Beyond the Brownings–Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895)

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NPG Ax38172; Thomas Henry Huxley by Elliott & Fry© National Portrait Gallery, London

Written by Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

Thomas Henry Huxley was an English biologist who supported Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. His famous debate with Charles Wilberforce promoted a wider acceptance of evolution. He also coined the word “agnostic” to describe his position with regard to theology. Huxley wrote on many issues relating biology to the humanities, particularly evolution and ethics.

The Armstrong Browning Library owns four letters written by Huxley and eight books authored by him. Huxley-to-Bonney-1web

Huxley-to-Bonney-2webLetter from Thomas Henry Huxley to T. G. Bonney. 05 November 1882.

In this letter to the English geologist, T. G. Bonney, Huxley discusses their participation in the Darwin Commission.

Huxley-Man's-Place-in-Nature-1web Huxley-Man's-Place-in-Nature-2webHuxley-Man's-Place-in-Nature-3webThomas Henry Huxley. Evidence as to Man’s Place in Nature. London; Edinburgh: Williams and Norgate, 1863.

 In this first edition volume, Huxley gives evidence for the evolution of man and apes from a common ancestor. It was the first book devoted to the topic of human evolution.

Huxley-Organic-Nature-1webHuxley-Organic-Nature-2webHuxley-Organic-Nature-3web

Thomas Henry Huxley. On Our Knowledge of the Causes of the Phenomena of Organicnature. Being Six Lectures to Working Men, Delivered at the Museum of Practical Geology. London: Robert Hardwicke, 1863.

Huxley developed his ideas on evolution from 1860–63, presenting them in lectures to working men, students, and the general public. In 1862 a series of talks to working men was printed lecture by lecture as pamphlets and later bound up as a little green book. This volume is a first edition of those lectures. The Table of Contents describes the six lectures which were delivered by Thomas Henry Huxley.

 

 

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Beyond the Brownings–James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)

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Lowell-at-ABL-1webCourtesy of the Armstrong Browning Library

Written by Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

James Russell Lowell was an American Romantic poet, critic, editor and diplomat associated with the Fireside Poets. The Fireside Poets, whose popularity rivaled English poets, used conventional meter, making the poems suitable for family reading by the fireside. Lowell and Elizabeth Barrett Browning corresponded, sharing volumes of poetry and an interest in anti-slavery issues. Later when Lowell visited in England and Europe, letters were exchanged with Robert Browning about their social engagements.

The Armstrong Browning Library’s holdings related to James Russell Lowell include twelve letters, one Elizabeth Barrett Browning manuscript of Lowell’s poems, and one previously unpublished manuscript poem by Lowell, and over seventy books, some rare.

Lowell-to-Wister-2-1webLowell-to-Wister-2-2webLetter from James Russell Lowell to Mrs. Wister. No date.

In this letter, addressed  to the mother of Owen Wister, American author and “father” of Western fiction, Lowell apologizes for disparaging her age at their last meeting.

The last chapter of Ecclesiastes is quite beyond all more modern & occidental attempts as pessimism both in its poetry & its pathos. But even he wished still to say something & to have somebody hear it—so that he was not nearly so ill of as he thought himself & left out the bitterest in his list of the bitter ingredients in the leaf of old age. Now the last thing I presumed (as an old man) to say to you as you went away the other day, was that “you were delightful because you still took an interest in things, “…You are therefore at least ninety degrees from that frightful “wormy sea” which the old navigators found near the northern pole & which navigators who are old enough find still in the arctic latitudes of old age… Lowell-'I-Asked-of-Echo'James Russell Lowell. “I asked of Echo: ‘what’s a good adviser?’” 03 July 1858.

 This poem, written on the back of an envelope, has never been published.

I asked of Echo: “what’s a good advisor?”
And Echo answered confidently “I, sir!”
I called again & asked, “What then’s a mentor?”
And Echo answered straight, “a men-tormenter!”

Lowell-to-FarrarwebLetter from James Russell Lowell to Frederic William Farrar. 7 May 1883.

In this letter to cleric and author F. W. Farrar, Lowell comments about how much he likes Tennyson’s verses.

Lowell-to-Wister-1webLowell-to-Wister-2webLetter from [James Russell Lowell] to Mrs. Wister [Owen's mother]. 17 October 1883.

 Lowell composes two humorous poems inviting Mrs. Wister to dinner.

 My dear Mrs. Wister,

Will you & your sister,

(I would, but rhyme won’t, say your son.)

Come & eat a poor dinner

With a saint & a sinner

The 18th at 7 + 1?

P.S. ½ past 2.

My dear Mrs. Wister,

Yours burned like a blister

With pinpoints of “slow” & all that,

So, to prove I don’t tingle,

I send you some jingle

If possible ten times as flat.

If you can’t come on my day,

What say you to Friday?

The dinner will be quite as bad:

And, unless you’ve objections

To fastday reflections,

Come both, & make both of us glad!

 Lowell-Echoes-of-Infant-Voices-1web Lowell-Echoes-of-Infant-Voices-2webLowell-Echoes-of-Infant-Voices-4webFelicia Hemans, James Russell Lowell, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, eds. Echoes of Infant Voices. Boston: Wm. Crosby and H. P. Nichols, 1849.

This rare first edition includes poems by Longfellow, Lowell, Emerson, Hemans, and Dickens.

 Lowell-Memorial-RSG-1webLowell-Memorial-RSG-2webLowell-Memorial-RSG-3webLowell-Memorial-RSG-4webLowell-Memorial-RSG-5webLowell-Memorial-RSG-5webLowell-Memorial-RSG-6.webLowell-Memorial-RSG-7webJames Russell Lowell and Ralph Waldo Emerson, eds. Memorial, RGS. Cambridge: University Press, 1864.

 This volume compiled in memory of Robert G. Shaw, contains extracts from Shaw’s letters and poems from Lowell, Emerson, and others.  Shaw, an American military officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War, commanded the all-black 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, which entered the war in 1863. He was killed in the Second Battle of Fort Wagner, near Charleston, South Carolina. He is the principal subject of the 1989 film Glory.

Lowell-Under-the-Willows1webLowell-Under-the-Willows-2webJames Russell Lowell. Under the Willows: And Other Poems. Boston: Fields, Osgood, & Co, 1869.

This volume is a first edition. “Under the Willows,” the second poem in this collection and the poem from which the collection takes its name, is a paean to a willow tree in the month of June.

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Beyond the Brownings–Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)

Oliver_Wendell_Holmes exhibit© National Portrait Gallery, London

Written by Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

Oliver Wendell Holmes, one of the Fireside Poets, was an influential American physician, poet, professor, lecturer, and author. He, along with his friends, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and James Russell Lowell, made important contributions to the literary world of the nineteenth century. Beginning in the study of law, Holmes switched to poetry, and later to medicine. Later in his life, Holmes returned to the literary field, contributing to Atlantic Monthly, writing essays, and novels.

The Armstrong Browning Library owns six letters, one manuscript, and over eighty books authored by Holmes.

Holmes-Chambered-Nautilaus2webOliver Wendell Holmes. From “The Chambered Nautilus”.  21 February 1874.  In the Whittier Autograph Album.

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!

This album, once the property of Elizabeth Whittier Pickard, niece of John Greenleaf Whittier, contains letters, autographs, and inscriptions from Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Julia Ward Howe, J.T. Fields, Phoebe Cary, U.S. Grant, Emily Faithfull, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry W. Longfellow, Daniel Webster, William Cullen Bryant, P.T. Barnum, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and others, and includes an inscription by George MacDonald  and an autograph by Louisa MacDonald.

Holmes-to-Sir-1webHolmes-to-Sir-2webHolmes-to-Sir-3webLetter from Oliver Wendell Holmes to an Unidentified Correspondent. 08 February 1879.

 In this letter, Holmes thanks an unidentified Scottish critic for a positive review of his book, John Lathrop Motley. A Memoir (1879).

I have felt very sensitive about this Memoir, which was in some respects the most difficult and delicate task I had ever undertaken. It has gratified me very much to find that it was kindly received by the family of Mr. Motley, and the friends whose opinion I especially cared for.

 

Holmes-RWE-1webHolmes-RWE-2webHolmes-RWE-3webHolmes-RWE-4webOliver Wendell Holmes. Ralph Waldo Emerson. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1885.

 

This rare edition contains an inscription by Oliver Wendell Holmes: “Rev. Octavius B. Frothingham/with the kind regards of/Oliver Wendell Holmes/Dec. 10th 1884.”

Holmes-Guardian-Angel-1webHolmes-Guardian-Angel-2webOliver Wendell Holmes. The Guardian Angel. Riverside ed. Boston, New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1895.

In 1867 The Guardian Angel, a novel which explores mental health and repressed memory began appearing serially in the Atlantic Monthly. It was published in book form in November of that same year. This book is volume seven of thirteen volumes of Holmes’ writings published as a Riverside Edition in 1895.

Holmes-Poems-1Holmes-Poems-2-1webHolmes-Poems-2-3webHolmes-Poems-2-4webHolmes-Poems-2-5webOliver Wendell Holmes. Poems. Boston: Otis, Broaders, and Company, 1836.

This volume is a first edition and comes from the library of Holmes’ friend, fellow author, and host during some of his English visits, Frederick Locker. The book bears Locker’s Rowfant bookplate, and some notes in text.

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Beyond the Brownings–John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

Whittier ABLCourtesy of The Armstrong Browning Library

Written by Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

John Greenleaf Whittier, one of the Fireside Poets, was a Quaker poet and an abolitionist. He was influenced by the Scottish poet, Robert Burns. Whittier is most remembered for his poem “Snow-Bound.”

The Armstrong Browning Library owns eighteen Whittier letters, two manuscripts, and over eighty books authored by Whittier.

Whittier-to-Smith-1webWhittier-to-Smith-2webWhittier-to-Smith-3webWhittier-to-Smith-4webLetter from John Greenleaf Whittier to Mary E. Smith. 2 March 1833.

In this letter to his dear friend Mary E. Smith, Whittier quotes his poem “Lines on a Portrait” and “To ___,” a poem by his sister, Elizabeth H. Whittier.

Whittier-Memory-and-Hope-5webWhittier-Literary-Recreations-2webJohn Greenleaf Whittier. Literary Recreations and Miscellanies. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1854.

This volume is a first edition presentation copy from the publisher.

Whittier-Memory-and-Hope-1webWhittier-Memory-and-Hope-2webWhittier-Memory-and-Hope-3webWhittier-Memory-and-Hope-4web[John Greenleaf Whittier, et al]. Memory and Hope. Boston: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, 1851.

This volume, a book of poems referring to childhood, also includes poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, James Russell Lowell, Maria Lowell, Mary Howitt, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Lydia Maria Child, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, John Quincy Adams, William Wordsworth, Alfred Tennyson, and others.

 

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Armstrong’s Stars: Amy Lowell

“Armstrong’s Stars” is a collaboration between the Armstrong Browning Library and Baylor’s Texas Collection. Once a month we feature a story about a celebrity that Dr. A.J. Armstrong brought to Baylor. These stories highlight an interesting part of Baylor’s history and include collection materials housed in both the Armstrong Browning Library and the Texas Collection.

This month’s story was contributed by Ph.D. candidate Jeremy Land. 

In 1920 Baylor began preparing for its Diamond Jubilee celebration. Primarily under the direction of Dr. A. Joseph Armstrong, Baylor invited a series of famous literary and cultural figures to travel to Texas and partake in the celebration. Among the first to arrive was the poet Amy Lowell.

By the early ‘20s Amy Lowell had already established herself as one of America’s leading female poets, an innovative writer, a noted critic, and promoter of American verse. Even the Lowell family name had become associated with academic excellence and American letters by the time Ms. Lowell accepted her honorary degree from Baylor (Amy Lowell’s brother was the president of Harvard and her first cousin, James Russell Lowell, was a famous American poet from the nineteenth century). Thus the decision to ask Ms. Lowell to come and speak at Baylor was a natural part of the university’s mission to bolster its presence in the academic world.

Amy Lowell at Baylor Commencement

Amy Lowell, second from the left, about to accept an honorary degree during the commencement ceremony at Baylor’s Diamond Jubilee celebration (Texas Collection)

Before she even arrived, there seemed to be great anticipation and discussion about Ms. Lowell’s coming to Waco. Every aspect of her journey was up for speculation and debate. Even her hotel room, which was reported to cost more than $30 a night, caused quite a shock among the students on campus (“Another Treat in Amy Lowell” 1). Yet the promise of her appearance prompted several student groups to greet her with excitement. Baylor’s Calliopean, at the time the second oldest women’s literary society in Texas, honored Lowell with membership before she even arrived, an honor she was happy to receive (“Calliopeans Honor Famous American Poet” 3; “Calliopean Society Has Long History Behind It” 5).

When Lowell did finally arrive in Waco, she apparently lived up to people’s expectations. She was reported to be equal parts exciting house guest and engaging scholar. In one example of her irrepressible spirit, Lowell encouraged Mrs. Armstrong to speed through Cameron Park as fast as possible, and when Mrs. Armstrong suggested the police might object, Lowell is reported to have replied, “Damn the police. I’ll pay the fine” (Douglas 114-115). However when it came time for Ms. Lowell to engage Baylor’s students and their academic pursuits, she was a most gracious and well received visitor. When she was not giving a formal lecture on the nature of modern poetry, she was reported to sit in the open air smoking a cigar and indulging undergraduates and their questions about modern literature.

Perhaps because her visit to Baylor must have been rather colorful, Amy Lowell developed a fondness for central Texas. In a letter to A.J. Armstrong dated April 11, 1924, Lowell claimed her poem “Texas” was inspired by Waco’s lone skyscraper (probably the ALICO building in downtown Waco) set against the central Texas landscape (Douglas 116). And until her death in 1925, Lowell and Dr. Armstrong continued to write, share ideas, and reminisce about her time in Texas. So impressed was she by Baylor and Dr. Armstrong that even after her death her estate saw to it that Baylor and Dr. Armstrong both were notified of her passing (“Death of Amy Lowell is Mourned by Many” 1).

Works Cited

“Another Treat in Amy Lowell.” The Lariat 3 June 1920: 1. Web. 7 Nov. 2014

“Calliopeans Honor Famous American Poet.” The Lariat 6 May 1920: 3. Web. 7 Nov. 2014

“Calliopean Society Has Long History Behind It.” The Lariat 20 May 1920: 5. Web. 7 Nov. 2014

“Death of Amy Lowell is Mourned by Many.” The Lariat 14 May 1925: 1. Web. 7 Nov. 2014

Douglas, Lois Smith. Through Heaven’s Back Door: A Biography of A. Joseph Armstrong. Waco, TX: Baylor UP, 1951. Print.

 

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Beyond the Brownings–Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Dickens ABLCourtesy of The Armstrong Browning Library

Written by Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

Charles Dickens, who enjoyed unprecedented fame during his lifetime, is considered the greatest novelist of the Victorian period. He confronted social issues through such memorable works as Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Bleak House, Hard Times, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, and A Christmas Carol.

The Armstrong Browning Library owns twelve letters written by Charles Dickens and over 240 books, some of which are rare editions. Although Dickens corresponded with the Brownings, the ABL does not own any of their letters. However, there are three Dickens books inscribed by Robert Browning in the collection, as well as Dickens’ copy of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s verse-novel Aurora Leigh.

Dickens,-10-Jan-1848-1webDickens,-10-Jan-1848-2web Letter from Charles Dickens to William Gregory. 10 January 1848.

In this previously unpublished letter, Dickens expresses his pleasure in meeting Mr. Gregory and promises to renew their acquaintance again soon. William Gregory was Professor of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh and an enthusiast for phrenology and mesmerism. Dickens also confesses to writer’s block at the end of the letter.

I am perfectly stupified with a bad cold, and a blank quire of paper intended for the manuscript of Dombey No 17. is staring very hard in my miffed face.

Dickens-to-Locker-1webDickens-to-Locker-2webDickens-to-Locker-3webLetter from Charles Dickens to Frederick Locker. 13 June 1869.

In this letter Dickens explains that he has been traveling with some American friends and asks Locker to give his regards to Tennyson.

I have been for the last ten days perpetually journeying and sightseeing with some friends from America…. If this should reach you while Tennyson is [by] you, pray give him my love and tell him I am heartily sorry to have missed your kindly offered opportunity of meeting him….

Dickens-Manuscripts-of-Christmas-Carolcover-webDickens-Manuscripts-of-Christmas-Carol-2webDickens-Manuscripts-of-Christmas-Carol-3webDickens-Manuscripts-of-Christmas-Carol-4webDickens-Manuscripts-of-Christmas-Carol-5webCharles Dickens. The Christmas Carol: A Facsimile Reproduction of the Author’s Original Ms. London: Elliot Stock, 1890.

This large volume contains facsimiles of the original manuscripts of Dickens’ Christmas Carol. A first edition, it is one of only fifty copies and the first facsimile done of this work.

Dickens-Little-Dorrit-1webDickens-Little-Dorrit-2webDickens-Little-Dorrit-3webDickens-Little-Dorrit-4webCharles Dickens. Little Dorrit. London: Chapman and Hall, 1863.

This volume was in the Brownings’ library and bears the inscription: “To dearest Pen on his birthday, March 9 ‘64. RB. 19 Warwick Crescent.”

Dickens-A-Christmas-Carol-1webDickens-A-Christmas-Carol-2webDickens-A-Christmas-Carol-3webDickens-A-Christmas-Carol-4Charles Dickens. A Christmas Carol in Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. Edition sanctioned by the author. Leipzig: Bernh. Tauchnitz Jun, 1843.

This volume is an extremely rare first Continental edition.  The Armstrong Browning Library also owns the first  British edition of this classic, published in London in 1843 by Chapman and Hall, as well as the four additional “Christmas books” published by Dickens in subsequent years.

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Beyond the Brownings–Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

Tennyson ABL-1exhibitCourtesy of the Armstrong Browning Library

Written by Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892), poet laureate during most of Queen Victoria’s reign, has continued to be one of the most popular British poets. He is well known for his short lyrics such as “Break, Break, Break,” ”The Charge of the Light Brigade,” ”Tears, Idle Tears,” and ”Crossing the Bar.” In Memoriam A. H. H. was written to commemorate the death of his close friend Arthur Henry Hallam, who was engaged to Tennyson’s sister, Emily. Idylls of the King, a cycle of twelve narrative blank verse poems, retells the Arthurian legend.

Tennyson corresponded with Robert Browning, and the Armstrong Browning Library owns four letters written by Tennyson to Browning. The Library also owns thirty-six letters written by Tennyson to various other Victorian correspondents, and three manuscripts. Over 160 books related to Tennyson are owned by the ABL, many of them rare editions. Two of the books were owned by members of the Brownings’ family. The collection also contains a voice recording of Tennyson.

Tennyson-to-UnkownwebLetter from Alfred, Lord Tennyson to an Unidentified Correspondent. Undated.

In this previously unpublished letter, Tennyson thanks this unidentified correspondent for their “able & conscientious translation” of his poems. By the end of Tennyson’s life, his poems had been translated into Italian, German, French, Dutch, Danish, Latin, Spanish, Hungarian, Swedish, Czech, Ancient and Modern Greek, Norwegian, Polish, and Serbian.

Tennyson-to-Patmore-1webLetter from Alfred, Lord Tennyson to Mrs. [Coventry] Patmore. [12 August 1852].

Tennyson says that he knows Mrs. Patmore’s…

kind womanly heart will rejoice in hearing that it is all safely over. She had a very easy confinement & was delivered of what the nurse calls a fine boy yesterday.

This passage refers to the birth of Hallam Tennyson on 11 August 1852, Tennyson’s eldest son.

Coventry and Emily Augusta Patmore named their second son Tennyson and asked the Tennysons to be his godparents. In the letter, Tennyson writes that Emily, his  wife, is anxious that young Tennyson Patmore have his engraved cup for his birthday.

Tennyson-to-M-1webLetter from Alfred, Lord Tennyson  to Edward Moxon. 7 November [1852].

In this previously unpublished letter to his publisher, Tennyson accepts Moxon’s offer to publish his ode and requests that it “not be published until very close to the funeral.” Tennyson is likely referring to his “Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington,” which was published on November 16, two days before Wellington’s funeral.

Tennyson-To-the-Queen-1webTennyson-To-the-Queen-2webTennyson-To-the-Queen-3webAlfred, Lord Tennyson. [“To the Queen”]. Autograph  Manuscript. Undated.

This is an early autograph draft, substantially longer than the version published in Poems (1851). “To the Queen” was Tennyson’s first publication as Poet Laureate. The poem was published in 1873 as the epilogue to The Idylls of the King.

Tennyson-Idylls-of-the-King-1webTennyson-Idylls-of-the-King-2webAlfred, Lord Tennyson. Idylls of the King. London: Edward Moxon & Co., 1859.

This copy is signed by Julia Margaret Cameron, famous photographer and friend of Tennyson. Cameron and Tennyson were neighbors on the Isle of Wight. Cameron produced her own copy of Idylls of the King, which included photographs of staged scenes from the poems and a photograph of Tennyson.

Tennyson-Selections-from-the-Worksweb-1Tennyson-Selections-from-the-Worksweb-2Tennyson-Selections-from-the-Works-3webAlfred, Lord Tennyson. A Selection from the Works of Alfred Tennyson. London: Edward Moxon, 1865.

This volume is a first edition inscribed by Tennyson on the half-title to his favorite sister: “Emily Jesse from her affectionate brother A.T.” The book is also inscribed with the ownership signature of Emily’s son Eustace Tennyson D’Eyncourt Jesse. On his bookplate inside the front cover he has written: “This book was given to my dear Mother Emily née Tennyson by her Brother, Alfred Tennyson, Poet Laureate.”

Tennyson-Ballads-1webTennyson-Ballads-2webAlfred, Lord Tennyson. Ballads and Other Poems. London: C. Kegan Paul & Co., 1880.

This volume from the Brownings’ library is inscribed by Robert Browning on the front free endpaper: “Robert Browning/ from Alfred Tennyson./Dec. ’80.”

Tennyson-The-Death-of-Oenone-1webTennyson-The-Death-of-Oenone-2webAlfred, Lord Tennyson. The Death of Oenone, Akbar’s Dream, and Other Poems. London and New York: Macmillan and Co., 1892.

The book is inscribed by Hallam Tennyson, Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s oldest son: “Oct. 1892 to S.A.E. FitzGerald.”

Tennyson-Prolusions-1webTennyson-Prolusions-2webTennyson-Prolusions-3webTennyson-Prolusions-pages-89webTennyson-Prolusions-4webTennyson-Prolusions-5webUniversity of Cambridge. Prolusiones Academicae Praemiis Annuis Dignatae et in Curia Cantabrigiensi Recitatae Comitiis Maximis, A.D. MDCCCXXIX.  Cantabrigiae: typis academicis excudit J. Smith, [1829].

This volume contains Tennyson’s first publication, “Timbuctoo,” a poem which received the Chancellor’s medal at the Cambridge commencement, 1829. The poem is a reworking of one Tennyson wrote at age fifteen called “Armageddon.”


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Beyond the Brownings–Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)

Arnold at ABLexhibitCourtesy of the Armstrong Browning Library

Written by Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

Matthew Arnold, a poet and cultural critic, was employed as Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools. He is best remembered for his critical essays, Essays in Criticism (1865) and Culture and Anarchy (1869), and his poems, particularly “Lines From the Grand Chartreuse” and “Dover Beach.”

The Armstrong Browning Library has a large collection of Matthew Arnold materials, which includes fifty-seven letters and over 130 books, many rare editions. Arnold was a friend and correspondent of Robert Browning.

Arnold-June-10-1webArnold-June-10-2webLetter from Matthew Arnold to Frank Preston Stearns. 10 June 1886.

This unpublished letter outlines Arnold’s travel plans in America.

 … tomorrow I go to Washington, & shall be going from there to Buffalo, Niagara and Canada.

Arnold-July-9web

Letter from Matthew Arnold to Lady Portsmouth. 9 July [1851].

This letter to Lady Portsmouth, daughter of the Third Earl of Carnarvon, who resided at Highclere Castle, accompanied Arnold’s gift to her children.

I remember you told me last year that some of your children liked “The Forsaken Merman.” I give myself the pleasure of sending you, for their benefit, what I think is rather a pretty volume, just published, containing that poem with others of mine.

 The Strayed Reveler, a collection of Arnold’s poems, was the volume that contained “The Forsaken Merman”:

Forsaken-Merman-6web

Forsaken-Merman-7web

Forsaken-Merman-8Forsaken-Merman-1webForsaken-Merman-2webForsaken-Merman-3webForsaken-Merman-4webForsaken-Merman-5webArnold, Matthew. The Strayed Reveller, and Other Poems. London: B. Fellowes, 1849.

This is a very rare book. Virtually the entire edition was withdrawn and destroyed. This book was a gift from James Payn, an editor and novelist in the nineteenth century, to L. S. Hammond.

Arnold-January-9,-1868web Letter from Matthew Arnold to James Holden. 9 January 1868.

Arnold belittles his own recently published volume of poems.

 It is not worth while expending your envelope on such a trifling piece of information as that I published about five months ago, with Messrs Macmillan, a volume of Poems bearing the title of New Poems.

Arnold-to-Cox-3web

Arnold-to-Cox-2web

Arnold, Matthew. New Poems. London: Macmillan and Co, 1867.

This volume, to which Arnold refers in the accompanying letter, is a first edition from the library of Charles Kingsley. Tipped into the volume is a letter from Matthew Arnold to Keningale Cook, 26 March 1886. In the letter Arnold discusses his upcoming trip to America and his subsequent inability to review Dr. Cook’s book.

Arnold-to-Cox-1web Letter from Matthew Arnold to Keningale Cook. 26 March 1886.

…. I have been abroad to make some enquiries for the Government about schools, and have only just had your letter on my return. I am so busy with my report, and a projected visit to America that there is no chance of my being able to review your book…

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Beyond the Brownings–William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863)

Thackerary ABL 2Courtesy of the Armstrong Browning Library

Written by Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

William Makepeace Thackeray is most remembered for his satiric novel Vanity Fair (1847-48). He also became editor of the very successful Cornhill magazine in 1860. Although during the nineteenth century Thackeray’s popularity ranked second only to Dickens, today he is much less read and is known almost exclusively for Vanity Fair.

The Armstrong Browning Library holds thirteen letters written by Thackeray and over sixty books authored by Thackeray, some rare or copies of editions the Brownings had in their library.

The letters and books below give a glimpse into Thackeray’s work as an editor for Cornhill and his relationship with Frederick Locker-Lampson. Additionally, the ABL has thirty-two Victorian letters in which Frederick Locker-Lampson is a correspondent and twelve books authored by Locker-Lampson, including two, with Locker’s signature, which were in the Brownings’ Library. There are also ten Locker-Lampson letters in the Browning Collection.

Thackeray-Locker-London-Lyrics-1Thackeray-Locker-London-Lyrics-2Frederick Locker-Lampson. London Lyrics. New ed., enl. and finally revised. London: Henry S. King & Co, 1876.

Locker quotes Thackeray’s opinion of his poetry in the Notes to the 1904 edition of his poetry collection, London Lyrics.

 …Thackeray believed in me, and used to say, ‘Nevermind, Locker—our verse may be small beer, but at least it’s the right tap.’

  Thackeray-to-Locker-1Thackeray-to-Locker-2Thackeray-to-Locker-3Letter from William Makepeace Thackeray to Frederick Locker. 22  January 1861.

Thackeray regrets that he was not able to be present to support Locker-Lampson on the previous Saturday due to “spasm fits.” The embossed crest of the stationery is for the Garrick Club. The letter may regard Locker-Lampson’s rejection from the Garrick Club.

I hope you bear your  Ÿ of Saturday equanimously. I ought to have been here to prevent it for you were only b—k  b—ll—d [black balled] because there was nobody there to speak for you and there should have been such a friend.

Thackerary-FebThackerary-Feb2

Letter from William Makepeace Thackeray to Frederick Locker. 11 February 1861.

Thackeray asks Locker-Lampson to change the last line of his poem, “My Neighbor’s Rose,” from “And god go with her” to “And joy go with her,” claiming that:

 The name of Allah jars rather in the pleasant little composition, and I never like using it if it can be turned or avoided.

Thackeray-Locker-poem-1Thackeray-Locker-poem-2Letter from William Makepeace Thackeray to Frederick Locker. No date.

This letter contains the first stanza of Locker’s poem, “A Human Skull,” with Thackeray’s correction. The poem was Locker’s first contribution to Cornhill, published December 1860. The letter on the verso reads:

My dear L.

that isn’t a good verse—I have mislaid proof 1. –will you recorrect please—and what do you think of the 4 lines on t’other side.

 

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Beyond the Brownings–W. E. (William Ewart) Gladstone (1809-1898)

NPG D8335; William Ewart Gladstone by William Holl Jr, after a photograph by  John Jabez Edwin Mayall© National Portrait Gallery, London

Written by Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

William Ewart Gladstone’s career lasted over sixty years. He served as Prime Minister four separate times, more than any other person; and he also served as Chancellor of the Exchequer four times. As Britain’s oldest Prime Minister, Gladstone resigned for the final time when he was eighty-four years old.

The Armstrong Browning Library holds seven Gladstone letters and eight of his books, one of which was in the Brownings’ library.

Gladstone-to-Browning-1Gladstone-to-Browning-2Gladstone-to-Browning-3Gladstone-to-Browning-4Letter from William Ewart Gladstone to Robert Browning. 12 August 1872.

Even on this murderous day, having received your letter, I engage to examine again whether we can recognize in a practical shape Mr Horne’s claim as a true one. The names are overwhelming: but of course it must not at once be assumed that they are all equally strong in original knowledge. I trust to your kindly remembering my breakfasts at ten on Tuesdays after Easter holidays.

This letters raises a number of questions. Why was it a murderous day? Does the mourning paper hold a clue? What are Mr. Horne’s claims? Why are the names overwhelming? What is the original knowledge in which they are not all equally strong? Did Browning attend Gladstone’s teas? Who forwarded the letter to Browning in Paris?

Gladstone-Homer-1Gladstone-Homer-2W. E. Gladstone, Homer. London: Macmillan, 1878.

Gladstone and Robert Browning were both consumed with reading and studying Homer’s poetry. This is Browning’s copy of Gladstone’s publication on Homer. Browning’s signature is on the title page.

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