The Public Domain Review

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Yuletide Entertainments (1910)

Thursday 22 December 2011 at 12:09


Yuletide Entertainments: Christmas recitations, monologues, drills, tableaux, motion songs, exercises, dialogues and plays, suitable for all ages, by Ellen M. Willard; 1910; T. S. Denison & company, Chicago.

Christmas recitations, monologues, drills, tableaux, motion songs, exercises, dialogues and plays, suitable for all ages. From the introduction: “It becomes more and more a part of Christmas gayety to present the legends, or the spirit of it, to the eye as well as the mind. For this purpose the following pages have been prepared in play and pantomime, songs and marches, drills and recitations. While the needs of adults have not been forgotten, those of the children have been most largely remembered, since Christmas is pre-eminently the children’s festival. A word to those who take charge of such affairs may not be amiss. Precision of movement is the keynote of success for everything of this kind. This does not mean stiffness, but it does mean exactitude and certainty. Uncertain gestures in speaking; scattered attack and close in singing ; hesitation in acting ; and, more than all, careless motions and marching in the drills (corners not formed squarely, motions only half in unison, etc.) — all these are fatal to that success which makes such entertainments entertaining. Here, as everywhere else, “What is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.”

Open Library link



Letters From a Cat (1879)

Castaway on the Auckland Isles: A Narrative of the Wreck of the "Grafton," (1865)


Infant's Cabinet of Birds and Beasts (1820)

Old French Fairytales (1920)

Armata: a fragment (1817)

An Account of the Late Improvements in Galvanism (1803)

The Medical Aspects of Death, and the Medical Aspects of the Human Mind (1852)

Quarles' Emblems (1886)

Cat and bird stories from the "Spectator" (1896)

Wonderful Balloon Ascents (1870)

The Book of Topiary (1904)

The Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (1899)

English as She is Spoke (1884)

The Danger of Premature Interment (1816)

The Last American (1889)

Pirates (1922)

Napoleon's Oraculum (1839)

Horse Laughs (1891)

Hydriotaphia/Urn-Burial and The Garden of Cyrus (1658)

Across the Zodiac: the Story of a Wrecked Record (1880)

Superstitions About Animals (1904)

The Diary of a Nobody (1919 edition)

The Attitudes of Animals in Motion, Illustrated with the Zoopraxiscope (1882)

The Eccentric Mirror: Reflecting a Faithful and Interesting Delineation of Male and Female Characters, Ancient and Modern (1807)

Uriah Jewett and the Sea Serpent of Lake Memphemagog (1917)

Yuletide Entertainments (1910)

Mythical Monsters (1886)

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/12/22/yuletide-entertainments/


Amundsen’s South Pole expedition

Wednesday 14 December 2011 at 11:21

Images from The South pole; an account of the Norwegian Antarctic expedition in the “Fram,” 1910-1912, Roald Amundsen’s account of his expedition which became the first to reach the South Pole on 14 December 1911, just five weeks ahead of a British party led by Robert Falcon Scott. Amundsen and his team returned safely to their base, and later learned that Scott and his four companions had died on their return journey. Amundsen’s initial plans had focused on the Arctic and the conquest of the North Pole by means of an extended drift in an icebound ship. He obtained the use of Fridtjof Nansen’s polar exploration ship Fram, and undertook extensive fundraising activities. Preparations for this expedition were disrupted when, in 1909, the rival American explorers Frederick Cook and Robert E. Peary each claimed to have reached the North Pole. Amundsen then changed his plan and began to prepare for a conquest of the South Pole; uncertain of the extent to which the public and his backers would support him, he kept this revised objective secret. When he set out in June 1910, even most of his crew believed they were embarking on an Arctic drift. Amundsen made his Antarctic base, “Framheim”, in the Bay of Whales on the Great Ice Barrier. After months of preparation, depot-laying and a false start which ended in near-disaster, he and his party set out for the pole in October 1911. Although the expedition’s success was widely applauded, the story of Scott’s heroic failure overshadowed its achievement. For his decision to keep his true plans secret until the last moment, Amundsen was criticised for what some considered deception on his part. Recent polar historians have more fully recognised the skill and courage of Amundsen’s party; the permanent scientific base at the pole bears his name, together with that of Scott.

(Text based on Wikipedia / Images extracted from the scanned copy of the English translation of Amundsen’s book on the Internet Archive)























































Operation Doorstep

The Spirit Photographs of William Hope

The Maps of Piri Reis

Dr Julius Neubronner's Miniature Pigeon Camera

Art in Art

Huexotzinco Codex


Sessions for the Blind at Sunderland Museum

Eugène von Guérard's Australian Landscapes

Landscape and Marine Views of Norway

The Mechanism of Human Physiognomy

Space Colony Art from the 1970s

Men in Wigs


De humana physiognomonia libri IIII (1586)

Field Columbian Museum

Maps from Geographicus

Arnoldus Montanus' New and Unknown World (1671)

World War II from the Air

Halloween Postcards

Engravings by Dominicus Custos

Kodak No.1 Circular Snapshots

Kitab al-Bulhan or Book of Wonders (late 14thC.)

The Daddy Long Legs of Brighton

Amundsen's South Pole Expedition (1912)

A Catalogue of Polish Bishops

Harry Clarke's illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe (1919)

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/12/14/amundsens-south-pole-expedition/


The Voice of Florence Nightingale

Tuesday 13 December 2011 at 14:02



The recording was made on 30th July 1890 to raise money for the impoverished veterans of the Charge of the Light Brigade. The full transcript of the recording says: ‘When I am no longer even a memory, just a name, I hope my voice may perpetuate the great work of my life. God bless my dear old comrades of Balaclava and bring them safe to shore. Florence Nightingale.’ In fact, there are two recitations; this second one having slightly altered wording to the first, which was presumably a practice session.

MP3 Download
Internet Archive Link



Beela Boola by the Electric City 4 (1920)

Hungarian Rag - Pietro Deiro (1913)

As a Porcupine Pines for its Pork - Billy Jones & Ernest Hare
(1925)

Popeye, the Sailor Man - Al Dollar & His Ten Cent Band with Billy Murray (1931)

Chopins Funeral March - The Edison Concert Band (1906)

Houdini on his Water Torture Cell (1914)

Lomax Collection Recording of English, Sample 8

Enrico Caruso - A Dream (1920)

La Paloma (1903)

Orson Welles Show (1941)

Tokyo Rose (1944)

Fats Waller and His Orchestra live at The Yacht Club (1938)

Very early recording of George Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue (1924)

Rudolph Valentino singing (1923)

Aiaihea - The Hawaiian Quintette (1913)

Antony's Address Over The Body of Caesar (1914)

Charlie and His Orchestra

Excerpt from Handel's Israel in Egypt (1888)

Gurdjieff's Harmonium Improvisations (1949)

General Pershing March - Imperial Marimba Band (1918)

Apollo 11 Onboard Recordings (1969)

The Voice of Florence Nightingale (1890)

Santa Claus Proves There is a Santa Claus (1925)

Whitney Brothers Quartet - The Little Red Drum (1908)

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/12/13/the-voice-of-florence-nightingale/


The Daddy Long Legs of Brighton

Thursday 8 December 2011 at 16:39

The Brighton and Rottingdean Seashore Electric Railway was a unique coastline railway in Brighton, England that ran through the shallow waters of the English Channel between 1896 and 1901. Magnus Volk, its owner, designer and engineer, had already been successful with the more conventional Volk’s Electric Railway, which had then not been extended east of Paston Place. Facing unfavourable geography, Volk decided to construct a line through the surf from a pier at Paston Place to one at Rottingdean. The tracks were laid on concrete sleepers mortised into the bedrock, and the single car used on the railway, a huge pier-like building which stood on four 23 ft (7.0 m)-long legs, was propelled by electric motor. It was officially named Pioneer, but many called it Daddy Long-Legs. Construction took two years from 1894 to 1896. The railway officially opened 28 November 1896, but was nearly destroyed by a storm the night of 4 December. Volk immediately set to rebuilding the railway including the Pioneer, which had been knocked on its side, and it reopened in July 1897. In 1900 the council decided to build a beach protection barrier, which unfortunately required Volk to divert his line around the barrier. Without funds to do so, Volk closed the railway. A model of the railway car is on display (along with a poster for the railway) in the foyer of the Brighton Toy and Model Museum. (Text from Wikipedia, images from Wikimedia Commons)












Operation Doorstep

The Spirit Photographs of William Hope

The Maps of Piri Reis

Dr Julius Neubronner's Miniature Pigeon Camera

Art in Art

Huexotzinco Codex


Sessions for the Blind at Sunderland Museum

Eugène von Guérard's Australian Landscapes

Landscape and Marine Views of Norway

The Mechanism of Human Physiognomy

Space Colony Art from the 1970s

Men in Wigs


De humana physiognomonia libri IIII (1586)

Field Columbian Museum

Maps from Geographicus

Arnoldus Montanus' New and Unknown World (1671)

World War II from the Air

Halloween Postcards

Engravings by Dominicus Custos

Kodak No.1 Circular Snapshots

Kitab al-Bulhan or Book of Wonders (late 14thC.)

The Daddy Long Legs of Brighton

Amundsen's South Pole Expedition (1912)

A Catalogue of Polish Bishops

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/12/08/the-daddy-long-legs-of-brighton/


Robert Southey’s Dreams Revisited

Monday 5 December 2011 at 16:29

As well as being poet laureate for 30 years and a prolific writer of letters, Robert Southey was an avid recorder of his dreams. W.A. Speck, author of Robert Southey: Entire Man of Letters, explores the poet’s dream diary and the importance of dreams in his work.

Detail of a portrait of Southey painted by John James Masquerier in 1800.

Robert Southey (1774 – 1843), the poet laureate, biographer, historian and, in Byron’s words, ‘entire man of letters’ used a note book to record many of his dreams. A celebrated line in his verse was ‘my days among the dead are past’, referring to the works by authors who had died, many of them centuries ago, which lined the walls of Greta Hall, Southey’s home in Keswick. An analysis of his dreams demonstrates that his nights were passed among them too, since a disproportionate number of those which he recorded dealt with the dead. Deceased relatives and friends frequently visited him in them. He also encountered dead authors, as in the dream he had on 7 January 1805. ‘I was supping at Garrick’s house, and seated at his left hand, at the top of the table; my memory had made up his face accurately; he got upon the table, and spoke an epilogue of his own writing in the character of a cook –maid, and promised, at Mrs Garrick’s desire, to recite a serious poem afterwards, that I might hear him’. In another dream he was ‘at Swift’s house in Dublin, where he was living with two sisters’. And in another he met Matthew Lewis, the author of a sensational Gothic novel, The Monk. ‘Monk Lewis’ had been a contemporary of Southey’s at Westminster school, though he confessed that he never ‘had any affection for the man.’ This, however, did not prevent him contributing to a volume edited by Lewis, Tales of Wonder. Southey’s contribution consisted of six poems, all of which contained Gothic elements, including dreams. Thus ‘Bishop Bruno’ wakes from a recurrent dream that he had rung his own death knell, only to discover that it was prophetic. ‘Lord William’ drowns young Edmund, his deceased elder brother’s son, to claim the house of Erlingford, only to find that

In vain at midnight’s silent hour
Sleep closed the murderer’s eyes
In every dream the murderer saw
Young Edmund’s form arise.

‘The Pious Painter’ was renowned for his realistic portrayals of the Devil

What the Painter so earnestly thought on by day
He sometimes would dream of by night.

Southey himself strongly believed that waking thoughts led on to dreams. It led him to organise his days so that he did not work on one topic all day but switched from one to another, from composing poems to reviewing books to writing letters. This routine was not only economical in its use of time but was ‘also essential to the preservation of my health; for, by long experience, I know that whenever my attention is devoted to one object my sleep is disturbed by perplexing dreams concerning it. The remedy is easy; I do one thing in the morning, another in the evening – I never dream of either’.

This routine was not foolproof, however, for his dream book records that what had occupied his mind during the day often inspired dreams that same night. The entry for 4 December 1821, for instance, describes a dream in which ‘Palmerin of England gave me Arcalaus, the enchanter, in the shape of an egg, the enchanter having taken that form, and bade me deliver it to Urganda. Urganda took the egg, and said her husband should eat it for his supper’. Southey then added to his account that his daughter ‘Isabel had been reading Amadis and Palmerin, and talking to me a great deal about both; hence this jumbled dream.’

Detail from The Knight's Dream (1655) by Antonio de Pereda (1611–1678)

Southey did not record all his dreams in the book by any means, he selected only those which he considered to be significant. As we have seen his poetry also alluded to dreamers and dreaming. The best source, however, for his reflections on his dreams is his 7000 or so extant letters. Unfortunately few of these have been published in reliable scholarly editions, most being scattered throughout repositories in Britain and North America. However, under the general editorship of Lynda Pratt, Tim Fulford and Ian Packer these are now being published electronically as The Collected Letters of Robert Southey. When the edition is complete it will be possible to trawl through it, for being on line the letters can be searched, for example for dreams. A search for ‘dream’, ‘dreamer’ and ‘dreaming’ brought up several passages in Southey’s correspondence in which dreams are mentioned. Some show the same morbid interest in death and ghosts that his dream book documents. Thus on 20 October 1793 he wrote to Horace Walpole Bedford:

I’ll betake me to bed & look sharp for a dream.

      God of dreams hear my prayer
      To my pillow repair
Indulge my petition tonight
      Around my wild brain
      Send thy fanciful train
And give me a dream I may write

And later:

… bid thy sprightly phantoms rare
Round my sleeping head repair.
Let me see in church yard gloom
The ghost slow rising from the tomb
Slow & stern his pale hand wave
And bid me follow to the grave.

Three weeks later, in mid November, he wrote to Horace’s brother, his old school friend Grosvenor Charles Bedford: ‘I am going to bed … to dream of you & heaven & happiness unless the demon of dismal dreams pops up under my pillow & harrows up my heart with some of his chimeras – oh if life were all one agreeable dream – or rather if death were – would there be a crime in taking laudanum as an opiate? Good night.’



W. A. Speck is author of Robert Southey: Entire Man of Letters (Yale University Press, 2006) and ‘His nights amont the dead were passed: Robert Southey’s dreams’ in Robert Southey and the Contexts of English Romanticism edited by Lynda Pratt (Ashgate, 2006).


Links to Works


See also Robert Southey on Wikisource

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/12/05/robert-southey%e2%80%99s-dreams-revisited/


Stella Maris (1918)

Sunday 4 December 2011 at 19:26



A 1918 silent film staring Mary Pickford, directed by Marshall Neilan, written by Frances Marion and based on William J. Locke’s novel. Stella Maris, a beautiful, crippled girl, who is cared for by a rich family, and the orphan Unity Blake, fall in love with same man, John, who is still married to (though separated from) a cruel wife.

Download from Internet Archive

Note this film is in the public domain in the US, but may not be in other jurisdictions. Please check its status in your jurisdiction before re-using.



CLIPSSHORTFULL LENGTH SILENTFULL LENGTH TALKIE
Princess Nicotine (1909) 6min

Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) 12min

Last of the Mohicans (1920) 1hr11min

Meet John Doe (1941) 2hr3min

The Unappreciated Joke (1903) 1min

Frankenstein (1910) 13min

The General (1926) 1hr19min

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) 1hr19mins


The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots (1895) 21sec

The Great Train Robbery (1903) 10min

Wolf Blood (1925) 1hr7min

Reefer Madness (1938) 1hr8min

The Kiss (1896) 25secs

Experiments in the Revival of Organisms (1940) 20min

Battleship Potemkin (1925) 1hr13min

The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952) 1hr57min

Trapeze Disrobing Act (1901) 2min

Are You Popular (1947) 10min

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927) 1hr11min

Scarlet Street (1945) 1hr43min

Annie Oakley Fires Her Gun (1894) 20secs

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910) 13min

For The Term of His Natural Life (1927) 1hr33min

The Last Man on Earth (1964) 1hr27min

Operation Cue (1955) 52sec

Never Weaken (1921) 28min

Intolerance (1916) 2hr57min

Quicksand (1950) 1hr18min

Dutch Fashion Reel (1969) 1min50sec

Betty Boop: Minnie The Moocher (1932) 7min46sec

The Phantom of the Opera (1925) 1hr46min

Suddenly (1954) 1hr16mins


Buffalo Dance (1894) 14sec

The Cook (1918) 18min

The Thief of Bagdad (1924) 2hr20min

Five Minutes to Live (1961) 1hr14min

VD is for Everybody (1969) 1min

American Day in Tripoli, Libya (1962) 14min

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) 1hr11min

Cyrano De Bergerac (1950) 1hr53min

The Enchanted Drawing (1900) 1min29sec

Your Name Here (1960) 10min10sec

Stella Maris (1918) 1hr13min

Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936) 1hr40min

The Night Before Christmas (1905) 8min44sec

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/12/04/stella-maris-1918/


Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936)

Sunday 4 December 2011 at 19:02



Considered by many to be the best film adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1886 novel of the same name, said by Polly Hovarth to be “the Harry Potter of his time”- starring Freddie Bartholomew, Dolores Costello, and C. Aubrey Smith. A nine-year-old Brooklyn boy living in poverty, moves to England to live with an aristocratic grandfather he’s never known after he is told he’s heir to a British earldom.

Download from Internet Archive

Note this film is in the public domain in the US, but may not be in other jurisdictions. Please check its status in your jurisdiction before re-using.



CLIPSSHORTFULL LENGTH SILENTFULL LENGTH TALKIE
Princess Nicotine (1909) 6min

Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) 12min

Last of the Mohicans (1920) 1hr11min

Meet John Doe (1941) 2hr3min

The Unappreciated Joke (1903) 1min

Frankenstein (1910) 13min

The General (1926) 1hr19min

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) 1hr19mins


The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots (1895) 21sec

The Great Train Robbery (1903) 10min

Wolf Blood (1925) 1hr7min

Reefer Madness (1938) 1hr8min

The Kiss (1896) 25secs

Experiments in the Revival of Organisms (1940) 20min

Battleship Potemkin (1925) 1hr13min

The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952) 1hr57min

Trapeze Disrobing Act (1901) 2min

Are You Popular (1947) 10min

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927) 1hr11min

Scarlet Street (1945) 1hr43min

Annie Oakley Fires Her Gun (1894) 20secs

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910) 13min

For The Term of His Natural Life (1927) 1hr33min

The Last Man on Earth (1964) 1hr27min

Operation Cue (1955) 52sec

Never Weaken (1921) 28min

Intolerance (1916) 2hr57min

Quicksand (1950) 1hr18min

Dutch Fashion Reel (1969) 1min50sec

Betty Boop: Minnie The Moocher (1932) 7min46sec

The Phantom of the Opera (1925) 1hr46min

Suddenly (1954) 1hr16mins


Buffalo Dance (1894) 14sec

The Cook (1918) 18min

The Thief of Bagdad (1924) 2hr20min

Five Minutes to Live (1961) 1hr14min

VD is for Everybody (1969) 1min

American Day in Tripoli, Libya (1962) 14min

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) 1hr11min

Cyrano De Bergerac (1950) 1hr53min

The Enchanted Drawing (1900) 1min29sec

Your Name Here (1960) 10min10sec

Stella Maris (1918) 1hr13min

Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936) 1hr40min

The Night Before Christmas (1905) 8min44sec

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/12/04/little-lord-fauntleroy-1936/


Uriah Jewett and the Sea Serpent of Lake Memphemagog (1917)

Thursday 1 December 2011 at 20:59


Uriah Jewett and the sea serpent of Lake Memphemagog, by George C. Merrill; 1917; Newport, Vermont.

A very curious little book concerning a poet named Uriah Jewett, a sea serpent, the disappearance of a cheat named Hoyt, and the possible illegitimate child of Prince Arthur born in the forests of Canada.

Open Library link



Letters From a Cat (1879)

Castaway on the Auckland Isles: A Narrative of the Wreck of the "Grafton," (1865)


Infant's Cabinet of Birds and Beasts (1820)

Old French Fairytales (1920)

Armata: a fragment (1817)

An Account of the Late Improvements in Galvanism (1803)

The Medical Aspects of Death, and the Medical Aspects of the Human Mind (1852)

Quarles' Emblems (1886)

Cat and bird stories from the "Spectator" (1896)

Wonderful Balloon Ascents (1870)

The Book of Topiary (1904)

The Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (1899)

English as She is Spoke (1884)

The Danger of Premature Interment (1816)

The Last American (1889)

Pirates (1922)

Napoleon's Oraculum (1839)

Horse Laughs (1891)

Hydriotaphia/Urn-Burial and The Garden of Cyrus (1658)

Across the Zodiac: the Story of a Wrecked Record (1880)

Superstitions About Animals (1904)

The Diary of a Nobody (1919 edition)

The Attitudes of Animals in Motion, Illustrated with the Zoopraxiscope (1882)

The Eccentric Mirror: Reflecting a Faithful and Interesting Delineation of Male and Female Characters, Ancient and Modern (1807)

Uriah Jewett and the Sea Serpent of Lake Memphemagog (1917)

Yuletide Entertainments (1910)

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/12/01/uriah-jewett-and-the-sea-serpent-of-lake-memphemagog/


The Enchanted Drawing (1900)

Wednesday 30 November 2011 at 13:22



From Edison films catalog: “Upon a large sheet of white paper a cartoonist is seen at work rapidly sketching the portrait of an elderly gentleman of most comical feature and expression. After completing the likeness the artist rapidly draws on the paper a clever sketch of a bottle of wine and a goblet, and then, to the surprise of all, actually removes them from the paper on which they were drawn and pours actual wine out of the bottle into a real glass. Surprising effects quickly follow after this; and the numerous changes of expression which flit over the face in the sketch cause a vast amount of amusement and at the same time give a splendid illustration of the caricaturist’s art.” Musical accompaniment by Philip Carli.

Download from Internet Archive

Note this film is in the public domain in the US, but may not be in other jurisdictions. Please check its status in your jurisdiction before re-using.



CLIPSSHORTFULL LENGTH SILENTFULL LENGTH TALKIE
Princess Nicotine (1909) 6min

Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) 12min

Last of the Mohicans (1920) 1hr11min

Meet John Doe (1941) 2hr3min

The Unappreciated Joke (1903) 1min

Frankenstein (1910) 13min

The General (1926) 1hr19min

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) 1hr19mins


The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots (1895) 21sec

The Great Train Robbery (1903) 10min

Wolf Blood (1925) 1hr7min

Reefer Madness (1938) 1hr8min

The Kiss (1896) 25secs

Experiments in the Revival of Organisms (1940) 20min

Battleship Potemkin (1925) 1hr13min

The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952) 1hr57min

Trapeze Disrobing Act (1901) 2min

Are You Popular (1947) 10min

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927) 1hr11min

Scarlet Street (1945) 1hr43min

Annie Oakley Fires Her Gun (1894) 20secs

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910) 13min

For The Term of His Natural Life (1927) 1hr33min

The Last Man on Earth (1964) 1hr27min

Operation Cue (1955) 52sec

Never Weaken (1921) 28min

Intolerance (1916) 2hr57min

Quicksand (1950) 1hr18min

Dutch Fashion Reel (1969) 1min50sec

Betty Boop: Minnie The Moocher (1932) 7min46sec

The Phantom of the Opera (1925) 1hr46min

Suddenly (1954) 1hr16mins


Buffalo Dance (1894) 14sec

The Cook (1918) 18min

The Thief of Bagdad (1924) 2hr20min

Five Minutes to Live (1961) 1hr14min

VD is for Everybody (1969) 1min

American Day in Tripoli, Libya (1962) 14min

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) 1hr11min

Cyrano De Bergerac (1950) 1hr53min

The Enchanted Drawing (1900) 1min29sec

Your Name Here (1960) 10min10sec

Stella Maris (1918) 1hr13min

Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936) 1hr40min

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/11/30/the-enchanted-drawing-1900/


The Mysteries of Nature and Art

Monday 28 November 2011 at 21:27

Julie Gardham, Senior Assistant Librarian at University of Glasgow’s Special Collections Department, takes a look at the book that was said to have spurred a young Isaac Newton onto the scientific path, The Mysteries of Nature and Art by John Bate.



Courteous reader, this ensuing treatise hath lien by mee a long time, penned, but in a confused and undigested manner, as I gathered it, practised, or found it out by industry and experience.

So begins the preface to The Mysteries of Nature and Art by John Bate, one of the most charming of 17th century illustrated technical compendiums.

Describing mechanical contrivances that are a mix of the useful and bizarre, this work tackles the subjects of water works, fire works, drawing and painting, and miscellaneous experiments – the last of which Bate terms ‘extravagants’ because they are ‘confusedly intermixed’.

Technical manuals were produced prolifically in the 17th century, reflecting progress in technological growth. This was a time of fundamental transition, with a spirit of initiative and invention that resulted in significant advances in science. Innovations and developments in areas such as mechanics, astronomy and chemistry were to pave the way for the industrial revolution. Dissemination of new ideas via printed treatises was crucial to the efforts of inventors and technicians.

Bate’s work is resolutely practical in nature. Originally printed in 1634, according to the title-page its ‘treatises’ were ‘partly collected, and partly of the authors peculiar practice and invention’; as stated in the preface, Bate wrote it based on ‘industry and experience’. A small, economical and easily portable book, it was popular enough to warrant the publication of an expanded second edition only a year after the first. A further augmented edition was produced in 1654. While containing more illustrations, this last edition is poorly printed and is not nearly so attractive as its predecessors.

'Another manner of forcing water, whereby water from any spring may be forced unto the top of a hill'

The first section on water-works describes various ingenious machines that convey and force water. There is, for example, an engine ‘to force water up to a high place’; this pump, we are informed, is ‘very usefull for to quench fire amongst buildings’. Other devices include weather glasses, water clocks, fountains, siphons, pumps, waterwheels, and watermills. Of the various water clocks described, my favourite has to be the one which utilizes a rather jolly grinning skeleton who marks the hours from a moving platform, reminding us all of our eventual doom.

'Another fashioned (water clock.. shewing the hour of the day)'

Bate was evidently always on the look out for new ideas. The expanded second edition of his book contains many additions to the water-works section, including the description of the model of a water mill that he copied after seeing it at London bridge in 1633. He explains that it utilizes the ebb and flow of the River Thames, thereby conveying the water ‘above two miles in compasse, for the use and service of that city’ and praises it as ‘seeming very good’. These waterworks were well known; they were only demolished when London bridge was rebuilt in 1822.

Top: 'Hercules shooting at a dragon, who as soon as hath shot, hisseth at him'. Bottom: 'A device whereby the figure of a man standing on a basis shall be made to sound a trumpet'


But while many of Bate’s examples are undoubtedly practical, there are also several rather more outlandish machines designed solely for ‘recreation and delight’. Thus, we find ‘experiments’ for ‘producing sounds by ayre and water’. These rather delightful devices include one ‘whereby severall voyces of birds cherping may be heard’ and another ‘whereby the figure of a man standing on a basis shall be made to sound a trumpet’. A further elaborate machine is a depiction of Hercules ‘shooting at a dragon, who as soon as he hath shot, hisseth at him’. Many of these were designed expressly to decorate and enhance gardens, perhaps demonstrating that an obsession for complicated water features is not as modern a phenomenon as we think.

Title page of the second section

The second part treats of fireworks ‘for tryumph and recreation’. Its title-page is illustrated with a woodcut depicting a ‘green man’ wielding a fire club. With obscure and mythical origins, green men dressed in foliage and garlands traditionally led processions of fireworkers from medieval times. The customary greeting amongst the firework fraternity is still ‘stay green’.

'How to make Gironells, or fire wheeles'

Originally developed in China, fireworks have been used to mark celebrations and spectacles for hundreds of years. Bate begins with an introduction to the basic principles of the nature of elements and instructions in choosing ingredients, such as saltpetre, brimstone, coals and gunpowder. Detailed directions and guidance on the composition of various kinds of fireworks follow. It is surprising to see how many devices still in use today were familiar to Bate, including crackers, rockets and ‘fire wheels’. Some, however, can only be described as ambitious; even Bate admits that his flying dragon is ‘somewhat troublesome to compose’.

'How to make flying dragons'

Bate next discusses art. He covers drawing in general, as well as techniques for ‘washing’ maps and other pictures with water colour, limning, painting in oil, painting on glass, and engraving. There is much interesting advice on choosing the correct equipment, with recipes for mixing and creating colours. Several pages are devoted to wood engraving; in the second edition, Bate comments that engraving is ‘farre more tedious and difficult than the working in brasse’. The artist who actually produced the woodcuts for the Mysteries – which add so much to the book’s charm, no matter how troublesome the job – is not named.

The final part of Bate’s work is a miscellany of recipes and ‘secrets’, both technical and medical. These ‘extravagants’ incorporate ‘severall Experiments, as well serviceable as delightfull’. A mixture of odd information is found here. There are several methods of catching fish, including a technique for burning a light under water so that apparently ‘all the fishes neere unto it will resort about it, as amazed at so glorious a sight, and so you may take them with a cast net or other’.

‘How to make a light burne under the water, being a very pretty conceypt to take fish'

Bizarre ways of catching birds are also given, amongst them one ‘to make birds drunk, so that you may take them with your hands’. Additionally, there is instruction in how to melt metal, how to make ice that will melt in fire but not dissolve in water, how to make cement and marble, and how to make invisible ink. Finally, there are some recipes for treating a wide range of ailments, from balms for sciatica and ointments for burns and toothaches, to medicine for ‘the biting of a mad dogge’. It is reassuring to note that Bate endorses his treatment ‘for to heale a red face that hath many pimples’ as being ‘proved’.

Frustratingly, nothing is known about the author of this highly entertaining compendium. His portrait (which appears only in the second edition) is supplied, but he offers no biographical information about himself.

Frontispiece portrait of John Bate from the second edition (courtesy of University of Glasgow Library)

The three editions I have had the pleasure of examining all come from the collection of John Ferguson, who was Professor of Chemistry at the University of Glasgow from 1874 to 1915. He tartly remarks that this portrait ‘represents Bate, who, doubtless, was a decent law-abiding citizen, as a person for whom no villainy would be too great to perpetrate’.

Predominantly a collector of alchemical works, Ferguson was also very interested in books relating to the history of inventions and ‘books of secrets’. Such texts are not studied as part of the modern science curriculum, but Professor Ferguson staunchly defended his belief in their importance, explaining that ‘the history of practical invention and of technical progress is one which might well engage the attention of students of anthropology and antiquities, as it throws light on many points connected with the growth of social life and civilization’. He also succinctly defines the arcane terminology for such works as books of ‘secrets’, saying: ‘the arts must be acquired by practice, and they are extended and improved by practice. Every one who exercises them comes to have special power and certain ways of doing things, which may enable him to surpass others who are similarly engaged. These are his “secrets”, which very often he cannot, or will not, reveal to others’.

'Experiments of motions by rarifying water with fire'

While some of the knowledge imparted in Bate’s Mysteries may seem to us crude, if not downright eccentric, it is important to remember that manuals such as these did play an important role in the dissemination of scientific information. Ferguson actually recommends this text as a ‘book of genuine receipts’, its contents being ‘quite sensible and practical’. He praises Bate for describing apparatus that he had actually tried and found would work – unlike some of his contemporaries ‘who often gathered nothing else but mere nonsense’.



Julie Gardham is Senior Assistant Librarian at Special Collections in the University of Glasgow Library. She regularly blogs on her work with rare books and manuscripts: see the Special Collections website.


Links to Works


Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/11/28/the-mysteries-of-nature-and-art/