As luck would have it, I actually have a first ed 1789 copy of Vol 3 of
Sandford & Merton (though sadly not vols 1 & 2). It is quite definitely one
continuing novel in three volumes rather than three complete stories later
put together as one; Vol 3 starts out with reference to events in the
previous volume but without explanation, thus:
'While these scenes were passing, Mrs Merton, though ignorant of the danger
of her son, was not undisturbed at home.'
It's a lovely edition with publisher's adverts at the back, from which we
learn that the original 3 volume set cost 10s 6d bound.
Serial at a stretch, given the length of time between publication, but
series definitely not.
Re Nicky's ref to Edgeworth's The Purple Jar, this is the first of 17 moral
tales about a little girl Rosamond; collected in one volume in my 1856
edition. Great reading - poor Rosamond is a moral failure and ends up a
sadder but wiser (and duller?) girl on 17 separate occasions.
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