London: Printed for Jacob Tonson, 1691. First edition. Hardcover. 4to. (14),51,(1)pp. The half-title is present with its advertisement on the reverse. Also present are the Prologue and the Epilogue. The earliest copies lack these leaves, but an unsigned leaf was inserted after A4 headed "Prologue to the OPERA, Spoken by Mr. Betterton." H2 was cancelled and a new leaf headed [H2v]: The EPILOGUE. Spoken by Mrs. Bracegirdle, the word FINIS being transferred from H2 to H2v.
The text block shows some aging and light staining; it is finely bound in full crushed crimson morocco, unsigned but reminiscent of Sangorski: Spine in six compartments with raised bands, intricately tooled in gilt; gilt rules on the boards; gilt inner dentelles; endpapers of crimson Victorian cloth in a linen effect. Top edge gilt. The text has been bulked out with several pages of blank paper in the rear. A nice copy of the scarce first edition in a fine binding.
Dryden's 'King Arthur' owes little to the Arthur of history of romance. The play centers around a battle with Oswald, a Saxon leader, which Arthur wins. He also wing the faire but blind Emmeline, whose sight is restored by Merlin. The play was first performed at the Queen's Theatre with music by Purcell, and marks the likely beginning of a rekindling of interest in King Arthur and other things monarchial after their suppression by Cromwell and the Commonwealth.
Macdonald, 91 a ii. Arthurian Encyclopedia 121. Wing D2299. ESTC R18755. Fine. Item #18967