ROACH’S BEAUTIES OF THE POETS of Great Britain carefully selected & arranged from the Works of the most admired Authors. Particularly Milton, Pope, Dryden, Thomson [etc.] … &c. &c. In six Volumes ...

London. Printed by J. Roach, at the Britannia Printing Office … 1794. [1793-1795].

24 parts in 6 vols, 12mo., with an engraved general title-page in each volume, an engraved title-page with a vignette to each part, and 24 further engraved plates (one in each part, intended as frontispieces but here often bound within the text), most by Barlow or Murray after Isaac Cruikshank (parts 22-24 after Gilchrist); an attractive copy in contemporary calf, spines gilt, red and green morocco labels.


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ROACH’S BEAUTIES OF THE POETS of Great Britain carefully selected & arranged from the Works of the most admired Authors. Particularly Milton, Pope, Dryden, Thomson [etc.] … &c. &c. In six Volumes ...

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First collected edition, a complete set of James Roach’s popular poetical miscellany, with fine illustrations by Isaac Cruikshank, father of the caricaturist, issued in twenty-four monthly parts.

What began with a one-off publication at the end of 1792 (Evening Reflections at Westminster Abbey) quickly turned into a profitable series, and Roach issued collected sets of his Beauties … in three Volumes in 1793[-4], comprising the first 12 parts, and then in six volumes as here. Nos. I-IV are apparently found in several issues: here No. I has a later issue title-page (with a different vignette) and engraving, dated November 1794, Nos. II-IV have the running title ‘Roach’s Beauties of the Poets’ added to the head of the engraved titles, and No. IV is dated 1794 not 1795.

Roach (fl. 1789-96) and Cruikshank were close friends, with a shared passion for the stage (Roach’s shop was opposite the Theatre Royal) – the two families (along with a young Edmund Kean) used to stage theatricals in the Roach kitchen. Roach ‘sold from his Drury Lane, London, shop prompt-book plays, odd volumes, children’s anthologies, and jest and song books’ (Oxford DNB, which incorrectly names him John rather than James). But he also plied a seamier trade in salacious books and prints, and spent February-June 1795 in prison for his role in publishing the last edition of Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies– see Janet Ing Freeman, ‘Jack Harris and “Honest Ranger”, The Library, 13:4, 2012.

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Lisboa destruida poema, author o P. Theodoro de Almeida, da Congregaçaõ do Oratorio de Lisboa.

First edition of this poem in six cantos, with extensive notes, on the disastrous 1755 Lisbon earthquake, by the Oratorian priest and philosopher Almeida (1722-1804). One of the deadliest in history, the earthquake almost totally destroyed the Portuguese capital and accentuated political tensions within the kingdom. It was widely discussed by European Enlightenment philosophers, including Voltaire and Rousseau, and led to important debates around theodicy and philosophical optimism.

Almeida was one of the most important figures of the iluminismo in Portugal and spent time in exile in France following the persecution of his congregation by the Marquis of Pombal. He wrote Lisboa destruida soon after the earthquake but it remained in manuscript until 1803, its publication perhaps motivated by the outbreak of the Napoleonic Wars, which threatened to bring fresh disaster to his country. In his prologue, Almeida refers to Voltaire’s Poème sur le désastre de Lisbonne as ‘obra dictada, naõ pelas Musas Christãs, mas certamente pelas Furias infernaes’. Almeida’s poem has been praised by the bibliographer Inocênio for its historical value and is illustrated with beautiful vignettes alluding to the earthquake.

Provenance: this copy belonged to one Captain Saunders of the 14th Light Dragoons who no doubt acquired it on service with the 14th during the Peninsula War between 1808 and 1814.

Only one copy on Library Hub, at the British Library.

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[BEER, Johann Christoph.]

Kurtzer Entwurff dess Lebens der Könige in Engelland von der Zeit an als die Sachsen und Angeln sich derselben Insul bemächtiget biss auf die jetzige Regierung. Mit schönen Kupffer-Figuren und Conterfäiten der Könige gezieret.

Second, corrected and improved, edition (first 1671) of this attractive German survey of English kings and queens. After describing the rulers in the seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England (Wessex, Sussex, Essex, Kent, East Anglia, Northumbria, and Mercia), Beer discusses the kings from Egbert to Harold II before devoting the remainder of his work to monarchs from William the Conqueror to Charles II, who are depicted on the accompanying plates together with their escutcheons and the dates of their reigns. Important epithets are given, such as ‘Bellus Clericus’ (Beauclerc) for Henry I, and ‘Cor Leonis’ (Lionheart) for Richard I, shown with a lion at his feet and a bolt in his shoulder. Beer (1638-1712) was something of an expert on European monarchs, also publishing works on the rulers of Austria, Hungary, Spain, Denmark, and Sweden.
BL German 1601-1700, B613; VD17 23:312763A. COPAC shows copies at the British Library and Oxford only.

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