or so the saying goes…..
I am about to confess some recent antiquarian book purchases to you. In my defence, I will, of course, be sharing the contents of them with you in due course, so I’ve not been that extravagant. In truth I haven’t …I managed to purchase these books at quite amazing prices considering the contents. Of course some of them are not in very good condition,but as it is the content that I seek, I simply don’t care about aesthetics.
The first is a very good world gazetteer, Geography Illustrated on a Popular Plan for the Use of Schools and Young Persons by the Reverend J. Goldsmith
This is fabulously intact, still illustrated with many maps and engravings of places mentioned in the text.
Above is its view Kamskatchkan travellers. Kamskatchka was of course a place with which Jane Austen was very and amusingly familiar, using it as she did in her Plan of A Novel, as possibly the furthest place from England that she could imagine. She wrote her furious and funny attack as a result partly of receiving “helpful” suggestions of plots for novels from the Reverend Stanier Clarke etc etc
At last, hunted out of civilized Society, denied the poor Shelter of the humblest Cottage, they are compelled to retreat into Kamschatka where the poor Father, quite worn down, finding his end approaching, throws himself on the Ground, and after 4 or 5 hours of tender advice and parental Admonition to his miserable Child, expires in a fine burst of Literary Enthusiasm, intermingled with Invectives against holders of Tithes.
A real find in a local second-hand bookshop was this set of five volumes of the Middlesex volumes of The Beauties of England and Wales by Edward Wedlake Brayley and John Britton (1800-1815).
Ex-Library copies, their bindings are not the best, but they contain the most detailed descriptions of the topography and history of the counties of England. Middlesex is a marvellous county to have , for it included London and most of its environs in Jane Austen’s era, and so there are detailed descriptions of most of the places in London that Jane Austen knew and wrote about in these volumes. I’m enjoying dipping into them at the moment….
Amazingly, because they command reasonable prices on the print market, most of the engravings are intact in these volumes. Here is one of the Herald’s College.
This is an immensely interesting book, delineating four excursions from the city of Bath, with very detailed and idiosyncratic descriptions of the interesting places to be found en route. Each of the four exclusions is illustrated by a charmingly naive map: this is the route of the first excursion:
It also has great significance for those of us interested in the contents of Jane Austen’s library, for she actually owned a copy of this book. David Gilson in his Bibliography of Jane Austen describes the copy now owned by the Jane Austen Memorial Trust at the Jane Austen House Museum, which was annotated bythe Reverend Geroge Austen and was probably given by him to Jane.
I shall enjoy reading these books with you here and I shall be posting about them from time to time over the next few months. Do join me, won’t you?