Monthly Archives: March 2016

Provenance and traces of ownership

As a consequence of institutional and national digitisation projects, an increasing number of copies of Travels (in its original, reprinted, and translated forms) are available for consultation on-line. Some of these scans, as I outline below, reveal interesting indications of provenance and ownership history. As new scans become available, I will add them to this post.

[Macintosh, William.] Travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa; describing characters, customs, manners, laws, and productions of nature and art: containing various remarks on the political and commercial interests of Great Britain: and delineating, in particular, a new system for the government and improvement of British settlements in the East Indies: begun in the year 1777, and finished in 1781. 2 vols. London: John Murray, 1782.

  • Volume 2: Google Books scan of University of California copy, bearing the inscription “For the private perusal of Captn Blanket [likely J. Blanket, commander of the man of war Leopard] / January 1782″.
Inscription to Captain Blanket.

Inscription to Captain Blanket.

[Macintosh, William.] Travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa: describing characters, customs, manners, laws, and productions of nature and art: containing various remarks on the political and commercial interests of Great Britain; and delineating in particular, a new system for the government and improvement of British settlements in the East Indies. 2 vols. Dublin: Charles Lodge, [1785?].

  • No open-access digital version of this edition exists. Volume 1 and 2 of the National Library of Ireland’s copy has, however, been scanned under the auspices of Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Part II. This appears to bear the ownership inscripton of one Arthur O’Flaherty.

[Macintosh, William.] Remarks on a tour through the different countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa; giving a particular description of the characters, customs, manners and laws of each, with their natural and mechanical productions. The political and commercial interests of the English East India Company are accurately delineated: together with a proposed and well digested system, both for the improvement and better government of their possessions in the quarter. 2 vols. Dublin: J. Jones, 1786.

  • Volume 2: Internet Archive scan of University of California copy, bound in a cover bearing the impression of “Celbridge Academy” [which occupied Kildrought House, County Kildare, from 1782 to 1814] and a plate showing the book to have been purchased under the auspices of the “Robert E. Gross Collection“.

Macintosh, William. Des Herrn Mackintosh’s Reisen durch Europa, Asia und Africa, worinnen die Charaktere, Gebräuche, Sitten und Gesetze der Bewohner dieser Länder, nebst den darinnen vorhandenen Natur- und Kunst-Producten beschrieben werden; aus dem Englischen übersetzt, und mit Anmerkungen versehen. Translated by Christian August Wichmann. 2 vols. Leipzig: Friedrich Gotthold Jacobäer, 1785.

Ex Libris from library of evangelical college.

Ex Libris from library of evangelical college.

Macintosh, William. Voyages en Europe, en Asie et en Afrique, contenant la description des mœurs, coutumes, loix, productions, manufactures de ces contrées, & l’etat actuel des possessions angloises dans l’Inde; commencés en 1777, & finis en 1781, par M. Makintosh; suivis des voyages du Colonel Capper, dans les Indes, au travers de l’Egypte & du grand desert, par Suez & par Bassora, en 1779. Traduits de l’Anglois, & accompagnes de notes sur l’original & de cartes géographiques. Translated by Jacques-Pierre Brissot. 2 vols. Paris: Chez Regnault, 1786.

Jean-Baptiste-François Gigot d’Orcy

Ex Libris of Jean-Baptiste-François Gigot d’Orcy, in the Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon's copy of Voyages en Europe, en Asie et en Afrique (1786).

Ex Libris of Jean-Baptiste-François Gigot d’Orcy, in the Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon’s copy of Voyages en Europe, en Asie et en Afrique (1786).

I noted in a recent post the value of full text search when it comes to ferreting out obscure references to Macintosh and his work. Google Books is helpful in another way, too: it is occasionally possible to identify the provenance of the books it has scanned and thereby to trace something of their likely readership. This much is true, at least, for one of the copies of the 1786 French translation of Macintosh’s book, Voyages en Europe, en Asie et en Afrique.

The book in question is currently held by the Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon (at shelfmarks 438670 – T. 01 and T. 02), but was previously part of the private library of Jean-Baptiste-François Gigot d’Orcy (1737–1793), an important entomologist who possessed what one contemporary described as “un très-beau Cabinet d’histoire naturelle” in his Paris home. d’Orcy’s role as a patron of natural philosophers (such as Guillaume-Antoine Olivier, 1756–1814) and as a book collector has been detailed on the blog “Histoire de la Bibliophilie“.

d’Orcy’s collection of books, including Voyages en Europe, en Asie et en Afrique, was auctioned off the year after his death. Macintosh’s book was item 1458 in the Catalogue des livres de feu citoyen Gigot d’Orcy (yet, sadly, to be scanned by Google Books).

Macintosh and the spymaster

Macintosh has a habit of falling through the cracks of mainstream historiography; where he appears at all, it is, more often than not, in the footnotes. This apparently marginal position conceals, of course, Macintosh’s contemporary importance, the significance of his writing, and the extent of his social and correspondence networks.

The task of recovering Macintosh from the footnotes cannot straightforwardly be achieved, however, without the option of full text search made possible by Google Books, the HathiTrust Digital Library, and other similar repositories. The ability to search beyond the terms included in a book’s index is hugely valuable and generates the circumstances for serendipitous discovery. One recent such discovery concerned the British politician-cum-spy, William Wickham (1761–1840).

William Wickham (1761–1840).

William Wickham (1761–1840).

Wickham’s career progression from magistrate to “Britain’s master spy on the Continent for more than five years during the French Revolutionary wars” is detailed in Michael Durey’s 2009 monograph, William Wickham, master spy: the secret war against the French Revolution. Under instruction from the then Foreign Secretary, Lord Grenville, Wickham was sent to Switzerland in 1794 ostensibly as assistant to the British ambassador. There, however, he executed his covert task of gathering information on the progress of the French Revolution that would assist Britain in its counter-Revolutionary activities. As Durey puts it, Wickham was “creator and head of a small and highly organized secret service unit” and was allocated a significant budget to support these activities. Macintosh was, it appears, one of Wickham’s informants.

Although Macintosh is not named in Durey’s index, he is listed twice in the footnotes regarding letters sent to Wickham in 1795 and 1797. These letters, and possibly many others, are part of the William Wickham Papers, held at the Hampshire Record Office. Although it is not possible to tell from Durey’s book precisely what was contained in Macintosh’s letters, they raise some interesting questions about whether or not Macintosh had a government-sanctioned role as information provider/spy. I have written previously about Macintosh’s apparent connection with Grenville and the existence of a correspondence with Wickham further strengthens that link. Clearly, a visit to the Hampshire Record Office is on order.