“May Content Gild with Smiles EveryHour as it Flies”
(Commonplace Book). Manuscript on paper, in English. “Album.” [U.K.: 1828–33]. 8vo (18.9 cm, 7.45").  ff.; illus.
Click the images for enlargements.
This remarkably substantial collection opens with a neatly hand-inked Burns quotation: “O may the powers the giftie gie me, [/] To see mysel as others see me,” followed by two mounted engravings giving the text of the Lord's Prayer and Psalm 100 in extremely “micro” form. From there the volume offers a wide variety of early 19th-century poems, quotations, plates, and original illustrations, preserved on both plain white and on pink, green, yellow, dark blue, and turquoise pages.
Theoriginal illustrations include pencil sketches of ships in a stormy sea and of stately country homes, a hand-colored moth (one of two) excised and affixed to a watercolored branch of flowers, a pretty spray of colorful blooms signed by Fanny Simpson of Doncaster, and an oil-painted scene of cows in a misty pastoral setting; among the images taken from printed sources are steel-engraved views of Cliffords Tower and Laythorp Postern, “Feramorz relating the story of the Peri,” and a portrait of Sir Walter Scott.
The many poems include “Forget-me-not,” Thomas Campbell's lines on Hope, “Lines Written in the First Leaf of a Friend's Album” (slightly mistitled here, originally written by Bernard Barton), a meditation on the letter E, and an imitation of “Oh no! we never mention her” that closes with “I never can forget”; some entries, e.g., Jessy Steele's “On Leaving Home,” seem to beoriginal/occasional. Also present isan original poem signed by John Roby, folklorist and author of Traditions of Lancashire, with the version as inscribed here in Roby's hand (titled “The hush'd Tempest” and dated Rochdale, 1828) differing slightly from “The Storm,” the published form which appeared in The Investigator in 1820.
There is one page offering a puzzle; another offers one verse in French; and a third presents us witha particularly fine version of “The Map of Matrimony,” beautifully rendered and with a verse from Cowper underneath.
It is possible that more extended sleuthing than we can indulge in might locate this book within a particular family and circle. Fanny Simpson, signing one of her several charming artistic contributions at full length, gives us a Doncaster connection. An “M. Simpson” / “M.S.” appears more than once; was the “Isabella” / “Isabella S” who signed her contribution from Byron intimately, with her given name only, a sister? There are Bayne, Newall, and Stockdale connections; at least TWO Steeles made entries, the Jessy above and also Thomas, who
contributed a number of entries penned in calligraphic mode — one or two of these signed in full and many others signed “T.S.” Was John Roby a family friend??
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Half black sheep in imitation of morocco over marbled paper–covered sides, leather edges (including corners) with gilt roll, spine gilt extra; binding rubbed and scuffed overall, but still dignified. All edges gilt. Pages slightly age-toned, with occasional small spots; a few instances of offsetting from or uneven fading to colored paper. Some plates foxed. A rich and warmly evocative early 19th-century commonplace book, one emanating both Sense and Sensibility as well cultivated in Accomplishments. (35342)
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