(London: John Sharpe, 1810). 165 x 100 mm. (6 1/2 x 4"). Two volumes. A New Edition.
QUITE ATTRACTIVE DARK GREEN STRAIGHT-GRAIN MOROCCO, HEAVILY GILT, covers framed by lattice-work of intersecting circles, quatrefoils at corners, central panel with thin rope roll frame, oblique pointillé tulips at corners, raised bands, spine panels with large centerpiece formed by fleurons and curving vines sprinkled with tiny dots, gilt lettering, turn-ins with border of gilt dots, dun-colored endleaves, all edges gilt. EACH VOLUME WITH A LOVELY FORE-EDGE PAINTING, that on volume I a tranquil rural landscape, and on volume II a riverbank by Olney Bridge. With extra engraved title pages and 10 engravings after Richard Westfall, one a charming portrait of Cowper at his desk, gazing sadly at a picture of his mother, while on the floor beside him, his pet rabbit calmly munches lettuce leaves. Front free endleaves inscribed in ink: "Ludovique Reindorf / from her affec[tion]ate Friend / Agnes White / July 14th 1890." ◆Very slight wear to corners, offsetting on pages opposite plates, very minor foxing, but a fresh, clean copy internally, the very pretty bindings lustrous and virtually unworn, and the fore-edge paintings especially well preserved.
Featuring beautifully executed paintings under the fore-edge gilt, these volumes collect the poetry by one of the most notable English poets of the 18th century, chronicling his journey away from worldly things towards nature and religion. Cowper (1731-1800) prefigures the Romantics in the confessional tendency of his verse. Although his bouts of melancholy were at times so severe as to lead to suicide attempts and institutionalization, Cowper had a lighter side that often surfaced in playful poems and charming letters. It is not surprising, then, that his poems range widely, from religious reflections to translations of Homer to poetry inspired by a lady's suggestion that he could write on any topic, including the sofa. The charming rural scene on the fore-edge of volume is framed by two large trees in the foreground, beyond which we see a red-roofed cottage set among a grove of trees, with rolling hills in the background. The field below the cottage is recently mown, and dotted with haystacks. All is calm and order: serene blues and greens dominate the color scheme, with neat rows of haystacks and peaceful solitude exuded by the cottage almost hidden by trees. The painting on volume II invites us to contrast technology with nature and humanity: it features a precise, clean-lined bridge set beside the random curves of nature. A river winds through hilly banks, and rounded trees are scattered in the distance. Just under the bridge, on the river bank, sit a man and boy, the elder appearing to console the dejected youth, the pair dwarfed by a massive engineering feat that looms overhead. Happily, our wonderfully detailed and artfully composed paintings have retained both their original hues and their appeal over the years. (ST16942)