First Published Book by England's Greatest Romantic,
With All First Issue Points, and in Elaborately Gilt Morocco
(BINDINGS - RIVIERE). BYRON, GEORGE GORDON NOEL, LORD.
HOURS OF IDLENESS.(Newark: Printed and sold by S. and J. Ridge, 1807). 181 x 111 mm (7 1/8 x 4 3/8"). xiii, [i], 187,  pp. FIRST EDITION, First Issue.
QUITE PRETTY BRICK RED MOROCCO, GILT, BY RIVIERE (signed on front turn-in), covers with wide frame of curling hairline-stemmed vines bearing clusters of berries, all on a stippled background, central panel with gilt titling and date; raised bands, expertly rebacked using original backstrip, spine compartments decorated in the vine motif, gilt-ruled turn-ins, newer endpapers, all edges gilt. Randolph, p. 9; Hayward 218; Wise I, 7. Spine slightly and evenly darker, leaves faintly browned because of inferior quality of paper, otherwise an excellent copy, the very pretty binding carefully restored, and the text smooth and fresh.
This is a true first edition, with all issue points specified by Randolph, of the first collection of verse by the most important of the English Romantic poets, offered here in a very attractive binding by one of England's leading workshops. Published when Byron (1788-1824) was not yet 20 years old, the poems are translations of Virgil and Anacreon or imitations in the style of earlier poets, from Thomas Gray to Ossian, rather than wholly original works. According to DNB, the volume was "praised in the 'Critical Review'" but viciously attacked in the "Edinburgh Review," "which ridiculed the vanities of the author" as they were expressed in the work's preface. Byron was so enraged by this criticism that he composed his first major poem, the satirical "English Bards and Scotch Reviewers." Day describes Byron as "the most flamboyant and spectacular personality in all of literature," noting that Bertrand Russell devoted a chapter in "The History of Western Philosophy" to the poet "because he gripped the soul of Western society as no other literary man ever has and because he stamped upon the entire 19th century his own image as the idol and embodiment of Romanticism." This, his first published work, was his initial shot across the bow of the literary establishment and set the stage for all the drama--and great poetry--that was to follow. The design on our binding--reminiscent of the delicate vine borders of Medieval illuminated manuscripts, with their glistening gilt ivy leaves and fruit--has been very skillfully executed with the expertise that made the Riviere firm a leading London bindery for more than a century (see previous entry for more on Riviere). Bibliographically, our copy is as desirable as one could hope for, containing the 1806 watermark; the cancel D3 (p. 21-22); misspelled "thnnder" on p. 114, line 4; misspelled "Thc" on the penultimate line of p. 181; and "where" printed twice on p. 5, lines 2 and 3, all as called for by Randolph. (ST12041)