[COTTON, Nathaniel]. ~ Visions in Verse, for the Entertainment and Instruction of younger Minds... London: Printed for R. Dodsley... and sold by M. Cooper, 1751.
8vo (195 × 118 mm), pp. 104, woodcut ornaments; early inscriptions to free endpaper ‘Geo: Hadley’ (deleted) and ‘E.S. Greville’; contemporary brown morocco, gilt; quite rubbed and scratched, sometime expertly rebacked to style; an excellent copy.
First edition. One of the most popular eighteenth-century English books of poetry for children — more than a dozen editions over the next fifty years. Cotton, a physician by training (at Leiden, under Hermann Boerhaave) ran a private lunatic asylum in St. Albans and he is now best remembered for his kindness and care for Cowper during Cowper's first period of insanity.
The verses are arranged in nine ‘Visions’, comprising: Slander, Pleasure, Health, Content, Happiness, Friendship, Marriage, Life and Death. ‘Marriage’ (’Inscrib’d to Miss *****’), consisting of 12 pages opens:
‘Fairest, this Vision is thy Due,
I form’d th’instructive Plan for You.
Slight not the Rules of thoughtful Age,
You Welfare actuates my sacred Theme,
And tremble, while you read my Dream.
Those awful Words, “’Till Death do part,”
May well alarm the youthful Heart:
No After-thought when once a Wife!
The Card is play’d, and play’d for Life;
Yet Thousands venture every Day,
As some base Passion leads the Way...’