The Humours of Harrogate, described in a Letter to a…

‘poetic spawn’ of Harrogate spa

~ The Humours of Harrogate, described in a Letter to a Friend, by J. E. Published from an authentic Copy of the original Manuscript: with Notes Descriptive, Historical, Explanatory, Critical, and Hyper-Critical by Martinus Scriblerus. London: Printed for J. Pridden. 1763.

4to (275 × 215 mm), pp. 19, [1]; woodcut ornaments, musical excerpt to foot of p. 13; uncut; edges rather dusty, spotted and occasionally frayed; nineteenth-century quarter red morocco, marbled boards, morocco gilt bookplate of Edward Hailstone.

Sole edition, scarce. A verse satire on Harrogate society and those visiting the town for treatment at its increasingly-fashionable baths. In a notice of this work the Monthly Review poked fun at the contemporary tide of ‘spa literature’:

‘Our public watering places are plainly no Helicons; witness the various poetic spawn of Bath, Tunbridge, &c.

Where bathing nymphs and purging streams unite, /To make us write and sh—, and sh— and write.’

The poem remains unattributed: the use of ‘Martinus Scriblerus’ as a generic name for a satirist began with the Scriblerus Club of the 1730s (with Pope, Swift, Gay, Artbuthnot, Parnell, etc). While The Humours of Harrogate makes brief mention of Swift, it has no connection to the Club. ESTC: BL, Leeds, Bodley, York Minster, New York Historical Society (2), Newberry, Rice, UCLA, Cincinnati and Yale.

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