CHARLES LAMB’S EARLY POEMS, HIS FIRST “REAL BOOK”
LAMB, Charles and LLOYD, Charles. Blank Verse. London: John and Arthur Arch (T. Bensley), 1798. 12mo, early 20th-century full blue-green morocco, raised bands, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $3500.
First edition of Blank Verse, containing seven poems by Charles Lamb, listed by Lamb as his first real book, beautifully bound by Rivière & Son.
“No figure in literature is better known to us than Lamb. His writings, prose and verse, are full of personal revelations… He numbered among his earliest friends Coleridge, Southey, [and] Wordsworth… No man was ever more loved by a wide and varied class of friends” (DNB). While Lamb was admired by many for his literary efforts, he received little recognition during his lifetime. Whenever a work was received poorly, he would suffer periods of self-doubt and would ignore all matters literary. This was the case with Blank Verse, a collaborative effort with Charles Lloyd, to which Lamb contributed seven poems, several occasioned by the death of his mother and his aunt Sarah Lamb. Among these is perhaps his best-known verse, “The Old Familiar Faces.” Critics called the work “ludicrous… the effusions of a young mind” (Monthly Magazine). At the same time, his friendship with Coleridge occasioned an unexpected public attack in the Anti-Jacobin Review, accompanied by a Gillray caricature of a toad and frog sitting together and reading a book entitled “Blank Verse, by Toad and Frog” (identified in the key as Lloyd and Lamb). Lamb’s friend Robert Southey quipped, “I know not what poor Lamb has done to be croaking there.” Roff, 30-34.
A fine copy, with only a few scattered spots of foxing, beautifully bound.