(London: Henry Colburn, 1845). 200 x 114 mm. (7 7/8 x 4 1/2"). Two volumes. FIRST EDITION.
IN A SPECIAL VERY ATTRACTIVE PRESENTATION BINDING OF CONTEMPORARY OXBLOOD PEBBLE-GRAIN MOROCCO, ELABORATELY GILT, covers with blind-ruled borders and complex gilt frame featuring shell head- and tailpieces, scrolling corners and sides, and many floral tools, raised bands, spine compartments gilt with flower basket centerpiece and leaf frond corners, blind-tooled turn-ins, all edges gilt. Engraved frontispiece portraits of Colonel Maxwell and Major General Sir Neil Douglas. Front free endpaper of volume I with ink presentation inscription; "Reginald Porter / from his sincere friend / James Nelson Palmer / On his leaving Eton / Xmas 3rd 1846." Spines slightly and uniformly sunned (but gilt with no loss of brightness), one board with a little dulling because of leather preservative, otherwise A VERY FINE COPY, clean, fresh, and smooth internally, in a handsome binding with virtually no wear.
These volumes are significant both for their contents and their coverings. Colonel Archibald Montgomery Maxwell (d. 1845) received his commission in 1801 and saw active duty in the Calabria campaign (1806) and the Italian Campaign (1816). He must have performed well in battle, for he was promoted to colonel and made a knight of the Royal Guelphic Order. However, he is not the sort to bore us with laboriously detailed accounts of these activities. Instead, he shares his observations on Italian life and customs, his adventures with various opera dancers, and, in a more serious vein, his interviews with Napoleon on Elba and with King Charles V of Spain. Sadly, Maxwell did not long survive the publication of his memoir: the "Armagh Guardian" reported his death at Newcastle on 21 May 1845, "after a few days' illness, deeply regretted by his brother officers, and all who knew him." The ornate binding would have been specially commissioned by someone intending to give the set as a gift, and the fact that the volumes have come down to us in such fine condition testifies to how welcome their presentation must have been. James Nelson Palmer, who may well have paid for the binding, was probably the clergyman with that name of Breamore Rectory in Hampshire, who owned Church House in Headington, Oxford, beginning in 1849. In any case, such presentation bindings from this period are uncommonly seen. (ST11899)
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PJP Catalog: 63.332