(London: Macmillan and Co., 1867). 178 x 118 mm. (7 x 4 3/4"). viii, 244 pp. FIRST EDITION.
EXTREMELY PRETTY RED CRUSHED MOROCCO, EXUBERANTLY GILT, BY ROGER DE COVERLY (stamp-signed in gilt on front pastedown), covers with frame of plain and decorative rules, rose garlands, and stippling enclosing panel with oval wreath of roses at center, surrounded by small palm fronds and dot tools, raised bands, spine compartments with Tudor rose at center, surrounded by leaves on a densely stippled ground, gilt titling, turn-ins with delicate floral vine at corners, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Spine slightly and uniformly darkened, minor foxing to flyleaves, but A VERY FINE COPY, clean and fresh internally with ample margins, the binding unworn and glistening with gold.
Offered here in a charming binding by an important craftsman, this is the last volume of poetry produced by Matthew Arnold (1822-88), ranked by Day as one of the three great Victorian poets (along with Tennyson and Browning). DNB notes that nearly all of his best-known verse was written, if not published, by the time he turned 30: "He lived the greater part of his adult life knowing that, as the prefatory poem to his 1867 collection put it, 'the Muse be gone away.'" Day observes that "Arnold's poetry seeks rather desperately for individual meaning and purpose" amid the isolation of "industrialization and bourgeois democracy," and suggests that this is the reason that his work was less popular in his day than that of Tennyson and Browning, but "has in the 20th century enjoyed the best reception . . . . Our own troubled and unresolved mind discovers greater kinship with him." After the poetic muse deserted him, Arnold turned his attention to criticism, where he earned, according to DNB, his "pedestal among the immortals" through his influence on the study and teaching of English literature in the U.S. and Britain. The very attractive binding here is the work of Roger de Coverly (1831-1914), one of the most accomplished binders in England during the latter part of the 19th century. He was apprenticed to Zaehnsdorf in 1845, worked for J. & J. Leighton from ca. 1852-63, then established his own bindery. In the 1880s, his bindings were in great demand, as were his services as a teacher: he undertook a good deal of work for William Morris, and he counted among his illustrious students the younger Charles McLeish as well as the greatest of all English bookbinders, T. J. Cobden-Sanderson, who served an apprenticeship with him in 1883-84. De Coverly worked mostly in the classical style, and the quality of workmanship he and his two sons demonstrated was consistently of the highest level. (ST15785)
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PJP Catalog: 76.072