Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1867. 8vo. iv, 205 pages. Presentation binding of gilt-decorated white linen, unbeveled and without publisher's imprint on spine, top edges gilt. Spine darkened, cloth a bit soiled, internally fine. Item #406698
FIRST EDITION, one of 100 copies in a presentation binding. INSCRIBED by Emerson on the front flyleaf: "To Arthur Helps, Esq. With kindest regards of R. W. Emerson." Most of Emerson's presentation copies were inscribed "R.W.E." but in this, and other recorded presentation copies of May-Day, he used the long form.
Sir Arthur Helps's anti-slavery writings had strongly influenced Emerson's thoughts on the subject. The two writers first met during Emerson's 1847 trip to England to visit Carlyle, with Helps arranging for a rainy Sunday tour of Winchester cathedral. The English writer, dean of the privy council, and early animal rights advocate wrote two key works that Emerson acknowledged as influences: Helps's "A Letter on Uncle Tom's Cabin" led Emerson to read Stowe's landmark novel, but more important was Helps' extended work on the history of the slave trade 'The Conquerors of the New World and Their Bondmen' (London, 1848). "This revisionist history made a strong impression on Emerson. 'Columbus seems to have been the principal introducer of American slavery,' he wrote after reading it. Helps's crisply focused study also affected the way Emerson would treat New World 'discoverers' in 'English Traits'" (Robert D. Richardson Jr., 'Emerson: The Mind on Fire,' U of California Press, 1995, pp. 467, 510). BAL 5250; Myerson A28.1.