Bringing the Godmersham William Cowper “Poems” Back Home to Chawton House

While 2020 can be said to have been a total disaster of a year in so many ways, I am happy to offer up one very exciting, positive, and downright awesome accomplishment: William Cowper is back home at Chawton House.

Now, Cowper was not aware he had been sent from home at some point, but in the history of the whys and wherefores of the books in Edward Austen Knight’s library at Godmersham Park, i.e. why some remained and some were sold, the fact that William Cowper’s Poems left the nest was a sad event, and the finding and returning of it has really been the Holy Grail of our team of diligent GLOSSers. And so we are Happy to report that the deed is done, this Holy Grail of ours now in the safekeeping of the Library at Chawton, and we can all rest easy from here on in.

You can read the Chawton House announcement here: https://chawtonhouse.org/2021/01/treasured-austen-family-heirloom-returns-home/

[UPDATE: Here is a photo in The Times of January 4, 2021, with Chawton House’s Clio O’Sullivan proudly holding up the Cowper for all the world to see – excellent PR!]

Poetic justice: Chawton House, Hampshire, once owned by Jane Austen’s brother, has acquired a first edition of Poems by William Cowper that also belonged to her brother. The book, by Austen’s favourite poet, was probably read by her

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What was different about this particular book is that it has been available since the Reading with Austen project began – for sale at Bernard Quaritch and completely out of our reach. And every time we found ourselves getting closer, another GPL book would show up at auction, and off went our scant funds to purchase it. Enter the Friends of the National Libraries! To their very generous donation to Chawton House for the express purpose of acquiring this Cowper, GLOSS was able to supply the needed additional funds, and the Cowper is now officially at Chawton once again.

The title itself is actually two volumes of poems: the first one published in 1782 was Cowper’s first published work Poems, by William Cowper, of the Inner Temple, Esq. (J. Johnson, 1782)

Title Page, Poems, 1782, RwA website

The second volume is the 1785 published edition of Cowper’s most well-known poem The Task, A Poem in Six Books, to which is added his comic poem “The Diverting History of John Gilpin.” (Johnson, 1785)

Title page, The Task (1785), RwA website

So why William Cowper? What makes this book so important to The Reading with Austen project and the Library at Chawton House?

Does anyone actually read him anymore? Does anyone actually know how to properly pronounce his name?? [it’s Cooper]. Does he perhaps have something to do with Jane Austen??

Well, it all started with Henry Austen – in his “Biographical Notice” in the posthumous publication of his sister’s Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, he writes:

Her reading was very extensive in history and belles lettres; and her memory extremely tenacious. Her favourite moral writers were Johnson in prose, and Cowper in verse.

This then was a ready invitation to find Cowper reflected in all her letters and all her fiction – and one is not disappointed:

  1. In November 1798 [Ltr. 12], Austen writes to Cassandra:

We have got Boswell’s “Tour to the Hebrides’, and we are to have ‘his Life of Johnson’; and, as some money will yet remain in Burdon’s [the bookseller] hands, it is to laid out in the purchase of Cowper’s works.

[Deirdre Le Faye suggests that this would either be the 6th edition of 1797 or the new edition of 1798]. Ed. I believe that the 6th ed. was published in 1794, so a typo, a later printing of the 6th or a later edition??…. shall look into this…

2. And nearly a month later in December 1798 [Ltr. 14], she writes again that “My father reads Cowper to us in the evening, to which I listen when I can.”

3. When next Austen mentions Cowper, in February of 1807, we can readily believe she has memorized all of his poetry, because she drops his lines whenever she can, and it is the Sharp Elves eyes of many an Austen scholar who have found these gems:

Now in Southampton, Austen writes of the Shrubs which border the gravel walk in her garden: “…we mean to get a few of the better kind & at my own particular desire he procures us some Syringas. I could not do without of a Syringa, for the sake of Cowper’s Line. – We talk also of a Laburnam [sic].” [Ltr. 50]

Cowper’s line: from The Task “The Winter Walk at Noon”

‘…Laburnum, rich / In streaming gold; syringa, iv’ry pure.’

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Reading with Austen – Godmersham Park Library

4. In September 1813, Austen is at Godmersham, and we can perhaps imagine she has this very Cowper in hand when she writes:

“I am now alone in the Library, Mistress of all I survey – at least I may say so & repeat the whole poem if I like, without offence to anybody.” [Ltr. 89]

Here Austen is playing on Cowper’s words in his “Verses, supposed to be written by Alexander Selkirk” where we find:

“I am monarch of all survey,
My right there is none to dispute;
From the centre all round to the sea,
I am lord of the fowl and the brute.”

[You can read the full poem here: https://www.eighteenthcenturypoetry.org/works/o3794-w0130.shtml and we can only imagine Austen sitting there in the Godmersham Park library, reciting this aloud to herself!]

5. In November of the same year, and again at Godmersham, Austen writes of Henry’s man-servant William, who apparently is a lover of the country rather than of city life: “An inclination for the Country is a venial fault. – He has more of Cowper than of Johnson in him, fonder of Tame Hares & Blank verse than of the full tide of human Existence at Charing Cross.” [Ltr. 95]

Cowper writes in concluding “The Sofa”:

God made the country, and man made the town.
What wonder then, that health and virtue, gifts
That can alone make sweet the bitter draught
That life holds out to all, should most abound
And least be threaten’d in the fields and groves?
Possess ye therefore, ye who, borne about
In chariots and sedans, know no fatigue
But that of idleness, and taste no scenes
But such as art contrives, possess ye still
Your element; there only ye can shine,
There only minds like yours can do no harm.
Our groves were planted to console at noon
The pensive wand’rer in their shades.  At eve
The moon-beam, sliding softly in between
The sleeping leaves, is all the light they wish,
Birds warbling all the music.  We can spare
The splendour of your lamps, they but eclipse
Our softer satellite. Your songs confound
Our more harmonious notes: the thrush departs
Scar’d, and th’ offended nightingale is mute.
There is a public mischief in your mirth,
It plagues your country.  Folly such as your’s,
Grac’d with a sword, and worthier of a fan,
Has made, which enemies could ne’er have done,
Our arch of empire, steadfast but for you,
A mutilated structure, soon to fall.

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Now for the Novels:

  1. First, in Sense and Sensibility, Marianne bemoans Edward’s appalling lack of emotive reading skills:

 “Oh! mama, how spiritless, how tame was Edward’s manner in reading to us last night! …To hear those beautiful lines which have frequently almost driven me wild, pronounced with such impenetrable calmness, such dreadful indifference!-

“He would certainly have done more justice to simple and elegant prose. I thought so at the time, but you would give him Cowper.”

“Nay, mama, if he is not to be animated by Cowper! – but we must allow for differences of taste…but it would have broke my heart had I loved him, to hear him read with so little sensibility.” [S&S, Vol. I, ch. 3]

And later, from Elinor:

“Well, Marianne…you have already ascertained Mr. Willoughby’s opinion in almost every matter of importance. You know what he thinks of Cowper and Scott; you are certain of his estimating their beauties as he ought, and you have received every assurance of his admiring Pope no more than is proper.” [S&S, Vol. I, ch. 10]

2. In Emma, Mr. Knightley, keen observer of Frank and Jane, conjures up Cowper:

…he could not help remembering what he had seen; nor could he avoid observations which, unless it were like Cowper and his fire at twilight,

‘Myself creating what I saw,’

brought him yet stronger suspicion of there being a something of private liking, of private understanding even, between Frank Churchill and Jane. [Emma, vol. III, ch. 5, quoting The Task, Book IV, “The Winter Evening”].

3. Fanny in Mansfield Park twice quotes Cowper:

Her horror at Mr. Rushworth’s plans to “improve” Sotherton:

Cut down an avenue! What a pity! Does not it make you think of Cowper? ‘Ye fallen avenues, once more I mourn your fate unmerited’ (from The Task, Book I, “The Sofa”)

And later, Fanny, stranded in Portsmouth, again quotes Cowper in Vol. III, ch. 14:

Her eagerness, her impatience, her longings to be with them, were such as to bring a line or two of Cowper’s Tirocinium forever before her. “With what intense desire she wants her home,” was continually on her tongue, as the truest description of a yearning which she could not suppose any school-boy’s bosom to feel more keenly.

Cowper’s “Tirocinium: or, A Review of Schools” (1785, published with The Task) is a poem Cowper wrote addressed to a father who has sent his son away to school;  Cowper “recommend[s] private tuition in preference to an education at school.”  

But Cowper is much more than a quote here and there in Mansfield Park. Kerri Savage, in her Persuasions On-line essay: “Attending the Interior Self: Fanny’s ‘Task’ in Mansfield Park,” believes that the character of Fanny actually embodies all that Cowper espouses in The Task, and that “ultimately [Cowper’s] Task emphasizes the individual who makes a difference in the world as one who ‘attends to his interior self.’ Cowper contrasts the immorality in the city with the quiet, green rural life that nurtures the introspective moral life,” as we saw above. Sounds just like Fanny, doesn’t it?

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5. And in Austen’s unfinished Sanditon, Cowper is found in Mr. Heywood’s responding to Mr. Parker that he knows not a thing about the famous bathing spot Brinshore:

“Why, in truth, sir, I fancy we may apply to Brinshore, that line of the Poet Cowper in his description of the religious Cottager, as opposed to Voltaire – ‘She, never heard of half a mile from home’”  [from “Truth” in Poems, 1782)

….Cowper’s point being that the happy cottager is content with her faith and her rural life, unlike the worldly Voltaire:

Full-text is here: https://www.eighteenthcenturypoetry.org/works/o3794-w0030.shtml

She for her humble sphere by nature fit,
Has little understanding, and no wit,
Receives no praise, but (though her lot be such,
Toilsome and indigent) she renders much;
Just knows, and knows no more, her bible true,
A truth the brilliant Frenchman never knew,
And in that charter reads with sparkling eyes,
Her title to a treasure in the skies.
Oh happy peasant! Oh unhappy bard!
His the mere tinsel, her’s the rich reward;
He prais’d perhaps for ages yet to come,
She never heard of half a mile from home…

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We think of Cowper as a moral, religious poet, with a tendency to melancholy, musing on the beauties of nature and rural life, and why Henry emphasized Austen’s appreciation of him in his overly sanitized biographical essay. But in reading a few poems [can I confess to not doing much with Cowper before? – here’s an Aside: I looked in all my college British Literature texts – Cowper is there, but we touched on nary a single one of his poems!]… but in now finally reading a few of his poems, I do find much humor, especially the very comic “The Diverting History of John Gilpin.”

First published anonymously in The Public Advertiser in 1782, and then in The Task in 1785, “John Gilpin” has been rendered into a number of children’s books, notably by Randolph Caldecott in 1878 – his illustration of Gilpin on his wild run has even become the symbol of the esteemed children’s book award, the Caldecott Medal:

Randolph Caldecott, John Gilpin [wikipedia]

It was also illustrated by Charles E. Brock, noted illustrator of Jane Austen’s novels. [I love these connections!]:

And certainly knowing the backstory of and a reading of the beginning of The Task, can bring to mind an appreciative young Austen reading these works with much laughter and perhaps a bit of idea-plucking for her very own juvenilia?

Couch by Gillows, London, 1805 – V&A Museum. In Regency Furniture, by Clifford Musgrave, 1961 [author’s collection]

Here’s “The Sofa” story and how The Task came to be, as Cowper describes it himself:

The history of the following production is briefly this. A lady, fond of blank verse, demanded a poem of that kind from the Author, and gave him the SOFA for a subject. He obeyed; and, having much leisure, connected another subject with it; and, pursuing the train of thought to which his situation and turn of mind led him, brought forth at length, instead of the trifle which he at first intended, a serious affair – a Volume. [Advertisement to The Task, 1785].

The Lady in question was Lady Ann Austen [no relation!], and the interesting history of Lady A and Cowper is a project for another day – but I send you to this essay by K. E. Smith if your curiosity has been roused and you must know the details: https://cowperandnewtonmuseum.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Vol02_2_1.pdf

“The Sofa” begins thus: from The Task, A Poem, In Six Books, Book I. The Sofa.

SING the SOFA. I who lately sang
Truth, Hope and Charity, and touch’d with awe
The solemn chords, and with a trembling hand,
Escap’d with pain from that advent’rous flight,
Now seek repose upon an humbler theme;
The theme though humble, yet august and proud
Th’ occasion — for the Fair commands the song.

We can recall Austen’s penchant for sofas in her juvenilia – one is always quite relieved to find one always at the ready when needed!

[Note: Laurie Kaplan in her Persuasions On-Line essay references other aspects of Austen’s juvenilia in relation to Cowper’s love of the Country vs. the City:

“…for example, in “Letter the 4th: Laura to Marianne” in Love and Freindship, Jane Austen may have been alluding laughingly to Cowper’s preference for the simple life. Laura tells Marianne that she has been warned: “‘Beware of the insipid Vanities and idle Dissipations of the Metropolis of England; Beware of the unmeaning Luxuries of Bath & of the Stinking fish of Southampton’” (78-79).  “‘Alas!,’” Laura exclaims, “‘What probability is there of my ever tasting the Dissipations of London, the Luxuries of Bath or the stinking Fish of Southampton?  I who am doomed to waste my Days of Youth & Beauty in an humble Cottage in the Vale of Uske.’”]

A Short History of William Cowper.

You can read all you need to know about William Cowper at the excellent Cowper & Newton Museum website: , as well as at The Poetry Foundation.

I offer you a brief version: [short-shift really – do yourself a favor and read all the links I provide – it is all very interesting, whether my English professors at the time thought so or not…]

William Cowper (1731-1800) was born in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, and was known for his nature, religious, and humanitarian poetry. He was the most-read poet between the eras of Alexander Pope and William Wordsworth. Coleridge called him “the best modern poet,” and he is considered a major influence on the Romantic poets.

[A totally irrelevant Aside: I lived for a number of years in Barkhamsted, Connecticut, which was incorporated in 1779 and named after England’s Berkhamsted. The Town of Barkhamsted presented Berkhamsted with a gavel and block on July 4, 1976 in celebration of the United States Bicentennial – the Berkhamsted Town Council uses it in its meetings. I wonder if I had known about William Cowper at the time, if I would have been better versed in his poetry today!]

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John Newton (1725-1807) – wikipedia

Cowper’s friendship with John Newton [hence the combined Museum in their names] was foundational in many ways in Cowper’s life and writings. Newton was a former captain of a slave ship who became a staunch abolitionist, wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace,” and invited Cowper to contribute hymns to his Olney Hymns (1779) – Cowper wrote 67 of them [some sources say 68]! Newton also wrote the preface to Cowper’s first published Poems (1782) – this was suppressed by the publisher who thought its overly religious tone might discourage readers, but the preface is here in this 1st edition Godmersham copy, making it the earliest of printing runs before Johnson stepped in and had it removed, and the more rare indeed.

You can read that 8-page Preface here in the 1794 6th ed: https://www.wmcarey.edu/carey/cowper/newton-preface.pdf

In a letter of 3 October 1790, Cowper wrote to Joseph Johnson, asking him to reinstate the preface—which was done for the 5th edition of 1793 and for all subsequent editions published by Johnson, including the 6th of 1794. [I thank Peter Sabor for this information. located in The Letters and Prose Writings of William Cowper. 5 vols. Oxford UP, 1979-86]. 

Newton’s Thoughts upon the African Slave Trade (1788) influenced Cowper in his “The Negro’s Complaint,” a poem often quoted, even by Martin Luther King, Jr.  You can read that here as well.

It was meant to be sung as the ballad “Admiral Hosier’s Ghost” to the tune of “Come and Listen to my Ditty” – you can listen to the first stanza here, with thanks to the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings:

The Negro’s Complaint
[first stanza]

Forc’d from home and all its pleasures,
Afric’s coast I left forlorn;
To increase a stranger’s treasures,
O’er the raging billows borne.
Men from England bought and sold me,
Paid my price in paltry gold;
But, though theirs they have enroll’d me,
Minds are never to be sold….

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Cowper’s life was a roller-coaster of manic episodes, poetry his main outlet for expression. He was trained in the Law but did not practice [hence his “of the Inner Temple, Esq.”], and seemed to have been dependent on the kindness of friends and loved ones to get him through his trying times. He published his first book of Poems in 1782, not a success apparently; published his “Epitaph on a Hare” [see above for Austen’s reference to the “Tame Hares”!] in The Gentleman’s Magazine in 1784 (as well as Cowper’s letter on his hares which you can read here: https://www.cowperandnewtonmuseum.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/mw_tame_hares.pdf, but it was the1785 publication of The Task that did very well and ensured his popularity. He also translated Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey from the Greek in 1791.

So much of his output was autobiographical, and his 1799 poem “The Castaway” gives the reader a true sense of his emotional struggles. He died in 1800 and is buried at the St. Nicholas Church in East Dereham, where a stained glass window commemorates his life. There is also one at St. George’s chapel in Westminster Abbey, a two light stained glass window in memory of both Cowper and George Herbert.

Cowper stained glass at St. Nicholas Church in East Dereham – wikipedia

And he lives on and on because Jane Austen mentions him numerous times in her letters and novels [do they read him now in British Literature college classes I wonder?!]

So Welcome Home Mr. Cowper – we are most pleased you are no longer missing, no longer a LOST SHEEP! Kudos to the Friends of the National Libraries and to the dedication and generosity of the GLOSS team!

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References:

Austen, Jane. The Letters of Jane Austen. Ed. Deirdre Le Faye. 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011.

Austen, Jane. The Novels: I referred to the Oxford Classics editions, the Chapman Oxford editions, and the Cambridge editions for text and notes.

Cowper and Newton Museum, Olney, UK. Website. https://cowperandnewtonmuseum.org.uk/

Dow, Gillian, and Katie Halsey. “Jane Austen’s Reading: The Chawton Years.” Persuasions On-Line 30.2 (2010). Web. http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol30no2/dow-halsey.html

Kaplan, Laurie. “Sir Walter Elliot’s Looking-Glass, Mary Musgrove’s Sofa, and Anne Elliot’s Chair: Exteriority/Interiority, Intimacy/Society.” Persuasions On-Line 25.1 (2004). Web. http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol25no1/kaplan.html

Savage, Kerrie. “Attending the Interior Self: Fanny’s ‘Task’ in Mansfield Park.” Persuasions On-Line 27.1 (2006). http://jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol27no1/savage.htm

Smith, K. E. “‘Many a Trembling Chord’: Lady Austen as Muse.” Web. https://cowperandnewtonmuseum.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Vol02_2_1.pdf

 ©2021 Reading with Austen Blog

A Lost Sheep Returned! Saint-Simon’s “Memoirs of the Reign of Louis XIV”

Great news all! Our GLOSS team has been successful in locating and returning another title [Memoirs of Saint-Simon] formerly housed in Edward Austen Knight’s Godmersham Park library! It has the Montagu George Knight bookplate and the shelf ticket from the library. Purchased at Arenberg Auctions in Brussels (yours truly happily won the bidding, despite the entire auction being conducted in French!), it is now safe and sound in the Chawton House library collection:

Saint-Simon, Louis de Rouvroy duc de. Mémoires de monsieur le duc de S. Simon, ou L’observateur véridique, sur le règne de Louis XIV, & sur les premières époques des règnes suivans. Londres ; et se trouve à Paris, Buisson ; Marseille, Jean Mossy, 1788.

[Saint-Simon, Louis de Rouvroy duke of. Memoirs of Monsieur le Duc de S. Simon, or The Truthful Observer, on the reign of Louis XIV, and on the first periods of the following reigns].

This is the first substantial edition of these famous Mémoires, the complete edition of which will not appear until 1829-1831. Without the suppl. printed in 1789.

Portrait of Louis de Rouvroy, duke of Saint-Simon, knight of the King of France’s Orders in 1728. By Jean-Baptiste van Loo. Private collection (Le Mallier, matrilineal heirs to the last duke of Saint-Simon, castle of Chasnay), reproduction after a photograph of the original painting [Wikipedia]

Louis de Rouvroy, duc de Saint-Simon was born in Paris in 1675, son of the first duke Claude de Rouvroy (1608–1693) and Charlotte de L’Aubespine, daughter of François, marquis de Hauterive by his wife, Eléonore de Volvire, marquise de Ruffec. King Louis XIII appointed Claude a Master of Wolfhounds and granted him a dukedom in 1635 [the title’s name refers to the seigneury that was held by the Rouvroy family at Saint-Simon in Aisne]. Louis’s godparents were Louis XIV and Queen Marie-Thérèse.

In 1695 Louis married Marie-Gabrielle de Durfort, daughter of Guy Aldonce Durfort, Duke of Lorges; they had three children. The dukedom passed from father to son Louis in 1693; he was the second and last holder of the title, since his two sons predeceased him.

The Blason famille de Saint-Simon []]wikipedia

The Memoires:

Louis’s memoirs are a classic of French literature, wherein Louis gives a full and lively account of the court of Versailles of Louis XIV, “The Sun King,” and the beginnings of the Regency of Louis XV. [Do not let all these Louis’s confuse you – it is part and parcel of French history and cannot be avoided…she says confusedly]

 “In the Memoirs, Saint-Simon’s observations allowed him to describe vividly both the elegance and the corruption of the court of Versailles. Despite some errors of fact and interpretation, his knowledge of history made him aware of the breakdown of traditional checks and balances that underlay Louis XIV’s royal absolutism and which was to lead, in the next century, to the French Revolution. Saint-Simon’s intensely written accounts of court intrigues and such events as the deaths of the Grand Dauphin, the Duke of Burgundy, and Louis XIV himself—as well as his incisive word portraits of his fellow courtiers—make him perhaps the world’s greatest writer on the prestige, the ambitions, the uncertainties, and the ironies of public life. He completed his Memoirs in 1752.”

[From: https://biography.yourdictionary.com/duc-de-saint-simon]

When Saint-Simon died in Paris in March 1755, mostly in debt and out of favor, all his possessions, including his writings, were seized by the Crown. According to Wikipedia, these Mémoires were kept under sequestration and only circulated through private copies and excerpts until the restitution of the manuscript to his heirs in 1828.”

You can read here a full account of the many editions of the Memoires in this 2011 essay [also in French!]

Memoires, vol. 1 title page

What is apparent is that this 3-volume set from the Godmersham Park was a collection of extracts, published long before the complete editions began to appear beginning in 1828.

The full-text of the complete Memoirs is here at Gutenberg.org (it’s a commitment!): https://www.gutenberg.org/files/3875/3875-h/3875-h.htm

You can read more about Saint-Simon here:

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Who was Louis XIV? [recalling 10th grade world history perhaps?]

Image: Louis XIV [wikipedia]

For information on Louis XIV, you can follow this rather delightful:
“A Day in the Life of Louis XIV.”

And read this shorter-than-the-Memoirs-version about Louis XIV here: “Portrait of the Sun King: From the Writings of Louis de Saint-Simon, Giovanni Battista Primi Visconti, and Ezechiel von Spanheim”: https://pages.uoregon.edu/dluebke/WesternCiv102/Saint-Simon.pdf

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Louis-Philippe I, King of the French, by Winterhalter [wikipedia]

Did Jane Austen ever comment on Louis XIV? – she had much to say in her History of England about the British monarchs, but she made only a passing reference to the Duke and Duchess of Orléans and the D’Entraigues in her letters [and one tiny reference to Louis XIV – see below]. Members of the French royal family who has sought refuge in England during the tumultuous revolution in France, Louis-Phillipe (1773-1840) and his wife Marie-Amélie (1782-1866) [she was the niece of Marie Antoinette] lived in England for part of their exile. Returning to France during the Bourbon Restoration, Louis-Philippe was chosen as King of the French and reigned from 1830-1848. They returned to England in 1848 after his abdication [following the history of France and its monarchy is a chaotic exercise, so only here mentioning this Louis-Philippe because Jane Austen did]:

In September of 1816, Cassandra is visiting Cheltenham (where she and Jane had visited in May), and Jane writes:

Image:
Lesley-Anne McLeodhttp://lesleyannemcleod.blogspot.com/2011/06/cheltenham-notable-spa.html

“The Duchess of Orleans, the paper says, drinks at my Pump.” [Ltr. 144, Sept 1816]. And a few days later she writes again:

“So, you have C. Craven [Charlotte Craven] among you, as well as the Duke of Orleans & Mr. Pococke. But it mortifies me that you have not added one to the stock of common acquaintance. Do pray meet with somebody belonging to yourself. – I am quite weary of your knowing nobody.” [Ltr. 145, Sept 1816]

Austen also refers to the D’Entraigues & Comte Julien in April 1811:

“…[they] cannot come to the Party – which was at first a greif, but…their not coming has produced our going to them tomorrow Even’g, which I like the idea of. It will be amusing to see the ways of a French circle.”

And later,

“Eliza caught her cold on Sunday in our way to the D’Entraigues…Eliza enjoyed her even’g very much & means to cultivate the acquaintance – & I see nothing to dislike in them, but their taking quantitites of snuff. – Monsieur the old Count, is a very fine looking man, with quiet manners, good enough for an Englishman – & I believe is a Man of great Information & Taste. He has some fine paintings, which delighted Henry as much as the Son’s music gratified Eliza – & among them, a miniature of Philip 5. of Spain, Louis 14.s Grandson, which exactly suited my capacity. – Count Julien’s performance is very wonderful… but M. le Comte must do without Henry. If he w’d but speak English, I would take to him.” [Ltr. 71, April 1811].

Emmanuel-Louis de Launay,
comte d’Antraigues

[As an aside, because here’s a tale to tell, and Austen doesn’t mention a thing about it: the Comte Emmanuel-Louis D’Antraigues (1753-1812) was a French pamphleteer, diplomat, spy and double agent, forger, and political adventurer. He and his wife were both murdered in their London home on July 22, 1812 by their Italian servant, either for personal or political reasons, who can tell – but this is a mere one year and three months after Austen visited them…]

So, we do know that Austen certainly followed the events in France – she had after all two brothers who served in the Royal Navy, and for most of her life England was at war with France. Her knowledge of French and French history would have increased due to her close relationship with her cousin Eliza (later her brother Henry’s wife), married to a French Count who lost his head to the guillotine. Austen peppers her letters with French phrases, though not so much in the novels [for a great discussion read Joan Austen-Leigh’s account “Jane Austen: The “French Connection” in Persuasions 20 (1998): 106-18].

This happy but confusing aside into French history is to just address the question whether Jane Austen read French, the general consensus being that she did. Did she read this very book about Louis XIV? She may have, or at least we can imagine her pulling it off the shelf – South Case, column 5, shelf 1 to be exact! [see here on the Reading with Austen website [pictures soon to be added].

OR, maybe Austen just pretended to understand France and French history and the French language, à la Catherine Morland…

Regardless, this French title is now in the library at Chawton House, where it certainly belongs – kudos to all on the intrepid GLOSS team for help in getting these memoir volumes back home!

Memoires, vol. I, Montagu George Knight bookplate

©2020 Reading with Austen Blog

Reading with Jane Austen ~ Lost and Now Found!~ The Edinburgh “Pharmacopoeia” in the Godmersham Park Library

Our GLOSS Team is very pleased to announce a new LOST SHEEP that has been returned to the Fold! 

Pharmacopoeia Collegii Regii Medicorum Edinburgensis. [By the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh]. Edinburgi, Apud W. Sands, A. Murray, & J. Cochran. Sumptibus J. Patoni ibidem Bibliopolae. MDCCXLIV. [Fourth Edition].

A little history:

“Before the existence of the Pharmacopoeia, there were no standardised recipes or methods of producing remedies for apothecaries, and no book or manual for physicians to consult when prescribing drugs or ointments. The move towards standardising medical teaching and practice was yet to happen, and this book acted as the first chain in that process of professionalisation.” [RCPE]

The College of Physicians of London had first published their own Pharmacopoeia in 1618. The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh attempted their own such manual in 1683, but ongoing infighting between surgeons and apothecaries delayed the actual publication until 1699. And what followed is an interesting and confusing history of twelve editions with many changes, some due to advances in chemistry and medical science, some due to previous editions having sold out, and some due to infighting as to what should actually be included and how it should be listed.

The various editions remained in general use in Scotland until 1864, when it combined with the London and Dublin Pharmacopoeias in 1864 to create the British Pharmacopoeia, still in use today. But unlike most other medical writing that since around 1750 was rendered in English rather than Latin, the Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia was still published in Latin until the 11th ed of 1839. Translations were made into English and many other languages, and this added to the confusion when trying to gain an understanding of all available editions. None of the various editions stated as such, and only by studying the introductory material and the contents listings can it be determined how much revising actually took place. Fortunately David L. Cowen did all this work for the researcher in 1957 (see resources below).

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Cowen lists the following editions:

First – 1699
Second – 1722
Third – 1735
Fourth – 1744
Fifth – 1756
Sixth – 1774
Seventh – 1783
Eighth – 1792
Ninth – 1803
Revised Ninth – 1805
Tenth – 1817
Eleventh (first in English) – 1839
Twelfth (second in English) – 1841

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In this image of the 1st edition of 1699, notice the “device” on the title page:

1st ed. 1699 – image from the RCPE

As Cowen notes,

“in the first edition, the device was a combination of medical, national, and municipal symbols. It contained a staff and snake in a double ornamented oval frame that suggests the Badge of the Scottish Order of the Thistle. Within the ovals was the motto of the Order (and also one of the mottos in the Arms of Scotland): Nenw me impune lacesset. This was capped by a shield containing a representation of Edinburgh Castle, supported by a maiden and a hind, or unicorn, and by the enscrolled motto Nisi Dominus Frustra – all derived from the seal of the City of Edinburgh.

The second edition, and all subsequent printings that used the device, dropped the symbols of the City, and changed the staff to a triple thistle plant about the stalk of which a snake was entwined. A double circle frame, suggesting the Star of the Order of the Thistle was used, containing the same motto as before. On several printings these circles were encased in a black square with corner ornaments.” [Cowan, Part II, 342-43]

It is the 4th edition of 1744 we are most interested in, because this is the copy that was in the Godmersham Park Library. Here is the title page with the revised device that Cowen refers to:

4th ed. of 1744

It has the Montagu George Knight bookplate: [note the price of £20 – very painful! as well as the incorrect date of 1745 – someone did not know their Roman numerals…]

To give you an idea of the contents (there is no T of C in the 1744 edition), these are the main headings:

Medicamenta Simplicia which identifies botanicals, minerals and animals. Then there are the sections that tell how to prepare the remedies with these headings: Praeparationes; Destillate; Spiritus Stillatitii; Aquæ infusæ & Aceta; Tincturae; Decota; Syrupi; Melita, Gelatinæ, Succi & Succorum fæcul; Condita, Confervæ, & Sacchara; Pulvis Antiepilepticus, de Gutteta di êfus; Electuaria, Confeétiones, Anti dota, & Lohoch; Pilulæ Æthiopicæ; Trochifci; Olea per expreffionem; Balsama; Unguenta; Emplastra; Cataplasmat; and finally Medicamenta chemica. Followed by a detailed Index.

And I am sure that all made a good deal of sense… a later edition that did have a contents  page (6th ed. of 1774) reads like this:

Changes to the Pharmacopoeia were ridden with conflict – folk medicine and tradition often rivaling the learnings of science and pure reason. Cowen gives an example of the animal simples in our 4th edition of 1744 still listed under Man as: “blood, urine, fat, milk, cranium, and mummy of man.” [Pharmacopoeia, 1744, p. 24.]

You can read the entire text of this 1744 edition here (and hope your Latin is up to the task…]

Here are a few pages to give you an idea of layout and content: [click on each for full page]

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When first researching this post, I thought I would make a list of all the titles in the GPL that are in Latin. In a count of the spreadsheet titles, I find 100 in Latin, and another 21 that are an English / Latin combination. So I shall not be listing those, but what is important to note is that the 1818 GPL catalogue does contain this title (and mentioned above):

Pharmacopoeia Collegii Regalis Medicorum Londinensis. By Royal College of Physicians of London. London: Apud T. Longman, T. Shewell, et J. Nourse, 1746.

And this is a LOST SHEEP!

I find another medical text, though in English, that is also a LOST SHEEP, so will add that in here as well and add these two titles to our list of LOST SHEEP:

William Lewis, ed. Medical Essays and Observations, published by A Society in Edinburgh, In Six Volumes; Abridged and disposed under General Heads, In Two Volumes. Containing Vol. I. Meteorology, Mineral Waters, Materia Medica and Pharmacy, Animal Oeconomy. Vol. II. Anatomy and Chirurgery, Essays on particular Diseases, Histories of Morbid Cases, Improvements and Discoveries in Physic. With Copper Plates. By William Lewis, M.B. F.R.S. London: Printed for C. Hitch at the Red Lion, and T. Astley at the Rose in Pater-noster Row, 1746.

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In sum, the Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia is now at the Library at Chawton House, and images will soon be added to its rightful place on the Reading with Austen website. A hearty thank you to the GLOSS team for their generous donations to make this purchase possible, and now on to the next find … eyes peeled one and all for the many LOST SHEEP still waiting to be found ….

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Resources for Further Reading:

British Pharmacopoeia. https://www.pharmacopoeia.com/what-is-the-bp

Cowen, David L. “The Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia.” Medical History 1.2 (1957): 123–39. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1034260/

_____. “The Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia. II. Bibliography.” Medical History 1.4 (1957): 340-51. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1034312/

Lloyd, Rachael.“A Manual for Medicine: The Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia.”  Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh website. Web. https://www.rcpe.ac.uk/heritage/manual-medicine-edinburgh-pharmacopoeia

[With sincere thanks to Katie Childs at Chawton House for sending along the book images.]

©2020 Reading with Austen Blog

A Lost Sheep Found! ~ Bringing It Back to Chawton House…

Some excellent news for all you GLOSS followers and contributors. A Lost Sheep has been found at auction, won at the bidding, and now returned to the fold at the Library at Chawton House!

The Story:

A book showed up at the auction house of Dominic Winter in the UK – it was described as having the Montagu George Knight bookplate on the front endpaper. A check of the spreadsheet and the Reading with Austen website found the book listed in the 1818 catalogue of Edward Austen’s Godmersham Park Library – all very exciting. After raising a few funds we bid on the book and thankfully, it stayed just below our limit – it is now back where it came from… Huzzah!

The Book:

Hanway, Jonas. An Historical Account of the British Trade over the Caspian Sea: with the author’s journal of travels from England through Russia into Persia, and back through Russia, Germany and Holland. To which are added, the revolutions of Russia, during the present Century, with the particular history of the great usurper Nadir Kouli, 2 volumes, 2nd ed, London: 1754. Volume 2 is titled The Revolutions of Persia.

Two engraved frontispieces, nine folding engraved maps, 17 engraved plates, some light spotting and offsetting, circular armorial bookplates of Montagu George Knight of Chawton (1844-1914), contemporary sprinkled calf gilt, wear to two spine labels, a little rubbed and scuffed, 4to

Estimate: £300 – £400 – sold for £560 + buyer’s premium and fees.

Here are some images, soon to be posted on the website:

The Author:

A look at wikipedia’s brief life of Hanway reveals some interesting bits about this man, whose book has given us GLOSSers such a feeling of success:

Jonas Hanway, by James Northcote, c1785

Jonas Hanway (1712-1786) was born in Portsmouth, but moved to London after the death of his father. He was apprenticed to a merchant in Lisbon at the age of 17, later partnering with a merchant in St. Petersburg. This led to his extensive travels in Russia and Persia and the Caspian Sea, and later through Germany and the Netherlands and back to England. The rest of his life was mostly spent in London, where the narrative of his travels (published in 1753) soon made him a man of note. His other writings (seventy-four in total) were largely pamphlets of a society-improvement campaigning sort.

Known as a philanthropist and involved citizen, Hanway founded The Marine Society; he became a governor and later president of the Foundling Hospital; he was instrumental in establishing the Magdalen Hospital; he procured a better system of parochial birth registration in London; and he was appointed a commissioner for victualling the navy.

He died, unmarried, in 1786 and was buried in the crypt at St. Mary’s Church, Hanwell. A monument to his memory, sculpted by John Francis Moore was erected in Westminster Abbey in 1786.

Of interest to those of us who love tidbits of social history, Hanway was the first male Londoner, it is said, to carry an umbrella (women had been using them since 1705 – now there’s a blog post!) and was often challenged by hooting hackney coachmen. He was opposed to tipping, had controversial engagements with Johnson and Goldsmith over tea-drinking of all things, supported solitary confinement and proper care for prisoners,  and he worked on behalf of chimney-sweeps. What’s not to like about this fellow?!

AND, he wrote this book that one of the earlier Knights wanted in their library (was it Thomas or Edward we cannot know…)

If you want to know more about our umbrella-carrying author, here is a place to start: Roland Everett Jayne, Jonas Hanway: Philanthropist, Politician, and Author (1712–1786). London: Epworth Press, J. Alfred Sharp, 1929.

Shall end with this grand image and link to an Atlas Obscura essay all about Hanway and his umbrella:

(Original Caption) The First Umbrella–Mr. Jonas Hanway Walking Out In A Shower.

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-public-shaming-of-englands-first-umbrella-user

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A hearty Thank You to all who contributed to our book-detective adventure!

Alas! – still so many more Lost Sheep to be found…please keep your eyes peeled, and any contributions to the cause would be greatly appreciated!

c2019 Reading with Austen blog

Found! ~ John Milton, Paradise Lost, 1736

This book was found online, purchased by a few of us GLOSSers, and is now returned to the Library at Chawton House. It was in the 1818 catalogue and shelved in the East Case: column 5, shelf 6.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost

Milton, John. Paradise Lost. A Poem. Book The First. Paradisus Amissa. Poema, A Joanne Miltono Conscriptum (Latin and English). J. Hughs, 1736. Bookplate of Montagu George Knight of Chawton to front end paper.

 

Montagu George Knight bookplate

[Images: Reading with Austen]

c2019, Reading with Austen blog