London, South Kensington
30 October 1992
JOHN WILKES (1727-97)
'ESSAY ON WOMAN by Pego Borewell Esq.', a manuscript copy of the poem in a contemporary hand, comprising title (with large section excised), 'Advertisement by the Editor' on 4ll., the poem with commentary on 11ll. (several wormed with slight loss) and 'The Universal Prayer' (an obscene paraphrase of the Veni Creator Spiritus probably written by Thomas Potter) on 5ll., versos blank, sm. 4to, 19th-century half morocco (rubbed).
An Essay on Woman was dedicated to a fashionable and frail beauty, Fanny Murray, and garnished with notes ascribed to Bishop Warburton, the editor of Pope's Essay on Man. It was printed anonymously but as the Government, already incensed by the publication of the North Briton (no. 45), learned, at Wilke's direction and at his private press. The edition consisted of only a dozen copies, one of which fell into the hands of Lord Sandwich. On 15th November, 1763, the work was censured in the House of Lords as a breach of privelige and as an obscene and impious libel (cf. Compact DNB, p. 2266).
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