The Musical Bouquet

Posted on 2nd October 2020 by simonbeattie

This is a copy of the first edition of The Musical Bouquet (1799) by the Welsh harpist Edward Jones (1752–1824); the etched frontispiece is by Rowlandson. ‘Bard to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales’ as the title-page here styles him, he had moved to London from Llandderfel in 1774.  ‘The harp was very fashionable in London at the time, and Jones quickly established himself in some of the most eminent circles as a popular performer and teacher of the instrument’ (Oxford DNB).  The Musical Bouquet opens with a song (‘Thy native Harp then bring with thee, Nurse of ancient minstrelsy’) performed when fellow Welshman Sir Watkin Lewes was Lord Mayor of London.  The rest is a mix of original songs and arrangements by Jones, to lyrics by, among others, the Duchess of Devonshire and Anna Seward, as well as Anne Home Hunter’s ‘Death Song of the Cherokee Indian’, and the Christmas hymn ‘Adeste fideles’.

The provenance here is nice, too: Sophia, Lady Burdett (1775–1844), youngest daughter and coheir of the banker Thomas Coutts and wife of the radical MP Sir Francis Burdett

The book was later in the library of William Hayman Cummings (1831–1915), tenor, organist, antiquary, and the creator of the carol Hark! the Herald Angels sing; his distinctive Caxtonian bookplate (above) is on the front pastedown.  Oxford DNB draws attention to Cummings’ ‘superb library of some 4500 pieces, the last of the great Victorian collections’.  The Jones was sold by Sotheby’s on 22 May 1917, the fourth day of the Cummings sale, lot 939.  Below Cummings’ bookplate is that of Charles William Dyson Perrins (1864–1958), ‘one of the very last great English book collectors, for no such collection as his could ever again be brought together by a private person’ (The Book Collector, Summer 1958, p. 118).

For more details on the book, please see my recent list of eighteenth-century books.

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