Adventures of Musul: by KENDALL, Edward Augustus (1775-1842).

KENDALL, Edward Augustus (1775-1842).

Adventures of Musul: or the Three Gifts; with other Tales. London, J. Bonsor for Vernor and Hood and E. Newbery, 1800.

FIRST EDITION. 18mo (134 x 78 mm), engraved frontispiece and pp. [4], 175, [1] advertisements, in the original green vellum-backed marbled boards, printed paper label on spine, a little worn and dusty, bookplate sometime removed from front pastedown, child’s scribbles and pencil sketch of a horse, pencil sketch of a face on the rear endpaper.

A scarce collection of moral tales for children set on the ‘ornamented farm’ of Mr Byron, in ‘a romantic valley’ in Lancashire, near the magnificent Lake Windermere. Once a year, Mr Mereworth, a curate and an old friend of Mr Byron, comes to visit, to the delight of Byron’s children who remember his many stories with great fondness. Mr. Mereworth, a keen educator, alerts them to the value of the story ‘which was intended to impress upon the minds of those who heard it, many salutary lessons; which would remind them of the uncertainty of all human prospects, and of the facility with which the greatest advantages may be lost’. The main part of the book tells the story of Musul, third son of a wealthy grandee of Persia, who inherited nothing from his father but a ring, a gem and a cloak: the story shows how, after much suffering, his use of these gifts and his virtuous choices bring him happiness. After several other tales and verses - including a humorous short story, ‘The Prince that had a long nose’ - a final section, ‘The Lessons of Adversity’, reinforces the moral purpose of Kendall’s tales and includes a number of anthropomorphic stories about animals, birds and plants.
Edward Augustus Kendall was a key figure in changing the way animals were represented in children’s fiction, moving away from the allegorical towards the naturalistic, giving the animals themselves a voice. Other well known writers such as Dorothy Kilner, Anna Laetitia Barbauld and Sarah Trimmer also made important contributions to this change in taste, but it was Kendall who was the principal pioneer, developing new techniques of narrative form to present the thought processes of animals. His Keeper’s Travels in Search of his Master, Crested Wren and Burford Cottage and its Robin Red Breast are seen as important predecessors of The Water Babies and The Wind in the Willows. Kendall is also remembered as a philanthropist and social campaigner, author of the important topographical dictionary, Travels through the Northern Parts of the United States, 1809 and of The English Boy at the Cape, one of the first novels to be set in South Africa.

ESTC t133645, at BL, NLS, Morgan and Toronto only.

Roscoe J203.

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