The Church, a Poem. By the Rev. John Sharpe, B.A.…

The Church, a Poem. By the Rev. John Sharpe, B.A. late Scholar of Trinity College, Oxford. by SHARPE, John.

~ The Church, a Poem. By the Rev. John Sharpe, B.A. late Scholar of Trinity College, Oxford. London: Printed for the Author; and sold by Vernor and Hood... 1797.

4to (200 × 150 mm), pp. xv, [1], 62, [3], complete with the half-title and final blank; contemporary half calf, marbled boards, spine gilt with bird and goblet tools, red morocco label; rubbed, spine slightly torn at head (minimal loss); early inscription to half-title ‘Emily Pitches, Streatham’ [whose name appears in the subscribers’ list].

First edition, a subscriber’s copy, of a poem, part satirical, dealing in epic manner with the subject of preferment in the church. The Monthly Review commented: ‘Those who emerge from curacies to bishoprics are compared to islands rising out of the ocean; and an audience infatuated by the doctrines of grace and faith, to the exclusion of good works, is likened to children who are seduced to taste the deadly nightshade by the beauty of the berries.’

Sharpe was born c. 1770, son of John Sharpe of Dorking, clerk and was educated at St Paul’s. He matriculated at Trinity College, Oxford in 1788 and served as curate to Robert Hare at Ninfield between 1795 and 1805. He later published a translation of the chronicle of William of Malmesbury.

Emily Pitches, subscriber and owner of this copy, was a daughter of Sir Abraham Pitches of Streatham (d. 1792) recalled by Hester Piozzi as ‘a rich brandy merchant’. Among the other subscribers in one ‘Mr. Child, Jamaica.’ Jackson, p. 216.

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