WITH CONTRIBUTIONS BY JOHNSON

An Introduction to the Italian Language. Containing Specimens of both Prose and Verse ... with a literal Translation and Grammatical Notes ... for the Use of those who ... attempt to learn it without a Master ...

London, Printed for A. Millar, in the Strand, 1755.

8vo, pp. xi, [1], 467, [1]; Italian text and English prose translation on facing pages; outer margins of first and last couple of leaves browned by the glue employed in the binding, otherwise a very good, clean copy, bound in contemporary sprinkled calf, spine in compartments decorated gilt, red morocco lettering piece, small chip at head spine, restored; armorial bookplate of Sir Edmund Antrobus, probably the second Baronet (see below).

£650

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First edition. Giuseppe Baretti (1719–1789) offers a fine range of examples for learning Italian selected from twenty-seven authors, including Castiglione, Machiavelli, Galileo, Boccaccio, Ariosto, Tasso, Michelangelo, Petrarch, and Milton (one of his Italian sonnets, a choice perhaps prompted by Johnson). Johnson met Baretti shortly after he came to England in 1751, and their long and close literary friendship is well known. He made some contribution by way of preface or dedication to most of Baretti’s books. Here the preface and the footnotes on pages 48 and 198 were attributed to Johnson by James Crossley in Notes and Queries in 1852; the consensus now is that Johnson wrote only the opening paragraphs of the preface, but ‘there is no strong reason to doubt the footnotes’ (Fleeman).

Provenance: Sir Edmund Antrobus, second Baronet (1792–1870), educated at Eton and St John’s College Cambridge, was a banker at Coutts. He served as trustee for George Watson Taylor for several slave-owning plantations and as executor of Tully Higgins for the Blenheim estate in British Guiana, in which roles he was involved in claiming £57,536/-/11 in 1835 and 1836 as compensation for the emancipation of enslaved people (see UCL Legacies of British Slavery).

He inherited in 1826 the Amesbury estate, including Stonehenge, purchased the previous year by his uncle Sir Edmund Antrobus, first Baronet, FRS FSA. The estate remained in the Antrobus family until 1915, when it was sold at auction to a local Salisbury man, Cecil Chubb, who had reportedly attended the sale with instructions from his wife to buy chairs, but bid on impulse and acquired Stonehenge for £6000.

Fleeman, I, 483-5; Courtney & Nichol Smith, p. 73; Chapman & Hazen, p. 139; Hazen, Prefaces, pp. 12-15.

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