Fifty-One Original Fables with Morals and Ethical Index. Also a Translation of Plutarch's Banquet of the Seven Sages

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Birch, J
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Bodemann #278.1. After an introduction, the book begins with an Ethical Index, listing titles and morals. A new fable comes every four pages. First there is an illustration about 2½ x 3½ in size centered on the left-hand page. Then come, on the next two pages, number, title, narrative, moral (usually longer than the narrative), and perhaps a vignette. A blank right-hand page follows. The Cruickshank illustrations are often very nice. An example is the illustration for Fable VI, The Bee, the Spider, and the Tomtit (42). In the fable, the Tomtit overhears the other two arguing about their building skills, especially relative to their mathematical skills in constructing hive and web, respectively. The Tomtit intrudes himself to praise his nests, and the other bursts into laughter. The illustration is wonderfully precise. Many of the vignettes are delightful; a good example is that for Aesop and the Libertine (48). Another vignette has a man reeling from a woman who has removed her make-up mask (68). One might take this book as a sample of the taste of the Eighteenth Century. The long morals regularly take up social, political, and religious questions. We read, e.g., a tribute on 52 to public schools over private tuition, for in the former the boy, surrounded by his equals, soon finds out the necessity of curbing passion and suppressing sauciness. The Hog and the Goat (59) focuses on misplaced admiration of either obesity or starvation. For yet another example of the taste of the time, try The Traveller and the Gnat (119). One of these new fables that I find particularly engaging is The Yard-Dog and the Fox (99). The fox lures the over-zealous watchdog into the woods and then doubles back to plunder the farm. The fable has a good illustration and a good vignette. Many of the fables suffer, I believe, from a sort of prethought didacticism. This R. Cruickshank apparently has nothing to do with the famous George Cruickshank, who lived from 1792 to 1878 and illustrated The Toothache. There is an AI at the back, which also lists the engraver for each illustration. It is followed by a translation of Plutarch's The Banquet of the Seven Sages. Because they are differently bound, I will keep both copies in the collection.
Hamilton Adams, and co.,
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