BIDCOMBE HILL, WITH OTHER RURAL POEMS.
(London: Printed for William Miller, 1808). 191 x 121 mm. (7 1/2 x 4 3/4"). 6 p.l., -56, 56*, , 57-153,  (errata) pp. FIRST EDITION.
Contemporary green straight-grain morocco, elaborately decorated in gilt and blind, covers with gilt palmette frame enclosing black-tooled floral frame, flat spine with panels intricately tooled in gilt and black, gilt-rolled turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. WITH A FINE PASTORAL FORE-EDGE PAINTING OF ST. BEE'S COLLEGE, CUMBERLAND. In a later sturdy fleece-lined cloth slipcase. With four engraved plates. Spine sunned to light green, muted spotting to leather, plates somewhat foxed, other minor defects, but still quite a pleasing copy, the binding with only insignificant wear, the text bright, fresh, and clear, and the margins very ample.
This is a pretty little book featuring a very pleasing fore-edge painting of unusual composition. The painted scene presents a pastoral tableau, with St. Bee's College in Wiltshire in the background at center-right and cottages in mid-ground, all in a treed landscape. Two shepherds and their sheep populate the foreground. The colors are soft, capturing the typical gray English afternoon. Notably, the composition is a pleasing alternative to the typical edifice-flanked-by-trees within a static landscape design. Here, that arrangement is broken up, the landscape is contoured, and perspective is heightened; the composition has shape, depth, and dimension, all realized with a muted and delicate technique. The painting is surely from the 19th century, and it may well have been done before 1850. Written by parson and schoolmaster Francis Skurray (1774-1848), this collection was described by "The British Critic and Quarterly Theological Review" as an "elegantly printed volume" of "local poetry, which is particularly interesting." (ST12691)