The Life of Admiral Lord Nelson, K.B. From His Lordship's Manuscripts.London, Printed by T. Bensley, For T. Cadell and W. Davies, and W. Miller, 1809 Stock Code: 46705
NotesFirst edition. "One of the main foundation stones of the Nelson legend" (Wilson, "Nelson Apotheosised" in Cannadine (ed.), Admiral Lord Nelson). McArthur, a former naval purser, had served with Nelson in the Mediterranean and had already begun collecting material for a biography when he saw "an advertisement in the papers announcing that the Nelson family had selected a gentleman 'of high respectability and rank' to write the life, and asking all who had letters in their possession not to make their material available to anyone else." McArthur came forward claiming, groundlessly, that Nelson himself had asked him to write his life, and that he had already incurred considerable expense in preparing the book, including the commissioning of a set of paintings to be engraved as illustrations. An unseemly squabble ensued, the outcome of which was fairly inevitable in that Earl Nelson was under pressure from the Prince Regent to commission his librarian and chaplain, James Stanier Clarke, to write the book. It was agreed that the authors would pool their efforts, but not before they had further fallen out over whose name should come first on the title page. That we do not refer to McArthur & Clarke is a lasting memorial to the usefulness of a powerful patron. The finished work is wonderfully illustrated with anecdotal headpieces and plates by Westall and battle-scenes by Nicholas Pocock. The subscribers list is a remarkable directory of the great and the good of Regency Britain with an inevitable emphasis on naval notables. William Beckford took the only copy on vellum, Sir Home Popham and Admiral Keats proof copies, as also Admirals Cornwallis and Anson, Earl St Vincent and Lady Hamilton. Thomas Masterman Hardy had an ordinary copy, as did the Sandwich Book Society and Leeds Circulating Library. A sound, solid and not unattractive copy of this important work.
2 volumes, quarto (340 x 270 mm). Contemporary calf, rebacked with the original spines laid down, raised bands, wavy rolled tooling to the bands, gilt lozenges to the compartments, blind palmette roll to the boards within French fillet gilt panels, gilt corner pieces, edges marbled, marbled endpapers.
Frontispiece and 3 other plates to vol. I, 7 plates to vol. II, 4 of them accompanied by plans, headpieces, vignettes and facsimiles to the text, double page pedigree to vol. I. Contemporary bookplate of John Lind, physician to Haslar Naval Hospital, a po
A little rubbed at the extremities, rebacked with the original spines quite neatly laid down, slight tape mark to the front endpaper of vol. I, some light browning, but overall a very good copy.
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