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).