The Mine: a dramatic Poem.

London: Printed for T. Cadell, in the Strand. 1785

Large 4to., pp. [4], xvi, 63, [1, blank]; half-title; a very good copy in contemporary tree calf, spine gilt; manuscript shelfmark, probably from Lavington House, later bookplate of the Wilberforce Library, Backsettown to front free endpaper; authorial correction in pencil to p. 5 – ‘grief’ for ‘sorrow’; presentation inscription in ink to flyleaf, ‘Charlotte Sargent, the Gift of the Author


US $824€760

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The Mine: a dramatic Poem.

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First edition of Sargent’s poem on quicksilver mines, replete with subterranean gnomes. The poem was inspired by a fantastical story of misbehaving Austrian aristocrats who are forced to labour in the mines as punishment, told in letters quoted in the introduction. In the footnotes Sargent explores geological marvels such as earthquakes, and praises Pope’s Rape of the Lock.

This is a presentation copy from the author to his wife, Charlotte (née Bettesworth), and was in the library at the couple’s marital home of Lavington House, Sussex, which is mentioned in the text. Sargent was a friend of William Wilberforce and the families remained close – two of his daughters married into the Wilberforces, his eldest Emily, wife of Samuel Wilberforce, inheriting Lavington; their grand-daughter, the physician Octavia Wilberforce, who had been born at Lavington, later installed this book in her ‘Wilberforce Library’ at Backsettown. Clearly books with a family provenance were of interest to her, which explains why it was saved from the dispersal of the library at Lavington.

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