Beyond the Brownings–John Henry Newman (1801-1890)

John Henry Newman ABL 2Courtesy of The Armstrong Browning Library

By Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

John Henry Newman was an important figure in the religious history of nineteenth-century England, providing early leadership for the Oxford movement, a group of Anglicans seeking to return the Church of England to beliefs and forms of worship based on the Church Fathers and to restore ritual expression. Later, Newman converted to Catholicism and in 1879 became Cardinal. He is perhaps best known for authoring many of the Tracts for the Times (1833-41), his Apologia Pro Vita Sua (1865-66), a Grammar of Ascent (1870), and his lectures, “On the Idea of a University” (1852 and 1858). Newman also wrote “Lead, Kindly Light (1833),” the hymn sung at the funeral of Dr. A. J. Armstrong, founder of the Armstrong Browning Library.

The Armstrong Browning Library owns thirty-five letters written by John-Henry Newman, most of them addressed to either William George Ward, Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, Catholic theologian and philosopher or his son, Wilfrid Philip Ward, who wrote Newman’s biography in 1912.

Letter-to-Wilfrid-Ward-1webLetter-to-Wilfrid-Ward-2webLetter-to-Wilfrid-Ward-3webLetter from John Henry Newman to Wilfred Ward.

21 June 1886.

This letter was written the year before Newman died. He gives a favorable critique of Wilfrid Ward’s  book, William George Ward and the Oxford Movement (1889).

 Your book is a capital one, very able, and very kind to me personally.

Newman regrets that he is too old to attempt to write the return letter himself. A secretary has transcribed the letter, but Newman signed with a very unsteady hand.

November-15,-1872-1webNovember-15,-1872-2webNovember-15,-1872-3webLetter from [John Henry Newman] to [Unknown].

15 November 1872.

Newman conveys in this memorandum that he doesn’t wish to have a biography of his life written and suggests instead that a compilation of letters and papers would “supersede the necessity of a formal Life.”

 I don’t wish my life written—because there is so little to say. This is the case with most lives—and in consequence the writers are forced to pad—and then readers are both disappointed at the meagerness of the composition, and angry with the padding. Moreover, in the Apologia I have virtually written my life up to 1845—and there is little or nothing to say since.

Newman's-biography-1webNewman's-biography-2webNewman's-biography-3web Ward, Wilfred Philip. The Life of John Henry Cardinal Newman Based on His Private Journals and Correspondence. London: Longmans, Green, and Co, 1912.

Wilfrid Ward did collect the private journals and correspondence of Newman into two volumes, published twenty-two years after Newman’s death.

Apologia-Pro-Sua-Vita-1webApologia-Pro-Sua-Vita-2webJohn Henry Newman. Apologia Pro Vita Sua: Being a Reply to a Pamphlet Entitled “What, Then, Does Dr. Newman Mean?” London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, and Green, 1864.

This volume was all the record of his life that was needed, according to Newman’s unsigned letter of 15 November 1872.

Beyond the Brownings–Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)

Carlyle ABL-1Courtesy of The Armstrong Browning Library

By Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

Thomas Carlyle, a nineteenth-century Scottish philosopher, satirical writer, essayist, historian and teacher, is perhaps most well-known for Sartor Resartus (1836), an essay on social philosophy; The French Revolution (3 volumes, 1837); and History of Frederick the Great (6 volumes, 1858-65). Carlyle was a correspondent of the Brownings.

In November 2009 the Armstrong Browning Library purchased a collection of nearly 400 volumes by and about Carlyle. The collection comes from the personal library of Professor Rodger L. Tarr, an eminent Carlyle scholar who is University Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Illinois State University. Paired with ABL’s existing Carlyle holdings of approximately 140 titles, the total Collection provides for scholars a vast resource for the study of Carlyle. Two of the books belonged to Robert Browning. The library owns seventeen letters written by Carlyle and over 100 letters written to Carlyle. The ABL’s holdings also include one of Carlyle’s manuscripts.

Chinese-Carlyle-1webChinese-Carlyle-2webThomas Carlyle. Ying Xiong He Ying Xiong Chong Bai: Ka Lai Mi Jiang Yan Ji [On Heroes, Hero-Worship, & the Heroic in History: Six Lectures ; Reported, with Emendations and Additions]. Di 1 ban. Shang hai: San lian shu dian shang hai fen dian, 1988. Print. Shi Jie Xian Zhe Ming Zhu Xuan Yi.

In addition to the English collection of nineteenth century books, periodicals, manuscripts, letters, and modern critical works pertaining to the nineteenth century, the Armstrong Browning Library has a small foreign languages collection, which includes nineteenth century items and modern criticism in Chinese, French, German, and Persian.

Sartor-Resartus-title-webThomas Carlyle. Sartor Resartus: In Three Books. 2d ed. Boston : Philadelphia : Pittsburgh: James Munroe and Company ; James Kay, Jun. & Brother ; John I. Kay & Co., 1837.

This volume is Robert Browning’s own copy of Sartor Resartus, given to him by Harriet Martineau.

Sartor-Resartus-inscription-webThe volume contains marginalia, some of which can be ascribed to Robert Browning.

Sartor-Resartus-marginalia-greek-webSartor-Resartus-marginalia-2-2webParticularly interesting is the note responding to this passage:

So true is it, what I then said, that the fraction of life can be increased in value, not so much by increasing your numerator, as by lessening your denominator.

Sartor-Resartus2webThe marginalia reads:

3/9 – 3/6

December-16,-1857-1webDecember-16,-1857-2webLetter from Thomas Carlyle to [Unknown].16 December 1857.

Carlyle sends a sharp critique to an unknown correspondent.

It is unluckily not in my power to be of the best service to you. I would much advise that you altogether quitted “literature”, and sought out for yourself some more solid and rational employment for your talents than that can ever prove to be. I send you a small Post-office order; and many sincere wishes for a better career.

 

Simon-Brodie's-CowwebThomas Carlyle. “Simon Brodie’s Cow.” 12 December 1847.

This is a manuscript of a Scottish nursery rhyme Carlyle often quoted when giving autographs:

Simon Brodie had a cow;

He lost his cow, and he could na find her:

When he had done what man could do,

The cow cam hame and her tail behind her.

Beyond the Brownings–Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

Victor Hugo ABLCourtesy of the Armstrong Browning Library

By Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

Victor Hugo, a French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement, is considered one of the greatest and most recognized French writers. His best-known works are the acclaimed novels Les Misérables (1862) and Notre-Dame de Paris (1831), known in English as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.

Hugo’s works at the Armstrong Browning Library include one letter and seven books, one of them rare.

Victor-Hugo-book-1Victor-Hugo-book-2Victor Hugo. Thèatre De Victor Hugo. Paris: Charpentier, Libraire-Editeur, 1844.

This volume is a first edition.

Victor-Hugo-letter-1Victor-Hugo-letter-2Letter from Victor Hugo to Monsieur de Fiennes. No date.

Monsieur de Fiennes may have been an advocate at Bruxelles and later appointed Minister of Finances of France in 1840.

Frederick-Tennyson-to-EBB-1Frederick-Tennyson-to-EBB-2Frederick-Tennyson-to-EBB-3

Frederick-Tennyson-to-EBB-xxFrederick-Tennyson-to-EBB-13Letter from Frederick Tennyson to Elizabeth Barrett Browning. 29 September 1860.

The brother of Alfred Lord Tennyson spent most of his life in Italy and Jersey, a small island off the coast of Normandy. But, for twenty years he lived in Florence, where he was a friend of Robert and Elizabeth Browning. In this letter, written while in Jersey to Elizabeth Barrett Browning in Siena, Italy, Frederick Tennyson, mentions that:

 We have had Victor Hugo here this summer he came to attend a Garibaldi meeting and made a grand oration. He seems still to be in great vigour & though I could see his face but imperfectly from the opposite side of the room his voice is clear & lion-like–

 

Beyond the Brownings–Michael Faraday (1791-1867)

NPG Ax17794; Michael Faraday by John Watkins© National Portrait Gallery, London

By Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

Michael Faraday, an English scientist who contributed to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry, was one of the most influential scientists in history, leading to the practical use for electricity in technology. The Armstrong Browning Library owns one rare edition book.

In a letter of 23 August [1853] to Anna Jameson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning makes this comment about Faraday:

For as to Faraday, … I dont know what you conclude upon Faraday .. but for me, I am sorry not to be able to do more reverence to the name & authority of a man of science such as he. His letter meets none of the important phenomena, .. ignores facts altogether .. & has a tone of insolence & arrogance which sets the blood burning in me—what do you think: how do you feel? It seems to me from what you say that you have witnessed or had testimony upon only the inferior phenomena, and I have been long aware that these may be simulated involuntarily by the muscular hypothesis, & that many of the amateur operators have exercised their muscles simply. Therefore you may be convinced by the Faraday letter as some other persons have been. But if you were in the possession of certain facts, which, as I know them, Faraday ought to have known, before he gave an opinion on the subject .. such facts for instance as the movement of tables without a touch from finger or foot .. you would feel, as I cant help doing, considerable indignation at the treatment of the subject in this famous letter.

This letter, part of Wellesley College Special Collections, and also in The Browning Letters digital collection through the Baylor-Wellesley collaboration, refers to Michael Faraday’s letter on table-moving, published in The Athenaeum, 2 July 1853.

Faraday Letters-1Faraday Letters-2

Faraday Letters-3Michael Faraday, “Professor Faraday on Table-Moving,” The Athenaeum, 2 July 1853.

Faraday-book-2Michael Faraday. Chemical Manipulation; Being Instructions to Students in Chemistry, on the Methods of Performing Experiments of Demonstration or of Research, with Accuracy and Success. London: W. Phillips, 1827.

This is a rare first edition of Faraday’s only monograph, a work on experimental method.

Beyond the Brownings–Charles Babbage (1791-1871)

NPG Ax18347; Charles Babbage by Henri Claudet

© National Portrait Gallery, London

By Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

Charles Babbage is credited with originating the concept of a programmable computer. He was a visitor at John Kenyon’s parties and probably acquainted with the Brownings. There are several references to him in Elizabeth’s letters, including this passage from a letter from EBB to Robert Browning, 17 February 1845. This letter, part of Wellesley College Special Collections, is also in The Browning Letters digital collection at Baylor University through the Baylor-Wellesley collaboration:

Do you know Tennyson? that is, with a face to face knowledge? I have great admiration for him. In execution, he is exquisite,-and, in music, a most subtle weigher out to the ear, of fine airs. That such a poet shd submit blindly to the suggestions of his critics, (I do not say that suggestions from without may not be accepted with discrimination sometimes, to the benefit of the acceptor) blindly & implicitly to the suggestions of his critics, .. is much as if Babbage were to take my opinion & undo his calculating machine by it. Napoleon called poetry ‘science creuse’-which, although he was not scientific in poetry himself, is true enough. But anybody is qualified, according to everybody, for giving opinions upon poetry. It is not so in chymistry and mathematics. Nor is it so, I believe, in whist and the polka.    

The Armstrong Browning Library has three of Babbage’s letters in its collection.

Babbage-to-Booth-letterLetter from Charles Babbage to [James] Booth.
20 December 1856.

Babbage thanks Booth, the executor of Kenyon’s will, for the gift of a telescope, which had belonged to their valued friend, John Kenyon.

Many thanks to you and Miss Bayley for the kind thought of giving me a memorial of our valued friend Kenyon. I shall gladly accept the telescope which you propose for that purpose…

Beyond the Brownings–Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

Coleridge ABL-1Courtesy of the Armstrong Browning Library

By Michael Milburn, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a first-generation Romantic best known for his poetry and literary criticism, also wrote widely on the subjects of theology, philosophy, science, and politics, in spite of his in part self-made reputation as an opium addict who failed to live up to his potential. He is renowned for such classics as “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” “Christabel,” and “Kubla Khan.”

The ABL has ten letters by Coleridge, eight of which are addressed to his brother George, several first editions, two annotated volumes, and over ninety other books which belonged to members of his family, primarily his descendants.

Coleridge-letter-1webColeridge-letter-2webDraft or Copy of a Letter from George Coleridge to Samuel Taylor Coleridge. [10 March 1798].

Coleridge and his brother George disagreed over Britain’s military actions against the revolutionary government in France. George, who was in favor of the British, wrote this letter in order to extend his hospitality to Coleridge despite their political differences.

We may forget that we are not political Brothers, and call to our Mind, that to philosophize on Government and to legislate are the Duty of a few, to cultivate domestic affections of all.

 The lack of signature, however, indicates that unless the document was a transcript, this version of the text, at least, remained an unsent draft.

Autograph draft manuscript of Hints respecting Beauty

Coleridge-Beauty-1webColeridge-Beauty-2webColeridge-Beauty-3webColeridge-Beauty-5Letter from Samuel Taylor Coleridge to [Mary Russell Mitford]. [8 July 1811].

 In this draft of a letter to Mary Russell Mitford, Coleridge developed some of the aesthetic ideas that would become famous in his “Essays on the Principles of Genial Criticism” and Biographia Literaria. After noting the errors that can arise from using words merely to express degree, he defines beauty in kind as “the reconciliation of ‘the many’ with ‘the one,’” offering the simple example of a triangle, in which three sides are reconciled into a single shape, and the ideal example of a circle, in which radii of many angles are brought together by the one center on which they converge.

Coleridge-02-Oct-1803-1webColeridge-02-Oct-1803-2webColeridge-02-Oct-1803-3webColeridge-02-Oct-1803-4webLetter from Samuel Taylor Coleridge to George Coleridge.  2 October 1803.

Coleridge experienced night terrors all his adult life, probably worsened by his addiction to opium and the periods of withdrawal when he would try to quit. In this letter, he tells his brother that when he tries to sleep, “such a Host of Horrors rush in—that three nights out of four I fall asleep struggling to lie awake, and start up & bless my own loud screams, that have awakened me.” He had described the experience poetically in “The Pains of Sleep,” written during the previous month, though not published until 1816.

Coleridge’s first volume of poetry

Coleridge-Poems-on-Various-Subjects-2webColeridge-Poems-on-Various-Subjects-1webColeridge-Poems-on-Various-Subjects-3web Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Poems on Various Subjects. London, Bristol: G. G. and J. Robinsons; J. Cottle, 1796.

Note the contemporary full tree calf binding, a technique in which the leather was stained to create a pattern resembling a tree.

Queen-Mab-2webColeridge-Notes-inside-webPercy Bysshe Shelley. Queen Mab. London: Printed and published by W. Clark, 1821.

In a note on his own poem, Percy Bysshe Shelley, a second-generation Romantic writer, advocates for a vegetarian diet as the most expedient solution to the problems facing humanity, whether medical or moral, decrying in particular “the brutal pleasures of the chase.” Coleridge could not resist the opportunity to let the wind out of Shelley’s sails by writing in the margin, “Mr. Shelley’s favourite diversion at present (1822) is hunting.”

 The comment is not in Coleridge’s collected marginalia.

Coleridge-Richard-3

Jeremy Taylor. The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living …: Together With Prayers Containing the Whole Duty of a Christian. The eleventh ed. London: Printed by Roger Norton for Richard Royston, 1676.

 This volume by the seventeenth-century divine Bishop Jeremy Taylor belonged to Coleridge and contains a brief marginal note by him. Coleridge-Richard-2Coleridge’s son Hartley, a poet in his own right, inscribed the copy in order to remind himself of his father’s legacy: “Hartley Coleridge / a small but precious / portion / of his promised inheritance.”

Coleridge-02-Oct-1813-1webColeridge-02-Oct-1813-2webColeridge-02-Oct-1813-3webColeridge-02-Oct-1813-4web

Letter from Samuel Taylor Coleridge to T. G. Street.
2 October 1813.

 Coleridge wrote to Street, the editor of the Courier, to complain of the Morning Chronicle’s coverage of the Napoleonic Wars. On this page, Coleridge refers to “the volcanic” Horrors of the French Revolution. The letter has yet to be published.

 

 

Beyond the Brownings–William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

William Wordsworth ABL-2

Courtesy of the Armstrong Browning Library

By Michael Milburn, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

William Wordsworth was the foremost of the early Romantic poets in England, known on the one hand for his use of familiar imagery and language; on the other, for his complex and contemplative blank verse; and in either case, for his devotion to nature. Notable works include Lyrical Ballads (1798 and 1800) and The Prelude, which was not published until after his death in 1850.

The ABL has several rare editions of Wordsworth’s poetry, including three inscribed copies, in addition to five unpublished or partially published letters.

Wordsworth-Poetical-Worksweb William Wordsworth. The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth. New ed. London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green & Longman, 1832.

The author’s inscription reads as follows: “To Lady Townshend Farquhar / in token of affectionate Regard / from her / Sincere Friend / Wm Wordsworth / Rydal Mount / 14th Novbr 1832.” Lady Maria Frances Geslip (née de Latour) was the widow of Sir Robert Townsend Farquhar, a Member of Parliament.

Wordsworth-Grace-Darling-1webWordsworth-Grace-Darling-2,3webWordsworth-Grace-Darling-4web William Wordsworth. Grace Darling. Carlisle: Printed at the office of Charles Thurnam, 1843.

Privately printed and inscribed by the author.

In his poem, Wordsworth celebrates the heroics of Grace Darling, who became a Victorian icon for her role in rescuing the survivors of the Forfarshire after it was shipwrecked near her father’s lighthouse in 1838. This extremely rare edition once belonged to the American musical theater composer Jerome Kern.

Worsdsworth-07-Aug-1web1Worsdsworth-07-Aug-2web2 Letter from William Wordsworth to Francis Merewether. 7 August [1829].

Francis Merewether was a High-Church priest and pamphleteer who had asked Wordsworth to speak on his behalf to Professor John Wilson, best known for his contributions to Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine under the pseudonym of Christopher North. Wordsworth obliged with this reply, reporting that “Professor Wilson” would be “willing to look over” Merewether’s “papers . . . and to admit them if suitable.”

Lyrical-Balladsweb William Wordsworth. Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems. London: J. & A. Arch, 1798.

First edition, second issue. Possibly the first printing to be sold instead of privately distributed.

The anonymous publication of the Lyrical Ballads in 1798 was one of the most important events in British literary history. Wordsworth’s collection, with several contributions by Coleridge, ushered in a new era in which imagination and emotion mattered more than formal poetic diction.

Wordsworth-08-January-1827-1webWordsworth-08-January-1827-2webLetter from William Wordsworth to Allan Cunningham 8 January 1827.

The “Mr. Kenyon” to whom Wordsworth refers in this letter is probably John Kenyon, fellow poet and friend to Wordsworth and Coleridge, as well as to the Brownings, whom he introduced to each other. Wordsworth wants Cunningham to vote in favor of Kenyon’s acceptance to the Athenaeum club, whose members would eventually include Michael Faraday, Matthew Arnold, and William Makepeace Thackeray.

Wordsworth-13-June-1834-1web

Wordsworth-13-June-1834-2web Letter from William Wordsworth to John Abraham Heraud. 10 June [1834].

Wordsworth had recently been instructed to rest his eyes, so he had been unable to read Heraud’s Judgment of the Flood on his own. His excuse for not having the entire work read aloud suggests how he might have hoped his own philosophical poetry would be read, at least when he was not reciting it himself:

 You are a thinking writer–& I said “I must not go on with this, till I can have my eyes upon the page” & this I beg you would take as expressing of real admiration.

 

Dorothy-Wordsworth-1web Dorothy-Wordsworth-2,3webDorothy-Wordsworth-4webLetter from Dorothy Wordsworth to Joshua Watson and Archdeacon Watson. [2 June 1820].

Dorothy Wordsworth was William Wordsworth’s sister, close friend, and longtime collaborator. Her journals reveal many details about life in the household she shared with her brother and his family. Here, she comments on the health of her youngest brother, Christopher.

The Armstrong Browning Library owns several other Wordsworth letters:

William-Wordsworth-to-Unknown,-15-September-1818Letter from William Wordsworth to Unidentified Correspondent. 15 September 1818.

William-Wordsworth-to-Unknown,-27-November-1835webLetter from William Wordsworth the Unidentified Correspondent. 27 November 1835.

Christopher-Wordsworth-to-Smith,-1-October-1844web

Letter from Christopher Wordsworth to Mr. Smith. 1 October 1844.

Beyond the Brownings: The Victorian Letter and Manuscript Collection

By Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

Beyond-the-BrowningsScholars know the Armstrong Browning Library at Baylor University as a world-class research library devoted to the lives and works of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. In addition to housing the world’s largest collection of books, letters, manuscripts, and memorabilia related to the Brownings, the library houses a substantial collection of primary and secondary materials related to nineteenth-century literature and culture. The Victorian Letter and Manuscript Collection includes almost 2,500 items from literary, political, ecclesiastical, scientific, and cultural figures in the nineteenth century. Letters, manuscripts, and books from Prince Albert, Queen Victoria, Matthew Arnold, Charles Babbage, J. M. Barrie, William Cullen Bryant, Thomas Carlyle, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Michael Faraday, W. E. Gladstone, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Victor Hugo, Thomas Henry Huxley, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, George MacDonald, John-Henry Newman, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, William Michael Rossetti, John Ruskin, Alfred Lord Tennyson, William Makepeace Thackeray, John Greenleaf Whittier, and William Wordsworth will be featured in the exhibit. In future blogs about the exhibit you can find out how Elizabeth Barrett Browning was related to Charles Babbage, where Victor Hugo spent his summer vacation, who was b__k b__ll__ed, and what happened to Miss Brodie’s cow.