Late Restoration and the Turn of the Eighteenth Century
The "long "eighteenth century may be said to begin with the Restoration writers. Among those represented in the collection are seven dramatists, including John Banks, Aphra Behn, John Crowne, John Dryden, Thomas Otway, Thomas Shadwell, and Thomas Southerne. William Wycherly is represented by Miscellaneous Poems... (1704) and the theater-closing clergyman, Jeremy Collier, by A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage...(1699) and other essays. The literary activity of John Dryden is apparent not only with eleven of his plays but also several of his translations of Latin or Greek literature, including Homer, Juvenal, Ovid, Plutarch, and Virgil. In addition the collection has the following anthologies by Dryden: Fables Ancient and Modern... (1700), Comedies... (1701) in two volumes, and Dramatick Works... (1762-1763) in six volumes. Other writers of this period are George Granville Lansdowne, William King, and Thomas Ward.
The Augustan Age
The first half of the eighteenth century is well represented with works by Alexander Pope and many of his contemporaries. Collected works of Pope include important early editions such as two volumes published by Lintot in 1717 and 1735; the nine-volume Warburton edition of 1751; and nine volumes published by Bathurst in 1770, among others. The collection has Pope's translations of Homer, both The Iliad... (1715)in six folio volumes with the seven-page list of subscribers and The Odyssey... (1725-1726) in five volumes. Addison and Steele appear with a first edition of The Spectator... (1712-1715); Miscellaneous Works... (1753) in three volumes by Addison; and Christian Hero... (1711) by Steele. The Tatler, originally published from 1709 to 1711, appears in a 1759 reprint.
No fewer than ten editions are by Jonathan Swift and include early editions of Tale of a Tub... (1705) and Battel between the Ancient and Modern Books... (1705) and the first edition of "Gulliver's Travels" (1726). The latter also appears in the Dublin Faulkner edition of Swift's collected works (1735). The library has the first edition of A Complete Collection of Genteel and Ingenious Conversation... (1738). Among other editions of Swift's collected works is the posthumous set printed by William Bowyer in sixteen volumes (1765-1768). The library also has two early works about Swift, Remarks upon...Jonathan Swift (1752) by John Boyle, Earl of Cork and Orreray, and Patrick Delaney's Observations upon Jonathan Swift... (1754).
Nine works by Daniel Defoe include first editions of Hymn to the Pillory (1703); True Collection of the Writings of the Author of The True Born English-Man. Corrected by Himself (1703); The Storm... (1704); The Consolidator: or, Memoirs of Sundry Transactions from the World in the Moon (1705); Jure Divino: a Satyr (1706); Journal of the Plague Year (1722); The Political History of the Devil (1726); and Journal of the Plague Year... (1726).
Three titles by John Gay include Poems... (1720) published by Tonson and Lintot in two volumes; Works... (1772) in four volumes; and Fables... (1793). Other notable authors who appear in the collection are Robert Dodsley, John Dunton, Eliza Haywood, Matthew Pilkington, Matthew Prior, and Edward Young. Less known authors are Martin Bladen, William Broome, Colly Cibber's daughter Charlotte Charke, Catharine Trotter Cockburn, William Collins, Nathaniel Cotton, Samuel Garth, Richard Glover, James Hammond, William Hamilton, Aaron Hill, Soame Jenyns, George Lyttelton, Edward Moore, Thomas Parnell, Allan Ramsay, Nicholas Rowe, William Shenstone, William Somerville, Benjamin Stillingfleet, Elizabeth Thomas, James Thomson, Joseph Trapp, Gilbert West, Paul Whitehead, and John Winstanley.
Return to Index
The Age of Samuel Johnson
[N.B. Authors relating to the rising popularity of the novel are discussed in the next section.]
Samuel Johnson's works as well as his influence are well represented in this collection. The library has his translation of Voyage to Abyssinia... (1735) by Jerome Lobo; the first edition of The Prince of Abissinia (1759); and Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland... (1775). Also in the collection are the first, second, and fourth editions of his great dictionary (1755, 1755-1756, and 1773); a 1793 reprint of The Rambler (originally 1750-1752); and a fourteen-volume set of his works (1787-1788). His prefaces to Shakespeare appear in Edmond Malone's ten-volume edition of Shakespeare (1790) and other literary criticism appears in The Lives of the English Poets (1801; originally 1779). Johnson's influence appears in the works of Charlotte Lennox such as The Female Quixote (1783; originally 1752) and in Ellis Cornelia Knight's Dinarbas; a Tale: Being a Continuation of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia (1792; originally 1790). The collection also has a first edition of the famous biography by Boswell (1791); The Life of Samuel Johnson (1787) by John Hawkins; and Anecdotes of the Late Samuel Johnson... (1786) by Hester Lynch Thrale Piozzi. Also by Boswell is An Account of Corsica... (1768). Another significant holding in the library's collections is a nearly complete set of The Gentleman's Magazine... (1731-1866), which contains poems and prose by Johnson and many others such as his friend, Elizabeth Carter.
Among Johnson's contemporaries represented in the collection are Thomas Chatterton with a first edition of Poems Supposed to Have Been Written at Bristol... (1777); the Earl of Chesterfield and his Letters...to His Son... (1774); William Cowper with Poems... (1800); Thomas Gray with Poems... (1768); James Macpherson with Poems of Ossian... (1792; originally 1765) and Fingal... (1762); and Richard Brinsley Sheridan with Dramatic Works... (1797). Other writers include Christopher Anstey, James Beattie, Charlotte Brooke, William Chambers, Hester Mulso Chapone, Charles Churchill, Henry Bate Dudley, Samuel Foote, Richard Glover, William Margetson Heald, Thomas Holcroft, Richard Hurd, Richard Jago, James Marriott, Thomas Marryat, William Mason, William Melmoth, John O'Keeffe, Mark Akenside, William Wilkie, and Ann Yearsley. Yearsley was the so-called "Milkwoman of Bristol" who was so vocal in her recriminations against her Bluestocking patrons, Hannah Moore and Elizabeth Montagu. Several Bluestockings are represented in the collections with contemporary works by Moore (including the long poem, "The Bas-Bleu," 1786), Montagu, Hester Chapone, Catherine Talbot, and Fanny Burney.
Return to Index
Rising Popularity of the Novel
Interest in Cervantes' Don Quixote, a major continental precursor to the English novel, appears in several eighteenth-century works. One is Tobias Smollett's translation of Cervantes' novel into English (1755); another is Charlotte Lennox's The Female Quixote... (1783; originally 1752); and the third is a novel by Richard Graves, which advertises itself as Euphrosyne...By the Author of The Spiritual Quixote (1776).
Other major novelists include Fanny Burney, Camilla... (1796); Henry Fielding, Amelia... (1752), ...Tom Jones (1749), ...Joseph Andrews (1742), and Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon (1755); Sarah Fielding, Adventures of David Simple (1744); Oliver Goldsmith, six works including Life of Richard Nash (1762), Roman History (1770), and Retaliation, a Poem (1777); Samuel Richardson, Clarisse Harlowe... (1785-86, a French translation in 10 volumes) and ...Charles Grandison (1754); Tobias Smollett, The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle (1751), Travels through France and Italy... (1778; originally 1766), The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker (1794?; originally 1771),and The Adventures of Sir Launcelot Greaves (1793?; originally 1760); and Laurence Sterne, Sermons of Mr. Yorick... (1760-1769) and Sentimental Journey through France and Italy... (Philadelphia: 1798?; originally 1768).
Other novelists include Suzanna Harvey Keir, Samuel Johnson, Cornelia Knight, Hannah More, Sarah Scott, Horace Walpole, and John Wolcot. A wonderful title by Charles Johnstone is Chrysal; or, The Adventures of a Guinea...with Curious and Interesting Anecdotes of the Most Noted Persons in Every Rank of Life, Whose Hands It Passed through, in America, England, Holland, Germany, and Portugal... (1775).
Return to Index
Literary Criticism and Anthologies
Early literary criticism appears in the works of authors such as Anna Laetitia Aikin Barbauld; James Beattie; John Boyle and Patrick Delaney on Swift; Samuel Johnson on Shakespeare and the English poets; Edmond Malone, Elizabeth Montagu, and John Upton on Shakespeare; John Toland on Milton; Owen Ruffhead on Pope; and Joseph Warton on Spenser, Pope, and the English poets. Thomas Birch was a writer whose many biographies appear in several works including those by Cockburn, Milton, and Raleigh. Theophilus Cibber produced a five-volume Lives of the Poets... in 1753. The nine volumes of John Nichols' Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century... (1812) provide nuggets of information about hundreds of authors as well as members of the book trades.
Publishers of the eighteenth century showed considerable interest in the writers of earlier periods, both meeting and creating a demand for their works. Examples in the collection include Chaucer, Raleigh, Spenser, Shakespeare, Jonson, Bacon, Donne, Milton, Butler, Cowley, and Suckling, among others. The Shakespeare editions include both the ten-volume collection edited by Edmond Malone in 1790 and Boydell's Shakespeare of 1802. The latter is a nine-volume folio set printed by William Bulmer and containing magnificent engravings of paintings that Boydell commissioned from artists such as Reynolds, Fuseli, and Romney among others.
In the latter half of the century publishers began to establish a literary canon by anthologizing England's writers in multi-volume sets. Some of these are Collection of Poems... edited by Robert Dodsley in 6 volumes (1755 and later editions); "Bell's Edition. The Poets of Great Britain..." (1777-1787) in 105 volumes and "Bell's British Theatre..." (1797) in thirty-four volumes; A Complete Edition of the Poets of Great Britain (1795?)in thirteen volumes; and Harrison's British Classicks... (1785-1792) in eight volumes.
Also of note is the ten-volume folio-size translation of Henri Bayle's general dictionary, edited in part by Thomas Birch who provided 615 new biographies such as the nine-page article on poet, Elizabeth Singer Rowe. Edward Lye's folio Dictionarium Saxonico et Gothico-Latinum... (1772) reflects the rising interest in Anglo-Saxon, which in our collections appears at the beginning of the century with Elizabeth Elstob's translation of Aelfric's ...Homily on the Birth-day of St. Gregory... (1709).
Return to Index
Latter Eighteenth Century
While the collections lack any first editions of William Blake's works, they do contain many of the fine facsimiles produced by Trianon Press. These include Songs of Innocence (originally 1789); The Book of Thel (1789); America, a Prophecy (1793); The Gates of Paradise (1793); The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1793); The Book of Urizen (1794); Europe, a Prophecy (1794); Jerusalem, the Emanation of the Giant Albion (1804); Milton, a Poem in 12 (i.e. 2) Books (1804); Illustrations to the Bible; a Catalogue Compiled by Geoffrey Keynes; also An Exhibition of the Illuminated Books of William Blake, Poet, Printer, Prophet; and William Blake's Water-Colour Designs for the Poems of Thomas Gray. The library owns the 1791 edition of Original Stories... by Mary Wollstonecraft but this copy lacks the illustrative plates designed by Blake. (N.B. St. Mary's College possesses a second edition (1792) of Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman...) A little magazine called The Watchman was published by S.T. Coleridge in ten issues in 1796; the collection also has a copy of his Sibylline Leaves (1817) which contains a letter signed by the author.
Robert Burns' poetry appears in several early editions, including two London works published in 1794, Philadelphia in 1798 and 1807, and Belfast in 1803. Other works of Burns were published in American editions in 1804 and 1809. Trevor-Hampden's Latin poems appear in a fine folio edition commissioned by his son, printed by Bodoni in Italy and titled Britannia, Lathmon, Villa Bromhamensis... (1792).
Many other works published in the eighteenth century appear elsewhere in the collection, especially works pertaining to religion, history, and science. Examples are Henry Fielding's designs for a poorhouse, A Proposal for Making an Effectual Provision for the Poor...To Which Is Added, A Plan of the Buildings Proposed... (1753); Chesterfield's letters to his son published posthumously in two volumes (1774); and Edward Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-1788). Other writers of the Enlightenment also appear elsewhere; foremost are special collections of the works of George Berkeley and the works of Edmund Burke. In addition, supplementing the library's original sources is the massive microfilm collection, "The Eighteenth Century," which contains some 80,000 titles as of January, 1997.
Return to Index
Prepared by Laura Fuderer, January 1997