Thursday 24 December 2009

A View of the Rotunda, ca. 1750

Here is something pretty to look at over the holidays: "Vue de l'Interieur de la Rotonde dans le Jardins de Ranelagh" in Ranelagh Gardens, Chelsea (at the time, outside of London). The title is left-right reversed so that it could be viewed in a zograscope: "a device with a lens and mirror … used to give an illusion of depth to hand colored engravings called vue d’optique prints" (see here for more on zograscopes).

As you can see below, even if you use Photoshop to do a Horozontal flip of the heading, the lettering is still "wrong."

The Rotunda at Ranelagh was painted by Giovanni Antonio Canal (1697–1768)—a Venetian landscape painter—in 1754. This undated engraving—said to be after "Canaletto"—was engraved by F. Leizelt and sold at Augsburg. The caption reads (in German and French) "Prospect Von dem in[n]ern de la Rotonde in den Garten zu Ranelagh in London. Vüe de l'Interieur de la Rotonde dans le Jardins de Ranelagh." The imprint and copyright details are in French only: "Se vend à Augsbourg dans le negroce comun de l'Academie Imperiale d'Empire sous son Privilege et avec défense de n'en faire ni vendre de copies."

The hand-coloured engraving measures 320 x 430mm (12½ x 17 inches). If you have £280.00 you can buy your own copy here. I picked this one up on eBay for a lot less.

The centrepiece of Ranelagh Gardens, the rotunda had a diameter of 37 metres (120 feet) which was designed by William Jones, a surveyor to the East India Company. The central support housed a chimney and fireplaces for use in winter. In 1765, the nine year old Mozart performed in this showpiece, which figured prominently in views of Ranelagh Gardens taken from the river. Canaletto painted the gardens, and painted the interior of the Rotunda twice, for different patrons. The rotunda was closed for good in 1803 and demolished two years later (see Wikipedia for more).

It is not hard to imagine how the lens on a zograscope would give an illusion of depth: the part of the engraving in the centre of the lens would be heavily magnified, and as you move the lens over the image details would enlarge as they came into view and then shrink away as you moved on. You can also see how the zograscope would work to heighten the curves that dominate this particular composition, allowing a viewer to immerse themselves beneath the vast arching ceiling and within the endless curving walls of the rotunda. Without a zograscope on hand—no home should be without one—the following enlargements will have to do.

[UPDATE: 2 July 2016: After all my pictures disappeared (again) I decided to give up on external hosts for large versions (1000px) of my image files and, for now on, will stick with the smaller images (500px), which Blogger is prepared to host.]

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Monash Library Disposals

Monash University is a member of the Group of Eight (Go8) Australian universities. It is the youngest, in fact. The other members are The Universities of Sydney (est. 1850), Melbourne (1853), Adelaide (1874), Queensland (1909), Western Australia (1911), New South Wales (1949) and The Australian National University (1946).

(BTW: The Group of Seven (G07) Australian universities excluded The Australian National University. The only Sandstone University missing from the Go7 and Go8 is The University of Tasmania, my Alma Mater.)

The Group of Eight have a series of committees. One of which is the Go8 Librarians. The representatives are Vic Elliott (ANU; Chair of the Committee), John Shipp (USyd), Ray Choate (UAdel), Philip G Kent (UMelb), Cathrine Harboe-Ree (Monash), Andrew Wells (UNSW), Keith Webster (UQ), John Arfield (UWA).

At some point in their recent (and seemingly secret) history—the Go8 have only been in existence since 1999—the Librarians "signed an agreement that between them they would preserve a complete set of the OUP print journals. Each University library having responsibility for a designated group of titles. The journals [Monash] are committed to keeping are being moved to off-site store and any we weed will first be offered to G07 libraries [sic] to fill their gaps."

On 13 October staff in my school were asked to look at a list of journals flagged for "possible weeding" and let library administrators know whether "there are any titles that you consider we should definitely continue to have available in paper. Unfortunately we have been given until Friday 23rd October to decide on the future of these titles and I do realise that this does not give you much time to consult with colleagues, but I felt that you would be in a far better position to elicit opinions that would I."

Ten days certainly wasn't long, and mid-October is just about the busiest time of year for academics: exam period. Nevertheless, I responded as follows:

I strongly oppose the removal of hard copies of these—and any other—journals.

I also strongly object to being given less than ten days to mount an argument to prevent journals such as these from being given away/sold/pulped. (Especially, given the time of year, when most academics have their attention fully occupied by end of term assessment.)

Regarding the G07 university libraries policy to "preserve a complete set of the OUP print journals": if this policy means that all-but-one copy of each OUP print journal is to be given away/sold/pulped then this is an extremely foolish policy, unworthy of a research institution.

It assumes

[1] that the access we presently enjoy to OUP journals will never ever be attenuated in any way: that the cost of access will not rise prohibitively (which cannot be guaranteed; prices rose so steeply last year that at least one GO7 university had to suspend its entire monograph acquisition program. If the AUD had continued to fall, it would have had to start winding back its digital periodicals access)

[2] that the existing digital copy of the OUP journals is faultless (it isn't; reading the low-res scans online is migraine inducing, plates are impossible to view, or missing etc)

[3] that the sole surviving exemplar will never ever be lost or damaged (which cannot be guaranteed).

[4] that there are significant cost-savings from giving away/selling/pulping the OUP journals (I do not believe that this is true. Technology is yodelingly expensive compared to off-site storage).

[5] That this decision could actually be reversed if a new policy were ever to considered. It won't be: have you any idea what it would cost to buy a replacement set of Mind? The Monash run is complete from 1876 to 1991. These one hundred volumes would cost a fortune to replace, if, indeed, they could be obtained.

I can't help but wonder what level of academic input—if any—that this policy had. Did nobody point out that a digital copy is not—and should not be viewed as—a replacement for a hard copy, it is a very, very useful adjunct, just as a facsimile is a very useful adjunct to an original edition.

Surely somebody read Nicholson Baker's Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper (2001) and followed the arguments that followed it. Do these arguments need to be rehearsed now?

As I one of the few people to object to this policy in any way I was asked to meet—on 15 October—a senior librarian and my subject librarian to discuss my objections. Both women were very courteous, and were anxious to explain the benefit that had accrued to Monash by acquiring perpetual rights to scans of the OUP journals for only a couple of hundred dollars. The librarians talked up the utility of electronic copies of OUP journals, the accessibility of "last resort" copies within the Go8 libraries, and the costs of keeping "duplicates."

I explained that I was delighted that Monash had acquired these scans of OUP journals, and had done so cheaply, but that these scans could in no way be considered a substitute for original copies (because of their myriad faults, as I had explained in my email), that "last resort" copies were vulnerable precisely because they are the "last copies" and that the cost of preserving originals was actually very low (certainly when compared to the cost of obtaining them in the first place, which Monash had done soon after it was founded in 1958). I might also have mentioned that, if librarians could not plan for, and deal with, the natural growth of their collections then something was seriously wrong with the management of those collections.

Well, the conversation went in a series of overlapping circles. The only thing new in our conversation was the detail I provided them (why hard copies are actually necessary, the ways in which they are useful) and an explanation of why inter-library loans are not a substitute for keeping hard copies (i.e., most institutions won't lend journals at all).

I also think it was news to them that careful scholarship always requires scores, often requires hundreds, and sometimes requires thousands of separate references to journals such as those they were going to throw away. Consequently, it would be an intolerable burden to request all those journals via inter-library loans.

(In fact, I left the University of Tasmania and moved to Melbourne precisely because I soon realised that it is impossible to undertake the research I had begun if one has to rely on inter-library loans. I loved Hobart, and I was very comfortable there, but I uprooted myself from my home of ten years so that I could have access to the journals and reference books I needed.)

When I was asked to meet with these librarians I said that I was not sure what the point would be, given I had explained my objections at some length in my email and given that the policy document has already been agreed on, unless there was any scope for changing/modifying the disposal policy.

As it happens, I was right to be skeptical about the usefulness of the meeting. The librarians wanted me to agree that a scan of a journal is a "duplicate" and see the need to dispose of duplicates. I wouldn't, because this is simply not true. They wanted me to chose for preservation the most important titles from the list they had prepared. I refused, on the basis that they should all be preserved (and even if this were not so, I am in no position to judge whether The Musical Quarterly (1915ff) is more worthy than French Studies (1947ff)).

And two weeks later, on 2 November, it was made clear that there was no scope for reconsidering/changing/modifying the disposal policy. I was informed that, as a result of our meeting, the library had "taken a more conservative approach" and that six of the fifteen journals on the weeding list were going to be "offered to an overseas charity in the first instance."

This decision reminded me of a passage in Thomas Love Peacock's Nightmare Abbey (1818) in which Mr Flosky describes the "fashionable method of administering a mass of vice, under a thin and unnatural covering of virtue, like a spider wrapt in a bit of gold leaf, and administered as a wholesome pill." All of the journals would still be "weeded," but some of them would go to charity.

As I have said, this is an extremely foolish policy, unworthy of a research institution, formulated without academic input, and carried out—in haste—and in the face of academic objection. It is also a decision that will be well-nigh impossible to reverse. It brings to mind this comment in a recent essay by Paul Eggert in Script & Print 33:1–4 (2009): 254–5:

Like most Australian academics in the 1990s and 2000s I sat through—and, as I became more senior, chaired—all too many morale-sapping institutional meetings; this period was not a good one for the traditional humanities, and academics were quickly losing effective control of the institutions with which they had idealistically identified and previously thought of as their own.

Or, as Sirius Black puts it "the devils are inside the walls."

Collation Software for Editing

A query came up on the Exlibris List about "Collation Software," by which the person posting the query meant the computer equivalent of a Hinman Collator: a devise that allows the close comparison of type features of multiple copies of the same page. Famously, Hinman used his Collator to compare multiple copies of the First Folio of Shakespeare's works to identify many slightly different impressions of each sheet and page.

As is often the case on academic lists, the answers to this query veered off in a slightly different direction. This was partly because there is no Hinman-style collation software, but it was also because "Collation Software" can mean the collation (i.e. comparison) by textual editors of multiple copies of the same text.

Comparing different editions/issues/states of the same text is necessary if one is to create a single text from multiple—and conflicting—texts (or witnesses). This sort of comparison is also necessary because it establishes what differences exist between texts, which enables an editor to establish the relationships between them (whether Text C is a reprint of Text A or Text B) and the importance of these differences (whether Text B was corrected by the Author or by the printer). These differences are usually accounted for, and evaluated in, the critical apparatus of a critical edition, specifically in the list of variant readings, in a series of lemma, stemma and sigla. (See here for more on Copy-text editing.)

As it turns out, there is a free, open-source collation tool called Juxta that will generate a list of variant readings (i.e., a full list of lemma and stemma) from any number of witnesses. The software allows users to set any of the witnesses as the base text, to add or remove witness texts, to switch the base text at will. The primary collation gives a split-frame comparison of a base text with a witness text. Juxta can also display a "heat map" of all textual variants, or a "histogram" to display the density of variations.

I tested the software out very briefly on a few texts that I am editing and was delighted both with the split-frame comparison and the "lemmatized schedule" (the list of variant readings, in a series of lemma, stemma). My only concern thus far is that it seems that the texts must be stripped of all font-formatting before they can be compared and "lemmatized." So, every instance of italics or small caps being added, removed or reversed is lost. This is a huge loss, because the difference between "bite me" and "bite me" is just as important as that between "bite me" and "boot me."

Nevertheless, the software will come in very handy when I am trying to establish the relationship between the twelve editions of the text I am working on. And it will be great to be able to generate a "lemmatized schedules" against which I can check the list of variant readings I have compiled the old way. And, at the price, who can complain?

Monday 14 December 2009

The Fall of Mortimier, Wilke's Editions

The Fall of Mortimer (1731) is a revision of an anonymous play King Richard the Third, with the Fall of Mortimer, Earl of March. An Historical Play (London: J. Hindmarsh, 1691), based on the life of Roger de Mortimer (1287?–1330). Mortimer fell from power during the regency of Edward III (b.1312, ruled 1327–37), being stripped of his position, hanged, drawn and quartered in 1330.

In the 1731 play Mortimer’s period of misrule is presented as a parallel to contemporary politics, thereby suggesting that the Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole ought to face Mortimer’s fate. The many parallels between the two treacherous Prime Ministers must have been obvious to contemporary play-goers and readers. It was certainly clear to the government, which acted to suppress it, and it was made perfectly clear to anyone who may have had any doubt about the application in Remarks on an Historical Play, called, The Fall of Mortimer (1731).

The play’s attack on corrupt ministers, originally aimed at Walpole, was redirected by John Wilkes (1725–97) at the then Prime Minister, John Stuart, Third Earl of Bute (1713–92). The dedication to Bute is dated 15 March 1763; the play was published within two weeks of this date, and Bute resigned as Prime Minister on 8 April 1763.

Actually, 1763 was a pretty busy year for Wilkes. As Wikipedia explains Wilkes was charged with seditious libel over his attack on George III in issue 45 of The North Briton. The King ordered general warrants to be issued for the arrest of Wilkes and the publishers on 30 April 1763.

The combination of Wilkes’ dedication, Bute’s resignation, and the general warrants issued for the arrest of Wilkes and the publishers, probably contributed greatly to the success of the 1763 editions. Of these editions there are four. In my Bibliography (2004), 728–29, they are numbered"

De.1.4 The Fall of Mortimer: An Historical Play, Dedicated, to the Right Honourable John Earl of Bute, &c. &c. &c … (London: G. Kearsly, 1763). [ESTC: n63360].

De.1.5 The Fall of Mortimer: An Historical Play, Dedicated, to the Right Honourable John Earl of Bute, &c. &c. &c … (London: G. Kearsly, 1763). [ESTC: t35252].

De.1.6 The Fall of Mortimer: An Historical Play, Dedicated, to the Right Honourable John Earl of Bute, &c. &c. &c. The Second Edition … (London: G. Kearsly, 1763). [ESTC: t35253].

De.1.7 The Fall of Mortimer. An Historical Play. Revived from Mountfort, with Alterations. Dedicated to the Right Honourable John Earl of Bute, &c. &c. &c. … (Dublin: Printed for Peter Wilson, 1763). [ESTC: t56756].

I have had copies of all of these now. In a moment of penury I sold three of them—De.1.4, De.1.5 and De.1.7—to the Swift Collection at Monash University (i.e., the Matheson Library Rare Books collection). But I recently bought a copy of De.1.6 to keep my remaining copy of De.1.5 company. (Getting replacement copies of De.1.4 and De.1.7 is not a very high priority. Which is just as well really, since I only know of two copies of De.1.4!)

Anyway, I thought I'd post a few images of the two editions I have side-by-side to show the similarities and subtle differences in type-setting.

Note that this diamond-shaped tailpiece is made up of thirty-three separate type ornaments (click on the image for an enlargement). Either the printer of De.1.5 (left) kept this group of type ornaments bound together for re-use on De.1.6 (right), or he went to a lot of trouble to duplicate exactly the group used on De.1.5.

It is curious then that the printer didn't also reproduce the factotum—the decorative surround for the initial letter on page five (second image above)—that was used on De.1.5 when they printed De.1.6, because it is made up of almost as many separate type ornaments (twenty-eight on De.1.5 (left), twenty on De.1.6 (right)) as the tailpiece.

[UPDATE: 2 July 2016: After all my pictures disappeared (again) I decided to give up on external hosts for large versions (1000px) of my image files and, for now on, will stick with the smaller images (500px), which Blogger is prepared to host.]

Amazing NZ Book Council Video

This amazing video has been doing the rounds online. It is a reading of Maurice Gee's Going West (1993) animated by Andersen M Studio, which was produced for the New Zealand Book Council by Colenso BBDO.

18C Book History Studentship

Details of the following appeared on the SHARP list:

Applications are invited from eligible candidates for a University of Leicester fees-only PhD Studentship “National identity, popular culture and eighteenth-century chapbooks.” The successful candidate will be based in the School of Historical Studies.

Applications are encouraged from candidates with a background in eighteenth-century studies, book history, or any field of early modern social or cultural history. Applicants will be expected to have completed a relevant Masters degree by 1 October 2010. This studentship offers an exciting opportunity for research in eighteenth-century cultural history through an analysis of eighteenth-century chapbooks.

Chapbooks were small, cheap, publications aimed at a popular market, sold by booksellers but also distributed by chapmen and pedlars. They were generally printed on poor paper, often with old type and woodblocks, cost 6d or less and were highly ephemeral. Their survival rate is low, but they were consumed by a far broader section of the population than other more expensive forms of print culture in this period. Their subject was wide-ranging, including ballads, city cries, dreadful, fables, fairy tales, garlands, nursery rhymes and primers and abridgements of novels and works of history or natural history.

Their purpose could be moralising, entertainment, didactic or a combination. Chapbooks have already been used by historians such as Tessa Watt and Margaret Spufford in studies of seventeenth-century popular culture, and in particular, popular religious belief, but they have been largely neglected as a genre by historians of eighteenth-century culture.

This PhD will build upon an interdisciplinary pilot project on chapbooks undertaken in 2009, funded by the Bibliographical Society, led by Prof Roey Sweet (Historical Studies), Dr Kate Loveman (English) and Dr John Hinks (Historical Studies).

The PhD will investigate the ways in which chapbooks articulated a sense of national identity (for example, through recounting historical narratives, or the celebration of national achievements) or reflected themes such as naval or maritime traditions which have already been strongly identified with the expression of eighteenth-century national identity.

This research will make an important contribution to the study of national identities in the eighteenth century and, more broadly, the extent of mediation between elite and popular culture during this period.

The successful applicant will be guaranteed teaching in the School of Historical Studies for which a fee is paid. They will also be encouraged to able to apply for funds to cover research expenses from external sources, for example, the Bibliographical Society or the Economic History Society.

The studentship will cover tuition fees (at the UK/EU rate only) for three years starting in October 2010. International students will need to pay the difference between this and the international tuition fee rate.

Details here; Further information: Prof Roey Sweet,

Tuesday 1 December 2009


I have started a new blog (here) to gauge interest in reviving the Australasian and Pacific Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

[UPDATE 11 Feb 2015: I have now deleted this blog to avoid any confusion with the Australian and New Zealand Society for Eighteenth Century Studies (ANZSECS) launched at the XVth David Nichol Smith conference at the University of Sydney in December 2014]

Haywood Bibliography Note 4

Ab.70.5 The Wife (1806) is one of the last works by Eliza Haywood to be published before the modern revival of interest in her as an author. As I set out in Appendix J, Table V, of my Bibliography, among works in English only Ab.30 The Distress'd Orphan and Ab.36 The Fruitless Enquiry appeared after 1806. Of these, only the latter—Ab.36.7 The Fruitless Enquiry (1819)—was dated. (Among works in other languages, only the German translations of Ab.69 The Invisible Spy appeared after 1806.) Ab.70.5 The Wife (1806) is also the only American edition of any work by Haywood.

Both Ab.70.5 The Wife (1806) and Ab.36.7 The Fruitless Enquiry (1819) are bowdlerised versions of Haywood's original text. In the case of The Wife the edition has been reworded, the phrasing "modernised," and Book III Section viii "Sleeping in different Beds" (Ab.70.1 TWi, 239–50) is omitted altogether. The rewording often heightens the religious sentiments.

In my Bibliography I listed two issues of Ab.70.5, but I recently bought a third (photos below). All three issues appeared in Boson in 1806 with slight differences in the imprint.

Ab.70.5a "BOSTON: | Printed and published by A. NEWELL. | 1806."

Ab.70.5b "BOSTON: | Printed by A. NEWELL, for A. MARCH, | No. 13 Market Square—Newburyport. | 1806."

Ab.70.5c "BOSTON: | Printed by A. NEWELL, and for Sale by | THOMAS & WHIPPLE, Newburyport. | 1806."

Conveniently, the third one—the one I recently acquired and which was previously unknown and unrecorded—does seem to belong in third position. I have updated by Bibliography accordingly attached a pdf of the new entry on my Haywood Bibliography, Addenda and Corrigenda page.

[UPDATE: 2 July 2016: After all my pictures disappeared (again) I decided to give up on external hosts for large versions (1000px) of my image files and, for now on, will stick with the smaller images (usually 500px, but 400px here), which Blogger is prepared to host.]