(London: Printed for Tho. Woodward [by William Bowyer], 1726). 360 x 222 mm. (14 x 8 3/4"). 12 p.l., 456 [i.e. 452] pp. (4L2v is numbered 316-320). FIRST EDITION. One of 1,000 copies (according to Bowyer's ledgers, per ESTC).
Contemporary calf, covers with gilt roll frame, oblique floral cornerpieces, rebacked in olive-brown calf, raised bands flanked by scrolling gilt rolls, panels with decorative gilt centerpiece, red morocco label, marbled endpapers and edges (neat repairs to head edge and to corners). With engraved frontispiece, five small engravings in the text, and two engraved plates of plants. Front pastedown with armorial bookplate of Charles Gresley; pp. 286, 288-290 with contemporary ink annotations to (folded) fore margins. Henrey 945; ESTC T146573. Boards with a number of small abrasions, but the restored binding sound, and perfectly agreeable; isolated faint dust-soiling to head margins, other trivial imperfections, but the text in very fine condition, especially clean, crisp, and bright, and with ample margins.
Very fresh and bright internally, especially for a book expected to incur use in an unprotected context, this practical and comprehensive work would have been an indispensable resource for any 18th century husbandman interested in raising livestock and cultivating trees, vegetables, and fruit. Although the frontispiece depicts the stately Richmond home of the Prince of Wales, with its manicured grounds and rows of neatly spaced trees, the contents are just as useful to the everyman, including "Husbandman, Grazier, Planter, Gardener, and Florist." John Laurence (1668-1752) was a fellow at Cambridge before becoming rector of Yelvertoft, Northamptonshire, where he developed a passion for horticulture while renewing a dilapidated garden there (DNB tells us he was especially skilled at growing pears). Laurence wrote three books on the pleasures of gardening while living in Yelvertoft; he later moved to Bishopwearmouth, Durham, where he wrote the present work--his last and, according to Henrey, "most ambitious literary project." The author explains how to improve and maintain the land in book I, with advice on planting crops and raising different kinds of livestock, from cattle to silkworms. He even devotes a few chapters to using land for mines and quarries, revealing the "hidden Treasures, which lie couched in Nature's Bowels." Book II is devoted to forest and timber trees, and books III-V offer a catalogue of fruit trees, vegetables, and decorative plants to grow in the Fruit Garden, Kitchen Garden, and Flower-Garden, respectively. This is a pleasurable book to leaf through, being wonderfully clean throughout, and accessible to the modern reader, with familiar plants that might be growing in one's backyard today. (ST15736c)
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PJP Catalog: 76.112