London: J. Roberts, .
First authorized edition, Cross's second edition. [xvi], 48 pp. 8vo. Side-stitched, in modern plain wrappers. Title and final page dustsoiled, some toning and creasing. In a custom half cloth and card folder. Cross III, p. 301. Item #308050
This edition has traditionally been described as the second, following Cross, who terms it "The 2nd edition, though not so named, with many alterations." Cross's first edition, also under the J. Roberts imprint, but with 41 instead of 48 pages, is shown by ESTC to be an Edinburgh piracy by W. Cheyne. It would seem to follow that the genuine London printing is in fact the first edition, a conclusion also reached by Stephen Weissman in his Henry Fielding catalogue (Ximenes Occasional List no. 92, item 6). Regardless of which edition takes precedence, the London printing is relatively common in institutional libraries, while the Edinburgh piracy is a true rarity, with only one institutional copy located at the British Library and the last copy on the market bringing more than $9,000 at Christie's in 2015.
The play, a satire on contemporary society and the Walpole government, lead to the passage of the Theatrical Licensing Act of 1737, which censored the stage and limited theatrical performances to Drury Lane, Covent Garden, and the Royal Opera House. Fielding, whose Haymarket Theatre was now outlawed, ended his dramatic career and entered the Middle Temple to begin his law studies.
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