Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2013 Issue

English Verse 1751-1800 from Justin Croft and Simon Beattie

Beattiecroftengvera-g

Old English verse.

Justin Croft and Simon Beattie have issued a catalogue of English Verse 1751-1800. Part I: A-G. Who could have imagined there were so many poetical Englishmen? Here are over 300 poetical tracts covering just the second half of the 18th century and only authors from A-G. This is not filled with Shakespeares or Shelleys or whomever were their late 18th century counterparts. If you are deeply into English poetry of this period you will probably recognize a few names, but many are shrouded in obscurity. Some earned good reputations, others were seriously panned, at least by their contemporary critics. Many men of the cloth turned to poetry in this era, with varying degrees of success. This poetry will undoubtedly entertain you, some for the right reasons, others for the wrong. This is truly a remarkable collection of such work, much of which you undoubtedly will never find again. Here's your chance. Now, these are a few samples.

First up is Harold, a Tragedy, by Thomas Bryce. This is a poetical drama on the Norman Conquest that was delayed from publication until 1786 because of a similar, conflicting play. That other play, The Battle of Hastings, by a Mr. Cumberland, was described by the English Review as “one of the worst tragedies in the English language,” the reviewer noting that “Harald forms a bad subject for a tragedy.” Perhaps this review is what held poor Mr. Bryce, a clergyman, back from even publishing his version for years. The play was never performed. Another tragedy! Item 68. Priced at £250 (roughly $394 in U.S. dollars).

Item 87 is Buonaparte's Reverie: a Poem, by H.L. Galabin, published in 1799. This is an inscribed copy of what is described as “a witty poetic satire on Napoleon's grandiose delusions in the face of the recent failure of the Nile expedition.” Napoleon undertook a mission in 1798 to seize Egypt in the hopes of interfering with archenemy Britain's trade with the East. It did not go well. The Egyptians were an unruly lot, not willing to bow to Napoleon's wishes. Meanwhile, the French naval forces were defeated by Horatio Nelson (something that would happen again) in the Battle of the Nile. Bonaparte took advantage of unrest in France as an excuse to hightail it out of Egypt and return home. While his departure from Egypt made for some good British satire in 1799, Napoleon would soon wreak all kinds of havoc on the British and Europe before finally being subdued a decade and a half later. £600 (US $947).

Item 204 is A Collection of original Poems, by Samuel Derrick, published in 1755. Derrick was a linen-maker who left Dublin to become an actor on the London stage. Apparently he was a bad actor, his career short-lived. He turned to writing instead. He was not great at this either but eventually settled into the comfortable job of Master of Ceremonies at Bath, sort of a head greeter and P.R. person. During his literary years, he did manage to make the acquaintance of both Samuel Johnson and James Boswell. Boswell ended up rather contemptuous of him, describing Derrick as “a little blackguard pimping dog.” I'm not entirely sure what that is, but it doesn't sound nice. Johnson was perhaps a bit more tolerant, but according to Boswell, when asked who was the better poet, Derrick or Christopher Smart, replied, “no settling the point of precedency between a louse and a flea.” Again, this doesn't sound positive. £700 (US $1,105).

Item 183 is Rhymes after Meat. By a Bird at Bromsgrove... a fourth edition, circa 1800. John Crane was the “Bird at Bromsgrove” (get it?), a watchmaker whose emblem was a crane with a watch in his beak. The Monthly Critical Gazette described Crane as a man “whom the Gods, in their wrath, have made poetical.” Crane's aim in writing these poems may have been to promote his business, as his book is a vehicle for advertisements of the many goods he sold, including jewelry, nutcrackers, cutlery, musical instruments, cricket bats, and much more. £950 (US $1,501).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions