The Devil’s walk; a poem. By Professor Porson. Edited with a biographical memoir and notes, by H. W. Montagu ...

London, Marsh and Miller ... and Constable and Co. Edinburgh, [1830].

12mo, pp. viii, [9]-20, 23-33, [3, advertisements], with 6 plates by Bonner and Slader after Robert Cruikshank; a little light foxing; very good in original printed wrappers; some stains, spine quite crudely stitched.


US $457€387

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The Devil’s walk; a poem. By Professor Porson. Edited with a biographical memoir and notes, by H. W. Montagu ...

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First separate edition, first issue with pages 21 and 22 omitted in the pagination. In its earliest form the poem appeared (anonymously) in the Morning Post for 6 September 1799 as ‘The Devil’s Thoughts’. Shelley published a response and continuation in 1812, The Devil's Walk: a Ballad, after the food riots in Devon. In 1827 Southey amplified the original poem considerably, expanding it from thirteen stanzas to fifty-seven, but also transforming a radical poem into a conservative one. The title was also changed to echo that of Shelley's ballad. The attribution to Porson created considerable controversy, which in turn gave rise to a number of parodies and imitations.

In the poem the devil meets with a lawyer, an apothecary, a rich bookseller, schoolboys, and a minister, and visits Coldbath Fields Prison, where ‘a solitary cell ... gave him a hint for improving the prisons of Hell’.

Wise, Coleridge, 68; Tinker 707; Healey 1744.

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