“THE FOLLIES OF MANKIND PROVOKE MY LAUGHTER AND NOT MY SPLEEN”: FIRST EDITION OF CAMBRIDGE’S SCRIBLERIAD, 1751, WITH SEVEN ENGRAVED PLATES, IN CONTEMPORARY CALF
(CAMBRIDGE, Richard Owen). The Scribleriad: An Heroic Poem. In Six Books. London: Printed for R. Dodsley, 1751. Quarto, contemporary full calf gilt rebacked to style with later calf, raised bands, red morocco spine label. $600.
First edition of Cambridge’s “elegant and finished” satirical poem (DNB), illustrated with seven copper-engraved plates, handsomely bound.
“Cambridge was a man of considerable wit, great conversational powers and much literary taste” (DNB). “This mock-heroic poem, intended to expose false taste and false science, is replete with happy parodies of distinguished passages in the classics, particularly Virgil” (Lowndes, 355). Though many of Cambridge’s learned allusions elude modern readers, some aviators know the poem for its purportedly prophetic technology: in 1918, H.C. Lewis observed, “We have in this poem the four most important scientific developments of this war [World War I]: the submarine, purifying air in the submarine, the aeroplane and the equivalent of thermite, which is used in incendiary bombs.” The plate preceding Book IV does depict an aerial race, using artificial means of flight, between an Englishman and a German. With seven copper-engraved plates (chiefly by P.L. Boitard), engraved vignettes on title page and part titles, decorative head- and tailpieces. CBEL II:355. OCEL I:253. Allibone, 329. Armorial bookplate. Old ink notations to recto of most leaves (top left margin).
Small hole to plate facing Book V part title, minimally affecting image. Scattered light marginal dampstaining. Light abrasions to handsome contemporary calf, corners lightly worn. Very good condition.