London: T. Longman, B. Law and Son, J. Dodsley, J. Johnson, C. Dilly, G.G. and J. Robinson, T. Cadell, W. Richardson, R. Baldwin, W. Goldsmith, F. and C. Rivington, R. Faulder, S. Hayes, Ogilvy and Speare, Vernor and Hood, W. Lowndes, C. Wynne, W. Bent, J. S, 1794. Small square octavo, contemporary three-quarter calf gilt, raised bands, black spine label, marbled boards. Rubbing to binding, front hinge weak. Early paper repairs to preliminaries, not affecting text, early owners' ink inscriptions to preliminaries. Item #100200
Charming eighteenth-century pocket anthology of exemplary letters, excerpted from a larger work, Elegant Epistles, "sometimes too bulky for common use in schools." The collection begins with classical examples from Cicero and Pliny, and then moves at a sprightly pace through English history, bringing together letters on various occasions from Anne Boleyn, Philip Sidney, John Locke, Laurence Sterne, and Lord Chesterfield, among many others. As Alexander Pope writes to Jonathan Swift: "I know by experience a letter is a very useful, as well as amusing thing: if you are too buried in state affairs to read it, yet you may find entertainment in folding it into divers figures, either doubling it into a pyramidical, or twisting it into a serpentine form." An appendix is largely dedicated to examples from the French court, including selections from Madame de Sévigné and Madame de Maintenon, and the collection concludes with Samuel Johnson's "On Letter Writing." A delightful book.