The volumes in this collection were made up and bound in a uniform style during Turner’s lifetime. Since the contents of the first volume include a transcript of an obituary of September 1833 (No. 116a), this must have taken place some time after that date. Most of the volumes contain a printed title-leaf and an index, headed ‘Contents’, arranged in alphabetical order of the correspondents’ names. Some have collections of seal impressions mounted behind a hinged panel inside the front cover. The printed titles all begin, ‘LETTERS | CHIEFLY | ON LITERARY AND SCIENTIFIC SUBJECTS, | ADDRESSED TO | DAWSON TURNER, | DURING THE YEAR’, the relevant year or period being printed below, with the following epigram: ‘Quemnam ego thesaurum amicorum epistolis permutare vellem? Epistolae sunt amicorum absentium colloquia; nec absentes modo per has adsunt, sed et mortui resuscitantur. Longo tamen post tempore legentibus afferunt amari lugubrisque multum, quamvis dulcedine non sine mira: per coemeterium amicorum bustis repletum, sed et violas rosasque ubique redolens, incedere videmur. AUCT. ANON.’ (Later volumes have ‘SCRIPT. INCERT.’ in place of ‘AUCT. ANON.’) The information in the indexes is sometimes incomplete or erroneous.
Inside the front cover of each volume is a printed bookplate bearing the following text: ‘BIBLIOTHECAE | COLL. SANCT. ET INDIV. TRIN. CANTAB. | DONAVIT | ELEANORA JOANNA JACOBSON, | DAWSONI TURNER FILIA, | ET | GULIELMI EPISCOPI CESTRENSIS VIDUA. | A.D. 1890.’
Note on the present volume
On the spine is stamped ‘CORRESPONDENCE | JAN.–DEC. | 1790–1801’. There are two title-leaves, one for the years 1790–9 and one for the years 1800–1, and two corresponding indexes. Turner has marked many of the letters with the date of his reply, and added pencil dates at the head of most of the letters which are either undated or dated at the end.