WITH FORE-EDGE PAINTING
THE BARD OF IRELAND AND THE TSARINA OF RUSSIA
MOORE, Thomas. Lalla Rookh, an Oriental Romance. First edition. London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1817. Quarto. First edition. pp. [iv], 405, . Later full green morocco. Covers framed by double gilt fillets with floral stems and gilt dots in corners. Spine divided into five panels by four raises bands; title, author and year in gilt direct in the second, third and fourth, the remainder elaborately tooled in gilt to a floral pattern with gilt dots, stars and circles; red and green endbands; Splash marbled endpapers. Ornate fore-edge painting of lovers seated on a bench. With the armorial bookplate of Daniel Hunter Gaskell on front pastedown. A fine copy.
We did not know of any connection between Thomas Moore and the Tsars of Russia until we had an enquiry some years ago for a first edition of ‘Lalla Rookh’. Our customer informed us that it was going to the Summer Palace of the once mighty Romanoffs. Seemingly Tsarina Alexandra, Consort of Tsar Nicholas I, loved Thomas Moore’s work and her favourite book in all the world was this classic oriental romance. It took pride of place in the Summer Palace Library at Peterhoff.
The Tsarina Alexandra is still venerated and her birthday is celebrated each year on the 12th of July in St. Petersburg. The streets are strewn with white roses and parts of ‘Lalla Rookh’ are re-enacted.
This work was a bestseller in the early nineteenth century. In six months it ran into six editions, and into as many European translations. Its appearance in Persian inspired the playful verse:
‘I’m told, dear Moore, that your lays are sung
Can it be true, you lucky man!
By moonlight in the Persian tongue
Along the streets of Ispahan’.
Thomas Moore (1789-1852), poet, composer and prose writer was born in Dublin. Educated at Samuel White’s Academy and T.C.D., from which he graduated B.A. in 1798. While at T.C.D. he formed a close friendship with Robert Emmet on whose execution in 1803 he wrote: “Oh! Breathe Not His Name”. He was a friend of Lord Byron, a strong advocate of Catholic Emancipation and supporter of Daniel O’Connell.
Sloperton Cottage near Devizes, Wiltshsire, was Moore’s home from 1817 till his death in 1852: “That dear home, that saving ark, where love’s true light at last I’ve found, cheering within when all grows dark, and comfortless, and stormy around”.