All posts by

Marcel Proust on Writing

proust_845p94oa_v1_cover-copy2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of Du côté de chez Swann (Swann’s Way), the first part of Marcel Proust’s lengthy literary masterpiece, In Search of Lost Time, also known as Remembrance of Things Past. The Rare Book & Manuscript Library is celebrating this milestone with an exhibition drawn from its renowned Proust collection. The selection of books and manuscripts follows Marcel Proust through his school-year publications, through the formative years of the study and translations of John Ruskin’s works, to the all-consuming adventure of A la recherche du temps perdu, which occupied the author from 1908 until his death in 1922.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the completion of the 21-volume edition of the correspondence of Proust by Philip Kolb (Paris: Plon, 1970-93), a professor of French literature at the University of Illinois whose fifty-year association with the University Library led to the creation of our outstanding collection of books, manuscripts and letters by Marcel Proust. Because Proust never kept a journal, his letters have become the most important source of information about his life and his work. They give us a glimpse of his real-world inspirations and show us how his works subsequently evolved.

In the foreword to the first volume, Kolb wrote:

“The letters of Marcel Proust, if compared to his novel, resemble it to the extent that a tapestry’s reverse side resembles its front.  One can distinguish all the threads, all the colors: what is missing is the sharpness in the drawing, the finish, the art, in other words. Likewise, much of what he put into his oeuvre can be seen in his letters, albeit in a less poetic, more genuine light.”

Proust’s talent for writing and his vocation were expressed early on in his letters. He wrote to one of his classmates in 1888: “Forgive my handwriting, my style, my spelling. I don’t dare reread myself. When I write at breakneck speed. I know I shouldn’t. But I have so much to say. It comes pouring out of me.” In 1893, the same year that Proust was editing Le Banquet review with friends, he responded to his father, who was urging him to choose a suitable career path, “I still believe that anything I do outside of literature and philosophy will be just so much time wasted.”

If the years spent on translating and commenting the works of John Ruskin contributed to developing the young author’s aesthetic and critical sense, they didn’t satisfy him completely, as he confided to his friend Antoine Bibesco:

“And this so-called work I’ve taken up again—it plagues me for several reasons. Most of all, because what I’m doing at present is not real work, only documentation, translation, etc. It’s enough to arouse my thirst for creation, without of course slaking it in the least. […] A thousand characters for novels, a thousand ideas urge me to give them body, like the shades in the Odyssey who plead with Ulysses to give them a little blood to drink to bring them back to life and whom the hero brushes aside with his sword.” [December 1902.]

The urge to create, combined with an extraordinary facility for writing, made it difficult for Proust to adhere to the constraints set by his editors and publishers. Writing about an article commissioned by the daily Le Figaro in 1907, he admitted, “they find that I’m always ten times too long, and however much I try to compress, to remove from myself, a bit here and a bit there, Shylock’s pound of flesh in order to weigh less, I can’t seem to arrive at the required length.” The following year, commenting about one of the literary pastiches he was about to publish in the same newspaper, Proust confessed, “I didn’t make a single correction in the Renan. But it came pouring out in such floods that I stuck whole new pages on to the proofs at the last minute.”

As he embarked on the publication of his novel with Bernard Grasset in 1913, and then with the Nouvelle revue française (NRF) in 1916, Proust continued to employ this work method. The transition from manuscript to type and proofs generated multiple, extensive revisions and redraftings. In April 1913, Proust described his “proof-reading” technique to a friend:

“My corrections up to now (I hope it won’t go on) are not corrections. Scarcely one line in 20 of the original text (replaced of course by another) remains. It’s crossed out and altered in all the white spaces I can find, and I stick additional bits of paper above and below, to the right and to the left, etc.”

A month later, he sent some proofs back to his publisher with this recommendation: “I advise you to draw your people’s attention to the fact that my proofs are very fragile; I’ve stuck bits of paper which could easily tear, and that would cause endless complications. There are galleys which may seem to be half-missing. This is because I have transferred a passage elsewhere.”


The resulting paper mosaics can be seen in two fragments from A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs, on display in the exhibition. For example, a short passage about Odette Swann’s salon, located at the bottom of the 2nd column on the first galley, reappears on the second plate, 2nd column.


The manuscript addition from the first plate was set in type and corrected again. It was then cut out and fixed in the revised textual sequence with much paste and patience by a clerk at the NRF. The resulting text must have undergone at least one additional round of proof-reading because the published version contains minor revisions that are not noted on our fragment.

In his letters, Proust expressed some ambivalence about the fate of his manuscripts and papers. In 1919, he asked of a friend: “What would you say if a man decided to keep to himself, as autographs, Voltaire’s correspondence, or Emerson’s? A private collection must be made into a museum, or else it deprives the community.” The following year, he decided to add plates from the Jeunes filles composite manuscript to all fifty copies of the luxury edition of that book. Yet, while entertaining an offer for the sale of his manuscripts in 1922, he admitted to his friend Sydney Schiff: “It is not very pleasant to think that anybody (if people still care about my books) will be allowed to consult my manuscripts, to compare them to the definitive text, to infer from them suppositions that will always be wrong about the way I work, the evolution of my thinking, etc.”

One hundred years later, the vast numbers of editions, translations and adaptations of Proust’s books, as well as the prodigious amounts of scholarship published on the subject, are evidence that people still care about his work. With this exhibition and continued work on our collection, we hope to have met Proust’s wish not to deprive the community of  the opportunity to discover the work and life of one the major novelists of the 20th century. CS


A basic bibliography of works by and about Marcel Proust

The Frozen Deep

Yesterday at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, first year MFA students in Theatre gathered to perform a reading of The Frozen Deep, by Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens. Tom Mitchell put together the text and Adam Doskey provided the introduction. This is just one of several events being held around the current exhibition of Arctic materials up in RBML. Refer to our calendar for more information:

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library Invites Visiting Scholar Applications for 2013-14

The John “Bud” Velde Visiting Scholars Program
The Rare Book & Manuscript Library
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


The Rare Book & Manuscript Library annually awards stipends of up to $3,000 to scholars and researchers, unaffiliated with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who would like to spend a month or more conducting research with our materials.

The holdings of The Rare Book & Manuscript Library are quite substantial. Comprehensive collections support research in printing and printing history, Renaissance studies, Elizabethan and Stuart life and letters, John Milton and his age, emblem studies, economic history, and works on early science and natural history. The library also houses the papers of such diverse literary figures as Carl Sandburg, H.G. Wells, William Maxwell, and W.S. Merwin.

For information about this program, how to apply, and to find out more about The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, please visit our Web site at:

Please contact the Public Programs Manager, Dennis Sears with further questions about the program or The Rare Book & Manuscript Library:

Dennis Sears, Public Programs Manager
The Rare Book & Manuscript Library
University of Illinois Library, Room 346
1408 West Gregory Drive
Urbana, IL 61801
(217) 333 7242 voice, (217) 244 1755 fax

Or email Dennis: dsears (at) illinois (dot) edu.

Deadline for application: *1 March 2013*.

Thank you!

Two Events to Celebrate the University Library’s 13-Millionth Book: The First Illustrated Japanese printed book!

Thursday, 27 September, 3pm in The Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Tales of Ise, 1608: The First Japanese Illustrated Work of Literature A Lecture by Colin Franklin, author, bibliographer, and book-collector

Colin Franklin is an important English collector of Asian materials, a bibliophile and the author of numerous books on printing history, including Exploring Japanese Books and Scrolls, (British Library, 2005).

Friday, 28 September, 4pm in The Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Saga-bon Ise monogatari: The Most Influential Book in Early-Modern Japan? A lecture by Professor Joshua S. Mostow, University of British Columbia

Professor Mostow has written about the inter-relations between text and image in Japanese culture, Japanese women’s writing in the court tradition. He is also the author of The Ise Stories, (University of Hawaii Press, 2010).

First Illustrated Japanese Book Added as 13-Millionth Volume

Ise monogatari 伊勢物語 (Tales of Ise). Kyoto-fu (Saga): Suminokura Soan, with Nakanoin Michikatsu and Hon’ami Kōetsu, 1608.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has added its 13-millionth book, maintaining our status as the largest public university library in America.  The 13-millionth volume is the Ise Monogatari of 1608, the first illustrated Japanese printed book.  It is also the first printed edition of the popular Ise Monogatari (or Tales of Ise).  Published by Suminokura Soan 角倉素庵 (1571-1632),  a wealthy entrepreneur, scholar, litterateur and art connoisseur, it is also one of the earliest Japanese books printed with moveable type.

Soan’s printing establishment, which he set up at Saga 嵯峨 village near Kyoto, produced the much sought after “Saga-bon” imprints, of which this is the most famous.

The Tales of Ise is an anonymous compilation of 209 poems and 125 episodes from a poet’s life, arranged in rough chronological order as a biography of the unnamed protagonist (known in the text only as ‘a man’).  It probably originated the 10th century but gained its present form in the 12th century, in a version edited by the great poet Fujiwara Teika 藤原定家 (1162-1241).  Enormously popular, the Tales of Ise recounts the amorous exploits of an unnamed lover/poet, often identified with Ariwara no Narihira (825-80), one of the six “sages” of Japanese poetry.  The text was often illustrated in manuscript form and has long been considered a kind of ars amatoria and an essential text for students of Japanese culture. Theromantic adventures are also popular subject matter for painting, so it is not surprising that the first illustrated Japanese book would be the Tales of Ise.

The first printed edition—our 13 millionth book—was published by Suminokura Soan in co-operation with the famous painter, calligrapher and polymath, Hon’ami Kōetsu 本阿弥光悦 (1558-1637). The illustrator of the book is unknown, but some have attributed the woodcuts to Kōetsu.  A third member of the publishing team, Nakanoin Michikatsu 中院通勝, (1558-1610), was a nobleman, literary scholar, and editor.  Their Saga-bon editions were prized for their high quality and artistic merit.  They were printed with movable wooden type, a technique newly imported from Korea. The elegant type and delicate woodcuts of the Saga-bon Tales of Ise appear on five different hand-made colored papers.

This rare first edition is distinguished by Nakanoin Michikatsu’s brush drawn kakihan or cipher, one of only four copies with his handwritten signature, probably indicating that this copy was presented as a gift.

The book was reprinted eight times by 1610.  Its illustrations became the model for the iconography of this text and for the general style of Japanese book illustration for the next two centuries.  The University of Illinois houses an excellent collection of 17th-  to 19th-century illustrated Japanese books in its Yamagiwa Collection, including a 15th-century manuscript copy of the Tales of Ise and three 17th– and early 18th -century print editions. This new acquisition will be a boon to scholars and students of Japanese literature and culture at our university, and a welcome addition for anyone who loves beautiful books.

We are grateful to the Simpson family for the generous support which made this important acquisition possible.

Newly Discovered Association Copies

Curatorial intern Brian Flota has been searching the Library’s modern British literature holdings in order to track down items from the Tom Turner collection of British literature, purchased by Gordon Ray in the 1950s. In the process, Brian discovered many previously unknown association copies and a number of fine press poetry chapbooks. In this post, he picks ten of the items to share with the readers of Non Solus.

(1) Stanley J. Weyman. The Great House. London: John Murray, 1919. (823 W54gr 1919)

Stanley Weyman (1855-1928) is best known for his French historical romances, which were compared to Alexandre Dumas at the time of their publication. This late novel, The Great House, is about the anti-corn law movement. The library’s copy features an inscription from Weyman to Leonard Huxley (1860-1933), thanking him for his “kindly encouragement and oversight.” Leonard Huxley was the editor of the Cornhill Magazine, in which this work was originally serialized. He was also the father of the great English novelist Aldous Huxley (1894-1963).

(2) Ouida. “Held in Bondage,” or, Granville de Vigne: A Tale of the Day. London: Tinsley, Brothers, 1863. (823 D374he)

Ouida was the nom de plume of Maria Louise Ramé (1839-1908), a prolific English writer known primarily for her popular adventures and historical novels. Held in Bondage was her first novel, published in three volumes. The Library’s copy includes a four-page letter, handwritten and signed by Ouida, tipped-in the first volume. Ouida lived a tempestuous life filled with extravagances paid for by her best-selling novels, but died in poverty in Italy, surrounded by the many stray dogs she had adopted.

(3) Caroline Sheridan Norton. The Dream and Other Poems. London: Henry Colburn, 1840. (821 N82d)

The Dream was the sixth book of poetry published by Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton (1808-1877). A woman of high society, her life, especially during the time of the publication of The Dream, was fraught with public scandal. On the front fly-leaf of the Library’s copy, Norton has inscribed what appears to be an original, twenty-line poem, beginning, “The God that gave, reclaimed his gift; –.”

(4) Israel Zangwill. The Grey Wig: Stories and Novelettes. London: William Heinemann, 1903. (823 Z1gr)

Israel Zangwill (1864-1926) was a notable Jewish writer from England and an important member of the Zionist movement. Zangwill is most remembered today for his 1908 play The Melting Pot, which served to popularize the term and concept. Our copy of his earlier collection of short stories, The Grey Wig, features an inscription to “Mrs. Chaplin,” a relative of his wife, Edith Ayrton Zangwill. Edith Ayrton’s mother, Matilda Charlotte Chaplin Ayrton (1846-1883), was a member of the “Edinburgh Seven” – a group of women who fought unsuccessfully to earn medical degrees from Edinburgh University in the early 1870s.

(5) M.P. Shiel. The Yellow Danger. London: Grant Richards, 1900. (823 Sh59y 1900)

M.P. Shiel (1865-1947), the English popular adventure and science fiction novelist, first published The Yellow Danger in 1898. This xenophobic novel of racial conflict was apparently an influence on Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu character. The library’s copy is inscribed by Shiel on the title page. Shiel’s popularity has waned greatly since his death, but his post-apocalyptic novel The Purple Cloud (1901) was recently republished by the University of Nebraska Press in their “Bison Frontiers of Imagination” series.

(6) Four Grant Richards Items:

Grant Richards. Caviare. London: Grant Richards, 1912. (823 R392c)

Grant Richards. Valentine. London: Grant Richards, 1913. (823 R392v)

Grant Richards. Bittersweet. London: Grant Richards, 1915. (823 R392b)

William Watson. Lachrymae Musarum and Other Poems. London: Macmillan, 1892. (821 W33ℓ)

Grant Richards (1872-1948) was one of England’s most prominent publishers in the early 20th Century. As a publisher, he is perhaps most famous for publishing, after a decade-long delay, James Joyce’s first short story collection, Dubliners (1914). Richards was also a novelist. The library has three of his novels inscribed in a miniscule hand to journalist and bibliophile Holbrook Jackson (1874-1948). And the library also owns a book inscribed to Grant Richards: a slim hardbound volume of poetry by William Watson (1858-1935) that is inscribed to Richards from “his sincere friend.” If you are interested in Grant Richards’s writings or in his work as a publisher, the Rare Book & Manuscript Library holds a collection of his correspondence, literary manuscripts, and business papers. Additional collections of Grant Richards materials are housed at Georgetown University, the Library of Congress, the National Library of Ireland, and Princeton University.

(7) Edgar Jepson. The Passion for Romance. London: H. Henry & Co., 1896. (823 J46pa)

Edgar Jepson (1863-1938) inscribed this copy of The Passion for Romance to his sometime literary collaborator John Gawsworth (1912-1970), later known in his own right as a poet and a publisher. Gawsworth was also M.P. Shiel’s bibliographer and literary executor. In the inscription in the Library’s copy, Jepson provides some advice for Gawsworth: “Patience: and shuffle the cards.”

(8) Captain J.A. Kemble. Creeds: A World-Embracing Poem. [Calcutta, India: s.n., 1909?]. (821 K232c)

Not much is known about J.A. Keble, but this copy of his poem Creeds is an interesting artifact of Great Britain’s colonization of India. The poem is inscribed to one “General Edward Hastings Ripley” from Capt. Keble’s station in Darjeeling. A publisher’s advertisement affixed to the verso of the author’s portrait notes he is also the author of Darjeeling Ditties and Other Poems.

(9) Thom Gunn. The Garden of the Gods. Cambridge, Mass.: Pym-Randall Press, 1968. (821 G956ga)

Thom Gunn (1929-2004) was part of the British school of writers that produced Philip Larkin, Kingsley Amis, and Ted Hughes. Interestingly, he relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1954 and was present for the emergence of the Beat Movement there. This chapbook of his poem “The Garden of the Gods” is signed and numbered by the author.

(10) Thomas Adolphus Trollope. A Peep Behind the Scenes at Rome. London: Chatto and Windus, 1877. (823 T746p)

Unlike the other items discussed in the post, A Peep Behind the Scenes at Rome is not signed by its author, who in this case happens to be Thomas Adolphus Trollope (1810-1892). Thomas Adolphus Trollope was a noted travel writer and older brother to the Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope. What makes the copy noteworthy is Anthony Trollope’s armorial bookplate on the front paste-down. This copy was subsequently passed down to Anthony’s granddaughter, Muriel Trollope. The Rare Book & Manuscript Library holds a small collection of the letters, journals, unpublished literary works of Anthony Trollope and other members of the Trollope family, including some of Thomas Adolphus Trollope’s letters and journals. BF, AD

Artemus Ward and The Woman in White (823 C69w 1860b)

Wilkie Collins. The Woman in White. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1860.

In the Civil War era few American humorists were as popular as Charles Farrar Browne (1834-67), a vagabond reporter and lecturer better known by his pseudonym–Artemus Ward. Starting his career as a typesetter for Boston’s Carpet-Bag in 1851, by the middle-fifties Browne was based in Ohio, writing and editing for newspapers in Cincinnati, Dayton, and a number of smaller cities. In 1858, as local editor of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, he developed his Artemus Ward persona, and over the next decade cultivated a public following in the United States and abroad.

During his short lifetime, working in a genre that rarely results in canonization, Ward nonetheless made several important contributions to American letters. Perhaps the most significant of these was his influence on the young Mark Twain, whose comic sensibilities derive in large part from Ward’s writings and lectures.

Ward’s earliest appearances in print were spurious letters to the editor, interviews, travel pieces, and the like, characterized by a sardonic tone and featuring what can be described as his own unique form of the English language, in which our spelling and grammar rules do not apply.

Ward’s first letter to the editor, from January 1858, is a typical example of his style:

Pitsburg, Jan. 27, 18&58

The Plane Deeler:


i write to no how about the show bisnes in Cleeveland i have a show consisting in part of a Calforny Bare two snakes tame foxies &c also wax works my wax works is hard to beat, all say they is life and nateral curiosities among my wax works is Our Saveyer Gen taylor and Docktor Webster in the ackt of killing Parkman. now mr. Editor scratch off few lines and tel me how is the show bisnes in your good city i shal have hanbils printed at your offis you scratch my back i will scratch your back, also git up a grate blow in the paper about my show don’t forgit the wax works.

yours truly,


Pitsburg, Penny

p S pitsburg is a 1 horse town. A. W.

By the start of the Civil War this linguistic grandstanding had earned Ward a large following in the Midwest. In 1861 he moved to New York, where he became an editor and writer at Vanity Fair, a humor magazine (unrelated to the current magazine).  Vanity Fair brought Ward to a national audience, and his popularity soon spread throughout the Civil War North. Ward’s readers even extended to the White House. President Lincoln was such a fan that he read aloud a new Ward piece, “High-Handed Outrage at Utica,” to open an 1862 cabinet meeting. Then he read something else–his first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Artemus Ward

In late 1861 Ward capitalized on his new-found fame, launching his first comic lecture tour across the North. By 1863 he was performing to packed houses as far west as California. “Lecturing” on current events and skewering public figures, his act wandered wherever his whims took him. In effect, he became one of the first American stand-up comedians.

At one tour stop in 1863, at Virginia City, Nevada, he met a wily young reporter named Sam Clemens (Mark Twain), whose life would be changed forever by the experience. The two men shared the same sense of humor and, legend has it, the same barrel of whiskey: after a night of raising hell, the Virginia City constable reportedly threatened them with his shotgun. Clemens would be a disciple of Ward’s for the rest of his life.

Ward continued in this fashion, writing, lecturing, and creating publicity everywhere he went. In 1866 he took his talents to England, where he increased his celebrity by performing his act and submitting humor pieces to Punch. And in England he died, of pneumonia, in 1867.

Since his death, Ward has nearly faded into obscurity, and today his name is recognizable to few readers aside from scholars and students of nineteenth century America. As a former English literature major, I fall into the latter category, and so I was overjoyed recently when I stumbled upon a book that was originally purchased by Ward.

Several weeks ago I was browsing the 823s in the Library’s Main Stacks, when I picked off the shelf a first American edition of Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White (New York: Harper & Bros., 1860).

In itself, this was an interesting find: an early edition of one of the first (and finest) mystery novels. What made the discovery truly exciting was the inscription on the flyleaf, to Geo. Hoyt from one “A. Ward.”  The full inscription reads, “Presented to Geo. Hoyt as a slite Evijence of my regard for his Talenks as a Sculptist. A Ward. Nov. 18, 1860.”

Ward's inscription to Hoyt

Although I had never seen Ward’s handwriting, I was initially convinced that the inscription was authentic due its venturesome spelling choices and wry tone. Examining the book closer, I found that a magazine article, “Artemus Ward at Cleveland,” had been pasted into the front of the book.

The article, published by C. C. Ruthrauff in the October 1878 issue of Scribner’s Monthly (later to become The Century Magazine), details Ward’s relationship with a George Hoyt–the same “Geo. Hoyt” from the inscription. According to the article, Hoyt was the Cleveland Plain-Dealer’s chief illustrator when Ward was its local editor. The two collaborated on a number of articles during Ward’s tenure (1858-61), and as a show of his affection for Hoyt’s work, Ward bought for his colleague a copy of the newly published Woman in White, writing the inscription shown above.

Within the year, Ward would leave Cleveland for fame and fortune in the East. Hoyt would stay behind, eventually becoming editor and publisher of the Plain-Dealer. And Hoyt’s copy of The Woman in White would find its way to our University Library, first as part of the Main Stacks collection, and now as a new addition to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library–a small, but valuable, complement to the Franklin J. Meine Collection. RR

The Rambler’s Magazine: A Puzzlingly Popular Periodical

The rambler’s magazine, or, The annals of gallantry, glee, pleasure and the bon ton. London: Printed for the authors, and sold by G. Lister, no. 46, Old Bailey; Mr. Jackson, at Oxford; Mr. Hodson, at Cambridge; Mr. Frobisher, at York; Mr. Slack, at Newcastle; Messrs. Peason and Rawlinson, at Birmingham; Mr. Crutwell, at Bath; and all other booksellers in Great Britain and Ireland, [1783-1791]

I recently cataloged an eight-volume set of The Rambler’s Magazine, or, The Annals of Gallantry, Glee, Pleasure, and the Bon Ton (not to be confused with Samuel Johnson’s The Rambler), which was published from 1784 to 1791. The magazine’s publishers boast that it is “calculated for the entertainment of the polite world, and to furnish the man of pleasure with a most delicious banquet of amorous, bacchanalian, whimsical, humorous, theatrical and polite entertainment.” The issues appeared monthly, with a supplement at the end of the year, and were each around 40 pages. These pages were packed to the gills with lectures, anecdotes, letters, poems, theatrical vignettes, songs, and general gossip — all of a very lowbrow nature. The Rambler’s Magazine is a true predecessor of those unavoidable tabloid publications that are to be found at nearly every supermarket checkout today. The lewdness of the content is often echoed in the accompanying engravings, which bear such humorous and suggestive titles as “Lady C—e preparing to be refreshed by Mr N—y” or “Abelard studying the use of Eloisa’s Globes.”

At times, the subject matter aims at the intellectual, discussing and illustrating contemporary political events (the general election of 1784) or scientific advancements (the hot air balloon pioneers Gustavus Katterfelto and the Montgolfier brothers), but always from a satirical and sensationalist point-of-view.

I looked in depth at the first four volumes, collecting some the most notable headlines and columns to share with readers of Non Solus. Memorable headlines include:

“On ogling; or, The language of the eyes” [1783 supplement]

 “Analysis of female attractions” [March 1784] – focuses on the phenomenon of blushing

 “Dissertation upon beards and whiskers” [June 1784]

“Memoirs of the Marquis de la Bizarre” [June 1784]

“Female boxing match” [August 1784]

“Capt. Cook cured of the Rheumatism, in the Otaheitean mode, by friction” [September 1784]

“Kissed to death” [October 1784]

“The history and adventures of a bedstead” [December 1784]

“On the necessary qualifications for lying, with illustratory specimens” [December 1784]

“Dissertation on breeches” [1784 supplement]

“Experiments on female inflammability” [1784 supplement]

In a March 1783 article entitled “A remarkable discovery; or, Mrs. General Washington, displayed in proper articles,” it is claimed that evidence was published in the Pennsylvania Gazette of 11 November 1782 revealing that the Revolutionary War hero and future president was “actually discovered to be of the FEMALE SEX.” The column is accompanied by an engraving showing a whip-wielding “Mrs. General Washington, Bestowing thirteen Stripes on Britania [sic].” Clearly some Britons were still sore about the recent events in the colonies.

Here are a few other anecdotes of note from The Rambler’s Magazine:

A Hint. If a certain old gentleman, not an hundred miles from Cavendish-square, would wish to make a secret of his frequent visits to a lady in the neighbourhood of Mortimer-street, he is advised not to leave his furious little terriers at the door, as the inscription upon their collars may lead to a discovery of an amour, which can be of no credit to a man of his age! [January 1783]

The inconveniencies attending large hoops are to be remedied, it is said, by constructing them with a sort of side wings, which yield upon resistance; but if the wings are made to give way so easily, pray what is to become of the middle? [February 1783]

Marriages in the Month of September, omitted by all the news-writers … 4. Mr. Flint to Miss Steel. N.B. As this is a striking couple, many sparks will, no doubt, be produced between them, by conjugal collision. [October 1783]

Bibliophiles will certainly derive a smile from the following letter to the editor from one “Lothario,” who claims that he has a copy of an interesting letter in his possession, which is then printed in full.

Epistle from a Bookbinder to a most enchanting subject.

My dear,

I long to fold you in my arms, and to gather the honey from your ambrosial lips. I could fill whole pages in expatiating upon your perfections, and nothing can ever cancel my esteem for you! Oh, that I had you but in sheets! I would be bound to give you satisfaction; and, if any man should attempt to oppose our union, his eyes should instantaneously be sewed up, and his body put in boards at the undertakers. Though I am neither guilt [sic] nor lettered, I understand collating. I have stitched Mrs. Newton (her trial I mean) many an hundred times; and he ought to be bound in calf who could not enjoy such a subject. Perhaps, Madam, you may object to my size. I confess that I am rather diminutive, but, give me leave to observe to you, Madam, that a good octavo is better than a bad folio. A fine foolscap is superior to a coarse royal. If I should be so fortunate as to obtain you for a wife, you may depend upon being well covered, not with sheep or blue-paper, but elegantly in Morocco. Oh, if I had you upon the margin of a limpid stream! The contents of my purse shall ever be at your service; and you may rely upon my sincerity, for my tongue is always an index to my heart. You may probably have heard, that I have been connected with unbound subjects, but I am now determined to turn over a new leaf and put a finis to all my follies.

I am, my dearest Duodecimo,

Your affectionate servant,

Timothy Catchword.

Similar to our modern-day crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and other mental exercises so often found in popular print media, The Rambler’s Magazine regularly included rebuses and riddles for the entertainment of its readers. Below are two to try your hand at.

The first is a cryptologic puzzle from the February 1783 issue, which is a dedication to “the doctor himself,” purported author of a multi-part piece entitled, “An eccentric lecture on the art of propagating the human species, and producing a numerous and healthy offspring, &c.” Can you decipher it?

The second is a rebus from February 1786. While most of the objects which here signify letters, syllables, or whole words are recognizable by 21st-century readers, some are not so obvious. For some clues, see here. The solution can be found here. (Note: a fox was misplaced where a donkey should be in line six of the second page.)

According to the British Library’s English Short Title Catalogue, this is the only copy of the run of these magazines in this country outside of Harvard University, though our copy is missing the January 1790 and February 1791 issues.

Volumes 3-8 bear the armorial bookplate of Sir Edward Denny Bacon (1860-1938), a famous British stamp collector and curator of the Royal Philatelic Collection. The Library’s copy was acquired from Hill in October 1961. TB

“Endlesse fame shall crowne thy well-ment actions with applause”: An Olimpick Curiosity, 400 Years On

Michael Drayton, et al. Annalia Dubrensia: vpon the yearly celebration of Mr. Robert Dovers Olimpick Games vpon Cotswold-Hills. London: Robert Raworth, for Mathewe Walbancke [i.e. Printed for Dr. Thomas Dover], 1636 [i.e. 1720?]

While working on a project to create detailed catalog records for items of interesting provenance, I came across an 18th-century type-facsimile of a charming collection of poetry from 1636 called the Annalia Dubrensia (“Annals of Dover”), one of only two documented copies in this country. The poems are dedicated to Robert Dover (1582-1652) and were contributed by more than thirty poets, among whom are such luminaries as Ben Jonson, Thomas Randolph, Michael Drayton, and Thomas Heywood. The volume includes a humble response in verse by Dover himself. An attorney and former scholar at King’s College, Cambridge, Dover is most famous as the founder, or more likely the resuscitator, of the Cotswold Games, a two-day sporting festival held in a valley (sometimes called a “natural amphitheater”) in the Cotswold Hills near Chipping Camden in Gloucestershire, England, starting around 1612. This was only one of many such regular events which are documented from this period, but it became distinguished under the management of Dover, who saw the rise of Puritanism in England as standing in opposition to the freer and more playful spirit which seemed to be in the nature of the English people. Dover believed that physical strength gained through exercise was necessary for the defense of the realm, but he also wished to unite rich and poor in a sporting atmosphere. The games were quite popular and received the approval of King James I. Some scholars believe that Shakespeare (who may have known Dover) makes reference to them in The Merry Wives of Windsor.

The frontispiece illustration from the 1636 edition reprinted in our copy shows an assortment of the activities which went on during the games. At middle-ground in the center of this woodcut is a curious edifice known as Dover Castle, a portable wooden structure balanced on a single pedestal, from which a standard bearing the motto “Heigh for Cotswold!” was flown and cannon were fired during the events. Across the landscape, participants are depicted engaged in several of the events, including sword fighting, wrestling, leaping, coursing with hounds, quarterstaff, casting the hammer, and spear throwing. One man even stands on his head. In the upper left-hand corner of the woodcut, three women in ruffs and long dresses dance, accompanied by a piper.

The games were as famous for their accommodations and refreshments as for their activitie. Poet Nicholas Wallington writes in this work that “None ever hungry from these games come home, / or ere made plaint of viands, or of roome.” At the foot of the hill on which the castle stood (or teetered) are tents set up for competitors, in front of which a group of men are having a meal at a long table. From the style of the illustration, it is hard to tell whether this party are seating on a mat or other covering on the ground as if at a picnic, or if a hole was dug into the ground, at the edge of which they sat enjoying their meal. The square ornamental device at the middle-right may be one of the yellow “ribbands” which Dover famously awarded to all participants. In the midst of all of this revelry and sport rides Dover himself, whose importance is indicated by his size in relation to the other figures. He is elaborately dressed in a feathered hat, ruff, coat, and boots which were a gift from King James out of his personal wardrobe.

Dover’s games continued annually, with the support of the Royal Family, until it was suppressed during the English Civil War in 1642. After the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, the games were revived and continued on and off until 1852. In 1966, they returned as a regular event under the patronage of the Robert Dover’s Games Society, and are still enacted today in the same location as the original games, near what has come to be called Dover’s Hill, featuring such popular events as shin-kicking and tug-of-war.

The rediscovery of this work in the vault of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library is a timely one, considering the start of the 2012 Olympics in late July. In fact, Dover’s Cotswold Games themselves came to be known as “Olimpick” – a term which was the product of the age’s renewed interest in Classical mythology and culture. The British Olympic Association has acknowledged these games as the “first stirrings” of the British Olympic heritage. Furthermore, it seems that the first Cotswold Games celebrated under Dover’s administration were probably held in June, 1612, exactly 400 years ago. Sources say that the Games took place on the Thursday and Friday after Whitsunday (a traditional name for the festival of Pentecost), which is the seventh Sunday after Easter. This would place the date of the inaugural games on the 14th and 15th of June, 1612.

This circa 1720 edition of the Annalia Dubrensia is differentiated from the 1636 version by the addition of an anonymous poem and the inclusion of a note at the end of the dedicatory epistle on leaf A2 verso, stating that this new edition was undertaken because “Dr. Dover [i.e. John Dover, d. 1725] thought it his Duty to perpetuate the Memory of that Good Man his Grandfather.” An armorial bookplate, with the motto “Do ever good,” was pasted onto one of the fly-leaves, with the name of Dover’s father, John Dover of Norfolk, written in what may be a nineteenth-century hand. Below this is a coat-of-arms incorporating the above crest, drawn in pen and accompanied by notes in the same hand, indicating that “These Supporters and other Additions were granted to Robert Dover his Son the Institutor of the Cotswold Games, who died 1652.” It is believed that King James I himself may have been the grantor of these arms. A nineteenth- or early twentieth-century owner of this volume (perhaps Ernest E. Baker, F.S.A., whose bookplate appears on the front paste-down) pasted clippings and copied several quotations related to the games or the Annalia Dubrensia onto the rear fly-leaves. This copy was acquired by the Library in January of 1941. TB

Heads Will Roll! Echoes of the French Revolution in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library

A visit to our library by the Urbana High School French Club this past spring sent me to the Rare Book & Manuscript Library vault in search of materials from the French Revolution era. On this Bastille Day week-end, let’s take a look at some of my (re)discoveries.

 Official documents

Acte constitutionnel : précédé de la Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen présenté au peuple françois par la Convention nationale, le 24 juin 1793, l’an deuxième de la République. A Strasbourg : Chez J.G. Treuttel, libraire, [1793]. 24 p.

This slim publication, also known as Constitution de l’An I (Constitution of the Year I) contains an expanded Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen that adds several rights to the text from 1789, such as the right to work and to public assistance, the right to public education, the right to rebel, the duty to do so when the government violates the right of the people, and the abolition of slavery. Although it was ratified, the Constitution of 1793 was never put into effect as the National Convention set it aside in October 1793, until exterior and interior wars ceased and peace came. Two years later, the Constitution of the Year III (1795) marked the beginning of the Directory. While it was never implemented, this seminal document inspired subsequent generations of revolutionaries and legislators, well into the 20th century.  It can be found under call number 342.442F83521793.

Rapport fait au nom du Comité de salut public par Maximilien Robespierre; sur les rapports des idées religieuses et morales avec les principes républicains, et sur les fêtes nationales. Séance du 18 floréal, l’an second de la République française, une et indivisible. [Paris? : S.n., 1794?]. 48 p.

Rapport fait au nom du Comité de salut public par Maximilien RobespierreThis report on the relationship between religious and moral ideas and republican principles, and on national celebrations, which was immediately adopted by the National Convention, opens with the statement that “the French people recognize the existence of the Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul”. It establishes a series of republican virtues to be celebrated on each “Décadi”, the last day of each decade or ten-day period, which had replaced the seven-day week in the revolutionary calendar that went into effect in October 1793. In addition to the “weekly” celebration, the report establishes four national celebrations to commemorate 14 July 1789 (Bastille Day), 10 August 1792 (end of the Bourbon monarchy), 21 January 1793 (execution of Louis XVI), and 31 May 1793 (fall of the Girondist faction), as well as a national celebration of the Supreme Being. Jacques Louis David, the politician and painter, wrote a detailed and very enthusiastic plan for the first celebration which is appended to the report.

Excerpt from Robespierre’s report. Item VII lists several republican virtues to be celebrated each ‘décadi’.

Instruction sur les mesures déduites de la grandeur de la terre, uniformes pour toute la République, et sur les calculs relatifs à leur division décimale; par la Commission temporaire des poids & mesures républicaines, en exécution des décrets de la Convention nationale. Paris: Imprimerie nationale exécutive du Louvre, an IIe. de la République [1794] xxxii, 224, [27] p.

Instruction sur les mesures déduites de la grandeur de la terre - title pageThis volume introduces a stable, simple and uniform system of measures to be used across the French Republic, established by a Temporary Committee of Republican Weights and Measures, presided at the time by René Just Hauÿ (whose works on crystallography were highlighted in a recent exhibition in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library: Crystallography—Defining the Shape of Our Modern World. (Curators: Gregory S. Girolami and Vera V. Mainz) 30 April through 13 July, 2012.). This decimal metric system was to be applied to all areas of measurement, including time. Days were to be divided in 10 hours of 100 minutes, and each minutes divided in 100 seconds. While the length, volume and weight measures spread throughout Europe during the 19th century, the proposed division of time was never implemented.

Instruction sur les mesures déduites de la grandeur de la terre - plate

Foldout plate from Instruction sur les mesures… with sample decimeter (second ruler from top).

The Press

Le Publiciste Parisien: Journal Politique, Libre Et Impartial. [Paris] : Veuve Hérissant, 1789.

Le Publiciste parisien - first pageJean-Paul Marat (1743-1793), a physician and scientist turned radical journalist and politician during the French Revolution, whose assassination by Charlotte Corday was depicted by another famous revolutionary, the painter Jacques Louis David, first published on 12 September 1789 Le Publiciste parisien. The publication became most famous under the title it acquired after the first few issues: L’Ami du peuple (the Friend of the People), which came to designate both the journal and its author. The title varied, changing after some time to Journal de la République française and Le Publiciste de la République française. The Rare Book & Manuscript Library owns five hundred issues out of the nearly thousand issues published between 1789 and Marat’s death on 13 July 1793. These issues were bound in several volumes, and then disbound, except for one volume. They can be found under call numbers IUB 01044 through IUB01049.

Révolutions De France Et De Brabant. [Paris : De L’imprimerie De Laillet & Garnéry, 1789-1791].

In the fall of 1789, another young journalist and famous orator of the Revolution, Camille Desmoulins (1760-1794) started Révolutions de France et de Brabant, a weekly journal in which he shared his views on prominent political figures of the time and on many debates of the new National Assembly. This title was published in 86 issues from 28 November 1789 until July 1791. The Rare Book & Manuscript Library has issues 1-71 (call number 905REVF).

Panckoucke, Charles Joseph,eds. Gazette Nationale: Ou, Le Moniteur Universel. Paris, 1789-1901.

La Gazette nationale, ou le moniteur universel, created by Charles-Joseph Panckoucke (1736-1798), the publisher of l’Encyclopédie méthodique, which had succeeded Diderot’s famed Encyclopédie. From the first issue on 24 November 1789, the Gazette included complete transcripts of the debates of the Assembly, with the help of stenographers, making it an invaluable source for historical research. It became the official publication of the government in early 1800 and lasted until 1901.

As early as 1790, the Gazette became so popular that Agasse, an associate of Panckoucke, issued a new “historic” edition, which he had start on May 5, 1789, the opening day of the General Estates! These apocryphal issues misled some generations of historians and tarnished the reputation of the whole publication, which may explain why relatively few copies were preserved to this day. The History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library owns a copy, found under call number 905MONA, from 1789 until 1868, which includes the early apocryphal issues.

Massacre Of The French King!: View Of La Guillotine, Or The Modern Beheading Machine, At Paris, By Which The Unfortunate Louis XVI. (late King Of France) Suffered On The Scaffold, January 21st, 1793. London : Printed At The Minerva Office, For William Lane. And Sold Wholesale At One Guinea Per Hundred. And Retail By Every Bookseller, Stationer &c. In England, Scotland And Ireland, [1793].

Massacre of the French King! - broadside

Woodcut illustration from Massacre of the French King!

This British broadside, which appears to marvel at technological progress (“The Modern Beheading Machine”) at the same time that it decries the execution of Louis XVI, offers a translation of the decree of the French National Convention from 15, 17, 19, and 20 January 1793 setting forth the execution: “Louis Capet, last King of the French, having been found guilty of conspiracy against the Liberty of the Nation, and of a crime against the general Safety of the State (…) shall undergo the punishment of Death.”

The decree is followed by the report of the council who communicated the decree to Louis, Orders for the Day (“The execution shall take place Monday the 21st, at La Place de la Révolution, ci-devant Louis XV”), and a full account of the procession and the execution. A note at the bottom of the broadside indicates that “a more particular account of this machine may be seen in Twiss’s Trip to Paris, lately published”.

Richard Twiss (1747-1821) provides vivid tales of executions with the guillotine, as well as a history and description of beheading machines, in his account A Trip to Paris in July and August, 1792 (London: Minerva Press, 1793) and points his readers to several publications where illustrations can be found. His own book opens with a frontispiece depicting an execution. The execution of Louis XVI in January 1793 provided him with a unique opportunity to advertise his book…

This broadside is bound with another periodical, Mirror of the times (London, 179?-1810), and can be found under call number F. 052 MIRROR.  CS