London: Printed for John Murray, 1812. Item #04622
A Beautifully Bound Copy of the Book that Established Byron's Career
“Then stirs the feeling infinite, so felt
In solitude, where we are least alone”
BYRON, Lord. Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. A Romaunt. London: Printed for John Murray; William Blackwood, Edinburgh; and John Cumming, Dublin. By Thomas Davison, White-Friars, 1812.
First edition (issued in an edition of 500 copies).
Quarto (10 7/8 x 8 5/16 inches; 276 x 210 mm.). viii, 226 pp. Facsimile of a Romaic letter bound in as frontispiece. Issued without a half-title. Bound without the leaf of advertisements.
A highly elaborate American binding ca. 1900. Covers richly decorated in gilt, each cover with eight inlaid green morocco panels, the four corner-pieces with a gilt "B" and an elaborate gilt crown, the four inside inlays decorated in gilt in a fan design within very fine gilt pointille. Spine with five raised bands, elaborately tooled and lettered in gilt, four of the panels also inlaid in green morocco with the central "B" surmounted by a crown. Green morocco doublures with decorative gilt corner-pieces, red watered silk end-leaves, all edges gilt. The binding is unsigned, but most certainly by an American master craftsman, possibly from the Club Bindery, Monastery Hill Bindery, or the Roycroft Bindery. Housed in the original fleece-lined, morocco-edged cloth slipcase. The green morocco spine inlays very slightly faded, otherwise fine. Housed in the original fleece-lined red morocco tipped, red cloth slipcase.
According to a pencil note on a front blank leaf this superb binding appeared at the Parke-Bernet New York, Saul Cohn auction on October 18th, 1955.
George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron FRS (1788-1824), known simply as Lord Byron, was a British poet, peer, politician, satirist and leading figure in the Romantic movement. He is regarded as one of the greatest British poets and remains widely read and influential. Renowned as the “gloomy egoist” for his autobiographical poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, he is now more generally esteemed for the satiric realism of Don Juan (1819-24).
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage is a lengthy narrative poem in four parts. It was published between 1812 and 1818 and is dedicated to "Ianthe". The poem describes the travels and reflections of a world-weary young man who, disillusioned with a life of pleasure and revelry, looks for distraction in foreign lands. In a wider sense, it is an expression of the melancholy and disillusionment felt by a generation weary of the wars of the post-Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras. The title comes from the term childe, a medieval title for a young man who was a candidate for knighthood.
The poem contains elements thought to be autobiographical, as Byron generated some of the storyline from experience gained during his travels through Portugal, the Mediterranean and Aegean Sea between 1809 and 1811. The "Ianthe" of the dedication was the term of endearment he used for Lady Charlotte Harley, about eleven years old when Childe Harold was first published. Charlotte Bacon, née Harley, was the second daughter of 5th Earl of Oxford and Lady Oxford, Jane Elizabeth Scott. Throughout the poem, Byron, in character of Childe Harold, regretted his wasted early youth, hence re-evaluating his life choices and re-designing himself through going on the pilgrimage, during which he lamented various historical events including the Iberian Peninsular War among others. Despite Byron's initial hesitation at having the first two cantos of the poem published because he felt it revealed too much of himself, it was published, at the urging of friends, by John Murray in 1812, and brought both the poem and its author to immediate and unexpected public attention. Byron later wrote, "I awoke one morning and found myself famous". The first two cantos in John Murray's edition were illustrated by Richard Westall, well-known painter and illustrator who was then commissioned to paint portraits of Byron. Published in March, 1812, the first run of 500 quarto copies sold out in three days. There were ten editions of the work within three years. Byron deemed the work "my best" in 1817. Byron chose for the epigraph for the 1812 edition title page a passage from Le Cosmopolite, ou, le Citoyen du Monde (1753), by Louis-Charles Fougeret de Monbron, in the original French. Translated into English, the quote emphasizes how the travels have resulted in a greater appreciation of Byron's own country.
Francis Lewis Randolph. Studies for a Byron Bibliography, p. 19.
Saul Cohn (1886–1954) of East Orange, N.J., was president of the City Stores Mercantile Company. His books, manuscripts, and drawings were dispersed in three sales by Parke-Bernet in 1955, and some of his correspondence is at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. (An obituary of Cohn appeared in the New York Times, 6 June 1954, p. 86.).