Orient Harping: a Desultory Poem, in Two Parts.

Lawson, John

  • Publication details - London: Printed for F. Westley
  • Date - 1820


Stock Number: 2749 Category: Tags: ,

FIRST EDITION, 12mo, pp. [iii]-xi, [i], 227, [1]. Contemporary calf, boards with a border tooled in gilt and blind, marbled edges and endpapers. Rebacked with a darker leather, boards somewhat marked and rubbed at edges, leather near joints darkened, hinges relined with blue buckram.


The first edition - it was reprinted at London the following year, and in Calcutta the year after that - of this rare volume of poetry by the polymathic missionary John Lawson (1787-1825). Lawson became a missionary after an apprenticeship to a wood engraver in London, making his way to Calcutta via Philadelphia (where he published his first book, 'The Maniac, with other poems', causing some to count him as an American poet) and Serampore. Lawson divided his time between missionary duties, cutting type (including Chinese and Bangla), printing, and writing poetry; although he operated a press in Calcutta himself, this long poem was first printed in London by Charles Whittingham. His verse has a distinctly grim tone: 'Lawson seldom poetically indulged in a positive thought. Rather, the experience of severe depression characterising the Maniac colored all his poetry' (Gibson, Anglophone Poetry in Colonial India, p. 106). COPAC locates just two copies of this edition, both in Oxford.

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