London: Sold by I. Souter, [ca. 1815-17]. Early edition, first published in 1800. Another edition was published in 1811. This work is based on a prose version published in 1790 and it uses most of the illustrations from that work. The verse version was aimed at a younger audience and the change from prose to verse was “with a view to making them more entertaining.” All editions are scarce, known in nine copies or less. Fifty-six woodcuts by John Bewick. Light offsetting from engravings, the occasional minor stain. Contemporary bookplate of Fraser, Fourth Baronet of Ledeclune (Sir William August Fraser) on front pastedown, small ink stamp to lower margin of front flyleaf. A very good, clean copy. Contemporary calf, neatly rebacked, ruled and stamped in gilt, gilt spine with gilt-lettered black morocco label, all edges gilt. Marbled endpapers. Twelvemo. 122, , [4, publisher’s ads] pp. Item #16573
John Trusler (1735-1820) was a Church of England clergyman author, printer, educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and is credited with publishing the first thesaurus to the English language. He was a compiler of others’ works, the most famous of which was a “methodised and digested” version of Lord Chesterfield’s Letters to His Son (1774), published as Principles of Politeness (1775). Proverbs in Verse is prefaced by Trusler’s “On English Prosody, or Rules for Reading Verse” and contains more than fifty proverbs.
John Bewick (bap. 1760-1795) was a wood-engraver and the younger brother of Thomas Bewick. Once in London, he worked for his brother’s former employer, Thomas Hodgson of Clerkenwell, a wood-and metal-engraver. Bewick eventually set out on his own and rented rooms from George Percival at 7 Clerkenwell Green. Here, he began his relationship with the eccentric Dr. John Trusler, who lived nearby and printed his own books from his home. Trusler commissioned nine of the sixty-eight titles so far identified as having containing John Bewick’s illustrations.