The Siamese tales: being a collection of stories told to the son of the Mandarin Sam-Sib, for the purpose of engaging his mind in the love of truth and virtue. With an historical account of the kingdom of Siam. To which is added the principal maxims of the talapoins. Translated from the Siamese.

London, Vernor & Hood and Champante & Whitrow, 1796.

8vo, pp. [vi], ii, 196, [2], including half-title and final advertisement leaf, with engraved frontispiece by Cook, after Corbould; mild spotting and offsetting to first few leaves, in contemporary tree sheep, rubbed and corners bumped, spine ruled gilt with later paper spine label lettered in black ink, joints cracking but hinges firm, spine-ends worn; with inscription ‘S.E.A. Lechmere 1796’ and later bookplate of Edmund Lechmere (1917) to front pastedown. A good copy.


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First edition of an anonymously published collection of ‘Siamese tales’, written as fables to increase their appeal to children. In the Introduction, the author states that the purpose of these supposedly translated tales is to ‘promote the love of virtue through the medium of fiction’ (p. 1). George Brewer (1766 - ?) served as a midshipman in his youth, visiting America, India, China and Scandinavia. In 1791 he was made a lieutenant in the Swedish navy, and not long after he read law in London. Presumably inspired by his travels as a youth, he set these tales in Siam, ‘where the manners of the people are curious, and but little known’ (p. i).

An American edition was printed in Baltimore, USA in 1897 and according to Oxford DNB Brewer published some of the tales in the European Magazine.

The Lechmere family have been based at Severn End since the 11th-century.

Raven 1796:18.

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