Original unpublished autograph poem illustrated and illuminated in colours by Mary Ellen Parker [later Mary Ellen Rose], daughter of the Victorian judge Sir James Parker, a spoof on Sir Walter Scott entitled 'The Lady of the Lake-Coloured Baton.'

Mary Ellen Parker (1836-1921), daughter of Sir James Parker (1803-1852), Vice Chancellor of the High Court, and his wife Mary Babington [the Darroch family of Cheltenham]
Original unpublished autograph poem illustrated and illuminated in colours
Publication details: 
[Regent's Park, London.] 'Cheltenham, 24 April 1848.'
SKU: 10377

12mo, 55 pp. Good, on lightly-aged paper. Most pages ruled with red lines. Texts of poem and preface, in a number of different-coloured inks, on right-hand side, with the facing reverses carrying corresponding notes and half a dozen charming vignettes (woman at writing desk, cabman dying of apoplexy at dinner, his widow atop the moving hearse). In original quarter binding of cream paper boards with gold star design, and red leather spine; decorative printed endpapers (rear free endpaper lacking). A well-executed and extremely attractive item. The poem, of which there is no record on COPAC or elsewhere, follows a page of fictitious 'Opinions of the Press' on another supposed work by the Young Lady ('The Young Lady's Diamond Pocket Dictionary of Slang', one opinion No LADY should be without it), and has its own half-title in red, blue and black, where its full title is given as: 'The Lady of the Lake-Coloured Baton. [small coloured illustration of a wooden baton] An Epic Poem or Lyrical Ellenic Ballad. being a sort of Lay of the Last Minstrel in the world to sing anything that is not genteel and elegant entirely to the Fair Authoress of an anonymous publication sealed | M. E. P.' These are revealed to be the initials of Mary Ellen Parker in a 1915 note (4to, 1 p, on a loosely-inserted piece of paper), initialed 'J P S [James Parker Smith]', which states that the poem 'was written apparently by her cousins the Darrochs or the C [blank] then at Cheltenham'. (While the Darrochs may have provided information and inspiration for the poem, Parker is clearly identified as the author on the half-title above.) The note continues with the somewhat unlikely claim, given the quality of the item, that, on being shown the book 'a few weeks ago (spring of 1915)' Mrs Rose is said to have had 'no remembrance of it whatever, & did not take the slightest interest in it!' Begins with illuminated half-title containing Parker's initials 'M. E. P.' On recto of next leaf, illuminated title reading 'Tuesday's Letter Illuminated by An Amateur'. Next another leaf reading 'The Anonymous Letter'. This followed by three-page spoof dedication 'To The Right Honorable Sir George Grey, Bart. Secretary of State for the Home Department', beginning 'Ever since I heard how pale you grew, on that memorable occasion when you disclosed to the House of Commons, your dread of the Chartist Demonstration, on the 10th of April I have felt a deep sympathy for you'. First stanza of the poem reads 'Enter a Dame in strict incog. | Who with heroic air rehearses, | Recitative, the following dog - | Or, as they call them, DOGG-REL VERSES.' The central conceit appears to be that the apparently peaceable, loyal and conservative cabmen of Cheltenham are in fact engaged in a secret society. Apparent family In-jokes include references to Regent's Park, where the Parkers lived, and to the 'Chester-Terrace-Irresistibles'. Among the illustrations is one of a riot at Donnybrook Fair in London, the poem also containing a reference to a butcher boy attacking a Frenchman in Trafalgar Square. For more information on the influential Whig family of the creators of this item (related to Hannah More and Thomas Babington Macaulay), see the description of the Papers of the Babington Family of Rothley Temple at Trinity College, Cambridge.