London: Hodder and Stoughton Limited, 1925. First edition. 12 mo. (7 1/2 inches tall), original blue cloth, gilt spine and front board, original dust wrapper printed in red. Faint spine toning, mild soiling along fore-edge of rare original wrapper. A nearly-fine copy. Item #1448
"HE BELONGS TO ALL THE AGES EXCEPT PERHAPS HIS OWN AGE"
First edition of G.K. Chesterton's appraisal of William Cobbett—complete in the scarce original printed dust wrapper, which matches the gilt binding underneath. An excellent copy.
Though sometimes overlooked today due to the sheer outpouring of work that flowed from his pen, Chesterton was a skilled biographer and his publishers and the reading public waited in anticipation on his next biography. Chesterton's life of Cobbett was issued by Hodder and Stoughton in November 1925—only three weeks after the publication of The Everlasting Man—in an edition of 4000 copies. By comparison, the first edition of The Everlasting Man consisted of only 3000 copies. Chesterton's Life of Cobbett embraces the contemporary "revival" of interest in the radical pamphleteer, journalist, and member of Parliament. Cobbett was a "Distributist before there was Distributism" (Dale Ahlquist), plainly stuck in the wrong century. The book consists of: Chapter I. The Revival of Cobbett, II. A Self-Made Man, III. The Tragedy of the Patriot, IV. Revolution and the Bones of Paine, V. The Amateur Historian, VI. The Rural Rider, VII. Last Days and Death. There was "that part of Cobbett's character which was always reaching backwards to the medieval England that has never lost the name of Merry England. He was a man born out of due time, and forced to live and suffer in a world of mechanical traffic going to Manchester; when he ought to have ridden with Chaucer to Canterbury. His heraldry was sometimes deliberately grotesque, but it was always heraldic." The page opposite the title page lists "Works by G.K. Chesterton" (repeated on the back panel of the dust wrapper) including the upcoming "Intimate Biographies" of Savonarola and Napoleon, two works which never appeared. Sullivan. G.K. Chesterton: A Bibliography, 62.