Roscoe’s University: Liverpool Royal Institution 1817 – 2017

To celebrate the bicentenary of the Liverpool Royal Institution, opened by William Roscoe on 25 November 1817, an exhibition is on display at the Sydney Jones and Harold Cohen libraries until the end of the year.

In addition, a reading of selected passages from Roscoe’s 80-page opening address will take place in the School of the Arts Library between 3 and 5pm of the 100 year anniversary date, with a tour of the exhibition. The free public event is hosted by Eighteenth-century worlds.

The display in the Harold Cohen cases, including the Toucan from within William Swainson’s Zoological Illustrations (1820) .

The Harold Cohen Library is showcasing scientific books from the Library of the Liverpool Royal Institution, including a selection of coloured plates of insects and birds which made use of the new technique of lithography. The plate of a toucan from the first volume of William Swainson’s Zoological Illustrations (1820; above image) recalls the Google doodle for Swainson’s (224th) birthday in 2013 (below image).  John Blackwall’s A History of the Spiders of Great Britain and Ireland (1861-1864) describes 300 spiders and illustrates 272 of them. It was the life’s work of the Manchester businessman, who retired to North Wales to complete it. The copy in the Liverpool Royal Institution Library was one of the first to be borrowed when rules changed to allow the fee-paying subscribers (“proprietors”) to take books home. The borrower, Rev. H. H. Higgins, had a professional interest, having arranged the invertebrate display in Liverpool’s Free Public Museum when it moved to William Brown Street.

The exhibition in the Special Collections and Archives exhibition area in ground floor Grove Wing, Sydney Jones Library.

This Week’s War: 170

Aside

“News of last few days confirms that Germans and Austrians have completely routed the [Valiais]? forces and are marching down Venezia. They claim to have captured 200,000 men and 1,000 guns.”

Entry dated Saturday 3rd November 1917, Diary of John Glasier [GP/2/1/24].

New Accessions: Children’s Literature

In our final blog post sharing the bumper crop of new accessions to SC&A over the summer we turn our attention to three additions to the children’s literature collections.

SPEC 2017.a.011

The first is an 1800 copy of Robinson Crusoe, bearing a woodcut frontispiece plate. This copy is printed in Liverpool, and is one of only 7 copies recorded on the ESTC in the British Isles. The item has a contemporary calf binding and is signed in ink on the upper inside board “Alex:r Patton Junr. Sundragen Dec.b 30th 1807”, it also bears the bookmark of William Kidd of Armagh.

The second item is an 1847 copy of “An alphabet of emblems“, with the publisher issued red buckram binding with gilt tooling.

SPEC 2017.a.016

This rather pious set of poems was designed to improve the moral fibre of the juvenile reader via poetry with biblical themes. The devout tone is somewhat improved, for the modern reader, by the images throughout (see below). This work, written by the Church of England clergyman Thomas Boyles Murray, has only four reported copies according to COPAC.

The final item in this round up of new children’s literature is “The little grammarian“, an 1828 book printed by that well known children’s book publisher John Harris.

SPEC 2017.a.021

Another effort from a clergyman (where did they find the time?!), this beautifully illustrated effort by William Fletcher introduces a young audience to the basics of English grammar.

All of these items are now available for consultation in SC&A, you can check our new website for information on how to make an appointment.

New Accessions: Guides to Health

As part of our series introducing new summer acquisitions to SC&A, we are pleased to showcase two items from 1854 and 1890.

SPEC 2017.a.023

Controul of the passions, printed in 1854, is, on the surface, a guide to the “duties and obligations of the married state”. With a brief nod towards conjugal relations the text focuses primarily on “self pollution”, gonorrhoea and other venereal diseases and includes some choice images of the ravages of syphilis. This item is exceptionally rare, despite it being printed as the twenty first edition, with no copy with this imprint being recorded elsewhere. In keeping with the theme of sexual health and propriety, the second acquisition is The golden referee: a guide to health, printed in 1890.

SPEC 2017.a.024

Heavy on “the injurious effects of solitary and sexual indulgence” one of the most interesting aspects of this book is a printed note on the inside upper wrapper stating that the copyright for the item is owned by Joseph Thornton Woodhead. The same Mr. Woodhead was the owner of the Liverpool Museum of Anatomy, a notorious attraction which remained open in Liverpool until 1937. On the lower wrapper is an advertisement for the Museum, previously at 29 Paradise Street, which seeks to present it as “An interesting collection! An intellectual study!! And a public advantage!!!”. In reality it offered a mix of models and diagrams of the human body, discreet consultations for men with sexual problems and even courses on midwifery with a heavy tone of morality, rather than titillation.

Already included in the collections here at SC&A is a copy of the descriptive catalogue of the Museum at shelfmark Y87.3.222, which includes a matching advertisement to the one found on The golden referee.

SPEC Y87.3.222

For further reading on medical museums the Sydney Jones Library holds:

  • Morbid curiosities: Medical museums in nineteenth-century Britain by Samuel J.M.M. Alberti
  • Medical museums: Past, present, future edited by Samuel J.M.M. Alberti and Elizabeth Hallam.
  • Anatomy as spectacle: Public exhibitions of the body from 1700 to present by Elizabeth Stephens.

New Accessions: Verse

SC&A was recently able to acquire some 22 items printed or published in Liverpool during the late eighteen or early nineteenth centuries, to add to its already extensive collections of local history, literature and publishing. Several items were displayed in Manuscripts and More on 17 August. Among the rest of the recent acquisitions are several in verse. 150 years before The Mersey Sound, Liverpool already had a busy community of poets such as Sarah Medley, whose book of Original poems: sacred and miscellaneous (1807; SPEC 2017.a.019) was printed here by James Smith; Robert Merdant, author of Country people; or, Pastoral poetry (1810), printed locally by Thomas Kaye (1810; SPEC 2017.a.008), and T. G. Lace, whose Ode on the present state of Europe was printed by M. Galway & Co in 1811, during the Napoleonic wars (SPEC 2016.PF1.14).

The vision for coquettes. An Arabian tale (SPEC 2017.c.006) a poem of unknown authorship, was printed by John M’Creery in 1804 and sold by, among others, the well-known Liverpool poet, abolitionist and bookseller Edward Rushton from his shop in Paradise Street.

An extract from The vision of coquettes

Several of the new items feature William Roscoe (1753-1851), the most prominent member of Liverpool’s intellectual community at this date and its most prolific author. These new items include several political pamphlets and one of his scientific works, A new arrangement of the plants of the monandrian class usually called scitamineae, published in London during Roscoe’s brief career as MP for Liverpool (1807; SPEC 2017.c.008).

SC&A also now hold one of the few copies in the UK of his anti-slavery campaign poem, The wrongs of Africa (in two parts: London 1787-8; SPEC 2017.b.011). Roscoe’s writing career had started with an Ode, printed in a few copies in 1774, which was then added to a meditative verse account of the area he was brought up in: Mount Pleasant: A descriptive poem which was printed at Warrington in 1777 (SPEC G11A(32.5)). The wrongs of Africa was his next poem, and marked a complete change of direction, inaugurating as it did the work of a circle of abolitionist poets living and working in Liverpool. These included Rushton, whose West-Indian eclogues appeared later in 1787 (in London); the Irish émigré engraver Hugh Mulligan, author of Poems chiefly on slavery and oppression (London, 1788), Peter Newby’s The wrongs of Almoona (printed by H. Hodgson in Liverpool, 1788), and Thomas Hall’s Achmet to Selim, or, The dying negro (printed in Liverpool by M’Creery in 1792). Part one of Roscoe’s poem was published in May 1787 and part two in February 1788; it was republished in Philadelphia later that year. More copies of the Liverpool printing survive in America than do in Britain; ours is one of eight copies known in UK libraries. It was formerly in Worcester Public Library.

Roscoe’s poem was published in an era when writing by slaves was, for obvious reasons, hardly known at all. Letters of the late Ignatius Sancho, an African, had appeared in 1782, and The interesting narrative of the life of Olaudah Equiano, one of the earliest formal autobiographies by a former slave, came out in 1789. Meanwhile abolition-minded writers in Liverpool and Bristol supplied the deficiency through the medium of poetic scenes and narratives in which slaves, normally denied a voice, were imagined to state their feelings to a sympathetic readership. The point was to engage public feeling by focusing on realities of life on the plantations and the suffering of the enslaved Africans. Roscoe complemented his verse tale with a soberly-argued prose account, A general view of the African slave-trade, demonstrating its injustice and impolicy: with hints towards a bill for its abolition (1788).

The poem is more psychological and emotive than economic or political in focus. According to the ‘Advertisement’ to the Part Two, it was originally planned in three parts, to focus sequentially on Africa, the passage to America, and the colonies, but only two parts were completed. Part One asks readers to transform the ‘sensibility’ they bring to the reading of sentimental fiction to active human sympathy in a pressingly real situation. It also addresses slave masters and the captains of slaving ships and a local ‘veteran trafficker’, in an attempt to provoke examination of the strange and twisted psychology involved in the enslavement of other human beings. It takes readers on an imaginary journey to Angola, portrays the peaceful life of the inhabitants before traders arrive, and blames the traders for corrupting local customs and covering the continent with fear. An inset story of two brothers, Arebo and Corymbo, caught up in a devastating raid, gives the narrative direct human appeal. Part Two imagines the passage to America from the perspective of the captured Africans. A planned revolt is bloodily thwarted. Its leader, Cymbello, an African prince educated in political principles similar to Roscoe’s own, and partly formed on the model of Aphra Behn’s seventeenth-century ‘royal slave’ Oroonoko, dies courageously with his lover in the carnage.  The last pages of the poem are devoted to a wide-ranging history of the concept of Freedom and a final address from Freedom herself, prophesying her final victory over the tyrants and enslavers of Europe and the world.

A year after Part Two was published, the French Revolution appeared to begin to dismantle the institutions of oppression (as they were perceived by Roscoe and his political allies). It would be another twenty years before the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act finally passed the House of Commons, and decades more before the practice itself was outlawed; but poems like Roscoe’s were an important initial element in the campaign, defiantly continued by Roscoe and his colleagues in Liverpool, Bristol and London, to bring the atrocities of the trade to public view and to stimulate human sympathy for an otherwise largely voiceless and invisible mass of people. It is fitting that this rare printed item should return to the place where it was written.

A guest blog post written by Paul Baines from the Department of English.

New Acquisitions: August

A bumper month for new acquisitions here in SC&A. One of the main collecting areas for the department is items printed in, or about, Liverpool.

SPEC 2017.b.003 – Memoirs of mammoth

Memoirs of mammoth was printed in Liverpool in 1806 by G.F. Harris. The author, Thomas Ashe (1770-1835), travelled in America and sent the first mammoth bones back to Britain. The work details the discovery and composition of the mammoth bones which were held at the Liverpool Museum.

SPEC 2016.P2.07 – The geology of the hundred of Wirral

This pamphlet, by John Cunningham and printed in 1864 by J. Oliver in Birkenhead, details the geology of the Wirral with particular reference to the water supply. Items printed by J. Oliver are exceptionally rare with only four works reported to COPAC, this item is not among them making it the only known copy, particularly nice as it is dedicated to a Thomas Duncan by the author.

 

SPEC 2017.c.005 – An address to the merchants of Liverpool

SCA has a wealth of material relating to the maritime history of Liverpool and this 1806 stab-sewn pamphlet is an excellent addition to the collections. Willis Earle, a local timber merchant, was elected to investigate the financial accounts of the Liverpool Dock Estate, it includes a recent history of the docks and the effect of recent Parliamentary Acts on the workings of the port.

SPEC 2017.b.010 – A form of prayer, and a new collection of Psalms

This 1763 volume is one of only 11 copies reported to the ESTC and is beautifully bound in gilt tooled black morocco. The text is a first edition of the experimental non-conformist liturgy at the Octagon Chapel in Liverpool which was developed by Philip Holland and Richard Godwin.

SPEC 2017.b.010 – provenance

The volume bears the names of Robert Pilkington, Joseph Pilkington and Esther Holland. A pencil note explains: “Given by Esther Holland who was the daughter of Robert Pilkington, to her cousin Joseph Pilkington”.

SPEC 2017.a.010 – The stereotype ready reckoner

The final item in this collection of Liverpool related items is an 1814 ready reckoner, owned by an officer of excise. A ready reckoner is a table listing standard calculations such as weights and measures and rates of interest.

These items are available to consult in our reading room, you can find out how to make an appointment on our new website.

 

This Week’s War: 159

Aside

“I am saying that in order to urge the need of strict economy, the continued need, and even the greater need of strict economy, because we have to think not merely of the condition of things in this country, we also have to think of our Allies, France and Italy.”

Fact v. Fiction: Mr Lloyd George’s Statement on Shipping and Food Supplies (House of Commons, Thursday 16th August 1917) [SPEC S/D525 (P.C. 227)]

International Cat Day

Today we are feline very good in Special Collections and Archives – August 8th 2017 is International Cat Day. As we are cat-loving librarians and archivists, we have selected a taster of our best cat themed items from the Children’s books, Science Fiction Foundation Collections, Cunard Archive, and University Archive fur you to enjoy.

Children’s Literature

SC&A houses more than 7000 pre-First World War children’s books, of which the tale of mischievous cats throughout is a common feature. In The Tale of Tom Kitten, Tom and his siblings Mittens and Moppet play outside in their best clothes, only for them to be stolen by ducks (Oldham 173). Tit, Tiny, and Tittens: The Three White Kittens are a handful, too – they get themselves in all sorts of predicaments (JUV 308:60).

Oldham 173

JUV.308:60

The History of Whittington and His Cat is the feline rags to riches story we are all familiar with. The copy held here in Special Collections is in the form of a chapbook, a small paperback for children which would sell for a cheap price and provide a story with a moral message. This copy also includes the alphabet, allowing children to practice their reading skills from the most basic stage (Oldham 43).

Oldham 43

Science Fiction Foundation Collections

Continuing the theme of children’s literature, the below novel from the Science Fiction collections is written for the young adults audience in the Bantam Action series. In this short novel, robot cats are created to clean-up the city, but are hijacked and used for evil deeds (PR6061.I39.C99 1996). Cats also crop-up regularly in Science Fiction as representation of earth-like normality and domesticity on space ships (for presumably a similar purpose as a ships cat; see below). A personal favorite is Jonesy, Ripley’s ginger tom, from the Alien franchise.

PR6061.I39.C99 1996

Cunard

Cats were commonplace aboard ships for many reasons – they caught vermin, provided comfort to crew, and even predicted storms through their enhanced sensitivity to low pressure environments. Some ships cats have become famous; ‘Unsinkable Sam’, a German cat, survived the sinking of three ships during World War II! From the Cunard archive here, we see below Captain Rostron’s cat and her adorable kittens aboard the Mauretania, from the Cunard Magazine during the mid 1920s (D42/PR5/12).

D42/PR5/12. Cunard Magazine, Vol. 16.

University Archive 

A prominent deposit within the staff papers of the University Archive are the papers of Professor (and Sir) Charles Reilly. One of the most important figures in the history of twentieth-century architecture in Britain, Sir Reilly dominated architectural education and had a profound influence on architectural practice. The below photograph shows Sir Charles Reilly holding a rather uninterested Timoshenko the cat, in the garden of his home in Twickenham during the the World War II era (D938/2/15).

D938/2/15. Photograph by Louise Sedgwick ©

The Special Collections and Archives Cats

From the top left to the bottom right: Audrey and Lilly (Jo Klett, University Archivist), Clara (Katy Hooper, Special Collections Librarian), Chester (Robyn Orr, Library Assistant), Yan, Barry, and Hamilton (Jenny Higham, Special Collections and Archives Manager), and Reginald Ecclefechan (Lucy Evans, Assistant Librarian – Special Collections).

All of these items are available to view right meow in the Special Collections and Archives reading room (except our pet cats – we wish, though…). Please do see our website for more information on visiting us.

This Week’s War: 155

Aside

“In the present crisis the question of the supply of food for the population of the country, both human and animal, has come to occupy a place in the mind of the intelligent… it has become a matter of absorbing interest to every thinking man, and almost a nightmare to many.”

Extract from preface dated July 1917, The National Food Supply in Peace and War by T.B. Wood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1917), reference number SPEC POV X48.3.47.

The General Election 2017

As the U.K. prepares itself to vote in the snap General Election, we thought it fitting to show some of the printed and archival material held here in Special Collections and Archives from the elections of the past.

Within our printed collection holdings, many pamphlets of the nineteenth century highlight the popular political topics of the day. Sydney Charles Buxton became an MP for the Liberal Party in the late nineteenth century, shortly after his publication of Electoral Purity and Economy (London: The London and Counties Liberal Union, 1882). The paper is written to suggest reforms in the electoral process to counteract bribery and expenses, which the reader is encouraged to undertake and promote themselves. The below referenced “crushed” Corrupt Practices Act finally came into fruition in 1883, formally known as the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Act. This was the first act which required the expenses of candidates to be publicly published.

SPEC Y84.3.269 (9)

SPEC Y84.3.269 (9)

We also hold archival material relating to individuals who held both local and national political positions. Eleanor Rathbone sat as an Independent MP for the Combined English Universities, and as a local councilor for the Granby Ward from 1909 -1935. Eleanor was instrumental in the passing of a number of bills, including those with a focus upon benefiting the socio-economic position of women and children.

RP XIV.3.3

RP XIV.3.3

The Glasier papers provide us with an insight to the political movements of the Independent Labour Party (ILP) through politician John Bruce Glasier and his wife, Katharine Glasier. In 1900 John Bruce Glasier became the chair of the ILP, which he held for three years. In the campaign pamphlet shown below, Glasier was standing in Bordesley, Birmingham – a campaign which was unsuccessful.

GP/5/2/2 (6)

GP/5/2/2 (6)

Lastly, the David Owen Archive is abundant with material relating to his time as a member of both the Labour party and the Social Democrats. Below is campaign material from the 1974 parliamentary election, when Owen was successfully elected as MP for Plymouth Devonport, holding the seat for the Labour Party.

D709 2/2/4/3

D709 2/2/4/3

D709 2/2/4/3

D709 2/2/4/3

All of the items included within this post are available to view in our reading room. Please see our website for more information on booking an appointment.

You can read the Manuscripts and More post for the General Election in 2015 here.