Book Find: Phrenology, a seemingly silly vintage science with dangerous consequences

Diderot’s Encyclopédie,published between 1751 and 1772, laid the groundwork for new modes of thinking that would flourish in the nineteenth century. Indeed, on both sides of the Atlantic, the 1800s witnessed a voracious appetite for cataloguing, compiling, and understanding every detail of everything. From wunderkammers (or “cabinets of curiousity”) where objects were meticulously displayed for curious eyes to Dmitri Mendeleev’s painstaking 1869 Periodic Law that built the groundwork for the modern Periodic Table, the nineteenth century was filled with a lust for order and understanding of the natural world.

It is this climate of categorization that led phrenology to come into vogue. Though the discipline was invented at the very end of the previous century by Franz Joseph Gall, its character was profoundly rooted in the spirit of the nineteenth century. The first of the two books discovered by the UVa Book Traces team, George Combe’s A System of Phrenology (1838), defines the discipline as follows:

” Phrenology, derived from [the Greek] φρήν (phrēn) mind and  λόγος (logos) discourse, professes to be a system of Philosophy of the Human Mind, and…to throw light on the primitive powers of feeling which incite us to action, and the capacities of thinking that guide our exertions…” (Combe 1)

The methodology of this “system” might cause a modern person to raise an eyebrow: Gall and his followers believed that they could gain insight into these “powers of feeling” and “capacities of thinking” by evaluating a person’s skull. The New illustrated self-instructor in phrenology and physiology (1859), the second book in the Book Traces project to address the subject,  furnishes a list of nearly forty “organs” — essentially nooks and crannies — of the skull that could reveal traits of its owner:

The organs listed are, in order "Amativeness, Conjugality, Parental Love, Friendship, Inhabitiveness, Continuity, Vitativeness, Combativeness, Destructiveness, Alimentiveness, Acquisitiveness, Secretiveness, Cautiousness, Approbativeness, Self-esteem, Firmness, Conscientiousness, Hope, Spirituality, Veneration, Benevolence, Constructiveness, Ideality, Sublimity, Imitation, Mirthfulness, Individuality, Form, Size, Weight, Color, Order, Calculation, Locality, Eventuality, Time, Tune, Language, Causality, Comparison, Human Nature, and Agreeableness"

Many of these traits may seem quaint and even humorous. We can imagine such humorous vignettes as a lady feeling a suitor’s scalp for “Conjugality” to see if a man is inevitably a cheater, or a friend palpating above an ear to see if the person has enough “Secretiveness” to be trusted with a spare key. Indeed, O.S. and L.N. Fowler, the earnest authors of the Self-instructor, even furnish us with images that we, using with our modern vocabulary, can find very funny indeed:

A drawing of Emerson, an idiot

“Well, of course that Emerson is an idiot; he looks just like one” we can imagine the Fowlers declaring with nonchalance.

A humorous interpretation of this “idiocy” would, however, require the modern levity with which the word can be used. If we put the word “idiot” back into its temporal (and pejorative) context, it quickly loses its humor. The American Heritage Stedman’s Medical Dictionary provides us with the following historical definition, stipulating that this use is now highly offensive:

idiot id·i·ot (ĭd’ē-ət)
A person of profound mental retardation having a mental age below threeyears and generally being unable to learn connected  speech or guard against common dangers.

Following this line of thinking, it becomes fairly easy to see how phrenology, in the wrong hands, could have very dangerous consequences indeed. For example, with Emerson above, we now understand that certain congenital physical traits may also come with life-altering mental traits. It is possible, then, that Emerson’s long forehead and craggy profile are hallmarks of what we might today call a “mental disability” in a medical or governmental setting or a “neurodivergent mind” in a social justice context. It is also possible that Emerson just looks like he does! We could take this phrenological reading of Emerson’s skull as a benevolent (or at least objective) attempt to acknowledge his difference, but given that he is juxtaposed with illustrations of various literary and political notables such as Edgar Allan Poe and George Washington on other pages of the volume, it seems that the authors are identifying him as being a comparatively inferior individual. Furthermore, they are casting him as an “idiot” for something he didn’t choose; he was born looking like this rather than like Poe or Washington and there is little he can do about it.

One of the interventions in the Combe text reveals that the discipline of phrenology was also contorted to draw conclusions about race. On page 198, which covers “acquisitiveness,” or the desire to accumulate goods, we see two vast generalizations in action:

Text reading : Dr. Gall states this organ to be little developed in the skulls of the Caribs. In accordance with this, travellers say that they are little prone to theft; and, therefore, says Rochester, in his History of the Antilles, when they are robbed, they always insist that it must have been by a Christian. (An intervention here makes a mark to highlight the following:) The Negroes are also little prone to steal, and the organ is moderately developed in them. (end highlight). Dr. Gall had an opportunity of observing among the Spanish...

The intervention that has been cut off likely reads “What!!” and below the handwritten text appears to read “Did he ever see a negro!”

While Combe, the author of the printed text, makes the positive — yet nonetheless prejudicial— observation that “Negroes are… little prone to steal,” the marginalia reveals a much more pejorative viewpoint. The handwritten text in pen brackets or highlights this observation and makes the observation that Dr. Gall must not have met or observed “a negro,” implying that, in this person’s mind, people of that heritage are indeed prone to stealing.

We have no traces of this incredulous reader’s identity, but what we do know about them can help us see how they may have been employing phrenology as a form of confirmation bias. Throughout the text, there are notes “correcting” Combe’s text that, while they employ an elevated vocabulary, are often rife with misspellings and rarely furnish proof. Take, for example, this indignant footer note on page 127, in the chapter on “Concentrativeness”:

"How absurd to suppose that the same faculty combines these pasions [sic] + different functions."

“How absurd to suppose that the same faculty combines these pasions [sic] + different functions.”

This writer seems to take great pleasure in pointing out the “absurdities” of Combe’s writing, but seems to be going by gut feeling, not empirical evidence. Though we might be tempted to characterize all of phrenology as a “pseudoscience,” it was respected in its era, making the real “pseudoscience” this pretentious yet decidedly faux-intellectual babble in the margins. Therefore, predicated solely on these traces, I would characterize this person as someone who has deluded himself or herself with prejudicial self-righteousness.

We also have a nonverbal trace that corroborates not only this writer’s pompousness but also his or her racially biased view of society. On the page preceding the title page, we see a series of crude portraits drawn in profile:

Four portraits presented in profile: top left of an adult male, top right of an elderly female, middle left of a Black male, captioned "Niger [sic], caffres" (both pejorative terms) middle right a bearded adult male rendered much smaller and possibly captioned "Jimmy." In the bottom center an amorphous front view of a possibly Black face.

This series of portraits, though rendered with little technical skill, presents enough detail that we can observe the pronounced differences between the white male and female portraits in the top row and the Black male portrait in the middle left (Indeed, his portrait is even subtitled with “nigers” [sic] and “caffres,” both antiquated — and now highly pejorative — terms for Black people in the plural that designate him as a generality, not an individual). We could interpret this as a descriptive exercise that objectively demonstrates the different features of people of different racial backgrounds, but since the portraits are in a book on phrenology, we should examine them phrenologically.

The first striking difference between the white male and the Black male portrait is the difference in the indentation between the head and the neck. This region corresponded to “Amativeness,” or “love between the sexes.” The white male’s skull dips profoundly into his neck to an unrealistic degree whereas the Black male’s skull flows almost directly into his neck. Therefore, we can judge that the “artist” here wished to convey that the white male possessed a small Amativeness faculty and the Black male a large faculty. Though “love between the sexes” does not seem to be a negative thing, a large Amativeness faculty was linked to deviant sexuality. This example of an assessment of a woman’s cranium elucidates this connection:

“Dr. Gall was led to the discovery of this organ in the following manner. He was physician to a widow of irreproachable character, who was seized with nervous affections, to which succeeded severe nymphomania. In the violence of a paroxysm, he supported her head, and was struck with the large size and heat of the neck” (Combe 109-10).

It is then possible that the person who drew the portrait wanted to confirm via phrenology the widely-held preconceived notions about Black sexuality. Marques P. Richeson draws from J.A. Rogers when observing that, even before the institution of slavery in the United States,

“This animalistic conceptualization naturally led to the stereotyping of black men as both hypersexual and hyperaggressive – “[i]n the Negro all the passions, emotions, and ambitions, are almost wholly subservient to the sexual instinct. . . .” (Richeson 103)

Furthermore, this perceived heightened libido was in turn tied to a diminished intelligence and an overall lack of personal control. This inverse proportion is also manifest in the pair of portraits: the forehead of the white male juts out in a once again exaggerated or unrealistic manner, whereas the forehead of the Black male barely makes provisions for the eye sockets. The area of the skull the artist probably intended to differentiate is the “Individuality” organ, and thus they perpetuate the idea that Black slavery could be justified by the entire race’s lack of agency.

The pair of portraits not only reveals a disdain for the Black race but also a personal bias. I am inclined to believe that, since the white male portrait is unlabelled yet appears first on the page that it may be a self-portrait. Even though this is impossible to know, it is at least most likely that the owner of this scientific book in 1838 North America was a white male. This would suggest that the aforementioned overwrought depictions of the white male’s neck dip and forehead crag seek to demonstrate the gentlemanly sexual restraint and the decisive individuality of the white male. The drawn portrait strikingly resembles the busts of famous men of politics and letters who are depicted in the Fowlers’ instructional book as well, further reinforcing my idea that this writer conceived of himself as being very distinguished and more intelligent than the author of his printed text.

We also see this supremacist view of the white male’s capacities in the fill-in chart at the front of the Fowlers’ book:

The chart lists all approximately 40 "conditions" and invites the autodidact to fill out the size of his or her capacities. For this owner of the book, we see that nearly every organ is listed as being either "large" with a value of 6 or "full" with a value of 5. The lowest value accorded is for the "Spirituality" organ, listed as a 3 for "moderate." No organs are listed as 7 or "very large."

An interactive feature of the Self-Instructor, this chart lists all approximately 40 “conditions” and invites the autodidact to fill out the size of his or her capacities. According to the title page, we are reading “R.G. Tyler’s” phrenological assessment as conducted by “S. R. Wells” on June 29, 1865:

Printed text: "New Illustrated Self-Instructor in Phrenology and Physiology; with Over One Hundred Engravings; together with the chart and and character of" Handwritten text: "R.G. Tyler" Printed text: "As marked by" Handwritten text: "S. R. Mills June 29/1865" Printed text: "By O.S. and L.N. Fowler, Practical Phrenologists. Self-knowledge is the essence of all knowledge. Your character corresponds with your organization. New York: Fowler and Wells, Publishers, No. 308 Broadway."

We note immediately that nearly every organ is listed as being either “large” with a value of 6 or “full” with a value of 5. The lowest value accorded is for the “Spirituality” organ, listed in the second column as a somewhere between a 4 and 3 for “moderate.” No organs are listed as 7 or “very large.” At first, we may be tempted to view this as a demonstration that the two men acknowledged Tyler’s faults as well as his strengths, but qualities such as a high Amativeness, “Destructiveness,” and “Combativeness” could be circumscribed by the constructs of virility and the Romantic notion of the fierce individual. When viewing this apparent willingness to present strongly — but not too strongly — in every possible category, it seems that these amateur phrenologists were not practicing objectively but instead armed with preconceived notions of white masculinity.

Lastly, in both of these phrenological volumes, very little attention is paid to female cranial traits. Though our artist did indeed draw a portrait of an elderly woman across from his white male, it is noteworthy that much of her skull is occluded by her bonnet. This eliminates the possibility of any conjectures as to such important traits as her sexuality (Amativeness, as previously discussed) and her conception of herself (“Self-Esteem” at the top of her skull). It even hinders our ability to draw conclusions about such “feminine” traits as her “Parental Love” (in the back middle of her skull), which represents one of the only qualities for which women are even depicted in the Fowlers’ volume:

Under the heading "Parental Love: Philoprogenitiveness" we see a "Large" curve of the head on the right attributed to "The Good Mother" and a relative lack of cranial curve attributed to "The Unmotherly."

Even in this science so obsessed with creating physical taxonomies for every trait of human life, an entire half of a species is flagrantly ignored and placed in neat, maternal boxes.

While phrenology may appear to be ridiculous, even humorous pseudoscience in retrospect, it is important to recognize how such a discipline affected the real lives of marginalized individuals. Divergence from the cognitive norm was typified, training people to recognize and even treat differently those bearing the telltale signs of “idiocy.” Phrenology was also used as a form of confirmation bias for race-based prejudice and characterized Black people and slaves as being morally inferior. Lastly, women were rarely discussed in this science that claimed to explain all of human behavior, diminishing the personhood of women and casting them as nothing more than mothers.

Phrenology, with its deeply rooted subjective biases, holds little weight in today’s data-driven science that prioritizes quantifiable evidence in an attempt to stave off confirmation bias. However, its legacy of prioritizing white, male physiology remains. Medical studies are just now making provisions for neural, racial, and gender difference in their experimental units. We can hope that, with an increased, authoritative understanding of how biological difference is not deviance, science will be further enriched to the point that we can laugh tomorrow at today’s biased methods just as we can laugh at phrenology.

 Works Cited

Combe, George. A System of Phrenology. Boston: Marsh, Capen, and Lyon, 1838. Print.

Fowler, O.S. and L.N. Fowler. New Illustrated Self-Instructor in Phrenology and Physiology. New York: Fowler and Wells, 1859. Print.

Richeson, Marques P. “Sex, Drugs, and…: A Black Box Warning of Chemical Castration’s Potential Racial Side Effects.” Harvard BlackLetter Law Journal (25): 95-131. Web.

Book Find: Understanding France’s scandalous Dreyfus Affair through the friendship and correspondence of two Jewish outsiders

France has always had a problem with what they call l’autre, the Other.

In contemporary history, this trouble with “Otherness” is exemplified by the astonishing number of French citizens who are defecting from their native land in order to join the forces of Daech (the preferred name in French for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIS or ISIL). What could possibly make these citizens of one of the most idolized countries on earth join a radical militant group terrorizing the Middle East? To answer this question, many scholars have pointed to a general sense of disenfranchisement among — most notably — young people from immigrant families, particularly those who practice Islam. Stated simply, these at-risk individuals do not feel “French” and do not feel like they are invited to participate in French culture and “Frenchness.” In fact, this detachment from la République has been identified as one of the main triggers of the rash of horrifying terrorist attacks in Paris.

This phenomenon of alienating the Other from French culture is certainly not new. While the United States experiences more cultural fractures on the basis of race, in French history it can be observed that greater fault-lines form on religious grounds. Indeed, the Gallic people have exhibited animosity towards Muslims as early as the eleventh century: The Song of Roland, considered to be the first complete work of literature in the French vernacular, depicts Charlemagne’s Christian army clashing with the Muslim Sarrasins.

Though French antipathy towards Islamic culture is well-known and well-documented, the abiding mistrust of the Jewish people is perhaps less apparent. When we, in the post-World War era, think of antisemitism, we often connect this form of prejudice to Nazism, but it runs deeply and broadly through the entirety of European recorded history.

No event better laid French antisemitism bare than the all-encompassing Dreyfus Affair. When I once told my undergraduate thesis advisor that I wanted to know more about the Affair, she said, “It would take a year or more of graduate seminars to critically understand even the tip of its iceberg.” Therefore, for our purposes, I will simplify it: In 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus was accused of committing the (relatively bureaucratic) crime of transmitting classified French documents to the German Embassy in Paris. It came to light two years later that Dreyfus, who was of Alsatian Jewish descent, had been framed when evidence proved that a more “French” military man, Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy, was the true spy. However, Esterhazy was quickly acquitted in a heavily biased military trial while Dreyfus was saddled with additional layers of cover-up charges. One of the most famous dreyfusards (“supporter of Dreyfus”; versus the anti-dreyfusards) arguments came in the form of novelist Émile Zola’s splashy “J’Accuse…!” published on the front page of L’Aurore in 1898, in which he accused the French government of complicity in Dreyfus’s unjust framing. It was not until 1906 that Dreyfus was fully exonerated and allowed to rejoin the military, making the total length of the Affair twelve years. Even with the actual events coming to a close, the scars they left behind would last for decades to come and threaten the very foundation of la République.

Zola's famous

Zola’s famous “J’Accuse…!” defending Dreyfus and accusing the government of complicity in his unfair treatment (1898)

Though the details of the Dreyfus’s myriad sentences and the motivations of the players involved are extremely complex, one of the primary contemporary assessments of the Affair is abundantly clear: Dreyfus was considered to be a more appealing culprit for treason on the basis of his Otherness. Because Alfred Dreyfus came from Alsace, a territory that at many points in history had been German, and also practiced a religion that was not French Catholicism, he was Other enough to be the perfect scapegoat for a political scandal.

Even as the Dreyfus Affair threatened to split the whole of French society into dreyfusards and anti-dreyfusards, within each of these factions, shared political views on the Affair forged tight bonds. One of these bonds is preserved in our Book Find, a 1903 volume by Joseph Reinach entitled Histoire de l’Affaire Dreyfus.

The traces in this book are particularly interesting in terms of format. Even as the gift inscription on the title page is typical, reading “To Henry Bauër, with great friendship, Joseph Reinach,” the meticulous enclosing of the accompanying letter is atypical indeed.

Joseph Reinach's near-illegible scrawl designates this book to be a gift to Heny Bauër.

Joseph Reinach’s near-illegible scrawl designates this book to be a gift to Heny Bauër.

Across from this gift inscription is a remnant of an envelope that has been carefully folded to display the addressee’s residence at the front of a diminutive pocket. Though the envelope was torn, not cut, the resulting paper pocket is crisp and delightfully delicate.

The delightful pocket pasted across from the cover page, shown with its folded note pulled out

The delightful pocket pasted across from the cover page, shown with its folded note pulled out

Inside of the origami-like pocket is a note on matching stationery. The paper quality is so fine that the watermarks of “JO” and “EXTRA” are readily visible even without holding the note up to a light source. Once again, we see Reinach’s practically indecipherable scrawl addressing his friend. The note reads:

The letter enclosed in the envelope pocket

The letter enclosed in the envelope pocket

Mon cher ami
Voici mon 9e volume. Un bel article
de vous, quelque part,
me ferait grand plaisir.
Personne ne sait mieux
que vous le balzacien
de l’affaire
Bien à vous
Joseph Reinach

My dear friend
Here enclosed is my 9th volume. A nice article
from you, somewhere,
would please me greatly.
Nobody knows better
than you how to see the Balzac
in the affair
Best wishes
Joseph Reinach (translation my own)

In reading a biography about the recipient, Henry Bauër, I was able to find a transcription of his thank-you note to Reinach:

1er juin 1903
Mon cher Reinach,
Vous me ferez grand plaisir en m’envoyant votre nouveau volume.
Les précédents m’ont ravi. Il me semblait tant était profonde la pénétration des caractères, magnifique la documentation de l’historien, il me semblait assister au développement d’un drame homérique et balzacien dont je n’aurais connu que le scénario.
Vos livres apprennent les ressorts cachés de l’affaire à ceux qui croyaient la connaître le mieux.
Dans les meilleurs sentiments
Je vous serre la main. – H.B. –3, place des Vosges.

My dear Reinach,
You have pleased me greatly by sending me your new volume.
The previous were thrilling. It seemed to me that the insight into the characters was so deep and the historical documentation was so magnificent that I felt as though I was attending the production of a play by Homer and Balzac of which I had, up to this point, only known the synopsis.
Your books teach the hidden motivations of the affair to those who thought they knew it inside and out.
In the best spirits
I shake your hand. – H.B. –3, place des Vosges. (Cerf 87, translation my own)

From this epistolary exchange, we can confirm that Bauër and Reinach were not only personal friends but also political allies that viewed the Dreyfus Affair with a critical eye. These letters show them comparing the historical events to a novel or drama that specifically recalled popular author Honoré de Balzac’s treatment of his characters, who were always neither good nor bad.

Understanding the friendship between Bauër and Reinach by reflecting upon their biographies presents us with an opportunity to begin to understand the often inscrutable Pandora’s box of the Dreyfus Affair.

Henry Bauër has a particularly riveting life story. Born in 1851 in Paris, Bauër was the illegitimate son of none other than literary juggernaut Alexandre Dumas, author of such celebrated classics as The Three Musketeers (1844) and The Count of Monte-Cristo (1844-6). He was the product of a tryst between the celebrated author and the married Anna Bauër, a German woman of Jewish faith. One can imagine that Bauër’s adjacency to fame and a legitimate legacy only served to further demarcate his indelible Otherness. He was not only a bastard child unworthy of his father’s illustrious name, but also Jewish by blood and only half-French by nationality. This muddled identity stood in sharp relief to his half-brother’s illustrious pedigree: Alexandre Dumas fils (“junior”) was twenty years older and would publish his classic novel, The Lady of Camellias, in 1848, when Bauër was only four years old. This novel would later be adapted by Giuseppe Verdi for the libretto of his masterpiece La Traviata, which draws enthralled audiences to this day.

Though Bauër was not a direct descendant of this line of literary masters, he nonetheless found his living in the written word. His biographer Marcel Cerf dubbed Bauër The Musketeer of the Pen in the title of his 1975 examination of Bauër’s life, work, and correspondance. After a youth spent provoking controversy by fighting for the disestablishmentarian Paris Commune of 1871 (which resulted in a period of exile to the archipelago of New Caledonia in the Pacific), Bauër returned to polite society and established himself as a venerable journalist and critic of literature and theater. During his tenure at the paper l’Écho de Paris (“Paris’s Current Events”),  he was known for championing Émile Zola’s literary output as well as his dreyfusard work in the political tangle of the Dreyfus Affair.

Bauër's career as a theater critic enabled him to befriend such individuals as stage superstar Sarah Bernhardt. (Cerf)

Bauër’s career as a theater critic enabled him to befriend such individuals as stage superstar Sarah Bernhardt. (Cerf)

However, by the time of Reinach’s gift in 1903, Bauër had left journalism in order to pursue an ill-fated theater career. Since he clearly had not inherited his father and half-brother’s ability to convert writing into a means of making a living, the later years of his life were spent not only in relative obscurity but also in a pecuniary situation that did not befit the son of such an illustrious literary figure.

It is during this later, less-successful period that Bauër’s letters reveal that he had begun at least a written relationship with Joseph Reinach. Reinach, born to German Jewish parents in 1856, also worked as a journalist but was primarily known for his political career. Like Bauër, he too experienced a tumultuous career of ups and downs: he served as a Parliamentarian from 1889 to 1898 but did not win re-election largely on the basis of his involvement in the Dreyfus Affair. Reinach is considered to be the champion par excellence of Dreyfus’s innocence. As his gift note to Bauër indicates, Reinach wrote many volumes on the Affair in which he meticulously laid out his argument, in chronological order, that Dreyfus was the victim of an insidious government cover-up. From 1898-9 he wrote no less than eight volumes entitled L’Affaire Dreyfus and subdivided the events of the Affair into thematic units that comprise the volumes. Histoire de l’Affaire Dreyfus, his ninth volume, is the one we possess that was sent to Bauër. Originally published in 1901, it functions as a sort of retrospective on Reinach’s initial Dreyfus series. After the journalistic tear-down of Reinach’s extensive dreyfusard output came to an end, he, unlike Bauër, experienced a renaissance and won re-election to the French Parliament in 1906 – not coincidentally the same year that Alfred Dreyfus was finally pardoned.

A 1912 photo of Joseph Reinach (Agence de presse Meurisse‏, Bibliothèque nationale de France)

A 1912 photo of Joseph Reinach (Agence de presse Meurisse‏, Bibliothèque nationale de France)

Neither I nor Marcel Cerf can pinpoint when or how exactly Bauër and Reinach became friends, but the basis of their friendship as Others in society is abundantly clear. Both men were not truly “French” in that they were of German Jewish parentage. However, given Bauër’s illustrious father and Reinach’s tenacious political career, both men touched fame even in a society that sought to exclude them. Though they never acknowledged in writing that their firm belief in Alfred Dreyfus’s innocence was founded on the fact that he, too, was a Germanic, Jewish Frenchman, it is not difficult to see how they might have identified with the embattled military man.

Even though, at the time of the gift, both men inhabited tony addresses in Paris (Place de Vosges, where Bauër lived, was once the seat of the French royal court and also the home of Victor Hugo; The stationery store indicated on the envelope sent by Reinach is located on the posh Boulevard Haussman, which suggests that he lived nearby), we can make no mistake that they were universally accepted in society. In my search for more information on Joseph Reinach, I came across a truly nasty re-writing of one of his Dreyfus volumes entitled, Joseph Reinach, Historian. The preface of this book, written by Charles Maurras, makes it abundantly clear that the subtitle Historian is intended to be pronounced in snarky quotes: “Historian.” This vicious preface makes it very clear for us that, for many, Jewish writers like Reinach were viewed with contempt. The preface author observes that

“An ardent vital instinct can provide man, particularly of the Semitic variety, with an ersatz approximation of, or even an equivalent to, actual intelligence” (Maurras x, translation my own)

and compares Jews to beasts with instinct, not intellect. Furthermore, he manages to make doubly-racist racist claims about Reinach:

“Mr. Joseph Reinach has gone too far. Never did any Asian sorcerer play as he does with the naïveté of the Gallic people. His example demonstrates that a certain absence of shame can reign over genius and virtue alike” (Maurras xii, translation my own).

Though I was not able to find any such screeds against Bauër, if this is the vitriol with which Reinach, a former Parliamentarian, was vilified, can we even imagine how the bastard Henry Bauër might have fared?

It is in the friendship between Bauër and Reinach, formed on the basis of shared heritage, the Otherness that came with it, and the prejudice they experienced in society despite their notable contributions that we can begin to comprehend the impact of the Dreyfus Affair. On the negative side, we see how the climate in late nineteenth-century France was genuinely hostile to people of different cultural backgrounds and how this undoubtedly played into Dreyfus’s unjust conviction. On the positive side, we see how, in order to brave the waves of antisemitic hatred, French Jews rallied around Dreyfus and formed lasting bonds that allowed them to insist that they, too, were part of the French nation and culture.

Given that this book find provides us with an approachable microcosmic view of a major French historical event, I find this book and its interventions to be of great value. Even though Henry Bauër and Joseph Reinach have largely fallen into obscurity (Indeed, this may be the reason why we have acquired this book here at the University of Virginia and that it has not yet been sent to Special Collections!), through their exchange in this controversial volume, we can begin to decode a historical event that has implications that can help us navigate issues of Otherness in the present day.

 Works Cited

Cerf, Marcel. Le Mousquetaire de la plume. La vie d’un grand critique dramatique : Henry Bauër, fils naturel d’Alexandre Dumas, 1851-1915. Paris: Académie d’Histoire, 1975. Print.

Dutrait-Crozon, Henri. Joseph Reinach historien. Révision de l’Histoire de l’Affaire Dreyfuspréface de Charles Maurras. Paris: Savaète, 1905. Print.

El Gammal, Jean. Joseph Reinach et la République (1856-1921). Bulletin du Centre d’histoire de la France contemporaine, vol. 4, 1983, p. 65-70. Print.

Maurras, Charles. Preface. In Henri Dutrait-Crozon. Joseph Reinach historien. Révision de l’Histoire de l’Affaire Dreyfuspréface de Charles Maurras. Paris: Savaète, 1905. Print.

Reinach, Joseph. Histoire de l’Affaire Dreyfus. Paris: Charpentier et Fasquelle, 1903. Print.


Book Find: How a runaway teenage heiress’s gift to her French tutor exposes the “Crowding Memories” early 20th-century feminity

Tucked into the front cover of a copy Mrs. Thomas Bailey Aldritch’s  memoirs covering her husband and their shared social circle, Crowding Memories, is an exquisitely preserved note. Though the material of the card and the ink there inscribed are of the highest quality, the quality of the French language text is decidedly lacking. The note reads:

Photo of the note tucked into the 1920 copy of Crowded Memories

À Mlle Hubbard
Je vous veux tout le bonheur de la saison
Kasia Mahoney


To Mademoiselle Hubbard
I want you all of the happiness of the season
Kasia Mahoney

Here I have purposefully translated Mahoney’s note in a clunky way to be faithful to the manner in which she wrote her French text.  She has made two interesting French errors that allow us to draw conclusions about the nature of her relationship with Hubbard. First, she uses the phrase “je vous veux” which, literally translated in isolation, means “I want you.” What Mahoney probably wanted to say was “je vous souhaite…” which would mean “I want for you,” and better fits the benevolent spirit of her note. Her second error is in signing off with “de,” which, though it does indeed mean “from” and would be used on a “to/from” for a gift as her salutation suggests, is certainly not the way one would sign a letter.

So why the French lesson? Mahoney’s inelegant French, as well as her addressing of the note’s recipient with a formal “Mademoiselle,” suggest that we are most likely looking at a note from a student to a teacher. Though Mahoney’s letter is not linguistically perfect, its earnestness in form and content speak to a certain desire to please a figure of authority.

The owner's signature — in a different hand from the note — on the title page gives us Hubbard's first name and the date of the gift.

The owner’s signature — in a different hand from the note — on the title page gives us Hubbard’s first name and the date of the gift.

In order to test my hypothesis that Kasia Mahoney was Eugénie Hubbard’s (see how I learned her first name above) student, I had to first identify the two women.

A search for “Kasia Mahoney” turned out to be far more sensational than anticipated. Her name is splashed across front pages from her native to New York, through the Midwest, and even as far away as Utah starting in the year 1927. Here are some of the more choice headlines:

"Fate Kind to Small Girl, Out to See World"

From the Chicago Tribune, February 26, 1927

Girl Prodigy, 15, Daughter of Supreme Court Judge, Missing Disappearance of Kasia Mahoney, Kept Secret by New York Police for Three Days, Revealed by Inquiries of Reporters – Girl Much Advanced Intellectually for Her Age– Nation-Wide Search in Progress

From The Bridgeport Telegram, Bridgeport, Connecticut, February 25, 1927

Kasia Mahoney Found, Left Mansion Home for "Thrills"

From The Bridgeport Telegram, February 26, 1927

And lastly, Mahoney makes a cameo in the following:

How the New Psychology Explains why Frances Smith Disappeared: All Rich Girls Crave Liberty and Independence, Says Professor Marston

From the Ogden Standard Examiner, Ogden, Utah, March 3, 1929

In the articles corresponding to these headlines, we learn just as much about Kasia Mahoney’s jaunt away from her Madison Avenue home as we do about prevailing attitudes towards women in the late 1920s. It is notable that Mahoney, even though she was fifteen when she took flight and was seventeen when the Ogden Standard Examiner article was published, is invariably referred to as a “girl,” even a “small girl.” From our vantage point a century later, doesn’t it seem odd that a fifteen-year-old is characterized as a child even when she lived in an era when lifespans were shorter and child labor laws were less strict?

The Ogden Standard Examiner article, from Columbia University’s Professor William M. Marston, clearly delineates the infantilization of these runaway women. First, Marston denies that these women, being mere children, have agency, stating that “such girls may not be aware of their own motives for their actions” and that they are “under the influence of…new freedoms” women had gained at the time. Second, he melds such theories as Social Darwinism and physiognomy to declare that these heiresses’ flights from their tony mansions are inevitable. He compares women to pack animals, observing that “in nature we find the female frequently fending for herself,” and attributes some of the flights to women’s being more “susceptible to comradeship” since their female peers sometimes encourage them to run away. Marston also echoes the phrenological and physiognomical studies of the past century when he conducts a detailed analysis of the Frances Smith in the headlines. He notes that, “judging by her face, she is cautious, shrewd, a commonsense kind of girl” and that “her chin is sharp, which shows that she is an extraordinary woman, in that she can focus her mind resolutely on what she intends to do” — even if, as he writes earlier, she has no idea why she is doing it! Third, he belittles these women as being little more than consumers, hypothesizing that these women had no reason to run away given their social standing and “no unsatisfied desires for clothes.” Lastly, Mahoney, whose likeness appears as an illustration accompanying the article, is even depicted as being childlike: she is shown slouching forward, making her body smaller, and her eyes are enlarged and vacant like those of a young child.

At Left: Kasia Mahoney, 15, Daughter of a Former New York Supreme Court Justice, Who Ran Away from Home "For a Thrill" She Admitted.

Kasia Mahoney, as illustrated in the Ogden Standard Examiner article

Though Mahoney and her fellow runaways are relentlessly characterized as children in the Marston article, he does touch on something very interesting: the New Woman’s desire to make her own living. Referring once again to Frances Smith, the Professor concludes that “When she got to college for the first time, she had a taste of freedom. She suddenly realized that it was possible to lead her own life…She probably got a job and began living her own life.” This evocation of a desire for an occupation is certainly something applicable to the life of our subject, Kasia Mahoney. In The Bridgeport Telegram headline above, Mahoney is called a “prodigy” and the accompanying article specifies that “She is most studious…a linguist of brilliant ability and possesses talent in writing…She has great confidence in her ability to make a career.” Despite her ambitions at 15, the last Census record we have of her in 1930 still lists her as being a member of her father’s household with her occupation being “none.”

Kasia Mahoney's 1930 Census entry

Kasia Mahoney’s 1930 Census entry (Click to enlarge)

Although we cannot say for sure that Kasia’s ambitions met a dead end or that she ran away in order to “make a career” away from her prescribed heiress lifestyle, these details certainly paint for us a picture of a headstrong, intelligent young woman.

Now, how to tie Kasia’s possible desire to liberate herself to the notecard tucked in Crowding Memories? How to tie her to Eugénie Hubbard? My earlier conclusion that Mahoney was likely the student in her relationship with Hubbard certainly fits well with her reputation as being a linguist of great talent, especially for her age. She would have been thirteen years old when she gifted the book to Mademoiselle Hubbard in 1925, and therefore even her awkward French could have been viewed as an achievement. We have no conclusive evidence that Hubbard was the teacher who led her to such commendable linguistic efforts, but we can surmise that since Hubbard was a native speaker of French and that their age difference was probably too great for them to have been mere friends, she was likely an authority figure for Mahoney. Hubbard’s application for a passport to the United States reveals that she was born in Paris, France in 1861, making her no less than fifty-one years older than Mahoney, and that she immigrated to the United States in 1906 and therefore spent considerable time in France.

Eugénie Hubbard's 1906 Passport Application shows that she entered the United States with no planned occupation but did intend to reside at University Station in Charlottesville

Eugénie Hubbard’s 1906 Passport Application

What remains unclear is whether Mahoney and Hubbard ever actually met in person. While Hubbard’s passport application was validated in New York, she lists her planned residence as “University Station, Charlottesville.” Indeed, in the 1910 Census, she is listed as being a “relative” and member of the household of L. Bruce Moore in Charlottesville. However, the 1940 Census taken just four years before her death states that, in 1935, her residence was “New York, city.” So it is certainly possible that immediately after her arrival to the United States, she lived in Charlottesville, but somewhere in the window of 1910-1935, she (and her family) relocated to New York City. This window of time makes an in-person gift-giving between the heiress Mahoney and the immigrant Hubbard possible.

To clarify that Hubbard was some sort of teacher-figure for Mahoney, it is important to consider Hubbard’s biography. While Eugénie Hubbard possesses a French name and was born in Paris, her gravestone tells us that her parents were the Americans Daniel and Mary Hubbard. The 1910 Census furnishes the detail that her father, Daniel Hubbard, was born in Louisiana, making it a possibility that he was a native speaker of French and wanted his daughter to be in touch with her francophone roots and raised her abroad. It is also clear that Eugénie, while not as wealthy as Mahoney, came from an affluent background: in a report from the University of Virginia School of Architecture, “Eugenie” Hubbard is noted to have granted the rights to “Howard Place (Mayhurst)” to a new owner. In 2016, this property is known as the Mayhurst Inn, a Civil-War-era “mansion” in Orange, Virginia built by the great nephew of President James Madison and known for having hosted Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson.

An archival photo of Howard Place (Mayhurst), from

An archival photo of Howard Place (Mayhurst), from

Hubbard’s also being a sort of heiress who was never formally employed (as per her Census records and her passport application) leads me to believe that, while she would not have been Mahoney’s teacher in any formal capacity, she may have socialized in similar circles as Kasia’s father Jeremiah Mahoney, making it feasible for her to have been chosen to be an informal conversation partner or tutor for the budding teenage linguist.

Though we can imagine a warm, pseudo-granddaughter/grandmother relationship between thirteen-year-old Kasia Mahoney and sixty-four year old Eugénie Hubbard, there is something slightly subversive when we contextualize their relationship with this gifted book. Crowding Memories was written by Mrs. Thomas Bailey Aldritch and was considered to be a sort of companion book to the official biography of Thomas Bailey Aldritch that was also published in 1920. Mr. Aldritch was known as a consummate man of letters, having published poetry and served as an editor of The Atlantic Quarterly. He had many notable friends and acquaintances including such illustrious figures as Mark Twain. What makes this gift subversive is that this book is not a widow’s glowing biography of her deceased husband, but instead her perspective on all of the “crowd” with whom the couple socialized. While this book was to be the companion book to the husband’s biography, it instead serves as an alternative narrative of the wife’s memories. I am inclined to follow a (purely conjectural) interpretive reading of the transmission of this book from the young Mahoney to the elder Hubbard as not just an acknowledgement of a mutual admiration for Aldritch, but a tacit understanding that they, as heiresses and socialites, also had a perspective worth sharing with the world. They were not “small girls” but instead intelligent women who sought expression in their multilingual, multigenerational friendship. Their memories were not to be lost in the crowd of a society that sought to infantilize them at every turn.

The last piece of the puzzle also demonstrates a sort of subversive femininity. The bookplate of our copy of Crowding Memories specifies that the book was presented to the University of Virginia by “L. Bruce Moore.” This would have been impossible; the man bearing this name has a death certificate that was registered in 1926 and no record of a son bearing his name. How could a dead man present a book that wasn’t even his but that was instead gifted to Eugénie Hubbard, who at that point lived in New York? The answer to this question reveals another enduring female friendship. The presenter of the book, “L. Bruce Moore,” would have to have been his widow, Helen Moore, called “L. Bruce Moore (Mrs.)” in the 1940 Census. With whom did Mrs. L. Bruce Moore live in Charlottesville? With her “sister” Eugénie Hubbard (Hubbard is listed as a “relative” of Helen Moore in 1910). The Alderman Library possesses dozens of books presented under the “L. Bruce Moore” name, several of which coalesce around the theme of young, wealthy women making gutsy moves to big cities. In this collection we see these ingenues move from the Wild West to New York City in Letters Home (1903 edition), from Boston to Venice in William Dean Howell’s The Lady of the Aroostook (1907 edition), from England to The New World in Mary J. Holmes’s The English Orphans (1900 edition), and — perhaps most appropriately of all considering Eugénie’s biography — from New York to The Continent in Henry James’s Daisy Miller (1879 edition). Therefore, even after Hubbard passed away in 1944, traces of her transatlantic voyage and her female friendships with the Americans Mahoney and Moore live on, here for the independent women of 2016 to discover in Alderman Library.

The bookplate of presenter L. Bruce Moore inside the front cover

The bookplate of presenter L. Bruce Moore inside the front cover

Works Cited

Aldritch, Mrs. Thomas Bailey. Crowding Memories. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, The Riverside Press Cambridge, 1920. Print.

Death Certificate for L. Bruce Moore, 20 Mar 1926, Commonwealth of Virginia, Bureau of Vital Statistics, State Board of Health. Web. 11 May 2016.

“Fate Kind to Small Girl, Out to See World.” Chicago Tribune. Chicago, 26 Feb 1927. Web. 11 May 2016.”Girl Prodigy, 15, Daughter of Supreme Court Judge, Missing.” The Bridgeport Telegram. Bridgeport, Connecticut, 25 Feb 1927. Web. 11 May 2016.

Gravestone for Eugénie Hubbard, 1861-1944, Graham Cemetery, Orange, VA. Web. 11 May 2016.

“Kasia Mahoney Found, Left Mansion Home for ‘Thrills’.” The Bridgeport Telegram. Bridgeport, Connecticut, 26 Feb 1927. Web. 11 May 2016.

Marston, William M. “How the New Psychology Explains Why Frances Smith Disappeared.” Ogden Standard Examiner, Ogden, Utah, 3 Mar 1929. Web. 11 May 2016.

Mayhurst Inn: 1859 Virginia Plantation. Mayhurst Inn, 2016. Web. 11 May 2016.

School of Architecture, University of Virginia. “Howard Place (Mayhurst), U.S. Rt 15, Orange vicinity, Orange County, Virginia, HABS No. VA-1082.” Charlottesville, VA, n.d. Web. 11 May 2016.

“Thomas Bailey Aldritch.” The Literature Network, 2016. Web. 11 May 2016.

United States. Census Bureau. “Department of Commerce and Labor– Bureau of the Census, Thirteenth Census of the United States: 1930, Population, Charlottesville, Sheet No. 19 B.” United States Census 1910. Washington: U.S. Census Bureau, 4 May 1910. Web. 11 May 2016.

United States. Census Bureau. “Department of Commerce – Bureau of the Census, Sixteenth Census of the United States: 1940, Population Schedule, Virginia, Charlottesville City, 104-5.” United States Census 1940. Washington: U.S. Census Bureau, 18 Apr 1940. Web. 11 May 2016.

United States. Census Bureau. “Form 55-4, Department of Commerce- Bureau of the Census, Fifteenth Census of the United States: 1930, Population Schedule, New York, Manhattan (Districts 501-750), District 546.” United States Census 1930. Washington: U.S. Census Bureau, 14-5 April 1930. Web. 11 May 2016.

United States. Passport Applications. “Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925, 1906-7, Roll 0016 – Certificates: 17289-17998, 28 Jun 1906-08 Jul 1906.” New York: Department of State, 30 June 1906. Web. 11 May 2016.

Book Find: Professor Algernon Coleman shows us how scholars still work the same way

Hello! My name is Julia V. Schrank and I am a new graduate assistant for Book Traces. I am a Ph.D. student in the Department of French, so get ready for some Francophilia in my blog posts!


Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.

– French aphorism

Bequeathed to the University of Virginia by University of Chicago French professor Algernon Coleman (1876-1939), this volume of French literary giant Gustave Flaubert’s letters provides a fascinating inside look at how academic workflow has remained much the same across centuries.

Coleman's imprint on marbled endpapers

Coleman’s imprint on marbled endpapers

Before we scrutinize Coleman’s work habits, it is important to know just who he was. In the Vita of a reprint of his dissertation, held in Special Collections in a volume of “Rare Virginia Pamphlets,” Coleman reveals that he was born in Halifax County, Virginia in 1876 and completed his undergraduate education at the University of Virginia (Wahoowa!). He writes with affection that it was here at UVa that “Professor Richard H. Wilson had awakened [his] interest in the study of the Romance Languages.” After various teaching appointments around the state of Virginia, Coleman decided to further his dedication to the romance languages, with a particular emphasis on French literature. Coleman spent “a quarter…in graduate study” at the University of Chicago (for what we can probably presume to be equivalent to a modern Master’s Degree) and then obtained his doctor of philosophy degree at Johns Hopkins University. It was in Baltimore that Coleman produced his dissertation, Flaubert’s Literary Development in the Light of his Mémoires d’un Fou, Novembre, and Éducation Sentimemtale, in 1913 at age 37. From Baltimore, Coleman returned to the University of Chicago, where he served as a professor from 1913 until his death in 1939. Despite having completed his Ph.D. in Maryland and leading his academic career in Illinois, Coleman never forgot his Virginia roots and bequeathed much of his personal library to UVa.

The formal traits of Coleman’s idiosyncratic notes tell us much more about his academic persona than his biographical details ever could. Handwritten traces in Coleman’s personal volume of Flaubert paint a picture of a fastidious, efficient character who developed systematized research methods over a lifetime.

The first of these hallmarks of fastidiousness is the exhaustive personal index Coleman created for himself on the page preceding the cover page:

A snapshot of Algernon Coleman's meticulous index

A snapshot of Algernon Coleman’s meticulous index

While one can imagine that this procedure of painstakingly pulling out themes, ideas, places, and people for reference must have been very time-consuming, it is important to remember that Coleman was working in the age before highlighters and neon paper flags. Since these colorful ways of marking out passages of interest were unavailable to him, Coleman created a centralized location for his “highlights,” which each correspond to a graphite check-mark in the margins of the indicated page. This practice speaks to a highly organized research procedure; it is clear that Coleman knew what interested him and wanted to be able to find it as quickly as possible.

Such an index also corresponds well to the modern use of bibliographic management software such as Endnote, Zotero, Mendeley, etc. We behold here Coleman’s early-twentieth-century analog to the “search” function, where he can pull the book from his shelf and mine it for his desired data with a quick scan of his index. Just like notes of the digital variety, Coleman’s notes are personalized and are clearly taken on the fly, as evidenced by his one slip-up into writing “Beauty” in English in the middle of otherwise impeccable French:

The English "Beauty" amidst writing in French

The English “Beauty” amidst writing in French

Which passage moved Coleman so profoundly that he momentarily lost his French? It is a letter containing a relatively famous, very abstract quote wherein Flaubert waxes rhapsodic on the beauty of poetry:

“There is nothing else in the world for me other than beautiful verse, expert, harmonious, singing turns of phrase, beautiful sunsets, the moonlight, colorful paintings, antique marbles, and well-formed heads. Beyond that, nothing.” (Flaubert 196, translation my own)

Indeed, Coleman’s agreement with his object of study that harmony and form were the be-all, end-all extends even to his notation system within the text. With only a few exceptions, Coleman notes anything that was in Flaubert’s words (more on how Coleman got these original words in a bit) in pen and any of his own notes in pencil. Here, we can see some of these personal annotations written in pencil where he once again slipped into English with a note of “of November” and also indicated a connection he made between the letters and Flaubert’s Mémoires d’un fou:

Coleman uses pen for Flaubert and pencil for himself

Coleman uses pen for Flaubert and pencil for himself

Yet even the fastidious Coleman was subject to the outside world’s interruptions of his research. These comical interludes are most evident in certain nonverbal traces in the volume. First we see what appear to be the unmistakable dark brown stains of coffee in the margins of three pages of the volume:

The first of Coleman's coffee stains

The first of Coleman’s coffee stains

The darkest of Coleman's coffee stains

The darkest of Coleman’s coffee stains

Later, there is evidence of what must have been a jarring leak of blue ink that Coleman, efficient as ever, at least managed to contain:

A startling ink blot

A startling ink blot

Thankfully, these are the only traces of chaos in Coleman’s characteristically meticulous workflow, because even the content of his notes speaks to his “Type A” personality. It is clear, from Coleman’s fastidious grammatical “corrections” of the printed text, that he was very much a teacher. His “new paragraph” notes and corrections of accent markings show us a strict grammarian French teacher (Indeed, American scholars of French have sometimes been accused of being “plus royaliste que le roi” — “more Royalist than the King” — when it comes to grammar):

New paragraph marking

New paragraph!

Coleman adds a French "accent grave"

Coleman adds a French “accent grave”

The idea that Coleman is “correcting” his printed volume of correspondence tells us two very interesting things about his academic ideology. First, Coleman is challenging the authority of the printed word in a strikingly contemporary way. It is clear that Coleman’s numerous additions in blue pen are not in his own voice, but in the style of Flaubert. With this detail alone, we know that Coleman must have corroborated the wording of Flaubert’s actual, handwritten correspondence. Instead of implicitly trusting that his 1910 edition “conforms” to “l’édition orginale” published in 1887 by nineteenth-century Paris publishing behemoth Charpentier, Coleman insisted on digging further before he drew any research conclusions. This idea that a printed edition of a manuscript is inherently untrustworthy shows us how the current idea that the “original” copy in all of its materiality is the best resource came into being.

But could Coleman merely have triangulated this information from other printed editions? One trace in particular makes it very clear that this was not the case and therefore shows a second– also very modern– part of his academic ideology. At the top of one letter in the middle of the volume, Coleman has written, “Écrite au crayon,” “Written in pencil”:

Coleman writes "Écrite au crayon," "Written in pencil" pencil!

Coleman writes “Écrite au crayon,” “Written in pencil”…in pencil!

That Coleman is this conscious of a material trait of Flaubert’s letters is sufficient proof that he must have believed that trans-Atlantic travel to the source was imperative for French scholarship. Just as today’s scholars in foreign language departments often take research sabbaticals to the country of their field’s origin, we can imagine that Coleman also engaged in this sort of trans-oceanic quest for knowledge.

We can confirm what this trace tells us by reading the “Biographic and Bibliographic Note” in the front matter of Coleman’s dissertation, where he gives us a disclaimer about the extent of his manuscript access:

“I have been assured that such letters exist, but I have found it impossible to get access to them. Some subsequent student, more fortunate than I, may, therefore confirm or overturn with ease many results which, in the following study, must needs be held as subject to correction” (Coleman 7).

In a very “meta-” way, Coleman recognizes that his own research is just as falsifiable as his printed edition of the correspondence. This affirms that his research and his persona fundamentally challenge the authority of the printed word, just like twenty-first-century scholarship.

While Coleman’s workflow is decidedly modern, we are reminded by the nature of his scholarship that certain things have changed. His emphasis on mining Flaubert’s correspondence in order to discover biographical “truths” hidden in the author’s œuvre, as we see in his dissertation, seems very passé indeed. In the wake of a series of movements springing from Roland Barthes’s watershed essay “The Death of the Author” in 1967– which implores modern textual scholars to separate the text from the person who wrote it– this approach of scrutinizing Flaubert’s letters down to the word level seems very “nineteenth century” indeed. However, Coleman’s determination to fit into the academic vogue of the day still draws parallels to modern literary studies’ tendencies to follow emergent trends in order to be part of the current conversation.

Despite some outmoded scholarship practices, when viewing this volume and its traces globally, we are left with an artifact that shows us that modern scholarship is not as cutting-edge as we might think. Algernon Coleman, with his creation of a personal “search” function, his coffee and ink stains, and his fundamental questioning of the written word, demonstrates that although research trends have changed, methodology has stayed much the same.

Works Cited

Flaubert, Gustave. Œuvres Complètes de Gustave Flaubert. Vol. 2. Paris: Louis Conard, 1910. Print.

Coleman, Algernon. Flaubert’s Literary Development in the Light of his Mémoires d’un Fou, Novembre, and Éducation Sentimemtale. Diss. Johns Hopkins University, 1913. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1915. Print.

Book Find: Cowper’s Homer and the mind of a critical reader

UVA Library Video Preservation Specialist Marc Campbell approached us with a set of books from his own collection, two volumes of English poet William Cowper’s translation of Homer. Marc had noticed that the books contained extensive handwritten marginalia and wondered if we would be interested in having a look. The result of our investigation is this guest post by Book Traces @ UVA volunteer Kaye Marie Ferguson. (Edited by Kristin Jensen.)

This privately owned copy of Cowper’s translation of Homer (published in 1802) contains extensive marginalia and annotations by an unnamed reader–sadly, there is no inscription–which provide a general idea of the kind of person he may have been. (Given the time period, I am willing to assume that this reader was most likely male, as women characteristically read for pleasure and did not generally have access to the education exhibited by this reader.)

Admittedly, I have never read any Homer, so before I could truly make sense of the reader’s comments, I had to research Cowper’s translation. Most, if not all, literary criticism defines Cowper’s Homer as “Miltonian” and “un-Homeric.” But what does this mean? Homeric style is most importantly characterized by the rapidity of flow and simple, direct expression (Rouse 1971, 5). In the original Greek, Homer makes use of dactylic (or heroic) hexameter (six metrical feet to a line, each made up of one long and two short syllables), which impacts the flow of the lines. Longfellow’s Evangeline is one of the rare examples of this meter in English:

This is the | for-est pri | me-val. The | mur-muring | pines and the | hemlocks (Thompson 2012)

Read it once with emphasis on the non-italicized syllables, and then read it naturally or recite it aloud; the rhythm is still fairly prominent, but–despite the unusual word order characteristic of poetry–it does not feel stilted as many other meters do (although it still has more of a focus on stress than Greek would). Nevertheless, the example does show that dactylic hexameter resembles the flow and rhythm of speech. This contributes in some degree to Homer’s rapid style in that the lines are propelled forward without being hindered either by an unnatural, forced rhythm or by rhyme.

Miltonian style, on the other hand, is characterized by unrhymed lines in iambic pentameter (blank verse: five metrical feet to a line, each with an unstressed syllable preceding a stressed syllable). Cowper’s opening lines of The Odyssey serve as a good example (though they contain unintentional slant-rhymed lines, which are not characteristic of the whole work):

Muse make | the man | thy theme, | for shrewd | ness famed
And genius versatile; who far and wide
A Wand’rer, after Ilium overthrown,
Discover’d various cities, and the mind
And manners learn’d of men in lands remote.

Although the unrhymed nature of blank verse does imitate the naturalness of speech, the iambic pentameter reads unnaturally as a result of the all-too-intentional trot-like flow. Beautiful in its own right, iambic pentameter is simply not suitable to Homer, according to every literary critic I read, because its stilted nature slows down the reading of each line. It merely does not lend to the simplicity of expression found in the original works. The “direct expression” of everyday language, metaphors, and similes are replaced by contrived rhetoric that fits within this restrictive meter.

It is important to note that the literary criticism I am citing is not contemporary to the reader or to Cowper; it was published around 1861, while the reader had been writing in the early 1800s. Nevertheless, this criticism illuminates certain aspects of the reader’s annotations, which in turn help to illuminate the criticism. Now for the real question: who was this unnamed reader?

First, I believe that the reader was at least middle-aged, as there are several formal elements of the his writing that indicate this: the unstandardized spellings of certain words, such as “Antients,” as well as the long ‘s’ and capitalized nouns, all of which began to disappear from print toward the end of the 18th century and in the early 19th century. His use of 18th century conventions suggests that he grew up learning and using them; therefore, he was an older gentleman.

Second, the reader was an upperclass gentleman and scholar, as he had access to an education in the classics. The passage in which the reader responds to Cowper’s footnote about the purpose of Helen calling herself Κυνώπιδα–meaning dog-eyed (translation courtesy of Rachel Makarowski)–reveals this.

greek word2Reader’s annotation: The Greek word “face of a bitch” is somewhat strong for a lady to give herself. I doubt if any of our [?] Dames would be as candid, yet certainly Helen meant to [?] her own elopement.

The reader provides his own translation of the word in Cowper’s footnote and then gives his own reason for Helen’s use of such a strong word to describe herself. Also, in another passage he points out a note he remembers from Pope’s translation; thus, having read at least two translations of Homer and having the ability to translate the original Greek himself, the reader must have been learned.

The reader also exhibits the capacity to think critically, operating like a literary critic. The following passage and the reader’s accompanying annotations reveal this.

Cowper’s translation:
Few sons their fathers equal; most appear
Degenerate; but we find, though rare, sometimes
A son superiour even to his Sire*.

Cowper’s footnote: *The sentiment is justified by the opinion of many Antients. Ælius Spartianus in his life of the Emperor Severus says “It is sufficiently known that hardly any great man has left a son of much merit or use behind him.”–The sons of heroes are a nuisance, was proverbial, and Demosthenes observed that good and valuable men are so often succeeded by a race of triflers, that it seems the effect of some fatality.–C. (Homer trans. Cowper 1802, 41-2)

Reader’s annotation: He has exaggerated & thereby perverted Homer’s sentiment. He says it is rare for a son to surpass his father. But it does not follow that it is rare for a son not to degenerate. The sentiment of the Antients[,] Romans[,] or Greeks in subsequent ages may be true as it is now among us, for they & we are equally corrupt Creoles. When men rise by wickedness or plausible virtues & ability, & whose children having no motive for exertion, or perhaps abhorring their father’s crimes, degenerate this idleness. For a man now or in Rome or Greece, must be idle or in mischief. But had the sentiment been true either in the Heroic or Feudal Ages, Greece wd have remained inhabited by Acorn Eaters. And Europe wd never have risen above the ruin into w[hich] Rome had reduced it. Men indeed were never perfect. But all that Europe now possesses we owe to the virtues of [illegible] who on average if they did not “transcend at least equalled their father’s fame”. But this Cowper is a bitter malignant democrat.

In saying Cowper has “perverted Homer’s sentiment,” the reader implies that he himself understands what Homer is truly saying. He disagrees with Cowper’s interpretation (not necessarily the translation), arguing that the rarity of a son becoming greater than his father does not necessarily mean it is rare for a son to remain equal to his father. He reinforces this idea by providing a logical sequence of examples. Thus, the reader is certainly capable of critical argumentation.

Furthermore, many of his comments show that he came nearly to the same conclusion as the critics mentioned above. Though the reader did not explicitly refer to the meter as the source of the problem, he did point out several issues of grammar that resulted from it, which indicate to me that he was, perhaps, coming to the conclusion that Miltonian style is unsuitable to Homer.

Example 1

Cowper’s translation:
Suitors, (their children who in this our isle
Hold highest rank) importunate besiege
My mother, though desirous not to wed,
Dare not solicit, in that cause, her Sire…
[reader’s emphasis] (Homer trans. Cowper 1802, 29)

Reader’s annotation: Not grammar. There wants [the] pronoun “They” to begin the line. For the Sense is completed by the foregoing line. “Suitors besiege my mother who had rather not marry. They dare not &c. but chuse intruding here –

Example 2

Cowper’s translation:
The feast was now begun; these tasting sat
The entrails
, those stood off’ring to the God
[reader’s emphasis] (Homer trans. Cowper 1802, 52)

Reader’s annotation: This transposition of words not allowable in English. He means “These, sat tasting [the] entrails. Those, stood offering &c.

In the first example, the reader points out that the subject of the sentence (“Suitors”) gets lost, and the line conveys a different meaning than Cowper intends. However, in order to keep the meter consistent, Cowper would not have been able to add the word “they,” as it would give the line eleven syllables instead of ten; therefore, the line would not have been in iambic pentameter unless Cowper were to rework all of the lines in order to clarify the meaning. The second example presents a similar problem. The word order muddles the meaning of the lines, but the words are forced into this placement by the meter. Compare the “unallowable” transposition with the proper one:

The feast | was now | be-gun; | these tast | ing sat
The en | trails, those | stood off’ | ring to | the God

The feast | was now | be-gun; | these sat | tast-ing
The en | trails, those | stood off’ | ring to | the God

In the grammatical version, the emphasis is on the wrong syllable in the word ‘tasting,’ making the line flow awkwardly. The flow is better in the ungrammatical, but the meaning is unclear. As a result, iambic pentameter limits word order possibilities and, by extension, the comprehensible communication of the idea. This is the opposite of Homer’s style–that is, the direct, simple expression of a thought. The reader’s annotations reveal that iambic pentameter is too restrictive for something like Homer, though he does not explicitly come to this conclusion. These annotations reflect the early evidence-gathering stage in the formation of a critical argument.

I am not trying to conclude that the reader was making the same arguments as future literary critics, but rather I am trying to show how the reader’s annotations reflect the precursory thought processes of the critic. Perhaps the reader himself engaged in literary criticism. We cannot know this since there is no owner’s inscription to indicate who he was; we can, however, conclude that the marginalia demonstrate critic-like observations. Additionally, his commentary and the criticism that emerged later illuminate one another, providing an idea of how certain ideas about a work may have come about.

Works Cited

Homer. The Odyssey. Translated by William Cowper. London: Bunney and Gold, 1802.

W. H. D. Rouse, introduction to On Translating Homer by Matthew Arnold (New York: AMS Press, 1971), 5

Laurence Thompson, “A Guide to Poetry #1: On Metrics #4: Classical prosody,” Implicate Disorder (blog), March 18, 2012,

Book Find: The collector, the critic, and the pianist’s wife

Post by UVA English Department research assistant Maggie Whalen.

The Book Traces @ UVA team recently happened upon this 1885 edition of Rose E. Cleveland’s George Eliot’s Poetry, and Other Studies in the UVA Library’s circulating collection.


Wedged between pages 88 and 89 is a photograph of a young woman in profile, clipped from a newspaper. A caption below identifies her as Madame Paderewski.


The volume is otherwise unmodified, save for a library-administered bookplate inside the front cover, which indicates that it came to UVA through the books of one Paul B. Victorius.


This volume and its modifications provoke a number of questions, some answered more easily than others. Who, for example, is this Madame Paderewski? Who so carefully removed her image from a newspaper? And why did this admirer of Paderewski choose to preserve her likeness in a book of criticism on George Eliot?

The clues provided by this text are so limited that forming concrete connections between the various implicated parties (owner, author, photographic subject) proved to be a challenge. Inconclusive it may have been, but the investigation yielded tales that were nonetheless colorful and complex.

The search began naturally with a look into the biographies of each character in this unlikely crew.

Photo: Library of Congress.

Rose Elizabeth Cleveland (1846-1918), author of the text in question, was a writer, editor, lecturer, and the First Lady of the United States during the first of her brother Grover Cleveland’s two terms as President. She published George Eliot’s Poetry, and Other Studies, her first book, while in the White House in 1885. She was notably the first First Lady to publish a book during her incumbency. The following year, she published a 545-page treatise called You and I: Moral, Intellectual, and Social Culture. She continued to write and publish until 1910. Despite her work as a writer and an educator, Cleveland is best remembered for her affair with Evangeline Simpson and for the passionate series of love letters that the two women exchanged. Theirs was a tumultuous relationship, but ended peacefully in Italy, where the two were eventually buried together.

Photo: Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.

Paul Bandler Victorius (1899-1970), donor of the text in question, was an American collector of rare books and manuscripts with a particular interest in materials related to evolution and Darwin. Born in New York, Victorius moved as a young man to London with the intent of studying medicine. Shortly after arriving, however, he dropped out of school and opened a bookshop. Victorius returned to the United States in 1940 following the destruction of his store in World War II. He eventually settled in Charlottesville and opened a framing business called Freeman-Victorius on UVA’s Corner, where it remained until 2014.

Photo: Sloan Manis Real Estate Partners.

Victorius had, by that time, amassed a collection of Darwin-related materials that was “reputedly the largest and finest in the world,” with the singular exception of the one owned by Darwin himself (“Paul Victorius Evolution Collection”). In 1949, Victorius made a partial gift of his entire collection of Darwin-related material to the UVA Library. The remainder of the collection was subsequently purchased with funds from an anonymous donor. UVA thus found itself in possession of over 800 books and 150 manuscripts relating to the discoveries of Charles Darwin and his contemporaries. The Paul Victorius Evolution Collection is housed in UVA’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. Victorius continued to run his Corner frame shop with business partner Richard Freeman until his death in 1970.

Photo: Encyclopædia Britannica.


Finally, Helena Gorská Paderewski (1856-1934), the subject of the photograph loosely inserted in the text, was a Polish social activist and the wife of renowned musician, composer, and Polish statesman, Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941). Ignacy, a classically trained pianist, enjoyed international fame for his musical talents and eventually developed into a Polish diplomat. During World War I, Ignacy served as Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Poland. Helena Gorská, meanwhile, organized Polish refugees in Paris in producing and selling dolls dressed in traditional Polish garb, the profits of which were used to the aid of Polish war victims. Helena, who spent the last part of her life seriously ill, is remembered today primarily for this philanthropic project. The dolls, still referred to as “Madame Paderewski’s dolls,” are now rare collectibles sell for many hundreds, and sometimes even thousands, of dollars.

A contemporary photograph of Paderewski’s dolls. Photo: Library of Congress.

Modern photographs of Paderewski’s dolls. Photos: “Three Cloth Dolls,” Theriault’s and “Very Rare French/Polish Doll,” Theriault’s.

In this book, the complex lives of three seemingly unrelated characters intersect.

Without much else to go on, the search continued with an effort to determine the clipping’s origin, an endeavor made possible by text on its backside.

IMG_2753 IMG_2756

Fragments of several articles report the outcomes of July 8th baseball games between Boston and the Athletics, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Brooklyn. A search through the Boston Americans’ historical rosters for players named Dougherty, Collins, Stahl, Gleason, and Parent narrows the year of publication to 1902. Mention of the Philadelphia Athletics, the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Pittsburgh Pirates hints that the clipping originated in a Pennsylvania newspaper. That one article begins “Special to ‘The Record’,” prompts a search for Pennsylvania periodicals called “The Record.” This search yields evidence of The Philadelphia Record, a daily newspaper active between 1877 and 1947.

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 3.47.47 PM

Sure enough, nestled within a section called “Womankind” in the July 9, 1902 edition of The Philadelphia Record is the photograph of Madame Paderewski. Accompanying the image is an anonymously authored article: “Paderewski’s Wife: A Personality Decidedly Attractive and Refined.”

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 5.36.21 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-14 at 4.54.34 PM

The brief article does not provide the full name of its subject, identifying her instead with respect to her husband, Ignace J. Paderewski, “the most famous of pianists.” The author observes that Madame Paderewski is “slender, of medium height and dark complexion” and possesses hands and feet that are “small and exquisitely shaped, as becomes one descended from noble stock.”  Despite these merits, the author says: “She is not a handsome woman. Some might call her decidedly plain were it not for the vivacity of her manner and speech. Her eyes, which are dark, are rarely expressive.” Regarding her musical abilities, we learn that she “is not a professional artist, and never appears before the public, although she plays upon the piano well and shows constant improvement as the months roll by.” The author further notes: “She is not an imitator of her husband and does not essay his brilliancy of execution, but shows a sympathetic touch.” We learn that Madame Paderewski’s “favorite subject” of conversation is “her husband and his talents.” Indeed, when discussing Ignace, “she manifests much animation and becomes decidedly more attractive.” Despite her several shortcomings, the author concludes that Paderewski’s wife’s “manner is at all times refined and ladylike and betokens her good descent and breeding.”

This article, published just three years after Helena and Ignacy wed in 1899, reads almost as if a review of Helena’s (apparently limited) merits. Given the snarky tone of the piece, it seems almost surprising that a reader would take such care in removing her photograph from the periodical. Or, perhaps, because of the article’s politely biting tone, the reader omits the text from his or her clipping.

The origin of the clipping established, we work to determine who might have procured this photograph of Helena Paderewski from The Philadelphia Record.

Only three-years-old at the time of the newspaper’s 1902 publication, Paul B. Victorius was probably not responsible for clipping or inserting the image. However, a chance look at Victorius’s genealogical records reveals that his mother, Rose Bandler Victorius (1874-?), was a Polish immigrant. Born in Krákow, Poland, Rose immigrated to the United States as a young child, married New York native Abraham Victor Victorius (1872-1932), and with him raised twins: Jeannette Waldron (1899-1996) and Paul Bandler Victorius. Might Rose, a 28-year-old mother of two young children living (ostensibly) in New York, have clipped this photograph of a musician’s fair wife (and fellow Pole) from the pages of The Philadelphia Record (which in 1902 had “the largest circulation of any newspaper in Pennsylvania”) and preserved it in a book of literary criticism? It’s a stretch, but it does seem plausible.

Might this particular clipping have found its way into this particular text by other means? Of course. Might Paul Victorius have obtained the book through channels other than inheritance? Naturally.

Indeed, Mr. Victorius owned and donated to the University a few, but not many, other books of literature. A search through the Special Collections catalog for books donated to UVA by Paul Bandler Victorius reveals that the vast majority (815 of 844) bear call numbers beginning in QH, denoting Natural History and Biology. The next most populous sections are PR (English Literature) with eight titles, PZ (Children and Young Adult Literature) with three, and PS (American Literature) with two. Due to the limits of the library’s records, these findings represent only those volumes held in Special Collections and exclude books (like this one) that might be part of the library’s greater circulating collection. Given the information we have, however, George Eliot’s Poetry, and Other Studies seems to be an odd, but not wholly unprecedented, component in UVA’s collection of Victorius-related texts.

Determining the connection between Helena Paderewski and Rose Cleveland is a similarly speculative undertaking. Records indicate that Ignacy Paderewski was acquainted with (“on friendly terms with,” even) President Grover Cleveland, as the pianist-turned-diplomat was with nearly every subsequent American President up to, and including, Franklin Roosevelt. Though I was unable to find any evidence of a relationship between the pianist’s wife and the President’s sister, it seems possible that the two women would have been acquainted with one another. Might a reader of the July 8, 1902 Philadelphia Record have recognized, or known of, a connection between Helena Gorská Paderewski and Rose Elizabeth Cleveland? Again, it’s a stretch, but perhaps.

Might the reader have been compelled to insert this particular photo into this particular book because he or she observed that Helena Paderewski, Rose Cleveland, and Mary Ann Evans (known by her pen name George Eliot) were all forceful, female agents? Perhaps. Might the placement of the clipping have been the result of substantially more, or entirely less, forethought? Of course.

The provenance of this text is difficult to determine and the narrative of its modification is incomplete. Even after many hours of research, I cannot report with any certainty how, or why, this particular image arrived in this particular text. As unsatisfying as this in some ways feels, there is gratification in the rich and complex stories that come forth when we ask questions of the historical artifacts that we encounter in our everyday lives, as this book so wonderfully demonstrates.



Berkowitz, Judith Ann. “Paul Bandler Victorius.” Geni. N.p., 27 July 2015. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.

Berkowitz, Judith Ann. “Rose Victorius (Bandler).” Geni. N.p., 29 January 2012. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.

“1902 Boston Americans.” FoxSports, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.

Feinstein, Lee A. “Ambassador Feinstein’s Remarks.” 150th Anniversary of the Birth of Ignacy Jan Paderewski. Great Assembly Hall, Royal Castle. 6 Nov. 2010. IIP Digital. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.

“Frances Cleveland Biography.” The National First Ladies’ Library. Museum/Saxton McKinley House, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.

“Freeman Victorius: A UVa Corner Tradition.” Sloan Manis Real Estate Partners. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.

“Ignacy Jan Paderewski”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.

Madame Paderewski’s Dolls. 1910-1915. The Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. Flickr. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.

“Paderewski’s Wife: A Personality Decidedly Attractive and Refined.” The Philadelphia Record [Philadelphia] 9 July 1902, Womankind sec.: 9. Google News. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.

“Paul Victorius Evolution Collection.” Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. University of Virginia, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.

Phillips, Anna M Laise. “Mme. Paderewski’s Dolls.” The Craftsman XXIX.1 (1915): 114-15. Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture. University of Wisconsin. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.

Rose Elizabeth Cleveland, President Grover Cleveland’s Sister and White House Hostess. 1910-1920. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Library of Congress. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.

“Some Store History.” Freeman Victorius. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.

“Three Cloth Dolls by Madame Paderewski with Original Medals.” Theriault’s: The Dollmasters. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.

“Very Rare French/Polish Cloth Doll by Madame Paderewski with Original Medallion.” Theriault’s: The Dollmasters. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.

Book Find: The Rives Family Writers (and Readers)

Post by UVA English Department research assistant Maggie Whalen.

In the weeks following our post on the UVA Library Collection’s many literary treasures tied to Albemarle County’s historic Rives family, UVA community members brought to our attention a few other Rives-owned and -annotated volumes worth investigating.

First: an 1853 copy of C. A. Sainte-Beuve’s Oeuvres de Boileau.


A bookplate in Oeuvres de Boileau indicates that this text came to the UVA Library Collection through the books of William Cabell Rives.

Boileau Bookplate

The book is of interest to the Book Traces @ UVA project first for its gift inscription. The note, which appears in pencil on the book’s title page, reads: “À Mademoiselle Rives / E M / Adieu!” Below the gift-giver’s initials is a sketch of a crown.

Boileau Gift Inscrip

Of further note are the annotations, bracketing, and underscoring of the book’s contents. As its title suggests, Oeuvres de Boileau, or Works of Boileau, contains a number of works by the 17th-century French poet and literary critic Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux. The volume’s contents are organized by genre, among them: satire, epistle, ode, epigram, and poetry.

Boileau TOC Annotated

Though marginalia crops up throughout the thick volume, its most heavily annotated sections are those for which Boileau is best known: his still-studied treatise on the rules of Classical verse L’Art poétique (1674) and his mock-heroic epics Le Lutrin (1666). Nearly every page of these two sections contains marks made by a previous reader: brackets, dots, notes in French, and translations in English.

L'Art L'Art1 L'Art3 L'Art5Annotations of Boileau’s L’Art poétique.

LutrinLutrin1Lutrin2Lutrin3Annotations of Boileau’s Le Lutrin.

To which Mademoiselle Rives did this well-marked volume belong? And by whom was it given? A look at the Rives family’s history hints at an answer.

As mentioned in our previous post, William Cabell Rives (1793-1868), a wealthy Albemarle landowner and an influential American politician, served twice as the U.S. Minister to France. In the final year of Rives’s first term, 1829-32, his wife, Judith Page Rives, gave birth to the family’s fourth child and first daughter. She was named Amélie by her godmother, then-Queen of France, Marie-Amélie. Shortly after the birth of Amélie Louise Rives, the Rives family returned to the United States. William Cabell Rives served three terms in the United States Senate before he accepted a reappointment as the Minister to France. He served his second term, 1849-1853, under France’s final monarch: Napoleon III. As in his first term, Rives was accompanied in Paris by his family. Indeed, letters preserved in UVA’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library reveal that William’s wife and three youngest children, Alfred (1830-1903), Amélie Louise (1832-1873), and Ella (1834-1892), all resided in France during his tenure as minister.

IMG_2485 IMG_2487 (1)Correspondence between Amélie Louise (Paris) and her sister-in-law, Grace (Boston).
Brown, Alexander, et al. Papers of the Rives, Sears and Rhinelander Families.

Bearing this in mind, it seems possible that this book, published in Paris in 1853, the final year of Rives’s term, might have been a parting gift (“Adieu!”) from French Queen Eugénie de Montijo (“E M,” the crown) to one of Rives’s unmarried daughters (“Mademoiselle”), Amélie Louise or Ella.

Version 2

Based on the limited biographical information available on the two sisters, it seems possible that either might have happily accepted a text on poetic technique. As discussed previously, the Riveses were a family of writers. Both of the girls’ parents, Judith Page and William Cabell Rives, were published authors. Amélie Louise, who would have been 21-years-old in 1853, dabbled in writing, penning but never publishing a number of poems and stories. 19-year-old Ella seems to have been intellectually inclined, too. In an 1851 letter from the girls’ mother to their sister-in-law, Judith describes Ella passing her time in Paris “surrounded with her grammars, dictionaries, [and] maps.”

Correspondence between Judith Page (Paris) and her daughter-in-law, Grace (Boston).
Brown, Alexander, et al. Papers of the Rives, Sears and Rhinelander Families.

Unfortunately, records of the queen’s autograph do not confirm this loosely founded hunch and the book’s provenance remains a mystery.

Fast forward 30 years and we arrive at our next subject: The Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare, a ten-volume set published in London in 1879.


UVA-administered bookplates reveal that the set came to the UVA Library Collection through the books of one Roberta Welford (1873-1956), a women’s rights advocate and suffragist whose papers are preserved in UVA’s Special Collections Library. Personal bookplates indicate that the set was previously owned by Amélie Rives Troubetzkoy (1863-1945), the niece of aforementioned Amélie Louise and Ella, the daughter of Alfred.


In our first post, we discussed at length another tome of Shakespeare owned and annotated by the second, and most famous, Amélie. That text, a hefty volume entitled The Plays of William Shakespeare, was published in London in 1823. It contains two inscriptions by Amélie, one from 1885 and another from 1890, as well as a number of marginal annotations. Two Gentlemen of Verona, Much Ado About Nothing, Taming of the Shrew, and All’s Well That Ends Well are among the plays most thoroughly marked in this previously discussed text.

Dramatic Works Plays Owner's Inscrip
The Plays of William Shakespeare. London, 1823.

Considering the substantial overlap in content between these two collections, it’s somewhat surprising that Amélie owned, let alone read and marked, both.

Dramatic Works and Plays

And yet, Amélie’s The Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare is similarly rich with annotations. Of the ten volumes to the set, I was able to examine nine (volume 6 was missing) and found some degree of user modification in each.

Oddly enough, volumes 7 through 10 are the only texts that feature user inscriptions. All read: “Amélie Rives / 1881 / Castle Hill,” indicating that Amélie acquired this set four years prior to her bulkier edition of Plays.

7 Owner's Inscrip 8 Owner's Inscrip 9 Owner's Inscrip 10 Owner's Inscrip

A number of other dates crop up throughout Dramatic Works, particularly on plays’ title pages, revealing that Amélie returned to this text many times throughout her life. She records, for example, that she read Taming of the Shrew “for the first time in this edition the evening of” December 29, 1896; Love’s Labour’s Lost for the “2nd time” on the same night; and “reread” The Tempest on January 23, 1932.

1 Tempest inscrip3 Shrew title inscrip 2 Loves title inscrip

These annotations recall a note Amélie makes in her copy of Plays, in which she records that she read The Tempest, perhaps for the first time, in 1900 at her family’s estate, Castle Hill.


The pages of Amélie’s Dramatic Works are thoroughly underscored and bracketed. Her marginal annotations frequently mention her daily life in Virginia and occasionally reference her own writings.

1 Tempest marginalia 1 Tempest marginalia2
Annotations in The Tempest. In the first image, she marginally defines “kybe” as a “chilblain.” In the second, she underscores “homely” and writes: “NB Homely used here as we Virginians use it now!!”

2 Loves annotation 2 Loves canary annotation 2 Loves date 2 Loves heavy underscore
Annotations in Love’s Labour’s Lost. In the first image, Amélie emphatically brackets and underscores a footnote about a famous bay horse named Morocco and writes: “NB Splendid subject for a poem or story!!” Second: she underscores “canary” (a popular dance in Shakespeare’s time) and writes in the margins: “NB Can this be the origin of the Negro ‘pull Cary’?” Third: a marginal note: “NB 25th Aug 1895.” Fourth: some dense underscoring.

7 annotation
Annotations in Troilus and Cressida. Amélie underscores “placket” and writes: “Modern American i.e. ‘Skirt.'”

9 Lear note Uncle
Annotations in King Lear. She responds to Shakespeare’s use of “nuncle” (defined in the footnotes as “a familiar contraction of mine uncle”), and writes in the margins: “And in Virginia we always address old Negros as ‘Uncle’ + ‘Aunt’ — 1892.”

9 Mac Prellim Remarks note
Annotations in the Preliminary Remarks to Macbeth. Amélie underlines and brackets this passage heavily. She writes extensive, barely legible, notes in the margins. At the bottom of the page, she underscores the name of the author and writes of his book of lectures: “Get at once if possible! ’92.”

On the final endpapers of several volumes, Amélie collects her favorite lines, passages, phrases, and ideas.

1 Tempest rear endleaf
On the rear endleaf of volume 1, Amélie records the following line from The Tempest: “The red plague rid you for learning me your language. Page 214.”

5 rear endleaf5 rear endleaf2
In the final pages of volume 5, Amélie records a series of “Notes” and corresponding “Page” numbers from The First Part of King Henry IV and King Henry V. One note reads: “The lady Ermengare. (Ermengare is a beautiful name.)” On the next page, Amélie transcribes an exchange between Prince Harry and Pions from The Second Part of King Henry IV. The page, however, is torn.

5 front endleaf
And for that reason, perhaps, she transcribes the passage again on the book’s front endpaper.

7 rear endleaf
On a rear endpaper in volume 7, she copies the following line from Troilus and Cressida: “‘This I presume will wake him’–Page 198.”

9 Rear Endleaf repetitions
In volume 9, she notes perceived “Repetitions of Shakespeare:” “In Hamlet, ‘Himself the primrose way of dalliance treads.’ In Macbeth, ‘that go the primrose way to the everlasting fire.'”

10 Rear Endleaf goats and monkeys10 Othello goats and monkeys
Finally, in volume 10, she writes: “Othello ‘Goats + Monkeys!’ see page 119.” On the corresponding page, Amélie has written “NB” beside the line: “You are welcome, sir, to Cyprus.–Goats, and monkeys!” At the bottom of the page, she brackets a footnote that explains the “great art” of the line.

Perhaps most intriguing among Amélie’s many annotations are those that speficially reference her writing process. In Plays, Amélie marks a line from All’s Well That Ends Well (“So there’s my riddle, One, that’s dead, is quick”), which corresponds to the title of her most famous novel (The Quick or the Dead?). In Dramatic Works, she reads the story of a legendary horse and notes that it would be a “splendid subject for a poem or story!!” Bearing these instances in mind, the endleaf lists explored above read almost like condensed catalogs of potential literary inspiration.

From Judith Page Rives’s The Living Female Writers of the South, to her daughter’s Oeuvres de Boileau, to her granddaughter’s various collections of Shakespeare’s plays, evidence of the Rives women reading with pencils in hand spans three generations and at least 80 years. Though the Rives women are remembered first and foremost as prolific writers, their active engagement with these texts reveals that they were also ambitious readers. As is demonstrated by this post and the last, the UVA Library Collection is dense with examples of the Rives family’s involvement with literature, both public and personal in nature.



Boileau Despréaux, Nicolas, and Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve. Oeuvres : Avec Notes Et Imitations Des Auteurs Anciens. Paris: Furne, 1853.

Brown, Alexander, et al. Papers of the Rives, Sears and Rhinelander Families. Accession #10596, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.  

Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 18 Mar. 2016.

Hall, Fitzedward, et al. Letters of the Rives Family. .

“Nicolas Boileau”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

Papers of Roberta Wellford, Accession #6090, Special Collections Dept., University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

Rives Family Papers Compiled by Elizabeth Langhorne, 1839-1990, #10596-d, Albert H. and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.

Rives, James Childs. Reliques of the Rives (Ryves). Lynchburg, Va.: J. P. Bell Co., 1929.

Shakespeare, William, and Samuel Weller Singer. The Dramatic Works. 3rd ed. rev. London: G. Bell, 1879.

Shakespeare, William, et al. The Plays of William Shakespeare. New ed. London: Printed for F. C. and J. Rivington; [etc., etc.], 1823.

Book Find: A Chevalier, a Soldier, and “The Female Poe”

Post by UVA English Department research assistant Maggie Whalen.

The Book Traces @ UVA team recently happened upon this 1834 edition of Maria del Occidente’s Zóphiël, or, the Bride of Seven in the UVA Library Collection.

DSCN1340 DSCN1341

The book’s marbled cover is tattered and nearly detached from its contents. The condition of its interior is not much better: the pages are stained, splotchy, and brittle. That the volume appears so loved and worn, though, only adds to the intrigue of its most curious features: its previous owners’ inscriptions and insertions.

The inner cover contains a bookplate, revealing that the text came to UVA by way of one E. R. Reynolds.


Opposite is the front endpaper, which features two inscriptions.


The first, and fainter, reads: “With the respects of / Horace Brooks / 2 – Arty – –.”


Below is a second inscription: “Gen. Horace Brooks, the above written, was the only son of the poet who has been styled ‘The Female Poe.’ He was appointed to West Point through the influence of Gen. LaFayette. His portrait was presented to me about two years ago. / E. R. Reynolds / Oct 27 / 99.”


Taped opposite the book’s title page one finds the portrait of Horace Brooks to which E. R. Reynolds just alluded. The backside of the photograph is labeled “Horace Brooks.” A postage stamp and street address, “Chev – E. R. – Reynolds – / 813 Capital St / Washington / DC,” indicate that Reynolds received the portrait at his home by mail. The postal mark reveals that the portrait/postcard originated from New York.


The portrait, which captures the profile of an elderly Brooks, was evidently taken at Quartley’s, a Baltimore photo gallery. Just above the business’s name and address is a New York return address. It reads: “If not called for return / to H. – Brooks – No – 238 –East 34th / New York City – –.” What Reynolds fails to mention in his inscription is that this portrait was “presented” to him by its subject, Horace Brooks.


Taken together, these names, dates, and locations hint at some greater narrative. Understanding the particular significance of this volume, though, requires answering a few of the many questions its inscriptions and insertions provoke.

First: Who was this E. R. Reynolds?

Biographies of Chevalier Elmer Robert Reynolds (1846-1907) describe him as a man of diverse interests and life experiences. Reynolds spent his late teenage years fighting for the Union with the Wisconsin Light Infantry. He later studied at Columbian University (now George Washington University) in Washington, D.C. He went on to serve for some twenty years in the United States Civil Service as an examiner of pensions. Reynolds’s biographies, however, remember him chiefly for his work as an ethnologist and botanist. His studies focused primarily on American Indian antiquities in Maryland and Virginia. Titles of his scholarly writings include, for example, “Aboriginal Soapstone Quarries in the District of Columbia,” “Pre-Columbian Shell Mounds at Newburg, MD,” and “Prehistoric Remains in the Valleys of the Potomac and the Shenandoah.” His work won him recognition nationally by the Smithsonian Institution, Peabody Museum of American Archaeology, and Harvard University, as well as abroad. In 1887, King Humbert of Italy knighted him Chevalier and Knight Companion of the Royal Order of Italy.

Biographical accounts of Chevalier Reynolds, which appear in encyclopedias, anthropological society registries, and newspapers, characterize him by his public positions: as a veteran, a public servant, a celebrated scientist. Reynolds’s extracurricular interests, namely his fascination with Edgar Allan Poe, go entirely unmentioned.

A tactful search through UVA’s Special Collections Library reveals that Reynolds possessed more than a slight interest in the University’s most famous dropout. Reynolds donated a number of works by Poe and scholarly treatments of Poe to the University of Virginia, many of which are now held in Special Collections.

Poe, Edgar Allan. The Bells. Philadelphia: Scattergood, 1872.

Several books in Reynolds’s collection of Poe, including The Bells and The Conchologist’s First Book, are bound in the same marbled paper and tagged with the same adhesive label as his copy of Zöphiél.

Poe, Edgar Allan, and Thomas Brown. The Conchologist’s First Book. 2d ed. Philadelphia: Haswell, Barrington, and Haswell, 1840.

A note on the front endpaper of The Conchologist’s First Book reads: “Excessively rare.”

Poe, Edgar Allan. Arthur Gordon Pym. London: Published by John Cunningham, Crown-court, Fleet-street, 1841. 

Joyce, John A. Edgar Allan Poe. New York: F.Tennyson Neely Co, 1901. 

This copy of Joyce’s Edgar Allan Poe features a presentation inscription from Reynolds to the Poe Alcove through James A. Harrison.

Moran, John J. A Defense of Edgar Allan Poe: Life, Character and Dying Declarations of the Poet. An Official Account of His Death. Washington, D.C.: William F. Boogher, 1885.

This copy of Moran’s A Defense of Edgar Allan Poe includes a program and ticket for the author’s lecture on the life and character of Poe, as well as two distinct presentation inscriptions. The second inscription is from Reynolds to J. H. Ingram.

The Special Collections Library also contains extensive correspondence between Reynolds and various Poe scholars, including John Henry Ingram, Poe’s most famous biographer, and Charles William Kent, UVA English Professor and president of the Poe Memorial Association, of which Reynolds was a member.

John Henry Ingram’s Poe Collection, Accession #38-135, Special Collections Dept., University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

Correspondence of the Poe Memorial Association, Accession #38-406, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

That specific mention of Reynolds’s interest in Poe does not appear in his biographies (of which there are many) suggests that it was more a hobby than a serious, scholarly endeavor. He is credited, however, with contributing material to a 1902 edition of The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, edited by University of Virginia Professor James A. Harrison.

With this background on Reynolds in mind, we move to the next question: Why did Chevalier Reynolds care about Horace Brooks’s copy of Zóphiël?

Reynolds hints at the answer in his inscription on the book’s front endpaper. The book’s original owner, he explains, was Horace Brooks (1814-1894), the son of its author, Maria Brooks, who wrote under the pseudonym Maria del Occidente. This edition of Zöphiél was published in 1834, at which point Horace Brooks was studying at West Point (1831-1835). As Reynolds notes, Horace was appointed to West Point “through the influence of” General Lafayette, who was apparently quite taken with his mother. An account of Maria Brooks and General Lafayette’s first meeting appears in the 1916 Medford Historical Record:

Like a gallant Frenchman, Lafayette was susceptible to feminine charms, and so pleased was he with Mrs. Brooks that he was eager to befriend her, and learning that she desired for her son an appointment to a United States military academy, he procured it for her, a favor which she had been unable to attain (9).

Horace signs the book “2 – Arty –,” suggesting that it came into his possession during his service as a second lieutenant with the 2nd United States Artillery Regiment in the Second Seminole War, between 1836 and 1838.

The most striking moment in Reynolds’s note is, of course, his comment that the book’s author, Maria Brooks, had been “styled ‘The Female Poe.’

Which brings us to our next set of questions: Who was Maria Brooks? And how was she connected to Edgar Allan Poe?

U.Va. prints and photographs file, Accession #RG-30/1/10/011, Prints0000, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

Holsinger Studio Collection, ca. 1890-1938. Acession #9862, Special Collections, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.

Maria Gowen Brooks (1794-1845) was an American poet best known for Zöphiél, a book of poems based on the story of Sara in the Book of Tobit. Brooks’s biography is marked by episodes of explosive literary productivity, a succession of tragic losses, and extensive periods of travel abroad. At the age of 13, her father died and she became the ward, and shortly thereafter the wife, of her sister’s widower, John Brooks. Indeed, at age 16, Maria wed John, who was 30 years her senior. During their tumultuous marriage, Maria began writing poetry, composing her first poem at age 19. A year later, her only son, Horace, was born. John died in 1823, at which point Maria moved to her brother’s coffee plantation in Cuba. There, she wrote Zöphiél, or, the Bride of Seven. In 1825, she published the first canto of Zöphiél, which caught the attention of English Poet Laureate, Robert Southey. In their correspondence, Southey praised Brooks’s work and gave her the pseudonym “Maria del Occidente.” In 1829, Brooks completed Zöphiél. The work was published in its entirety in London in 1831 and in Boston in 1834. Following the book’s American debut, Brooks captured the interest of another prominent literary figure, this time stateside: Edgar Allan Poe.

Throughout the 1840s, Maria Brooks’s name, and pseudonym, crops up frequently in Poe’s reviews of other female poets. Amelia Welby, he writes, “has nearly all the imagination of Maria del Occidente…” (The Works 203). Elizabeth Oakes Smith’s The Sinless Child is “undoubtedly…one of the most original of American poems—surpassed in this respect, we think, only by Maria del Occidente’s ‘Bride of Seven’” (The Works 129). Frances Sargent Osgood “has occasional passages of true imagination – but scarcely the glowing, vigorous, and sustained ideality of Mrs. Maria Brooks…” (The Works 98). Estelle Anna Lewis’s “The Broken Heart” “is more enthusiastic, more glowing, more passionate, and perhaps more abundant in that peculiar spirit of abandon which has rendered Mrs. Maria Brooks’s ‘Zophiel’ so great a favorite with the critics” (The Works 948).

Literary critic Kirsten Silva Gruesz observes that although Poe “compares nearly every woman poet about whom he wrote to Maria del Occidente,” he never devotes a separate review to her works (77). In a 2008 article, “Maria Gowen Brooks, In and Out of the Poe Circle,” Gruesz quotes Thomas Ollive Mabbott, the only other critic to have previously commented upon “Poe’s apparent interest in Brooks” (95). Mabbott writes: “his references during 1848 and 1849 make me think he was studying her poetry, and had he lived, might have produced a critique upon it” (95). Poe, however, died in 1849.

(Regarding Poe’s death I feel compelled to remark: Legend has it that on his deathbed, Poe called the name “Reynolds” repeatedly. Most Poe scholars doubt the veracity of this myth, but for those who might still be wondering, our Chevalier Reynolds was only three years old at the time.)

Poe’s repeated reference to Brooks in the above-quoted reviews appear to be the most solid connection between the two poets. Indeed, I was unable to find specific mention of Brooks as “The Female Poe,” as Chevalier Reynolds indicates she had been “styled.” Although their relationship is ultimately “unknowable,” Gruesz speculates at length about possible connections between the two writers. She notes, for example, that both Brooks and Poe were included in Samuel Kettell’s 1829 anthology Specimens of American Poetry, which “the young Poe almost certainly got his hands on…as it contained the first critical notice of Tamerlane” (96). Gruesz continues: “Might not the anecdote Kettell told about Brooks—that she took the idea for a poem about a beautiful angel named Zóphiël from her reading in apocryphal literature—have echoed in Poe’s head as he imagined a similar character, Israfel, in a poem first published in 1831?” (96).

Slightly loftier, but intriguing nonetheless, is the eerie overlap in the two figures’ biographies, which Gruesz also highlights:

…a dubiously incestuous marriage involving a teenaged bride; an interest in the esoteric, the ‘curious,’ and the otherworldly; an association with a slaveholding economy; even their experience at West Point, a place that served the literary aspirations of each in different ways (95).


This copy of Zöphiél raises far more questions than I am able to answer. (For example: What was the nature of the relationship and correspondence between Horace Brooks and Chevalier Reynolds? How did this volume come into Reynolds’s possession? What exactly prompted Reynolds to describe Maria Brooks as “The Female Poe”? Was the “Reynolds,” for whom Poe may or may not have called before his death, related to our Chevalier?) It is nonetheless quite clear that Horace Brooks’s book, inscription, and portrait contribute to Chevalier Reynolds’s collection of materials connected, if tangentially, to his favorite author.


Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Vol. 17. N.p.: A.L. Hummel, 1901. 82. Google Books. Google. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

Center of Military History. United States Army, 12 Nov. 2015. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.

The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe. Vol. 1. N.p.: T.Y. Crowell, 1902. Xix. Google Books. Google. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

Correspondence of the Poe Memorial Association, Accession #38-406, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

Find A Grave Memorial. N.p., 16 Oct. 2010. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.

Gruesz, Kirsten Silva. “Maria Gowen Brooks, In and Out of the Poe Circle.” ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance 54.1 (2008): 75-110. Project MUSE. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.

Holsinger Studio Collection, ca. 1890-1938. Acession #9862, Special Collections, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.

Interments in the Historic Congressional Cemetery. Bytes of History, 13 Aug. 2006. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.

John Henry Ingram’s Poe Collection, Accession #38-135, Special Collections Dept., University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

Joyce, John A. Edgar Allan Poe. New York: F.Tennyson Neely Co, 1901.

The Medford Historical Register. Vol. 19-20. N.p.: Society, 1916. 9-16. Print.

Moran, John J. A Defense of Edgar Allan Poe: Life, Character and Dying Declarations of the Poet. An Official Account of His Death. Washington, D.C.: William F. Boogher, 1885.

The Naturalists’ Universal Directory. N.p.: Cassino, 1882. 187. Google Books. Google. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

New Century Reference Library of the World’s Most Important Knowledge:. Vol. 4. N.p.: Syndicate Pub., 1909. Google Books. Google. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

Poe, Edgar Allan. Arthur Gordon Pym: Or, Shipwreck, Mutiny, and Famine: Being the Extraordinary Adventures of Arthur Gordon Pym, Mariner, of Nantucket, North America, During a Voyage to the South Seas, and His Various Discoveries In the Eighty-fourth Parallel of Southern Latitude. London: Published by John Cunningham, Crown-court, Fleet-street, 1841.

Poe, Edgar Allan, and Thomas Brown. The Conchologist’s First Book: a System of Testaceous Malacology, Arranged Expressly for the Use of Schools, In Which the Animals, According to Cuvier, Are Given with the Shells, a Great Number of New Species Added, and the Whole Brought Up, As Accurately As Possible, to the Present Condition of the Science. 2d ed. With illus. of 215 shells, presenting a correct type of each given. Philadelphia: Haswell, Barrington, and Haswell, 1840.

Poe, Edgar Allan. The Bells. Philadelphia: Scattergood, 1872.

Prehistoric Cultures of the Delmarva Peninsula: An Archaeological Study. Newark: U of Delaware, 1989. 65. Google Books. Google. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.

“Reynolds, Elmer Robert.” Who’s Who in America. Ed. John W. Leonard. Chicago: A. N. Marquis, 1906. 1480-481. Google Books. Google. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

The United States Army and Navy Journal and Gazette of the Regular and Volunteer Forces. Vol. 29. N.p.: Army and Navy Journal Incorporated, 1891. 658. Google Books. Google, 18 Dec. 2013. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.

U.Va. prints and photographs file, Accession #RG-30/1/10/011, Prints0000, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

Wilson, Woodrow. “Reynolds, Elmer Roberts.” Harper’s Encyclopædia of United States History from 458 A. D. to 1906. By Benson Johns Lossing. N.p.: Harper & Brothers, 1907. 423. Google Books. Google. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

The Works of Edgar Allan Poe. N.p.: Stone & Kimball, 1896. Google Books. Google, 6 Mar. 2010. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.


Book Find: “Tis pleasant, sure, to find one’s name in print.”

Post by UVA English Department research assistant Maggie Whalen.

Book Traces @ UVA recently happened upon this 1872 edition of Mary T. Tardy’s The Living Female Writers of the South in the UVA Library Collection.


A bookplate reveals that the text came to UVA through the books of William Cabell Rives (1793-1868).


As the title suggests, the book contains the biographies of southern female authors alive in the 19th century. Its pages are entirely unmarked, save for a few noteworthy annotations on the three-page biography entitled “Mrs. William C. Rives.”


Above the section’s title, a hand has left the following note:
Lord Byron says, ‘Tis pleasant, sure, to find one’s name in print.’ My surprise was quite equal to my pleasure in finding my name among those of the illustrious ladies who appear here. It is but just to say that this notice was not contributed to the volume by any member of my own family, and that the authorship is a mystery both to them and to me. JPR…. (436)
Judith Page Rives (1802-1882), wife of William C. Rives, describes the surprise and honor she feels at finding her biography in Tardy’s text. The content and tone of the note suggest that it is not entirely self-reflective, but also directed at any reader who might happen upon the book in the future.

In the biography that follows, Rives has made a few corrections to the text. She adjusts the date of France’s July Revolution from 1820 to 1830. She corrects the spelling of her daughter’s name, Amélie (chosen for her by her godmother, the Queen of France), directly in the text and then transcribes it in the margins for clarity. Finally, she changes the title incorrectly attributed to her second book from “Home and Abroad” to “Home and the World.”

5 4

Aside from these minor adjustments, Rives does not interfere with the anonymous biographer’s account of her life, suggesting, perhaps, its accuracy. The notice describes Rives as “a faithful mother” of six and a “most useful helpmeet to her husband,” who served twice as United States Minister to France and once as a Senator from Virginia (438). She is further characterized as “a prominent and yet ever beneficent leader in society,” most notably in her native Albemarle County (438). There, she and her family resided in a vast, historic estate called Castle Hill (on the market now for $11.5 million) and mingled with the likes of Madison and Jefferson. Finally, Rives’s biographer describes her as “an author of more than ordinary ability and popularity” (438).

“Castle Hill,” from Charles F. Gillette Photographs, 1905-1970, Accession #11083, Special Collections Dept., University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

Among Judith Rives’s literary achievements are two books: Souvenirs of a Residence in Europe (1842) and Home and the World (1857). The biography quotes from a review contemporary to the publication of Souvenirs, saying: “This book is distinguished throughout for its moral and elevated tone. Its style, which perhaps in some instances may be rather luxuriant, is generally chaste, fluent, and graceful” (437). According to Jane Censer, author of The Reconstruction of White Southern Womanhood, much of Rives’s work was nonfiction, based on her travels abroad and her life at Castle Hill. Censer also notes that many of the women included in Tardy’s Female Writers of the South came from “well-to-do” Southern families and published a single article, poem, or novel, often with a local printer (214). A number of these women “published so little or in such obscure journals that the modern researcher can find almost none of their printed efforts” (214). Judith Rives is certainly a slight break from the “authors” Censer describes, having published Souvenirs with a Philadelphia publishing house and Home and the World with a publisher based in London. A single copy of Rives’s Tales and Souvenirs of a Residence in Europe (below) is available in the UVA Library circulating collection. Several copies of Souvenirs and Home and the World are held in UVA’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.


Judith Rives was not the only writer in her family. In the later years of his life, her husband, William Cabell Rives, wrote biographies of John Hampden and James Madison, both of which are available in the UVA Library circulating collection. Their daughter, Amélie Louise Rives Sigourney (1832-1873) also dabbled in writing, penning but never publishing a number of poems and stories before her death.

The most notable writer among the Riveses, though, was surely Judith’s granddaughter and Amélie Rives Sigourney’s niece, Amélie Rives Troubetzkoy (1863-1945). Goddaughter of Robert E. Lee and eventual heiress of the Castle Hill estate, Amélie ran in the same circles of Albemarle society as her grandmother had. Unlike her grandmother, though, Amélie’s celebrity was not only local, but national. Amélie’s fame was due in large part to her first novel, The Quick or the Dead? (1888), which was an immediate sensation. The book, which dared to depict women as sexually aware, was “reviled by critics and clergymen across the country,” but nonetheless sold 300,000 copies (Lucey). Amélie proceeded to publish at least 24 volumes of fiction, a number of uncollected poems, and a play. According to Censer, Amélie was part of a small group of southern female authors who in their works “presented southern women who were intellectually astute and domestically skilled. Their heroines neither sought nor enjoyed belledom but instead searched for fulfilling, useful lives” (8). Amélie, in particular, experimented with gender conventions and on occasion confronted the more difficult topics of race and class (Censer 8).

The UVA Library Collection contains a number of books associated with Amélie Rives Troubetzkoy, including those written by her and others owned by her. This copy of Barbara Dering, Amélie’s 1893 sequel to The Quick or the Dead?, is thoroughly marked, featuring the inscriptions of at least two distinct owners and marginalia throughout.

IMG_1770 IMG_1771IMG_1772IMG_1773IMG_1775IMG_1776

The circulating collection also contains a thick copy of Shakespeare’s plays, formerly owned and heavily annotated by Amélie Rives Troubetzkoy herself.

IMG_1777 IMG_1778

Amélie inscribed the volume with her name multiple times. The first example appears on the front endpaper and reads: “Amélie L. Rives / Castle – Hill / 15th of March – 1885.” At the time of this initial inscription, Amélie was just 22-years-old, still three years from publishing The Quick or the Dead?.


A second inscription appears on the title page of The Tempest. Here, Amélie has inscribed her name twice, first with her maiden name, “Rives,” and a second time with her married name, “Troubetzkoy.” The names are accompanied by a date: “18th June 1900.” At the time of this inscription, Amélie was 37-years-old and had published a number of novels. Though she had married the noble but impoverished Pierre Troubetzkoy four years prior to this inscription, Amélie continued to publish her literary works under her maiden name, perhaps explaining the double signature.


Many passages of the plays that follow are bracketed, check-marked, and underscored.


Amélie has also left several notes throughout the volume. In The Gentleman of Verona, for instance, Amélie stars and brackets several lines of text at the end of Scene I and writes at the bottom of the page: “Same idea exposed several times in Tempest by Gonzalez.”


Later, in Much Ado About Nothing, she notes: “In Shakespeare’s time ‘ache’ was pronounced ‘H’ – AR.”


In the margins of Taming of the Shrew, she seems to make a wry joke about husbands, marking the line: “A husband! a devil!” and writing at the bottom of the page: “The book opened here of itself just as I had said laughingly ‘O gin I had a husband!'” According to the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of “gin,” this exclamation might translate roughly to “If only I had a husband.”


Perhaps the most intriguing of Amélie’s annotations appears in All’s Well That Ends Well. Here, Amélie marks an “X” beside the line: “So there’s my riddle, One, that’s dead, is quick,” and writes below: “The book also opened here just as I was trying to find another title as good as The Quick or the Dead. 23 Nov. 1888.” In this moment, we witness an intimate memorialization: Amélie marks in her copy of Shakespeare’s plays the phrase that inspired the title of her most famous literary work, published just half a year prior in April 1888.


From Judith Rives’s humble response upon finding her name in Female Writers of the South to her granddaughter Amélie Rives’s remarks and reminiscences upon Shakespeare, it is clear that the UVA Library Collection contains an array of Rives family literary treasures, not only those printed by press but also those marked by hand.


“The Cabell Family.” Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. University of Virginia Library, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

Censer, Jane Turner. The Reconstruction of White Southern Womanhood, 1865-1895. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2003. Google Books. Google. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

Hatch, Peter J. “The Garden and Its People.” “A Rich Spot of Earth”: Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello. N.p.: Yale UP, 2012. 33. Google Books. Google. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

Lay, K. Edward. “The Georgian Period.” The Architecture of Jefferson Country: Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia. Charlottesville: U of Virginia, 2000. 60-61. Google Books. Google. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

Lucey, Donna M. “Patron’s Choice: Sex, Celebrity and Scandal in the Amélie Rives Chanler Troubetzkoy Papers.” Notes from Under Grounds. University of Virginia Library: Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections, 23 Aug. 2013. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

Prose, Francine. “Lifestyles of the Rich and Infamous”. The Washington Post. Web. 30 Jul, 2006.

Rives, Amélie. Barbara Dering. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott company, 1893.

Shakespeare, William, et al. The Plays of William Shakespeare. New ed. London: Printed for F. C. and J. Rivington; [etc., etc.], 1823.

Tardy, Mary T. The Living Female Writers of the South. Philadelphia: Claxton, Remsen & Haffelfinger, 1872.

Varon, Elizabeth R. “We Mean to Be Counted”: White Women and Politics in Antebellum Virginia. N.p.: U of North Carolina, 2000. Google Books. Google. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

Weeks, Lyman Horace. “George Lockhart Rives.” Prominent Families of New York. New York: Historical, 1897. 478. Google Books. Google. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

Book Find: Cowper after the Storm

Guest post by Book Traces @ UVA volunteer Jamie Rathjen

A volume of William Cowper’s poems has rested in a decades-long repose in Alderman Library, a welcome respite compared to the action it saw on the front lines in central Virginia’s Civil War campaigns. It accompanied several different members of a regiment of Virginia troops, the 12th Virginia Infantry, on their travels from the Richmond area to Fredericksburg and beyond, all the while containing within its pages Cowper’s opposition to slavery. The regiment ultimately harbored a connection to the man in whose collection the book ended up, fervently patriotic Confederate colonel and one-time UVA student William Gordon McCabe, in the form of the Pegram cousins, consisting in this context of younger William, eventually the superior of McCabe’s as the war progressed, and older Richard, a member of the 12th Virginia Infantry later made an artillery captain. It is from McCabe’s library that the Cowper volume made its way to UVA, when the library was donated by McCabe’s sons in 1924 following his death four years before.

Col. McCabe is responsible for several inscriptions in other books that he owned, including one made during the war containing a diagram of howitzer firing angles and another relating an anecdote of a conversation between his father and Edgar Allen Poe. However, he did not write in this volume of Cowper; the inscriptions fall to others.


The earlier of the two dated and readable inscriptions was made by Pvt. Robert E. Jones on 19 June 1862 while he was “on the line at” Richmond. (It is lucky, or perhaps necessary, that Jones included his middle initial, as the regiment contained another Robert Jones.) Jones was, however, wounded at a battle variously called Fraizer’s Farm (as it appears in his records) or Glendale, northeast of Richmond in Henrico County, only 11 days later on 30 June, and ultimately died on or around 10 July. The Battle of Glendale was part of a series of six battles in seven days in the Richmond area known as the Seven Days Battles, in which the Army of Northern Virginia, led by Robert E. Lee and containing the 12th Virginia Infantry, repulsed the Union, under Gen. George McClellan, from Richmond and onto the peninsula to the east. While there were heavy casualties for both sides, the Confederates emerged successful and afterwards began a counter-attack to the north, culminating in the famous battle at Antietam in the fall.

The Seven Days Battles began on 25 June; thus, Jones would have had only six days to read Cowper from the date of his inscription to the date of the first battle, something which may help to explain the lack of annotations on the poems themselves despite Jones’ large signature in the front of the book and two Confederate flags rendered in pencil in the back.


Of the two flags, one is rectangular and reminiscent of the Confederate “stars and bars” flag, but with extra, perhaps fanciful additions, including a “C.S.” which bears similarities with Jones’ handwriting in the front. The other is a square saltire, similar to the Army of Northern Virginia’s battle flag, the familiar blue cross on a red field with stars in the cross; three stars have been faintly replicated on one arm of the cross. The battle flag was often customized by regiments with an identifier and the names of battles, likely those in which the regiment participated; Col. McCabe, in an oration of his from after the war, lists upwards of thirty battles which he believes ought to have been on his battalion’s tattered flag. One or both of these flags were perhaps carried into battle by the 12th Regiment.

After Jones, the next inscription comes from the quartermaster sergeant of the 12th Regiment, Robert C. Osborne. His, while quite faded, is somewhat readable: “Robert C. Osborne, Esq.; camp near Fredericksburg; January 30, 1863.” (Photo below has been enhanced to show Osborne’s inscription.)


The Army of Northern Virginia had spent four days successfully defending the city in mid-December 1862 and did not fight another battle until Chancellorsville in the spring, also in the immediate area. Osborne, like Jones, is short of biographical information, but appears to have survived the war, as, for lack of other evidence, his records at least do not note his death and consist mostly of ordnance forms rather than the more enlightening index cards, recording attendance at roll call, found for Jones and others. He had been the quartermaster sergeant for the regiment since November 1861 and in July 1863 was appointed captain and assistant to the divisional quartermaster. Thus, the path on which the book traveled to reach Col. McCabe was set in motion with him.

One possible path from Osborne to Col. McCabe is represented by the Pegram cousins, Richard and William. Richard Pegram was born in Petersburg on 14 February 1829 and, like William, grew up studying law. Richard originally started the war as a private in the 12th Regiment, but in April 1862 (before Jones was killed) transferred to a company of artillery, eventually being chosen to captain the company in May 1863. His company fought at the same battles as the 12th Regiment in the period between the book’s two inscriptions (the Seven Days Battles and Fredericksburg), so it is possible that he retained links with his former regiment; Pegram was originally in Company E of the 12th Regiment, formed of men from Petersburg and the surrounding area, and the same company as Robert Osborne before their respective promotions. He was also with his artillery unit throughout the crucial period from mid-1862 to early 1863 and thus was likely encamped with the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia at Fredericksburg. The younger Pegram, William, was born on 29 June 1841 in Richmond. Studying in UVA’s law school at the beginning of the war, Pegram possessed increasingly greater artillery commands for all four years and made a name for himself starting in the Seven Days Battles with a combination of youth, fearless leadership, skillful command, and at times aggressive tactics that won him much praise. During the course of the war, William Pegram was promoted several times, culminating in the position of colonel of artillery in early 1865, but first gained a substantial command when he was made a captain (the same as Richard) in March 1862. At the end of the war, William possessed an entire battalion of artillery (as opposed to Richard, who remained one step below as a captain), and William McCabe was Pegram’s adjutant (essentially, a personal assistant). McCabe mentions that Pegram “never lost a gun in four years of active service;” the only time he did was when he was mortally wounded at the battle of Five Forks on 1 April 1865, a week before the end of the war, and died the next day. Twenty-one years later, at the battalion’s annual reunion, McCabe would present them their tattered battle flag on behalf of Pegram’s mother, to whom Pegram had previously given it at some point during the war.

Indeed, William McCabe seems to have made a postwar career out of the eloquence with which he remembered William Pegram in the evening of 21 May 1886. His obituary in UVA’s alumni news remembers him as a “soldier, teacher, scholar, and citizen” and “one of the most distinguished of the University’s older alumni” at his death on 1 June 1919 and despite spending less than a year (fall 1860 – spring 1861) at the University. He continued to harbor a zealous Confederate patriotism throughout his life, additionally serving as “commander” of the A. P. Hill Camp of Confederate Veterans (under whose ultimate command William Pegram and McCabe’s battalion was) as well as president of his surviving battalion. As related in a memoir of McCabe by Armistead Gordon, McCabe was also known for writing out his full wartime rank and position (“From W. Gordon McCabe, formerly Captain of Artillery, Pegram’s Battalion, A. P. Hill’s Corps, A. N. V.”) in books he gave to others from his library. However, he seems to have reserved this for the benefit of others: another book of McCabe’s in Alderman library, a biography of Thackeray, has a simple “W. Gordon McCabe, Petersburg, Virginia” as identification inside the cover. In fact, McCabe spent much of his time throughout his entire life with books, writing several of his own not about the Civil War, but rather in which he demonstrates a classical interest: a Latin reader and a work on the Gallic War. Unfortunately, he did not get to inscribe the Cowper book in his distinctive style, as it did not leave his library.

The five men behind the story of the Cowper book appear to have served in the same battles throughout the seven months between the two inscriptions. In McCabe’s speech memorializing William Pegram, he lists the battles that “should” belong on the battalion’s flag, even if they are no longer present. These include three of the Seven Days Battles: Mechanicsville, Gaines’ Mill, and, most importantly, Glendale, as well as Fredericksburg. Thus, besides Robert Jones, the other four men – the Pegrams, McCabe, and Robert Osborne – were together for a period of many months. It is, however, impossible to say anything specific about the interactions of individuals in such a large army, and the four’s proximity to each other begins to disintegrate after the battle of Fredericksburg and the encampment thereafter. Richard Pegram’s battery of artillery disappears from the radar somewhat after Fredericksburg; the Virginia government’s Civil War website has it next surfacing at the battle of Swift Creek in May 1864, while a chart of the artillery of the Army of Northern Virginia from April 1863 only includes one Pegram battery, which was William’s (as both were then captains). Additionally, in spring 1863 McCabe’s records indicate that he was given special orders to report to Charleston and the command of P. G. T. Beauregard, where he stayed until the fall. However, during that time his and Pegram’s unit (of which McCabe had first been appointed acting adjutant in March 1863) was held in reserve at Gettysburg and thus remained with the Army of Northern Virginia. Thus, it is fortuitous that the book’s two inscriptions are dated when they are, as the two appear to bookend a period in which all the crucial figures involved were in close proximity. The most likely story behind the Cowper book seems to be that it simply drifted around, first in the 12th Regiment and then among the Pegrams and McCabe. The exact details are as murky as war often is itself, and the group of four’s proximity to one another was not limited to the period from June 1862 to January 1863; both Richard Pegram and McCabe, for example, are mentioned as being captured at the battle of Sayler’s Creek on 6 April 1865, a few days after William Pegram was killed. As the war was at an end only three days later, however, they were both swiftly pardoned.

The Cowper book as a whole is in an interesting mix of conditions; it has been given a protective box by the UVA library. The binding has entirely ripped in one place, creating two “halves” of the book that are more like a 30-70 split, with the smaller one lying on top of the larger one. While the back cover is intact, the front cover was hanging on by threads when I first received the book and finally fell off before I was done. The covers themselves are non-descript dark green and done in relief, the most common method of graphic design.


The pages are actually in very good condition compared to the covers; they are not brittle and have aged well. There are, as mentioned, very few interior annotations. Of the crucial entries by Jones and Osborne on the end pages, Jones’ has not really faded while parts of Osborne’s are hardly readable at all. There are also small and mostly unreadable inscriptions on the top of the page with Jones’. A bookplate indicating that the book came to UVA from McCabe is pasted on the first end page.


The book itself is relatively large, at 17 cm in height according to the library catalogue, and could not fit easily in a small coat pocket, for example. Ironically, its wear – outside of its existence in multiple parts – does not quite match the battlefield journey on which it embarked.

Cowper’s poems mix the sense of optimism that would have been felt earlier in the war with the anti-slavery rhetoric that ultimately won out. Cowper was known for anti-slavery poems, and titles such as “Hope,” “Ode to Peace,” “Peace after the Storm,” “The Negro’s Complaint,” and “Pity for Poor Africans” make him seem out of place on a battlefield, especially in the possession of Confederates. “Pity for Poor Africans” in particular condemns the hypocrisy of the slave trade, as Cowper uses a group of boys engaging in petty theft of apples from a farm to parody slave traders. The speaker attempts to simultaneously justify both his involvement and his sentiments of sympathy for the farmer by disconnecting himself on a personal level; “he will lose none by me, but I’ll get a few,” goes the reasoning. Such sentiments could have been repeated in the Confederate lines by attaching oneself to the tradition or perhaps the institution of slavery, or even an ill-defined Southern patriotism as McCabe did, rather than the individual slaves themselves. Indeed, some of McCabe’s reasoning is on full display in the end of his speech to the Pegram battalion association: “…that the blood shed in its [the battle flag’s] defence was not the blood of ‘traitors,’ but the blood of patriots, who died that they might transmit to their children the heritage bequeathed them by their fathers.”

Yet this was regarded as not much of a blemish on McCabe, who was hailed as “the finest type of Virginian of his generation” by Armistead Gordon in his memoir. McCabe served on UVA’s Board of Visitors from 1888-1892 and the collection of his letters and materials in Special Collections indicates that he could count among his numerous acquaintances and correspondents Tennyson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Henry Cabot Lodge. The Cowper book appears since the first inscription never to have left the hands of Virginians and remarkably passed from a virtually anonymous private to a well-known and distinguished yet ultimately non-commissioned officer. The book itself could tell the story of the war in Virginia, with the whole state heavily traversed by both sides and McCabe and Pegram’s battalion surviving until near the bitter end.

“”Branch’s-Pegram’s Battery.” Civil War in Virginia: Walk in Their Footsteps. Commonwealth of Virginia. Web.

“Colonel W. Gordan [sic] McCabe, ’61, Dies Suddenly in Richmond.” University of Virginia Alumni News 8.11 (1919): 285.

“A Guide to the William Gordon McCabe Papers, 1757-1920.” University of Virginia Special Collections. Web.

“Jones, Robert E.” Fold3.

“Osborne, Robert C.” Fold3.

“Pegram, Richard G. (private).” Fold3.

“Pegram, Richard G. (captain).” Fold3.

“McCabe, William Gordon.” Fold3.

“Memorials of Deceased Members: Richard G. Pegram.” Report of the Ninth Annual Meeting of the Virginia State Bar Association. Ed. Eugene C. Massie. Richmond: James E. Goode, 1897. 170-72.

“The Complete Poetical Works of William Cowper, Esq.” New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1858.

Carmichael, Peter S. Lee’s Young Artillerist: William R.J. Pegram. Charlottesville: U of Virginia, 1998.

—. “The Merits of This Officer Will Not Go Unrewarded: William R. J. Pegram & The Purcell Battery in the Seven Days.” The Peninsula Campaign of 1862: Yorktown to the Seven Days. Campbell, CA: Savas Woodbury, 1995. 191-209.

Feeney, William R. “Battle of Glendale.” Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 5 April 2011. Web.

Gordon, Armistead C.. “William Gordon McCabe: A Brief Memoir”. The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 28.2 (1920): 193–205.

McCabe, William Gordon. “Annual Reunion of Pegram Battalion Association in the Hall of House of Delegates, Richmond, Va., May 21st, 1886.” Perseus Digital Library.

Nafziger, George F. “Confederate Forces under Lee, 10 April 1865.” The Nafziger Collection of Orders of Battle. Combined Arms Research Library.

—. “Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, 4 May 1863.” The Nafziger Collection of Orders of Battle. Combined Arms Research Library.

—. “Confederate Artillery Organization, Army of Northern Virginia, 16 April 1863.” The Nafziger Collection of Orders of Battle. Combined Arms Research Library.

—. “Confederate Forces, Battle of Fredericksburg, 10 January 1863.” The Nafziger Collection of Orders of Battle. Combined Arms Research Library.

—. “Confederate Army around Richmond Virginia, 29 June 1862.” The Nafziger Collection of Orders of Battle. Combined Arms Research Library.