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Revolutionary Revolutions

When I was in elementary school, I had a small “Wheel of Presidents”—a device consisting of two cardstock circles affixed to each other in the center, one smaller, with a wedge-shaped cutout, and one larger, with miniature portraits of the U.S. presidents dotting its circumference. I don’t remember how I acquired it, but I do remember playing with it, turning the smaller, upper circle so that the cutout would align with one of the presidents on the rim of the larger, lower one and reveal the few facts about his presidency printed below his portrait. Although I did not know it at the time, my “Wheel of Presidents” was far from novel or unique. Rather, it represented just the most recent incarnation of a pedagogical tool whose origins were far older than my days in elementary school—far older, even, than the U.S. presidency.

The idea of organizing information in rotating charts dates at least to the incunabula era. Early astronomy books often featured paper or parchment wheels called volvelles as a way of helping students learn the motions of the planets, moon, and sun. Later, wheels morphed into calculation tools that could aid their users in finding the positions of stars, solving logarithmic equations, determining the dates of eclipses, and more.

Although The Rare Book & Manuscript Library holds many fine examples of books that include wheels as pedagogical aids, one in particular caught my eye: The First Part of the Principles of the Art Military Practifed in the Warres of the United Netherlands (Q. 355.009492 H511p 1642), printed in Delft in 1642. All of the other circular charts I had seen related somehow to astronomy–what was one doing in a military handbook? I had to know.

As he notes in his dedication to Prince William of Orange, Quartermaster Henry Hexham, the author of the Principles, felt a desire to pass on some of the knowledge and experience he had gained during his “two and fortie yeares” of service in the Dutch military. This led him to compose the Principles, a manual that he hopes will serve “for the inftruction of fuch English Gentleman, & Souldiers, who are willing to come into the States feruice, & for the informing of their Iudgments the better.” To this end, Hexham includes in the manual information on the duties of each member of a foot company, armor and weapons,  various methods of holding a pike and musket, and the exercises and motions through which captains would lead their foot companies. It is this last section where the wheels come in. Hexham accompanies the more basic exercises with static diagrams of a foot company in rank and file. For some of the more complex troop movements, he removes the images of the foot company to separate, small pieces of paper, which are fixed on the page in such a way that they can rotate. Spinning the pieces of paper one way or the other then allows readers to see the results of a particular command, like “To the left hand.” Though the pieces of paper themselves are actually rectangular rather than circular, they nevertheless demonstrate the power of interactive, rotating devices as instructional tools, especially when the subject to be taught involves complex movements—whether they be of heavenly bodies or earthly ones. BS

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The First Part of the Principles of the Art Military Practifed in the Warres of the United Netherlands.Shelfmark: Q. 355.009492 H511p 1642

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How do you say “Remember, Remember the 5th of November” in Latin?

John Milton found a way at the tender age of 17, on the eleventh anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, when he wrote “In Quintum Novembris.” This rousing mini-epic praises God for preserving the heroic King James from a “band of impious Papists.” The poem ends with Milton’s description of Guy Fawkes festivities in the England of his day:

Attamen interea populi miserescit ab alto
Æthereus pater, & crudelibus obstitit ausis
Papicolûm; capti pœnas raptantur ad acres;
At pia thura Deo, & grati solvuntur honores;
Compita læta focis genialibus omnia fumant;
Turba choros juvenilis agit: Quintoque Novembris
Nulla dies toto occurrit celebratior anno.

Looking down from above mercifully on his people, the heavenly father thwarted the Papists’ cruel attempt. They are seized and taken off to bitter punishments. Pious incense and grateful honors are given to God. All the joyous streets smoke with amiable flames; the young people dance in crowds. No day in all the year is more celebrated than the fifth of November.

Guy Fawkes day photo 2

The poem was published in 1645 in Poems Of Mr. John Milton: Both English And Latin, Compos’d At Several Times. Printed By His True Copies. The Songs Were Set In Musick By Mr. Henry Lawes Gentleman Of The Kings Chappel, And One Of His Majesties Private Musick. London: Printed By Ruth Raworth for Humphrey Moseley, and are to be sold at The Signe of the Princes Arms in S. Pauls’ Church-yard, 1645.

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign holds nine copies of this work. Shelfmark: 821 M64L 1645.

Guy Fawkes day post photo 1

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University of Illinois-Urbana Rare Book & Manuscript Library Invites Visiting Scholar Applications

The John “Bud” Velde Visiting Scholars Program
and the
2015 Kenneth S. Brunsman Visiting Fellowship

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS, 2015-16 Program Cycle

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library annually awards two stipends of up to $3,000 to scholars and researchers, unaffiliated with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who would like to spend a month or more conducting research with our materials.

Thanks to the generosity of Kenneth Brunsman, an additional award, the “Kenneth S. Brunsman Visiting Fellowship,” honors recently retired Director of Library Advancement Vicki Trimble and will be available for the 2015-16 visiting scholar program cycle.

The holdings of The Rare Book & Manuscript Library are substantial. Comprehensive collections support research in printing and printing history, Renaissance studies, Elizabethan and Stuart life and letters, John Milton and his age, emblem studies, economic history, and works on early science and natural history. The library also houses the papers of such diverse literary figures as Carl Sandburg, H. G. Wells, William Maxwell, and W. S. Merwin.

For information about this program, how to apply, and to find out more about The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, please visit our Web site at:

http://www.library.illinois.edu/rbx/research_fellowships.html

Please contact the Public Programs Manager, Dennis Sears, with further questions about the program or the Rare Book & Manuscript Library:

Or email Dennis: dsears (at) illinois (dot) edu.

Deadline for application: *1 February 2015*.

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Yummy Acquisition

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has recently acquired the first cookbook devoted to pastry making. Le Pastissier françois (The French Pastry Chef), published in 1655 by the great Dutch printing house of Elzevir, is a landmark in the history of cooking and cookbooks. The book is often attributed to François Pierre de la Varenne (1615-1678), the father of French gastronomy and author of the first French cookbook (Le Cuisinier françois, 1651). He was also the first to break with Italian practices, concocting such staples of French cooking as Béchamel, hollandaise sauce, and bisque. Le Pastissier françois is equally revolutionary in the history of cooking for establishing most of the foundations of French pastry making. For example, here for the first time, we find an explanation of the now universal way of making flaky pastry dough by weaving together butter and flour. The author also introduces such classics of French baking as beignets, chansons aux pommes (apple turnovers), choux pastry (used for éclairs), and gaufres (waffles), as well as the very first recipes for a cake (gateaux) and an apple pie (!). In addition to these innovative sweet confections, Le Pastissier françois offers recipes for savory pastries as well.

Groundbreaking in many ways, Le Pastissier françois is the first cookbook to indicate precise measurements and quantities for each ingredient, the first to give exact cooking times and heat levels, and the first to include an alphabetic index to the recipes.

The book was printed by Louis and Daniel Elzevir in 1655, the third generation of the great Elzevir printing house in Amsterdam. Le Pastissier françois has been called “the most sought after of all Elzevir imprints,” chiefly because of its rarity. Like hymnals and children’s books, cookbooks are printed to be used (and abused) and therefore have poor survival rates. Indeed, in the nineteenth century, the Elzevir Le Pastissier françois became a kind of Holy Grail for collectors and the price skyrocketed accordingly, leading several English and French authors to comment admiringly or sarcastically upon the phenomenon. Alexandre Dumas, for example, claims to have been distracted from a play by the incredible sight of a man reading a copy of Le Pastissier nearby, and several English novelists list this title when describing the grandeur of character’s library. When J.P. Morgan died, the New York Times mentioned about a dozen of the highpoints of Morgan’s collection, listing the Elzevir Le Pastissier françois alongside the Golden Gospels of Henry VIII, the Gutenberg Bible, and the manuscript of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. There appear to be fewer than a dozen recorded copies, most of them outside the U.S.

[LA VARENNE, François Pierre de (1618-1678), attributed to]. Le pastissier françois. Ou est enseigné la maniere de faire toute sorte de pastisserie, tres-utile à toute sorte de personnes. Ensemble le moyen d’aprester toutes sortes d’oeufs pour les jours maigres, & autres, en plus de soixantes façons. Amsterdam: Louis & Daniel Elzevir, 1655. Vicaire 659-64; Brunet IV, 426-27; Willems 1187. Shelfmark: IUB01721.

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Freedom of Speech for Me….but not for Thee

John Milton (1608-1674). Areopagitica, A speech of Mr. John Milton for the liberty of vnlicenc’d printing to the Parliament of England. London: [s.n.], 1644. Shelfmark: 821 M64 N6.

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With manuscript warrant issued to John Milton on 25 June 1650. Shelfmark: Pre-1650 MS 0168

Milton_warrant

John Milton, arguably the most significant English poet of the seventeenth century, was also a republican politician, religious renegade, and a vocal polemicist on the issues of his day. He flouted the Star Chamber Decree of 1637 when he published his tracts on divorce without license. His Areopagitica also appeared without permit or notice of publisher as required by the law. The Areopagitica has had an enormous impact on modern society, arguing, as it does, that without the freedom of speech, there can be no freedom of thought.

The Areopagitica presents the history of censorship from antiquity to Milton’s day in an eloquent and compelling narrative. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are presented as inalienable rights of humankind. Without free exchange of ideas, Milton claims that moral, intellectual, and societal development is impossible. From this book comes one of the most powerful statements on the freedom of the press ever written: “as good almost kill a Man as kill a good Book; who kills a Man kills a reasonable creature, God’s Image; but hee who destroyes a good Book, kills reason it selfe.”

Ironically, six years later, in 1650, Milton, now part of the ruling party, was issued a warrant to search the rooms of William Prynne, the Puritan writer with whom he had often squabbled in print. The warrant authorizes Milton to “seize all writings … of dangerous nature against the Commonwealth.” Prynne was arrested five days later and sentenced to three years in prison for expressing views contrary to those held by Milton and the Commonwealth.

The University of Illinois holds both these documents, historical proof that freedom of speech is easier to preach than practice.

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Victorian Scrapbooks Rediscovered

Here at The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, seemingly simple reference questions often turn into much deeper discoveries.That was the case when a patron enquired about our material concerning one Martin F. Tupper. If you aren’t familiar with Martin F. Tupper (1810-1889), then you probably didn’t live in the mid-19th century; if you did, you likely would have ranked him alongside Wordsworth and Tennyson as one of the most brilliant contemporary English poets. Tupper originally rose to fame on the strength of his third book, Proverbial Philosophy (1838), a collection of poetry expressed as quotable wisdom consisting of such gems as “a good book is the best of friends, the same to-day and for ever”(“Of Reading”) and “A wise man in a crowded street winneth his way with gentleness” (“Of Tolerance”).

One of Martin F. Tupper’s voluminous scrapbooks (v. 58). His monogram is visible on the cover.

He was a prolific writer, full of patriotism and religious fervor, and he was always ready with a choice verse for every occasion, such as his paean to the Crystal Palace in 1851 (“Hurrah for honest Industry ! hurrah for handy Skill !”). Part self-help guru and part religious revivalist, he might be considered the Victorian version of Mitch Albom, and he appealed immensely to middlebrow Victorian readers, who devoured his maxims. Alongside his poetry, Tupper also wrote novels and plays, as well as curious fare such as An Author’s Mind: The Book of Title-Pages (1841), sketching out fifty possible books that Tupper envisioned but lacked the time to write. By mid-century, however, Tupper’s star had begun to wane, as critics took him to task for his “empty vanities” and derided his “tea table literature.” By the 1860s, “Tupperism” and other variations on his name had become bywords for overwrought sentimentality and insipid moralization, and continued to be used critically for decades. Today, if Tupper is remembered at all, he is regarded only as an emblematic representation of Victorian culture and morality. What, then, does Tupper have to do with the University of Illinois?

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Sesquicentennial of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

Abraham Lincoln’s “few appropriate remarks” at Gettysburg, delivered 150 years ago today, are memorialized on Lincoln Hall on the University of Illinois campus.  One of the biographical panels on the Quad side of the building depicts the president as he spoke.  Pictured as seating directly behind him, according to the manufacturer of the panel in 1912, was an old man named Burke.  So I once wrote, without confirming the name (Lincoln Hall at the University of Illinois. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2010).  Not so, I soon learned from Wayne C. Temple (Ph.D., Illinois, 1956).  His name was Burns.

One of sculptor Kristian Schneider's terra cotta panels on the exterior of Lincoln Hall.

One of sculptor Kristian Schneider’s terra cotta panels on the exterior of Lincoln Hall.

John Burns, a veteran of the War of 1812, was nearly three score and ten years old when the Civil War came to Gettysburg on July 1, 1863.  Although deemed too old for combat, he grabbed an old flintlock musket and trotted onto field of battle.  His antique swallow-tail coat and stove pipe hat made him an easy target.  Wounded and captured, he survived the battle.

Photographed by Matthew Brady, Burns was featured in Harper’s Weekly, and his story appeared in hundreds of papers across the North.  When Lincoln came to Gettysburg, he asked about the old soldier and soon met him.  If Burns did not sit on the platform when Lincoln spoke, as shown in the Lincoln Hall panel, he at least accompanied the president to the church service at the end of the day.  Later, Lincoln signed an act of Congress giving Burns a pension “for patriotic services at Gettysburg.”

In 1864, Bret Harte, the California poet, celebrated Burns.  “When the rebels rode through his native town,” he was “the only man who didn’t back down.”  By contrast, “all his townsfolk ran away.”  By 1911, even as “Burke” was being pictured in the terra cotta plaque on Lincoln Hall, Pennsylvania erected a bronze monument at Gettysburg for Burns, depicting him rather like Daniel Chester French’s “Minuteman” at the rude bridge in Concord.

But Burns claimed too much.  He not only freely and inconsistently embellished his story, but he also belittled the deeds of others (calling one neighbor “a damned coward, a chicken hearted squaw, a tallow faced sissy”).  For years, Burns, a cobbler by trade, had been regarded by Gettysburgians as eccentric and cantankerous, and today he is often known, erroneously, only as “the town drunk.”

The evidence about Burns, particularly at the battle, is too incomplete and contradictory to separate fact from fiction, as Timothy H. Smith’s John Burns, “The Hero of Gettysburg” (2000) makes clear.  Moreover, as Carl Caldwell, another U. of I. alumnus has pointed out, Margaret S. Creighton has now brought to the foreground others than Burns, in The Colors of Courage: Gettysburg’s Forgotten History: Immigrants, Women, and African Americans in the Civil War’s Defining Battle (2005).  But it is the story of John Burns, Gettysburg’s civilian warrior, that became particularly attached to the story of one of the nation’s most memorable texts.  Much of the voluminous literature on that text, as well as graphic depictions of it, are part of the Library’s Illinois History and Lincoln Collections. — John Hoffmann, Illinois History & Lincoln Collections Librarian

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