Hemingway Delivers First Rand Lecture at Wilson Library

Paintings at the British Institution as discussed in Professor's Hemingway's illustrated lecture.

The British Institution (exterior and interior shown)  discussed in Professor Hemingway’s illustrated lecture.

Wilson Library is pleased to be the venue this week for the UNC Art Department’s 2016 Bettie Allison Rand Lectures, “British Landscape Painting in the Age of Revolution.” On Monday evening, Andrew Hemingway, Professor Emeritus, University College London, delivered the first lecture—”Naturalistic Landscape Painting and the Decline of Deference”—to an audience of eighty. Hemingway discussed naturalistic landscape painting in Britain as it contrasted with the concept of the picturesque and as a product that reflected a scientific approach and changes in the larger economy, social relations, and patronage.

Andrew Hemingway and Daniel Sherman

Professor Hemingway and lecture series organizer Professor Daniel Sherman

It was a nuanced beginning to the topic and challenged simplistic ideas of Romantic expression as well as naturalism. Tonight the series continues with the second of the four lectures, “The Artisanal Worldview in the Painting of John Crome.”

Before the lecture, there was an opening reception, and attendees had the opportunity to see the complementary exhibition in the Saltarelli Exhibit Room, Lyric Impressions: Wordsworth in the Long Nineteenth Century. The catalog for the exhibition, just printed, was available for purchase at the event. It is on sale locally at the Bull’s Head Bookshop and will be distributed far and wide by UNC Press.

Lyric Impressions catalog is now available

The catalog for Lyric Impressions is now available


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Salute to St. Patrick’s Day

"St. Patrick's Flag Day ..." London: Johnson, Riddle & Co. | Gray A-99

“St. Patrick’s Flag Day…” London: Johnson, Riddle & Co. | Gray A-99

This World War I-era poster by the Irish Women’s Association calls for the recognition of Irish regiments and their prisoners of war during St. Patrick’s Flag Day (an alternate name for the holiday) on March 17th, 1917. An Irish soldier stands in front of a large shamrock emblem, flanked on each side by the names of the four historical provinces of Ireland: Ulster, Leinster, Munster, and Connaught.

The year 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, a major uprising against British rule that took place in various locations throughout Ireland. The event heightened tensions between Britain and Ireland, which would only worsen until the Irish War of Independence erupted just three years later, in January 1919. The poster above was created in the period between the uprising and the beginning of the war.

In the early 20th century, Ireland was governed by home rule, meaning that it was self-governed, but still under the ultimate authority of British rule. The arrangement is clearly demonstrated by RBC’s poster, which was presented by the Irish Women’s Association, an organization based at Kensington Palace in London. This poster represents a short-lived transitional period for Ireland, while also commemorating an important Irish holiday and calling to attention the plight of Irish soldiers.

This poster is part of the Rare Book Collection’s Bowman Gray Collection of World War I and II Graphic Materials, of particular interest as we pass through the centenary of World War I (1914-1918).

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Big, Bigger, Biggest: Wordsworth’s Poetical Works

In the preface to his influential 1879 selected edition of Wordsworth, poet and critic Matthew Arnold set about to do two things for Wordsworth’s legacy. Firstly, he hoped to divide the “really first-rate work” that Wordsworth had produced between the years of 1798 and 1808 from the “mass of inferior work” that clogged and obstructed true appreciation of Wordsworth’s genius. His second aim was to divest the arrangement of Wordsworth’s poems from the idiosyncratic “scheme of mental physiology” that Wordsworth had invented for his 1815 Poems, an arrangement that had been adhered to by Wordsworth’s publishers in all subsequent collected editions of his works.

Arnold’s new arrangement grouped poems together by their form—ballads with ballads, odes with odes, etc. Just a few years later, in 1882, editor William Knight would propose yet another arrangement: chronological. Knight’s Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, unlike Arnold’s selective edition, is expansively comprehensive, running to eleven volumes. In the preface to his edition, Knight writes that he adopted chronology to show “the growth of [Wordsworth’s] mind, the progressive development of his imaginative power”—echoing the subtitle of the Prelude, or Growth of a Poet’s Mind.


One of the 10 large paper copies printed on Whatman’s Handmade Paper, showing Knight’s textual footnotes. | PR5820 .E82 1882b v.1 c. 3

Knight also acknowledges just how difficult chronological arrangement is for a poet like Wordsworth, who wrote over the course of many decades and revised frequently. Moreover, Wordsworth’s revisions, claims Knight, were not always for the better, and the discerning reader might prefer an earlier state of the text. To ameliorate these issues, Knight included copious footnotes, mapping out the textual history of each poem. He devoted the last three volumes of the set to a detailed biography, which also included several pieces of writing by Wordsworth that had never before been in print. In short, Knight dressed Wordsworth within a scholarly apparatus.


Size comparison of the largest, large, and standard issues of Knight’s Poetical Works. | PR5850 .E82 1882b v. 1 c. 3, PR5850 .E82 1882b v. 1 c. 2, PR5850 .E82 v. 1


Frontispiece depicting Wordsworth House, Cockermouth | PR5850 .E82 1882b v. 1 c. 2

Knight’s Poetical Works was issued in three sizes: a “standard” edition standing 23 cm tall, a large paper edition of 27.5 cm, and a largest paper edition of 29 cm. The median large paper edition can additionally be divided into two issues: one with a limitation statement marking it as one of 115 copies “on Large paper,” and a second with a limitation statement specifying one of 25 copies on “Imperial octavo laid paper.” Knight’s edition is further dressed up by a different engraved frontispiece in each volume. In the large and largest paper copies, the frontispieces are printed on fine china paper adhered to heavier stock.

These luxe touches, like Knight’s footnotes and biographical volumes, acknowledge Wordsworth’s position by the 1880s as one of England’s premier poets—a status that, even ten years prior, was not taken for granted.

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The Deserted Cottage

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Wiliam Wordsworth, The Deserted Cottage (London and New York: George Routledge & Co., 1859) | PR5858 .A1 1859 c.3

The textual history of Wordsworth’s Excursion, intended as a first installment of his planned magnum opus The Recluse, is astonishingly complicated. The texts that became The Excursion were composed over many years, with portions drafted as early as 1797. These poetic fragments would continue to grow as Wordsworth’s conception of the poem changed over the course of almost twenty years. Furthermore, portions of what would eventually become books 1 and 2, “The Wanderer” and “The Solitary,” had been sometimes referred to under the varying titles “The Ruined Cottage” and “The Pedlar.”

PR5858.A1 1859 c.7

Routledge’s edition contains illustrations by several well-known Victorian book illustrators, including Birket Foster and John Gilbert. | PR5858 .A1 1859 c. 3

The Excursion first appeared to the public eye in 1814 in a handsome quarto edition, and went through several more editions during his lifetime. Wordsworth continued to revise the poem even after publication, as was his habit throughout his career. “The Wanderer” and “The Solitary” received substantial revisions in 1845, and the newly revised text would see publication, first in a posthumous collected edition by his authorized publisher, Moxon, in 1849 and then in a stand-alone edition in 1857.



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Routledge issued The Deserted Cottage in several binding styles and colors. The RBC holds seven copies of the work, each in a distinct binding. | PR5858 .A1 1859 c. 6


This already complicated history of revision, before and after publication, is further confused by the appearance in 1859 of a volume titled The Deserted Cottage, produced under the imprint of George Routledge and Company. This curious book represented itself in the preface as the fulfillment of a wish by Samuel Taylor Coleridge to see “the first two books of The Excursion … published separately,” though Wordsworth himself seems never to have used the title The Deserted Cottage in reference to the first two books of The Excursion nor did he ever conceive of bringing them into publication separately from the whole.


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This dark but vibrant blue was a popular cloth color for Victorian publisher’s bindings. | PR5858 .A1 1859 c. 4

Routledge reproduces the text of the 1814 Excursion, which had come out of copyright in 1858. However, that text was issued before the extensive revisions incorporated in Moxon’s 1857 edition of The Excursion. Whether readers noticed or minded the missing revisions in the text is unknown. Packaged in an array of attractive colors of decorative cloth, and additionally offered in leather with gauffered edges and marbled endpapers, The Deserted Cottage was marketed by Routledge like a gift or prize book. The copies in the RBC’s Wordsworth Collection speak to this history: several contain contemporary gift inscriptions.

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This inscription indicates the book was given as a school prize during the Christmas season. | PR5858 .A1 1859 c. 3

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Chemical Magic

February 29th is a day associated with good luck, bad luck, marriage, and even a little bit of magic, depending on what part of the world you’re in! Here in the Rare Book Collection you can learn about all types of magic, old and new, from sinister spirit-conjuring spells to innocent exploding bubbles. If you have an interest in magic and an aptitude for science, you might consider consulting John D. Lippy, Jr.’s Chemical Magic (1930).


John D. Lippy Jr., Chemical Magic (New York: A. L. Burt Company, c1930) | GV1547 .L7

Lippy was a renowned “Chemical Magician” who shared his love of magic through performing, writing books, and even designing toys. In 1955 he was the president of the “Magician’s Alliance of Eastern States”–one of America’s oldest continuing conventions–and was awarded the William H. Endlich Award in 1962 for his work with that organization.

Published in 1930, this book is a collection of over 150 “magical” effects made possible by chemistry. Lippy also includes a brief history of magic in addition to seven original magical monologues for the budding magician seeking inspiration.


Betty Jane Kolar “The World’s Youngest Magician”

Chemical magic is an area of illusionary magic that relies on certain chemical and physical principles of nature in order to stupefy and excite the audience. And so, it seems only appropriate that the RBC’s resident chemist chime in to share some of the book’s coolest tricks and explore some of the more complex chemistry in-play.

One of the most interesting demonstrations is a trick called “Burning Water”, which cleverly combines water, ether, and potassium to ignite a glass of water and give off a bright pink flame:GV1547-L7_p24

While the author may have given away the secret ingredients to his performance, we at the RBC found ourselves wondering about the roles that each chemical species plays in creating the spectacle described. Cue the chemist!

Firstly, ether is a flammable liquid and is less dense than water. So when the water is poured into the bowl containing ether, the ether rises and settles as a layer on top of the water. This provides a flammable layer on the surface of the water. Ethanol (rubbing alcohol) would also suffice in place of the ether–and is less hazardous!

The potassium (K) reacts with water to form a basic solution and hydrogen (H) gas:

2K (solid)+2H2O (liquid)→2KOH (basic solution)+H2 (gas)

The hydrogen gas is the key here; it reacts violently with oxygen in the air and ignites, making a spark. Remember that flammable layer of ether on the surface of the water? When the hydrogen gas ignites, it sets fire to that layer and, VOILA: magic burning water!

A video showing the violent reaction that results when pure potassium is added to water can be found here.

John D. Lippy, Jr.’s Chemical Magic is filled with many more chemical magic demonstrations, of varying difficulty, awe factor, and associated risk. Some of these include exploding bubbles, rubber bones, silver stars from candles, mental telepathy, turning water to blood, and walking away from your own shadow! The book promises to be entertaining for magic-lovers and chemists alike.



Rebekah Wells is a student assistant in the Rare Book Collection and a chemistry major at UNC who will graduate in Spring 2016.

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“Wordsworthian Carnage” and Lyric Impressions

Monday evening, Wilson Library celebrated the new rare book exhibition Lyric Impressions: Wordsworth in the Long Nineteenth Century. A viewing and reception were followed by a tour-de-force lecture entitled “Wordsworthian Carnage,” delivered by Professor Duncan Wu of Georgetown University.

Professor Duncan Wu, Elizabeth Ott, and Professor Mark Reed

Professor Duncan Wu, exhibition curator Elizabeth Ott, and Professor Mark Reed | photograph by David Vander Meulen

The cold rain could not keep away over 80 poetry and rare book enthusiasts, who enjoyed the enlightening display of 140 items, curated by Elizabeth Ott from the RBC’s Wordsworth Collection and related holdings. The exhibition examines Wordsworth’s writing within the context of world events spanning over a century, from the years of the French Revolution to the First World War. The multiple editions and issues of Wordsworth’s poetry also demonstrate the remarkable changes in book production during that period, as technology and literary markets developed at an unprecedented pace. In 2010 Mark L. Reed, III, Lineburger Professor Emeritus in the Humanities, tripled the size of the Wordsworth Collection with a gift of 1,700 volumes, making such an exploration possible. And so, Monday evening was also an occasion to honor Professor Reed and his extraordinary generosity, which has helped UNC become a leading repository for print editions of the British Romantics.

Taylor Johnson and Emily Kader at the exhibition

Taylor Johnson (UNC SILS student) and Emily Kader (Rare Book Research Librarian) at the exhibition | photograph by Anna Morton

Professor Wu took as the subject for his lecture a notable line in William Wordsworth’s “Thanksgiving Ode,” which was written for a general day of thanksgiving in Britain just a little over 200 years ago, January 18, 1816. That commemoration of the Battle of Waterloo brought forth Wordsworth’s complex thoughts and feelings about the decisive world event. His poem, which failed to find critical acclaim in general, became best known instead for one verse in particular: “Yea, Carnage is thy daughter.” In a presentation worthy of London’s West End as well as the halls of academe, Professor Wu investigated the significance of those words through passages from other writers—including Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and William Hazlitt. Faculty, friends, and staff, as well as UNC students past and present, all left energized by Professor Wu’s dramatic performance, its scholarly sweep, and the power of poetry.

Anna Morton, Catherine Payling, Duncan Wu, Elizabeth Ott, Bruce Graver, Mark Reed, Margaret Graver, Claudia Funke, David Vander Meulen

Anna Morton, Rare Book Collection Assistant (UNC B.F.A. 2013); Catherine Payling; Duncan Wu; Elizabeth Ott, Assistant Curator of Rare Books; Bruce Graver, Professor of English, Providence College (UNC Ph.D. 1984); Mark Reed; Margaret Graver, Professor of Classics, Dartmouth College (UNC B.A. 1982); Claudia Funke, Curator of Rare Books; David Vander Meulen | photograph by Doris Vander Meulen

In the after-festivities, David Vander Meulen, Professor of English at the University of Virginia, presented the Rare Book Collection with an unusual copy of the 1879 Poems of Wordsworth, edited by Matthew Arnold. Reed’s comprehensive collecting culminated in 2013 with an exemplary scholarly resource: A Bibliography of William Wordsworth 1787-1930, published by Cambridge University Press. Professor Vander Meulen, editor of the distinguished journal Studies in Bibliography, recognized the 1879 volume as an unrecorded variant of A163 in Reed’s bibliography. As he noted, “several features do not appear to match the descriptions of the first printing: Spine. The imprint reads simply  ‘Macmillan’ (as in issue 1), but Arnold’s name is absent  (as in issue 2); First gathering. Leaf π1, ordinarily containing the Golden Treasury Series device and the epigraph, is not present. (But the book does have the tissue guard facing the title page, which is on ‘moderately stiff paper’).” Professor Reed observed that the binding seemed to represent a state between his bibliography’s first and second bindings, “a very exciting discovery.”

Professor Vander Meulen spoke for Studies in Bibliography colleague Elizabeth Lynch and himself: “The gift above all is to show respect for Mark’s magnum opus and labor of love, the Wordsworth bibliography.  It is a remarkable accomplishment, characterized by uncommon thoroughness, accuracy, and understanding. . . . The donation also signals gratitude in a more personal way.  We remain appreciative and indebted to Mark’s article in Studies in Bibliography on the title pages of Lyrical Ballads.  It’s a model that I provide to students in my bibliography class every year.”

Mark Reed’s collecting began almost fifty years ago with the acquisition of a copy of Lyrical Ballads, and it is fair to say that this most recent thoughtful addition to the Wordsworth Collection won’t be the last. With such a formidable establishment, UNC is committed to the continued growth of its Wordsworth Collection as well as its allied British Romantic holdings.

A catalog of Lyric Impressions is being published and will be available through UNC Press. Look forward to an announcement on our blog.

Mark Reed's copy of Lyrical Ballads, which began his comprehensive collecting of Wordsworth editions up to 1930 | PR5869 L9 c.1

Mark Reed’s copy of Lyrical Ballads, which began his comprehensive collecting of Wordsworth editions up to 1930 | PR5869 L9 c.1

The most recent addition to UNC's Wordsworth Collection, a heretofore unknown variant of Reed A163, gift of David Vander Meulen in honor of Mark Reed

The most recent addition to UNC’s Wordsworth Collection, a heretofore unknown variant of the first edition first printing of Reed A163, gift of David Vander Meulen and Elizabeth Lynch in honor of Mark Reed. The Lady Brooks of the ownership label on the cover may be the wife of the longest-serving governor of Victoria, Australia, General Sir Reginald Alexander Dallas Brooks.




Mark Reed gives considered regard to the latest addition to the Wordsworth Collection

Mark Reed gives considered regard to the latest – but not the last –  addition to the Wordsworth Collection | photograph by Margaret Graver

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Wordsworth’s Romantic Circle: Robert Southey

PR5869 .S23 1843

William Wordsworth, Sacred to the Memory of Robert Southey [England: 1843] | PR5869 .S23 1843

The enduring fame of Wordsworth’s collaboration with Samuel Taylor Coleridge on  Lyrical Ballads has ensured that Wordsworth’s friendship with Coleridge is a well-known aspect of his biography. In fact, it was just one of many important literary and artistic friendships that helped to shape Wordsworth’s Romantic circle. Of particular note is Wordsworth’s lengthy friendship with fellow Laker Robert Southey, England’s poet laureate from 1813 to his death in 1843.

Wordsworth met Southey and Coleridge in 1795, a time when all three poets were caught up in republican sentiment. Wordsworth’s initial friendship with Southey was not without setbacks: notably, Southey’s less-than generous review of Lyrical Ballads. Wordsworth was offended at the idea that the review might hurt sales of the book—a matter that concerned him greatly as a struggling poet. Writing to printer Joseph Cottle in 1799, Wordsworth exclaimed:

“Southey’s review I have seen. He knew that I published those poems for money and money alone. He knew that money was of importance to me. If he could not conscientiously have spoken differently of the volume, he ought to have declined the task of reviewing it.

The bulk of the poems he has described as destitute of merit. Am I recompensed for this by vague praises of my talents? I care little for the praise of any other professional critic, but as it may help me to pudding…”

Nevertheless, Southey would grow to be a close associate of Wordsworth, especially after he moved to Keswick in the Lake District in 1802. Neighborly association promoted renewed affections. In 1805, when Wordsworth’s older brother John passed away, Southey wrote to console him:

“I scarcely know what to say to you after this thunderstroke–nor whether I ought to say anything. Only–whenever you feel or fancy yourself in a state to derive any advantage from company–I will come over to you–or do you come here. It has been my custom when in affliction to force myself to mental exertion, a difficult thing, but possible,–but it made my sleep dreadful.–for grief, as far as it is a bodily feeling, like disease will have its course.”

PR5869 .S23 1844

The RBC copy of the lithograph broadside, printed for the subscribers, has manuscript annotations in the hand of Mary Wordsworth, wife of the poet, supplying the final two lines of the poem, left off of this printing. Additional manuscript along the bottom, torn edge is also in Mary Wordsworth’s hand, and indicates the broadside may have originally been much taller. | William Wordsworth, Sacred to the Memory of Robert Southey (Keswick: I. Ivison, ca. 1844) | PR5869 .S23 1844

At Southey’s own death in 1843, Southey’s friends, including Wordsworth, undertook a project to erect a memorial tablet at Crosthwaite Church. Subscribers were solicited to fund the project and Wordsworth was asked to write an inscription. Each subscriber would receive a lithographed broadside depicting the tablet as a memorial. Additionally, the inscription, titled “Sacred to the Memory of Robert Southey,” was set in letterpress to be sold as an additional fund-raising effort. The fund-raising proved so successful that the tablet was upgraded to a monument: a marble effigy of Southey lying recumbent on a raised platform.

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Former owner Mary Ann Brenchly sewed this keepsake printing of Wordsworth’s inscription into the back of a Lake District guide book along with blank pages for her notes and observations.

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In the interior of the bifolium, Brenchly added her notes on visiting the Southey monument along with a sketch.

In addition to the letterpress and lithograph broadsides printed in 1843 and 1844, Wordsworth’s inscription was later reproduced by an unknown printer as a small bifolium, probably as a keepsake or souvenir for tourists visiting the Lake District and Crosthwaite Church. The only known surviving witness to this version of the poem is sewn into a guidebook to the Lake District, now in the RBC, formerly owned by Mary Ann Brenchly of Wanlass How, Ambleside. Brenchly visited Crosthwaite Church some time after 1848 and recorded her observations on the monument on the blank sides of the bifolium, along with two pages of additional notes on her travels tipped in using straight pins.



PR5869 .S33 1844_cover

Mary Ann Brenchly’s guidebook | Handbook to the English Lakes: with Map and Engravings (Kendal: Hamilton & Co., 1847) | PR5869 .S33 1844

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Wordsworth in the 1790s

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In 1790, Wordsworth undertook a walking tour of the Alps, carrying him through Revolutionary France | William Wordsworth, Descriptive Sketches (London: J. Johnson, 1793) | PR5869 .D47 1793

One of the most difficult tasks in mounting exhibitions is the sometimes nerve-wracking choice of what to include and what to edit out. “Kill your darlings,” as Faulkner would have it in writing fiction, is just as apt when choosing which six or seven books and objects will stand in as evidence of a rich and complicated historical narrative. These decisions were particularly difficult for Lyric Impressions: Wordsworth in the Long Nineteenth Century—the rare book exhibition that opened at Wilson Library on January 20th.  Clocking in at more than 2,000 volumes, The William Wordsworth Collection is so vast that one exhibition could never do justice to the whole. To remedy that reality, we’ll be undertaking a series of blog posts to explore Wordsworth publications that didn’t make it past the cutting room floor. Each post will expand on the major themes of the exhibition. In this post, we’ll explore Wordsworth’s productive and turbulent development in the decade of the 1790s by considering his first published books: An Evening Walk and Descriptive Sketches (1793).

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After publishing An Evening Walk in 1793, Wordsworth continued to revise the poem. It appears under the heading “Poems Referring to the Period of Childhood” in his 1815 Poems. | William Wordsworth, An Evening Walk (London: J. Johnson, 1793) | PR5856 .A1 1793

By the time he published Lyrical Ballads in 1798, Wordsworth had developed a distinctive poetic voice, one he conceived of as a departure from the studied, high-flown style popular for much of the eighteenth century. In An Evening Walk and Descriptive Sketches, composed between 1787 and 1792, this poetic voice was still nascent; in both poems, Wordsworth relies on earlier poetic models, such as Thomson’s The Seasons (1730) and Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667). The poems’ allusive qualities were not lost on his contemporary audience, whose mixed critical reception of the works drew attention to their derivative qualities. Neither were they lost on Wordsworth himself, who later wrote that he found them to be “juvenile productions, inflated and obscure,” nevertheless, they contained “many new images and vigorous lines….”

PR .A1 1793 copy

The 1793 An Evening Walk is a loco-descriptive poem; later revisions incorporated more narrative and dramatic material.

Sales of An Evening Walk and Descriptive Sketches were not robust. While it is unknown how many copies were issued in the initial print run, the audience of the two works appears to have been small. Wordsworth commented in 1801 that “Johnson [his publisher] has told some of my Friends who have called for them, that they were out of print: this must be a mistake. Unless he has sent them to the Trunk-maker’s they must be lying in some corner of his Warehouse, for I have reason to believe that they never sold much.” Whether or not the unsold copies were indeed scrapped for paper waste, today copies of the first editions are relatively scarce.

Aside from offering a window on Wordsworth’s developing poetic voice, An Evening Walk and Descriptive Sketches are important works juxtaposed with Wordsworth’s politically charged poetry of the same period. In the 1780s and 90s, Wordsworth was also composing more explicitly radical poems, such as “Salisbury Plain,” and “Letter to the Bishop Llandaff.” An Evening Walk and Descriptive Sketches both follow a tradition of loco-descriptive verse, where the poet’s reaction to an evocative landscape or monument triggers a philosophic and aesthetic experience. They do not, as some of his other poems of the 1790s do, explicitly confront the incendiary political issues of his youth. Though Wordsworth’s political attitudes are not wholly absent from his published verse, his unpublished (or largely unpublished) poetry is more direct and, at times, inflammatory.

PR5869 .D47 1793

Descriptive Sketches contains allusions to the upheaval in France, though expression of its political sentiments are oblique and have been the subject of much scholarly debate.

Wordsworth’s radical discontent in the 1790s reflected the mood of the country. At the beginning of the decade, economic disparity had reached alarming levels. Radical sentiment, spurred by the rhetoric of the American Revolution and the ideals of the French Revolution, circulated widely. But 1793 would prove to be a decisive turning point, as the British Government enacted a series of increasingly draconian measures designed to stamp out radical dissent, among them the Treason Trials and the suspension of habeas corpus in 1794 and the so-called “Gagging Acts”—the Treason Act and Seditious Meetings Act—in 1795. The government actively sought out radical agitators and their associates—including Wordsworth and Coleridge, who were purportedly investigated by a government spy in 1796.

An Evening Walk and Descriptive Sketches anticipate Wordsworth’s poetic trajectory toward philosophic verse and also the turning political tide in England. By the close of the 1790s, Wordsworth’s idealistic radicalism had matured and changed, though he would maintain an active interest in political and current events throughout his life.

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The Year of the Monkey

Green and red monkeys from William Jardine, The Natural History of Monkeys (Edinburgh, W.H. Lizars; [etc.] 1833) | QL45.J3 N3

Green and red monkeys from William Jardine, The Natural History of Monkeys (Edinburgh, W.H. Lizars; [etc.] 1833) | QL45.J3 N3

We have officially begun the Chinese New Year. Let’s follow those clever monkeys.

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Counting the Days 500 Years Ago

Detail of manuscript calendar in Incunabula 322

Detail of manuscript calendar in Incunabula 223

As we begin the year 2016, one incunable in the Rare Book Collection offers particular resonance for “timely” meditations: Nicolas Jenson’s 1475 printing of St. Augustine’s De civitate Dei, annotated exactly five hundred years ago in 1516, with a manuscript calendar for that year and lunar calculations.

The volume is one from the personal collection of alumnus Dr. Frederic M. Hanes (A.B. 1903), who led his siblings to establish the Hanes Foundation for the Study of the Origin and Development of the Book in 1929. The RBC traces its beginning to that foundation, which enabled the purchase of nearly 400 incunabula. Following Dr. Hanes’s death in 1946, the Jenson imprint and other high spots that he collected came to UNC.

The book is Jenson’s only edition of St. Augustine’s magnum opus, which sought to vindicate Christianity in the sack of Rome and delineated the existence of two realms: “the City of God” and “the City of Man.” The French-born printer Jenson, famous today for his roman type, chose instead to set the text of this Christian classic, so important in the Middle Ages, with a gothic font, perhaps because of its religious content. The book is noteworthy for stating the printer’s name on the first page of text, the earliest such instance in type, anticipating the invention of the title page.

The Hanes RBC copy is also one of a small number from the edition that features a setting of type for the colophon statement where names are elided: “Nicolao ie[n]son gallico: Petro moze[n]icho principe.” – “by Nicolas Jenson, Frenchman: for Prince Peter Mocenigo.”

Specific only to the RBC copy are its manuscript annotations and addendum. On the verso of leaf 16 are records of two purchases of the volume: first in 1516 by Nicolaus Fabbrinus, and then in 1691 by one F. M. Arrighi. Two handwritten leaves at the end, most likely Fabbrinus’s work, discuss in Latin and Italian the epact—or the number to be added to the first day of the year to obtain the moon’s age, 15 in 1515, 26 in 1516, and 7 in 1517—and provide a calendar for the year 1516 and a wheel for determining Pascha, or Easter, a movable feast that could fall in March or April.

Wheel for calculating Pascha or Easter, Incunabula 322

Wheel for calculating Pascha or Easter, Incunabula 322

The wheel is divided according to the 19-year lunar cycle, with 19 numbered chords. ”Hic est aureus numerus,” written inside the wheel’s center, indicates that each of these is a “golden number”—as the ordinal number of a specific year in the cycle was termed beginning in the Middle Ages. The golden number is used in conjunction with the Dominical letter (top center) to find the date of Pascha. The Dominical letter designates the Sundays of a year in a cycle where days of the week are lettered A-G, and January 1 is always A.

This manuscript exposition operates under the Julian calendar in use before the Gregorian calendar reform of 1582, a topic of last year’s New Year blog post. Keeping track of the sun, the planets, the moon, the stars, and time has been a central activity for all societies, whether the ancient Maya, the Christian West, Revolutionary France, or our global technological present. Look up tonight; it will be a full moon in Chapel Hill.

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