Macintosh’s library

La Médiathèque Ceccano, Avignon. Home to Macintosh's library.

La Médiathèque Ceccano, Avignon. Home to Macintosh’s library.

When I visited Avignon in September 2012 to begin a pilot phase of archival research on William Macintosh at the Archives Municipales, I walked past one of the city’s libraries every day without realising that it was home to Macintosh’s personal book collection. Opened in the early 1980s, the Médiathèque Ceccano houses the city’s collection of rare and historical books which were previously held at the Muséum Calvet. The origins of Avignon’s library collections begin with the French Revolution and the seizure during that period of the contents of religious libraries and those collections belonging to immigrants to the city. Among the victims of the so-called “confiscations révolutionnaires” was William Macintosh and his library of 70 titles. His home and his books were sequestered in September 1793 apparently in retaliation for the fall of Toulon.

The existence of Macintosh’s library is recorded in Georges Dickson’s 1993 book Jacques III Stuart: un Roi sans couronne. Dickson’s book contains a facsimile of the first page of the catalogue of Macintosh’s collection (listing the first few titles in his library). Due to the poor quality of the facsimile it is a little difficult to decipher the titles of the books (not least since they are descriptions in French rather than precise transcriptions of titles). Nevertheless, it is possible to begin to draw up an inventory of Macintosh’s collection:

  1. Unidentified
  2. Unidentified
  3. Treatise and grants from the country powers, to the East-India Company, respecting their presidency of Fort St. George, on the coast of Choromandel; Fort-William, in Bengal; and Bombay, on the coast of Malabar. From the year 1756 to 1772. (1774) Shelf-mark: 4 ° 2563.
  4. The history of America, by William Robertson (1777) 2 vols. Shelf-mark: 4 ° 2460.
  5. A course of experimental agriculture; containing an exact register of all the business transacted during five years on near three hundred acres of various soils; including a variety of experiments on the cultivation of all sorts of grain and pulse, both in the old and new methods, by Arthur Young (1770-71). 2 vols. Shelf-mark: 4 ° 1326.
  6. Dizionario delle lingue italiana, ed inglese, by Giuseppe Baretti (1787). 2 vols. Shelf-mark: 4 ° 1742.
  7. Unidentified
  8. The history of Hindostan; from the earliest account of time, to the death of Akbar, by Alexander Dow (1768). 2 vols. Shelf-mark: 4 ° 2560.

In some respects, this brief list is a microcosm of Macintosh’s interests (although the Italian-English dictionary is a little unexpected). Dickson’s book also contains a facsimile of the title page of the dictionary, which shows that Macintosh bought the book in Rome (although the date of purchase is illegible in the facsimile). There is clearly the potential to glean much insight into Macintosh from his reading habits (not least if he was in the habit of annotating his books). I hope in the short term to be able to locate the full catalogue of his books and, if future funding allows, to visit the Médiathèque Ceccano to examine the titles in person.