FIFE ILLUSTRATED, 1840
LEIGHTON, John M. Fife Illustrated. Select Views in the County of Fife, Engraved by Joseph Swan, from drawings by James Stewart, With a History of the County, and Topographical and Local Descriptions. Glasgow: Joseph Swan, 1840. Three volumes in one. Thick quarto, contemporary threequarter black calf, raised bands, elaborately gilt-decorated spine with red morocco onlays, marbled boards and endpapers. $875.
First edition of this parish-by-parish historical account of County Fife, from “the aboriginal inhabitants, the Celts,” through Danish raiders and the presence of the Knights Templar, up to “the present time” (1836), illustrated with three additional steel-engraved title pages and 49 full-page views of landscapes and architecture.
In his comprehensive history of County Fife, Leighton characterizes the region as part of a united Scottish and Pictish kingdom, Celtic in origin, as can be “proven not only by Celtic place names but also by the names of the people themselves. Eleventh century King Malcolm Canmore’s name, for example, was ‘Ceann-mhor’ in Gaelic and he also spoke the language, which was still used by a portion of the people of Fife as late as the 13th century.” In Section III, Leighton faithfully records the battles between Danes and Scots in Fife, particularly the battle of Kinghorn between the “Danish rovers” and the Scots under Duncan and Macbeth. Macbeth later assassinates Duncan, and “seizing the bloodstained scepter of the unhappy Duncan, appears to have supplied any defect in his title to the throne by a vigorous and useful administration.” Leighton writes that any chieftain who might have challenged Macbeth’s authority was “either overawed by his power or held in subjection by his valor.” He calls Shakespeare’s account a “wonderful fiction.”
Faint scattered patches of foxing, joints expertly reinforced.