Ray | William


First Edition



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First edition of Poems on Various Subjects, Religious, Moral, Sentimental, and Humorous by William Ray, published in 1821.

Small octavo, viii, [9]-254pp, [errata]. Full green morocco, title in gilt on spine with five raised bands. Top edge gilt, with gilt trim and turn-ins. Marbled endpapers. Finely bound by The French Binders in Garden City, New York, with bindery stamp on front endpaper. Solid text block, some toning to leaves, small stain to top corner of errata sheet. Untrimmed edges. (Sabin 68035) A near fine example in a fine binding.

William Ray, who missed out on an editorial position in Philadelphia, signed on to the frigate Philadelphia in July 1803, William Bainbridge commanding, and sailed to the Mediterranean. He and the rest of the crew became prisoners of the Bashaw of Tripoli when Philadelphia ran aground on 1 November 1803, and was captured by the Tripolitans. The crew remained imprisoned in Tripoli for nineteen months and four days. Once released from the prison at Tripoli he joined the Essex as captain’s clerk and eventually returned to the United States in 1809. Many of the poems relate to Ray’s life on board Philadelphia and his time imprisoned in Tripoli. Poetical highlights include: A Voyage. Invocation to Neptune, written on board the Frigate Philadelphia, 1803; Exercising Ship, written at sea, U.S. Frigate Philadelphia, 1803; The Loaf, written in Tripoli in 1804; Elegy on the death of Lieutenant James Decatur, who fell August 3d, 1804, in an action with the Tripolitan gun-boats; Lines addressed to General Eaton. Written on board the U. States frigate Essex, 1805; To the Memory of Commodore Preble; On the Massacre of the American Prisoners, at Dartmoor Prison, England and Elegy On the Death of John Hilliard (an imprisoned Philadelphia seaman), who died Jan 3d. 1804, in the prison of Tripoli. The last with comment that Hilliard might have lived had the Philadelphia’s surgeon, Dr. Jonathan Cowdery, paid him adequate attention.

Additional information

Location Published



U.F. Doubleday


First Edition

Date Published



Full leather


Near Fine


Ray | William

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William Ray