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(A Mother). Food for the young, adapted to the mental capacities of children of tender years. London: William Darton, 1823. 12mo (14.4 cm, 5.67"). , 176 pp.; 4 plts. $200.00
Interesting educational tales of natural history and voyages, worked into a frame story about the Johnsons and their children Frederic, Lucy, and William. Part of the excitement comes from a visitor who tells the children stories about being => shipwrecked in Africa and encountering Negroes (friendly) and Moors (unfriendly). Other topics include harvesting and preparing tea, American beavers, the "economy of bees," flora and fauna in Ceylon, glassmaking, the Black Hole of Calcutta (unmistakable, but not named with that epithet), and the life of "an American savage" (p. 169). While the preface notes that the work was written for children eight or nine years old (whereas the first edition specified six or seven!), that target age seems nebulous: many of the teaching moments are conceptually basic — the protagonist children have never heard of and have to ask about concepts such as deserts and volcanos — but the text takes for granted that readers will be comfortable with language on the level of "traversing," "voracious," "expatiating," "approbation," etc. The benevolent mamma does, however, mention several times that her children should always be sure to ask adults the meaning of any unfamiliar word or concept they encounter.
The volume is illustrated with => four copper-engraved plates: a frontispiece showing two well-dressed children and their mamma discovering a lark's nest, a group of Africans attacked by a lion, the fashionable mamma plus all three children and their dog in a flowery arbor, and a final engraved advertisement for Darton's "maps, charts, & plans [and] extensive collections of books for the use of children and young people." The first three plates are dated 1823. Darton first published the present work in 1818 and again in 1820; this third edition is, like the previous two, now uncommon.
Provenance: Tipped-in engraved presentation leaf filled out to John Lewis Provoost by his friend Miss S. Lock of New York; front free endpaper with early pencilled inscription of Charlotte E. Marshall. Later in the children's book collection of Albert A. Howard, small booklabel ("AHA") at rear.
For first ed., see Gumuchian 2589 & Osborne Collection, p. 708. Contemporary marbled paper–covered boards with roan shelfback, spine with gilt-stamped title; sides a little scuffed, spine leather worn and cracked with head chipped. Hinges (inside) tender, sewing just starting to loosen; pages age-toned with offsetting from plates and a handful of spots of foxing, front pastedown with => early pencilled profile doodle. (40791) Please RESHELVE This.
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