The Book of Fables: Selections from Aesop, and other Authors Explained and Adapted to Popular Use
. Robert B. Collins . New York
Aesop et al
PA3855.E5 G63 1856 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
Aesop et al
MetadataShow full item record
This book reproduces almost exactly Fables from Aesop and Other Writers of Standard Celebrity Explained and Adapted to Popular Use (1851) by Baldwin, published in Philadelphia by Hogan & Thompson. All that seems lacking is the pre-title-page portrait of Aesop. The title is also different. The plates seem identical throughout. I make a number of comments there comparing that 1851 edition with another of Baldwin's first published in 1840. See those comments there. Other comments are more pertinent to this edition. Let me repeat some of them here. The introduction gives some surprising tips, which the versions follow: (1) Do not shorten fables; make them visible; (2) do not let fables end unhappily; and (3) introduce nothing new without explanation. Endings are thus often softened, and we get some surprises. The country mouse lives at Horace's villa, the town mouse at Maecenas' palace. The dog in the manger gets both the meat and an admonition. The miller recovers the ass. The ant gives the grasshopper a little. The hermit dismisses the bear after his wound. Men save the tangled stag before the dogs kill him. All ends well in The Travellers and a Money-Bag. Furthermore, I notice in this reading of Baldwin's fables that in The Poor Farmer and the Justice (77), things turn out doubly different from the usual. The justice admits the farmer's claim, and the farmer feels so bad about having set the justice up with a counter-example that he uses the compensation to buy bread for the poor in the workhouse! In CW (124), the particular cat that the young man dotes on is grass green! When she bolts out of bed because she hears a rustling behind the drapes, the bridesmaids burst into laughter. She and her husband agree to ask Venus to make her a cat again, and the man happily marries another. The cat was convinced that it was best to be content as nature had made her (127). Happy endings are everywhere! In The Satyr and the Traveller (141), Baldwin is clear: The satyr was in the wrong. The same thing is often found to serve two purposes (144). The china jar in 2P (149) is not broken, and the author expresses the hope that she will not be. New to me is The Murderer and the Moon (186); it is not a strong fable. There is an illustration by an unknown artist at the start of each fable. There are also frequent end-pieces, often of a single animal. At least the illustration for Industry and Sloth (238) is after Bewick's in his Aesop (1818). My favorite private collection has a listing for this book (F-0901). The first illustration features not only a grasshopper and ant but a large monument behind them with the words Book of Fables. That fits well with this book but less well with the 1851 edition.