University of Virginia Library


The first edition octavo, indexed in the ESTC as T113256, has the full title The Centaur Not Fabulous in Five Letters to a Friend, on the Life in Vogue and was printed for Andrew Millar and Robert and James Dodsley. The edition was first announced published in the London Evening Post of 1-4 March 1755 (bound, 5s.). In the same year, with “Five” altered to “Six” in the title, Millar and the Dodsleys published a revised second edition, also an octavo (15-17 April, LEP), and a revised third edition, a duodecimo (17 November, Public Advertiser; 3s. bound). Additions to the text lengthened the second edition sufficiently that, although often a page-for-page reprinting, it is several leaves longer, collating 8°: (frt. +) A 2 B-Cc8. Peter Wilson and John Exshaw brought out a duodecimo edition in Dublin in 1755, called the “Third Edition,” evidently published before the London third edition. Young revised The Centaur once again for its reprinting in Volume 4 of his The Works of the Author of The Night Thoughts (1757). Millar and James Dodsley brought out a “fourth edition,” in duodecimo, in 1765. Thereafter, the work was not frequently reprinted except within collections of Young's works. Unlike the authorized editions of 1757, 1762, 1767, and 1774 where The Centaur is in Vol. 4 after Night 9 of The Complaint, unauthorized works editions usually place The Centaur in a volume intended to be sold separately. The Dublin publishers G. and A. Ewing and partners placed it alone in Vol. 4 of their four-volume Works (1764), which lacks any works title and begins with the title-page for The Centaur. The Centaur shares the fourth volume with three prose items not included in the authorized collections (Conjectures on Original Composition, The Vindication of Providence, and the “Essay on Lyric Poetry” from Imperium Pelagi) in the unauthorized Works in Prose of the Reverend Edward Young (London: P. Brown, H. Hill, and S. Payne, 1765), a separate issue of Vol. 4 of a four-volume works with this same false imprint. In 1770 these four prose pieces were reprinted as The Centaur Not Fabulous, and Other Prose Works of the Reverend Dr. Edward Young (Edinburgh: Martin and Wotherspoon, 1770), a separate issue of Vol. 4 of their four-volume works, also issued with a false imprint (London: S. Crowder, C. Ware, and T. Payne, 1770). These four prose works were reprinted in 1774 with a variant of the 1765 false imprint (London: P. Brown, H. Hill, and S. Bayne [sic]). A six-volume Works printed in 1774, issued with various imprints (one for J. Donaldson in London, and four others placed in Edinburgh: for Alex. Donaldson; for J. Dickson; for C. Elliott; and “by and for” Colin Macfarquhar), includes The Centaur in Volume V with two poems excluded from the authorized works. The first American edition of The Centaur, a duodecimo, was printed in Philadelphia by T. Stephens and W. W. Woodward in 1795. The Centaur was translated into German in 1755 ( Der nicht fabelhafte Centaur in sechs Briefen [Leipzig: J. G. Dyck, with a separate Frankfurt issue]) and into Dutch in 1768 (De Centaurus geen Verdichtsel [Amsterdam: P. Meijer]).


Henry Pettit, ed., The Correspondence of Edward Young 1683-1765 (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1971), p. 404; hereafter cited as “Pettit.” For a judicious, comprehensive account of The Centaur's composition and publication, see Harold Forster's Edward Young: The Poet of the Night Thoughts 1683-1765 (Alburgh, Harleston, Norfolk: Erskine Press, 1986), pp. 268 and 280-287.


Samuel Richardson: A Biography (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), 432n.


That within the dedication the second edition shares the same essential page settings as the B cancellantia is evident from type alignment and damaged type throughout. Note, for instance, that the “g” cut at top in ldquo;Pegasean” (B6v/xii.3) and the “d” cut in “untamed” (B6v/xii.4) are also in the second edition on B5v, and that the “a” cut at top in “scandalized” (B7r/xiii.1) and the “a” cut in “Travels” (B7 + 1v/xvi.2) are also in the second edition on B6r and B7v. The first- edition page settings end up as different pages of the second edition, for in the latter the dedication is begun on leaf A2 conjugate to the title-page.


The following pages of the first edition of The Centaur have press figures: B7 + 1r/ xv-7, C8v/16-2, D8r/31-5, F1v/50-2, G1v/66-4, H2v/84-3, 16r/107-3, K6v/124-2, L5r/137-3, M8r/159-5, N3v/166-2, O2v/180-3, P1v/194-3, Q2v/212-1, R2r/227-2, R6v/236-3, S8r/255-1, T3v/262-4, T7r/269-2, X6v/300-1, Y7v/318-1, Z6r/331-1, Aa4v/344-2, Aa7v/350-7, Bb1v/354-7, Cc3r/373-1, and Cc3v/374-4. In all copies seen, press figures appear on both the inner and outer formes of only gatherings T and Cc. Most but not all copies have two figures in gatherings R (although one is on cancellans R2) and Aa (this variation was missed by Eaves and Kimpel [432n.] and by William Todd [“Observations on the Incidence and Interpretation of Press Figures,” Studies in Bibliography, 3 (1950-51), 193]). Six copies lack the figure on R6v (CSmH, FU, ICN1, MR3, NRU, and Oa), and only the top of the figure is visible in CaOTU, NcU, and OCU, suggesting it was accidentally lost. A third of the copies examined (18 of 58) lack the press figure on Aa7v/350 and so have only one figure in Aa: C, CoU, Csj, CtY, LU, May, MH1, N, NeU, NIC, NjP, NRU, NSbSU, OAU, O-HF, PSt, MdBJ and Wns. Only gatherings E and U have no press figures in all copies, and U may have had a figure on the verso of the cancellandum of U1.


The preliminary, disjunct, cancellans, and concluding leaves of the uncut copy at St. John's College, Cambridge, have the following features (all measurements are in mm): Frontispiece (219 x 126): chain-lines 76-77/3 [i.e., 76-77 for 3 chain-widths]; tranchefile 11; no watermark.

A1 [t-p.] (213-215 x 137): chain-lines 81/3; tranchefile 13-14; 8-9 of the top of “NH” watermark (completing that on U1); glued to B1.

B1. section title-page (212-215 tall): chain-lines, 101/4; no tranchefile or watermark; closest chain-line to the fold on B1: 17 (matching B4).

B2 (212-213 x 135): conjugate to B7+1; chain-lines, 79-80/3; tranchefile 12 at top; 14 at bottom; no watermark; ragged top edge matching that on B6.

B3 (212-213 x 132): chain-lines, 79-80/3; no tranchefile or watermark; uneven top edge matching that on Dd1; glued to leaf B2.

B4.B5 (215 x 270): chain-lines, 101-103/4; no tranchefile or watermark; closest chain-lines to the fold: 19 on B4; 28-29 on B5; point hole at 165 down B5.

B6 (212-215 x 134): conjugate to what appears to be B7; chain-lines, 80/3; tranchefile, 13- 14; no watermark; ragged top edge matching that on B2.

B7 and B7+1 (215 x 133; 212 x 131): chain-lines, 80/3; no tranchefile or watermark; point hole on B7+1 114 down outer edge.

N1.N2 (208-210 x 128, 131): chain-lines, 79/3; tranchefile on N1, 12-13; no watermark; point hole on N2 shared with R2 at 165-170 down outer edge; sewn in, with stubs behind N2.

R1.R2 (210-213 x 124, 134-135): chain-lines, 78/3; tranchefile, 13; 9 mm of the bottom of the “NH” watermark (same half as U1); point hole on R2 shared with N2 at 165-170 down outer edge; sewn in, with stubs behind R2.

U1 (212-213 x 137): chain-lines, 105-106/4; tranchefile, 12-13; 4.5 of bottom of “NH” watermark visible (same portion as on R1 and completing A1's half); glued to stub behind it.

Cc4 (213-214 x 133): chain-lines, 105/4; tranchefiles on Cc1 and Cc2, 12-13; no watermarks; parallel chains on Cc1, Cc2; point holes on Cc3 110 down and on Cc4 153 down on outer edge.

Dd1 (215 x 132): chain-lines, 108/4; no tranchefile or watermark; uneven top edge matching that on B3; glued to leaf Cc4.


A New Introduction to Bibliography (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1972), p. 128.


By measuring the distance out for chain-lines on known conjugates in regular gatherings, one first determines how much space is usually swallowed up in the fold (often this adds 1 mm to the apparent width). For instance, if one finds that the distances to the first chain-lines out from the fold on leaves known to be conjugate add up to 22 mm when the usual chain-width is 26 mm, then one need allow more for the fold. If easy measurement from the fold is not possible, one can measure in from the outside edge to the closest chain-line to the fold and subtract that from the total width. One must remember that the trimmed leaves of a normal book will often vary progressively from beginning to middle to end by one or two millimeters, that rulers vary slightly in their measurements, and, that if the leaves are glued in several millimeters from the fold and the measurements begin just behind the fold, measurements could easily be off by 3-4 mm. For a good discussion of measuring chain-lines and other identifiable features of paper and a system for identifying paper moulds by these features, see David L. Vander Meulen's “The Identification of Paper without Watermarks: The Example of Pope's Dunciad,Studies in Bibliography, 37 (1984), 58-81. Vander Meulen's proposal that one reconstruct the chain-line model for the mould offers a surer but more time-consuming method than my reliance on the position of the first chain-line from the fold.


Watermarks are only seen in the leaf A1 (not U1 also) in 9 copies: CaAEU, CoU, KU, MR3, NcU, Oa, O-HF, PRB, and ViWCF; and only seen in U1 in 7 or 8: CLU-C, ICN2, InU, N, O, Wns, WU, and possibly The Hague (where I think I identified one, but Librarian Paul van Capelleveen did not); and in the 11 copies wherein leaves A1 and U1 share a watermark noted above in the text, for a total of 27 (possibly 28) of 58 copies seen. A watermark is shared by leaves B2 and B6 in 11 copies listed in the text and appears in either B2 or B6 in 15 others: C, CLU-C, L, LdU-B, MB, MiU, MnU, NeU, NIC, Oa, OCU, Ose, PSt, RPB, and WU, for a total of 26 of 58 copies seen. A watermark is shared by leaves Cc1 and Cc2 in 10 copies listed in the text and appears in either Cc1 or Cc2 in 14 copies: C, CaOHM, ICN1, IU, L, May, MdBJ, MoU, NIC, NjP, NNU, NRU, OCiU, and TnU, for a total of 24 copies seen.


For checking details in their libraries' copies, I thank the following: Paul van Capelleveen of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, James Corsaro of the New York State Library, Geoffrey Day of Winchester College, Gail Greve of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Library, Jeannine Green of the U. of Alberta, Jacob Hand of the U. of Cincinnati, Jonathan Harrison and Elizabeth Quarmby Lawrence of St. John's College, Cambridge, Tim Johnson of the U. of Minnesota, Mike Kelly of New York U., Margaret Kulis of the Newberry Library, James Lloyd of the U. of Tennessee, Kris McCusker of the U. of Colorado at Boulder, John Mustain of Stanford U., Richard Noble of Brown U., D. W. Riley of John Rylands U. Library of Manchester, Christopher Sheppard of the Brotherton Collection, U. of Leeds, Bruce W. Swann of U. of Illinois, and Stephen Tabor of both the Clark Library and the Huntington Library. I also acknowledge my son Erich May's help in examining copies and editor David Vander Meulen's many corrections to and suggestions for the essay.