Seward’s ‘budding talent was recognized at the poetical amusements organized by Lady Anna Miller at her Batheaston villa from 1775 to 1781. In Poem to the Memory of Lady Miller (1782) Seward expresses her gratitude for Miller’s “gentle ordeal” by which verses were put into an Etruscan vase, and then read aloud by a gentleman to the gathering at Batheaston. The best verses, including some of Seward’s earliest publications, were chosen as prize poems and collected in Batheaston’s annual volume of poetry’ (Oxford DNB)..see full details
An elegant anonymous satire on fashionable dress for women, directed especially against the painful pursuit of an artificial figure: ‘Come here, you two girls, that look full in my face, / And you that so often are turning your back [the Graces], / Put on these cork rumps, and then tighten your stays / ‘Till your hips, and your ribs, and the strings themselves crack. / Can ye speak? can ye breathe? - Not a word - Then ‘twill do. / You have often dress’d me, and for once I’ll dress you.’.see full details
A delightful, if obscure, ornithological satire, presumably disguising a literary or academic controversy as yet unidentified. With a supporting cast of bat, owl, hawk, rook and crow, the poem centres on whether a particular bird is rock-dove or jay:
‘This is no Jay, no carrion bird: Such meekness, softness, sweetness, cadence! Such graceful gesture, tone and gradance! For Postulatum, Theme, or Theorem, I never knew a Dove come near him’. .see full details
‘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
Samuel Whyte (1733-1811) opened his ‘Seminary for the Institution of Youth’ or ‘English Grammar School’ in Grafton Street, Dublin, in 1758. ‘Catering for boys and girls, Catholics and protestants, its co-educational, interdenominational ethos was, in Ireland at least, two centuries before its time. A hands-on headmaster, Whyte was on visiting terms with the parents of many of his pupils, whom, outside the normal curriculum, he encouraged to take part in private theatricals, to write verse and to socialize at balls, plays, and other entertainments’ (Oxford DNB). Many of the poems included in this massive collection are by his students.
Whyte’s first cousin, Frances, married Thomas Sheridan, and encouraged support for the school. Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Lord Wellesley (brother of Wellington) were both pupils and appear among the subscribers, a fascinating list of notable and literary Dubliners which also includes brewer Arthur Guinness..see full details
First edition, Charles Wesley’s verse epistle to his brother John, written during the crisis of the Methodism in the 1750s on the subject of the movement’s separation from the Church of England.more...
For the the Methodist conference of 1755 John had prepared a paper entitled, Ought we to separate from the Church of England? in which he urged that, ‘whether or not it was lawful, separation was not expedient, believing that as a result Methodism would dwindle into an ineffective sect’ (Oxford DNB). .see full details
The dedication, to the Prince of Wales, is signed by Wheatland and the Anglican divine Silvester. Silvester was educated at Pembroke College and became a fellow in 1724, three years before Samuel Johnson arrived; he published Original Poems and Translations in 1733..see full details
Among the verses we find dialogues between ‘a Prime Minister and his Lady’, ‘a Sea Captain and his Wife, whom he had left at home during a long Voyage’, ‘a Jew and a Jewess’, ‘a Lawyer and his Wife’, ‘a Quaker and his Helpmate’, ‘A Stock-Jobber and his Wife’, ‘an Irish Fortune-Hunter and his Wife’ and ‘an American Planter and his Wife’..see full details
A journalistic and theatrical satire ‘effectively a fourth part of his most popular verse satire’, The Children of Thespis (1786) which ‘frenziedly berates Warren Hastings for not rewarding [Williams] for many years of journalistic support’ (Oxford DNB).more...
Constantly at war with the critics, Williams decided, in the year this satire appeared, to sue for libel the forty booksellers who were selling a new edition of The Baviad and Maeviad in which his Tory enemy William Gifford had vilified him. Williams lost the case and fled to America, where he died of typhus is 1818.
This is the second of two versions published in the same year and bears the comic vignette of a dwarf sitting atop a pile of contemporary journals..see full details
Anna Williams, blind poet and companion of Samuel Johnson, had a ground-floor apartment in his house, from which she supervised the household management and expenses. ‘In 1766 her Miscellanies in Prose and Verse was published as a handsome quarto by Thomas Davies. Johnson contributed a preface and several prose and verse pieces. The work had been first advertised in 1750, and there were waspish claims from Anna’s friends that Johnson had not exerted himself in its production, but the publication was moderately successful, and earned the author about £100’ (Oxford DNB).
Very uncommon, as one might expect from Mrs. Thrale’s statement: ‘I never saw it on any Table but my own.’.see full details
Johnson and Garrick are amongst the subscribers listed. Published while Woty was secretary to Washington, Earl Ferrers and dedicated to him. ‘Much of Woty’s verse is satirical, although his collections include works in such traditional forms as the ode, epistle, and elegy (Oxford DNB)..see full details
‘Curst be your College! Curst its Constitution! / Where Genius never meets regard, / Where access to the Muse is barr’d, / Where dullness’ leaden Sceptre rules / O’er fellow rogues and student fools, / Morpheus’ favourite Institution.’ This is a vvirulent poetical satire on Trinity College, Dublin, by an eccentric and quarrelsome Irish writer whose parents were both cousins of Jonathan Swift. ‘In 1794, enraged by the failure of his son Deane... “the brightest lad in all Ireland”, to gain distinctions in his examinations at Trinity College, Dublin, Swift published Animadversions on the Fellows of Trinity College, Dublin, a lurid account of how the fellows had broken their vows of celibacy. He was sued for libel, and received twelve months’ imprisonment...’ (Oxford DNB). Prison Pindarics was written in jail..see full details
Sole edition of a rare Somerset imprint, the confessions of a sinner (‘By passion govern’d, and by lust enslav’d’), reformed after hearing the sermon of a certain ‘Rev.more...
Mr. D’. Written in the manner of Milton’s Sampson Agonistes it details the author’s life of corruption in London, including a sustained attack on the theatres as: ‘... Domes of vice, with vot’ries ever thronged / Where mimic sorrow whines her unfelt woes, / And empty plaudits shake the laughing scenes...’ The verses ‘To the Author’ are signed ‘M.T.’ The title bears the quotation from Young: ‘Starting I woke, and found myself undone.’.see full details