26 volumes, 4to., with a frontispiece in volume I and a total of 703 engraved plates, plus a number of folding tables and maps; a fine set in an attractive uniform contemporary binding of quarter diced calf and marbled boards, gilt, spines tooled in gilt and blind in compartments, lettered direct.
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An extremely handsome set of the sixth edition, with the important Supplement of 1824. First published in 1771, ‘the most famous of all the encyclopaedias in the English language’ (PMM) had been expanded over successive editions from 3 to 20 volumes. The sixth edition was a largely a reprint of the fourth and fifth, but incorporated revisions to volumes I-VI.
‘Even before the [fifth] edition was completed Constable embarked on the publication of a six-volume supplement, issued in half-volume parts, the first of which was published in December 1816. In 1824, when the last volume of the supplement was published, the whole comprised nearly another five thousand pages, 125 plates, and [seven] maps. Of the 669 articles, about one-quarter were devoted to biographies of people who had mostly died during the preceding thirty years. This supplement is distinguished by several other innovations, notably the inclusion of no less than three preliminary dissertations, and by the invitation for the first time extended to foreign scholars to contribute. But the feature which was perhaps Constable’s outstanding improvement on existing encyclopaedia publishing was his system of printing the initials of the contributors at the end of important articles, and of giving a key to these initials in each volume. The editor of this notable supplement was Macvey Napier (1776–1847), a brilliant and energetic young Scottish librarian and scholar, who was untiring in his efforts to obtain the services of the chief writers of the day’ (Collison, Encyclopaedias: their history throughout the ages, p. 142).
Among the seventy-three contributors to the Supplement are Thomas Malthus (on ‘Population’); McCulloch (on ‘Corn Laws’, ‘Interest’, ‘Money’, ‘Political Economy’, and so on); James Mill (on ‘Banks for savings’, ‘Education’, ‘Law of Nations’, ‘Liberty of the Press’, and so on); David Ricardo (on the ‘Funding system’); Sir Walter Scott (on ‘Chivalry’, ‘Drama’ and ‘Romance’); Dugald Stewart (‘Dissertation exhibiting a general view of the progress of metaphysical, ethical, and political philosophy, since the revival of letters in Europe’); and Thomas Young (many articles, including one on Egypt in which he discusses the Rosetta Stone and identifies approximately 200 separate hieroglyphic signs, detailed in five accompanying plates).
Other distinguished contributors included Sir Humphrey Davy, the physician and savant P. M. Roget, John Playfair, Robert Stevenson (on the Caledonian Canal and the Bell Rock Lighthouse, each with a fine plate), Sir William Hamilton, and William Hazlitt.
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BRENTON, Sir Jahleel.
Five aquatint plates of the battle of Algeciras.
This series illustrates various actions from the battle of Algeciras: the first, the attack on the French ships under the batteries of Algeciras on 6 July 1801; the second, the British squadron, under Sir James Saumarez (to whom each plate is dedicated), retiring from this action; the third, the same leaving Gibraltar Mole on 12 July; the fourth, his squadron, consisting of five two-deckers and two frigates, preparing to pursue the Allied fleet of ten sail of the line, of which two were 112-gun, one 94, three 80, and four 74, as well as frigates and gun boats; and, the fifth plate, shows the capture of the St Antonie, 74-gun, and the explosion of the Real Carlos and the San Hermenegildo, both 112-gun, having accidentally fought each other during the night. The aquatints were engraved by Hubert & Stadler for Harding (who later became Queen Charlotte’s librarian) from drawings by Brenton, captain of the Ceasar, Saumarez’s flagship during the battle. Brenton, ‘an active and zealous officer, whose training of his crews in ship-handling and gunnery illustrates the increasing professionalism of naval officers’ (Oxford DNB), reached the post of rear-admiral of the blue, was promoted lieutenant-governor of Greenwich Hospital, and, in later life, became close friends with William Wiberforce, whose will he witnessed.
THE SALVÁ COPY VEGA CARPIO, Felix Lope de.
Iusta poetica, y Alabanzas justas que hizo la Insigne Villa de Madrid al bienauenturado San Isidro en las Fiestas de su Beatificacion, recopiladas por Lope de Vega Carpio. Dirigidas a la misma Insigne Villa.
First edition. A collection of verses, edited by Lope de Vega and including his own compositions, written to celebrate the beatification of San Isidro, patron saint of Madrid, in May 1620.