Borrowing or Plagiarism?
Proceeding from my remarks made about Massey in another essay, I now have to take him to task over a far more serious matter; that is, the extent of his borrowing. By this I mean the source material introduced into his works from other sources unaccredited. This should not be confused with the material he discusses where there is no reference given, but rather the references given which have been derived from elsewhere.
To make myself clear on this point, after consulting a small selection of some of the works he quotes from I found that most of his quotations have been lifted from these works. Like music artists accused of sampling music without due acknowledgement from other sources, Massey samples texts from other works, usually wholesale quotations, and introduces them into his text as if he has consulted the work himself, whereas in reality he has relied on another scholar to provide it for him. It then looks as if he has consulted more material than he actually had access to. That is how his impressive list of references grew to such a prodigious extent. This is nothing peculiar to Massey alone; everyone does it. Only difference is, Massey does it to an unacceptable level.
Some would call this outright plagiarism.
Plagiarism is a contentious issue, particularly in the field of writing where copyright terms and laws become increasingly convoluted. The plagiarist per se conforms to the standard model of lazy, talentless, unoriginal. Anyone can do it. It is simply a matter of finding suitable text, appropriating it, then publishing it under one's own name. Or, if you're feeling in the slightest bit creative, try rearranging it, and writing it up in its new form, then passing it off as being from one's own pen. It in itself becomes also something of an artform. In postmodernist terms; Anti-art—the individualism of the original work is stripped of its inner value as a personal commodity. The oft-quoted maxim of Lautreamont—'Plagiarism is necessary. It is implied in the idea of progress'—is more particularly relevant today as fewer new ideas come into circulation, the majority of works being largely rewrites of previous ones. This leads to the cynical conclusion that there is nothing else to say, everything is imitative, and the market is dictated purely by a need: after all, anything that sells justifies its reason for existing. In the end most of us are plagiarists.
However, is the term applicable to Massey? Yes and no. Massey displays all the characteristics of the standard model in that his poor referencing demonstrates laziness; he simply couldn't be bothered to cite properly. And this is evident through his whole attitude toward his work: laziness pervades his books; also demonstrable in the arrangement of his points, the divisions of his chapters—entirely arbitrary in most cases as he discusses the same points in different chapters, showing no sign of logical progression—illustrations taken from other books without acknowledgement, Latin and Greek quotes not translated (not so inexcusable for his time since even Thomas Taylor, writing over fifty years prior to Massey, always translates his foreign quotes for his readers), etc., although his talent as a perceptive thinker is undeniable and his originality in the field of typology is without doubt. But it is a very easy process to simply copy straight from the book in front of you and not bother to mention the source; then that, I'm afraid, constitutes plagiarism. If, however, he stated the source that would be an entirely different matter. But as it is, his laziness does not absolve him from the charge of plagiarism in toto.
I prefer the more lenient term of 'borrowing' as it does not smack of out-and-out plundering. Since he was poverty stricken most of his life there are good reasons for this method: he did not have the resources to build up a significant library of his own, and struggling to make ends meet he would not have had as much time as he wished to use the books held in the British Library. We do know, however, that he made extensive use of the reading room in the British Library as he often had to get his ticket renewed.1 Instead he had what I will here call primary and secondary material. This arbitrary division can be classified as follows; those works that were closest to hand were his primary source, and through them gave him access to the secondary material. The major primary works he uses can be listed as follows:
Brand's Observations on Popular Antiquities
Dyer's British Popular Customs
Records of the Past (first and second series)
Davies' Mythology of the British Druids
Skene's Four Ancient Books of Wales
Tylor's Primitive Culture
Tylor's Researches into the Early History of Mankind
Lubbock's Origin of Civilisation
Hislop's The Two Babylons
This is only a preliminary list, there being many others no doubt, but these works provided him with most of the material he quotes from, not just the borrowed material, but also acknowledged references.
How do we know he borrowed material? Simple: by reading the books he read. You will then find most of the quotes he uses and be staggered, as I was, by how much of his material is really not of his own making.
The works listed above provided him with enough information to, say, fill out one volume of NG. When put into perspective with the list of titles to be found in the Bibliography, this is a surprising revelation. To put it succinctly, the folkloric and customs material is gathered from 1 and 2; these gave him substantial material to flesh out his ideas essentially in BB 1. Items 6-8 gave him material for the customs, rituals and beliefs of foreign cultures as they draw substantially from the travelogues of writers abroad, from the mid 16th century up to Massey's own era. But it would be unfair to dismiss BB 1, for example, as being a compilation derived from Brand and Dyer: although a quick glance at the Bibliography and the Bibliographical Index will show how reliant he was on both of these works for his source material.
What I am particularly concerned about here is his use of this material. Through Brand he had access to hundreds of obscure works that would indeed be difficult to locate, many of them being extremely scarce, and luckily held conveniently for Brand in the British Library. Brand, following on from the work of Bourne in his Antiquitae Vulgares, had done all the work for Massey by meticulously researching the material himself to give him an insight into the peculiar customs and traditions, the beliefs and rituals, of an England long past that was only retrievable through these works. And Massey put it amply to use to back up his own theories. The same can be said for Tylor, who was a true scholar in that every single quote is religiously referenced.
For example, in Tylor's two volume set of the first edition of Primitive Culture, a work consisting of 893 pages, there are over 1800 referential footnotes; that is, every quote or citation is properly referenced. And if the quote is from another source then that acknowledgement is given. The same can be said for his Researches into the Early History of Mankind. Likewise for Frazer's Totemism, a short and succinct work of 94 pages. Yet there are a staggering 538 (!) referential footnotes, excluding the ones in the actual text, and, for a short book such as this, these notes constitute over half of the text itself. When viewed in comparison with the Masseian Corpus, the books by Tylor and, more particularly, by Frazer, whom Massey deplored, are truly scholarly. Also, Frazer's book, be it remembered, was written inbetween NG and AE, and is a good example of how such a book should actually be written. (I should also say, at this point, that whilst sorting out the remaining references in both volumes of AE, I found many more that had been lifted from Frazer's Golden Bough; this work, which Massey detested, should also be considered as a primary source, right up there with Tylor and Lubbock.) Where Massey fails is in his total disregard for his source material, a bone of contention I have picked up on elsewhere, but one which I consider to be a self-defeating failure in his success as a writer. Perhaps if he had taken more care in his referencing he would have been taken more seriously as a writer. At the end of the day, it his poor scholarship that lets him down as an esteemed writer (and something I have attempted to ameliorate by a methodical improvement of the corpus itself).
To understand Massey's approach to his source material, and his method of lifting from it, I will here give a good example. And the best way to examine it is to deconstruct the text.
In NG 1:117 there are four listed references in the footnotes, yet all of them are borrowed—that is, he neglects to mention the two primary sources from whence they are derived, i.e. Tylor and Lubbock. I here give the page in its entirety:
a mere relation of parentage, affection, and duty, but that their very bodies are joined by a physical bond; so that what is done to the one acts directly on the other." If so, surely some of the parent's sufferings attending the ceremony were calculated to kill any number of children; and this fact is fatal to the reason assigned for the one part of the performance which was intended to insure the safety and well-being of the child.
Bachofen suggested that the custom of couvade originated as a ceremony that was typical of a transfer in the line of descent from the motherhood to the individualised fatherhood, as if the male parent were performing an act symbolical of his superseding the female parentage. But with the Macusis of Guiana, amongst others, the father and mother both lie in, and there is no transfer from the mother to the father. So with the Arawacs. The act did not transfer the child to the father;1 they continued to trace the line of descent from the mother.
The custom shows that the parent identifies himself with the infant child. He takes no more nourishment than would keep a mere child alive, and this is limited at times to the most infantile food. If the child dies, it is because of some sin of omission or commission with which the father is chargeable. He has "neglected to shave off his long eyebrows,"2 or he has handled metal, or injured his nails. For the Macusis of Guiana might not scratch themselves with their own nails (a type of pubescence), and a rib of the palm-leaf was hung up for use instead. An Abipone resisted the luxury of a pinch of snuff for fear it should make him sneeze and the sneeze bring some danger upon the child.3
When the child is born the father exhibits the offspring as his. He receives the congratulations of friends instead of the mother. The father not only takes the mother's place in bed with the child. He makes a typical transformation into the character of a child. He becomes as a little child in his habits and diet before the child is born.
Among the Coroados as soon as the woman was known to be pregnant the strict regimen began and the man lived chiefly on fish and fruits; his infantile diet. The men of the Caribi and Acawoid nations abstained from certain kinds of meat lest the expected child might be injured in some mysterious manner by the father's eating of them.4
Thus the father represents or impersonates the child before birth and religiously abstains from everything that could hurt an infant. He did also take the place of the mother, but the still more arresting phenomenon is found in his becoming as the child.
1 Spix and Martius, Travels in Brazil, vol.
If we were to break down this page into numbered segments we would be able to see clearly how he uses his material. (I have highlighted similarities between references.)
1. "...a mere relation of parentage, affection, and duty, but that their very bodies are joined by a physical bond; so that what is done to the one acts directly on the other." [Quote not referenced by Massey. From Tylor's Researches, p. 296.]
2. If so, surely some of the parent's sufferings attending the ceremony were calculated to kill any number of children; and this fact is fatal to the reason assigned for the one part of the performance which was intended to insure the safety and well-being of the child. [Massey's own words.]
3. Bachofen suggested that the custom of couvade originated as a ceremony that was typical of a transfer in the line of descent from the motherhood to the individualised fatherhood, as if the male parent were performing an act symbolical of his superseding the female parentage. [From Tylor's Researches, p. 297;—'An attempt to account for the couvade has been made by Bachofen, in his remarkable treatise on that early stage of society when the rule of kinship on the mother's side prevailed, which in the course of ages has been generally superseded by the opposite rule of kinship on the father's side. The couvade, in his view, belonged to the period of great social change, being a symbolical act performed by the father for the purpose of taking on himself the parental relation to the child which had been previously held by the mother.'—Bachofen, The Abipones, pp. 17, 255, etc.]
4. But with the Macusis of Guiana, amongst others, the father and mother both lie in, [Ibid, p. 298;— 'Among the Macusis of Guiana, who may stand as the example, the father after the birth of the child hangs up his hammock beside the mother's, and keeps with her the weeks of seclusion.']
5. and there is no transfer from the mother to the father. [Ibid, p. 298;—'... these Macusis, so far from reckoning the parentage as having been transferred to the father by the couvade, are actually among the tribes who do not reckon kinship on the father's side, the child belonging to the mother's clan.']
6. So with the Arawacs. [Ibid, p. 298;—'So among the Arawacs, though the father performs the couvade, this does not interfere with the rule that kinship goes by the mother.']
7. The act did not transfer the child to the father;¹ [This reference is misplaced. See 16 below.]
8. they continued to trace the line of descent from the mother. [Massey's own words.]
9. The custom shows that the parent identifies himself with the infant child. He takes no more nourishment than would keep a mere child alive, and this is limited at times to the most infantile food. If the child dies, it is because of some sin of omission or commission with which the father is chargeable. [Massey's own words, the information deriving in part from Tylor and Lubbock.]
10. He has "neglected to shave off his long eyebrows," [Tylor, ibid, p. 295;—'he had neglected to shave off his long eyebrows;'—Dobrizhoffer, The Abipones, vol. 2, p. 231.]
11. or he has handled metal, or injured his nails. [Unable to trace.]
12. For the Macusis of Guiana might not scratch themselves with their own nails (a type of pubescence), and a rib of the palm-leaf was hung up for use instead. [Tylor, ibid, p. 298;—'During this time, neither husband nor wife do any work; he may not bathe nor take his weapons in hand; both may quench their thirst with lukewarm water and eat cassava-porridge; they are even forbidden to scratch themselves with their nails, a bit of palm-leaf being hung up to use instead.']
13. An Abipone resisted the luxury of a pinch of snuff for fear it should make him sneeze and the sneeze bring some danger upon the child.3 [Tylor, ibid, p. 295;—'As I stood by, Barreda offered the Cacique a pinch of Spanish snuff, but seeing the savage refuse it contrary to custom, he thought he must be out of his mind, for he knew him at other times to be greedy of this nasal delicacy; so he asked me aside to inquire the cause of this abstinence. I asked him in the Abiponian tongue...why he refused his snuff to-day? "Don't you know?" he answered, "that my wife has just been confined? Must I therefore not abstain from stimulating my nostrils? What a danger my sneezing would bring upon my child!" No more, but he went back to his hut to lie down again directly, lest the tender little infant should take some harm if he stayed any longer with us in the open air.'—Dobrizhoffer, The Abipones, vol. 2, p. 231.]
14. When the child is born the father exhibits the offspring as his. He receives the congratulations of friends instead of the mother. [Tylor, ibid, p. 300;—'"In one tribe it is the custom for the father of a new-born child, as soon as its mother has become strong enough to leave her couch, to get into bed himself, and there receive the congratulations of his acquaintances, as he exhibits his offspring."'—Lockhart, TES, 1861, p. 181. Also Lubbock, Origins of Civilisation, p. 16, 4th edition, 1882;—'"On the birth of a child, the ancient Indian etiquette requires the father to take to his hammock, where he remains some days as if he were sick, and receives the congratulations and condolence of his friends."'—Brett, The Indian Tribes of Guiana, p. 101.]
15. The father not only takes the mother's place in bed with the child. He makes a typical transformation into the character of a child. He becomes as a little child in his habits and diet before the child is born. [Massey's own words.]
16. Among the Coroados as soon as the woman was known to be pregnant the strict regimen began and the man lived chiefly on fish and fruits; his infantile diet. [Lubbock, ibid, p. 16;—'In Brazil, among the Coroados, Martius tells us that "as soon as the woman is evidently pregnant, or has been delivered, the man withdraws. A strict regimen is observed before the birth; the man and the woman refrain for a time from the flesh of certain animals, and live chiefly on fish and fruits."'—Spix and Martius, Travels in Brazil, vol. 2, p. 247. Note: This is the misplaced reference Massey has attributed to footnote 1. See 7 above.]
17. The men of the Caribi and Acawoid [sic] nations abstained from certain kinds of meat lest the expected child might be injured in some mysterious manner by the father's eating of them.4 [Ibid, p. 16;—'Further north, in Guiana, Mr. Brett observes that "some of the men of the Acawoio and Caribi nations, when they have reason to expect an increase of their families, consider themselves bound to abstain from certain kinds of meat, lest the expected child should, in some mysterious way, be injured by their partaking of it...'—Brett, ibid., p. 355.]
18. Thus the father represents or impersonates the child before birth and religiously abstains from everything that could hurt an infant. He did also take the place of the mother, but the still more arresting phenomenon is found in his becoming as the child. [Massey's own words.]
1 Spix and Martius, Travels in Brazil, vol.
ii. 247. [From Tylor.]
2 Dobrizhoffer on the Abipones. [From Tylor.]
3 Dobrizhoffer. [From Tylor.]
4 Brett, Indian Tribes of Guiana, p. 355. [From Lubbock.]
Massey's lifting is best exemplified in segment 12. Note that there are no quotation marks, yet it is in fact a quote lifted straight out of Tylor, but reads as if Massey had written it himself. Being taken verbatim from Tylor, perhaps this one instance justifies the label of plagiarism. Segment 17 is also tantamount to plagiarism. It is quoted by Lubbock from Brett; here it is without quotes and woven into the text using Brett's own words with a slight variation. This example begs the question why he simply didn't quote Brett directly. Possibly because it gives the impression Massey was more knowledgeable in anthropology and reads as if he was speaking from experience, only for this notion to be counteracted by the reference to footnote 4. We know he is using Brett's text (through Lubbock) but the implication is twofold; it is a direct quote—albeit slightly modified—and it comes from another source, i.e. Lubbock's book. It is outright borrowing. The same is applicable to 12, 13, 14 and 16. Segment 3 is a summary of Tylor's views of Bachofen. This has radical implications in that one would have thought Massey would have consulted Bachofen's treatise directly as it is paramount to the Masseian theory as a whole. Bachofen believed that the earliest politico-social unit was based on that of the mother, that kinship passed down through the female line only to be superseded by the male line once the fatherhood was established. This he termed the Matriarchate and is central to Massey's thinking. 'It is a method of tracing genealogy, more convenient in polygamous societies, and more natural in primitive times, when the close connection of mother and child during the early days of infancy emphasise the relation.'2 'The system was explained by Bachofen as due to the supremacy of women...'3 although the view was later tempered by Westermarck in his History of Human Marriage (1891) as being overly exaggerated by Bachofen. However, the same idea was taken up by Briffault in his work, The Mothers, that the Mother-Goddess was first, therefore her natural representatives on earth would stand at the head of the hierarchy. It is difficult to conceive how deeply Massey understood what Bachofen was saying if he was wholly reliant on Tylor's summary in Early Researches. One can only gather that his view of Bachofen's matriarchal theory was somewhat limited.
In this brief analysis of one page—and it was chosen as the most obvious example of borrowing—out of a total of eighteen segments only five are in Massey's own words—although this is a moot point—the rest being borrowed indiscriminately from Lubbock and Tylor. Further, one name of a tribe is misspelt; it is clearly ACAWOIO in Lubbock, but Massey has ACAWOID, an easy mistake to make. But this is not the only time he has erred in this way. I will cite a couple of other instances.
Massey cites Merolla in BB 2:636. This is borrowed from Lubbock. The reference is to the 'supreme pontiff of Congo as the ganga CHILERNE.' The last word is misspelt. In Lubbock, p. 358 of the 4th edition, the word is given as CHITORNE—a slight error that would suggest Massey did not have Lubbock's book in front of him when he was writing; instead he was referring to his own handwritten notes, the l easily being mistaken for a t, the e for an o. This likewise occurs in his citation of Lane, Modern Egyptians, in BB 2:335, where he has GHABEYRA when it is in actual fact GHUBERYA. In neither of these instances does the misspelling affect his point, but it at least suggests a carelessness on his part in not checking the references properly during the transcription and later on when the proofs were returned for his inspection. This may seem a minor detail, yet it underlines the point I have made elsewhere that there are errors in his works which need to be eradicated.
The deconstruction of the text above also demonstrates how imperative it is to bring out an entirely corrected edition with all the references listed and where they have been borrowed from. It is only one out of the many examples I could have chosen from, of a single page that contains only three or four original inputs from Massey himself, the rest appropriated and disguised as if from his own pen, particularly the instances where the wording is not enclosed in quotation marks, but lifted straight out of Tylor and Lubbock. Anyone approaching his work for the first time would believe these were Massey's words, when they are in fact the words of others, hence the analogy of sampling.
The list of borrowed references is inexhaustible. It could be continued indefinitely. So far I have only scratched the surface, but it goes back to my original point that there are two types of sources: one, the primary; two, the secondary, and I believe, based on only a preliminary investigation, that the primary constitutes two-fifths of the Masseian Corpus as a whole, and that the rest is the secondary material derived from the primary—that is, three-fifths of the material quoted, cited, referenced and transcribed by Massey comes from primary sources. And what is surprising is that most of the information in the travelogues provided by early missionaries and explorers, who were essentially the first ethnologists and anthropologists, is purely secondary material. In other words, he never read any of the travel books quoted, not even the ones written by his close acquaintance Richard Burton. In the Bibliography, all the travel books by Burton (not including the Lusiads of Camoens) are through Lubbock and Tylor, although I have not marked them as borrowed sources for the time being.
I realise that some writers do lift material from the writings of others: Lubbock, who later switched his pen-name to Lord Avebury, in his revised seventh edition of 1912 even lifts material from Tylor's works. One is inclined to believe that there was a symbiotic relationship taking place between these two as Tylor does the same with Lubbock. However, with Massey, the full grand scale of theft—and I use that term reluctantly—is beyond belief. It is also inexcusable, especially as regards the information conveyed as if from his own pen.
In another essay I stated I had always been curious how a man like Massey would have had the time to write so much and still have the time to consult so many books. The answer is: he didn't need to. All he needed was the primary material at hand, which gave him access to the secondary. This inevitably leads to the conclusion that his wide range of reading was not as extensive as that suggested by the long list of books in the Bibliography.
Having received some flak over the years for this essay, it seems I need to yet again justify my remarks by providing further proof. I have therefore compiled a simple table to demonstrate the number of primary works against the secondary material, so the full extent of Massey's borrowing can be seen.
Listed in alphabetical order, the texts in the left-hand column constitute the primary sources Massey used. Through these texts he gleaned the secondary sources on the right. The latter were not consulted directly but were referred to by the author of the primary text. As Massey did not mention this fact, he has given the impression that he is quoting directly from the source, whereas in actuality he is relying on another authority to provide it for him. Thus the texts on the right all fall into the category of 'borrowed' material.
(Recently there was an uproar when viewer's of Attenborough's BBC series 'Frozen Planet' discovered that the polar bear giving birth in her underground den was not actually shot in the Artic, but was in fact footage taken from a polar bear in captivity, a fact Attenborough neglected to mention. But because the footage was inserted into the sequence of the animal in its natural habitat, viewers were led to believe it was happening in the wild. In the same way, Massey neglects to mention the fact that he has borrowed his reference from another book, thus misleading his readers.)
A good example of this is the first entry; Brand's book. Through this work he has 'borrowed' over 60 references. This is a significant amount, but nowhere does he state that any of these are quoted in Brand. He has simply repeated the reference verbatim and inserted it in his work. And the same goes for the rest of the other entries. Note how many references there are gleaned from Hislop's work, The Two Babylons. As I stated in my other essay on Massey's extensive use of borrowing, from this book in particular (see Essay 4), I was pretty sure he had lifted sources from this book and that I would not be satisfied unless there were at least twenty. Well, unsurprisingly, there are 27 references he has borrowed from Hislop and inserted in his text, yet nowhere throughout the Corpus does he ever mention Hislop's name or his book. This is a niggling point I have tried to resolve in that essay, but it does suggest something surreptitious on Massey's part, and it does not do him any favours.
(Another book Massey does not mention can be added: that is, John Allen's Modern Judaism, a book he relied on for his quotes of Jewish authors, like Stehelin and Buxtorf, etc. Why doesn't he mention it? We know he has used it because the quotes and referencing are identical. It is an inescapable conclusion that it is another 'silent' primary source, which meant I did not have to go out of my way to find Stehelin's Rabbinical Literature, or Eisenmenger's Entdecktes Judenthum, an exceedingly scarce book, because all the quotes from these books can be found in Allen, a much more accessible book, and thankfully written entirely in English.)
As I said in my essay above, the ethnological and anthropological data stems mainly from three separate works; Lubbock's Origin of Civilisation, and Tylor's two books; Researches into the Early History of Mankind and his Primitive Culture. (There are a few others, like Spencer's The Principles of Sociology, Frazer's Golden Bough, also his Totemism, Reclus' Primitive Folk, etc., but not to a great extent. See below.) These three titles quote extensively from travel writers and missionaries, and in fact tend to quote the same sources. From Lubbock, Massey gleaned 32 titles, and from Tylor's two books at least another thirty-something. Later, when writing his last book Ancient Egypt, The Light of the World, he borrowed from more recently published works like Reclus' book on anthropology (Primitive Folk) and Frazer's book on totemism, as well as borrowing from Frazer other great work, The Golden Bough, which Massey scathingly rejects as not going deep enough to bottom the deepest truths (see AE 2:672-3). Hence, he is not loath to borrow from a book he quite clearly demerits. It seems anything is grist to his mill.
There is nothing else I need to add that has not already been stated in my essay. The table merely demonstrates the extent of his borrowing and is a good indication of the amount evident in the Corpus. There are no doubt many more that I will come across eventually, but as it stands at present this is pretty clear proof of his use of this method. As I said before, all he had to do was add the proviso 'quoted in ...' or 'cited by ...' to exonerate himself from the charge of borrowing. It is only on a few occasions where he does state this, as can be evinced from a perusal of the bibliography; those instances where he has cited from another source have been indicated as such. But in most cases he hasn't, and that is his failing. A lot of the criticism I have received are from people who think I am exaggerating; I am not. A quick glance at the table will confirm this for there are a total of 226 (that I am aware of), not just the odd one here and there. And yes, okay, they may be spread over four of his books (amounting to about three thousand pages), but there is still no justification for neglecting to mention this proviso on each and every occasion.
Incidentally, after many years of researching Massey's sources, whenever I come across a slightly obscure text, or a foreign source, the first thing I think is "Where did he borrow that from?" And guaranteed I will find it in a primary source. I now know too well how his mind works, and the fact that he is a borrower (on a major scale).
Lastly, I would like to discuss some remarks D. M. Murdock (or to give her the other pen-name she uses, Acharya), has made on this essay on the site Free Thought Nation.
(See the link: www.freethoughtnation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2167).
Although this link is now fairly old (dated July 2008), the remarks are still pertinent.
I agree, citations in the days of Massey and earlier were not as full as they are today, that is why I have attempted to upgrade the whole Corpus to bring it into line with the modern format, as readers of today indeed would expect.
Many years ago I got hold of a copy of Gibbons' The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and was very impressed by its editor David Womersley, thinking he had done a splendid job (I was also thinking at the time why couldn't all historically important books be published in this way, including Massey's). It was published by the Penguin Press in 1994 in a beautiful 3 volume deluxe boxset, totalling 3475 hard-backed pages, each volume containing an appendix of the deviations made from the original text. Although I did not have at my disposal the handwritten texts or the proof sheets of the Corpus, which I would have liked to incorporate into this site, one thing that did inspire me though was his inclusion of a bibliographical index in the last volume, something I later mimicked for Massey's works published here. Unfortunately, I was not able to mimic precisely his arrangement as he actually gives details of which editions Gibbon owned in his personal library (and I did not have access to Massey's somewhat limited library). My bibliography attempted to compensate for that by providing notes of the editions Massey used, or may have used. Also, Womersley went to great lengths to double-check that all the footnote references were correct and amended any that were not. I have endeavoured to do the same, where possible, and provide citations and full quotes in the notes so it would be possible for any casual reader coming to Massey's works for the first time to see that he was not making it all up, something I believed when I first started reading Massey's works. And by providing a full bibliography I have proved these works do indeed exist, and therefore his theories can at least, say 80 % of them, be grounded in reality. The proof would be there for the reader to see. I mention this edition of Gibbon because it is the best I have come across so far, and I was determined to bring out an edition of Massey's works up to the same standard. My limitations have been many—ignorance of foreign languages, works I am not familiar with, authors I am not acquainted with, etc.—as well as not having the resources that this editor clearly had. But I was determined, and I struggled through despite these handicaps, and despite the amount of time wasted in chasing up leads which would invariably send me up the wrong path. (Also, I should point out I am not an academic, I do not have a degree, nor do I have any linking to Massey or his surviving family, friends, acquaintances, etc. and that my work is purely based on my enthusiasm for Massey and his ideas. Anybody could do what I have done; it does not take an expect to research his source material.)
My whole point about this essay is this; had I got hold of the works listed above sooner I needn't have wasted time trying to get hold of the other works Massey cites because most of them have been borrowed from these primary works. And most people do not seem to appreciate how frustrating it is to go out of the way to find a book in some obscure backstreet bookshop only to find that Massey didn't use it at all, but instead relied on some other writer to provide it for him. And that is my main grievance with people who think I should cut Massey 'some slack.' They do not for one minute conceive the amount of time I have wasted over the years tracking down his sources only to find that I have got the wrong one because he could not be bothered to cite properly. The only good thing to come out of my exhaustive research is that I have been able to verify for myself that the original citation is correct, rather than rely on the primary authority's reference.
I am aware that writers in those days did not reference properly, and some indeed did borrow from others, but no way did I state that Massey was an outright plagiarist; that is why I chose the more lenient term 'borrowing.' Murdock goes on to say, "The unfortunate impression is given that Massey "plagiarized" entire sentences, when in fact he has indeed cited them, although the notion that he sometimes relied on a third party's citation, rather than going to the original, is likely true in some cases..." Some cases? In most cases! Again, she does not fully appreciate what I have written above; only in a few cases does he mention that he is relying on another party for the source, most of the time he plunders indiscriminately entire citations, which my table proves. It is evident that Murdock is sticking up for Massey, and so am I; for I am not one to blast out epithets like 'plagiarist' all over the place without due consideration and forethought, yet there is ample proof that Massey chose not to use quotation marks in loads of instances, and not just because he happened to forget!
I have also stated above and elsewhere that the problems Massey had in writing his books, his shortcomings, his penury, and other lack of resources, and for these reasons I can forgive him for most of his mistakes. She goes onto say, "writing everything by hand, naturally, such that mistakes were bound to creep in," a fact I acknowledge above, and that is why I had to go through all the volumes again and try to eradicate these errors. Admittedly there are some left which will require me to expend more time in proof-reading the texts once more. My point here was to present the best possible text available. David Shaw, Massey's most recent biographer, mentioned to me in an email that Massey's hand-writing was deplorable and so mistakes were 'bound to creep in,' yet had he gone through the proof sheets more thoroughly prior to publication then these could have been minimised. As for me, scanning the books as I did many years ago, amounting to thousands of pages, meant inevitably there would be errors as the OCR at that time was not 'up to snuff,' so that was something of a problem in itself, and this I acknowledge is entirely down to me.
As for her statement "he cannot be accused of plagiarism," that is debatable, and as I have just said, I would prefer not to use that term. I merely suggested it as something for others to think about. She then goes on to say, "Nor would such an instance constitute an attempt by Massey at presenting himself as being more knowledgeable about a subject than he was. I do not believe that Massey had such an ego." Nor do I, and far be it for me to doubt Massey's astuteness and perspicacity as a writer, he was also a very humble person, a lot like Dickens who this year is being celebrated for the bicentenary of his birth, a writer who deplored the squalor and poverty of those less fortunate than himself, a point made in many discussions on Dickens. Massey also felt obliged to help the working class and downtrodden, to ameliorate their situation by a fairness of labour, etc. So Massey was not an egotist. What I was getting at was that his reading was not deep enough because he relied on a third party to provide a summary for him rather than consult the actual book itself. And this inevitably leads to the suggestion that perhaps he's making himself out to be more authoritative and erudite than he actually was.
I hope that clears things up.
1. See Shaw's biography, (first edition) p. 152.
2. Crawley's Mystical Rose, vol. 2, p. 230.
3. Ibid., but see also NG 1:456.
This page last updated: 19/02/2014