University of Rochester Library Bulletin: In Memory of Charles Hoeing

Volume IV  ·  Autumn 1948  ·  Number 1
"In Memory of Charles Hoeing…"

In January, 1941, Mrs. Charles Hoeing wrote to the Librarian that she intended to present a fund for book purchases in memory of her husband. In the seven years which have elapsed since that announcement, eighty-five titles in one hundred twenty volumes have been added to the Treasure Room shelves, each book bearing the label of the Hoeing Collection.

Charles Hoeing was one of Rochester's stalwarts. His first affiliation with the University began in 1898, when he came to Prince Street as Instructor in Latin. In 1901 he took over the duties of University Librarian, which he performed until 1905, when he was made Assistant Professor of Latin. In the year 1914 he assumed the deanship of the College for Men, and the chair of Latin, fulfilling the duties of these posts until his retirement in 1929. After his resignation, until his death in 1938, he maintained his keen interest in the University and its students, contributing quietly and effectively to all phases of University life. As a teacher, an administrator, and a friend he left a deep impression on many Rochester men.

With the announcement of Mrs. Hoeing's memorial gift, a decision had to be made about the field in which it should be expended. The matter was entrusted to the competent hands of Professor Richard Leighton Greene, a former student and a close friend of Dean Hoeing, and it was decided to use the Hoeing Fund to form a specialized collection of Restoration and eighteenth-century English literature. There were definite reasons for this choice, beyond Professor Greene's own interest in and knowledge of the period. As a student of the classics and their influence upon later writings, Dean Hoeing had been strongly attracted to the Neo-Classic period in England, and it seemed fitting that books purchased in his memory should be those which showed the marked influence of the Latin masters. Furthermore, the Library's holdings were weak in this important field, and the addition of such material would supplement the wide usefulness of the R. B. Adam Collection, deposited with the Library five years previously. The proposed Hoeing Collection would also provide needed material for graduate study in the humanities.

Now the time has come to take stock of these one hundred and twenty volumes, and to see how Charles Hoeing's memorial has grown in usefulness and splendor. The collection is by no means complete - no such collection could ever hope to be - but its importance and its relation to the other holdings of our library can now be clearly seen.

The oldest book in the collection is one of the most interesting. It is a first edition of The Immortality of the Soul, published in 1659. (Unless it is otherwise stated, all books mentioned were published in London.) The author was Henry More, the leader of the philosophical school known as the Cambridge Platonists; and this copy of his important book is inscribed by More to his friend Isaac Barrow, at the time Professor of Greek at Cambridge University, who was to become the first Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at that University.

One of the best-loved names in English literature is that of Izaak Walton, who achieved fame not only as a fisherman, but also as a biographer. A first edition (1670) of his collective biographies, The Lives of Dr. John Donne, Sir Henry Wotton, Mr. Richard Hooker, Mr. George Herbert, is also among the books.

Two years before, Sir John Denham had published Poems and Translations, with the Sophy, and in 1690 Edmund Waller's executors published The Second Part of Mr. Waller's Poems: first editions of both works are in the collection. These two poets played important roles in establishing Neo-Classicism in England. Waller in particular was influenced by French writings, and his verses were models of polish and elegance.

More important than Denham and Waller in his own day was Abraham Cowley, a poet whose work supplies a link between the metaphysical and Neo-Classic schools. A 1668 edition of this poet's Poemata Latina, and the first collected edition of Cowley's works (1681-82) are among the Hoeing books.

Any collection dealing with this period must of necessity contain as many first editions as possible of the works of John Dryden. Because of his importance in literature, Dryden has been collected by many generations of book-enthusiasts. It is remarkable that Dr. Greene was able to secure so many important items in such a limited time, and at such favorable prices. Indeed, the entire project of purchasing from the Hoeing Fund was begun at an exceptionally fortunate period.

One of Dryden's earliest poems was a eulogy of Oliver Cromwell, first published in 1659. A fine copy of the first separate printing of this poem (dated 1659, but actually printed about 1692) was acquired: the pamphlet is in a Rivière binding and comes from Frederick Locker's Rowfant Library, with a notation written by Augustine Birrell. Two of Dryden's religious poems are in the collection - first editions of Religio Laici (1682) and The Hind and the Panther (1687).

Only one of Dryden's famous political satires has so far been secured - The Medall, a poem published in 1682, attacking Shaftesbury and the Whigs. As a companion piece, we also purchased The Medal of John Bayes, Thomas Shadwell's response to Dryden's attack.

Dryden's position and influence as a dramatist and critic are of great importance. He was one of those who rebuilt English drama after the Cromwellian blackout, and in large measure he dominated the Restoration theatre. Several first editions of Dryden's plays have been acquired for the collection. The earlier of these represent the "heroic tragedy," written in rhymed couplets; several of them are typical Restoration comedies. The earliest Dryden play in the collection is Amboyna (1673), a tragedy with a propagandistic background. There is also a first edition of the famous tragedy Aureng-Zebe (1676). One of the most interesting of the dramatic pieces is a rare issue of the first edition of Troilus and Cressida (1679), Dryden's adaptation of Shakespeare's great drama; grouped with it is Amphitryon (1690), and Don Sebastian (1690), which some critics regard as Dryden's most impressive play. The two comedies, The Kind Keeper (1680) and Love Triumphant (1694) complete the series.

As an example of Dryden's pamphleteering activities, the collection contains a copy of The Vindication (1683), formerly in the library of Thomas J. Wise. The other two Dryden rarities are first editions of The Satires of Decimus Junius Juvenalis…together with the Satires of Aulus Persius Flaccus (1693) and Fables Ancient and Modern(1700), both of them large and impressive folio volumes.

There are several other purchases which fit in closely with the Dryden acquisitions. One of these is a first edition of Thomas Otway's Venice Preserv'd (1682). This play is considered by Louis Cazamian to be the most outstanding drama of its time, eclipsing in power and beauty anything else written from 1660 to 1700. Near it stands a two-volume set containing the plays of Nathaniel Lee, many of whose plays in first edition form are in the general Treasure Room collection. Nicholas Rowe published his playThe Tragedy of Jane Shore in 1714, and a copy of this printing has been secured for the Hoeing Collection. Ranged with it are two books by Charles Gildon, famous as a critic and pamphleteer: these are the important Comparison between the Two Stages (1702) (a critical edition of the work was recently published by Dr. S. B. Wells, formerly of our faculty), and The Laws of Poetry (1721), an important work in the development of English verse criticism.

An extremely important book of the Neo-Classic period is the Earl of Shaftesbury's Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times (1711), published in three volumes, with a delightful allegorical title-page by Gribelin. The Hoeing copy contains the 1713 bookplate of Henry, Duke of Kent, and the later bookplate of the Earl de Grey.

Daniel Defoe is regarded as one of the founders of English journalism. A first edition of his greatest work, Robinson Crusoe, is not yet among the Library's holdings, but three first editions have been bought as part of this memorial collection. They include the prophetic Essay upon Projects (1697), an unbound and uncut copy of the Hymn to the Pillory (1703), and a fine first edition of the Memoirs of a Cavalier (1720).

Another great name of the period is that of Matthew Prior, poet, politician, diplomat, and man-about-town. His earliest work was an attack on Dryden, written in collaboration with the Earl of Halifax, entitled The Hind and the Panther Transvers'd to the Story of the Country Mouse and the City-Mouse (1687): thus, first editions of Dryden's original and its famous burlesque can be compared in their original form. Three topical poems and their dates are Carmen Saeculare, for the Year 1700, A Letter to Monsieur Boileau Depreaux (1704), and The Dove (1717). Two editions of Prior's collected works have been acquired: the earlier is the 1709 edition (the first authorized collection), our copy being that formerly owned by Jerome Kern; the second is the 1718 edition, one of the most imposing books of the period. It is a large folio, illustrated by the leading engravers of the time. The book was published by subscription: Prior gained four thousand guineas from the venture, and his patron doubled the sum.

The names of Joseph Addison and Richard Steele are as inextricably associated as those of Johnson and Boswell, or Gilbert and Sullivan. The most famous of their joint productions is perhaps The Tatler, a complete set of the original numbers of which, in good condition, has been acquired from the Hoeing Fund. Of Addison's own books, there is a first edition of his tragedy Cato (1713), considered the best imitation in English of the manner of Corneille and Racine. Bound with the play is Theobald's presschaser, The Life and Character of Marcus Portius Cato Uticensis (1713). Also in the collection is a first edition of Addison's posthumous work, A Discourse on Ancient and Modern Learning (1739).

Of Steele's individual publications, the Library has acquired three: The Tender Husband (1705), The Englishman (1714), and The Conscious Lovers (1723). The first and last are plays - examples of the sentimental comedy in which Steele excelled, while The Englishman is the second book edition of one of his periodical publications.

To be noticed in passing is a second edition of John Philips' The Splendid Shilling (1705), a parody of Milton; and a copy of Bernard Mandeville's Fable of the Bees (1714). This latter book has only recently come to be recognized at its full value in the history of rationalism.

Akin to Mandeville's criticisms are the works of the greatest English satirist, Jonathan Swift. The first edition (second issue) of his most famous work is in the Hoeing Collection - the immortal Gulliver's Travels (1726). This contains the imaginary portrait of Lemuel Gulliver and the chart of his travels. It is flanked by a copy of the spurious continuation, published in 1727, and by the Memoirs of the Court of Lilliput, published the same year. Preceding these is a first edition of Swift's contribution to the "Battle of the Books," A Tale of a Tub (1704). Then follow first editions of Swift's Miscellanies (1711), On Poetry (1733), the amusing and caustic Complete Collection of Genteel and Ingenious Conversation (1738), and his pathetic Verses on the Death of Doctor Swift (1739). A posthumous volume is The History of the Four Last Years of the Queen(1758). All these are a nucleus of the works of one of the greatest English writers, providing excellent research and exhibition material.

It would be difficult to strike a balance between the comparative importance to English letters of Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope. Both are well represented in the collection, however, and the first editions of Pope's works are a section all in themselves.

One of Pope's best-known works was his translation of Homer. The Iliad appeared in six volumes, from 1715 to 1720, and the Odyssey occupied five more volumes which were published in 1725 and 1726. These sets are in superb condition, most of them in the original cartridge paper boards, completely uncut. They are the large-paper, subscriber's edition: the first is from the Badminton library, and the second contains the bookplate of Egerton of Tatton. It seems particularly fitting that such excellent copies of these great classical translations should be among the finest items in the Hoeing memorial.

There are many other important Pope volumes among the books. The Rape of the Lock is here in the first edition of the revised version (1714), with the fine copper-plates by DuBose; and there are three items from the Dunciad bibliography - the first complete edition of 1743, and two others: The Dunciad, Variorum (1729), and The New Dunciad (1742). The Essay on Man (1733-34) has been acquired in first editions of the four parts, and five of the translations from Horace associated with this work are also on the shelves. One of these, The First Epistle of the First Book of Horace Imitated (1737), is an unrecorded variant with a misprint on the title page.

Finally, the Pope section contains eight first editions of Pope's great epistles, including the famous Epistle from Mr. Pope, to Dr. Arbuthnot (1734); and The Universal Prayer (1738), the most deistic of Pope's writings.

Pope and those associated with him form a whole field of study. One of the names which cannot be ignored in this connection is that of the fascinating Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Her Verses Address'd to the Imitator... (1733) is in the collection, as is a first edition from the library of the Earl of Breadalbane of Lady Mary's Letters (1763).

Another member of the Pope circle was John Gay, who epitomizes, as well as one man can, the early eighteenth-century spirit of English letters. Here are first editions of many of his works, including Rural Sports (1713), a successful attempt to treat an intrinsically unpoetic subject: this copy was formerly owned by the English critic, Charles Whibley. From the following year comes a fine copy of The Shepherd's Week, illustrated by Du Guernier, Gay's half-humorous, half-serious treatment of a theme earlier dealt with by Edmund Spenser. (The attempt here was to parody the style of Ambrose Philips' pastorals, a first collected edition of which, printed in 1748, is also in the collection.) From the year 1716 comes a large- and thick-paper copy of Trivia: or, the Art of Walking the Streets of London. This mock-heroic poem is in its original binding of eighteenth-century calf. The first edition of Poems on Several Occasions (1720) has been acquired, as has a copy of Gay's opera, Polly (1729), the latter being "the genuine original author's edition," with the songs bound in at the end. The collection also contains Gay's posthumously published comedy, The Distress'd Wife (1743), as well as one of the most successful publications, the Fables (1727 and 1738). The Fables are among the most charming books of their period, being elaborately illustrated with copper-plates by Scotin, Wootton, and Kent: the Hoeing copies are handsomely bound in mottled calf by Rivière. A later edition of the same book, published by John Stockdale in 1793, contains twelve plates by William Blake, and other illustrations by Stothard, Wilson, Brown, and Granger. The two editions are interesting to compare, for the illustrations show the changes in techniques and conceptions which came about in a period of seventy-five years.

A close associate of Pope, and one who remained on good terms with the irascible little man, was Thomas Parnell. He helped with the translations of Homer, and after his early death, Pope took his friend's poems and edited them, with a dedication to the Earl of Oxford. The book appeared in 1722.

Still another member of Pope's circle was James Thomson. The elegy on Sir Isaac Newton, published in 1727, is of special interest; but a more famous piece is Spring (1728), part of his quartet, The Seasons. The Hoeing copy of Spring formerly belonged to our friend and honorary alumnus, Chauncey Brewster Tinker of Yale, and contains the rare "Proposals" leaf.

Also in the Thomson section is a first edition of his play, Sophonisba (1730). But of more poetic interest is a work which reflects Pope's influence, and which is one of the most successful imitations in English literature - the famous poem, The Castle of Indolence (1748). In this work Thomson set out to imitate Edmund Spenser, and fused with the colorful Elizabethan style a verve and richness from the literature of his own time.

In the same stream of influence is the work of John Dyer, whose poem The Fleece (1757) is (according to Cazamian) "in the plane of purely didactic classicism." This volume was formerly in the library of another of our friends, R. W. Chapman of Oxford.

Books for the Hoeing Collection have for the most part been selected for their position in literary history, but two items have been purchased chiefly for their typographic beauty. The first of these is one of the most remarkable productions of the English eighteenth century: it is a splendid copy of John Pine's edition of the works of Horace, published in 1733-1737, in two volumes. This famous book is printed entirely from engraved copper-plates - text, illustrations, head-pieces, and all. It is a delight to examine these magnificent volumes; a mere description cannot do them justice. The other typographic specimen is one of the classics printed by John Baskerville of Birmingham - the charming little edition of Lucretius, De rerum natura (1773).

Emphasizing the interest in older poetry which became current in the Neo-Classic period, and particularly the influence of Spenser - an interest, by the way, which later became one of the hallmarks of the Romantic school - is the work of Thomas Warton the Younger. His collection, Poems on Several Occasions (1748), has been acquired, as has also a copy of his important critical work, Observations on the Faerie Queene of Spenser (1754).

The Neo-Classic period abounds in minor poets; some of them loom larger in stature than others, but the selection of books which has been added provides a good cross-section of their works. One can find on the shelves a copy of William Somerville's The Chace (1735), which is reminiscent of Thomson's verse; The Spleen (1737), by Matthew Green, is here; and there is also a copy of James Grainger's The Sugar-Cane (1764), a book which was reviewed by Dr. Johnson.

In the next group of books appear the first signals of a change in literary emphasis - the first stirrings of the Romantic period just ahead. Some signs of change had earlier been noted in the work of Thomson, Dyer, and Warton, but one of the earliest men in whose writings this new emphasis may be traced is the poet Mark Akenside, whosePleasures of Imagination (1744) has been procured in a fine, tall copy. Three parts of Edward Young's The Complaint: or, Night Thoughts (1742-1743) have also been secured, almost completing the first edition set of this important work, and a copy of Robert Blair's lugubrious The Grave (1743) is also here. The first edition (1752) of Christopher Smart's Poems on Several Occasions is an interesting book, written by the mad poet whom Johnson helped on several occasions.

Last in the list is a charming volume - the tall folio published in 1753, entitled Designs by Mr. R. Bentley for Six Poems by Mr. T. Gray. This is the true first edition of the book, the Comerford-Stansfeld copy, and is an attractive example of eighteenth-century de luxe bookmaking.

Such is the Hoeing Collection at the present time. It forms a well integrated foundation of important works of the Restoration and eighteenth-century periods - a foundation upon which a really imposing collection can be built. That the foundation of what we hope may become a distinguished collection of English classics was erected in memory of a man who in himself exemplified so many classical traits, and who always held in mind the best interests of the institution to which his life was devoted, should provide inspiration to all Rochesterians to continue the work and enrich the stores of knowledge which have already been opened to students and scholars here.