Friday, December 4, 2015

The Black Box ... of Canada?

outside of box
One of the best parts of being a staff member at Rauner is wandering through the stacks. You come across strange and wonderful items that you have no idea existed -- like this mysterious black box.

I've been eyeing this box for quite some time. It's in our "Illustrated" collection, so I wondered if there were racy images that had to be locked up (I mean, we just did a class using some of our uncatalogued erotica). But no. After struggling with the latches, I was greeted by a serene title page: Canadian Scenery Illustrated, from Drawings by W. H. Bartlett. Not quite what I was expecting, but still cool!
view of Montreal
The box contains a series of magazines published in London in 1842 concerning Canada. During this period, Canada was under British rule. Canadian Scenery becomes a participant in the project of British imperialism, bringing "human interest" scenes of Canada to London homes, from descriptions of Native American life to engravings of Montreal.
advertisement for Shakespeare's playsThe author, Nathaniel Parker Wills (Esq.), also wrote "Pencillings by the Way" and "Inklings of Adventure," two titles with a bit more punch than Canadian Scenery Illustrated. He was one of the highest-paid magazine writers of his day and established the Home Journal, which would eventually become Town and Country. We have a lot of other items in our collection by Wills, including a play titled Bianca Visconti; or, the Heart Overtasked and Hurry-graphs; or, Sketches of scenery, celebrities and society, taken from life. 

But, as in almost all nineteenth-century serials, the most comic part is the advertisements. My favorite advertises an edition of The Works of Shakespere [sic], which includes "the Attributed Plays" -- Locrine, Sir John Oldcastle, Thomas Lord Cromwell, The London Prodigal, The Puritan, and Yorkshire Tragedy. I've never even heard of any of these plays, but it turns out we have several copies of those plays, too -- a future blog entry?!

Ask for Illus B258c to learn more about nineteenth-century Canada.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tour of America

Opening page form John Tawse's journalOn Monday, July 1st, 1839, John Tawse and George Lyon set off from Edinburgh on a journey to America. They were representing the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge and their mission was to investigate Moor's Indian School located on the Dartmouth College campus. The Society had been a major source of funding for the school since Eleazar Wheelock founded Moor's in 1754. The pair produced a published report of their investigation, but it is the unpublished journal kept on the voyage by John Tawse that provides an intimate account of the impressions of the two rather stodgy travelers.

Tawse filled 260 pages in his journal, drew a map of their travels, and even created an index so he could easily refer back on his reflections. Most of the journal is dedicated to describing the places and people they met, but he occasionally launched into impassioned discourses on subjects he found most interesting. There is a diatribe against slavery and another on the treatment of people of color in free states, a long description of the American system of government, a section on the Oneida Indians, and a odd passage about American women's lack of beauty (no symmetry of form!). For the most part he is curious, morally judgmental, and somewhat in awe of the grandeur of the country.

Index to John Tawse's journal
His visit to Hanover gets scant coverage. He arrived quite ill, was treated by Doctor Oliver Wendell  Holmes, who taught at the Dartmouth Medical School from 1838-1841, and then spent the rest of his short stay meeting with President Lord and inspecting the school.

To see his journal, ask for Codex MS 003114