8vo, pp. xvi, 17-330; engraved frontispiece and plates (numbered I-XXIII), one folding map; a a few early leaves a little loose, otherwise very good copy in publisher’s grey cloth, spine gilt with beaver device; lightly worn at extremities; ownership inscription ‘H.C. Albee, Rochester, NY’ to frontispiece verso.
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The American beaver and his works.
First edition of the first American work of comparative psychology, a latter-day Fable of the bees, and an early expression of American conservationism. ‘The popular mind has always been in advance of the metaphysicians with reference to the mental endowments of animals. For some reason there has been a perpetual hesitation among many of the latter to recognize, in the manifestations of the animal mind, the same characteristics that are displayed by the human intellect: lest the high position of man should be shaken or impaired’. The fascinating final chapter addresses the question of whether beavers have souls, and attacks man’s assumed prerogative to destroy the ‘mute’ species with which he shares the earth, for example through the fur trade, which is examined earlier in the book. The illustrations of beavers, their habitats and their power to destroy trees are delightful.
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