The Desperadoes; an heroick History. Translated from the Italian of the celebrated Marini (the Original having passed ten Editions.) Containing a Series of the most surprizing Adventures of the Princes Formidaur and Florian … In four Books. Embellish’d with eight excellent Copper-Plates.

London: Printed by W. R. and sold by T. Asltey … J. Isted … and T. Worrall … 1733.

8vo., pp. [2], iv, [2], 5-284; with a frontispiece and seven other engraved plates; a few small stains, slightly shaken, in contemporary half calf and marbled boards, rubbed and scraped; early gift inscription to title-page ‘Carolus a Carolo d’Avenant'.

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The Desperadoes; an heroick History. Translated from the Italian of the celebrated Marini (the Original having passed ten Editions.) Containing a Series of the most surprizing Adventures of the Princes Formidaur and Florian … In four Books. Embellish’d with eight excellent Copper-Plates.

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First and only edition in English of Le gare de’ disperati (1644), the second of three romances by Marini (1596-1668). Inevitably, ‘It was necessary to omit many Things that were contrary to our Morals; to Decency, and to the Purity of the English Tongue …’. But the general scheme of events is the same as the original, and is outlined on the title-page: ‘A Series of the most surprizing Adventures of the Princes Formidaur and Florian; the former being in love with Zelinda, whom he takes to be his own Sister; and the latter having married Fidalme, who he supposes to be his father’s Daughter by a second Wife, and afterwards kills in Disguise in single Combat. With a Relation of the various amazing Accidents, and Misfortunes, which happen thereon, until the Whole concludes with making them all happy, by a most extraordinary and uncommon Revolution.’

Marini’s biography remains vague, but he was the author of several successful romances, the first being Calloandro (1640-1), written under a complicated collection of pseudonyms. Le gare de’ disperati was the only work by him to be translated into English.

ESTC lists seven copies: BL, Cambridge, National Library of Ireland; Columbia, Harvard, UCLA, and University of Pennsylvania.

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FROM THE LOST LOGIE LIBRARY OF WALTER BOWMAN PERUCCI, Francesco.

Pompe funebri di tutte le nationi del mondo, raccolte dale storie sagre et profane.

First edition of Perucci’s extensively illustrated account of funeral practices, inscribed by a Scottish antiquary and documented book collector. A fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and later the Royal Society, Walter Bowman (1699 – 1782) travelled extensively over the course of five decades in Italy, where this book was most likely acquired, studying at the University of Padua for two years and accompanying Samuel Rolle, Simon Harcourt, and Francis Seymour-Conway as tutor on grand tours; his remarkably detailed notes on his travels and keen collecting survive, principally in the National Library of Scotland and the Biblioteca nazionale in Florence.

Bowman’s library is remarkably well recorded through two documents, an account book from 1754 to 1766 (Bod. MS Eng. misc. d. 808) detailing purchases from and auction bids with booksellers as well as bindings commissioned from Roger Payne, and his will of 1782 (National Archives PROB 11/1088/285) in which he left ‘singularly minute and whimsical directions regarding the arrangement and preservation of his fine library’ (DNB). The will writes that ‘in a long course of years both at home and abroad I have at a considerable expense and trouble collected an useful though small Library of Books in good condition with my Name on each in my own handwriting, on different Arts and Sciences of various kinds in the learned Languages, in French, Italian, and English’. Dying childless, Bowman left the library to his brother James, with ‘this express condition, that they be not sold, lent, or dispersed, in whole or any part whatsoever, but carefully and honestly preserved … for the sole use and benefit of my heirs .. and to go along with my Estate of Logie in the said County of Fife in Scotland’.

In addition to detailed provision for the transport (from Surrey to Scotland), ordering, and cataloguing of the library, Bowman’s lengthy instructions specify that the books were to be kept ‘dry, clean, and neat, sound and safe, free from dust, mustiness, damps, without … rats and mice and all other annoyances and corruptions, without being blotted, stained, torn, damaged’ and that ‘the Room wherein they stand shall be appropriated solely for reading, writing, and study and not for any other business, work, occupation, or fellowship whatsoever except where the cases are locked up … and that the said Books may suffer no damage and be maintained in their standing order the said Room shall be furnished with a clean table, water bason [sic], and towel for filthy hands and the [heir] himself shall give out every Book as it is wanted to be read and consulted and lock the same up again afterwards so perused in the same room without suffering any of them to be moved about or out of the house’.

Bowman’s library appears to have survived at least until the mid-nineteenth century, being described in Leighton’s History of Fife: ‘The library contains among others, many valuable editions of the ancient classics, particularly a fine edition of Pliny’s Natural History, and a splendidly illuminated edition of Ptolemy. It also contains a valuable collection of engravings; a great number of maps and charts, and a well preserved copy of Bleau’s Atlas. [The heir] … is bound to keep a suitable room for the library in his house, and to allow free access to it to the neighbouring gentlemen there to read and study … women and children are expressly prohibited from having access to the library.’ (Leighton, History of the County of Fife (1840) II, p. 50). No later record of the library’s survival could be traced, though Feather suggests the books may have been dispersed in Edinburgh after the Second World War.

In 1982 Feather wrote ‘I do not know the present location of any of Bowman’s books’. We have been able to trace six other books from Bowman’s library at auction: of these, the majority have been later rebound; only one other (Christie’s, 1998) survives unrestored and is in similarly questionable condition, suggesting Bowman’s efforts for the preservation of his once magnificent books may have been in vain.

USTC 4011567; cf. Feather, ‘Walter Bowman’ in The Book Collector vol. 31 no. 1 (Spring 1982, pp. 47-63.

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DESFORGES, Pierre Choudard.

Tom Jones a Londres, Comédie en cinq actes et en vers, tirée du roman de Fielding … Réprésentée, pour la première fois, par les Comédiens Italiens ordinaires du Roi, le Mardi 22 Octob. 1782. Prix trente sols.

Later edition, first published 1782. Desforges’s dramatic adaptation of Fielding’s novel was followed in 1788 by an apparently inferior sequel, Tom Jones et Fellamar.

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