March 27th, 2007

Vanitas desk

The Triumphs of Temper

Thomas Macaulay gave two speeches before parliament on the subject of copyright law in 1841. In one of them, he rhetorically asked, "What would Paternoster Row give now for the copyright of Hayley's Triumphs of Temper, so much admired within the memory of many people still living?"

If only the enthusiasm for William Hayley's six poetic cantos had lasted after the expiration of the book's copyright. If it's been reprinted since the first half of the nineteenth century, I can't find it. It's no inconvenience to go to the library for it, but oh, the irony. If it's been reprinted at all, it wouldn't be because of modern enthusiasm for Hayley's poetry so much as enthusiasm for William Blake's illustrations. Blake illustrated the later editions of the Triumphs of Temper, thanks to which copies abound in rare books libraries.

While on the subject, are there any books about the subject of late eighteenth century English poets or authors in general you would recommend? For all my love of Cowper, it's subject about which I really know quite little.