PRAYERS AND MEDITATIONS, COMPOSED BY SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL. D. AND PUBLISHED FROM HIS MANUSCRIPTS, BY GEORGE STRAHAN, A. M.
(London: Printed for T. Cadell, 1785). 213 x 137 mm. (8 3/8 x 5"). xvi, 227,  pp. FIRST EDITION.
Pleasing marbled calf by Riviere & Son, flat spine gilt in compartments separated by Greek key roll, central patera with swag above and laurel branches below, floral sprig cornerpieces, tan morocco labels, densely gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Courtney-Smith, p. 158; Chapman & Hazen, p. 163; Tinker 1378. Joints very lightly rubbed, spine with (natural?) color variation and a small stain on label, a few signatures slightly toned and a handful of leaves with a dusting of faint foxing, light marginal dampstain on three leaves, but these issues all quite minor, and on the whole a very appealing set, with clean contents and in an attractive binding.
The private thoughts and resolutions of one of the 18th century's most important intellectuals are offered here in a fine later example of English bookbinding. During the latter part of his life, Johnson (1709-84) was in the habit of writing out meditations at five important times a year: on New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter, his birthday, and the anniversary of his wife's death. These "prayers" have a confessional tone and sometimes seem more like diary entries, as Johnson resolves to rise early, drink less strong liquors, keep a journal, and put his books in order. The text was printed from a manuscript, not meant for publication, that was in the possession of one of Johnson's friends, who gave it to the editor George Strahan. The tasteful binding here demonstrates why Riviere & Son was revered for their designs and craftsmanship over a very protracted time. (ST15794)