(Glasgow: James MacLehose and Sons, 1896). 200 x 130 mm. (7 7/8 x 5 1/8"). xix, , 560 pp. FIRST EDITION.
Handsome contemporary dark teal morocco by MacLehose (stamped-signed on verso of front flyleaf), covers with lacy gilt filigree frame, raised bands, spine compartments similarly gilt, gilt titling, elegantly gilt inner dentelles, ivory watered silk endleaves, marbled flyleaves, all edges gilt (invisible expert repair to front hinge). With frontispiece portrait of Burns and 14 photographic portraits of the translators. Spine evenly sunned to dark green, plates a touch browned just at edges, occasional light offsetting, other trivial imperfections, but a nearly fine copy, the binding very attractive and the contents quite clean and fresh.
This critical edition of Burns' poetry as rendered in 18 different languages is a wonderful example of works published and bound by the Glasgow firm of James MacLehose (1811-85), who began his career in 1838 as a bookseller, at first in partnership, and then on his own. In 1862 he added a bindery to the enterprise, and in 1881 he brought into the business his two sons, who continued it after his death. The MacLehose workshop produced high quality bindings, and catered in particular to book collectors. Our volume, with lovely gilt tooling and silk endleaves, was no doubt done for a discriminating client. It was a linguistic aptitude that brought our author, the iron merchant William Jacks (1841-1907), his success. He learned languages easily, and used this skill to great effect in international trade. As an MP for the Liberal party, he was an effective voice for both industry and commercial education. He continued to study languages throughout his life, and, according to the preface, prepared the present work to promote little-known translations of Scotland's favorite poet, "with a view to making a comparison of the power of the different languages in expressing those works." We find here poems in German, Swiss German, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Dutch, Flemish, Afrikaans, Frisian, Czech, Hungarian, Russian, French, Italian, Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, Welsh, and Latin. DNB notes that Jacks was in many ways a typical product of Victorian Glasgow, where "[m]any businessmen who came from relatively humble backgrounds encompassed very successful business careers with active public involvement and scholarly pursuits." (ST15182)
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PJP Catalog: 76.183