(London: Bowdery and Kerby; Edinburgh: Blackwood, 1844). 244 x 152 mm. (9 1/2 x 6"). 2 p.l., xii, 349 pp. Translated by Robert Anstruther. First Edition in English.
QUITE PRETTY NAVY BLUE CRUSHED MOROCCO BY TAFFIN (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers with a net of oval fillets, floral ornaments at the points where lines intersect, raised bands, spine gilt in similar design, gilt titling, gilt-ruled turn-ins, royal blue silk endleaves, top edge gilt. With two frontispiece portraits of the author, one on heavy stock and one on chine, and nine etchings on chine, illustrating each of the book's nine episodes. WITH AN AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR tipped in at front. Spine sunned to a dark blue-green, joints and extremities with just a hint of rubbing, but the binding still lustrous and a fine copy internally, clean, fresh, and bright, with lovely wide-margined paper.
In an elegant Parisian binding, this is the first appearance in English of Lamartine's 1836 epic poem relating the story of a young seminarian who becomes caught up in the French Revolution, falls in love with a young woman, but renounces this chance at earthly happiness to become a priest and serve God. Lamartine (1790-1869) was a multi-faceted man who is recognized as the first Romantic poet in France as well as an influential politician who served as head of state during the Second Republic. A special feature of the present copy is an autograph letter from Lamartine to Marie-Éléonore Magu (1788-1860), a weaver in Lizy-sur-Ourcq who gained renown as a poet of the common man. Magu issued four editions of his poetry in 1839-40, and attracted the attention of Lamartine and other literary lights; George Sand wrote the introduction for the 1845 edition of his works. In the present letter, dated 19 April 1842, Lamartine warmly responds to an earlier missive from Magu, thanking the poet for the honor of writing to him. Lamartine assures Magu that he will write to the minister of Public Instruction, saying that he will be "happy to contribute to you obtaining all that you ask." Exactly what Magu was seeking is unclear, but it may have involved a pension that was bestowed on him by Ministers Villemain and Savandy. The Taffin bindery in Paris was the upscale hand-bindery operated by Lille publishers and trade binders Taffin-Lefort. Flety notes that Taffin took over the rue de Savoie workshop of E. Rouselle in 1895 and, after a move to new premises following the First World War, the bindery continued to operate until 1954. (ST15945)