An Inquiry into the Principles of Beauty in Grecian Architecture; with An Historical View of the Rise and Progress of the Art in Greece.

London: Thomas Davison for John Murray, 1822.

8vo (192 x 116mm), pp. [4 (title, imprint, ‘Advertisement’, blank)], 217, [1 (blank)]; roman and greek types; very occasional light spotting, heavier on title, bound without final blank P6; nineteenth-century British half calf over marbled boards, spine gilt in compartments, gilt morocco lettering-piece in one, others with central flower tools enclosed by leafy sprays, lettered directly with the date at the foot of the spine, grey-green endpapers, all edges sprinkled red; endpapers and flyleaves slightly spotted, extremities lightly rubbed and bumped, spine slightly darkened, otherwise a very good copy; provenance: early pencil marking and one annotation (slightly cropped) – Chichester Samuel Parkinson-Fortesque, first Baron Carlingford and second Baron Clermont (1823–1898, his bookplate as Baron Carlingford).


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First separate edition. The scholar and politician Gordon (1784–1860) was educated at Harrow School and St John’s College, Cambridge, and succeeded to the earldom of Aberdeen in 1801. He undertook a Grand tour through Europe to the Levant in 1802-1804, travelling to Constantinople with William Drummond, who would replace Lord Elgin as the British ambassador. On his return, he was elected to the Society of Dilettanti and the Society of Antiquaries in 1805 (becoming president of the latter in 1811, remaining in office until 1846), became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1808, and was appointed a Trustee of the British Museum in 1812. Indeed, such was his fame as an antiquarian that Byron, his cousin, described him as ‘the travelled Thane, Athenian Aberdeen’ (English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (London: 1809), p. 39). In 1808 Aberdeen acquired Argyll House, off Oxford Street, London, and undertook major alterations with the assistance of his friend and collaborator, the architect and antiquarian William Wilkins. An Inquiry into the Principles of Beauty in Grecian Architecture was first published in 1812 as an introduction to Wilkins’ translation The Civil Architecture of Vitruvius (London: 1812-1817), which was dedicated to Aberdeen. It was then revised and reprinted in this edition – as the ‘Advertisement’ states, ‘[v]arious additions and corrections have […] been made, in the hope of rendering the whole less imperfect’ – which was reprinted in 1860 by John Weale.

Aberdeen embarked upon a distinguished political career in 1806, when he was returned to Parliament as a representative Scottish peer, and he was Wellington’s Foreign Secretary (1828–1830), Peel’s Colonial Secretary (1834-1835), and Peel’s Foreign Secretary (1841-1846), before taking power as Prime Minister in 1852, leading of a coalition which held power until 1855. This copy was previously in the library of Aberdeen’s political associate, the politician and antiquarian Chichester Parkinson-Fortesque, who was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, had travelled through Greece and Albania in 1846-1847, and moved in artistic and scholarly circles, counting Lear, Millais, Ruskin, Monckton Milnes, and Watts amongst his friends. In 1847 he was elected Member of Parliament for Co. Louth, and served as a junior Lord of the Treasury in Aberdeen’s administration between 1854 and 1855. His later political career saw him hold the positions of Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, Chief Secretary for Ireland, President of the Board of Trade, Lord Privy Seal, and Lord President of Council, before he left Parliament in 1885, at the end of Gladstone’s second administration.

Blackmer 708; BAL 1251.

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