8vo., pp. xix, , 133, , possibly wanting a portrait; first eight pages printed on blue-tinted paper; a very good copy in modern quarter calf and marbled boards; bookplates of Arthur Dalyrmple and R. C. Fiske.
US $1194 €970
First and only edition, very rare, of this eccentric, provincially printed allegory: Pilgrim’s Progress meets Tristram Shandy.
Mendham begins by outlining his tale’s elaborate allegorical apparatus. The most important elements include the Mill itself, which represents ‘the true Church of God’; its hopper, which represents the ‘state of humiliation’; and its two grinders, which represent the ‘fear of destruction mixed with hope of deliverance’. To reach the mill, visitors must walk across the ‘meadow of contemplation’ which is apt to put them in a ready mood for conversion. The mill’s first few clients are easily processed: ‘they readily entered the hopper, passed between the grinders, and descended by the spout … astonishingly altered’. Trickier customers include ‘Lord Lothario’ and ‘Prim Pimp’. It also plays host to a celebrity guest, ‘Farmer George’ (evidently George III) who is suffering from a bout of madness and at one point ‘in the flurry of his mind’ strikes one of the mill’s attendants, knocking him ‘flat on his back’. They are followed by a Papist, a Presbyterian, a Baptist, a Methodist, and a Swedenborgian.
Thomas Mendham was obviously much influenced by the works of Laurence Sterne and imitates many of his narrative eccentricities. There are several prefaces addressed variously to ‘Brother Mortals’, ‘Kings, Peers, and Plebeians’, and ‘Candid Perusers’. Mendham also displays shimmers of Sterne’s typographic whimsy. At one point, a lull in conversation is represented as ‘————————— a pause ——————————’
Thomas Mendham may have been connected with Mendham Mill near Norwich, which was recorded in the Domesday Book and rebuilt in 1820.
Very scarce. ESTC records only three copies: at the BL, Norwich, and the University of Minnesota.
You may also be interested in...
MARINI, Giovanni Ambrogio.
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.
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.’
AINSWORTH, William Harrison.
The Lord Mayor of London: or, City Life in the Last Century ... in three Volumes ...
First edition. The Lord Mayor of London is set in the reign of George III, but Ainsworth’s worthy Sir Gresham Lorimer embodies all the Victorian qualities of the industrious, honest citizen, risen from humble origins to the highest civic position. His wife adopts the exaggerated dress of the fashionable set with a ‘lofty head-dress, which rose full three feet above her brows, and might have overbalanced a less substantially-built frame’; their children are introduced at court and members of the royal family appear as characters in the novel. Descriptions of society balls and city pageants alternate with accounts of low life and the activities of the money lenders of Moorfields.