Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Draft of Poetry


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Pen and ink on paper
Support: 75 × 117 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXIII 38 a

Catalogue entry

The whole page is taken up with the following lines of verse:
Whose stores the neighbouring village [‘farms’ inserted above] supplyd
and tell a justice never ear denyd
Close to the mill race stands the school
To urchin dreadful, on the dunces stool
Behold him placed behind the chair
In doleful guise twisting his yellow hair
While the grey matron tells him not to look
at passers by (thro door way) but his Book
Instant the din goes round the tender throng
Who meet its [?murmuring heard] her part along1
Interspersed with drawings and the printed pages of Coltman’s British Itinerary, sixty-nine pages of this sketchbook are given over wholly or partly to these verses which Turner intended as a commentary for publication with the Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England which he sketched on the 1811 West Country tour (see the introduction to the sketchbook). The first lines are on folio 18 verso (D08396), and the last on folio 207 verso (D08736; CXXIII 204a).
The previous passage, on folio 35 verso (D08428), concerns Old Sarum in Wiltshire and local activities and industries ending with a mention of ‘the malty mill’ to which the opening lines here refer. There follows a lively verbal vignette of a wayward schoolboy; Anthony Bailey has suggested that Turner is recalling his own schooldays, ‘with a gawkiness he could not throw off’.2 There is more on village school life later, on folio 169 verso (D08679; CXXIII 166a), while in the next lines, on folio 43 verso (D08444), Turner develops the story of the school-marm mentioned here.
See transcriptions (followed here with slight variations) in Lindsay 1966, p.110, lines three to eight as ‘Village School’, section (f) of poem no.50, ‘On the Western Itinerary 1811’, and Wilton and Turner 1990, p.171; previously transcribed with variations in Thornbury 1862, II, p.19 and 1897, p.208; lines six to eight also given in Lindsay 1985, p.8, and lines three to eight in Bailey 1997, p.13.
Bailey 1997, p.13.
Technical notes:
The last word is offset onto folio 39 recto opposite (D08435); Turner presumably closed the book without waiting for the ink to dry.

Matthew Imms
June 2011

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