Two vols, 12mo, I: pp. 10, ‘278’ [i.e. 378]; II: pp. , 322; a very fine, crisp copy in contemporary polished calf, spine gilt within compartments, morocco lettering-pieces; signature on title-pages of Lady Grisell Bailey (1665–1746), reusing the armorial bookplates dated 1724 of her late husband, the Scottish politician George Bailey, one of the Lords of the Treasury; library shelfmarks on endleaves.
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The adventures of David Simple: containing an account of his travels through the cities of London and Westminster, in search of a real friend. By a lady. In two volumes …
First edition, very fine. The first and most popular novel of Sarah, the sister of Henry Fielding, who was to provide a preface and a few revisions to the second edition.
A Quixotic satire, it follows the fortunes of its hero, disillusioned by the discovery that his younger brother has attempted to cheat him by means of a forged will. As he sets out ‘in search of a true friend’ his first experiences do not go well, convincing him that mercenary motives govern the world. Then he meets Cynthia, excluded from her father’s will and ill-treated by an employer, and Valentine and Camilla, a distressed brother and sister whose stepmother has alienated their father’s affection. The four young people wander about observing London and Westminster, discussing what they see, and listening to stories, until, inevitably, David and Camilla and Valentine and Cynthia are betrothed. The novel offers a wonderful picture of the London scene.
In his preface to the second edition Henry Fielding writes that the incidents are everywhere natural, and praises the ‘deep knowledge of human nature’ the novel discovers.
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