Sunday 27 March 2022

The Unfortunate Young Nobleman, 1820

The following chapbook came to my attention only because of the similarity of the title to Haywood's Memoirs of an Unfortunate Young Nobleman.* For a happy moment, I thought that this might have been a previously-unknown chapbook reprint of Haywood's Annesley biography, but the full title suggested a different work altogether.

Haywood's work is "A Story founded on Truth," concerning a Nobleman who had Return’d from a Thirteen Years Slavery in America where he had been sent by the Wicked Contrivances of his Cruel Uncle; however, this "tale of sympathy, founded on fact" depicts the unprecedented sufferings of an affectionate husband, and the forlorn state of an amiable mother, and her infant child. So, close, but no cigar.

There appears to be only five copies of The Unfortunate Young Nobleman; a tale of sympathy, founded on fact in institutional collections. These are held at British Library, Oxford University, Victoria and Albert Museum (x2), and UCLA. None of these eminent instutitions identify the source-text, which I quickly discovered after only a little hunting online (since it is discussed by a few critics): Helen Maria Williams (1759–1827), Letters Written in France, 8 vols. (1790–96); primarily, the first volume, which: contain[s] various anecdotes relative to the French revolution; and memoirs of Mons. and Madame du F----.

Like The Unfortunate Young Nobleman, the Letters Written in France tell the story of an unfortunate couple, whose names are dashed out in the form "F----". The "Mons. and Madame" indicated here were Augustin-François Thomas du Fossé (1750–1834) and Monique du Fossé (née Coquerel).

As the 18th Century Online Encyclopedia explains.

Throughout 1789 Williams befriended Monique Coquerel, a French woman exiled to London—the young wife of Augustin du Fossé, son of the Baron du Fossé who disapproved of Coquerel’s humble birth. Following the Baron’s death, his young son refused his title and thus embraced the basic tenets of the French Revolution. As an act of friendship, du Fossé invited Williams to France for the summer of 1790. Williams wrote copious letters describing her observations. These letters were later made public under the title of Letters Written in France in the Summer of 1790. This manuscript was but the first of eight volumes of letters devoted to Williams' observations of the events in France during and following the Revolution. The letters—Williams most popular work—are now known simply as Letters from France. For Williams, the persecution of the Fossés stood for the abuses associated with the ancien régime, and the Fossé’s ability to live in peace under the post-Revolutionary government demonstrated the freedoms associated with the Revolution.

The story of Mons. and Madame du Fossé was described as a "charming little nouvelle" by the Critical Review (in January 1791: here), so it is not surprising that it should have been the focus of at least two separate publications, the present chapbook, plus an earlier one: Memoirs of Mons. and Madame du F. In a Series of Letters, by Helen Maria Williams. Extracted from her Letters of the French Revolution (Boston, 1794)—a copy of which is available from James Cummins for USD850 here.

The Unfortunate Young Nobleman was published by Robert Harrild, who was at the London address given ("20, Great Eastcheap") only from 1814–24. I have taken my estimated date of publication (1820) from the most comprehensively catalogued copies, which are at the Victoria and Albert Museum; both in the "Renier Collection of Historic and Contemporary Children's Books". An impossibly early date of publication is offered by one of the few people to discuss the text—Mary A. Favret—who lists The Unfortunate Young Nobleman under the works of Williams, but dates the chapbook "1790"—not "ca.1790" or "[1790]"—in both The Idea of Correspondence in British Romantic Literature (PhD thesis, Stanford University, 1988), 136, 412 and her Romantic Correspondence: Women, Politics and the Fiction of Letters (1993), 263 [here]. Although the date was probably adopted from the title of the source text (Letters Written in France in the Summer of 1790), it may also, possibly, be a result of misinterpreting a footnote in a French monograph on Willians.**

As you can see above, like both the Renier copies, mine is in a "Trade binding of quarter … sheepskin with … paper boards" (mine being red and blue rather than green and brown). Like the Bodleian copy, it also has a name penned onto the ffep (as can be seen below): "Miss M. Laud." (The inscription on the Bodleian copy reads "Eliza Buxton, Old Kent Road".)

The price that is faintly visible on the ffep (£3) is not the price I paid. If that is what the vendor paid, then they multiplied their investment ten-fold, which still seemed like a bargain to me—but I have recently paid much more than that in postage for a piece of paper smaller than an address label, so my sense of scale may still be off.

* * * * *

* For a more "piquant" example of a Haywoodian title-chime, which has been responsible for at least two false attributions, see here.

** Lionel Douglas Woodward, Une anglaise amie de la révolution francaise: Hélène-Maria Williams et ses amis (1930), 32n72: "Voir: Lettres écrites de France pendant l'élé de 1790, dernière lettre. L'histoire des malheurs des du Fossé fut publiée seule, aussi bien que dans les Lettres, sous ce titre: The unfortunate young Nobleman …" [See: Letters written from France during the year of 1790, last letter. The history of the misfortunes of the du Fossé was published alone, as well as in the Letters, under this title: The unfortunate young Nobleman …]. Favret's error is repeated on the SIEFAR page for Williams here.

BTW: I have inserted above all the illustrations in this chapbook, because I love this style of woodcut and, in the correct order pretty-much tell the whole story; the illustrations are in the correct text sequence, illustrating passages on pp. 8, 20, 24, 42, and 52 (of the 71 pages).

Wednesday 23 March 2022

Eliza Haywood in Quaritch's General Catalogue, 1871

A three-volume set of the first edition of Eliza Haywood's Ab.68.1 The History of Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy (1753) appeared as lot no. 1219 in the 1871 sale Catalogue of the Valuable ... Library of the Late Sir J. Simeon, Bart. (here).

The set, bound in calf, is attributed to the novelist Charlotte Lennox, author of The Female Quixote; or, The Adventures of Arabella (1752)—but not the author of Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy. It is not clear how this error arose. Since no previous example of it is known, is seems unlikely it was copied from an earlier bibliography or catalogue.

In any event, as is the way with these things, the error in the catalogue of the library of Sir John Simeon, 1st Baronet (1756–1824) of Walliscot in Oxfordshire, MP for Reading in Berkshire etc., was repeated almost immediately—probably because he bought this lot at the Sir John Simeon auction—in Bernard Quaritch's A General Catalogue of Books: Offered to the Public at the Affixed Prices (1872), p.539 (no. 5644) [here; reissued in 1874 here].

Quaritch's monumental General Catalogue occupied 1889 pages. That is not a typo: one thousand, eight hundred and eighty-nine pages, often in two or three columns. Given its comprehensive coverage of literature, the General Catalogue was used—along side Lowndes'/Bohn's Bibliographer's Manual—as a standard work of reference in the book trade for a long period. Consequently, it is surprising that this false attribution did not get repeated; but it didn't. And since it didn't, I managed to miss it: it does not appear in my Bibliography of Eliza Haywood (2004)

I remember having had a chance to buy a copy of Quaritch's General Catalogue at one point—in the basement of a large bookshop, while in the UK I think. But the General Catalogue failed my standard test—I searched the index for Haywood, and found nothing. Now that it can be searched electronically, I see that, not only does Haywood's appear (albeit via a false attribution), but Haywood appears (again?), and in a most interesting way.

In the section titled "Books Wanted to Purchase" appears the following entry (on p. 1755; here):
NB: "… and any other works by this authoress."

Clearly, the lack of works by Haywood (recognised as such) in Quaritch's General Catalogue was not due to the fact that there was no demand for them!

Sunday 13 March 2022

Kingsley Studios Reader, ca. 1905

This studio portrait of a young woman at a desk, posed with book open in front of her, seems to have been taken by E. Grattan Phillipse, of "Royal Kingsley Studios" at 46 High Street, Ilfracombe, North Devon (later, "Phillips and Lees"—a partnership that ended in 1921). Ilfracombe is—and was, in the first decade of twentieth century, when this photo was likely taken—a seaside resort on the North Devon coast, England, with a small harbour surrounded by cliffs.

As David Lodge notes, in his Foreword to Readers: Vintage People on Photo Postcards (2010; reviewed by me here), about half the real photo postcards from 1900 to 1940 were taken in studios, like this one, and do not actually represent the experience of reading but merely allude to it, with props that "served as indices of culture, education, and in some cases piety" and a “limited repertoire of body-language” (5).

Since the experience of reading is so often feigned—and "reading itself is visually inscrutable"—there is a natural tendency to focus on slight variations in prop and pose in studio photographs, and on "behavioral and sociological" aspects, or to engage in "narrative [and] symbolic interpretation" (6), in posed and un-posed photos at home or in more natural settings.

In previous examples on this blog (for example, here, here and here), I have commented on clothes, and posture. What strikes me about this photo is the faded glory of the props—a carved oak desk, heavily worn and scratched, and a grand, carved, high-backed chair—suggesting a scholarly species of “baronial splendor.” The hardcover book is similarly well-worn: the spine being completely folded back on itself, so that the two halves of book-block can rest flat on the table.

We view the sitter across the desk. She, who appears to be in a rich, velvet dress, gives the appearance of having just glanced up from her reading, in which she was deeply engaged, glancing at the camera with as much unselfconscious naturalism as is consistent with the magnificent ribbons in her hair and the extended exposure times of the period.

Sunday 6 March 2022

The H. B. Nims Handy Pamphlet Case, 1876

The Handy Pamphlet Case (depicted above) was produced by H. B. Nims and Co., Troy, NY, and advertised from 1875 to 1877. An 1875 advertisement in The American Stationer (here), reads as follows:

With Index of Contents.

Useful to librarians and literary men for classifying pamphlets.
Useful to physicians for holding their journals previous to binding.
Useful to clergymen to keep their sermons in.
Useful to business men to keep price lists and catalogues in.
Useful to everyone who takes a magazine.

A neat, cheap and handy invention to preserve all kinds of paper-covered literature, that would otherwise be impaired or destroyed.

LARGE 8vo., PER DOZEN, $2.50
Samples sent by mail upon receipt of 25c

H. B, NIMS [and] CO., Manufacturers,

The advertisement text was re-set in the 1877 advertisements I have seen in The American Library Journal (here, for example), and the accompanying image changed to include the words "THE | HANDY | Pamphlet | CASE | with | Index of | Contents".

In addition to the advertisements in The American Stationer and The American Library Journal, Henry B. Nims—running a descendant business of W. H. Merriam (est. 1840)—printed advertising slips that were loosely inserted in new publications they sold. I found one (above) in a copy of H. R. Fox Bourne's The Life of John Lock (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1876), which provides a sharper image than those in the magazines on Google Books.

Unfortunately, I can find no trace of a surviving example of the Nims Handy Pamphlet Case, which is a shame. If they were tin they probably did a lot of damage to the pamphlets, journals, sermons and catalogues they contained, but if they were made of stiff card and paper they might have saved many of the same from destruction.

Anyone interested in H. B. Nims and Co., of Troy, New York—"the largest and most complete book store between Boston and Cleveland"—will find some information in The Industrial Advantages of Troy, N.Y. and Environs (1895; here; the source of the quote and the photos above and below) and The City of Troy and Its Vicinity (1886; here).

BTW: anyone interested in another example of the wonderful, book collecting-related, stationary items developed in the States in the late nineteenth-century, should see my post on "The Van Everen Fitsanybook Adjustable Book Cover" (here).

Sunday 27 February 2022

An Anonymous Review of Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy, 1865

An unsigned review of Eliza Haywood's The History of Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy appeared in The Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science, and Art, vol. 20, no. 506 (8 July 1865): 52a–53b (here). It seems to have been prompted by the writer reading Sir Walter Scott’s novel Old Mortality (1816), which is alluded to at the start of this review.

In the Conclusion of Old Mortality, an old woman declares: “I have not been more affected … by any novel, excepting the ‘Tale of Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy,’ which is indeed pathos itself.” The old woman is a figure of fun. In his autobiographical “Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott,” Scott writes: “The whole Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy tribe I abhorred; and it required the art of Burney, or the feeling of Mackenzie, to fix my attention upon a domestic tale.”

The old woman’s enthusiasm for the History of Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy is not unlike Isabella’s enthusiasm for the “horrid novels” mentioned in Northanger Abbey, books that had been so thoroughly forgotten that they “were later thought to be of Austen’s own invention” until “Montague Summers and Michael Sadleir re-discovered in the 1920s that the novels actually did exist.” (here)

The anonymous author of the present review seems to have had a similar motivation to Summers and Sadleir: being an enthusiast for Scott (rather than Austen), and wanting to establish that The History of Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy “actually did exist”—like the “Northanger ‘horrid’ novels.”

His conclusion is that The History of Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy, not only exists, but "is skillfully constructed, without sacrifice of probability, or recourse to claptrap of any kind"—that it is "by no means a contemptible book … and if it never excites, it never becomes wholly devoid of interest."

Not only is this one of the longest, but it is also one of the fairest reviews Haywood's novel received in the two centuries following its release. It is a shame that [1] it is anonymous and [2] it has been overlooked completely. (For my post on "Eliza Haywood's Reputation before the 20C," see here; for 18C reviews of works by Haywood, see here.)

* * * * *


IN the preface or introduction to one of Sir Walter Scott’s novels, an old lady is represented discoursing with the author, and expressing her admiration of some previous production of his brain. The novel she commends is, in her opinion, the best that was ever written, except the History of Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy. As for that immortal history, it was an ideal of perfection, never to be equalled in this defective world. Mankind had only to wonder that such excellence had ever been presented in a visible shape. Unless memory is very treacherous, we once in early youth saw [page 52b] on the walls of some country inn or lodging-house two coloured prints, respectively representing a young gentleman and lady in old-fashioned costume, and purporting to be Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy. We are even inclined to recollect that in those works of art an attempt was made to combine the effects of painting and sculpture by an extremely simple process not uncommon in the last century. The coloured figures were carefully cut out and pasted upon a black ground, but one of the arms was purposely left destitute of the adhesive material, and allowed to project forwards. If the figure was that of a lady, and the unstuck hand held a nosegay, the effect was considered by competent judges to be pretty and natural. What an instructive paper, by the way, might be written on the successive ornaments that have decorated the walls and mantelpieces of the less opulent classes during (say) the last hundred years! The record would be of quaint designs in worsted, of violently-coloured mezzotints traceable to the now forgotten establishment of Messrs. Bowles and Carver in St. Paul’s Churchyard, of horrid waxwork groups on scriptural subjects, of black velvet used as an imitation of the feline coat, of elder-pith and minute rolls of paper applied to the adornment of various unserviceable boxes—all objects that belonged to a past generation, and can never return save through a retrogression in taste that is scarcely to be considered possible.
  Such a thing of the past is the History of Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy, which, as we have seen, was most famous in its day. When a book, or an actor, or an event becomes the subject of a casual reference or of a cheap print, and that in an age when there are no illustrated newspapers hungering after appropriate topics, we may be assured that it was familiar to a very large number of persons, and that the knowledge of it was by no means confined to those of superior culture. We may assume that Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy were characters known to that large class of the public which in the last century certainly did not read much. That to the ears of many of our readers the names of interesting couple will have something of a familiar ring, we are inclined to believe. Still more strong is our opinion that the whole body of those who know of them any more than their names might easily be accommodated in a china-closet of moderate dimensions. Nay, having carefully, and with no small effort, read through the novel, we are ready to confess a certain complacent satisfaction at the circumstance that we are in possession of a modicum of erudition vouchsafed to almost none of our fellow creatures. We feel that it is simply a moral restraint which prevents us from indulging in the most reckless mendacity while describing Mrs. Eliza Haywood’s work, and that if we refrain from saying, for example, that Jemmy Jessamy is King James II., and Jenny Jessamy the Duchess of Marlborough in disguise, we are governed wholly by regard for truth, and not by any fear of detection in falsehood.
  There is something very misleading both in the title of the novel and in the fact of its former popularity. There is a sort of affinity between the words “Jessamy” and “Jessamine” (or Jasmine), and there is a homely Anglicism in the “ Jemmy” and the “Jenny,” that lead one to expect a tale of pastoral love in which the insipidity of the ordinary Damon and Phyllis will be rendered additionally nauseous by an infusion of home-grown sentimentality. No one can be more fluent than your genuine Britisher in twaddling about the innocence of rural life. With this hypothesis deduced from the title-page of the book, the ingenious speculator may account for the rise and fall of the Jessamy mania. Once people liked stories about well-bred rustics who talked a great deal of highflown stuff, but they have long ceased to relish incitements of the sort. Jenny Jessamy was some village maiden, dishonourably courted by some wicked squire, who cruelly persecuted her proper lover, Jemmy. At last virtue triumphed, the squire was overthrown, and very probably Jemmy turned out to be the lawful owner of his wrongly-held estate. All very well in its time, but folks like something different now. Since the days of the old-fashioned romances they have been well fed with historical fictions, and, having become tired of them in their turn, have comfortably settled into a contemplation of modern actual life, viewed, just at present, under somewhat stormy aspects.
  So much more plausible does this hypothesis look than many serious historical theories, that one feels a regret in demolishing it utterly with the declaration that never was a book less sentimental, less pastoral, or less obviously addressed to any transient caprice of the reading world than this same story of Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy. The young gentleman is heir to a large estate, and has been duly educated at Eton and Oxford. The young lady, a distant cousin, is daughter of a wealthy merchant, and grows up a model of high-bred propriety. The respective parents of Jemmy and Jenny destine them for each other, and die, leaving them in a state of complete independence at an early age. They are expected by their acquaintance to marry immediately, but several instances of domestic unhappiness which come under their immediate notice determine them not to be too precipitate, Jenny being the leader on the road of wisdom. “Every one,” says that sage young maiden, “before they engage in marriage, should be well versed in all those things, whatever they are, which constitute the happiness of it; this town is an ample school, and both of us have acquaintance enough in it to learn, from the mistakes of others, how to regulate our own conduct and passions so as not to be laughed at ourselves for what we laugh at in them.” For these remarks she is well rewarded by Jemmy with the exclamation, “Spoken like a philosophoress”! The [page 53a] instances of conjugal discomfort form the subjects of short episodes, the authoress throughout adopting the method which we find employed by Cervantes, Scarron, Le Sage, Fielding, Smollett, etc., of interweaving the main story with others sometimes scarcely connected with it. Generally the incidents narrated are not of a very exciting kind, though they sometimes illustrate a lax state of society. Here a married gentleman of distinction has a mistress in every respect inferior to his own wife; there a married lady of quality pays her gaming debts at the expense of her honour. More eccentric than these is a certain Lady Fisk, who “went to Covent Garden in man’s clothes, picked up a woman of the town, and was severely beaten by her on the discovery of her sex.” But the prevailing tone of the book is decidedly grave and moral, and, though there is more plain-speaking than at the present day, it is quite obvious that the authoress is never intentionally licentious.
  When Jemmy and Jenny have wisely resolved to prepare them-selves for the marriage state, they are separated for some time, Jenny going to Bath with some friends of rank and position, whose mild adventures help to swell out the volumes, and Jemmy, through some business engagement, being constantly hindered from joining her. Though the young gentleman is somewhat of a libertine, and apt to indulge in transient amours, he never thinks of breaking his engagement with his dear Jenny, who, on her side, never indulges in jealousy. Her virtue, indeed, while of the purest quality, is at the same time of that robust kind that does not depend on innocence, and at little more than twenty years of age she can perfectly distinguish between the aimless peccadilloes of male unmarried youth and those aberrations that are likely to result in a breach of promise of marriage. The following little speech which she makes on one occasion to her Jemmy illustrates with singular plainness her general views on the subject of masculine constancy:

“Make no vows on this last head (fidelity) I beseech you. I have heard people much older and more experienced than ourselves say that the soonest [sic, for surest] way to do a thing is to resolve against it. Besides, my dear Jemmy,” added she, with the most engaging sprightliness, “I shall not be so unreasonable to expect more constancy from you than human nature and your constitution will allow; and if you are as good as you can, may very well content myself with your endeavours to be better.”

The only serious obstacle to the happiness of these lovers arises through the machinations of Bellpine, a false friend of Jemmy’s, who, having become enamoured of Jenny and her fortune, vainly tries to make Jemmy fall seriously in love with a certain Miss Chit, famed for the excellence of her singing, but is more successful in spreading a report of Jemmy’s serious inconstancy which reaches the ears of Jenny. When the machinations of Bellpine are discovered, he is so terribly mauled by the injured Jemmy, in single combat, that his life is despaired of, and the avenger flies to France to escape the consequences of too successful duelling. However, the wounded man recovers; Jenny, going as one of a wedding-party to Paris, joins the disconsolate Jemmy, and brings him back safe and sound to marry her in the “Abbey Church of Westminster.”
  There is the whole story—that is to say, the main story, stripped of its details and ramifications. That in itself it is not “sensational,” will be at once perceived; let us hasten to state that nothing whatever is done to make it so. The personages part, meet again flirt, quarrel, faint, and fall into each other’s arms; but, do what they will, they no more lay claim to our sympathies than would a set of well-dressed and cleverly-managed puppets in a Fantoccini. We are told a great deal about love and hatred, but we never see them expressed. Of the art of representing an emotion, so as to kindle something corresponding in the mind of any reader of the present day, the authoress has not the slightest notion; and even when a passion is declared by one of the principal characters, we are convinced that the speaker is less concerned about his heart than about the rounding of his periods, though these are not very well rounded after all. Nor is any appeal made to the appreciation of wit and repartee, as in the writings of Congreve, and other heartless hierarchs of a peculiar worship of intellect. In the whole compass of three good-sized volumes there is not a smart saying that one would care to record as a specimen of superficial brilliancy.
  At humour or at delineation of character no attempt is made. The personages all belong to the highest ranks of a very artificial society, lounge through their time in London and Bath, amuse one another with elaborate gallantries, and indulge in copious but not reckless verbosity. More pains are taken with Jenny’s character than with that of the others, but she is such a mere incarnation of the views entertained by the authoress that her speeches are scarcely to be distinguished from the moral exordia which are uttered by Mrs. Eliza Haywood, in her own person, at the commencement of many chapters.
  Some of the personages, void of individuality as they all are, were possibly intended to adumbrate well-known realities of the day. Miss Chit, who attracts all the fashionable world by her excellent singing, and is supposed to have a father of higher station than her ostensible parent; Celandrine, a cowardly lady-killer, who ignominiously refuses a challenge at a period when a recognition of the old code of honour was implied in social morality; Lady Fisk, who gets into street rows—these might perhaps have been recognised by the readers of the middle of the last century as persons whose follies and vices were the subject of common talk. In her early days, Mrs. Haywood, who seems to have been born somewhere about 1693, and died in 1756, formed herself upon the more celebrated Mrs. Manley, and wrote two books—[53b] entitled the Court of Carimania, and the New Utopia—which owed their popularity to the quantity of scandal they contained, and caused Pope to bestow upon their authoress a few coarse lines in the Dunciad, which, whatever might have been the provocation, were most disgraceful to the poet. When she wrote her later works, of which Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy, attained the greatest celebrity, she had become a reformed character, and a most ostentatious preacher of such morality as was current at the time. But there is no reason to assume that she entirely left off her old habits, and altogether forbade herself the pleasure of writing a little harmless unobtrusive scandal at the expense of her acquaintance. If the cap did not fit, no harm was done; if it did, the reader was to be blamed for putting it on.
  But what will most strike a modern thinker is the tone of wisdom in which Mrs. Haywood utters her ethical platitudes. It is hard to conceive the degree of naïveté with which both writer and reader must have been endowed when passages like following were considered instructive:

Youth, beauty, and wit have deservingly a very powerful influence on [sic, for over] the human heart; and every day’s [sic, for day,] experience obliges us to own that wealth without the aid of any of these, is of itself sufficient to captivate; it supplies all other defects; it smooths the wrinkles of fourscore; it shapes deformity into comeliness, and gives graces to idiotism itself; as it is said by the inimitable Shakespeare:

Gold! yellow glittering precious gold!
Gold! that will make black white; foul fair; wrong right;
Base noble; old young; cowards valiant.

But when the gifts of nature are joined with those of fortune, how strong is the attraction! How irresistible is the force of such united charms! According to the words of the humorous poet—

Hence ’tis, no lover has the pow’r
T’enforce a desperate amour,
As he that has two strings to’s bow,
And burns for love and money too.

  We ought not therefore, methinks, to judge with too much severity on the vanity of a fine lady; who seeing herself perpetually surrounded with a crowd of lovers, each endeavouring to excel all his rivals in the most extravagant demonstrations of affection, can hardly believe she deserves not some part, at least, of the admiration she receives. But what pretence soever we may make to excuse the weakness of exulting in a multiplicity of lovers, it is still a weakness which all imaginable care ought to be taken to subdue; as it may draw on the most fatal consequences both on the admirers and admired.

All this is sound and charitable enough, but one could scarcely find a more perfect specimen of the grave kind of twaddle. Let a fluent writer once choose his moral theory, and he may cover as many pages as there are lines in the above with a specious exhibition of wisdom that will scarcely require the most moderate expenditure of thought. The quotations from Shakespeare and Butler are singularly illustrative of the period at which the book was written. The old pedantic habit of overloading a text with citations from Greek and Latin authors crudely massed together, after the manner of Burton, had passed away, but far more celebrated writers than Mrs. Haywood show us that people in the middle of the last century had not learned clearly to distinguish between illustration and proof. If the fair Eliza can back up an opinion, which none but a lunatic would think of contradicting, with a distich from that great master of the human heart, Mr. Dryden, or with half a dozen lines from Cowley, “who was certainly as great a judge of love as was Ovid himself,” she feels that she has made assurance doubly sure.
  With all the peculiarities which will seem so strange to a modern reader, the History of Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy is by no means a contemptible book. The story is skillfully constructed, without sacrifice of probability, or recourse to claptrap of any kind; and if it never excites, it never becomes wholly devoid of interest. Moreover, it would be hard to find a more perfect specimen of that satisfaction with a thoroughly worldly and semi-Pagan morality which at a later period earned for the eighteenth century the epithet “Godless,” than in the rules of life laid in the course of this once famous novel.

*The History of Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy. By Mrs. Haywood.

Sunday 20 February 2022

Fern reads McClure’s Magazine, 1914

The young woman wearing spectacles in this "real photo" postcard is identified in pencil as “Fern"—a name which peaked in popularity "at the dawn of the 20th century" (according to this site). Apparently, the name is "surfacing again," since it is a "perfect combination of vintage and earthy-boho." M'ok.

Anyway, Fern is sitting on a swing, with a magazine in hand, while a book in a dustwrapper is sitting on the cushions beside her.

Fortunately, enough of the magazine cover is visible in the photography to identify both the magazine and—after a bit of hunting around—the issue, providing a date for the photograph.

As you can see by comparing above and below, Fern is browsing, or pretending to browse, McClure’s Magazine, vol. 43, no. 5 (September 1914).

Perhaps she is reading "A Sea of Troubles" by P. G. Wodehouse? If you want to see what she is looking at, you will find the full issue online here.

Sunday 13 February 2022

Gems of British social history series, 1978–1982

Between 1978 and 1982, Paul Harris published six facsimiles of eighteenth and nineteenth century erotic texts under the series title: "Gems of British social history series".

For the record, these six volumes are:

1. Directory Of the Ladies of Pleasure in Edinburgh [1775] (1978)
2. The Gentleman's Bottle Companion [1768] (1978)
3. The Secret Cabinet of Robert Burns [aka The Merry Muses of Caledonia] (1979)
4. Low Life in Victorian Edinburgh [1851] (1980)
5. Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies Or Man of Pleasure's Kalender for the Year 1793 (1982)
6. Records of the Most Ancient and Puissant Order of the Beggar's Benison and Merryland, Anstruther (1982)

I bought a copy of The Gentleman's Bottle Companion facsimile in 1989, but now have all four of the eighteenth century texts (nos. 1, 2, 3, 5). I have long considered the Beggar's Benison and Merryland volume to be a nineteenth century fabrication, but I am beginning to change my mind on this.

* * * * *

Regarding no.2: in 2000, when Alexander Pettit and I first started work on our five-volume anthology of Eighteenth Century British Erotica (2002), I was tasked with choosing the texts. Since I wanted to include The Gentleman's Bottle Companion, and could find no record of it in any library, I tried to get in touch with Harris.

In early 2001, after spamming a series of publishers that he had work with (Beekhan Publishers in New York, the US distributor for his facsimiles; Werner Shaw Limited, who had published one of his books, etc.), I managed to reach him, in East Timor of all places.

Little did I know what a wild life Harris had been living since he published his facsimile in 1978. His 2009 autobiography is titled More Thrills than Skills: adventures in journalism, war and terrorism, having become a war corresponded, covering eighteen wars between 1991 and 2001 (for basic details, see Wikipedia.)

Astonishingly, it turned out that, no only did he actually own the original, and still the only known, copy of The Gentleman's Bottle Companion, but he had it with him in East Timor! Somehow, I persuaded him to sell it to Monash. I don't have any of the emails from that far back, but from memory it wasn't actually that difficult to persuade him. I think he was probably quite happy to see the book go somewhere safe, or safer than where he was. He must have been feeling the burden of responsibility for preserving, in the middle of a war zone, the only known copy of such a book.

Although he was glad to sell the book, he knew what it was worth, so there was no chance I could buy it myself. He asked something like A$5000, ten to twenty times the amount I usually had in the bank at the time. I am not sure how I managed to persuade the bank to extend my credit that far, but they did, and quickly. I sent the money before he could reconsider, the book was sent, Monash reimbursed me, and by the end of 2001 I was able to supply Pickering and Chatto with a fresh copy of the book for our Eighteenth Century British Erotica, with Monash as the holding library.

Unfortunately, although I once had it in my house, and included it in an exhibition I curated on "Lewd and Scandalous Books" in 2010, I have no photo of it. No image of the book is included in the catalogue, which you can download here. However, there is a facsimile of the title-page and an OCR scan of the text here.

Sunday 6 February 2022

Slip cancellation in 1904

Below are some images of one of my books with a cancelled imprint—The Letter of Petrus Peregrinus on the Magnet A.D. 1269, translated by Brother Arnold, and with an Introductory Note by Brother Potamian (New York, 1904).* (For my previous posts concerning cancellation, see here.)

There are three copies of this edition of The Letter of Petrus Peregrinus available to buy at present: all record the imprint as “McGraw-Hill.” As you can see, however, the printed imprint is “McGraw Publishing Company.”

But you can also see that my copy (and, I assume, the ones for sale) have a nicely printed slip bound in that covers the imprint, which states that the book was published by the “McGraw-Hill Book Company … successors to Book Departments of the McGraw Publishing Company [and the] Hill Publishing Company.”

There is a copy on the Internet Archive (here that does not have this printed cancellation slip, so it is unclear whether all copies have the slip-cancel. Which raises an interesting question: how should the imprint be recorded: “McGraw Publishing Company” or “McGraw-Hill Book Company”?**

While looking at this book again I noticed something else—which the astute reader may also have noticed—it has a page number on the title-page! It also has one on the verso of the title leaf, on the imprint page, as well as the half-title, part-titles etc.

Conventionally, these pages do not have page numbers on them. It would be interesting to know whether other publications by McGraw consistently included printed pagination in this way, or whether this was a one-off—an accidental oversight effecting just this book, bought on by the disruption of amalgamation.

*BTW: Wikipedia informs me (here) that the AKAs for Petrus Peregrinus, Brother Arnold and Brother Potamian are: Pierre Pelerin de Maricourt, Joseph Charles Mertens and M. F. O’Reilly.

**The answer from WorldCat (here)—or the overwhelming majority of its subscriber-libraries—is “Norderstedt Hansebooks GmbH 2018”! The main entry for The Letter of Petrus Peregrinus (with 171 copies in “all 9 editions”) has this imprint. Under this main entry you can insist on only seeing “just this [print-on-demand] edition,” but not just one of the other 8 editions, one or two of which are the real one. A secondary WorldCat entry with the imprint as I gave it at the head of this post (“New York, 1904”) has only one holding in Denmark. Three cheers for the Danes, for getting it right.

Sunday 30 January 2022

Fabian’s Fine Old Furniture, Melbourne Bookshop

I first visited Fabian’s Fine Old Furniture, at 309 Swanston Street, Melbourne, during an Easter-holiday visit in 1990. Despite the name of his business, Fabian mostly sold books, and clearly had been selling books for many years, though I only discovered the shop in 1990, after many book-buying holidays in Melbourne.

Finding Fabian's was a red-letter day for me as a collector: I came away from my first visit with two eighteenth century first editions at bargain prices: a somewhat worn copy of Macpherson’s Fingal (1762), the first part of his Ossain cycle, and a very nice set of Le Sage’s Gil Blas, as translated by Smollett (1750).

Sadly, despite his long tenure in such a prominent location, Fabian’s seems to have left almost no trace on the internet. In offering up some personal memories of Fabian (and Fabian’s shop) below, I am partly relying on my recollection of my 1990 visit, but I am also making use of some notes I made in 1993, after a return visit, which I only re-discovered during a clean-up last week.

A bright, clean travel agent now occupies 309 Swanston Street (photo above), which is opposite the State Library of Victoria; but for many years it was occupied by a rather different business: Fabian’s Fine Old Furniture. The eponymous owner, Fabian, was a rather eccentric, wild-haired man who had many interesting old books held in three or four massive Victorian book cases, while a goodly number more were liberally distributed in messy piles in various corners, nooks and crannies on the floor. Like the owner, the books, and the bookcases, the shop was old.

In the early 1990s, it had the sort of deep, dusty, brass edged, shop-front display-window that all the best second hand bookshops ought to have. On display in this window were china cups and saucers, Wisden Cricketers’ Almanacks, faded copper plate engravings and maps with labels such as: “This map is 256 years old!”—“This book 152 years old!”—all with exclamation marks, silently bellowing at the passing foot-traffic. I don’t know how often these labels caught the eye of any passer by—with so much dust on the windows the signs were hard to read—but I remember very few interruptions whenever I visited Fabian’s—and all my visits to Fabian’s were lengthy.

The reason for the length of my visits was because Fabian was an unashamed biblioclast. Fabian liked neatly bound sets of books, but it was his practice to keep the different volumes of any set of books equally distributed between the shelves of however many bookcases he had or—whenever he sold a bookcase—between the shelves of the remaining bookcases and in piles on the floor.

He distributed the books in this was because—he explained to me—he wanted each bookcase to display a variety of titles, that a complete set of books was unsightly, and that complete sets would be likely to frighten off prospective buyers. His pricing is worked out on a per-volume basis, and was calculated solely on the size of a volume and the nature of its binding. I paid $45 per volume for my 12mo set (Gil Blas) and $100 for my folio volume (Fingal), but I think $80 was normally the going rate, when part of a set.

Since Fabian did not care for completeness—in fact, he disliked it—but he liked neatly bound books, he had bought and distributed around his small shop many incomplete sets. As a result, even after an extensive, laborious search, neither buyer nor seller could be entirely sure that every volume that Fabian actually had in his shop had been found, unless the books thus collected together from all corners of the shop formed an unambiguously-complete set.

Incomplete sets might be incomplete because Fabian bought them that way, or they may have been incomplete because the buyer had overlooked an odd-volume. This created a moral problem for a fastidious book buyer like myself: how could you be sure that, in the process of buying all the volumes of a seemingly-incomplete set that you had managed to accumulate, after hours spent turning over thousands of books, you were not thereby breaking up a complete set that you had simply failed to find all the volumes for?

Fabian was, obviously, unconcerned about this. Indeed, it seemed as if this sort of “accidental” breaking up of a set suited Fabian, the remaining volumes presented a more varied face to the buyer, and it made it easier for him to dispose of the remaining odd volumes.

Since I am a completist, I would spend hours patiently accumulating volumes of any and all sets that I was interested in; slowly building up piles of matching volumes. When—as was more often the case than not—I failed to find a complete set, I would leave without the books, and Fabian would re-distribute the volumes around the shop, according to whatever principle of aesthetics that drove him. A year or so later I would return, and go through the process again.

Eventually, despite the appeal of thousands of old, beautifully bound books, and the prosepect of a repeat of my 1990 success, I was worn down by my actual lack of success in finding anything that was new-to-stock or complete, and so I stopped visiting his shop. From the mid-90s, for about a decade after I moved to Melbourne I would regularly see Fabian on a Sandringham-line train, with his distinctive wild grey-white hair, on his way into or out of the city. I would seem at different times of the day, either on his way in or out, so I gather that, in old age, he simply went in whenever he felt like it. (There were no opening hours advertised on his shop, and it was often closed when I visited.)

* * * * *

Returning to 1993: a friend and I were occupied in the doomed process of uncovering the companion volumes of an early set of Smollett’s Peregrine Pickle and The Works of Madame de Genlis, ignoring Fabian’s protest that the set was probably never complete to begin with and fearing that, if it had been complete, he had probably rendered it otherwise long since due to his practice of selling off volumes at random, when a well-dressed young man came into the shop, drew the attention of Fabian, and left us to our dusty work.

The conversation began, as I recorded it, in the following fashion:

FABIAN: Hello. Can I help you?

VISITOR: Yes. I’ve bought an old table that I want to put a bit of a display on, y’know, and what I wanted was some old books. I’ve got a bit of a shelf, and some things, vases and things like that, too, but what I need is a few antique books to put on it. ’Bout four of them. It doesn’t matter what’s in them because I’m never going to look in them [this said emphatically] as long as they are old, and look good, like these [indicating a set I was accumulating of The Works of Hobbes].

FABIAN: Yes, well, I get quite a lot of people coming in who want books like you do, for display; I have lots of old books here, with old leather bindings, all sorts of sizes and colours, and prices, so I am sure to have something that will suit. Now, about how much did you want to spend?

There followed a discussion concerning how much the Visitor wished to spend, whether he preferred brown to black covers and so forth. Books in French or Latin, were offered, Fabian did his best to sell his books (“Now this one here is nearly a quarter of a thousand years old! Well, that’s older than the settlement in Australia”) and, at one memorable juncture, when Fabian was showing the Visitor a random selection of four of the twelve volumes of a Latin edition of the proceedings of the Council of Trent, the Visitor, admiring the binding, and in response to Fabian’s explanation of what the book was about, said “of course, I could always learn Latin if I bought them, and then I could read them.”

As I mentioned above, customers were rare; the shop was quiet, and the conversation struck a cord—I had recently read W. J. West’s The Strange Rise of Semi-Literate England (1991)—so I made notes as soon as I left the shop and recorded the details as well as I could soon after. Unfortunately, I did not make a note of whether the well-dressed young man bought any volumes of the proceedings of the Council of Trent. Even if he had, we will never know whether, by doing so, he was prompted to [1] learn Latin and then [2] immediately sit down to read his books, but I think it is very unlikely.

Sunday 23 January 2022

Teaching English in Utrecht, using The Female Spectator

My Bibliography of Eliza Haywood (2004) includes two sections given over to reprints of sections of works by Haywood before 1850: "Ac. Reprints in monographs" and "Ad. Reprints in periodicals."

Referring to these two sections in my Introduction, I stated that "It is likely that more Haywood items will be identified as critical interest in the contents of eighteenth-century periodicals increases and as a greater number of electronic resources become available that make it easier to conduct searches of these periodicals." When I wrote this I had in mind E. W. Pitcher's 1995 identification of over a dozen reprints "of Eliza Haywood’s Stories in The Weekly Entertainer," which was published in Notes and Queries.

Well, there hasn't exactly been a flood of articles like Pitcher's, but I have identified so many reprints myself that I have had to give up trying to incorporate them into the numbering scheme I used in 2004. I haven't have time to establish precise word-counts and provide detailed references to the source text reprinted. And, because I could neither number the items, or knew exactly what details to record, I pretty much stopped collecting any information about reprints.

Having recently discovered a pretty nice example of a reprint from The Female Spectator—detailed below—I have decided that I will start (soon) to keep some sort of list of reprints here. If I ever publish a second edition of my Bibliography I will simply omit these sections.

* * * * *

When I was updating my post Eliza Haywood Links, which the lists eighteenth- and nineteenth-century editions of works by Eliza Haywood, I stumbled upon a reprint of a lengthy story taken (with acknowledgement, which is unusual) from The Female Spectator. The reprinted story appears in James Low's The Winter Evening Or, A Collection of English Prose and Verse, 2 vols. (1780), 1.142–87. The copy of volume one, on Google Books here, is reproduced from the incomplete set in Tilburg University Library (but digitised by the National Library of the Netherlands).

The editor of this anthology, James Low (1759–1817), was a "Teacher of the English Language in Utrecht," where he studied divinity at the university. He seems to have arrived in Utrecht in 1779, married in 1780, and as ordained at Flushing in 1783. According to William Steven, who gives a biography of Low in his History of the Scottish Church, Rotterdam (1833), 232–34 (here), "his constitution, by nature healthy and vigorous, rapidly gave way" after the death of his son (at 26) and—soon after—of his wife. "He was a high Calvinist; and he was most punctual in his attendance at church courts, in whose debates, from his perfect knowledge of Dutch, he was enabled to take a part."

Low published his anthology of English verse and prose soon after he started teaching English. It was reviewed in a number of Dutch journals (here and here), and at least one German periodical (here). Copies occasionally appeared for sale in bookseller's catalogues up to the 1840s (here). After that, The Winter Evening dissapeared from view, almost completely.

Low's Winter Evening is not on ESTC, and it appears that there is no other copy in an institutional library. There was, however, a copy for sale, so I bought it. I gather it had been for sale for a considerable period, since the vendor had increased the price in some online catalogues, but not others. When I asked about this I was told that the lower price was "very outdated". The change was minimal and the book is obviously very uncommon, so I made no complaint; and once it arrived I felt I had got a screaming bargain anyway: as you can see, it is a beautiful example of Dutch paper wrappers.

The reference that Low provides for his excerpt from The Female Spectator is interesting: "Female Spectator. vol. V. p. 290—312." The "vol. V." is an error for "vol. III"; the page reference narrows down the edition that Low used for his reprint. Of the ten editions of The Female Spectator in English, only three have the story excerpted on pages "290—312": the 4th, 5th and 6th editions of 1750, 1755 and 1766 [i.e., Ab.60.6, Ab.60.7 and Ab.60.8]. Even the most recent of these appeared when Low was a child, so I am guessing he had taken his own (second-hand) copy with him, when he went to Utrecht.

Above and below are the pages where the text appears in eight of the first nine editions. Above are Ab.60.1—Ab.60.2 did not get to volume 3—Ab.60.3, Ab.60.4, Ab.60.5; below are Ab.60.6, Ab.60.7, Ab.60.8, and Ab.60.9.

Sunday 16 January 2022

Collecting Haywood, 2021

Although 2021 was not much of an improvement on 2020 in Covid-terms—endless lock-downs, working from home etc.—it was a significant improvement in terms of book-collecting. I have no grand theory to explain why, and it may be that I was mistaken in the explanation I offered (here) for the 18C book-drought of 2020. Whatever the reason, 2021 brought three times as much Haywoodiana to my door as 2020—and most of these items were much more interesting too.

One of the most interesting arrived yesterday. Like David Levy, the shipping of a late-2021 purchase was delayed to an extraordinary extent due to “the resurgent pandemic” (here). Having paid a hundred dollars (!!) for 2–5 day international delivery—for an item that could have been slipped into a small Christmas card—my parcel took two months to appear: with two multi-week periods in which tracking reported no movement whatever, leaving me despairing that it may have been lost.

I have been waiting for the arrival of this parcel to post a “collecting year in review”; and since my parcel should have arrived in November, I am going to pretend that it did arrive in 2021 and am including it here. As a result, I am also including everything else that arrived between my "Collecting Haywood, 2020" post, and now.

As you can see above, my long-delayed parcel contained a dated signature, taken from a letter written by the poet, sometime-friend and sometime-enemy of Haywood, Richard Savage, on 12 July 1743, less than 3 weeks before he died in Bristol Newgate Prison. I believe that this may be the last datable piece of writing in Savage’s hand—not that Savage manuscripts are exactly common. Clarence Tracey quotes from 27 letters in his biography of Savage, but most of them are from printed sources.

As I was waiting for this scrap of paper to arrive, I obtained copies of a few other examples of Savage’s writing—enough to convinced me of the authenticity of the writing, and of the attribution to “Dr. Johnson’s Richard Savage as opposed to, say, Robert Savage, sausage-maker” (as Stuart Bennett quipped). I did not expect to start collecting detached signatures in this way, but the dam broke with the acquisition in 2020 of three receipts from a signature collection—one signed by Hatchett.

One of the two greatest contributor to 2021 being a much better collecting year than 2020 was a lot of thirteen titles in nineteen volumes that I bought at Chroley’s Spetchley Park Auction in late March. Fortunately for me, the Spetchley Park Auctions—and the presence of a Haywood item—received some news coverage, and so I was alerted to the sale (background here; the actual article here). The Haywood item reported on in the news turned out to be two Haywood items listed in the description of the lot (above; both of which I had), which turned out to be three Haywood items once the lot arrived in Melbourne: Ab.70.4 The Wife, 3rd ed., Ab.72.1 The Husband and Ab.64.3 Epistles for Ladies, 3rd ed. 2 vols.—this last one being the surprise inclusion, and one that I did not have (below).

The ten other Spetchley Park items all either works by women, or relating to women, many of which I had long wanted: Aphra Behn’s Love-Letters between a Nobleman and his Sister, Jane Collier’s, An Essay on the Art of Ingeniously Tormenting, Steele’s The Ladies Library, Salmon’s A Critical Essay Concerning Marriage, Madan’s Thelyphthora; Or A Treatise on Female Ruin, Alexander’s The History of Women, from the earliest antiquity, and Hayley’s A Philosophical, Historical, and Moral Essay on Old Maids—among others.

I cannot say much about the second great contributor to 2021 being such a good Haywood collecting year, but I can say that I discovered a French translation of a work by Haywood that I had somehow previously missed. Said work was printed many times, and translated into three other languages. Since I am in the midst of sweeping the market clean of these translations, I don’t want to risk inflating the price of any books that remain outside of institutional collections until I have a decent sample of them. I have managed to buy copies of four editions so far. My examination of these suggests that the few bibliographers who have mention the work have missed a great deal indeed. Both the collecting, and unraveling the mystery, are proving to be immensely enjoyable.

Of the items not covered above, three are by Hatchett: with the help of Stuart Bennett I picked up a copy of Dd.1.1b The Adventures of Abdalla, 2nd ed.—in a very ugly binding, but with the full complement of plates—and I also managed to get two copies of one of his plays, Dd.4.1 The Rival Father Or The Death Of Achilles: A Tragedy. I was particularly pleased about this because both were in intact sammelbands from the one, very large and very interesting eighteenth-century collection of plays, the provenance of which I was able to untangle.

The remaining Haywood items includes two more copies of the first edition of The Female Spectator in French—one with a variant title-page which has, once again, thrown into doubt my arrangement of editions (my original “Ab.60.11” has already become Ab.60.11, Ab.60.11A and Ab.60.11B!). I also received my third NQR copy of Ab.58.9 New Present for a Servant Maid. This one lacks the frontispiece, but has the final leaf, which is missing in my only copy with the frontispiece. Cookery books are particularly hard to find in nice condition, and complete, but one day I hope to find one such unicorn.

Also NQR (not quite right) was a copy of Ab.66.2 A Letter from H---- G----g [Henry Goring]—the pirate edition. Seemingly from the collection of Gershon Legman, I discovered once it arrived that it was missing an entire gathering. Fortunately, the vendor gave me both a complete refund, and the book. I also picked up at various times duplicate odd volumes of The Invisible Spy, The Female Spectator, and Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy, of interest only to someone like me.

The remaining three items are all very nice: Haywood’s Ab.11.1c A Spy on the Conjurer, 2nd ed. (1724); Elizabeth Griffith’s A Collection of Novels, Selected and Revised, 3 vols. (1777), which contains Haywood’s Fruitless Enquiry—which is quite rare (ESTC records nine copies), and often incomplete; and Ac.10b Matrimonial Preceptor, 2nd ed. (1759), which contains excerpts from The Female Spectator.

This last one is a nice segue way into a post I plan to do shortly on unauthorized and previously unrecognized reprints of works by Haywood, but I am still on holidays, so that may be another month away. Until then, thank you to all my (patient) readers, who have put up with my long silences. I will make no resolutions for 2022, but do expect to post more than I did in 2021.