Memoirs of The Right Honourable Lord Viscount Cherington; by MULLER,…

Smuggling prohibited books, disguised Jesuits, attacks by bucanneers
MULLER, Richard, Captain (d. 1778).

Memoirs of The Right Honourable Lord Viscount Cherington; Containing a Genuine Description of the Government, and Manners of the Present Portuguese. Dublin, John Parker, 1782.

First Dublin Edition. Two volumes in one, 12mo (170 x 110 mm), pp. xvi, 125, [1]; [2], [129]- 248, pagination and register continuous for the two volumes, bound in contemporary speckled calf, flat spine simply ruled in gilt, red morocco label lettered in gilt ‘Lord Cheringto’, small contemporary shelf-mark on the front endpaper, red speckled edges, some very slight wear to extremities, a couple of small stains on the boards, otherwise an excellent, fresh copy.

A delightful copy of a scarce novel which, as pointed out in the Monthly Review 1782, is misleadingly titled, as the large part of the novel is occupied with the life of Viscount Cherington’s father, Dr Castleford, and takes place, not in Portugal, but in Brazil. Matters of Church and State determine much of the action and the suppression of the Jesuits is a dominating theme. Once one becomes accustomed to the rather surprising switches between generations and the inclusion of detailed back stories, it makes for a fascinating read, with lively descriptions of Brazil, Portugal and Essex, religious intolerance, piracy and smuggling.
In the opening chapters we learn about the hero’s father, Dr. Castleford, who, having trained as a physician in Paris, obtains employment at the English factory in Oporto. While here he is unjustly accused and is subsequently banished ‘by the villainous artifices of a Jesuit’. He is sent as a prisoner of State to Rio de Janero, where he wins the esteem and confidence of the Viceroy - ‘so far a true Portuguese Fidalgo, that ignorance and superciliousness, with a slavish subordination to the church, constituted the leading features of his character’ - and his wife, whose ‘strong natural parts, sound judgement and great degree of penetration’ largely compensated for an entire lack of education. Castleford’s relationship with these two powerful figures is assured after he cures the lady of a terrible illness, after her own physicians had failed to do so. Subsequently, he falls in love, happily and mutually, with Arabella, a young Englishwoman under their protection and the two are married, the wedding a very splendid affair which is described in detail. Further digressions now intervene not only about Arabella’s birth and education but, in keeping with this multi-generational tale, about the story of her parents’ marriage, her father’s trade in Jamaica, attack by pirates, marooning on the isle of Cuba, and, crucially, Arabella’s mother’s Catholicism, which had become a great problem for her in the Essex village where she lived, as the neighbours declared her ‘to be no better than a papist, or a presbyterian’. After this, Arabella’s mother is keen to leave England and accompany her husband to Portugal. Having lost so much of his money in his last trip to the West Indies, he strikes up a business arrangement with a London bookseller and agrees to take out with him a consignment of prohibited books to be sold in Portugal. The bookseller sends two agents with the books to help with their delivery and as soon as they find themselves approaching Portugal, they appear, much to everyone’s surprise, dressed as Jesuits, although not yet knowing that the Jesuits have been expelled from Portugal. On arrival, the customs officials reported the prohibited books and the Jesuits and all four, plus the baby son born on board, are thrown into separate dungeons. We also hear that the bookseller to whom the books were bound, had everything in his shop confiscated before also being imprisoned.
The London edition was published by Joseph Johnson in 1782 and is similarly scarce, with ESTC (t70710) listing copies at BL, Birmingham, Cambridge, Glasgow and DLC; OCLC adds Nebraska and Chapel Hill. This Dublin edition does not appear to be held outside the British Isles.

ESTC t212832 lists Trinity and St. Patrick’s College; OCLC adds Edinburgh, Bodleian and Maynooth.

Garside, Raven & Schöwerling 1782:18; see Block p. 169; not in Hardy.

Keywords: English Literature
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