The Irish connection

Advertisement for "Travels". The Belfast Mercury (15 June 1790)

Advertisement for “Travels”. The Belfast Mercury (15 June 1790).

In an earlier post I discussed one of Macintosh’s American readers, Charles Pinckney, and his copy of Travels (housed in the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of South Carolina). Pinckney’s copy (of the 1782 Dublin edition) has an advertisement pasted onto the front flyleaf, highlighting the book’s contemporary significance in the lead-up to the impeachment and trial of Warren Hastings.

The text of this advertisement was, however, reused and recycled for at least 8 years—a fact attested to by its reappearance (above) in a June 1790 issue of The Belfast Mercury. The advertisement was issued in this case by the Belfast bookseller James Magee (in cooperation with the Downpatrick bookseller Margaret Hart) at the point of a dissolution in Warren Hastings’ long-running trial.

I cannot imagine that there were very many female booksellers in eighteenth-century Ireland, but the secondary literature is rather silent on Margaret Hart. In his 1987 book The printed word and the common man: popular culture in Ulster, 1700–1900, Adams only notes matter-of-factly that “Around 1782 James Magee’s advertisements frequently mention the name of Margaret Hart, bookseller, Downpatrick, for no apparent reason” (p. 28). It is evident, however, that Hart was not just a bookseller; she also—as is indicated by Dudley in her book The Irish Lottery, 1780–1801 (2005)—sold lottery tickets from an office in Downpatrick. Hart will, of course, have to remain another scholar’s quarry.

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