After my last foray into the Offices of Spirits, I turned to the beginning of the manuscript to begin. Instead of beginning on page 1, however, I’m beginning on page 15, as that’s where the manuscript itself starts. Between the time when it was originally numbered and the present, the book lost those fourteen initial leaves. As that first page also bears the initials of an owner and the date 1822, we can assume that these pages have been lost for around two hundred years.
As you can imagine, this raises some difficulties with the manuscript. What was in those pages? Was there a title page, and, if so, what was the manuscript originally called? Would it be possible to rediscover those pages (unlikely) or find elements taken from another book? We’ll see as we go.
One item we’re more clear on is the identity of the “R. C. S.” who owned the book. This is Robert Cross Smith, an astrologer better known under the pen name of Raphael, under which he published a famous series of almanacs. The series was so popular, in fact, that after his death in 1832 another Raphael – and, if memory serves, competing ones – took over the business. My notes are at the office, but I seem to recall at least half a dozen of these Raphaels.
(Another previous owner was likely Frederick Hockley, who I’ve nattered on about quite enough here in the past. Note: Tell Keith Richmond at Teitan about this. Note: I probably just did.)
To further complicate the history of the manuscript, it appears that other pages might have been present in it at one point, as evidenced by a set of older page numbers that do not coincide with the present pagination. On top of that, you’ve got thirty pages at the very end that were cut out at a later date and eventually ended up in the library of the artist Robert Lenkiewicz, then purchased at auction and reunited with the other section.
How will this actually affect the contents? I suppose we’ll see.