“AN INFERNO INHABITED BY LETTERED VAGABONDS”: HANDSOMELY BOUND SET OF TOM BROWN’S WORKS
BROWN, Thomas. The Works of Mr. Thomas Brown, Serious and Comical, in Prose and Verse. With his Remains… With the Life and Character of Mr. Brown, and His Writings. London: Edward Midwinter, 1730. Four volumes. 12mo, three-quarter brown crushed morocco, marbled boards, gilt-decorated spine, raised bands, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt. $1200.
Seventh edition, the first complete works so issued, collecting the various previous volumes into one set with corrections. With four frontispieces, twenty plates, and numerous head- and tail-pieces. Handsomely bound by Zaehnsdorf.
Better known as Tom Brown “of Facetious Memory,” a title coined by Addison, this collection of odes, epigrams, fables, translations, essays and letters contains Brown’s famous ribald writings. “With all of his learning, Brown preferred the life of the street, and the tavern to the study. He belonged… to a ‘strange underworld of letters, an inferno inhabited by lettered vagabonds, who matched in scholarship and scurrility, the heroes of Petronius” (Kunitz & Haycraft, 59). His “life was as licentious as his writings… and his humorous sketches of low life are both entertaining and valuable” (DNB). Includes “A Walk round London and Westminster, exposing the Vices of the Town,” “A Song in Praise of the Bottle,” and Brown’s remarkable “Letters Serious and Comical,” providing “a picture of 17th century London so vividly human it stands quite independent of its literary period” (Kunitz & Haycraft, 59). BMC 4: 323.
With only very light offsetting from a few plates, else fine.