[George Canning, Prime Minister; John Richardson of Oxford University.] Manuscript copies of poems which won Chancellor's Medal for Latin verse: Canning's 'Iter ad Meccam [Journey to Mecca]'; Richardson's 'Maria Scotorum Regina [Mary Queen of Scots]'

George Canning, British Prime Minister; John Richardson, Student of the University of Oxford [Chancellor's Medal for Latin verse]
Publication details: 
[University of Oxford, post 1789 and 1792.]
SKU: 22457

Manuscripts in a contemporary hand of two poems which won the University of Oxford Chancellor's Prize for Latin Verse, neither of them published. In 1789, Canning, as a Christ Church undergraduate, won the prize for the second of the two, 'Iter ad Meccam Religionis causa susceptum'; and in 1792 John Richardson, 'Scholar of University', won it for the first of the two, 'Maria Scotorum Regina'. The manuscript of the two poems totals 29pp, 8vo. The pages are written lengthwise on fifteen of the twenty leaves of a stitched booklet of laid paper with Britannia watermark. The pamphlet is in fair condition, with light signs of age and wear. The two poems are written out in the same hand. The first (by Richardson, pp.1-17) is practically a fair copy, with only two corrections, but the second (by Canning, pp.17-29) is in a more cramped style, with four or five corrections, including the last word of the title, beside which 'Canning' has been added. Copies of Canning's poem are to be found among the collection of his papers at the University of Michigan, and also at the National Library of New Zealand. Robert Bell, in his 1846 life of Canning, describes 'Iter ad Meccam' as 'the best Latin prize poem Oxford has ever produced'. In a footnote he states: 'This poem was recited by Mr. Canning, in the theatre, on the 26th of June, 1789, on the occasion of Lord Crewe's anniversary commemoration of benefactors to the university. The theatre was unusually full, and presented a distinguished display of fashion and beauty.' On the other hand, Canning is censured by Coleridge, in his Biographia Literaria, for smuggling a line from Politian into the poem. Richardson is a more obscure figure, and no other copy of the manuscript has been traced, although the Bodleian must surely possess copies of both.