Psyche: or Loves Mysterie in XX. Canto’s: displaying the Intercourse between Christ and the Soule …

London, Printed by John Dawson for George Boddington … 1648.

Small folio, pp. [6], 399, [1], wanting the preliminary blank, small hole to M4 affecting three letters, a few marginal repairs without loss; a very good copy in full red morocco, gilt, by Zaehnsdorf, joints slightly rubbed.


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First edition. Beaumont was one of the royalist fellows ejected from Cambridge in 1644, and he devoted his enforced retirement to the composition of this poem, a ‘religious epic’ representing ‘a Soule led by divine Grace, and her Guardian Angel ... through the difficult Temptations and Assaults of Lust, of Pride, of Heresie, of Persecution, and of Spiritual Dereliction ... to heavenly Felicitie.’ The result, some 30,000 lines in six-line stanzas, is by far the longest work of the ‘English Spenserians’ of the seventeenth century (Drayton, Wither, Henry More, Giles and Phineas Fletcher), although Beaumont’s stylistic affinities lie more with Donne and with his fellow student at Peterhouse, Richard Crashaw.

When a second edition was published in 1702 ‘much enlarged in every canto by the late Reverend Author’, the first edition was described as ‘very scarce and very dear’, which is difficult to believe.

Wing B 1625; Hayward 96.

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An Essay on the Passions: with other Poems … Shrewsbury: Printed by T. Wood … for P. Owen … Welshpool; sold by Champante and Whitrow … London, and all the Booksellers in Shrewsbury. 1799.

First edition. ‘I have felt as many woes as ever tore the bosom of a Petrarch’, writes the author in the Preface, ‘and have struggled with as many penurious calamities as ever agonized the soul of a Chatterton; will not then a generous public pardon my presumption, when informed, that I woke my simple and unaspiring reed, but to claim the obolum of commiseration ….’ Unsurprisingly the verse is pretty dreadful. In addition to the title poem the volume includes ‘Hamet and Almena, an Oriental Tale’, ‘A Description of Powis Castle and its Environs’, and miscellaneous shorter poems.

The subscribers come mainly from Welshpool and thereabouts, including the Earl of Powis (12 copies).

Uncommon. ESTC records copies at BL, Cambridge, National Library of Ireland, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Chicago.

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WILKS, Mark.

Athaliah; or the tocsin sounded by modern alarmists: two collection sermons, towards defraying the expense of the defendants in the late trials for high treason: preached on the nineteenth of April, 1795, in St Paul’s Church, Norwich.

Only edition of these two sermons preached by the Norwich Methodist-turned-Baptist Mark Wilks (1748-1819) to raise money for the three radical publishers and writers newly acquitted of high treason. The climate as it now is, Wilks says, is one where even to use a French phrase is to invite suspicion, ‘but the word that has inspired the most dread in the British senate, and the adoption of which appears most criminal, is that of Citizen – Citizen!! How terrific! how inauspicious!’. But the men accused of treason, rather than being deserving of punishment, deserve the ‘praise, thanks, and admiration of a whole nation’.

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