Wednesday, 29 April 2020
The Geneva Bible, printed by Robert Barker (London, 1611) Notes: 1610 on the title page, but in fact published in the year of first release of the King James Version, this is the English translation that went on being read by many in the realm, including Shakespeare and Donne. The handwritten note reminds us that this is the Breeches Bible (“They sewed figge leaves together, and made themselves breeches.” Genesis 3:7), which is not an especially significant thing about this version, being the main Protestant Bible in English and highly influential. No one makes a fuss about ‘aprons’, the KJV word for the Hebrew. French Huguenot Bible (Basel, 1772) Notes: This revision by David Martin of Utrecht (1639-1721) of the Geneva Bible, further revised by Pierre Roques of Basel (1685-1748), comes 250 years after the outbreak of the Reformation. How much is Geneva, how much Martin, or Roques? If your mantra is sola scriptura, this is no idle question. Nothing has changed when an argument of life and death hangs on a word in translation. French translation seems to have gone differently to English. Both Protestant and Catholic translations in France vied for attention, unlike England where the KJV assumed general authority and acceptance for over four centuries. While Geneva and Authorised did vie for attention initially, it was not until the 20th century that the Anglicans and others produced more Martins and Roques than was thought possible, or even permissible. This copy has a detached cover and title page, so it was presumably someone’s favourite reading. ‘Who translated the Bible? or, biblical memoranda concerning the Holy Scriptures, showing the part taken by the Catholic Church in their translation and dissemination’, by Edward Swarbreck Hall (Hobart Town, 1875) Notes: At 300 pages, it’s hard to know how the entry for Hall in the ‘Australian Dictionary of Biography’ could call this a pamphlet. Martin and Roques don’t appear in Hall’s book, which is a staunch defence of Catholic history and tradition against all-comers. His work is one of remarkable if testy erudition, but it was for him a sideline interest. He was a general practitioner and surgeon washed up in Tasmania, where he continued to fight good fights on all fronts, including reform of the convict female factories, installation of what seems to be about the first telephone in Hobart, and success in the implementation of compulsory vaccination. No work, not even tinkering, was required on the downloaded record, which is Ferguson No. 10174b.
Sunday, 26 April 2020
Request and Collect, an Invitation
WEDNESDAY IS COLLECT DAY.
We at the Carmelite Library are sensitive to the needs of our borrowers at this time. The Library is closed to the public. However, in line with library practice elsewhere in the world, the Library is offering ‘request and collect’ circulation for the period of the pandemic.
This is an invitation to ‘request and collect’ books from the Carmelite Library. Simply find the books you wish to borrow on the Library’s online catalogue, list author, title, and call number, then send your request via email to the Librarian at firstname.lastname@example.org Limit: ten books.
Books for contactless pickup are placed every Wednesday on a table in the side entrance foyer of the Carmelite Hall (pictured) where you can come and collect them. Books will have been wiped and parcelled up. Each parcel will be clearly marked with the borrower’s name. As usual, loans may be extended.
Books are returned in the Returns Box positioned in the same space. All returns are handled with sanitised gloves and quarantined at least 72 hours.
I am here to receive requests from today. Please do not hesitate to send me your list.
The Carmelite Library
The funeral orations of the great homilist Bishop Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (1627-1704), with critical essays (Paris, 1858) Notes: A solid, gilt-edged, marbled copy presented to a student of Young Ladies’ College, Hardwicke House, Adelaide in 1877, this book would have been added to the Library less for its outstanding neoclassical French than its value as a model for preaching. If your job is regularly to give sermons at funerals, then you will learn from those who prioritise ethical and personal tributes over a florid and self-centred style. Bossuet, Fléchier, and Mascaron are for you. Even Voltaire, no friend of clergy, extolled Bossuet as one of France’s greatest orators. I had expected it easy to locate a digital record for this work, but in the end described the book in full myself. Funeral oration on Abbot Emiliano Travaglini given by Angiolgiovanni da S. Antonio (Ferrara, 1733) Notes: Newspaper obituaries today attempt to compress essential parts of a person’s story into one page. In another time, documents like this provided families and historians with plenty to go on with, in this case 32 pages (four signatures) packed with facts and insights into the personality of the deceased. Emiliano was of the Ferrarese noble family Travaglini, a man who dedicated himself to the religious life. A panegyric on Saint Andrea Corsini given in the Carmine in Florence (Firenze, 1874) Notes: Another noble who joined orders was a member of the Corsini family. His wiki reports, “[Corsini] was wild in his youth; extravagance and vice were normal to him and it pained his devout mother. His parents severely rebuked him for his behaviour, and he resolved to amend his ways and try to live up to their expectations. He went to the Carmelite monastery at the Santa Maria del Carmine to consider what course to take and despite the entreaties of his dissolute friends, decided to become a friar.” Presumably some of this has found its way into the panegyric delivered in the same church over five hundred years later. The item itself is exceedingly rare, the Library holding one of the few copies still in existence.
Wednesday, 22 April 2020
hasten to add, by the way, that all books arriving or re-arriving through the doors of the Library go directly into 72-hour quarantine. This includes book returns, which are handled with sanitised gloves and kept in quarantine until the following week. This is becoming standard practice in all libraries at present. The Archbishop’s books will be unpacked and inspected sometime in May. I
Sunday, 19 April 2020
We all have our own idea of when the world began but Bishop James Ussher calculated the date: the 22nd of October 4004 BC. Most people nowadays find this date unrealistic. Ussher (1581-1656) was a more courageous forerunner of the science represented in the two books pictured here: chronology. Courageous in that he forthrightly published his findings, based on scrupulous attention to all time frames stated in the Bible. His was part of the emerging Enlightenment’s fixation on evidence, that would choose to read the Seven Days in Genesis as a literal scientific statement rather than a beautiful sequenced Hebrew hymn in praise of Creation. One of these number crunchers was a Carmelite from Navarre named Miguel de Jesus Maria y Hualde, a polymath whose works are a snapshot of religion and science happily adventuring together after quixotic proofs. Both books were published in Madrid in 1765, the first a complex analysis of dating of biblical events using different calendars, the other a comprehensive arithmetical disquisition with the backing of scholarship on the timing in the life of Jesus Christ. Page 48 arrives at the date of his Passion and Death: the 3rd of April 33 CE. This kind of thorough evidence-based research was sure to dispel the increasingly popularised image of the Bible as “crude and bloody, with the nobler sentiments of some of the New Testament seen as overlaid with inconsistency and falsehood,” to quote John Barton in his highly recommended ‘A History of the Bible’ (London, 2019). The cataloguing of such treasures is a delight. Father Miguel goes in for long, comprehensive titles and lots of graphs and folding maps. Thus far I have not been able to locate his dates, flourished in the late 18th century to judge from his holdings in the Biblioteca Nacional de España. Nor is there anything much about him in English online, only copious Amazon versions from suspect reprint outfits.
A folding chronology of the Julian calendar and consequent details up to
and including its head-on collision with 1583, in very exact detail.
Thursday, 16 April 2020
“Anything written on rare-book cataloguing is bound to be controversial,” is the opening line of ‘How to catalog a rare book’ (Chicago, 1973), written by Paul Shaner Dunkin. Anyone who finds this other than amusing has not yet entered the Rare Books Cataloguing Room of a Library. A commentary on the epistles of Saint Paul by the Jesuit Geminiano Mislei (1803-1867) (Roma, 1859). Notes: Suspicions are first raised when Mislei’s name does not materialise on the Library of Congress Name Authorities online. Did LC mislay Mislei, we think. Unlikely. Trove lists two titles by this author, only one copy each in Sydney libraries. The Jesuit library in Melbourne has only one work by him, in e-book, and a German translation at that, of the original Italian. Gradually what looked like a standard print-run job, quite nicely done, turns into a very rare item indeed. It is the only copy in Australia, possibly one of the few anywhere. Unique means rare. ‘Occasional addresses delivered in New South Wales’ by Archbishop Vaughan (Sydney, 1881) Notes: It is No. 17683 in Ferguson, library-speak for the seven volume ‘The Bibliography of Australia’ (1941-1969) compiled by John Alexander Ferguson, yet only eight copies of Vaughan’s talks on education are held in Australian libraries. This is the archbishop’s hand-signed presentation copy to the Carmelite Prior Joseph Butler, making it a rare book at the very moment it was presented in September 1882. As Dunkin writes: “It is not the cataloguer’s job to decide if a book is rare; that has been decided before the book reaches his desk. For his purposes any book which has value primarily as a physical object is a rare book.” The dialogues of Amador Arrais, bishop of Portalegre (1530-1600). (Coimbra, 1604) Notes: Arrais, or Arraiz, was chaplain to King Sebastian of Portugal and this superb production contains his collected Dialogos, published soon after his death, then over two centuries later beautifully bound by Parceria A.M. Pereira Lda. Simply by cataloguing Arrais’ book I have fulfilled an essential service. As Dunkin puts it: “Books can be shared adequately only if they are catalogued adequately. The library which sticks rare books into a showcase and refuses to put useful entries for them into both its own catalog and a union catalog is no better than the wealthy collector who hides his books away in a vault where he and a few friends can gloat over them.”
Wednesday, 15 April 2020
Here are three examples. The Canon of the Mass, otherwise known as the Anaphora, or Eucharistic Prayer that follows Sanctus in the Roman Rite. (Rome, 1807) Notes: Bound in crimson morocco, rubricated throughout, with the service set out in large print two columns per page, this altar book of the Mass is a breeze. At 34 centimetres in height, the book qualifies as a folio (30 cm.), to be shelved accordingly in the Rare Books Room. Although not required by the rules, there is an inclination to add notes for devices, ornaments, engravings of Gospel scenes, and other distinguishing features, though this cataloguer avoids listing scorch marks from candles that obliterated parts of the concluding antiphon. Propers for a Requiem Mass (pages lxxvij-[xcv]) plus the Anaphora (pages 213-224, 181-182), bound together. (Sine loco but probably Rome, possibly 1733) Notes: Not a breeze. This homegrown production consists of two parts of the Mass for the Dead ripped unceremoniously from other liturgical books, then bound together for ceremonial use. High evidence of human and insect activity. Tabs pasted for practical access of priest, with glue antithetical to cloth paper. Random gatherings of leaves. Cover long separated from the contents it was intended to protect. 1733 pencilled on the fly-leaf, maybe by someone who knew the vintage of the dingbats and drop caps, but no date is printed on any of the pages. Is it 1733? Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae, or the Latin Office for Holy Week, or more prosaically a Carmelite breviary. (Rome, 1857) Notes: A copy is held in the General Collection, but this one is preserved in Rare Books because it is the personal copy of the parish priest of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Middle Park, Fr Joseph Kindelan. His handwriting on the first blank page tells its own story of progression: “Jos. A. Kindelan OCC 56 Aungier St Dublin 1891. Gawler 9th Aug 1897. Port Adelaide 1902. Melbourne Nov. 17th 03.” After Fr Kindelan died, on St Patrick’s Day 1926, Middle Park parishioners carried out the suggestion made by Archbishop Daniel Mannix at the funeral by completing the new church as a memorial to him. It was opened in 1927.
How many Renaissance authors’ complete works have never gone out of print? It is a select group to which Saint Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) belongs. A stylish title page to her Book of the Foundations, i.e. her own account of the establishment of women’s religious houses across Spain in the 16th century (Antwerp, 1630) Notes: Canonised in 1622, Teresa is no longer a person of interest for the Inquisition but permanently established at the writing desk of her own elaborately decorated title page. The quality of the typeface and paper tells the reader that she has arrived in Europe. A commentary on her work Avisos, or Spiritual Letters, by the prolific Jesuit Alonso de Andrade (1590-1672) (Barcelona, 1646). Notes: The record for this two volume set states the date in square brackets [After 1646], but the publisher Tomàs Loriente continues to reprint this same edition right through into the eighteenth century. The book was licensed in that year, but while the colophon or any other giveaway signs are out of reach [After 1646] must suffice. Another stray single volume of a collected works, this one includes Moradas, her great work of the spiritual life commonly translated The Interior Castle (Barcelona, 1680). Notes: the tattered title page has lost its date. Fortunately, someone from the early Imprint Project of Australia and New Zealand left their working card and slip inside. The card confidently dates the work 1680, three hundred years after its publication, also saving me the trouble of counting all 74 of the unpaginated pages of the Index. It records first sight of the book, February 1985, while the acid-free slip testifies to completion of the Project’s own description: “E.I.P. 10.10.85”.
Monday, 13 April 2020
Separate title page: Phoul a Phuca Falls, County Wicklow.
Below: the Giant's Causeway, County Antrim
A two-volume set of Bartlett and Coyne’s ‘The Scenery and Antiquities of Ireland’, published just prior to the Great Famine (London, 1842) Notes: the Carmelite foundation in Australia was largely supported from the Irish Province. The rare books collection holds large 19th century pictorials of Ireland, both illustrated works like this one, and photographic folios. One likes to imagine the first friars hauling these books across the world as an aide-memoire for themselves, so far away from home. The truth may be a little more prosaic, though together with spotting and foxing, the two volumes have enjoyed their share of wear, though fortunately no tear. The downloaded record has never been corrected, with subsequent duplication of the record reinforcing errors. It is inadmissible, for example, to include an author whose name does not appear on the title page, or anywhere else, in the main description. Knowledge from outside the text may be placed in notes but not brazenly inserted in the statement of responsibility, as it is false presentation of the book in hand. The book in front of me, unique in its own right, states “the literary portion of the work by J. Stirling Coyne, Esq.”, with no mention of Nathanael Parker Willis. In fact, one Boston source names as many as twenty separate illustrators, confusing the cataloguer considerably. In such circumstances, keep it simple. Bartlett, sole named illustrator. Coyne, author. Willis, by the grace of the cataloguer, second author.
Roserk Abbey, County Mayo
Interior of Holy Cross Abbey, County Tipperary
Glendalough, County Wicklow
Thursday, 9 April 2020
“The house must first of all accept the night,” writes Jessica Powers in her poem ‘The House at Rest’. Like other Carmelite mystics, like other people generally, she is working from the experience of night – unknown, challenging, prayerful, creative – and in her case enunciated in the writings of St John of the Cross. The epigraph sets the scene. It is the place and time when the lover will go out to meet the beloved, just as we read in the Song of Songs. John knows the biblical poem; Jessica knows both the Song of Songs and John’s poems of the night. She asks the question, “How does one hush one’s house?”, i.e. how can one go out to meet the lover if one’s house is not at rest? Her description of the house can be at once her own restless thoughts and the collective memory of the house where she lives. Jessica was prioress of her enclosed community, with all of its attendant social difficulties, and at that level the poem talks of her life. But it can be about our house, how the memories we have for good and ill exist in our residence. Our thoughts can easily connect with household problems listed in the opening verse. So, while the house is anthropomorphised it is at the same time described as an individual’s admission of shared tensions and conflicts. It is an extended metaphor of trials and tribulations. Here is the poem:
The House at Rest
On a dark might
Kindled in love with yearnings –
Oh, happy chance!
I went forth unobserved,
My house being now at rest.
- St. John of the Cross
How does one hush one’s house,
each proud possessive wall, each sighing rafter,
the rooms made restless with remembered laughter
or wounding echoes, the permissive doors,
the stairs that vacillate from up to down,
windows that bring in colour and event
from countryside or town,
oppressive ceilings and complaining floors?
The house must first of all accept the night.
Let it erase the walls and their display,
impoverish the rooms till they are filled
with humble silences; let clocks be stilled
and all the selfish urgencies of day.
Midnight is not the time to greet a guest.
Caution the doors against both foes and friends,
and try to make the windows understand
their unimportance when the daylight ends.
Persuade the stairs to patience, and deny
the passages their aimless to and fro.
Virtue it is that puts a house at rest.
How well repaid that tenant is, how blest
who, when the call is heard,
is free to take his kindled heart and go.
It is night that, once accepted, will “erase the walls and their display,
impoverish the rooms till they are filled with humble silences,” and that will “let clocks be stilled.” Because the night, as Patti Smith would say. However, Jessica then states “Midnight is not the time to greet a guest,” reminder of that which is customary and proper, but equally good reason to keep vigilant. Are we ready to go forth “unobserved”? Acceptance and humility have earlier been forwarded as steps toward overcoming life’s prior demands, whether priority or not, but now she cautions the house itself to understand and be patient. Virtue, in the sense of courage and acceptance, and as spelt out quietly and firmly throughout the poem, puts that which she (and we) live with, at rest. All of these words, a storyline of growing self-awareness, can be read in different ways, each of them valid. The night is where she meets God and goes, when ready, to meet him. It is then too the perfected love that can go to meet the beloved, whoever that may be, in the world beyond the tempests and trials of the temporary house. The tenant has come to terms with the demands of the temporal house itself and can now go to meet life, or death, equally on terms of love. Mind and body, still filled with yearning at the moment of death, have through the trial of night come to an acceptance. Today we ourselves are sequestered in our house, if we are lucky enough to have a house, by order of the state. We have about as much choice as the prioress of a convent. This unusual historical moment causes us to look at our house afresh, just as Jessica does in her poem. Our own bodies must become calm, our own minds must learn prayerfulness, sometimes without much practice.
Monday, 6 April 2020
Rare book cataloguing can, by chance, offer glimpses of bygone zeitgeists. A magnificent collected works of Saint Teresa of Avila, which may explain the magnificent dedication to the Spanish King Ferdinand VI. (Madrid, 1752) Notes: The main challenge remains identifying the maker of the illustrative prints of the saint’s life. He signs himself “Is. ã Palm. Scuplt.” Or Palom., therefore needing an author added entry. I would be grateful to a fine arts researcher who could direct me to the right authority. Even, guesses. The pages themselves have wide margins, crystal clear print, and are snow white after 250 years: an absolute pleasure for the reader. This paper has survived better than much modern pulp product. One of the many popular imprint accounts of the discoveries made by Captains Cook, Clerke, Gore, and King during the 1770s, in three volumes. (Dublin, 1784) Notes: This set’s Irish origins suggest it may have been bought by an interested Carmelite, only to be carried subsequently across the water to the Antipodes. Talking of popular discoveries, today uncovers a sixth edition of the best of William Shakespeare, who became all the rage (again) in the run-up to Romanticism. (London, 1792) Notes: Sources outside the book confirm that the editor is William Dodd (1729-1777), whether due to modesty or the need for anonymity. Online tells us that he was an Anglican clergyman and a man of letters. He lived extravagantly, and was nicknamed the Macaroni Parson. His wiki continues, “[Dodd] dabbled in forgery in an effort to clear his debts, and was caught and convicted. Despite a public campaign for a Royal pardon, in which he received the assistance of Samuel Johnson, he was hanged at Tyburn for forgery.” Dodd arranged the beauties by play and subject, but Trove’s numerous edition records for this precise title add to a cataloguer’s woes with lines like these for the fifth edition: “A different selection from that by William Dodd.”
Sunday, 5 April 2020
Literature with an L absorbs my attention in rare book cataloguing here at home, online. A translation by one of France’s greatest tragedians, Pierre Corneille (born 1606) of ‘The Imitation of Christ’ into rhyming verse (Brussels, in the year of the translator’s death, 1684). Notes: One of the most read books of Western literature, ‘The Imitation of Christ’ is the product of a religious movement in late medieval Germany and the Netherlands known as the Devotio Moderna. Perhaps Corneille turned it into verse for public recitation, and because it came naturally. It’s hard to say why, but it doesn’t matter: the book sold. Although Thomas à Kempis is generally believed to be the author, dispute persists, hence many catalogue descriptions of this work grudgingly give him an added entry, just not to confuse anyone. Translations “by several hands” of Ovid’s Heroides, i.e. the Heroines, but called here simply Epistles (London, 1680). Notes: Most of these rare books require original cataloguing, that is to say I describe them from the ground up. Sometimes, by good fortune, an online record is found and downloaded as occurred here, the record containing information that would otherwise be missed. It is nowhere stated, for example, unless you start reading the book, that the poet John Dryden wrote the Preface. He needs his own entry. He translated three of the epistles, including ‘Dido to Aeneas’. He collaborated with other poets, who need to be listed. I’m especially excited to find a flowing version of one of Ovid’s Epistles translated by Aphra Behn. Here is Virginia Woolf in ‘A Room of One’s Own’: “All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn which is, most scandalously but rather appropriately, in Westminster Abbey, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds." Cicero’s Orations, edited and with copious footnotes in Latin (!) by the Jesuit Charles Merouville (1625-1705), both for edification and as models for sermon writers (London, 1784). Notes: When the publisher does not spell the editor’s name correctly, the cataloguer shows patience, fortitude, and cunning as he scours the best sources to confirm the right spelling. In Merouville’s case, this is the Library of Congress Name Headings. Generations of readers on both sides of La Manche used this work throughout the 18th century, our own copy being this publisher’s Editio Undecima.
Friday, 3 April 2020
A solidly bound album of sepia photographs of Rome, place, maker, and date unknown. Notes: This delightful book is a pleasurable challenge for the cataloguer, being a set of images only, with no self-defining text or additional apparatus to help explain its existence. The most arresting initial effect of the photographs is the lack of people. They look like period pictures of the very scenes we are seeing today online: empty St. Peter’s Square, empty Pantheon, empty Colosseum, empty Appian Way. Those knowledgeable in Victorian photography may have explanations for how large cityscapes could be so absent of people in broad daylight. Did the photographers wait till the crowds dispersed? Was it always this quiet outside feast and market days? Was everyone inside and not about to go out? Well anyway, to work. First, place. The red cover suggests the book may have been a sale item for a gentleman on the grand tour or clergyman ad limina. On the other hand, it may have been custom-made almost anywhere. The maker? This is two questions really: who made the book? who took the photographs? The photographs are good prints mounted on hard card. None are signed by a studio or a photographer, but they are quality productions. So far, searches to match pictures with online Google Images, or in books, have been to no avail. Even then, it could be a coterie of cameramen, not just one. I’m keeping on the lookout, even after the bibliographical record is complete. Whoever constructed the book knew about tape binding, cardboard spacing, signature tying, photo mounting, and other skills known only to a bookbinder. My conviction is Anonymous. Date? Several of the photographs have faded captions in French explaining the views for sightseers. This is help only insofar as it means the pictures may have been cut from a French album, not that the originals are French. We need an expert in 19th century Rome graphic and civic history to date the photographs, if not the book containing them. My less than thorough analysis tells me that similar Roman images suggest they were taken any time immediately prior to the First Vatican Council (1869-70) until say into the 1890s. The Notes Field (Marc Tag 500) is bigger than the rest of the record.
A favourite view of fishermen beside the Tiber with the Fisherman's House in the background. Our problem, same view, different day.To the right and in need of a scrub, the Mausoleum of Hadrian.
The Spanish Steps: Vuoto! The marquees in the piazza are a clue, but what of?
The Claudian Aqueduct according to our red book and (above) according to Joel Sternfeld in his 'Campagna Romana : the countryside of ancient Rome' (Knopf, 1992)
Thursday, 2 April 2020
Saint Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi (1566-1607) is a household name if you are a Florentine or a Carmelite. Here is the recommendation for Pope Clement X (1590-1676) to “expedite” the process for her to be made a Catholic saint. (Rome, 1673) Notes: If a V is a U, we must still present it as a V, according to Paul Shaner Dunkin, ‘How to catalog a rare book’, 2nd edition (Chicago, 1973). Hence ‘Bvlla’ &c., though I entered ‘Bulla …’ as an added title. Lettering inconsistencies are multiple in such works and deliberately put there to annoy the cataloguer. Angeli de Paulis is not a household name, even in the global village of the internet. Here is his ‘positio’ for canonisation, proposed by Cardinal Giovanni Antonio Guadagni (1674-1759), the well-connected Carmelite powerbroker (Rome, 1739). Notes: It’s uphill becoming a saint. Not only is a ‘positio’ itself called ‘super dubio’ but this one has appended ‘responsio ad animadversiones’ from people called sub-promotors, this time Joseph Luna and Johannes Prunettus, who may have stalled (the usual term) the Venerable Servant of God Angeli de Paulis’ progress to sainthood. He is most likely to be Blessed Angelo Paoli (1642-1720), even from some internal evidence, but I cannot confirm this until I revisit the Library to delve deeper into special sources next week. Cardinal Guadagni always had several Carmelite causes on the go, though his own cause for beatification keeps stalling, most recently in the years after his name was again put forward in 1940.
An account of my visit to the Carmelite Postulator’s Office in Rome in 2011 can be found here: http://thecarmelitelibrary.blogspot.com/search/label/Rome
Wednesday, 1 April 2020
Two rare books for April Fool’s Day. An edition of the Reverend Thomas Creech’s (1659-1706) translation of Lucretius that together with Dryden’s Virgil and Pope’s Homer were the three most read classical renderings throughout the 18th century (Glasgow, 1749). Notes: The book in hand, as the phrase goes, is a cataloguing minefield. Lacking a title page, one is left completely reliant on the bookseller’s sale tab, pasted helpfully in the top left-hand corner of the inside cover, itself detached from its job. But is the tab true? “By Creech” is scratched crudely in ink, just by way of backup, with the book being renumbered in different Whitefriars, i.e. Carmelite, libraries on its journey through life. One relates to Lucretius (pictured) trying to turn his back on the whole mess, but, like Lucretius, one has to face up to the facts as given. You see, a cataloguer cannot describe a work with anything other than entire certainty. It is not permissible to say it is the 1749 version outright, the date on the tab, or even that it is De Rerum Natura, without evidence inside and outside the text. Covering notes are created to explain for the user keen on Creech just which Creech to expect. One thing is certain, it is the same edition as all the others going way back, containing extensive verse recommendations from contemporaries like Nahum Tate, Thomas Otway, Edmund Waller and the increasingly high profile Aphra Behn, herself. Time to google ‘W. Tho. Wilkinson TCD, 1910’, the name signed in different places throughout this copy of Lucretius, but no leads, in fact too many Thomas Wilkinsons that could not alas be our Thomas Wilkinson. Another nightmare is this battered copy of a set of comic stories by the Irish novelist Gerald Griffin (1803-1840) under the title ‘The Christian Physiologist and Other Tales’ (Dublin, circa 1892). Notes: Confusingly, the cover calls the book ‘The Five Senses’, a perplexity resolved outside the text by obscure sources corroborating that the two titles are interchangeable. Cataloguers are required to give priority description to the title page, if it exists, so ‘The Five Senses’ co-title goes in an added entry, with plenty of explanation in the notes field. Griffin would have had fun at the expense of a Carmelite cataloguer of the 21st century who cannot locate firm information about this impression using all the mighty powers of his online inheritance. Reprints of the James Duffy version start at least in 1857. The only certainty is that the book must have been published in or before 1892, which we know from the St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic School Port Melbourne prize plate pasted inside the cover, awarded Christmas 1892 to Miss E. Barlow for “Excellence in rapid progress”.