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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: August ::
Letter in a Bottle
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0515  Friday, 10 August 2007

From: 		Joseph Egert <
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 >
Date: 		Tuesday, 7 Aug 2007 13:41:55 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 	Letter in a Bottle

The tide of time has washed ashore a bottled letter from the past---the 
bottle, in this instance, being a library copy of Frederick James 
Furnivall's SOME 300 FRESH ALLUSIONS TO SHAKSPERE (1886) (see Fig. 1). 
On the blank recto side of the unnumbered front flyleaf, an earlier 
owner, Robert North Green-Armytage (1878-1966) has signed his name both 
in pencil near the center as "R. N. Green=Armytage, Middle Temple: E.C. 
1904" and in ink at the top as "R. N. Green=Armytage: Bath: '21". Also 
on this page are pasted three short letter-to-editor clippings (two by 
C.R. Haines; the third by Gordon Crosse) proposing additional allusions 
(see Fig. 2).

On page ii, a 113x177mm single-leaf handwritten ink letter may be found 
centered on the blank 180x240mm book page and attached there by a thin 
strip of tape at its lateral margin. The undated letter to Henry Gay 
Hewlett (1832-1897) is from Frederick James Furnivall (1825-1910), or 
"Furnie", as his scull-ery maid-ens fondly dubbed him (the model for 
Ratty the Water Rat in Grahame's THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS).

The letter reads as follows (see Figs. 3a and 3b for facsimiles):

	3 Old Square
	Thursday

	Dear Sir
		I am sorry to
	say that it is too true
	that your & my friend
	Girling Tupling did start
	for America in the Pacific.
	I did not know it till
	his father told me a few days
	after he had gone.  By
	calling on, or writing to,
	his father, Mr John Tupling
	23 Paternoster Row, you
	could learn whether he
	still hopes that the vessel
	 [over]
	is not lost.  I have given
	up the hope,--holding still
	the assurance that it is better
	for him to be where he is, for
	this earth could never have
	satisfied his longings & aspi-
	rations,  & now with God
	they will be fulfilled.

	Faithfully yours
	F. J. Furnivall

	H.G. Hewlett Esquire junior
	 [End of letter]

Who then was this lost soul Girling Tupling (c. 1835-1856)? His father 
John Tupling (c. 1810-1873), after failing as a Cambridge bootmaker in 
1849, became accountant to a London publisher, while his young son 
Girling (spelled elsewhere "Gurling" or "Gertling") learned the 
bookselling business. Dissatisfied with his name, Girling later renamed 
himself "John" with his father's consent---a name that "was not likely 
to prove a hindrance to a man!". At age seventeen (c. 1852), young John 
agreed to his father sponsoring and financing him in a small London 
bookshop on the Strand against the church at St Mary's. During his brief 
career young John authored, along with his quaint eccentric catalogs, 
FOLIOUS APPEARANCES in 1854, and published Donne's ESSAYS IN DIVINITY 
(1855), newly edited by his friend Augustus Jessopp.

But young John had grander dreams beyond his dingy bookshop. "I'm tired 
of it," he told Jessopp. "I want to see the world; and, above all, I 
want to see the bottom of the Atlantic" with its "Kraken", its 
"monstrous sea-weeds", and its "undisturbed and imperturbable quiet". 
So, young John left his father after bitter argument and "lit out for 
the territories". The Golden Land, America, beckoned to him with her 
siren song. He debarked from Liverpool for New York on Jan 23, 1856, one 
("W. Topling") among 45 passengers and 141 crewmen, on the American 
Collins Line steamer PACIFIC.. The ship was never seen again, with all 
aboard lost at the bottom of the Atlantic.

Young John Tupling's wish had been granted, R.I.P.

Joe Egert

(The PDF figures may be found at 
http://www.shaksper.net/review-papers/index.html by clicking on images, 
or they can be accessed at the "Bottled Letter" thread at HLASM at:
 
http://groups.google.com.au/group/humanitieslitauthorsshakespearemoderated/browse_thread/thread/502f8fd0d0d181c3?hl=en&safe=on 


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