The Bohn Catalogue and James Vine
I want to lay the ghost of the “1843” Bohn catalogue mentioned in connection with Milton once and for all. During the forties and fifties, I owned a copy of an “1848” Bohn catalogue which, so far as I know, is still with my books in store on Martha’s Vineyard. The book was bound in red morocco and was about half as fat again, though roughly the same size as The Concise Oxford Dictionary. Sir Geoffrey Keynes was shown this and the error is clearly a printer’s typo in printing “3” instead of “8,” which unfortunately slipped by the otherwise perfectly proof-corrected copy—I, myself, can only hope that one day I will manage to produce a book which does not contain one misprint, however trivial. In the second, 1945, edition of Gilchrist’s Life of Blake for Everyman’s Library, I had an explanatory note on p. 382. (Dent’s must have printed a very small edition of this, as it is now almost impossible to find one. However, I hope that the new edition, again completely revised, which I am now making for the Clarendon Press, will make both the 1942 and 1945 Everyman editions unnecessary.) To put matters straight, owing to the general inaccessibility of the 1945 Everyman, I think I might as well quote the pertinent part of my note:
In The Writings of William Blake, vol. ii, p. 395 [Sir Geoffrey Keynes] records the discovery of a copy [of Milton] with fifty plates; this is now in America. When offered for sale by Henry G. Bohn in 1848 this copy was stated to have been executed “expressly for his principal patron, Mr. Vine of the Isle of Wight.” According to J. L. Roget, A History of the “Old Water-Colour” Society, 1891, James Vine, of Puckster, a Russian merchant, was a patron of the early watercolour painters, including Joshua Cristall and J. F. Lewis.It is unfortunate that the resemblance between the figures 3 and 8, and a printer’s carelessness, should have caused so much trouble. I hope that this information will help Janet Warner in her researches into James Vine, following the hint given by Roget about his relationship with the watercolorists of his time. If James Vine did, in fact, purchase Milton from Blake, it seems strange that the only other mention of him as a purchaser of Blake’s works should be in connection with the Job, and I wish success to those who are now hunting for his descendants.