Thursday, 23 April 2015

St George's Day - but who he?

A mildly fraudulent title for this ep of the blog, in that solving the problems around George's legend are a bit of a tall order for this modest organ. However, we can visit one of the Library's many volumes that have a single day of topicality a year about them, in this case Peter Heylyn's Historie of that most famous saint and souldier of Christ Iesus; St. George of Cappadocia; asserted from the fictions, of the middle ages of the Church; and opposition, of the present, issued in 1631, and dedicated to Charles I and the Order of the Garter, that most exclusive club among the king's personal friends since the time of Edward III. Heylyn, who had become a chaplain in ordinary to the king the year before, got Archbishop Laud to present the work to Charles I in person.

The Caroline church, which proved such a bone of contention between Crown and Parliament, could be a stormy place, and Peter Heylyn (1599–1662) lived through those storms, through Cromwell's republic and through until the Restoration, even acquiring a small role in the coronation of Charles II, presenting the king with the sceptre. Major promotion always eluded him.

 That dragon in detail. Call RSPCA.

The job was a tricky one - Charles I was very proud of the Order of the Garter, and its patron saint, George, was also patron of England. Yet the whole business of sainthood was not without its theological controversies, and too Popish for many. George was not without his detractors, but his battle with his enemies was no more real than Heylyn's fight to separate truth from fiction, driving out medieval and Popish accretions:
Tumbling about the Vatican I found a certaine Historie of St. George full of prodigious lyes, and such as have not any likenesse with other myracles ...
And the battle intensifies further:
Thus are wee come at last to the maine shocke and furie of the battaile: wherein if our successe bee answerable to the beginnings, wee need not doubt, but that St George may keepe his place in the heaven of glories.
Later, as his modest 350 page contribution begins to draw its conclusions, we can start to relax, with a patron saint washed clean of Popery and fit to stand guard over St George's chapel and Charles' ceremonials:
I must returne againe for England, there to behold the solemn institution of the Garter ... St George doth still retaine his place in our common calendar ... [and] prefixed before the publike Liturgie of our most blessed Church of England, where he is specially honoured with the name of Saint, as is not any of the rest, excepting those which saw our Saviour in the flesh. Excellent evidence ...
So there you have it, in one of Lewis Carroll's nice knock-down arguments. You can't be wrong when you're right. George is on and off the various calendars, true and false by turns, but still clinging on, and it's up to us to celebrate him as Chesterton commemorates him, in peace with a glass rather than waving a flag:
St George he was for England.
And before he killed the dragon
He drank a pint of English ale
Out of an English flagon.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Cup of coffee anyone?

Enjoying a mid-morning break recently reminded us that the library has some interesting items relating to the history of coffee and coffee houses.

One of our earliest sources, published in 1682 and attributed to John Chamberlayne, is The natural history coffee, thee, chocolate and tobacco. In four several sections; with a tract of elder and juniper-berries, shewing how useful they may be in our coffee-houses: and also the best way of making mum, with some remarks upon that liquor. Collected from the writings of the best physicians, and modern travellers.

Chamberlayne starts with a brief history of coffee drinking in the East and goes on to discuss its use as a medical treatment in England by one Dr Willis:

‘In several headachs [sic] Dizziness, Lethargies and Catarrhs, where there is gross habit of the body…there coffee may be proper and successful; and in these cases he sent his patients to the Coffee-House rather than to the Apothecaries Shop’

However, he then records an unfortunate side effect of this treatment reported by the doctor:

‘which I am afraid will cow our Citizens from ever meddling with it hereafter, that it often makes men Paralytick, and does slacken their strings, as they become unfit for the sports and exercises of the Bed, and their Wives recreations…’

Despite these dire warnings, coffee houses became ever more popular in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. A cup of coffee was relatively cheap and the shops became venues for social networking, reading newspapers, doing business, gossiping and, allegedly, political intrigue.

In our Halliwell-Phillipps Collection we have a copy of the ‘Proclamation for the suppression of coffee-houses’ published in 1675 by King Charles II:

‘Whereas it is most apparent that the multitude of coffee houses of late years set up and kept within this kingdom, the dominion of Wales and the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed, and the great resort of idle and disaffected persons to them, have produced very evil and dangerous effects, as well as that many tradesmen and others do therein misspend much of their time, which might and probably would otherwise be employed in and about their lawful callings and affairs, but also for that in such houses, and by occasion of the meeting of such persons therein, many false, malicious, and scandalous reports are devised and spread abroad, to the deformation of his Majesty's government and to the disturbance of the peace and quiet of the realm, his Majesty has thought it fit and necessary that the said coffee houses be for the future put down and suppressed.’

From the same year, we have a tiny five-page pamphlet with an incredibly lengthy title, which echoes the concerns of his majesty about the costs to business of spending too much time in coffee houses:

The art of good husbandry, or, The improvement of time: : being a sure way to get and keep money. Wherein is prescribed several ruls [sic] for merchants, shop-keepers, and mechanick tradesmen, (as well servants as masters) how they may husband their time to the best advantage; the loss whereof is the sole cause of poverty in this city and nation. Likewise the loss of a mans time spent in a tavern, coffee-house, or ale-house, computed. Also instructions to all sorts of people, how to order their business for the future, both to the enriching of themselves and their families / In a letter to Mr. R. A. by R. T. 

The King failed in his attempt to suppress coffee houses and, by the turn of the century in London, many of them had become rowdy drinking dens and even brothels. In our engraving ‘Morning,’ from Hogarth’s 1738 series ‘Four times of the day,’ he depicts the notorious ‘Tom Kings Coffee House’. The scene is Covent Garden and, by the time Hogarth made the print, the coffee house was being run by Tom’s widow Moll, who apparently opened the doors as the taverns were closing and allowed customers to continue drinking and carousing till dawn. ‘Morning’ shows the market stallholders setting out fruit and vegetables  whilst in the coffee houses the revellers are still partying, a fight has broken out and a wig flies out of the door.

Still the idea lingered for a while longer of coffee houses as democratic establishments which encouraged civilised discussion and debate, places where anyone was welcome as long as they paid for their refreshment and observed the ‘rules’  and procedures of the particular establishment.
Perhaps too, things were different in the provinces. The library has a broadside from 1793 with the  rules of a local establishment, the ‘Manchester Coffee Room’ which make it sound more like a library than a den of iniquity!

‘Rules and orders to be observed in this room:

7th That if any person shall take any Newspaper, Book, Pamphlet,&c out of this Room, or cut out any Advertisement, Paragraph or Print, from such a Newspaper, Book or Pamphlet, he shall, on Discovery, be expelled the Room, whether he be a Subscriber or otherwise, and shall be deemed ineligible for future Admission’

8th That no subscriber, or other person, be permitted to put on, or pull off, Boots in this Room, nor come into it with Slippers on’ .

New Exhibition - Life's Labours Lost?

A new exhibition, here until 3 July, is open now. Life's Labours Lost? Hard-working Families in the Age of Revolutions is a look at working life in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries seen through the eyes of artists, print-makers and caricaturists. We're grateful to Nick Howell, collector and friend of the Library, for lending us his art, his enthusiasm and ideas.
Worsted Winder by William Henry Pyne (1804)

Nick writes:
Recently politicians have turned the phrase 'hard-working families' into a cliche. There is a reality behind the phrase both now and in history. This exhibition offers a glimpse into the lives of working people in Britain c.1780-c.1840, the period of the Industrial Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, and agitation for reform. Men, women and children all had to contribute to raising family income at a time of rapid industrialisation, failed harvests, trade embargoes, enclosures, the collapse of traditional hand industries, and mass political action.
 Brighton Shoemaker (Charcoal, Anon. c.1830)
Drawn from a small private collection, items on display include books, engravings, watercolours, aquatints, by Thomas Rowlandson, James Gillray, William Henry Pyne, William Alexander, George Walker, colour plate books, a broadsheet poster 'Rules of The Albion Mills 1841', an apprentice's indenture 1834. One highlight is a letter from a young man 'pressed' into service onto HMS Victory, seeking his parent's intervention with two local Lords to get him 'released'. Letters from 'below decks' are very rare.
 Doncaster Fair by Thomas Rowlandson (1818)
The exhibition comprises mainly visual images, complemented with objects, printed material and extracts from contemporary publications. The displays are organised around the following themes: mainly men, mainly women and chidren, life in the armed services, caricature and conflict, forced labour, and colour-plate books.
Come down and see it!

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Law and order

Another new addition to our collections is a quarto manuscript notebook containing, amongst other items, the constitution and minutes of a Lancashire-based Prosecution Society. The society was founded by "Matthew Pollard Innkeeper in Little Marsden" on 14 December 1805. His aim was to "take into consideration the propriety of entering into a Society for the prosecution of Felons, trespassers, and those who may be guilty of other misdemeanours". A list of members follows, along with plans for further meetings, the election of officers and "Rules and Articles". There is an ambitious proposal to print 100 copies of the Rules and Articles for the members.

Cases include "Ann Marriott, who has suffered damage by trespassers" with the theft of potatoes, followed by a conviction with named individuals and fines; a prosecution for "Stealing a parcel of Stockings", followed by a petition with 26 signatures of those who pledge to "contribute towards the expence of prosecuting the persons committed to Lancaster Castle for stealing a parcel of Stockings". The society appears to have lasted until 1808 and occupies 14 pages of the manuscript.

The rest of the volume was used as a day book and commonplace book by George Hartley and is devoted to issues such as the arrival in 1833 of "four inspectors required by the Act to regulate the labour of children in mills", with their names appended ; a copy of a will dated August 1807 relating to the Manor of Colne ; financial land dealings ; wage accounts and recipes, including one for "Domestic yeast to make bread, cake etc".

Monday, 30 March 2015

Animal in the Archive

This past Friday (27 March) Chetham's Library welcomed delegates from around the country for the 'Animal in the Archive' conference. Organized by Dr. Peter Yeandle (Lecturer in Modern British History at the University of Manchester), this symposium invited academics to present papers on the animal turn in historiographical research. Work placement student Courtney Stickland was in attendance and reports:

For those unfamiliar, the 'animal turn' is concerned with the cultural meanings of animals in human history. Rather than just writing a history of animals (where they are from, what they do, what they look like), the animal turn interrogates the human world's relationship with fauna to understand ideas of power, emotion, gender, economics, race and much more.

We started bright and early on Friday morning, and following a brief welcome by Peter and Belle Vue Project worker Kathy Whalen, the delegates were taken to the Chetham's Library Reading Room to explore some pieces from the Belle Vue collections related to the zoological gardens. On display were postcards and photographs, a book by George Jennison himself (Noah's Cargo), the turn-of-the-century animal acquisition and care guides (you can find them in pdf form on the Virtual Belle Vue website), and a table of zoo guides from around the world.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

A Dicey moment for Tricky Dicky?

Among Chetham's Library's Halliwell-Phillipps collection lurks another item of anti-Richard III black propaganda. If you're a committed Ricardian, you may not consider it such an excellent song; 

but William Dicey, who seems to have printed this about 1720, certainly wasn't here to sing Richard's praises. What with all the Bosworthing that's been going on, you'll remember that Richard wan't Edward IV's only possible heir - so what happened in the tower? Dicey knows!

 So as we come to bury Richard tomorrow, are we interring the good deeds with his bones (apols to Caesar, Brutus and Shakespeare)? Is the continuing row over his reputation really the evil that he did, living on after him? Is Professor Starkey right in identifying our Yorkist king's fans as 'loons'? As many years of debate on both sides comes to a head (crowned or otherwise), regular readers of this sage blog will not be surprised if they don't come to a conclusion. Dicey's broadside goes into considerable detail about the complex web of family relationships that fed the Wars of the Roses, but he doesn't appear to have cared to spend anything on a new woodcut for his illustration:

Some rough dealings by vaguely gaoler-ish types, but the victim seems both too old and too solitary to stand for the young princes.

Thanks to James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps' passion for the single-sheet item (he gave us over 3,000 of them), you can read the Dicey tale for yourselves, and perhaps even try to sing along with the lyric.

As a Library that likes to maintain scholarly balance, we reserve judgement, but offer our dusty blessings to roses red and white.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Eclipse fever, 18th century style

 Manchester eclipsed? Panic rising? A dastardly scheme by Liverpool? Surely not! Only partially eclipsed, and this was the view from the Library roof around 9 o'clock:

But today's eclipse put us in mind of the total eclipse of 1715, known as Halley's eclipse thanks to Edmond Halley's remarkably successful predictions. His predicted timings were off by only four minutes.

Not quite 300 years ago (22 April 1715, in the Old Style Julian year Britain used then), eclipse fever was building, and then as now a great deal of material was published about it. Here at Chetham's we collected not only a sheet published under his signature predicting the path of the eclipse, Description of the passage of the shadow of the moon, over England, in the total eclipse of the sun, on the 22d. day of April 1715 in the morning, over England, but also his later Description of the passage of the shadow of the moon, over England, in the total eclipse of the sun, on the 22d. day of April 1715 in the morning, which triumphantly showed how well the predictions had worked.

  The mathematics may have eluded the masses, but as we learn (thank you, OU!) from the Penny London Post or The Morning Advertiser, issue 753, March 4, 1748, in which another panic was being run for its own times: 'In 1715, was a great ECLIPSE of the SUN, and was presently followed by the rebellion at Preston.'

We urge readers to calm their nerves and not to worry - until the next eclipse ...