BARNES, William (1801-1886). Poems of Rural Life in the Dorset Dialect. London: Turnbull & Spears for C. Kegan Paul & Co., 1879.
8° (184 x 120mm). Half-title, title with woodcut publisher's device. EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED with a varnished watercolour portrait of Barnes after George Stuckey's portrait of c.1870 captioned in manuscript 'Mr Barnes , ''Some mute inglorious Milton'' ' and bound in as a frontispiece, a letter from R.B. Sheridan about this copy and his friendship with Barnes excised from a newspaper, laid down on a flyleaf and the half-title, and captioned in manuscript 'The statement on the preceding page in the handwriting of the Revd William Barnes will be better understood after reading the following letter', 2 reviews excised from newspapers and laid down on 7 leaves and bound in at the end. (Scattered light spotting.) Contemporary polished green calf gilt by Zaehnsdorf, the upper cover with central gilt 'RBS' monogram, both covers with gilt-stamped triple fillet and blind-stamped pointillé borders, the spine gilt in 6 compartments, gilt morocco lettering-piece in one compartment, dated at the foot, the other compartments decorated with gilt-stamped fillets and blind-stamped pointillé frames, roll-tooled gilt turn-ins, marbled edges (spine and top edge of upper cover faded, extremities lightly rubbed). Provenance: Richard Brinsley Sheridan (the grandson of the dramatist, presentation inscription from Barnes, bookplate and monogram on binding).
FIRST COLLECTED EDITION. PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY BARNES TO RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN: 'To Mr and Mrs Brinsley Sheridan, with a happy memory of their invitation to Frampton Court, in April 1844, to meet Mrs Norton
Sweeter to me , Your early praise , Than now could be , A crown of bays. , W.Barnes , 6 Novr 1879'
Sheridan's sister, the poet Caroline Norton, had admired the poetry by Barnes that had been published in The Dorset County Chronicle, and asked her brother to invite Barnes to Frampton Court, an invitation which Barnes - who in turn admired Norton's poetry, and had already set some of it to music - accepted. This meeting, which led to a long-standing friendship and Norton's influential support for Barnes, is recorded by this copy, and its importance celebrated in the inscribed verse (cf. Giles Dugdale William Barnes of Dorset (London: 1953), pp.113-115, quoting Sheridan's letter to the newspaper referring to this copy, and the verse inscribed here and reprinted in the letter).
The present edition collects for the first time Barnes' earlier works Poems of Rural Life in the Dorset Dialect (1844), Hwomely Rhymes: A Second Collection of Poems in the Dorset Dialect (1859), and Poems of Rural Life in the Dorset Dialect. Third Collection (1862), which had a great influence on contemporary poets, in particular Thomas Hardy, who commemorated Barnes in his poem 'The Last Signal'.