Folio, pp. 12, with an engraved frontispiece (‘The Court Gossops’ (sic.)), bound in error at the end; a little dusty, pale damp stain in top outer corner, else a good copy, disbound.
US $2557 €2359
First edition of an amusing verse satire on a famous court scandal. In 1732 Anne Vane, mistress of Frederick, Prince of Wales, gave birth to a son. The child, Cornwall Fitz-Frederick, was acknowledged as his, perhaps only as an assertion of his independence from his parents, and paternity was contested by Lords Hervey and Harrington, both of whom had apparently shared Vane’s bed. Ridicule from the press followed, with comic prints and several verse and prose satires – including several depicted on the bookshelf in the frontispiece.
Here, the boy’s christening provides the author with the opportunity to assemble a cast of scandalous courtly types and satirise their greed and loose sexual morals: ‘Among the guests, mirth, Burgundy, Champeign / And smutty jests alternately do reign’.
Frederick broke off his relationship with Vane in 1735 and, suffering from ‘cholics, loss of appetite, and general decay’, she moved to Bath where both she and the child died the next year, an unhappy end alluded to by Samuel Johnson in The Vanity of Human Wishes (1749), when ‘Vane could tell what ills from beauty spring.’
The striking frontispiece depicts Vane and the Prince of Wales seated on a canopied bed in a large room. Around them, courtiers drink, wield fans, and engage in intrigue. There is a bookcase on the left of the room filled with racy titles such as Ovid’s The Art of Love and Rochester’s Poems. After ‘The Christening’ is a second satirical poem, on the benefits of abandoning sexual morals in order to achieve preferment: ‘The Happy Exchange, or a Maidenhead well dispos’d of.’
Scarce. ESTC lists eleven copies, at least three missing the frontispiece.
You may also be interested in...
CHANDLER’S TRAVELS IN GREECE: ‘THE ACCOUNT OF ATHENS IS VERY IMPORTANT; IT WAS THE MOST DETAILED CHANDLER, Richard.
Travels in Greece: or an Account of a Tour made at the Expense of the Society of Dilettanti.
First edition. The classical scholar, traveller, and author Chandler (bap. 1737, d. 1810) was educated at Winchester College and Queen’s College, Oxford, and awarded a demyship at Magdalen College in 1757. Following the publication of an annotated collection of fragments by Tyrtaeus, Simonides, Theognis, Alcaeus, Sappho, and other Greek poets in 1759, Chandler published a catalogue of the Arundel marbles in 1763 as Marmora Oxoniensis. ‘In 1764 Chandler was introduced to the Society of Dilettanti by Robert Wood, editor of The Ruins of Palmyra, and was commissioned by the society to undertake a tour of exploration in Asia Minor and Greece in the first independent mission funded by the society. As treasurer he was given command of the expedition, and was accompanied by Nicholas Revett [...] and by the watercolour painter William Edmund Pars. They were instructed to make Smyrna their headquarters and thence “to make excursions to the several remains of antiquity in that neighbourhood”; to make exact plans and measurements; to make “accurate drawings of the bas-reliefs and ornaments”; and to copy all inscriptions, all the while keeping “minute diaries”. Having embarked from Gravesend on 9 June 1764 the party spent about a year in Asia Minor [...]. On 20 August 1765 they left Smyrna for Athens, where Chandler gloomily noted that the Parthenon was in danger of being completely destroyed. He bought two fragments of the Parthenon frieze that had been built into houses in the town and was presented with a trunk that had fallen from one of the metopes and lay neglected in a garden. Although the party visited other parts of the Greek mainland their plans to visit Ithaca, Cephallonia, and Corfu were abandoned, principally because of the group's poor health’ (ODNB).
‘A WELL-WRITTEN ACCOUNT OF THIS VERY SINGULAR COLONY’ OR ‘A SERIES OF ACTS OF FABRICATION, INT BARRINGTON, George.
A Voyage to Botany Bay with a Description of the Country, Manners, Customs, Religion, &c. of the Natives by the Celebrated George Barrington. To which is Added his Life and Trial.
First and only combined edition, second issue. George Barrington was a ‘genteel young Irishman known for his sartorial elegance, his command of the etiquette of romantic sensibility, and for his prowess at picking pockets’ (Garvey p. 2). Born George Waldron in 1758 in County Kildare, Ireland, he left school ‘following a violent quarrel in 1771 [when] he stabbed a schoolmate with a penknife and then absconded after a severe flogging, having stolen money and his headmaster's gold hunter watch’ (ODNB). The young Waldron then joined a troupe of travelling players under the management of one John Price, who coached him as both an actor and a thief. It was at this point that the name ‘Barrington’ was chosen to connote an aristocratic and theatrical heritage. Shortly, the fascinating contrast between Barrington’s charming demeanour and criminal activities drew the attention of the press and the public and, under the sobriquet the ‘Prince of Pickpockets’, he became a household name in Ireland and England. Numerous attempts were made to arrest and convict him but Barrington continually evaded punishment, safeguarded by his charisma and convincing protestations of innocence, and his exploits became legendary. However, in 1790 Barrington was finally arrested for the attempted theft of one Henry Hare Townsend’s gold watch and chain, and sentenced to seven years’ transportation.