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The American Prose Miscellany. Original and Selected.
The American Prose Miscellany. Original and Selected.

The American Prose Miscellany. Original and Selected.

With works by Dr. Benjamin Franklin

In 1809, The American Prose Miscellany, was published by Johnson, Conrad, and Carey in Philadelphia. In the same year, under the same imprint, The American Poetical Miscellany appeared.¹

The American Prose Miscellany is a reader or an anthology of biographical, travel, literary, and political writings by British, French, and American authors. Foreign writers include Dr. Samuel Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith, Denis Diderot, and Voltaire. American (or Irish-American) writers represented here are “Dr. [Benjamin] Franklin,” “M[athew]. Carey,” and “W[illia]m Sampson.” Franklin’s writings comprise “A Parable against Persecution, or Toleration and Philanthropy Inculcated;”  “The Whistle—A True Story;” and “The Way to Wealth.”

While the present title page does not refer to a companion volume, the bookbinding does. The spine is labeled “American Miscellany,” and it is additionally gilt-stamped “ [Volume] 2” and, at the tail, “Prose,” to distinguish it on the bookshelf. (NB. Another example of these two volumes, bound together, is included in the Michael Papantonio collection of early American bookbindings held at AAS.)

Well-represented in institutions, but scarce to commerce, in an attractive and early, if not period, binding.

Description: The American Prose Miscellany. Original and Selected.

Philadelphia: Published by Robert Johnson, C. & A. Conrad & Co. And Mathew Carey, Booksellers and Stationers, 1809.  300pp. First Edition. 12mo. Contemporary full sheep; spine with red leather title label and gilt rules, additionally stamped “2” and “Prose;” coarse gray double endpapers. Binding with minor scuffing and rubbing; two small losses to endpapers; heavily foxed; pp.249/250 with very small paper loss to margin, just touching a letter or two; good.


Shaw and Shoemaker 16846.

NB. Although no editor is indicated for The American Prose Miscellany, a separate 1809 entry in Shaw & Shoemaker (17407) identifies a separate two-volume set, The American poetical and prose miscellany; original and selected, under the (publisher?) heading “William Duane.” Ten “Original Letters” contained in the present The American Prose Miscellany are simply attributed to an unnamed “Editor.” Is Duane the editor here as well as a contributor?

William Duane was born in Lake Champlain, New York and educated in Ireland. In the 1790s he settled in Philadelphia and worked with Benjamin Franklin Bache (Dr. Franklin’s grandson) on the newspaper Aurora. After Bache’s death, Duane married his widow and continued the newspaper which supported Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republican party. Duane published several books and his manuscripts at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania contain notes and commentaries on politics, economics, religion, and philosophy. His possible essays in The American Prose Miscellany are on more domestic subjects and include letters on “Popularity,” “Family Attachments,” “Disputation,” “Card Playing,” and “Novel Reading.”gives a separate entry for this title.

Price: $150.00