24mo, pp. 212, with engraved frontispiece and additional engraved title-page; woodcut of publisher’s signature to verso of half-title; very occasional light marks, engraved title cut close (just touching print); a very good copy in contemporary half calf with marbled sides, spine gilt in compartments and lettered directly in gilt; some wear to upper joint and extremities and rubbing to covers; contemporary correction in ink to p. 34, a few pencil marks.
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L’esprit des enfans, ou naïvetés, saillies piquantes, réparties ingénieuses, espiégleries, traits de bonté, de courage, etc., d’enfans qui la plupart sont devenus des hommes célèbres ...
Scarce and charming collection of amusing and edifying anecdotes relating to the childhoods of those who would later become famous, alongside more general youthful yarns, compiled by the Parisian writer Antoine (1776–1836), who specialised in works for children.
L’Esprit des Enfans features an eclectic cast of the great and the good, including Louis XIV, Gassendi, Cato, Cyrus the Great, Ariosto, Voltaire, St Genevieve, Leibniz, Madame Dacier, Lady Jane Grey, Dick Whittington, and Hannibal. We hear of the young Frederick the Great naming his pet monkeys after his courtiers, of the infant Rousseau sent to bed without his supper, of Jean-Baptiste Lully stripping naked and posing as a statue to impress a princess (a scene delightfully depicted on the engraved title), and enjoy an exquisite put-down by Pico della Mirandola. We read of the future Edward VI treating his friends to tea in priceless silver vessels, of the youthful Alexander the Great complaining that his father has left him nothing to conquer, and of a young scholar of Westminster School caught smoking, claiming that he was doing so on his doctor’s advice to keep his feet warm. Published two years before Waterloo, the text contains several references to fraught Anglo-French relations. The attractive frontispiece depicts children admiring busts of many of the ‘great men’ featured in the following pages.
No copies traced in the UK or US.
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