Poems... by LLOYD, Robert.

Poems... by LLOYD, Robert.

~ Poems... London: Printed for the Author, by Dryden Leach; and sold by T. Davies... 1762.

4to (255 × 195 mm), pp. xix, [1], 277, [1]; complete with half-title; early ink additions to pp. 179 and 182 (supplying names represented by printed dashes in the poem); final page pasted to read free endpaper; contemporary full calf, corners worn, joints cracking but firm, elaborate gilt tooling to boards—insects, snails, birds, etc. within a decorative roll—with a red morocco label to upper cover: ‘For Church Langton Library from the Author’; the Bradley Martin copy (sale Sotheby’s 30 April 1990, lot 3011).

First edition. In 1761, Lloyd took over the poetry section of The Library and worked for a time for the Monthly Review. The following year, with the dual purpose of raising some money and establishing a literary reputation for himself, he published the present work. ‘He assembled a splendid list of subscribers, including fifty peers, two bishops, many fellows of Oxford and Cambridge colleges, and numerous old Westminsters, as well as Garrick, Hogarth, Johnson, Macpherson, Reynolds, Thomas Sheridan, Sterne, and the Warton brothers. His father’s assistance is evident in the presence of the archbishop of York and a large number of names associated with York and the archdiocese. After the “Author’s apology”, the poems are arranged chronologically, except that the Latin poems are grouped at the end. The Latin poems include exercises and ceremonial pieces from the Cambridge years, and a virtuoso rendering of Gray’s Elegy. The collection offers pleasant reading, for Lloyd had a real gift for elegant verse, but as the gathering of a decade’s output it underlines... his debilitating preoccupation with his status as a poet. As Thomas Lockwood has written, he projects a “feeling of contempt for the world in which he finds himself, characteristically intermingled with a certain determined sense of his own inferiority”’ (Oxford DNB).

A letter from January 1957 from the Rector of Church Langton, loosely inserted here, explains how ‘in the 1760s the Rev. J. Hanbury established and endowed a library for the use of the parishioners in Church Langton, East Langton, West Langton, Thorpe Langton and Tur Langton [in Leicestershire]... Hanbury was years (or rather) centuries ahead of his time, and wisher to make the Langtons a useful centre for education, music and the arts. There seems to be proof that Handel conducted his first provincial performance of Messiah in Church Langton Paris Church... [It actually took five months after the composer’s death, although it was the first performance of the work in an English church.] It is possible that Lloyd and Hanbury were friends.’

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