Our great friends and colleagues at Circulation of Knowledge and Learned Practices in the Seventeenth-Century Dutch Republic (CKCC), based at Huygens ING, have just launched their virtual research environment for Dutch scientific correspondences, the wonderful ePistolarium. This major new resource contains metadata on and full texts of around 20,000 letters sent to and from nine seventeenth-century scholars (including René Descartes, Constantijn and Christiaan Huygens, and Antoni van Leeuwenhoek), and is equipped with faceted search, a neat visualization suite (results can be displayed on timelines, maps, and as both correspondent and co-citation network diagrams), as well as some bleeding edge techniques in corpus linguistics such as named entity recognition and topic modelling. Check it out!
The ePistolarium was launched in the magnificent Gertrudiskapel in Utrecht on 13 June 2013, and, alongside presentations from its creators (and a terrific video), our very own Howard Hotson was on hand to celebrate this new tool and to consider its relationship to Early Modern Letters Online as well as its significance to scholarship on correspondences more broadly (a video of his talk, entitled ‘The ePistolarium and the Digital Republic of Letters: The Circulation of Knowledge and Learned Practices in the Twenty-First Century’, is above). Indeed, these are exciting times for the Digital Republic of Letters in general and the relationship between our two initiatives in particular; we’re going to share metadata, are co-applicants with other interested parties on major funding proposals to COST and Digging into Data, and will be sharing the stage at several forthcoming events, most imminently (with Antony McKenna) at our panel on ‘Electrifying the Republic of Letters’ at Intellectual Networks in the Long Seventeenth Century at Durham next week. Congratulations to Charles, Guido, Walter, Wijnand, and the rest of the CKCC team!
John Wallis (1616–1703) is best known to early modern intellectual historians and fans of Cultures of Knowledge as an archetypal Republic of Letters polymath; Oxford’s Savilian Professor of Geometry, a gifted cryptographer, and keeper of the University Archives who corresponded extensively with the leading continental luminaries of the age. The letters reproduced in Volume IV of The Correspondence of John Wallis (OUP), to which our Research Fellow Philip Beeley is putting the finishing touches, largely reinforce this impression. The missives find the mathematician embroiled in abstruse conversations with Francis Jessop, Christiaan Huygens, Rasmus Bartholin, and Leibniz about methods of tangents, the rectification of the cycloid, and the reinvigoration of scientific meetings at the Royal Society. However, I was intrigued when Philip told me that many of the letters in this volume reveal that in early 1674 Wallis was sucked into an epistolary controversy of an altogether more worldly kind: a bitter dispute over an Oxford tavern.
We are pleased to report that the complete code base of EMLO-Edit, the editorial interface for all of the metadata underlying Early Modern Letters Online, is now freely available for reuse on GitHub. Built from scratch by our Founding Developer Sue Burgess from Bodleian Digital Library Systems and Services (BDLSS), EMLO-Edit is a powerful, user-friendly editorial environment for describing, tagging, and managing letter records, including facilities for uploading images, dealing with people and places, merging duplicate records and metadata, user management, full version histories, and exports. The resulting data provides an ideal basis for front end applications in a variety of languages (we’ve used Python/Pylons but you could also develop, say, a Rails application). The code is ready for deployment, and includes full installation instructions for setting up a working version on your own servers; we will be adding a bit more documentation on how to customize the code for your own purposes, but in the meantime grab it while it’s hot, and let us know if you make use of it!
Sixty years on from the coronation of Elizabeth II could be a moment to consider the coronation of another British queen for whom this time-honoured ceremony ran neither seamlessly nor to plan. Not only did the bishops apparently forget the communion bread and wine but it seems the crown was put on askew by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Queen herself was obliged to readjust it. Subsequently, as the Scottish Episcopal bishop Archibald Campbell relates in his letter to the non-juroring bishop Thomas Brett, the crown fell off entirely.
Given the date of 17 October, and the reference to Henry Gandy’s age and susceptibility, we may deduce that the letter was written in 1727 and that the monarch in question was none other than Caroline of Ansbach, wife of George II and the first queen consort to have been crowned since Anne of Denmark. This dual coronation, conducted by the then-ailing Archbishop William Wake, took place on 11 October 1727 and was the ceremony for which Handel composed his four renowned anthems (‘Let thy hand be Strengthened’, ‘Zadok the Priest’, ‘The King Shall Rejoice’, and ‘My Heart is Inditing’ – there is some confusion regarding what was played when during the service, once again resulting from the hand of the hapless Wake) which have been used in every coronation service since. As to Campbell’s somewhat uncharitable commentary, we are left wondering if the crown itself really did fall to the Abbey floor or whether we’re witnessing a characteristic instance of epistolary exaggeration. If anyone is able to supply us with further details of the ceremony, we would like very much to hear…