Tag Archives: Editions

Transferring Structual Remembrances

John Nichols, Binding directions for Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica, vol. 3, 1790

Friday n° 40, July 19th, 2019

“The plan of this Number was suggested by a valuable collection of Letters that passed between Mr. R. Gale and some of the most eminent Antiquaries of his time, which had been presented by his grandson to Mr. George Allan of Darlington. This gentleman, with the indefatigable diligence which distinguishes all his pursuits, transcribed them all into three quarto volumes, and communicated them to Mr. Gough, with a wish that in some mode or other they might be made public.”[1]

John Nichols, in: Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica, No. 2, part 1, General preface (1781).

When in 1781 the learned printer and editor John Nichols printed the first of three parts of Reliquiae Galeanae as the second volume of his Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica, this marked a point which is seldom observed and communicated as detailed as in this case: the point where references to a certain body of information, in this case the learned members of the Gale family, are no longer a private phenomenon but are taken up by an institution.

Institutional connections

The quote given above does in itself not convey any sense of an institution at work here: All people referred to are mentioned as individual persons without any affiliations clearly visible. By having a closer look at the matter however it becomes clear that the Society of Antiquaries served as the common denominator uniting them all.

Roger Gale (1672–1744) had been, together with his brother Samuel Gale (1682–1754) among those who re-founded the Society in 1717/18 and had been acting as its first vice-president, while Samuel had been its first treasurer (for 21 years, until 1739/40) – and it was their letters that formed the “valuable collection” reprinted by Nichols. George Allan (1736 – 1800) , who had acquired these letters, had for long carried out his antiquarian interests privately in his native county of Durham when he was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1774, so that he at the time No. 2, part 1 of the Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica went off the press had been a member of that illustrious body for seven years already. Richard Gough (1735–1809), to whom he had communicated the papers, had been elected into the SAS already in 1767 and since 1771 served as its director.

Now Gough also had been a follower of the work of William Stukeley (1687–1765) since his studies at Cambridge, who had been a close friend of both Roger and Samuel Gale, had also been one of the re-founders of the Society of Antiquaries, and in 1739 had married their sister Elizabeth Gale as his second wife. Moreover, Gough was a close friend of John Nichols (1745–1826), the printer, to whose major journal, the Gentleman’s Magazine, and Historical Chronicle, he contributed frequently, as well as developing editorial projects with him (such as, for instance, the Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica). This was nothing accidental also, as Nichols’s printing house had served the Society of Antiquaries as its official printer since 1736. Nichols himself was only admitted as a fellow into the Society in 1810, but throughout his career avidly pursued antiquarian interests and printed corresponding publications.

Leaving the family circles…

The only one falling out of this raster is Roger Gale’s grandson, Henry Gale (1744–1821), who, like his father Roger Henry Gale (1710–1768), does not seem to have shared the antiquarian interests of his ancestors. When – as I detailed here recently – Roger Henry Gale sold at least some of the books his grandfather and father left him in 1759, he obviously still kept the manuscript letters of his father and uncle, which his son Henry Gale could then, at some point after his father’s death, present to George Allan. In the fourth generation counted from Thomas Gale, the first and major learned member of the family, virtually all the materials needed for references to him and his sons had left the narrow circles of family ownership and had become dispersed among institutions, collectors, and other private owners. With the family displaying no interest in frequently referring to its learned predecessors, this would now likely be the point in time at which structural forgetting would set in. From the perspective of Thomas Gale, one of my protagonists, this unfortunate event took place a good sixty years after his own death in 1702.

…and passing into institutional channels

At this point, the letters came – via George Allen and Richard Gough – into one of the publications printed by John Nichols, changing the medium the information incorporated in this body of correspondence circulated in and, at least potentially, offering them to a wider public. The Society of Antiquaries itself cannot be credited with having initiated this development though, as Nichols’ publication was a commercial enterprise devised by Gough and him, and not commissioned by the corporate body as such. But it provided the necessary platform to connect the relevant actors responsible for putting Roger and Samuel Gale’s correspondence out in print, and it supplied them with a motive to do so. As Nichols in 1790 put it in the General Preface to the complete version of all three parts the 1781 issue had been the first of:

“Among the various Labours of Literary Men, there have always been certain Fragments whose Size could not secure them a general Exemption from the Wreck of Time, which their intrinsic Merit entitled them to survive; but having been gathered up by the Curious, or thrown into Miscellaneous Collections by Booksellers, they have been recalled into Existence, and by uniting together have defended themselves from Oblivion, Original Pieces have been called in to their Aid, and formed a Phalanx that might withstand every Attack from the Critic to the Cheesemonger, and contributed to the Ornament as well as Value of Libraries.”[2]

ohn Nichols, Antiquities in Lincolnshire, General Preface (1790).

Fighting Oblivion

This was exactly what Roger and Samuel Gale had aimed at in re-founding the Society of Antiquaries: fighting oblivion, and rescuing as many vestiges of bygone times as possible; in 1726 Roger Gale had written to John Clerk that in the meantime they had succeeded in that “a great many old seals, ruins, and other monuments of antiquity have been preserved from oblivion, and the danger of being intirely [sic] lost in a little time”[3], and Samuel Gale had in 1712 addressed Thomas Hearne (1678-1735) in a letter as that “[t]he Learned World is indebted to you for your sedulous Preservation of so many antient [sic] Monuments which otherwise in a little Time must have utterly perished.”[4] The remaining question is whether they achieved these goals, and if they did, for which period of time.

To which effect?

I would doubt that the institutional framework within which these references were now made and within which information about the Gale family circulated contributed little to rescuing them from becoming structurally forgotten. The communication circuit Nichols’ publication created via the audience it targeted was larger than the family or even the Society of Antiquaries as a whole, but it still remained a limited number of persons who took an interest in such matters. The predominant media products for the circulation of reference to the Gales – Thomas Gale first and foremost – since the middle of the 18th century were dictionaries, as I already hinted at; and even within their circuits there was no escape from becoming structurally forgotten. Even if scholars would were so lucky as to have an institution to care about their memory after their death, to really preserve that memory it needed a special kind of institution, which the Society of Antiquaries unfortunately was not.  

[1] Nichols, John (ed.): Bibliotheca topographica Britannica. No II. Part I. Containing Reliquiae Galeanae; or miscellaneous pieces by the late brothers Roger and Samuel Gale. In which will be included their Correspondence with their learned Contemporaries, Memoirs of their Family, and an Account of the Literary Society at Spalding. Printed by and for J. Nichols, Printer to the Society of Antiquaries: and Sold by All the Booksellers in Great-Britain and Ireland, London 1781, General Preface, p. [i].

[2] Nichols, John (ed.): Antiquities in Lincolnshire; being the third volume of the Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica. London: Printed by and for J. Nichols, 1790, General Preface, p. [i].

[3] Roger Gale to John Clerk, 26 April 1726, Bodleian Library MS Top Gen D 74, pp. 178–186; here p. 185.  

[4] Samuel Gale to Thomas Hearne, London 15 November 1712, Bodleian Library MS Rawl Letter 15/16 (Letters to Thomas Hearne Vol. 15–16, Letters G–T), p. 11.  

Travelling Notes

Snippet of the announcement of William Whiston’s Works of Flavius Josephus, 2nd ed., 1758

Friday n° 38, July 5th, 2019

Printed never before?

The Reverend William Whiston, from his memoirs (1753).

The London booksellers Benjamin White (c.1725–1794) and John Whiston (1711-1780), who kept a flourishing trade in used books, in their catalogue for the first half of 1758 not only gave a detailed description of their stock in second-hand literature but on the closing pages also advertised some “Books printed for J. Whiston and B. White”,[1] among them the second edition of the English theologian of questionable orthodoxy and classical scholar William Whiston’s (1667-1752) 1737 translation of the works of Flavius Josephus.[2]

The subtitle of this second edition now really went as in this advertisement: “with notes of the learned Reland, Cellarius, Dean Aldrich, and Dr. Bernard, none of which are in any other translation.”[3]

A claim which had not been in the title page of the first edition, and a bold one to make. Now, as we all know, advertising is one thing, delivering another. So had William Whiston really delivered on his claim to these exclusive notes?

Printed amongst many others

Now what makes Whiston’s claim a bit difficult to examine is that editing and translating Flavius Josephus had become a bit of a sport amongst early 18th century philologists. There were many other competing Latin, German, French, Dutch, and English translations of Josephus around against which Whiston’s edition had to compete on the book market. The decade before Whiston’s first Josephus edition of 1737 alone had seen at least seven similar publications in ten editions.[4] Of these, none claimed to have had access to Reland’s materials but one, that of Siwart Haverkamp (1684–1742), professor of Greek at Leiden university since 1720, which had been printed in 1726.[5]

Snippet from the title page of Siwart Haverkamp’s Flavii Josephi quae reperiri poterunt opera omnia (1726)

Haverkamp claimed in his subtitle to have used the notes of  “Edward Bernard [1638-1697], Jacob Gronovius [1645-1716], François Combefis [1605-1679], Joan Sibranda [1668-1696], Henry Aldrich [1648-1710], and, as [of yet] unedited in all of Flavius Josephus’s works, Johannes Coccejus [1603-1669], Ezechiel Spanheim [1629-1710], Adriaan Reland [1676-1718] & selected others”. But unlike Whiston, who did not care to discuss his sources neither in his text nor in a preface, and who also in his memoirs only would say about his edition that “[i]n the same year, 1737, I published, The genuine Works of Flavius Josephus, the Jewish Historian, in English. Translated from the original Greek, according to Havercamp’s accurate edition,”[6] Haverkamp was quite explicit as to where he got his manuscript notes from. In the case of Reland, he said that

“Reland’s [copies of the] works of Josephus really contain no small merit; for they are inserted with blank leaves wherever he had collected many and laborious notes and observations piling up, when oh! too early he succumbed to the fate of all men. There are many among these [notes] which I am eager to confirm though, shedding very much light on the Greatest of Authors, or explaining the meaning or doctrine of the writers wonderfully. We are indebted to the praiseworthy benevolence of his heirs.”[7]

Haverkamp (ed.), Flavii Josephi quae reperiri potuerunt opera omnia (1742), p. 7.

So assuming this passage to be correct for want of evidence to the contrary, it seems that Haverkamp had sometime between Reland’s death and 1726, when his own edition went to print, approached Reland’s widow and acquired the annotated edition(s) of Josephus from amongst his papers – which explains why such an item is neither found in the auction catalogue of Reland’s library nor in that of his son. Most likely this would have taken place after 1720, when Havercamp was called to the post of professor of Greek at Leiden, and a few years after, because he inserted Reland’s notes into his edition on a quite frequent basis. The first volume alone contains more than 65 of them.[8]

Printed never before [in this context]

What Whiston’s claim thus boils down to if compared with his own acknowledged sources is that his work contained “notes of the learned Reland, Cellarius, Dean Aldrich, and Dr. Bernard, none of which are in any other [English] translation.”[9] The notes of Reland, Aldrich, and Bernard had already been included in Havercamp’s edition of Josephus, and from a first preliminary cross-check it seems to me that Whiston just translated them from Havercamp’s text, so that he would likely not have had access to manuscript material. This has however to be verified more closely, because Whiston only started advertising it for his second edition, which was published posthumously in 1755 (Whiston died in 1752). As Havercamp had already died in 1742, Whiston might still have acquired Reland’s copy of Josephus from Havercamp’s library. As to Christoph Cellarius (1638-1707), Whiston did nothing than Havercamp had already done, who had quoted extensively from Cellarius’s Geographia antiqua iuxta et nova, which had seen print for the first time in 1686 already.[10]

Printed never again?

Now the question of course is: What’s the point? How is this related to my protagonists (in this case Reland) being structurally remembered or forgotten? Well, there are two interesting observations connected to William Whiston’s edition of Flavius Josephus. First, it soon became the standard English version of Josephus for almost two centuries, reprinted, re-issued and re-edited over and over again. And second, from quite early on the reference to Reland was dropped from the title page. The 1770 Birmingham edition already did not mention it anymore and said only “with notes critical and explanatory”.[11] So while Reland’s notes still travelled on in disguise in the body of the text, the fact itself was rarely mentioned, and despite the enormous popularity of Whiston’s edition not circulated anymore. And that’s what structural forgetting is like.

Snippet from the title page of the 1770 Birmingham edition of William Whiston’s Works of Flavius Josephus, with no reference to Reland anymore.

[1] Cf. John Whiston and Benjamin White: Bibliotheca elegans & utilis. A catalogue of the libraries of a noble peer, deceased, William Rutty, M. D. F. R. S. &c. With some Books imported from Abroad, … In Various Languages, and in all Arts, Sciences and Polite Literature. Many in elegant Condition, on Royal Paper, and in Morocco Bindings. […]  Also a choice Collection of Reports and other Law Books, which will be sold very cheap (the Price printed in the Catalogue) on Thursday, January 26, 1758, and continue on Sale till July next. By John Whiston and Benjamin White, Booksellers in Fleet-Street. Catalogues may be had (price 6d) of Messrs. Dodsley, Pall-Mall; Mr. Chapelle, Grosvenor Street; Mr. Millar, in the Strand; Child’s Coffee-House, St. Paul’s Church-Yard; Mr. Henderson, Royal-Exchange; of the Booksellers, at Cambridge, Oxford, and the principal Towns in England. And at the Place of Sale. [London]: n.p. [1758]

[2] William Whiston (ed., transl.): The genuine works of Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian. Translated from the original Greek, according to Havercamp’s accurate edition; Containing twenty books of the Jewish antiquities, with the appendix, or Life of Josephus, written by himself: seven books of the Jewish war; and two books against Apion […] To this book are prefixed eight dissertations […] With an account of Jewish coins, weights, and measures, London: Whiston 1737.

[3] William Whiston (ed., transl.): The genuine works of Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian: translated from the original Greek, according to Havercamp’s accurate edition: with notes of the learned Reland, Cellarius, Dean Aldrich, and Dr. Bernard, none of which are in any other translation: illustrated with new plans and descriptions of the Tabernacle of Moses, the Temples of Solomon, Herod, and Ezekiel, and with correct maps of Judea and Jerusalem : together with large notes and observations, contents, parallel texts of Scripture, and compleat indexes : also the true chronology of the several histories, adjusted in the margin, and an exact account of the Jewish coins, weights, and measure, London: Whiston et al., 1755.

[4] An overview in chronological order, without any claim to completeness:

  • Jackson, H. (ed.): A compleat collection of the genuine works of Flavius Josephus faithfully translated from the original Greek, and compared with the translation of Sir Roger L’Estrange, Knight. Containing, I. The Life of Josephus, written by himself. II. The Antiquities of the Jews. In Twenty Books. III. Josephus’s Book against Apion, in Defence of the Antiquities of the Jews. In Two Parts. IV. The Wars of the Jews with the Romans. In Seven Books. V. The Martyrdom of the Maccabees; And, VI. Philo’s Embassy from the Jews of Alexandria, to Caius Caligula. With Explanatory Notes, and Marginal References. To which are prefix’d, several remarks and observations upon the writings of Josephus. By H. Jackson. Gent. The Whole illustrated with Maps and Cuts, curiously engraven on Copper-Plates, with an Addition of a new Plate of the Elevation of the Tower of Babel, taken from Calmet, London: Henry 1732, 2nd ed. Brindley et al. 1736
  • Willem Sewel (ed.): Alle de werken van Flavius Josephus, behelzende twintig boeken van de Joodsche oudheden, het verhaal van zyn eygen leeven, de histori van den oorlóg der Jooden tegen de Romeynen, de twee boeken tegen Apion, en de beschryvinge van den marteldoodt der Machabeen. Waarby komt het gezantschap van Philo aan den keyzer Kaligula, Amsterdam: Schagen 1732
  • Court, John (ed.): The works of Flavius Josephus which are extant. Containing, I. The history of the antiquities of the Jews. In twenty books. II. The life of the author, Flavius Josephus. Written by himself. III. The wars of the Jews. In seven books. IV. The defence of the Jewish antiquities against Apion. Two books. V. Of the Maccabees. One book. Translated from the original Greek, according to Dr. Hudson’s edition. By John Court; Gent. To which are added, a dissertation on the writings and credit of Josephus, and Christopher Noldius’s history of the life and actions of Herod the Great, never before rendered into English. With explanatory notes, tables, maps, and a large and accurate index, London: Penny, Janeway 1733
  • L’Estrange, Roger (ed., transl.): The works of Flavius Josephus: translated into English by Sir Roger L’Estrange knight. Viz. I. The antiquities of the Jews: in twenty books. II. Their wars with the Romans: in seven books. III. The life of Josephus: written by himself. IV. His book against Apion, in defence of the antiquities of the Jews . In two parts. V. The martyrdom of the Maccabees. VI. Philo’s embassy from the Jews of Alexandria to Caius Caligula. All carefully revised, and compared with the original Greek. To which are added, two discourses, and several remarks and observations upon Josephus. Together with maps, sculptures, and accurate indexes. The fifth edition. With the Addition of a New Map of Palestine, the Temple of Jerusalem, and the Genealogy of Herod the Great, taken from Villalpandus, Reland, &c., London: Knapton, Osborne, Longman et. al. 1733
  • Johann Baptist Ott (ed., transl.): Des vortrefflichen Jüdischen Geschicht-Schreibers Flavii Josephi Sämtliche Wercke; Nemlich: Zwantzig Bücher von den Jüdischen Altersthümern, zwey von dem alten Herkommen der Juden wider Apion, Eins von dem Martyrthum der machabeer, samt seiner von ihm selbst verfaßten Lebens-Beschreibung, Wie auch Desselben Sieben Bücher von dem Krieg der Juden mit den Römern, und beygefügte Beschreibung Egesippi von der zerstöhrung Jerusalems; Alles mit dem Griechischen Grund-Text sorgfältig verglichen und neu übersetzet, auch überdis mit einer weitläufigen Vorrede […] versehen und ausggezieret, 2 vols., Zürich: Geßner 1734, 2nd ed. 1736
  • Arnauld d’Andilly (ed.): Histoire des Juifs écrite par Flavius Joseph sous le titre de “Antiquités judaïques”, traduite sur l’original grec revu sur divers manuscrits, par M. Arnauld d’Andilly. Tome I [-III]. – Histoire de la guerre des Juifs contre les Romains par Flavius Joseph et sa vie écrite par lui-même, traduite du grec par M. Arnauld d’Andilly. Tome IV. – Histoire de la guerre des Juifs contre les Romains ; Réponse à Appion ; Martyre des Machabées, par Flavius Joseph et sa Vie écrite par luy mesme, avec ce que Philon, juif, a escrit de son ambassade vers l’empereur Caïus Caligula, traduite du grec par M. Arnauld d’Andilly. Tome V, Paris: Caillau, 1735-1736.

[5] Haverkamp, Siwart (ed.): Flavii Josephi quae reperiri potuerunt opera omnia Graece et Latine, cum notis & nova versione Joannis Hudsoni … : accedunt nunc primum notae integrae, ad Graeca Josephi et varios ejusdem libros D. Eduardi Bernardi, Jacobi Gronovii, Francisci Combefisii, Jo. Sibrandae, Hendr. Aldrichii ut & ineditae in universa Flavii Josephi opera, Joannis Coccei, Ezechielis Spanhemii, Hadriani Relandi, & selectae aliorum ; adjiciuntur in fine Caroli Daubuz Libri duo pro testimonio Flavii Josephi de Jesu Christo ; et ejusdem argumenti Epistolae XXX. virorum doctorum, ut Reinesii, Snellii, Jo. Fr. Gronovii aliorumque philologicae & historicae ; ut & Petri Brinch Examen chronologiae et historiae Josephicae ; Jo. Baptist. Ottii Animadversiones ad Josephum & Specimen lexici Flaviani ; Christ. Noldii Historia Idumaea seu de vita et gestis Herodum, &c. &c., quorum syllabus exstat ante initium libri primi antiquitatum, Amsterdam: R. & G. Wetstein; Leiden: Sam. Luchtmans; Utrecht: Jacob Broedelet, 1726.

[6] John Whiston (ed.), William Whiston: Memoirs of the life and writings of Mr. William Whiston. Containing, memoirs of several of his friends also. Written by himself, 2nd. ed., London: Whiston & White, 1753, p. 303.

[7] Haverkamp, Flavii Josephi opera omnia 1726, vol. 1, 1726, praefatio p. 7: “Relandi vero meritum haud exiguum quoque erga Josephum exstitit; inserta enim charta pura, ubique Notas suas & Animadversiones seminaverat, in numerum molemque majorem excreturas, si per acerba, heu! tanti viri fata licuisset. Sunt tamen illae tales, ut adfirmare ausim, plurimam Auctori Maximo lucem affundere, atque ingenium scribentis doctrinamque mirifice commendare. Debemus illas haeredum laudatissime benevolentiae.“

[8] Cf. Haverkamp, Flavii Josephi opera omnia 1726, vol. 1, 1726, pp. 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 16, 17, 18, 20, 23, 24, 25, 30, 31, 33, 34, 35, 36, 40, 47, 58, 82, 83, 95, 108, 134, 137, 141, 158, 183, 204, 209, 215, 232, 244, 250, 252, 283, 345, 352, 409, 433, 434, 445, 484, 490, 528, 539, 554, 563, 612, 646, 647, 684, 686, 699, 737, 768, 818, 864, 876, 877, 964; sometimes multiple notes per page.

[9] William Whiston (ed., transl.): The genuine works of Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian: translated from the original Greek, according to Havercamp’s accurate edition: with notes of the learned Reland, Cellarius, Dean Aldrich, and Dr. Bernard, none of which are in any other translation: illustrated with new plans and descriptions of the Tabernacle of Moses, the Temples of Solomon, Herod, and Ezekiel, and with correct maps of Judea and Jerusalem : together with large notes and observations, contents, parallel texts of Scripture, and compleat indexes : also the true chronology of the several histories, adjusted in the margin, and an exact account of the Jewish coins, weights, and measure, London: Whiston et al., 1755.

[10] Christoph Cellarius: Christophori Cellarii Smalcaldiensis Geographia Antiqva iuxta & Nova : Recognita & ad veterum nouorumque scriptorum fidem, historicorum maxime, idemtidem castigata, & plurimis locis aucta ac immutata.  Geographia antiqua, Ad veterum Historiarum, siue à principio rerum ad Constantini Magni tempora deductarum, faciliorem explicatonem adparata : Paemissa est in omnium temporum Geographiam brevis Introductio, Zeitz: Bielke 1686.

[11] [William Whiston (ed.)]: The genuine works of Flavius Josephus: faithfully translated from the original Greek. Containing I. The Life of Josephus, written by himself. II. The Antiquities of the Jews, in twenty Books. III. The Wars of the Jews with the Romans. IV. Defence of the Antiquities of the Jews against Appion. and V. The Martyrdom of the Maccabees. With notes critical and explanatory. The whole illustrated with a beautiful set of copper-plates, 58 installments, Birmingham: Christopher Earl [1770], title page.

For Family, Knowledge, and Country

Philip Sydenham to Thomas Hearne, Brympton St Every, 23 May [1725?] (Bodleian Library, MS Rawls letters 15, f. 473-474)

Friday N° 24, March 22nd, 2019

I have been writing about the entanglements between lexicographical biographic memoralization and national ideas in my last post and had originally announced going further in this direction only in next week’s post. As I was in Oxford for archival research at the Bodleian library to consult correspondences I had not awaited to find anything in there fitting this thread of investigation of my sources. But sometimes one’s in for a bit of a surprise, and so I might try to connect some of my findings in these letters to the theme of national framings of knowledge.

Last week I already observed that British dictionaries and encyclopaedias where going for the national label early in the 19th century. This of course provokes the question whether this was a new development, coming out of the blue, or something which might be connected to longer-running developments. 

The introductory clipping from Philip Sydenham’s (c.1676-1739) letter to Thomas Hearne (1678-1735) points in the latter direction. In his letter, Sydenham complements Hearne to his edition of the itinerary of John Leland (c.1506-552);[1] the full passage runs:

“I hope y[ou]r publick Services for ye Honor & good of this Nation will receive publick approbation. this will be one m[anu]s[cript] to preserve & recover our old Noble Constitution many very valuable M[anu]s[cript]s deserv ye publick reading & encouragment & I hope y[ou] will proceed. ye more ancient ye more brave & Noble.”[2]

Sydenham thus entangled the antiquarian pursuits of Hearne’s, who was an avid editor of medieval manuscripts besides being librarian to the Bodleian library, with the national “Honor” in two ways, on the one hand by the scholarly value of his results and their potential of contributing to a better “publick” understanding of the nation’s past, and on the other hand by linking this more directly to the conditions for being a nation, to “our old Noble Constitution” to be retrieved this way. While this way of searching the origin and the primordial good laws of a community in the past was entirely in keeping with early modern conceptions of how time and historical research operated, the appeal to “publick approbation […] reading & encouragment” is somewhat more unusual and already seems to point to later developments in constructing national identities on a larger scale.

But Sydenham had more to offer still. In the next paragraph, he directly linked Hearne’s other professional activities, that as a librarian, both to the advancement of learning in general – as was a fairly common topos – and – a less common inflection –, to national honour also:

“I am glad [that] y[ou]r Library (=the Bodleian) is daily improving. it is so much for ye Honor of ye Nation, & interest of Learning.[3]

The three intersecting topoi of interest here, from the perspective of my project, are 1) ‘Fighting Oblivion’, 2) ‘Advancement of Learning’, and 3) ‘National Glory’. To see how this affects my protagonists, of whom there has been no mention yet in this post, I’ll have to take you to another of Hearne’s editions, the development of which was indeed coupled to the Leland volumes Sydenham already praised.

In 1716, Roger Gale (1672-1744), eldest son of Thomas Gale, approached Thomas Hearne in the same way as Sydenham would do nine years later, by complementing him on his just published Leland edition. The real aim of the letter was something else, though. Gale wanted to secure Hearne’s editorship for a manuscript in his possession, the Scotichronicon of John of Fordun (or Ffordun, c.1320-c.1386), which already had been partly edited by his father.[4] Hearne willingly accepted Gale’s offer of providing him with the manuscript and every assistance necessary for the edition and publication of the chronicle.[5] Both entered a long-drawn out process of working on the edition in which Roger Gale was constantly checking on Hearne to ensure the progress of the work, to provide him with colligations from other manuscripts, and helping him to gain enough subscribers for publication, he himself taking 20 copies.[6] When in 1722 the Fordun edition finally went to the press,[7] the Gale family was highly pleased with the result.

First, it represented a success in the endeavours of both Roger and his younger brother Samuel Gale, who both had been founding members of the Society of Antiquaries in 1718, in fighting oblivion. To do so represented a recurrent thread in their discussions of all fields of research they were actively engaged in, and print seemed a convenient way of doing it. When on February 25th, 1723, Samuel Gale held a speech before the Society of Lincoln, he spoke about the benefits of engraving:

“Give me Leave, Gentlemen, to Congratulate ye latter age on this Noble Invention, this Beneficial Discovery, and which alone seems to surpass all the great Things the Ancients ever did. Since eben the mouldring Fragments of theire proudest Structures, ye Temples of ye Gods, ye Statues of ye Heroes, ye Hippodromes ye Amphitheatres the Triumphal Arches, Aquaeducts, Military Ways, Baths, Colums, Medals, and Inscriptions, which yet, feebly beare up against ye power of corroding Time: even these Remaines I say of Athens, Corinth, and of Rome can be, and are now, only by this diffusive Art, triumphantly rescu’d from that total Havock, ye everlasting oblivion: Which a few more revolving years must inevitably bring on, and that of the Poet, then be too sadly verified: etiam periere Ruinae.”[8]

In 1726, Roger Gale took recourse to almost the same words in a letter to John Clerk to explain the purpose of the Society of Antiquaries, only with less rhetorical flourish:

“Besides the ½ guinea payd upon admission, one shilling is deposited every month by each member, and this money has been hitherto expended in buying a few books, but more in drawing and engraving, whereby a great many old seals, ruins, and other monuments of antiquity have been preserved from oblivion, and the danger of being intirely lost in a little time.”[9]

 Second, it was connected to the advancement of learning, which Samuel Gale not only connected to printing, but also to the scholars who had been paragons of learning. At the end of his speech, he made the connection quite explicit and directed it not only to the memory of the past, but also to the future.

“These [engravers] are They who by an uncommon Genius have almost outdone Nature, and have given Life & Spirit to Good Men after Death, Who is there yet Beholds ye Aspects of the Great & Learned, and Burns not with secret Æmulation to imitate their High Example.”[10]

And this connection might have been the driving force behind Roger Gale playing the driving force behind putting the manuscript inherited and already partly edited by his father to the press through Thomas Hearne although it costed him time, labour, and money. Samuel Gale put this into words in his letter congratulating Hearne on finishing the Fordun edition, thanking him because:

“Ye Hon[o]r You have done my Father, in mentioning him so often in It, is a great Satisfaction to Me in particular […].”[11]

And thus the history of knowledge, scholarly biographies, and – following Philip Sydenham – national honour which could be derived from both seem to have become entangled in Britain already in the early 18th century. The question is only to what end?

[1] Thomas Hearne (ed.): Joannis Lelandi antiquarii de rebus Britannicis collectanea ; Ex autographis descripsit ediditque Tho. Hearnius, 6 vol., Oxford: Sheldon Theater 1715.

[2] Philipp Sydenham to Thomas Hearne, Brympton St Every 23 May [1725?], Bodleian Library, MS Rawls letters 15, f. 473. Orthography as in the original, ligatures in [].

[3] Ibid.

[4] Roger Gale to Thomas Hearne, London 24 July 1716, Bodleian Library, MS Rawls letters 6, N° 14a, f. 311–312.

[5] Thomas Hearne to Roger Gale, [Oxford 1716 – Concept, no dates], Bodleian Library, MS Rawls letters 6, N° 15a, f. 313–314.

[6] Roger Gale to Thomas Hearne, London, 20 February 1722, MS Rawls letters 6, N° 35a, f. 355–357.

[7] Thomas Hearne (ed.): Johannis de Fordun Scotichronicon genuinum, una cum ejusdem supplemento ac continuatione. E codicibus Mss. eruit ediditque Tho. Hearnius, Oxford: Sheldon Theater 1722.

[8] Samuel Gale, Oratio Habita coram Societate Lincolniensi vicesimo quarto Die Februarii Anno C. 1723, Bodleian Library, MS Eng Misc E 147, f. 61, r.

[9] Roger Gale to John Clerk, [no place] 26 April 1726, Bodleian Library, MS Top Gen d 74, pp. 178–186; p. 184.  

[10] Ibid, f. 65, v.

[11] Samuel Gale to Thomas Hearne, London, 26 May 1722, Bodleian Library MS Rawls letters 6, f. 376–377.