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Religious Books, Bibles, Hyms, etc. 0450: William Todd, The Youth's Guide and Instructor to Virtue and Religion

Author: Todd, William
Title: The youth's guide and instructor to virtue and religion, being a more useful, comprehensive and instructive method of grounding children in their several respective duties following, than any which have hitherto been made public. In three parts. Containing, 1. The alphabet, with spelling regularly proceeding from one syllable to six, with lessons made easy to exercise the learner; particularly adapted to younger children and beginners; the duty of children to God, their parents, to ministers of the gospel, and to those who have the care of their education, and to their superiors. 2. The duty of parents to children and ministers of the gospel's duty to the same, and to persons in general who become their hearers; as also, the duty of those persons to children who have the care of their education, and others their superiors. 3. The threats of vengeance pronounced against all disobedient children, who are guilty of swearing, lying, stealing, and breaking the Sabbath, by practising those things which are contrary both to religion and morality on that holy day; carefully applied, and early proved from scripture, by way of question and answer. To which is added, an account of God's just judgment executed upon several persons in different places, for breaking and profaning the Lord's day; also a compleat spelling dictionary; together with many other instructive additions. The whole being designed for the use of schools, particularly, on catechism days, for the pupil's examination, and for their meditation at home at leisure with their parents. By W. Todd, school-master in London
Cat. Number: 0450
Date: 1764
1st Edition:
Pub. Place: London
Publisher: Homan Turpin, at the Golden Key, St. John's Street, West-Smithfield
Price: 1s
Pages: 1 vol., 108pp.
Size: 16 x 9 cm
Illustrations: Frontispiece and six further full-page engravings
Note: Inscription on fly-leaf: 'John Watson his Book Jan 23 1766 God prosper well', etc.

Images of all pages of this book

Page 002 of item 0450

Introductory essay

The youth's guide is not to be found in the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC). It is somewhat surprising that no other copy has found its way into the major libraries from which the ESTC draws its records since, judging by appearances, The youth's guide seems well adapted to have become one of the frequently reprinted, core school-books of the eighteenth century. Indeed, its author was even tempted to claim that his book had 'double advantage to any other book of its kind; being a sufficient instructor for children, a guide for youth, and an agreeable companion, even for grown persons.' (p.ix)

The basis of this boast was the breadth of material available within the book's covers. It began with an alphabet, the letters written out in Roman, italic and German letters, and carried on with the usual array of printed syllables, words and simple sentences to be found in any good primer. The moral and behavioural instruction began only in Part 1 some 32 pages into the book (p.20). Successive chapters set out 'Children's duty towards God' and to parents, teachers and ministers of religion. Each chapter started off with a catechism, with one or two anecdotes sometimes following. Part 2 turned the tables, lecturing parents, teachers and ministers on their duty to children (p.44), though this time without the catechisms. Part 3 introduced more explicitly religious lessons, listing the deadliest sins and most important virtues for instance, and warning against Sabbath-breaking (this lesson replete with a splendidly pointed anecdote and accompanying engraving: p.74). The book closed with a 'Spelling Dictionary' (p.92). As Todd had claimed, his book did indeed contain something directed at every age-group.

William Todd appears to have produced only one other book, The New Testament explained and illustrated (0449 in the Hockliffe Collection). It seems safe to conclude that he was the Oxford school-teacher whose establishment was rather cheekily advertised on p.x of Youth's Guide. A third edition of 'Todd's Youths Guide to Virtue and Religion' was advertised, along with many other children's titles, in a catalogue of T. Turpin's books, appended to the British Library's copy of The Tales of the Genii; or, the Delightful Lessons of Horam, the Son of Ismar (no date but c.1775?). The price was one shilling.