Spring is Come! And with it a “Triumph of Wit” from 1712

I 005590060000010_thumbwill not speak of the weather, in hopes that we may induce Spring to stay with us for a long visit.  In Honor of her latest triumph over the Polar Vortex, I present our new TypeWright Featured Text: “The Triumph of Wit,” a 1712 collection of poems by John Shirley on various miscellaneous topics.

This text provides us with many opportunities for improving the plain text that underlies the image!  The first (pictured, left) and the second pages are considered to be images that do not require correction, so skip them and any other pages mostly filled with illustrations.  On page three (pictured, lower right) the text begins; notice that this document has been printed within a surrounding border, which the OCR engine has read and then attempted to type, making many lines of type that can be deleted with little thought.  Occasionally, the very odd issue arises with unnecessary red boxes that one encounters at the bottom of the page in the text, but that appear in the area of the uppermost border on the page image.  And some small boxes appear in the middle of lines that also have a box for the whole, or most of the whole line. For all of these erroneous red boxes you will use the red-X-button to delete the text — but remember that the box will remain on the page with nothing in the text correction box.


The scanned pages show uneven inking, making the underlying text similarly uneven in accuracy.   Sometimes the ink bleeds through from the other side of the printed page, creating additional red boxes where there is not text.  This bleed-through and uneven inking also means that many letters and words cannot be read — even by our human eyes — with any certainty.  Please, remember not to guess at illegible words in the text, but to replace the unreadable with the @ symbol!!

Headers and footers are printed in this document, as they are in many other 18th century documents.  Regarding the titles and page numbers printed at the top of the page, the OCR engine generally ignores these, but sometimes they are read, boxed, and included in the text. The scholars who uses the texts will have their own opinion about keeping these in or excluding them from the plain text file upon which they will base their digital scholarly edition; because our goal here is a general crowd-sourced edit on this and all featured texts, let us split the difference and neither add, nor change, nor delete what is within the generated red boxes that contain header material, but let us do correct within whatever red boxes have been generated.  On the lower side of the page, the OCR engine does seem to consistently find, box in, read, and type the catchwords and folio signatures printed as the last line on pages.  Please check and correct such footers as one single line.

You may have noticed some new pages added to the “What is 18thConnect?” section of the 18thConnect website.  I will describe these fully in my next post, but in the meantime, the material on them may help you if you have any questions about using TypeWright that are not fully covered in the instructional bits below the text correction area on the TypeWright correction page.  And as always, feel free to use the “Contact us” link on every page within 18thConnect.

With all the above in mind, Happy TypeWrighting!

Your 18th Century dilettante,

Anne Arundel

New Featured TypeWright Text: 1703 Printing of a Dryden Play

Indian Emperour 1703_063630050000010_thumb

The Indian Emperour,
or the Conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards,

being the sequel of The Indian Queen.
John Dryden 1703 printing of a play.

This is the oldest TypeWright enabled version included in 18thConnect, of a play first produced in 1665, and first printed in 1667.  The play went through various printings, and we have editable copies from 1703, 1709, 1710, 1721 (2), 1724, 1735, 1750, 1754, 1755, 1759 in 18thConnect.

18thCollect gives access to a total of 48 copies of this play, some in collected works, that range in date from 1667 to 1759, indicating that it continued to be popular well into the 18th century.  All these are from either ECCO or the British Library’s “English Short Title Collection.”

This printed version displays many of the difficulties that Optical Character Recognition (OCR) programs encounter when applied to materials published in the 18th Century.  Most obvious is the long “s” which has been recognized as such in some instances here, but rendered incorrectly in others.  Another common rendering error replaces the combined c-t glyph with “&” or other interesting combinations.  Yet another common error for OCR rendered text, and one remarkably difficult to catch, renders lower-case “e” as lower-case “c.”

More errors arise when the scanned version shows extraneous black spots that appear for various reasons, from printing faults to soiling on the pages.  Such spots appear in ways that either obscure or mimic both letters and punctuation.

As you correct please remember, “If a word or portion of a word is illegible, type ‘@’ in its place; please do not make any guesses about what a word might be.”  If you have a question, or if you don’t, please remember to visit and contribute to our new discussion forum for “TypeWright Questions and Answers.”

Do you have a text you would like to suggest?  Tell us about it at our other new Forum “TypeWright ‘Featured Item’ Suggestions.”

Anne Arundel

Scaredy Cat?


Bastet, Egyptian cat goddess of the Second Dynasty

Contrary to modern superstitions, the black cat was originally seen as a symbol of luck and prosperity dating back to 2890 BC in Egypt. In that time, the cat goddess Bastet was worshipped by Egyptians; she was believed to bless those who hosted black cats in their homes.

King Charles I of England, 1625-1649






Over 4,000 years later, Charles I of England supposedly treasured a black cat in his home to bring him good luck.The story goes that the day Charles’ cat passed away, he claimed that his luck was gone and was arrested for treason the next day (March 1641).

black cat
Witch and a Black Cat, by Unknown, from “The Picture Magazine”, 1894


Despite these positive associations, black cats became symbols of witchcraft and evil beginning in the late Middle Ages throughout the Renaissance and Puritan era. Black cats were drowned and killed on spot as they were considered inherently evil and agents of Satan. As the celebration of All Hallow’s Eve gradually turned into the tradition we know today, black cats and witches became synonymous with October and Halloween festivities.

So whether you believe that they will bring you good luck or misfortune, it is clear black cats have an interesting and mysterious history that continues to fascinate cultures to this day.

Have more interest in the history and lore of black cats? Be sure to visit 18th Connect to find various images, poems, and historical documents that revolve around this mysterious (and nefarious) animal.

Images provided by the New York Library Digital Collection


Written by Taylor Phillips

Good News Proceeds from “Bugs”

Greetings and Salutations!

Due to some changes in our infrastructure, we’ve had a few glitches here and there over the past week.  Thank you for the error emails!  We are working on the problem, and hope to have it fixed soon.

The good news is that the server and infrastructure for the TypeWright application is now stable and secure at Texas A&M University.  We have also updated our code base, so you should notice some improvements to Collex and TypeWright.

One of my favorite things to do on 18thConnect is collecting items.  I get chills just to think of how easy it is to find material using this digital aggregation of resources!  New services always have bugs, however, and we have recently experienced some interesting ones connected with our personal “My18th” pages.  You can help us to solve the programming puzzles by letting me know about problems you have had with your collected items as they appear on your “My18th” page.



To help us transform these “bugs” into “good news,” please include the following information in your e-mail:

  • A short description of the problem you have (to be especially helpful send a screen shot).
  • Does the problem affect all of your newly collected items, or only some?
  • Does the problem affect any of your previously collected items?
  • If not all of your items are affected, the URI for the affected item(s).
  • Whether or not using another browser (Mozilla, Chrome, Safari, etc.) solves the problem.

Your help will minimize the disruptions to all the great advantages that the 18thConnect brings to your research!  To report errors, send an email to, or, or simply hit the Contact Us link on the site.

Anne Arundel