NEVER "SPOKEN OF IN HISTORY WITHOUT SAD AND PROFOUND EMOTION": FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF SAMUEL JEBB'S HISTORY OF THE LIFE AND REIGN OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS, 1725, HANDSOMELY BOUND
(JEBB, Samuel). The History of the Life and Reign of Mary Queen of Scots, and Dowager of France. London: J. Woodman and D. Lyon, 1725. Thick octavo, contemporary full polished paneled brown calf rebacked, raised bands, original red morocco spine label laid down; pp. (2) (i-iii), iv-xiv, 1-421 (1). $2000.
First edition in English of English scholar Samuel Jebb's anonymously issued History, preceded only by the same year's first edition in Latin, French and Spanish, containing engraved frontispiece portrait, beautifully bound in contemporary paneled calf boards.
Mary Queen of Scots was "graceful alike in person and intellect… rarely, perhaps, has any woman combined so many noticeable qualities… she had vigor, energy, tenacity of purpose, with perfect and never-failing self-possession, and, as the one indispensable foundation for the effective use of all other qualities, she had indomitable courage." Yet her name "will never be spoken of in history without sad and profound emotion, however opinions may vary on the special details of her" (Froud, History of England). This early account of the Queen, by 18th-century English historian Samuel Jebb, speaks to his esteem as a "painstaking scholar" who also produced works on Roger Bacon and Queen Elizabeth I's favorite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. In his History of Mary Queen of Scots, who was crowned Queen at only nine months, was married, crowned Queen Consort of France and widowed at 18, and beheaded for treason in 1587, Samuel Jebb writes of his effort to avoid the pitfalls of others who, in "the story of this unfortunate Princess, have been either so extravagant in her praises, as to allow no human errors… or otherwise have heap'd upon her such a load of infamy, as to make her appear a very monster in wickedness" (Introduction). His anonymously issued work draws on nearly 20 histories and memoirs, and contains an Appendix with printings of correspondence between Mary and Anthony Babington. First edition in English preceded by the same year's edition in Latin, French and Spanish. Containing engraved frontispiece portrait; engraved ornamental initials, head- and tailpieces; rear errata. Title page printed in red and black; "drop-head title on p.1 (a cancel, sig.B1) without ornamentation above it; variant contains ornamentation above the drop-head title" (ESTC T95524). The engraved frontispiece portrait has recently generated debate over whether its subject may or may not be Mary Queen of Scots. Small numerical notations to front pastedown, corner of preliminary blank.
Interior very fresh with expert reinforcement to hinges, faintest edge-wear to handsome contemporary paneled calf boards. A splendid near-fine copy.