London: Printed for F. Newberry, 1766. First edition in English of an important French treatise on belles lettres, which catered to the increasing interest in self-education and self-improvement that characterized the later eighteenth century. The translator notes that Formey’s work is “…admirably well calculated for conveying a perfect knowledge of the Belles Lettres; and…has the advantage over others on the same subject, inasmuch as the examples by way of illustration, are taken from the most celebrated French and Latin writers…though at the same time honourable mention is made of the most valuable of those of our own country. The beauties and defects of many of the French authors, which have been hitherto but little known to the generality of English readers, are in the ensuing pages, displayed, and impartially considered; and the poetical, as well as prose quotations, extracted from their works, are translated into English: So that every possible means are used, in this little Tract, to render the attainment of Belles easy and delightful.”. Binding partially discolored, label chipped, joints cracked, but cords sound. Early ownership signature (“Miss S. Stevenson March 1789”) on front pastedown. A good, clean copy of a scarce book. Contemporary calf with gilt burgundy morocco spine label. Twelvemo. [253, with the last page misnumbered 229], [1, blank] pp. Item #13212
Formey (1711-97) was professor of philosophy at Berlin. He published a large number of articles in the transactions of the Berlin Academy and was the author of several theological and philosophical treatises, including a compendium of the philosophy of Christian Wolff (La belle Wolfienne, 1741-53), and several books on the writings of Rousseau (L’esprit de Julie, 1762; L’Anti-Emile, 1762; Emile chrétien, 1764). He also published a philosophical survey, which was translated by Oliver Goldsmith in 1766, and edited an edition of Yves-Marie André’s Essai sur le beau, the first treatise on aesthetics in France.