APULEIUS. The Metamorphosis, or Golden Ass, and Philosophical Works of Apuleius, Translated from the original Latin by Thomas Taylor. Triphook and Rodd. 1822.
8vo., sometime bound in half double gilt ruled brown morocco, lettered in gilt on spine with gilt rules and centre tools, all edges gilt. Pp. xxiv, 400 +  "Suppressed Passages". Some foxing to endpapers, a little occasional spotting, otherwise a very good copy.
First edition of Thomas Taylor's translation of the only Latin novel to survive in its entirety. Also included is Apuleius on the God of Socrates, and Apuleius on the Habitude of the Doctrines of the Philosophy of Plato.
Thomas Taylor (1758-1835) received an irregular education. As a young man he obtained a clerkship in Lubbock's Bank but devoted himself to the translation and exposition of Plato, Aristotle, and the Neo-Platonists and Pythagoreans. In 1787 he began to publish translations of works of ancient philosophy, beginning with the earliest of Plotinus's Enneads (i.6), on the ‘beautiful’, and the ‘Orphic hymns’, this latter with a lengthy preface on the life and theology of Orpheus. Various of these translations were subsidised by patrons, for instance his translation of Aristotle's Metaphysics (1801) by the brothers William and George Meredith. However, his most notable early patron was Charles Howard, eleventh duke of Norfolk, who made it possible for Taylor to publish the first English translation of the complete works of Plato (1804), revising and completing the work begun by Floyer Sydenham (1710–1787), whom he had known in his latter years.
It was through Taylor's translations that the Romantic poets had access to Platonism: they are probably one of the sources of Blake's mythology, as well as his repudiation of the natural science of Bacon and Newton, and his late tempera painting The Arlington Court Picture was almost certainly inspired by Taylor's translation of Porphyry's On the Cave of the Nymphs; there is no doubt that Coleridge's acquaintance with Proclus was assisted by Taylor's translation and commentary, though Coleridge's appreciation of Taylor is invariably laced with acid criticism. Taylor's immediate influence in England was short-lived; only at the end of the century did those with an enthusiasm for ancient Gnosticism, such as G. R. S. Mead, revive his memory. His fate in America was very different. R. W. Emerson read Taylor's translations enthusiastically, and Taylor's influence was felt among Emerson's disciples, adepts of ‘transcendental philosophy’ such as Amos Bronson Alcott, William T. Harris, Thomas M. Johnson, Hiram K. Jones, and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, though that influence had waned by the end of the century. Emily Dickinson, who was a friend of Higginson, therefore probably owed her Platonism ultimately to Thomas Taylor