First edition of this illustrated verse polemic against the wicked Dog Tax of 1796 and its introducer, John "Dog" Dent.
Very good plus.
COUNCIL OF DOGS
"You crooked leg'd Cur," said the TERRIER, "to dare<br />"Such talents as mine, with a Cat's to compare"—
A charming catalogue of the virtues of Dogs, as enumerated by representatives of each noble working breed, culminating in a sudden passionate outcry by a Cur: "Look at me; I am starved—In yon hamlet I dwelt / And contented for years no distresses I felt, / Till the TAX, that my master had no means to pay, / From the comforts of home drove me famished away."
The TAX to which this Dog refers is the 1796 'Dog Tax' introduced by John Dent (thereafter, "Dog Dent"); not the first proposal of its kind, but the first to be justified by a new redefinition of the dog as pet – that is, as a luxury good, not a tax-exempt professional necessity in the several dog-adjacent trades, or a living creature in a separate category altogether. The intended side-effect of this bill was to be death of dogs on a massive scale, presented by Dent as a societal good due to the expected decrease in rabies cases; but social engineering played a role as well: "the tax would prevent the poor from squandering their money on useless pets" (Festa). Roscoe appeals to the reader's sensibilities in presenting the miseries of the homeless, ownerless dog, cast out for want of funds to pay the Dog Tax, and his cry for "Revenge, then, Revenge". This moves the assembled working-dog delegations to put away pride and competition in favor of dog solidarity: "Let no separate claims then this union betray..."This perhaps too may cause our arch-foe to relent, / And move to compassion the hard hearted D***". The selfsame "D***" was "cast as the Cruella DeVil of the 1790s" (Festa) by contemporary opponents; COUNCIL OF DOGS is in this context rather light on personal attacks, if heavy on pathos.
In form, similar to William Roscoe's BUTTERFLY'S BALL, and attributed to him by some sources. Often treated therefore as light children's verse, COUNCIL OF DOGS holds a place of equal importance among the many contemporary pamphlets and broadsheets opposing 'Dog' Dent's bill, and as an indicator of the long 18th century's progression towards a more sentimental and less utilitarian view of friendly creatures. OCLC indicates less than a dozen holdings for the first edition, notwithstanding the slight confusion of entries caused by multiple author attributions. Rare.
Read more: Lynn Festa, "Person, Animal, Thing: The 1796 Dog Tax and the Right to Superfluous Things".
London: Printed for J. Harris, sucessor to E. Newbery, at the original juvenile library, 1808. 4.75'' x 4''. 20th century quarter red leather with marbled boards. Gilt-titled spine. Illustrated with 8 copperplate engravings, including frontispiece. , 16 pages. Small closed tear to upper edge gutter of page 11. Pencil to front paste-down. Pen to reverse of frontispiece; pen neatly filling in the circles in the second "8" of the 1808 publication date on title page. Text otherwise unmarked. Endpapers lightly toned; minor foxing throughout.
The Fine Print
We work hard to meet our ethical responsibilty to describe our material accurately. All items are guaranteed as described and may be returned for any reason within 30 days. Please notify us before mailing a return.
We guarantee the authenticity of our items. All items are original (meaning not facsimiles or reproductions), first editions (i.e. first printings), unless otherwise noted. TPM is a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America and upholds their Code of Ethics.
All items subject to prior sale. Domestic orders over $250 and international orders over $500 ship gratis. We use USPS unless otherwise requested. Expedited, overnight, or international shipping, as well as other carriers, may carry additional costs beyond quoted rates. All orders receive tracking information and a direct contact in case of any questions.
We accept all major credit cards, Paypal, Venmo, check, money order, and bank wire. We are happy to accomodate institutional buyers' needs. Sales tax will be added to applicable purchases.
If for any reason you are dissatisfied with your purchase, please contact us. We prioritize our long-term relationships far above any individual purchase, and we want you to love your item as much as we loved cataloguing it.