Flowers of Fable from Northcote, Aesop, Croxall, Gellert, Dodsley, Gay, La Fontaine, Lessing, Krasicki, Herder, Merrick, Cowper, etc.
. Harper & Brothers . NY ,
PN982.F56 1847 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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The first sentences of the preface of this little (4½ x 6¾) book set a fascinating tone: The principal object of the compiler of this collection of Fables, has been to avoid all such as contain coarse, rude, or profane expressions (iii). The same preface contains a spirited defense of long morals for short fables. This collection of 223 fables on 252 pages seems a mixtum-gatherum. There is no attempt to attribute these fables to particular authors among those mentioned on the title-page. Prose follows verse. Some fables have long applications and some none. Traditional fables are brought together with many that are new to me. I am surprised to find The Dog and the Crane (29). Here the dog acts as the wolf does in the traditional tale, but then has the same throat-problem a second time. He becomes remorseful. The crane hears of his plight and relieves him again. The dog licks her feet and asks to be her slave! The crane declares that virtue is its own reward and flies off. In another transformation, the cormorant takes fishes to a shallow pool, where he can eat them whenever he wants (9). In the traditional Bidpay fable, a crane takes them to rocks and eventually pays for his sins. Upon reflection, is the version here not the sort of fable that this editor wanted to keep out of the collection? There are also various forms of illustration, including especially rectangles, framed rectangles, initials, tailpieces. I find the emotion expressed in GGE (34) good. Also delightful is the little devil sitting at the rich sick man's ear as a philosopher lectures him about idleness (41). The illustration for MSA on 105 is full of exertion and contortion. I am surprised to see The Benefit of Recreation--Aesop at Play included, with illustration (236). The preface is signed C.K.F. William M. Whitney is stamped on the leather portion of the half-leather cover.