Peter Parley's Book of Fables Illustrated by Numerous Engravings
Goodrich, Samuel G
. Reed and Barber . Hartford
PZ8.2.P36 Bo 1838 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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This is a lovely book. It seems to be identical with a book published two years earlier (1836) with the same title and plates by White, Dwier and Co in Hartford. One special quality of this book is the careful coloring of the illustrations. Since both copies have this feature, might it be that the publisher had laborers water-coloring the illustrations? There tend to be fewer illustrations as the book progresses. This book supplements that one in that it has the pages (13-14) missing in the earlier copy. Let me repeat comments I made on that book. Forty-seven fables full of explicitated lessons about what little children should do. If you look for a sense of how we wanted little kids to behave in the early nineteenth century, look no farther! The fables are heavy on animals learning too late what they should have done and very light on risk and adventure. The principal lesson is overwhelming: obey your parents! Surprisingly, the last six fables turn at last to traditional Aesopic material, and there has not been anything explicitly Aesopic before then. Some fables of course reinforce traditional fable themes, like The Fox and the Spaniel (71), which teaches that people judge us by the company we keep. Here is a selection of sample stories: The Wolf and the Young Lamb (why you should not leave your mother's side, 33); The Rival Snails (how to act if you are the fastest snail in climbing up a building, 35); The Cow and the Clover (Or, a Story to show the Danger of Greediness, 49); The Child and the Rainbow (why you should enjoy rainbows while they last, 55); and The Rat and Her Young Ones (96). This latter story takes a prize. One young rat loses his leg to a trap on an expedition forbidden by mother before she left the hole. When she comes back and asks what happened, the young rat declares Oh, my dear mother, while you were gone, a strong iron trap came into the hole, and snapped off my leg. There is a T of C at the beginning. The preface admits that the material presented here is based on the fables of Ingram Cobbin published in London. One catches the transatlantic sense in the footnote on 30 telling American children what a hedge is. The binding is in the process of separating. Included in this book is a touching note from someone perhaps in the 1840's or 1850's giving the book to a nephew as a remembrance of Uncle Ezra Fairchild, who composed the poem on the green ex libris stamp on the inside front cover.