Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Researching the Provenance
of
The Autograph Manuscript
of
Dream Children; A Reverie



There are many lovers of Charles Lamb who consider "Dream Children; a Reverie" to be his best essay.  It first appeared in print in the January 1822 issue of The London Magazine.



It next appeared in the 1823 first edition of  Lamb's Elia essays under the title, Elia.  Essays which have Appeared under that Signature in the London Magazine.

Where the manuscript of "Dream Children" went after Charles Lamb's death is unknown, at least to me.  Lamb may have given the manuscript of "Dream Children" away before he died.  In his book, John Forster:  A Literary Life, published in 1983, James A. Davies wrote that Charles Lamb "once sent Forster a collection of Elia manuscripts (25)."  But Davies does not identify which manuscripts Lamb sent to Forster. Moreover, Edward Moxon presented at least one other manuscript to Francis John Ford who worked with Lamb at India House.


 The first record of the history of ownership of the autograph manuscript of "Dream Children"  that I could find doesn't appear until 1892.  It is listed as Lot number 805 in the Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge auction of the library of Edwin Henry Lawrence.


Lot Number 805


Edwin Henry Lawrence (1819-1891) was a London stockbroker who collected antiquities, autograph letters, and manuscripts.  How he acquired the autograph manuscript of "Dream Children" is unclear.  He was the great nephew of the Sir Thomas Lawrence, the English portrait painter whom Lamb mentions in his essay "Cupid's Revenge."
...Something of St. James's air in these my new friends. How my prospects shift and brighten!  Now if Sir Thomas Lawrence be anywhere in that group his fortune is made for ever.  I think I see some one taking out a crayon...."

Stuart M. Samuel (1856-1926), a British banker and a member of Parliament, who bought manuscripts solely for investment purposes,was the buyer of Lot 805, purchasing the autograph manuscript of "Dream Children" for £57.

The manuscript was listed as lot number 97 in the sale of his library in 1907.


Lot Number 97


A. Lionel Isaacs, a bookseller from Pall Mall was the purchaser of lot number 97.  He acquired the autograph manuscript of "Dream Children" for £108.  He may have listed the manuscript in the catalogue below in the summer of 1907.


Harry B. Smith may have read the catalogue, or he may have visited Isaacs's bookstore when he went to London in 1909.  At any rate, Isaacs sold the autograph manuscript of "Dream Children" to Harry B. Smith for £225.  In his book, First Nights and First Editions, Smith revealed that purchasing the autograph manuscript of "Dream Children" was the only time he paid more than a thousand dollars for a book or an autograph.

A few years later, the millionaires started buying books at auction.  And books that used to cost Smith a few dollars to buy now cost thousands.  Believing he could no longer afford to add to his collection, Smith compiled a catalogue of his library and the DeVinne Press privately printed it for him in 1914.


Here is Smith's listing of "Dream Children, the Original Manuscript:"


 One of the bibliophiles who praised Smith's catalogue was the bookseller A. S. W. Rosenbach.  In their biography of Rosenbach, Edwin Wolf 2nd and John F. Fleming revealed that Roxenbach bought the bulk of Smith's Sentimental Library for $79,000, money which he borrowed from his friend William M Elkins.

A. Edward Newton was one of the first bibliophiles to make a considerable purchase of  Smith's Sentimental Library.  Wolf and Fleming report that  he bought ten items for less than $5,000, but they do not identify the titles of the purchases or the date they were purchased.  In his book, End Papers, published in 1933, Newton reveals that he bought the autograph manuscript of "Dream Children" on the day the Germans sank the Lusitania (May 7,1915), but he does not say how much he paid for it.



 
 Inserted in a pocket in the rear of the limited edition of End Papers was a facsimile of the autograph manuscript of "Dream Children."




Newton first mentioned his ownership of the manuscript of "Dream Children" in his 1921 book, The Amenities of Book-Collecting, calling the manuscript "my most cherished literary possession (131)."

Newton expounded about his Sentimental Library purchases in his lectures as Rosenbach Fellow in Bibliography, lectures published in 1936 under the title, Bibliography and pseudo-Bibliography:


The whole Sentimental Library passed one day into the temporary keeping of Dr. Rosenbach and was placed on sale by him the day the Lusitania sank during the Great War.  The fact that we were all scared to death that day prevented my buying as much as I should have done, but some of the most interesting books in my library are 'Sentimental' items (72).
 Later in his lectures Newton quotes Harry B. Smith concerning the whereabouts and value of the manuscript:
...I do not know who owns it now, but he would probably consider ten thousand dollars a low price for it."
To which Newton adds, "He would indeed, Mr. Smith very low (102)."

A. Edward Newton passed away on Sep 29, 1940.  His son Swift Newton put his father's library up for auction the following year. 


On Thursday evening, May 15, 1941, the autograph manuscript of "Dream Children," lot number 583, sold for $7500, which was considerably less than what Newton believed the item was worth.



The William Blake collector, Mrs. Landon K. Thorne, was the new owner of the manuscript of "Dream Children".

The autograph manuscript next appears at a country auction in Portsmouth, New Hampshire sixty-four years later on Saturday, May 21, 2005.  The manuscript may have stayed in the  Thorne family until that date.


Bromer Booksellers of Boston was the winning bidder of Lot number 640, autograph manuscript of "Dream Children."  Bromer Booksellers listed the manuscript for $85,000 in Catalogue 127:  An Extraordinary Gathering:


The autograph manuscript of "Dream Children" is currently in the library of a private collector who wishes to remain anonymous..... If it were me, I would tell the world!

Thanks go to Meghan Constantinou, Librarian, Grolier Club, and Sophia Dahab, Assistant Librarian, Grolier Club for providing the images of the Grolier Club copies of the 1892 and 1907 Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge auction catalogues.

I wrote a second blog post about Lamb this month:  Passages From Lambians in My Library, Large and Small.

















Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Notes and Queries Regarding the Authorship of O FOR A BOOKE

O for a Booke and a shadie nooke,
eyther in-a-doore or out ;
With the greene leaves whisp'ring overhede,
or the Streete cryes all about.
Where I maie Reade all at my ease,
both of the Newe and Olde ;
For a jolie goode Booke whereon to looke,
is better to me than Golde.
I came upon this poem earlier this month while compiling My Sentimental Library blog post about my Austin Dobson Collection.  Austin Dobson (1840-1921) included the poem in his 1917 book, A Bookman's Budget.  Researching the poem's authorship led me astray for more than a day!  


 Austin Dobson attributed the poem to the bookseller John Wilson, who died in 1889.  Dobson said he repeated his story in print more than once prior to 1917.  Here is his article in the  Feb 12, 1898 issue of The Academy:




 And the April 21, 1900 issue of the New York weekly  The Outlook,  noted in its own "Notes And Queries" section,  that Dobson had previously attributed the poem to Wilson in the London Athenaeum.



In A Bookman's Budget, Austin Dobson noted that "as far as I know," the poem made its first appearance in Alexander Ireland's Book-Lover's Enchiridion in 1883.

But the poem, in fact, appeared twenty years earlier in the Oct 10, 1863 issues of the British periodical, Notes And Queries.  It was in a "Quotations Wanted" query by "ABHBA."



Rev. Beaver Henry Blacker (1821-1890), using the initials ABHBA, was a familiar contributor to Notes And Queries from 1853 to 1890.  At the time of his query in 1863, Blackwell was assigned to a vicarage in Dublin, Ireland.  A graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, Blacker was a a historian as well as priest, and wrote 60 articles for the Dictionary of National Biography under the initials of BHB. He later became editor of the Gloucestershire Notes And Queries.  His Oct 1863 query in the London Notes And Queries, however, is his only recorded entry I could find regarding the authorship of O FOR A BOOKE.


Queries regarding the authorship of O FOR A BOOKE appeared in numerous other periodicals  after its publication in The Book-Lover's Enchiridion in 1883.  But the poem's next appearance in Notes And Queries was in the Dec 19, 1891 issue:



P. J. A. is Peter John Anderson (1853-1926), a noted philatelist who became Librarian of the University of Aberdeen in 1894.  He was a contributor to the D. N. B. as well, under the initials P. J. A. And the query above is the only recorded entry of his I found regarding O FOR A BOOKE.

In the Jan 30, 1892 issue of Notes And Queries, Jonathan Bouchier, grandson of the American loyalist, Jonathan Bouchier, questioned whether the lines were as old as they were thought to be:



 In the Mar 12, 1892 issue, Rev. Edward Marshall (1815-1899), another frequent contributor to Notes And Queries, suggested that the source of the poem may well be a quotation attributed to Thomas A. Kempis:


Translation:  "I have sought everywhere for peace, but I have found it not save in nooks and in books."

The mention of nooks and books is the only commonality between the Kempis quotation and O FOR A BOOKE. 

On a sidenote, there was another poem published in The Book-Lover's Enchiridion that also mentioned a nook and a book, although the poem itself was shortened by four lines.  And that is the poem, "A NOOK AND A BOOK," from William Freeland's 1882 book, A Birth Song And Other Poems." 

In the Feb 22, 1908 issue of Notes And Queries, Charles Christopher Bell, a British Folklore specialist, asked when O FOR A BOOKE was published:



 In the Mar 7, 1908 issue of Notes And Queries, Austin Dobson responded to Bell's post, and used the opportunity to reiterate that the bookseller, John Wilson, was the author of O FOR A BOOKE.  But people still wanted to believe that O FOR A BOOKE was an old English song.



Bells' post also attracted the attention of two other readers, and their responses followed Dobson's remarks.

The printing firm of Mitchell, Hughes & Clarke attest that they too saw the lines to O FOR A BOOKE in an old book twenty years ago (late 1880s).


William Jaggard (1868-1947), a Stratford bookseller and noted Shakespearean bibliographer, referred to an earlier post of his about O FOR A BOOKE in Notes And Queries of Sept 16, 1905 (10 S. iv. 229).


 The volume of early English poems and ballads that Jaggard alleged was the source of O FOR A BOOKE was the "old book" referred to by Dobson in A Bookman's Budget  "that has never been forthcoming."



Jaggard cited the earlier appearances of O FOR A BOOKE  in Notes And Queries, particularly the 1863 article (3S iv 288), to substantiate his claim that the poem came from an old book he had seen, and also to disparage Dobson's claim that the poem was published in one of John Wilson's bookseller catalogue.

The British Museum, however, provided relevant biographical details about John Wilson, noting that Wilson had acquired the business of F. G. Tomlins "c1862."


John Wilson, as you will later see, was printing bookseller catalogues  more than a year before the 1863 Notes And Queries article containing O FOR A BOOKE was printed.

John Wilson died on Aug 30, 1889 at the age of 70.  Unfortunately, his obituary, published in the Oct 9, 1889 issue of The Bookseller provides no information to help resolve the authorship question.



Christopher Morley attempted to help the cause. In Notes and Queries in Sep 1919 (12 S V 237), he asked if anyone could find a copy of one of John Wilson's catalogues containing the poem:



The next month, Oscar Berry, of the accounting firm of Oscar Berry and Co., responded to Morley's query, and questioned Dobson's assertion that John Wilson was the author of the poem.  Berry surmised that if Wilson was the author, Alexander Ireland would have heard  about it and chronologically placed the poem in a later part of the book:



My copy of The Book-Lover's Enchiridion is dated 1890, and is a reprint of the 1888 5th edition.  O FOR A BOOKE was still listed in chronological order with other pieces from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.






Both Dobson and Jaggard posted notes on the authorship of O FOR A BOOKE to Notes And Queries in November 1919.




Jaggard had a new story to tell about the authorship of O FOR A BOOKE.
                           

Jaggard embellished his previous story adding that his friend Thomas Simmons said that he also had obtained the verse from an Elizabethan book he had purchased.  Jaggard never publicly followed up on his claims regarding the authorship of the poem––at least not in Notes And Queries.  But I researched further and discovered that the poem most likely appeared in at least one of John Wilson's early bookseller catalogues.

 One of John Wilson's bookseller catalogues was advertised in the May 3, 1862 issue of The Saturday Review:


And another one of his catalogues was listed in the Aug 9, 1862 issue of Notes And Queries:


To date, no copy of one of John Wilson's bookseller catalogues containing the poem O FOR A BOOKE has appeared.  And the authorship question of O FOR A BOOKE down through the years has never been fully resolved.  In fact, as you will see, the attribution of the poem has gotten worse!


 In Sir John Lubbock's The Pleasure of Life 1893), the poem is referred to as an Old English Song.


 There is no attribution given in Eugene Field's The Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac (1899), leading some readers to believe that Eugene Field was the author.





The 1904 third edition of Thoughts For Book Lovers referred to the old attribution of the poem:  an Old English Song.



The 1912 edition of Cassell's Book of Quotations referred to the poem as "probably modern," but did not cite John Wilson as the author.





Publishers' Weekly attributed the poem to John Wilson in its May 27, 1922 issue!


Hoyt's New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations attributed the poem to John Wilson in its 1923 edition and cited the Nov 1919 Notes And Queries article for discussion of the poem's authorship.




In The Book About Books: The Anatomy of Bibliomania, first published in 1950, and reprinted in 1981, Holbrook Jackson cites John Wilson as the author of the poem.


By the late 1960s, however, O FOR A BOOKE had seen its last light of day in many reference books.  It is not listed in The Oxford Book of English Verse (1972), the Dictionary of Quotations (1978), The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (1999), or Bartlett's Familiar Quotations (2012).



O FOR A BOOKE is still listed on a number of websites, but the attribution is atrocious!

Quotes.net  modernized the spelling of the poem, which is fine.  But it attributed the poem to a John Skinner Wilson (1849-1926) who was an Anglican priest! 




The Quotations Page isn't any better.  It attributes the poem to the Scottish author, John Wilson (1785-1854)





Wikipedia credits the Scottish author John Wilson as well:



Goodreads attributes the poem to a John Wilson who is a contemporary Canadian author of historical fiction and nonfiction!


And Poem Hunter simply attributes it simply as "Anonymous British."

Wikiquote has the correct attribution, and even refers back to the Nov 1919 Notes And Query article.  Bravo!



In closing, I will repeat Christopher Morley's Sept 1919 query. 


Perhaps the British Library has copies of John Wilson's 1862 bookseller catalogues?