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The Books Of Samuel Rogers
by [?]

And long might’st thou have seen
An old man wandering as in quest of something,
Something he could not find–he knew not what.

The American Notes, 1842, was a further offering from Dickens. Among other gifts may be noted Wordsworth’s Poems, 1827-35; Campbell’s Pilgrim of Glencoe, 1842; Longfellow’s Ballads and Voices of the Night, 1840-2; Macaulay’s Lays and Tennyson’s Poems, 1842; and lastly, Hazlitt’s Criticisms on Art, 1844, and Carlyle’s Letters and Speeches of Cromwell, 1846. Brougham’s philosophical novel of Albert Lunel; or, the Chateau of Languedoc, 3 vols, 1844, figures in the catalogue as “withdrawn.” It had been suppressed “for private reasons” upon the eve of publication; and this particular copy being annotated by Rogers (to whom it was inscribed) those concerned were no doubt all the more anxious that it should not get abroad. Inspection of the reprint of 1872 shows, however, that want of interest was its chief error. A reviewer of 1858 roundly calls it “feeble” and “commonplace”; and it could hardly have increased its writer’s reputation. Indeed, by some, it was not supposed to be from his Lordship’s pen at all. Rogers, it may be added, frequently annotated his books. His copies of Pope, Gray and Scott had many marginalia. Clarke’s and Fox’s histories of James II. were also works which he decorated in this way.

As already hinted, not very many bibliographical curiosities are included in the St. James’s Place collection; and to look for Shakespeare quartos or folios, for example, would be idle. Ordinary editions of Shakespeare, such as Johnson’s and Theobald’s; Shakespeariana, such as Mrs. Montagu’s Essay and Ayscough’s Index,–these are there of course. If the list also takes in Thomas Caldecott’s Hamlet, and As you like it (1832), that is, first, because the volume is a presentation copy; and secondly, because Caldecott’s colleague in his frustrate enterprise was Crowe, Rogers’s Miltonic friend, hereafter mentioned. Rogers’s own feeling for Shakespeare was cold and hypercritical; and he was in the habit of endorsing with emphasis Ben Jonson’s aspiration that the master had blotted a good many of his too-facile lines. Nevertheless, it is possible to pick out a few exceptional volumes from Mr. Christie’s record. Among the earliest comes a copy of Garth’s Dispensary, 1703, which certainly boasts an illustrious pedigree. Pope, who received it from the author, had carefully corrected it in several places; and in 1744 bequeathed it to Warburton. Warburton, in his turn, handed it on to Mason, from whom it descended to Lord St. Helens, by whom, again, shortly before his death (1815), it was presented to Rogers. To Pope’s corrections, which Garth adopted, Mason had added a comment. What made the volume of further interest was, that it contained Lord Dorchester’s receipt for his subscription to Pope’s Homer; and, inserted at the end, a full-length portrait of Pope; viz., that engraved in Warton’s edition of 1797, as sketched in pen-and-ink by William Hoare of Bath. Another interesting item is the quarto first edition (the first three books) of Spenser’s Faerie Queene, Ponsonbie, 1590: and a third, the Paradise Lost of Milton in ten books, the original text of 1667 (with the 1669 title-page and the Argument and Address to the Reader)–both bequeathed to Rogers by W, Jackson of Edinburgh. (One of the stock exhibits at “Memory Hall”–as 22 St. James’s Place was playfully called by some of the owner’s friends–was Milton’s receipt to Symmons the printer for the five pounds he received for his epic. This, framed and glazeds hung, according to Lady Eastlake, on one of the doors.[12]) A fourth rare book was William Bonham’s black-letter Chaucer, a folio which had been copiously annotated in MS. by Home Tooke, who gave it to Rogers. It moreover contained, at folio 221, the record of Tooke’s arrest at Wimbledon on 16th May, 1794, and subsequent committal on the 19th to the Tower, for alleged high treason.[13] Further notabilia in this category were the Duke of Marlborough’s Hypnerotomachie of Poliphilus, Paris, 1554, and also the Aldine edition of 1499; the very rare 1572 issue of Camoens’s Lusiads; Holbein’s Dance of Death, the Lyons issues of 1538 and 1547; first editions of Bewick’s Birds and Quadrupeds; Le Sueur’s Life of St. Bruno, with the autograph of Sir Joshua Reynolds, and a rare quarto (1516) of Boccaccio’s Decameron.