BEATTIE, James. The Minstrel; or, the Progress of Genuis: in Two Parts. With Some Other Poems. Alnwick: Printed by W. Davison, sold by the Booksellers in England and Scotland, 1810.
12mo, 17 x 10.5cm; paper covered cloth boards with paper label to spine; blue speckled edges; 6 full-page and 10 vignette wood engravings by Thurston after Clennel; pp. 144; boards slightly soiled and spine somewhat darkened; previous ownership sticker to half title and name/number to front paste down; small tear reinforced with sticker to p. 11; loss to lower RH corner of p.98; the odd crease and spotting to endpapers; good overall.
One of many numerous copies of The Minstrel, originally published in 1771. Beattie was a Scottish poet, moralist and philosopher, and this is one of his most famous works, together with An Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth written as a response to David Hume.
The work, which is unfinished, is written in Spenserian stanzas, and anticipates Wordsworth's Prelude, with its emphasis on the great benefits of solitude representing an early manifestation of Romanticism. Indeed, Wordsworth greatly admired Beattie’s work, and this was to become one of his favourite poems, which greatly influenced him in adult life.
Beattie began writing the poem in 1766. It describes the childhood of Edwin, a shepherd boy brought up in a solitary mountainous country, and his imaginative response to nature. In less than three months he had finished the first book, but the second took longer than five years to complete, and a third was never written.
John Thurston (1774 - 1822) enjoyed an enviable reputation as a draughtsman who provided images for a number of books. Luke Clennell (1781 – 1840), also a fine draughtsman, learned his trade as apprentice to Thomas Bewick, to whom he was indentured for seven years on his sixteenth birthday.