BECKFORD’S COPY


The True Mannor and Forme of the Proceeding of the Funerall of the Right Honourable Robert Earle of Essex and Ewe. (with) An Elegie upon the most lamented death of the Right Honourable and truly valiant, Robert Earle of Essex.

London, Henry Seale, 1646.

£7,750

FIRST EDITIONS. 4o. Two works in one. pp. (iv) 24: (iv). Roman letter, some Italic. Title within typographical border with small woodcut of a crown, large woodcut headpiece and floriated initial; fine engraved portrait of Essex by W. Marshall, six woodcut armorial banners, large folding woodcut of his catafalque in procession and one full page white on black woodcut of the elaborate lying in state. Earl’s nineteenth century armorial bookplate and modern label on pastedown, “Beckford sale 1883 lot 966” manuscript on fly, corresponding catalogue cutting on pastedown. Last two leaves slightly dusty, a few page numbers very slightly trimmed. A very good, clean, copy in 19th-century blue morocco by C. Lewis, covers bordered with double gilt rule, title gilt lettered on spine, inner dentelles gilt, a.e.g.

Extremely rare first and only edition of this detailed and handsomely illustrated description of the ceremonial procession and state funeral of Robert Devereux, third Earl of Essex (Ob. 1646) with an equally rare four page elegy on his life. Robert Devereux, was the the eldest son of the second Earl of Essex, executed for treason by Queen Elizabeth in 1601. On the succession of King James I in 1604, Devereux was restored to his father’s estate. From 1620-4 he served, unsuccessfully, in Protestant armies in Germany and the Low Countries and at Cadiz. Although his early military career was undistinguished, he earned the affection and loyalty of the troops.

Estranged from court life, during the Short Parliament he was one of the minority peers who voted against granting money to continue the war against Scotland, unless Parliament’s grievances were first addressed. In the Long Parliament in 1640, Essex (as he had become) emerged as the leading opposition peer and was the first member of the Lords to accept the Militia Ordinance. The highest-ranking nobleman to support Parliament, Essex was appointed to the Committee of Safety in July 1642 and made Captain-General of the Parliamentarian armies on the outbreak of civil war. Essex proved meticulous in planning his campaigns but cautious in carrying them out. He believed that the war should be decided by negotiation with the King, from a position of strength, rather than outright military victory and had mixed fortunes on the battlefield.

He suffered a stroke after stag hunting at Windsor and died on 14 September 1646. Essex was buried in Westminster Abbey with great pomp and ceremony. This work describes in detail the order of the funeral procession, with lists of the officers and regiments, and detailed descriptions and illustrations of the banners and flags, their bearers, and attire of men and horses. It finishes with a vivid description of the last salute fired around the forts surrounding the City of London. Parliament contributed £5,000 to the expenses of the funeral.

For the occasion the chancel of the Abbey was draped in black from floor to ceiling and a funeral effigy of the earl dressed in scarlet breeches, a military buff-coat and Parliamentary robes was erected beneath a catafalque designed by Inigo Jones, illustrated here with a wonderful white on black woodcut. This was left standing after the ceremony until a poor farmer hacked it down instructed by an angel. The effigy was refurbished but was finally destroyed on the orders of Charles II after the Restoration, though Essex’s body was left undisturbed. A very good copy, extremely rare complete with the beautiful folding plate of the procession, of this work printed just weeks after the events it describes.

William Thomas Beckford (1760 – 1844) was an extraordinarily wealthy English novelist, art critic, travel writer and politician, now chiefly remembered as the author of the Gothic novel Vathek and builder of the remarkable Fonthill Abbey, the enormous gothic revival country house, largely destroyed. Beckford’s fame rests as much upon his eccentric extravagances as a builder and collector as upon his literary efforts. The opportunity to purchase the complete library of Edward Gibbon gave Beckford the basis for his own library, which was extensive, and dispersed over two years in 1883-4.

Wing G-5. ESTC R201190 : Wing G-3. ESTC R201191. Lowndes 754 (under Essex). Not in Pforzheimer or Grolier.

L1022

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