Caulfield, James. Portraits, Memoirs, and Characters of Remarkable Persons

"from The Revolution in 1688 to the end of The reign of George II. Collected from the most authentic accounts extant.."

London: H.R. Young and T.H. Whitely, 1819.

8vo. Four volumes. Glorious contemporary black morocco gilt, lushly decorated in blind to boards in such a manner that, were it to be gilded, Versailles would end up making complaints about flagrant vulgarity.Minor edgewear and scuffing, very light wear, hinges strong, a simply delightful set. All edges gilt, internally clean, some offsetting from the myriad of engravings and in text illustrations, but nothing ugly or displeasing. A clean, sharp copy. Caulfield’s Characters is a book that by rights everyone should own, along with a copy of the Newgate Calendar, Johnson’s Lives of The Pirates, and a bunch of execution broadsides and playbills (which at the times were pretty much the same thing). Basically it is a deliriously wonderful Who’s Who of every conjoined twin, roguish bookseller, notorious hermit, incompetent criminal (James Whitney being on of my favourites; gets drunk, sets out to steal a prize calf from an inn, creeps into the wrong stable and gets mauled by a travelling dancing bear...whereupon he vows never to steal calves again), some very competent criminals, an account of the feud between Old Harry and Jemmy La Roche; Raree Showmen; James Poro and his parasitic twin, the unpleasant exploits of Lodowick Campbell, Thief Taker, and a couple of hundred more, including one of my personal favourites; Bampfylde Moore Carew, adopted “gypsy”, cross dressing con-man, spurious clairvoyant and self styled Beggar King. Booksellers also feature prominently, make of that what you will. An outstanding work of ineffable worth and beauty, because I say so.

[Ref: 691]


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