(London: Longman, Rees & Co., 1837). 200 x 127 mm. (7 7/8 x 5"). FIRST EDITION. Two volumes.
FINE POLISHED CALF, ELEGANTLY GILT, BY R. W. SMITH (stamp-signed on front flyleaf), covers bordered with double gilt rules, spines with raised bands and compartments featuring pleasing dense gilt scrollwork, red and deep blue morocco labels, intricately gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt. With six engraved plates, which are portraits of Coleridge (two), Robert Southey, William Wordsworth, Amos Cottle, and Charles Lamb, as called for. Half titles signed by Daniel Green, Jr. and dated September, 1853. Front pastedowns with large modern bookplate of Robert Marceau. Engravings rather foxed, a little darkening and very minor intermittent foxing in text, otherwise an excellent copy internally in a beautiful, virtually unworn binding.
This handsomely bound but controversial memoir was written by Coleridge's first publisher and longtime friend, bookseller Joseph Cottle (1770-1853). Stung by what he felt was Coleridge's insufficient display of gratitude for his kindnesses, Cottle published this unkind, inaccuarate, but entertaining account of the poet's life and failings. DNB (1900) states, "vanity and self-righteousness together induced Cottle, in his 'Early Recollections, chiefly relating to Samuel Taylor Coleridge' (1837), not only to enumerate all his own little generosities to Coleridge and [poet Robert] Southey, but to enter into the painful details of Coleridge's opium infatuation, printing his own letters and the answers. The unworthiness of such conduct is even aggravated by an attempt to represent it as the fulfilment of an injunction of Coleridge's own, wrung from him by the extremity of mental and bodily anguish. Cottle erred from sheer obtuseness and want of moral delicacy, and hurt himself much more than Coleridge, whose failings would have become sufficiently known from other sources, while even Cottle's poems would have given a very inadequate idea of his stupidity without his memoirs. 'The confusion in Cottle's "Recollections" is greater than any one would think possible,' says Southey. It may be added that the book is very inaccurate in its dates, and that the documents quoted are seriously garbled. Reprehensible and in some parts absurd, it is, however, by no means dull, and besides its curious and valuable particulars of the early literary career of Coleridge and Southey, has notices of other interesting persons, otherwise little known, such as Robert Lovell and William Gilbert." Binder R. W. Smith learned his craft in England before moving to the Unisted States, where he became one of the first members of the staff of the Club Bindery, known for his fine workmanship. (ST12337)
Add to Cart Price: $750.00
PJP Catalog: 75.196