Treasures from the Library: Sonnets on Shakespeare

Welcome to the new blog series! Hopefully you guys get as much of a kick out of the random, weird, and wonderful things in the collection as I do. First though, a quick word to clarify: when I feature something as a treasure of the collection, it may or may not have monetary value. It may be a book with an interesting story or it may be a first edition of an author that is a favorite of the college. There are many types of value, after all.

Now, onto our first find!

My first question for you is, have you ever heard of Major General Ethan Allen Hitchcock? If the answer is no, don’t worry, I hadn’t either. Ethan Allen Hitchcock was born in Vergennes, VT in 1798. As an aside, you should visit Vergennes if you ever get the chance. Its a beautiful little town about 7 miles away from Lake Champlain. Seriously difficult not squee at the quaint nature of the town when you drive through. But back to the task at hand. Vergennes was named after the Comte de Vergennes at the suggestion of Ethan Allen. Ethan Allen being the grandfather of Ethan Allen Hitchcock, and famous for a great many things in his own right.

The son of a judge/delegate to the Constitutional Convention/part of the group who founded the University of Vermont and the grandson of the man who captured Fort

General Ethan Allen Hitchcock. He doesn’t have time for your shenanigans.

Ticonderoga and helped found the state of Vermont, the good (eventual) General had a lot to live up to. After graduating from the US Military Academy, Hitchcock moved through the ranks, serving in the Seminole War and the Mexican-American War. He was out of service for a time before returning to serve in the Civil War, attaining the rank of Major General.

He was a military man, through and through. And yet, somewhere in between marching all over the country and commanding troops during a war that was the bloodiest to date, he found time to write. The flute and alchemy were his two loves, but he clearly had a soft spot in his heart for Shakespeare, as this little volume attests.

Remarks on the Sonnets of Shakespeare was published in 1867, four years before Ethan Allen Hitchcock passed away. It was the last book he wrote that was published in his lifetime. His journals, Fifty Years in Camp and Field and A Traveler in Indian Territory would only be published posthumously.

The copy we possesses is not in the best condition: it has visible wear on the spine and there are sections that are detaching from the spine. Its to be expected of a little book from 1867 that has rattled around for almost 150 years. There aren’t any distinguishing marks on the book, so I can only guess where it might have come from. Most of our library books began their library career elsewhere before retiring to our collection, and that very well may hold true for this little volume as well.


For those looking to read the work, this volume has been removed from general circulation until we can decide how best to proceed. However, the Internet Archive has a digital copy that can be found here.