London: James Phillips, 1795. First edition. Contemporary sheep rebacked to style with morocco and gilt label to spine; boards ruled in gilt. Measuring approximately 150 x 95mm. Bookplate of J.O. Edwards to front pastedown. Thumb soiling to the outer margin of pages 82-89 not affecting text, and a bit of offsetting to terminal leaves, else clean and unmarked. Collating , [i-iii], iv-v, , vi-viii, 168: complete, including half title. A family presentation copy, the present bears the gift inscription of Rachel Barclay's widower, the banker David Barclay, to the front endpaper; above it is the ownership signature of his niece, the recipient, Susanna Barclay Hanbury of Coggleshall. Held by 14 institutions worldwide according to ESTC, no others report a family association. Scarce in trade as well, it does not appear in the modern auction record and is the only copy on the market.
Born and wed into privilege, as the daughter of the industrialist Sampson Lloyd and wife of Barclay's Bank founder David Barclay, the editor of the present was aware of the value of an education. Not only could it lead to intellectual growth, but to ethical improvement as well. To that end, she drew together a selection of poetry that she hoped would shape the young into better adults. Published posthumously, under the direction of her husband, the preface explains that "the worthy person, who selected the Pieces that fill the following sheets, frequently regretted that young people, and especially those of her own sex...should be debarred from the privilege of filling up a leisure hour, with pleasure and benefit to themselves, for want of such a selection of pieces in verse as might...enlarge the fund of their ideas. She accordingly appropriated a part of her time, which was mostly devoted to the discharge of the social and serious duties of life, in making this Collection of pieces." In addition to scriptural selections, and verse from classic English writers such as Milton and Pope, Rachel Barclay notably included works by Bluestocking women Elizabeth Carter, Hester Chapone, and Anna Laetitia Barbauld -- all advocates for more progressive approaches to women's education and to social justice. In this sense, the selection encourages all readers but women in particular to think about taking their self-improvement into their own hands, and using it to improve the world.
Provenance from the Barclay family, famous both for banking and abolition. David Barclay won renown both as a founder of Barclay's Bank, as well as for the "gratuitous manumission" of enslaved people on the Jamaican plantation he had inherited. He was successful in shifting the British abolitionist program toward appealing to Parliament rather than the monarchy, although he failed at convincing his own business partners to divest from the slave trade.
ESTC T86109. (Item #3937)