The Blossoms of Morality. by JOHNSON, Richard, compiler (1733 or…

JOHNSON, Richard, compiler (1733 or 1734-1793).

The Blossoms of Morality. Intended for the Amusement & Instruction of Young Ladies & Gentlemen. By the Editor of The Looking-Glass for the Mind. London, E. Newbery, 1789.

First Edition. 12mo (170 x 100 mm), attractive engraved frontispice and pp. [vi], 212, engraved title-page vignette, tear to p. 85, through text but with no loss, in contemporary plain sheep, spine cracking, some scuffing to covers, plain spine ruled in gilt with faded ink title, headcap chipped, worn at extremities, with the contemporary ownership inscription of Ann Elliot on the front pastedown.

The scarce first edition of this delightful collection of moral tales, attributed to the prolific children’s writer Richard Johnson. Illustrations by Bewick were added to the second and subsequent editions, of which there were many, including four in America, in Philadelphia, Wilmington and New York. The author is given on the title page as ‘by the editor of the Looking Glass for the Mind’, which was printed by Newbery in 1787 and which was actually by the French children’s writer Arnaud Berquin. It was translated by ‘J. Cooper’, one of the many pseudonyms of Richard Johnson.
In his preface, the editor praises Berquin and other foreign writers whose books for the juvenile market ‘merit the highest encomiums’ and who have humbled themselves to deal in ‘the plain language of youth, in order to teach them wisdom, virtue, and morality’. The text comprises some 23 short stories, of varied length, style and setting, including such titles as ‘Juvenile Tyranny conquered’, ‘The Book of Nature’, ‘The happy Effects of Sunday Schools on the Morals of the rising Generation’, ‘The Happy Villager’, ‘The Indolent Beauty’ and ‘Female Courage properly considered’.

Roscoe J39 (1); Osborne II 900.

Keywords: English Literature
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