Friday, May 13, 2011

"Trust No Future"

In 1901, William Carroll Hill published a small volume, Dartmouth Traditions, being a compilation of stories about Dartmouth events and alumni. Within this book, Jedediah Hayward provides “A Dartmouth Tragedy,” the sad tale of the drowning of Henry Ellis Beecher Stowe, eldest son of Harriet Beecher Stowe and the Rev. Calvin Stowe.

Hayward had been badly hazed as a freshman and he and a classmate decided that they would prevent this from happening at least to some members of the next freshman class by being their roommates the following year. To this end, he invited a Thetford Academy senior, Henry Stowe, to room with him in the fall. They became great friends, and Hayward described him as a delightful roommate.

On July 9, 1857, the summer of his freshman year, Stowe and a couple of his classmates took to the Connecticut River, swimming across to the Vermont shore. Once there, they climbed up the bank, across the road, and started picking wild strawberries, until a local resident chased them off.

Stowe’s classmates were able to run to the river and swim across to the sand bar close to the New Hampshire side, but Stowe was too tired to reach the spot where he could stand and was overtaken by the river current. His friends made brave attempts to save him, risking their own lives in the effort, until they, too, became too exhausted to hold on any longer.

There is a copy of the Thetford Academy commencement program in Henry Stowe’s file. He gave an oration the year he graduated: “Trust No Future.”

Ask to see the Alumni File for Henry Stowe, Class of 1860.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hours in Print

Most people associate books of hours with illuminated medieval manuscripts, not printed books. Throughout the first fifty years of printing, manuscript copies of these prayer books continued to be made. The market demanded luxury items, richly illuminated with gold and hand painted miniatures on soft vellum. The new technology of movable type was not seen as appropriate for these monuments to personal piety.

That changed in 1500 when Paris printer Simon Vostre began creating elaborately illustrated printed books of hours on vellum. This one, printed between 1500 and 1505, contains 18 full-page woodcuts, 30 smaller ones, and historiated woodcut borders on each page. An elaborate dance of death runs though the office of the dead. To "finish" the book, and make it harmonious with his customers' expectations of a book of hours, Vostre had the capitals and line ornaments hand illuminated in gold, red, and blue.

You can see for yourself by asking for Rauner Incun 154.