Author Archives: ferguswilde

  1. Note, Gentle Reader

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    Thomas Gudlawe’s annotations in the Nuremberg Chronicle

    The Chetham’s Library copy of the Liber Chronicarum (“The Book of Chronicles”, more commonly known as the Nuremberg Chronicle and previously featured in our 101 Treasures series here) is among the most extraordinary volumes housed in the Library. The book is an attempt at a comprehensive history of the world from its beginning to the time of the publication of the Chronicle, compiled by Hartmann Schedel from various sources and printed in the Nuremberg workshop of Anton Koberger in 1493. A stunning example of an incunabulum or early printed book, the Chronicle features beautiful woodcuts by Wilhelm Pleydenwurff and by Albrecht Dürer’s teacher Michael Wolgemut. It is possible that Dürer himself also contributed some of the images.
    Although many copies of the Nuremberg Chronicle survive in libraries all over the world, the copy in Chetham’s Library is particularly noteworthy for the many handwritten annotations that cover almost every page of the book, as well as several additional leaves inserted at the front and back. Most of these annotations were created by Thomas Gudlawe, a lawyer from the North West of England, in the sixteenth century. They are not only extremely copious, but also show Gudlawe’s extraordinary strategies of reading.

    Photograph of a a page of manuscript added to the Library's copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle by its owner, Thomas Gudlawe.

    Fig 1: A page inserted at the front of the Chronicle and covered with Gudlawe’s text

    While readers habitually annotated their books in the early modern period, Gudlawe’s annotations differ significantly from those created by most of his contemporaries. They testify not so much to an interested and active reader as to an almost obsessive attempt to fill the blank spaces on the pages of the Chronicle with as much information as physically possible, with annotations on topics ranging from Ethiopia to Merlin and from Cleopatra to the city of Nuremberg itself.
    Gudlawe embarked on his encyclopaedic undertaking by not only amending and expanding the Chronicle’s printed index, but also inserting several glossaries that run throughout the whole book. They are roughly alphabetically structured and contain brief definitions of a large number of headwords. The glossary entries read much like a modern encyclopaedia or Wikipedia entry, for example “Averni, people of the countrye in France called Avergne”. This glossary is not directly related to the contents of the Nuremberg Chronicle, but instead demonstrates Gudlawe’s attempt to gather encyclopaedic knowledge on many different topics within his copy. Entries like the one about the “Averni” or another on the Nile (“a famous greate Ryver runninge thorowe Ethiope and Egypt”) demonstrate the global span of Gudlawe’s interests, reaching from North West England to distant places all around the world.

    Photo of page of Chetham's Library's Nuremberg Chronicle including manuscript notes at the foot describing the river Nile.

    Fig. 2 : Page containing Gudlawe’s glossary entry on “Nylus” (the Nile).

    In addition to his indexes and glossaries, Gudlawe also supplied cross-references and quotations from other sources on relevant pages. His insertions are usually addressed to an imagined “gentle reader” and often add colour and detail to Schedel’s text, such as when Gudlawe informs his readership that Cleopatra was “a ladye of Egypt which excelled in plesantnes & sharpnes of witt”, or that the city Sidon in Phoenicia not only boasted “plenty of fishes” but was also the site where “glasse [was] firste made”. Gudlawe then recorded these insertions in a separate index, which made his additions to the book as easily accessible as the printed text, thus turning Gudlawe himself into an active contributor to his personalised version of the Liber Chronicarum.

    Photo of page of Chetham's Library's copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle with a woodcut of Queen Cleopatra and manuscript commentary about her in the margin.

    Fig. 3 : Gudlawe’s comments on Cleopatra.

    One annotation is particularly noteworthy: on fol. 179r, Gudlawe recounts how, on the second of April 1569, Jesus appeared to him in a vision. This occurred after Gudlawe had been feeling “verie waveringe & weake in faith & tossed to & fro in conscience like the waves of the sea”. Gudlawe was kneeling down to pray in his room, “before the windowe, […] the dore barred”, when “upon a soden the perfecte and most glorious vision of Jesus Christe […] appeared plainlie before” him. Overwhelmed by this sight, Gudlawe’s “senses were shortlie confounded” and he fell into a “sweete and delectable sound” sleep. The vision had gone when Gudlawe woke up, but he retained a strong sense of reassurance and faith: he records that “all my former doubtes were removed” and “I have ever since bene setled & confirmed in a true & perfecte faith”.

    Photo of page of Chetham's Library's copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle with printed text concerning prodigies, and manuscript notes from the owner concerning a personal vision of Jesus

    Fig. 4 : Gudlawe’s account of his vision of Jesus.

    This deeply personal passage allows us not only a glimpse of Gudlawe’s physical surroundings (his bedchamber, the locked door, the window), but also provides a rare insight into the emotional world of a past reader, from his metaphysical doubts, powerfully illustrated by his comparison with the sea, to his wonder and joy at the vision that he saw as a clear and reassuring confirmation of his faith. Despite the almost intimate nature of this annotation, however, Gudlawe did not intend it as a personal record, but as “the manefestinge” of god’s existence, as he states in a note added below his account of his vision – in a way, Gudlawe here treats his own experience as another cross-reference and as source material for the encyclopaedic work into which he was shaping his copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle.
    As if the Nuremberg Chronicle’s attempt to chronicle the history of the world was not ambitious enough in its own right, Thomas Gudlawe’s annotations thus not only allow us to access details of his life and the cultural setting in which he lived but grant us insights into his interests and beliefs. His additions transform the book from a world history into a kind of global encyclopaedia – the world seen through the eyes of a Northern English reader, recorded in an extraordinary book.
    The Chetham’s Library copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle will feature in the Whitworth Art Gallery’s exhibition “Albrecht Dürer’s Material World” (opens 30 June 2023), along with two other volumes from the library’s collection – a unique opportunity to see this stunning work on display! Meanwhile, if you’d like to take a look at how Gudlawe and other readers read their copies of the Chronicle, you can visit the website Early Modern Readers of the Nuremberg Chronicle for a chance to explore early modern readings of this magnificent example of early printing.

  2. William Hogarth talk

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    Public talk on the art of William Hogarth, 8 March 2023

    William Hogarth’s paintings and prints are for many the very image of eighteenth-century England. His ‘Gin Lane’ and the parallel, ‘Beer Street’, are worthy of the over-used adjective ‘iconic’ when it comes to imagining the London of the 1700s. In Chetham’s Baronial Hall on Wednesday 8 March, using images from Chetham’s own extensive collection of Hogarth prints, expert Dr Noelle Duckmann Gallagher  of the University of Manchester will take us through his earliest ‘hit’ series of prints, the Harlot’s Progress. Drawing attention to the many visual references not immediately obvious to the modern eye, and the dark humour that pervades them, she will set them in the context of the often raw, rough and ready life of the capital under the Georges. All proceeds to help support the Library’s work. Book your tickets here!

    Come and follow the adventures of Moll Hackabout!

    Keeping our Hogarth collection busy this March, the Library is also lending prints from its collection to Derby Museum and Art Gallery for their upcoming exhibition on Hogarth’s response to the threat from the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. The exhibition will open on 10 March.

    Our copy of Hogarth’s portrait of Simon Fraser, eleventh Lord Lovat a Jacobite conspirator,  after he was arrested in 1746 Lovat was brought to London for trial. Hogarth arranged to meet him at the White Hart Inn to interview and draw him. On 9 April 1747 he became the last man to be beheaded in England.

    William Hogarth, artist, engraver, satirist

    We hope you’ll be able to attend the talk; but who is our subject? William Hogarth was born on 10 November 1697. His father was a teacher and writer from Westmoreland, whose business ventures failed and led him to be imprisoned for debt. This family disaster led to William’s education being curtailed, and he was sent into an apprenticeship  with a silver engraver, in which he learned many of the skills that would serve him as an engraver of fine arts.  His ultimate ambition was to master oil painting, seen by him and his contemporaries as the highest form of the artist’s profession. By the 1730s he had indeed established himself as an artist, predominantly focusing on portrait groups, known as ‘conversation pieces’, typically full-length oil portraits of groups of people.

    Changing artistic direction in 1731, he created a series of paintings satirising contemporary customs and mores, or what he referred to as ‘modern moral subjects’, the first being ‘The Harlot’s Progress’, followed by ‘The Rake’s Progress’ and ‘Marriage à-la-Mode’. These were pictorial narratives of contemporary life in the eighteenth century with a sharp satirical bent, out of which none of the subjects depicted emerges with much credit. Despite – or perhaps because of – this misanthropic turn, the sets sold well and brought him fame.

    Scan of a detail from Hogarth's 'Rake's Progress' plate 1

    Detail from the first scene in the ‘Rake’s Progress’ : Tom Rakewell, the chief protagonist, inherits his father’s money and is soon surrounded by those keen to help him spend it – on themselves.

    Six spendthrift plates later in the series, however, the end has come :

    In the eighth and final engraving of A Rake’s Progress, anti-hero Tom Rakewell is now in Bethlem Hospital (Bedlam), London’s infamous mental asylum, having been driven mad by his self-inflicted fall into penury. Only Sarah Young, the mother of his illegitimate child is there to comfort him; the well dressed women in the back have come to the asylum for entertainment.

    The success of these series was such that they were immediately copied by others, not just in print but through theatre, china, pamphlets, and even ladies’ fans. His work was so plagiarised that he lobbied for the Copyright Act of 1735 to protect writers and artists, leading the legislation to be nicknamed the ‘Hogarth Act’.

    Hogarth’s themes were not invariably dark or satirical. This detail shows a part of his plate for Shakespeare’s Henry VIII, based on a contemporary production from 1727 by Colley Cibber’s company. Cibber himself played Cardinal Wolsey,  and a Mr Booth played Henry, who is shown here admiring Anne Boleyn.

    Throughout the 1730s and 1740s, Hogarth garnered more fame and his reputation grew. His work reflected his passion for social and moral reform, and this propagandist tone was directed towards London and the city’s problems with crime, prostitution, gambling, and alcoholism. This reforming note is reflected in Industry and Idleness (1747), Beer Street and Gin Lane (1751), and The Four Stages of Cruelty (1751). The Four Stages condemned life in the capital as tending towards a progression from animal cruelty (inspired in part by press reports) as far even as murder, followed by society’s own cruel response of hanging and ultimately sending the body of the executed criminal to the dissecting table.

    Those who live in Gin Lane are shown as destroyed by their addiction to the foreign and corrosive spirit, gin, with shocking scenes of infanticide, starvation, madness, decay, and suicide, while Beer Street contrasts in depicting relative industry, health and thriving commerce.

    Detail of a scan of Hogarth's engraving 'Beer Street'.

    On Beer Street, the people may not be the ideals of 18th-century beauty, but their plumpness and relative good humour, with full tankards and joints of meat, fulfil the promise of the caption in the engraving, which begins : ‘Beer, happy Produce of our Isle …’.


    Detail of a scan of Hogarth's engraving 'Modern Midnight Conversation'

    A less than flattering view of an eighteenth-century night with the boys, ‘A Modern Midnight Conversation’.

    From the start of his career, Hogarth despised the predisposition of the art world patrons and connoisseurs to favour foreign artists. This dislike was illustrated in one of his early major works, Masquerades and Operas, published in 1724.  Here he attacked contemporary taste and questioned the standards of the circle that was supported by the 3rd earl of Burlington, a highly influential art patron and architect, whose London home is named ‘Academy of Arts’ in the print. Having angered such powerful figures at the start of his career he would be obliged to work almost entirely outside the academic art establishment; however, through his success the popular art market and the role of the artist would be revolutionised.

    The satirical print ridiculing the ‘reigning follies’ of fashionable London that so angered the art world of the day. At the centre is a waste-paper carrier, whose barrow is filled with the great names of British literature. Crowds queue for entertainments in ‘Bad Taste’, with Burlington House in Piccadilly named the ‘Academy of Arts’. Italian opera is ridiculed in the figures of the fashionable opera singers Francesca Cuzzoni, Francesco Bernardi (Senesino) and Gaetano Berenstadt, who are shown on a large banner performing Handel’s ‘Flavio’. The devil himself leads those seduced away from Shakespeare and the English greats into the Masquerade.

    Hogarth strove to create works of great beauty, but also to create work that would help to improve his home city of London. His willingness to satirise individuals, erstwhile friends as well as enemies, kept him from peaceful enjoyment of the fame his body of work had gained him; he remained in the good opinion of George III, and thus had friends at court, and had friends such as the theatre impresario David Garrick, but fell out with John Wilkes, Horace Walpole, and others of great influence in quarrels and spats that were unresolved at his death in 1764. His complex, fascinating and often amusing life is beautifully captured in Jacqueline Riding’s Hogarth : life in progress (London : Profile, 2021), which we heartily commend to readers.

  3. The Bonnie Prince at Manchester’s ‘Palace’

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    In November 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie (Charles Edward Stuart) arrived in Manchester with 6,000 troops during manoeuvring of his army as part of the Jacobite rising of 1745. The uprising, still known as the Forty-five, was an attempt by Charles to regain the British throne for his father James Stuart, the son of the previous Stuart, King James II of England and Wales (James VII of Scotland). The rebellion had achieved some success as the Jacobites had won at the Battle at Prestonpans in September, and there were hopes that the failure of the 1715 rising could be overcome at last.

    Charles was welcomed and offered accommodation by Jacobite sympathiser John Dickenson, a wealthy merchant who held the office of Borough Reeve (the most senior municipal officer) in Manchester. He provided the Prince with the use of his town house at 44 Market Street.

    Contemporary portrait of Prince Charles ‘The Bonnie Prince’

    The house was one of Manchester’s more prominent buildings and would act as Charles’s headquarters during his stay for the next three days. As a result of this the house was nicknamed ‘The Palace’. Dickenson would become actively involved in the Jacobite cause, collecting pledges on the levy Charles had placed on Manchester. Here the rebel forces had a large intake of English recruits, which were formed into the Manchester Regiment. The Jacobite Rebellion would fail despite early victories, with the Battle of Culloden in April 1746 ending both the movement and backing for the Stuart cause. Charles escaped to France, and remained in exile until his death in Rome in 1788.

    The Library has some relevant pieces relating to this year in Manchester’s history. For example, one of the only surviving images of ‘The Palace’ is in the town maps and plans created by Russel Casson and John Berry. The maps cover the period of 1741 and 1757, and the Library is fortunate enough to own a few of these maps and plans.

    The house features in this map of the 1740s, indicating the building was already of note. It stood slightly back from the street with a garden, a double flight of stairs, a private chapel within the grounds, and was one of the few purpose brick-built properties. Some of the items Charles came into contact with from Dickenson’s house were saved and removed to his other home, Birch Hall. These included the stone pillars to the house entrance, the bed the Prince slept in, his pistols, and his handkerchief; they also cut up and distributed pieces of his blanket among family and friends.

    The carved shelf, formerly the bed that the Bonnie Prince may have slept in.

    Interestingly another connection the Library has with the Bonnie Prince is the carved bookshelf in the reading room.The shelf has unique origins from the remains of a rare sixteenth-century bed.
    The bed was made for Lancashire gentleman Adam de Hulton, and is thought to have been slept in by Bonnie Prince Charlie on his visit to the Hulton’s residence, the tradition being that a royal visitor would always be given the best bed in the house. At some point in the early nineteenth century it was turned into a sideboard with the addition of part of the top of one of Humphrey Chetham’s chained libraries, apparently one ordered along with others in 1653 but never delivered.  This unique piece of furniture was donated to Chetham’s in 1827 by William Hulton, one of the Library’s governors.



  4. Poetry in the Margins

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    Poetry in the Margins: A Marian Missal Annotated by Lawrence Langley

    We’re delighted to be able to publish a first post here by Ellen Werner, who has joined us to undertake her PhD under the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Programme, supervised by Prof Sasha Handley and Dr Fred Schurink of the University of Manchester. Her project title is Early Modern Cultures of Reading in North-West England:

    Chetham’s is home to many books with manuscript annotations, but perhaps few as painstakingly crafted as those left by Lawrence Langley in his copy of Bernardino de’ Busti’s Latin Mariale. Printed in Haguenau in 1513, the work discusses Marian devotion and the question of the Virgin Mary’s immaculate conception – an issue hotly debated in the Renaissance. Chetham’s acquired its copy in 1667, after it had already passed through the hands of several previous owners.

    Among them was Lawrence Langley, whose signature appears a number of times throughout the text, with the first signature located at the end of the tabula or table of contents at the beginning of the book. Langley signed his name in a beautiful italic hand and dated his note to 1603. This date indicates that the annotator could be identical with a Lawrence Langleye of Lancaster who matriculated from Brasenose College Oxford in 1588 and was born in around 1570.

    Photo of Laurence Langley's signature and verses on the Blessed Virgin Mary

    Langley’s signature on the last page of the tabula, fol. B5v.

    Langley’s annotations are a fascinating insight into the way this early modern reader absorbed his books. The vast majority of Langley’s notes are in Latin, with the exception of the title page, where he translates the book’s full Latin title into English, and only one other note, similarly translating a passage from the printed text.

    Some of his notes are clearly functional, such as folio numbers added by hand, pointing hands (‘manicules’) indicating important passages, summaries in the margins, additions to the tabula or cross-references to other authorities on the subject. In such annotations, Langley uses a large number of abbreviations to keep his annotations short in the cramped space of the margins and only gives crucial information, such as author and chapter of a text to which he is making a reference.

    In other annotations, Langley brings together the views of several scholars, almost conducting a scholarly debate in the margins and often adding his own viewpoint. Such passages are typically lengthy and indicate Langley’s learning and familiarity with other written works on the subject, as well as an ability to consider a question from different perspectives and to draw his own conclusions based on existing works by other scholars.

    Photo of longer manuscript intervention by Laurence Langley

    Annotation by Langley drawing on other authors, here e.g. St Augustine. Note also the pointing hand added to the printed initial H, fol. 106r.

    There are some notes, however, in which Langley shows us a more personal side, giving his opinion on passages that he considers particularly well expressed. One such annotation, for instance, reads […] prosopopoeia elegans face[t]ia, iucunda, predicanda. LL. (“[…] an elegant, rather fine, pleasant personification worthy of praise. LL.”). That Langley signs this note with his initials, something he never does with his more practical notes, reinforces the personal nature of this annotation: a 17th-century reader is here recording his enjoyment of a passage in the book he is reading.

    Langley’s most unusual notes, however, are eleven Latin epigrams summarising individual passages in the book. These short poems, interspersed throughout the Mariale, display careful, beautiful penmanship, with far fewer abbreviations than Langley’s cross-reference notes. Each epigram consists of one hexameter and one pentameter, conforming to the metrical rules of classical Latin poetry. The epigram, a form of poetry originating from short inscriptions in verse, for instance on funeral steles, in ancient Greece, was later frequently used for satirical poetry, to which it was particularly suited because of its short, pointed nature. It became highly popular during the Elizabethan era as a kind of poetry on which students of Latin practiced their grammar and metrical skills. For people who, like Langley, had received an education in Latin, the composition of epigrams would therefore have been a familiar process.

    Langley’s first epigram in the Mariale can be found above his signature at the end of the tabula. It reads

    Conditor omnipotens caeloq[ue] saloq[ue] soloq[ue]Sanctius hac nullu[m] virgine fecit opus.

    [The creator, almighty in heaven, on sea and on earthMade no holier work than this virgin.]

    Not only does Langley adhere perfectly to the rules of Latin scansion, but he also signs the poem with the words Laurentij Langley distichon (“a distich by Laurence Langley”), demonstrating that his choice of the two-line (‘distich’) form was a conscious one. The other epigrams are generally signed with a similar awareness of himself as an author. On fol. 186r, for instance, Langley inserts an epigram about St Elisabeth and signs it L. Langley scripsit. (“L. Langley wrote this.”). On 291r, he marks an epigram on the Ascension of the virgin Mary with the words L. Langley collocavit. (“L. Langley put this down.”). Langley’s signatures and the vocabulary of writing he employs here designate him as an active co-creator of this copy of the Mariale: what de’ Busti writes, Langley expands on, adding poetry to a work of theology and demonstrating a sense of both literary and visual artistry, his calligraphy and metres equally finely crafted.

    Photo of manuscript epigram by Langley on the Ascension

    Epigram by Langley on the Ascension, fol. 291r.

    Three other books with annotations by Langley are known to exist, two in the John Ryland’s Library (take a look at one of them here) and one in Trinity College Cambridge. It is likely, however, that there are more in other libraries – if you have ever come across Lawrence Langley and his beautiful annotations, let us know!

  5. The Blavatnik Honresfield Library

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    We recently received a donation of books and archival material from the Blavatnik Honresfield Library through the kindness of the Friends of the National Libraries. The FNL successfully raised £15 million in only five months to purchase the collection for the nation to ensure such treasures remain accessible to the public.

    Donations from the Honresfield collection to libraries and museums around the UK include manuscripts in the hands of Jane Austen, Robert Burns, and Sir Walter Scott, and a significant collection of printed books.

    The Honresfield Library was created by Victorian mill owners Alfred and William Law at the turn of the 20th century and has been kept within the Law family. Chetham’s Library is grateful to have received a share including a selection of Manchester born novelist William Harrison Ainsworth’s works, English Civil War ephemera, and 1840s children’s annuals.

    The Library has a substantial collection of books by Ainsworth. Born in 1805 in King Street, after an unsuccessful career as a lawyer and then a publisher he specialised in journalism and literature. His works would focus on historical fiction and culminated in 39 novels featuring figures such as Dick Turpin, Charles II, and Bonnie Prince Charlie. 

    Ainsworth has a link to the Library in the form of his lifelong friendship with James Crossley in 1817. Crossley was the founder of the Chetham Society and was Honorary Librarian at Chetham’s from 1877 until he died in 1883. We are therefore very grateful to have been selected as custodians of these printed materials. We received the following titles from the FNL: Rookwood, The Royal Oak, The Miser’s Daughter, Mervyn Clitheroe, and Old Saint Paul’s. These volumes in particular are unique as they are presented by the author to members of his family and friends, so are known to librarians and the book trade as presentation copies. The Library has Ainsworth’s portrait in oils, now rather foreshortened by damage due to war-time fire-bombing.

    Portrait of Ainsworth from Chetham’s collection.

    The English Civil War ephemera comprise three contemporary pamphlets and tracts that offered updates of the war in and around Lancashire for the years 1642-1643. These feature events such as the ‘taking of Houghton Tower by the Parliaments forces’ and how ‘the Earl of Darbies forces made an on-set of the towne of Boulton’ – the notorious ‘Bolton massacre’. 

    The future sixth Earl of Derby, then Lord Strange, threatened as he attended a dinner

    These civil war tracts are relevant to the Library’s collection for two reasons: during the 1640s our building had been owned since 1547 by the Stanleys, the Earls of Derby; the site was subsequently used as a garrison by the opposing parliamentary forces. However, as the Stanley family fought on the losing side of the Civil War their lands were confiscated after the Parliamentarians defeated the Royalists. The building was left to gradually fall into a state of disrepair until its purchase from the Parliamentary Commissioners for Humphrey Chetham’s Hospital and Library in 1653. 

    Title page from Peter Parley’s Annual.

    The two volumes of Peter Parley’s Annual date from 1844 and 1848 and feature some beautiful illustrations. This annual was aimed at older children or adolescents in the Victorian period, and joins our collection of 19th-century material. ‘Peter Parley’ was one of a bewildering number of pseudonyms used by George Mogridge (1787-1854), a former ‘Japanning’ (black lacquering) craftsman who turned to writing anything from religious tracts to children’s stories. Known more often as ‘Old Humphrey’, he also published as Paul Preston, Carlton Bruce, Uncle Adam, Viele Humphrey, O.O.O, Old Officer, The Author of My Grandfather Gregory, and more than a dozen other ‘Author of …’ noms -de-plume.

    Scanned engraved portrait of George Mogridge

    George Mogridge, alias Old Humphrey, alias Peter Parley, alias …                           




  6. Who’s got the better Flea?

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    Out for photography this week was the Micrographia Nova of Johann Franz Griendel von Ach (1631-1687), a small quarto response to the ground-breaking Micrographia by Robert Hooke (1635-1703), one of our favourite illustrated scientific works. Hooke’s work was published in London in English in 1665, Griendel’s in Nuremberg, in Latin, and in the year of his death, 1687. We were thinking of a longer blog about Griendel’s work, but discovered  an excellent one by Dr William Ashworth already online at the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City, Missouri. Griendel combined the lenses in his microscope – and microscopes in general were an emerging technology – differently from Hooke and others, and claimed a major advance in magnification.

    Griendel's microscope from Micrographia Nova, 1687

    Griendel’s microscope from Micrographia Nova, 1687

    Hooke, who unlike Griendel lived long enough to see the appreciation of his work develop over years, may not have been impressed with Griendel’s claims of improvement in magnification; but who got the better flea? A function of the skills of drawer and engraver rather than of the power of the instrument, of course; but who wins? First comes Hooke’s:

    Engraving of a flea from Robert Hooke's Micrographia of 1665

    Engraving of a flea from Robert Hooke’s Micrographia of 1665

    And next Griendel’s:

    Engraving of a flea from Griendel's Micrographia Nova of 1687

    Engraving of a flea from Griendel’s Micrographia Nova of 1687

    Hooke’s work was published folio, giving his engraver an edge simply in terms of paper size in comparison with Griendel’s small quarto format; but we’re going to give Hooke’s image an easy lead over the later competitor in terms of detail, shading, and general sharpness. Competition out of the way, and given quoting chunks of Griendel’s Latin might be a bit chewy (you can read it online here if you’d like), we might finish with a little of Hooke’s very engaging English prose, describing his approach to studying refraction, and why colours occur in the heavens:

    Hooke's refraction experiments described in an engraving

    Hooke’s refraction experiments described

    “First, The redness of the Sun, Moon, and Stars, will be found to be caused by the inflection of the rays within the Atmosphere. That it is not really in or near the luminous bodies, will, I suppose, be very easily granted, seeing that this redness is observable in several places differing in Longitude, to be at the same time different, the setting and rising of the Sun of all parts being for the most part red: And secondly, That it is not merely the colour of the Air interpos’d, will, I suppose, without much more difficulty be yielded, seeing that we may observe a very great interstitium of Air betwixt the Object and the Eye, makes it appear of a dead blew, far enough differing from a red, or yellow. But thirdly, That it proceeds from the refraction, or inflection, of the rays by the Atmosphere, this following experiment will, I suppose, sufficiently manifest. Take a spherical Crystalline Viol, such as is described in the fifth figure ABCD …”

    Please send us any spare crystalline viols that you may have lying around the place …

  7. The Kingdom and People of Siam

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    On the desk today is a lovely three volume set of The Kingdom and People of Siam (1857), with a foreword by King Mongkut. These books were composed by Sir John Bowring, a British political economist, traveller, writer, literary translator, polyglot and the fourth Governor of Hong Kong. In 1855 he was sent by Queen Victoria on a diplomatic mission to the Kingdom of Siam, now Thailand, to negotiate a trading agreement. In 1861 he was sent as a commissioner to the newly created Kingdom of Italy. 

    Bowring was a prolific writer, and the Library has acquired many of his books; however, it was his piece on Siam that proved to be the most popular, as it offered a detailed description of the country, people and culture of what was then a very distant and exotic country to a wider audience. 

    Title page of The Kingdom and People of Siam.

    The British diplomats were a welcome presence in Siam and recieved warmly by the King of Siam, Mongkut, who was keen to have western influence in the country and establish friendship with Britain. Mongkut and Bowring were to develop good relations, with Bowring dedicating his account of Thailand to the King. In 1867 Mongkut was to appoint Bowring as Siam’s ambassador to the courts of Europe.

    Correspondence between the King and Bowring.

     An agreement that was to become known as the Bowring Treaty was signed by the two countries on the 18th April, 1855. The Treaty granted British merchants free trade in the ports of Siam, and permitted British citizens to relocate and to own land in Siam. It was specified that British migrants would remain exempt from Siamese legal jurisdiction. The agreement also ensured the development of the Siamese economy, and offered them British protection from other European countries. 

    An illustration of social customs in Siam.

    The most significant impact of the Treaty was the legalisation of opium exports into Siam, which had previously been illegal. The Bowring Treaty enjoyed success for 70 years before it broke down in the 1930s. 

  8. Instruction With Delight

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    As well as a vast collection of rare and academic works the library is home to a small collection of children’s stories and fairytales. In a change of pace for today’s blog, we thought we would share a review of one of our children’s literature stories: The History of Dame Mitchell And Her Cat from the 19th century.

    Just as children’s books today are designed to entertain as well as educate, so were those of the late 18th and 19th centuries. These works tended to lean slightly more towards instruction than frivolity, focusing on religion, morals, social conduct, ideology, or beliefs and ideas of the time. This has since become known as ‘instruction with delight’, a phrase relating to the early children’s books of John Newbery whose frontispiece for A Little Pretty Pocket Book (1744) had the phrase in Latin, ‘Deluctando monemus’.

    The History of Dame Mitchell And Her Cat is no exception to this combination of entertainment and moral compass. This edition was published in 1870 and is part of a collection of short stories featuring four hundred illustrations by eminent artists.

    An example of the fine artwork within the story.

    The tale opens in the reign of Queen Anne and sees a cat being tormented by a group of children; this is witnessed by a wealthy woman named Lady Greenford, who orders them to cease and bring the cat to her. She intends to leave the poor animal as he is not easy on the eye, but he then fixes her with a knowing gaze letting her know he understands she does not want him as a pet because of his sorry state. This changes her mind and she decides to take him to her home in Chelsea.

    Upon his arrival, he is introduced to Dame Mitchell the housekeeper, and Daddy Sharppiz the butler. The two welcome the cat, and although he immediately takes to Dame Mitchell, he remains wary of Sharppiz. The cat, now named Mowmouth, continues to be doted on by Dame Mitchell, and even Lady Greenford begins to grow fond of him. Mowmouth is now resented by Sharppiz because of his popularity in the house.

    Here is Dame Mitchell taking her duty to Mowmouth’s care very seriously.

    A few weeks later Lady Greenford receives news that her sister is unwell and intends to visit her for some weeks, but unfortunately she has to leave Mowmouth behind because of her sister’s aversion to cats. Dame Mitchell is praised by Lady Greenford for her excellent care of Mowmouth since he arrived, and is entrusted with his care whilst she visits her sister.

    Due to her previous good care of the cat, Dame Mitchell is promised a rich pension upon the Lady’s death if Mowmouth is happy and healthy upon her return. This enrages Sharppiz and he becomes consumed with jealousy and vows to get rid of the cat.

    Over the next few chapters we see Sharppiz reveal his true nature, he tries to dump Mowmouth in the river, poison him and employs and blackmails a young footman to do away with the poor animal. When the cat is declared missing the footman is blamed and questioned by Lady Greenford when she returns. The young boy reveals Sharppiz’s treachery and discloses he did not murder Mowmouth because he loved the cat very much, and instead he left him in the care of a local woman. The cat is retrieved and the boy is dismissed as no one believed the duplicity of Sharppiz.

    This is Mowmouth exercising caution around Sharpphiz.

    A few days later Dame Mitchell finds a half-eaten pie with dead rats in proximity in one of the kitchen cupboards, and she recalls some weeks ago, before the cat’s disappearance, his refusal to eat that very pie made for him by Sharppiz. She immediately informs Lady Greenford that the footman was telling the truth about Sharppiz. Overhearing this conversation between Dame Mitchell and Lady Greenford, Sharppiz flees into the night before he is reprimanded. It is later found out that he boarded a ship to the Americas.

    Mowmouth now flourishes in the care of Lady Greenford and Dame Mitchell. Stories of his triumph over the evil butler make him famous in London, and he is even visited by the Queen. When Lady Greenford dies, Dame Mitchell inherits her pension and Mowmouth and his wife and children live with her in happiness. When Mowmouth in turn dies after a long and blissful life with Dame Mitchell, the University of Oxford commissions a commemorative statue of him.

    Mowmouth’s memorial statue with Dame Mitchell visiting.

    The History of Dame Mitchell And Her Cat stresses the moral victory of good ultimately triumphing over evil as well as teaching the virtues of charity and not judging a book by its cover. These lessons are delivered through a compelling story and interspersed with beautiful illustrations, indeed making the story ‘instruction with delight’.

  9. Reading in the Library: Swati Joshi

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    We thought we would share with you the experience of one of our researchers Swati Joshi who visited the library as both a reader and tourist, Swati is a PhD student from India who is currently studying in Manchester, over to you Swati:

    Away from the humdrum of the Arndale the modern fashion hub of Manchester stands the 350-year old Chetham’s Library, the oldest public library in Britain, with its rich collection of books on diverse subjects such as Medicine, Gardening, Importance of Herbs, French and English Poetry, Theology, Literature, Politics, and much more. On each of my visits, I have felt at home in this elegant sandstone building that represents the heritage and history of Manchester. This ancient vessel of knowledge has books dating back to the 16th century.

    I visited Chetham’s library for the first time as a tourist, and during these illuminating guided tours, I discovered books useful for my thesis on the medical humanities. I booked an appointment and enjoyed reading the books at the place where Marx and Engels had studied and discussed the living conditions of the working classes. Everyone at the library has been so supportive, encouraging and generous about sharing the information of the various books and helping me gain access to the digital manuscripts.

    I highly recommend joining the guided tour of Chetham’s library, which will be an intellectual treat to all your senses, be it the smell of the wood and the stones, the texture of the antique objects, the visual delight of seeing stacks of books of varied sizes on myriads of subjects. These tours will definitely inspire you to make your next visit as a reader! I want to extend my gratitude to everyone at the library who made my experience of learning the most enlightening and the most memorable.

  10. Lasers and Tudor Woodwork

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    In honour of Dr. Peter Linfield’s upcoming walking tour of Tudor Manchester and the Earls of Derby, we thought we would promote some of his recent field research. Join Peter this Thursday morning on the 19th of May, for a tour of both the real and the would-be medieval carpentry of the Earls of Derby and their relations at 10.30, meeting at the Cathedral South Porch! Book here.

    On Wednesday 30 April 2022 Drs Ben Edwards and Peter N. Lindfield from the History Department at Manchester Metropolitan University undertook a detailed analysis of historic woodwork at Chetham’s Library. Under examination was Tudor spolia from the royal marriage bed of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York (the royal arms of England and France) and its associated Victorian Gothic Revival framework, which together form a royal sideboard supplied to the Library around 1848 by the Saddleworth architect, antiquary, and forger George Shaw (1810–76). 

    Scanning Tudor woodwork.

    Ben, an archaeologist, scanned areas of this woodwork with lasers to build up a detailed record of tool marks remaining across their surfaces. Other examples of Tudor carving from the royal marriage bed include a set of four heraldic lions. In addition, a copy of these lions by Shaw was also scanned and analysed in detail. When examined closely, these scans will allow Drs Edwards and Lindfield to understand these pieces of Tudor and Victorian carving to an unprecedented degree, and reveal distinct working methods and visual signatures left by the different medieval and Victorian craftsmen and the tools they used. This research will feed into a book on the royal marriage bed of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, that Dr. Lindfield is editing and will be published later this year.

    A closer look at the armorial woodwork.

    The Library staff, alongside Dr. Lindfield’s MA History students observed as these pieces of Tudor and Victorian carvings, were scanned. And received a first-hand explanation of the Tudor fragments, their significance, irregularity, and relationship to Tudor beds made in Lancashire for local families. One of which is in the collection of Chetham’s Library and known as the Adam Hulton bookcase, having been converted from a state bed into a bookcase before it was gifted to the Library by one of its Feoffees in 1827.