THE AUTHOR’S GIFT
All the vvorkes of Iohn Taylor the water-poetLondon, J. B[eale, Elizabeth Allde, Bernard Allsop, Thomas Fawcet] for James Boler, 1630
FIRST EDITION thus folio pp. [xiv] 148 [ii] 1-93, 92-200, 225-343, [i] 1-14, 13-146 (lacking initial blank), [A-N , O², 2A-2Q , 2R , 2S², 3A-3K ; ²3A-3L , ²3M .] Roman and italic letter, double column. Floriated and grotesque woodcut initials, large grotesque tail-pieces, woodcut and typographical head-pieces and text decorations, 25 column-width woodcut portraits of monarchs, William I to Charles I, 155 small woodcut heads of British rulers, two woodcut text illustrations, two t-p’s; the first engraved “by Thomas Cockson, architectural, surrounded by nautical instruments, vignette at top showing Taylor entertaining a passenger, another, below, containing his portrait; inscription on title reading roughly as the title to the imprint; reproduced Johnson” (Pforzheimer), the second t-p with woodcut compartment above (McKerrow and Ferguson 229) and headpiece at bottom (Plomer 49), “Ex Dono Authoris” in contemporary hand at foot of engraved additional title, engraved bookplate of the Inglis family with motto “Recte faciendo securus” cut to margins and laid down on front pastedown. Light age-yellowing, very minor occasional spotting and light stain, small tear restored to lower outer corner and fore-edge of Oo1 affecting a few letters recto and verso, fore-edge of Gg3-6 remargined, just touching a woodcut, engraved title restored at gutter. A good copy, in attractive early 19th century straight-grained red morocco, covers with wide blind interlacing scroll in a geometric design, spine with blind worked raised double bands, gilt lettered and numbered in two compartments, blind stamped fleurons to remaining, edges gilt hatched at corners, turn ins gilt ruled, a.e.g. spine a little faded, light rubbing to extremities.
First collected edition of Taylor’s works, containing pieces previously unpublished, a presentation copy form the author. Taylor was a self-made celebrity of early Stuart London, ex-navy, he was a collector of wine dues from Thames cargo before his dismissal for refusing to buy his position (here described in ‘Taylor’s Farewell, to the Tower Bottles’). He turned to versifying, producing heavily subscribed pamphlets and attracting great patrons: Thomas Dekker provides a commendatory poem and Ben Jonson was friendly. In 1616 he was commissioned to produce the water festival for Princess Elisabeth’s marriage to the Elector Palatine, and for this was rewarded with a trip to Bohemia (all described with commendatory verses). Taylor enjoys talk of foreign parts: there are references to Virginia and Powhatan, and satires are made on the Persian, Bermudan and native American languages (the latter a praise for tobacco consisting of coughing and spluttering noises). Serious accounts from interviews are offered of sea battles against the Spaniards, Turks and Portuguese, in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf, in 1616 and 1624, as well as an imaginary audience between ‘The Great Mogoll of Agra’ and Taylor’s enemy the poet Thomas Coryate. Taylor’s literary satires stretch to Shakespeare (“If we offend, it is with our good will, we came with no intent, but to offend, and show our simple skill”, cf. Bottom’s speech in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’). He also carried out and described water-related stunts, e.g. sailing from London in a paper-boat (and of course sinking).
“John Taylor chronicled his adventurous life and passed judgement on his age in a stream of shrewd and witty pamphlets, poems, and essays. His writings allow us to piece together the world of a London waterman over the space of forty years, from the reign of James I to the aftermath of the civil war. His ready wit, restless ambition, and bonhomie soon made him a well-known figure in the Jacobean literary world and at the royal court. Claiming the fictitious office of ‘the King’s Water-Poet’, he fashioned a way of life that straddled the elite and popular worlds. Taylor published his thoughts—always trenchant—on everything from politics to needlework, from poetry to inland navigation, from religion and social criticism to bawdy jests. He was a more complex and contradictory figure than is often assumed: both hedonist and moralist, a cavalier and staunch Anglican with a puritanical taste for sermons and for armed struggle against the popish antichrist.” Bernard Capp ‘The World of John Taylor the Water-Poet 1578–1653.’ESTC S117734. STC 23725. Alden 630/178. Pforzheimer 1006 “Not all the pieces here included have survived in earlier separate form. Neither are all of Taylor’s works issued prior to this date of collection contained in it. The selection is, nevertheless, a comprehensive one and copies in sound, clean condition … are uncommon”. Lowndes VII 2587 “This volume contains many pieces of which no separate editions are known to be extant”. Grolier ‘Wither to Prior’ 862.