Since there is a bit of a gap since my last posting in late April on these diaries of Charles Bridges Knight, I’ll repeat some of the introductory material to refresh your memory. As we continue to see what Charles was reading in the Godmersham Park Library, I again offer hearty thanks to Austen scholar Hazel Jones for sharing this with us as she mines Charles’ diaries:
The Reading with Austen website focuses on the contents of the Godmersham Park Library as noted in the 1818 catalogue of the collection. We know that Jane Austen read and rested in this library because her letters tell us so, and the RwA website has brought this long-ago library back to colorful life. So it is a very interesting treasure to stumble upon other mentions of this library. The scholar Hazel Jones* has been very generous in sharing her research into the diaries of Austen’s nephew Charles Bridges Austen (later Knight), who also spent time in this very library. Ms. Jones is writing a book on Edward Austen Knight’s sons, and in reading (and transcribing) Charles Bridge’s diaries (which are housed at Jane Austen’s House Museum ), she finds numerous references to the titles he is reading.
Charles Bridges was born March 11, 1803 at Godmersham Park in Kent, the 8th child of Jane Austen’s brother Edward Knight and Elizabeth Bridges. He was a commoner at Winchester* from 1816-1820, attended Trinity College, Cambridge and was ordained in 1828. He was the curate of West Worldham in Hampshire and rector of Chawton from 1837-1867. He died unmarried on October 13, 1867, aged 64 years. He is buried in the graveyard at the St. Nicholas Churchyard in Chawton (Section B: Row 2. 70 ).
You can read the other parts here that tell of Charles’ reading while living at Godmersham:
We continue now with Diary 10, dated January 19 1836 – January 27th 1837:
‘Jany 24 … I read some of Kidd on my return home.’
John Kidd (1775-1851), a physician, chemist and geologist, is considered the first of the “scriptural geologists.” His On The Adaptation of External Nature to the Physical Condition of Man, was volume II of the “Bridgewarter Treatises,” a collection of 8 volumes by various scientists and theologians that began publication in 1833. The GPL housed only volume 1, 2, and 4 – by Thomas Chalmers, John Kidd and Charles Bell respectively.
Not in the Library at Chawton House, so all three of these volumes are Lost Sheep.
‘Jany 25 … I rose at 1/2 past 7 and read german till breakfast time. After that I sat in the Hall and read Burnet till one o’clock, a good long patch. It is an interesting book I think. It was very well in those days to have texts & restraints against popery, when the papists were a strong party, a popish King was on the throne, and the protestant interest all over Europe was threatened.’ (He then launches into a sermon on Christian conduct and principles.)
It is interesting here to have some actual commentary from Charles!
There are several books by a Burnet in the GPL, four by Gilbert Burnet, and two by Thomas Burnet.
Gilbert Burnet (1643-1715): I surmise Charles is referring to either of these two titles – the Bishop Burnet’s Travels has a reference to a discussion of Popery:
- Bishop Burnet’s travels through France, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland: Describing their Religion, Learning, Government, Customs, Natural History, Trade, &c. And illustrated with curious Observations on the Buildings, Paintings, Antiquities, and other Curiosities in Art and Nature. With a Detection of the Frauds and Folly of Popery and Superstition in some flagrant Instances, also Characters of several eminent Persons, and many other memorable Things worthy the Attention of the Curious. Written by the Bishop to the Honourable Robert Boyle. To which is added, an Appendix, containing Remarks on Switzerland and Italy, by a Person of Quality, and communicated to the Author. A Table of Contents and a Character of the Bishop and his Writings. London, 1750.
However, if you note Charles’ entry for March 26 below:
‘March 26 … I finished Burnets times, which has lasted me all the winter, & given me much instructive information and interest. I like the book very much, & am sure the author must have been a very good and wise & sociable man.’
He is referring to this:
- Bishop Burnet’s History of His Own Time. Vol. I. From the Restoration of King Charles II. to the Settlement of King William and Queen Mary at the Revolution: To which is prefix’d A Summary Recapitulation of Affairs in Church and State from King James I. to the Restoration in the Year 1660. London, 1724, 1734.
Both of these Burnet titles are in the 1818 GPL catalogue and are extant in the Knight Collection at CH. They also both have the Thomas Knight bookplate.
‘Jany 26 … I tried my luck at a sermon on the marriage supper … but could make nothing of it, and therefore read one and then another of Horsleys … After dinner I read some of Kidd, which I do not think much of – it seems very much got up I think.’
Well, so much for Kidd! –
We discussed Samuel Horsley in Part III – he wrote a number of tracts, sermons, and treatises, and Charles notes he was reading more than just this one title that is listed in the 1818 catalogue:
Letters from the Archdeacon of Saint Albans, in reply to Dr. Priestley. With an appendix, containing Short Strictures on Dr. Priestley’s Letters by an unknown Hand. London, 1784. This is at Chawton.
‘Jany 30 … I read some of the articles of faith of the reformed french church, contained in a french testament, with prayers and psalms set to tunes & offices at the back of it, printed in 1668.’
Well, he could have been reading anything…there are a number of French titles in the catalogue, though I do not find anything dated 1668. We are impressed with Charles’ abilities to read in German and French…
‘Feby 2 … I rose at 7 and read some Slade’s psalms.’
James Slade (1783-1860): In 1813 Slade became the rector of Teversham and in 1817 the vicar of Bolton-le-Moors, where he remained for nearly 40 years.
He is most known for these two titles which went into a number of editions; neither is listed in GPL catalogue, but worth the mention nonetheless. They may have been in Charles’ own collection.
- Twenty-one prayers, composed from the psalms, for the sick and afflicted : to which are added various other forms of prayer for the same purpose, with a few hints and directions for the use of the younger clergy. London: Rivington, 1828.
- An Explanation of the Psalms as read in the Liturgy of the Church. By the Rev. James Slade. London, 1832.
‘Feby 6 … After dinner I finished Kidd, & began Bell.’
This refers to the citation above, the 4th volume in the “Bridgewater Treatises” along with John Kidd. This volume is by Charles Bell (1774-1842) and titled: The Hand: Its Mechanism and Vital Endowments as Evincing Design. London, 1833. This, as noted, is a Lost Sheep.
Bell was a noted “Scottish surgeon, anatomist, physiologist, neurologist, artist, and philosophical theologian. He is noted for discovering the difference between sensory nerves and motor nerves in the spinal cord. He is also noted for describing Bell’s palsy” [wikipedia].
This work he wrote as part of the eight the “Bridgewater Treatises” on the hand, is full of pictures where he compares “hands” of different organisms ranging from human hands, chimpanzee paws, and fish feelers. After the first few chapters, Bell orients his treatise around the significance of the hand and its importance in its use in anatomy. He emphasizes that the hand is as important as the eye in the field of surgery and that it must be trained” [wikipedia].
This work may have done much to feed Charles’ abiding interest in natural history…. we can only wish he had commented more on it.
‘Feby 7 … I read some of Bell at different times today, & a part of a sermon of Barrows.’
See Part I for another reference to Barrow. I find nothing re: sermons in the 1818 catalogue; there is only this title: The Eventful History of the Mutiny and Piratical Seizure of H. M. S. Bounty: its causes and consequences.
But I do find an Isaac Barrow (1630-1677), “an English Christian theologian and mathematician who is generally given credit for his early role in the development of infinitesimal calculus; in particular, for the discovery of the fundamental theorem of calculus” [Wikipedia]. He is most known for his sermons, of which he published a number, such as Several Sermons against Evil-Speaking [London, 1678]. Charles is likely referring to him, though there are no works in the GPL catalogue… but you can read, if you are so inclined to follow Charles’ reading path, many of Barrow’s sermons online here: https://biblehub.com/sermons/authors/barrow.htm
[Totally an aside here, with nothing to do with Charles or his reading, or even the GPL, but interesting to note that this portrait of Isaac Barrow was painted by Mary Beale (1633-1677), one of most famous and successful female portrait painters of the 17th century… always good to give a nod to the Ladies, with all these overly-wigged men weighing down these posts…!] This self-portrait is in the collection of the St. Edmundsbury Museums.
Hazel notes here after the Feb 7 diary entry : Repeat reading of Burnet, Bell, and Kidd throughout the month and beyond, the latter even though he claims to have finished it on Feb 6th.
‘Feby 21 … I rose at 1/2 past 7 and read a bit of Hermas s Shepherd before breakfast. I don’t know much about its authenticity, but it was at any rate I suppose written quite in the earliest age of Christianity and is on that account very interesting.’
In the 1818 catalogue, I find the following:
The Genuine Epistles of the Apostolical Fathers, S. Barnabas, S. Ignatius, S. Clement, S. Polycarp. The Shepherd of Hermas, and the Martyrdoms of St. Ignatius and St. Polycarp, Written by those who were present at their Sufferings. Being, together with the Holy Scriptures of the New Testament, a compleat Collection of the most Primative Antiquity for about CL Years after Christ. Translated and Publish’d, with a large Preliminary Discourse Relating to the several Treatises here put together. By the Right Reverend Father in God, William, Lord Bishop of Lincoln. The Second Edition, Corrected. By William Wake. London: 1710.
This is a Lost Sheep.
William Wake (1657-1737) was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1716 until his death in 1737; he authored numerous treatises, two of which are in the GPL, the one above and this:
The Principles of the Christian Religion Explained: In a Brief Commentary upon the Church-Catechism. By the most Reverend Father in God, William, Lord Arch-Bishop of Canterbury. The Fifth Edition Corrected. London, 1731. This also a Lost Sheep.
The Shepherd of Hermas was an early Christian work of the 2nd century – it comprises five visions, twelve mandates, and ten parables, uses allegory to tell its tale, and calls on the faithful to repent of the sins that have harmed the Church. You can read the full text in translation here: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/shepherd.html
‘March 8 … Read some Exodus and Hall’s contemplations. I mostly read a contemplation of Hall’s now if I have time, & there happens to be a suitable one to my morning’s chapter … I read every evening before I go to bed a chapter in the NT in Greek, & refer to Macknight. This whim is about a week old.’
Neither of these authors is listed in the 1818 GPL catalogue, but Charles is likely referring to these two titles:
- Joseph Hall (1574-1656), an English Bishop, satirist and moralist. Contemplations on the Historical Passages of the Old and New Testaments published in 1614.
- James MacKnight (1721-1800) wrote several works on the New Testament, any of which Charles might be referring to: Harmony of the Four Gospels (1756), The Truth of the Gospel History Shewed (1763), and A New Literal Translation from the Original, of the Apostle Paul’s First and Second Epistle to the Thessalonians (1787).
‘March 15 … Before dinner I read some of Secker on Popery’. (Also on the 16th, 17th, 20th, 21st)
Thomas Secker (1693-1768), the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1758-1768, has two works listed in the 1818 GPL, and both are in the Knight Collection, and both have the less common oblong Montagu George Knight bookplate:
- Lectures on the Catechism of the Church of England: with A Discourse on Confirmation. By Thomas Secker, LL.D. Late Lord Archbishop of Canterbury. Published from the Original Manuscripts By Beilby Porteus, D.D. and George Stinton, D.D. His Grace’s Chaplains. London, 1769. “Five Sermons against Popery” can be found in this work.
Sermons on Several Subjects, By Thomas Secker, LL.D. Late Lord Archbishop of Canterbury. Published from the original Manuscripts, By Beilby Porteus D.D. and George Stinton D.D. His Grace’s Chaplains. London, 1770.This title has Edward’s signature and “Godmersham Park” on the front free endpaper as you see above.
‘March 23 … After breakfast I spent some time looking into various books in the library to find something about the 10 tribes of Israel that were taken away by Shalmaneser when he took Samaria & destroyed the Kingdom of Israel.’
Well, this could be any number of books on the history of the OT, etc.!
‘March 26 … I finished Burnets times, which has lasted me all the winter, & given me much instructive information and interest. I like the book very much, & am sure the author must have been a very good and wise & sociable man.’ [See above]
‘April 1 … finished Jebb & Knox’s correspondence. I had great pleasure in reading that book, and have learnt a great deal from it.’ [see Part III on these letters]
‘April 2 … After breakfast read Epictetus’s moral maxims in my french & german grammar. I think of doing the same in Greek with Mrs Carter’s help.’
For his Mrs. Carter reference, Charles is referring to this title:
All the Works of Epictetus, Which are now Extant; consisting of His Discourses, preserved by Arrian, In Four Books, The Enchiridion, and Fragments. Translated from the Original Greek, By Elizabeth Carter. With An Introduction, and Notes, by the Translator. London, 1758.
There are two copies listed in the 1818 catalogue and both are extant in the Knight Collection. What interests us GLOSSers even further is that both Thomas Knight Sr. and his son Thomas Knight Jr. are listed as subscribers, and perhaps the reason there are two copies in the collection.
Elizabeth Carter (1717-1806) was a poet and translator and part of the Bluestocking Circle founded by Elizabeth Montagu. She is most known for this translation of Epictetus.
Carter was well-known enough in her time to be one of the women depicted in Richard Samuel’s “Portraits in the Characters of the Muses in the Temple of Apollo” (1775) – she is on the far left, though exact identification of each of the portraits has always been unsubstantiated. Carter said herself to Elizabeth Montagu, “by the mere testimony of my own eyes, I cannot very exactly tell which is you, and which is I, and which is any body else.”
Carter’s poetry was well-regarded, and though Charles does not mention reading her poems, there is a 1st edition copy of her 1762 Poems on Several Occasions listed in the 1818 catalogue. This IS a Lost Sheep, so we add it to our list.
‘March 4 (he means April) … Read some Exodus. Epictetus after breakfast: & german with Louisa … I finished B White’s tract on Popery …’
Though this title is not in the 1818 catalogue, Charles was reading Joseph Blanco White’s The Poor Man’s Preservative against Popery: addressed to the lower classes of Great Britain and Ireland. London, 1825.
White (1775-1841), born José María Blanco y Crespo, was a Spanish theologian and poet (and obviously the long-lost ancestor of Alan Cumming…? sorry, I couldn’t resist this totally irrelevant aside – I think even Charles would have been amazed at the resemblance!).
‘April 7 … After breakfast read Epictetus in the library … I did some more Epictetus after lunch … I read a little of Pascals thoughts.’ [See Part III for Pascal’s Thoughts]
‘April 8 … I read Knox’s letter on Christian preaching before dinner, & liked it very much: it will bear many readings.’ [See Part III on Knox]
‘April 9 … I rose soon after 7 & read as usual 2 of Slade’s psalms, a chapter in Exodus, writing remarks, & some of Hall’s contemplations.’ [See above]
Here are a few of Charles’ rare comments on the Godmersham Library itself:
‘June 16 … Louisa & I began to put the Library to rights.’ [Louisa (1804-1889) was Charles’ younger sister].
‘June 17 … I put some of the Library to rights.’
‘June 20 … I finished looking over the Library books by the catalogue.’
[Peter Sabor and Hazel both wonder two things: what sort of mess did he and Louisa leave the library in?? Recall his comment in Part III when he writes of “Rice & I play[ing] at Rackets in the Library…..”
And two, if these comments about “putting the Library to rights” and his reference to the catalogue are any indication that Charles may be one of the hands that crossed out and / or added titles to the catalogue – it appears however after analyzing the various handwritings that this is not the case – more detective work is needed…]
‘June 23 … Began Campan’s Marie Antoinette.’
[This portrait of Antoinette is also painted by a woman, Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun, a prominent French portrait artist of the late 18th century.]
Jeanne Louise Henriette Genet Campan. Memoirs of the private life of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France and Navarre. To which are added, recollections, sketches, and anecdotes, illustrative of the reigns of Louis XIV. Louis XV. And Louis XVI. By Madame Campan, First Lady of the bed-chamber to the Queen. Third Edition. In two volumes. London, 1824. French text.
Campan (1752-1822) “was a French educator, writer and lady-in-waiting, in the service of Marie Antoinette before and during the French Revolution” [Wikipedia]. These Memoirs were published posthumously in 1823, as was her De l’Education des Femmes (1824), in which she emphasized the importance of training young girls in domestic economy and all manner of housework.
This title is in the GPL catalogue and remains in the Knight Collection, so is not lost – and another work with Edward’s signature, as you see here.
Full text is available here (in English): https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/100731949
I wish Charles had something to say about these Memoirs, but alas! he does not, and Hazel notes that there is no mention of books or reading until November. Perhaps the reading about Marie Antoinette put him off his religious reading diet?? The next diary offers us nothing about Marie Antoinette either…
Notes from Hazel: there are another four diaries, but Diary 10 is the last one likely to be of interest as far as Charles’ reading at Godmersham is concerned. He has moved to Chawton Rectory by the beginning of Diary 11, which is dated Nov 1837 to Jan 1840.
Today’s post has added five Lost Sheep to our growing list of Books Wanted (you can view the list here). And though Charles has left Godmersham and moved to Chawton, we will continue with his comments on reading that are found in Diary 11 and then Diaries 13 – 15 dated 1837-1851 [apparently there is no Diary 12]. So stay tuned…
*Hazel Jones is the author of Jane Austen & Marriage (Bloomsbury Continuum 2009, Uppercross Press 2017), Celebrating Pride & Prejudice (co-authored with Maggie Lane, Lansdown 2012), Jane Austen’s Journeys (Hale 2014) and is currently writing a book on Jane Austen’s Knight nephews. She was a tutor in the Department of Lifelong Learning at Exeter University until 2005 and continues to teach residential courses on aspects of Jane Austen’s writing, life and times. She is the membership secretary and a co-founder of the UK Jane Austen Society, South West Branch.
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