odd researches

I was in the rare books collection today, with the specific agenda of looking for illustrative material for a pamphlet on our law holdings. This involved looking at some very odd things. One obvious point of recourse was the two gigantic scrapbooks which an anonymous individual created in about 1900, of engravings of Scottish worthies of one kind or another (with a certain perceptible bias towards the Navy). I did indeed solve some of my problems there (reflecting meanwhile on the remarkable lack of visual interest of representations of Scottish law lords). But meanwhile, I found some perfectly wonderful things, and only wish I could persuade myself they had something to do with the law: ‘the Celebrated Peter Gordon of Aberdeenshire, Famous for uninterrupted Health, Gigantic Stature, and Longevity’ (he lived to 131, allegedly). And a super coloured engraving circa 1790s called, ‘A Newhaven Method of Punishing Delinquents’, which depicts a prostrate individual in Geneva bands identified as the Rev. Henry Grey, who is wearing a rather curious smile suggesting that he is enjoying this quite a bit, and three massive, buxom fishwives, one of whom is holding him down, while a second wallops him across the buttocks with a large dead cod; a third, with her creel, is looking on in glee. Another very funny coloured engraving, ‘Les Ecossais √† Paris et la curiosit√© des Femmes’, also about 1800, shows a variety of kilted Scotsmen in breezy conditions, with a variety of Frenchwomen assuming strange angles in order to squint up their kilts (where, by the look of the dames in question, they are unlikely to see anything that comes as much of a surprise). But quite the oddest image, and implied story, in the whole lot was a nineteenth-century silhouette of a middle-aged dwarf identified as George Moir Glass, of Edinburgh, who was described as ‘a manufacturer of leather women and children for lectures in midwifery’, and strikes me as almost certainly a pagerunner from an unpublished pornographic work by Charles Dickens.

4 Responses to “odd researches”

  1. carol Says:

    And the moral of the story might be that we don’t get a half decent enough budget these days for bizarre props to enliven our lectures.

  2. carol Says:

    I feel sure the erstwhile engraver merely recorded the buxom fishwives’ use of the Catch of the Day. How are you off for buxom fishwives in tropical parts?

  3. the tropical godfather Says:

    Er, a buxom fishwife is not quite what I had in mind. A sailor boy would not go amiss though. Here in KL, the Catch of the Day depends largely on where one does one’s trawling, but is generally spicy.

    Maybe I’ll just forget about cod.

  4. carol Says:

    Quite so. My aged grandmother always maintained cod was strictly for feline, not human, consumption. Her views on walloping Reverend gentlemen under any circumstances is not recorded.

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