LELAND, Thomas. The History of Ireland from the Invasion of Henry II. With a preliminary discourse on the antient state of that kingdom. In three volumes.
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The third edition, corrected. Dublin: Printed by R. Marchbank, for R. Moncrieffe, in Capel-Street, 1774. Third edition. pp. (1) [50 (contents)], lvi, 387, ; (2) [ii], 516, (3) [ii], 634, [33 (index)]. Contemporary full tan calf, spine professionally rebacked in matching leather, title and volume number in gilt on black morocco labels. Armorial bookplate of Snelston Hall on pastedowns. Name clipped from top right hand margin of volume two. A very fine and attractive set of the rare Dublin third edition.
Thomas Leland (1722-1785), historian, translator and academic, was born in Dublin, 1722, “of parents worthy and respectable, but not opulent or exalted.” He was educated at Thomas Sheridan’s school and then at Trinity College, where he became Professor of Oratory in 1763. Leland’s frequently reprinted translation of the ‘Orations of Demosthenes’ (1754-70) provided a model for Anglo-Irish parliamentary speaking. It was partly at the solicitation of Lord Charlemont. In 1768 he commenced his History of Ireland, it was written principally at his vicarage at Bray. Charles O’Conor supplied Leland with translations of Irish annals in the hope that his forthcoming history would overturn the tradition of a wide-spread massacre of Protestants in the Rebellion of 1641. In the event, his History of Ireland from the Invasion of Henry II (3 volumes, first published, 1773) supported the version promulgated by Sir John Temple and others. Disraeli speaks of him as “the eloquent translator of Demosthenes”. Allibone, as “a profound scholar and most eloquent preacher”. In a notice of Dr. Leland in the Anthologia Hibernica, vol. i., in which will be found a portrait and list of his works, the author remarks: “His fame for classical learning is unrivalled ... He never evidenced the smallest specimen of fondness for, or researches into, Irish antiquities ... In this history, on which his friends, with ill-judged fondness dwell, we find very trifling intimations of the constitution, government, and laws of Ireland; nothing of its learning, commerce, coin, or shipping; nothing of its architecture, poetry, or music, though admirable specimens of these exist; nothing of the language, dress, diversions, diet, and customs of the Irish. What then, it may be asked, does it contain? I answer, a dull, monotonous detail of domestic convulsions, a weak government, and a barbarous people”. Includes “Appendix” at end of each volume; appendix for volume one is in Latin.
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