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The Letters Of Pliny the Younger With Observations on each Letter; And an Essay on Pliny's Life, Addressed to Charles Lord Boyle. By John Earl of Orrery. Volume I. (II.)

Pliny the Younger

RA Collection: Book

Record number



Uniform Title

[Letters., English., Orrery., 1751.]

Variant Title

Half-title: Pliny's Letters With Observations


London,: Printed by James Bettenham, for Paul Vaillant in the Strand., MDCCLI.

Physical Description

2 vols.; 196 mm. (Octavo.)

General Note

Vol. I: [iv], lxxv, [i], 397, [35]p.: illus. - Vol. II: [iv], 450, [54]p.: illus.


Vol. I: [Half-t., t.p.] - An Essay on the Life of Pliny, In a Letter to Charles Lord Boyle - [Text, books 1-5] - The Index To Pliny's Epistles. Book I.(-V.) - An Index Of Particular Passages In The Observations On Each Epistle. Book. I.(-V.) [Both indices are lists of contents] - An Explanation of the Copper Plates in this Volume. - Vol.II: [Half-t., t.p.] - [Text, bks. 6-9] - [Divisional title-page, 'The Tenth Book Of Pliny's Epistles'] - The Preface To The Tenth Book Of Pliny's Epistles - [Text, bk. 10] - The Index To Pliny's Epistles. Book VI.(-X.) - An Index Of Particular passages In The Observations On Each Epistle. Book VI.(-IX.) - The Index To Particular Passages In The Observations On The Tenth Book - An Explanation of the Copper Plates in this Volume.

Responsibility Note

Both title-page vignettes are signed as engraved by J. Vander Gucht; the Book 10 title-page vignette is signed 'Bonneau fecit'. The head- and tail-pieces of all the books, and the tail-piece of the Preface of Book 10 are all signed as drawn by Wale (except those of Book 1, signed as drawn by Hayman and Moser, respectively), and engraved by Bonneau.


ESTC, T132377, T132378
On Pliny's villas see the bibliographic note on R. Castell's The Villas Of The Ancients (1728).

Summary Note

The half-titles read: 'Pliny's Letters With Observations. Volume I. (II.)'. The title-page of Volume II describes it as a second edition: 'The Letters Of Pliny the Younger With Observations on each Letter. By John Earl of Orrery. Volume II. The Second Edition.' Book 10 (the correspondence between Pliny and the Emperor Trajan) has its own divisional title-page and Preface.

These letters, recording most aspects of ancient Roman public and private life, were taken as models well into the eighteenth century. An English translation by Melmoth had appeared in 1746.

The letters include Pliny's record of his treatment of the Christian minority in Bithynia (where he was governor under Trajan), and his celebrated eyewitness account of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the destruction of Herculaneum and Pompeii in 79 A.D.; but perhaps of most interest to artists and architects will have been the glimpses which his letters provide of Roman patronage of the arts, and his descriptions of his villas (see especially book 2:17 and 5:6).


A Dublin edition was published in the same year, by G. Faulkner. In 1752 Vaillant published an octavo edition in London.


Inscribed in ink on a preliminary page in each volume, 'E libris Jacobi Chetham pret. 00-05-06'. Acquired by 1802: recorded in Catalogue Of The Library In The Royal Academy, London (1802).

Binding Note

20th-century marbled-papered boards and calf spine, retaining older red morocco spine-labels, lettered, 'Orrery's Pliny'.

Name as Subject


Romans - Social life and customs - Civilization - Villas, Roman - Italy - Rome - History - 1st century - 2nd century
Latin letters - Biography - 1st century - 2nd century
Translations into English - English letters - Translations from Latin - Great Britain - 18th century


John Boyle, 5th Earl of Cork, translator, commentator
Charles Boyle, Viscount Dungarvan, dedicatee
John van der Gucht, draughtsman, engraver
Samuel Wale RA, draughtsman
Jacob Bonneau, engraver
Francis Hayman RA, draughtsman
George Michael Moser RA, draughtsman
James Chetham, previous owner
Trajan Emperor of Rome
James Bettenham, printer
Paul Vaillant the younger, publisher