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“Undisturbed above once in a Lustre”: Francis Douce, George Cumberland and William Blake at the Bodleian Library and Ashmolean Museum
When Francis Douce died on 5 April 1834, he bequeathed to the Bodleian Library almost all the printed books, coins, prints, and manuscripts he had collected.1↤ 1 For his history, Last Will and Testament, and the start and history of the development of his manuscript collection, see The Douce Legacy, An exhibition to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the bequest of Francis Douce (1757-1834) (Bodleian Library, Oxford, 1984) vii-xiii, 13, 15, 130-139, hereafter cited as DL with the page number. Sir Frederic Madden believed that in “leaving them to the Bodleian he consigns them to neglect and oblivion!” where they would “sleep on . . . undisturbed above once in a lustre by some prying individual of antiquarian celebrity.”2↤ 2 DL 15, 17, 18 for Madden’s Journal and a letter to Sir Thomas Phillipps. On the 150th anniversary of the bequest, an exhibition and catalogue celebrated the rich deposit, now divided between the Bodleian Library and the Ashmolean Museum. Through Douce’s antiquarian activities, he met and corresponded with a number of similarly-minded individuals; the letters were bequeathed to the British Museum and in 1930 given to the Bodleian Library.3↤ 3 DL 130. Of interest to this art historian was a pattern revealed in these sources of direct and indirect contacts between Douce and the life-long friends, George Cumberland and William Blake. Although I was well acquainted with Cumberland4↤ 4 In initial research, I relied on Clementina Black, ed., The Cumberland Letters, Being the Correspondence of Richard Dennison Cumberland and George Cumberland between the Years 1771 and 1784 (London: M. Secker, 1912); C. F. Bell, ed., Annals of Thomas Banks, Sculptor, Royal Academician (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1938), hereafter cited as Annals; Geoffrey Keynes, “Some Uncollected Authors XLIV. George Cumberland, 1754-1848,” The Book Collector 19 (1970): 32-65, hereafter cited as “Uncollected Authors”; Gerald E. Bentley, Jr., A Bibliography of George Cumberland (New York: Garland Publishing Co., 1975), hereafter cited as Bibliography; Gerald E. Bentley Jr., Blake Records (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969), hereafter cited as BR with the page number. Also consulted was the Cumberland correspondence, formerly in the British Museum where it was cited in the literature as British Museum Additional Manuscripts, B.M. Add. MSS. 36,495 - 36,497, June 1785-94, and now in the British Library, hereafter cited as B.L. Add. MSS with number. I wish to thank the British Library for their kind permission to quote from these manuscripts. and Blake, Douce’s connections with these men were only marginally known to me5↤ 5 In “Uncollected Authors” 35-36, Douce is mentioned briefly in connection with the Cumberland correspondence now in the British Library. In Bentley’s valuable bibliographies and records published in regard to Blake and Cumberland the name Douce is also mentioned. until I explored selected sections of the Bodleian catalogues, Douce’s collected letters, his notebooks, especially his “Collecta,” his portfolios and his lists and notes relating to proposed publications in the archives at the Ashmolean Museum.6↤ 6 Preliminary lists of the bequest were made by A. C. Madan, “Rough Catalog of Douce Prints and Summary Guide,” Vol. I, 1915-16; G. R. Scott, “A Catalogue of the Collections in Portfolio of Engravings . . .,” Vol. II, Feb-July 1916 [R.6.260]. A printed catalogue was made by [H. O. Coxe, with Henry Symonds, Arthur Brown], Catalogue of the Printed Books and Manuscripts bequeathed by Francis Douce Esq. to the Bodleian Library (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1840 [R.6.92]), hereafter cited as 1840 Catalogue. The correspondence, MSS. Douce d. 20-29, d. 32, d. 39, extending from 1788 to 1834 was consulted. Three small notebooks of purchases, the “Collecta,” MS. Douce e. 66, 1803-1810; e. 67, 1811-1823; e. 68, 1824-1834, the socalled “Diary of Antiquarian Purchases” were consulted, along with the typed transcript [R6.91], hereafter cited as TS. “Collecta.” I wish to thank the Bodleian Library for their permission to publish material from these sources. I owe thanks to the librarians in Duke Humphrey’s Library at the Bodleian Library for their attentive help, and especially to Clive Hurst, Head of Special Collections at the Bodleian Library, who confirmed and corrected where necessary some of my readings of the passages in the “Collecta” and in the typescript by comparing my citations with the original notebooks. The Ashmolean holdings are of prints and manuscripts formerly at the Bodleian Library which, judged to be primarily of artistic rather than literary interest, were transferred to the University Galleries in 1863; in 1915, another exchange occurred, so that more fine prints and drawings came to the Department of Prints and Drawings at the Ashmolean. In the Ashmolean Archives are notebooks, manuscripts and miscellaneous material on art, the Douce Bequest, The Bell Bookcase, 3 Boxes. I would like to thank the Ashmolean Museum for their permission to publish material from this source. My thanks also go to the Assistant Keepers in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the Ashmolean Museum, Dr. John Whiteley and Dr. Catherine Whistler and to the Print Room Supervisor,[e] Dr. Bernadette Nelson, for their patient and generous help.
This paper will show when and how these three individuals, first only loosely connected through location and developing common interests, finally came into closer contact by the 1800s. Though we know that in Douce’s collection at his death there were two books of illuminated printing by Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Copy B with the separate plate, “Our End is come,” and The Book of Thel Copy I, plus the Descriptive Catalogue Copy H and a third state of the Canterbury Pilgrims,7↤ 7 Douce B. 790, Arch. A. d. 22, The Book of Thel, ?1786-1803; Douce MM. 834, Arch. G. d. 53, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 1790-93, as in DL 89-90. For information on these holdings, see G. E. Bentley, Jr., Blake Books: Annotated Catalogues of William Blake’s Writings . . . (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977) 57, 118-128, 133-138, 285-298, hereafter cited as BB with page number. See BB 658, #553, for the Douce 1840 Catalogue 32, where only Thel, the Descriptive Catalogue and Hayley’s Ballads are listed, and to which the other books should be added. For the impression, 1A, “Our End is come,” bound in with Marriage, see Robert N. Essick, The Separate Plates of William Blake: A Catalogue (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1983) 30, hereafter cited as SP. For Canterbury Pilgrims, see Essick SP 63, impression 3D. a 1794 purchase which will be discussed below has not been previously noted, Blake’s For Children: the Gates of Paradise. Douce likewise collected some of Cumberland’s books, but more important is the revelation of the way Douce used Cumberland as one of his resources for information about the visual arts. Campbell Dodgson called Douce a bibliophile and collector of woodcuts of advanced taste.8↤ 8 Woodcuts of the Fifteenth Century in the Ashmolean Museum, with notes of similar prints at the Bodleian, ed. Campbell Dodgson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1929) 6. I suggest that Cumberland, in his appreciation of early woodcuts and the work of Giulio di Antonio Bonasone9↤ 9 The first catalogue of Bonasone (fl. 1531-74) was written by Cumberland (see note 30 below). Cumberland and his contemporaries spelled Bonasone with a terminal i which I retain for their writings. and in his advocacy of Blake, both personally and through his books, played a role in forming that taste. This essay also offers corroborating information to that recently published by Joseph Viscomi.10↤ 10 “The Myth of Commissioned Illuminated Books: George Romney, Isaac D’Israeli, and “ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY designs . . . of Blake’s,” Blake 23 (1989): 48-74. With his suggestion that Isaac D’Israeli, a close friend and correspondent of Douce, bought in 1834 part of George Romney’s collection of books in illuminated printing by Blake, Viscomi focuses interest on new ways of understanding how Blake’s books were produced and collected, illuminating the “tenuousness of our assumptions regarding patronage and the earliest modes by which illuminated books were produced and disseminated.”11↤ 11 Viscomi 65. In the Douce bequest, a hitherto unpublished network of relationships reveals more information about practices of selling and collecting books and prints during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Douce and Blake were both born in 1757, Cumberland three years earlier.12↤ 12 Unless otherwise noted, I draw the following material on Douce and Blake from the “Introduction” in DL and from BR. Socially, Douce’s family was more highly placed than that of the middleclass Cumberland or the artisan Blake. All three were younger sons, a position affecting their education and income: in the 1770s, Douce was admitted as an attorney of the King’s Bench, Cumberland worked at the Royal Exchange Assurance Office in London, finally earning £60 per annum,13↤ 13 Black (see note 4 above) 24, 85. and Blake served his apprenticeship with James Basire, the engraver for the Society of Antiquaries. Cumberland was admitted as a student at the Royal Academy in 1772, an expression of his true interests.14↤ 14 Bibliography 49, according to the MS. list of Students Admitted to the Royal Academy. In their third decade, the three men approached the world of books and prints from different directions. Douce was said to have made his first purchase of an antique coin at age 10.15↤ 15 DL 22, #34. Elected as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries by 1779, he tried to devote himself to literary and antiquarian pursuits as much as possible. Blake was said to have frequented print-shops and auction sales as a boy. He aspired to be a painter and poet: his first exhibition at the Royal Academy was reviewed by Cumberland. Upon the death of his father in 1784, he went into a brief partnership with James Parker as an engraver and printseller, after which he began to make his own books and reproductive engravings for others.
Cumberland had an omnivorous interest in learning and in writing; by 1780 he reported to his brother that he had met some “Geniuses and Men of Science.”16↤ 16 Black 267. By 1784, he knew and wrote on behalf of the sculptor, Thomas Banks, and through him met Richard Cosway, and, later, Thomas Johnes and Horne Tooke.17↤ 17 Annals 25, 56, 57; Black 307. For a full account of Johnes and his connections with Cumberland and Blake, see Morton D. Paley, “Thomas Johnes, ‘Ancient Guardian of Wales,’” Blake Newsletter 2 (1969): 65-67, hereafter cited as “Johnes.” In 1784, Cumberland came into a £300 inheritance, releasing him from his fourteen years of “servitude” begin page 10 | ↑ back to top at the Royal Exchange.18↤ 18 B.L. Add. MSS. 36, 494, fol. 225, as cited in “Uncollected Authors” 32. Devoting himself to experiments in printing and practical ways of self-publishing, he probably shared this knowledge with Blake. Traveling several times to the continent, Cumberland met Baron de Murr in Nuremberg and the librarian of the Grand Duke of Tuscany in Florence, experiences he later recorded in his book Thoughts on Outline of 1796.19↤ 19 Thoughts on Outline, Sculpture, and the System that guided the ancient artists in composing their figures and groupes: Accompanied with free remarks on the practice of the moderns, and liberal hints cordially intended for their advantage. To which are annexed twenty-four designs of classical subjects invented on the principles recommended in the essay by George Cumberland (London, 1796) 27, hereafter cited as Thoughts. Settling in Italy by 1788, away from the “cold weather and cold receptions” given to his unorthodox family in England,20↤ 20 B.L. Add. MSS. 36,496, fols. 16, 17, 31 July 1788, to his Mother. Cumberland went to Italy with the abused wife and children of his former landlord, making a monetary settlement arranged by John Flaxman with her former husband. B.L. Add. MSS. 36,495, fol. 372, 10 May 1788, from Mrs. E. Cumberland, “I am now your own for you have paid dearly for me.” he cultivated friends like John Irvine in that “school of real students in sculpture and painting” in Rome.21↤ 21 Thoughts 10; George Cumberland, Outlines from the Antients, exhibiting their principles of composition in figures and basso-rilievos taken chiefly from inedited monuments of Greek and Roman sculpture. With an introductory essay (London, 1829) iv. He established lifelong relationships with dealers and gem-cutters of Rome, collecting gems, books, prints and information.
Douce began in 1779 a correspondence with Richard Twiss, a wealthy older fellow antiquary, traveler and miscellaneous writer, from which we gain an insight into Douce’s early concern with collecting.22↤ 22 MS. Douce d. 39, Bushhill, Edmonton and other addresses, 1779-1806; DL 122, #179; Dictionary of National Bibliography. Twiss mentions in 1788 Mr. Edwards, Mr. Raspe, Mr. Marchand, bookseller, cataloguer and gem-cutter respectively,23↤ 23 MS. Douce d. 39, fol. 3, 18 October 1788; fol. 7, 26 November 1788; fol. 8, 7 December 1788. Douce also corresponds with Ritson, Steevens, and Edwards in this period, and later was in frequent contact with the Cosways. as men in whom Douce would take an interest. The Edwards brothers, James and John, opened their Pall Mall book-shop in 1784. Jean Hagstrum suggests that Blake probably knew the shop and that he may have seen there medieval prayer books, like the Bedford Book of Hours.24↤ 24 William Blake: Poet and Painter (Chicago: University of Chicago P, 1964) 31-33; David V. Erdman, Blake: Prophet Against Empire: A poet’s interpretation of the history of his own times. 3rd rev. ed. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1977) 130, 507. In 1788, Blake is said to have discovered how to print illuminated books using relief-etched plates.25↤ 25 For a full explanation of Blake’s process of relief-etching, see Robert N. Essick, William Blake, Printmaker (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1980) chapter 3. In the same year Douce makes one of his major purchases, an illuminated book of hours printed in Paris in 1505.26↤ 26 The purchase was made at the sale of Thomas Pearson in April of 1788. Douce CC 290(3), DL 135. No connection is claimed between Douce and the two others at this time, but all express from different perspectives their interest in similar fields.
The French Revolution causes Cumberland to return to England in 1790, settling first in Lyndhurst, near Southhampton, and then moving to Bishopsgate near Windsor Great Park by 1794.27↤ 27 B.L. Add. MSS. 36,496, fols. 184, 199; B.L. Add. MSS. 36,497, fols. 298, 299, 12 May 1794, Bishopsgate. Cumberland has the Edwards’ shop bind his books; Douce also patronizes the Edwards in 1790, buying printed books and two manuscripts from the catalogue.28↤ 28 B.L. Add. MSS. 36,497, fols. 59, 60, 19 October 1791; DL 136. Blake, working in London all this time, publishes in 1789 The Songs of Innocence and The Book of Thel; by 1790, his imagination fired by the Revolution, he finishes some plates of his Marriage of Heaven and Hell. By 1795 he makes eight more books, prints color-prints, and does much reproductive engraving. In the same year, Richard Edwards, the younger brother of the booksellers, asks Blake to make drawings and engravings for an edition of Young’s
Cumberland also publishes three books:29↤ 29 See “Uncollected Authors” 57-65, for the complete bibliography, to which information from Bibliography 3-36, and G. E. Bentley, Jr., “Cumberland Bibliography Addenda,” Blake 11 (1977): 128 should be added. he mentions on 17 January 1792 that he has laid his work before “one of our first rate London Collectors, a Dignitary of high literary character who unites to a great fortune great knowledge in all that is worth knowing or having” and has had it approved.30↤ 30 B.L. Add. MSS. 36,497, fols. 109, 110, 27 January 1792. The work, Some Anecdotes of the life of Julio Bonasoni, published by 17 February 1793,31↤ 31 Some Anecdotes of the life of Julio Bonasoni, a Bolognese artist, who followed the styles of the best schools in the sixteenth century. Accompanied by a catalogue of the engravings, with their measures, of the works of that tasteful composer. And remarks on the general character of his rare and exquisite performances. To which is prefixed, a plan for the improvement of the Arts in England (London, 1793), hereafter cited as Bonasoni; B.L. Add. MSS. 36,497, fols. 234, 235, 17 Feb. 1793, Richard Cumberland to George Cumberland; fol. 236, 27 Feb. 1793, Charles Long to Cumberland. is dedicated to Sir William Hamilton who may have been the “London Collector.” By 6 March over half these books were sold.32↤ 32 In a letter from Cumberland’s bookseller, W. Lucas, B.L. Add. MSS. 36,497, fol. 241, 11 March 1793. Douce purchases Cumberland’s Bonasoni by November 1793, as we know from a letter of thanks from Andrew Lumisden, who borrowed the book of Douce: “I return you, with many thanks, Cumberland’s anecdotes of the life of Bonasoni.”33↤ 33 MS. Douce d. 20, fol. 52, 30 November 1793. Cumberland visits Johnes, a patron of Banks and Stothard, between May and July 1794, and dedicates in 1796 a “really beautiful book,” An Attempt to Describe Hafod, describing the residence in Wales.34↤ 34 B.L. Add. MSS. 36,497, fols. 300, 301, ?29 May 1794, and 318, 28 July 1794, from Johnes to Cumberland. A. C. Coxhead, Thomas Stothard, R.A. (London: 1906) 12, notes that Stothard decorated the library of Hafod. See also Annals 120; “Johnes” 66-67; “Uncollected Authors” 58. Johnes uses the Edwards’ Pall Mall bookshop for more than antiquarian purchases: he sends Cumberland a halibut in care of Edwards.35↤ 35 B.L. Add. MSS. 36,497, fol. 318, 28 July 1794. At the same time, Cumberland and Blake are in very close touch as Blake engraves for Cumberland eight plates dated 1794 and 1795 for Thoughts on Outline.36↤ 36 Bibliography 15-17. Two preserved letters from Blake to Cumberland in 1795 and 1796 show the strength and familiarity of this relationship.37↤ 37 The Letters of William Blake with related Documents, 3rd ed., ed. Geoffrey Keynes (Oxford: Clarendon P, 1980) 5, 6; 6 December 1795 and 23 December 1796. Cumberland’s Thoughts on Outline was inventoried in Douce’s bequest but he did not purchase it until 1818.38↤ 38 1840 Catalogue(note 6 above), where it is listed as C. subt. 180; see Bibliography 17 for Cumberland’s withdrawal of the book from the market and his subsequent public sales of it between 1804 and 1815. See note 115 below for details.
By 6 August 1792, Twiss is in Paris buying for Douce.39↤ 39 MS. Douce d. 39, fol. 44. However, in a hastily scrawled letter of 25 August 1792, Twiss recounts his relief at his escape from Paris, with his head still affixed to his body and not on a pike: “The Lord have mercy on the two thousand English now in Paris!”40↤ 40 MS. Douce d. 39, fol. 45. Blake’s close associates, the Swiss artist, Henry Fuseli, and Joseph Johnson, the publisher and bookseller, plan to go to France as well in the same year, but are deterred by the events of the Terror. The name Fuseli is mentioned in connection with another facet of Douce’s interest in natural science: Twiss had begun sending to Douce unhatched pupae, describing in detail the butterflies which would emerge, including information on mounting the specimens. Among the books about which he tells Douce is one by Fuseli’s brother, “‘Fuesleis [sic] les insectes de la Suisse’, 4to, with 55 Col.d plates.”41↤ 41 MS. Douce d. 33, fol. 55, 9 April [?August] 1794. See Eudo Mason, The Mind of Henry Fuseli: Selections from his Writings with an Introductory Study(London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1951) 358, for a listing of Johan H. Fuseli’s review of his translation of a book by his brother, J. C. Fuseli, in the Analytical Review 21 (May 1795): 523. Mason mistakenly gives the title as Archives of Etymology, but it should be Fuessly’s Archives of Entomology, containing the History, or ascertaining the Characters and Classes of Insects not hitherto described, imperfectly known, or erroneously classified (London: Joseph Johnson, 1795) 523-24. The original designs were by Schellenberg. On 2 September 1794, Twiss mentions “the book of directions for insects from johnson” at St. Paul’s Churchyard, indicating that Douce already has it.42↤ 42 MS. Douce d. 39, fols. 68, 69, 2 September 1794.
Despite these indications that Douce had a marginal knowledge of Fuseli and Johnson, figures well known to Blake, the first mention of the name of Blake in connection with that of Douce occurs in a letter from Twiss to Douce on 13 September 1794.43↤ 43 MS. Douce d. 39, fol. 70r. In April of 1991, when I did my research at the Bodleian Library, Mr. J.A. Brister kindly offered help to me by showing me his corrected transcript of the “Collecta” and by mentioning to me his rememberance of a reference to Blake in the Douce correspondence. His sharing of this recollection led me to look for and find the Blake material mentioned in this paper. Mr. Brister’s death in June marks not only a personal deprivation for his colleagues but a loss for scholars in this area. Blake had printed For Children: Gates of Paradise, “Published by William Blake #13 Hercules Building Lambeth and J. Johnson St. Paul’s Churchyard” by 1793.44↤ 44 See BB 185-193, for details about Gates. In a letter to Douce whose first two paragraphs deal with exchanges of books and with entomology, Twiss mentions the book in the third paragraph. ↤ 45 MS. Douce d. 39, 13 September 1794, fol. 70v.
. . . a lady here has just shown me . . . two curious works of Blake No. 13 Hercules Build[ing] Lambeth. One “the gates of Paradise”, 16 etchings. 2 A mo the other “Songs of innocence” printed [crossed out] colours. I suppose the man to be mad, but he draws very well. have [you] anything by him?45Douce underlines this last question in red ink, a habit he had initiated in the 1780s to emphasize passages which begin page 11 | ↑ back to top interested him in letters he received. Douce must have commissioned Twiss to obtain the mentioned books, because in Twiss’s next letter, we find underlined in red ink Saturday, next, 27th.↤ 46 MS. Douce d. 39, 25 September 1794, fol. 72r.
On Saturday, next, 27th, any time after 12 o’clock, if you will be so good as to send to the Black Bull Holborn, you will find there ready, your Barbuth, Monffot, 3 [?impastein] Donovans insectst [?Jere] Taylors, Mandeville on Stews, & my Curtis insects & Blakes Paradise, and also a very curious Caterpillars, which will produce next May Linnaeus Phalena Pudebunda.46This hitherto unnoted and unmentioned copy of For Children: Gates of Paradise must not have been kept by Douce as it does not appear to be in the Bodleian Library now.47↤ 47 This book is not listed in the unreferenced 1840 Catalogue. See Gerald E. Bentley Jr., Blake Records Supplement: Being New Materials Relating to the Life of William Blake Discovered Since the Publication of Blake Records (1969) (Oxford: Clarendon P, 1988) 85, hereafter cited as BR Supp., where five copies, none in the Bodleian, are listed. Copy A, now in the Library of Congress, Lessing G. Rosenwald Collection, is the only known proof copy. While in the hands of W. E. Moss, six copies of Copy A were printed in perhaps 1942 of photographic reproductions; I infer one of these is the one mentioned as at the Bodleian Library (BB 185, 192, 193).
Cumberland makes contacts with other collectors, noting in the Anecdotes of Bonasoni that he knows the exquisite collection of the Rev. Mr. Cracherode. ↤ 48 Bonasoni 34, 66, referring to what is probably a copy of Anthonio Pollaiuolo, Battle of the Nudes, B.001.
I lately, saw in the portfolios of Mr. Cracherode, a print of a battle of naked men, ten or twelve figures, in folio, well preserved, with a label, on which was written, Antionio Pollojolo [sic] opus.48Clayton Mordaunt Cracherode, the reclusive London collector who bequeathes his collection to the British Museum in 1799,49↤ 49 Dictionary of National Biography. has interests similar to those of Douce. On 12 May 1795, Douce receives this invitation, “Mr. Cracherode presents his complements to Mr. Douce, and will be very happy to see him on Thursday next, at any time that may be convenient to him from eleven to two o’clock.”50↤ 50 MS. Douce d. 20, fol. 61, 12 May 1795, Queen’s Square. In a Douce manuscript of unknown date, the “Curiosities of Engraving or Anecdotes of Prints,” he mentions Cracherode’s copy of “Cupid and Psyche by A Venetian & Cumberland’s opinion of it.”51↤ 51 “The Curiosities of Engraving or Anecdotes of Prints,” 103, Box 2, Bell Bookcase, Douce Bequest 1834, Department of Prints and Drawings, Ashmolean Museum, hereafter cited as “Curiosities.” Thus, while there is no hard evidence that Douce knows Cumberland and Blake personally, their paths are certainly parallel and perhaps touch.
By 1793 D’Israeli and Douce were on friendly terms, D’Israeli writing to Douce from Exeter. D’Israeli, preparing a new addition of the second volume of Curiosities of Literature, asks Douce on 24 July for corrections and improvements.52↤ 52 MS. Douce d. 33, fols. 1, 2. On 2 September 1794, D’Israeli mentions Dyer’s catalogue which is “pretty bulky;” it has 300 pages and consists of 1186 works.53↤ 53 MS. Douce d. 33, fols. 3, 4. As of 14 September 1793, Douce apparently does not yet own the catalogue.54↤ 54 MS. Douce d. 33, fols. 5, 6. Again on 25 June 1796, D’Israeli reminds Douce that “Dyer is preparing a rich and voluminous Catalogue.”55↤ 55 MS. Douce d. 33, fols. 22, 23.
In Exeter by 1783, Gilbert Dyer advertised a catalogue of his library, an example of the beginning of circulating libraries; by 1811, Dyer was selling libraries as large as 2600 items for several thousand pounds.56↤ 56 For Dyer, 1743-1820, see Ian Maxted, “‘4 rotten cornbags and some old books’: The Impact of the Printed Word in Devon,” in Robin Myers and Michael Harris, eds. Sale and Distribution of Books, from 1700 (Oxford: Oxford Polytechnic Press, 1982) 66, 69n74. This method of sales from “Retailers of libraries by Marked Catalogues,” as well as from “Sellers of books by the Hammer” was prevalent at the time.57↤ 57 See Gwyn Walters, “Early Sale Catalogues: Problems and Perspectives,” in Myers and Harris 118 (note 56 above), quoting Richard Gough (1735-1809), “Father of British Antiquity.” Dyer’s importance here is in connection with a sale of a Blake book to Douce, as we shall see below.
Twiss gossips with Douce in a letter of 17 April 1797 that “Caleb Wms is married to the Rights of Woman for sure,” referring of course to William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft.58↤ 58 MS. Douce d. 39, fol. 96. He mentions that he expects at his home Thomas Holcroft and his daughter who plays the piano well.59↤ 59 MS. Douce d. 39, fol. 97v, 8 January 1796. With these references, Twiss displays his knowledge of the radical circle with which Blake was connected and, at the same time, indicates that Douce would be interested in learning about them.60↤ 60 Erdman Prophet 38-39, 154, 156, 159, describes this circle, mentioning in particular the friendship among James Barry, Thomas Holcroft and William Godwin. He notes the dinners in Johnson’s rooms where Fuseli, Godwin, Holcroft, and Blake were present, and he is certain Blake must have been acquainted with the Society for Constitutional Information, revived by Hollis and Tooke, who in turn is Cumberland’s friend. According to William St. Clair, The Godwins and the Shelleys: The Biography of a Family (London: Faber & Faber, 1989) 163, Godwin was introduced to Blake 26 May 1796. Douce’s politics and religion are summarized in the Bodleian catalogue: a Deist, he was “A Radical in politics, his watchwords were Liberty and Justice, and his hero was Napoleon.”61↤ 61 As cited in DL 8, 9.
In 1799, at the death of both his father and mother, Douce has £3000 settled on him, expanding his ability to purchase books, prints, manuscripts, and coins.62↤ 62 DL ix. The artist James Barry, a familiar of Godwin and Holcroft, is known to Douce by 1800: D’Israeli invites Douce to dine, proposing also to ask Barry and “Dr. Grant, a friend of Fuseli.”63↤ 63 For Barry, see DL 3-5, which cites MS. Douce d. 33, fol. 152. Douce records that in 1800 and 1801 he bought from Barry his letters to the “dilettanti society” and to the “society of arts”; he also lent books to Barry during the same period.64↤ 64 MS. Douce e. 69, fols. 4, 5; Douce e. 74, 1800. In April 1807, Douce bought drawings by Barry at his sale.65↤ 65 TS. “Collecta” 21, #5 (MS. Douce e. 66, fol. 20r). Blake, by 1800 in Felpham for three years, also indicated a renewed interest in Barry at this time, recording in outrage that “While Sr Joshua was rolling in Riches Barry was Poor & unemployd except by his own Energy.”66↤ 66 In Blake’s Annotations to The Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, ed. Edward Malone (London, 1798), as in David V. Erdman, ed., The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake, newly rev. ed. (New York: Doubleday, 1988) 636.
A closer connection between Cumberland and Douce emerges in 1798, when Cumberland prints The Captive of the Castle of Sennaar: An African Tale, a disguised satire critical of the Pitt administration, a book of which Mr. Erskine “deemed it dangerous, under Mr. Pitt’s maladministration, to publish.”67↤ 67 “Uncollected Authors” 60-61. See also Annals 126-27, for Banks’s introduction to Erskine in 1798. Thomas Erskine (1750-1823), Lord Chancellor of England, defended Thomas Paine in 1792 and John Horne Tooke in 1794. Keynes names Mr. Horne Tooke and Mr. Douce as Cumberland’s supporters, Tooke having made Cumberland read the Manuscript through the whole way in one sitting,68↤ 68 “Uncollected Authors” 60-61. and Douce buying the book.69↤ 69 1840 Catalogue where it is listed as C.476. Johnes, friend of Cumberland and patron of Stothard and Banks, sends Douce digitalis seeds before 1805.70↤ 70 MS. Douce d. 21, fol. 12. The names of Stothard, Westall and Flaxman, mutual acquaintances of Cumberland and Blake, appear frequently in Douce’s writings.
By the middle of 1801 Cumberland has to leave the London area in search of a less expensive place to live; moving to Sussex, he leaves his possessions in the care of his old friend, the sculptor Banks, with instructions to sell over 1120 prints and 195 books through Mr. Thomas Philipe.71↤ 71 Annals 140-42. Bell identified the print and book-seller Thomas Philipe in Frits Lugt, Les Marques de Collections de Dessins & D’estampes (Amsterdam, 1921) 457, #2451. For Philipe, see also Walters 121 (note 57 above). Thomas Dodd, whose name will appear in Douce’s book of purchases, is one of the purchasers of some of Cumberland’s collection at the sale which took place before 14 August 1802.72↤ 72 For the sale and the vicissitudes surrounding it, see Annals 151, 153, 171. Another sale by Cumberland is recorded by Frits Lugt, Repertoire des Catalogues des Ventes Publiques, 1660-1825 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1938) in 1803, #6616, 28 May 1803, London “A Gentleman Leaving Town to reside in the Country,” conducted by Phillips. In the matter of collecting prints, Dodd, who began issuing sale catalogues in 1806,73↤ 73 Walters 121. would seem to be important in a new kind of acquisition on the part of Douce. Douce begins in 1803 to keep the “Collecta” and Dodd’s name begins to show up with increasing frequency as a source for prints in Douce’s list of acquisitions.74↤ 74 TS. “Collecta” 5, December 1803; 8 May 1804, 10 October 1804 (MS. Douce e. 66, fol. 3r, 5r, 7v). For instance, Douce purchases from Dodd in March 1805 anonymous woodprints of a “man drawing a woman sleeping,” begin page 12 | ↑ back to top and “Women bathing”: the first seems related to an Albrecht Dürer woodcut and the second to a rare reproduction of a Dürer drawing.75↤ 75 TS. “Collecta” 12 (MS. Douce e. 66, 9v). This probably refers to the woodcut B. 149 (160), Draftsman Drawing a Nude in the Manual of Measurement, as in Walter E. Strauss, ed. Wood-Cuts and Wood Blocks of Albrecht Dürer (New York: Abaris, 1980) [SW 204]. The drawing, Women’s Bath, reproduced in The Complete Drawings of Albrecht Dürer, vol. I, ed. Walter E. Strauss (New York: Abaris, 1974) 142 [SD 1493/4], was copied. See Campbell Dodgson, “Rare Woodcuts in the Ashmolean Museum—I,” The Burlington Magazine 63 (1930): 21-24, who notes among Douce’s collection of Dürer and copies of Dürer in the Ashmolean the “rare Women’s Bath, reproducing in reverse Dürer’s drawing of 1496,” but does not mention the Draughtsman. Dürer’s name appears in June 1805, with the purchase of “Alb. Durer’s triumph of Maximilian compleat.”76↤ 76 TS. “Collecta” 13, June 1805 (MS. Douce e. 66, fol. 10v), perhaps referring to what is listed by Bartsch as The Triumph of Emperor Maximilian,[e] B. 139 (154), The Great Triumphal Car, 1522, [SW 188]. See Dodgson 21, for the “not very early (seventeenth century?) copy of the portraits of Maximilian I” in the Douce collection.
From 1807 to 1811, Douce serves as Keeper of the Department of Manuscripts in the British Museum. Unlike Cumberland, who wrote and published several books, Douce published, in addition to many submissions to the Society of Antiquaries, only one important book, his 1807 Illustrations of Shakspeare, with one section on the Morris Dance, and, in 1833, the study on The Dance of Death.77↤ 77 DL 65; Illustrations of Shakspeare, and of ancient manners: with dissertations on the clowns and fools of Shakspeare; on the collection of popular tales entitled Gesta Romanorum; and on the English morris dance, 2 vols. (London: Longman, 1807).
Cumberland’s sons, George Jr. and Sydney, move to London in 1808; their father recommends that they look up well-placed men, including in his list of names that of Mr. Douce.78↤ 78 BR 209. The young men, also liaisons to Blake, stay briefly at the home of Robert Cromek, who in 1807 employs Blake to draw the illustrations for Blair’s Grave.79↤ 79 BR 209. For Blair’s Grave and Blake’s involvement[e], see Robert N. Essick and Morton Paley, Robert Blair’s “The Grave”: A study with facsimile (London: Scolar Press, 1982). Douce’s present and future friends are interested in the book: Dawson Turner, whose correspondence with Douce begins in 1821, mentions the “1st edition of Blake’s Blair’s Grave” which he wants.80↤ 80 DL 5; BR Supp. 72. Among Dodd’s papers is Cromek’s Prospectus for The Grave, along with a brief biography of Blake.81↤ 81 A favorable comment on the Grave is quoted by Bentley from the microfilm of B.L. Add. MS. 33,402, fol. 153, the papers of Thomas Dodd (BR 171n4). The Prospectus from B.L. Add. MS. 33,397, fol. 144, is reproduced in BR Supp. 35, 36. Douce, however, appears not to have purchased The Grave.
Douce’s bequest to the Bodleian Library also includes the Descriptive Catalogue of 1809 accompanying Blake’s exhibition.82↤ 82 BB 134-136, Copy H. Bentley says that the catalogues were “issued in unlabelled greyish-Blue wrappers . . . to the ‘Fit audience . . . tho few’ who paid 2s.6d. to see Blake’s exhibition in 1809-10.” Different from the undistributed ones, two mistakes in those issued catalogues are corrected by Blake’s hand, leading Bentley to conjecture that its possessors must have seen the exhibit in person. There is, however, no mention in Douce’s “Collecta” of Blake in 1809-10: even though Douce owned a corrected catalogue, whether he was one of the few who saw the exhibition is unknown.
Cumberland’s name begins to appear as one of Douce’s sources of information in his small, but undated, note-book of queries.83↤ 83 MS. Douce e. 62, 22v; e. 63, 9v. The first letter from Cumberland in the Douce correspondence is from Culver Street, Bristol, where Cumberland finally settles in 1807. Between 1809 and 1834, Douce receives from Cumberland at least 52 letters, touching not only on artistic matters, but on radical political ones as well.84↤ 84 MS. Douce d. 21, 1; d. 22, 14; d. 23, 1; d. 24, 7; d. 25, 8; d. 26, 8; d. 27 11; d. 32, 3. See below for one collected letter in MS. Douce d. 25 actually from George Cumberland, Jr., not George Cumberland, Sr. On 17 April 1809, Cumberland sends to Douce a mold of an Egyptian Torso, the first of several gifts.85↤ 85 MS. Douce d. 21, fol. 221.
Cumberland writes often to Blake about publishing his new method of engraving without ever persuading him, and in 1810 Cumberland jots in his notebook: “communicated to Douce my Plans of engraving [omitted] publish them in Nicholson.”86↤ 86 For this correspondence see Gerald E. Bentley Jr. and Martin Nurmi, A Blake Bibliography (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota Press, 1964) 63, citing Cumberland’s Notebook for 1810, B.L. Add. MSS. 36,520A, fols. 14-16. William Nicholson’s Journal of Natural Philosophy, Chemistry and the Arts was the intended publication. Continuing to keep in touch with Douce, he gives Douce some prints of old little Masters.87↤ 87 TS. “Collecta” 45, February 1811, #3 (MS. Douce e. 67, fol. 1r). After selling his Bonasone prints to the British Museum,88↤ 88 Lugt, D’estampes 55 (note 71 above), says the sale was 1811. he replies to a Douce letter with information relative to Cennino Cennini and Baron de Murr, topics mentioned in the Thoughts on Outline: in the same letter he thanks Douce for his Morris Dance.89↤ 89 MS. Douce d. 22, fol. 45, 8 April 1811. The following year, Douce buys a Bonasone print of Elysium, perhaps spurred by Cumberland’s own interest in this artist.90↤ 90 TS. “Collecta” 49, June 1812, #7 (MS. Douce e. 67, 5v). This print is probably the one now in the Ashmolean: D.IT 10.Roy., B.xv.139.101, Love caught in the Elystan Fields and bound to a tree, 1563, Giulio Bonasone, inventore. Systematically, although with inaccurate orthography, Douce recorded in 1811 and 1812 purchases and exchanges of books dealing with the history of art and prints, including “Winckelman sur les arts. In exchange Priestley,” “De Murr hist des graveurs. Deboffe,” and “Bartch’s [sic] ‘Peintre graveur’ of Deboffe.”91↤ 91 TS. “Collecta” 47, December 1811, #5; 49, June 1812, #10; 50, July 1812, #12, (MS. Douce e. 67, fols. 3v, 6r, 6v). There is a rhythmic sequence between the letters and the note-books: Douce asks questions of Cumberland, Cumberland responds, Douce underlines significant passages in red ink and subsequently purchases the referenced object, recording it in the “Collecta.” The implication is that Douce gains information from Cumberland and follows up on his advice. In July 1812, Cumberland writes mentioning the loss of Horne Tooke, their mutual friend.92↤ 92 MS. Douce d. 22, fol. 100, 15 July 1812. Although Cumberland uses phrases suggesting person to person contact with Douce—“when we meet” or “we will talk over,” other letters indicate that he fails to see Douce on visits made to London.93↤ 93 MS. Douce d. 22, fol. 46r, 8 April 1811; MS. Douce d. 22, fol. 82r, 10 February 1812; fol. 142, 26 December 1813. In the next year, Cumberland calls on Blake, Cosway and Stothard.94↤ 94 “Uncollected Authors” 46.
In January 1813, Cumberland answers a question regarding an edition of Boccaccio in English of 1634,95↤ 95 MS. Douce d. 22, fol. 110r, 19 January 1813. by spring, Cumberland sends Douce his “Tales.”96↤ 96 MS. Douce d. 22, fols. 117, 118, 28 March 1813. In the “Collecta,” Douce enters: “Mr. Cumberland gave me two curious Engl. editions of Bocaccio and of the Q. of Navarre’s tales.”97↤ 97 TS. “Collecta” 53, March 1813, #8 (MS. Douce e. 67, fol. 9v). By April, Douce appears to have bought the Tales.98↤ 98 MS. Douce d. 22, fol. 119v, 20 April 1813. Cumberland mentions to Douce his plans for a publication and his trust in the print-seller Colnaghi.99↤ 99 MS. Douce d. 22, fols. 117, 118, 28 March 1813. Douce seems to have offered his help, as Cumberland says he will be guided entirely by Douce’s advice in regard to a publisher.100↤ 100 MS. Douce d. 22, fol. 120r, 12 April 1813. This letter ends: “God bless you & keep you from Despotism,” one of several allusions to their mutual aversion to the present political state. In Douce’s “Curiosities of Engraving,” Cumberland is mentioned twice in connection with prints by Bonasone: there are references “to Cumberland’s letter to me of the 10th April 1813” and to a page number in Cumberland’s Bonasoni.101↤ 101 “Curiosities” 23, 71 (note 51 above).
This relationship becomes more intense in 1814. Cumberland must have sent his manuscript to Douce, because he writes a letter apologizing for careless errors in it due to hasty writing; the errors have been corrected by Douce’s exacting scholarship.102↤ 102 MS. Douce d. 22, fol. 162, 8 May 1814. In the same letter, Cumberland begins to renew his descriptions of his collection of instructional prints, incorrectly called “the Tarocchi Cards of Mantegna.”103↤ 103 See Arthur M. Hind, Early Italian Engraving, Vol. I (London: Quaritch Ltd., 1938) 221-40 for “Tarocchi cards”; Cumberland’s set at the Royal Academy is the E Series. For illustrations of Cumberland’s prints, including the Prima Causa, see Jay Levenson, Konrad Oberhuber, and Jacquelyn L. Sheehan, Early Italian Engravings from the National Gallery of Art, Exh. Cat., Washington, 1973, 81-157, esp. #66. These were owned by other Englishmen of the period, including Douce; Cumberland’s is one of the earliest extant sets. Cumberland mentions specific ones, describing his “ancient plates” of the “Prima Causa” and “an old half naked man and a dog.”104↤ 104 MS. Douce d. 22, fol. 163v, 8 May 1814. Douce, interested in playing cards, soon sees begin page 13 | ↑ back to top Cumberland’s collection, copying into his “Curiosities of Engraving” ↤ 105 “Curiosities” 47-57.
Some Account of the 8° volume containing 50 prints by Boticello [sic] or Maldivi mentioned in p. 43, and now, June 1814, in the collection of Geo. Cumberland Esq. who lent me the book.105Douce goes on to describe the book in great detail.
The “Curiosities of Engraving” contains extensive notes and plans for a book treating the subject of prints, but Douce’s painstaking efforts never came to fruition, as his work was already superseded by the now standard reference book on prints, Bartsch’s Le Peintre-Graveur.106↤ 106 I thank Dr. John Whiteley for this observation. Adam von Bartsch, [1757-1821], Le Peintre-Graveur, 21 vols., Vienna: 1803-1821; see now The Illustrated Bartsch, ed. Walter L. Strauss (New York: Abaris Books, 1980). Revelatory of Douce’s careful method of research and annotation are notes on the back of a duplicate of a Bonasone print still in the Bodleian Portfolio, The Triumph of Love.107↤ 107 Douce Portfolio, W.2.3c.70, The Triumph of Love. A better version of the same print, also from Douce’s collection, now is in the Ashmolean Museum, D.IT 10.Roy., B.xv.141.106, The Triumph of Love, 1545, “Bonahso.” The Bodleian print bears the following notations on its verso: “Bartsch XV.141, No. 106, See Cumberland p. 75 No 200 The Elysium of Lovers, Felsina Pittrice di Malvasia, 1st vol, p. 75.”
A poignant and uncharacteristic self-pity breaks from Cumberland in a letter in December 1814. The previous May, Cumberland had written: “If you get the Bartsch book I would like to see it when I get to town.”108↤ 108 MS. Douce d. 22, fol. 161, 1 May 1814. Finally, in December, evidently having tried to obtain the book of Colnaghi, he asks for the loan of Douce’s Bartsch since he has no answer from the bookdealer. ↤ 109 MS. Douce d. 22, fol. 180v, 18 December 1814.
[Y]ou have a thousand choice things to amuse you with, and live in the midst of everything you want, while I am chained to a Rock among Savages.109By Christmas, the Bristol exile thanks Douce for finding the 4 volumes of the Italian Schools by Bartsch, saying that George Junior will pay him.110↤ 110 MS. Douce d. 22, fol. 183r, 25 December 1814. Cumberland received his Bartsch in January and in a point by point refutation justifies in a letter to Douce his own 1793 Bonasoni, denying this egotistical German’s account of the beginning of printing.111↤ 111 MS. Douce d. 22, fols. 186, 187, 5 January 1815.
Cumberland also advises Douce, this time about Giambattista della Porta. ↤ 112 MS. Douce d. 22, fol. 183v, 25 December 1814, referring to the Italian physiognomist who wrote De humana physiognomonia in 1586.
[I] think if you ever do find him he will be a fragment—for no other reason will people part with such singular things—& these sort of books of Physiognomy I have generally found mutilated.”112In September 1815, Douce finds and buys “Porta’s physognomia”113↤ 113 TS. “Collecta” 63, #4 (MS. Douce e. 67, fol. 20v). and, in April 1816, buys from Smith “Bonasoni’s Gods.”114↤ 114 TS. “Collecta” 66, #17 (MS. Douce e. 67, fol. 24r). The last entry in December 1818 includes “Cumberl. outlines” indicating that Douce finally purchased Cumberland’s Thoughts on Outline.115↤ 115 TS. “Collecta” 76, #14 (MS. Douce e. 67, fol. 32v). My thanks to Mr. Hurst for confirming this reading in the original MS. fol. 32v. Cumberland’s Outlines of the Ancients (see note 21 above) was not published until 1829 so the entry must refer to his earlier book, Thoughts on Outline.
Although one surviving letter indicates continuing contact, correspondence between Cumberland and Douce falls off somewhat between 1815 and 1821, as Cumberland readies his book for publication.116↤ 116 MS. Douce d. 23, fol. 82, 6 May 1818. He says “I dread the [illeg.] of printing” and notes that “[t]ruth speaking is a dangerous habit here.” Not until 1827 will the book, An Essay on the utility of collecting the best works of the ancient engravers of the Italian School, be published.117↤ 117 See “Uncollected Authors” 49-50, for details of the negotiations with Robert Triphook as publisher and that it was finally sold in 1827 by three other booksellers, including Colnaghi. An Essay on the utility of collecting the best works of the ancient engravers of the Italian School, accompanied by A Critical Catalogue, with interesting anecdotes of the engravers, of a chronological series of rare and valuable prints, from the earliest practice of the art in Italy to the year 1549, now deposited in the British Museum and Royal Academy (London, 1827).
Financial necessity leads Cumberland to dispose of his other Italian engravings, including the Tarocchi Cards, to the Royal Academy.118↤ 118 Annals 58. In July 1820, Douce notes that “Smith gave me cast of Cumberland’s (now his) hermaphrodite.”119↤ 119 TS. “Collecta” 82, #16 (MS. Douce e. 67, 38r). Yet, in the midst of his own need, one of Cumberland’s more endearing but aggravating traits, his ceaseless intercession on behalf of his friends and relatives, is revealed.120↤ 120 Instances showing this abound in his correspondence. Francis Greenacre, The Bristol School of Artists: Francis Danby and Painting in Bristol, 1810-1840, Exh. Cat., City Art Gallery, Bristol, 4 September-10 November 1973, no. 98-99, 250, alludes to this trait, noting that Sir Thomas Lawrence and Stothard were the main contacts through whom Cumberland, after moving to Bristol, helped almost every English artist. In an undated letter,121↤ 121 MS. Douce d. 29, n.d., fol. 190r, addressed to Kensington Square, where Douce lived from 1821 to 1825, proposed here as written probably shortly after 1821. he asks Douce to recommend his son’s Spanish Lives, Douce scratches in the margin, “Nothing but self, self &c from all my worthy friends.” George Jr. had returned to London from Lisbon in 1815; Views in Spain and Portugal was published by 1820.122↤ 122 See “Uncollected Authors” 48.
Dawson Turner writes to Docue in the spring of 1821.123↤ 123 MS. Douce d. 23, fol. 240, 3 April 1821. Turner had earlier directly contacted Blake; on 9 June 1818, Blake sent him a price list for some illuminated books.124↤ 124 BB 118-120. D’Israeli too is interested in Blake: on 7 January 1819, he writes to Dyer that “Mr. D’Israeli wants as soon as possible a copy of Blake’s Young.”125↤ 125 BR Supp. 73, quoted from a photocopy of the MS in Pierpont Morgan Library. T. F. Dibdin, a Douce correspondent,126↤ 126 See MS. Douce d. 32, from 1808 to after 1832 for these letters. whose Reminiscences provide recollections of Douce, recalled that Blake visited him in the summer of 1816 to talk about the minor poems of Milton; he subsequently purchases from Blake a copy of the Songs of Innocence.127↤ 127 BR 242-243; Viscomi, citing Reminiscences of a Literary Life (London, 1836) 2: 787. Dibdin too was aware of Dyer’s library, commenting in 1810 on a catalogue, saying that it contains twenty thousand volumes.128↤ 128 Maxted 66n74 (see note 56 above). Blake had become famous enough to be included in A Biographical Dictionary of the Living Authors of Great Britain and Ireland.129↤ 129 BR 244. Despite this fame and evidence of direct and indirect contacts between Blake and Douce’s friends, Douce and Blake do not seem to have met after the possible contact at Blake’s exhibit.
Blake too had to sell his collection of prints about the same time, Colnaghi handling the sale.130↤ 130 BR 276, 395. Records about the sale have been lost. In April 1821 Douce records the purchase of “Blake’s marr of heaven & hell Dyer,”131↤ 131 TS. “Collecta” 86, #4 (MS. Douce e. 67, fol. 40v); BB 289. referring to Copy B of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell now at the Bodleian Library.132↤ 132 See note 7 above. That by “Dyer” is meant Gilbert Dyer, the bookseller to Dibdin and D’Israeli, seems certain.133↤ 133 See Viscomi 56n29 for “Bentley has not identified Dyer, other than to suggest “(George?) Dyer,” by which he probably means the poet (1755-1841) (BB 289). Perhaps “Dyer” was the “honest, worthy, painstaking bookseller, the brother of the late Rev. Mr. Dwyer,” whom Dibdin mentions in Reminiscences (1: 194). Essick suggests Charles George Dyer, a London printseller, noting that Bentley withdraws his tentative earlier suggestion that the seller may have been the author George Dyer (SP 30). Bentley notes there is no London bookseller by the name of Dyer and speculates correctly that D’Israeli’s Dyer is Douce’s Dyer (BR Supp. 73n3).
Correspondence from “G. Dyer” to Douce begins in 1805, with a note in which Dyer thanks Douce for a favorable account of his book’s principles.134↤ 134 MS. Douce d. 21, 15 December 1805, fol. 60. From Dyer’s description of how he had to trace the names of our Rivers, Hills, Vallies and Towns in an etymological search, the book must be A restoration of the ancient modes of bestowing names on the rivers, hills, vallies, plains, and settlements of Britain; recorded by no ancient, nor explored by any modern author . . ., Exeter, printed for G. Dyer, 1805.135↤ 135 As determined from the National Union Catalog. Dyer also encloses “the set of Adam,” indicating that Douce was now making purchases of him. In September 1808, Douce had dealings with Dyer; his name continues to appear yearly in Douce’s note-book of purchases.136↤ 136 TS. “Collecta” 28, Sept. 1808, between #9 and #10 (MS. Douce e. 66, fol. 28v). Thereafter, between 1808 and 1821, Dyer’s name appears 22 times at least one a year. Dyer, like other Exeter booksellers, probably had agents in London so that he could conveniently make purchases these;137↤ 137 Maxted 66. dealing with him would have been easy. It is not far-fetched to suppose that Dyer may have purchased Blake books at the Colnaghi sale, begin page 14 | ↑ back to top given that he knew that collectors like Douce, D’Israeli and Dibdin were interested in the artist. This adds to our information regarding the wide-ranging practices of bookselling and collecting proposed by Viscomi.
Seven letters and a gift come from Cumberland in 1824, as Douce enters in the “Collecta,” “Mr. Cumberland gave me 3 antique pastes.”138↤ 138 TS. “Collecta” 95, January 1824 (MS. Douce e. 68, fol. 1v). The name of the gem-maker Tassie, whom Cumberland first championed in Thoughts on Outline, occurs in Douce’s list of acquisitions in 1805. Cumberland considered Tassie a preeminent gem-maker of ancient and modern copies: Tassie had made molds and paste reproductions of some of Cumberland’s and Cracherode’s collection.139↤ 139 Thoughts 25, 29. At the Scottish National Portrait Gallery there is a unique copy of a “Manuscript Catalogue” by Tassie called “Tassie Gems MS. Supplement to Raspe.” Filled with 2889 entries of gems, it lists multiple examples of reproductions by Tassie of gems taken from Cumberland’s collection and at least one from Cracherode’s, #550. My thanks to Miss Helen Watson who kindly assisted me. In 1824, Cumberland, responding to a question from Douce about Tassie’s processes, tells Douce to make inquiries of Tassie as to how he makes his gems: “He will show you as he showed me.” Cumberland ends with “God send you a speedy Settlement.”140↤ 140 MS. Douce d. 24, fols. 210, 211, 20 January 1824. This last wish may indicate the reason for Cumberland’s renewed interest in Douce. Douce was involved at the time in negotiations related to settling the estate of Nollekens from which Douce eventually inherited enough money to enable him to collect on a greater scale than before.
The next month, Cumberland, visiting his sick brother, Richard, at Driffield, writes a long letter to Douce, referring to the disposition of his print collection, which he says are “out to good pasture in the Academy and the Museum.”141↤ 141 MS. Douce d. 24, fol. 315, 3 December 1824. Noting that he received from Irvine in Rome a copy of the book of Cennino Cennini’s Treatise on Painting published at Rome 1821 by G. Tambroni, he tells Douce that the first notice about it appeared in his Thoughts on Outline.142↤ 142 For Cennino, see Joan K. Stemmler, “Cennino, Cumberland, Blake and Early Painting Techniques,” Blake 17 (1984): 145-48. Douce also owns Cennino’s Treatise,143↤ 143 See 1840 Catalogue, C. 548, Cennini, Trattato, Giuseppi Tambroni, 8°, Roma, 1821. and the subject of priority of knowledge becomes a disputed topic, as Cumberland shows by a querulous comment. ↤ 144 MS. Douce d. 25, fol. 41v, 9 March 1825.
You say you had Cennino di Cennini before I wrote about him— that is news, as I believe and know he was never printed till very lately—perhaps you have a copy of the Manuscript which De Murr of Augusburg [sic], the Jesuit, told me 40 yrs ago he never saw and gave me the clue to find it? . . .144The next year, Cumberland tries unsuccessfully to see Douce three times.
In 1824 or 1825, Douce purchases Blake’s print of Canterbury Pilgrims from Hurst and Robinson for £3/3/2.145↤ 145 It is listed twice in TS. “Collecta” 97, November 1824, (Douce MS. e. 68, fol. 2v), “Blake’s print of Canterbury pilgrimage. Hurst,” and TS. “Collecta” 98, March 1825, #6 (Douce MS. e. 68, fol. 3v), “Blake’s Canterbury Pilgr. Hurst & Robins.” This is probably a double entry, as there is but one state in the Ashmolean Museum. Douce had noted in TS. “Collecta” 91, April 1822 (MS. Douce e. 67, fol. 45r) that he now bought of Hurst & Robinson, formerly Woodburne. The price is in pencil on the verso. It is a third state, made between 1810 and 1820, now deposited in the Ashmolean Museum.146↤ 146 See SP 60-89, especially 63 for Canterbury Pilgrims, Ashmolean impression numbered 3D. A steady correspondence about Cumberland’s Runic ring which he sent to Douce results in the publication in Archaeologia in 1827 by Douce of a “Dissertation on the Runic Jasper Ring belonging to George Cumberland, Esq. of Bristol.”147↤ 147 MS. Douce d. 29, n.d., fol. 191. This letter should be given a t.a.q. of 20 January 1824 because it logically precedes MS. Douce d. 24, fol. 210, 20 January 1824 in its subject. See also Bibliography 5 (Archeologia 21 : 119-27); “Uncollected Authors” 36, for the information that Stothard broke the ring.
Blake’s name appears in a letter to Douce not sent by George Cumberland, but by his son, George Cumberland Jr. Taking on his father’s role as advocate, the younger Cumberland writes on 14 June 1826: ↤ 148 MS. Douce d. 25, fol. 194, Glo’ster Cottage, Old Brompton.
If you call upon Mr Blake The Artist you will see a very fine work of his just published but not in the Shops. I mention it for that reason if you can recommend it to notice you will oblige.Of interest is the fact that George Junior assumes a knowledge by Douce of the address of Blake which may suggest that the two had met face to face. The elder Cumberland follows up on this subject in January 1827. Referring to “a great original,” he continues: ↤ 149 MS. Douce d. 26, fols. 8r, 21 January 1827.
Yours very truly
G. Cumberland Jr148
. . . and so is Blake who has lately published a strange and clever book of Job in 22 plates all line engravings as ever I saw—but I think it a bad education not to say I [illeg.] to represent as he has done, the Creator as an old man with a long beard whether by Rafael or him.149
Blake writes a grateful letter to Cumberland on 12 April 1827, in which he mentions the tiny copper card plate Cumberland had given him to ornament.150↤ 150 “Uncollected Authors” 51. After Blake’s death on 12 August 1827, Cumberland writes to his widow Catherine that “latterly I have not only been unable to continue Collecting but have even sold all I had Collected—yet still preserving all I possessed of his graver.”151↤ 151 “Uncollected Authors” 53; Keynes 172, 25 November 1827 (see note 37 above). Douce, in contrast, seems not to have valued the later work of Cumberland or Blake, since he purchases neither Cumberland’s Essay nor Blake’s Job. In 1827, Douce notes that “R. Stothard gave me a cast of a compartment of a sculptured chest in G. Cumberland’s possn (or fragments of one),” an indication of the value to Douce of Cumberland’s scattered former possessions.152↤ 152 TS. “Collecta” 103, January 1827, #6 (MS. Douce e. 68, fol. 7r). Continuing to purchase books and prints brought to his attention by Cumberland, he acquires by 1829 DeMurr’s own copy of “Nuremb. library” and at the sale of the collection of Sir Thomas Lawrence buys more prints by Bonasone.153↤ 153 TS. “Collecta” 110, June 1829, #4; 113, May 1830, #3 (MS. Douce e. 68, fol. 13v).
At Douce’s death in 1834, Cumberland, along with D’Israeli, Turner and others, is remembered in Douce’s will with a ring, valued at five guineas.154↤ 154 DL 13, 14. The printed portraits of Cowper, Cumberland, Holcroft, Tooke, Barry, Bewick, Cosway, Fuseli and Richard Brothers, are among the 634 which Douce assembled during his lifetime.155↤ 155 As listed in Scott, Vol. II, fols. 76-96 ff. (note 6 above) and found in Portfolios, PO. 135, New Bodleian, Room 132, numbered 43, 44, 87, 176, 204, 211, 230, 246, 479. However, there is no representation among either the portraits of painters and engravers or those of remarkable characters, of the one whose work is now the most famous, William Blake.
Thomas Dodd, the now retired printseller and auctioneer, was given the task of writing the catalogue of Douce’s prints.156↤ 156 DL 17. Found inadequate and never printed, Dodd’s handwritten Catalogue of the Prints & Drawings, c. 1836-40, the “Fair Copy” of the catalogue with notes and indexes by Douce, is now in the Douce Room at the Ashmolean Museum as Mr. John Whiteley kindly showed me. In 1835, commenting on the pages in Thoughts on Outline where Cumberland praised Blake for his “facsimiles of my originals,” Dodd said “Mr Cumberland’s inventions in outline as far as his hand hath been concerned in them is not in unison with his ideas—. . . However, some few of the accompanying pieces are etch’d by W. Blake, which are decidedly more correct than those produced by the author.”157↤ 157 Cited in BR 56 and BR Supp. 12, from British Library, Add. MS. 33,398, fol. 257. Of Cumberland’s Bonasone catalogue, it was the opinion of Dodd that the author possessed only the “slightest knowledge of engravings by early italian artists” and that his catalogue of old prints was “vague, erroneous and ridiculous.”158↤ 158 Bibliography 12.
In the same year, the remainder of Cumberland’s collection was sold by auction in London at Christie & Manson: begin page 15 | ↑ back to top among the books listed were DeMurr’s Bibliotheque de Peinture, Malvasia’s Felsina Pittrice, Tambroni’s Trattato, Bartsch’s Italian School, and Vasari’s Vite di Pittori, books from which he liberally dispensed information to his fellow antiquarians and friends.159↤ 159 A Catalogue of the Collection of Books on Art, Antique Bronzes, Terra Cottas, and Coins, the property of George Cumberland, Esq., Christie & Manson, St. James’s Square, London, 1835. Sadly, he was forced to sell too the productions of his old friend, William Blake. Living frugally in Bristol, Cumberland died at age 94, still writing letters exploring his new interests and supporting friends to the end.160↤ 160 For the Bristol years, see Greenacre (note 120 above).
The Bodleian Library’s body of archival material bequeathed by Douce deserves more than the quinquennial wakening predicted for it by Sir Frederic Madden when he said it would be disturbed but once in a lustre. Lustre reverberates with lustrous, a term we might apply to Douce’s bequest, for its reflected light shines into darker corners of other histories, illuminating them. My sympathies for Cumberland, a good-hearted and expansive gentleman, and my particular interest in Blake, led me to concentrate on them. Thus additional information about Blake’s Gates of Paradise was uncovered, the way in which Douce drew upon Cumberland’s knowledge was brought to light, and three new letters in which Blake is mentioned were found. Other of Douce’s letters from his wide circle of friends which I “disturbed” are equally fascinating and informative. Douce’s careful annotations, scrupulous scholarship, meticulous cataloguing, and most of all, concern for what we today call cultural history,161↤ 161 DL 64. make his legacy to us particularly useful in discovering more about interactions among persons of learning in the eighteenth century.