PRAISING THE INTREPID HARE AND SAMUEL RICHARDSON

The Art and the Pleasures of Hare-Hunting. In six Letters to a Person of Quality …

London: Printed by R. Griffith … 1750.

8vo., pp. viii, 56, with a half-title (loose at head); final page dusty, some light foxing, but a good copy, disbound.

£1250

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First edition, scarce, an eloquent and amusing account of hare-hunting, the first monograph on the subject in English, comprising letters on the superiority of hare-hunting to fox-hunting (less dangerous, less laborious), on the best types of dogs, of trailing and starting hares, etc. Gardiner’s letter in praise of hares is noble stuff indeed: ‘They ramble through the Barn-Yard in the Night, and disregard the gaunt growling Mastiff; traverse the Orchard and the Garden, intrepid and fearless; explore the dangerous Pond-Head, nor dread the roaring waters …’.

In a curious literary preface, Gardiner wryly exhorts writers to expound on such ‘universal’ topics as pantomimickry and card games, and praises Samuel Richardson: ‘may many good Fortunes befall … he who wrote the Books, wherein are rehearsed, the Acts of Clarissa Harlow, and her Uncle Anthony [Clarissa was published in 1748]. Heavens! with what a marvelous Preciseness (as Cervantes says) do they describe every simple Circumstance!’ For himself, ‘I flatter myself there may be found some worn-out, decay’d, rheumatic, or gouty Harrier; whose Curiosity may lead him to pore into these Sheets’.

ESTC shows five copies in the UK, and two in the US: Princeton and Yale.

Schwerdt, I, 197 (‘a classic on hare hunting, which had for centuries been preferred to foxhunting’).

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