A satirical Poem. In which are contain’d the humorous Transactions, Speeches, and Behaviour of the Guests who were present at the Ceremony and Entertainment …

London: Printed by W. James … 1732.

Folio, pp. 12, with an engraved frontispiece (‘The Court Gossops’ (sic.)), bound in error at the end; a little dusty, pale damp stain in top outer corner, else a good copy, disbound.

£2000

Approximately:
US $2643€2241

Make an enquiry

First edition of an amusing verse satire on a famous court scandal. In 1732 Anne Vane, mistress of Frederick, Prince of Wales, gave birth to a son. The child, Cornwall Fitz-Frederick, was acknowledged as his, perhaps only as an assertion of his independence from his parents, and paternity was contested by Lords Hervey and Harrington, both of whom had apparently shared Vane’s bed. Ridicule from the press followed, with comic prints and several verse and prose satires – including several depicted on the bookshelf in the frontispiece.

Here, the boy’s christening provides the author with the opportunity to assemble a cast of scandalous courtly types and satirise their greed and loose sexual morals: ‘Among the guests, mirth, Burgundy, Champeign / And smutty jests alternately do reign’.

Frederick broke off his relationship with Vane in 1735 and, suffering from ‘cholics, loss of appetite, and general decay’, she moved to Bath where both she and the child died the next year, an unhappy end alluded to by Samuel Johnson in The Vanity of Human Wishes (1749), when ‘Vane could tell what ills from beauty spring.’

The striking frontispiece depicts Vane and the Prince of Wales seated on a canopied bed in a large room. Around them, courtiers drink, wield fans, and engage in intrigue. There is a bookcase on the left of the room filled with racy titles such as Ovid’s The Art of Love and Rochester’s Poems. After ‘The Christening’ is a second satirical poem, on the benefits of abandoning sexual morals in order to achieve preferment: ‘The Happy Exchange, or a Maidenhead well dispos’d of.’

Scarce. ESTC lists eleven copies, at least three missing the frontispiece.

Foxon C164.

You may also be interested in...

PEACOCK’S LAST AND MOST AMBITIOUS POEM PEACOCK, Thomas Love.

Rhododaphne: or the Thessalian Spell. A Poem.

First edition. A mythological narrative set in ancient Thessaly, Rhododaphne tells the story of the shepherd boy Anthemion, in love with the mortal girl Calliroë, and of the nymph Rhododaphne, who carries him off to her enchanted palace. When Rhododaphne is destroyed by Heavenly or Uranian love – pure passion for the good and the beautiful – the mortal lovers are reunited.

Read more

EDITED BY THE POET COWPER’S UNCLE [COWPER, Ashley, editor].

The Norfolk poetical Miscellany. To which are added some select Essays and Letters in Prose. Never printed before. By the Author of the Progress of Physick. In two Volumes …

First edition. This lively miscellany, containing a large number of amusing short poems (but nothing for the libertine), was assembled by William Cowper’s uncle, the father of Theodora, later Lady Hesketh, with whom the poet fell in love. The dedication to the young Lady Caroline [Cowper] is subscribed ‘Timothy Scribble’: ‘Too true it is, that the present Age has been fruitful of Miscellanies; and I wish it was less true, that even the best Collections of them (tho’ handed to us by the brightest Wits of our Family [i.e. Scribblers and Scriblerians]) are not without some Impurities, which make them very unfit Companions for Youth ….’ ‘But to say a Word of the following Collection. It consists chiefly of Original Pieces – many of them (and those I fear the worst) are the Editor’s own – some never so much as handed about in Manuscript – few ever committed to the Press before ….’

Read more