Houghton MS Eng 611

Title I: "A collection of poems and various fragments on that season of the year called winter, its opposites & concomitants." II: "Little fragments of essays & detached pieces of poetry and the like calculated for the occasional supply of the magazine daily published." III: "An abstract of curious, odd, & comical passages from old plays as they came casually to hand."
Archive Houghton Library
Call Number Houghton MS Eng 611
Complete Yes

Rev. Thomas Austen, 1760.

Three volumes, only the first two of which are manuscript verse miscellanies, and therefore included in this entry.

768 poems. 

A real variety of contents. The first volume revolves around poems about various natural elements and experiences of country life. The second volume

Format Quarto
Book Size 20.5cm x 16.8 cm
Filled Page Count Vol 1: 276 pages; Vol 2: 340 pages; Vol 3: 250 pages
Item Count 791
Poem Count 768
First Line Index Yes
Digitized Yes
Additional Genres Prose essays, Theatre
Print Sources
Major Themes

Major themes prominent among the manuscript contents in alphabetical order.

Minor Themes

Other themes of interest among the manuscript contents in alphabetical order.


Houghton MS Eng 611.” Manuscript Verse Miscellanies, 1700–1820, edited by Betty A. Schellenberg, Simon Fraser University, https://mvm.dhil.lib.sfu.ca/manuscript/277. Accessed .

Created 2019-09-04 1:13:45 PM
Updated 2023-07-25 11:20:46 AM
First Line Context
Careful Observers may foretel the Hour

vol. 2; p. 176.

Local title: His [Swift's] City Shower.

Attributed author: Swift.

Adaptation: n/a

Other variants: n/a

Other: Preceded by Swift's Miscellanies and followed by "His Description of ye Morning."

Dear Cloe, while the busy croud

vol. 1, f. 137.

Local title: n/a

Attributed author: n/a

Adaptation: n/a

Other variants: Incomplete poem. 

Other: n/a

Feature Note
Author attributions

Frequent; plus occasional source attributions. 


“Poetry” printed on the fore-edge of the closed book.

Titles from spine.  


Decorations - hand-drawn

Vol. 1: p. 63 pencil drawing of a flower and a man's face.

Vol. 2: Drawing of a caterpillar on p. 84, annotated: “This Catterpillar I saw in my father’s Garden 1736 at Margarets, Rochester. T.A.”


Single. One poem in another hand annotated by Austen in vol 2 pp. 79–83; a single annotation in another hand (in ink) p. 142. Red-pencil annotator/ editor is likely the compiler.

Indications of use

Vol. 1:

Brown staining on the page before p. 1 that has bled through the page, and also stained p. 9.

Infrequent corrections—both volumes are more foul than fair copy. 

References to other personal manuscripts eg. p. 183 “I have put this to ye subject of spiritualization, in thin 40. Parchmt: Cover. begun in 1770.” Also, considering the dates provided in this volume, this note was added ten years after its completion ie. these volumes were revisited, and he felt comfortable adding notes to them.

Annotations and corrections by red pencil. Other Rev. Austen volume (Houghton GEN MS Eng 614) contains an item in ink: “Sent me Augt. 10. 1772 by a friend, in a Letter. Mr D—k,” and next to that in red-pencil: “Wht Dethick sent me.” This seems to indicate that the annotator/ editor is the same as the compiler. So the red-pencil is likely the compiler. See also p. 78: “This mark is made by a Revd judicious hand.” Vol. 2 also very clearly contains the compiler’s hand in red-ink.

Vol. 2:

Title page says “Calculated for an Occasional Supply to the Monthly Magazine Writers” but next to that is written (in the same hand) “N.B. I have not sent any to the Press as yet, & never design so to do. Feb. 1765.” Perhaps an indication the compiler changed his mind about print publication. 

p. 78 “vid: the following Articles in MS book of poetical works which might be altered & corrected & fitted for the design of this Book.” Followed by a list of poems and pp. numbers. p. 79 contains more ideas for filling this manuscript and other projects including “vid. my folio Mss. Collections towards a Natural History of Kent.”

p. before p. 1 “Begun March 5th: 1760.” First page of ambigraph section says “Begun Mond: Oct. 22d. 1759” so, seemingly, the ambigraph section was begun before the first section or first volume. Also, p. 201 beginning of Churchill poems annotation “Churchill’s true Character, see at ye Last back of this book” referring to poem on flyleaf. This allows for the possibility that the ambigraph section was completed before this section (we know from the date it was begun first) leaving a finite amount of space.

Item formatting

Vols. 1 and 2: Items presented back-to-back; titles written in the same size font as text.

Vol. 1: Regular lines between items.

Vol. 2:  In general, single lines between items, double lines between stanzas or short items, like epigrams, that are part of a larger section. This is inconsistent though, making the individual items within the larger sections very difficult to count.


Vol. 1: "Finis," the date, and a swirl on the last page.

Vol. 2: Section 1 pp. 1–246, ambigraph section pp. 94–1. Ambigraph section contains no poetry except the on the flyleaf.

Original poetry

Yes. Volume 2 title page says: “A great many written or composed by T. Austen of Rochester.” 

Ownership mark


John Newington Hughes bookplate on the inside-front cover of each volume.

Page layout

Paginated (both volumes and both sections of vol. 2. Seemingly paginated as the manuscripts were filled in because pp. 82–83 which are written in another hand are paginated in that hand as well).

Table of Contents

Vol. 1 no, vol. 2 yes, at the beginning, and possibly in another hand. Includes full list of items from first section, and only says “at t’other End, skeletons of Forsters’s sermon & Beveridge’s Thesaurus—from the beginning of ye other End. to p. 94” about the ambigraph section. 

Title page

Yes, for each volume.

Volume 1: "Scraps of Poetry On Winter, Its Opposites, & Concomitants: And many other agreeable Fragments all Collected Chiefly from borrowed Books Begun April 7th: 1760. and finished May 20th: 1760."

Volume 2: "Little Fragments of Essays & Detach’d Pieces of Poetry, Prose Reflections, & The like performances, (being mostly originals), purposely Calculated for an Occasional Supply to the Monthly Magazine Writers."