Two vols., pp. , 304; , 326, , with the half titles in both volumes, and the errata leaf; a fine copy in the original polished calf, morocco labels; bookplate of Auchincruive House.
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Plays and Poems … in two Volumes …
First and only edition of the collected works of William Whitehead, a protégé of Alexander Pope and poet laureate from 1757-85.
Volume I collects Whitehead’s plays, including The Roman Father (1750), which enjoyed stunning commercial success, and the less successful but generally critically preferred Creusa (1754). Volume II collects A Trip to Scotland (1770) and Whitehead’s poetry. Ann Boleyn to Henry VIII (1743) and Atys to Adrastus (1744) are among the early pieces which helped make his name as a poet. ‘Sweepers’ is a poem in blank verse which displays a concern for the conditions of the street-sweepers of London.
Whitehead was spotted while still at Winchester by Alexander Pope who employed him to translate the first epistle of the Essay on Man into Latin verse. He went on to survive under the patronage of various wealthy families, and was appointed poet laureate following the death of Colley Cibber in 1757 (Thomas Gray, the first choice, had turned it down).
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CHRISTMAS CAROLS BROWN, Arthur Henry (1830-1926), composer and church organist.
Autograph manuscript notebook mainly of Christmas carols compiled carefully over some 25 years by Brown from various sources including manuscripts in the British Museum, early printed books, and contemporary books and periodicals. Brown transcribes a few other poems too, suggesting that one purpose of the notebook was to identify carols and verse that he might set to music. An endleaf is inscribed ‘Ascension Day 1864’ and latest dated entry is 1887.
For all but five years of his long career Brown was organist at churches in Brentwood, Essex, and at Sir Anthony Browne’s School in the town. He was a fertile composer of more than 800 pieces of church music, including the hymn tunes ‘Ingatestone’, ‘Purleigh’, ‘Saffron Walden’, and ‘Tiltey Abbey’ named for Essex churches. Ten of his tunes figured in various editions of Hymns ancient and modern, including St. Anatolius composed for ‘The day is past and over’, which is still in H&M revised. His setting of the traditional carol ‘When Christ was born of Mary free’ was widely popular, and his settings of other hymns and carols such as ‘Sing we now the Christmas tiding’, ‘A little child is born tonight’, ‘Arise, and hail the sacred day’, and ‘O, sing we a carol all blithe and free’ were published in contemporary collections and sheet music.
Poetick Miscellanies …
First edition. Writing from the isolation of Newcastle, then a rural parish in fell country, Rawlet developed a mode of religious and descriptive poetry distinctly out of step with his own age, as is acknowledged by the editor in a verse preface: ‘Reader, expect not here, the filth of th’ Stage, / Poems that please, but more debauch the Age.’ Rawlet’s poems, such as ‘On a great Thunder and Storm’, ‘On a Cross with a Crown upon it, in Burton, betwixt Lancashire and Kendale’, and ‘On the sight of Furness Fells’, while looking back to Herbert in their weaving of the spiritual and the physical, please more by their anticipation of the topographical and sentimental concerns of the succeeding century.