
by S.T. Joshi
West Warwick, Rhode Island:
Necronomicon Press; 704 pp., $20.00
H.P. Lovecraft: Miscellaneous Writings
Edited by S.T. Joshi
Sank City, Wisconsin:
Arkham House; 568 pp., $29.95