The Epigrams of M. Val. Martial, in twelve books: With a comment: by James Elphinston.

  • Martial
  • London: Printed by Baker and Galabin 1782


SKU: 5747 Category: Tags: , ,


FIRST EDITION, 4to, pp. xxxviii, 574, [2] + portrait frontispiece. Contemporary quarter sheep, marbled boards, red morocco label. A few light stains, one leaf of contents table with an ink stain erased causing loss to blank margin. Rubbed and a little worn, joints just cracking at head, label mostly defective. Shelfmark label of the Dunnichen Library to pastedown, ink shelfmark to frontispiece recto.


Elphinston's infamous translation of Martial, a great success pre-publication - with a vast subscribers list including Samual Johnson and Adam Smith - that landed with a colossal thud once it was actually available to read. Garrick claimed he had advised Elphinston not to publish, William Strahan offered to double his subscription if the book did not appear, and Robert Burns penned his epigram about 'laurelled Martial roaring murther' in response. James Elphinston (1721-1809), born in Edinburgh, initially established a school in London with a focus on teaching English and published a number of books on language learning, but after the failure of the school and this translation he turned his attention to spelling reform instead.

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