A Paris: Chez Pierre Aubouin, Pierre Emery et Charles Clousier…, 1687. First edition, mixed issue, of Fénelon’s (1651-1715) most important book. This copy has no errata, as is the case with first issue copies, according to Tchermerzine. It follows Tchermerzine’s description of the second issue, with p. 167, line 20 having the reading “sans vivre de son esprit” . However, it has the errors on p. 275 (“manifiques” and “simplieté”), as does the first issue. Both O4 (pp. 167-8) and pp. 275-6 (Z3) are on stubs. Spine ends, corners lightly worn. Some light browning, but generally a very good copy. Contemporary calf, gilt-decorated spine. Twelvemo. , [3, catalogue], [1, blank], 275 [i.e., 269, pagination for pp. 193-8 omitted as usual, but complete], ], [6, privilege] pp. Title-page in black and red. Item #12094
Instructions for the Education of a Daughter was “…the first systematic attempt ever made to deal with that subject as a whole. Hence it was probably the most influential of all Fénelon’s books, and guided French ideas on the question all through the 18th century. It holds a most judicious balance between the two opposing parties of the time. On the one side were the précieuses, enthusiasts for the ‘higher’ education of their sex; on the other were the heavy Philistines, so often portrayed by Molière, who thought that the less girls knew the better they were likely to be. Fénelon sums up in favour of the cultivated house-wife; his first object was to persuade the mothers to take charge of their girls themselves, and fit them to become wives and mothers in their turn” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 13th edition). “Il faut considérer outre le bien que font les femmes quand elles sont bien élevées, le mal qu’elles causent dans e monde quand elles manquent d’une education qui leur inspire la vertu. Il est constant que la mauvaise éducation des femmes fait plus de mal que celle des hommes, puisque les désordres des hommes viennent souvent & de la mauvaise éducation qu’ils ont receüe de leurs mères, & des passions que d’autres femmes leur ont inspirées dans un âge plus avancé. Quelles intrigues se presentent à nous dans les Histoires, quel renversement des lois & des moeurs, quelles guerres sanglantes, quelles nouveautez contre la religion, quelles révolutions d’Etat causées par le déreglement des femmes! Voilà ce qui prouve l’importance de bien élever les filles” (pp. 7-8).
Tchermerzine III, p. 164.