Maggs Bros Ltd

Hermsprong; or, man as he is not. A Novel.

BAGE Robert (1796)

£3000.00  [First Edition]

Available to view at our Curzon Street shop.

In three volumes. By the author of Man as he is.

First Edition. 3 vols. 12mo. [2], 244; [2], 242; 268pp., without the half-titles and without the advertisement leaves in volumes one and two. Slight off-setting of the bookplate onto the flyleaves, some slight spotting and a few marks in places, very small tear (9mm) to the fore-edge of the final volume (not touching the text). Contemporary marbled boards, vellum corners (new leather spines, old morocco labels preserved).

London: for William Lane, at the Minerva-Press,

Bage's final and most famous novel "which directly attacks intolerance towards new ideas and proposals for sweeping reform" (ODNB). Edna L. Steeves in her essay on the 'noble savage' singles out Bage's:

"Some of the most ingenious arguments for the savage state appear in Robert Bage's novels. InHermsprong(1796) the eponymous hero is a 'natural' man, the son of German parents who come to the American West to engage in trade with the Indians. Raised with Indian children, Hermsprong is, as the subtitle of the novel points out, 'Man as he is not'. The implication is clear: here is man in his native goodness and innocence, happy in a life more archaic and uncomplicated than modern civilisation affords, man in short as he should be, uncontaminated by luxury and extravagance. To William Godwin, and to many likeminded men at the turn of the century, it was but a short step from the conception of the ideal of savage society to the ideal of absolute democracy and equalitarianism, the creed of the political radical" (Steeves,The Journal of Modern African Studies", No. 1 March, 1973).

Provenance: Robert Waring Darwin, M.D., F.R.S. (1766-1848), engraved bookplate in the front of each volume, Shrewsbury's principal physician and father of the naturalist Charles Darwin. Bage was a friend (and business partner) of Erasmus Darwin; in 1765 Darwin and Bage joined three other investors in an ironworks business. There is small pencil note at the foot of C5r (vol 1) by a later owner which notes an error in the text.

Stock Code: 60327