February’s release of Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society includes rare books for children which are intended to inform and instruct them. They include behavioral and etiquette instruction and, in one case, graphic as well as moral illustrations.
Jacky Dandy’s Delight: Or, The History of Birds and Beasts; in Verse and Prose. Adorned with Cuts (1805)
No author of this imprint is identified, but the publisher, Ashbel Stoddard, proves to be an interesting person. The citation provides this “Publication Information: Hudson (N.Y.): Printed by Ashbel Stoddard at the White House, corner of Warren and Third Streets, 1805.” Stoddard was one of the first printers in the early days of white settlements in the Hudson Valley. He owned a bookstore and published a newspaper. The relief prints are charmingly primitive and the book is intended to instruct children about natural history and good behavior.
Jack Dandy was an active fellow,
Merry as any Punchinello,
And did the Part of Harlequin;
Here do but look, he’s just come in.
Good Mr. Har. Instruct me pray,
How I may be a pretty boy.
Says Harlequin, I’ll grant your suit,
Learn to be good, and that will do’t.
The author weaves moral lessons with illustrations and descriptions of the birds and beasts. As an instance, we meet Billy Froward who “went a bird catching with Tommy Telltruth, and they agreed at their first setting out, to be partners in their success.” But Billy is a treacherous lad who attempts to hide the linnet he has bagged from Tommy.