12mo, 4 volumes (of 5), first edition, preface by Richard Lovell Edgeworth, presentation copy inscribed by the author to her half-sister Harriet (To | Harriet Edgeworth from her | friend & sister Maria as a mark | of approbation for an instance | of Harriet's good sense & early | prudence -- July 11th 1809"), engraved frontispieces by Neagle after C. Edgeworth and others, without half-titles in volumes 3 and 4 as normal, ownership signatures of Harriet Edgeworth on title pages of other volumes, contemporary tree calf gilt, spines with red and black morocco labels, lacking volume 5, a few leaves nearly detached from volume 1, some other gatherings loose, offsetting and browning, bindings heavily worn and rubbed with some joints split; together with volumes 2 and 3 only of the sixth edition, 1813, in original blue-grey boards, with ownership signatures of Harriet Edgeworth (dated 1817) and her father Richard Lovell Edgeworth, spines chipped (6)
A presentation copy by Maria to her young half-sister Harriet. At the time of presentation Maria was around 42 years old, and her half-sister around 8: judging from the inscription the gift was a suitable reward for the kind of good behaviour demonstrated in the Moral Tales themselves. Harriet Edgeworth (1801-1889), was the second child of Richard Edgeworth's fourth marriage, to Frances Anne Beaufort.
Moral Tales was begun by Maria Edgeworth in 1796, first intended as a sequel to the Parent's Assistant of the same year. They illustrate the precepts of the Practical Education of 1798 (see second edition of this work, lot 99), in attempting to provide tales for young people "that shall neither dissipate the attention, nor inflame the imagination" (Richard Lovell Edgeworth, preface).
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