Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Who is "Bob Short"? (part 3)

This is the final installment of my "Bob Short" trilogy. Parts one and two conclude that "Bob Short" is stockbroker Robert Withy and not poet Anna Latetia Barbauld. I present a last bit of evidence here, evidence that also answers a second mystery hinted at it my prequel "Bob Short's Short Rules for Short Memories". This essay also adds a final note for the Barbauld collector or scholar.

In the prequel, I note:
Eighteenth century copies of Withy's works are scarce. According to ESTC, Whist survives in but two copies of the 1791 edition, and one each of 1792, 1793, 1794, and 1795. The University of Nevada Las Vegas has a copy of a 1793 German translation. Two copies of the 1793 edition of Quadrille are extant. 
A couple of years ago, I acquired a copy of Quadrille, so now three copies are known.

In the prequel, I cited a number of newspaper advertisements that predated the 1791 edition of Whist. The earliest, from 1781, offers only "twelve short standing rules" for whist.

Morning Herald and Daily Advertiser, January 31, 1781

This advertisement is likely for Robert Withy's trade card which describes his business on one side and has twelve rules for whist on the verso. Beginning in 1782, we see advertisements for a different book:

Morning Herald and Daily Advertiser, January 26, 1782

There are two differences from the previous advertisement indicating that it is not for a mere trade card. First, the price is increased from 2d. or 1s. a dozen to 3d. or 2s. a dozen. Second, the book offers "the laws of the game as played at White's, and all public places". Is this merely an earlier edition of the 1791 Whist or is this a different book? I would have guessed the former, but...

The 1791 Whist indicates that it was "entered at Stationers' Hall", so as part of my effort to identify Bob Short, I used inter-library loan to request the microfilm of the Stationers' records. Then a couple of long, tedious days at the microfilm reader. Here is what I found:

Entry in the Stationers' Register of Books February 14, 1785

The entry, dated February 14, 1785,  indicates that Rt Withy registered the copyright for "A present for grown masters & misses, Hoyle Abridged or short standing rules for short memories at the game of whist with the laws of the game by Bob Short". Withy deposited nine copies of the book and the record was entered by stationer John Wilkie, himself an owner of a share of the main Hoyle copyright (see the essay "The Hoyle Copyright in Hoyle's lifetime").

And a second entry nearly six years later:

Entry in the Stationers' Register of Books December 14, 1790

The title is "Hoyle Abridged, or short rules for short memories, at the game of whist, with the laws of the game, &c adapted for the head or pocket, by Bob Short." Again nine copies were deposited and now stationer Robert Horsfield prepared the entry.

There are two conclusions to be reached from these records. First, that Withy wrote two different books on whist, only one of which has survived. The "present for grown masters & misses" seems to have been advertised from 1782 but entered in the registry only in 1785. I have found advertisements for it as late as 1788.

The second book on whist survives and the chronology is clear. It was entered in the Stationers' register on December 14, 1790, advertised from December 24 (see below), and printed with a date of 1791.

World, December 24, 1790

Note the new price, 6d., the warning against piracies, and the entry of the book at Stationers' Hall.

Second, the Stationers' registry proves it: Robert Withy is "Bob Short." If there were any doubters after the two previous essays, let them doubt no more!

There is, however, no entry in the registry for Withy's Quadrille, nor for Barbauld's Religion of Nature under any of its various titles. 

One last comment for fans of Anna Letitia Barbauld. In part 2, I noted many printings of her letter The Patriotic Clergyman, most of them published by J. Mitchell in Newcastle on Tyne. The first of these, a 36 page chapbook called The Charms of Literature was illustrated by Thomas Bewick. In 2011, Nigel Tattersfield wrote the monumental catalogue of Thomas Bewick, The Complete Illustrative Work. Tattersfield lists Charms as TB 2.71A (volume 2 p139) and identifies many more editions. The Barbauld collector or bibliographer should consult that entry!

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