‘A satirical poem on the amours of various members of the nobility’ (ESTC) or, as the Monthly Review succinctly put it: ‘Poetical smut. Rochester revived.’ A number of imitations and replies were elicited. It is early work by Perry (formerly ‘Pirie’, 1756–1821), a Scottish journalist recently arrived in London ‘to try to break into the literary world’ (Oxford DNB). By the end of his career he had become ‘one of the most notable journalists of the age when the newspaper press was becoming established as a force in the country’ (ibid.)
Studies of Gymnotus electricus by members of Royal Society and their correspondents had captured the imagination of the British public in unexpected ways. While the investigations of Walsh and Hunter made genuine discoveries into the nature of electricity (which culminated in the invention of Volta’s battery), contemporary wits and pamphleteers took advantage of the phallic connotations of the eel and its electrical properties to deride the sexual peregrinations of London society.
In this copy several of the printed lacunae have been filled in by a contemporary hand, identifying Lady Sarah Bunbury and Lady Grafton, among others, as devotees of the electrical eel..see full details
One of the most popular eighteenth-century English books of poetry for children — more than a dozen editions over the next fifty years. Cotton, a physician by training (at Leiden, under Hermann Boerhaave) ran a private lunatic asylum in St. Albans and he is now best remembered for his kindness and care for Cowper during Cowper's first period of insanity.see full details
First edition of this combination, preceded by an exceptionally rare issue of the first poem (Elcho castle; or, Edmund & Velina: a tale.more...
Sterling, 1796 known in a single copy, at Toronto). Jaffray was a native of Sterling and this elegant publication is dedicated to his former teacher, one David Doig, ‘Rector of the Grammar School, Stirling, author of Letters on the Savage State, Poem on the View from Sterling Castle, &c. &c.’ The two charming sepia illustrations depict highland scenes. A footnote explains the setting of the first ballad: ‘ELCHO CASTLE is situated upon the banks of the river Tay, a few miles below the town of Perth; and is now the property of the Earl of Wemyss. It is frequently mentioned by Blind Harry, in his life of Sir William Wallce; and in those days it must have been a place of considerable strength.’.see full details
‘This excellent Satire on Inconstancy and Avarice, is here humorously and pleasantly applied to our own times and manners. The insatiable Thirst of Gain in some of our City Gentlemen, is lashed with exquisite spirit’ (Monthly Review).
Canning (1736–1771), father of the prime minister, came from Londonderry, and was sent to London by his father to avoid an unsuitable marriage. ‘There, on an allowance of £150 p.a., he read for the bar and was called at the Middle Temple in 1764. But “it would appear that [he] was a lover of literature and pleasure, and excessively averse to the dull study of the profession to which his life was doomed to be devoted” (Rede, 8 n.). His circle included journalists, actors, and politicians, and he was a friend and supporter of Wilkes. He published at least one political pamphlet and some verses... He ran up large debts, which his father paid off in return for his renouncing his right to inherit the family estates’ (Oxford DNB, sub George Canning junior)..see full details
First edition of this translation, dedicated to Richard Trevor, Bishop of Durham.more...
There were two other translations the same year, one by Richard Grey (author of the much reprinted Memoria technica, or, A New Method of Artificial Memory, 1730), and an anonymous one of Book I only. The translator here is William Hay (1695–1755), politician and author of Mount Caburn (1730; his only original verse). Also in 1754 he published his most popular work: Deformity: an Essay, ‘a discussion of his own physical disabilities—he had been born a hunchback dwarf’ (Oxford DNB)..see full details
Gisborne was a central figure in the evangelical Clapham Sect, a close friend of William Wilberforce, and a keen abolitionist. These poems find him in more reflective mood, describing the scenery, across the seasons, of the now lost Needwood Forest, which bordered Gisborne’s estate at Yoxall, Staffordshire, and which had inspired poetry by Francis Mundy and Anna Seward almost 20 years before. .see full details
A satire on Theophilus Leigh (Jane Austen’s great-uncle), Master of Balliol College, Oxford, for his part in the County electioneering of 1753. The imprint is apparently fictitious, and the poem even features the invented booksellers ‘Lumm and Kit’, described in the Annotations at the end as ‘two most excellent and useful Persons... being both Hawkers of Scandal and Publishers of News, true and false; both Scavengers, that is, Collectors of Filth...’ (p. 12)..see full details
First edition, dedicated to the Earls of Granville, Chesterfield, and Orrery.more...
An attack on previous attempts at Classical translation—though he compliments Johnson on ‘two fine imitations of Juvenal’—by Francklin (1721–1874), clergyman, critic, playwright, and sometime professor of Greek at Cambridge. He was himself no stranger to translation (Voltaire, Cicero, Pseudo-Phalaris), and the final leaf here carries announces Francklin’s intention to print by subscription a version of Sophocles, which finally came out 1758–9.
Francklin’s father was the bookseller Richard Francklin, publisher of the controversial Whig periodical The Craftsman, who appears in the imprint here..see full details
One of two editions (the other being A Letter to a Right Honourable Person, pp.more...
, v, –27, ), the variant with ‘the’ as the catchword on p. 22 (rather than ‘they’).
A satirical rhymed paraphrase of William Pitt’s Letter from a Right Hon. Person (1761), on his controversial resignation as Secretary of State, and of the Lord Mayor’s published reply. The author is the Irish translator and playwright, Philip Francis (1708–1773). The poem itself is not long, but is supported by extensive footnotes. An admirer of Warburton’s edition of Pope, with its ‘two huge columns of criticism to support and explain two lines of... poetry’, Francis has ‘bottomed [the] pages with notes variorum’ (p. iii)..see full details
Second edition of this translation, first published the same year (same pagination).more...
Vert-vert was the poem which made Gresset famous in the 1730s, the tale of a pampered parrot which, on a journey between his home in a convent in Nevers and another in Nantes, picks up some shocking language from its fellow travellers, to the mortification of the nuns. It had first appeared in English in 1759, translated by John Gilbert Cooper. The present version is by Alexander Geddes..see full details
First edition: a satirical poem on the appointment of the Duke of Newcastle as Chancellor of Cambridge University, with the river itself featuring as a character in the poem, in much the same vein as William Mason’s Isis had reproached the University of Oxford in 1748.more...
Greene’s abilities as a poet later found expression in translations from Classical literature..see full details
First edition, scarce: the Seatonian Prize poem for 1757, ‘perhaps the best that has ever yet appeared’ (Critical Review).more...
Glynn is said to have submitted the poem out of his dislike for George Bally, who had won in 1754 and 1756 (and was to win again, in 1758). He became a noted physician—attending, for example, Thomas Gray in his final illness—showing ‘judgement and attention, but with characteristic eccentricity’ (Oxford DNB). .see full details
‘As considerable Interest has been excited by the attention given lately in Parliament to the situation of the Inferior Clergy, the Author of the following Elegy judges it not improper to endeavour to awaken the public mind still more to a sense of the condition of that useful body of men, which during the lapse of more than a century has received no material amelioration, while every other situation in society has experienced progressive improvement; from whose exertions, notwithstanding numberless and most powerful obstacles, much essential benefit has been derived to their Country’ (Preface)..see full details
Sole edition of a ‘successful and facetious laugh’ (British Critic) at William Burdon’s Advice, addressed to the lower Ranks of Society (1803) on the benefits Napoleon might bring to the poor if he invaded Britain.more...
Burdon came from Newcastle, and this reply is written with a suitable Geordie brogue..see full details
Henry Seymour Conway, soldier, politician, and noted opponent of the war in America, was moved to write these lines following the death of Caroline Campbell, his wife’s niece, at their town house on 12 January 1789. It first appeared in the World and the London Chronicle the month after her death, then separately here.
Conway was a good friend of Horace Walpole all his life. The Elegy is ‘sometimes assigned to the Strawberry Hill Press, but not accepted by Hazen, Strawberry Hill, 40’ (ESTC). Walpole himself called the poem ‘very easy and genteel’..see full details
Meanwell’ (a pseudonym) to the Reverend John Allen, Senior Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and Rector of Tarporley, Cheshire. Cowper was a local physician and ‘an active antiquary, copying and collating a large number of manuscripts relating to Chester and writing extensively, in manuscript form, on Chester's history’ (Oxford DNB).
‘The author of this Rhapsody... surveys the river Dee, and some of the most remarkable places about Chester. This prospect leads him into a contemplation on the various revolutions of those places, and the heroes, princes, or patriots, who formerly distinguished themselves in that neighbourhood... This work may be entertaining to those acquainted with the scenes which are described. The author makes use of old words and ancient names, and appears to be a poetical antiquarian’ (Critical Review). Long footnotes elucidate the poem..see full details