ROBINSONADE

Ambrose and Eleanor; or, the Adventures of two Children deserted on an uninhabited Island. Translated from the French. With Alterations, adapting it to the Perusal of Youth, for whose Amusement and Instruction it is designed. By [Lucy Peacock] the Author of the Adventures of the six Princesses of Babylon, Juvenile Magazine, Visit for a Week, &c. Second Edition.

London: Printed for R. and L. Peacock, at the Juvenile Library … and sold by Hookham and Carpenter … and C. Law … 1797

12mo., pp. iv, 226, [2, advertisement], printed on light blue paper, with an engraved frontispiece of the children with the caption ‘Providence is their Pilot’; the occasional smudge but a very good copy in contemporary tree sheep; ownership inscription of ‘Frances Amler, 1797'.

£425

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Second English edition (first 1796), a translation of Lolotte et Fanfan (1788). Lucy Peacock kept a shop on Oxford Street which stocked her own and other juvenile tales. Lolotte et Fanfan (1788) evidently appealed for its didactic potential, but required significant editing: ‘many characters and scenes woven into the original, could neither afford pleasure nor advantage to a juvenile reader’.

Her translation met with a lukewarm contemporary reception, with the Critical Review damning it doubly: ‘a most improbable fiction; the incidents are by no means new’, and the Monthly Review drawing an unfavourable (and perhaps unfair) comparison with Robinson Crusoe. Whilst the story does descend into traditional territory, at the outset the scene is a challenging one: Colonel Carlton discovers the corpse of Derley, their friend and protector, ‘partly dry, and partly putrified’, in the cave where the children sleep. The siblings know he cannot hear them, ‘for if he could, he would speak to us’, yet they cover his body daily with fresh leaves. Ignorant yet capable, they forage for food, measure the passage of each day, and hide from groups of aggressive natives. It falls to the colonel to discover the betrayal which has lead to their fate, and to import their inherent goodness into a Christian framework.

Both the first and second editions are scarce. Of this edition ESTC records four copies only in the UK, at the British Library, Birmingham, Oxford and Cambridge and two in the US, at UCLA and Illinois. Of the first edition ESTC records copies at the British Library, Bodleian Library, Pierpont Morgan Library, Lilly Library, UCLA, Florida and Yale.

Garside, Raven and Schöwerling, 1796:38.

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