Thomas McLean, “Donation and Collaboration: Joanna Baillie’s A Collection of Poems, Chiefly Manuscript, and From Living Authors, April 1823″

Abstract

The Scottish poet and playwright Joanna Baillie spent most of 1822 soliciting unpublished or uncollected works from literary acquaintances, including Anna Barbauld, William Wordsworth, and Sir Walter Scott, for a new volume of verse. The purpose of the volume, which appeared in April 1823 as A Collection of Poems, Chiefly Manuscript, and from Living Authors, was to raise funds for a family in financial distress. Relying on Baillie’s letters and new archival research, this essay tells the fuller story of Baillie’s Collection and considers it as an innovative act of literary philanthropy, a precursor to the British annual, and a significant gathering of one strand of Romantic-era poetry. An amended table of contents identifies some of the anonymous and lesser-known contributors.

title page

Figure 1: Title page, _A Collection of Poems_ (1823; courtesy of The Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations)

Few scholars have examined the important volume of verse that Joanna Baillie assembled and edited in 1822–23, A Collection of Poems, Chiefly Manuscript, and From Living Authors.[1] The title page declares that A Collection was “edited for the benefit of a friend,” though that friend is never named (Fig. 1). The volume, intended to be sold by subscription only, brings together previously unpublished or uncollected works by many of the most important and popular writers of the day: Sir Walter Scott, Thomas Campbell, William Wordsworth, Robert Southey, Anna Barbauld, and Felicia Hemans, among others. The subscription was a great success, as the 36 pages of 1573 subscribers’ names attest,[2] and a number of the poems, including some from lesser-known writers, became anthology favorites in the following decades. Diego Saglia has astutely identified A Collection as “a work that testifies to the networks of contact, exchange and collaboration among female (and male) writers in the later Romantic period, as well as to Baillie’s central position in this context” (129). But there has been no extended analysis of the volume’s history or contents, and what does exist is often misleading. Drawing on Baillie’s published but scattered correspondence,[3] this essay describes the volume’s creation, identifies the friend for whose benefit the volume was produced, offers an analysis of the volume’s contents, and positions the volume in the generic development of the British annual. In doing so, the essay fills in a key episode lacking in Baillie biographies and contributes to the growing body of literature on sociability and “conversable worlds” in the Romantic era.[4]

Baillie published regularly in the first decade of the nineteenth century, and her plays were reviewed widely and performed with some success. However, after the 1812 appearance of her third collection of A Series of Plays, in which it is attempted to delineate the stronger passions of the mind, she published no new volumes for the rest of the decade. It was only in 1821 that she returned with a burst of new work. The year was challenging for Baillie, both personally and professionally. It began with the death on 7 January of her aunt Anne (née Home) Hunter. Baillie became close to her aunt in 1784, when the Baillies moved to London from Scotland. Hunter, wife of the famous surgeon John Hunter, aided Baillie in entering London’s literary circles and offered her one model of a female writer.[5] “She was very kind to me,” Baillie wrote many years later; “I was often with her and she used to read to me every new composition as it came from her pen” (Scotswoman 101). Many of Anne Hunter’s poems had circulated widely in manuscript form, but in subsequent years Baillie facilitated the publication of her aunt’s poems (along with her own) in George Thomson’s collections of songs.[6] Anne Hunter was 79, and her death was not unexpected. Still, it must have been a challenging time, and Baillie spent the “gloomy month” of January in London attending to family matters and recovering from illness (CL 563).

Despite this difficult start, Baillie seemed keen to reawaken her own career in 1821. Baillie rarely published in journals, but in January her poem “To a Child” appeared in the first issue of the new series of the New Monthly Magazine, now under Thomas Campbell’s editorship. Later in the year, Longman published a new, three-volume edition of A Series of Plays. But Baillie’s other literary forays were less successful. In April, she submitted a new play, The Homicide, to Covent Garden at the behest of its manager Charles Kemble, but it was turned down the following month (FL 75–6, 78–9).[7] July saw the publication of her long-planned collection, Metrical Legends of Exalted Characters, but the critical reception disappointed her. Though the volume reached a second edition that same year, Baillie wrote to Scott, “it does not appear to me that they are very much approved of here” (CL 403). Rival publisher John Murray concurred. “It is trash,” he wrote Lord Byron (Murray 388).[8] Perhaps her greatest disappointment concerned Edmund Kean’s long hoped-for revival of De Monfort, the play that had first gained Baillie widespread admiration. Longman produced a new edition of De Monfort, “forming the 30th Number of Mrs. Inchbald’s British Theatre,” seemingly to coincide with the play’s revival.[9] The play opened in late November and ran for five nights, but it was cancelled “as not being sufficiently productive to the treasury” (CL 208). Covent Garden manager Robert Elliston hoped that the play would be brought back in the spring of 1822, but this never happened (CL 569).[10]

Perhaps these literary and theatrical frustrations encouraged Baillie to put her efforts in a different direction, one where she made the decisions: editing a subscription volume of verse in order to aid a friend. Baillie’s letters provide some information about this friend, a Mrs. James Stirling, her circumstances, and the proposed volume. The fullest account appears in Baillie’s earliest known solicitation for literary assistance, a 27 January 1822 letter to Barbarina Brand, Lady Dacre:

There is a friend and old schoolfellow of mine, who, after having been brought up in affluence and living in that state till within a few years of the present time, finds herself reduced to absolute poverty, a small yearly pittance excepted, which some of her friends have said they will allow her as long as they can afford to do so. She has four single daughters grown up, who, after having been brought up delicately, are now preparing to find situations in the world to do for themselves. In this state of things, as she is an estimable woman who has borne misfortune with great fortitude, and is liked and respected both in Scotland (for she is a Scotchwoman) and here, I have offered to edit for her advantage a collection of poems in one volume, to be published by subscription. I wish the collection to be composed chiefly of MSS., or such pieces as have only been printed privately, and I am anxious that it should be in itself a creditable book, that I may not be accused of altogether picking people’s pockets for the benefit of my friend. Ah! little did I think that she would ever stand in need of any such a service from me! For well I remember, when I was a schoolgirl in Glasgow, her father’s house was the finest town house I had ever been in; and I looked at the livery servants and the set-out dinner, with all its jellies and whirli-gigs, and the dressed ladies playing at cards, etc., and scarcely knew how to behave myself. (FL 82–3)

A few days later, in a 2-4 February letter to Sir Walter Scott, Baillie adds that her friend’s “Husband is insolvent and dying, I believe, of a broken heart; and she will be left without a sixpence . . . [T]he subscription will be a guinea, and I am in hopes it will produce a considerable sum” (CL 404–5).

Details of Joanna Baillie’s youth are famously scarce: her earliest surviving letter dates from 1800 (when she was 37), and our main sources of biographical information are two memoirs written by her later in life. From these sources, we know that Baillie was sent to a Glasgow boarding school when she was ten years old; thus she and the future Mrs. Stirling would have been schoolfellows in the early 1770s.[11] The Stirlings have never been identified, but genealogical resources and Baillie’s letters provide the required information. James Stirling (born 1760) died in London on 3 February 1822, according to the Gentleman’s Magazine.[12] He was a son of Glasgow textile merchant William Stirling (1717–1777) and, indeed, one of the three “Sons” of the textile and dyeing firm “William Stirling & Sons.” Stirling married Margaret Murdoch on 10 January 1783, and they had at least eight children, two sons and six daughters.[13] While no known letters survive between Baillie and the Stirlings, there are occasional references to the Murdoch family, several of which confirm their relation to Mrs. Stirling.[14] These passing references to Mrs. Stirling suggest that she and, one assumes, her family were living in or near Glasgow at the start of the nineteenth century. The family must have moved south, however, for James Stirling rented Thorncroft Manor in Surrey from 1814 to 1821 (Garnier 84).[15] The reasons for James Stirling’s insolvency, and the reasons his family did not come to the aid of his widow and children, remain unclear. But existing evidence confirms Margaret (née Murdoch) Stirling (born 12 October 1763) as the beneficiary of Baillie’s generosity.

There is a long history in the Romantic era and earlier of collections edited to benefit a writer or the surviving family members after a writer’s death. Usually such an edition offers a new work or collects the past work of the writer. It is far less common for an editor to call upon an assortment of writers to donate work on behalf of an individual, particularly an individual with no familial relation to a writer. Baillie herself had endorsed subscription volumes that collected a writer’s work in order to aid a destitute writer (CL 160–61, 473–4). She had also donated a work, at the behest of John Galt, for a collection that would raise funds for the Royal Caledonian Asylum.[16] Most famously, she donated some of the proceeds from her 1810 play The Family Legend to aid an impoverished family in northern Scotland (FL 46, CL 273). But the particular configuration of A Collection of Poems—a gathering of poems from various authors strictly to benefit a needy family, a family whose name was unknown to almost all of the subscribers—was certainly unusual and possibly unique in the Romantic era.

Baillie sent her earliest requests for poetic donations to literary neighbors and friends, including Lady Dacre, William Sotheby, and Margaret Holford. But from the beginning she had another author in mind as the cornerstone of her collection: her long-time correspondent, Sir Walter Scott. She contacted Scott in early February, calling on his “friendly & open disposition” (CL 404). He immediately agreed to assist her but, in place of a poem, suggested a scene or short play in blank verse based on the fourteenth-century Battle of Halidon Hill. He recognized the incongruity of the suggestion: “it would be sending coals to Newcastle with a vengeance not to mention salt to Dysart and all other superfluous importation” (Scott, Letters 7.61). But the reversal of roles pleased Baillie. She replied, “It will be drole enough to have you writing in blank verse for it and me writing in rhyme, like changing sides in a country dance. We shall stand opposed to one another, but I must not presume to say on the equal footing of partners” (CL 407). While her long time bankers Thomas Coutts & Co. accepted subscriptions in London, she asked Scott to set up a similar account for subscriptions at the Royal Bank of Scotland. “From that Banking house it will be transmitted to Messr[s] Coutts in the Strand, who will keenly take charge of the whole and this will save confusion,” she wrote Scott (CL 407). It would surely also encourage Scottish subscribers, who would hear of Walter Scott and other local heroes associated with the enterprise.

subscription page

Figure 2: First subscription page, A Collection of Poems (1823; courtesy of The Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations)

Baillie was also canny in approaching influential figures not known as poets: her contributors included astronomer John Herschel and army officer Alexander Dirom, figures who might attract a different but equally affluent subscriber. Soliciting a poem from Sir Thomas Lawrence, then President of the Royal Academy, she wrote to him that Sir Humphrey Davy, the President of the Royal Society, “has been kind enough to give me one of his, and to have poems from two distinguished Presidents would be very flattering to my vanity were there no better purpose to serve by it” (CL 490–91).[17] Furthermore, she emphasized that the book would be limited to a single edition. “My book which is to be published by subscription will never go into general sale,” she wrote Henry Mackenzie, “for no more copies will be printed than what are sufficient to supply the subscribers” (CL 1131). Poetry readers had only this chance to own the volume (Fig. 2).[18]

Baillie’s epistolary requests were unpretentious and polite but firm: she expected quality work from her donors. Scottish poet Anne Grant apparently sent Baillie a large assortment of poems, but Baillie chose only one for her volume (FL 86). When Sir John Herschel sent Baillie some verse composed while in transit, she thanked him warmly but requested something better: “Writing so well in so short a time and in a Stage Coach, what would you not do in the silence of your own chamber, and reasonable time allowed for it? . . . Pray think upon this, and let me have something more to my fancy” (CL 787). He obliged, sending five poems, three of which Baillie selected (CL 789).[19] Most remarkably, she seems to have rejected a contribution from Henry Mackenzie, though he apparently wrote a poem especially for her, and after many years of not composing poetry: “Had the Poem been on a less Local subject, I should have been thankful to have it, to enliven the sentimental gravity which may perhaps too much prevail in my collection . . . and should have begged, tho’ not importuned you to let me insert it” (CL 1132).[20]

While most of the works included in A Collection had not been previously published, it is worth noting that a significant number had appeared in print—more than are usually acknowledged. Anna Barbauld’s “On the King’s Illness” first appeared in the 6 October 1811 Monthly Repository (608). Before its original publication, Barbauld shared the poem with Baillie, who found it deeply moving. The following year, in the aftermath of Barbauld’s Eighteen Hundred and Eleven, Baillie used the lines to defend Barbauld’s patriotism in a letter to Walter Scott: “they are full of respect & delicate com[m]iseration, and are perhaps the most touching verses ever written by any subject upon any Prince” (CL 314). No wonder, then, that Baillie would seize an opportunity to republish the poem in her volume.[21] But other works had been published more recently. Three of Catherine Fanshawe’s contributions had been previously (and in two cases, repeatedly) printed in the past decade—her “A Riddle” on the letter H was misattributed to Lord Byron from 1815 forward.[22] Thomas Campbell’s only contribution, “To the Rainbow,” had appeared in the January 1821 issue of the New Monthly Magazine—the same issue that included Baillie’s “To a Boy” (which itself reappears in A Collection). James Hyslop’s anonymous anapaestic contribution “Cameronian Dream” (“In a dream of the night I was wafted away”), later a staple of Scottish anthologies, had previously appeared in the February 1821 Edinburgh Magazine and Literary Miscellany (112). Such exceptions justify the title’s appositional phrase (Chiefly Manuscript) and suggest Baillie’s willingness to sacrifice absolute originality for quality poems from recognized sources.

Baillie’s requests provided a steady stream of contributions through the first half of 1822, but many of the most famous contributions reached her late in the process. Wordsworth submitted his two sonnets in July, while Southey sent her “The Cataract of Lodore” in November. Baillie was especially pleased with the last work: “It is not only a water-fall but a wind-fall to me, for I was mightily in want of some lively whimsical thing to lighten the somberness of too much sentiment, and this is lively, whimsical & original to my heart’s content” (FL 88). Two of Baillie’s contemporaries, Samuel Rogers and William Lisle Bowles, also added contributions in November or later (CL 801).

But it was Baillie’s friend Sir Walter Scott who made her wait the longest. Scott’s planned scene expanded into a full-length play, Halidon Hill, which clearly would not fit within the confines of Baillie’s volume. Instead he published Halidon Hill as a separate volume, inscribing it to Baillie.[23] He then promised her a poem entitled “The Vigil,” but Baillie waited in vain for this work. She went on an extended holiday to Devonshire and expected Scott’s poem to be present on her return.[24] On 4 November she wrote Scott, “I am now anxious to get my book to press as soon as may be, and if you will have the kindness to send me your much desired contribution with all convenient speed, I shall be very much obliged to you” (CL 413). A month later she was almost out of patience:

This is the 3d of Decr and I have not yet received it. If you were a forgetful friend or a lazy man, I should not much wonder at this; but you are neither, therefore I say with some degree of anxiety, “what has become of my promised poem the Vigil”? I fear you have sent it in some Bookseller’s packet or by some private hand, where privately enough it may remain for 3 weeks to come whilst I am all impatient & out of sorts, because I cannot proceed one step further in my business till I have it. (CL 415)

For his part, Scott had been through one of the most trying periods of his career. The second half of July and all of August were spent planning and then hosting George IV’s spectacular two-week visit to Edinburgh. If this were not enough, his close friend William Erskine, Lord Kinneder, died on 14 August (the day of the King’s arrival) under circumstances that caused Scott much pain.[25] The stress and exhaustion caused by these events no doubt explain the rash that covered his body, so that in October he wrote his son that his “arms and legs [were] spotted like a leopard’s (Scott, Letters 7.263).” Other literary work, including his next novel, Peveril of the Peak, took up much of his time. He finally delivered “MacDuff’s Cross” to Baillie in early January 1823. Scott was not happy with his production; Baillie made the best of it, thanking him on 13 January:

In spite of all you say against MacDuff’s Cross, I am right well satisfied therewith. It is a very interesting scene, heroic & true to nature & comprised in small room so as to suit my collection perfectly; and as for the blanc verse it will sound well either in the hall or by the loupin-on-stane. Many thanks to you for employing any part of your precious time, and when your mind was so anxious about things that touch you nearly, in writing for me: it was the act of a kind friend and as such I feel & consider it . . . To morrow I shall put my Mss into Longman’s hand, who promises me that the book shall be printed off immediately.[26]

On 10 March, she wrote to Alexander Dirom: “my Collection . . . is now printed off (I mean all the practical part) and only waits subscribers names being also finished to be entirely compleat” (FL 91). Confusion around the list of subscribers caused delays: some names were accidentally left off, so Baillie and her sisters added them by hand (CL 1221).[27] A Collection Of Poems, Chiefly Manuscript, and from Living Authors was finally published and delivered to subscribers in mid-April. In its immediate purpose, it was an overwhelming success, allowing for the purchase of £2318 worth of four percent stock for Margaret Stirling and her children. As Baillie wrote Murray, “Perhaps you will be amused when I tell you, that this subscription has produced more—considerably more money for my friend than all my own writings have ever produced for myself” (FL 93).[28]

Was it equally successful as a volume of poetry? Baillie herself was pleased with the final result, though she recognized the uneven quality of the verse. She wrote Scott,

You will [find] a good variety of things in it, some good & some indifferent. Some of my friends in their zeal . . . begged poems for me where I did not want them, and put me into such situations as obliged me to accept not what is absolutely bad, but what I should rather have been without. This, however, is a secret (CL 417).

The volume opens with Scott’s short play, “MacDuff’s Cross,” and closes with Baillie’s Scottian ballad “Sir Maurice.” Her promise to “stand opposed” to Scott thus takes on both formal and structural significance: each takes the other’s preferred genre at either side of the collection. In between, she mixes popular writers with anonymous or little-known contributors. Nevertheless, the first pages of A Collection are crowded with its most famous male authors—Scott, William Sotheby, Friedrich Schiller (translated by Sotheby), Campbell, Southey, Wordsworth, George Crabbe—though a few female authors accompany them. Anna Barbauld and Catherine Fanshawe (though identified as simply “F—”) both make the first contents page. But the first female author to appear (placed between Campbell and Southey) is Baillie’s aunt, the recently deceased Anne Hunter. Three lyrics by “The late Mrs. John Hunter” appear in these opening pages, and four more are placed near the volume’s close. In doing so, Baillie claims a place for her aunt among the important writers of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Baillie’s six contributions are scattered throughout, but they are also something of a generic tour de force: they include a song, a long descriptive poem, three varied examples of apostrophe (including “To Mrs. Siddons”), and a ballad. A Collection, then, is a book to aid a friend, to do justice to a deceased mentor, and to remind readers of the editor’s own poetic skills.

contents page

Figure 3: First contents page, _A Collection of Poems_ (1823; courtesy of The Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations)

But there are certain aspects that make reading A Collection a rather odd experience. Its strangeness begins with its ungrammatical title: since some of the poems had been previously published and several of the authors were deceased, the comma after Manuscript must be removed for the title to make sense.[29] The title page—the only place where Baillie’s name appears in the whole volume—is followed by a brief, unsigned “Advertisement.” Then follows the distractingly long list of “Subscribers’ Names”—surely one of the era’s longest subscription lists.[30] Most startlingly, there is no contents list in the opening pages, nor do authors’ names appear with their contributions. The contents list only appears at the end of the volume (Fig. 3). Readers must shuttle back and forth if they want to know the name of the author whose work they are reading. This seems to have been a conscious decision and not a printer’s error.[31] This unusual method of organization gives readers the opportunity to guess at the identity of the writers whose works are read—a potential source of readerly pleasure, as noted below—and it momentarily puts popular and lesser-known writers on an equal footing. But if the delayed contents page encouraged a playful response to textual identity and authority, another decision certainly caused unintended confusion: the use of long dashes on the contents pages to signify an anonymous contribution. Some readers misread the long dash as “ditto” and mistakenly identified the previously named poet as the author. “The Lark,” for example, appears without an author immediately after Barbauld’s two contributions, and numerous journals republished it as Barbauld’s work in later years. Yet we know with certainty that its author is John Herschel. Nevertheless, its authorship was still in dispute in the 1990s. This element of Baillie’s volume is responsible for an extraordinary number of misattributions.[32]

Though the volume was not published for wider sale, a number of journals reviewed or commented on A Collection. The reviews were generally positive, though they are perhaps most interesting for the variety of poems selected for praise. Scott, Campbell, and Barbauld are most often quoted or admired, but works from many lesser-known writers garner equal admiration. The May 1823 Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine quotes approvingly from John Merivale and John Marriott, while the April 1824 Monthly Review and May 1823 British Critic give high praise to Henry Galley Knight’s contribution. According to the September 1823 Eclectic Review, “the most beautiful poems in the collection, decidedly, are from the pens either of females, or of scarcely known or anonymous writers. . . . Such works as these shew, more than any half dozen splendid chef d’oeuvres [sic], the character and spirit of the age” (275). Critics were divided over “Lodore”: the British Critic quoted it in full, while the Monthly Review declared, “we do not, especially in this place, relish Mr. Southey’s Nursery-Verses on the Fall of Lodore, and wonder that they have been inserted” (417).

The most memorable comments inspired by A Collection appear in an amusing May 1823 “Noctes Ambrosianae” exchange. After James Hogg quotes from Scott’s contribution (“Oo, just a bit hasty sketch—but some grand bits in’t, man”), William Maginn (Odoherty) asks, “what more is there?”

Hogg: Whoay, there’s almost every name that’s a name ava here, an be not mine ain and Byron’s. There’s Wordsworth—twa sair teugh sonnets o’ his—and Soothey, Lord keep us a’! they’re the maist daft like havers I ever met wi’, the lines of his about a Linn.

Odoherty: Pass the Laureate—does Coleridge figure?

Hogg: No—no wi’ his name at ony rate, (I had clean forgotten Coleridge.)—But there’s Crabbe and Milman, and Mrs. Grant, and General Dirom, and Miss Holford, and John Richardson (605).

The mention of Coleridge is an important reminder of one of the now-less-obvious pleasures of Baillie’s Collection: guessing the authors of the 30 anonymous or initialed poems. Given the high quality of named authors, it was certainly possible that a Coleridge poem lurked among the unnamed offerings.[33] But the passage also points to the poets who are certainly not present: Byron and the circle of writers most closely associated with him in 1823, among them Thomas Moore, the recently deceased Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Baillie’s sometime Hampstead neighbor Leigh Hunt. Significantly, the Noctes conversation moves immediately from Baillie’s volume to a disparaging discussion of The Liberal, the journal on which Hunt and Byron collaborated in Pisa, and whose latest issue also appeared in April 1823. (On The Liberal, see Jane Stabler, “Religious Liberty in the ‘Liberal,’ 1822-23.″) Odoherty announces (incorrectly), “The last Number contains not one line of Byron’s.—Thank God! he has seen his error, and kicked them out” (607).

Baillie was a close friend of Lady Byron (herself a subscriber to A Collection), so it is not surprising that Byron is a noticeable absence from the volume. And there is no evidence to suggest that Baillie shaped her volume as some kind of pronouncement on the state of British letters, or as a response to the radical poetics of Hunt, Shelley, and Byron. Indeed, her volume suggests the difficulties of making these divisions stick: many poets admired by Byron—Scott, Campbell, Crabbe—appear in A Collection.[34] Nevertheless, these two collaborative productions have more in common than scholars have realized, and they deserve further study in relation to one another. Both projects have a cosmopolitan angle, with translations from the German and Italian, and a strong pro-Greece element (evident in A Collection’s series of poems by Charles Brinsley Sheridan). In some ways, A Collection is the more daring work: the lack of an obvious list of contributors and the mix of major writers beside talented amateurs encourage a kind of democratic reading experience that might have alarmed even Lord Byron. And, while Mary Shelley was the only female contributor to The Liberal, A Collection boasts at least eleven women writers. In this setting, the old guard looks more open to generic innovation and female collaboration than the new.[35]

A Collection is also worth considering in light of the imminent popularity of literary annuals. Indeed, A Collection may be Baillie’s most innovative contribution to the history of book production in Britain: a hinge between an older form of poetic distribution via autograph album and shared manuscript (these poems are, after all, Chiefly Manuscript) and the looming explosion of literary annuals. Baillie’s volume appeared at the start of the annual era: the Forget Me Not, usually considered Britain’s first literary annual, appeared in November 1822 (Harris). (On the Annual, see Katherine D. Harris, “The Legacy of Rudolph Ackermann and Nineteenth-Century British Literary Annuals.”) Like the annuals, A Collection featured unpublished work by well-known writers. Through its raison d’être and the topics of many of its poems, it anticipated the themes of friendship and memory that would soon be mined by the annuals (with titles like Friendship’s Offering and Remember Me!). Unlike its more capitalistic followers, however, Baillie’s volume offers little economic advantage for the writers, editor, or publisher; instead it aids an actual friend in need. It does not simply mimic the sentiments of generosity and friendship; it embodies and produces those sentiments.[36]

For her own part, Baillie never again took on a similar collaborative project. She turned down offers to contribute to various annuals, and she even refused James Montgomery’s request for a poem for a collection to aid chimney sweeps (FL 94–95). Her literary generosity continued, however: in the following decade her publications included a pamphlet for children against cruelty towards animals, a play written for a Sinhalese audience, and an ambitious work on Unitarian principles.[37] Like A Collection itself, these later productions suggest Baillie’s wide-ranging interests, her willingness to cross generic boundaries, and her belief in a writer’s moral responsibility to her wider community.

Thomas McLean is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Otago in New Zealand. He is the editor of Further Letters of Joanna Baillie (2010) and author of The Other East and Nineteenth-Century British Literature: Imagining Poland and the Russian Empire (2012).

Appendix: Amended Table of Contents, A Collection of Poems, Chiefly Manuscript, and from Living Authors. Ed. Joanna Baillie. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1823.

Sir Walter Scott, “MacDuff’s Cross,” 1
William Sotheby, “Fair Mead Lodge,” 21
William Sotheby, trans., Friedrich Schiller, “The Lay of the Bell,” 25
Thomas Campbell, “To the Rainbow,” 43
Anne Home Hunter, “The Lot of Thousands,” 46
Anne Home Hunter, “Oh Power Supreme, that fill’st the whole,” 47
Anne Home Hunter, “The Evening Primrose,” 48
Robert Southey, “Lines in the Album, at Lowther Castle,” 50
William Wordsworth, “Sonnet—Not love nor war,” 52
William Wordsworth, “Sonnet—A volant tribe of bards,” 53
William Smyth,[38] “To Mrs. Fry,” 54
William Smyth, “St. Cecilia,” 55
George Crabbe, “Hope and Memory,” 56
F— [Catherine Fanshawe],[39] “Elegy on the Abrogation of the Birth-night Ball,” 65
F— [Catherine Fanshawe], “A Riddle—‘Twas in heaven pronounced,” 71
F— [Catherine Fanshawe], “A Riddle—Inscrib’d on many a learned page,” 72
— [unidentified], “The Clearing Shower,” 73
— [unidentified], “‘Tis sweet the gifts surveying,” 76
— [William Lisle Bowles],[40] “Sonnet—When last we parted, thou wert young and fair,” 77
Anna Barbauld, “On the King’s Illness,” 78
Anna Barbauld, “On Returning a Plant after the Bloom was over,” 80
— [Sir John Herschel],[41] “To the Lark,” 81
John Richardson,[42] “Song—Her features speak the warmest heart,” 84
Lady Dacre, “Stanzas suggested by a Canzone of Petrarch,” 85
Joanna Baillie, “A Volunteer Song,” 88
Samuel Rogers, “The Fountain,” 91
Charles Brinsley Sheridan, “Sonnet—written at the Piræus, 1820,” 93
Charles Brinsley Sheridan, “Sonnet—written off Cefalonia, 1820,” 94
Charles Brinsley Sheridan, “Sonnet—on leaving Greece,” 95
Charles Brinsley Sheridan, “Lines written at Athens in 1820,” 96
Charles Brinsley Sheridan, “The Address of Odusseus to the Greeks,” 100
Charles Brinsley Sheridan, “The Song of Triumph of the Greeks,” 104
Charles Brinsley Sheridan, “Chorus of Greek Matrons,” 107
Sir William Pepys,[43] “To a Friend on his Wedding-day,” 112
Edward Coxe,[44] “The Last Leaf,” 114
Edward Coxe, “On Reading Marmion,” 115
Mary Dixon,[45] “On a Grey Hair,” 116
Charles Johnston,[46] “Sonnet—I know thee not,” 118
Felicia Hemans, “Belshazzar’s Feast,” 119
Charles Johnston, “Sonnet on the Apennines,” 126
Charles Johnston, “Sonnet at the Lake Thrasymenus,” 127
William Lisle Bowles, “The Greenwich Pensioners,” 128
Anna Maria Porter, “Hymn on the Seasons,” 131
— [unidentified], Time and Friendship,” 134
— [unidentified], Written underneath the Drawing of a Flying Cupid,” 136
Alexander Dirom,[47] “Annan Water,” 138
— [Sir John Herschel],[48] The Sailor’s Departure,” 142
Lord Glenbervie,[49] “The Seasons of Life,” 143
Lord Glenbervie, “To Memory,” 144
Walter Farquhar Hook,[50] “Pæstum,” 147
Joanna Baillie, “To Mrs. Siddons,” 150
Charles Johnston, “Sonnet—Spirit of evil,” 154
Charles Johnston, “Sonnet—The marks of death were on him,” 155
— [Humphrey Davy],[51] “Life,” 156
John Marriott,[52] “The Devonshire Lane,” 163
Joanna Baillie, “To a Child,” 165
F— [Catherine Fanshawe], “Epistle to the Earl of Harcourt,” 167
— [William Howison],[53] “The Robber Polydore,” 178
— [unidentified], “On Burning a Packet of Letters,” 184
— [unidentified], “Inscription for a Seat, &c.,” 185
Anne Grant of Laggan, “On a Sprig of Heath,” 186
— [unidentified], “Fothringay,” 188
— [Sir John Herschel],[54] “The Lament,” 192
Charles Johnston, “Sonnet to —,” 194
Charles Johnston, “Sonnet—I’ve seen my day,” 195
Charles Johnston, “Sonnet—There is a virtue,” 196
Henry Hart Milman, “The Loss of the Royal George,” 197
Henry Gally Knight, “A Portrait,” 200
— [unidentified], “De la Charité pour les pauvres Prisonniers,” 207
John Richardson, “Song—Yes, thou may’st walk,” 212
Henry Malden,[55] “Evening,” 214
— [unidentified], “Sunset Meditation,” 227
— [unidentified], “On Time—addressed to a Lady on her 84th Birth-day,” 230
William Smyth, “Love,” 231
— [William Sotheby], “A Character,” 233
William Smyth, “L’ennuyée,” 236
William Smyth, “The Merry Heart,” 238
William Smyth, “The Mother’s Remonstrance,” 240
— [Sir Thomas Elmsley Croft],[56] “Lines written on the Field of Quatre Bras,” 242
— [Sir Thomas Elmsley Croft], “On a Sleeping Boy,” 245
Margaret Holford, “On Memory—written at Aix-la-Chapelle,” 246
Margaret Holford, “Lines suggested by a Portrait of the Queen of France,” 248
— [unidentified], “Orpheus to Eurydice,” 251
— [unidentified], “Lines written in the Autumn of 1818,” 254
Elizabeth Benger, “The Ship’s Return,” 255
Sir George Beaumont, “Additional Lines to Retaliation,” 258
Joanna Baillie, “Address to a Stream Vessel,” 259
John Merivale,[57] “Devon’s Poly Olbion,” 265
Robert Southey, “The Cataract of Lodore,” 280
Elizabeth Benger, “A Sketch,” 284
— [James Hyslop],[58] “Cameronian Dream,” 286
Joanna Baillie, “A November Night’s Traveller,” 290
Anne Home Hunter, “A Simile—I saw the wild rose,” 301
Anne Home Hunter, “Tomorrow,” 302
Anne Home Hunter, “To the Nymph of the Mountain,” 303
Anne Home Hunter, “Song—When hollow bursts the rushing winds,” 304
— [unidentified], “The sun declines, his joyous course is o’er,” 305
— [unidentified], “Friends, when I die prepare my welcome Grave,” 306
— [unidentified], “Tho’ pleasures fade, and wealth is gone,” 308
I— [unidentified], “To Count — on the Death of his Wife,” 309
Joanna Baillie, “Sir Maurice,—a Ballad,” 311

HOW TO CITE THIS BRANCH ENTRY (MLA format)

McLean, Thomas. “Donation and Collaboration: Joanna Baillie’s A Collection of Poems, Chiefly Manuscript, and From Living Authors, April 1823.” BRANCH: Britain, Representation and Nineteenth-Century History. Ed. Dino Franco Felluga. Extension of Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net. Web. [Here, add your last date of access to BRANCH].

WORKS CITED

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ENDNOTES

[1] I know of no chapters or essays devoted to A Collection. Clarke’s ODNB entry makes no mention of it. Slagle’s Joanna Baillie: A Literary Life provides scattered references and a brief discussion (165–67). Carhart’s comments in The Life and Work of Joanna Baillie are even briefer (29–30). A Collection merits only a paragraph in the most extensive gathering of Baillie scholarship, Crochunis’s Joanna Baillie, Romantic Dramatist (18).

[2] This is the number of printed names. Some subscribers’ names were omitted and added by hand in some copies; other copies include a “Names Omitted” page (xlv) listing 21 additional subscribers. As a point of comparison, Frances Burney’s celebrated subscription to Camilla (1796) attracted 1058 individuals.

[3] The Collected Letters of Joanna Baillie, edited by Slagle, organizes some 800 letters by correspondent or depository. Further Letters of Joanna Baillie, edited by McLean, adds another 270 letters in chronological order. Subsequent references to these volumes appear as CL or FL. McLean’s “One from Many” organizes all of the letters in chronological order and corrects errors in both editions.

[4] Important work in this field includes Russell and Tuite’s Romantic Sociability and Mee’s Conversable Worlds.

[5] For a discussion of Anne Hunter’s relationship with Joanna Baillie, see Grigson 38f.

[6] For Thomson’s relationships with Baillie and Hunter, see Grigson 72–73 and Slagle, “Ballads and Folksongs.” For recent discussions of Hunter’s poetry, see Armstrong, “Introduction,” and Slagle, “Opposing the Medical World.”

[7] The Homicide was eventually published in Baillie’s 1836 Dramas.

[8] For more recent appraisals, see Slagle Romantic Appropriations and Fermanis.

[9] The quoted advertisement for this new edition (“This day is published, price 1s.”) appears on page 2 of the 27 November 1821 Times.

[10] Baillie had better success with Kean than either William Sotheby or Jane Porter; see CL 349 and CL 1191, respectively. Though De Monfort was not revived in London, Carhart notes that Kean again performed the play in Bath (June 1822), Birmingham (July 1822), and New York City (December 1826). See Carhart 122–30, 141–2.

[11] For Baillie’s memoirs of her youth, see Scotswoman. The Baillies left Glasgow after the death of Joanna’s father in 1778; see Carhart 9–10.

[12]Feb. 3. In Hans-place, aged 62, James Stirling, esq.” Gentleman’s Magazine (February 1822), 190.

[13] Sterling (161) identifies seven children but omits one daughter, Elizabeth Agnes Stirling (Cheltoniensis 657). Baillie mentions only four daughters because the eldest, Mary (born 1786), had died in 1821, and the third daughter, Anna (1793–1856), had married her cousin George Stirling of Cordale (1783–1864). Corroborative information gathered from Ancestry.com by searching Margaret Murdoch and James Stirling (d.1822).

[14] “I was much obliged to you, my dear Miss Murdoch, for your kind letter with the good accounts it gave me of your Sister Mrs Stirling” (CL 1110). “Miss Murdock” was also responsible for distributing copies of A Collection to subscribers in Glasgow (CL 419).

[15] Eldest daughter Mary Stirling died at Thorncroft on 28 February 1821; see The European Magazine and London Review (May 1821), 470. Le Faye reproduces an image of Thorncroft Manor in a discussion of Emma Woodhouse’s home Hartfield (255–57).

[16] See The Banquet, which includes Baillie’s “A Sailor’s Song” (58–61). The song later appeared in Baillie’s Fugitive Verses (326–7) and again in Dramatic and Poetical Works (1825), with an explanatory footnote: “Written at the request of Mr. Galt for his Musical Selection, called ‘The Banquet,’ performed for the benefit of the Caledonian Asylum, (the music from Macbeth).”

[17] She added wryly, “To the President of the College of Physicians I dont mean to apply” (CL 491). Her brother Matthew Baillie had been elected president in 1820. Humphrey Davy’s anonymous contribution, “Life,” is an extensively reworked version of his earlier poem “Written after Recovery from a Dangerous Illness.” See Davy 1.390–2. Lawrence appears among the subscribers, but if he contributed a poem, it has not yet been identified.

[18] Slagle claims that a second edition appeared in 1832 (CL 28, 1076, and elsewhere), but there is no evidence that this is correct.

[19] Interestingly these appeared anonymously, and Herschel is not among the subscribers.

[20] I have not located Mackenzie’s side of the correspondence, so there may be more to the story. This is, however, the last surviving letter Baillie wrote to Mackenzie, and he is noticeably lacking from the list of subscribers.

[21] Barbauld was initially ambivalent about offering work for Baillie’s volume, as she hoped to gather her uncollected poems into a volume of her own. Her two letters on the topic appear in Rodgers 241–43. See also McCarthy (463–64, 661) and Levy. Another early work reprinted in A Collection is William Howison’s anonymous contribution “The Robber Polydore,” which previously appeared as “Polydore. A Ballad” in The Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810. Edinburgh: John Ballantyne, 1812. lxxix–lxxxiii.

[22] Fanshawe’s “A Riddle” (on the letter H) was early on credited to Lord Byron: it appears as “An Enigma,” with its variant opening line, “‘Twas whispered in heaven, and muttered in hell,” in Elizabeth Sandham’s collection Poetic Flowers (Southampton: T. Baker, 1815), 37, and again in The Repository of Arts, Literature, Fashions, Manufactures, &c. 3, no. 18 (1 June 1817), 366. It appears without attribution in The Ladies’ Monthly Museum (January 1818), 60. Fanshawe’s “Elegy” appears as “The Death of the Minuet” in The Edinburgh Magazine and Literary Miscellany (May 1820), 453. “A Riddle” (on a pillion) appears anonymously in The Frolics of the Sphynx; or, An Entirely Original Collection of Charades, Riddles, and Conundrums (Oxford: Munday and Slatter, 1812), 56, and “By Miss Fanshawe” in The Kaleidoscope; or, Literary and Scientific Mirror: A Weekly Publication 32 (6 February 1821), 253. By signing these works “F—,” Fanshawe perhaps hoped to rule out all rumored authors like Byron while retaining some anonymity.

[23] “To Joanna Baillie, at whose instance the task was undertaken, these scenes are inscribed, as a slight testimony of the author’s high respect for her talents, as well as of his sincere and faithful friendship.”

[24] Just before she departed London, on 11 July 1822, Baillie signed the Deed of Trust that assigned the first £1500 in subscription earnings to “Margaret Sterling [sic] of Taunton.” This Deed survives at the Somerset Heritage Centre (Misc. Taunton deeds, DD\DP/97/5). If Baillie visited Margaret Stirling during her holiday, she makes no mention of it in surviving letters.

[25] There were rumors of an illicit affair, which Scott believed had brought on Erskine’s final illness.

[26] National Library of Scotland 3896 ff. 9–10. In the published transcription, “loupin-on-stane” appears incorrectly as “leaping-on-stone” (CL 416).

[27] Some copies include a “Names Omitted” page (xlv) listing 21 additional subscribers. See, for instance, the Huntington Library copy, which was previously owned by the American Unitarian minister Orville Dewey. This suggests that the page was added to leftover copies that were sold later (see following footnote).

[28] Somerset Heritage Centre (Misc. Taunton deeds, DD\DP/97/5). There was one serious error in the subscription. Baillie had ordered 250 copies for subscribers in India, but the actual number was minimal. In June 1823, she offered these remaining copies to John Murray (CL 1161). In 1829, through the assistance of Andrews Norton, 50 copies were offered for sale in Boston, though ten years later the bookseller still had 39 copies left (CL 918, 948). Margaret Stirling and her daughters are rarely mentioned in Baillie’s later surviving correspondence. She notes a visit to Taunton in 1825 and spending “a day with my poor friend Mrs Stirling” (CL 581). There is some evidence that Margaret Stirling eventually moved to Darmstadt; see CL 463 and 482.

[29] Besides Anne Hunter and the (recently deceased) Charles Johnston, Baillie included two poems by Edward Coxe (d. 1814) and one poem by Mary Dixon (d. 1820). Contributor Sylvester Douglas, 1st Baron Glenbervie (1743­­–2 May 1823) died shortly after A Collection’s publication.

[30] Baillie was apparently thinking of this bulky appendage when she later wrote Margaret Hodson approvingly of the removal of subscription lists from publications (CL 647).

[31] The collation looks correct, and the contents pages ([327]–330) are numbered to follow the body of the book.

[32] A few examples: George Thomson’s A Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs (London: Preston, 1826) identifies Anna Maria Porter as the author of “Written underneath the Drawing of a Flying Cupid” (105). William B. Fowle’s New Speaker, or Exercises in Rhetoric (Boston: Hilliard, Gray, Little, and Wilkinson, 1829) names “Miss [Elizabeth] Benger” as the author of “Cameronian Dream” (368). Mrs. John Hunter is identified as the author of “Friends, when I die” in at least two works: Ocean Lays (Edinburgh: Johnstone, Hunter, and Co., [1864]), 133–35, and James Grant Wilson’s The Poets and Poetry of Scotland (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1876), 283. The internet has compounded the errors, as websites like poemhunter.com now identify all of the anonymous poems as the work of Joanna Baillie.

[33] I have identified fourteen, which leaves sixteen chances for a new work by Coleridge (or other notable) to be discovered here (see Appendix). Coleridge was living in Highgate at the time, so it is possible that Baillie approached him, but there is no epistolary evidence to make it likely. The lack of a Hogg poem is perhaps more surprising. Baillie knew of Hogg, referring to him in a letter to Scott as “your former protégé” (CL 335). She included the work of another Scott protégé, William Howison (“The Robber Polydore”); see CL 404, 420.

[34] It is, however, interesting to consider Wordsworth’s contributions within this particular context. “Not love, nor war” celebrates poetry of the “elmy grange” and “twilight dell” rather than “the tumultuous swell / Of civil conflicts,” while “A volant tribe of bards” more pointedly critiques those high-flying writers who produce “nests of clay, / Work cunningly devis’d” but only “seeming sound.”  Such sentiments appeared in Wordsworth’s 1800 preface to Lyrical Ballads, but they may have renewed meaning as a response to Byron’s taunts and technical acrobatics in Don Juan and the recent appearance of The Liberal.

[35] Such a comparison supports Jane Stabler’s recent suggestion that the problem with Byron and Shelley wasn’t so much politics as religion. See Jane Stabler, “Religious Liberty in the ‘Liberal.’”

[36] I know of only one volume that modeled itself after A Collection: Penelope Blencowe’s 1829 The Casket, A Miscellany, Consisting of Unpublished Poems was a volume of donated verse assisting an unnamed individual, and it follows Baillie by placing the contents list at the end of the volume. Many of the same poets who appear in A Collection also appear in Casket (including Baillie).

[37] Joanna Baillie, A Lesson Intended for the Use of the Hampstead School; The Bride; A View of the General Tenour of the New Testament Regarding the Nature and Dignity of Jesus Christ.

[38] William Smyth (1765–1849), historian and poet; from 1807 Regius Professor at Cambridge. See CL 1220–1.

[39] Catherine Maria Fanshawe (1765–1834), poet. See footnote 22; see also CL 211.

[40] Acknowledged in Bowles’s collection Days Departed (London: Murray, 1829), 141.

[41] See CL 789.

[42] John Richardson (1780–1864), lawyer. Richardson was a friend of many literary figures, including Baillie, Scott, and Thomas Campbell.

[43] Sir William Weller Pepys (1740–1825), writer and literary scholar.

[44] Edward Coxe (1747 or 1748–1814). Identified in A Collection as “The late Edward Coxe, Esq.” Coxe was a Hampstead neighbor whose Miscellaneous Poetry (Bath: R. Cruttwell, 1805) included the admiring “Sonnet. Addressed to Miss Joanna Baillie” (72). Coxe died 26 May 1814, aged 66 (Gentleman’s Magazine [June 1814], 628).

[45] Mary Dixon (1761–1820), artist. Identified in A Collection as “The late Mrs. Dixon, of Fellfoot [sic].”

[46] Charles Johnston (1791–1823). Identified in A Collection as “Charles Johnston, Esq. of Dunson [sic]. Johnston was the nephew of another contributor, William Smyth; see Memories of Some Contemporary Poets, with Selections from their Writings, ed. Emily Taylor (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1868), 35. The eight sonnets published in A Collection also appear (in slightly different versions) in Sonnets, Original and Translated, by the late Charles Johnston, Esq. of Danson, Kent, and formerly of Trinity College, Cambridge (London: John Murray, 1823).

[47] Alexander Dirom (1757–1830), army officer. See FL 84–5, 91.

[48] See CL 789.

[49] Sylvester Douglas, 1st Baron Glenbervie (1743­­–1823), politician and diarist.

[50] Walter Farquhar Hook (1798–1875), later dean of Chichester. Identified in A Collection as “The Rev Walter Farquar [sic] Hook.”

[51] “Life,” is an extensively reworked version of Davy’s earlier poem “Written after Recovery from a Dangerous Illness.” See John Davy, Memoirs of the Life of Sir Humphrey Davy, Bart. 2 vols. (London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Green, & Longman, 1836), 1.390–2.

[52] John Marriott (1780–1825), poet and Church of England clergyman. Identified in A Collection as “The Rev. John Marriot [sic].”

[53] See CL 404 and 420.

[54] See CL 789.

[55] Henry Malden (1800–1876). Identified in A Collection as “H. Maldon [sic], Esq. of Trinity Col. Cambridge.” See also CL 1220–1, where Baillie apologizes for leaving Malden’s name off the list of subscribers.

[56] Sir Thomas Elmsley Croft, Baronet (1798–1835), eldest son of Sir Richard Croft (1762–1818). He was a nephew of Baillie’s sister-in-law, Sophia Baillie (née Denman). “Lines” and “Sleeping Boy” reappear in The Poetical Remains of Sir Thomas Elmsley Croft Baronet (London: William Pickering, 1836), 11–14. After Croft’s death, Baillie wrote to Margaret Hodson, “I think you must have seen him and perhaps have read some of his verses, for he wrote sometimes with elegance & feeling” (CL 652).

[57] John Herman Merivale (1779–1844), lawyer and literary scholar. For many years Merivale was a Hampstead neighbour of Baillie.

[58] James Hyslop (1798–1827), Scottish poet.