This neat little book contains both volumes of the noted work of James Hervey, A.M., an 18th century parish priest who inspired William Blake, whose "Epitome of James Hervey's Meditations among the Tombs" was painted as a tribute, some time between 1820 and 1825.
James Hervey (1714-1758) was born and educated in Northampton, and at Lincoln College, Oxford. While at college he met and was influenced by John Wesley and the Methodists, but ultimately returned to a rather more Calvinist faith and was ordained Anglican priest in 1737, succeeding his father in the family livings of Weston Favell and Collingtree, Northants in 1752. His writing style is often bombastic, but he displays a rare appreciation of natural beauty, and his simple piety made him many friends. The 'Meditations' was a huge success, running through fourteen editions in as many years.
Our book is a pocket-sized volume bound in olive-green leather with faded gilt and black tooled designs on all surfaces, and a diamond-patterned incised central panel on front and back. The spine is divided into 5 sections, the title and author'[s name in gilt on a red background in the second segment from the top, and the other segments adorned with two different gilt motifs. As one would expect for a book of this age, it is quite worn and battered externally, but the marbled edges of the book block are sharp, and the binding remains firm. Within, the marbled endpapers are bright, the pages generally clean, with a few light pencil markings, and the frontispiece, title and halftitle pages are somewhat grubby and lightly marked with dark spots. The tissue guard to the frontispiece is present and undamaged. The three full-page engravings are all spotted and darkened as the frontispiece - perhaps a function of the paper quality - and these marks have in each case affected the opposite page. There are some small B/W illustrations at the start and end of each separate meditation/contemplation. A charming little survivor for any collector.