Three [of four] first editions of Pope’s “MORAL ESSAYS,” ethical poems inspired by Lord Bolingbroke’s enlightenment philosophy, individually described below.
The first of the moral essays to be published, Of Moral Taste (1731) is not included here. Each folio, bound in later marbled wrappers, the three pamphlets housed together in a folding blue cloth portfolio, gilt-stamped “Pope / Moral Essays” on the upper board All very good. Item #66707
a. OF THE USE OF RICHES, an Epistle to the Right Honorable Allen Lord Bathurst. London: Printed by J. Wright, for Lawton Gulliver, 1732. First edition, first issue, with the misprint on page 13 and the single line erratum on page 20. (2), 20 pp. Wanting the half title. “ Criticizes the avarice of the newly rich as opposed to the established generosity of others.
b. AN EPISTLE TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE RICHARD LORD VISCT. COBHAM. London: Printed for Lawton Gulliver, 1733. First edition. (4), 13, (3, publisher’s ad on recto of final leaf) pp. With the half-title: Of the Knowledge and Characters of Men, by which the poem is generally known. “Sets forth the difficulties in judging a man’s character and finds their solution in the discovery of the ruling passion, which ‘clue once found unravels all the rest’” (Oxford Reference online).
c. OF THE CHARACTERS OF WOMEN: An Epistle to a Lady. London: Printed by J. Wright, for Lawton Gulliver, 1735. First edition. (6), -16 pp. With the half-title (soiled), but lacking the ad leaf at the end. New endpapers. Critical of women’s tendencies toward “inconstancy, fickleness, excessive self-love, and ostentatious displays of wit” in preference to a “good-natured, sensible and well balanced” middle-class woman such as the addressee, “Martha Blount (1690-1763), Pope’s closest female friend” (Anglistika online). For the three pamphlets,