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THE HISTORIE OF FRIER RUSH: HOW HE CAME TO A HOUSE OF RELIGION TO SEEKE SERVICE . . . BEING FULL OF PLEASANT MIRTH AND DELIGHT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE.
(London: Harding and Wright for Robert Triphook, 1810). 222 x 159 mm. (8 3/4 x 6 1/4"). 1 p.l., 37,  pp. ONE OF FOUR COPIES ON VELLUM.
Contemporary red velvet by H. Faulkner (ticket on verso of front flyleaf), covers with wide Greek key border rolled in blind, flat spine with small remnant of a leather backstrip (that had been laid on to hide a binder's titling error), red moiré silk endleaves, turn-ins and pastedowns with rolls in blind, all edges gilt. Housed in a very good later leather-edged slipcase. With woodcut vignette on title. Verso to front flyleaf with bookplate of Edward Vernon Utterson; first preliminary blank with morocco bookplate of Hans Fürstenberg; rear pastedown with bookplate of John Kershaw; contemporary inked note on verso of front flyleaf listing the original owner of each of the four vellum copies of the present book; later pencilled note on same stating, "This copy was after-wards in the possession of Mr. George Smith, and it was [sold] in his [s]ale for £9.15.0." Spine mostly covered with (glue?) residue left by now basically missing leather backstrip, corners rubbed to board, portions of the joints torn, velvet nap somewhat diminished, a bit of natural rumpling to the vellum, a very few inoffensive spots to margins, but an entirely solid and (apart from the spine remnants) an agreeable copy of this curious book.
This is a pleasing facsimile reprint of the 1620 English translation of a moral satire based upon a Medieval German legend about the Devil joining a monastery in the guise of a man. We offer it here in its very rare vellum issue and in an unusual velvet binding. As suggested by the title vignette, where he is arriving at the monastery door, Brother Rush causes much mischief in the religious house as part of his general mission to wander the earth, tempting people to do evil--with the underlying purpose of the narrative always being the moral edification and amusement of readers. In "A History of Caricature and Grotesque in Literature and Art," Wright notes that "one of the earliest . . . stories of mythic comedy transformed into, or at least presented under the guise of, humanity, is that of Brother Rush." Binder Henry Faulkner of London's Adelphi district has five specimens in the British Library's holdings, one of them covering "The Historie of Bevis of Hampton" commissioned by the original owner of the present volume, Edward Vernon Utterson (1775-1856), a British lawyer and antiquary. Owners of the other three vellum copies of "Rush" were: Sir William Baron Bolland (1771-1840), lawyer and bibliophile; Sir Mark Masterman Baron Sykes (1771-1823); and Miss [Frances Mary Richardson] Currer (1785-1861), whom Dibdin deemed in his "Reminiscences" to be "at the head of all female collectors in Europe." Later owner Hans Fürstenberg was a noted collector whose library was especially rich in 18th century French illustrated books. (ST12706)