The Life of Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury, Written by himselfHERBERT OF CHERBURY, Edward, Lord
[Twickenham]: Strawberry-Hill. 1764.
First edition. Limited to 200 copies. 4to in half sheets (247x187mm). pp. [x], 171. Folded engraved portrait of Lord Herbert as frontispiece and folded pedigree (family tree) after the title page and before the dedication to Lord Powis. Full burgundy morocco with triple fillet gilt border on upper and lower cover. Inside the gilt border is a blind rolled pattern. In the centre of both covers, in gilt, is the crest of The Hon. George Agar Ellis. Spine has five raised bands decorated with a dotted line. Six compartments: two and three have the title in gilt, five has the publisher's name and year of publication in gilt. The other three have a highly decorative flower pattern in blind but with the central circle of the pattern in gilt. Inside dentelles are in gilt in a form of Greek key design, with a blind rolled pattern within this. The pastedowns (grey/green paper) have a double line border in blind within which is a blind rolled pattern. The front pastedown has the armorial bookplate of Kennet of the Dene. All edges gilt. There is some slight darkening to the covers, a little wear to the corners and edges and some rubbing to the head and foot of the spine and to the hinge with the upper cover. Otherwise, this is a beautiful binding in fine condition. The text block is in fine condition.
In July 1793, Horace Walpole wrote to Charles Lyttelton: “I have got a most delectable work to print, which I had great difficulty to obtain”. The work was Herbert’s autobiography which he (Herbert) had left in manuscript at his death but had never been published. Walpole was clearly fascinated by the project and by the Herbert family for he laboured hard over the family tree about which he was “exceedingly proud”. However, this pride did not last as he soon suppressed it when inaccuracies were pointed out to him. Therefore, not all copies contain the pedigree. This is the first of Walpole’s attempts at the family tree as it does not contain the additional generation showing “Percy Herbert, Second Lord Powis, married Elizabeth Craven”.
On the ffep, there is, tipped in, the following handwritten note from Lord Kennet (a previous owner): “The owner of this book was the Hon. George James Welbore Agar-Ellis (1797-1833), Lord Dover, only son of the 2nd Viscount Clifden. He edited Walpole’s Letters. His great grand uncle Welbore Ellis (Lord Mendip) was Horace Walpole’s neighbour at the family house, Garrick’s Villa, Twickenham. For H.Walpole’s account of the book and its printing, see his letter to George Montagu, 16.VII. 1764. Vol. 6 p.88. He advises a reader to skip the first 40 pages or so”. On the verso of the ffep, is written (in a different hand) “Of the Strawberry Hill Edition of Lord Herbert of Cherbury’s Life 200 copies were printed”.
ESTC, N33713. Hazen, 11.