Baltimore: Henry S. Keatinge, 1809. Half-sheet 20mo(?), measuring 6 x 3.5 inches: xii, [iii]-iv, -260. Contemporary marbled sheep, spine double-ruled in gilt, red morocco spine label. Subscribers’ list printed after introduction. Light shelfwear, spine label chipped (not touching lettering), last few leaves soiled.
First edition of this alarmist etiquette book for unmarried and married women, printed by subscription for a local Baltimore and Washington audience in the early years of the republic. This anonymous treatise “was undertaken at the request of a number of Ladies, who see, with pious concern, the spreading immorality and infidelity of their country; and particularly the growing loose, forward and immodest behavior, and unthinking conduct of the youth of their own sex.” A young woman’s purity (both moral and physical) is understood as the result of “continual warfare:” the Christian virgin’s “happiness, both here and hereafter, depends upon her committing a continued pious violence upon herself.” Public entertainments are especially singled out for censure: “Amongst all the diversions of the age, there is none more dangerous . . . than the stage.” The subscriber’s list records the locations of the work’s backers – Baltimore, Annapolis, Washington, Georgetown, and Alexandria – notable as Congress had held its first Washington session only a few years earlier, in 1800. Regarding format see #86 in Savage, A Dictionary of the Art of Printing, 362. A well-preserved copy in a distinctly unusual format, testament to the eternal distrust of the younger generation by their elders.