Lyrical Ballads, with a few other poems [including "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"].London, printed for J. and A. Arch, 1798 Stock Code: 137732
NotesFirst edition, the earliest obtainable issue of the collection of poems which inaugurated the Romantic movement in English literature and poetry, and one of the most celebrated of all collaborative literary works. Though he is not credited, Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is printed here for the first time, alongside three other of his poems. Wordsworth contributed the bulk of the volume, drawing on a huge creative burst in the spring and summer of 1798, which included "Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey."
The London issue follows the unobtainable Bristol issue of the same year, listed by Healey in 13 copies, of which none is thought to remain in private hands, and differs from it only by the title page. A case can be made that this is the first published edition: the Bristol imprint was set in anticipation of publication by Longmans, an event that never materialized, leading Dorothy Wordsworth to write in September 1798 that the book had been "printed, not published", since there was no publisher until Cottle found Arch and Wordsworth found Johnson at about the same time.
The ownership inscription of Samuel White (1765-1841), perpetual curate of the parish of St John, Hampstead, is interesting. By virtue of his curacy, White was the incumbent of the new church of St John's Downshire Hill, Hampstead, where the first minister was William Harness, a lifelong friend of Lord Byron. In 1832, the copyright was purchased by an admirer of George Whitefield, but White sought to prevent evangelical ministry at the church and the consistory court ruled in his favour. John Keats, who lived nearby, had earlier referred to White as "the Person of Hampstead quarrelling with all the world" and a petition against White's intransigence was organised and signed by a number of influential locals including Sara Coleridge.
Octavo (161 x 97 mm). Contemporary tree calf, neatly rebacked with original spine laid down, spine gilt-tooled in compartments, green morocco label, sides with gilt rules, board edges with barred roll in gilt. Housed in a custom brown morocco-backed slipcase and chemise (a few scuffs to spine).
Leaves D8 and E1-2 are cancelled by four leaves, replacing "Lewti" by "The nightingale"; the cancel contents leaf is amended accordingly. Complete with final errata leaf and final advert leaf.
Early ownership inscription of Revd Samuel White of Hampstead to front pastedown; leather book label of Alfred Nathan. Corners worn, the occasional mild blemish, but the paper generally clean and strong, a very good copy.
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