Title: Bibliographia Poetica: A Catalogue of ...
Publisher: C. Roworth, London
Publication Date: 1802
Edition: 1st Edition
12mo. Modern brown cloth rebind with burgundy leather spine label. 407pp. Very good. Modern binding of course fine and pristine; some age toning about the edges of the title page; original text block clean and quite handsome. First edition. Ritson (1752-1803) was an eccentric but highly-regarded English antiquarian whose many collections of early texts includes such volumes as "A Select Collection of English Songs" (1783) and "Ancient Songs and Ballads from the Reign of King Henry the Second to the Revolution" (1792), "Robin Hood: A Collection of All the Ancient Poems, Songs, and Ballads, Now Extant Relative to That Celebrated English Outlaw" (1795). This unique copy of "Bibliographia Poetica" belonged to the American poet, editor and essayist JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL (1819-91), with his signature and the year "1843" boldly penned in brown ink at the top of the title page. Lowell makes three interesting editorial comments in the margins. On page 157, in a discussion of George Chapman, Lowell brackets the text "9. 'Justification of a strange action of Nero in burying with a solemn funerall one of the cast hayres of his mistresse Poppaea,' 1629. 4to. 10. 'A just reproofe of Juvenall,' 1629. 4to." -- and pens in "These are one Work. Vide 'Poetical Decameron' Vol1, p60" in his miniscule but neat hand. On page 242, Lowell pencils an asterick alongside the name John Higins, and at the bottom of this page notes, "He says at the end of the story of Mempricius that he was not yet thirty in 1575." And last on page 299, alongside the text "PHILLIP JOHN wrote and publish'd 'A rare and strange historicall bouell of Cleomenes and Sophonisba, surnamed Juliet; very pleasant to reade:' printed by Hugh Jackson, 1577, 8vo," Lowell neatly pens, "This Phillip also published 'The Life & Death of Sr Phillip Sidney, late Lord Governour of Flushing: His funeralls Solemnized in Paule's Church where he lyeth interred: with the whole order of the mournfull shewe as they marched through the citie of London on Thursday the 16 of February 1587. At London printed by Robt Waldegrave re 1587' Vide Collier's Poetical Decameron Vol 11. p. 50." Intriguing to note Lowell's attention to detail and the depth of his bibliographical expertise. In his 1870 book "Among My Books," Lowell writes, "From the two centuries between 1400 and 1600 the indefatigable Ritson in his Bibliographia Poetica has made us a catalogue of some six hundred English poets, or, more properly, verse-makers. Ninety-nine in a hundred of them are mere names, most of them no more than shadows of names, some of them mere initials. Nor can it be said of them that their works have perished because they were written in an obsolete dialect; for it is the poem that keeps the language alive, and not the language that buoys up the poem. The revival of letters, as it is called, was at first the revival of ancient letters, which, while it made men pedants, could do very little toward making them poets, much less toward making them original writers.". Bookseller Inventory # 32925
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