HANWAY, JONAS (1712-1786)
AUTOGRAPH REVISED MANUSCRIPT OF HIS POEM 'BEHOLD! MY SON, THIS NAMELESS MONUMENT!', 40 lines, including those deleted, with autograph revisions and deletions preserving reconsidered readings, 1 page, folio, not dated
Behold! my son, this nameless monument! -
Instructive Satyr on our fond Conceits!
Tis not a name, but Wisdom's character
Can raise, & fire th'immortal part of man
Within yon stately temple thou mayst see
The Sculptur'd marble in the highest pomp,
The curious Workman's devoted Art...
This poem was quoted in full by Hanway's eighteenth-century biographer, John Pugh, but he did not identify Hanway as the author. The present manuscript with its authorial revisions suggests that Hanway wrote the poem for use in the picture detailed by Pugh - a note in Hanway's hand in the left margins supports this: 'In Indian ink on 2 Columns on the Dye of the Tomb'. Pugh wrote in relation to this monument: 'Among the ornaments of [Jonas Hanway's] with-drawing room, were some, which deserve to be mentioned, because they help to illustrate his character...He...procured portraits of six of the most celebrated beauties...These portraits being all of the same size'. One was 'a picture, representing the tomb of Pierre Mignard, painter to the King of France; and underneath a drawing of a country church-yard, with a venerable old man seemingly in discourse with a young one. At a distance a young woman was seen praying near a grave; and on the side of a tomb, on which the old man's hand was laid, the following lines were inscribed.' The poem then follows. Apart from the publication in the first and second editions of Pugh's biography (it is omitted from the third revised edition), no other publication has been traced. All the revisions in this manuscript were incorporated into the text printed by Pugh except the word 'celestial' in the ninth line from the end.
MANUSCRIPTS BY HANWAY ARE RARE: only two letters by him (in one lot) have been sold at auction in the last forty years at least.
James Hanway, said to have been the first Londoner to carry an umbrella (he also, unfashionably, carried a sword), was a merchant, traveller and philanthropist. He founded The Marine Society to keep up the supply of British seamen, was a governor of The Foundling Hospital, a strong supporter of the Magdalen Hospital for Penitent Prostitutes and a commissioner for victualling the Navy. He also produced a new system of birth registration in London and published eighty-five titles.
PROVENANCE: John Hart.
REFERENCE: John Pugh, Remarkable Occurrences in the Life of Jonas Hanway, first edition, 1787; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.