Rare Peacock Satire in Early Cloth Binding

Melincourt. By the author of Headlong Hall … In Three Volumes.

London: For T. Hookham Jun. and Co. Old Bond Street; and Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, Paternoster Row, 1817.

Price: $12,500.00


About the item

First edition. Half titles present, D6 in vol. I a cancel. 3 vols. 12mo. Rare Peacock Satire in Early Cloth Binding. Dark blue green textured cloth over boards, printed paper spine labels (minor chipping), bottom edge slightly trimmed, others uncut. Fine. Sadleir 1957e; not in Wolff; Garside & Schöwerling 1817:46. Provenance: English scholar and collector E.H.W. Meyerstein (his monogram and date of acquisition, 1944, “from J.R.T. E—”) ); bookseller and bibliographer Graham Pollard (1903-1976); given to Marilyn Butler (wife of his nephew David), author of Peacock Displayed (1976).

Item #250494

“ANTHELIA MELINCOURT, at the age of twenty-one, was mistress of herself and of ten thousand a year, and of a very ancient and venerable castle in one of the wildest valleys in Westmoreland.”
The opening line of Melincourt is indisputably a rejoinder to Austen’s celebrated gambit in Pride and Prejudice (1813), and Peacock’s sharpest satire of wealth, fortune-hunting, and politics, recounts the fortunes of the heiress and her social climbing friends, as well as the bon-vivant Sir Telegraph Paxarent, his philosophical friend Mr. Forester, and the career of Sir Oran Haut-ton — a “specimen of the natural and original man” and an orang-utan of high fashion, “heightened by a pair of enormous whiskers, and the folds of a vast cravat” — who is elected as one of the MPs for the venerable rotten borough of Onevote.
A rare work that is almost invariably seen in worn half leather bindings, the present copy of Melincourt is in a nicely preserved near contemporary binding of dark green cloth, with printed spine labels (the publication date is too early by a few years for this to to be publisher’s cloth), a very handsome triple-decker with good provenance. A note from Esther Potter to Marilyn Butler quotes Victor Schulderer of the British Museum who called Meyerstein (1889-1952) a “poet, novelist and musician outstandingly gifted and eccentric”.