Sunday, 18 July 2021

Chapbook Illustration and the History of Dr. Faustus

Thanks to Giles Bergel et al., bibliographers of the (very) long eighteenth-century have a valuable new widget for image-matching woodblocks. The widget was developed by Bergel et al. to search of woodblock illustrations in Scottish chapbooks held in the National Library of Scotland.

Importantly, said widget—"NLS Chapbooks"—has an external search function, allowing you to "Search using your own image" (see here) in much the same way you can conduct image searches using Google Images (here) etc.

As I have said recently (here), that the lack of a "Search using your own image" function, is the largest (remaining) limit on the utility of Hazel Wilkinson's otherwise outstanding "Compositor" (aka Fleuron 2.0).

Knowing this—and my interest in this subject generally—David Levy kindly sent me the details of the "NLS Chapbooks" search engine and a link to a very informative video of Bergel's NLS talk "Exploring Chapbooks Printed in Scotland with Machine Vision" (here).

* * * * *


Conveniently, I had the perfect candidate to test the "NLS Chapbooks" search function: the image above that appears on a chapbook History of Dr. Faustus, which I blogged about in 2010 (here). The result of my search was extremely gratifying. As you can see, it matched the image to seven items (listed below)—one of them from my copy of the History of Dr. Faustus—before the algorithm failed.


Something that should be immediately obvious, even in the small images above, is that the block has been intentionally altered—or "diminished" as Bergel explains in his talk (starting at 35.00). A halberd, a late eighteenth century version of the pole-axe-spear-weapon, is present in five of the seven images, but is missing from the two issues of the History of Dr. Faustus.

A closer examination of the seven images reveals two much more subtle changes: a very small chip in the hat (which seems to be some sort of French military bicorn hat), that becomes progressively less small, and a very small crack adjacent to that chip, which becomes progressively larger.



Above, we see the four distinct states or forms of this block represented by the NLS images, with the changes mentioned: [1] undamaged; and [2] tiny chip to hat (1st image below); [3] small chip and second tiny crack; and [4] large chip and small crack (2nd image below). The last of these corresponds with the block's de-halberdising.

Looking just at the just the top of the hat, this progression is a bit clearer—despite the pixilation at the magnification necessary.


* * * * *

The pixilation is a clear indication of the path to further progress. The excellent work by Bergel and his team may not be reproducible by Wilkinson (using images from ECCO), because the images she is working with are at a lower resolution that the NLS images. (NLS Chapbooks download at approximately 350dpi, ECCO images at 72dpi.)

Like decent OCR, matching user-supplied images requires more detailed images to reduce the number of false positives. This suggests the utility of ECCO upgrading at least a proportion of their scans with fresh photography, to improve OCR (which they now supply) as well as this sort of image-searching functionality.

But even when working with better images, such as those in the NLS Chapbooks series, resolution sets limits in identifying the sort of progressive damage to blocks seen above. This, in turn, suggests that the optimal image resolution is probably 600dpi—which has long been the digital archive standard.

* * * * *

One final point to make about the items listed below, with NLS cataloguing links, is that the suggested date of publication for these items at NLS will have to be re-considered. Judging from the ornament damage, the earliest item (Three Scotch songs) cannot be "1850–1860?" if the History of Dr. Faustus is "1840–1850?" etc.

Also, if the History of Dr. Faustus is the final form of this block, then it should also be clear that the person depicted in this block is neither Faustus not Mephistopheles—nor anyone else from the History of Dr. Faustus for that matter. As Edward J. Cowan and Mike Paterson explain:

"It was often felt necessary to ornament the front cover with a picture , and a woodcut usually served this purpose—even if it had been used several times before, was fairly crudely executed and made only an indirect allusion (if any at all) to the content." (Folk in Print: Scotland's Chapbook Heritage, 1750-1850 (2007), 13).

* * * * *

State 1: spear; no chip
Three Scotch songs: Donald Caird. Bundle and go. The Haughs of Crumdel (Glasgow: Printed for the booksellers, [1850–1860?]) [L.C.2845(30)] NLA catalogue entry.

State 2: spear; tiny chip
John Falkirk's cariches: to which is added Tam Merrilees; a capital story (Glasgow: Printed for the booksellers, [1840-1850?]), E [L.C.2852.C(10)] ¶ issue with number NLA catalogue entry; E [L.C.2848(1)]. ¶ issue without number NLA catalogue entry.

State 3: spear; small chip, 2nd tiny chip
Four popular songs: viz. Glasgow fair; Oh what a parish. A beauty I did grow; and The adventures of a shilling (Glasgow: Printed for the booksellers, [1850–1860?]), E [L.C.2845(32)] NLA catalogue entry.

The Haughs of Crumdel: to which is added, It fell upon the Martinmas time. Wilt thou go my bonny lassie? (Glasgow: Printed for the booksellers, [1850–1860?]), E [L.C.2845(5)] NLA catalogue entry.

State 4: no spear; large chip, 2nd small chip
History of Dr. Faustus: shewing his wicked life and horrid death, and how he sold himself to the devil, to have power for 24 years, to do what he pleased, also many strange things done by him with the assistance of Mephostophiles. With an account how the devil came for him at the end of 24 years, and tore him to pieces (Glasgow: Printed for the booksellers, [1840–1850?]), [L.C.2852.E(24)] NLA catalogue entry; L.C.2847(6)] ¶ issue without number NLA catalogue entry.

[UPDATED 2021.07.19]

Saturday, 29 May 2021

Gossip in a Library, redux

The last time I mentioned Edmund Gosse and his puningly-titled essay collection, Gossip in a Library (1891; see here), I was rather hard on both the writer and his essay ("What Ann Lang Read").


Since I wrote that post in 2012, I have given four lectures on Gosse and his essay collection, in a variety of teaching units at Monash, and have continued to be equally hard on both.


In light of this, it may seem a little odd that I would spend a reasonable sum of money to buy the volume illustrated in this post, which is a signed, limited edition of Gossip in a Library containing a photogravure of Gosse.


Given that this limited edition was published a year later than the first edition, a copy of which I already have, I was clearly not motivated by any high-minded bibliographical or collecting principle: this is in no way better than a first edition. Quite the opposite, in fact.


However, the 1892, limited-to-one-hundred-copies, signed-by-the-author, deckled-edged, large-paper edition, has—as I mentioned—a photogravure of Gosse, and this sort of artwork is just the thing I need want for my book on Haywood's readers.


Looking online, I can only find one site which uses this 1892 photogravure. Not only is their reproduction (here) watermarked with text, it is also rather small: I will do better!


My only other justification for buying this kind-of duplicate is that it contains a two-page supplement of reviews ("Opinions of the Press"), which is not present in the 1891 edition of Gossip in a Library on Google Books (see here), and which will also be rather useful for my chapter of Gosse.

Sunday, 23 May 2021

Marginal Notes, Now Published


Marginal Notes: Social Reading and the Literal Margins, edited by Patrick Spedding, Paul Tankard and Mia Goodwin (London: Palgrave, 2021)—the latest volume in the New Directions in Book History series—was issued on 29 March 2021. However, as far as I am concerned it was only really published yesterday, when I got to sit down on a quiet and relaxed Saturday morning, with a fresh coffee, and with the book in hand, like this:


The book, which is extremely satisfying to handle, is the final product of a conference collaboration that I first discussed with Paul Tankard in late 2015. The cover is also illustrated with the same image that graced the poster for our original conference (of the same name, and from which the book sprung) in September 2016 (announced on this blog, here).


I am inordinately proud of the cover image, since it contains a rebus—made slightly more obvious, I hope, by the positioning of image and title on the cover. As you can see in the original photo above, the annotator of my copy of Samuel Croxall's Fables of Aesop, not only glossed difficult words and phrases in the text, but also illustrated the silver tankard that is a central feature of this tale (which the thief is seeking at the bottom of the well). Not only is Paul's surname thus illustrated by way of annotation and rebus on the cover, mine is kind-of implied too: the "arch dissembler" being in the process of running or speeding (!) away. (Yes, this is lame, but it is a little less lame to me since, if I do not spell out my name, letter by letter, it is unfailingly recorded as "Speeding"!)

Moving on … of course, once I had a calm, reflective browse of the contents of our collection—I found one alarming error after another. And so I stopped, picked up my pencil, and annotated my copy with the corrections illustrated below. If you happen to read the book, or any of the essays in this collection, and find any more errors, please don't tell me. Rather, do as I have done, and as readers have long done, correct your copy too.



Saturday, 1 May 2021

Oracles and the renaissance

Recently, my scholar-cousin found a roll of film in a canister marked: "Spedding. Berlin." Since he and I thought this might be 24 long-lost happy-snaps from a trip to Berlin, I asked him to send the film to me unopened, and asap.


As it happens, I should have asked him to look at it more closely first because, not only was it not a long-lost film of happy-snaps, the film was not from Berlin. Instead, it was a microfilm I had ordered for him from the British Library back in 1995, when I was in London.


It seems that, at that time, he needed to chase up a reference to an obscure Latin work, which contained a list of -mancy words. Johann Albert Fabricius, Bibliographia antiqvaria, sive introdvctio in notitiam scriptorvm qvi antiqvitates hebraicas, graecas, romanas et christianas scriptis illvstrarvnt (1713), CAPUT XII, §2. "De divinationibus, Vatibus, miraculis, Magia, juramentis et votis, scriptores." [oracles, soothsayers, magic, oaths and vows, writing].


Although there was a copy of this book in Australia, that copy was at the University of Melbourne, one thousand kilometers away from Sydney (where he lived at the time). Also, the University of Melbourne was not set up for copying as easily or cheaply as the British Library—where I was busy at work on my Haywood bibliography.

So, rather than him taking a long road-trip to check the reference, or pay a small fortune for photographs to be taken of each page, I paid £3.53 for a duplicate microfilm at the British Library. When the microfilm arrived, I obviously rationalised the many microfilms I had accumulated for my research, and sent him his film in a spare canister.


So, mystery solved. But it struck me that this vignette of antipodean scholarly industry was worth relating, if only to compare it to the ease with which we can chase up a reference to an obscure** Latin work today. Totally unsurprisingly, this obscure Latin work has been freely available online since 2017 via Google Books.


And, because [1] it is freely available online, and [2] there is little demand for obscure Latin scholarship, you can buy an even earlier edition than held anywhere in Australia for USD75.00. I am not sure what this 1708 edition (below) might have been priced at in 1995, but my guess is between five and ten times as much as it is now.


Of course, [1] is directly related to [2]: there are now almost no libraries seeking to establish a collection of such scholarly depth that they are filling Rare Books collections with obscure Latin scholarship, in the way that the University of Melbourne once did.

When the classical heritage of the West was returned to us via the East, it prompted a renaissance—two of them actually: one in the Twelfth century and one two or three centuries later, which we call either the Renaissance or the Italian Renaissance.

It seems to me that the boggling scholarly riches readily available to us in the twenty-first century should be prompting a third renaissance in the Humanities. The time that scholars previously wasted in overcoming the tyranny of distance (via travel and cumbersome copying) can now be spent in pushing forward research: much further and faster than was possible in the twentieth century.

Perhaps this third renaissance is underway. If so, evidence for a twenty-first century renaissance is no easier to find than Fabricius's Bibliographia antiqvaria was in 1995.

**Although Wikipedia tells us that Fabricius was a celebrated bibliographer and collector of manuscripts, who is credited with compiling 128 books, there are very few references to Fabricius' "De divinationibus" online, before or after 1995.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Put a pin in it, bookmarks in the 18C

There are a number of places online where various people have discussed the origin and meaning of the phrase to "put a pin in it." English Language and Usage Stack Exchange has a useful thread on this (here); a lot less useful is the one on Quora (here); the one on Urban Dictionary is as silly as you'd expect (here), and there are lots of similar fun, click-baity sites.

According to Urban Dictionary and The BS Dictionary: Uncovering the Origins and True Meanings of Business Speak (here): "The leading theory for where put a pin in it comes from is World War II, when soldiers were encouraged to put a pin back into an active hand grenade so it wouldn't go off. However, we have no credible sources to back that up."

What I love about this gloss is that the "BS" in the title (The BS Dictionary) is intended to suggest both "B[usiness] S[peak] Dictionary" and "B[ull] S[hit] Dictionary"—implying that "Business Speak" is Bull Shit (hilarious)—and that Bob and Tim's dictionary uncovers "the Origins and True Meanings" of said Business Speak / Bull Shit. In reality, the gloss itself is BS: "The leading theory for where put a pin in it comes from" is not from hand grenades and World War II, this is simply the first answer Bob and Tim discovered in precisely 1.4 seconds of Googling time (which led them to Urban Dictionary). So, rather than being a glossary to Business BS, The BS Dictionary is a Business glossary comprised of BS (also hilarious).

As for "put[ting] a pin in" something, most of the explanations offered for the origin of this term are based on thumb-tacks / drawing pins, which "conjures an image of somebody attaching a flyer or a notice to a cork board," "pin[ning] fabric in position before sewing it" in place or setting up pins in a pattern to create "bobbin lace" and stopping stitches you have finished from coming undone. Other suggestions relate to "pinning together pages of a book" or using "pins to mark edits in [a] manuscript"—something Jane Austen is credited with doing, apparently.

My own suggestion is rather more directly related to the meaning of the phrase, which is to "note carefully" or "bear in mind" (as glossed by Jonathon Green's excellent Dictionary of Slang, here): using a sewing pin as a bookmark.

* * * * *


As you can see in the photos above and below, sewing pins were used as bookmarks in the eighteenth century. In this copy of Ab.16.8a2 La Belle Assemblée, 4th ed. (Dublin, 1740), vol.1, a pin has been inserted between two pages in such a way as not to fall out when the book is opened. That is, the tip of the pin has been pushed into the fold between pages 142 and 143, then downwards parralel with the spine, so that it becomes lodged in the paper, glue and binding, with only a short section of the shaft visible when the book is opened.


By inserting the pin in this way, the reader has marked the opening much more securely than is possible with the sort of loose bookmarks I typically use: a piece of paper or cardboard, that tends to fall out when the book is not kept firmly closed.


I noticed quite a few of these sewing-pin bookmarks, inserted in the same way, when I was physically examining hundreds of eighteenth-century copies of works by Haywood, for my 2004 Bibliography. Unfortunately, I did not make a note of which specific copies contained these pin-bookmarks, but I did examine the pins closely enough to be sure that they were definitely contemporary, hand-made silvered brass or steel sewing pins.


How did I know this? Well, at first I didn't, but seventeenth and eighteenth century pins have a very distinct look since, as is explained here: the pin itself [is] made of brass wire, [and] the heads were made separately of brass wound around the top of the pin." Pin-making machines were invented in the early nineteenth century (as Wikipedia notes [in a rather pathetic entry on pins]). These eighteenth-century pins look quite different from any pin I'd handled before, so I started looking into it.

Since my interest in any eighteenth-century reader records has only increased over the years—any evidence of reading really—it was with great satisfaction that I discovered that a contemporary reader of my copy of La Belle Assemblée had "put a pin in it"—"note carefully" so as to "bear in mind" the text.

Of course, despite it's very sharp point, a pin does not have much precision when marking text in the way we see here; less than a modern printed cardboard bookmark, since printed bookmarks typically have a front and a back, a top and a bottom, allowing you to indicate the top or bottom or a specific page. A pin is also more cumbersome than a pencil or ink pen for marking a passage. Moreover, if you were to attempt to mark a line, paragraph or single page, by threading it into and out of a leaf parallel to the outer margin of the relevant text, the pin would inadvertently mark text on both sides of the leaf, since the pin would be visible on both sides of the leaf—though the side of the leaf with the pin head might be the equivalent of the front of a bookmark.

On the positive side, although a pin-threaded-page may be difficult to find again, requiring the reader to fan through the whole book until the page with the pin it was found, it would be easier to find a pinned page than a page with a line of ink or a pencil mark on it. But if you were to attempt to mark—as some readers do—dozens of passages, you would have difficulty closing a book stuffed with so many pins, and it would be an expensive way of marking the text. Since pins were handmade, they were more expensive that the machine-made pins that followed.

So, why use a pin rather than a pencil or ink pen, if it is more cumbersome, costly and less exact? My guess is that a pin was simply close at hand—very close. I suspect that our pin-wielding memorialist used a pin because she was (singularly or, more likely, in company) engaged in multi-tasking: either alternatively or (to the extent possible) simultaneously engaged in both reading and sewing. Also, one of the first recipes that Eliza Haywood included in her Present for a Servant-Maid (1743) was "How to get Spots of Ink out of Linen" (here)—a reminder that ink and linen were a bad combination, and that handling ink and any material while sewing was a bad idea. It was far easier and safer to use a pin than to risk having to soak the linen "all Night in Vinegar and Salt, the next Day rub the Spots well with it, as if you were washing in Water, then put fresh Vinegar and Salt, and let it lie another Night, and the next Day rub it again."

As well as being easier and safer to use a pin, rather than ink, it is also cheaper and less damaging to the book, since the pin can be re-used / moved and—when used as here—leaves only a tiny and discreet hole. The fact that the pin remains in place in my copy of La Belle Assemblée could be interpreted to mean that it was deployed as a long-term marker, like ink or pencil, but it seems much more likely that it was only ever intended to be a temporary place-holder and that this pin remains in place simply because it was forgotten.

* * * * *

In terms of moral alignment, using a pin as a bookmark might identify the reader a being somewhere between "true neutral" and "chaotic neutral" (alignments which cover bookmarking behaviour ranging from using a visiting card or bus ticket, through to using weird 3D objects to mark your place: pen, glasses, seed pods and [unused] condoms**) rather than lawful, neutral or chaotic evil (a continuum of place-holding and memorialising from dog-earing pages, highlighting passages, to tearing out pages you like and glueing them to the wall††). Generally-speaking, this sort of chaotic evil bookmarking is frowned upon, but from the perspective of someone writing a book on eighteenth century readers, it is actually quite welcome.

* * * * *

To return to our phrase, it may be that "putting a pin in it" was once quite common, though evidence may be lacking for a variety of plausible reasons: the preference for pristine (unread) copies in the book trade and among librarians dooming genuinely "used" books; an historical librarianish disapproval and neat-freakery, which erased the evidence of reading from the few examples that made their way into institutional collections, i.e., due to librarians removing any pins present so that they can't rust or otherwise mark the pages; or the pins may have been removed by collectors interested in the curly-headed pins themselves. I have certainly collected a few historical pins for this reason, if not in this way.

Whatever the reason for pinned pasages being uncommon today, it would certainly be consistent with the period in which the phrase arose (early 18C; earlier than recorded in Green's Dictionary, to judge from the quotes provided on Stack Exchange) and with the meaning of the phrase (to "note carefully" or "bear in mind"), for "to put a pin in it" to pin a passage as we see here. Also in favour of my interpretation is that my book may be considered primary evidence: where is the equvalent evidence for the alternative interpretations?!

* * * * *

**One of the few eighteenth-century condoms known to survive—one held by the British Museum—was found in a book in the Brish Library's Private Case, marking a passage where condoms were being discussed. An image of this condom appears in the exhibition catalogue London 1753 (2003), 144, No.3.20.

††Mary and Charles Lamb decorated the walls of their (rented) garret in Temple Lane, by cutting engraved illustrations out of their books and gluing them to the walls. Mary described the process in a letter of 2 November 1814:

"My brother and I almost covered the walls in prints, for which purpose he cut out every print from every book in his old library, coming in every now and then to ask my leave to strip a fresh poor author … There was such pasting, such consultation upon these portraits, and where the series of pictures from Ovid, Milton and Shakespeare would show to most advantage, and in what obscure corners authors of humble rank should be allowed to tell their stories … To conclude this long story about nothing, the poor despised garret is now called the print room, and is become our most familiar sitting-room" (here).

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Slip cancellation in 1980

As Sarah Werner and Mitch Fraas observe (in a Folger library blog post, here) "Pasting in slips of paper to correct errors was not unusual practice in the hand-press period." Sarah went on to give a lot of examples of a variety of slip cancels from the hand-press period (here), with lots of fabulous photos.

Even after 1800, slip cancellation was not uncommon, and anyone who has handled a lot of old books will probably have seen quite a few imprints from the machine-press period that have been updated via little printed pieces of paper pasted over an old imprint—sometimes, half torn off again by curious readers. Most of the slip-cancells I have seen, or remember seeing, are from the late ninteenth and early twentieth century, but I have seen a few from the 70s and 80s too.

The present example is such a good one, since it is not just an imprint update, and such a late one, that I thought it might be worth posting. And, having looked online and found that there are almost no other "recent" examples, I decided to go ahead. I might even post a few more of these as I notice them (again) among my books.

Today's slip cancel is from Mariel Dewey, 12 Months Harvest (Edinburgh: John Bartholomew and Son Ltd., 1980), first published in 1975 by Ortho Books, San Francisco as A Guide to Preserving Food for a 12 Months Harvest: Canning, Freezing, Smoking, and Drying; Making Cheese, Cider, Soap and Grinding Grain; Getting the Most from Your Garden (the sort of comprehensive title that was popular in the 18C.).


I have had my copy of Dewey's 12 Months Harvest for thirty years, so I have often seen the cancel, and been struck by just how good an example it is of slip-cancellation.

As well as shortening the title, John Bartholomew and Son messed up the index. Probably, this was because—after they had compilied the Index—they made some late changes to the text and layout, which resulted in changes to the pagination, though it may be because they simply reprinted the American index without twigging that their own setting was different, and that this would result in changes to layout, index etc.


In any event, having printed the book with a faulty index, and realised that they had done so, they needed to either reprint the final gathering or paste in a slip explaining the error. Obviously the latter is cheaper and easier and so, as you can see, they opted for it (as printers have for hundreds of years).


As you can also see, by the shadow in the above photo, because the slip is pasted over the start of the index, it is attached by one edge only. You have to lift the left-hand side of the slip to see the index entries underneath for anything starting with an "A."

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Ron Abbey on the Cornerstones of Civilisation

In July 1968, Eve and Ron Abbey founded Abbey's Bookshop, a business which continues to this day at 131 York Street, Sydney (here).

Ron owned several other bookstores, most of which I remember: a Penguin bookshop, the Oxford and Cambridge Bookshop, Galaxy Bookshop, the Language Book Centre, and Henry Lawson's Bookshop, Pickwick Bookshop, and Ron Abbey's Bookhouse (according to his obituary).

Ron was vice-president of the Australian Bookseller's Association from 1973–75 and president from 1975–77 (according to Austlit); he died, aged 78, on 16 July 2005 (according to Informit).

I have recently been reading a little about Ron in an essay by Joan Lawrence on "Sydney Bookshops," which was published in December 2020 in Biblionews.

Given his significance in the Australian (particularly Sydney) book scene, it is disappointing that there is not more information readily available about Ron.

The photograph of Frank Moorhouse (right, speaking) and Ron Abbey (left, listening) is the only one I can find online (here). It was taken during Australian Library Week in September 1974, when Ron was vice-president of the ABA.


The most extensive account I can find comes from the obituary written by his son Alan Abbey (linked above). According to Alan:

Ron Abbey greatly admired the self-educated man, living his life by the words of Bertrand Russell: "Books and bookshops are the cornerstones of civilisation; as to self-education, what other kind is there?"

* * * * *

Although it has been years since I read any Bertrand Russell, I was once a great fan. Curious about this unfamiliar quotations, which Joan also quotes, I went looking for the source … and couldn't find one. In fact, I can't find anything even close to it.

It is possible that this quotation is beyond the reach of Google, that it was said in an interview rather than a book or article, and has never been quoted in print, but it is more likely that either Ron or Alan (or both Ron and Alan) have misremembered it, and rephrased it during many years of repetition.

However, Googling both "Books and bookshops are" and "are the cornerstones of civilisation" does lead to some interesting claims:

Books and bookshops are a beloved hobby (here)
Books and bookshops are full of nostalgia and imagination (here)
Books and bookshops are retail therapy (here)
Books and bookshops are doomed (here)
Books and bookshops are fighting back (here)
Books and bookshops are moving up (here)
Books and bookshops are reinventing themselves (here)
Books and bookshops are always essential (here)
Books and bookshops are flourishing (here)

Reading and writing are the cornerstones of civilisation (here)
Story, or discourse are [sic] the cornerstones of civilisation (here)
Knowledge and culture are the cornerstones of civilisation (here)
Knowledge and expertise the cornerstones of civilisation (here)
Liberty, equality and a cup of tea are the cornerstones of civilisation (here)
Families are the cornerstones of civilisation (here)
Humour and sex are the cornerstones of civilisation (here)
Toleration and respect are the cornerstones of civilisation (here)
Judgement and public shaming are the cornerstones of civilisation (here)

The closest match I could find for the (seemingly, faux-)Russell quote is: "At EIBF, we recognise the importance of books and reading in people’s lives. Books, and bookshops, are one of the cornerstones of our civilization. Booksellers enrich the communities they are part of, offering cultural, economic, and educational contribution to society" (here).

In the faux-Russell quote, "cornerstones" is plural: an acknowledgment that "Books and bookshops" are separate things, and that each is a cornerstone in its own right. This does raise the question: how many cornerstones can a building have? A rectangular building will have four, though many buildings have more corners than this, it is customary to only celebrate one, the first.

(In the image below we see three cornerstones, though only one has been dated—1909—and celebrated.)


So, faux-Russell / Ron Abbey is making a claim to double the usual number; whereas the European and International Booksellers Federation (EIBF) wants you to know they are only claiming one: weak! Pathetic! Are they setting aside scores of imaginary cornerstones for Reading, Writing, Liberty, Equality, Families, Humour, Sex, Public Shaming and a cup of tea!?

I would expect a Booksellers Federation to make a stronger claim these EU flunkies: why not either two cornerstones (if you allow more than one) or the only cornerstone (if one). I hope Ron Abbey's successors at the Australian Bookseller's Association reject this cowardly and pusillanimous EIBF statement, and embrace, instead, that of their one-time president.

[UPDATE 2021.04.08: Blogger tells me that this was my 300th post]

Saturday, 20 March 2021

2001AD, give or take two decades

My previous post (here) on both my first library, and the great cull that followed my first year at University, is a sort-of necessary introduction to the following, 2020 year-in-collecting story.

As I explained in my previous post, I occasionally encounter a book that gives me pause, leaving me in a uncanny-like uncertainty as to whether or not said book was one that I had in my first library collection, but rashly disposed of decades ago.

(The Wikipedia entry for uncanny is rubbish—at least as it relates to literature—but accurately describes what I mean: "the psychological experience of something as strangely familiar, rather than simply mysterious." The uncanny in literature persists only so long as a reader is uncertain whether an event described has a natural or supernatural explanation. In fact, the major distinction between two schools of the gothic is based on how the uncanny is resolved: the English school taking the natural approach, the German school taking the supernatural approach.)

Anyway, in November of 2020 one of the books recommended to me by the eBay algorithm caught my eye. The cover looked kind-of familiar, and the longer I looked at it, the more familiar it appeared.

So, I did what I usually do in such cases: I pulled up a scan of a very old photo of my shelves, taken in the late 80s, enlarged it, squinted at it one way and another, fiddled with the contrast etc., until I convinced myself that the 43rd book on the top shelf of the bookcase in my photo—which had previously defied identification—was, in fact, G. Foster's 2001AD (1976).

Having got this far, I then did some searching online to try to find out more about the book, so that I could decide whether or not it was one that I might like to read again. Definitely working in its favour was that it was now as far beyond 2001 (20yrs, give or take) as it previously was prior to 2001 (20yrs, give or take), when I last read it.

What I discovered was that G. Foster's 2001AD was published in Sydney by Bill Ewington Books, that it was one of a very small number of books published by Bill Ewington Books, and that no library in Australia—or anywhere else, for that matter—seemed to have a copy of the book. As such, I was unable to discover anything about the author of what I could only assume was a locally-written and -published science fiction.

Given the rarity, the genre, the date, the near-perfect 70s font on the cover, the fact that it was local, and the neat two decades before-and-after focus date, I decided to buy a copy.

Although the book recommended by eBay was cheap, it appeared to be a little worn—but the photo was poor and so it was unclear just how worn the condition might be. Looking online, I could find no better copy—indeed, I could find no other copy at all—and so I wrote to the vendor and asked for more information or a better photo. (The eBay seller was manyhills), a rural Victorian bookseller (Manyhills Book Store.)


The vendor sent a larger photo (above) and on the basis of it, I went ahead and bought the book, which arrived very promptly. I have to say that the book looked even more familiar in hand. When I opened the cover I discovered why: it was not just a copy of a book I once owned, it was the copy I previously owned!

I know this for certain because, for a very short period of time, I inscribed my books: at first with just my initials, in ink, later my name in pencil, occasionally with a date. In total, I probably have fewer than a dozen such books still, but enough to be 100% certain: this was/is my copy of G. Foster's 2001AD.


I was gob-smacked. It was like seeing a toy snake turn into a real snake: talk about the uncanny! Here was something that was both "strangely familiar" and "mysterious": how on earth had my copy of 2001AD ended up in Traralgon, Victoria? Where had it been over the last three decades?

Having written to the vendor once again, he was able to tell me that the had owned the book since 2009 when he "bought a bulk lot of about 1600 sci-fi books from a guy who was moving overseas"; the books were picked up from Melbourne, but he could not remember the exact suburb (unsurprising, after more than a decade) .

The book itself contained further clues: stamps from Bill's Book Bar, 29 Block Arcade Ballarat and Sue's Book Bazaar, 34 Curtis St. Ballarat. Ballarat is a large inland city (relatively unusual in Australia) about 110 kms north-west of Melbourne.

The "much loved Bill's Book Bar" (see here)—a "a terrific shop … inside the Block Arcade, crammed with books" (here)—gets a few mentions online. In 2013, long after my book was in Melbourne, it was described in the past tense: as a "pok[e]y little shop … selling, as the name suggests, used books as well and magazines and comics" in "rows of shelves towering above" the customers (here). There is still (it seems) a "Book Bazaar" at 34 Curtis St. Ballarat, though by 2007 the "Sue's" had been dropped and the owner was John Nunn (here). Google street view shows the shop, with its present name, completely unchanged from December 2007 through to February 2018.

If I could establish a more accurate date-range for both Bill's Book Bar and Sue's Book Bazaar, I might be able to work out just how much of the last three decades my copy of 2001AD spent in Ballarat, but I would still be in the dark concerning how it got there from Sydney.

Turning from the long journey my book has taken: once my book arrived I refreshed my research and discovered more concerning the author and publishing history of the book. Although there was no entry for the book on ISFDB online (The Internet Speculative Fiction Database), I did find an entry on sf-encyclopedia.com, which tells me that G. Foster was George C. Foster (1893–1975), a UK author, and that 2001AD is a rare Oz reprint of The Change (1960), a story in which "nuclear experiments inadvertently rejuvenate humanity" (entry here).

Many copies of the Digit Books paperback, with terrific cover-art (below), are available for less than ten dollars. There is also a single copy of a paperback edition published in the 70s by Eclipse Paperbacks, in Dee Why West (Sydney), with the subtitle "A terrifying novel of the future." A copy of this edition is held by the National Library of Australia (here), and a fine copy is available to buy from this West Australian bookseller for fifteen dollars.


Although I suspect that Eclipse and Bill Ewington Books are related in some way, and that the two books have identical text-blocks, I am resisting the urge to test this theory by buying the Eclipse Paperbacks edition. It is enough that I have been able to buy back this little bit of my past for only $14. (Of course, once I re-read the book, if I find that I like it, I will probably end up with copies of all three editions!)

I'll end with one further observations: part of my reasoning for buying (back) this book was that it was so rare that I may not get another opportunity to buy one: after all, I could find no copy in any library, for sale online (other than the one I bought), or having been for sale online. The fact that the one I bought turns out to be the same one I owned as a teenager reduces the total number of copies known to exist—or known to me anyway—to just one exemplar.

For all I know, no other copy exists, or has existed since I bought my copy (the first time) in the mid-80s. Of course, if it is true that no other copy exists or has existed for thirty-five years, I guess it is also true that it is not so remarkable that, in managing to buy a copy at all, I managed to buy back the one I stupidly sold as a part of the great cull.

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Frances Zabel, pioneering bookseller, book reviewer, journalist

Mrs Frances Zabel (1868–1933) was the copyright holder (and, I assume, publisher) of the poem in my January post: “The Lender’s Library” (here). Curious about the poem, I found myself quickly becoming intrigued by both the author and publisher too.

I have now completed my post concerning the author (here). Typically, what was intended to be a short post about the publisher has grown well beyond what I had in mind, such that it now threatens to become a collaborative research project!

Rather than leave Mrs Zabel completely neglected until the results of that research can be published I thought that—as a placeholder, a teaser, and an International Women's Day celebration—I'd transcribe and reprint an interview with Zabel that was written by the late, great Zora Cross (1890–1964): Australian poet, best-selling novelist and journalist.

The Cross-Zabel interview was published in the Sydney Mail (22 January 1930): 29 (on Trove, here), and is reproduced below in its entirety.

* * * * *

Australian Women Pioneers: In the Literary World

When the story of Australian literature is finally told it will not be complete without mention of that brave band of pioneers who blazed trails for others to follow.

IN this field the name of Mrs. Zabel, the first woman to establish a literary journal—the ‘F.Z. Review,’ in Perth, in 1904—must, be remembered. Her little paper, which she managed, wrote, and distributed herself, is a credit not only to Perth, but to Australia.
  Born in Victoria. Mrs. Zabel, who now conducts a library in Sydney, was one of the first women on the goldfields in Western Australia. But her heart had been given to books from childhood, and when she later settled in Perth she wrote book reviews for a local paper.
  At, that time, there was only one woman bookseller in Australia—Mrs. H. Champion, wife of the late H. H. Champion, the man who was the first, daring enough to publish one of George Bernard Shaw’s novels. Mrs. Champion was selling books in Melbourne.
  “All honour to Mrs. Champion,” Mrs. Zabel says, “for she was the woman pioneer of book-selling, which I believe is a woman’s business, not a man’s. A woman has the intuition to fit the book to the reader more readily than a man has.”
  Mrs. Zabel was the second woman bookseller in the Commonwealth, and she also began on a small scale. She began in Perth at the Book Lovers’ Library, and it was from there she published her unique and admirable newspaper. Nothing commercial seems to have entered into her scheme, for here in her journal are reviewed rare and foreign books, belles lettres, historical studies, essays, poetry, as well as the latest in fiction, showing that as a buyer of books she discriminated.
  One is struck by the ability Mrs. Zabel had for judging a book for posterity as well as the day. Thus, in her review of Marie Corelli’s work she never gave extravagant praise, as so many papers of the time did, even though, as recorded in the “F.Z. Review,” 43 tons of paper were used in the first edition of one of Miss Corelli’s popular books of the time. Mrs. Zabel did not trade in best-sellers.

ABOUT five years ago this interesting woman took over the Roycroft Library, which Miss Peacock established in Sydney over thirty years ago. A charming historical library, this!
  I asked Mrs, Zabel recently if she did not become tired of books, having had them for daily companions so long.
  “Not a bit,” she replied, just as enthusiastic over the new writers now as she was twenty years ago. “I was born to sell books, and I put in twenty years’ spade work before I came here. But isn't this beautiful? It has only just come in.”
  I admired the new Lily Yeats masterpiece of framed embroidery—a veritable Irish garden of flowers woven of bright threads, reminiscent of something out of faerie or the Land of Heart's Desire itself.
  “This is from a most beautiful and interesting women’s industry,” Mrs. Zabel explained, “conducted by Lily and Elizabeth Yeats, sisters of the famous W. B. Yeats—the Cuala Press and Industries in Dublin. Jack Yeats, a brother, does coloured woodcuts characteristic of Irish life; Elizabeth conducts the Press, and has produced lovely editions (highly prized by collectors) of W. B. Yeats. Lily attends to the needlecraft industry; she has taught, and employs, Irish peasant girls, and from Cuala comes exquisite scarves, traditional Irish cloaks, as well as pictures; and their white linen with colour design is seemingly out of fairyland. Mrs. Lane-Poole, their cousin, now in Canberra, was one of the designers. I must show you some of their illuminated manuscripts, rare and beautiful—done on a hand press, of course. There! Isn’t that something like one of the old Celtic vellums?”

TRAVEL has broadened Mrs. Zabel’s out look on all things, and it is her delight to go to the source, for the beautiful glass and pottery wares which she self up as a coloured background for her books.
  About four years ago she began to import curious and quaint and beautiful objects of art and pottery as well as books. She did not do this purposely to create an ideal atmosphere for her beloved books, but naturally it became that.
  Though she hides her writing identity under pen-names her pen is never idle, and it is a very graceful and charmingly witty one.
  Specialising as she does in limited editions, foreign plays and poetry, children’s books and the books that are not ephemeral, it is a delightful experience to wander amongst them with her for a while and listen to her as she discusses literature.
  Old boys of the Melbourne Church of England Grammar School will recall memories of Mrs. Zabel's son, whose untimely end abroad deprived Australia of one of her greatest geologists.

Saturday, 6 March 2021

Compositor: Fleuron 2.0

In March of 2017, I mentioned Fleuron: A Database of Eighteenth-Century Printers' Ornaments as a “new and enticing method for identifying” items printed by Thomas Gardner. (I also mentioned my three articles on the Gardner printing business, and have since used the post to aggregate newly-identified Gardner items.)

The woman behind Fleuron, Hazel Wilkinson, has continued "developing methods of identifying unknown printers using digital imaging" (i.e., using image-recognition software to identify and match printer’s ornaments). The upshot is Compositor, a site that went live in the middle of 2020—according to its blog and Twitter accounts—unbeknown to me. (Thankfully, David Levy got wind of the new site and recently let me in on the secret.††)

What Compositor enables is a lot closer to what I had hoped might be possible with an image-searching approach, than that provided by Fleuron. Fleuron was very good; Compositor is better. Although there is a lot of unnecessary, mouse-operated, busy work which makes any extensive search a grind, it is now possible to cross-match images of cast-metal Fleurons and carved wooden printers ornaments—Headpieces, Tailpieces, Initials, and Factotums—quickly compare the Compositor-identified image matches (to weed out the more obvious false-positives), and to trace the matches back to the works in which they appear.

So, for instance, I can [1] search Compositor for an item that I know was printed by Gardner, get [2] a full list of his ornaments that appear in that item, and then [3] search Compositor for other instances of each individual ornament, leading me to [4] items that I did not previously know were printed by Gardner—something I am keen to do.**

Likewise, I can [1] search Compositor for an edition of a work written by Eliza Haywood, follow steps [2] and [3], to [4] lead me to other items printed by the same printer as the printer of the Haywood edition. And since I do not know who the printer was of many editions of the works by Haywood, this should help me identify them—something I am keen to do.

Apart from the grind of unnecessary mouse-operated, busy work, which discourages anyone from undertaking the sort of extensive searches I am keen to have the results of, there are some other limitations worth mentioning.

Compositor appears to contain ornament images only from a sub-set of items filmed for The Eighteenth Century microfilm series, and subsequently scanned for ECCO (Eighteenth Century Collections Online). Also, the easiest way of locating an item on Compositor, is via an ESTC number. So, with a list of eighteenth century books in hand, you will be stymied if your candidate for a search

[1] the book isn’t on ESTC
[2] it is on ESTC, but not filmed for ECCO
[3] it is on ESTC, and on ECCO, but not on Compositor (!? I am not sure why this is the case)
[4] it is on ESTC, and on ECCO, and on Compositor, but the images captured by ECCOare so awful, that no match was possible
(*[5] it is on ESTC, and on ECCO, and on Compositor, but it has no ornaments! — obviously this is not the fault of Compositor, but it is easy to forget the basic, limiting, starting point for searches.)

It is a shame that Compositor does not allow you to upload your own images: even if you had to provide black-and-white images, of a certain number pixel density or size, include physical dimensions and so on, it would still be a huge improvement.

Even if Compositor only allowed you to source images from, say, the Internet Archive or Google Books, that would be an improvement, but I want to upload ornaments I have from other sources too, so I can identify the printer of such things as Sodom, or the Gentleman Instructed. A Comedy. By the E. of R. (Hague, Printed in the Year 1000000)—which is not on ESTC or ECCO or the Internet Archive or Google Books. The only known copy sold at Sotheby’s on 16 December 2004 and is now in private ownership.

Still, what Compositor does allow you to do is very impressive, and is a lot closer to what I imagined might be possible with an image-searching approach, when I explored getting such a project off the ground in 2004. If the search interface were to be improved (I might do a separate post on this) and if it were possible to search Compositor for user-sourced images, it would achieve all that I imagined in 2004.

Of course, it both changes were to be made, I would be unlikely to eat, drink or sleep until I had identified the printer of every item that survives from the first half of the eighteenth century. As things stand today, my main risk will be RSI. So, "Careful what you wish for"?

* * * * *

†† David has since done a post about Compositor here, giving an over-view of its use in his search for printers of works by or relating to Edmond Hoyle.

** Soon after writing the above I went ahead and did this search. I am not sure whether this blog is the best place to publish the full list of Gardner publications I have now identified—and my indecision is largely responsible for delaying the publication of the present post (which I wrote in January, about the same time as David was writing his post!).
[UPDATED 9 March 2021]

Friday, 5 March 2021

Betsy Thoughtless, the first really domestic novel?

In The Novels and Novelists of the Eighteenth Century, in illustration of the manners and morals of the age (1871), William Forsyth offered a detailed account of Eliza Haywood's The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless and—as Christine Blough noted in 1991—Forsyth "argues that it may have been the model for Evelina" (Christine Blouch, Questions in the Life and Works (PhD thesis, 1991), Ch6 "Eliza Haywood: An Annotated Critical Bibliography," pp. 243–44).

Forsyth's "meagre sketch" of Betsy Thoughtless occupies about six pages (204–9); it is bookended by a brief assessment, the first part of which makes the claim that Betsy Thoughtless was "the first really domestic novel." Forsyth's claim was often quoted in the following half century prior to George Frisbee Whicher's biography of Haywood, which eclipsed the limited criticism that existed before it was published in 1915.

A fairly accurate OCR transcript of the whole of Forsyth's The Novels and Novelists of the Eighteenth Century is available online (here), but the passage that I am referring to is this:

'Miss Betsy Thoughtless' is rather a clever work and interesting, as the first really domestic novel according to modern ideas, that exists in the language. It has been supposed that Miss Burney took it as the model of her 'Evelina,' and it is the only novel I know which could [204] have served for the purpose. As, although once celebrated, it is now almost entirely forgotten, I will give a short sketch of the plot …

As you can see, Forsyth's claim for Betsy Thoughtless is only qualified by "according to modern ideas," whereas he only claims to be reporting the supposition of influence of Haywood on Burney ("It has been supposed…"). Although Forsyth does offer some footnoted support for other claims he made, the fact that he does not state who has done this supposing is significant. I will look at the early history of this second claim more closely on another occasion.

In 1888, John Colin Dunlop quoted Forsyth's claim ("the first really domestic novel according to modern ideas, that exists in the language") in a footnote to his History of Prose Fiction (London: George Bell and Sons, 1888), Vol.2, 568n1 (online here). Dunlop's History of Prose Fiction was first published in 1814; the passage to which the 1888 footnote is appended appeared in volume 3 (here); a one-volume reprint claiming to be a fourth edition appeared in 1845 (here) is textually identical to the first edition. Dunlop's only claim for Betsy Thoughtless (in 1814, 1845 and 1888) was rather milder than Forsyth's: that it was "deserving of notice … on account of its merit".

Dunlop's revised text, with Forsyth's footnoted claim, was frequently reprinted and probably had a very wide dissemination. It was evidently reprinted in 1896 (here) [range-banned in Oz], but also in 1906 (here) and 1911 (here).

In 1892, Charles James Billson repeated Forsyth's claim—without acknowledgement, and so possibly second-hand—in his essay "The English Novel," in The Westminster Review, Vol. 138, no. 6 (December 1892): 609 (here) [range-banned in Oz]: "The third lady novelist of this century is Mrs. Heywood, who wrote the history of Miss Betsy Thoughtless, which has been called the first really domestic novel in the language. It describes the adventures of an inexperienced girl in London society under the chaperonage of a woman of the world, and probably suggested the plot of Miss Burney's Evelina." Notice how Billson clips off one of Forsyth's qualifications ("according to modern ideas") at the same time as he distances himself from the now much larger claim "the first really domestic novel in the language."

In 1895, Forsyth was quoted (more accurately) in a rather unexpected location: Benjamin Eli Smith, ed. The Century Cyclopedia of Names: A Pronouncing and Etymological Dictionary (New York: Century Co. 1894–95), 691b sv "Miss Betsy Thoughtless." After explaining that Betsy Thoughtless was "A novel by Mrs. Haywood, published in 1751" Forsyth is quoted at some length (i.e., the full text I have quoted above, is reproduced and a citation offered).

In 1918—three years after the publication of Whicher's The Life and Romances of Mrs. Eliza Haywood—Montague Summers repeated Forsyth's claim in his Centenary Lecture. Summers—despite being quite batty—was somewhat of an expert on what we might now call genre prose fiction, having edited many early gothic novels and going on to produce The Gothic Quest: A History of the Gothic Novel in 1938. Summers had also reviewed Whicher's The Life and Romances when it first appeared, so he was better acquanted than many of his contemporaries with the scope and nature of Haywood's writing.

The Centenary Lecture was published under the title "Jane Austen: An Appreciation" in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature, ser.2 vol. 36 (1918): 1-33. In the introductory passage, Summers writes (5–6) "A greater name than these is Eliza Haywood, the “Ouida of her day,” as Mr. Gosse cleverly dubs her, who in the six and thirty years of her activity produced over seventy works of various kinds, beginning with little amatory novella of no value, but culminating in 'The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless' 'the first really domestic novel, according to modern ideas, that exists in the language,' and the undoubted ancestry [sic] of 'Evelina.'"

In 1926, in my final example, and the one that prompted this post, Forsyth's claim is both quoted and expanded in The McHenry Plaindealer (25 February 1926): 8. Under the title "Pioneer in Novels" the following "on-this-day" type of filler appeared: "Miss Betsy Thoughtless by Mrs. Haywood, published in 1751, is generally regarded as the first really domestic novel in the English Language. It is thought to have been the model for Miss Burney's 'Evelina.'" An image of this clipping now appears as on WikiTree (here).

What strikes me when I look at the reasonably-long life of this claim is how predictably the claim expands, and the qualifications first offered by Forsyth are stripped away: Betsy Thoughtless goes from being "the first really domestic novel according to modern ideas" (1871) to being called "the first really domestic novel in the language" (1892) to being "generally regarded as the first really domestic novel in the English Language" (1926).

Now that the most largest and least-qualified claim has been published on WikiTree, I guess we can expect Forsyth's claim to take on a new life, and (re)appear in hundreds of undergraduate essays—and perhaps a few graduate essays too—over the next few decades.

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Haywood and Dryden: The humblest lover, when he lowest lies

In Book 9 of Haywood's Female Spectator appears the following passage:

"Many Women have been deceived by this Shew of Obsequiousness in those who have afterward become their Tyrants, not remembering what the Poets says:

The humblest lover, when he lowest lies,
But kneels to conquer, and but falls to rise.
"

The "Poet" here is John Dryden, and the couplet is from his Amphitryon (1690), 3.1.609-10, where it reads:

"The prostrate lover, when he lowest lies,
But stoops to conquer, and but kneels to rise.
"

As you can see below, one eighteenth-century reader of Haywood's Female Spectator, who was familiar with the lines, corrected the couplet in ink.


* * * * *

Haywood's paraphrase of Dryden was not picked up by Patricia Meyer Spacks in her Selections from the Female Spectator (1999)—where the "quotation [is] unidentified" (95)—but it was picked up by Katheryn R. King and Alexander Pettit in their edition of The Female Spectator in The Selected Works of Eliza Haywood II, vol.2 (2001)—where they note: "Adapted from Dryden, Amphitryon (1690), III. i. 609-10" (457n31).

What is not noted by King and Pettit—and is well beyond the scope of their edition in any event—is [1] that Haywood repeated her 1745 paraphrase / adaptation of Dryden in 1755 and [2] that it, and an earlier paraphrase of the same passage, long interacted and thrived.

Starting with [1]: Haywood returned to this Dryden couplet ten years after using it in The Female Spectator. In The Wife she wrote:

"A woman of this way of thinking, would do well to repeat often within herself that just and pathetic maxim which Mr. Dryden puts into the mouth of Jove:

I gave them pride to make mankind their slave;
But in exchange, to man I flattery gave:
The humblest lover, when he lowest lies,
But kneels to conquer, and but falls to rise.
"

While still a paraphrase of Dryden, this passage isn't identified as such by Pettit and Margo Collins, in their edition of The Wife in The Selected Works of Eliza Haywood I, vol.3 (2000)—though the citation is otherwise identical: "Dryden, Amphitryon (1690), III. i. 607–10."

(The Wife was reprinted—without attribution—in Boston in 1836, under the wonderful title The Young Bride at Home: Or, A Help to Connubial Happiness, but this does not count as an echo. For those interested, see my post about it here.)

* * * * *


Regarding [2], the Dryden passage had been paraphrased in a different way previous to Haywood, with

"The prostrate lover, when he lowest lies,
But stoops to conquer, and but kneels to rise.
"

changed to

"Th' offending Lover, when he lowest lyes,
Submits to conquer, and but kneels to rise.
"

This is the reading of lines 609–10 that was offered by both Edward Bysshe, The Art of English Poetry, vol. 3 (London: Sam. Buckley, 1705), 430 here; and in Charles Gildon, The Complete Art of Poetry (London: Charles Rivington, 1718), vol2, 457 (here). These readings were certainly influential.

Elizabeth Montagu—seemingly—combined Haywood's line 609 ("humblest") with the Bysshe-Gildon paraphrase of line 610 ("submits") in one of her letter, reprinted in The Letters of Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu, ed. Matthew Montagu, Part 1, vol. 2 (1809), 28. Here we read:

"There are two excellent lines which have made me ever deaf to the voice of the charmer, charmed he ever so sweetly,

The humblest lover, when he lowest lies,
Submits to conquer, and but kneels to rise.
"

A review of The Letters of Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu (The British Critic, and Quarterly Theological Review, 34 (October 1809): 566 (here) repeats this Haywood/Bysshe-Gildon reading.

In 1830, "A Lady" combined Haywood's line 609 ("humblest") with Dryden's original line 610 ("stoops") in "A Lecture on Love and Courtship," which appeared in London Court Journal. I have not seen the original, but it was reprinted at least once in England (in The Leicester Chronicle (5 June 1830): 4) and three times in America.

The first US printing of this lecture appears to have been in The New-York Mirror: a repository of polite literature and the arts, no. 18 (6 November 1830): 141a (here). The anonymous author warns of the lover who fall at the feet of a young "Miss, just emerged from the 'Academy' [who] is all for pathos, hearts, darts, and flames". Said lovers will:

"fall at her feet, protest eternal constancy and devotion, and swear he is a willing slave;—but remember, young ladies,

The humblest lover, when he lowest lies,
But stoops to conquer, and but kneels to rise!
"

One week later, the essay was reprinted in The Western Star [Lebanon, OH], no.16 (13 November 1830): 1e (here), where it is credited to the London Court Journal. Also in 1830, at some point, the essay was reprinted in The Lady's Book, vol.1 (Philadelphia: L. A. Godey and Co., 1830), 174a (here).

The spread of the pure Bysshe-Gildon reading ("offending"/"submits") gained further strength in 1852, when Selections from the Poetry of Dryden (here) used the Bysshe-Gildon version of 3.1.610. Possibly as a result, George Saintsbury's edition of The Dramatic Works of John Dryden, vol.8 (Edinburgh: William Paterson, 1882) (here) follows the same reading, and probably as a result of Saintsbury, the 1976 University of California Press edition of The Works of John Dryden edited by Earl Miner, George G. Guffey, and Franklin B. Zimmerman, follows suit.

As a result of Saintsbury's edition, although Letter 132 (28 February 1751) of Lord Chesterfield's Letters to His Son, correctly quotes Dryden, no less an editor than George Birkbeck Hill treated Chesterfield's text as if it were mistaken. In his Oxford edition of Lord Chesterfield's Worldly Wisdom (1891), 164n2 (here), Hill notes

"Goldsmith's comedy no doubt took its name from this line. As it was acted the year before Chesterfield's Letters were published, it would seem to show that the version 'stoops to conquer' was the one generally known"

—which suggests that the version "generally known" was incorrect, when it was actually correct.

Likewise, when it comes to discussing the origin of the title to Goldsmith "She Stoops to Conquer" the editor of the 2007 Oxford World's Classic edition, Nigel Wood, quotes Miner, Guffey, and Zimmerman for the (incorrect) "correct" reading of Dryden! (here)

* * * * *

Returning to Haywood: I can find no prior use of Haywood's particular version of the lines (with "humblest" in line 609 / and "kneels" in line 610), so it seems likely that she is solely responsible for it.

While Haywood's version of the couplet differs from both Dryden and Bysshe-Gildon, it is most similar to the latter, with the first line reading "The humblest lover" (like Bysshe-Gildon) rather than "The prostrate lover" (Dryden), and with the second line "kneels to conquer" (Haywood alone) rather than either "stoops to conquer" (Dryden) or "Submits to conquer" (Bysshe-Gildon).

Consequently, it is possible that Haywood is indebted to Bysshe-Gildon—that she either read and misremembered Bysshe-Gildon alone, or attempted this paraphrase of Dryden after (a) encountering the Bysshe-Gildon paraphrase, (b) recognizing it as being a rewriting of the passage, and (c) being inspired to have a go at re-writing Dryden herself—but it seems much more likely that her version was simply the result of an independant misremembering the play. (I.e., the same sort of misremembering that resulted in the Bysshe-Gildon version.) Likewise, although it is possible that Montagu's apparent Haywood/Bysshe-Gildon hybrid and the anonymous 1830 Haywood/Dryden hybrid are both indebted to Haywood, it seems more likely that both of these versions are also the result of a misremembering of Dryden alone.

That such misrememberings should be so common, sometimes agreeing on one line, sometimes on another, and so often agree with each other at other times that they succeed in usurping the original text, is something all editors should be mindful of. It is also a powerful reminder that "print culture" coexisted with "oral culture" throughout the eighteenth century.

Monday, 1 February 2021

The Horblit Bibliographical Collation Computer of 1964


According to his Wikipedia entry, Harrison David Horblit (1912–88)—"philanthropist and collector of books, manuscripts, and photographs"—"designed a 'Bibliographical Collation Computer', a 128 x 245mm card in a plastic sleeve which operates much like a slide rule in which the letters of the alphabet are correlated with the pagination values of formats of 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10,12, 16, 20, 24, and 32 leaves. The card was copyrighted in 1964 and copies were sold by the Grolier Club."


I recently had the very great fortune to acquire a Horblit "Bibliographical Collation Computer" from the estate of an eminent Melbourne bibliographer who was active in the 60s to the 90s. Having looked online, I can see that some "*EXCITED SCREECHING*" occurred on Twitter after one—marked "Reading Room Desk"—was "found in the bottom of a reading room drawer" at the Lilly Library (see tweets and photos by Liz Hebbard and Joe McManis).


As Joe McManis points out, a misprint on the recto has been hand-corrected—but a further two errors are corrected with an overprint, and the title of the "computer" is—in fact—a cancel: a paste-over. All I can make out of the original title, which was longer than "Bibliographical Collation Computer" is "The" at the start and "Card" at the end, so "The Bibliographical Collation Computer Card"? Although the paste-over is somewhat loose at the edge, I am not willing to trash my "computer" to find out the original title. If only I had a can of Freon! (Which, apparently, turns paper transparent for the short period of time it takes before the gas evaporates, then departs on a mission to tear a Godzilla-sized hole in the Ozone layer.)



As "Incunabula" pointed out in reply to one of these tweets "the Grolier Club still had these for sale as late as 2001"—which turns out to be Fake News: true, but misleading. According to the Wayback Machine, in February of 2001, after "A small cache of these useful and fascinating 'collation computers'—part of the original 1964 print run—[had] recently come to light at the Grolier Club" they were "offer[ed] to anyone with an interest in bibliographical gadgets" at a price of $15 (here; emphasis added). By April, the "collation computers" had sold out (here). If you would like to buy one now, Rootenberg Rare Books & Manuscripts would like you to pay them USD350. (Regarding which, see 1 Timothy 6:10: radix enim omnium malorum est cupiditas [For the love of money is the root of all evil]).


In 1997, G. Thomas Tanselle gave an account of Horblit ("Harrison D. Horblit, Collector," Gazette of the Grolier Club, n.s., Vol. 48 (1997): 5–17; online here), which includes a description of Horblit's "Collation Computer" (11). In his account, Tanselle mentions an advertisement for the computer that appeared in The Antiquarian Bookman for 8 February 1965. The advertisement was so entertaining to the Grolier Club members that it was "for a time posted in the Grolier Clubhouse, where it was recognized as a characteristic bit of Horblitiana."


And so, for your reading pleasure, I give you the Carny pitch for Horblit's "Collation Computer":

* * * * *

THE
BIBLIOGRAPHICAL COLLATION COMPUTER*

A NEW AID TO BIBLIOGRAPHERS, CATALOGUERS, AND COLLECTORS TESTED AND ENDORSED BY FAMOUS LIBRARIANS AND BOOKMEN

Invented by HARRISON D. HORBLIT author of the recently published "100 Books Famous In Science"

Based upon the 23-letter Roman alphabet as used in the signatures of books up into the 19th-century (i.e. A–Z without J, U, and W), and upon the principles of the slide rule, this instrument is the newest, indeed the first, to raise the efficiency of the bibliographer by labor saving and by aiding in the every-day computations in cataloguing, collating, and accessioning rare books.

The BIBLIOGRAPHICAL COLLATION COMPUTER eliminates complicated arithmetic calculations and insures accuracy, with ease, quickly. It indicates immediately, once the collation is known, the proper number of leaves or pages. It quickly calls attention to mis-paginations (hence, issue points), in many 15th–19th century publications. It can also be used for a quick check for accuracy of existing bibliographical descriptions.

An Essential Tool for all Students, Scholars, and Others Engaged in Bibliography.

CAN PAY FOR ITSELF IN ONE DAY—by time and labor saved, and by its accuracy.

DO YOU KNOW THE NUMBER OF LEAVES IN D–X12?

You can solve this on the BIBLIOGRAPHICAL COLLATION COMPUTER in 4 seconds!

*©1964  Size: 9 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches
$7.50 each—Special discount to the trade

SOLE DISTRIBUTOR IN AMERICA: John F. Fleming, Inc. 322 East 57th Street, New York, N.Y. 10022.

* * * * *

PS: although a cache of Horblit computers were on the market in the last two decades, the only other survivor that I can find—beyond those mentioned—is that at Washington University in Series 12, Box 9 of the "Philip Mills Arnold Papers" here.

Tuesday, 26 January 2021

F. H. Johnstone (b.1867), Old Mancunian, scholar, soldier, school master, poet

Below is a brief biography of F. H. Johnstone, which I have compiled, in order to learn something more of the then-Western Australian, occasional poet responsible for both the pleasant “The Lender’s Library” (1907; for my post on this, see here) and the somber war-time meditation on the ANZACs “Young Australia in Ancient Egypt” (1915), which I have transcribed at the end of this post.

Since there is something in Francis’s history that reminds me of two wonderful 1981 films: Gallipoli (1981) and Chariots of Fire (1981), this attempt to rescue him from oblivion is, therefore, a combination Australia Day and Anzac Day offering. (Probably the latter would be more appropriate, but I am impatient, so I favour the former.)

Francis was both an Oxford graduate and an Indian Army veteran who spent more than a decade teaching Western Australian Colonials in Greek and Latin, returning “home” to do the same at a Grammar School that had been founded in 1515, before volunteering to train England’s finest for the horrors of WWI.

For those who don’t know the film, Gallipoli “revolves around several young men from Western Australia who enlist in the Australian Army during the First World War.” Both films involve runners, and so the plots of the two films have become entwined in my memory: both are also terribly sad films, which had a profound impact on me when I saw them in 1981. I don’t know how many of his students at “The High School” in Perth ended up at Gallipoli. For their sakes, I hope it was none.

* * * * *

Francis Herbert Johnstone, O.M. (i.e., Old Mancunian), M.A. (Oxon; University of Western Australia), or “Frank” to his sister, was born 16 January 1867, won an Entrance Scholarship at Manchester Grammar School in 1879, followed by a four-year open scholarship for Classics at Wadham College, Oxford, in 1885, taking a 2nd in Mods and a 3rd in Greats; “Gentleman Cadet Francis Herbert Johnstone, from the Royal Military College” did three years full-time military service in the Northamptonshire Regiment from 14 September 1887 (The Times (14 September 1887); Hart’s Army Lists (1890), 292; London Gazette (13 September 1887): 4945), being posted to the 11th Madras Infantry 1 November 1889; and reaching the rank of 2nd Lieutenant on 16 November 1889 (London Gazette (17 February 1891): 885).

Francis returned from active duty, taking the post as school master at the Pocklington Grammar, 1889–90; Macclesfield Grammar, 1890–1902. On 14 December 1902 the King approved his resignation from the Indian Army (London Gazette (5 February 1904): 786); in 1902, Francis was appointed Second Master at The High School, Perth, where he stayed for twelve years, until at least 20 July 1914 (when the Bishop of Perth wrote to Manchester Grammar School—his alma mater—to help find him a position there). Towards the end of his time in Perth, the University of Western Australia awarded him a degree “Ad Eundem Gradum” (i.e., a degree awarded by one university to an alumnus of another; The West Australian (20 Mar 1913): 1). It was also about this time, the main school building was being constructed for The High School, which changed its name to “Hale School” in 1929 (see here).

In 1914, when drafting his C.V., Francis noted that he had trained up four successful Rhodes Scholars and that his “Total absence from work in 12 years has been 2 days, from influenza.” The last record I can find of Francis in Australia is that “Mr. F. H. Johnston, of Perth High School, [was] spending the summer holidays at Albany” according to a new report of 1 January 1915 (The Daily News “Mainly About People” [byline “Franziska] (1 January 1915): 3a).

In February 1916, Francis joined the staff at Manchester Grammar School (Ulula, no. 333 (February 1916): [1]); on 30 January 1917, Francis “read a brief but suggestive paper on ‘Literary Criticism’” for the Literary Society, “in which some of the most famous critics were discussed and some excellent advice was given as to the forming of personal judgments” (Ulula, no. 331 (February 1917): 20); from 10 November 1918 to January 1919 (when he would have turned 52), he returned to military service as temporary 2nd Lieutenant, training in the Manchester Grammar School Officers Training Corps “for service with Junior Division” in France (Record of war service, 1914-1918, Officers training corps (Junior division) Public school officers, and other members of the staffs (1919), 110).

Francis returned to Manchester Grammar, appearing in a series of photos during the 1920s held in the Manchester Grammar archives: in 1920, with the “Second Form”; in 1923, with the Classical Middle Third grade; from 1923–28, in a series “Classical Transitus” from; and in 1929, with “History Sixth”—by which time he would have been close to retirement (62 yrs).

The Manchester Grammar School archives also hold a “bundle” of letters from J. P. Bowden to F. H. Johnstone from 1923–27. The John Rylands Library, University of Manchester, holds three files of material (1905–15) belonging to Francis, “Miscellaneous material including verses by F. H. Johnstone and his C.V. and press cuttings” (from which much of my account of his academic career is culled); a file of 44 letters from Francis to his sister Mary Tout (née Johnstone), and a further 17 letters to other correspondents. The files were filmed as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, and can be read online (here).

Poems written by Francis were published in a number of periodicals, and manuscripts of three of them survive at the John Rylands Library (“Then and Now,” “Egypt Speaks,” composed February 1915 [published as “Young Australia in Ancient Egypt” in Ulula, no. 315 (1915): 15–16], and “Exile”). “The Lender’s Library” was likely first published in 1907 by Mrs. Frances Zabel, but was reprinted in 1913 and 1947.

* * * * *

“Egypt Speaks,” aka “Young Australia in Ancient Egypt” can be read here (in manuscript) and here (in print: pdf file, pages 15–16). Below is the version that was printed. (Which may be identical to the MS; I have not compared them.)

Young Australia in Ancient Egypt

Through the long tale of my unnumbered age,
  Old as the oldest breed of men,
I turn in memory page or storied page,
  And live the past again.

I mind me when my people bowed the knee
  To gods forgotten, fain to raise
In Thebes and Memphis to the sacred Three
  Untiring meed of praise.

Then was the cycle of the sombre years
  When Isis for Osiris dead,
Weeping a sister's plenitude of tears,
  Could not be comforted.

I saw the kingly Pharaohs wax and wane;
  Their pomp is written on my sands;
Behold it, tomb and pyramid and fane,
  Rifled by alien hands.

Who were those bondmen low that were akin
  To Joseph? Bitter was the woe
Their Moses wrought me, when he fain would win,
  My Pharaoh's leave to go.

The Persian held me captive, and anon
  Great Alexander came to seek
Dominion with his men of Macedon;
  Thereafter I was Greek.

Through reign of Ptolemy on Ptolemy:
  And one of them—could you have seen
Both Caesar and the noble Antony
  Thrall to that laughing queen!

These were of Rome, and Rome was soon to be
  My mistress for a season, till
The hate of Mahmoud flooded over me,
  And bent me to their will.

Still am I theirs, but for one little while
  I was Napoleon's, to the day
When Nelson's seamen from a seagirt isle
  Shattered his dream of sway.

And now, behold, the youngest nation sends
  From far her youth and chivalry,
Her mother calls, and she responsive leads
  In all true loyalty.

Where Sphinx and pyramid so long have gazed
  Across my desert floor of sand,
The white tents of their sojourning are raised;
  In glittering line they stand.

I see their companies march to and fro,
  Their limbs with youth and pride endued,
Envious I mark them: Would that I could know
  Youth's ecstasy renewed!

Mine eyes have looked on centuries of war,
  And none, methinks, more like than these,
The chosen manhood of that southern shore,
  Their longed-for prize to seize.

What shall I take of them, or gain or loss?
  Will they be valiant to prevail?
And will the Crescent yield before the Cross,
  And Islam's warriors fail?

I wonder, I am old and very old,
  And change has ever been my fate,
What will be, will be, as the years unfold,
  Patient I sit, and wait.

FRANCIS HERBERT JOHNSTONE (O.M.)