Small 8vo., pp. , 239, , with frontispiece portrait (soiled) but wanting the half-title; a little soiling to title-page and a name (Hen. Eyre) partly scribbled out, one nick to blank fore-edge; ink-stain on B8, otherwise a very good copy in contemporary sheep, rebacked.
US $1328 €1080
First edition, the issue with Robert Harford’s imprint. This ‘vindicatory’ text was prepared by Cleveland’s former students John Lake and Samuel Drake from authentic manuscripts to restore true readings to poems that had degenerated through six editions of The Character of a London-Diurnall (1647), seventeen successive editions of Poems (1651-69), and, worst of all, Cleaveland revived (1659-67), where only two of thirty-seven poems in the first printing were genuine.
The royalist poet John Cleveland (1613-1658) was ‘the first champion that appeared in verse for the King’s cause against the presbyterians’ (Anthony à Wood). At Cambridge his time at Christ’s partly overlapped Milton’s. Both contributed to the elegiac miscellany Justa Edouardo King (1638), Milton memorably (Lycidas), Cleveland less so (‘I am no Poet here; my Pen’s the Spout / Where the Rain-water of mine eyes runs out’). After the outbreak of the Civil War he joined the King’s camp at Oxford, and in 1646 he was at Newark when the garrison fell. Like many royalists he lived obscurely for some years, although he was imprisoned briefly at Yarmouth in 1655.
Clievelandi vindiciae is divided into three parts: Love Poems, Poems on State-Affairs, and Miscellanies. The State Poems include ‘Smectymnuus, or the Club Divines’, ‘The Mixt Assembly’ (a satire on the Westminster Assembly), ‘The Rebel Scot’, ‘The King’s Disguise’, and ‘Rupertismus’. Miscellanies, mainly in prose, includes The Character of a London-Diurnall, written at Oxford, satirizing the false news and feeble intelligence of the London news sheets.
‘Only chronologically was he the contemporary of Milton; the two poets lived in different worlds’. Cleveland’s world was that of a poet ‘fighting to defend a crumbling order’ (Morris), ‘the most sophisticated satirist writing during the war’ (C. V. Wedgwood). Though read more today for historical interest than for his verses, Cleveland’s brisk, mordant manner was wildly popular in its time; his poems went through more than twenty-five separate editions between 1645 and 1700, during which time Milton’s shorter Poems were published twice. But by 1700 Cleveland’s reputation had sunk almost without trace, never to be revived.
Morris distinguishes three issues of Clievelandi vindiciae, identical apart from the imprint for Nathaniel Brooke, Obadiah Blagrave, or Robert Harford; presumably the Brooke issue takes priority as the engraved portrait bears his imprint as well.
Wing C 4671; Brian Morris, John Cleveland a Bibliography 27.
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POEMS ON AFFAIRS OF STATE:
from the Time of Oliver Cromwell, to the Abdication of K. James the Second. Written by the greatest Wits of the Age. Viz. Duke of Buckingham, Earl of Rochester, Lord Bu-----st, Sir John Denham, Andrew Marvell, Esq; Mr Milton, Mr Dryden, Mr Sprat, Mr Waller, Mr Ayloffe, &c. With some Miscellany Poems by the Same: most whereof never before Printed. Now carefully examined with the Originals, and published without any Castration. The fourth Edition, corrected and much enlarged. . [Bound as issued with:]
Fourth edition of this popular collection of witty verse and political satire, with the second edition of State-Poems continued (1697). Much of the poetry collected here was initially circulated in manuscript because of its political subject matter (which includes the Dutch wars, the Popish Plot, and the Exclusion crisis) and only found its way into print after the revolution of 1688.
WITH A POEM BY DRYDEN ROSCOMMON, Wentworth Dillon, Earl of.
An Essay on Translated Verse … London, Printed for Jacob Tonson … 1684.
First edition. Roscommon’s influential Essay, in heroic couplets, owes much to Boileau and to the author’s own education in France after the attainder of his kinsman the Earl of Strafford. Dryden, an intimate friend and himself the translator of Boileau’s Art of Poetry in the preceding year, contributes a long commendatory poem. Johnson was a later admirer and praised Roscommon as a critic who ‘improved taste’ and was ‘the only correct writer of verse before Addison’.