Landmark Books in All Fields
ItemID: #116153
Cost: $14,500.00

History of the English People

John Richard Green


GREEN, John Richard. History of the English People. London: MacMillan, 1878-80. Four volumes. Octavo, mid-20th century full brown morocco rebacked with original elaborately gilt-decorated spines and boards preserved, raised bands, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $14,500.

First edition of the expanded edition of Green’s landmark history, generously extra-illustrated with over 100 engraved plates and maps (more than 30 with hand-coloring), as well as with four original documents signed by these important British historical figures: King George III, a rare manuscript certification by Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Queen Victoria; bound in distinguished full morocco-gilt by Bayntun.

"What Macaulay had done for a period of English history, Green did for it as a whole. From a mass of scattered details he constructed a series of pictures which were full of life. Subjects which before had been treated independently-constitutional history, social history, literary history, economic history, and the like-were all brought together by his method, and were made to contribute their share in filling up the record of the progress of the nation… above all, [the work] never halted, but carried on the reader with unabated enthusiasm. Green was in fact not only a scholar, but an artist; he had a passion for fine form, and he never rested till he found it" (DNB). Green first published A Short History of the English People in 1874 for a general audience. Its immediate popularity inspired him to create this expanded edition, entitled History of the English People, which first saw print 1877-1880. This set has been extra-illustrated with 122 engraved plates (31 with hand-coloring). In addition, each volume contains an original signed document.

Volume I contains a military appointment (measuring 7-1/2 by 11 inches when unfolded) for one Thomas Butler, dated July 9, 1798, signed by King George III and countersigned by the Duke of Portland, with a royal seal and two tax stamps.

Volume II contains an enlistment paper (measuring 8 by 12-1/2 inches when unfolded) written off Toulon aboard the HMS Victory, June 12, 1804, signed by Admiral Horatio Nelson and Captain Charles William Adair, two of the six officers who would perish the following year at the Battle of Trafalgar. On June 12, 1804, having been at sea since mid-1803 from the beginning of the renewed war with France, Lord Nelson was patrolling in the Mediterranean off the French port city of Toulon. Four days earlier, he had written Sir John Acton, Prime Minister of Naples, that his prime objective was to safeguard Sicily, "keep the French Fleet in check; and if they put to sea, to have force enough with [him] to annihilate them." The present paper is for 18-year-old Frances Plateau of Piedmont, the Royal Marine whose signed oath is present; he was then assigned to the HMS Leviathan, a ship present at Trafalgar. Plateau's oath reads, in full: "I Frances Plateau do make oath that I am by trade a Clerk and to the best of my information and belief was born at Piedmont and am entirely free from all engagements and that I have no Rupture nor ever was troubled with fits and that I am nowise disabled by lameness or other wise but have the perfect use of my limbs and that I have Voluntarily inlisted myself to serve his B. Majesty King George the third in his Royal Marine Forces during the present war under an agreement that I shall be discharged at the end of it and found a passage free of expence to the Mediterranean. As witness my hand this 12th day of June 1804." Lord Nelson's certification reads, in full: "These are to certify that Frances Plateau of Piedmont aforesaid aged 18 years 5 feet 7 inches high Light Brown hair Grey eyes Freckled Complexion came before me and declared that he had Voluntarily inlisted himself to serve his B. Majesty King George the third in his Royal Maine [sic, Marine] Forces he therefore is duly inlisted and the second and third articles of war against Mutiny and Desertion were likewise read to him and he has taken the oath of Fidelity mentioned in the said articles of war. Sworn before me on board his Majestys ship Victory this 12th day of June 1804. Nelson & Bronte." The docket on verso indicates Plateau was "on board HM Ship Narcissus from 25 April to 12 June." A manuscript medical certification is at the lower left, signed by Nelson's flag medical officer, George Magrath; it reads, in full: "I have examined the said Frances Plateau and find him in every Respect sound and fit for his Majestys Service." Adair has also signed a receipt for five pounds, five shillings bounty on the verso.

Volume III contains a two-page autograph letter (sheets measure 7 by 9 inches when unfolded), dated July 13, 1822, signed by the the Duke of Wellington, the general who defeated Napoleon and was twice British prime minister. The letter urges its unnamed recipient to contact a Reading gentleman's family in order to alert them to his apparent madness.

Volume IV contains a document dated January 26, 1876 (measuring 8 by 12-1/2 inches when unfolded), signed by Queen Victoria, with seal and tax stamp; it contains a License to Plead in a case of bank fraud.

Occasional pencil underlining. Old dealer description laid into Volume I.

Short closed tear along fold to the document signed by Nelson, Wellington document laid in, with minor expert paper repair. Interiors with occasional light foxing and offsetting. A beautifully bound set in fine condition.

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