Ms. Coll. 251: Literary Models, Religion, and Romantic Science in John Syng Dorsey’s Poems, 1805-1818
John Syng Dorsey (1783-1818) was a Philadelphia surgeon and the author of The Elements of Surgery (1813), the first American textbook of surgery. He was also the author of Poems, 1805-1818 (UPenn Ms. Coll. 251), a forty-page collection that reveals his interests in spirituality, the history of science and medicine, and classical and eighteenth-century British poetry. Decades after Dorsey’s death, his son Robert Ralston Dorsey (1808-1869) revised his father’s poems, identified classical sources with Latin and Italian quotations, and completed Dorsey’s final, unfinished poem. This project analyzes Dorsey’s literary, scientific, and biblical allusions and contextualizes his Poems within early nineteenth-century literary history and Romantic science and medicine.
This article is an expanded version of the annotated transcription and critical introduction published as “Religion, Writing, and Romantic Science in John Syng Dorsey’s Poems, 1805-1818” in Volume 1 (Fall/Winter 2017/18) of Journal of the Penn Manuscript Collective. Corrections to the original transcription, as well as the discovery of four pages of riddles at the back of the volume, reveal additional literary and theological allusions, information about the involvement of Dorsey’s wife’s family and his medical colleagues in Philadelphia charitable organizations, and Dorsey’s connections to elite early nineteenth-century Philadelphia society. The expanded introduction and annotations analyze this new evidence and discuss the five poems from Ms. Coll. 251 and eleven poems not included in the manuscript that Dorsey published in the Port Folio, an influential Philadelphia literary journal.
Martin Earl Smith
The Foundling: A Tragedy. Both a raw and a critical transcription (edited for performance) of a play, composed c 1803-1810 by a Scottish teenager, discussing the issues of bastard children, abortion, honor, and the Scottish nobility.
A transcription of the Buckley-Ferguson letters (1747-1819). Born in the Philadelphia suburbs to William (b. 1713) and Ruth Buckley (d. 1780), Rebecca lived for periods in Essequibo and Demerara in Guyana and resided in New York after her marriage to James Ferguson in 1792. She is the sister of William Buckley (b. 1745). This collection of correspondence to Rebecca Buckley Ferguson is arranged alphabetically and is from family members and close friends.
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Ms. Codex 176: “Pastorcillos” or “Little Shepherds”: Exploring a Miscellany Manuscript from Spain’s Early Modern Period
An investigation and partial transcription of "Pastorcillos," a seventeenth century play written in old Castilian Spanish and in Catalan. This thesis explores the possible origins and genre of this play.
The transcription of an essay declaring the rights of Pennsylvanians, edited by Benjamin Franklin in 1776.
This section of the Penn Manuscript Collective is designed to make available full and extended manuscript transcriptions, primarily but not exclusively from Penn's collections. These transcriptions are too long to fit satisfactorily in the Collective's Journal, although what is here may complement articles published there. Included with the transcription metadata are links to catalog information and scanned facsimiles (when available).
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