Saturday, 25 October 2014

Recent activity on this blog

Although it looks like I have been neglecting this blog: don't be fooled! I have been regularly updating my previous posts, particularly my lists of Eliza Haywood Texts, Links etc. (and, last year, Eighteenth-Century Erotic Texts Online etc.) as more electronic versions of texts become available.

As a for-instance, according to the Wayback Machine, the number of Facsimile Texts and Downloadable pdfs I have listed in the last four years (looking at the Ab. sequence only) has grown as follows:

8 July 2011: 49 items
15 March 2012: 55 items
21 April 2013: 82 items
25 October 2014: 118 items

So, if you don’t see any new posts, have another look at some of the old ones!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Vale God Whitlam

Gough Whitlam is dead. Long live Gough Whitlam! Will there ever be such another?

I don’t remember the dismissal, but I clearly remember the election-night party that followed it in 1975. My family were great supporters of Gough (how could we not be?) so it was not a night for celebrations, for us anyway. But someone at the party was happy, and reckless enough to celebrate loudly, to gloat, to triumph while everyone around them grieved, mourned, raged. My step-father-to-be asked said individual whether they would like to step outside to discuss the subject of his behaviour—which was declined and, as I remember, we were left in peace.

Here is a photo of me taken less than two years later. Yes, that really is a Life Be in It t-shirt, but the knee guard is the thing to note. I am wearing that knee guard because—in a “look, no hands” moment—I tore the muscles, ligaments and tendons in my knee, cracked the knee-cap and split a leg bone lengthwise. Apparently, a Dr Hume—a knee specialist—was flown down from Queensland to sew the muscles, ligaments and tendons back together again and to put two pins in the bone to hold it all together again. The leg stopped growing for a while, and the pins worked loose and started grinding away at the underside of my knee-cap, but they were removed, the leg started growing again and I made a full recovery.

The point of mentioning this is that—at the time—my mother was a sole parent, a skint, single, supporting mother: and if it were not for God Whitlam, and the specialist medical care she and I received for free (thanks to Medicare), none of this would have been possible. Thanks to God Whitlam, I have two working legs of the same length. Both my brother and sister have straight and evenly-spaced teeth. We all got to vote at 18 (for Labor) and received a university education—most of it for free. I could go on, but all I really wanted to say was, thank you Gough.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

More on a Popular 18C Tailpiece Design

In January I did a post (here) on an eighteenth-century printer's ornament design, which appears in two ornaments by Thomas Gardner (T03 and T04; used 1735–56) and another used by T. Saint in 1785.

The design features two crossed cornucopias (or cornucopiæ if you prefer; one containing fruit and one flowers), with a bird above each cornucopia and a number of bumble bees (four or two) hovering nearby. As well as containing a different number of bees, the two Gardner ornaments are easy to distinguish since the second has a large ribbon joining the crossed cornucopias.

In an update to my post I added a similar (and earlier) design: one with a pomander bouquet hanging beneath the crossed cornucopias from a large ribbon—a ribbon like the one in the second Gardner ornament (T04). This pomander ornament appears in a 1727 edition of Gulliver's Travels printed for Benjamin Motte.

Jonathan Magus has pointed out that a very similar pomander ornament appears in Henry Plomer, English Printers Ornaments (1924), 227 (no.109)—where it is described as having been owned by Cornelius Crownfield and dated to ca.1730—and Magus also told me that the same ornament appears in Joseph Clarke, A Further Examination of Dr. Clarke's Notions of Space, etc. (Cambridge: Printed for Cornelius Crownfield, 1734), 3 (A2r). (ESTC: n8727 [here]).

The ornament from Clarke’s A Further Examination on ECCO is not as clear as the one in Plomer’s English Printers Ornaments (on Internet Archive here), so I have given the latter here. (I searched through a dozen earlier Crownfield publications, but was unable to find an earlier example.)

But, after a little digging online, I discovered an intriguing connection between Crownfield and an even-earlier book containing a version of this same pomander ornament: The Works of the Right Honourable Joseph Addison, Esq; In four volumes (London: Printed for Jacob Tonson, 1721), on 1.32, 1.149, 4.2Pv. (ESTC: t89167 [here]; vol.1 online here; vol.4 online here). Crownfield was a subscriber to this popular set.

Of course, since Clarke’s A Further Examination was printed for, but not necessarily by Crownfield, it may only be a coincidence that a copy of this 1721 ornament appears in works he published in 1734. And, in fact, all three works here have imprints that only identify the financier (“Printed for”) not the printer (“Printed by”), which is frustrating. (I was surprised that nobody appears to have identified the printer of The Works of the Right Honourable Joseph Addison, since this is an important collection of a famous author’s works by a very prominent publisher.)

Returning to the three ornaments with a pomander bouquet, printed in 1721, 1727 and 1734, there is not a lot of differences between the two earliest ornaments, but I suspect that the 1727 ornament is a copy of the 1721 ornament—it is a little less sketchy, especially on the wings of the birds, the edges of the pomander and the branch protruding from the fruit cornucopia. And, since ornaments were often reversed in copying, and the 1727 image is reversed compared to the 1721 ornament, this tends to support the idea that 1727 ornament is the copy.

The 1734 ornament is also a copy (note the leaves beneath the bee at the far right in each ornament), tough not reversed; and, it seems to me, a better one. Unfortunately, I can only base my judgement on reproductions, since no copy of the book is in Oz. (Unlike the Addison, which is everywhere, including in my own collection.)

As Plomer explains, from early in the sixteenth century "and from thence onwards to the close of the seventeenth [actually, to the mid-eighteenth century], almost every head and tail piece and initial letter was copied and copied again without limit … and it is frequently very hard to distinguish between them" (28); and again: "Indeed, one can never be sure whether they are dealing with the original or only a copy, as most of these blocks were copied over and over again" (86).

And, since "baskets of fruits and flowers became a feature of nearly all head and tail pieces of the eighteenth century" (77) it is unlikely that the 1721 ornament is the original ornament from which all crossed cornucopia ornaments are derived. However, The Works of the Right Honourable Joseph Addison is a particularly ambitious, prestigious, prominent and beautiful publication and so it may be that this ornament was commissioned for it and that it is, therefore, the ur-ornament.

I am indebted to Jonathan Magus for this lead and I would be very pleased to hear from anyone else who has seen this ornament or the other ornament in use anywhere else, especially, and for obvious reasons, if it is in an earlier publication.

[BTW: I have had to find a new image host and have decided to try If any of the above images fails to load, let me know and I'll look into it.]

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Identifying Eliza Haywood's Sources

I have just read Douglas Duhaime’s essay on “Digital Approaches to Intertextuality: The Case of Eliza Haywood,” which was published on his blog on 3 January this year (see here; for a profile of Duhaime, see here and here). I am in danger of developing a tick if I say the essay was “thought provoking,” but it was. Very.

Duhaime is interested in “the ways in which writers borrow language and ideas from other writers.” He has used his considerable computer skills to write a plagiarism-detection script, which he has used/tested/developed on Haywood's Betsy Thoughtless. As a result of his analysis, Duhaime is now able to suggest a source for almost all of Haywood’s quotations and paraphrases not previously identified by editors.

Like all editor of Haywood’s works, Christine Blouch was frequently forced to admit defeat with the statement "Source unidentified." And like all editors of Haywood’s works, I am sure she wished she had had access to Duhaime’s skills and his plagiarism-detection script before having to make such an admission in her Broadview edition of Betsy Thoughtless. Having edited a number of eighteenth-century texts myself, I know how much work is represented by these two words—"Source unidentified"—often much more work than is represented by a neat and succinct reference to the Bible, a Classical author, or a Canonical writer.

Having "set out to uncover the materials that informed Haywood's work," Duhaime used an API to search Literature Online's text-base. (An API is an Application Programming Interface. Duhaime used Python's Selenium package to create a script to “programatically investigate” the text-base. See here and here for details.) It emerged that “in many cases,” Haywood's unidentified literary borrowings were fairly easy to identify—though the source was occasionally mis-identified by Haywood. In this way Duhaime identifies quotations from Nathaniel Lee, Alexander the Great (1677), John Dryden, The Spanish Friar (1681), William Congreve, Love for Love (1695) and The Mourning Bride (1697).

Of course, since these works are easy to find on EEBO, ECCO, Google Books and the Internet Archive, there really is no difficulty doing this sort of search online without an API, although it is obviously more time-consuming. No matter how dodgy the OCR of each individual copy digitised, the multitude of copies and editions available online means that just about any short search string (any short sequence of words) is likely to lead you to the source of a quotation. I have done this myself, many times, with interesting results.

(In June of 2012 I did a post on a quotation repeatedly used and mis-identified by Haywood (see here), which I concluded with the words “in the Pickering & Chatto edition of Ab.64 Epistle for the Ladies, edited by Alexander Pettit and Christine Blouch, the verse is not identified … [this] edition was published in 2000, back in the before time, the long-long-ago. When the internet was young and you had to read whole books to find a quote, or miss one, as the case may be. Oh how far we have come in only a decade …)

So the really interesting part of Duhaime’s essay is not so much the “many cases” in which the source was easy to locate, but the discovery of many other “instances of intertextuality in Haywood's writing” where a given quotation—usually multiple lines of verse—“seems to derive from multiple sources.” This is where the API appears to really come into its own. By quickly chopping up any given Haywood quotation into segments, searching for those segments, and presenting the findings in a convenient spreadsheet, Duhaime’s API makes it possible to establish that Haywood “often combined lines from disparate literary works in order to forge her own ideas” (italics mine).

Duhaime argues that three of the following five lines, for example, are cobbled together from three sources:

  Pleas'd with destruction, proud to be undone,
  With open arms I to my ruin run,
  And sought the mischiefs I was bid to shun
  Tempted that shame a virgin ought to dread,
  And had not the excuse of being betray.

[1] Richard Blackmore, “Advice to the Poets” (1718): “Let them this gen'rous Resolution own, / That they are pleas'd and proud to be undone”; [2] Mary Wortley Montagu, “The Basset Table” (1716): “I know the bite, yet to my ruin run, / And see the folly which I cannot shun”; [3] Aaron Hill, “The Excursion of Fancy: A Pindaric Ode” (1753): “Let us throw down this load of doubt, with which no race is won: / And, swift, to easier conquests, lighter, run, / The way, which reason is not bid to shun!

Although this is not—contrary to Duhaime’s claim—a clear case of Haywood “combin[ing] lines from disparate literary works,” like Lego blocks stacked one upon another, it is a particularly intriguing selection of works which Haywood appears to echo in her poetry. The third echo, from Hill, is perhaps the most interesting of all because it seems far less likely to me to be a source text than the Montagu text (which is much closer to Haywood's actual lines). Since Hill's influence on Haywood is well-established a critic who found the Hill echo first/alone could be forgiven for looking no further and use the echo to suppport the existing interpretation of Haywood as being heavily-influenced by Hill. Having multiple echo-texts simultaneously presented as possibilities, it is less likely that a critic will be side-tracked by a single, convenient partial-match, like that from Hill.

Duhaime’s second example is slightly more convincing:

  When puzzling doubts the anxious bosom seize,
  To know the worst is some degree of ease.

[1] Joseph Mitchell, “Poems on Several Grave and Important Subjects”: “When puzling Doubts invade my Breast, / And I am cloath'd in Shades of Night . . . "; [2] Davild Mallet, Eurydice (1731): “When others too / are miserable, not to know the worst / is some degree of bliss.”

Here, “invade my Breast” becomes “the anxious bosom seize,” and “degree of bliss” becomes “degree of ease”—the sole changes made being necessary to make the couplet rhyme.

* * * * *

Although I think the really interesting part of Duhaime’s essay is not the “many cases” in which the source was easy to locate, the fact is one could feed every snippet of verse quoted by Haywood into Duhaime’s API and produce a spreadsheet of Hawood’s sources, ranked by author, title and number of quotations, total number lines etc. Such a list would offer an intriguing insight into Haywood’s own “reading” and the major influences on her writing.

(I put “reading” in inverted commas because it is already clear that Haywood frequently quotes plays and often seems to do so from memory, suggesting that she spent a lot of time at the theatre—a suggestion supported by her own plays, acting, and her two volumes of drama criticism—The Dramatic Historiographer (1735) and A Companion to the Theatre (1747).)

If a spreadsheet of Hawood’s confirmed sources were used in conjunction with a spreadsheet of the works Haywood appears to echo, it may be possible that something like a reasonable or defensible judgement could be made between competing texts (in cases where there are two equally-possible origin-texts of similar constructions). That is, if a corpus-wide analysis of Haywood's sources shows a multitude of quotations from author A and none from author B, then it is more likely that Haywood is paraphrasing the former than the latter. (Though the example above with Montagu and Hill suggest that, even here, each case must be judged on its merits.)

I hope Duhaime decides to expand his work on Haywood and to publish his findings: I, for one, would love to have them on hand when editing her works.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Disambiguating 18C Tailpieces

I have recently completed an ornament catalogue for Thomas Gardner (fl.1735–65). On the day I submitted it for publication I found a book on eBay which has an ornament which is extremely similar to one he used: a pair of crossed conucopias with surrounding birds. In fact, it is similar to two he used.

Here are the two Gardner tailpieces, with the reference numbers I used in my article. (Click on the image to see a larger version of each.)

(T03; 32x56mm; used 1735–56)

(T04; 30x53mm; used 1754–56; note ribbons at lower centre replace two smaller birds)

And here is the mystery ornament (32x55mm; used 1785; note that it is signed "WP" at lower centre).

It is clear that the mystery ornament is not the exactly the same as either Gardner’s T03 or T04—though it is very, very similar to T03. The tailpiece appears to be a copy or, if the ornament was quite old when used by Saint, I guess both of Gardner’s ornaments could be copies of the Saint ornament.

The book with the mystery ornament in it is particularly interesting for being an unrecorded "Eighth" edition of Croxall's Fables of Æsop and Others … Illustrated with Cuts, issued in Newcastle by T. Saint in 1785.

Since Saint is very well known for issuing, in 1784, Thomas Bewick’s first major work, Select Fables. In Three Parts, it is possible that WP was another woodcut artists he employed. Not being very familiar with Saint’s (or Bewick’s) life I have no clue who this person might be.

If anyone has any suggestions about the identity of WP, or has seen this ornament in use elsewhere (I looked in many Saint publications without luck), or has seen other very similar ornaments, I’d be obliged for the lead!

[UPDATE: 27 Feb 2014. Here is another ornament, similar to T04 rather than T03, but it adds a further detail to the ribbons: a pomander bouquet (or floral pomander), which is hanging by a ribbon. It appears in an edition of Gulliver's Travels printed "for" Benjamin Motte (ESTC: t139027 [here]; Teerink 294 [here, on page 201]) in 1727 (making it earlier than the Gardner ornaments.]