Intern Insights: Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover (Part 2)

Guest Post by Brenda Thompson

For this week’s post, I decided to follow up on my February 13 blog post: Don’t Judge A Book by Its Cover.

In that post, I discussed this book from the University of Nashville collection:


As noted then, you can see from the photograph that the book’s spine has fallen away, revealing pages of text hidden behind it and showcasing a practice quite common in the early years of bookbinding: the use of old manuscripts or printed text as binding material, typically to strengthen the book’s interior structure.

After that blog post was published, Zora Breeding, one of the Vanderbilt librarians supervising my internship, passed along this tidbit:  Her husband, Marshall Breeding, read the blog post and decided to take it a step further — he googled key phrases from the binding text, leading him to discover that it appears to derive from a speech in The Speeches of Lord Chatham, as reflected on this website, which notes its source as the first edition of an 1852 publication, Select British Eloquence, edited with notes by Chauncey Goodrich, an American senator.

Lord Chatham was a renowned British statesman, celebrated for his oratorical talent and his passionate advocacy for the American colonists in their struggle against Great Britain. The text from the binding comes from a speech he delivered at the opening of Parliament on November 18, 1777, wherein he urged Parliament to cease hostilities and make amends with America, for the good of both countries.

If you visit this website you can see the portion reflected in our book binding; it begins in the speech’s fourth paragraph, at the end of line 11, where you see the words us; the measures, and ends with the sixth paragraph, at the end of line 1, where you see the words and sustained.

Alas, Lord Chatham’s words ultimately fell on deaf ears: The amendment he was urging Parliament to adopt failed. And he died less than six months later, just a few days after collapsing in the midst of yet another speech to Parliament, this time arguing against a motion in favor of America’s independence.

In the words of Paul Harvey, …and that’s “the rest of the story.”

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