CROMWELL'S LETTERS AND SPEECHES, IN A BEAUTIFUL VELLUM PRIZE BINDING
(CROMWELL, Oliver) CARLYLE, Thomas. Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches: with Elucidations. London: Chapman and Hall, 1870. Five volumes. Octavo, contemporary full vellum, elaborately gilt-decorated spines and boards, burgundy morocco spine labels, marbled endpapers. Housed together in a custom slipcase. $4500.
Later edition of Carlyle's compilation of and commentary on the works of Oliver Cromwell, in a striking prize binding from Exeter College, Oxford, with its emblem on the boards in gilt.
Although Carlyle was interested in writing a biography of Cromwell as early as 1839, he decided by October 1843 that "'A book on Cromwell is impossible! Literally so' (Collected Letters, 17.164). But he needed to try. The compulsion hardly seemed rational; his stubbornness, though, was intensified by his awareness that he could never write the book which he had originally planned. Through November and part of December 1843 he either faced a blank sheet or wrote unsatisfactory sentences. Shortly after the middle of December he gathered together everything he had written about Cromwell and committed it 'at one fell swoop to the fire'… Since he could not do as a biography what he believed he had to do in some form, he decided to produce an edition of Cromwell's speeches and letters. The puritan leader's words would speak for themselves. With much anxiety and complaint, Carlyle devoted the next three years to this edition" (ODNB). First published in 1845. Illustrated with frontispiece portraits and four plates. With prize inscription from the rector of Exeter College, Oxford, presenting the work to Robert Marshall, a candidate in Jurisprudence.
Minor paper repairs to top of text block for last 30 pages of Volume I, not affecting text, interior otherwise fine. Vellum unusually bright and clean. A beautiful set.