“GO HIDE THY FACE, DAME DECENCY”: STULTIFERA NAVIS, THE MODERN SHIP OF FOOLS, FINELY BOUND
[IRELAND, William H.]. Stultifera Navis or, the Modern Ship of Fools. London: William Miller, 1807. Small octavo, 20th-century three-quarter dark red polished calf, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, raised bands, green morocco label, marbled boards and endpapers, top edges gilt. $850.
First edition of Ireland’s satirical poem, with folding hand-colored aquatint frontispiece by John Augustus Atkinson, bound by Zaehnsdorf. Signed by noted watercolorist Joseph Crawhall.
William Henry Ireland is best remembered as the famous forger of Shakespeare’s works, but he also produced a number of original literary works, including the satirical poem Stultifera Navis, The Modern Ship of Fools. “His verses show some literary facility, and his political squibs some power of sarcasm. Throughout his writings he exhibits sufficient skill to dispose of the theory that he was incapable of forging the Shakespearean manuscripts. That achievement he always regarded with pride, and complained until his death of the undeserved persecution which he suffered in consequence” (DNB). Includes frontispiece, titled “Fools passing the Portico of Folly,” by noted artist of the period John Augustus Atkinson, whose “rustic groups, his soldiers and sailors, are charming, and pleasantly reminiscent of Morland” (DNB). NCBEL III, 386. See Lowndes, 1164. Bookplate and ink signature of Victorian watercolorist Joseph Crawhall.
Small closed tear to frontispiece. Beautifully bound copy in fine condition.