Friday, December 7, 2012

“… i will burn your building so help me god”

A block of handwritten text.Sometime during the mid-1800's, a distraught wife wrote this brief note to Albert Dewey, a mill owner in Quechee, Vermont, begging him not to buy any more rum for his workers. In 1882, the New Hampshire Temperance Union urged farmers to raise better apples that were a "blessing not a peril," and to avoid making hard cider because it made "men cross, ferocious, bloodthirsty." Alcohol, its use, abuse and prohibition, does tend to evoke strong and, sadly in some cases, violent responses.

A clipping of "Cider; What it Is, What it Does."
Broadside 000064
Within six months of the January 16, 1920, ratification of the 18th amendment prohibiting the manufacture, sale and transportation of liquor, Dartmouth College came face to face with its own drink-related act of violence. On June 15, 1920, after an argument over the price of a bottle of liquor smuggled in from Canada, Robert Meads, Class of 1920, shot and killed Henry Maroney, Class of 1919.

A newspaper clipping with the heading "Whiskey Quarrel Led to Dartmouth Shooting."Two days later, Dartmouth President Ernest Martin Hopkins made a formal statement to the press, denying that there had been any general system of smuggling of liquor into Hanover, and that the College authorities had, by every device available, kept watch and checked every known source of supply. He was loath to state this much, in case such diligence on the part of the College would imply an overwhelming need for such oversight, or that specific incidents would cast a bad light on the majority of students who did not partake of illegal drink.

However, in May the following year, President Hopkins was forced to admit in a letter to Matt Jones, Class of 1894, that the campus was in great trouble due to gallons of bootleg alcohol coming into town from Rutland and White River Junction, Vermont, and from New York. "I would like some real he-men with automatic revolvers and backbone who would hold up some of the suspicious automobiles that are floating around here…"

A bit of printed text reading "Dear little bar don't you cry you'll be a drug store bye and bye."
Broadside 001374
In April, 1932, Hopkins issued a statement in favor of ending prohibition, and was probably relieved that he had one less issue to worry about when the amendment repealing prohibition was passed, December 5, 1933.

Ask for ML-61, box 23, folder 25 to see the letter from the Dewey papers, Broadside 000064, Broadside 003174, and Henry Maroney's 1919 Alumni file.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

By the Author of 'Jane Eyre'

A title page for "Wuthering Heights," being attributed to the author of Jane Eyre.A while back we blogged about the first edition of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. The publisher promoted the book with the suggestion that it was written by Charlotte Bronte (rather than Anne).  Well, we just acquired the first American edition of Wuthering Heights (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1848) and find that the confusion over the Brontes extended into the United States. The title page of Wuthering Heights clearly states "By The Author of 'Jane Eyre.'"

The publisher had a good excuse. All of the Bronte novels were published under pen names: Acton, Ellis, and Currer Bell. Since this edition is pirated, Harpers had no contact with the Bronte sisters. The English publisher was also working to conflate the three "Bells." Harpers may not have known, or they may have been trying to cash in on the success of Jane Eyre which they had already brought out in a pirated edition.

A paperbound copy of Jane Eyre.
"Pirated" is something of a misnomer. There was no effective international copyright law in 1848, so there were no legal impediments to Harper and Brothers printing a work originally published in England. But they did not pay a cent to the author--had they paid a royalty, one has to wonder whose name would have been on the check!

Ask for Rare PR4172.W7 1848 for Wuthering Heights and Rare PZ3.B790J for the first American Jane Eyre.