FOR A BLIND ORPHAN

The Mystic Cottager of Chamouny: a Novel …

London: Printed for William Lane, at the Minerva Press … 1794.

2 vols, 12mo, pp. I: [6], 183, [1], II: [2], 170; small holes in B3-4 in vol. II touching a couple of words (sense recoverable); some foxing at extremities, else a good copy in contemporary half calf and marbled boards, headcaps chipped, joints cracked, labels wanting; the Downshire copy, with gilt monogram to spine (see below).

£3750

Approximately:
US $4181€4264

Add to basket Make an enquiry

Added to your basket:
The Mystic Cottager of Chamouny: a Novel …

Checkout now

First edition, very rare, presumably a first novel by a young authoress – the ‘Address to the public’ calls it ‘the genuine dictates of a moment of imagination … traced by the pen of juvenility …. for the sole endeavour of raising a trivial sum for the benefit of a distressed Orphan, deprived of the blessing of sight’.

The Tankervilles are a family of Swiss origin now living in England; before going to India, young Edwin has decided to go on a tour of his native Switzerland with his valet Carlos. He encounters a rural idyll of noble peasants, in particular the beautiful Rosalie. But who is the lady in the miniature she keeps, whose is the shrine in the mountains nearby, what does Edwin’s father Augustus have to do with Rosalie, and why is he making every effort to keep them apart? By the end of volume I the scene has switched to England and the isolated Thornley Abbey.

Despite the over-wrought prose, all ‘blushing tints of rosy morning’ and floods of tears which stain the pillows with ‘briny essence’, it received broadly favourable reviews. The author, who remains unidentified, went on to write The Observant Pedestrian (1795), Montrose, or the gothic Ruin (1799) and Human Frailties (1803). Human Frailties is ‘interspersed with poetry’, as is the present work – both Edwin and Rosalie write verses.

Provenance: from the library of Mary Hill (née Sandys, 1764–1836), Marchioness of Downshire, later Baroness Sandys. Lady Downshire was a wealthy heiress, society hostess, and literary patron who married the young but ill-fortuned politician Arthur Hill in 1786. Raised by her uncle, one of Samuel Johnson’s ‘Streatham worthies’, she became a friend of both the Prince of Wales and Mrs Fitzherbert, and once entertained the Prince for four days at the family seat of Ombersley. She built up a fine collection of contemporary fiction, mostly by women, to add to the family library.

ESTC lists four copies only: BL, Cambridge, Chawton; and Virginia.

Garside 1794:13; Blakey p. 166; McLeod, p. 235; Summers, Gothic Bibliography, pp. 440.

You may also be interested in...

LECTURES ON ANATOMY AND MIDWIFERY BUCKNILL, Charles.

Notes from medical lectures.

A most interesting medical manuscript by one Charles Bucknill recording lectures given in 1798 by the Scottish anatomist Matthew Baillie (1761–1823) and the English obstetrician John Clarke (1758–1815). Bucknill – likely a forebear of the psychiatrist and mental health reformer Sir John Charles Bucknill (1817–1897) – appears to have attended these lectures in London, and his manuscript is an important witness to medical teaching in the capital at the close of the eighteenth century.

Read more

HAND-COLOURED – FROM THE LIBRARY OF ARPAD PLESCH DREVES, [Johann Friedrich Peter,] and [Friedrich Gottlob] HAYNE [and Johann Stephan CAPIEUX (engraver)].

Choix de plantes d’Europe, décrites et dessinées d’après nature … tome I, avec 25 planches [– tome II, avec 25 planches; – tome III, avec 25 planches; – tome IV, avec 25 planches; – tome V, avec 25 planches].

First edition in French, the Plesch set, with 125 handsomely hand-coloured botanical plates, adapted from the German edition finished the previous year. Issued under the title Botanisches Bilderbuch für die Jugend und Freunde der Pflanzenkunde, the work had first appeared in twenty-eight fascicles (with 152 plates) from 1794 to 1801. The text comprises detailed descriptions and classifications of the plants, accompanied by notes on their locations and uses; the plates are the work of Johann Stephan Capieux (1748–1813), professor of drawing at the University of Leipzig from 1782 and among the most accomplished German natural-history illustrators of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Read more