TCD Library is home to the Cuala Business Archive (TCD MS 11535). However, like all archives, inevitably it is incomplete as materials over the years of the business and subsequent storage may be discarded or damaged. Of what does remain, Cuala’s minute books, artist lists, and sample designs for prints and embroideries are, arguably, among its most important artefacts, and as shown in earlier posts in this series, this material enables a deeper understanding of Cuala Industries, the Irish Arts and Crafts movement, and Irish history more widely. Historian Anne Dolan has stated that because history is written from available records, and these may show people in a professional capacity, or at their lowest, such as, in court reports, military pensions, business troubles, the happier moments, unrecorded times of play, holidays, relationships, are often overlooked. This blog is about a happy Yeats family occasion with threads to the TCD Cuala Business archive.
As already discussed in this blog series, Dun Emer Press (1902-1908) and Cuala Press (1908-1946) books were renowned for both their content, contemporary literature, and their arts and crafts aesthetic. The Press differentiated itself from other private letterpress publishers by printing new material by important writers of the Irish literary revival. Most British private presses, to minimise costs and avoid paying fees to living writers, invariably issued out of copyright classic texts. From the start, Cuala’s production values were praised for their elementary design and execution, ‘a fine clearness is the prime trait in the hand-printed volumes of Miss Elizabeth Yeats’, they used an eighteenth century (c. 1725) Caslon ‘fashioned … Old-Face type, and it is with this that Miss Yeats works exclusively.’ In setting up her Press, Elizabeth Yeats was advised by printer, private press publisher, and powerhouse of the English Arts and Crafts Private Press Movement, Emery Walker. Due to Walker’s co-directorship of the Doves Press and his role as an advisor to William Morris’s Kelmscott Press, the Dun Emer and Cuala Press may be viewed as a key development within this revival of bespoke publishing.
The Cuala Press operated from different premises during its existence. Initially, under the Dun Emer Press imprint, it was part of Dun Emer enterprises in Dundrum from 1902 until 1908. Elizabeth and Lily Yeats split from Dun Emer and Evelyn Gleeson, in 1908 and moved their printing and embroidery operations to ‘a four roomed cottage’ on Lower Churchtown Road in July of that year. It was housed in William and Georges Yeats home on 82 Merrion Square from August 1923 until February 1925. Cuala then moved to Baggot Street and sub-rented upstairs rooms from the building’s main tenants, Norman Allen Ltd. They remained at Baggot Street until January 1942, by which time W. B. Yeats (the Press’s editor) and Elizabeth were both dead. After 1942 the Press, now managed by George (W.B.’s widow), moved to her house on Palmerstown Road. The thirty-two years in Churchtown and Baggot Street were the most productive. Photographs with decorative and historical detail exist from all locations and are rich sources about Cuala Press life, industry, output, location, and much more.
This blog looks at one photograph taken in the Cuala Press Baggot Street premises in 1932, and the avenues of research that image invites and the questions it asks.
TCD MS 266 is perhaps one of the most important works among the famous Waldenses prose manuscripts originally collected by Sir Samuel Moreland from the Waldensian Pastor Jon Leger. The document contains some critical information about the persecution that the Waldenses faced, along with a description of examination of prisoners, and letters from king Louis XII. However, the one article of greatest interest located on folio 19r, is a copy of the Papal Bull Id Nostri Cordis “our hearty desires”. This Bull of Pope Innocent VIII was promulgated in Rome on April 27, 1487, which was the 5th Kalends of May 1487 on the Julian Calendar. It was later repeated and signed again in the convent of St Laurence in June 26, 1487. The Bull outlined a plenary indulgence (forgiveness) for anyone who joined the military crusades against the Waldensians. His commands extended to religious and secular powers and threatened excommunication for those who did not join. A copy of the original bull has been kept in the Library at Cambridge for many years and is currently held in the unpublished medieval manuscripts Ms Dd.3.25. The existence of the bull is attested even by catholic historians such as Cesare Baronius in his Ecclesiastical Annals Volume 19 where he recognized the order for extermination of the Waldenses as going forth in the third year of the pontificate.
Leading up to these events, for years Rome had implemented inquisition against the Waldenses in the northern regions of Italy. Dominican Inquisitor Reinerius Saccho had identified the Waldenses as the most dangerous of all the heretical groups for three reasons:
“First, because it is older; some say that it has existed from the time of Sylvester and others from the time of the apostles.”
“Second, because it is more general; for there is scarcely any country in which this Sect is not.”
“The third, because, while all other Sects excite the abhorrence of their hearers by the outrageousness of their blasphemies against God, this (namely of the Leonists) has a great appearance of piety; and they believe all things concerning God, and which are contained in the creed, rightly only they blaspheme the Romish Church which blasphemy a great multitude of the Laity are easily induced to believe. And, as we read in the Book of Judges, that Samson’s foxes had different faces, but their tails tied together, so the heretics are divided into Sects among themselves, but in attacking the Church they are united. When there are, in one house, heretics of three Sects, of which each condemns the other, each one at the same time attacks the Romish Church and thus these crafty little foxes destroy the vineyard of the Lord, that is the Church, by their errors.
There were concerns about the Waldenses being taught to read the bible freely and Reinerius had remarked how some could recite the entire New Testament “word for word”. The promulgation of the Bible in the vulgar tongue so widely, along with views contrary to the church of Rome which were deemed heretical, prompted the pope to launch a crusade against the Waldenses.
As a result following the release of the bull, commissioner Albert Cattaneo led the crusade against the Waldensians into the mountains and many were displaced or killed. On one occasion Cattaneo’s commander La Palud had observed some Waldenses go into a nearby cave and ordered a fire be built at its entrance. After the fire was extinguished, the inside of the cave was examined and there was found to be 400 children dead in their mother’s arms and about three thousand individuals perished from the smoke.
It was this important evidence to which men like Sir Samuel Moreland made comparisons biblically for the church of Rome to the man of sin in 2 Thessalonians and the prophetic warning contained in the books of Daniel and Revelation.
Elizabeth Corbet Yeats’s private press was an important cultural and social enterprise, it operated under the Dun Emer imprint from 1903-1908 and thereafter as The Cuala. The last book was published five years after ECY’s death in 1946. The Press frequently exhibited their publications at home and abroad in arts and crafts exhibitions and these positioned their output among other members of the international private press and the wider Arts and Crafts movement.