J. BEW, publisher

The Noble Cricketers: A poetical and familiar epistle, address'd to Two of the Idlest Lords in His Majesty's Three Kingdoms. London: J. Bew, 1778. 4to (249 x 185mm), with errata slip pasted onto verso of dedication. (Title slightly soiled and guarded at inner margin, occasional thumb-soiling, final leaf lightly browned on verso.) Mid-20th-century blue buckram for MCC.

FIRST AND ONLY CONTEMPORARY EDITION. 'Far from the Cannon's Roar, they try at Cricket, Stead of their Country, to secure a Wicket'. The anonymous poet's lines were directed against the Duke of Dorset and Earl of Tankerville as Britain was embroiled in the third year of a disasterous war with her own colonies in North America. A facetious dedication to the two aristocrats expresses dismay at their preparations for a new cricket season. ''Tis said that Nero fiddled whilst Rome was burning. -- The conduct of your Lordships, seems nearly similar. -- for Godsake, fling away your Bats ....' The couplets that follow continue to emphasise how wrong it is for members of the ruling class to participate in a lower class sport which 'beardless Boys with Beggars share'. OF GREAT RARITY. One copy remains at Lord's, only two others are recorded in institutional libraries (BL and Bodleian). Allen 6; Padwick 6888.
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