The Pursuits of Literature. A Satirical Poem in Four Dialogues. With notes. The Fifth Edition, revised and corrected.

  • Mathias, Thomas James
  • London: Printed for T. Becket 1798
  • ESTC T131292; T124734.


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FIRST COLLECTED EDITION, 8vo, pp. [iv], 2, [ii], xvii-xxxi, [i], xvi, 381, [1]. The first two gatherings of the preface bound in reverse order. [Bound with:] A Translation of the passages from Greek, Latin, Italian, and French Writers, quoted in the Prefaces and Notes to the Pursuits of Literature; a poem, in four dialogues. Dublin: Printed for J. Milliken, 32, Grafton-Street. 1799. 8vo, pp. [iv], lxxv, [v], 104. Contemporary half vellum, marbled boards, black morocco label. One leaf with a closed tear through text (no loss), otherwise some light spotting, a faint dampmark to second work. Binding a bit rubbed, a few small stains. Armorial bookplates of Francis White Popham and William Bisset to front endpapers, ownership inscription of Bisset dated 1798 to title-page, small ink name to second flyleaf.


The first collected edition of this 'wide-ranging satire with extensive notes on the conceit and licence of contemporary authors' (ODNB), first published in its separate parts from 1796 to 1797. (Some of the individual parts had reached their own fourth editions by then, hence the edition statement here.) 'The attacks on Payne Knight's Worship of Priapus and Lewis's The Monk are concerned with obscenity, and Mathias ridicules the 'Black-Letter Kennell' of antiquarians (especially George Steevens), W. H. Ireland, Parr, Darwin, and Gilpin, on literary grounds. There is praise for Gray, Mason, Beattie, Burns, Cowper, Ann Radcliffe, Capell, Johnson, Isaac Reed, and Jacob Bryant, as well as for several of Mathias's own works' (ODNB). Bound with it is a further work by Mathias himself, offering translations of the passages in the original, appearing in a rare version: ESTC locates this Dublin printing in just half a dozen locations, with only the BL and Huntington outside of Ireland. It was also issued with a Dublin printing of the main work, though evidently also sold separately.

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