Law-Book Transcriptions

Transcription of the Vardill materials held by the Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections of Washington State University is now complete and they can be accessed in the Other Works section of the Society’s website.

The WSU stories form a significant part of Vardill’s Law-Book series. This unfinished and unpublished three-part series (A Little Girl’s Law-Book, A Young Lady’s Law-Book, and An Old Lawyer’s Legends) consists of a sequence of inter-connected stories about assumed identities and false inheritance claims, initially written for Vardill’s daughter Agnes, but ultimately intended for the general reader (See L’Envoi)

Portfolio of Unpublished Works

The Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC) of the Washington State University Libraries contain a portfolio of important Vardill materials, including a letter from Lord Moira authorizing the dedication of her first book to Princess Charlotte, and a volume of unpublished stories collected for her daughter Agnes.

These materials are contained in Cage 1541 of MASC.

With the kind assistance of the MASC Manuscripts Librarian, the Society has acquired scans of the unpublished Vardill stories and obtained permission to place transcriptions on the Society’s website.

The work of transcribing and digitizing the stories will take several weeks, and notification of completion will be posted to the Journal.

General William Franklin

Dr. Marsha Keith Schuchard has kindly drawn the Society’s attention to an entry in Henry Crabb Robinson’s diary, in which he describes a visit to the Attic Chest and confirms the identity of the “General Franklin” who contributed several poems to the circle:

March 18th [1812] — Evening at Porden’s, the Society of the Attic Chest. This is a small society, the members of which send verses, which are put into a box, and afford an evening’s amusement at certain intervals. The box was actually made at Athens. Some verses, I suspect by Miss Flaxman, on music, pleased me best. The company was numerous, — the Rogets, Phillips the painter, and his wife. Old General Franklin, son of the celebrated Benjamin, was of the party. He is eighty-four years of age, has a courtier-like mien, and must have been a very fine man. He is now very animated and interesting, but does not at all answer to the idea one would naturally form of the son of the great Franklin.

Rem* — At these meetings Ellen Porden was generally the reader, and she was herself a writer of poetry. She even ventured to write an epic poem, called “Richard the Second.” When she presented a copy to Flaxman, who loved her for her amiable qualities (and more than amiable, for she was a good domestic character, an excellent sister and daughter), he thanked her and said: “Why, Ellen, my love, you’ve written a poem longer than Homer.” She married Captain, afterwards Sir John Franklin. The marriage took place with an express consent on her part to his making a second voyage of discovery towards the North Pole, if the government should give its permission. Before he went a daughter was born; but her own health had become so bad that her life was despaired of. I was one of the few friends invited to the last dinner at his house before his departure. Flaxman was of the party, and deeply depressed in spirits. Captain F. took an opportunity in the course of the evening to say to me: “My wife will be left alone with the infant. You will do me a great favor, if you will call on her as often as your engagements permit.” I promised. In a few days I went to the Quarter Sessions, and before I returned Mrs. Franklin was dead.

Henry Crabb Robinson. Diary, Reminiscences, and Correspondence. (One Volume Edition) Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1898. pp. 241-2.

The Attic Chest

Anna Jane Vardill was an enthusiastic contributor to the Attic Chest literary circle hosted by Eleanor Anne Porden. Her submissions to the circle are preserved by the Derbyshire Record Office (DRO) as part of the Gell Collection.

With the help and cooperation of the DRO, the Society has transcribed the entire Attic Chest collection and placed it online. The collection is available at attic.vardill.org and links to Vardill’s contributions can be found at attic.vardill.org/authors/vardill.

A reference section has been added for materials related to the Attic Chest. The following items are currently available:

  1. Eleanor Anne Porden. The Veils; or The Triumph of Constancy. London: John Murray, 1815.
  2. Edith Mary Gell. John Franklin’s Bride. London: John Murray, 1930.

Canzonet for Three Friends

The Society’s attention has been drawn to an earlier publication of two poems that appear in Vardill’s Poems and Translations from the Minor Greek Poets etc., published in 1809.

Canzonet for Three Friends appears on page 47 of La Belle Assemblée or, Bell’s Court and Fashionable Magazine for July, 1807, under the title An Original Air, by a Casmerian Indian. On the same page is The Hungarian Gipsy’s Song, another of Vardill’s poems that subsequently appeared in Poems and Translations. La Belle Assemblée credits both poems to “A. V—LL”, and Clipstone-street is given as the address of the poet. This confirms Vardill’s authorship, as she was known to have been living there at this time.

In 1817 The Canzonet for Three Friends was set to music by William Horsley and published as a music score by G. Graupner (Boston, Mass.), though no credit is given to the author of the lyrics.

In 1873 The Canzonet made its way into The Voice of Praise: A Collection of Hymns for the Use of the Methodist Church (James Robison, Pittsburgh, Penn.), in which it appears on page 353 as Hymn No. 521, where it is categorised as a “Parting Hymn”. No tune is given but the words are incorrectly attributed to A. A. Watts.

Editing Guidelines

The online anthology of Vardill’s poetry and prose has been edited and formatted for readability. Consequently documentation of column, paragraph, and page breaks has been omitted. Erratic punctuation such as unmatched quotation marks and missing full stops has been corrected. Spelling has been adjusted where appropriate. For example, the first instalment of the Annals of Public Justice contains the following variants: gipsy, gipsey, gypsy, gypsey. On the assumption that Vardill would have paid particular attention to the accuracy of her footnotes, ‘gypsy’ has been used throughout.

The European Magazine often uses apostrophised possessive pronouns such as ‘her’s’ and ‘our’s’, but this usage is by no means universal. An examination of Vardill’s published work reveals use of both forms (‘hers’ and ‘her’s’, ‘ours’ and ‘our’s’, etc.).  This online anthology has standardised on current usage.

Where Vardill has consistently used spelling now considered obsolete, this has been preserved. For example, ‘controul’ instead of ‘control’, and ‘groupe’ instead of ‘group’.

Separators are often used by the European Magazine printer to adjust the height of text blocks. Such indiscriminate separators have been removed.

Major errors in the typesetting of Vardill’s early contributions to the European Magazine were duly noted in subsequent numbers, and the online text has been amended accordingly. Unfortunately notifications of errata all but disappear from later numbers of the magazine, perhaps an indication of changing editorial policy.

Acquisition of Poems and Translations

The Society has purchased a copy of the third edition of Vardill’s Poems and Translations &c., through bookseller Christopher Edwards of Henley-on-Thames. The binding is in fragile condition and digital scanning would cause unacceptable damage. Consequently volunteers are transcribing the volume, line by line, page by page. Completed poems are being uploaded to the main site when proofed and edited:

Poems and Translations

The table of contents is inaccurate and the page headings inconsistent. The provisional categorisation of transcribed poems is based on the titles and subtitles.

One problem that remains to be resolved is the transcription of Greek quotations. Updates on progress will be posted to this site.