(London: Printed for the author, 1733; London: Printed for Weaver Bickerton, 1732). 191 x 127 mm. (7 1/2 x 5"). viii, 400 pp.; iv, 5-171 pp.,  pp. (ads). Two separately published works bound in one. Early [First?] Edition of the first work; Second Edition (with additions) of the second work (published in same year as the first edition).
Pleasing recent retrospective half calf over marbled boards, raised bands, spine with red morocco label, speckled edges. Paper repairs to title page and pp. iii and 151 of first work, no doubt to remove library stamps. Perkins 557, 562. A few quires of the first work with faint dampstain in the upper half of the fore margin (not affecting the text), light soiling to "Chiltern" title page, isolated minor browning in the first work, otherwise quite a fine, fresh, clean copy with only trivial imperfections internally, and in an unworn sympathetic binding.
This volume contains two important 18th century English works dealing in a direct, specific way with land management, soil amelioration, and animal husbandry. William Ellis (d. 1758) was a self-described "plain farmer," whose second book "The Practical Farmer" (bound last in our volume) was an immediate success, going into three editions in its first year. Divided into nine chapters, it covers topics that clearly were of interest to the contemporaneous audience, from "increasing crops of pease and beans" to "how to keep pigeons and tame rabbits to advantage." The 14 chapters of the first work in our volume cover a great many headings. But it is slightly more focused than the second in that its various discussions feature two kinds of fields--those found in "the Chiltern," or hilly ground (where soils are diverse and frequently problematic) and those in "the Vale," or lowlands, full of fertile black and "blewish" soils. Ellis' gift lay in his business sense: in Fussell's words, he was among the first agricultural authors to try "to prove the advantages of the methods he propounds by attaching to them the golden measure of their financial profit, a touchstone that reaches everybody." As a result, he found himself very much in demand as a farm management "consultant" to the landed gentry, travelling all over England to proffer his expertise. Always one to capitalize on an opportunity, he supplemented his income by selling seeds and implements to his clients. These enterprises, coupled with his steady production of literature (including the first English book devoted entirely to sheep herding), led him to neglect his own farm in Hertfordshire. As a result, his reputation suffered in the eyes of visitors who expected to see a model of modern farming methods on his own spread, but who found instead outdated equipment and general dilapidation. As Fussell indicates, Ellis was criticized by more serious scholars for his inclusion of picturesque descriptions of the countryside and anecdotes about "gipsies and thieves," but, ironically, this inclusion constitutes one of the major attractions of his work for the modern reader. (ST15557-1)
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PJP Catalog: RCVF20.003