17941807 · London
James Townley (1746–1817) was the son of James Townley (1714–78), sometime playwright and headmaster of Merchant Taylors School, and he was educated there like his father before him. Making a very successful career as a proctor (i.e., advocate or solicitor) in Doctor's Commons (i.e., the English courts of civil law, including, e.g., Admiralty), he married Mary Gosling (1753–1839), an accomplished architect responsible for several important buildings in Ramsgate including their own Townley House, which was for many years a notable center of society both local and larger.
Townley's verse as seen here in => 13 captivating instances was occasional in nature — gently humorous and sharply observant, often drawing on or reflective of his => life in the law, and typically offered in compliment to what was clearly => a warm and lively-minded circle of friends, colleagues, and family. A number of the company's full names may be learned, passim, within the documents; and two other offerings in the gathering are typesigned by circle-members named Bishop, as above, showing that the sociable penchant for writing (and printing!) private verses memorializing deaths, birthdays, and friendships did not belong, in the Townley group, to James alone.
Unfussy but handsome, the publications themselves were just as clearly as the poems prepared for "occasions" also — i.e., for limited personal distribution by a charming and social man who frankly referred to himself, on the title-page of one of his printed collections, as a "master of ceremonies."
Four of these publications are not found at all via NUC, ESTC, WorldCat, and COPAC; two more are found only at Yale with four others found only at Yale, the BL, and the Bodleian. => In no case are more than a handful of copies recorded.
Almost all our offered effusions — NOT the Bishop items or "Some say he dried the widow's tear," This is the judge," "The Lawyer," or the "New Century" — are to be found reset in a little volume sans title-page but with an index, held at the Bodleian and catalogued as "[A collection of 81 poems by J. Townley]. This has been digitized, review of it showing that tucked-in, original, separately printed copies of The Lawyer and The New Century were roughly, unreadably scanned with it! => Viewing the online surrogate of the poems' compiled resetting alongside the individual originals in hand makes strikingly clear not just the infinitely greater charm of the latter, but the much greater wealth of social illumination that is embodied in them. Condition overall is very good. Details are supplied in the list of items that may be sent upon request. (Inventory #: 32807)