Whitehall, 1794. Hardcover. Item #42125
8vo; 1st edition. Gorgeous mid-19th-Century red tooled morocco with raised bands, tooled inside edges, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. 12mo, , cxix, , 289,  pages ; , 262,  pages, plus 4 pages of manuscript notes bound in at rear of volume I. Includes music. 18 cm.Includes Errata:  p. at end of v. 2, as well as indexes and a page listing “Books Published by J. Johnson” at rear of vol. 2. Wood engraved vignettes on the title pages, 5 engraved vignettes in the text, music. Publication date incorrectly printed as MDCCXIV in volume I. INSCRIBED “from the editor to Thomas Park esquire as a proof of his attachment and respect.” Below which the owner, presumably Thomas Park, has written in pencil, “Received from M[r.] Ritson Febr 12, 1801.” Below that is tipped in a 53-word manuscript note from Joseph Ritson “cx…I have made a slight mistake, which Mr. Percey says has ‘destroyed all confidence…’” The owner (Park) indicates that the note applies to the section marked cx in the book. Joseph Ritson (1752-1803) was an “English antiquary who was well known for his 1795 compilation of the Robin Hood legend. After a visit to France in 1791, he became a staunch supporter of the ideals of the French Revolution. He was also an influential vegetarianism activist.He is also known for his collections of English nursery rhymes, such as ‘Roses Are Red’ and ‘Little Bo-Peep’, in Gammer Gurton's Garland or The Nursery Parnassus, published in London by Joseph Johnson.” Ritson studied law, becoming a conveyancer in London, where “He devoted his spare time to literature, and in 1782, he published an attack on Thomas Warton's History of English Poetry. The tone of his Observations, in which Warton was treated as a pretender, charged with cheating and lying to cover his ignorance, caused a sensation in literary circles. In nearly all the small points with which he dealt, Ritson was in the right, and his corrections have since been adopted, but the unjustly bitter language of his criticisms roused great anger at the time, much, it would appear, to Ritson's delight. In 1783 Samuel Johnson and George Steevens were attacked in the same bitter fashion as Warton for their text of Shakespeare. Bishop Percy [referenced in the manuscript note] was next subjected to a furious onslaught in the preface to a collection of Ancient Songs (printed 1787, dated 1790, published 1792). In a letter (14 March 1803) to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey wrote that ‘Ritson is the oddest, but most honest of all our antiquarians, and he abuses Percy and Pinkerton with less mercy than justice’. Ritson usually spared no pains himself to ensure accuracy in the texts of old songs, ballads and metrical romances which he edited. His collection of the Robin Hood ballads is perhaps his greatest single achievement. However, unlike the other works he edited, he gave in to his own political prejudices as a Jacobin when he included the idea, uncommon until then, that Robin Hood robbed the rich and gave to the poor rather than simply robbing the bishops and the Sheriff of Nottingham. When Ritson was asked who gave Robin Hood a commission to rob from the rich and give to the poor, his response was: ‘That same power which authorises kings to take it where it can be worst spared, and give it where it is least wanted.’ Sir Walter Scott, who admired his industry and accuracy in spite of his temper, was almost the only man who could get on with him. According to Scott, Ritson was ‘a man of acute observation, profound research, and great labour’. He features as 'the potato philosopher' in John Paterson's Mare, James Hogg's allegorical satire on the Edinburgh publishing scene first published in the Newcastle Magazine in 1825. Spelling became one of his eccentricities; in his later books, he increasingly adopted a reformed spelling of his own devising [see the title of this work!]. As early as 1796, Ritson showed signs of mental collapse, and on 10 September 1803, he became completely insane, barricaded himself in his chambers at Gray's Inn, made a bonfire of manuscripts, and was finally forcibly removed to Hoxton, where he died. Ritson was an atheist [and] an early vegetarianism activist. He became a vegetarian in 1772 after reading Bernard Mandeville's The Fable of the Bees and adopted a diet that was based on vegetables and milk. His ideas were criticized in his day, but were influential to many vegetarians who came after him. Ritson has been described as a pioneer of animal rights. In 1802, his An Essay on Abstinence from Animal Food, as a Moral Duty, was published by Sir Richard Phillips. The book utilized health and moral arguments for abstaining from animal foods” (Wikipedia). Contents include: "A historical essay on Scotish song": pages [xi]-cxix of vol. 1; a Glossary on p. - of vol. 2; as well as bibliographical references and indexes.Series: Ritson's works. With owner’s armorial bookplate. SUBJECT(S): Songs, English -- Scotland. Scots -- Music. Chansons anglaises -- E´cosse. E´cossais -- Musique. Ballads, Scots -- Early works to 1800. Folk music -- Scotland -- Folk songs, Engravings Publishers' advertisements -- Johnson -- England), OCLC: 221412653. OCLC lists 6 sets worldwide [Victoria and Albert, SFPL, Huntington, Georgetown, Victoria State Lib (Aus), UCamrbidge]. Very slight wear at hinges and crown, as expected. An oustanding and stunning, gorgeous set. (KH-10-10).