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Excavations of the Roman town Pompeii

William Hamilton worked as a British diplomat in the Kingdom of Naples. There, he studied the volcanic activities of Mount Vesuvius and its effects on the ‘Campi Phlegraei’, the area around Naples called the ‘flaming fields’. Hamilton wrote about his discoveries to the Royal Society, and became a Fellow. His account of the eruption of 1772 was published as Campi phlegræi. Observations on the volcanoes of the Two Sicilies as they have been communicated to the Royal Society by Sir William Hamilton (Naples 1776), in the form of letters in both English and French. The hand coloured illustrations by Pietro Fabris do not only show Naples and the volcano, but also the excavations of the Roman town Pompeii, discovered in 1748. A selection of plates is shown below.

Campi phlegræi. Observations on the volcanoes of the Two Sicilies as they have been communicated to the Royal Society by Sir William Hamilton (Naples 1776) Fag.GG.2.17

Cabinet of Curiosities

This beautifully illustrated thesaurus gives the reader a look at Albertus Seba’s collection of exotic plants and animals. Pharmacist Seba stored all his items in his house in Amsterdam. After he sold his first collection to Tsar Peter the Great in 1716, he started collecting again, and in 1734 he published the first part of his Locupletissimi rerum naturalium thesauri accurata descriptio, a description of his ‘cabinet of curiosities’ filled with the ‘rarest natural objects’.



Locupletissimi rerum naturalium thesauri accurata descriptio (Amsterdam 1734) Fag.N.1.63

Insects and their metamorphosis

The Fagel Library holds a lot of impressive books on biology and natural history, but Maria Sibylla Merian’s Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium (Amsterdam 1719) is without a doubt one of the most spectacular. Merian, a German-born illustrator and entomologist, travelled to (the former Dutch colony) Surinam in 1699, where she studied insects and their metamorphosis. After two years she returned to the Dutch Republic, where she published the first edition of this book in 1705. It is considered one the most beautiful books on natural history ever published in the Netherlands. A selection of pages and plates is shown below.

Maria Sibylla Merian’s Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium (Amsterdam 1719). Fag.GG.2.10.

Speeches and memoranda by the Spanish and French ambassadors

The character of the Fagel pamphlets changes remarkably during the time that Gaspar Fagel was Grand Pensionary of Holland, in the 1670s and 1680s. The collection resembles what we can call Fagel’s working papers: short, anonymous pamphlets containing official memoranda, speeches, resolutions, and ordinances, passing through Fagel’s hands in the offices of state.

Volume Fag.H.3.44 offers a prime example of this transformation. It contains 97 individual texts, all printed in 1684. These are largely composed of speeches and memoranda by the Spanish and French ambassadors in The Hague, during the War of the Reunions (1683-1684), which saw French forces overrun Spanish possessions in the Low Countries. During this conflict the ambassadors engaged in a new form of persuasion, which has recently been dubbed public diplomacy. This involved taking the diplomat’s task outside the closed circles of influence through a more direct attempt to sway public opinion. This was a new type of pamphlet warfare, mirroring lobbying efforts in the closed offices of state, but appealing beyond this to a broader public. The pamphlet highlighted here is an anonymous response to one of the latest memos of the French ambassador. The “getrouwe Hollander ” (loyal Hollander) urges Dutch support for Spain and accuses the French of stalling negotiations while strengthening their military position in the Southern Netherlands. It captures the essence of a new age of pamphleteering and diplomacy, so carefully laid out in the Fagel collection.

Antwoort van een getrouwe Hollander, op het memoriael, door den heere grave d’Avaux op den 15. may 1684. aen haer ho: mo: ingegeven (S.l., s.n., [1684]), Fag. H.3.44 No.38

The first major crisis of the Dutch Republic

A large number of the early volumes of the pamphlet collection are made up of hundreds of tracts documenting the first major crisis of the Dutch Republic. In the 1610s, during the Twelve Years’ Truce with Spain, a religious conflict erupted which pitted supporters of the truce against those who sought renewed war against Spain. The  tract below, written by the Contra-Remonstrant minister Rippertus Sixti (1583-1651), warned that the Dutch state was slipping back into the clutches of Spanish tyranny. This, he argued, was due to a fifth column at home: the Arminians, or Remonstrants, who, directed by a “Spanish Council”, sought to renew the truce in order to lead the Dutch back under Spanish sovereignty. It went so far as to accuse Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, prime statesman of the Republic, of selling the republic into Spanish hands.

The pamphlet was first printed anonymously by the Leiden printer Jan Claesz van Dorp, who was subsequently prosecuted by the city council, at that time made up predominantly of Remonstrants. But like many Contra-Remonstrant tracts published during this conflict, this was a bestseller, printed throughout the country after Van Dorp’s arrest. It also became a real collector’s item. The Fagel collection contains ten copies of this pamphlet, divided between seven editions. Two of these editions are found only in the Fagel collection.

Practiicke van den Spaenschen raet, dat is: Clare vertooninghe dat den raedt door I. Lipsium, Er. Puteanum, ende Fr. Campanellam, ghegeven alreede in’t werck gestelt is (S.l., s.n. [Leiden, Jan Claesz van Dorp], 1618), Fag.H.1.25 no.13

The first major crisis of the Dutch Republic

A large number of the early volumes of the pamphlet collection are made up of hundreds of tracts documenting the first major crisis of the Dutch Republic. In the 1610s, during the Twelve Years’ Truce with Spain, a religious conflict erupted which pitted supporters of the truce against those who sought renewed war against Spain. The above tract, written by the Contra-Remonstrant minister Rippertus Sixti (1583-1651), warned that the Dutch state was slipping back into the clutches of Spanish tyranny. This, he argued, was due to a fifth column at home: the Arminians, or Remonstrants, who, directed by a “Spanish Council”, sought to renew the truce in order to lead the Dutch back under Spanish sovereignty. It went so far as to accuse Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, prime statesman of the Republic, of selling the republic into Spanish hands.

The pamphlet was first printed anonymously by the Leiden printer Jan Claesz van Dorp, who was subsequently prosecuted by the city council, at that time made up predominantly of Remonstrants. But like many Contra-Remonstrant tracts published during this conflict, this was a bestseller, printed throughout the country after Van Dorp’s arrest. It also became a real collector’s item. The Fagel collection contains ten copies of this pamphlet, divided between seven editions. Two of these editions are found only in the Fagel collection.

Switzerland Schweitzer
Switzerland Schweitzer

About the Collection

In the winter of 1794–5 Hendrik Fagel the Younger, ‘Greffier’ or  Chief Minister to the States General of the Netherlands, was stranded in England when French revolutionary forces invaded his country. Eventually he was able to arrange for his library to be shipped to London, where, because of his reduced financial circumstances, he determined to sell it. However, the auction, for which Christie’s had produced an elaborate catalogue (two volumes, containing almost 10,000 lots), did not take place, because in February/March 1802 the governors of the Erasmus Smith Schools in Dublin put in a successful bid for the entire collection on behalf of Trinity College. In May of that year it began to arrive in Dublin: most of the books were systematically, if slowly, installed in the East Pavilion adjoining the Long Room of the Old Library (where half of the collection can still be seen), and from March 1809 they were accessible to readers.

In the course of five generations of public service to the States General and Holland, beginning with the appointment of Gaspar as Greffier to the States General in 1670, the Fagel family had built up one of the most important private libraries in early modern Europe. The holdings in history, politics and law were particularly substantial, but virtually every other area of human endeavour was represented too: belles lettres, philosophy and theology, geography and travels, natural history, the visual arts and much more. As such, the Fagels’ collections of books and maps can be compared to, say, their collection of plants: at once a practical resource and a treasure house of aesthetic pleasure. The collection of books has been described as ‘not the eighteenth-century grand library of men of letters’, but ‘a library of use’.

Through the acquisition of this collection the existing library of the College was transformed. Quantitatively, it is estimated that the total holdings were increased by some 40 per cent: at a time when these consisted of roughly 50,000 volumes, a further 20,000 were added – and one must realize that a ‘volume’ can consist of thirty or forty pamphlets bound together, in the same way that twenty-five portfolio boxes contain nearly 3000 sheet maps. Qualitatively, despite the presence of some 1800 lots of religious publications, the volume of other material was such that a university resource that had hitherto been dominated by theological interests became irreversibly secular in orientation. For the intervening two centuries, however, this immense cultural and scholarly storehouse has remained unknown to all but a small number of specialists within Trinity College and elsewhere.

Frozen in Time by Tim Jackson
Frozen in Time by Tim Jackson

Dutch declaration of independence

The earliest texts in the pamphlet collection date from the sixteenth century, the founding decades of the Dutch Republic. This part of the collection served the Fagels as a historical reference tool, filled with official texts documenting the early struggle of the Dutch state. The pamphlet below, commonly known as the Plakkaat van Verlatinghe (Act of Abjuration), is one of the most important. The act was signed on 26 July 1581 by representatives of several Dutch provinces who declared themselves independent from royal authority. It was, in effect, the Dutch declaration of independence, and would be used as a model by the American rebels in 1776.

The Plakkaat van Verlatinghe was first printed in Leiden by Charles Silvius, the recently-appointed printer of the States. The rebels rapidly turned to the printing press to disseminate their ordinances and reinforce their authority. The USTC has documented 20 editions of the Plakkaat van Verlatinghe printed in 1581, including this unique edition in the Fagel collection, printed in the eastern town of Arnhem by Willem Jansz van Campen, state printer of the province of Gelderland.

Placcaert byden welcken men verklaert den coninck van Spaengien vervallen vande overheyt ende heerschappije van dese voorsz. Nederlanden (S.l., s.n. [Arnhem, Willem Jansz van Campen], 1581), Fag.H.3.8 no.3

A plan of the imperial city of Kyoto

This plan of the imperial city of Kyoto shows the Emperor’s palace in the centre of a coloured town plan. A German national, Kaempfer (1661-1716) took up a post as a doctor at the Dutch trading post at Nagasaki in 1690. 17th century Japan was almost completely closed to the outside world save for the small Dutch colony comprising about two dozen merchants and their families on the outskirts of Nagasaki, a space they shared with two thousand Chinese merchants and artisans, the only foreigners permitted to live in Japan, and only in Nagasaki at Japan’s westernmost extremity.

Kaempfer learned the language and travelled widely with a Japanese chaperone, collecting material on Japanese culture, society and geography for a book that was not published during his lifetime. After his death the manuscripts were acquired by Sir Hans Sloane, the wealthy London merchant and philanthropist after whom Sloane Square is named, who had them translated into English and published as The History of Japan in 1727. The Dutch translation of this volume is in the Fagel Library.

There are six coloured Kaempfer maps relating to Japan in the Fagel Atlas that are similar to the maps published in History of Japan but are slightly larger and appear to have been a special, oversize edition of the maps engraved as an undertaking separate to the publication of the general volume. Kaempfer’s history was ultimately translated into Japanese, completing the journey of a work that had been originally intended to inform Europeans about Japan.

Ichonographica Urbis Miaco
Ichnographica Urbis Miaco – Englebert Kaempfer, 1692, 42x27cm

Coloured and contrasting maps of the moon

This map features two coloured and contrasting maps of the moon, one by Johannes Hevelius, the other by Giovanni Battista Riccioli, both originally published in the mid-17th century. Although the topography of the moon obviously does not change much, this work charts how the nomenclature of the moon’s features was subject to vigorous debate. Hevelius’ system, favoured in Protestant countries, assigned the names of terrestrial countries and features to lunar ones. Riccioli’s system was favoured in Catholic countries at first, not becoming the standard until the middle of the 18th century, and invoked the names of famous astronomers used alongside more evocative names. Parts of the moon that appeared darker were called “seas”, such as the Sea of Tranquility, lighter parts were termed “land”, for example the Land of Fertility or the Land of Health.

Doppelmaiero (1677-1750) was a prolific writer on astronomy, mathematics and instrumentation whose most enduring work, his Atlas Coelestis, included this lunar map along with star charts, the planetary systems of Tychus, Copernicus and Riccioli and Halley’s cometary theory. Although the atlas was not published until 1742, most of the charts contained within it were produced between 1709 and 1720. The charts were collected by the Fagels as they were produced, as evidenced by the fact that they were never bound, and complement the magnificently illustrated celestial atlas by Cellari found elsewhere in the collection.

Tabula Selenographica in qua Lunarium Macularum exacta Descriptio secundum Nomenclaturam – by Gabriell Doppelmaiero and engraved by JB Homann, Nuremberg, 1718, 58×46cm