2 volumes. 8vo., (7 ¼ x 4 ¾ inches). Fine lithographed frontispiece in each volume, 22 lithographed plates (very occasional spotting). Contemporary half tan calf, marbled boards, the spines in six compartments separated by five gilt-ruled raised bands, red and black morocco gilt lettering pieces in two, bound by “Carss, Glasgow” (J. Carss & Co., 19th century, Glasgow, Scotland) with their binder’s ticket (boards of volume one detached, hinges of volume two cracked but holding, extremities worn).
Provenance: With the contemporary bookplate of Charles-Francis Stuart (b. 1780), younger son of Alexander, 10th Lord Blantyre. From the distinguished library of Wolfgang A. Herz, his bookplate on front pastedowns, his sale, Christie's 12/9/2009, lot number 266.
First edition. A satirical (and rather unflattering) look at 19th-century American society by the mother of Anthony Trollope, with 24 (in all) humorous illustrations. “Trollope’s book…became a best-seller in England and caused an instant sensation when it appeared in the United States. As with earlier travel volumes that took an uncharitable view of the American republic, critics spied an ulterior motive. The book had been released during the parliamentary debates over the Reform Bill, prompting speculation that it was intended as yet another Tory indictment of democratic institutions…Despite hostile reviews, public reaction proved to be more amused than indignant, the sheer mean-spiritedness of Trollope’s memoir making it difficult to take seriously as a valid indictment of American society.
“With the release of ‘Domestic Manners,’ the British critique against the United States was largely complete. Subsequent visitors would provide additional anecdotal detail, but for the most part they would do little more than echo the criticisms leveled by Trollope and her predecessors. In the compendium of republican shortcomings compiled by British travelers, one issue stood out as the root cause of the behaviors they abhorred: an unceasing pursuit of the main chance. What had come to be known in the colloquial parlance of the new nation as a ‘go-ahead’ spirit, the foreign visitor regarded as an unrelenting quest for money and material goods. The leveling impulse of democracy had failed to produce great achievements in the arts, conservative Britons averred, for all beauty and elegance had been trampled underfoot in the headlong rush to pay homage to the great god of commerce. Too busy in their pursuit of profit either for personal reflection or meaningful social intercourse, Americans lacked wit, erudition, or any appreciation for aesthetics. Even the common courtesies that had become the hallmarks of European bourgeois respectability seemed to have no place among a people whose one consuming passion was their own self-interest. What was worse, in such a rampantly acquisitive society, dishonesty and selfishness had become virtues; shrewdness and ‘smart dealing’ (an American euphemism for deceptive business practices) passed for intellect. Always wanted more, they seemed to Britons a restless, humorless, unhappy people, a nation of bottom feeders devoted to the bottom line” (Sam Walter Haynes, “Unfinished revolution: The Early American Republic in a British World”). Howes T-357. Sabin 97028.