London: Printed for T. Davies; R.H. Moore, 1767, 1837. Two small octavo volumes bound in one, Clio measuring 6.25 x 3.5 inches, Spirit measuring 6 x 3.75 inches. Nineteenth-century three-quarter black sheep over marbled boards, borders double-ruled in blind, green morocco spine label, spine double-ruled and lettered in gilt, yellow coated endpapers, all edges of the text block of Spirit gilt. Half title and final endpaper of earlier binding retained in Clio, cream coated front free endpaper of earlier binding retained in Spirit. Early ownership slip of Anne Drake Tyrwhitt Drake tipped to title page of Clio. Lightest shelfwear to binding, some offsetting and repairs to gutter of Clio half title, spot of foxing on last leaf of Spirit.
First editions of two scarce treatises on good taste and good manners, published seventy years apart, tracing an evolution in English sensibilities. In Clio, published in 1767, Ussher focuses on taste, urging young women to study “the unstudied elegance of nature," and to achieve, through careful editing, an apparently artless grace. In his advice on books, for example, he recommends that a woman share “her sense of great and affecting passages, because they display the fineness of her imagination, or the goodness of her heart; but all criticism beyond this fits as awkwardly upon her as her grandfather’s large spectacles.” A woman’s good taste is presented as a powerful social advantage: “I know a lady of vast address who when a term of art came to be mentioned, always turned to the gentleman she had a mind to compliment, and with uncommon grace asked him the meaning of it; by this means she gave men the air of superiority they like so well, while she held them in chains.” Clio was exceptionally popular, going through five editions in six years. Published seventy years later, The Spirit of Etiquette is a less philosophical, more prescriptive work of manners, anticipating the rise of the etiquette advice column. “Lady de S.” explains how to greet people of different ranks, which direction to pass the cheese at table, and how much jewelry to wear in public, among other practical concerns: “Do not attempt to dance any quadrille of which you have no previous knowledge.” Bound together, the two works embody the transition from the philosophical eighteenth century to the propriety-obsessed Victorian age. Both titles are scarce in the first edition: ESTC locates eight copies of Clio and OCLC four copies of Spirit worldwide. A near-fine volume of two complementary works on manners.