Samuel Johnson's First Appearance in Print
Miscellany of Poems by Several Hands.
Oxford: Printed by Leon Lichfield, 1731.
contributor]. HUSBANDS, John, [compiler]. POPE, Alexander, [contributor]. A Miscellany of Poems by Several Hands. Oxford: Printed by Leon Lichfield, 1731.
[JOHNSON, Samuel, contributor]. HUSBANDS, John, [compiler]. [POPE, Alexander, contributor]. A Miscellany of Poems by Several Hands. Oxford: Printed by Leon Lichfield, 1731.
First edition of this title and Samuel Johnson's first appearance in print. His Latin translation of Pope's poem "Messiah" is printed on pages 111-117. Small quarto (8 x 5 inches; 204 x 138 mm). , 270 pp. With numerous other poems including a number by Husbands as well. With the 10 leaves "List of Subscribers."
Contemporary acid-treated calf (?), rebacked with original spine laid down. Red morocco spine label, lettered in gilt. Spine stamped in gilt. All edges speckled red. Some minor chipping along edges and corners. Title-page lightly toned and some light foxing throughout. Previous owner's old ink signature dated 1745 on front free endpaper. A very small old ink signature to top of title-page. Overall a very good copy.
"The Translation of Mr. Pope's Messiah was deliver'd to his Tutor, as a College Exercise, by Mr. Johnson, a Commoner of Pembroke-College in Oxford, and 'tis hoped will be no Discredit to the Excellent Original." - Preface, sig. a3v
"As a youth in Lichfield, Johnson had first attempted Latin verse in a now-lost poem on the glowworm, but several of his Latin poems composed as college exercises survive. Of these the most important is a translation of Alexander Pope’s Messiah (1712), made as a 1728 Christmas exercise at the suggestion of his tutor... The translation of The Messiah was received enthusiastically at Pembroke. Although the extant evidence is conflicting, one close friend said that Johnson’s father had it printed without his son’s knowledge and even dispatched a copy to Pope. Johnson, who had always experienced difficulties in getting along with his father, was furious at the interference, for he had his own plans for having the poem presented properly to the English author. Whatever actually happened in this connection, the translation was Johnson’s first published poem, for in 1731 it was included in A Miscellany of Poems, edited by John Husbands, a Pembroke tutor." (Poetry Foundation dot org).
Courtney & Nichol Smith. Griffith. Rothschild.