2 volumes. 8vo., (9 ¼ x 6 ¾ inches). Half-titles; additional sepia aquatint vignette title page; errata leaf in each volume; one-page publisher’s Advertisement in volume II (first signature in volume I loose; occasional spotting). 2 engraved maps; 52 sepia aquatint plates after Ireland (slightly spotted; some offsetting onto text pages). Contemporary tree calf, the smooth spine gilt-ruled in six compartments, red morocco gilt lettering piece in one and gilt-lettered in another (rebacked to style; upper hinge of volume I cracked but holding).
Provenance: Bookplates of Matthew White Ridley (1842-1904), First Viscount Ridley, Second Baron Wensleydale, Conservative Member of Parliament; and 20th-century bookplates of “W. A. H.” to front pastedowns.
First edition. Guidebook to the sites found along the Thames, including Blenheim Castle and other estates, numerous bridges, Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle, and Greenwich Hospital. One of Ireland’s famous river guides: “In 1790 Ireland published ‘A Picturesque Tour through France, Holland, Brabant, and part of France made in the Autumn of 1789,’ London (2 vols. roy. 8vo and in large-paper 4to). It was dedicated to Francis Grose and contained etchings on copper in aqua-tinta from drawings made by the author ‘on the spot.’ He paid at least one visit to France (cf. W. H. Ireland, Confessions, p. 5), and the charge brought against him by his enemies that he was never out of England is unfounded. A second edition appeared in 1795. The series, which was long valued by collectors, was continued in the same form in ‘Picturesque Views on the River Thames,’ 1792 (2 vols., 2nd ed. 1800–1), dedicated to Earl Harcourt; in ‘Picturesque Views on the River Medway,’ 1793 (1 vol.), dedicated to the Countess Dowager of Aylesford; in ‘Picturesque Views on the Warwickshire Avon,’ 1795 (1 vol.), dedicated to the Earl of Warwick; and in ‘Picturesque Views on the River Wye,’ 1797 (1 vol.). In 1800, just after Ireland's death, appeared ‘Picturesque Views, with an Historical Account of the Inns of Court in London and Westminster,’ dedicated to Alexander, lord Loughborough, and the series was concluded by the publication in 1824 of ‘Picturesque Views on the River Severn’ (2 vols.), with coloured lithographs, after drawings by Ireland, and descriptions by T. Harral. Ireland had announced the immediate issue of this work in his volume on the Wye in 1797” (Sidney Lee for DNB). The author is best known, however, as the father and possible co-conspirator of the notorious Shakespeare forger William Henry Ireland (1775-1835).